The Rising

mermaid face
Digital art by Renu Sharma

There will be some very exciting posts to come out in the next few weeks; all centered around my next series.  I’ll have a cover reveal soon, and maybe even a book trailer.  For now, I’ll have to tease you with the title and blurb:

The Rising
Book One of the Painted Maidens Trilogy

             Sixteen-year-old Serena is the youngest member of a dying race. Increasing acidity in the ocean is destroying their environment, but there are other threats to her species. During the full moon, when the mermaids of the Undine Kingdom surface onto The Dry to breed, werewolves chase them off. The key to the survival of the Undine race lies with Serena, who has just been given the title of Werewolf Liaison. Serena believes it may be a punishment for her secret excursions to The Dry, but then the king himself brings her to trial for meddling, and  for risking the exposure of her entire species. The penalty, should she be found guilty, is death. If the changing environment or the pack of werewolves doesn’t kill her, her own king certainly will.

Sound enticing?  Add it to your Goodreads TBR pile now!

It seems not too long ago I was just beginning the writing process on this book (May 8 to be exact – I went through my old posts), and now the novel is becoming a reality.  The book is with my editor now.  Then it goes out to beta readers.  Barring any major setbacks, the tentative release date is September 19th, 2013.  If you missed previous posts, click here for the first chapter and here for world-building with mermaids.

Stay tuned for the cover reveal – you aren’t going to want to miss this one!

Beta Readers Apply Here

Just kidding, there is no application.  But I do need beta readers! I’m almost 1/3 of the way into the first book of my next series, and I’m looking for volunteers to read an advanced copy (e-book only). I’d love to have a group of readers to provide comments on grammar, spelling, format and accuracy of text, and another group to provide comments on actual content, dialogue, plot, etc.  My plan is to have it ready for you in August or September; but there will be a working deadline of about 3 weeks.  If you are interested, please send me an e-mail at terra.harmony11@gmail.com, and I’ll put you on the list.  When the manuscript is ready, I’ll send out e-mails double checking your availability.  Unfortunately, there won’t be any monetary compensation, but I’ll of course send you a final e-book in the format of your choice, and if you run a blog I can sponsor an e-book giveaway.

The series is a young adult eco-fantasy.  Here is the first chapter, just to give you a taste (posted before, but have since made a few changes):

Chapter 1

mermaidSerena turns the corner of the thin, rocky path. Her shoes slide along the pebbles, almost sending her head first into the trees. “Damn things!”

She looks behind her. There is time; the beast isn’t yet in her sight. She slows down enough to slip off the shoes. The beast takes the corner too fast as well. When Serena hears the skidding, she turns and throws one of her shoes. A miss. The beast scrambles to get his legs under him and lunges for her. She throws the other shoe, nailing him in the nose. Serena laughs out loud, then resumes her steady running pace.

“I thought werewolves were faster than this!” she yells over her shoulder.

She doesn’t know if he can understand speech in his animal form, but he is angry. His growls tell her so. Her legs brush past the sharp, thick shrubbery outlining the path. Shallow cuts crisscross over her otherwise smooth, white skin.

Next to come off is her shirt. She throws it behind her, only stopping to watch the beast tear madly at his own face, where the shirt lands. unclasps the button on her skirt, but has to throw it backwards over her head as she runs. The beast is on the move again. He dodges the clothing, finally learning what to expect.

Serena breaks through the tree line at her fastest pace yet, feet sinking into soft sand and slowing her down. The wolf is close; she can smell his foul breath. The thing snaps at her, almost reaching the tresses of her black, curly hair. Werewolf spit flings forward onto her shoulder. “Gross!”

The beast is faster on the sand. Serena does not expect that. The greedy thing doesn’t even wait until he has a sure kill. He swipes at her when the long reach of his paw is close enough. The gash causes Serena to falter, and she stumbles in the sand. Trying to avoid the yellow razor-like gnashing teeth, Serena rolls. The beast rolls with her, unwilling to let go of his prey. In the split second he is on top, Serena pushes up and out with her powerful legs. The werewolf yelps as he spins, head over tail, into the water.

Rough waves topple over the beast as he struggles to get on his feet. The ocean pushes and pulls, becoming stronger and stronger, as if it is working against the werewolf. Serena laughs again, delighted to see the mighty creature out of his element, and into hers. He drags himself out of the water, weighed down by his thick, matted fur and gasping for breath. Serena passes him, keeping a wary eye out. Welcoming waves reach out to her, drawing her into their frothy grip.

Once he is ankle deep, the werewolf shakes his fur, ridding himself of the salty sea water. He looks out into the ocean, and spots his prey bobbing up and down with the waves, well beyond his reach. He turns his head toward the full moon and howls.

It is an ear-piercing noise that makes Serena cringe. She flicks her freshly formed fins, spraying water onto the hound. His howl ends with a sharp yelp.

Serena turns, flinging her body up then down again, diving into the cold, dark water.

* * *

Thanks for reading and let me know what you think!

Ocean Passion

After publishing, ‘Earth’, the final book in The Akasha Series, I’ve had some great success with sales! Though I promised myself a short break, the sales are motivating me to begin my next series.  MERMAIDS AND WEREWOLVES Y’ALL!!!  I’m already several chapters in, and hope to have the first book published in/around September this year.  Until then, it will be my job to get you all excited about what goes on in the deep.  More importantly, I want you passionate about the health of our planet’s oceans. I’ve done a lot of research, and so far this video best portrays the dire situation. It is a documentary narrated by Sigourney Weaver, originally aired on Discovery Planet Green. Please take the time to watch this video (it’s 20 minutes – if you don’t have time now, bookmark it to watch later):

On a lighter note, if you aren’t already an email follower of my blog – sign up now!  Over the next few months, I’ll be posting snippets of my new series as I write it.  I have to know what you guys think!

Earth Hour 2013

earth hour

This Saturday, on March 23rd at 8:30 pm local time – turn out your lights! Earth Hour is a global movement uniting people to protect the planet. Towards the end of March every year, Earth Hour brings together communities from across the world celebrating a commitment to the planet by switching off lights for one designated hour.

The symbolism of the hour is incredibly important in bringing people and communities together across the globe. Earth Hour has also launched ‘I Will If You Will‘, a platform to inspire individuals to share their commitment to the planet with their friends, colleagues, leaders and networks. Watch this short, 3 minute video about both initiatives:

Cover Reveal – Earth, Book Four

Finally!  The announcement can be made. ‘Earth, Book Four of the Akasha Series’ will be released on April 22, 2013. This is also Earth Day – how cool is that?!  For those of you buying via iTunes, ‘Earth’ may not be available for a couple weeks after the release date, as you may have experienced with ‘Fire’.   April 22 seem too far off?  Maybe I can satisfy you with the cover and blurb:

OMG – and please keep in mind it is ultra-hard to make dirt look magical!

earth cover hand bigger

After an elemental apocalypse, the fate of Earth hangs in the balance.

 The hunt for Micah in a world that has gone dim leads Kaitlyn straight to Shawn and One Less. While struggling to survive, she battles a side of her that is as dark as the rest of the planet. In the exciting conclusion to The Akasha Series, our heroine is no longer a part of The Seven or One Less. Now she is on Team Kaitlyn; who will join her?

So here you have it – the complete cover set to The Akasha Series and a huge shout-out to Keary Taylor for the cover designs:

Water Cover Image_FinalAir Cover ImageFire V2earth cover hand bigger

I have to admit, I am nervous about releasing the conclusion to the series. ‘Earth’ is a different from the other books. The world has no power, Kaitlyn goes a little crazy, and Shawn tries to redeem himself. Be warned – this is no fairy tale ending. Can’t wait to hear what y’all think of it! Add it to your Goodreads TBR list now…

The Power of We

It’s Blog Action Day – and this year’s theme is ‘The Power of We’. So, what does this mean to me? With election day fast approaching in America, we are inundated with commercials, flyers, debates, banners, and public conversation in general about who are the right candidates to represent us.

For me, politics – and politicians – are one of the most frustrating aspects of America. They come from money, and they follow the money. Those with the deepest pockets, corporations and the wealthy, are more likely to sway the course of government. So when it comes down to taking time out of my day on November 4th to vote – will it really matter? The answer is, I’m not really sure…but HELL YES I WILL VOTE! I will not squander what opportunity is offered to make a difference.

For each of us, one political issue may stand out more than the rest; the economy, healthcare, women’s rights, foreign affairs, education, etc. Each of these items are on surveys conducted occasionally in my neighborhood. To my great disappointment, I have yet to see the environment on any of these surveys. Why is this not a top button issue? Policies in how we treat the environment certainly affect the job market, not to mention the health and well-being of future generations.

But maybe, using ‘The Power of We’, we can make this a top priority for our politicians, no matter who wins the elections. For those of you who still remain undecided over our presidential candidates, here is a short list of their commitment to the environment;

Romney is criticized for flip-flopping on the environmental question. He was blamed for subjecting his will to the likes of big companies.

Obama said, “So we have a choice to make. We can remain one of the world’s leading importers of foreign oil, or we can make the investments that would allow us to become the world’s leading exporter of renewable energy. We can let climate change continue to go unchecked, or we can help stop it. We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for lasting prosperity.”

Romney, at the Republican National Convention, declared: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans,” pausing for the audience to laugh at the absurdity, “and to heal the planet. My promise … is to help you and your family.”

Obama believes that carbon pollution can be put at check through a market based cap. This is not only an environmentally friendly measure, but will address certain energy challenges too. The income that is generated in the process of closing the carbon loophole will be returned to the people, especially those families, communities and business which are vulnerable.

Romney ‘s detailed plans include stripping the Environmental Protection Agency of the power to regulate carbon dioxide, eliminate the production tax credit for wind projects, open all federal lands and waters for drilling, including the entire Pacific and Atlantic coasts as well as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and keep tax incentives and tax breaks for oil and gas drilling.

Obama ‘s detailed plans include raising federal standards for fuel efficiency of cars and light trucks, maintain the EPA’s power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels because of climate change concerns, maintain incentives for renewable energy; wind and solar-powered generation has doubled in size during his administration, eliminate the $4 billion a year of oil and gas tax breaks.

You can probably tell who gets my vote simply by the blurbs I selected. Please keep in mind both candidates are open for more offshore drilling, and support drilling on existing leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off Alaska. Both also support the use of hydraulic fracturing in drilling, whether it is controlled by federal or state safety standards.
So how, specifically, can ‘The Power of We’ help make the environment a top priority with our politicians? Here are just a few ideas:

  • petition the private sector to do their part
  • write your representatives – tell them what is important to you and your community and why!
  • share this post
  • VOTE!

So tell me – what does ‘The Power of We’ mean to you?

The Power of Small Steps

I recently petitioned our local swim and tennis club to replace their old, unused, dilapidated tennis courts with a community garden, offering to head the fundraising and operations myself. Their lack of response tells me the interest just isn’t there. Frustrated that others couldn’t see the incredible value in this (I’ll spare you the point paper I put together), I was overwhelmed, and overjoyed to say the least, to come across a particular video on the TED Talks.

Pam Warhurst heads Incredible Edible, an initiative in Todmorden, England, that encourages growing food in the community, wherever there is space. The curb areas in front of houses, around the police station, even in cemeteries. Can you imagine going to the doctor for a routine appointment and leaving with a few fresh-picked tomatoes? Can you imagine your children walking by their food source every day to school? This is a community wide investment to ourselves, our children, and the environment, through the common language of food. The small step of shared gardens, bringing back our pollinators, changing the way we interact, changing the very system of food production and how we live our lives.

I could of course, go on and on, but I’ll let you experience the initiative yourself. Please spare 13 minutes to watch the below video and please, please, please share it. Pass it along; hopefully you can get just as excited about it as I am!

More about the Incredible Edible initiative can be found here.  Look for one of the initiatives near you, or better yet – start one yourself!

Be My First Chapter Beta Reader

avalanche-11x200

I am currently undertaking the daunting task of reading my entire novel out loud to myself.  As I’ve discovered with my vampire short story series, and even the second book to the Akasha Series, ‘Air’, this method works wonders for catching hard to spot grammar/spelling mistakes and awkward sentences.  Although ‘Water’ has been on the market since September 2011, I haven’t yet put it through this process.  I have vowed to have this done by the time we go to Canada for our kid’s spring break trip (better get a move on because that is next week). Anyway, by the time I finished reading the first chapter out loud, I decided it needed a complete rework.

Whether you have read ‘Water’ yet or not, I would very much appreciate your input on the short 637 word excerpt below.  Does it grab your attention? Do you want to find out more? Does the dragon analogy work? If you have read ‘Water’, should I just stick with what is already there? Please leave your comments and thank you!!!

Chapter 1: Avalanche 

I leaned forward.  The board strapped to my boots responded.  Slicing through the fresh powder, I made a sharp curve to the right.  A quick glance uphill showed the wave of snow had almost tripled in size, and it was about to catch up to me.

More than anything else, it was the noise that pumped me full of adrenaline.  Like the roar of an angry, unrelenting dragon; breath stinking of the earth churned up in its path.  The entire right side of the unmarked backcountry trail was a wall of thick trees, impossible to break through.  I pulled my toes up, arching back to the left side of the trail.  But I wasn’t going to make it.  The dragon’s spittle pelted me on the back of my neck, sending chills down my spine.  Instead, I pointed my snowboard straight downhill and put all my weight on my forward leg, hoping to outrun the beast.

I willed my board to go faster than I ever dared before.  The avalanche was faster.  The dragon opened its mouth wide, closing in on me from both sides and overhead, blocking out the bright blue sky and the trees to the side of me with its gray jaws.  The slope beneath me cracked and slithered forward, like the monster’s forked tongue.  As the force of nature dropped over me, I closed my eyes and threw my arms around my head.  My screams were lost deep inside the creature.

Completely engulfed, I moved with the dragon.  The whole of the trail had transformed into its body; an agitated, unstoppable river of churning snow and debris.  The world became darker and darker, the snow heavier and heavier.  Flashes of light were few and far between.

When I gasped for air, I was sometimes rewarded with a clear breath but more often than not I sucked in a mouthful of snow.  Hacking to rid my throat of the slush, I came to the awful realization that I was drowning on dry land.

My hands, flailing for something solid to hang onto, finally caught hold of a tree.  Small as it was, it held fast against the merciless rush of snow.  I fought against nature, literally holding on for my life.  I wrapped myself around the trunk as two large branches just above me ripped away and disappeared in the churning white waves, along with my screams.  I squeezed so tight the rough bark scratched at my arms and cheek.  The scent of pine was strong, and I inhaled deeply as though the scent alone would keep me tethered to the tree.  I willed the roots to be strong.

They were, but I was not.  My grip started to loosen as my tired muscles and numb fingers were unable to hold on against the rushing snow.  I lost the stable trunk and returned to the tumble of snow.

I came to a halt just like the rest of the debris of the Canadian mountainside.  A small air pocket had formed, allowing me to spit out the coppery taste of blood.  Suffocation couldn’t be too far off, encased in an immobile block of ice as I was.  Feeble attempts at movement proved useless.  Silence settled in on me as I heard the last of the snow come to a halt above me.  Tolerating its crushing weight because I had no choice, I was left as I always was – alone.  Most of the time I preferred it that way; people were nothing but annoying.  But annoying or not, having someone who at least knew of my vacation plans would have been welcome.

As the numbness slowly receded, pain returned to one hand.  I wiggled my fingers.  They were free, possibly above the surface.  I grimaced.  Great – at least the wolves would find me.  Closed casket for me.