Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cover Reveal: "Dissension" by K.A. Salidas

I'm sadly late in getting this out there to you, but that is mostly due to illness. Thankfully, my fellow indie writer Katie Salidas has been quite gracious with her understanding and forgiveness.

And now, without further ado, I present the cover for Katie's upcoming new book (due in February!), Dissension:


The great cataclysm wiped almost all life from the face of planet Earth, but tiny pockets of survivors crawled from the ashes, with only one thought: survival, at any cost.
But not all survivors were human.

In the dark, militant society that has risen in the aftermath, vampires, once thought to be mythical, have been assimilated and enslaved. Used for blood sport their lives are allowed to continue only for the entertainment of the masses. Reviled as savages, they are destined to serve out their immortal lives in the arena, as gladiators.

And there is no greater gladiator than Mira: undefeated, uncompromising...and seemingly unbreakable. When an escape attempt leads Mira into the path of Lucian Stavros, the city’s Regent, her destiny is changed forever.

Lucian, raised in a culture which both reviles and celebrates the savagery and inhumanity of vampires, finds Mira as intriguing as she is brash. An impulsive decision - to become Mira’s patron – changes more than just Lucian’s perception about vampire kind.  The course of his life is altered in ways he could never have predicted – a life that is suddenly as expendable as hers.

Can Mira prove to Lucian that all is not as it seems? Can Lucian escape centuries of lies, bloodshed, and propaganda to see the truth? Or will the supreme power of the human overlords destroy them both?

~Excerpt 1~

©Katie Salidas 2014
Rising Sign Books LLC

The roar of the crowd, all twenty-five-thousand people in attendance, rose to a thundering crescendo when Mira delivered a bone-crunching blow to her opponent’s ribs. Standing only five feet tall, she might not have appeared a formidable warrior, but the thin, spiky-haired waif of a vampire could hold her weight and more when put to the test. Amplified by the superb acoustics, the sound of bones cracking echoed through the Superdome arena. The defeated, a red-headed male vampire staggered, punch-drunk, and then dropped to his knees. Dirt and sweat coated his face but could not mask the fear in his icy blue eyes. His was a look Mira had seen so many times before. Her opponent’s immortal life had finally come to an end, and he was ready to take the final deadly blow.

Above her, Mira knew the fifty-foot mega screen showed her hapless victim in brilliant resolution, ensuring that all who were attending, and those watching from the comfort of their homes, could see these last gruesome moments in crystal clear high-definition.

Mira gazed down at her opponent’s blood-soaked face. Though he was her enemy for the moment, she did not relish having to end him. No one should be forced into the arena and told to kill or be killed. It wasn’t right. But it was what was demanded of her, and given the choice between her life and someone else’s… well, there really was no choice. No matter the cost, Mira was a survivor.

She glanced up to the large private box overlooking the arena. A well-dressed man in deep-purple robes sat, enjoying what appeared to be a dinner of filet mignon and roast potatoes. Even here, in the dusty arena below, Mira’s enhanced senses picked up the tantalizing scent of very rare, bloody steak. She could hardly believe that a human could not only watch the murder about to take place, but also sit and eat the dead flesh of a once-living being while doing it. From the smell of it, the poor beast was practically still bleeding on his plate. Who was truly the more savage creature?

Over the crowd’s roar, an announcer introduced the well-dressed man, Lucian Stavros, Regent of the Iron Gate. Lucian gently and purposefully slowly set down his knife and fork. He took another moment to wipe his face clean and then smiled, acknowledging the roaring crowd.

Chants of “Death, death, death,” rang out from the throng as a single unified demand. 

The Regent listened for a moment, making a show of putting his hands to his ears to hear screaming hoard’s request, and then held a hand out, with his thumb pointed to the side.

As if the next moment were the most important, the anticipating mass hushed. Eerie silence filled the arena as everyone watched for the Regent to make his decision.

From her vantage point below, Mira saw the steely look of determination cross the Regent’s face. If she didn’t know better, she might have thought he took this decision seriously; but then, he was human, and they never cared much if her kind lived or died. Lucian Stavros took a cursory glance down at Mira. Their eyes met. It was only a brief moment, but in that short time, Mira saw him waver.

Could it be true, she wondered, or was it just a trick of the light? No human actually cared about the lives of vampires. The moment faded, and the fleeting thought left.

Mira saw the Regent’s decision. He turned his thumb down. Death! 

The crowd went wild.

The last hope for her defeated opponent had vanished; Mira had to finish him. “Sorry,” she whispered to the half-dead vampire on his knees before her. Though her fangs tingled at the prospect of tasting his final dying moments—her reward, if you could call it that, for living through another battle—she did not enjoy what she was about to do. Like her, he was a slave, forced into servitude to the humans as they saw fit. He had not asked for this, and neither had she. But, despite what either of them wanted, it was the will of the crowd, the humans, that had to be served.

Aiming to sever the carotid artery with her fangs, Mira dove at her opponent’s neck. His death would be quick. At least she could afford him that luxury.

~And now for a little bit about Katie~

Katie Salidas is a Super Woman! Endowed with special powers and abilities beyond those of mortal women, she can get the munchkins off to gymnastics, cheerleading, Girl Scouts, and swim lessons. She can put hot food on the table for dinner while assisting with homework, baths, and bedtime… And, she still finds the time to keep the hubby happy (nudge nudge wink wink). She can do all of this and still have time to write. 

And if you can believe all of those lies, there is some beautiful swamp land in Florida for sale…

Katie Salidas resides in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mother, wife, and author, she does try to do it all, often causing sleep deprivation and many nights passed out at the computer. Writing books is her passion, and she hopes that her passion will bring you hours of entertainment. 

~Here's a bonus excerpt for you!~

©Katie Salidas 2014
Rising Sign Books LLC

the hair on the back of Mira's neck prickled. An uncomfortable weight of unseen eyes settled on her. Dread sank to the pit of her stomach. Busted...and so close to escaping. Someone else was there, watching her. She felt it, but what was more unsettling was the fact they had yet to announce themselves. Guards would shoot first and ask questions later. Someone lurking in the shadows… there was no telling what game they’d be playing.

Mira turned around and stood next to the guard she had just felled. It didn’t take much for her to find the source of her unease. A pair of mossy green eyes scrutinized her from the opposite end of the hall.

Heart pounding, she stared back at the man attached to those quizzical eyes. Human, no doubt. But he didn’t carry a weapon. Nor was there any fear in those green eyes of his. On the contrary, alone in a dark corridor, he stood his ground, lifting his head, and stared Mira down like an alpha from some long lost wolf pack.

The strangeness of his manner caught Mira by surprise. For a few moments too long, she stood dumbfounded, trying to process who he was and what her next move should be. His face seemed oddly familiar, though at the moment she couldn’t place where she’d seen him before.

The strange man was tall and well built, but that really didn’t matter much. Mira could take down vampires larger than she with no problem. But that wasn’t the thing stopping her from making a move. Judging by the deep plum of his suit, he was a man of some power. Only the Elite – those in the ruling class – were ever permitted to wear such an audacious color. As desperate as Mira was at that moment, she needed to tread carefully. Being caught escaping—again—would earn her more time in the light box, but injuring an Elite could have her staked out in the middle of town square awaiting the dawn.

“Aren't you going to finish him?” the man asked, his tone calm, soothing, as if he genuinely wanted to know the answer.

“Why don’t I finish you instead?” She hoped the warning in her voice would be enough to deter him, but still the man remained unfazed, like some stoic statue across the hallway. What was he playing at? And why was he just standing there, calmly, giving her every opportunity to strike? Did he really place so little value on his life?

“You could kill me, sure, but ask yourself how that is going to help your situation.” Spoken like a true Elite. He had to be up to something.

She didn’t like the smugness in tone, but felt at a loss as to how to continue. She could be on him in a fraction of a second. Crush his windpipe, and maybe buy herself a few more minutes to find the exit, but she was lost and had already wasted too much time. However, her inaction was almost certain to earn her some additional reprisal as well.

The corner of his lip quirked up. “I take it by your lack of response, that you’ve decided against harming me?”

Damn him! He knew she couldn’t take the risk. “For the moment, I guess.” Mira did not let her own uncertainty leach out into her voice. She attempted to sound self-assured, as if she were the one in charge at that moment.

“Well.” He let out a little sigh. “I’m pleased to hear that.” The strange man smiled congenially. “But, we will have to sort out what to do with you. It appears you’re out of bounds here.”

To learn more about Katie and her books, check out these links:





Katie's Publisher

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble


All Romance eBooks

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The good, the bad, and the ugly.

We authors love reviews. Certainly the enthusiastic ones from readers who enjoyed the book are the best, because they make us smile and they make us feel good about the work we've done. But the reviews from people who didn't like the book, either in whole or in part, are a necessary evil. We need those almost as much -- if not more -- than the "I loved it!" reviews.

Why? you ask. Because reading what people think is wrong or unrealistic, while such opinions may be hurtful at first, educates us. Reading negative reviews can only strengthen us as writers, especially if we take those negative words and use them to improve our work. A writer may disagree with a bad review, but that doesn't mean we can't learn and grow from it.

The reason I write this is because one of my author friends has said that she no longer pays any attention to the negative reviews she gets -- as in, she's stopped reading them altogether. She's even going so far as to encourage only the people who've enjoyed her books to post reviews; she doesn't want anyone posting negative reviews. What's the point, after all, if she isn't even going to bother reading them?

I firmly believe that this is a bad outlook for her to take. In my opinion, soliciting only positive reviews makes her seem arrogant and self-centered, as if everything she writes is gold. Having read her work myself, I can and will say that she is very talented, and she will certainly go far as an author. But no one is immune to mistakes. In her most "celebrated" work -- which I have read -- there were numerous editorial errors. Her characters also left quite a bit to be desired, as I honestly found several of them highly unbelievable.

But that's just my opinion. No, I have not posted a review, because again -- what would be the point? Why bother wasting my time writing one if she's not going to bother reading it, because anything other than high praise is wrong and beneath her? I do try very hard not to be judgmental of anyone, but I just think her mindset against unfavorable reviews is wrong. And where else can I share this opinion if not here on the Diary?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Keeping active

Hey all! ::waves::

In case you have been missing it (and I sure hope you haven't!), there's been quite a bit of activity going on over on my Facebook page. I finally learned how to schedule posts there to keep it active and engage my readers -- there have been excerpts from my past works and pictures that inspire my writing, or maybe just some quotes or pictures that I felt like sharing. 

Stop on over there and get to know me a little. Ask a question if you want to know more!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fire Born now at 18 (mostly) glowing reviews...

Fire Born is still going strong! Reader Eniko gave Chris and Martie's story 5 stars! Click the link below to read every word of her glowing praise -- thank you Eniko!

Friday, January 10, 2014

How long indeed...

My good friend and fellow author, Allison Cosgrove, asked me a question today that made me want to share some information with all of you. 

Her question was, "How long are romance novels?" I replied that they could be "as long as you want them to be" and asked why she wanted to know. Allison said she felt she was being tested because an idea for a romance novel is nagging her Muse and she's already got a work in progress. I told her I knew how that felt, because the same thing has been happening to me lately. When I asked if she meant in pages or words, she said "Words", and I replied that the accepted minimum word count of a novel is 50,000 words. 

We then delved into a conversation about the length of different kinds of books, but I'm going to share with you all the info that I found. On the website Novel Writing Help, they gave the following numbers for fiction:
  1. Short-short or Flash Fiction: anything under 1,000 words
  2. Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words; also listed was "a word count of under 20,000 words"
  3. Novelette or Long Story: 7,500 to 20,000
  4. Novella: 20,000 to 50,000 words
  5. Novel: 50,000 words or more 
Another, somewhat more detailed breakdown, comes from the Science Fiction Writers of America:
  1. Drabble: Precisely 100 words
  2. Vignette: 101 to 2,500 words
  3. Short Story: 2,501 to 7,500 words
  4. Novelette or Long Story: 7,501 to 17,500 words
  5. Novella: 17,501 to 40,000 words
  6. Short Novel: 40,001 to 60,000 words
  7. Novel: 60,000+ words

In both of these length lists, I added "or Long Story" after Novelette because Novel Writing Help stated that "novelette" was considered a derogatory term. Personally, I've never heard that and have never seen it as such. Wikipedia wrote it up as being longer than a short story, but shorter than a novella -- thus, novelette.  Novel Writing Help also says the "ideal length" of a novel is between 80,000 and 100,000 words, and if you're an independent author like me, you have free reign as to how long or short you want your story to be. However, if you are hoping to be signed with a publisher, please remember to visit their website to see if they have a word count limit, as some of them do for certain genres.

According to both of these lists, I've written two novelettes (Nice & Naughty and The Beauty in the Black Room were each just shy of 10K) and four novels (Fire Born was just shy of 78K; Chasing Shadows and From the Shadows around 109K; Two Evils just over 118.5K). I think I've done pretty well for myself. :)

Don't be a criminal!

Piracy of electronic materials such as e-books, movies, or music IS A CRIME. If you download any of these items for free from any website other than a reputable and world recognized retailer (such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or the Apple iStore), you are in essence receiving stolen property and that IS A CRIME. You are denying the creator of the work money they would have earned from a legal sale of that material. You are stealing, which IS A CRIME.

If you copy any of these materials and upload them to any website (such as Kickass Torrents or Miss Literati among many, many others), you are committing an ILLEGAL act and are in violation of the creator's copyrights. Not only that, but you are also denying the creator of the work money they would have earned from a legal sale of that material. Stealing IS A CRIME.

Just today I found in my news feed reports from two fellow independent authors that they had discovered links to pirated copies of their work. A friend of mine, also an indie author, sent me a private message saying she was compelled to see if her work had been pirated, and it had. I myself am also a victim of piracy -- all four of my books have been pirated multiple times.

Please people, DON'T BE A CRIMINAL. Do not upload or download an illegal copy of a book, movie, or song.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's Semi-Resolutions

First, let me start off by saying Happy New Year (even if I am a few days late doing so) to those of you who celebrate the occasion. Personally, I don't celebrate New Year's as a holiday, and I haven't for 13 years. Why? Because January 1, 2001 is the day I fount out I had miscarried my first baby. Thus, it is one of my two least-favorite days of the year; the other is September 1, because on that day in 2005, I found out I'd miscarried my second child. 

Obviously, my reason for not celebrating January 1 as a holiday is deeply personal, but I'm not one to rain on others' parades, so if you see the start of a new year as a festive occasion, then I am happy for you, and I truly wish you the very best in the coming months.

Now, just because I don't consider New Year's Day a holiday doesn't mean I don't think about making changes for the year ahead. I prefer to call them goals instead of resolutions, but if calling them resolutions is what folds your laundry... Anyhoo, on January 1, I came up with three goals to accomplish this year, and I'd like to share them with you.

First thing I want to do is keep my work space clean. I am a bit of a clutterbug, I hate to admit, and I have a tendency to just let things pile up until it grates on my nerves enough to do something about it. The strangeness of that is that I prefer my things neat and tidy, with everything in it's place and easy to get to. You see, I have two disorders -- disposophobia (aka hoarding) and OCD, both quite mild all things considered -- that are polar opposites to each other, and as such can make my life fairly complicated if I don't use the latter to control the former. Often I will clean my space up all spic and span and it will stay that way for a few weeks...until just one thing gets set aside for later. Next thing I know, there's a pile of stuff blocking my second desk and my side table has become a catch-all. Again. On December 31 I did get one side of my bedroom suite (two bedrooms with the dividing wall knocked down; I tidied the side I sleep on) cleaned up, but the second side (where I write and watch TV) still needs to be done.

So, first goal is to finish getting my space cleaned up -- and to KEEP IT THAT WAY. 

The second thing I want to do is focus more on my writing. In 2012, I published one book and one short story (Chasing Shadows, January 15; The Beauty in the Black Room [featured in Darkest Desires by Hot Ink Press] October 30). In 2013, I published three books (Fire Born, January 15; From the Shadows, April 11; Two Evils, October 20), two of which -- Fire Born and From the Shadows -- I'd begun the year before. I wrote a short story that you can read for free here on the Diary and I've a work in progress -- Fire Loved, second book in the Firehouse 343 series -- that I started for NaNoWriMo 2013 and which has a projected release date of February 14, if I can get my Muse off her butt to help me get it written! I think I'd like to top last year's pub count, meaning I want to do more this year. I want to do better.

So, my second goal is to write AND publish no less than four books in 2014 -- not including Fire Loved.

The third thing has to do with my health. What many don't know about me is that I am overweight. Given that I am a petite 5 ft. 3 in. tall, my present girth (last official weight was 265, though that was back in 2012 and is likely to have increased since then) falls into the range of morbidly obese. Considering the myriad other physical issues I have -- asthma, anxiety, arthritis, hypertension and tendonitis -- my weight is truly dangerous to my continued longevity. I'm at risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, COPD, and heart disease, all of which run on both sides of my family. I don't like being overweight, and I admit to being considerably self-conscious about my appearance. I wear baggy clothes most of the time to hide my rolls and I crack fat jokes aimed at myself in order to deflect the fact that I'm unhappy with my present condition. 

I'm also quite well aware that physical appearance is crucial in developing long-lasting romantic relationships and that men more often than not prefer a woman who is physically fit. It is my firm belief that anyone who says "looks don't matter" is lying through their teeth, as what a person looks like is the very first thing we notice about them -- and what they look like at a passing glance is what determines if they get a second (and third, and so on) longer glance. You know, the one in which we determine whether or not the person is not just physically attractive, but sexually attractive, as in "Would I want to see this person naked?" 

I'm not dating anyone right now. I haven't had a serious relationship in 13 years and haven't had what kids nowadays are calling a hook-up in probably 3 years (I'm pretty sure we're all adults here, so I feel no shame in getting a little personal -- besides, how could I have had two miscarriages if I'd never had sex?). I feel pretty confident in my belief that my appearance is one of the things that has deterred the fellas from wanting to get a little closer, and that's pretty sad. I mean, though I admit to appearance playing a role in sexual attraction, it shouldn't be the only factor in determining sexual attraction. After all, how do any of those guys who didn't look twice at me know that I'm not an amazing woman? I have a very spitfire personality (allegedly due to my Irish ancestry), so I'm told, not to mention people I work with think I'm funny and easy to talk to. 

However, as much as I'd like to look better for the guys so I could maybe get married and try for a family before I'm out of my child-bearing years, a lack of romance and offspring isn't the only reason I brought up my weight. Truly, as much as I would very much love to have both in my life, neither would mean much of anything if I'm not around to enjoy them. And I know that if I don't get in better shape, there's a very real possibility that I might not be. For goodness' sake, a girl I work with who is six months younger than I am had a heart attack a few months ago, not long after her 34th birthday (which, if I'm not mistaken, was in October). That was something of a wake-up call, and a reminder that none of us are immune. But the obese are especially at risk, and I want to reduce my risk of heart attack, stroke, and all those other things I'm at risk for. I want to be around to fall in love with someone. To get married and try to have kids -- and if it turns out I can't have 'em, adopt a bunch of kids. I want to be around long enough to write books that earn me the title "Best-selling Author". 

So, my third goal is to get healthier. For me.

There you have 'em -- my New Year's Semi-Resolutions. Feel free to share your own goals for 2014 in the comments section.