Thalia’s Musings 4 update

Hey, everyone! Just wanted to let you know that I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth, and that I’ve started drafting the fourth and final volume of Thalia’s Musings.

Thalia's Musings
Image © 2012 Amethyst Marie

I’ll keep you posted with progress reports, release date estimates, etc. as I go. I want to get this volume to you guys as soon as possible, but I also want to make sure I give it the time and attention to detail it needs. Thalia is, after all, the Goddess of Happy Endings, so her series deserves the best ending I can give it. Looking forward to sharing it with you!

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Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings 3) ebooks are here!

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia's Musings ebooks!
Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three). Click to shop for Thalia’s Musings ebooks!

Unraveled is now available for Kindle and NOOK at an introductory price of $0.99! Like all Thalia’s Musings ebooks, Unraveled is DRM-free. Click the image above to go to the updated Shop page and find the version you need, as well as links to download free e-reader apps that will work on whatever device you’re using to read this post.

Happy Holidays!

The Beginning of the End

Today I posted the final chapter of Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three). A year ago I felt like I would never finish it.

Unraveled (Thalia's Musings, Volume Three)
Unraveled (Thalia’s Musings, Volume Three)

Next on the agenda: drafting the fourth and final volume of Thalia’s Musings. At this point I can’t even begin to estimate when that one will be ready for publication, but it will be written, and you’ll get to read it as soon as possible.

Coming up a little sooner is the Kindle and NOOK release of Unraveled. I don’t have a date set in stone yet, but my goal is to get it out there before Christmas. Keep watching this blog and my various social media outlets for updates!

Speaking of Christmas, Volumes 1 and 2 will be marked down to $0.99 until tomorrow morning, when they’ll go up to $1.99 and stay there until New Year’s Day. If you buy them (or if you’ve already bought them, or read the identical free version on ThaliasMusingsNovels.com), you will be doing me a HUGE favor if you leave a review on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. I’m an indie writer with a budget of zero, so word-of-mouth is the only way new readers are going to discover these books.

I hope you enjoyed Volume 3 and that you’ll stick around for Volume 4!

Black Friday sale alert!

This Friday, November 28th, all Thalia’s Musings ebooks on Kindle and NOOK will be marked down to $0.99! Share the good news about our Lady and Muse Thalia with all your book-loving friends this holiday season! For those without e-readers, there are free Kindle and NOOK apps that will work on whatever device you’re using to read this blog post.

 

Click either of these images to go to the Thalia’s Musings “Shop” page, where you’ll find all the links you need. To my American readers, have a great Thanksgiving and a safe and sane Black Friday! To everyone else, enjoy watching America at its craziest!

Light at the end of the tunnel

I didn’t get a blog post written for this week, because the rough draft of Thalia’s Musings 3 has been taking all my writerly energy. I’ve finished 13 of a proposed 16 chapters. The book may actually be readable sometime this decade! So if you haven’t read volumes 1 and 2 in awhile, or at all, now’s a good time to catch up. Click here to read both volumes online for free, or here to purchase either volume for Kindle or NOOK. And now, back to writing!

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Buy An Ebook, Help a Disabled Kid

Quick version: The royalties for all Thalia’s Musings ebooks sold between 3/1/14 and 4/1/14 will be donated to World Vision’s Child and Family Health Fund. Want to know why? Keep reading.

thalias_musings_logo
Click to shop

UPDATE: World Vision has reversed its new hiring policy because of pressure from their financial supporters. I’m still making this donation because (1) everything I said about World Vision’s work and why I admire it is true, and (2) I’m bigger than the people who effectively turned the children helped by World Vision into hostages in a culture war that we’re all sick to death of fighting. If you’re as upset by this turn of events as I am, please don’t take it out on World Vision. In all likelihood, they only reversed the decision because it was the only way to keep helping the people they were helping. Also, as far as I know, they still stand by their repudiation of Uganda’s discriminatory laws.

World Vision is an international charity that supports children in need and their communities around the world. They’re most well-known for their child sponsorship program. As Rachel Held Evans explains in this post, the money from the sponsorships is pooled to support things like schools, housing, and clean drinking water for the whole community. World Vision makes a point of employing local people in the communities it serves. Their business model is designed to stay in a community for only 15 or 20 years, with the goal of training local people to take over their work entirely when that period ends. Although World Vision is a Christian organization, they do not require the people they help to be professing Christians or to take part in proselytizing activity of any kind. They’re just trying to fulfill the Bible’s commands to care for those in need, especially widows and orphans.

So, why has this awesome organization lost over 2,000 sponsors since Monday?

Because the director of their USA branch announced that they would employ Christians in same-sex marriages.

Christianity Today’s coverage of that announcement is at my Tumblr, including my initial reaction to the news:

This is a huge deal. Personally, I’m not a fan of employers requiring anything of their employees beyond “Show up on time and fulfill your job description,” and I wouldn’t work for anyone who wanted to regulate my sex life. But this is a big deal because World Vision is acknowledging that the morality of a sexual relationship is not determined by the genders of the people in it. They’re holding queer employees to the same standard as straight employees: you can only have sex with the person you’re married to. They’re acknowledging that a same-sex marriage is as valid as an opposite-sex marriage. While I don’t agree with World Vision’s definition of what qualifies as a moral sexual relationship, I completely agree that the genders of the people involved is irrelevant to the issue.

Oh, and World Vision Uganda issued a statement condemning Uganda’s anti-gay laws. You know, the ones that say you can be imprisoned or executed for being gay? The kind of laws even Glenn Beck calls “heterofascism”?

Now, as to why I’m donating book royalties instead of just quietly making a donation myself…I’m broke. That’s it. That’s also the reason I’m (full disclosure) not currently sponsoring a child myself, although I really wish I could. I don’t have the funds and this is the best way I can think of to raise them. But this really is just about supporting an organization whose work I believe in, not drumming up book sales. If you aren’t interested in buying Thalia’s Musings ebooks, or if you’ve already bought them both in the past, or if you don’t trust third parties to make charitable donations for you, please consider donating the price of one of my books ($4.99) directly to World Vision’s Child and Family Health Fund or any of their other projects. I picked the Child and Family Health Fund because, as someone who’s dealt with chronic medical conditions since childhood, this is an issue close to my heart. Maybe there’s another issue close to yours, like education or supporting small businesses in the developing world or fighting human trafficking.

If you’re as broke as I am and can’t even spare $4.99, then please at least go to World Vision USA’s Facebook page and leave them a nice message and a 5-star rating. Or send a friendly tweet to @WorldVisionUSA and the #WorldVision hashtag. However you’re able to help, I want to see this incredible Christian charity rewarded, not penalized, for actually practicing Christian charity.

Spark: Faerie Queens and Gamer Girls, Part Deux

Back in October, I reviewed Anthea Sharp’s Feyland trilogy. I’d gotten the first two Feyland books as part of Story Bundle’s young adult bundle, and enjoyed them so much that I got the third one from Amazon. This month, Ms. Sharp offered to send me an advance review copy of Spark, the first book in her new spin-off series, Feyguard. I tore through it in three days, loved it, and now as per my word, I am reviewing it.

Spark, by Anthea Sharp. Image via Goodreads

Superstar gamer Spark Jaxley’s life might look easy, but she’s part of an elite few who guard a shocking secret; the Realm of Faerie exists, and its dark magic is desperate for a foothold in the mortal world.

Aran Cole hacks code and sells his gaming cheats on the black market. It’s barely a living, and one he’s not proud of. But when he turns his skills to unlocking the secrets behind Feyland—the most exciting and immersive game on the market—he discovers power and magic beyond his wildest dreams.

Spark’s mission is clear; pull Aran from the clutches of the fey folk and restore the balance between the worlds. But can she risk her life for someone who refuses to be rescued?

~ Spark (Feyguard #1) on Goodreads

The elements I loved from the Feyland trilogy continue in Feyguard. Even at the professional level, Spark’s gender is never made an issue in regard to her gaming ability. Sure, Spark is every male (and many a female) gamer’s celebrity crush, but the fact that she’s a pro gamer girl isn’t treated as unique or unusual. She’s one of four top gamers, two male and two female, backed by her corporate sponsor. I thought it was particularly smart of Sharp to make Spark’s main human antagonists a team of boy/girl twins. Roc Terabin by himself would’ve made the rivalry seem like a battle of the sexes. Cora Terabin by herself would’ve come across as stereotypical catty girl-hate. Together, they’re just plain horrible people. We want to see Spark come out on top not because Roc is a boy or Cora is a Mean Girl, but because Spark is good and the Terabins suck.

Femmephobia continues to be absent, too. Spark’s trademark is her bright magenta hair. Her personality is more assertive and tomboyish than Jennet’s, but this isn’t portrayed as meaning Spark is stronger. Although Spark is more of a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl on her own time, she sucks it up and wears garish spandex costumes and theatrical makeup for public appearances because it’s part of her job. I really like the way Spark’s attitude toward her rockstar life as a pro gamer is handled. She sometimes acknowledges feeling fatigued, overwhelmed, lonely, and rootless , but it doesn’t come across as whining. She takes these feelings in stride as part of a very rewarding package deal that she willingly signed up for.

Like Jennet and Tam, part of Spark and Aran’s attraction to each other is their mutual love of gaming. But unlike Tam, the noble knight in shining armor, black hat hacker Aran falls for Spark while trying to hack the game she was hired to promote. They meet again after he opens the breach she fought to close in the last book. Their inevitable conflict still avoids Battle of the Sexes and Strong Female Character Who Doesn’t Need A Man’s Help territory. While Spark and Aran’s goals start out at odds, their personalities are a perfect match. When they can fight for a common goal, they’re a perfect team. Made up of believably imperfect gamers.

Feyland itself, both the game and the faerie land it borders, remains as engaging and well-developed as in the first trilogy. Which brings me to the only real weakness I’ve noticed in these books: the human world in this fictional future universe isn’t nearly as well-developed. It’s more noticeable in this book than in the first three since Spark is actually traveling this world as part of her corporate sponsorship gig. Aran’s descriptions of his home city are about as generic as possible. Overall, though, this isn’t too distracting since the human world isn’t the focus here. This story is about characters who live for escaping into a computer-generated fantasy world. In other words, the kind of people who devour urban fantasy novels, faerie folklore, and RPGs like Feyland. And as I mentioned in my review of the first trilogy, I like that this future is neither a utopia nor a dystopia. It’s basically the present, but with better cars and gaming systems.

Spark is due for release on December 15th, 2013. If you like fantasy, video games, and YA novels with characters who aren’t a carbon copy of every other YA cast, add this one to your Christmas list!

Still Here

Hey everyone, just wanted to write a quick post to keep this url out of the Blog Graveyard. I’ve been busy with afk/offline stuff, working on the third volume of Thalia’s Musings, and starting another writing project that I don’t want to say much about until I’m sure it’s going to turn into something. Yes, I am completely insane to be tackling two major writing projects at once. But where the Muse leads, the artist must follow. And I promise that, whatever other writing projects I take on, Thalia’s Musings will not be neglected or abandoned.

In the meantime, while you’re waiting for Volume 3, why not get Volumes 1 and 2 for Kindle or NOOK? Both versions are DRM-free, so the NOOK version should be compatible with any ePub reader or app (i.e. Kobo, Calibre, Bluefire, NeoSoar, etc.). And both Kindle and NOOK have free reader apps for PC, tablets, and smartphones.

Anyway, back to work!

The Next Big Thing: Thalia’s Musings

Thanks to fellow indie author A.M. Day for tagging me in her Next Big Thing post. Check out her Greek-mythology-inspired urban fantasy, Throne of Olympus!

1. What is the working title of your book?

The series title is Thalia’s Musings. The first book is A Snag in the Tapestry, and the second is Snarled Threads. The third volume, which is just in the outline stage, is untitled.

2. Where did the idea for your book come from?

This line, from The Greek Myths by Robert Graves:

Having learned his lesson [after killing the Cyclops], [Apollo] thereafter preached moderation in all things: the phrases ‘Know thyself!’ and ‘Nothing in excess!’ were always on his lips. He brought the Muses down from their home on Mount Helicon to Delphi, tamed their wild frenzy, and led them in formal and decorous dances.

I thought that sounded like all kinds of comedy and drama waiting to happen. And Thalia, who is conveniently paired with Apollo in one myth, has always been my favorite muse. Hence the short story that became the first chapter of A Snag in the Tapestry.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

The series is a fantasy dramedy. I’d put Snarled Threads under gay and lesbian, but not A Snag in the Tapestry so much since there are no prominent same-sex relationships. In A Snag in the Tapestry, Apollo’s bisexuality is only referred to, and Artemis and Athena’s will-they-or-won’t-they thing is just background stuff. In Snarled Threads, Apollo romances Adonis (who is also bisexual), and Artemis and Athena’s relationship takes center stage. Making one book gayer than the other was never a conscious decision. I’ve always just taken the story where it wanted to go, and will continue to do so.

4. Which actors would you choose to play in your movie rendition?

I had way too much fun with this question. I ended up casting pretty much everybody, and Thalia’s Musings has a huuuuuuuuge cast of characters. For now I’ll give you the leads.

As Thalia, Beth Riesgraf, most well-known as Parker from TNT’s Leverage.

Beth Riesgraf

She’d need black hair and brown contacts, of course, but she plays a cloudcuckoolander well enough to pull off the character. And if her short film A Standard Story is any indication, Beth is insane in real life, too. This delights me to no end.

As Apollo, Jesse Spencer, aka Doctor Robert Chase aka Beautiful Blond Aussie Dude from House.

Jesse Spencer

The hair would be a bit longer – just past the shoulders – and his face would be completely smooth.

As Calliope, Anne Hathaway, most recently seen as Selina “Catwoman” Kyle in The Dark Knight Rises.

Anne Hathaway

I think she and Beth could look like sisters with the right makeup.

Want to see who I cast as the rest of the Pantheon? Watch for more posts under the tag “Thalia’s Musings casting”.

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

Thalia the Muse of Comedy observes the comedy, drama, and tragedy of the ancient Greek Pantheon – but when she becomes more than a mere observer, the Fates take notice.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The series started as a webseries and is still available online for free. A Snag in the Tapestry and Snarled Threads were published independently for Kindle and NOOK. I’ll follow the same model with future volumes – publish them in serial format on the website for free, and sell them in complete volumes for e-readers.

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

I think the rough draft for A Snag in the Tapestry took about two and a half months. Snarled Threads had a lot of starts and stops because of health and other interruptions I was dealing with, so it’s hard to estimate how much actual writing time went into it.

8. What other books would you compare this story to?

I want to say the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan because it’s a mythology-based series people have actually heard of, but beyond the use of Greek gods as characters, they’re nothing alike. One review said A Snag in the Tapestry felt like watching Friends or Cougar Town set on Mount Olympus. I prefer Scrubs or How I Met Your Mother, but okay.

9. Who or what inspired you to write the book?

I did. I totally didn’t mean that. Thalia inspired it. Really. Let the record show that I am totes giving my Muse proper credit. I hate herding sheep.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Have you ever read another book that spoofed Aristophanes and Lady Gaga in the same gag? No, you have not.

Watch for this author’s Next Big Thing post next week:

Carol Parsons