SIRENS Discounts, Giveaways & Guest Post!

Oh my!

SIRENS is enjoying lots of features this month in celebration of Kindle Press discounting each ebook to $1.99. This week, check out my features on Canadian blogger, Pure Jonel’s book blog, Confessions of Bibliophile!

Guest post today: Finding Time & Inspiration to Write: My Top Ten Tips

Giveaway that ends March 25th:  Lost World by T.L. Zalecki – Giveaway

Win signed paperback copies of Rising Tide & Lost World!

Title:  Lost World
Series:  Sirens #2
Author:  T.L. Zalecki
Publication Date:  December 10/15
Length:  436pgs
Genre:  dystopian fantasy
Shelf:  review
Rating: ★★★★★

 

Jonel’s Review of Lost World:

Wow! Just wow! If I thought I enjoyed the first book in this series, I was completely blown away with this one. The futuristic aspects really came to life in this exciting manner that really allowed me to picture the entire story. I loved the mix of biology and fantasy. It was even further developed than in the first novel of the series. Her descriptions blended with the enticing plot in a manner that was breathtaking in its realism and not only sparked my interest, but held it captive. The excitement and the intense undercurrent running throughout were absolutely unforgettable. They kept me hooked and had me on my toes.

I enjoyed getting to know the new characters in the series and absolutely loved getting back in touch with those from the first novel. Seeing the plot evolve through their eyes gave it a very unique feel. For me, it really increased the intensity of the tale. Also, the fact that I loved the characters, wanted to get to know them better and saw them as friends by the end of the novel made it even better for me.

Once again, this fantastic author has taken me on a wild adventure. She sparked my interest with the unique, biology & dystopian based plot and held it with the imaginative writing. I loved each and every moment of it.

Buy the series on Amazon!
Get both e-books for under $4 total:
Series

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Going Seapunk

No, not steampunk. Or surfpunk. Seapunk.

seapunk

Azealia Banks Atlantis

So now you know. #Seapunk.

Until next time.

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Need a novel gift idea?

(I know what you’re thinking. And you’re right. But that for later…)

If you’re like me, you struggle every year to think of good holiday gifts for friends and family. It was a big fail last year when I got my brother and his wife flameless candles. And every year, I get my Dad socks and underwear because he insists that’s all he wants… but is it really?

Per my terrible pun above, novels make a great gift for everyone, and winter is the best time to cozy up with a good work of fiction. There are many genres to choose from, but “escapist” books seem to be a win with most people, like science-fiction and fantasy, for example. Ahem. So, I thought it would be helpful to give people a few ideas. Goodreads also has great recommendation lists if you want to narrow down more.

Young kids:

The Land of Neverbelieve by Norman Messenger

Beautiful illustrations about a unique island filled with things you would never believe, such as the Spaghetti Tree, Book Mountain, and the luminous Eyeball Snails. Written as little notes from an explorer’s point of view. My son loves it!

The Land of Neverbelieve

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

An adorable story about crayons that have been overworked and frustrated by their owner. Great illustrations!

The Day the Crayons Quit

Teenagers: 

The Giver by Lois Lowry

I was at a bookstore and asked for a sci-fi dystopia book rec. I was told this book, though for young adults, was a must read for anyone who loves the genre. I read it and immediately fell in love. A beautiful story. They just made a movie out of it too. You could even buy the full quartet as a gift.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows

I haven’t read it, but it’s on a bunch of 2015 “best” lists and one review says “These books are the greatest things since Harry Potter AND sliced bread.”

Adults:

The Martian by Andy Weir.

Weir began writing this in pieces on a website when he caught the attention of people at the Jet Propulsion Lab. The scientists started giving him advice to make the science in the book seem more real. The end product is an amazing read, and so realistic. And the movie is almost just as good!

The Martian: A Novel

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

I haven’t read it, but I’ve heard wonderful things. My Dad read it recently and loved it. Seems like it would appeal to a lot of people. It’s next on my list!

H Is for Hawk

And finally… what I hear is a thrilling book of sci-fi/fantasy brilliance… (see, you knew this was coming)…

SIRENS Book One: Rising Tide and Book Two: Lost World

***A special gift package!!***

GiftBooks

The paperback books on Amazon are about $15 each, but for the holidays I am offering a special package of signed paperback copies with bookmarks. Both for $25 plus $5 shipping. And I can write a little note inside if you tell me what to say. Click HERE to purchase yours today!

 

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Joanna Newsom

I saw her last night at the Lincoln Theater and this song, Sawdust and Diamonds, brought me to tears. Joanna Newsom is one of the my favorite musical artists. She’s a badass rocker harpist who happens to look like a woodland fairy, and when you see her in person there’s something ethereal about her as though she stepped through some portal from another land. She and all the musicians in the band played musical chairs last night, alternating between all sorts of instruments I couldn’t even name, to create a magical performance.

One of my favorite things about her music is the lyrics. She’s a true poet. This line is one of my favorites from the song:

I was all horns and thorns sprung out fully formed knock-kneed and upright

And this verse is beautiful:

then the slow lip of fire moves across the prairie with precision
while, somewhere, with your pliers and glue you make your first incision
and in a moment of almost-unbearable vision
doubled over with the hunger of lions
“hold me close,” cooed the dove
who was stuffed now with sawdust and diamonds

Sawdust and Diamonds has a folksy, whimsical feel and for me evokes images of some fantastical medieval-pastoral setting. It was inspired when she read a fantasy novel, The Mists of Avalon, recommended by her best friend, which happened to have uncanny parallels to a dream she’d recently had. I found a summary of an article written about the parallels, but could not find the actual article, which I think is archived in the Boston Herald. I love, of course, how she turns into a mermaid at the end. =)

You may be more interested in the lengthy excerpt below if you listen to the song. Or, do yourself a favor, and just listen to the Ys, the album it’s on. Her songs are meandering, and don’t build in the same sort of way pop songs do, but if you take the time to listen, it is such a reward.

Happy Friday!

“…The last element of Newsom’s magnum opus to arrive was its title. Newsom spent a long time fishing for a name that would encapsulate the spirit of the project. One night she dreamed about the title, a swirling reverie that featured the letters Y and S smashing together in unusual combinations. Afterwards she began searching for a single-syllable word that bluntly combined the two letters. At the same time, Newsom also finally got around to reading the fantasy novel on her nightstand, which happened to be her best friend’s favorite book. She thought the novel might be cheesy, but she loved it. And one night, there it was: a passage about a seaside castle that had been raised ‘by the magic of the ancient folk of Ys.’

“Et voila–Newsom had found her title. Ys is a lost city immortalized in the folklore of Brittany, a region that lies along the northwest coast of France. As Newsom read more deeply into the legend, things got a little spookier. Here, in a nutshell, is one version of the tale: Dahut, the blond daughter of King Gradlon, begs her father to build her a citadel by the sea. And so he does, creating a city that’s protected from the waves by an enormous wall of stone whose one entrance, a gigantic bronze door, is opened by a key that Gradlon carries around his neck. Like a lot of seaside towns, Ys attracts horny sailors laden with goods, and Dahut makes a wicked pact with the powers of the ocean to make the already decadent city rich. The agreement is rather kinky: every night the princess takes a new sailor as a lover, and places a black mask on his head. In the morning, when the song of the meadowlark is heard, the mask strangles the guy, whose body is then offered to the waves. Eventually Dahut meets her match: a haughty crimson-clad lover who persuades her to slip the key from around the neck of her sleeping father. The rake then opens the gates of Ys to the raging ocean, which swallows the city. Father and daughter escape on a magic steed, but daddy is forced to drop the princess into the sea and she drowns. In some tellings, she is then transformed into a mermaid.

“Newsom saw so many parallels between this story and her own that it freaked her out. There were the themes of decadence and excess, of fathers and daughters and boundaries burst, not to mention details like the meadowlark and the heroine’s underwater metamorphosis. Then Newsom stumbled across the clincher: according to Breton folklore, on calm days along the coast you can hear the sunken bell of the cathedral of Ys, tolling evermore. Later, as Newsom finished the fantasy novel, she stumbled across yet another uncanny echo of her own tale: a line that spoke of ‘that damnable bell,’ a direct sample, as it were, from ‘Sawdust & Diamonds.’

-the above was pulled from here: http://songmeanings.com/songs/view/3530822107858564663/

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Quick feedback for SIRENS?

Dear Reader Friends,

I have a case of writers block and I need your help! I have a full outline for SIRENS book three, but I cannot decide on the narrative point-of-view to use. The first two SIRENS books alternate between the POVs of Lorel, Mello and Jake. I feel like it’s a nice way to break up the reading experience and give the reader a wide perspective on the events taking place during the story. Some people prefer this style and some prefer to experience a story from only one character’s perspective for more intimacy.  If you have read SIRENS book one, Rising Tide, I would love your feedback in the form of this poll. And there are three more quick polls below it as well. Reader feedback here means a ton to me, so thank you in advance!

cow-writers-block

Lots of books are series nowadays, and lots of TV shows are as well. Both use cliffhangers a lot to carry the reader or viewer through to the next installment.

I have my personal favorite characters, but I love knowing who readers are connecting with.

And finally…

THANK YOU so much for voting!  If you have any qualitative thoughts or comments, please leave them in the comment section.

Tanya

writers-block

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Anyone heard of New Charleston, SC?

I’m no prophet. But…

Charleston, SC has always been a beloved city of mine. I grew up going to the beach there at my parent’s home on Isle of Palms, a barrier island just outside the city. I was married there on an old historic plantation. I have done hundreds of dollars of damage to my bank account shopping in the beautiful historic downtown. I have stared out at the ocean and the battery and dreamed up stories that stem from the sea. In fact, it was where Sirens was born. I can now hold a published novel in my hands that five years ago was only a (somewhat humorous) conversation about; what if in the future this island was under water… and what if mermaids existed?

 (Apparently, they actually do, but that’s beside the point.)

mermaids on beach

 

Book one of the Sirens series, Rising Tide, begins in “New Charleston” in the year 2098. The old historic city and all the barrier islands are now among the ‘drowned cities’ all around the world. They have been submerged in water from rising ocean levels and permanent hurricane season. People walking along the now manmade beaches can still see church steeples and chimney peaks jutting out of the water at low tide. New Charleston exists several miles inland where the water has yet to encroach. Here is an excerpt:

After dinner they decided to walk back on the boardwalk lining the shore. Hologram signs glowed dimly every hundred feet. When touched they brightened with historic illustrations of the old Charleston remnants that lay just offshore beneath the surface—a shopping center, a church, a farm. It always gave Lorel the shivers. But it was important. People needed to remember.

She tapped the surface of one as they walked by. The display illuminated with the image of a playground constructed on an expansive green field. The same ocean could be seen in the background, beyond a line of shrubbery and natural dunes. She tapped the small triangle on the surface and the image came to life. Several children pumped their little legs on the swings, a few stepped dizzily from a merry-go-round. A boy and girl held hands and glided down a double slide, their faces filled with the simple joy of a day at the park. Mothers lined the benches on the perimeter holding babies or rifling through stroller bags.

“There would never be space for such a park now. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many children playing together before in one place.” She turned to Jake. “Where do children play?”

The setting, half of which takes place in New Charleston, is a major character in the story. So seeing the news these last few days felt uncanny to me. So similar to a world I predicted happening in my book. Don’t get me wrong… I don’t think we are really headed to a submerged Charleston, SC. And I definitely would never want to see that happen. But I found it fascinating, and terrifying, to see even a hint of a world that could turn into reality.

Someone kayaking in the Market… what?!?

Kayaking-in-the-Flooded-Market          

And the reality now is just sad. People are dying from the flood conditions. SC has had more rain than they have in 1000 years! They got two feet in just 4 days. People are trapped in their homes, many may be left homeless. Obama has declared it a state of emergency. I wish all of these people the best, and hope that the city of Charleston, along with Columbia and others, doesn’t undergo too much damage. Here is a video with some amazing footage of the flooding. I recognize a few of the sites.

I am just beginning my third book in the Sirens series. The working title is The Drowned Cities. But like I said, I’m no prophet.

 

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Playlist for Sirens, Rising Tide

Check out this playlist if you have read, or are reading, Sirens, Rising Tide, or if you just want a damn good playlist to listen to. (Full disclosure: my husband helped me whittle this down and will have it known that he forbid Mumford & Sons to be on this. I love to disobey him.)

I never sit down to write without knowing exactly what scene I want to put down. The creative process in my mind mainly takes place during mundane moments of my days like driving, running (when I do it), or staring out the window. But the best ideas come to me while I am listening to music. Each of these songs have moved me to think of  my characters and dream up their experiences, the places they eat dinner, the set up of their apartments, in some cases their torture. Forgive me Mello.

The future screen director of Sirens can thank me for creating the soundtrack in advance.

GO TO SPOTIFY PLAYLIST HERE (You’ll need an account, but if you have one, I’ve made the playlist collaborative so feel free to add onto it!)

  1. M83 – We Own the Sky (Lorel)
  2. Vance Joy – Riptide (Lorel)
  3. The Knife – Heartbeats (Mello)
  4. Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Jake)
  5. M83 – Midnight City (Mello)
  6. Arcade Fire – Neighborhoods #1 (Jake)
  7. Grimes – Genesis (Lorel)
  8. See Me – Tei Shi (Mello)
  9. The Knife – Silent Shout (Mello)
  10. Imagine Dragons – Radioactive (Jake)
  11. Grimes – Entropy (Lorel)
  12. Young Ejecta – Your Planet (Lorel)
  13. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait (Jake)
  14. Beirut – The Rip Tide (Mello)

This Grimes video is too perfect…

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The Secret Writing Project

My son William turned four a couple weeks ago, “baby” Ava turned two yesterday, and today came my third… okay, labor was a little less painful with this one, but it did take five years! I am so excited to share that the first book of Sirens, Rising Tide, has a FOR SALE sign hung around its neck as of today. My “baby” is out in the world.

SirensCover-KindleScout

Now comes the hard part for me, the idea that people are actually reading it, judging it… reviews will come in. From people I know. And from people I do not know. Some people will hate it—I’m already steeling myself for those 1 and 2 untwinkling star reviews. But I hope some people will love it too and dazzle it with 4 and 5 stars. I hope to be blinded. There is something about creating art that, although the artist sometimes doesn’t want to admit it, craves to be shared, validated and admired. I admit, I want people to love my book. But, love it, hate it, or “eh, it was okay”… all of these reactions mean that people read it. I was able to share my art. And that means the world. I want to express my deepest gratitude (yes, this is overly dramatic, but anyone that knows me…), my very deepest gratitude, for allowing me to share my art with you. For you to spend time turning (or swiping) my pages is really exhilarating to me and I am so thankful.

People may find it interesting to know a bit about the evolution of Sirens (the book, not the people – you have to read it to learn that!). I began writing this book with my close friend Catie. She had written Eliza’s Shadow in 2012 and I was so impressed. It made me think… maybe I could write a book too. When I shared the idea of the then unnamed story with her, she kindly offered to help me write the book.

We began a semi-secret project, “The Manphibian project”. It was a working title that made us laugh every time we said the phrase. I would write one chapter, she would write the next. This lasted a few chapters until she ultimately set me free to do it on my own. I think she knew I was finally ready. That was five years ago. Much of our early writing went to the cutting board to be chopped, diced, remixed or tossed. But a few remnants of her writing remain… tiny Catie Wittmack cameos. I wrote the entire book during my kids’ naps until I had a single novel of almost 200 thousand words. Now, that is a LONG book, in case you don’t have perspective on word count. When I hired my freelance editor, Max, at the Polished Pen, she advised me to cut the book in half. There was a natural divide between part 1 and part 2. At first the idea horrified me. Like, what did you say King Solomon?? I was very worried that the two books would not stand on their own. I quickly realized how much freedom it gave me to round out the natural plot lines in both parts, and I embraced it. I am quite proud of how they came out. (Twins? Ok, stop me with the baby analogy.)

Anyway, the e-version of book one, Rising Tide is OUT, READABLE, FOR SALE! I hope that it leaves readers with bated breath, waiting for the next one, Lost World. Max is currently helping me polish it up and I will be submitting it to Kindle Scout again very soon so that no one has to wait long (ie., so no one forgets!) after reading the first one. My journey with Kindle Scout for book one was nothing short of wonderful, and I wouldn’t be here obsessively checking the stats of my PUBLISHED book without them. Thanks to them and to everyone who nominated it, and to everyone who will now read it and LOVE IT!!

I plan to post a full playlist sometime soon of music that inspired me over the last few years while I was writing Sirens. Here is one in particular that comes to mind for Rising Tide. Something about the feeling of it… anyway. Enjoy.

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Victory!

I woke up this morning at 5am because Ava lost her passie in her crib and was demanding someone rush in to return it promptly to her mouth. While John attended to the princess, I rolled over and stared at my phone. I wanted to pick it up and look. I knew it had news. I just didn’t know if I could handle seeing bad news. And I’d surely never go back to sleep. But I could not resist. I reached over and turned it on. I had 17 emails and as soon as I saw the words “GREAT NEWS!!!” and “Congrats!!” I gasped. Then saw this on the Kindle Scout website:

 Campaign has ended. This book will be published by Kindle Press!

 

I had done it. After four years of writing and editing and rereading and rereading and thinking what the hell am I doing writing a novel, I finally did it. I, the person who balked at 3 page term papers in college, wrote a full length novel that will be PUBLISHED! I still can hardly believe it.

I am so thankful for all the support I had from my friends throughout the Kindle Scout campaign. I noticed friends I hadn’t talked to or heard from in so long reaching out to say they had nominated me. I even had a fairy god mother, a wonderful book blogger named Jude from Platypire Reviews who showed such faith in my book that she reached out to her own large network several times for me (Thank you Jooood!). From day one, I got the “HOT” label which I proceeded to obsess over daily (ok fine, hourly) for 30 days. But I quickly realized that although the label got you the Amazon Scout’s attention, it didn’t guarantee a publishing contract. Some books were getting published that had almost never been “hot” and others that had been on the list for the entire time were not getting published. So I have really been on pins and needles wondering if my book really has what it takes. After rereading it 500 times you start to lose perspective on the quality, like does this book totally suck or is it the best thing since Great Expectations?

My friend Tracy asked me right before I did Kindle Scout, “Have you done everything–everything–you can possibly do to make it the best?”

It was a great question. I think back to all my beta readers, my revisions, my freelance editor from Polished Pen, Max… I really had done everything. And now I am so glad I took the time and made a few investments. Now, of course, realizing that the audience for this  book may be larger than I even imagined, I am going to take at least a portion of my 30 days Kindle Press allows to do just a little more fine tuning. In fact, I brought in a ringer for the end. My good friend Catie Wittmack (author of Eliza’s Shadow) has done a quick read of the book, and I am making just a few changes to heighten the tension at the end (thanks Catie!). But then, I’m done. I will release my baby into the world. And then the real judging begins… the reviews. Eeeek! But I will be ready.

Thank you again to everyone, truly. My heart is so big right now and my success is in no small part due to you who are reading this.

Anyway, I like to include songs in my posts that reflect what I am feeling. This song, Some Nights, by FUN is such a battle cry song. Ha! The video is super cheesed out, but the song is just so epic I can’t help but love it. It actually inspired me to write a certain scene in Sirens. Today, I feel like I won a battle. I am sure there will be more to come, but for now I feel victorious.

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Nominate Rising Tide on Kindle Scout!

In case you hadn’t heard… !!

SirensCover-KindleScout

I am so thrilled to have my book featured on Kindle Scout March 6th – April 5th. I would love to have your nomination. And if I win (prize being a publishing contract with Amazon), then you win a free copy!

Here is the link to vote: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3NI3970T83JFO

Also excited to reveal the cover, done by the talented Paul W. Copello at http://www.designistrate.com

 

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