Thursday, January 30, 2014

Emily's Heart has Arrived!

Emily's Heart by Natalie Wright
Book 3 of The Akasha Chronicles
Emily's Heart, Book 3 of the Akasha Chronicles, has arrived!!!!! *happy dance*

Before I share links and all that, I want to send a HUGE thank you to family, friends, followers, fans and readers all over the world who have supported me and my writing! For any of you who are writers, you know what a wondrous yet solitary path the writer walks. And during the novel-writing process, there is always a period of time when the writer is quite certain that the entire novel is a pile of camel dung. When I arrive at the camel dung period in my writing process, my interaction with readers helps lift my creative spirits.

Emily's Heart was a challenge to write. If you've read book 2, Emily's Trial, then you know that I painted myself into a pretty tight corner! So much had gone wrong. So much to set right. "How will Emily set this right?" readers asked.

That was a good question, and one that I did not have an answer to during most of the writing process. That's right, I began writing without knowing how it would end! But I trusted that if I wrote long enough, the end would figure itself out. And it did, but it wasn't without a couple of months of crying, screaming, pouting, ignoring, writing and tossing, many chocolates, and sleepless nights. Then one day, the ending came and life was good again ;-D

Advance readers report that Emily's Heart is my best book yet. I hope you all agree.

Emily's Heart is now available on Amazon worldwide and paperback on Barnes & Noble, Amazon and CreateSpace. It will go live on iTunes and Barnes & Noble on February 1. Links for all retail are below.

If you are new to the series, I now have an Amazon exclusive boxed set available which contains all three books in the series. It is 30% OFF of the cover price for the individual titles if purchased separately. Boxed Set on Amazon -

Thanks again and happy reading!

Barnes & Noble - Both Paperback and E-Book
CreateSpace - Paperback. Use Coupon Code 5RW292Y5 for 25% off
Powell's - Paperback
E-Books at Amazon:
U.S.          DE          CA          IT          MX        JP
U.K.          ES          AU          IN          BR       FR

Friday, January 24, 2014

When Fact is Stranger Than Fiction: Insect Drones and Big Brother

What the ... Insect Drones? Is this for real?

Here is the story that I saw floating around the internet:

"No. It's an insect spy drone for urban areas, already in production, funded by the US Government. It can be remotely controlled and is equipped with a camera and a microphone. It can land on you, and it may have the potential to take a DNA sample or leave RFID tracking nanotechnology on your skin. It can fly through an open window, or it can attach to your clothing until you take it in your home."

As a writer of speculative and science fiction, I was like "Wow! I can use that in a story!"

But the non-writer part of me was creeped out. I mean, what kind of "Big Brother" kind of bullshit could this be used for?

But a bit of poking further into the story gave me a bit of relief. But only a bit. 

According to Snopes, "One of the current areas of research reportedly being undertaken in the scientific/military field is the development of micro air vehicles (MAVs), tiny flying objects intended to go places that cannot be (safely) reached by humans or other types of equipment. One of the primary military applications envisioned for MAVs is the gathering of intelligence (through the surreptitious use of cameras, microphones, or other types of sensors); among the more extreme applications posited for such devices is that they may eventually be used as "swarm weapons" which could be launched en masse against enemy forces."

"The specific mosquito-like object pictured above is, however, just a conceptual mock-up of a design for a MAV, not a photograph of an actual working device "already in production." And although taking DNA samples or inserting micro-RFID tracking devices under the skin of people are MAV applications that may some day be possible, such possibilities currently appear to be speculative fiction rather than reality."

While no government official or agency will admit to currently having such technology, there are anecdotal accounts of dragonflies hovering over protesters at rallies and even at the Republican National Convention.

Let's hope that, for now, spy "bugs" remain fiction.

What say you? Do you think these "bugs" already exist? Or is it the work of overactive imaginations? Chat about it below in the comments section.

*     *     *     *     *

In other news, ONLY 8 MORE DAYS until Emily's Heart officially launches! *squee* Make sure you come back often as I'll have lots of announcements, launch news and giveaways galore all through February :-D

A tiny teaser from Emily's Heart:

From Emily's Heart by Natalie Wright

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writer Wednesday: Into Dusk with Amy Durham

Author Amy Durham
Please welcome the lovely and talented Amy Durham to the blog this Writer Wednesday. Amy writes stories for young adults and is the author of the Sky Cove series (Once Again and Once and For All).  Today Amy introduces us to her newest release, Dusk, a young adult paranormal romance.

"Not all who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien

I love quotes from famous people. I love how little nuggets of wisdom are contained in just a sentence or two. This quote from J.R.R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings and more, is so simple yet so profound.

Tolkien lost his father when he was 4 ... his mother at the age of 12. An orphan then care for by the Catholic Church, many would've considered the young boy "lost". I'd like to think it was his imagination that sheltered him, nurtured him, and gave him not only the strength to survive the difficulties and tragedies of his childhood, but also the skills to succeed as an adult. Clearly, his imagination served him well, both as a boy, and as a grown man who became one of the best-loved authors of all time.

Reading is such a gift, because it allows our minds to wander. It allows us to imagine and envision. Books are another world, just waiting to be opened!

A love of reading and creativity is the reason I became a writer. My latest young adult paranormal romance, Dusk, is now on sale. It's a story of forgiveness, grace, and second chances ... something I think everyone can relate to. The following excerpt shows the heroine, Zoe, meeting the hero, Adrian, for the first time. She's at her locker, looking for her best friend, Vivian, when Adrian steps into her vision. It's a scenario I think we can all appreciate!

Looking to my left, I saw Viv making her way down the hall. And then he stepped into my vision, blocking out Viv and the rest of the chaos in the hallway.
         Umm, wow. He was even better up close. The ability to speak left me.
         “Hey,” he said, and considering he was standing so close, I knew he was talking to me.
         I looked up. Way up. He had to be over six feet tall. And looked straight into the most gorgeous set of baby blues I’d ever seen. The deep green shirt he wore today accentuated the color of his irises.
         Black hair and blue eyes were totally hot together.
         “I saw you yesterday,” he continued, unaffected by my stunned silence. “I’m Adrian.”
         Adrian. It suited him. His name was just as beautiful he was.
         I should talk. Say something. Introduce myself. Wipe the drool from my chin.
         “Zoe,” I squeaked, cringing at how stupid I sounded. “Zoe Gray.”
         “Adrian Shaw.” He stuck his hand out, waiting for me to shake it.
         I stared at his hand. He wanted me to put my hand in his, and even as I told myself it was just a simple greeting, the thought of feeling his skin against mine left me frozen.
         Snap out of it! Act like you have a brain, not just raging hormones!
         I gripped his hand. His fingers closed around mine, and everything inside me went still, calm… right. The noise around me stopped. The bustle of the kids in the hall faded away. And I found myself lost in the feeling of my hand in his, drowning in the way his eyes searched mine.


Zoe Gray lost her father ... in more ways than one. Angry and bitter, Zoe spends the summer before her senior year of high school doing everything she can to forget, legal or not. But a close call triggers a reality check, and Zoe decides to put her life back together, a task that proves a lot harder than she thought.

Adrian Shaw shows up on the first day of school, creating quite a stir with his striking good looks and gleaming black motorcycle. But Adrian is much more than a "biker boy", and as Zoe discovers, he may just hold the key she needs to put her life back on the right path.

But as they do battle with evil forces that want nothing more than to destroy Zoe's chance at a normal life, will their feeling for one another make them stronger, or be the reason Zoe's happiness slips away forever?

And will Zoe learn to forgive before it's too late?

Learn more about Amy at the following places:

Amy Durham discovered her love of writing in the sixth grade. What began as a love of writing poetry soon turned into stories scribbled into school notebooks. In the eighth grade, her English teacher told her she was good at it and encouraged her to continue to put pen to paper. At that moment, the die was cast, and writing would forever be a part of her life.

As an adult, Amy focuses her efforts on writing Young Adult Fiction... adventure, romance, and life-lessons... woven together as imagination and escape for young readers. Amy holds a firm belief that books are not only entertaining, but have the ability to transform young lives. A book can educate. A book can teach compassion and kindness. A book can spark interest. A book can be a companion. Simply put, books can accompany and guide young readers as they try to navigate their way through the twisted, confusing roads of adolescence.

She lives in Kentucky, where she is a middle school teacher. She and her husband are raising three wild, intelligent, and creative boys, giving her plenty of fodder for the love and adventure she enjoys putting in her stories!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Writer Wednesday: What's Your Sign?

Writing flows...

How much time do you spend on character development? Is it an integral part of your pre-writing planning? Or do you wing it as your write?

When I first started writing novels, I spent very little time on character development. I knew rudimentary things about my main characters but mainly focused on plot.

But as my writing grows, I find that I spend more time musing about characters than I do thinking through the plot. Perhaps it is a natural outgrowth of the learning process. While writing my first book, I was just trying to get a handle on creation of a beginning, middle and end. Once you've tackled a few plots, you're ready to take on more.

Or maybe I'm spending more time on character because I've now had the experience of feedback from readers. Reader feedback has helped me understand how important characters are to them. The books that we love - the ones we tell our friends about and are sad then they're over - such books are filled with characters that we love. We love Harry and Katniss. Or at least I do ;-)

As I prepare to begin writing a new book series, I find that I'm planning differently. I'm spending more time with the characters than I have before.

While developing my new set of characters, I've been having fun playing with the zodiac.

Yes, you heard me correctly. Working on your character's astrological chart can be an fun and interesting tool for character development.

Whether you believe in astrology or not is irrelevant for your use of the zodiac in creating your characters. The point is that the zodiac provides twelve ready-made personality profiles.

Here's how I'm using the zodiac for my current project.

Step 1: Peruse a site like Universal Psychic Guild or Scan the one paragraph descriptions of each sign. Does one stand out as belonging to your main character? What about your supporting cast of characters? And don't forget the antagonist. What signs are your characters?

Or, if you have already determined your character's birthdate, does your character's personality match the zodiacal sign for their birthdate?

Step 2: This is where I think the personality profile of the zodiac can help you deepen your understanding of your character (and add complexity to her or her personality). Have you thought about what kind of mate your character is attracted to? How does he or she deal with rejection? Have you considered what kind of friend your character is?

These are just a few of the questions that you'll find information on when searching for clues about your character's sun sign. You may or may not use the pre-made character profiles in full. But the different aspects of personality touched upon can help to stimulate your thinking about your character.

Erika is the female protagonist of my next series. I determined that Erika is a Taurus from looking at the short profiles of each zodiac sign. Here's Erika in a nutshell:

Your element: Earth
Your ruling planets: Venus
Symbol: The Bull
Your stone: Emerald
Life Pursuit: Emotional and financial security

Vibration: Determined energy

Taurus Secret Desire: To have a secure, happy and wealthy life/marriage.

Underneath their cool, calm and collected exterior, Taureans differ greatly from all the other signs of the zodiac. Taureans manage to discreetly stay apart from the crowd, even though they have a well-earned reputation for being socialisers. They will let others get close, but only so close as they want them. Some claim that trying to get your point across to a Taurean, should they not want to hear you, is rather similar to talking to the trees – they simply won't budge. And, there is no such thing as an open-book Taurean. Their feelings, fears and desires often run far deeper than anyone around them would guess. Like the butterfly that chooses to remain hidden in its cocoon until it is ready and prepared to emerge, so the true Taurean spirit remains hidden behind a veneer of day-to-day activities. That's why Taureans are sometimes regarded as snobby, withdrawn, boring, or even sulky.

The truth is, when Taureans manage to operate very adequately on their own form of automatic pilot, they can switch off from the world around them very efficiently. And when they do switch off, they are actually gathering in their inner reserves to deal with the outside pressures. This sign is also very closely connected to 'feeling good'. Most Taureans like their creature comforts and hate change because it takes them out of their automatic pilot condition of separating themselves from the world around them.

Because they hate to be put in jeopardy of any kind, this is the sign that strives to create tomorrow in advance, rather than leave it to fate. In love, Taureans are regarded as extremely sensual beings. An earth sign, they deal well with the personal, physical senses and consequently all the pleasures associated with what they can see, touch, smell and taste, add up to a special delight to them. Often nature and pet lovers, Taureans are closely associated with all things off the earth and nature.

A fun way to waste, oops, I mean creatively use your time is to search for your character's sign on Pinterest. I've pinned some things to the board I'm curating for my next project. You can take a look here. This gives you an idea of how I'm using the zodiac as just one tool for character development. If you peruse the board for H.A.L.F., you'll learn quite a bit about Erika.

This exercise of delving into Erika's sun sign has broadened my understanding of her - and given me some ideas for how I can express her personality and give her a quirky trait or two. I especially like the pin that says "If a Taurus smells even the slightest bit of insincerity coming from you, they will walk far, far away." (Via ZodiacMind, Tumblr). And this: "Taurus is satisfied with the simple things in a relationship." (Via Celia G.) These little tidbits have helped churn the flow of creativity. It has me thinking about how I can create scenes to make these ideas come out.

Of course there's more to a character than their sun sign. But I have found it a fun way to delve a bit deeper into the psyche of my characters.

What about you? Have you ever created a zodiac profile for your character? What tools do you use to develop your characters?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Manic Monday: Life Through the Lens of a Smart Phone and Facebook Feed

Day of the Dead Procession
Tucson, Arizona
Every year, people of my hometown of Tucson, Arizona gather for a strange, wonderful, event unique to the area. It's the Day of the Dead Procession. Thousands of people don skull makeup and elaborate costumes and march in a non-motorized procession in honor of dead ancestors. The procession culminates in the lighting of a giant cauldron hanging in the air, filled with prayers and letters to the dead.

Day of the Dead Procession
Prayers Take Flight to Heaven in the Smoke of the Fire

My daughter & her friend
All Soul's Day, 2013
The stage is filled with amazing dancers and mariachi. Drums pound as acrobats climb high and light the cauldron. It's colorful and loud yet thoughtful and somber all at the same time.

At the most recent Day of the Dead Procession, I was struck by the odd way in which our culture has become glued to our devices. As I stood in a sea of thousands, I observed how very few of the people at the event were in fact present and in the moment. Virtually everyone had their smart phone out, held up in the air and set to record. Instead of actually watching the event firsthand, people were instead watching the event through a four inch screen.

A few days after the event, I came across this article about a person quitting Facebook and how it impacted her life. It has me asking this question: By plugging in, are we missing out?

Here's the article:

And here's a video that I came across that I just love. It seems to capture exactly what I experienced at the Day of the Dead Procession.

What do you think? Are we missing out when we're trying to record all of our life's events with our hand held computers? Or are our experiences made richer by our tiny screens? Does Facebook give us richer, more full relationships? Or has Facebook (and other social media) given us a false sense of connection?

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