Thursday, February 27, 2014

Featured Author: Connie Smith

Connie Smith's novel, Emblazed, (Book two of The Division Chronicles) has just been released, and I'm happy to share an excerpt from the book as well as feature Connie in a guest post. Connie talks about what helps keep her sane through the writing process, and with the exception of the fan (keep reading) I couldn't agree with her more. If you'd like to read the first book in the series, Essenced, now's the time, as it's being offered for free this week (February 24-28). But first, read about Emblazed:

About the book:

After all the preparations, Nicholai’s warriors stand on the threshold of warfare, the demons entering the realm in battalions and the world unknowingly depending on the army’s success to continue intact. But the battle is only the beginning of deadly struggles, and the soldiers will soon realize how little they know, how many things are at stake, and how much they have to lose.

Love, hate, hope, despair, anguish, joy... The journey is a gauntlet of emotion and combat, threatening their resolve as much as their lives.

Will their training and ties be enough, or will the complications and the forthcoming evil forever cripple the world’s last hope of survival?

Guest Post from Connie Smith

Apparently Lord Byron once said, “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”

There might be a smidge of truth in that thought. As of right now, I have at least half a dozen ideas for future books in my head – not including stories related to The Division Chronicles. That’s a whole lot of characters and places and situations and romances and disputes...All jumbled and waiting to be put to paper. I wouldn’t go mad, but I’d definitely have my own daydreams that no one could really relate to.

Still, writing can be a stressful process. Trying to get from Point A to Point B, making judgment calls for characters, worrying over consistency... And when you finally get the first draft penned, it’s time for the cruelest piece of the writing puzzle: Editing. I HATE editing. It takes a loooong time, it’s tedious, and I end up finding numerous reasons to think I’m a moron within my own text. Possible complaints include:

“Why did I think that sounded good?”

“That doesn’t make any sense!”

“Why can’t books edit themselves?”

So yeah. It isn’t a fun process, but there are certain things that help me maintain my sanity, just like letting my characters free makes my daydreaming mind less odd to other people. Care to know some of them?

1) Candles. Yes. Candles. I can’t tell you how unbelievably relaxing it is, after hours of editing, to turn off the lights, put a cool compress over my tired, tired eyes, and just linger in candlelight for a few minutes. It’s rejuvenating, even if I can’t completely explain why. All I know is that candles have become quite an appreciated part of my life.

2) My fan. And yes, I mean a literal fan. Like, hot summer day, fan in the window. I do my best writing in quiet, and my fan is kind enough to block out the craziness that goes on around me. Granted it makes noise, but it’s a constant drone rather someone talking or music, something that’s more fluid. The monotony of it is such a constant that it doesn’t bother me, instead drowning other noises. It’s a weird habit, I suppose, but it’s helped me write and edit.

3) Maintaining a schedule. This seems simple, but it works wonders. I like to have a time frame or a goal in my mind when I start writing as to what I want to accomplish that day. Of course there are times when I might have to push past those intentions, but in general. If I say I’ll work for four hours, or write one chapter, it helps to maintain that goal throughout the process. Sometimes the mental ball is rolling, and it pays to see where it’s going. Maybe I’m in the right mood, and I just *want* to keep writing. If that’s the case, great. But if not, there’s no shame in calling it quits. Taking my time. Keeping my sanity. Ideally my story will be better because of it.

4) Taking a day off. Again, there are times when not working might be a stupid option, but when things are on schedule and everything is flowing well, letting myself have a day off is one of the best things I’ve found. It coincides with the keeping-to-a-schedule fiasco. My mind can flutter around to other things, rather than feeling continually dragged down by the same project every day for weeks on end. A breather day here and there has become a staple in my process.

5) Pinterest. Does this sound stupid? Trust me. It isn’t! Ways exist to be productive where my books are concerned other than just writing and editing the actual stories. Blogging, Twitter, Facebook... There are social media options that I can work on – still being the diligent author – while letting myself step away from the craziness of the book’s text. Pinterest, I’m finding, is one of my favorites. I can go to the site and work on a board made for The Division Chronicles, and while it’s time separated from the piece itself, it isn’t wasted.

There are other things that help me out, but five is such a good number, don’t you think? I think so. In any event, thanks for reading my post and helping me celebrate the release of Emblazed (The Division Chronicles: Book Two)! Keep in mind that Essenced (book one of the series) is scheduled for a free promotion throughout this blog tour (Feb. 24th-28th), so if you aren’t ready for Emblazed, you can catch up! I’m also planning giveaways for each day included in this tour for my Twitter account, so you might want to check that out!

Excerpt from Emblazed

AJ sensed him there, standing wordlessly some feet in the distance, just like she always recognized his presence when he lingered near. She absorbed the comfort and happiness he brought her – not that she’d admit that out loud – before sighing and speaking. “It’s called making a bed, Julius. It’s pretty commonplace.”

He didn’t push away from the doorframe, instead leaning further against it while he continued to observe her. “Sweetheart, nothing’s commonplace when you do it.”

Hearing the grin and affection in his voice, she smiled, peeking at him over her shoulder. “Is that a compliment or an insult?”

He gazed upward to stare at the ceiling with a thoughtful expression, then returned his attention to her, his shrug carefree. “Both.”

She smirked. “Sweet talker.”

“Odd ball.” He finally moved from the threshold, unhurriedly advancing toward her. “You know, most people make their beds in the morning. Not ten o’clock at night.”

She snorted. “Yeah. I’m gonna make my bed as soon as I roll out of it at six AM. I wouldn’t be making it now if I didn’t have to wrestle the sheet back on four times a night.” Finally setting her pillow in its position, she turned to him with an unashamed grin.

He chuckled, his adoration plain, and brushed a lock of hair from her face. “You’re one of a kind, you know that?”

“Compliment or insult?” she teased again.

“Compliment.” He smiled, cupping her cheek. “Definitely a compliment.”

“Sweet talker,” she repeated, standing on her tiptoes to press a kiss to his lips. Wrapping her arms around his neck, his circling her waist, she dove into the moment, reveling in the wonderful sensations only Julius incited. Safety. Warmth. Passion. So many more she couldn’t quite put a name to, the combination too heady and consuming to adequately decipher. It was simply a Julius effect, and its wonder had no equal in her life. Gradually breaking away, she knowingly lifted an eyebrow. “You didn’t come here just to make fun of me over my bed-making habits.”

“Maybe I came up here just to kiss you.”

“If that were the case, dear Julius, you wouldn’t have waited until I kissed you.”

Narrowing his eyes, he barely restrained his smirk at her forwardness and how well she’d grown to understand him in their time together. “You have a point.” He stepped back from her embrace, grasping her hand in his. “Come on. We have a mission.”

“A mission?” Her brow furrowed, though she made no move to retrieve her palm from his, following him in confusion as he neared the hallway. “At ten o’clock at night?”
“I believe we already covered the time in this conversation, AJ.” He made a clucking noise with his tongue, shaking his head in mock disappointment. “You really need to keep up with matters a bit more.”

She glared at the back of his head, lips thinning despite her vexing boyfriend’s inability to see her from his location. Realizing the futility of her frustrated efforts, she clenched the fingers he clutched, smiling in accomplishment at his grunt of discomfort. “Yeah, we covered it, but in household chore way. Not in a mission way. What could we possibly have to do this late at night?”

He sent her an amused glance – one she deemed condescending, particularly after the physical hint of her annoyance  – while tugging her through the doorway. “You do realize it isn’t ten o’clock everywhere, right?”

“Of course I realize that! I’m not a moron!”

“I never said you were…”

She growled, steeling her feet against the floor and prying her hand from his. “You didn’t have to. Your little grin said it all for you.”

His stare revealed sincere bewilderment – maybe a speck of frustration as well – and his arm dropped to his side. “So let me get this straight. You’re angry at me… because I smiled at you?”

Her eyes widened in fury, one finger raising to point at his chest while her left fist braced against her hip. “Don’t try to turn this around like I’m crazy!”

He scrunched his forehead, gaze traveling up and down her form while he held his hands out, as if silently offering his evidence.

She groaned, unhappy, turning away from him to rein in her irritation. For several seconds, she simply scanned her room, livid exhale after livid exhale falling from her lips, but the attempts did little to calm her turmoil, Julius actually flinching when her focus again landed on him. “It’s the grin you used. It’s the same one that was on your face when you drove into New Mexico, and I was surprised the facility was stationed here. Like I’m the dumbest person in the world and your number one source of entertainment.”
Instantly, his expression softened. “You can’t possibly think that I think that way?”
She just glared at him.

“Look, I’m not gonna lie.” He approached her, smiling tenderly. “You do amuse me, but not because I think you’re stupid. You’re… animated. And quirky. But not stupid. And I get it’s late, and no matter what time zone we’re entering, it’s ten o’clock here and we’re handing over sleeping hours, but Nicholai insists we need to go now.”

She kept pinched eyes on him, but her posture loosened a bit.

He laughed, reaching for her hand once more. “See? Animated. I can pretty much watch the wheels in your head turn.”

“Does that make you my mental stalker, too?”

Processing the playful edge of her words, he kissed her knuckles and led her into the hall. “Trust me, sweetheart. I have no desire to wander through your mind. I can’t imagine all the weird things I’d encounter.”

She tilted her head to the side, smiling. “Compliment or insult?”

Smirking over his shoulder, he caught her eyes with his. “Insult.”

About the author:

Connie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and will be forever sad that she doesn't have fairy wings. And that she can't swing dance. When she isn't reading or writing, there's a good chance she's goofing off with her amazing, wonderful, incredible, fabulous nieces and nephew, or listening to music that is severely outdated. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn't totally get the connection either) and likes to snap photos. Oh, and she likes apples a whole big bunch.

Connect with Connie:
Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads 

Buy the books:
Essenced FREE!! | Emblazed