Monday, March 31, 2014

I need your help!


My novella "Shadow of a Man" has been nominated for a RONE-award! This is a multi-step process, and now public voting will decide which books go to the final. 

I am delighted that my little story has made it this far, and reaching the final would be amazing.

To vote, please visit this link and vote for Shadow of a Man by Maria Hammarblad! You have to be logged in to vote. If you don't have an account with Ind'Tale and you don't want one, you can e-mail your vote to anasmith@indtale.com.

Thank you for your support! =D



Friday, March 28, 2014

True story ;-)

All the below are true stories. I didn't put them together, but I could have. LOL!

This one also goes for the computer, or other objects used for writing/reading:


Guilty as charged. Bought another one yesterday:


Everything is better if it's Swedish:


And yes, these things drive me crazy:


Hehehe, yes:


All the time:



Thursday, March 27, 2014

Phone-spammers

I don't really like phones. I love my iPhone and all the cool stuff it can do that's not involved with talking to people. Text messaging, e-mail, social media, books, music, apps... The thing rocks, but voice conversations are overrated. (There's a story here, but I'm saving that for another day.)

Thus, if someone calls me that's not in my address book, I assume that it's a salesman, and I ignore it. If it's a real caller they will likely leave a message, and I can call them back.

I had a period when I would answer, listen to whatever the phone-spammer had to say, and respond with, "No thank you, but I have a great offer for you. Would you like a subscription of my books? For just $19.99 including postage and shipping you will get a signed book every month."

Attempting to sell something to a sales-person is amusing, and a great way to end the call. Sure, I realize these people are just doing their jobs the best they can, but they're still annoying.

Anyway, the other day I decided to answer, against better judgment. The phone rang from an unknown number around lunch time, and I thought it might be my mom. I don't know why I would get such an idea - she hasn't called me since some time in 2008 - but I've been thinking a lot about her lately.

It wasn't my mom. It was a man with a strong Indian accent, and deeming from the noise in the background he was at a call center.

He said, "May I speak with Maria?"

I said, "That's me."

"I have good news for you. You are eligible for a large sum of money due to a medical procedure."

I thought, "Sure I am. I also have a pink unicorn." I said, "I doubt it."

He said, "You have had a vaginal mesh surgery, and..."

I interrupted, "No I don't. I have never had a surgery."

"You've never had a surgery? Not even one?"

This was clearly a shocking piece of news. From the tone of his voice I'm supposed to have had many. Trust me, if I had any form of mesh down there I'd know.

He tried a new approach, "Well, during your last pregnancy, did you..."

I interrupted again. "I don't have children."

"Oh, I see, so you're not eligible for that. Well, have you ever taken any antidepressants, or..."

By now I was getting good at interrupting. I said, "Why don't you just update in your records that I'm not eligible for anything and you don't have to call me again. Bye, have a good day."

I hurried to hang up before he had a chance to start talking again. In retrospect, maybe I should have tried to sell him something.

Are you also battered by phone spammers? How do you deal with it?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Sizes in space

I saw a meme the other day about how we are on a spaceship traveling at a mean velocity of 67,000 mph, spinning at 1,000 mph. In addition to that, the Sun circles the center of the galaxy at about 250 km/s, and the galaxy as a whole moves relative the "average velocity of the universe" at 600 km/s. 

We don't know this, because can only measure speed relative to something else, but just thinking about it makes me dizzy!

Another dizzying notion is the sizes in the universe. This link leads to an cool website where you can zoom in and out to see sizes in relation to each other.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some of my favorite authors

Almost every time I do an interview I get the question, "Who is your favorite writer?" I have a hard time answering, because there are so many. 

The following list isn't ranked in any way, but here are some of my favorites. They span all sorts of genres, so there's something there for everyone. I intend to post a list every now and then, highlighting other great writers, so keep your eyes open!


Christy Elkins writes books for children, but has also written some fantastic books for adults. Parallell, Unchanged, and Lilac Hill are all amongst my favorites. She'll be releasing a new novel soon called Swim, and that is also a great book. Her books are suspenseful, and they often contain a twist I couldn't guess. I love being surprised by books!

Chris J. Randolph writes science fiction and fantasy, often with a sense of humor that makes it impossible to put the books down. His books about Vengar the Barbarian - The King, His Son, Their Sorcerer, and His Lover, and The Salvaged Sword of Vengar - are my favorites, but I also love Stars Rain Down. He has written a couple of others that I have yet to read, but I hope to get to it soon.

Liza O'Connor is also hilarious. Worst Week Ever starts a series of books about hard-working, clever, middle-class Carrie who has the worst week of her life at the same time as her boss - egotistical billionaire Trent Lancaster - decides his life is a disaster without her and he must ensure she can never leave his side. It doesn't sound all that funny when I say it, but it is, and if you read the first book you'll be yearning to read the others to see what happens. I have also read Liza's Saving Casey and loved it.

Tiffine Helmer writes romance set in Alaska. The books are unpredictable, funny, and addictive. Moosed-up is my favorite. It's about a nurse who moves to Alaska to run a medical clinic in a remote town. That's more difficult than it sounds, because a local moose takes a liking to her yard. She tries to scare if away by throwing apples at it, and the moose thinks that's fantastic. Apples, what a delicacy! It also steals her underwear. Too funny!

Elinor Rogosin wrote a memoir; Chasing Love. I had never read a memoir before and didn't know what to expect. Her story is gripping, and I read the entire book in one sitting. This fantastic woman shares the story of her life as she travels to closed South Africa to make a documentary of Apartheid - naturally saying they're not making a documentary at all - moves to Israel, and experiences both frightening and pleasant adventures in all corners of the world. Then, her son travels to India and disappears.

Linda Ann Rentschler has written a number of books. I haven't read all of them, but I have loved the ones I did read. State of Disgrace is my favorite. It's hilarious! The main character has lived a protected life and decides to see the world. Accepting employment at a men's magazine seems like a suitable first step to widen her views, and she's soon impersonating a nun to save a former hooker from jail.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Real life problems

I haven't been happy lately, and the comical/sad thing is that I'm always in such a hurry it took quite some time to figure out I wasn't content. I noticed on my clothes becoming smaller. I don't think they've shrunk in the laundry - it's me - and I always gain weight when I'm on the verge of burn-out. I think it's my body's defense system trying to prepare for inevitable hard times.

After I realized I have a problem it took several more weeks to figure out what was wrong. You probably got in the first sentence of this post; I'm always in a hurry. Stress. When you're the one stuck in the rat-race it's less evident.

My days go like this:
7 AM, alarm goes off. I get up, pull on a robe, take the dogs out, and feed them.
7:30 AM, shower, dress, breakfast, check e-mail, make lunch, kiss hubs
8:15 AM, to the car, drive to work
9:00 AM, arrive at work and stay there until way too late
5:45 PM, drive home
6:30 PM, arrive at house. Make dinner. eat dinner.
7:30 PM, work on contracted jobs, my books, screenplays, and do marketing
11:30 PM, go to bed.
Do Loop.

Saturday and Sunday are the same, except for the driving part. Add in the laundry and housework I didn't do during the week... You get the picture. The other day hubs said, "I don't have any clean shirts." I said, "You know where the laundry machine is." 

This schedule doesn't seem healthy, not even to me. I'm a talented workaholic, but even with oceans of coffee and previously unseen amounts of fast food to save time on cooking, I can't keep it up.

The problem is that I'm our main provider. If I stop working, we also stop paying the bills. Sure, I make some money on my own writing and on contract jobs for the pet industry, but thus far it hasn't been enough to provide for two adults and four dogs.

I don't know what to do. I would be an unhappy person if I didn't do my own writing; besides hubs and the doggies this is the most important part of my life. I'm not willing to give up writing for the pet industry either, because I love doing that.

To make things worse, we're about to move my daytime job a half hour drive further from my house. My husband said, "Good, then you'll quit there and not be away so much." Great idea, but then what will we eat? On the other hand he's right; my daytime job cannot take eleven hours a day. It's already making me sick.

Change jobs? Maybe. I like what I do, but in the long run it might not be worth it. We'll see...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Had a great time at the SW Florida reading festival!

I'm home again after my trip to Ft Myers. It's been a long day, but I had a great time. 

I shared a table with lovely Patty Helms who has written a book about good tips for the home. It contains everything from recipes to tips for decorating. I wish I could share a link, but I don't think it's available online just yet.

Anyway, I made new friends, sold some books, gave away all the pens and business cards I brought, and gave away dozens of postcards.

I wanted to chat more with the catering-guy, because he seemed to like science fiction. He also seemed exhausted and overworked. He came by to talk a couple of time, but the schedule didn't allow for a longer discussion.

What else... There was an adorable rescue dog available for adoption that both Patty and I wanted to bring home. One lady brought a parrot, and he was really cool. Trouper the raccoon was also there.

I made my coolest sale thus far; a guy bought a book to send to his son who works as a teacher in South Korea. I hope he likes it!

Now, it's time for a well deserved nap. Hope everyone else had a great day too! =D

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My doggies got a perk!

At first I was about to say that I got a perk, but it's really the doggies. Thanks to Hills Science Diet and Klout a big package arrived for them. They got food, a toy, and a light, and it was all packed in the most adorable way with greeting cards and USA-themed wrapping.

Other people show the cutest photos of their dogs posing. My gang seems to think a camera/cellphone is an invitation to run around and move as much as possible. Ellie is the most curious and she checked out the box, but wouldn't stand still long enough for a clear photo.

If you've never visited Emma the GBGV's blog, check it out and you'll know what I mean. There are numerous photos of well behaved dogs baking, reading, using computers, and other things mine wouldn't do if I offered them a whole box with cookies.

Once Ellie showed interest in the box, BooBear wanted to look too. He's a very hungry little fluff-ball, and a box someone else looks at might contain stuff to eat. He has no idea how right he is, LOL.


I think he's saying, "I smell food."


We'll try the food tomorrow. We got grain free so everyone can eat it, and I'm sure they'll like it.

Southwest Florida Reading Festival

This weekend, I will be attending the Southwest Florida Reading Festival in Fort Myers together with lovely Patty Helms. This is a pretty big event and I'm excited - there will be readings from authors more famous than me (lol), a teen battle of the bands, food vendors, marketplace, and much else. If you're in the area, I believe this is an event worth visiting.

Patty and I have an indoors table, so if you do stop by, please come find us!

Where is it?
The Harborside Event Center and Centennial Park, Fort Myers River District

When is it?
Saturday March 15 2014, 10 AM to 4 PM

Read more about the event here!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The meaning of life, the universe, and everything

Yesterday yours truly turned 42. It's a respectable number, but according to Douglas Adams it's the meaning of life, the universe, and everything, so I'm expecting a fantabulous year filled with wisdom and success. ;-)

Birthdays remind me of all the wonderful people I have in my life. Thank you everyone for thinking of me and sending me well wishes. I love you right back! =D

I got a great birthday present from hubs. My little Mac Mini now powers two monitors, so I can see lots of stuff at once. It is awesome!

He didn't get why I wanted to monitors at first and he was puzzled as I plugged them in and they both showed the same thing for a moment. When I clicked the magic setting to make them independent - he said, "That's so cool. I thought they only did that in the movies." I always have a million windows open at once, and now I can see more. I love it!

Naturally, there's a doggie-den under the desk. ;-)



I also got keyboards. I tend to wear them out. Can't understand why, haha! Chocolate cake was another absolute highlight of yesterday.

Another great surprise came from Ind'Tale Magazine. Both Shadow of a Man and Flashback are nominated for the Rone awards! The next step is a reader voting session that will open in a couple of weeks.

Trust me, I'll be back to beg for your votes, because I really want to go to the final!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

4.5 stars for Shadow of a Man from Ind'Tale Magazine!

Yay! Happy dance! C'mon, wiggle your butt and shake your arms. You can do it, and the happy dance feels good!

Why we're dancing? Well, Ind'Tale Magazine were kind enough to give my novella Shadow of a Man 4.5 stars out of five possible.

They say, “A Shadow of a Man” bears an intriguingly original plot line that leaves one starving for the next chapter... and the next!"

This thrills me, because I think it's the best book I've written to date. Having other people like it too is just awesome.

You can read the entire review here.
Blurb:

There might be a place Theresa fears more than Borealis, but she can’t think of one. The old and decrepit station houses all sorts of cruelty, and to make it better, this is where her husband Dominic was imprisoned, drugged, and tortured. He returned a mere shadow of his old self, scarred by abuse and Uudon withdrawal.

Borealis is the last place Theresa wants to go, and the only one she can’t escape. Dominic’s apparent madness does nothing to alleviate her fears. Her once sweet husband has turned into a womanizing monster, and will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

Geo, her faithful and all too handsome bodyguard, appears to be the only one on her side. He once helped rescue Dominic, and pays for the insurrection with a lifetime on the run. This might be a situation not even he can handle, and Theresa fears none of them will make it out alive.


Check out my book trailer for Shadow of a Man!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Where do you put your bookcases?

Our living room has a long, empty wall. The first time I sat foot in the house I thought, "Oooh, that's where the bookcases will go." To me, the living room is the logical first choice for books, and that wall is begging for them. 

Hubby does not agree. He thinks the living room is the last place they should be. If anything, there can be a display cabinet that displays nice objects.

Unfortunately, we also have completely different views of what those nice objects might be. The wall is still empty.

This appeals to me. Nice and bright with plenty
of room for books.

I'm leaning towards "cultural difference" - we're both equally puzzled at how the other could even consider putting this or that in the living room.

These differences show on a lot of stuff. I prefer to have dinner at a set dinner table, on nice "real" plates. I require a metal knife and fork, and I want a glass that's actually made of glass. To me, paper and plastic is something you use when you're on a picnic. Hubs only wants to eat on paper or possibly plastic, and through the years I think I've persuaded him to actually sit by the dinner table twice. He likes to eat in front of the TV, and I'm getting used to it.

When I went to the store this weekend I found some glasses that looked really pretty. I lifted one of them and was disappointed because it was plastic and not glass. I muttered to myself, "Plastic, that's kinda tacky." I decided to buy them anyway, because they were cool, and might be good for the porch. The lady at the register said, "Oooh, and it's plastic, not glass, that's awesome."

There's a learning moment in this. What's cool or not cool depends on one's point of view.

Having a curious mind, I asked people on Facebook where they put their bookcases. Not even one of my American friends answered living room.

Where do you put yours?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Great reviews for The Goddess's Saga!

The Goddess's Saga has been on tour, and with that came some great reviews! I enjoy reading what other people think of my books whether they like them or not, but it's naturally better if they're enthusiastic. Here are some review highlights from "Trips Down Imagination Road" who says about the series, "I've found yet another series that has drawn me well and truly in, well worth checking out, particularly if you like romance mixed into your science fiction."

Touch of the Goddess

"Loved this book, there was a good mix of science fiction, romance and fantasy that left me on the edge of my seat whilst reading. The book is probably suitable for an older YA audience, there is no sex scenes that are described, but sex is mentioned, along with alcoholism and a short look at trafficking."

Read the entire review here

Wrath of the Goddess

"There was a lot of edge of your seat action going on in Wrath of the Goddess, and several points where I was seriously concerned as to the well fair of the characters"

Read the entire review here

Return of the Goddess

"I have one major question at the end of Return of the Goddess, and that is simply, is there going to be more! I really hope so, the story and the characters have really drawn me in, there were definitely some edge of the seat moments and there are some things that I want to know the answer to!"

Read the entire review here



And to answer that question... Yes, there will be more. I'm planning at least one more book in The Goddess's Saga. Time permitting it will be ready later this year. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and I have to get to tell everyone what happens next! =D

Saturday, March 1, 2014

My new favorite; Helix

When I lived "back home" I didn't have TV for a long time. Or, rather, I had the object TV but it wasn't plugged in to an antenna. Here it's on most of the time, and I ignore it. Nothing like noise-cancelling headphones to tune out annoying cartoons and sitcoms.

Why? Well, I didn't use to believe in the old saying that average IQ sinks with every TV-set in a household, but a lot of American TV is horrible. In my opinion.

I like The Big Bang Theory and Once Upon a Time, and I loved Leverage.

Now I have a new favorite. One of those rare shows I actually watch and don't just use as an excuse to sit down with my laptop and tap away at a story with the imaginary people in my mind.

What it is? Helix on Syfy channel.

The show takes place on a remote arctic research station where a team from the CDC arrives to investigate a strange viral outbreak. Naturally nothing is what it seems and the plot keeps twisting and turning in new exciting ways I can't foresee.

The characters are well rounded and full of surprises.

I love that.

There are too many TV shows where I know exactly what will happen, because it is what I would have done if I wrote it. In Helix, not so much. Every episode holds moments I could never anticipate. That keeps me fascinated and I count down the days between episodes. The show has secrets, danger, unexpected cruelty and goodness, great actors, and a dash of science.

I like it so much that I even remember the names of several characters. Normally I can't even remember names of real life people.

If you're not yet watching, tune in to Syfy channel on Friday nights and check it out. But first, check out the old episodes so you're caught up. =D