Freshman Blues Release Party with Ravon Silvius: Tough stuff

July 3, 2015
Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

Every story needs a conflict, and in Freshman Blues, its Frederick’s unwillingness–or inability– to talk about his feelings and his battle with depression. So, let’s talk a bit about Frederick, the love interest and secondary character in Freshman Blues.

In Freshman Blues, Chris worries a lot about Frederick, who he thinks might be depressed. I wanted to take the time here to talk a little about depression, since I researched it a lot for the book.

Depression is hard to talk about and harder to define. The traditional diagnosis is a period of sadness and lack of ability to enjoy oneself for over two weeks, that’s out of proportion to a tragedy in someone’s life. But how do you define out of proportion? And why wait two weeks if someone is suffering?

I’ve heard plenty of descriptions of depression, both from people who’ve had it and from all over the internet. It’s like operating out a void, or just going through the motions of living. It’s terrifying to hear someone talk about, and quite difficult to know how to help. Chris, too, wants to help Frederick but doesn’t have the expertise or knowledge to do so. All he can do is keep trying to get close to Frederick.

Its well known that due to discrimination, GLBT individuals have slightly higher rates of depression. Thankfully, this is changing as people become more accepting and there is less homophobia in society. Freshman Blues deals with a bit of that as you learn about Frederick, and I did a lot of research on depression to do justice to his character. I’ve never been depressed myself, but given how common it is all over the world, it’s a worthwhile thing to learn about and write about. There’s hope out there!

What about you guys? Have you, or anyone you’ve known, ever been depressed?

Freshman Blues release party with Ravon Silvius: Superpowers!

July 3, 2015
Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

So, let’s talk about the fantasy aspect of the contemporary fantasy that is Freshman Blues. The special powers!

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 11.26.56 AM

In writing the book, I wanted to have a setting where super powers are present, but I also wanted to avoid the typical “superhero” tropes. People aren’t born with their abilities, they earn them through study of their chosen field. There’s no Superman or X-Men in the Freshman Blues universe. There are, however, people who can use small-time abilities, like levitation or control of robots. But these abilities certainly don’t mean that you’re going to put on a cape and go crime-fighting—what it really means is that you’re employable.

In a way, the abilities are an allegory for mastery—in college in the real world, people always worry about what they can do, and whether they can get a job after graduation. That’s a huge part of the anxiety for senior students in Freshman Blues, including Frederick, who I will talk about more later. If you get out of college with a useless major, or a useless ability, things won’t go well for you. It’s the same worry people face in the real world, minus the superpowers.

While there aren’t any Supermen or Wonder Women in Freshman Blues, who have every power someone could think of, there are a lot of hard-working individuals with a chosen mastery. So my question to readers—if you were in the Freshman Blues world, what power would you aim for? What is your passion, and what superpower would be associated with it? If you like animals, would you want animal communication or control? If you like reading, would you then want speed-reading or instant understanding of a piece of work? What power would you want if you were, say, a cooking major? Let me know in the comments!

I’ll be back this evening to talk more about Freshman Blues, and I’ll be popping up in the comments of the release party posts in the meantime! :)

Freshman Blues release party with Ravon Silvius: New Experiences

July 3, 2015
Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

Starting a new job….starting a new class…starting a new hobby. A large part of life is doing things for the first time, trying out new experiences, and getting over that initial hurdle of anxiety to break out of your safe zone.

Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 9.43.02 AM

In Freshman Blues, Chris, the main character, is starting his first year of college. Of course, considering his grades, he never expected to be there at all. It’s totally overwhelming for him, especially to see people use super powers they’ve already learned during their time in college.

He’s anxious, of course, but he gets through it by following through and making friends, and of course, developing a crush on another student. Once the initial experience is handled, getting into routine is easy. I think everyone has, to some extent, a tendency to develop routine just to keep themselves calm, even if it’s a simple coffee break at the same time every day.

What small things do you guys use to relax? Is there a routine you like? Or do you prefer to keep things exciting and never do the same thing twice? Tell us all about your first time trying something, and how it went!

Freshman Blues release party with Ravon Silvius!

July 3, 2015

Hello everyone, Ravon Silvius here!

I’ve been a writer of M/M for a while (you can find me at my website, Ravonsilvius.blogspot.com), and I’m here today to take over the blog and discuss my new release with Dreamspinner Press, Freshman Blues!

Freshman Blues

Freshman Blues

When Chris is invited to prestigious Creekville University, he discovers he is part of an experiment by the mysterious Professor Faran. There’s no other way a C student like him would have been accepted into a college where academic mastery results in unique powers like levitation or empathy. But if Faran is right, even below-average students can get special abilities and a good job after graduation. Chris just has to work hard.

Chris isn’t the only one, either. Frederick has worked for Faran for years, and Chris is intrigued by the aloof and sexy older student. But Frederick is too terrified of life after graduation to pursue romance. As they work together, Chris tries to help Frederick out of his depression, all while juggling friendship, classwork, dating, and trying to carve out a place he can belong.

But funding for the experiment is running out, and Chris has to acquire an ability—any ability—soon, or he’ll lose his opportunity at Creekville, and any chance with Frederick, for good.

 

It’s available today at the DSP store! I’ll be around a lot this morning and evening to discuss my book and chat with everyone.

First, a bit about the book. Freshman Blues is a new adult contemporary fantasy, and takes place in a college setting where people can get superpowers based on the major they pick. Everyone comes into college with a goal in mind, a subject they’re passionate about or something they want to learn more about.

Of course, a few characters run into an issue–you want to be able to support yourself after college. And sometimes, the thing you’re passionate about isn’t going to make you money. It’s something a lot of younger people struggle with.

Passion is a tricky thing by itself, too. Its easy to be interesting in something, only to realize that doing it professionally is a whole other kettle of fish. It’s also easy to get discouraged when you try and try at something you love, but don’t compare to your own inner standards.

Of course, when you’re truly passionate about something, things just come together—work doesn’t seem like work, and time flies by as you do what you’re passionate about.

So what are you passionate about, DSP readers? (Aside from reading, of course!) What is the major thing in life you enjoy, the hobby you love, or the thing you’d love to be doing all the time?

Tower of the Ice Lord excerpt and giveaway with Anne Mok

July 2, 2015

Thanks for joining me today for the Tower of the Ice Lord release party! I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the story. I’m also doing a giveaway of a free copy of the ebook – details at the end of this post!

***

Chapter One

The tower stood at the edge of the northern wastes, casting its long shadow upon the frozen landscape. Ancient beyond the memory of man and forged from the ashes of a fallen star, it thrust spikes of iron into the sky. Whispered legends told how sorceries guarded the gates and warded the walls. Winds howled through the turrets like the voices of the damned. They called it the Tower of Lost Souls, and Arius was its master.

He lived alone. All sorcerers did. He had taken and tamed this wilderness, and consequences befell those who dared trespass in his domain. For he had been sworn to the service of Gaia: set to war against the lords of Evernesse, all his purpose bent toward their doom. He had long ago buried the desire for human comfort and human company.

But that solitude was fractured on the night the ice wolves brought the stranger. Arius heard their baying across the distant miles and knew their patrols had found an enemy. From the battlements, he watched them herd their prey into the shadow of the tower.

The ghost owl watched with him, drifting on silent wings to settle on his shoulder. Its warm weight allayed his stirrings of unease.

“Well, Ghost,” he said, “shall we see what our friends have fetched us today?”

The ghost owl slanted its pale gaze on him, but made no answer.

Arius stroked its head and descended the hundred steps of the spiral stair. Before exiting the tower, he donned his ice wolf mask: cool ivory calming his blood, narrow slits sharpening his gaze. Armor against the distractions and delusions of the world.

He waited before the gates as the ice wolves drew to a halt, white flanks heaving, tongues lolling between teeth. Their kind had brought down mammoths in ages past, but Arius commanded them now. When he advanced, they yielded way, revealing the man they escorted between them.

He had slipped to his knees in the wet snow, soaking his trousers and boots. But he pushed himself doggedly back to his feet. His eyes were green as new leaves, hair gold like summer sun. Startlingly young for an aspiring champion, he stared at Arius in open curiosity when seasoned warriors quailed to face him.

“No invader has ever breached these walls,” Arius said. “Did you think you would be the first?”

“I’m not here to fight, Ice Lord,” the man said steadily. “I’ve come to offer myself to you.”

Arius suffered several moments of thunderstruck silence before he found words. “You’re hardly pretty enough to tempt me.”

The man flushed, staining his cheeks a becoming shade of rose. “Not like that. I know your god demands royal blood to end this war. Take me as your sacrifice.”

No words seemed adequate. “What mockery is this? Who do you think you are?”

“I’m the son of the king of Evernesse,” said the young man in the threadbare cloak. “And I mean what I say. If I trade myself to your god, will you call off your vendetta?”

His earnest tone roused only ire in Arius. This could be nothing save madness or trickery, and he would not be so easily deceived. “You are mistaken if you think to play games with me. Only a fool would believe your tale.”

The man regarded Arius with serious eyes. “Don’t you believe someone can love enough to die for another?”

Arius was thankful his mask concealed any reaction. Suppressing his disquiet, he answered, “You’ll die indeed. The only question is swiftly or slowly.” With a snap of his fingers, he summoned the ice wolves to attention. He felt savage satisfaction at the panic that flashed across the man’s face. “Take this prisoner to the dungeons.”

Arius stalked into the tower without a second glance, trusting his servants to carry out his wishes. He needed to commune with his brethren. He ascended the spiral stair, to the highest level of the tower, the Moon Chamber.

Eight arched windows cut into the walls, at cardinal and intercardinal points. Prisms of glass hung suspended in long chains, catching and refracting every sparkle of light, so that Arius walked through a frozen waterfall.

He angled them with care and precision, and though the waning moon was a mere sliver in the sky, its beams focused and refocused as they bounced between the prisms, until they shone bright silver in the round mirror at the center of the chamber.

Arius bowed over the Moon Mirror, calming his mind. “Ixia. I would speak with you.”

The mirror shivered, like wind rippling water. The shape of a face emerged from the brightness: a mask of carnelian, sculpted in the form of a hawk. She was guardian of the south, as he was guardian of the north. To the east and west, there were others, standing their shared vigil over the centuries.

“To what do I owe this rare occasion?” said the blood hawk to the ice wolf.

“Sister of mine,” Arius said, “I have had an unexpected visitor.” He relayed the encounter to her. “Never have I seen the like. Armies they have sent against us, and archmages, and assassins. All have failed. And now this, an ordinary man alone.”

The mask gave nothing away, but her amber eyes flickered with interest. “Perhaps he comes because they have failed.” She shook her head. “All these centuries hurling ourselves against the might of Evernesse, and here comes this gift fallen into your palm.”

“Gift or curse? Surely you do not trust it.”

“Then kill him and be done with it. But I trust in the wisdom of Gaia, against whom even the Eternal Mountain must crumble. Perhaps the king remembers the pact he betrayed. Perhaps he is ready to fulfill the bargain his ancestors made.”

“Not the king,” Arius said. “A prince.”

“Lord or heir, it is all the same. They pledged themselves in exchange for power, and now they owe the blood price. Or the land will suffer.”

“I know how the land suffers.” They both did. The blood hawks flew over deserts, and the ice wolves roamed through desolation, while the lords of Evernesse lived in their mountain paradise.

“Then you know your path already. You have no need of my counsel.”

Perhaps. And yet, “It has been too long since we spoke face-to-face.” It was a small jest; he had never seen her face.

“Indeed. Fare you well, brother of mine.” The blood hawk mask faded from the mirror, leaving Arius to contemplate his own reflection.

His path lay clear before him: the god called for a sacrifice, and the prince came to offer it. But there remained the question he had not asked Ixia, the question that troubled his thoughts.

Don’t you believe someone can love enough to die for another?

***

For your chance to win a free copy of the ebook, comment with what you like seeing in fantasy romance. After 12pm EST on Friday, one commenter will be randomly drawn to win.

Tower of the Ice Lord cover

Tower of the Ice Lord

Buy link: Tower of the Ice Lord
My website: annemok.com

Tower of the Ice Lord and tea for two with Anne Mok

July 2, 2015

There is a saying that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That may be a cliche, but just about everywhere in the world, sharing food together is a way for people to celebrate and to connect.

In Tower of the Ice Lord, there are several occasions when Arius and Loren share a meal together, and it becomes a small act of caring that shows their growing bond.

On a slight tangent, I was amused to find that one of my favourite tea shops, Adore Tea, had flavours of tea that seemed to match the characters:

Arius would be Arctic Fire (“the strong minty flavour will invigorate your mind and the sweet undertones will soothe your senses”).

Loren would be Enchanted Garden (“bursting with blossoms and exotic fruits this brew is sure to enchant your mind and spellbind your senses”).

Have there been any memorable meals in your favourite books? Or are there any characters you would love to invite to a dinner party?

Tower of the Ice Lord cover

Tower of the Ice Lord

Buy link: Tower of the Ice Lord
My website: annemok.com

Tower of the Ice Lord and theme songs with Anne Mok

July 2, 2015

Many years ago, I read a book called Bad Voltage by Jonathan Littell. On the last page, the author listed the songs that had inspired him while writing the story, and said, “If you liked the movie, this is the soundtrack.”

Those words blew me away. A soundtrack for a book? How cool was that idea?

Ever since then, I’ve been alive to the possibility of songs that would fit the stories I’m writing. It’s a lot of fun to hear a song come onto the radio and think, “Wait, that would be the perfect theme song for this character!” Sometimes I also imagine what song would be playing in the climactic scene, or over the end credits. It’s like getting to compile a mixtape for a friend.

For Tower of the Ice Lord, that perfect theme song is “Force of Nature”, from the musical The Fourth Messenger by Tanya Shaffer and Vienna Teng. I fell in love with it as soon as I heard it. Although the song is about enlightenment, I think it also works as a song about love being a force of nature, as well as about the battle between the human world and the natural world. And I adore the chorus, with its beautiful images of the moon turning tides and the sun melting ice – just like how meeting the right person can change your world forever.

You can listen to the song here:
http://thefourthmessenger.com/music/

Do you have songs you associate with your favourite books and characters?

Tower of the Ice Lord cover

Tower of the Ice Lord

Buy link: Tower of the Ice Lord
My website: annemok.com

Tower of the Ice Lord release party with Anne Mok

July 2, 2015

Hello! I’m Anne, posting from Sydney, Australia. My first novella, Tower of the Ice Lord, was released by Dreamspinner on 1 July. Looking forward to chatting with you all today!

Tower of the Ice Lord cover

Tower of the Ice Lord

I’m an avid reader, and some of genres I love are fantasy, science fiction, romance, historical, and mystery. Tower of the Ice Lord is a fantasy romance, and it was exciting to take what I enjoy most about these two genres and blend them together: the sense of wonder of fantasy, and the slow burn fire of romance.

Here’s the blurb:

Don’t you believe someone can love enough to die for another?

Arius the sorcerer has lived in solitude for centuries, watching over his frozen tundra and sending his ice wolves against the kingdom of Evernesse. Only a sacrifice of royal blood can end the war, and it comes when Loren, son of the king of Evernesse, arrives at the Ice Lord’s tower, willing to die to procure peace. Though stunned and mistrustful, Arius agrees. But as the fateful day draws nearer, Arius learns Loren’s bravery and commitment run deeper than he suspected, and Loren begins to see the lonely man beneath the Ice Lord’s mask. Arius’s god demands a sacrifice, Loren might be his people’s only hope, and both men must choose between the conflicting demands of duty and love.

Fantasy is often about saving the world with heroic acts of courage. Romance takes a different kind of courage: the courage to trust, to believe, and to open your heart to someone else.

What are your favourite things about the genres you love? Are there genres you like seeing combined together?

Buy link: Tower of the Ice Lord
My website: annemok.com

Astounding future

June 26, 2015

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the release party for Astounding! I have to sign off soon to go pack for tomorrow’s trip. Ugh. I travel a lot, yet I still hate packing.

While I’m in the Pacific Northwest, I’ll be participating in a couple of author readings. If you’re in the Seattle or Portland areas, I’d love to see you. Details are here: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/events/

I also hope to do some writing while I’m up there. I’ll be spending a bit of time on the farm that inspired my Bones books. I’m hoping to catch sight of a sexy water sprite, sexy werewolf, or sexy handyman while I’m there. Or maybe a dream unicorn or Bigfoot. I’ll also probably be finishing up the edits on my 13th novel, Rattlesnake, which comes out at the end of August. And my novella for the 4th book in the Gothika series, Spirit. That one comes out in October, with ghost stories by Eli Easton, Jamie Fessenden, and B.G. Thomas.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll check out Astounding! http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6587

Now, as you finish off your cool drinks and desserts, and perhaps plan your marriage equality celebrations, I have one last question for you. What do you most wish I’d work on next? You can take a peek at my upcoming releases if that will help: http://www.kfieldingwrites.com/upcoming-releases/ . Is there a genre you’d love to see me tackle? A couple you’d like to hear more from? Do tell!

Astounding_postcard_front_DSP

The Astounding Central Valley?

June 26, 2015

Okay, so, California. What comes to mind? Palm trees and movie stars? San Francisco? Big Sur? Napa? Yeah, we got all that—but not where I live. I’m in the middle part of the state, the San Joaquin Valley, the part everyone else drives through on their way to somewhere else. We are the Nebraska of California.

This is what it looked like around here hundreds of years ago:

036

Grasslands, wetlands, a few trees. Nowadays we have almond orchards, dairy cattle, and strip malls. Not the most exotic place in the world.

Not too many books have been set around here. Um, except Grapes of Wrath, which doesn’t exactly add to our mystique. But some pivotal scenes in my new book, Astounding!, happen right here, halfway between Yosemite and San Francisco. In these very strip malls!

003 005 006

Something very unfortunate happens in that Fairfield Inn.

I’ve lived here for a couple of decades, long enough to appreciate some of the local charms. Like produce stands where I can get wonderful fruits and veggies much of the year. There are several within a few miles of my house. The cost of living is reasonable by California standards. We have lots of diversity. My neighbors speak Punjabi, Assyrian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Filipino. When I go for my daily walks, I see dozens of adorable little fence lizards and a wide range of birds. And when the heat and the boredom get to me, I can hop in my car and be in the mountains, the desert, the coast, or the Bay Area, all within a couple of hours.

So here’s my second giveaway. Tell me what some of the unsung attractions are wherever you live (remember to include your email address). On Sunday I’ll randomly choose one commenter to win the audiobook of my novel The Tin Box, narrated by the amazing KC Kelly.

 

http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6587