Sneak Peek Blog Tour: Becca J. Campbell

Hello my lovelies,

When I first read the opening chapters of Becca J. Campbell‘s Foreign Identity, they were a series of “waves” in the now-defunct Google Wave. Becca posted those chapters as waves in order to get feedback from several of us writers and creative types.

I don’t remember what the feedback was. I don’t remember at what point, one by one, we all dropped out of Google Wave. I don’t even remember when I last logged on before the whole kaboodle got shut down.

But I do remember — and vividly — how Becca’s story gripped my imagination.

Every time I read her latest scribblings, the mystery of it all ate at me. Why were these characters imprisoned? Why did they have amnesia? Who did this to them? I came up with all sorts of theories, both sci-fi-ish and fantasy-esque. I mentioned a few of them to Becca. Every bit the Mona Lisa, she just smiled and told me to wait for it.

Fast-forward almost two years, and my wait was over. Finally, I was getting to read the story as a whole. Not only that, I was getting to help edit it. But no, forget the editing part. I was finally getting answers to all these questions that’d plagued me for two years!

And as it turned out, none of my theories were accurate.

Foreign Identity is a fascinating read. The mystery is edge-of-seat worthy. The sci-fi is refreshing. The romance is heart-warming.

But have I mentioned how the questions will drive you nuts?!?

See the end of this post for where to read excerpts of Foreign Identity and how to win free copies!

Enough from me, though. Here’s Becca on how Foreign Identity came to be and how she, as a writer, solved its mystery even for herself.

Becca J. Campbell and Foreign Identity

The idea for the book started in a very simple, very ordinary way.

At the time I was participating in a writing blog called The Creative Copy Challenge. The sole purpose of the blog is to provide ten words (twice a week) as a writing prompt, daring writers to come up with a short story or poem using all of the words.

Foreign Identity started with the ten little words in a post on April 20th, 2010. After the initial post, I continued writing the story on the CCC, adding to it twice a week. I followed the prompts the whole time, forcing myself to fit the words in. Sometimes they directed the story and other times I molded them to fit the story already in my head. More than half of the novel was written and published on the blog in serial form, one 1000 word (approximately) scene at a time. I wrote to a pretty big cliffhanger and then wrote the rest of the story in private, saving the final reveal for when I would publish the book.

When I wrote that first post I had no idea of the plot or where the story would lead. For me that made it fun and exciting to work on. I love mysteries and puzzles. So as a creative experiment, instead of starting Foreign Identity with an outline, I started with a problem and worked to find the solution.

Readers have commented on the thrill they felt when caught in the mystery of Foreign Identity and their attempts to try and solve the puzzle. Often writers don’t get to experience that same thrill of discovery with their own books. We usually have the end in mind before the journey even begins. And in a way, that didn’t seem quite fair. The mystery is what makes it fun. This was part of my motivation for starting how I did. (I have to say that it’s not an ideal way to write. I’ve since found that I prefer writing in a more thoughtfully organized method).

Once I’d decided to start with a problem, I needed to figure out what that problem would be. What situation could I throw a couple of characters into that would be complex and seem impossible? My answer was this: chain them up in a nondescript chamber and strip them of all their memories. And to top that off, leave them devoid of interaction with their captor and without any clue if they even had a captor.

Perfect. (Insert evil writer laugh.)

After that, it was just figuring out how to solve my poor characters’ dilemma. How would they escape? Once they did, what would be waiting for them? At that point I came up with a full back story and an elaborate scheme for why they might be in such a situation. But instead of ending the mystery then, I used clues that raised more questions than they answered. The television show Lost was a great example of how to write a properly suspenseful story without completely frustrating the viewers.

When you read Foreign Identity, you might feel the urge to figure out what’s behind it all, to put the puzzle pieces together. In fact, I hope you will. So far I’ve succeeded in mystifying most readers. In my mind that’s a good thing. I love stories that make me think, question, piece things together, and then end up with an unexpected twist. An enjoyable book is one that surprises me.

I’ve done my best to pull all of that together in Foreign Identity. I hope you will enjoy it like a thrill ride that takes you to unexpected heights and then brings you back to reality.

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Read an Excerpt

Courtney here again! For your reading pleasure, Becca has posted a series of story excerpts. You can read the latest excerpt of Foreign Identity here!

For more of the story, get on board Becca’s Sneak Peek Blog Tour:

May 22ndMelody with Words
May 23rd Cover Analysis
May 24thWrite Me Happy
May 25thHave You Heard My Book Review
May 26thCourt Can Write
May 27thYearning for Wonderland
May 28thCatharsis of the Bogue
May 29thAaron Pogue
May 30thPen and Whisk
May 31st Stormy Night Publishing

Win a Free Copy of Foreign Identity:

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You can also buy the novel
for Kindle
and for Nook!
and add it to your Goodreads shelf!

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

Hidey-ho, O Faithful Readerly Ones!

In the land of Court Can Write, we have now reached Week 22 of this thing they call Preg Nancy. I don’t know why or how Nancy gained such predominance in the naming of this condition, but there she is and there’s naught I can do about it. We carry on*.

Things have been quiet around the blog lately because what little spare energy I’ve got, I’ve been pouring into painting the cover art for Aaron Pogue’s The Dragonprince’s Heir, as well as finalizing my Monster Epic Fantasy Novel, aka Legend’s Artisans: Schism (working title). I remind me that the so-called MEFaN needs its own full, explanatory post not long hence, since it’s coming out in just a month. BANGERANG for sure — but also, OY VEY.

For now, though, I’ll share with you some recent revelations I’ve had concerning this Preg Nancy thing. I’ve concluded that humanity speaks in code about this, and one doesn’t get to decipher said code until one enters the state of being with child.

Some of these decipherings have come as a great surprise to me, and I wish someone had let me in on the secrets long ago. As I enjoy doing nice, informative things for you, my sweet inklings, I’ve decided to reveal five of the secrets to you, that you might be better prepared for your own future or at least come to a deeper understanding of certain apparently crazy women of your acquaintance (i.e. the pregnant ones). So…

Decoding Pregnancy: 5 Secrets Revealed

1. Glowing Skin
Oh, how the second trimester hormones are supposed to make a woman’s skin extra soft with that dewy glow of fertile, robust youth! A few people — a few, mind you — have said something to me in passing about how I’m “glowing.” But when I look in the mirror, I see a different picture. “Glowing skin,” my dear readers, is code for “acne.” It’s not terrible at this point, but it’s definitely more than the occasional pre-pregnancy zit. Ah, joy.

2. Ultrasound
My first ultrasound took place during Week 5 — quite early, because I was having complications and my doc just wanted to see what was going on. She showed me the screen and pointed to an amorphous blob and said, “Here’s the amniotic sac.” Then, she pointed at a teensy dot. “And that’s your baby.”

At Week 8, the ultrasound showed us a lighter amorphous blob within a darker amorphous blob. Light blob was baby, dark blob was amniotic fluid. This time, my doctor pointed out the “head” and the “rump” and two little protrusions she called “feet.” We nodded wisely. Other than that, the cool part was seeing and hearing the heart beat, which stunned the husband and made me burst into tears.

At Week 19, because I am 35 and therefore of “Advanced Maternal Age” (sheesh), we got to see the high-risk doctor for a 3-D ultrasound. By this time, Amorphous Blob had grown into Indentifiable Tiny Baby, and the 3-D ultrasound showed us an itty-bitty face with actual eyes, nose, lips, and chin.

In the non-3-D part of the ultrasound, the tech got a fabulous shot of my daughter facing the “camera.” Pardon my irreverence, but that shot just looks freaky — because most of what you see is the skull showing through. My child looked like a demonic Halloween mask**.

“Ultrasound” is code for: trust the doctor that what is growing inside you is actually human.

3. Kicking
I first felt movement on the first day of Week 16. At first, it felt like gas bubbles in places where I knew there couldn’t be gas bubbles. Within days, this progressed to little flutters like muscle spasms. On the morning of Week 19, Day 4, I looked down and saw my stomach twitch.

Feeling my baby move inside of me is the most cramazing experience in the entire universe.

It is also what I imagine it would feel like to have a baby alien of Ellen Ripley fame preparing to burst out of one’s abdomen.

4. Tiredness
“You’ll be tired during pregnancy.” = “You will feel like you’re climbing a mountain every day.”

“You’ll get your energy back during the second trimester.” = “We are pathological liars.”

5. Placenta
So, when we went in for the 3-D ultrasound, I asked the tech where inside my uterus the placenta is attached. She told me it’s right under my bellybutton.

And then she said, “It’s about the size and shape of a pancake.”

REVELATION.

In German, most commonly-used medical terms aren’t Latin-based the way they are in English. You don’t have tonsillitis, you have a “Mandelentzündung” — which, directly translated, means “almond inflammation. If you have sinusitis, you’ve got a “Nasennebenhöhlenlentzündung” — an “inflammation of the caves next to the nose.”

If you’re female, you don’t have a uterus. You have a “Gebärmutter,” which means “birthing mother” whether that organ ever births anything or not.

When you’re pregnant, what nourishes your baby is not a placenta.
What nourishes your baby is the “Mutterkuchen.”

That’s “mothercake” to you.

Yum.

* Pun intended? You bet your sweet patootie.

** Don’t be fooled by my cheeky demeanor. If I could, I would totally go in for an ultrasound every single day. Seeing my baby — her face, her arms, her legs, and her incredible little heart — is a joy that beggars description.

Stains of Grace is LIVE!

Demons and zombies and spirits, oh my!

WE HAVE A BOOK, Y’ALL!

I am beyond thrilled to announce that the Amazon sales page for Stains of Grace is live and happily awaiting your readerly clicking! Here’s a short synopsis of the novel, as well as the sales page link:

Stains of Grace (Demons of Saltmarch #3)


Anne Waylock thought she was safe. Safe from the madness of demons and the auguren who hunted them. Safe from her tumultuous feelings for the troubled Owin Moran. Safe from the pain of her best friend’s betrayal. Anne ran away from it all, and she never planned on looking back.

But when Legion and another new demon start hunting her, Anne realizes the only way to set earth, heaven, and hell right again is a return to Saltmarch — where she’ll have to face every fear she’s hidden from. But will redemption be her most terrifying enemy yet?

(Approximately 80,000 words.)

Buy now for $4.99 on Kindle!

Happy reading, sweet thangs! And don’t forget to leave a review. : )

Gettin’ Dirty

Yesterday, the husband worked at digging up the small trees rooted in our flowerbeds. I sat on the porch and watched and kept him supplied with ice water.

At one point, he stopped digging, leaned on his shovel, and said, “You know, for the first time in our lives, we’re living out the divine prediction for male-female roles after the Fall.”

I cocked my head. “You mean, I’m pregnant and uncomfortable, and you’re out here toiling in the soil?”

“Yup.”

I grinned and nodded at the hole he’d dug. “How’s the toiling part workin’ out for ya?”

He grinned back. “I hate it.”

I laughed.

Stains of Grace: More Music to Demon By

Novel Noveling Status Update

Oh, my dearest inklings: Stains of Grace is so, so very close to publication, I CAN TASTE ITS DONENESS.

“But alas!” you’re thinking. “Wherefore doth this much-desired tome not yet appear upon ye olde Amazon sales page?!?”

The answer, my dears, to that unhappy question is that (1) your author is pregnant and tired and (as of this writing) sleepless, and she therefore can’t write and edit and finalize as fast as she thought she could; and (2) the head of her indie publisher just yesterday completed his Master’s in Professional Writing and has been frantic to finish his studies.

We do apologize, loves. Sometimes, life just happens.

3:00pm Addendum:

Now, I am not just tasting the novel’s doneness. I HAVE CHEWED AND SWALLOWED ITS DONENESS. Stains of Grace is officially in the hands of the publisher, y’all. BANGERANG.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR YOU TO READ THIS BOOK.

So. With that out of the way, let’s move on. I anticipate our uploading the novel file to Amazon within the next 24 hours. After that, the Kindle version of Stains will hopefully go live — meaning that you can have the e-version of the book in your lovely, eager hands — no later than Monday!

In the Meantime…

You might, perhaps, recall the time I told you about the music I’ve listened to while writing the Demons of Saltmarch series. (If you don’t recall, just click on that link and check it out.) That post covered the playlists for Colors of Deception (Saltmarch #1) and Shadows after Midnight (Saltmarch #2).

Since you dears have all been so patient with me as I’ve scrambled to get Stains ready for you, I decided to go ahead and share its playlist with you. So here we go…

Stains of Grace Playlist

“The Strangest Party” by INXS (Anne)
“Girlfriend by” Phoenix (Peter)
“Devil Inside” by INXS
“Lights Out” by Breaking Benjamin (Polednitsa)
“Prodigal” by Porcupine Tree
“Papercut” by Linkin Park (Anne)
“I Don’t Care” by Apocalyptica (Anne)
“Burn for You” by INXS
“Suicide Blonde” by INXS (Dante)
“Living Dead Girl” by Rob Zombie
“I Will Not Bow” by Breaking Benjamin
“Afterglow” by INXS

As with the previous post, I’ve included characters’ names in parentheses. Each song has a particular meaning for that character — so, if you can’t stand the tease and you’re not afraid of a few teensy spoilers, you can look up the lyrics and get a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings of each named character.

You’ll notice that I didn’t include names for some of the songs. That’s because I didn’t want to provide you with *too* many potential spoilers. If you want to know what characters belong with these songs, you’ll just have to read the book and see if you can figure out who goes with what. If you’re really brave, you can pay close attention to the fact that the playlist follows the chronology of the story. ; )

All right, sweeties, I’m off to grab a snack and see if I can go back to sleep. It’s 5:15am, I’ve been awake since 2:30, and I think it’s time to attempt this voluntary unconsciousness thing again.

Oh, and if you just can’t stand the wait, and the playlist isn’t enough to keep you busy, pop over here for a reminder of how the Demons of Saltmarch started. It involves a vacuum cleaner.

G’night! (I hope.)

P.S. May the Fourth be with you.