Friday, February 19, 2010

Winners & Birthdays!!

Today we celebrate winners of my first ever blog contest and birthdays of very special people in my life. First, the winners:
  • Elana Johnson - A random win for simply posting.
  • Heather - An easy win since she was the only one who posted a link. =)

Congratulations! Elana and Heather, please email me at kristie(at)kristiecook(dot)com. I need to know your prize choice, an email address and a shipping address.

Next time we'll have more participants (geez, I hope so!). I'm so new at blogging and it was probably way too soon to hold a contest already, but, hey, it was fun and I'm sure Elana and Heather are happy. =)

Of course, the reason for the contest was to celebrate all the birthdays today! First, my beloved sister-in-law Sheree, who passed away nearly eight years ago at the young age of 34. I miss you and love you lots, sis! Second, my middle-son, Austin, who is 16 today. Wow! And yes, he's ready to go take that driving test. Yikes!

And, third, Alexis, my daughter. Okay, she's fictional, but as the main character of my novels, she is very much like a daughter to me and since I never had one, I'll definitely take her. I made her birthday February 19 for a few reasons. First, to honor Sheree. Second, because it needed to be in February to match the story-line. And third, the astrological signs just fit her perfectly - on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces.

Finally, who knew how many writers celebrate birthdays today?! Some American writers, including some familiar names:
  • Kay Boyle
  • Carson McCullers
  • Homer Hickam
  • Amy Tan
  • Laurell K. Hamilton - Funny, her books were one of the prize offerings and I didn't even know it was her birthday, too!
 And a few other familiar names:
  • Smokey Robinson
  • Seal
  • Justine Batemen
  • Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake)
  • Leroy (Smash Mouth)
  • John Fishman (Phish)
  • Daniel Adair (Nickelback) --->

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


It’s time for my first-ever contest! I’ve won a couple blog contests recently and though they weren’t the lottery, I was so excited to win. Especially when I get free books out of them. Thank you to Eisley Jacobs and Jessica Capelle! Now, it’s time to pay it forward and this is the perfect week to do it.

Friday, February 19, is Alexis, my main character’s birthday. Yes, it may be weird to celebrate a fictional character’s birthday, but I know her so well, she could be my daughter. Besides, it’s not just her birthday. It’s also my middle son’s and my sister-in-law’s (love and miss you, Sheree!). Do I really need any other excuses? Didn’t think so.

I’m going to make it easy. I’ll award two prizes and the winners can pick from the books below. For one prize, I’ll randomly select (well, I won’t, one of those handy online pickers will) from anyone who comments on this post. You can comment anything you want, but I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts about self-publishing, since this is something I’ve decided to do. If you’re a writer, have you considered self-publishing or do you already self-publish? Why or why not? If you’re a reader, do you care if a book is self-published? Or do you choose based on author and story, regardless of how it was published?

For the second prize, I’ll randomly select from all of you who post a link to this blog, either on your website, blog, Facebook or Twitter. Please post the link in a comment so I (and everyone else) can see and visit your page. 

You have until Noon EST Friday, February 19, to enter. Then I’ll pick the winners and we can have an online celebration for the birthdays and the winners!


This one is for Sheree because Tiff, the protagonist, reminds me of her – very tall and a butt-kicker, for all the right reasons. ALONG CAME A DEMON is the first in the Whisperings series, but if you’ve already read it, then you can select THE DEMON HUNTERS.

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner
This one is for Austin because it’s the first book he’s read for fun since HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS…and he read it in two or three days. He really enjoyed it, can’t wait for the next one and hopes the rumors of it becoming a movie are true.

This is for Alexis because she knows what it’s like to be a misfit. It’s also Young Adult and Alexis writes Young Adult.

Take a pick from any SOOKIE STACKHOUSE (Southern Vampire) books by Charlaine Harris or ANITA THE VAMPIRE HUNTER books by Laurell K. Hamilton
And these are for both Alexis and me because we love our vampires! Alexis would love the TWILIGHT series (romance and vamps are right up her alley), but I’m pretty sure everyone who wants it already has it.

So check them all out and post a comment. Good luck!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Earth-Shattering Decisions

Well, earth-shattering in my world anyway. I’ve made two decisions this past week that completely change my writing life. And I feel really good about both of them. I’ve been contemplating both for some time and I came to their realizations within a few hours of each other. Coincidence? I think not. I believe that they work together to finally launch my stories into the world. I’m excited and scared at the same time…excited because my stories will go beyond a tight circle of friends and into the world and scared because of the risks and the potential changes to my and others’ lives.

Get on with it already, right? Stop blabbering and tell us! Okay, here goes, my public announcement (and don’t forget…these are BIG to me, but probably not to many others, so be prepared for disappointment LOL)…

My First Major Decision

As I’ve been writing here, on Facebook and Twitter, I’ve been working on rewrites of PURPOSE, primarily the first 75 pages. Many times I thought the novel was done. I even queried agents, only to receive rejections or no responses. My queries were pretty sucky because I had a hard time pitching the story. I couldn’t decide the real main plot line to focus on, what makes the story stand out from all the others. That was my first clue.

I still have a partial out with an agent (sent in November!), but I don’t expect to receive good news. Because I know now it wasn’t the best it could be when I sent that out. The beginning still just wasn’t right. I’ve also known all along that PURPOSE was entirely too long as a debut novel and this became clearer after learning more and more about story structure and publishing. So, back to rewrites and edits.

But every time I tightened everything up, I felt like I lost something in my characters and the story. I often wondered if I should just break the novel into two, but I couldn’t completely grasp that idea. First, I felt like this was the story given to me and I needed to stay true to it. Second, I didn’t know where to break it up. Where could I build in a climax earlier in the book? There were a couple obvious places, but I had good reasons for rejecting those ideas without further thought. Third, I also LOVE the ending to PURPOSE. It’s epic. It’s beautiful. And it leaves the reader wanting for more. If I broke the novel into two, the first one wouldn’t have nearly as great of an ending as PURPOSE.

But I finally realized this week that I’ve actually already written two novels. There are two great story lines in the current PURPOSE, which is why I couldn’t focus on one for querying purposes or for rewrites. So, PURPOSE is now my second book. The first one remains unnamed, although I have a pretty good idea. When I feel positive about it, I’ll announce it. The best thing is, once I made this decision, the responses to my above objections came loud and clear: 1) I can still stay true to the story. It will just be better. 2) The best breaking point is painfully obvious, and I really mean painfully. For the few who’ve already read PURPOSE, you have a good idea of where the first book will end. And yes, my readers may hate me for it, but they’ll be begging for the next book. And 3) Ideas for the climactic scene to the first book came rushing through me and I could barely get them scribbled on paper fast enough to keep up. And it’s going to be just as epic as PURPOSE’s ending. I can’t wait to actually write it!

My Second Major Decision

This one can be chalked up to what I’ve always considered as character flaws: impatience and my need for control. These flaws were exactly why I hadn’t decided this earlier, like nearly a year ago when I first thought about it. I told myself I needed to be more patient and more willing to give up control because it would be best for the books and my writing career. A lot has changed since then, though, including even more impatience and a stronger need for control. So, I’ve decided to go Indie…as in independently publishing my books.

It’s not that I don’t think a traditional publisher will eventually pick me up. I’m just not willing to wait for that to happen. It could be months or years. And even if someone bought the rights tomorrow, the first book likely wouldn’t hit the shelves until 2012! Yes, two years from now! And I’d still be responsible for the majority of the marketing and publicity…for making the sales. Publishers just don’t have the money to put into debut novelists these days. I completely understand their situation, but I’m not going to fall victim to it.

Besides, self-publishing means I control everything, from the cover to the interior formatting to the release date. Well, not me alone. They will be team decisions. Because I’m not doing this on my own.

I am blessed to have a great supportive network that believes in me and my books. We’ve already started discussing the plan for publishing the first book, which we’re targeting for a June 2010 release. Yes…just a few short months from now, not years. That’s why I’m scared! LOL But this will be good, not just for me, but for others, too. I believe in our abilities as a team and I’m really looking forward to this.

I’ll be writing a lot here about this incredible journey. For now, though, I must go write that new ending. Can’t wait for you to read it!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fight Scene Fun!

Thanks to Mireyah Wolfe at Crimson Ink, Fight Scene Blog Fest is in full swing, with almost 40 bloggers participating. I’ve checked out a few and there are many talented writers out there. Visit Crimson Ink for the full list and get a sneak peek into some great unpublished pieces.

And here is mine from PURPOSE…

(Note: Tristan and Seth are the same person…and that’s all I’m gonna say! *evilgrin*)
(Warning: Rated PG-13…just sayin’)

Edmund’s eyes darted back and forth between Tristan and Mom as he moved a few steps to our right and his creature scurried next to him. Tristan moved, too, while Mom remained still. Edmund and his creature moved back to our left. This time both Mom and Tristan moved with him. They angled themselves to take him from both sides without leaving a wide enough gap for him to get to me.

“So why don’t you just make this easy for all of us, Seth?” Edmund finally spoke as they continued their sick dance. “You come with me and I’ll leave them alone.”

“Never!” Tristan snarled.

Edmund nodded at me. “You can bring her along, if you’d like.”

A deep, guttural growl rumbled in Tristan’s chest. He and Mom both took a step forward, their only reply.

“Then you’d rather fight it out.” Edmund made a tsk-ing sound and the creature’s shape transformed. It fell on all fours, became longer and taller in the darkness. It paced like a guard dog in front of Edmund, its eyes glowing red fire, a low growl in its throat. I shrank back while Tristan and Mom positioned themselves to fight. “Or maybe I just take her and let you chase me.”

Edmund leaped into the air, seeming to fly over Tristan and Mom, and landed right next to me, as they spun around. Tristan swore profusely. The dog-thing stayed behind them and crouched to attack. It continued to growl and even in the darkness I could see its lips pulled back, sharp fangs glinting in the little bit of natural light seeping in at the edges of the windows. Edmund grabbed the back of my neck tightly and pulled me to him. My mind and body numbed in terror.

“NO!” Tristan growled roughly.

He lunged at the bulky man, knocking Edmund hard against the wall, pulling me with him. My hip smacked painfully against the baluster at the top of the stairs. At the same time, the dog-thing jumped at Mom. She spun at it, her arms whacking it in the side like a bat hitting an oversized, misshapen ball, and it sailed across the room, landing with an inhuman cry. It was back on its feet in a second and charged at Mom. She crouched, ready for it. They simultaneously leaped toward each other and while still in mid-air, Mom grabbed its head and twisted it with a snap. The thing fell to the floor with a thud.

Mom landed lithely on the balls of her feet and whirled around to Tristan, the hulk and me. Tristan and the hulk glowered at each other in a standoff. Tristan held his hand up, palm facing Edmund but nearly two feet from him, holding the hulk flat against the wall with his paralyzing power, while Edmund’s hand still clutched my neck.

“LET. HER. GO!” Tristan roared. His eyes blazed with bright flames.

“You are such a traitor.” Edmund smirked, his own eyes glowing blood red. He slowly raised his free hand just an inch from the wall, fighting Tristan’s power with evident difficulty and apparently not able to move anymore than that. Mom stepped forward, but he was just able to twitch his finger and she flew into the loveseat, held there by an unseen force. Anger blazed in her eyes as she struggled against the power holding her, her shoulders and neck straining.

It pissed me off.

My heart pounded in terror but the anger rose above it. Just enough to give me the force I needed. It all happened so quickly, but it felt like slow motion as my mind registered every move, every detail. Just like Tristan taught me, I yanked on Edmund’s pinky finger, forcing his other fingers to follow and loosen his grip. I wrapped my other hand around the baluster and yanked it from its anchor. I lifted it as high as I could and slammed it down on the arm holding me. It wasn’t much compared to Edmund’s strength, but enough to distract him. He turned to look at me, his eyes wide and his mouth in a silent O. He apparently never expected me to fight back. Tristan seized the opportunity and pounced. I freed myself from the hand before it tried to close back on me and stumbled sideways, nearly falling down the stairs, catching myself on the opposite rail.

Tristan came down on the Daemoni, jabbing his elbow into Edmund’s upper back and his knee into the back of his thigh, the femur snapping loudly. The hulk fell into a heap on the floor, howling with both pain and rage. Tristan grabbed his dark hair and I turned away as he slammed his head against the concrete floor. The crack made my stomach lurch and echoed in my ears. I looked back as Tristan dragged him over to the creature’s body.

He leaned over and snarled, “Don’t fuck with me unless you can finish it.”

Blog Love

Caught up in rewrites and edits, I forgot to post this blog! Shame on me! This one will be a quickie because there will be another to follow later today. I’ll explain in a minute. First, this post is all about love for other blogs and bloggers. I have learned and laughed from so many other bloggers and in the past couple weeks, I’ve also won a couple things! Woot! So here’s my shout-out and thanks, plus an announcement about a fun blog-fest that’s already started and ends midnight tomorrow night (2/2).

Thank you to Eisley Jacobs and her blog, Eisley’s Ellipses ( for the great prize, THE 39 CLUES. This was a random drawing Eisley held for her blog readers and I was chosen. Speaking of random…when we participate in social media, we meet all kinds of random people. Many are quite scary, but sometimes we get lucky and meet a few lovely peeps. Eisley is one of those. I met her on Twitter and she is one of the loveliest people I know-but-don’t-know. Follow her blog for another perspective on the life of an aspiring writer.

Another Thank You to Cornell Deville ( for hosting the contest “Openings.” PURPOSE won the contest for the best first paragraph of 50 entries. Thanks to all my voters, too, for your support, and to the commenters for helping me make it even better. Cornell Deville is a new blog, but, dude, they are busy, busy. There’s already another contest posted for best query letter, judged by a literary agent. There is also great information provided on the site, so if you’re a writer, you need to check it out.

Finally…it’s Blog Fest time. I’m participating in my first ever fest, which is a Fight Scene Blog Fest. Bloggers will be posting fight scenes, either from their own books (published and not) or from other books and movies. It should be a lot of fun. Check out those participating here: Since this is my first time, I’ll be sneaking a peek at what others posted before posting my own scene later today, but it will be something only a few people have ever read…or maybe something out of my newest WIP (work in progress) that only ONE person has read so far. So get a sneak peek into PURPOSE or the next book coming later today.

That’s all for now! I need to go figure out which scene I’m going to post and will be back later…