Subscribe to Jessica's exclusive newsletter

Subscribe to Jessica's newsletter

* indicates required

Monday, September 30, 2013

Unusual Historicals Feature

Today I'm featured at Unusual Historicals. Find out the three most pressing facts about me, and send me your good wishes for finding a place in the world.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Color Master by Aimee Bender

Full disclosure: I'm a diehard fan of Aimee Bender. I admire the way she defies categorization even while all of her fiction has a magical realism/fantasy element. Especially in a collection like this one, I admire the way she's able to assume a new, convincing authorial voice for each story. And I'm constantly amazed at the mysteries of her writing, which makes every story, no matter how long, seem too short.

I experienced The Color Master for the first time by reading each story aloud to my husband. He enjoyed the stories, but maintains that Ms. Bender doesn't know how to come to an end. Every time, he said some variation of, "That's it? That's where she chose to end it?" On a writerly level, I appreciate that she ends each story when she feels it's complete. These stories are evocative, meant to point to a bigger truth or to a whole world beyond what the reader's just read. Anyone who's expecting an entire world described and signed, sealed, delivered, should read a novel, and probably not a novel by Aimee Bender. It's just not what she's trying to do.

This is Bender's third collection of stories. In the first two collections, I thought there were some hits and misses (although even the misses were ecstatic and thrilling in their own way). Here, the quality is consistently high to the extent that going back through, I can't point out a weak one. Each one is memorable and impressive for any number of reasons, and together they make up a tour-de-force book even better than a die-hard fan like me could have hoped for.

Monday, September 23, 2013

How I Spent World Rhino Day 2013

I hope everyone had a happy World Rhino Day yesterday!

I wore my rhino coin necklace all weekend, but didn't have the guts to tell the one person who mentioned how cool it was that it was World Rhino Day. Baby steps for this introvert, I guess.

I also went to the university library to check out books and online resources about rhinos for that novel I've pledged to write.

The object is to fill the rhino to the top...
The biggest activity I took part in was WWF South Africa's #iam4rhinos Tweet storm. This really impassioned me because it's so rare I find something I can really do without money and being so far from where wild rhinos live. The goal was to get one million Tweets by the end of World Rhino Day. I was in suspense for a while, but it eventually became apparent the million wasn't going to happen.
End of day Sunday
I started on Thursday and got really earnest about on Friday, when I had to do laundry and everything... I was driven. Here was my chance to make a difference! They may not make it, but it won't be for my lack of trying! I even tweeted my entire fantasy story "Not Extinct Yet" in honor of the rhinos. (You can see it in my Twitter feed for Friday, or just buy it for less than a dollar here. The rhinos will thank you!)

I found myself a top supporter a few times! I was possessed by a higher calling! I was going to single-handedly save all five rhinoceros species from extinction! Don't bother me with other work — what matters more than rhinos? I went to what my social media guru authors call "Twitter jail" for the first time for the sake of the rhinos. And it's somewhere I would go again, gladly, for their sake. Of course, when my husband was home for the weekend, the activity had to calm down or he would feel neglected.

Before this weekend I hadn't sent that many Tweets. I'd say 80% of my lifetime Tweets took place this weekend, for the rhinos.

As of this writing, it's still going on! Try it out! You'll like it!

Being that it's social media, a few experiences accompanied the furious tweeting: I ran across a lot of photos and videos — some sad, most funny or cute, like this one:

I found other media to experience, and purchased this sad story when it was available on Amazon.

I also met a bunch of people interested in helping rhinos however they could — just like me! Up to now, I've been mystified as to what's the point of Twitter. The only people I'd met there so far were in my authors' social media support group. So this was real aha moment! There are ways to connect with people on Twitter beyond membership.

There were a couple of tweets I noticed that (gently) hated on the whole idea. They thought that there were bigger problems to deal with (an opinion they're entitled to) or that tweeting doesn't actually help rhinos. That second one is misguided. I believe the awareness level was significantly raised. There are now a few more people in the world who realize that rhinos are in trouble and are worth saving. A worthy effort indeed.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

World Rhino Day 2013: Writing About Rhinos

Five Species, one huge amount of charm. Love those rhinos.
I'm posting a little early for World Rhino Day 2013 — the real day is September 22 — because this year, it falls on a Sunday, and I want to be sure my readers have time to browse the options and make plans.

I'm also participating in a Twitter storm or Twitfest or something via Help them reach one million Tweets by using the #! Thanks!

Check out the World Rhino Day Website for a listing of most of the events happening all over the world. You're sure to find something near you. Please have a blast and help the rhinos!

The 2014 International Rhino Keeper Association Calendar is on sale on the IRKA front page. It's only $22 until Word Rhino Day, so get it before the price goes up and it's sold out! It benefits the Sumatran rhino sanctuary. Sumatran rhinos are the last descendants of the extinct woolly rhino that roamed ice-age Asia and there are only about 150 of them on Earth. They need your help so they can become not so rare! In in return you get a really awesome calendar that will be the envy of everyone who had to purchase discounted kittens in January.

Neither my husband's nor my photo was voted to be the main picture for any month, but a photo I took in 2011 at the San Diego Zoo received enough votes that it will appear as one of the smaller photos somewhere in the calendar (with my husband's name credited). Yeah!

In honor of World Rhino Day 2013, I pledge to write a novel about rhinos. It's the only thing I can offer right now, and it represents a huge commitment. I have a premise and a few scenes, but no plot per se. I promise to do everything in my power to get the research and outlining done in time for NaNoWriMo. With any luck, I'll have a finished gift for these sweet creatures before greed wipes them off the face of the Earth.

Just in time to celebrate, my story, "Rhinoceros Dreams," a masterpiece of magical realism, is now available in print in Recollections, the Jake's Monthly softcover anthology. Look on page 67!

I'll be wearing my rhino necklace and telling everyone I see that it's World Rhino day on Sunday! See you there.

In case you're not sure why rhinos should never go extinct, here are some irresistible rhino babies.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homophonia: Not/Knot/Naught

Recently my husband and I worked on something together, and it didn't turn out the way we'd hoped. My husband forwarded me the rejection letter, and added, "I guess all that was for not."

Amazing, the power of email! It delivered a crushing blow and pointed out a common homophone trap.

Few people seem to have trouble with the obvious homophone pair not/knot. I remember being introduced to "silent K" in grade school, and it was weird enough for even the most slapdash speller to remember. (Or maybe it only struck me because the K in my last name is ferociously NOT silent. Even at a young age I'd had to correct adults numerous times on its pronunciation and bear the brunt of awe, annoyance, or condescension over it.)

Without the K, it's a necessary grammatical element of negation, and with the K, it's the result of tying things.

The word my husband was looking for, however, was "naught." It comes from the Old English, so it's about 1500 years old and still going. A composite of "no" and "thing," we witness its origin in the phrase "not a whit." It and its variant "nought" are still used widely in non-American Anglophone locations. For us Yanks, it's been relegated to phrases and situations like the one my husband was describing: Tons of effort and expectation that end up coming to naught.

And yes, "naught" is where we get "naughty." Something to do with zero moral value, perhaps?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Places in the Heart

View of our city from the 25th floor of the Revere Hotel, which used to be the
 Radisson, where my husband was based when we met. Can you see the patina of sweet sentiments?
Friday marks four years that my husband and I have been married. It's been almost that long since we've lived outside the metro area where we met, fell in love, and got hitched: Boston. So last Labor Day weekend, we took a long, toll-filled, rainy trip.

Boston. It's still there! It changes so little in comparison to other places. And it's achingly beautiful, even in the rain, so why should it change? A lot people have bad things to say about this city, but I don't think anyone can deny it's the most simultaneously studious, historical, and introverted place in the United States. Which is to say, it's like me. It also has fabulous public transportation, something I find necessary and all too rare. Aside from that, all the quirks and things some people find annoying charm me.

So I'm not ashamed to say we spent most of our time over the weekend too choked up for words. I just wish Boston would love us back a little more, with a more reasonable cost of living and/or a job offer. We're willing to work hard, believe me!

When we moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona in late 2010, we stopped in what seemed like the middle of the night to eat an ice cream cone mere miles away from our destination. A sense that we were headed in the wrong direction seized me and I was crying hysterically even as I wiped up the chocolate drips.

"What's wrong?" my husband asked.

"I wanna go back to Boston!" I blubbered.

I came to love Arizona, too, for its own uniqueness and the stellar people I met. But Boston will always occupy a place in my heart that loves when everything is in its proper place. I'm not sure it was wise to make this trip, because that longing has only intensified and I'm not sure we can do a darn thing about it.

Anyway, if this list brings a smile to your face and a tear to your eye, you might be a Boston expatriate, like me. Happy anniversary to the love of my life, who I just realized is as fond of Boston as I am.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Accidents Happen by Louise Millar

Make no mistake: Accidents Happen is a thriller along the lines of popular movies. I think the American cover is less effective at predicting the book's content than the British one, which shows the woman's face, and she's clearly distressed.

I won't be posting a review of this book anywhere because I can't discern whether a thriller is good or bad. It gets off to a slow start, but about fifty pages in, the reader suddenly learns that one of Kate's unreasonable fears is actually true: there's a man who sneaks into their house! At that point, you know no good can come of the situation, but you're obliged to keep reading to see what does happen! And maybe that's all a thriller needs?

Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of things to like about this book. But I had to skip over quite a few paragraphs because the author showed us a little too much inside the head of an obsessive-compulsive character. And then, Kate meets Jago, a rugged man who attempts to cure her obsessions with shock therapy, which, from the beginning, includes sketchy, illegal behavior. The end of the book explains why he does it this way. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, but I won't spoil it for those of you reading. It sent mixed messages about Kate's empowerment I wished the book could have acknowledged. All through the book, I wanted to know why Kate puts up with this "cure" that borders on abuse.

Then I saw this analysis about women in fiction (and real life) who want to be saved. It makes the point that when women were kept in the home, they didn't need these recent fantasies about men who come into their lives and take control, because that's what they had in real life! Now, women have to make just as many (or more) decisions as men, and sheesh, it's tiring. Can't someone else step in and take on all these responsibilities once in a while? At least in fiction?

It's something to consider, but looking at my particular case, I have a strong relationship with an equal, and I would honestly like to see more of that in fiction, instead of the struggle for dominance or the willing surrender. Are there any books that assume a healthy balance of power between the sexes and get the plot conflict from some other source?

In this case, Kate's had some true traumas in her past, and in Jago she sees someone who can wipe the slate clean with his crazy methods. Of course, he can't. That would be a fantasy.

Thanks to everyone who participated in last Monday's giveaway with M C Muhlenkamp! I'm sorry to report that there has been a technical glitch with the entries, and no winner has been chosen yet. If you entered, or if you're interested in winning even if you didn't enter, please see this kind note from the author:

Book Giveaway Error
Dear readers and followers, I am not exactly sure what happened to our giveaway entries, but for whatever reason they aren’t showing up in the comment section anymore. I would still love to give away one of the copies of Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising to one of you, but I am going to need your help to do it. Please visit this post and re-enter. I am so sorry for this mix up! Hopefully we’ll get this figured out in no time. I will be taking reentries until Friday, September 13th.  For those of you who didn’t get to enter last week, don’t miss out this time around ;-)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book Debut and Interview: The Fiery Alphabet by Diane Lefer

More than a year ago, toward the end of my time in Tucson, Diane Lefer sent her novel The Fiery Alphabet to me at Fireship Press. I loved it for all the reasons the COO didn't: It's smart, it's not formulaic, and it tells a story most women today can sympathize with. When my colleagues and I all left Fireship for various personal reasons and got together to found Loose Leaves Publishing, I wondered if that crazy wonderful novel was still looking for a home and, with my new partners' blessing, I asked Diane about it. (Insert incredible amounts of work and joy here.) 

I'm inestimably proud of this book and the wonderful response it's already received from reviewers. The Fiery Alphabet makes its official debut tomorrow, September 5. 

Diane Lefer: Thank you for the introduction, Jessica. When I sent you The Fiery Alphabet, I didn't dare admit the manuscript had been making the rounds of publishers for 26 years. I thought, who on earth would want to publish a book that had already racked up so many rejections? Well, you did. You know, years before, I had drinks with a prominent editor in New York. She said, "If I used my own taste, I'd be betraying the trust the company has in me." That's why I have such love and appreciation for small independent presses like Loose Leaves. You get to use your own taste and judgment. And I hope my experience can encourage other writers to never lose faith or give up.

JK: That's exactly what Loose Leaves aims to do: give good books a chance in this bizarre new publishing milieu. What happened during the intervening 26 years?

Diane Lefer
DL: I had agents, I lost agents, I fired agents, and I tried to place the manuscript myself, but the policy in mainstream publishing changed and all of a sudden even editors who knew me weren't allowed to read work I sent directly.

Even before that, The Fiery Alphabet had a long gestation period. It's a book I'd wanted to write since I was a kid and saw a TV show about the occultist Cagliostro. I wasn't that enthralled with his magical powers but very impressed with the idea that a person could be an actual historical figure – even a famous one – and yet shrouded in mystery. Like Shakespeare. As a kid, I loved Shakespeare because he wrote about witches and ghosts, and this unlikely pair became the creative polestars of my youth: Shakespeare and Cagliostro.

Then, in the early 1970's, I was in Brazil during the brutal dictatorship. People were being detained, tortured, disappeared. Any gathering of students was dangerous and forbidden but what happened was, if you sat down in a cafe with a book, a student would join you, hoping for a good conversation. That's how I met a young writer, Mauro Costa, who had just read Jung's Psychology and Alchemy and was eager to discuss it. Unfortunately, I had never read it. I hadn't even heard of it, but I sought out a copy as soon as I returned to the US and the book awakened an interest in the Divine Feminine – the archetype with such beautiful names: Queen of Heaven, Rosa Mystica, Star of the Sea –  and reawakened my desire to write about mysticism and Cagliostro. I learned his real name was Giuseppe Balsamo: one mystery about him solved. But another ten years passed before Daniela presented herself to my consciousness and I began to write.

I worked on the manuscript for several years. Once I started sending it out – and by the way, I avoid using the word "submit." I think it was Muriel Rukeyser who said offer your work, but don't give up your power. Never submit! – there was a lot of discouragement. The very first rejection began with the words, "Daniela is a passionate creature, but her passion is for learning. Intellectual women aren't interesting." As though there's something wrong with being curious about the world and wanting to know and understand and experience as much as you can – which for Daniela definitely includes love and sexual desire. I took the criticism very personally because I came of age during an era when girls weren't supposed to be smart. Some adults actually expressed their sympathy as they assured me I would never fit in and my life would be very hard. A few took a more optimistic view of my future: they said I might get to marry a doctor. Of course, in the novel, Daniela's intelligence lands her in more trouble than mine ever did. But the manuscript (and I) finally lucked out to find a smart woman editor who had the authority to make an offer without having to sneak it past the gatekeepers.

Though I did a lot of research, I didn't really think of my novel as all that high-brow. Several years before I began writing it, I was broke and had to borrow rent money. A nonfiction book project I was working on for which a contract was supposedly being drawn fell through. I ended up getting out of debt by writing two Regency romances, that is, romances set in nineteenth-century England during the time King George III was too mad to rule and his son, the Prince Regent, ruled in his stead. (The books were published under a pseudonym because the editor said, "Diane Lefer isn't a romantic name.")

Writing those books was a great experience. Getting paid for my work? What a concept! But also, I admit, my orientation as a writer had always been to concentrate on my characters' inner lives. I was not very observant of physical reality. The Regencies, however, had to be written to a formula which went so far as to specify not only when the romantic encounters were to occur (and how far they could go), but also how often descriptions of food and clothing and furniture had to appear on the page. This was excellent training for me. Of course, in The Fiery Alphabet, I wasn't writing to formula and didn't include quite that much sensory detail. Most of the novel is in the form of Daniela's journals and a person writing a journal takes much of her world for granted and doesn't describe everything the way an outside observer might. But the Regencies taught me to pay attention to the world of the senses.

Diane's Artemis of Ephesus
JK: What first drew me in to The Fiery Alphabet was the fictionalized Translator's Preface, in which you have a subtle adventure in Turkey. Tell me about the research.

DL: I went to Turkey to visit the harem and the archaeological sites associated with Goddess worship: çatal Hüyük, the world's most ancient city; Ephesus with its temple to Artemis. I brought home a small statue of the goddess and one day, trying to get all the dust off her, I made the mistake of washing her. The statue started to melt. I saved most of her!

In order to immerse myself in Daniela's world, I tried to read everything she would have read, though often in translation as, unlike Daniela, I don't know Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. I read Casanova's memoirs – useful but boring. I needed special permission to access eighteenth-century obstetrical manuals. I stared at Piranesi's etchings of Rome until I could dream myself into them. So, OK, I knew there was a lot of ... erudition in The Fiery Alphabet, but I believe I'd also learned a lot about just telling a good story.

JK: Did you revise much during the 26 years?

DL: At some point I changed the title. The manuscript first made the rounds as "Ardent Fire," which is actually a phrase Balsamo quotes from St. John of the Cross, but people thought it sounded like the title of a romance novel. Daniela does fall in love with Balsamo, but editors who expected a more familiar romance novel were disappointed. Marketing isn't just about ads and blogs and reviews. I understand now it's about a cover and a title that don't mislead potential readers, that help a book find the readership that will most enjoy it. I've been happily stunned by all the positive reactions to the cover Loose Leaves designed and I appreciate the way you all wanted my input.

Over the years, I did some revising and cutting. I found myself simplifying the manuscript – without, I hope, dumbing it down. For example, in the original draft, Daniela writes two journals. One she leaves lying around hoping Balsamo will find it and read it and love her for it. The other is private and in it she writes what she really thinks and feels. Then A.S. Byatt published the novel Possession which also features a public and a private diary. I was afraid people would think I'd stolen the idea from her so I very reluctantly rewrote the novel. Daniela has only one journal now. And though I still think there's psychological truth in the original concept, I ended up happy I made the change. The revision does make a somewhat complicated novel more readable, easier to follow. After all, we got that review from ForeWord calling the book "complex and thoroughly satisfying" – which sure beats someone saying it was too damn complex to read.

JK: That issue of ForeWord is out now in Barnes and Noble and many other venues. See the review here. Thanks for coming by, Diane.

Find Diane's website here. If you want to know more about The Fiery Alphabet, take a look at these additional discussions:

Eliza Gales Interviews
She Writes

The soft cover is available here, from Indiebound, anywhere fine books are sold, and directly from Loose Leaves

Ebook editions: NookKobo | Kindle | Kindle UK | Kindle Canada 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Author Interview: M. C. Muhlenkamp with Giveaway

Today we welcome author and Jill-of-all-trades M. C. Muhlenkamp, author of Markram Battles. She's offering one lucky reader a copy of the first book in the series, Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising in either MOBI or PDF format. See the end of this post to enter!

JK: Tell us a little about where you grew up and what you do or have done besides writing. 

MCM: I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and lived there until I moved to the States to attend college at the age of eighteen. I graduated in 2008 with a degree in Latin American Studies. I’ve done a variety of jobs in the past including, Sandwich Master, Library Media Center Consultant, Visitor Center Go-To girl, Meeting and Event Planning Assistant, and more recently Data Management Specialist. I also pride myself in making awesome pies.

JK: What is your series about? 

MCM: Markram Battles is a serialized collection of YA sci-fi stories. It is set in a post-apocalyptic future where an evolved species of humans with supernatural powers has taken control of our planet. In this world, Earth is a conscripting sector where recruiters, also known as unit leaders, come to enlist human survivors to participate in the Battles, a blood-sport tournament for the entertainment of the masses.

The Markram stories follow Seven, one of the unit leaders trained in the Imperial Army to fight in the Battles. Seven’s goal to win the Battles, and subsequently his own freedom, has been his only objective for as long as he can remember. But after recruiting Thirteen, one of his human prisoners, everything changes. Her mere presence puts at risk everything he has worked so hard to achieve, and threatens to destroy everything he believes about himself. Together they must fight for survival, freedom, and eventually each other, even if their triumph can only mean their ultimate downfall.

The collection is geared toward readers of YA fantasy and science fiction, but I think readers of other genres would enjoy it as well. The diverse intertwining themes in each story aim to explore and test the boundaries of human culture, as seen through the eyes of this new world.

JK: How does real life affect your fiction? 

MCM: My mind works like a big bucket, where everyday things, even if I think them insignificant, get collected. Everything I see, hear, or experience has an effect and goes right into that mental bucket, only to be used later on, consciously or subconsciously. I believe stories in general, no matter how fictitious in nature, carry fragments of real life, whether the writer means it or not. For me it can be something as simple as a song I listen to that sparks an idea, or a social trend I notice that shapes part of a plot, even the general mood of my day can influence the feeling of my stories.

JK: What is your favorite book?

MCM: To be completely honest, I don’t have a favorite book. There are just too many out there to choose from. If my life depended on answering this question I would probably die.

JK: I know, right? I'm not sure why I ask that question. What other things influence your work?

MCM: I love to use music as creative influence. I tend to collect songs that I think would be fantastic for a certain scene, character, or story. Music just has a way of entering my brain and sparking my creativity like nothing else will. I also like keeping a folder of pictures that remind me of whatever it is I am working on. I am a very visual person, and one picture or set of pictures can create a snowball effect of ideas.

JK: Do you have a favorite word? How do you use language to differentiate your characters? 

MCM: That is an interesting question, one I had never thought of before. After thinking about it for some time I realized I actually do have a word that I love. Adamant. I am not sure why I like it so much. Maybe I just like the sound of it. I did some research on the history of the word and found that it derives from Latin and Greek words meaning “unbreakable, untamable, invincible.” It was also used to describe hard metals, and even diamonds at one point. After learning this I think I like the word even more. There is something subtle about the word adamant, even though its definitions and origin suggests a stronger meaning.

Using language to differentiate my characters and settings was very challenging with Markram Battles, mainly because I was dealing with evolved humans from a militaristic empire with a completely different belief system. I tried to maintain expressions and description language, as well as a lack thereof, very specific to whatever point of view I was writing, trusting that my beta readers and editor would call me out if I slipped.

JK: In general, what is your inspiration? What was the specific inspiration for your most recent project?

MCM: There wasn’t one specific thing that inspired Markram Battles, more of a combination of several ideas. I’ve always been fascinated by the scale and scope of warfare in ancient civilizations, such as Romans and Greeks, and how that lifestyle affected their society and culture. I tried to picture how those same beliefs would translate using a world much more advanced technologically than theirs, taking special interest in the history of gladiatorial games in ancient Rome. To that you add my childhood obsession with X-Men, and more recently Heroes (the TV show), and you can see how the ideas began to take shape.

JK: How much time a day do you devote to fiction writing? What is your work area like? Do you have any methods that might seem unusual or inspiring to other writers? 

MCM: I have to laugh at this question. My husband would have you believe that I spend every waking moment devoting my time to fiction writing, and though I do spend quite a substantial part of my time in front of the computer, it doesn’t always mean I am writing every second of it. I’m an early bird. Early mornings mean uninterrupted writing time before daily responsibilities catch up with me. On a good morning I can get as much as two hours uninterrupted writing time. On a bad morning I might not get any time at all. My office is a mess. I have toys all over the place, projects dispersed throughout the room, books piled up everywhere, scattered notes I write to myself, and a TV playing some kid show or another at any given time. Like I said, a mess. But that is just the nature of my office, and I’ve accepted it. I love listening to music when I write, not always though, and nothing with lyrics, which would be too distracting. I am a big fan of several film score composers, and I love using their orchestrally oriented scores to shape the flow of a scene or story line.

JK: When and why did you get started writing?

MCM: I don’t think I can remember a time when I didn’t write. I’ve always done it, though it has taken many shapes throughout the years. I have to admit however that I never really thought of sharing my writing and stories with others until more recently. I had somewhat of an epiphany some years back when I realized I just really loved writing and creating new worlds inside my head. Before that, I knew I liked it and it was fun, but I didn’t take it seriously, especially knowing that English was my second language. But after I came to terms with myself (and my love for writing), things changed. I began researching my way through the writing world and even took a writing course at the beginning of the year to help me get started.

JK: What characteristics from your first efforts survive today?

MCM: Most of my early book drafts were pure garbage. But I don’t think any effort, no matter how mediocre we think it is, is really wasted, because every time you write you learn something new. Looking back now, I realize how differently I approach writing in comparison to when I first began. I’ve learned too much for those early characteristics to survive unscathed.

JK: What kind of feedback do you get? Do you have a definable fan base? Are your family and friends supportive?

MCM: There are definitely quite a few people I rely on for feedback. Some are friends, some are fellow writers, and some are total strangers. Every one of them is fantastic and I love the variety of feedback they give me. I am not sure about a definable fan base yet, since I just got started. Only time will answer that question. My family and friends are the drive behind what I do. Their support and enthusiasm mean everything to me.

JK: Thank you so much for dropping by!

If you would like to know more about Markram Battles, you can find bonus materials, history of the Markram Empire, and characters’ profiles at M. C.'s website. She can be found on Twitter @mcmuhlenkamp and Goodreads, and she loves to Pin about her writing projects and other stuff at: 

Find Makram Battles on Amazon here.

Thanks to everyone who participated in last Monday's giveaway with M C Muhlenkamp! I'm sorry to report that there has been a technical glitch with the entries, and no winner has been chosen yet. If you entered, or if you're interested in winning even if you didn't enter before, please see this kind note from the author:

Book Giveaway Error
Dear readers and followers, I am not exactly sure what happened to our giveaway entries, but for whatever reason they aren’t showing up in the comment section anymore. I would still love to give away one of the copies of Markram Battles: Genesis of an Uprising to one of you, but I am going to need your help to do it. Please visit this post and re-enter. I am so sorry for this mix up! Hopefully we’ll get this figured out in no time. I will be taking reentries until Friday, September 13th.  For those of you who didn’t get to enter last week, don’t miss out this time around ;-)