Thursday, December 20, 2012

Great Christmas Giveaway: Free Ebooks for Your Friends!

So you don't have enough funds to buy all of your friends a book this Christmas? No worries. I've got your back! If you have friends whom you think would fall in love with Aiden MacRae, then let's share the love together.

From now through Christmas Day, simply email me at cynditefft -at- gmail -dot- com and I will send a free ebook of Between to your friend. In your email, please include your friend's name and email address. I will not save this information or add them to any lists. I will use it only to email them the gift of Between. Please include your own name in your email so I can let them know why they are receiving it. The gifting system doesn't allow me to enter a message to them, so it would be a good idea for you to let them know the gift is coming, and how you feel about the book. :)

There is no limit to the number of friends you can share Between with! Just send me the above information on each friend and I will send an ebook their way.

Merry Christmas to all of Aiden's Angels. Your encouragement, kindness, and love for Aiden MacRae is the reason I'm writing the third book in this series. I never intended for there to be more than two, but you loved Aiden so much that I *had* to keep it going, just for you.

Now let's go crazy and see how many free copies of Between we can send for Christmas gifts! *hugs*

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Giveaway! Dissidence by Jamie Canosa

Jamie Canosa, Aiden's Angel extraordinaire (and maker of awesome book trailers) has her debut novel out now and you totally need to pick it up!

In dystopian America, sixteen-year-old Kaleigh finds out quickly what having a big mouth and not enough brains to keep it shut can earn you. A one-way ticket to the work camps that no one even knows exists.

Nuclear war has ravished the nation, and a century later, the survivors are living in an entirely new world. In a society where everything is decided for you, from where you work to who you marry, dissidence is not taken lightly.

But, even inside the camps, Kaleigh’s fiery spirit refuses to be extinguished. In a single moment of defiance, she manages to spark a riot that ignites into a full-blown rebellion.

With growing numbers counting on her, not just for their freedom, but for their very lives, two different boys vying for her heart, and trouble brewing from within the camp itself, can Kaleigh find a way to step up and become the leader everyone is counting on her to be, or will even the most carefully laid plans come crashing down around her?
I kid you not, this is a pulse-pounding dystopian YA story that will leave you breathless and itching for the next book! Enter to win a copy of Dissidence below. Jamie's blog tour for the release continues tomorrow at Lisa's Reads.

Connect with Jamie online!You'll be glad you did. She's a sweetie!
Facebook, Blog, Twitter, Goodreads

Links to Dissidence:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Missing my friend

Today marks the three year anniversary of the passing of my friend, Lisa Surdyk. I know she's filled to the brim with Jesus' love while I'm still here on earth, making my way through this crazy world, but she is in my thoughts today. I miss you, Lisa.

Friday, November 23, 2012

I'm Going to Be On the Radio!

Real Sisters Talk Radio is going to interview me on their show November 27th at 3pm. If you miss the live interview, never fear! The interview will be replayed on their online radio show for several weeks after the fact. Here's the link so you can bookmark it:

I've never done a radio interview before, so fingers crossed that I don't screw it up. But hey, it's all about me so it can't be that hard, can it? It's not like I should have to study. hehe

Can't wait to hear what you think of it, so be sure to listen in!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Self Pubs are the New Minor Leagues

Okay, I'll be honest: I don't know that much about baseball. But I do know that the Major League teams draw their new players from the Minor League teams. So if you want to be a player in the majors, you start out in the minors, perform really well, and then you have a chance to get pulled up.

Seems to me that this is the new model for publishing.

Traditional publishers used to get their debut authors from agents whose interns sifted through the slush pile day in and day out to find what they considered to be gems. Aspiring authors had no access to the big publishers; they had to get an agent first. Agents became the gatekeepers to publishers and it was their job to weed through the masses and present only the best books to editors for consideration.

As we all know, the Kindle revolution threw a monkey wrench into that time-honored structure.

Aspiring authors who'd been turned down by hundreds of agents started self-publishing their books online. And people bought them. Lots of people bought them. Some of these authors were so incredibly popular that their books ended up hitting bestseller lists.

Other authors took note and followed, tired of the gatekeeper system that kept them from doing what they wanted to do: write books and connect with readers.

As a result of the self-publishing phenomenon, many have been wondering what the future state of publishing will look like. Where will agents add value? Will they disappear forever? Will the traditional publishing companies collapse altogether?

Au contraire, mes amies. I would say traditional publishers are better off now than they were before.

Now, the TPs (I'll call them that since I'm getting tired of typing it out! Well, and it sounds like toilet paper, which is funny.) are cherry-picking the self-published authors who do really well. It's the Majors drawing from the Minors, people. The TPs don't have to take a chance on a debut author or cross their fingers and hope that the public will react well to the book. They don't have to do much editing (if any) and they don't have to worry that the market will be gone by the time they've slotted a book for release.

When a TP sees a self-published book topping the charts, they can swoop in, throw around the bucks and their impressive distribution (which, let's admit it, is an obstacle that self-pubbed authors can't really seem to overcome), and viola! They have an instant hit on their hands and a happy, successful author with a bright future. It's win, win.

And I think it's the future of publishing. It's only a matter of time before everyone will have to prove their worth via the self-publishing route. Few, if any, debut authors will get picked up via the old querying model.

I'm not saying this is good or bad, just different. And what's a revolution if not to shake up the old and come up with something new? Readers who buy ebooks will become the new gatekeepers to an author's success, not agents.

What do you think? Have I missed the mark? Or do you think this is where publishing is headed? I'd love to hear what you have to say on this brave new world of publishing.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Aiden's Angels has a Fan Site!

Every author dreams of having readers who love their characters so much that they just can't get enough. I'm beyond tickled to announce that thanks to the hard work and passion of Vicki Trask, Aiden's Angels now have their own fan site where you can connect over your love for the hot Scot Aiden MacRae!

*bounces around the living room like a baby kitten*

Aiden is one busy reaper, people, with a Twitter account and a Facebook page. On top of that, the angels have their own merchandise page and Goodreads group!

Huge thanks to Vicki and all of you for spreading the word about the Between series to your friends and social networks. It's because of you that I'm feverishly working on the third book now.

Oh, and speaking of the third book, the fan site also has all of the teasers in one place, so be sure to check it out in case you've missed any!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wanna See My Notes?

Before Between was published, I posted the manuscript on Authonomy, a writing community, in order to get feedback. When I was crafting query letters for agents, I made a list of words from the Authonomy comments in order to help me appropriately capture the feel of Between. I have carried that list in my purse for the last two years and now it is barely legible!

So I scanned it in and thought my readers might get a kick out of seeing the list. There are even some editing notes to myself in the upper right hand corner. :)

There were times along the way that I wanted to give up--no, TRIED to give up--but the words on this sheet of paper kept me coming back until I finally decided to self-publish. And I'm so glad I did.

Hugs to you, Aiden's Angels!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

He Knows Me So Well!

Lookie what my wonderful hubby got me as a surprise gift last night! He knows I have a book buying addiction and has fully embraced his role as The Enabler. LOL I loves him so much!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fan Fiction for Between! How cool is that?

The oh-so-lovely Vicki Trask from Aiden's Angels wrote a fabulous fan fiction story featuring Aiden and Lindsey that takes place at the end of Hell Transporter. I think she did a marvelous job capturing the love between them.

I wanted to honor her awesome creativity, so I decided that anyone who writes a fan fiction story of the Between series will receive a free ebook copy of Between from me to give away to a friend. Let's share the love of Aiden MacRae! Just send me the link to your story and your friend's email address and they'll get a copy for free from me.

Thank you, Vicki!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Six-Year-Olds Ask The Best Questions

The other day, my six-year-old son piped up from the backseat, "Why do all the songs have to be about God?" I explained that we were listening to the Christian radio station and that's what they play. He seemed satisfied with the answer, but I was not. His innocent question has needled me ever since.

On Sunday, the pastor preached on holiness, which actually means to be set apart. He mentioned that we often segment our lives, that we are different people at church than we are at work, that we are different people with our friends than we are with our family, and so on. What is holy and what is whole?

I don't want to be set apart, exactly. I want to be one person, one God-loving person who is also living in this world, participating in the joys, sorrows, ups, and downs that God has laid out for me. I want to be fully present and whole, the same to my church friends as I am to the public, a person who loves God, but also loves food, sex, alcohol, laughter, dancing, singing, and great big bear hugs. I don't want to denounce the flesh he's wrapped me in, to pretend I'm someone I'm not, or that my thoughts are always pure. They're not. But He knows that anyway. I want to be the same person to the world that I am when I'm alone with God.

It's a scary and vulnerable thought, but there it is.

And I wish I lived in a world where there was no such thing as "secular" but that God was part of the mainstream, day-to-day existence of every one of us, not set apart in a corner by himself, but a dominant thread woven into the air that we breathe. Because when we break ourselves into different segments and only show pieces of the whole, it's bound to catch up with us. We're bound to hate one part (or more) because we all have sins that we struggle with. There's a reason we hate the "holier than thou" stance. We can't be good enough, and God knows that. But the greatest disservice we can do, the greatest dishonor we can bring, is to show up on Sunday and pretend to be whole when we're not, when we're only giving Him a sliver of ourselves. Lukewarm worship is no worship at all.

I don't want there to be a "Christian" radio station. I just want there to be music. I don't want there to be "Christian" books. I just want there to be books. Not all of the songs or stories have to be about God, but some of them do. Because God matters, as does all the rest of it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Fifty Shades of Funny

On the way home from a business trip recently, I sat next to an older woman and her granddaughter on the airplane. The woman was just a little ways into Fifty Shades of Grey, while her granddaughter was reading a YA novel. I asked the woman if she read much romance. She replied that Fifty was her first one! While I was absorbing that, she said, "Actually, I hardly ever read, maybe one or two books a year."

I explained to her that romance novels vary in the level of heat from sweet up to erotic and that she'd jumped into the deep end of the pool by picking this one up. She seemed a bit comforted by that, the thought that not all romance was at this level. I chatted a bit with the younger girl about YA novels, and then settled back in my seat for the remainder of the flight.

Grandma wasn't a very fast reader, I noticed, as I peeked over from time to time to see how far she'd read. By the time the five-hour flight was over, she'd made it to about page 200. Unable to tame my wicked curiosity (having read all three Grey books myself), I asked her what she thought of it. I'm not sure what I expected her to say, but the words out of her mouth about make me choke with laughter.

She frowned a bit and said, in all seriousness, "I think MEN should read this book."

Go, Grandma! LOL

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Guest Columnist on the Indie Reader!

Big news! Little ol' me is the guest columnist on the Indie Reader site today, talking about how indies are making in-roads in the New Adult category. Check it out and spread the word!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Last Day in the UK

We took the train from York to London, where we stayed one more night before catching a flight back home to Seattle. Since it was our last night in the UK, we splurged and stayed at a nice hotel, which offered the gorgeous view in the photo above.
We took a stroll through Hyde Park and I told hubs about how historical romance novels always have the gentry of the day riding or walking through London parks, to be seen in their finery. Since it was the last day of the trip, we were far from fine (in fact, my jeans were in a constant muddy state from the rain and the country walks), but the park did have a sweeping, romantic feel to it.
The next day, we got up, took the train to the airport and boarded a plane for home. Then we sat on that plane for two hours, deplaned because of what they thought was a broken toilet but turned out to be a cargo of fish that had leaked from an earlier flight. Ew. So after a four-hour delay, we were up in the air and touched down in Seattle about 8pm. Commence jet lag. LOL
Hyde Park with Lancaster London hotel in the background
I hope you enjoyed following along on our trip to England and Scotland! It's so much fun to share with others, and blogging about our travels helps me remember the trip as well (since I'm not getting any younger!).

York Minster- The Church to End All Churches

Yes, we're back in the states now, but I got behind on blogging about our trip, so I am attempting to catch up on the days I missed!
Okay, I'm getting a little ahead of myself with that blog post title because York Minster was not our first stop in York, but it was certainly the most memorable. We took the train from Edinburgh to York before heading back to London, and it was definitely worth the stop. 
York is celebrating their 800 year anniversary this year. The city has a defensive wall all around it. You can walk along the edge and get a wonderful view. Hubs and I had a lively discussion about how exactly one would lift a cauldron of boiling oil to pour on one's enemies. hehe 
The downtown section of York looks like Disneyland, with narrow, cobblestone streets lined with shops and teeming with people. Perhaps because it wasn't raining (for the first time in days),  but folks were out in force. Hen parties (bachelorette parties where the ladies all dress up in wild clothing) were everywhere. We must have seen a dozen different groups. That, and the clusters of young men going on pub crawls lent the city a very hip, fun atmosphere in general.
We spent a fair amount of time enjoying the gardens outside St. Mary's Abbey (another ruin courtesy of King Henry VIII).
By the time we reached this point in our trip, we'd seen some pretty impressive (and old) churches. But nothing, and I do mean nothing, could top York Minster. Sadly, there is no way to capture the beauty and grandeur of this church in a photograph.
I could post a dozen photos for you here, but still not convey the majesty of this place. I did a Google search to see if I could find something online to portray its magnificence, but everything falls short.
York Minster looks much like other towering church buildings from the outside, but it's the inside that sets it apart, for a couple of reasons. Unlike Westminster Abbey (which is really a Who's Who of Important Dead People), York Minster is focused on God, not on people. The whole atmosphere of the church was bathed in worship, rather than primarily being a collection of tombs. There were a handful of those (most notably one for an archbishop dating back to the early 1200s- wow!), but Christ was the focal point of this church. 
But what sets York Minster apart most of all was the height of the building in the center. Imagine standing in a sky scraper lobby and having it open all the way to the top with light streaming in through colored glass windows all around. The center of the building is 102 feet high and you have to tilt your head all the way back to take it in. It's almost impossible to do so without your mouth falling open in sheer awe. Incredible. Not only that, but the men's choir was rehearsing while we were there, the rich tones of their voices echoing throughout the church. I tell you, if you ever have the chance to visit York Minster, do it. You won't be disappointed!

Day Tour Through the Scottish Borderlands

Yes, we're back in the states now, but I got behind on blogging about our trip, so I am attempting to catch up on the days I missed!
On our trip to Scotland in 2010, we explored the highlands. This time around, we took a day trip through the borderlands south of Edinburgh. The weather was cold and rainy, but the lush countryside was breathtakingly beautiful. Quaint brick homes dotted the green rolling hills while baby lambs frolicked in the fields. There was something peaceful and ethereal about the place that settled deep inside my bones.

*blissful sigh*

Emily, our tour guide, had bright red hair and an accent to die for. She was a thousand percent adorable and I had to tell my hubby he could not take her home (though I can see why he would want to). After driving through the countryside, we got out to stretch our legs and go for a walk to see a statue of William Wallace. Emily explained that Wallace was from Glasgow (therefore not a highlander) so would never have worn a kilt, but that he is often pictured as such. Worse, the kilt he's wearing in this statue doesn't come to the knee like a kilt should, so it's more of a mini-skirt. LOL Poor William: hung, drawn, and quartered for his country and then pictured wearing a wee skirt in his manly statue.
We stopped for a good long while at Melrose Abbey, which was destroyed in the mid-1500s when King Henry VIII went on his rampage, destroying anyone and everyone who wouldn't convert from Catholicism to the Church of England (aka The Church of Henry). England and Scotland is riddled with ruins because of that wicked king. *shakes fist*
That being said, Melrose Abbey still had a majestic quality, perhaps even more so because it was in ruins. The mist settling over the hills through the empty window frames was an awe-inspiring sight.
We were able to climb a tight, narrow staircase to the top of one tower. The view over the village was worth the effort, even in the rain.

Down was easier than up!

Robert the Bruce's heart is buried at Melrose Abbey
As we drove through Galashiels, our guide explained that "Borders Law" used to be in effect, which was different from English Law or Scots Law. Essentially, raiding neighboring farms was common place and if you were caught red-handed, you could be executed for the crime, no questions asked. Emily told us the wonderful story of Sir Gideon Murray, who managed to catch Willie Scott trying to steal some cattle and resolved to hang him the next day. Now Murray had a bunch of daughters, but none of them could be married until a groom was found for his eldest, a lass with the nickname of "Muckle Moo Meg" meaning "Big Mouth Meg" for her unsightly large kisser. Murray's wife convinces him to give young Willie the option: marry Meg or hang from the gallows.
He chooses to hang.


Well, he changes his mind on the way to the noose (as most most men would!) and marries Muckle Moo Meg, a marriage that unites the two rival families, lasts decades, and produces twelve children. I love it when a story has a happy ending!
Our last stop was Rosslyn Chapel, where they didn't let us take photographs inside. The speaker gave a brief overview of the history of the chapel, noting that prior to The DaVinci Code book and movie, they received about 30,000 visitors each year. Last year, they had about 180,000! They've built an impressive visitor's center and have undertaken massive restoration work with the admission fees they get (about $2 million per year now). Intricate stone carvings decorated every square inch of the inside, making it a much different type of chapel than any we'd seen. Definitely worth a visit, even with the steep entry fee.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Damp But Happy in Edinburgh

We got a full measure of "Scottish sunshine" today in Edinburgh. The rain was constant and soaked into our bones by the end of the day. *shiver* The day started out a bit gloomy beyond the weather as well. When we first visited Edinburgh two years ago, we weren't able to visit Holyrood Palace. It was closed because some noble or other was there. So upon our return to this magnificent city, Holyrood was at the top of the list in things to see. And after we figured out the bus system, waited in the elements for it to arrive, and drove through the massive construction zones going on downtown, we made it to the beautiful palace at last.

Only to find out it was closed. Dang Lord so and so was in residence. *growls*
After a quick trip through the Scottish Parliament building, we ventured up High Street. And wouldn't you know it, but even with the rain coming down and the cold seeping through my windbreaker, the sight of kilts in shop windows lifted my mood. :)
We stopped in at a whisky shop and met a fabulous, passionate Scot who told us the proper way to pour Jura (the label must go against your palm as you pour or it's bad luck). He also told us the story of the last Campbell who finally left the island community, broke, on a white horse, and missing one eye... just as had been predicted by a young girl ages before (while being burned at the stake as a witch). He was fantastic. I could have hung out with him all day, grinning like a smitten schoolgirl. LOL
The other Edinburgh site I really wanted to take in was the Underground Tour at Mary King's Close. A tour guide took us through the dark streets under the city where residents lived in the 1600s and 1700s before they built over the narrow alleyways. Plague ripped through the dirty, cramped living spaces, killing the majority of the residents. The tour was entertaining, but it boggles my mind to think of families living in such miserable conditions. We are so truly blessed!
Technically, the wall carving above is outside the Scottish Parliament building, but I thought it was more appropriate here, in recognition of the life I enjoy as compared to the poor folk who suffered and died in Mary King's Close. *grateful*

We finished off the day by taking in a movie, which we rarely do back home. We saw The Avengers in 3D. It rocked! Chris Hemsworth is super hunky (and a front runner to play Aiden MacRae in the movie version of Between, based on the comments to my earlier blog post)!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

In Love With Orkney (minus the wind)

We made it to Scotland! *dance of joy* After a train ride to Gatwick airport from the center of London, we took a plane to Aberdeen, then to Kirkwall in Orkney (islands in the upper north part of Scotland). According to the pilot, an "unruly passenger" on the flight before us (who required police presence!) caused our flight to be delayed, so we didn't make it to the hotel until about 8pm. Still, the hotel is beautiful, with antique furniture and spacious rooms. After the awful business hotel we stayed at in London (because everything is so expensive!), I was in love with Orkney before we'd toured it at all. Heated floors in the bathroom, no less! Ahhhh...heaven.

We took an organized tour with Explore Orkney and turned out to be the only ones scheduled, so we had a private tour throughout the island. How cool is that??? The first place we stopped was called Earth House. It's a tiny underground circle made of stones that has been buried underground for thousands of years and was only recently discovered when a farmer's tractor sank into the ground above.

Next, we traveled to Maes Howe, an impressive domed structure made entirely of overlapping stone slabs that was built about 3000-4000 years ago. They wouldn't allow photos inside but here's a site with good pics. The tomb (called a cairn in Scotland) has a skinny opening that is lined up precisely with the setting sun so that on the midwinter solstice in December, a shaft of sunlight streaks through the entry and lights up the back wall. But if you can't make the trip out for the celestial show, you can watch it through the site's webcam! In the 1100s, some Viking soldiers came through and wrote graffiti inside the tomb (in runes) that were along the lines of "I was here" and "For a good time, call..." While the content of the scratchings is not significant, the runes themselves are a neat piece of history. If nothing else, it is proof that human nature hasn't changed much in the last thousand years. LOL
After a nice lunch of soup and sandwiches, we ventured off to see two standing stone circles, the Ring of Brodgar (above) and the Stones of Stenness. The wind had kicked up to an unbelievable level by this point. If I'd unzipped my jacket and held it open, I'm pretty sure I'd have gone para-sailing across the island! We were incredibly blessed to avoid rain pelting us (it seemed to only rain when we were traveling in the car between sights), but the wind was something else. I've never experienced anything quite like it, but our guide was completely unaffected by it, having been born and raised in Orkney. Amazing!
The main reason I wanted to come to Orkney was to see the Skara Brae. In 1850, a terrible storm battered the Orkney coast and revealed a Stone Age village that was incredibly preserved, including pottery, dice, and tools. Underground passageways led from one room to another. It was just as cool as I thought it would be, though having experienced the bite of the wind, I can see why they had to build it underground! Not only that, but the sand from the coastline was like a compulsory all-over exfoliation treatment. I should have baby smooth skin now! *ouchie*
Skara Brae
Our last stop on the tour was to the Broch of Gurness. This was actually my favorite part of the tour because we were able to wander through the broch and the stone village.
Broch of Gurness today

Artist sketch of the Broch entrance
Along with the large multi-level broch (stone tower) in the back, this neolithic village has three stone walls surrounding it and several rooms off either side. Once we were up close and examining the layout, we could clearly see the indentations where the doors had been hung, the fire pits (hearths) in the center of each room, as well as their grinding stones and wells. It was incredible! In the visitor's center, we got to grind grain using a large round stone with a hole in the center. Out in the broch proper, several of the grinding stones were still there.
Grinding stone, well, and hearth at the broch
The tour through Orkney surpassed my wildest expectations, which were pretty high to start with. If you ever get the chance to come out here and experience it for yourself, I highly recommend it!! And if I haven't mentioned it already, I love comments, so if you're following our trip through the UK, please leave me a note to let me know. Cheers! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

In Which I Meet Kurt From England!

After sleeping in late (hey, I'm on vacation!), we headed off to Harrod's to see all there was to see. Now, I normally would consider Nordstrom's to be a pricey store, but Harrod's was off the charts. Dior, Armani, Chanel, Bulgari... Every ritsy name you can think of had a presence at Harrod's. I saw a diamond necklace, bracelet and earrings set for 2 million pounds. Eh, pocket change, right? I'm surprised alarms didn't go off just because I breathed on the glass case. *not worthy*
The pet section was hilarious, with pink jackets, jewel-studded collars and other such craziness. The children's clothing areas were adorable. I'm pretty sure Kate and William's little ones will be wearing those outfits someday (since they can afford them!). The real clincher for me was a pair of foam flip flops that looked just like the kind you'd find at Target or Wal-Mart for a couple of bucks. A pair of them marked with the Gucci label (under the sole of your foot, mind you) was priced at...

wait for it...

One hundred and thirty-five pounds!!

Yeah, Nordy's ain't looking half bad now. LOL I didn't check the tag on this guy, but I wanted to take him home anyway. Isn't he cute? :)
Next up was the British Museum, where we took in some unbelievably old (like 3000-4000 years old!) artifacts and statues from Egypt and Greece.
My favorites were these enormous horse guardians that framed an entryway. To think that these incredible works of art have survived over millenia just blows my mind.
But by far, the best part of the day was getting to meet Kurt Chambers, an author friend from Twitter. When Kurt and I first connected on Twitter, he introduced himself as "Kurt From England" to which I promptly replied, "I'm Cyndi From America." He has been Kurt From England to me ever since, and I didn't want to pass up the chance to meet him face to face. We met for a drink and had such a wonderful conversation, my throat is sore from talking and laughing so much.
Kurt is the author of the wonderful middle grade series Truth Teller. If you haven't already done so, go buy a copy! You can connect with his awesomeness on Twitter as well under emailmanROCKS. What a fantastic end to the day, laughing with friends over a pint. Life is good. :)