Saturday, August 31, 2013

Excellent debut: Copperback by Tarah R. Hamilton

I used to read several books every day. A really thick one might have lasted me two days, but I went through regular size novels like other people eat potato chips.

Somewhere along the way this changed. My interest in reading didn't vanish overnight, but the quality of the books that came my way plunged. I must have started hundreds of books and given up after a few pages.

It's my own fault; being a relatively unknown writer I want to read other relatively unknown writers and give them good reviews. Unfortunately, a lot of the books should have been on a date with a professional editor before they were released to the public. (It's difficult to self-edit and "real" editors are expensive. I know.)

Every now and then an exception to the rule pops up. You know; one of those books it's a pleasure to read. Well written in active voice with believable characters living out an interesting storyline, no head hopping, no bouncing between first and third person, no unpredictable changes between past and present time... A good book!

I downloaded the sample of Copperback and enjoyed myself so much I bought the full download from Amazon and read most of the book in one night. I would have finished it if it hadn't been an early morning workday.


Check out the blurb:

When do you learn to let go of your fears and misconceptions and trust what your heart is telling you? That real love can come in any form, even if he’s not human.

Two warring alien races are stranded on Earth due to the sudden destruction of their home planets. The Vesper, willing to help the human race to resolve most global crises, is accepted into society while the Sayner, refusing to cooperate at every turn, is enslaved.

Ten years later, Emily O’Neil yearns to find a way out of her small town life, continuing an existence of solitude since the passing of her mother years before. Her opportunity comes in an unusual way — a Sayner slave named Job who is on the brink of death and forced into her care. As their forbidden friendship develops, Emily finds that sometimes, fate has a way of making us see what we long for most — love.


Here is my review:

How would humanity react if large groups of aliens appeared among us? And, what if there were two groups of them - one seemingly cooperative and friendly and the other more… Well, more like us?

In Copperback we don't waste any time in siding with one faction and slamming the other into slavery. People are all too willing to buy into the idea of the Sayner as useful but dangerous animals, and the Vesper as near divine.

Emily O'Neil accepts the stories presented in media, and when she meets Job, a living and breathing Sayner, she's terrified of him. Life is rarely completely black or white, and when Emily is forced to spend time with Job she realizes there's more to him than she could ever have expected.

Copperback is an excellent book. It is well written and populated by characters that come across as real people. Their anguish, fears, hopes, and dreams seem real. The author kept taking turns I didn't expect; every time I thought some major obstacle would appear in the heroine's way nothing happened, and every time I expected smooth sailing, disaster waited around the corner. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and if you're looking for a light and pleasant read this might be exactly what you seek.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Spotlight: Copperback by Tarah R. Hamilton

Blurb:

When do you learn to let go of your fears and misconceptions and trust what your heart is telling you? That real love can come in any form, even if he’s not human.

Two warring alien races are stranded on Earth due to the sudden destruction of their home planets. The Vesper, willing to help the human race to resolve most global crises, is accepted into society while the Sayner, refusing to cooperate at every turn, is enslaved.

Ten years later, Emily O’Neil yearns to find a way out of her small town life, continuing an existence of solitude since the passing of her mother years before. Her opportunity comes in an unusual way — a Sayner slave named Job who is on the brink of death and forced into her care. As their forbidden friendship develops, Emily finds that sometimes, fate has a way of making us see what we long for most — love.


About the author:

Tarah R. Hamilton grew up in Kent, Ohio. She spent her childhood summers in the small town of Big Run, Pennsylvania, in which she based her first novel. She has two children and resides in Alliance, Ohio.

She is in currently in the process of writing her second book in the "Copperback" trilogy. She is an avid photographer and artist when she is not writing. For more information please visit her site: http://www.facebook.com/copperbackbook


Klick here to see the book on Amazon!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Signing up for an author festival... or two...

The truth is sometimes hard to face: I need to get off my bum, go outside, and talk to people. It would be fantastic if I could live my life hiding behind a computer screen, but it doesn't really work like that. Don't get me wrong, I don't have a fear of public speaking or anything, I'm just lazy!

To shake myself out of lazy, I've decided to sign up for the Sarasota book fair. This event will take place October 5th at the Art Center in Sarasota. If you're in the area, come see me!

Signing up wasn't bad - I didn't even have to leave my chair - and I'm pondering signing up for a couple of more events.

There's a large book fair in St Petersburg October 26 called Festival of Reading. I attempted to be accepted as a featured author, but that ship sailed long ago. I'm not good enough at planning to wrap my head around a late October event requiring submissions early spring.

There's still time to buy a vendor package, but the booths are kind of expensive, and I need to see what might remain of my next paycheck before deciding. It's tempting, though. It's a big event within minutes from home, and it's only one day. If they still have spaces left in a week or so I'll probably sign up.

For the past couple of years I've wanted to do the Miami Book Fair. That idea makes my inner procrastinator dig her nails into the floor and scream, "Noooo!"

On the pro-side, it's a huge event. The website boasts "hundreds of thousands of visitors." I could get a one-day writer's booth for $300. It's a lot of money, but would also give a lot of exposure.

On the con-side, it's in Miami. According to MapQuest it would take me almost five hours to drive there. After that I'd need to set up my booth, have a full day of fair and drive five hours back. Or get a hotel. It wouldn't be bad if I could persuade hubby to come with me, but the chance of that is about as big as me waking up on Mars tomorrow morning. He'd say, "Have fun, hurry back."

I think Miami will have to wait until next year. I have promised myself to stop procrastinating and visit many large conferences next year, so I'll put Miami on the list.

Now, there's quite a big step from deciding to do something to actually doing it.

I started a to-do list earlier today with stuff I will need for all these conferences I want to attend. Tablecloth, a table runner with my name, or maybe a banner with my books and my name, swag, books...

Should I have a giveaway?

Should I get that thingymabob that allows people to accept credit cards through the cell phone?

I'll need change if I am to sell books. How many books will I need to bring? I'll need new business cards, and new postcards to sign for the books that are still only available as e-books...

There's a large number of questions to be pondered. Help me out: what kind of swag do you wish writers would give out?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Is the time right to enter a gothic period?

Last night I unpacked my gargoyles and dragons. I never realized how many gargoyles and dragons I have, and putting them on the shelves made me feel a tug towards mystery. I'm tempted to have a gothic period; surround myself with mysterious objects, dye my hair black, use excessive amounts of eyeliner, and write a horror novel. Maybe a novel and a couple novellas...

Halloween will be here in a couple of months. There will be all sorts of deliciously spooky accessories available to help set the mood. The slumbering goth in me claims this would all work better with less heat and sunshine, but even Florida will cool down a bit in a couple of months. It could all come together just fine.

Hubby would probably be okay with the experiment. He's used to me changing from time to time, and I generally change back when inspiration releases its grip.

I sense complications at the daytime job, though. There are a few very, very Christian people here, and I'd rather avoid the discussions. Still, that battle might be worth it to get the mood right. We'll see if the mystical inspiration stays. =)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thoughts from BarkWorld

I returned home from Atlanta and BarkWorld Expo on Saturday night. As the plane landed I found myself exhaling with relief. Not because I'm afraid of flying - I'm not - but because it was good to be home. The conference only lasted for a couple of days and I had a good time, but I felt as if I'd been away for weeks.

I met many bloggers and brands, made new friends, and even have an idea for some sweet new author swag.

The most thought provoking experience for me was meeting another Swedish person. I don't meet many Swedes, and she is the first one from the pet industry. When getting together with someone from the same cultural background, the differences between here and there suddenly appear huge.

Some differences are easy to spot on the surface. Like, we don't do BSL (Breed Specific Legislation) in Sweden. We have fairly strict laws regarding animal welfare. There are cats in shelters, but dogs are almost unheard of. Few dogs are spayed or neutered, but we still don't have an overpopulation, because people take responsibility for their pets. (It's perfectly possible to have a girl and a boy dog without getting puppies, LOL.)

Things like these are just the visible top of the iceberg. Our attitude towards animals is deeply rooted in society and woven into our way of thinking, even our language.

I've given the differences in language a fair amount of thought, and was surprised to find that she did the same thing. I'm not the only one spending time on this!

In Sweden, if you're the mother of a human child you're "mamma" and if you're the father you are "pappa."

If you're the mother of a pet, you're "matte" and if you're the father of a pet you are "husse."

Say that you look after someone else's child during daytime, while they're at work. That makes you a dagmamma. If you instead look after someone else's pet, your a dagmatte.

I haven't found this in any other language. Last time I thought about it I asked a friend from Germany, but she couldn't think of an equivalent. My new Swedish friend had asked Danish friends, figuring Denmark and Sweden have larger similarities than differences. They don't do it either.

The more I think about it the more certain I become the Norwegians don't have special words for pet parents; my first steady boyfriend came from Norway and he thought the idea of Matte and Husse was mighty silly until he got used to it.

Maybe he was right. Maybe it is silly. I do however believe that this difference in language portrays a difference in thinking and feeling; a difference in how we choose to treat those around us. To me, the word "Matte" has a connotative meaning of love, responsibility, friendship, and other qualities difficult to put into words. It's a different normal.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'm going to BarkWord Expo, woof!

BarkWorld Expo is a social media conference for pet bloggers. What? This isn't a pet blog? I'm a science fiction writer? True. So I'd better stay away.

Just joking. I'm going with my daytime job as a representative for PlexiDor Pet Doors. I also write the PlexiDor blog, which is a pet blog.

I look forward to it, and at the same time I don't, if that makes any sense... I love going to events like this. Through my job I stay in contact with a large number of bloggers, and meeting them in real life is awesome. At the last conference I met Dino Dogan from Triberr and was starstruck. =)

Princess Bonnie - a real life pillow pet =)
I'm also a home-lover. I like to sit on the back porch with my doggies and my computer. When I travel, I miss both hubby and the dogs. My princess Bonnie is a true pillow pet, LOL!

Last time I left the state Topper - my little dog - sat by the window looking for me for four days. I brought home a suitcase filled with treats and toys, but it didn't quite make up for my bad conscience.

Anyway, I'm going, and right now excitement outweighs the bad conscience. This is a short conference too, so Topper won't have to wait all that long for mommy to come home. =)

I've been to the Atlanta airport but never to the city, and that's exciting in itself!

I know at least a few of my online friends will be there. Maybe they'll even bring dogs! (Mine aren't well-behaved enough to come, except for Topper, and being on a plane would freak him out.)

If you are going to BarkWorld, come see me at the PlexiDor booth! I think we're at booth number 3, but even if I'm wrong we should be easy to find. I'm the tall one who occasionally crawls around on the floor greeting doggies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Dog walking adventures

Hubby said, "There's a storm coming. Maybe we should take the doggies early."

I normally take Princess Bonnie for a walk around the block while he plays with the others in the yard. Everything works better that way.

I said, "Sure" and we trotted down the driveway. Of course, the neighbors Pit bull terrier was out. He seems like a really sweet dog, but Bonnie wants to show him that the new girl on the block is the boss. She glared at him in the way only a dog challenging another can, he barked, and she started barking too. Pit bull's mom came out to drag him inside, and I pulled Bonnie down the road. Not a splendid start to the walk.

Then, I saw the next neighbor. He seems like a super-sweet guy. He's always smiling and saying hello, and I'm sure I'd like him if I got to know him. He is also in an electric wheelchair. Bonnie thinks every person who isn't walking on foot or in a car that's not a truck is equivalent to a fire breathing dragon.

We've worked on accepting motorcycles with great diligence and she now sits down to watch them instead of going crazy. We're also working on bikes and she's getting better at it. Here at the new place there are new things to freak out over: golf carts and the guy in the wheel chair.

Bonnie starts acting out, I tell her to sit, and attempt to explain that it's the same thing as a motorcycle, but he's sitting in it instead of on it. This in no way makes her want to kill the chair any less. She loves people, she'd probably smother the guy with huge Bonnie kisses, but the chair needs to die...

Just as I think life couldn't get any more embarrassing, a truck pulls up outside neighbor's house. A guy steps out, looking like Thor. Chris Hemsworth's Thor. He looks at me and the dog, snorts, and rolls his eyes. Great. I bet they're still talking about me.

Bonnie finally settles down and understands that there is no threat and mommy wants to continue the walk. About fifteen seconds later we pass a yard with a dog that's never been there before. He goes nuts when he sees us. Bonnie is already rallied up, and this time she's determined to get the better of her adversary.

I tell her, "If you don't come this very minute I'm never taking you for a walk again."

She understands English just fine when she wants to. She follows me. A cat runs over a yard right in front of us and Bonnie takes a tiny jump to the side as if asking, "Is it okay, mom? Can I please go get the cat?"

"No."

Do you think dogs can pout? I do. She pouts until we reach the next crossroad and she sees a man on a bicycle. His skin is so dark he almost disappears in the dusk, and it looks like the bike's light hovers in the air, approaching us at a steady pace.

Bonnie barks and lunges. She wants to kill this imaginary monster.

By now my patience is wearing thin. "Sit down! You will sit down and stop this shit right now."

She sits, but not exactly with enthusiasm.

There's one more obstacle on our way around the block; a party. There's a large group of people standing close to each other, laughing and talking. Bonnie's tail wags. She wants to go meet them. I say, "No, not tonight. I'm sorry."

She got an extra treat when we got home. She might not do exactly what I would wish for, but she is a brave girl eager to protect mom from any threat, real or imagined.

Idyllic Saturday morning - at least in my head

This morning was my first calm weekend morning after the move - the first day without a long list of must-dos hanging over my head. I've been sitting on the lanai with my laptop, listening to the birds and sipping a mug of coffee.

In my head, it's idyllic.

In real life the birds are mostly seagulls and most of the lanai screen is missing, which means I'm surrounded by at least 50 mosquitos. Doesn't matter. It's Saturday morning, I have my own outside spot, and I'm going to enjoy it, dammit! LOL!

I love old houses. Our is built in the late 1950's and in my country that would hardly qualify as an old house. One of my best friends back home lived in a building from the 16th century, and when I first arrived to the US I laughed when people classified houses from the 1980s as old. Now I know that time moves differently here.

Add up the relentless sun, torrential rains, 60 mph winds, and wood destroying insects, and 50 years in Florida turns out to be a long time.

Our house is pretty well preserved and has had updates in recent years, which is awesome. Having a newer roof, water heater, and AC means I won't have to worry about them for a long time.

It has also had a few residents with great ambition and little knowledge. That's okay, I can be like that as well, but it's crammed with half-finished renovations and projects that could have been fantastic if the person working on it had known how to do it. I think it's a fun challenge, but hubby spends a decent amount of time cursing.

He takes everything much more seriously than I do. He wants to fix everything at once. I have another pace; unless something is structurally vital it doesn't matter if I do it today, tomorrow, or next year. I lived in my old house for ten years before I figured out what I wanted to do with the kitchen.

Aaah, yes, kitchens... This kitchen has potential to be awesome with a little work. It has really nice cupboards and a wonderful countertop - on one side. This photo is from when we first looked at the house; it has a microwave now and the counter is filled with stuff. LOL!

The other side also has nice cupboards, but no countertop. Peculiar! There's no backsplash, just the wall with some strange holes in it, and I haven't thought too much about it. As long as they don't lead to the outside everything's fine, right! (I'm going to put up a backsplash, it's on my to-do list, but I have to wait until I acquire some more money, LOL.)

In my head, I've already painted the walls, fixed the backsplash, painted the ceiling, installed spotlights under the top cupboards, and put spotlights in the ceiling instead of the old fluorescent light. In reality, not so much, but who cares about reality?

Anyway, early this morning I moseyed into the kitchen to give my furry babies some breakfast. I turned on the light and saw something run along the kitchen counter. It was big, quick, and pale, and I jumped. (Yes, I really jumped - I bet anyone watching would have gotten a good laugh.) I thought it was a rat. I don't have anything against mice or rats, but unless they're tame I don't want them in the house.

It was a large, pale lizard. (I looked him up online, I think it's a Mediterranean Gecko.) He ran along the wall - I'm amazed how they can run on a vertical surface - and disappeared into one of the holes in the wall.

Crap.

I like lizards, but the same goes for them as for all other animals; unless they're domesticated they need to stay outside. Having one run around in the kitchen doesn't seem hygienic; bring on the Lysol.

Now I wonder, does he live in the wall? Does he have another way out? Will I kill him if I block the hole so he can no longer get into the kitchen? It was a beautiful lizard and I don't want him/her to die, but even if he ventures back into the kitchen he's much too fast for me to be able to catch him.

Either way, I should probably move this wall and the backsplash to a higher position on my list of priorities so it gets done in real life, and not just in my imagination.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Release day: Operation Earth!

It's here! Operation Earth is finally here! By now I've had a few release days, but it's still exciting!

I love the cover by talented Caina Fuller. I also want to extend a big thank you to my editor Carolyn Boyles and to Kadir Bilgic and Rick Barry for helping with translations.

If you are in the mood for an alien invasion, take a look at Operation Earth here!


Seven billion people on Earth go about their daily lives, and no one is prepared when a global EMP slows the world to a crawl. With all our technology incapacitated, everything changes. Within days alien soldiers line the streets, and life will never be the same. In the midst of chaos, Rachael Hill struggles to adapt to the new order, doing her best to keep herself and her cat alive.

On a ship far above the planet surface, Peter just got his new Earth name, and can’t even remember his identity from the last world he visited. It’s another day on the job, one more planet on a never-ending list. That is, until Rachael bumps into him, dropping exotic objects all around his feet. His culture taught him females should be obeyed and protected, but he never had an urge to leave himself at a woman’s mercy until now.

This is going to hurt...

I sit a lot. In everyday life, I mean. I get up in the morning, walk the dogs, and sit in front of my computer until it's time to go to work, where I sit in front of another computer. If it wasn't for the dogs I wouldn't get any exercise at all.

Today I decided to paint the bedroom. Why? Well, the walls looked horrible. I don't know what the people who used to live here was up to, but they left a mess.


I set about moving furniture, spackling holes, and applying masking tape with great enthusiasm. Today's paints come with primer in them and one coat should be enough. Right?

Wrong. The old baby blue kept bleeding through. I'm done painting now, but it took well over five hours.

Five hours of climbing up and down, moving heavy objects, and holding a paint brush. Bet I will feel this tomorrow!

Was it worth it? Totally. The walls are now a nice light latte color, and once I get some curtains and pictures up the room will look awesome. And, now I can dilly-dally with my computer with a good conscience, because I did something with the day. My back hurts, but I feel accomplished. =D

Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's who you travel with

I stumbled over this picture the other day and fell in love with it. Aren't they just too cute? 

I am fortunate; I've traveled alongside some remarkable people through the years and I still do. Friends, colleagues, doggies...

Some try our patience, others carry us when we're not strong ourselves. Everyone has a purpose.

We're all different, and this is a fact to embrace. Imagine how boring life would be if everyone were just the same, and how poorly the world would work if it were filled with people with the same talents. =)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Coming soon: Operation Earth

The release date of Operation Earth is close. August 11... Exciting! To celebrate and hopefully make you curious, here's an excerpt! =D
______________________________

Ryan leaned back on a kitchen chair. He weighed it on the back legs, so far Rachael thought he'd topple over, and watched her under his lashes.

Did he think it made him seem mysterious?

In her eyes, he looked like a stubborn eight year old.

"I'm going to be honest with you. We're joining the resistance, and we think you should come with us. Your family is far away, and there's no one else to take care of you, right?"

The words, "I'twenty-eight years old," balanced on her lips, but she managed to withdraw them. Asserting her independence would only serve to convince him. 

Melissa filled in, "I was absolutely terrified at first, but once we made it to the first meeting, everyone was so nice. Well-organized too."

Ryan took over"We should all stand together. Help each other out. Show these mothers you don't fuck with America."

Melissa scolded, "Ryan dearest, watch your language. And you mean Earth."

The way they bounced the words between them made Rachael feel like a spectator at a tennis match. Melissa broke the illusion through bending over the table and putting a hand on hers.

"What my husband means to say, dear, is that people on this planet need to unite. We're taking it back."

Rachael wanted to pull her hand away, but forced herself to sit absolutely still. They were probably right, and she should be both willing and able to fight. She just didn't want to. What if all the newcomers were like the guy in the store. She couldn't shoot him.

"I have to think about this..."

Melissa squeezed her hand.

"Just don't think too long, dear. We're taking the bus at five." 
______________________________

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adventures in a foreign land...

I'd lie if I said living abroad doesn't pose challenges. They're often unexpected, though, and sneak up in innocent situations. Like... healthcare.

I've been nervous about having to see a doctor here in the US, because the healthcare system works so differently from Sweden. And to be honest, deep in my heart I distrust all healthcare professionals I encounter outside of my country's borders.

It's just a stupid bias I have. There are plenty of foreign doctors working in Sweden, but there I know they've passed my country's approval, and odds are they know what they're doing. Here, TV is crammed filled with ads saying, "Have a healthcare career in only nine months!"

Nine months? This does not install confidence.

Anyway, this spring I got health insurance through my daytime job. It made me feel better about the whole healthcare thing. The figures on the piece of paper seemed staggering - out of pocket fees up to $10,000 - but at least there was something protecting me in case I'd stumble and fall down the stairs.

The company owner has patiently explained to me how American healthcare works, and even if my skepticism wasn't gone, I was less concerned than I have been. He taught me about walk-in clinics and explained that if I went to see an in-network doctor at a walk-in clinic I'd only have to pay $35.

It didn't sound too bad. Especially since I'm normally healthy.

The last couple of months I've been stressed and not feeling so good. I've been dizzy, my feet swell, I have fantastic headaches and heart pains, and almost fall asleep on my office chair from time to time. None of these things are normal for me. I've been postponing my doctor's visit until after the move, but now I decided to try one of those walk-in clinics for a check-up. I haven't seen a doctor since 2007, and who knows, maybe my blood pressure needs a tune-up or something.

I went onto the Aetna website to search for an in-network clinic, and came up with nothing. I search on the adjacent cities as well, and the result was still... nothing.

Was I doing something wrong? I e-mailed their customer service and received a prompt, apologetic answer saying there is no provider within a 100 mile radius of my zip code.

My first reaction was, "Are you joking?"

My employer and I share the burden of the health insurance cost, and we're talking hundreds of dollars per month. My employer pays the same for all the other employees, to ascertain that we can seek out medical assistance if needed. For all this we get "no provider within a 100 mile radius."

The e-mail also provided a phone number, and said I could call to have an out-of-network provider pre-approved before my visit. I hate phones, and I hate calling people, but I did anyway, because I've really felt murky lately. I worry; I'm not getting any younger, and who will take care of my family and doggies if something happens to me?

I spent around 20 minutes on the phone with a woman who didn't understand what I wanted and couldn't help me. Her system didn't show any walk-in clinics in the Tampa Bay area, even though I looked them up online and provided names, addresses, phone numbers, and so on.

She finally gave up and connected me to someone else, probably just to get rid of me. This second person could help even less; she didn't even try until I broke out in half hysterical laughter and explained that Aetna was the most comical company I've encountered for at least a decade. Eager to get rid of me, she found the number to another customer service function and hung up.

The people in this third place gave me the number to woman number one, saying she should be able to help me have an out-of-network provider pre-approved before my visit.

At this point, I gave up. I was not calling woman number one back.

I e-mailed my boss and told him the story, asking if we might have a company contact person somewhere who can solve this. We'll see what happens. Right now, flying home to see a doctor seems like a feasible alternative. LOL! What little faith I had in the US healthcare system is shattered once again. How do Americans survive when going in for a routine checkup is this difficult?