Tag Archives: super powers

Distant Horizon Cover Reveal!

The day has finally arrived–the day of the Distant Horizon cover reveal! That’s right. This cover, which has been waiting two years to be revealed (Seriously, I created the near-final version in early 2014) now gets to be seen by the light of day–or the computer screen.

*Ahem.*

Now, for the reveal, which has been organized by the wonderful Lola’s Blog Tours! 😀

DH Divider

Distant HorizonDistant Horizon (Distant Horizon #1)
By Stephanie and Isaac Flint
Genre: Dystopia with superhero elements
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: October 27, 2016

Blurb:
The Community is safe.
Unless you have superpowers.

Sixty years ago, a hallucinogenic plague annihilated half the world’s population, leading to the formation of the Community—an international government that promises its citizens safety, security, and efficiency. Every day, Community citizens swallow a mandatory pill to ensure their immunity to the plague. A year after graduating high school, they take the Health Scan.

Most pass, and continue with their lives. Others disappear.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year in high school. She feels more alive without it, and she hasn’t shown any signs of infection—at least, not until two days after a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces arrive at her university campus.

Spurred by the recent string of hallucinations, Jenna searches for any inkling of what happens to those who fail the scan. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment and, once cured, receive a menial job. But when she uncovers the cruel truth behind the plague, her ideal world is shattered.

Underneath the illusion of safety, Special Forces agents harbor a dark secret.

The plague is a lie.

You can find Distant Horizon on Goodreads

You can pre-order Distant Horizon here:
Amazon
Amazon UK
B&N
Kobo
iTunes
Smashwords

Excerpt:
There was a fifteen minute break between classes. Since the two buildings were right next to each other, that was plenty of time for me to browse EYEnet. My primary question regarded the old man’s warning that I’d fail the scan. I focused on the blog from my friend in high school—the one whose sister failed.
According to Galina’s posts, she’d been afraid of failure early on, and on the day of the Health Scan, she’d made another post reiterating the same fear. She’d been having hallucinations that liquids would shape themselves from images in her thoughts, and she was sure she had theophrenia.
It’d been almost a year since Galina left, but I wasn’t sure how long the recovery effort lasted. I checked the last active day she was on her account. There was nothing since the day of her scan.
I checked other blogs, searching for any references to fear of failure. One girl thought she could fly. Another guy swore he could read his professor’s mind. All signs of advanced delusions, and in each case, they didn’t return.
Three years passed. Five. Nothing.
A chill ran through me. The old man said to try controlling vines and grass. That was crazy. Impossible. And yet… I’d felt that stem move. I’d seen it move.
My phone chimed a one-minute warning before class. Students stirred and finished their conversations, and I stared at the small screen of my phone. Only one person, out of the entirety of blogs I’d found, had ever come back.

Stephanie and Isaac FlintAbout the Author:
Stephanie and Isaac Flint met at the University of Central Missouri, where they discovered a common interest in world-building and tabletop role-play games. Distant Horizon is their first joint world, the result of a role-play game Isaac ran in the summer of 2010. After graduating with Bachelors of Science (Photography for Stephanie, Psychology for Isaac), they were married in 2012. Together, they plot stories, torment each other’s characters, and enjoy the occasional cosplay.

You can find and contact Stephanie and Isaac here:
Author Blog
Publisher Website
Facebook
Twitter Stephanie
Twitter Publisher
Author Goodreads
Stephanie Goodreads
Newsletter

 

banner Lola's Blog Tours

 

Want to check out the other blogs who are participating in this tour?

SCHS Best Books Blog
Bookworm for Kids
Redd’s Reads
Lilly’s Book World
Outlandish Reads
The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
shannonbookishlife
We All Make Mistakes in Books
Pippa Jay
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Their Vodka
The Phantom Paragrapher
Books and Kats
Scott Umphrey
A Leisure Moment
Kindle and Me
Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang!
TMBA Corbett Tries to Write
Amanda’s Book Nook
The Writer’s Inkwell
Mel’s Shelves
Diana’s Book Reviews
Leila Tualla: Bookshelf
Cheyanne Young
YA Book Divas

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Covers, Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – A Blurb For Distant Horizon

Isaac and I are preparing to publish our YA/NA science fiction novel, Distant Horizon, and one of the many things that must be completed is a shiny blurb for the back of the book (and the Amazon storefront).

This particular blurb has been through many incarnations, especially seeing as how it started as a query letter (which went through many revisions on Absolute Write’s forums). Of course, the story changed over time, and some of the query letters became obsolete… even when they sounded half-way decent.

In a query letter, you want to give a little more information than a blurb (though you don’t typically reveal the end in either), and as such, I wasn’t sure what should stay and what should go.

How much information is too much?

If I reveal a certain plot point, is it a spoiler, or does it intrigue the reader?

I’ve read some blurbs that pretty much went all the way to the climax of the book, or ran through each major plot point without room for deviation. I’ve read some blurbs that didn’t tell me much at all.

Needless to say, I’ve started to avoid reading blurbs again once I’ve actually started reading a book, that way I don’t start waiting to see when the next plot point shows up. But I’ve also noticed that it takes a really good blurb to hold my attention and make me read it word for word, rather than skimming for key words that catch my interest.

That being said, let’s take a look at what Isaac and I currently have written for Distant Horizon.

The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

 

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson resides in an efficient, secure society that’s recovering from a hallucinogenic plague. So when Special Forces agents arrive at her university prior to a mandatory Health Scan, Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers a cruel government conspiracy, her ideal world is shattered.

Terrified, Jenna flees her home under the protection of a ragtag band of freedom fighters. The rebels offer her refuge on their rusty airship and claim her hallucinations are elemental plant powers. She’s not so sure she trusts them, but when she comes face-to-face with a cruel telepath in charge of the government’s darkest secrets, Jenna realizes she’ll need more than special powers to escape with her mind and body intact.

This particular blurb has a tagline: The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

(There’s an explanation on the difference between a tagline and a logline here, and a quick explanation here.)

We’re briefly introduced to our protagonist (Jenna), our setting (an efficient, secure society), and a conflict (Society is recovering from hallucinogenic plague. Jenna’s been having hallucination. Societal enforcers show up, making her wonder what’s going to happen to her). We also learn there’s a government conspiracy and get information that gets us just about halfway into the book (when she first meets the telepath).

Analyzing this, I wondered if the conflict could be made clearer from the get-go, and if there’s more we should know about Jenna to make her an interesting character right from the start.

I thought about trying to write the blurb in third person, but offhand I could only think of one book that did this well (Delirium by Lauren Oliver), and I think that worked so well in part because it captured the feel of her writing style.

In one article I read about writing a blurb, the author suggested that introducing the setting before the main character was important in science fiction and fantasy. I checked this theory. This holds true for both Hunger Games and Divergent, and to some degree, Matched (the tagline sets up the world).

Given that the world plays a huge role in Distant Horizon, I’m now considering setting up the world first. (In a world where super villains won the day and dismissed super heroes as delusional misfits with a hallucinogenic plague… All right, all right, I won’t start with “In a world”… And I’m fairly certain that “super villains” and “super heroes” are trademarked terms. *Sigh.*)

Based on the idea of setting first, I came up with this rough blurb:

Ever since a hallucinogenic plague wiped out half the world’s population, the Community has been a haven for its citizens. The people of the Community are safe, secure, and efficient. They take a daily pill to ensure their immunity to the plague, and when the time comes for them to enter the work force, they take a mandatory Health Scan. It’s their duty.

But underneath the illusion of safety, the Community’s Special Forces agents enforce a dark secret.

The plague isn’t real.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson is a freshman biology student with a secret of her own. She hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year of high school. She feels more alive without it, and she doesn’t show any signs of infection—until just two days before a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces agents arrive at her university. Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that they’re sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers the cruel government conspiracy behind the scans, her ideal world is shattered.

I’d be tempted to cut it off here, but I’m not sure that it shows enough about what Jenna will do next. What are her goals? What are the stakes?

This is the amended blurb (though maybe a bit lengthy…):

Ever since a hallucinogenic plague wiped out half the world’s population, the Community has been a haven for its citizens. The people of the Community are safe, secure, and efficient. They take a daily pill to ensure their immunity to the plague, and when the time comes for them to enter the work force, they take a mandatory Health Scan.

It’s their duty. But underneath the illusion of safety, the Community’s Special Forces agents enforce a dark secret.

The plague isn’t real.

Eighteen-year-old Jenna Nickleson is a university biology student with a secret of her own. She hasn’t taken the pill since her senior year of high school. She feels more alive without it, and she doesn’t show any signs of infection—until just days before a surprise Health Scan is announced and Special Forces agents arrive at her university.

Jenna’s paranoia—and recent string of hallucinations—prompt her to find out what happens to the students who fail. Rumor has it that the students who fail the scan are sent away for treatment, but when she uncovers the cruel conspiracy behind the scans, her ideal world is shattered.

Terrified for her life, Jenna flees under the protection of a ragtag band of so-called “freedom fighters” whose arrival coincided with that of Special Forces. These rebels offer her refuge and claim her hallucinations are elemental plant powers, but she’s not so sure she trusts them. Still, her curiosity gets the best of her, and when she comes face-to-face with a cruel telepath in charge of the government’s darkest secrets, Jenna realizes she’ll need more than special powers to escape with her mind and body intact.

Eh… it’s a work in progress.

Let’s look at the taglines real quick.

The current one I have is:

The Community is safe, unless you have superpowers.

An alternative tagline I’ve considered is:

The Community is safe, secure, efficient.

At least, that’s what we were supposed to believe.

Or simply:

The Community is Safe.

The Community is Secure.

The Community is Efficient.

It is our duty.

The first tagline introduces part of the Community mantra, and also brings in the idea of superpowers (which is nice to for attracting the attention of readers who enjoy superhero stories). The downside I’ve considered is that it may not be clear whether the Community isn’t safe for people with superpowers, or if the Community isn’t safe from people with superpowers.

Or both.

Technically, it’s both, but the potential problem is a concern I have.

The second tagline introduces a condensed version of the Community mantra, and instantly sets up that things aren’t as they seem (yay, tension!). Downside… no mention of superpowers.

The third tagline is a bit lengthy, but it clearly shows the Community mantra, which is repeated several times and places a huge role throughout the book. Should be a tad discomforting for the reader, but the downside is that it doesn’t reveal superpowers or and other form tension/conflict.

But what do you guys think? Which tagline do you like best, and why?

What do you think about the blurb? Are there any blurbs you’ve particularly enjoyed reading?

I hope you found this post helpful. 🙂

___

By the way, as a way to say thanks for reaching 1000 Twitter followers, I’m currently running a giveaway for two ebook copies (.mobi file or Smashwords coupon) of Magic’s Stealing!

Click here if you’re interested in entering the Rafflecopter giveaway, and good luck! 😀

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Ventures, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – Formatting Telepathy in a Novel

There’s a section I’m currently working on formatting in Distant Horizon, which has a lot to do with telepathy. And of course, that had me puzzling over the best way to format telepathy.

Originally, I had planned to designate telepathic sections using colons and italics, like this:

:This is a thought that you hear in your head,: the blogger thought to her readers.

However, I had several beta-readers say they didn’t like that formatting (never mind that I loved it in Mercedes Lackey’s Magic’s Pawn), so, since I want to make the book easier on the readers to read and enjoy, I made the change. They suggested keeping with simple italics, tagged like dialogue to note that it’s telepathy.

That worked well in Magic’s Stealing, where telepathy is mostly limited to communication.

Then we get to Distant Horizon.

*Flop.*

There are several forms of telepathy in the Distant Horizon universe. Most telepaths specialize in one or two abilities, but a really powerful telepath can do any of these:

(Note: These aren’t their formal classifications, just how I’ll refer to them for the moment)

  • Communication (Sending thoughts).
  • Mind Reading (Getting a sense of what someone else is thinking).
  • Perception Manipulation (Changing what someone thinks they see/hear/touch, etc.)
  • Possession (Taking control of someone’s body through a mental link).

(…Hehe. I feel like I’m writing out optional skills for a role-play character. Let’s take three points in communication and two in perception manipulation, please…)

The problem I’ve run into is how to denote each of these things, among other normally italicized sections.

Originally, I used italics to denote a few different things: telepathy, flashbacks that the characters is “experiencing” at the moment,” and telepathic attacks, in which what is happening is perceived entirely in the narrator’s mind.

When I was using the colons, it was easy to show that someone was communicating via thought, versus a person was having a short flashback, and when someone was communicating via thought during a flashback.

Fun, right?

Now, however, things have gotten a little more difficult.

For example, if the main character is thinking to herself, it usually isn’t too hard to switch the italicized parts to a non-italicized thought, given this story is 1st person, past tense.

For instance, this:

He winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don’t know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You’re not taking the pill, either?”

Becomes this:

He winced, then handed me the notebook. “Look– I don’t know about either of us, okay?”

Wait. Either of us?

I gaped at him. “You’re not taking the pill, either?”

No big change, and in fact, I like it better. Otherwise, it really felt more like it was italicized for emphasis.

I read an interesting article that mentioned using italics for thoughts creates greater narrative distance. Since I want readers close to the MC’s perspective, removing as many of these as possible could prove beneficial. (Plus, it makes Isaac happy. He never was a fan of all the italicized chunks I had in the earlier drafts).

But what about thoughts that are active? Thoughts that, by all right, should be 1st person present?

“What about you? Do you have this so-called persuasion power?”

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

If I try to remove the italics, the paragraph doesn’t read right (or maybe it does, and I’m just being finicky). Technically, I could change the thought to “He was admitting to it?” and the sentence would read fine, but I’m thinking it sounds punchier if she’s directing an active thought toward him.

So I’m considering removing italics for thoughts that flow with the the past tense prose, or rearranging them into past tense when feasible, while leaving italics for thoughts that are in present tense, along with thoughts which are directed toward another person, even if that person can’t hear them.

The reason for this is that there’s a scene in which the main character unintentionally uses telepathy (I won’t say how, to avoid spoilers). However, some of what she’s broadcasting isn’t actively targeted, at least, it wouldn’t appear to be at first glance.

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said—

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

See what I mean?

If I remove the italics, it won’t be clear that the narrator broadcasted the thought. But it isn’t directed at anyone, either, and kind of reads as if it’s just being emphasized.

But what if I only italicized thoughts that she knows is telepathic. She’s new to the concept of superpowers. If the characters around her react appropriately, she doesn’t have to realize what she’s doing, and the readers will learn at the same time she does.

Try reading this passage again:

He gave me a pointed look. “Be careful with that thing.”

I winced. “I don’t plan on using it.”

“What you plan to do and what you do are two different things.”

“Yeah,” I mumbled, ducking my eyes from his scowl. All I wanted was a stupid reminder.

“And what you’ve got is trouble,” Inese retorted. I stared at her. I hadn’t said—

“Now stop worrying about the shiny. We’ve got work to do.”

Since Inese is commenting directly on the narrator’s thoughts, and the narrator reacts with confusion, we can guess what has happened.

Plus, this allows for a lot of fun when she’s dealing with high-end telepaths. After all, they’re strong enough to manipulate her mind without her knowing that they’re changing her thoughts. Neither the narrator, nor the reader, actually know what is real and what isn’t, and which thoughts are actually hers.

Unreliable narrator, anyone?

Now, the problem with doing it this way is that there’s always the chance that the larger scenes involving telepathy (and there’s a huge one at the end of the story that prompted this particular blog post) may be confusing for the reader. That’s why I’m hoping to find a proofreader for this style of formatting before Isaac and I release the book. But for now, I think I’ve settled on this:

  • Thoughts directed toward someone/something in present tense will be italicized.

He inclined his head. “Yes.”

You’re admitting to it? “You were using it last night,” I tested. “To get me to come with you.”

  • Telepathic communication (when the narrator is aware these are not her own thoughts) will be italicized.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks, where the narrator is experiencing them but does not know this is a flashback will not be italicized. Tags may need to be included in the prose to help aid the reader.

Brainmaster clucked her tongue. Poor Miss Nickleson… Let me show you what happens to the people who rebel.

A rocket slammed into the ground, blowing a beast to bits. Sun scorched the back of my neck, and the stench of burnt flesh tainted the air. A blast of heat rolled over me. I shielded my eyes while debris pelted me with dirt. Something smashed into my chest. I removed my hand from my shirt and found it hot and sticky. The pain threatened to destroy my vision—

(Since the main character cannot distinguish the manipulation from reality, this is not italicized).

  • Flashbacks/memory attacks that the narrator is actively experiencing and is aware of, will be italicized.

The winding corridor opened to rows upon rows of floor-to-ceiling tanks, each filled with thick, greenish fluid. Bubbles traveled up the tubes, passing over occupants who had been stripped of everything but a breath mask. A helpless, sickening sensation spread through me. I stared at the liquid, petrified.

Brianmaster dragged me into a tube and shoved me inside, the numbing liquid surrounding me, slick against my skin. Burning.

I needed to escape, to breathe, to run—

“Let’s not open these doors, ‘kay?” Jack said, jarring me from my nightmare.

(In this scene, Jenna is having a memory attack, and though she can’t escape it, she’s aware that the attack is happening).

  • Flashbacks where the character is “remembering,” but not really “experiencing” will not be italicized.

He put the training weapons aside and sat on the floor, stretching his fingers to his toes. “Besides, the Community’s boring. There’s no excitement. Do you remember when we used to pick blackberries off the neighbor’s bush?”

I nodded.

Walking home from school, we used to take the back ally to our parents’ houses. One time I noticed a dark blackberry poking out from a broken slat in the fence. It was ripe, and touching the berry left a deep red juice stain on my fingertips. The neighbors could’ve been fined because the fence hadn’t been repaired in a timely manner.

(She’s recalling a memory, but she isn’t “experiencing” it, per se).

And, of course, I’ll use italics to emphasize certain words. And also for sound effects, foreign languages, etc, though I’ll try not to overdo it. 🙂

So, now that I’ve got this sorted out in blog-post form, I’m off to finish formatting the italics in the manuscript. It’s not perfect, but hopefully the formatting will be smoother now.

I hope you’ve found this post helpful. 🙂 Have you ever had to make a particular type of formatting distinguishable?

Leave a comment

Filed under Writing

Thoughts on Publishing – The Unboxing of Battle Decks: Multiverse 1953

Guess what my husband and I got in the mail today… the full version of our Battle Decks: Multiverse 1953 card game! Woot! 😀

We unboxed the game almost immediately, and now you can get another sneak peek into Battle Decks (including the cover). We printed the game at The Game Crafter, a site which is little pricey but not bad for print-on-demand games. I was a bit nervous as to how well it would print, but I’m happy with the results, and I’m looking forward to playing our first game with the actual cards.

Battle Decks: Multiverse 1953 - The Unboxing

A heads up, if the game looks interesting to you, we will be releasing a free, PDF trial edition which shows you how to play a basic game. A try-before-you-buy sort of thing.

Battle Decks: Multiverse 1953 is a card game Isaac and I will be publishing under our new business, Infinitas Publishing. Isaac created the rules of the game and figured out how the points worked and what the stats should be. I did about half of the card art, minus sketching anything mechanical. Isaac did those sketches. We’re also working on an upcoming blog series called The Multiverse Chronicles, which mentions several of the characters included in the game.

I hope you enjoyed this post. 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Covers, Business Ventures, Gaming, Photo Illustration