NEXT BIG THING Blog Hop

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What is a blog hop? Basically, it’s a way for readers to discover authors new to them.  I hope you’ll find new-to-you authors whose works you enjoy.  On this stop on the blog hop, you’ll find a bit of information on me and one of my books and links to three other authors you can explore!

Epcot - 30th Celebration FinaleI send my thanks, admiration and gratitude to fellow indie authors Melanie Edmonds and Matthew Williams for inviting me to participate in this event.  I found Melanie online a few years ago when I stumbled upon her serial called Starwalker.  I was immediately impressed by the quality of her writing and her very presence.  I’m still impressed.  Since then she and I have become great colleagues and co-contributors of Yuva, an anthology about space travel and colonization that Matthew Williams and I conceived of several months ago.

Matthew “Awesome Sauce” Williams is the most wickedly prolific author/bloggers I’ve ever known.  I envy his verve and talent.  He is an absolute inspiration and the the person I look to when I need a little push to keep writing.  We are currently co-editors and co-contributors of the Yuva Anthology.  More to come on that later.

In this blog hop, I and my fellow authors, in their respective blogs, have answered ten questions about our book or work-in-progress (giving you a sneak peek).  We’ve also included some behind-the-scenes information about how and why we write what we write: the characters, inspirations, plotting and other choices we make. I hope you enjoy it!

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts and questions. Here is my Next Big Thing!

1: What is the working title of your book? 

My novel is entitled An Unproductive Woman.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

You know what?  I don’t know the answer to that.  At the time that I wrote An Unproductive Woman I’d been watching a lot of Nigerian dramas most of which (at the time) typically centered very dramatically around family and marriage matters.

3. What genre does your book come under?

Hmm.  I can think of three that fit An Unproductive Woman perfectly: Women’s Fiction, Multicultural Fiction, and Contemporary Fiction.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I love that question and it is very difficult to answer.  Let’s see… hmm… well…

I see Adam, the man most people hate but end up rooting for by the end, played by maybe Keith David or Delroy Lindo.

Asabe, is a bit more difficult.  Perhaps Theresa Randall (15 years younger) or Sharon Leal.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

One man’s failed faith and secret quest to right old wrongs threatens to destroy his life but instead brings him full circle.

Sheesh, I’m out of breath saying that.  How about you?

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

An Unproductive Woman is self published and is currently available through Amazon or CreateSpace.  For the record, starting today and for the next two weeks you can sign up to win a signed copy of An Unproductive Woman over at Good reads.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

An Unproductive Woman by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

An Unproductive Woman

by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali

Giveaway ends April 17, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m not certain how long it took me to write the first draft, it being so long ago, but from start to finish including editing it took me about two years.  Then after about a year of trying to get a publisher, An Unproductive Woman sat in a box for about ten years before I finally decided to do something with it.

Am I aging myself?

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Honestly I can’t make any good comparisons, but I have found my book on this list on Goodreads.  I am in the company of some great cultural reads such as Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and Khaled Housseni’s The Kite Runner and another of his books, A Thousand Splendid Suns.  I’ve read Housseini and I think he is a genius.  I’d never compare myself to him, but I am definitely honored to be on that list among some literary heavy hitters.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

What I can say for certain is that at the time when I wrote An Unproductive Woman I was working out a lot of internal demons in terms of my family and also spiritually.  Writing An Unproductive Woman was cathartic and odd as it may sound, I gleaned a lot of strength from the titular character Asabe, and I learned loads about forgiveness by taking Adam through the paces.  I was emotionally invested in each of the characters even when they were behaving badly.

10: Are you writing anything else that people might be interested in?

I’ve hinted that I wrote An Unproductive Woman several years ago, at least fifteen.  While I feel that the story is timeless, I’m not.  Ha!  Today I am working on a project called The Hinterland Chronicles.  I am  unsure how many installments there will be, but I am planning on at least three short novels (about 75,000 words each) all taking place in the same “world”.  The Hinterland Chronicles, or some version of it has been with me for at least five years and has come to me in disconnected bits and pieces here and there.  Only recently did any of it make sense to me and I recently stated committing words to paper.  Drop back by here sometime to check out the progress meter over in the right hand margin.  I also plan to post shorts from this WIP on occasion to keep appetites whet.  The Hinterland Chronicles will be an entirely different genre than An Unproductive Woman and is best characterized at this time as dystopian SF.

Who’s next on the NEXT BIG THING BLOG HOP?

So glad you asked! Below you will find authors who will be joining me by blog, next Wednesday. Do be sure to bookmark and add them to your calendars for updates on Works in Progress and New Releases! Happy writing and reading!

Alesha Escobar – She is the talented author of the Gray Tower Trilogy.  The Tower’s Alchemist, which is the first book in the trilogy is currently available for free on Amazon.  Check it out if you like fun, adventure and historical fantasy.

Courtney Worth Young – She writes YA paranormal fantasy, is a coffee aficionado, geek, and voice actress.  Hmm.  Voice actress.  Her novel After the Woods will debut in May 2013, so keep your eyes wide open and mark your calendars.

Nadine Ducca – She went from medical translation to writing.  That makes sense to me.  And it’s a good thing.  Nadine is the author of Serving Time which will soon be available.  The cover reveal was just a few days ago so hop on over to her site to see what it looks like.  Should be exciting, yeah?

Sallie Lundy-Frommer – Sallie is a co-poetess and author of the paranormal romance Yesterday’s Daughter.  Check her out if you dare.

After 1 Year and 100 Posts

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A year has passed since I’ve started this website in the form in which it now exists. It’s been a good year. I’ve met and connected with an awesome community of indie authors and I’ve managed to gain a little bit of exposure for my book and make some sales in the process.  I procured a few interviews with interesting and prolific indie authors and artists, landed multiple guests post for this site, and have written a few for others as well, learned a bit about self-promotion, and wrote multiple book reviews.  I am also active on Goodreads.  Starla Huchton did and incredible job redesigning my book cover, and I joined Amazon’s KDP Select program.

I joined two anthologies over the past year.  Grim5Next Worlds Undone anthology is a spectacular idea conceived by Lyn Midnight wherein 36  writers collaborate to create twelves stories written in three parts about the apocalypse. The collaboration eventually went on to include artists and musicians and even a children’s project. Unfortunately, the project became too large and unwieldy for our lovely editor and it eventually fizzled out.  As of late however, it appears that Worlds Undone may be making a comeback.  I’m hoping it will.

The other anthology that I am involved with is more personal and dear to me. It started from a comment that I left on a fellow indie author Matt Williams’ site. We discussed the idea of going to space and that discussion turned into an anthology entitled Yuva.

Me: Four nerds verging on geeks live in my house, of which I am one. One of our nerdiest but fun conversations centered around the question “Would you rather go to space or the bottom of the ocean?” Hands down the answer was space.I once dreamed that my son, now 21, would one day go to space and walk on Mars. He is no longer a child who dreams of space, although it still intrigues, and space seems a distant childhood dream of his. But even for myself, at the ripe old age of 41, the idea of going to space is a bright hope, even though I know it is unattainable and unrealistic. But, given the chance, I would go. This post reminds me of the awesomeness of our great universe, of the chaotic randomness, of the beauty of this world and the things we have to be grateful for, and of how utterly minuscule we people really are in the grand scheme of things

Matt: Okay, you need to write this down. I foresee you doing a story where a family does go into space. Ho boy, I smell another anthology here!

Me: An anthology about space, going to space or anything related sounds awesome. I vote for you to be the editor. What do we need to do to get started?”

yuva_cover-0Yuva, still in the works, will consist of twelve stories of which mine will be first.  We’ve managed to fill about eight of the spots, so if anyone out there would like to contribute to a space and colonization anthology, shoot me a message.

Over the course of the last few months I realized that I had a bit of an unintentional theme going, that of time management. I wrote quite a bit about the subject and several fellow indie authors contributed some really amazing posts about how they manage their writing time.  As time is such a difficult thing for me to wrangle I think I was subconsciously looking for a way to reconcile my lack of time with my desire to be more prolific.  I’m still struggling with that one but one thing’s for certain, if you want to produce, you just have to do it.

Apart from the issue of time management, I didn’t have much of a plan as regards what I’d talk about here, which quite frankly was very much counter to my goal.

Over the past year I’ve read many posts about creating a unique author brand. I don’t think that I’ve done that successfully as regards this blog.  I blog about the things I like, an eclectic mishmosh of “stuff”, for lack of a better word.  For many reasons I’ve purposely stayed away from more challenging controversial topics.  I either feel under informed, unqualified, or quite honestly afraid to engage in these challenging discussions out of fear of alienating readers but as I have so few, (hahahaha) it’s pretty much a moot point.

Keeping with the idea of a theme I’ve decided to choose another topic to give special focus this coming year.  I’ve been giving this considerable thought this past month and have decided on critical analysis/reviews of SFF books written by women.  This will certainly not be to the exclusion of other post ideas and I hope will be interesting for readers as well as a learning experience for me.  I never feel as if I am well read enough.  I plan to read and listen to books.  The first review will be of Bujold’s Free Falling which is already quite interesting.  I plan to read more by Bujold, in addition to Leguin, Butler, Zimmer Bradley, and McCaffrey among others.  If anyone has suggestions of authors I should check out, fire away.

Honor

Honor

I’d hoped to have completed the outline of Honor&Truth by June, but that didn’t happen.  Then I got caught up working on my anthology stories, hit a writing slump that seems to happen to me every year around September, got distracted with children, life, work (which has been a beast!), the internet and attempts to promote An Unproductive Woman.  So, my efforts are renewed and I’m back at it.

Honor&Truth is a serial novel blog that I worked on for about a year and a half.  I finally stopped more than thirty chapters in.  I didn’t want to but felt compelled as I’d never so much as outlined a single chapter and my story, written by the skin of my teeth and posted every two weeks, had so many plot holes I couldn’t keep up with them.  I stopped the blog in order to regroup, merge H&T with another story that kept spinning in my head, and begin a serious rewrite.  Months have passed and on that account, I’ve failed.  Fortunately, I love the story and the characters enough to keep pressing.  And even better and heartening, the characters Bilqis, Honor, Araminta (Old Mother), Siti and many of the others talk to me everyday.  Loudly.

Honor&Truth has a new name.  As Truth does not exist in the current outline, it wouldn’t make much sense.  As it stands the story of Honor exists as the second tale in the Hinterland Chronicles.  But don’t hold me to it.  As I am still in the outlining phase, this could still change.

I’ve been nominated for a few blog awards, the last and most important of which is the Blog of the Year Award.  This honor was conveyed upon me by Matt Williams, to whom I am grateful.  A complete post about is soon to come.

My greatest work for this coming year will be continued simplification.  In other words, weaning out the unnecessary to replace with what I value.  I value my relationship with God, my family, my writing, and my health.  So this coming year will include renewed efforts to create peace and productivity with regard to those things I deem as most important to me.  Why is life such hard work?  Forget I asked that.

What have you accomplished this past year?  Toot your horn!  Tell me about your successes and failures.  Tell me what you have planned for 2013.

 

An Interview With Alesha Escobar About The Gray Towers Trilogy

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I am delighted to welcome Alesha Escobar back to my site, this time for an interview about  the second book in The Gray Tower series.  If you haven’t read the first book, The Tower’s Alchemist, then get on it.  You’re missing out on action packed reading.

1. The Tower’s Alchemist is a luxurious mishmash of ideas.  We have Nazis, witches and warlocks, vampires, magic, spies, and deception, not to mention lots of action.  Can you give us a little background about the basic plot of the Tower’s Alchemist?

It’s about a very different World War II, where magic exists in the world and Hitler’s obsession with the occult has led to him making a pact with warlocks. Of course the Allies won’t be outdone, and so they recruit wizards trained by the benevolent yet aloof institution known as the Gray Tower. My protagonist, Isabella George, is a Tower-trained alchemist working for British intelligence and spying in Nazi-occupied France. However we meet her at a point in her career when she wants to retire and settle down before she ends up dead–or worse, in an experimental lab.

She agrees to go on one final mission, but things end up getting complicated–both in her professional life and her private life, and she discovers that she has hidden enemies, even in the Gray Tower.

2.  The Tower’s Alchemist is an awesome mix of traditional genres and tropes in an original package.  What was the genesis for the story?

My husband came up with the idea of a female protagonist who’s a wizard spying in WWII–sort of a Hellboy meets Harry Dresden meets spy type story. I loved the concept and started fleshing everything out, and after a couple of drafts The Tower’s Alchemist was born.

3.  The second book in this series is Dark Rift.  How does this story pick up where the first one left off?  What did you hope to achieve in terms of the plot and character growth with the second book?

Dark Rift picks up a week or two after the ending of Tower’s Alchemist. Isabella visits a gypsy woman to have her mind sealed so that a mentalist wizard can’t read her thoughts or memories. Then she does one of the things she’s been desiring to do for a long time–go home to her family. Of course she finds that trouble won’t wait on her, and the plot takes not only interesting twists, but also answers several burning questions from The Tower’s Alchemist. You’ll see Isabella grow, both as a character and in magical power, and at the same time she’s going to be forced to face her demons.

4.  Both books are part of the Gray Tower Trilogy, which means there will be a third book at some point.  Do you already know the direction this last story will take or will it be a surprise to you as you write?  Have you started writing it yet and/or is there a publication date?

My husband almost fell out of his chair when I told him I (at first) wasn’t sure how it was going to end. Yes, I am one of those writers. Haha! All I have to say is thank goodness for Dramatica Pro because those outlines helped me immensely. I’ve actually started writing the third book and I know how it will all end. My projected publication date is Summer 2013, but if I can complete it earlier, you know I will!

5.  Who is your favorite character is and why?  If that character could share one thing about him or herself, what would it be?

That’s a tough one. I’ve fallen in love with so many characters in the story. I’ll pick my two favorites–Isabella and Neal. Isabella, because of the heart she has, and her willingness to fight for what she believes is right. Her sarcasm doesn’t hurt, either. If she could share one thing about herself, it would be that her second career choice would’ve been teaching. Neal Warren appears at the end of Tower’s Alchemist, but plays a much larger role in Dark Rift. He’s a Philosopher, which means he’s Sherlock Holmes on crack with a bit of magical enchantment powers mixed in. He’s a bit mysterious, he’s a lot of fun, and fiercely loyal to the Gray Tower. If he could share one thing about himself, it would probably be that he only uses half the stuff he purchases from the black market.

Enter to win a free electronic copy of The Dark Rift for your Kindle.  Email me at [email protected] between 11/30/12 and 12/07/12 to enter the drawing.  Good luck!  Good reading!

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Alesha Escobar

Alesha Escobar writes fantasy and urban fantasy stories to support her chocolate habit. She earned a B.A. in English Writing and a Master of Science in Education, and has enjoyed both teaching writing and being a writer. Her hobbies include reading, watching movies, and making crafts. She is currently working on the final installment of The Gray Tower Trilogy.

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