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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Interview at Ruth A. Casey's Blog

Today’s post is an interview of me by Ruth A. Casey. My giveaway is traveling there as well, so any entries here or there works for me.

Here is a sample question:

If you were a millionaire would you still write?

 

Are you kidding me? Being a millionaire would allow me to write for a living. I would put out a healthy four books a year. When I run into writer’s block for one idea, I’ll simply pursue another. And thus I would earn my next million!

Read more here!

 

 

Week-Long Giveaway of All My Releases #1

I missed my chance of doing giveaways before my book came out due to how insane my life was in January and February. Therefore, I’m going to make up for it with week-long giveaways of all my stories, from now until whenever.

This giveaway will include my Accidental Enchantments and Petroleum Sunset series:

  • The Sevenfold Spell
  • The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf
  • Once Upon a Gas Tank
  • Seeking a Fairy Goddoctor
  • $5 gift certificate at Amazon or Barnes & Noble

The ebooks are available as mobi (kindle) or epub. I will draw a winner on Friday evening by means of an online random number generator.

None of the above books have DRM on them.

To enter, please leave a comment or email me at tia @ tianevitt . com. When I announce the winner, I’ll put a link in the comments so you might want to either subscribe to the comments, or to my blog feed using the form to the right. ==========>

(You’ll notice there’s another form for my newsletter over there. If you subscribe to that as well, I’ll enter you in another, entirely different contest. More details coming!)

Please spread the word by telling your friends and by using the social buttons at the bottom of this post!

A Moonstruck Time Capsule Geek-Out

Back in the 70s, my family would occasionally have Saturday Night Slide Show night at our house. Dad would pull out the slides and we’d spend hours munching on Mom’s popcorn, listening to Mom and Dad as they narrated the slides. Sometimes Mom would even cook the popcorn over the fire. In this special aluminum container that would billow into a huge ball as the popcorn popped.

Recently, my husband scanned every one of Dad’s slides. There were over a thousand. Well, look at some of the gems we found. These never made the Saturday Night Slide Shows. Maybe Dad thought he would bore us.

Nixon Moon ChatYes, that’s Nixon you see there, taking to the astronauts during the first moon landing. Dad took a picture of the TV! There is over a dozen of these slides, some not even of anything recognizable.

I remember when he took these. (Yeah, I know; I’m aging myself.) Dad had to take these at a slow shudder speed because otherwise he would have gotten a bar across the TV screen showing an incompletely rendered picture. That’s why they’re blurry; he didn’t have a tripod. Plus the pictures were, yanno, moving.

Here are some more of the ones that turned out the best:

Moon Buggy?Looks like they’re putting up the flag, here.My beautiful pictureMilling about the moon, just because we can.My beautiful pictureLove that retro caption! Way to cover up the subject of the picture with the caption. Broadcasting types have learned a lot since then.

And finally:

Moonstruck PicnicMy sisters, brother, my Mom, and me at a picnic. I’m the daydreamy one wearing brown in the back. How does this picture fit in with the above? Check out the moon landing photos in the newsmagazine next to Mom.

I remember the moon landings quite clearly, but not the picnic. Looks like fun times anyway.

Becoming Little – Guest Post at Carina Press

My guest post is online at Carina Press. It’s called Becoming Little. Here’s a snippet:

I am of slightly above-average height, but I have written a book about a little person, or a dwarf.

 

In order to get into character, I had to do a lot of mental adjustment. My heroine, Gretchen, is barely four feet tall. She lives in post-medieval Europe, somewhere around the Schwarzwald, or the Black Forest. She has the most common form of dwarfism, achondroplasia. It is the form you are probably most familiar with.

 

In order to get to know my character–to try her out, to see if she would work–I wrote a little scene about the kind of treatment she has to put up with:

Read the rest here!

A Star for a Day

Today, I am the featured author at Carina Press’s social media outlets. This is when they have a Facebook, Twitter and blog blitz for each author during their release week.

My post is called “Becoming Little”, and it is about how I put myself into the character of a woman who is barely four feet tall.

On Twitter, Carina Press will be posting little-known facts about me, and on Facebook, they will post some of my favorite lines form the book.

I would love to see some familiar faces, so please join me!

Today I also put up my first-ever book video, my quirky and long talked-about video tour of my book setting using MineCraft:

Magic Mirror Book Video

You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here. I would like to start doing podcasts, but first I have to get over hating the sound of my own voice.

Tia’s YouTube Channel

Enjoy and thanks for reading!

 

MineCraft Scenes from The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf

Part of what I want to do on these three days I took off for my book release is make a video of my main setting using MineCraft. I already have the world laid out; now I just need to shoot, edit and post the video. Easier said than done; I will start bight and early tomorrow.

As a sneak peek, I thought I’d post some screenshots from the MineCraft world along with some excerpts that either inspired the scene, or inspired the story. You’ll see what I mean.

Klein Farm ApproachThe Klein Farm. Or the “Little Farm”.

Gretchen looked up at the yawning door as she entered. It was much like her parents’ farmhouse, with an arched door set in the center of a wooden structure with a high, sloping roof that extended low to the ground on both sides, and walls with thick wooden cross-members forming squares and triangles. It was a good deal more ancient than her parent’s own brick and log farmhouse.

Still, it looked familiar enough to be welcoming; she had grown up around such houses.

This was Klein Farm, Version III. The first version was not on a large enough scale, and the second version did not have enough surrounding land. I omitted the triangles because you can’t get good triangles in a block world.

Home Cluck HomeHome Cluck Home

Homey sounds and smells enveloped Gretchen as she walked through the Einhaus—the smell of cow and horse, the cluck of hens and the baa of goats. The interior walls of the house were much like the exterior, with broad beams making squares and right triangles, filled in with a whitewashed expanse. The low walls formed chambers where the cattle would be driven in at night. Above her on the low second level would be the grain and hay storage…

 

Ahead, she could see a large fireplace dominating the interior wall, with chambers underneath for ovens.

In this scene, the game truly inspired the story. I had watched many videos on YouTube of these sort of outdoor museums (Freilichtmuseum), but I did not get a sense of what it may have sounded like until I started herding sheep and hatching eggs in the farmhouse. Once I started thinking of the sounds, it was easy to think of the smells as well.

HenLooseTroublesome Hen

Later that afternoon, Lars heard a familiar squawking in the main aisle, and he emerged from the oxen’s stall to find Gretchen once again trying to chase down that chicken that always seemed to get loose. He joined in as she tried to grab it, jumping in to intercept the troublesome creature until she finally grabbed hold of it. He followed her as she took it back to the coop and thrust it inside.

Lars to the rescue! I have no idea how this little guy got loose in the game.

RomanticLoftRomantic Hayloft

When she turned to go back to the farmhouse, she noticed a light in a high window. She stopped for a moment, considering, watching the light. Then she went back inside and paused at the ladder leading to the lofts.

 

What she was about to do went beyond what Ange had suggested. And besides, it was impertinent and might come across as desperate rather than merely determined.

 

But Lars had said she was pretty, so…

What is it with me and romantic hayloft scenes? It is almost getting to be a meme. You would think that I had such experience with haylofts, myself.

Garden by New MoonThere is a brief, romantic scene in the garden by the moonlight. But mostly I just wanted to capture this picture of the cool new moon.

The name of the game is MineCraft, and its simple concept has made it tremendously popular. Get it at https://minecraft.net/. It is a great way to visualize your scenes.

Or to just goof off.

So Who's Grumpy?

The Magic Mirror and the Seventh DwarfThe Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf comes out today! As the title suggests, this story is a retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In my story, the dwarfs live on a farm which has become a sort of refuge for dwarfs, where they can meet and befriend other people like themselves.

Recently, one of my sisters asked which of my seven dwarfs were inspired by which of the seven dwarfs in the Disney movie. I told her there was no association. When she thought that there must be, I said, “Do you really think I have a character in my story that spends all his time sneezing?”

This changed her thinking. And I actually had to change my thinking in a similar way as well. I realized how awkward it would be to have a Sneezy, Dopey or Sleepy in my story, so I purged myself of those personas (such as they are) and came up with entirely new characters. Here they are.

Dieter Klein–Dieter is not a true dwarf–he is simply a very short man. He lives with his wife Marta on his farm. Dieter is used to somewhat unruly farmhands and has a firm but fair hand. Once you cross him, however, there is no forgiveness. He has a thoughtful nature and has filled the house with furnishings that fit his wife’s small frame.

Marta Klein–Marta is Dieter’s wife. She has classic dwarfism–achondroplasia–and has only been able to bear her husband one child who survived. That child, Fritz, is sixteen years old and six feet tall. Marta is practical and a good listener, and becomes a mentor for the two young women who fall into her care.

Gunther–He is the oldest of the farmhands, in his late 40s, and is the general supervisor. He is quiet and not the strongest of leaders, tending to give people more of a chance than they really deserve. He has never married.

Rudolph–He is the next in seniority. He is another short man, but he makes up for it with his impressive physique. A minstrel in the story calls him a Heracles in miniature. He was bullied early in life and unfortunately has turned into a bully, himself. Is he Grumpy? No. Grumpy had a heart of gold. Nuff said.

Klaus–He is the smallest of the male dwarfs at the farm. Despite his stature, he is a smith, skilled in making small items such as nails and hooks. He also is a handyman. He is also young and does not have much confidence, and is often the target of Rudolph’s mistreatment.

Lars–Lars is the newest of the farmhands. He was the son of a court jester, but when his father died he left that life to pursue an “honest living”. He hears about the dwarf farm from a passing minstrel, and for the first time in his life is doing heavy manual labor. However, he never looks back…unless Gretchen is walking by.

Gretchen–When Gretchen arrives at the farm, she completes the seven. She takes up milking and feeding and shopping at the local market. However, the work she does is just a sham–she’s paying for her keep because she actually has come to the farm for the express purpose of picking out a husband. Which may be somewhat mercenary of her, but at twenty-seven years of age, a girl’s got to take matters into her own hands…

The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf is available at Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Google Play, Omni Lit, iTunes and many more online booksellers. I hope you enjoy it!

Publicity – An Author's Duty and Privilege

I am behind on publicity for The Magic Mirror and the Seventh Dwarf. My day job had a major software release this past weekend, and I have been mired in it from the start of the year until Sunday. So last night I picked up on my publicity efforts from where I left off in January, emailing bloggers and offering review copies, brainstorming giveaway ideas, and writing blog posts.

Publicity is an author’s duty and privilege. Dang, that sounds so pompous. But it really is true. Why is it a duty? Because many authors are, like me, somewhat reticent. We are shy by nature, which is why we have our heads down, tapping out books. The idea of blasting our name and titles out to the world smacks us of narcissism. And when we fail, it looks slightly pathetic, touting a product that no one wants.

However, if we succeed in striking a chord with the public, the rewards are great. When something goes viral on the internet, you would not believe the numbers involved. Suddenly, tens of thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of people are talking about you, and that results in sales, even when the talk is negative. You know the old saying, any publicity is good publicity. And it is almost always true.

Even better is when word-of-mouth gets going. It is like an old steam-powered engine–huge, leaky, and prone to break-down. But once it gets going it can pull trains up mountains. It produces steadier and longer-lasting success than going viral, and is, to use a cliche, the author’s holy grail.

But even if you don’t succeed in either of the above, the steady and persistent works as well. Building a following sometimes takes time, and as long as those numbers keep going up, your efforts are the type of success known as a slow build. (That reminds me. I have not checked my web stats in, like, forever. I should do that.)

So you see, the duty and privilege of publicity goes together, like ink and paper.

I’ve known a few authors who do not do much publicity. Sometimes, as it did with me, life intrudes and delays an author’s publicity efforts. But other times, the author just does not want to, and therefore does not. Such authors, in my opinion, fail both their publishers and their readers.

Why their readers? I am always somewhat disappointed when I find a new favorite author and subsequently discover that they are aloof. I know they might have good reasons for their aloofness, but when I see other authors make the effort despite great physical disability, I know I have no excuse. One such author is a disabled veteran who lives in constant pain. Yet when you visit his site (I won’t link or identify because I don’t want to ambush him this way) his blog is updated and he keeps the books cranking out.

Of all the professions that depend on attracting fans, the profession of author requires the least personal commitment. Actors must put themselves out there physically, as must singers, musicians, dancers and comedians. Even artists must get out there with their work and do gallery showings or art shows.

But an author can stay behind their keyboards, saying to themselves that the best publicity is more books. And that is undoubtedly true. But it should not be the only publicity. Otherwise, you risk alienating your fans. Even aloof actors only become that way once they have achieved their success. A beginning novelist–unpublished or not–cannot afford to be aloof.

And I certainly still classify myself as a beginning novelist. So I’d better get cracking. My publicity plan is simple–to spend the next week guest-blogging, and then to do a guest blog post once a week for several months. So you will see more publicity posts here for a while. I will try to make them interesting and fun.

In exchange, I would really appreciate any word-of-mouth efforts that you might feel inspired to make on my behalf. It could go something like this:

“Hey, I know this author who you should read. I’ve been following her blog forever and she’s really nice. She’s written this little fairy tale about this little lady named Gretchen ….”

I’m sure you get the idea. Also, if you’d like a handful of bookmarks to pass out for me (who wouldn’t?!) let me know at tia @ tianevitt . com (remove spaces) and I’ll send you some.

As always, thank you for reading.

 

Community Interview: Chicory – a Gentle Reader

You get certain ideas about people when you only know them through letters, emails, or online. I was trying to think of a tagline that described my impression of Chicory, and “a gentle reader” popped into my head.
Remember Miss Manners? She would address people who write to her as “Gentle Reader”. By that, she was politely assuming they were gentlemen or gentlewomen. Even when they weren’t.
I envision Chicory as quite the gentlewoman. I first grew to knew her as a reader on Fantasy Debut. She didn’t make a big entrance, but she quietly appeared on the scene and started politely making her opinion known.She lives up to her first name of Grace.
She has agreed to answer a few questions about the fantasy genre. This introduces a new feature I hope to bring you regularly, which I’ll call Community Interviews.
Why do you read fantasy?
Why do I read fantasy?  I actually came at Fantasy a little sideways.  When I was really young our family was much more Mennonite than we are now, so my introduction to fantasy was through allegories.  My mother read us The Chronicles of Narnia and stopped to explain the representations as she went along, up until `Dawn Treader’ when she started asking `what do you think it means?’  (I found out later that she started having trouble picking out the allegorical elements before I ran out of questions.) It really taught me to think critically about what I read.  For the longest time, though (up until I was maybe twelve or so) I thought all fantasy was allegorical.  I got pretty frustrated, thinking I just wasn’t smart enough to get the underlying meaning of some of the stuff I was reading.  I finally figured out that sometimes a story is just a story.
   I just realized, none of that explains why I like to READ fantasy.  I love the pure escapism of it.  When I was a kid I was a bit awkward, so I really appreciated having story friends.  When I’m upset a familiar book can feel like a hug.  Fantasy, more than any other genre says that bad stuff happens but there’s good waiting beyond, if you just keep pressing forward.
What’s your favorite fantasy genre?
My favorite fantasy genre is kingdom fantasy.  I love secondary worlds, and the smaller focus of kingdom fantasy (as opposed to true Epic Fantasy) means I can get more attached to the characters.  I also adore fairytale retelling.
What’s your favorite fantasy ever? And why?
Favorite fantasy ever… you mean I’ve got to pick just one?  Okay.  I think I’ll go with The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.  I love that he doesn’t give his heroes any easy answers.  I love that the ending is bittersweet and honest.  I think it’s harder to give a satisfying ending than a happy one.
Who are your favorite fantasy characters? And why?
Favorite fantasy characters:  Prahotep and Baki from Gillian Bradshaw’s The Dragon and the Thief because I love how they play off each other.  Bilbo Baggins because he is so sweetly humble and grows so much through the story, and can forgive and mourn someone who wronged him.  Ward of Hurag from Patricia Brigg’s Dragon’s Bones and Dragon’s Blood because he’s kind and honorable and has an awesome voice.  Bigwig the rabbit from Watership Down because he’s loyal and awesome, and has the best line ever.  My chief rabbit told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here.  (Okay, so you need the context to really appreciate the line.)   Taran of the Prydain Chronicles because he tries so hard to be heroic only to fall flat, and doesn’t notice when he genuinely gets it right.  Goniff the Mousethief in Brian Jaques Mossflower, because he keeps his sense of humor even when things look bad.  That’s not actually a complete list, but I figured I’d better have mercy on your readers and stop there.

If you were to go on a quest, would you prefer to:

  • Travel to a far-off locale to kill or defeat a powerful enemy?
  • Quest for dangerous and powerful relics through fantastic lands?
  • Guide a Child of Prophesy to his fateful destiny?
If I was on a quest I would totally prefer to go after a dangerous relic.  No worrying about meeting a powerful enemy when you’re already at the end of your strength, no running in six directions after some `child of prophecy’ (babysitting. Yuck!) and there’s a chance of Cool Treasure!  Even if you lose the treasure at the last second, its powerful awesomeness will help you defeat your rival treasure hunters!  It’s a great deal all round.
Who are you, Frodo or Sam? And why?
I am definitely more Sam than Frodo.  I’d much rather be a follower than a leader.  (Leaders have too much responsibility.)  I like to think I’m loyal though that’s one of those things you’d have to ask my friends on.  I don’t think people can properly judge their own attributes.  And I’m waaay too stubborn to know when to quit.
Which fantasy system of magic would you love to be able to use?
What sort of magic system would I like to explore there was magic around?  Actually, I’m one of those people who starts skimming when people go into the technical aspect of magic.  I prefer the misty kind, where you wonder into an enchanted place by accident.  I do like magic objects, though.  I would love to have an invisibility cloak and a pair of seven-liege boots.