2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 3

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

You don’t want a lot for Christmas; there is just one thing you need – and you can get it if you win today’s giveaway, which is a $5 Amazon gift card!

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story
December 2nd: ebook of “Tim and Sara” short story
December 3rd: $5 Amazon gift card

Plus, each entry in the daily contests will be carried over to a big prize at the end (I haven’t decided what that will be yet, but it’s definitely something you want to win – more details coming soon)!

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E.D. Martin’s 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 2

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

Christmas 2013: The Lone Wolf (since retitled Yours to Keep or Throw Aside) was released.

Christmas 2014: The Futility of Loving a Soldier ebook was released.

Christmas 2015: Nothing new.

Last Christmas, I didn’t do much for my readers so this year, to save you from tears, I’m giving you something special!

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story
December 2nd: ebook of “Tim and Sara” short story

The victim of debilitating flashbacks, Tim is content to spend the rest of his life at Kirkbride, a state mental hospital. But his friend and fellow resident Sara is concerned that she has to save her soul before it’s too late, and so she devises a plan to break them out of the hospital. Can Tim help his friend while holding onto what’s left of his sanity?

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E.D. Martin’s 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza – Day 1

E.D. Martin's 2016 Holiday Giveaway Extravaganza!

The weather outside’s near freezing, and my space heater is pleasing. Since we’ve no place to be, win a book for free, book for free, book for free!

Every day from now until Christmas, I’ll be giving away copies of my books (digital AND print), Amazon gift cards, and book-related stuff. A new chance to win, every day!

December 1st: ebook of “Not My Thing” short story

When The Dancing Freemasons embark on their first major tour, Jeff’s dreams of being a rock star have come true – until he can no longer connect with the music. One night after a show, he meets a woman who might be the one to get the music flowing again, but is the cost worth it?

Simply leave a comment below by midnight CST, and I’ll randomly pick a winner!

And check back every day for a chance to win new stuff!

Media Monday: Steampunk fun with H.L. Burke

Nyssa Glass coverThe books: The Nyssa Glass series by H.L. BurkeThe House of Mirrors, The Juliet Dilemma, The Cutpurse Kid, Clockwork Christmas, and The Electric Heart

The music: “Sacra” by Apocalyptica

H.L. Burke made her mark with dragons (the Dragon and the Scholar series), then moved onto a fantasy series about elemental beings competing to take over the human world. Her Nyssa Glass series marks a departure from fantasy, into steampunk. However, her main character is still the same – a strong female who isn’t going to let anything stand in the way of her goals.

And Nyssa has a lot standing in her way. Orphaned at a young age, she was raised by an uncle who forced her into a life of petty crime. She managed to escape (before the series begins) and reform her life, but just as things were getting turned around for her, she was forced back into that life. This time, though, she wasn’t going down without a fight.

The rest of the books in the series detail her attempts to stay honest despite her past following her around. She makes some friends along the way that support her based on who she is, not what she did, giving this series a good moral for its readers.

The five books in the series are a quick read that would be great for anyone looking for an imperfect yet strong female role model.

The books are a bit dark at times – there’s a lot of violence – so for the song I picked this instrumental number by Apocalyptica. Generally I try to match song lyrics to book themes, but in this case the music sets a fitting tone for the series.

Using stuck points to build your characters

guy in bottleI write a lot of character-driven stories, and so I’m always on the lookout for ways to focus on characters’ motivation and thought processes. I’ve recently come across a term, stuck points, that really fits with my works.

My research focus in my PhD program is trauma’s role in education. As such, I’m taking a lot of classes and workshops focusing on a trauma-informed perspective – realizing that there’s a good chance anyone you meet and work with has experienced some kind of trauma that affects their perceptions and behaviors, and therefore changing your own perceptions and behaviors to meet them where they are.

One of the methods used to treat trauma is cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which focuses on reframing people’s perceptions of what they experienced. And a major component of this is stuck points.

Stuck point = a thought that keeps someone from recovering from a bad/traumatic experience.

Often times, stuck points develop because someone’s old way of thinking doesn’t fit with what happened to them. It builds on the just world theory that bad things only happen to bad people – so if something bad happens to you, you must be a bad person.

Stuck points are often a black and white exaggeration, using terms like “everyone” or “no one,” “always” or “never.”

Stuck points can focus on the past – “If I’d done X, then Y would’ve happened instead of Z” – or they can focus on the present – “No one will ever love me” or “I’ll never be able to trust again.”

My novel Yours to Keep or Throw Away is driven by MC Andrew Adam’s stuck points:

  • “My parents split up because I was a bad kid.” – focusing on his crappy childhood
  • “If I’d been a better partner, my relationships wouldn’t have ended badly.” – focusing on past relationships
  • “If I’d trained my soldiers better, they wouldn’t have been killed.” – focusing on his military experience
  • “I don’t deserve to have a happily ever after.” – the summation of all his other stuck points.

Sometimes there’s truth in stuck points. For example, if Andrew had been a better partner, maybe his relationships wouldn’t have ended – but maybe they still would have. What happened wasn’t entirely his fault, and he shouldn’t keep beating himself up over it.

As characters grow over the course of the story, they can move past these stuck points to become a healthy character (or go from a healthy character to having stuck points). Either way, it makes for a great, character-driven story.

What stuck points do your characters have? Are they able to resolve them?

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/23/16 #8Sunday

After All coverIt’s almost Halloween, so I’m continuing on with excerpts from several related short stories I wrote this summer, all interconnected and dealing with the apocalypse.

Here’s what we have so far:

  • “Special” – a pair of twins with special abilities living in caves due to airstrikes
  • “The Graveyard” – a plague kills off most of a western mining town
  • “E.L.E.” – two polar opposite campers must work together to survive a meteor strike
  • “After the Flood” – a naive, pampered girl tries to survive when the economy crashes and anarchy becomes the ruling system

This week I’m pulling from “Passing,” the story that ties together all the other ones. This excerpt picks up from last week’s.

* * * * * * *

Jet slowed and held his immobilizer ready.

A small boy sat on the forest floor, tear tracks streaking his dirty face. Jet’s specs tried to scan him but blinked out, and he pushed them off his face.

<<Specs are down,>> he sent to Luce.

<<Mine too. I don’t like this.>>

Specs were Spark-proof; they might go down, but both sets at once?

Jet aimed his immobilizer. Just as his finger began to squeeze down on the trigger, the kid winked at him. Static burst across his comlink as the kid mutated into his energy form, and then all went black.

* * * * * * *

I’m planning to release the whole collection next weekend, so you’ll be able to find out just what Sparks are and who Jet is.

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/16/16 #8Sunday

After All coverIt’s almost Halloween, so for the rest of the month I’ll continue on with excerpts from several related short stories I wrote this summer, all interconnected and dealing with the apocalypse.

Here’s what we have so far:

  • “Special” – a pair of twins with special abilities living in caves due to airstrikes
  • “The Graveyard” – a plague kills off most of a western mining town
  • “E.L.E.” – two polar opposite campers must work together to survive a meteor strike
  • “After the Flood” – a naive, pampered girl tries to survive when the economy crashes and anarchy becomes the ruling system

This week I’m pulling from “Passing,” the story that ties together all the other ones. This excerpt picks up from last week’s.

* * * * * * *

Movement off to Jet’s left caught his attention, and his specs identified an energy cloud matching their target’s signature.

<<Ready to roll?>> he shot across the comlink as he sent Luce the coordinates.

<<That can’t be right; I’m picking up his cloud behind us.>>

<<Check it out. I’m moving towards this cloud.>>

<<Be careful – this doesn’t make sense.>>

Jet pushed through the underbrush, looking for their target; energy clouds dissipated quickly so the kid had to be close.

A tree branch cracked ahead, and he sprinted towards the noise as soundlessly as he could, reaching for his immobilizer as he ran. He’d zap the kid, load him up, and be home for dinner. After a week of tracking, it couldn’t come too soon.

* * * * * * *

I’m aiming to have all these stories polished and out together by Halloween. Wish me luck! 🙂

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Weekend Writing Warrior 10/9/16 #8Sunday

After All coverIt’s almost Halloween, so for the rest of the month I’ll continue on with excerpts from several related short stories I wrote this summer, all interconnected and dealing with the apocalypse.

Here’s what we have so far:

  • “Special” – a pair of twins with special abilities living in caves due to airstrikes
  • “The Graveyard” – a plague kills off most of a western mining town
  • “E.L.E.” – two polar opposite campers must work together to survive a meteor strike
  • “After the Flood” – a naive, pampered girl tries to survive when the economy crashes and anarchy becomes the ruling system

This week I’m pulling from “Passing,” the story that ties together all the other ones.

* * * * * * *

Jet cringed as static crackled over his comlink. It wasn’t loud, and their target was just a kid, but one could never be too sure what Sparks would pick up on. He smacked at his helmet and the line cleared.

<<See him?>> his partner Luce sent over the link.

He scanned the forest around him. <<Negative.>>

<<Roger that – I’m moving towards 325; keep on towards 35.>>

He rolled his eyes – with their link and his specs, he knew exactly where Luce was, and he knew the plan, too; he’d head out in one direction and she’d go the opposite, then after 100 meters they’d move back towards each other. He considered telling her to knock it off with the drama, but she was one of the best in the Department of Threat Assessment and Mitigation. Maybe she was less than professional sometimes, but she always got her Sparks.

* * * * * * *

My goal is to have all these stories polished, compiled, and out by Halloween, but I have several big school projects coming up, so who knows if I’ll meet this self-imposed deadline (although on the other hand, with so many projects I tend to procrastinate on them and focus on other less-pressing stuff, so maybe I’ll get this done soon after all?).

Post a link to your eight sentences blog entry, or join the fun at the Weekend Writing Warriors website.

And if you’re a writer, sign up to be a Friday Five author, which gets you and your latest work featured on my blog.

Fall 2016 goal review

After All cover

Hey look, a shiny new project!

Every 3 months or so, I take a look at the goals I’ve set for the year and then write about how I’m not making progress on them. Here’s the update for this fall.

1. Write at least 30 minutes a day.

I’ve been averaging about 30 minutes per week, not per day – unless you count writing for school stuff, in which case I’m hitting my goal. But we’re not counting that, so I’m not doing so well at this goal.

2. Finish something every month.

I would probably do a lot better at finishing something if I’d stop starting new things. I have at least 50 stories started at this point – if I could just sit down and write, I could probably finish some of them.

3. Publish at least 4 of those finished things.

So far, all I’ve published this year is “A Place to Die” in January (which you can get for $.99 at Amazon or free if you join my mailing list). I have several things mostly done, just gotta sit down and write and I could probably still meet this goal for this year.

4. Continue the focus on increased marketing.

I’ve fallen behind on this lately, but my publisher will be running Amazon ads soon so that should give me a boost. And as soon as I have something new published, I’ll be promoting that like crazy.

5. Read 100 books.

I’m currently at 58, which Goodreads informs me is 18 behind. I’m holding pretty steady on this one.

6. Continue the focus on being healthy.

I discovered the cambus (campus bus) at school, so I’ve been taking that instead of riding my bike. But I also discovered a really nice local farmers’ market and have been buying a lot of fruits and veggies, so there’s that. Which will win out? Stay tuned!

Overall

Basically, it comes down to one thing – making myself sit down and write. Fortunately I’ve taken on a bunch of new projects this year, plus gotten permission to take my comprehensive exams a semester yearly so I can start on my dissertation in the spring and graduate a year early. The way my mind works is that the more I have to do, the more I want to work on other stuff (ie, writing). So I should be writing a lot coming up, instead of doing what I need to for school.

(This TED talk is a great look at my life.)

If you’ve set goals for yourself, how’re they going so far this year?

Media Monday: A cult, a heist, some romance – and a manatee

tangled coverThe book: Tangled Ties to a Manatee by Kalen Cap

The music: “Inní mér syngur vitleysingur” by Sigur Rós

Tangled Ties to a Manatee takes us through the interconnected lives of a large cast of characters – college students who work at a group home where the nephew of a wildlife retreat owner/director lives, and some of the college kids’ friends work there too. The residents of the group home like to go to the local zoo, where the ex-wife of a professor at the college works. And one of the retreat employees is actually a private investigator undercover because some people think it’s a cult, and her supervisor is undercover at a coffee shop where the professor’s brother works and so does that nephew. Oh, and the husband of one of the cultists works at the zoo too, and one of the college students is also a fortune teller for the cult leader. And then a couple guys come along trying to run a scam using the wildlife retreat, but a pregnant manatee named Ankh manages to save the day.

Got it?

Although confusing at times, the author skillfully brings it all together throughout a plot that’s reminiscent of a PG-rated Big Trouble (which is an awesome movie you should definitely watch). The only thing I’d want changed is to spend more time on a few main characters, rather than a little time on everyone. However, each character has his or her own voice and personality, and each contributes something to the storyline.

Overall, a fun, light read that I highly recommend.

As for the song – I’m on a bit of an Icelandic kick recently, from their Viking heritage to their modern day politics and awesome music. One of my favorite Icelandic bands, Skálmöld, just released a new album this week and included a cover of one of my favorite songs by one of my other favorite Icelandic bands, Sigur Rós. It’s a fun song, to pair along with a fun book.

(Also, Sigur Rós aren’t really Vikings but Skálmöld are. Not that that has anything to do with this week’s book or song.)

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