Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best of 2013 and New Year's Resolutions

Seeing as I will be busy on New Year's day, I'm writing my New Year's post early to make sure it's up before it is too late. 2013 has been an amazing year for me, and there is so much that has happened this year that I will remember. I wonder where the time has gone for the year to have flown by so fast, but January 1st is closely approaching and the new year will be beginning. Before I talk about my resolutions I want to look back on the best moments of 2013.
The Best of 2013 (in no particular order):
  • One Year anniversary with Eric: Eric and I celebrated our one year anniversary this year on September 26th. Now we've been together for 15 months, and it's exciting to think of the future we share together. Eric is not only my boyfriend, but he's also my best friend and hugest supporter. He's been with me at all of my book signings, and we've shared so many experiences together. I can't wait to see what adventures are ahead of us! I love you, Eric.
  • Moved in with my boyfriend: Eric and I have been living together since July, and it brings me so much joy to be more involved in his life and vice versa.
  • Publication of Shadows and Embers: My second book was released for publication July 26th and has been out for five months now. Writing Leal's book was a wonderful experience, and I am so happy and proud to see that the book is published and in the hands of readers. Thank you to everyone who has supported SandE.
  • One Year anniversary of Cursed With Power's publication: One year ago on September 7th my first book, Cursed With Power, was published and released to the public. This was Celestria Hale's story, the story that began my writing career and will forever be dear to my heart. It's been 15 months with CWP as well, and again this book means a lot to me because it was the first one published.
  • My first 2 concerts: Eric and I went to the Killers and Keith Urban's concerts at Merriweather, and these were my first two concert I ever attended. I had a lot of fun, and it was a blast seeing Keith Urban live. I can't wait to do it again sometime soon.
  • Vacation at Deep Creek Lake: Over the summer Eric and I went to Deep Creek Lake and rented our own little cabin hidden back in the woods. Deep Creek has always been a special place to me, and I am looking forward to returning their again next summer.
  • Book 3: Thicker Than Blood: This year also marked the beginning of my third book, Thicker Than Blood, which is told from Alaire Sencler's POV. It is at approximately 52k, and my goal is to reach the end of the book by January or February. Regardless, it has been both exciting and frustrating to be working on a new book again.
New Year's Resolutions:
First off my huge goal for 2014 is to finish Thicker Than Blood and begin the editing and revising process. It's been a goal of mine to have it ready for publication and release late 2014, so I won't be able to estimate a more accurate time period until the book is completely finished.
Secondly, I am in the works of having Shadows and Embers available as an audio book; all I need to do is find a narrator. This has always been a dream of mine, and I'm hoping it would expand my audience especially to those individuals who prefer listening to a book instead of reading it. (Plus, I can't wait to hear Leal's voice come to life.)
Lastly, I will continue giving my all to my relationship with Eric, and I cannot wait to reach our two year anniversary. He's the greatest guy in my life, and I can't imagine the world without him. Here's to the new adventures that await us!

Hope everyone has a wonderful end of the year and start of the new year. Expect another post from me again in the new year including progress in Thicker Than Blood. Until then, happy New Year!
Lindsey R. Sablowski

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas in Neutat: Christmas special 2013

It's Christmas Eve, and I have been busy all month preparing for the big day tomorrow. I had planned on posting this Christmas special yesterday, but since I got caught up preparations I ran out of time. Nonetheless, it's finally here, and I'm excited to share it with you.
This is my first time writing a Christmas special, but I had a lot of fun writing this scene and plan on doing it next year. This year's special features the POV of Leal Irvine and Nicia Riptu, main characters from my second book, Shadows and Embers. If you haven't read the book yet or finished it, no worries because this scene is spoiler free and it happened before the story in SandE. This scene takes place during 1568, two years before the handsome Leal met the curious and innocent Celestria Hale. The reason I chose this time period in their story line was mainly because Nicia and Leal have a long history together, one that unfortunately could not all fit or be revealed in the second book. To honor their friendship and to say one last "goodbye" to them (mainly Leal) as narrators -note: Nicia was not a narrator in book #2)-I chose them as the main characters for this scene. I realize Celestria and Alaire would have been a popular request from readers, but alas Celestria and Alaire have not shared their first Christmas together and diving into the future of their lives could be dangerous for where I am now with the series.
All the same, I hope you enjoy this special. I spent all last night typing it up, and woke up early this morning to finish it and post it. I even created a Christmas oriented cover to go along with it. This is my gift to all of you for reading the series. I'll be posting again before the end of the year to look back on all that this year has brought, talk about how the holidays went, and update you on my progress in TTB.  Enjoy!
Christmas in Neutadt
A Christmas special, featuring POV of Léal and Nicia
December 25, 1568
Neutadt, Transylvania
Léal Irvine
            Christmas was my favorite holiday, though Mama reasoned that with age that would all change. After spending my morning with her and opening presents, I put on a warm fur jacket and stepped out into the snowy streets. As tradition had it, Esmour always held his own Christmas celebration at his home and invited everyone in Destin. Our organization was full with members of different races and strengths, but Christmas was one of the few times we all were able to gather together and enjoy each other’s company without the constant fear of being attacked. While the snow covered most of the street I did not mind the cold weather. The temperature was low, the winds could be harsh, but I was aware there were other places where the snow was much harsher and cruel to the citizens. I was in the giving spirit, and I could not wait to see what Esmour had in store for us.

Nicia Riptu
            I waited before I left my house and walked over to Esmour’s, dreading the fact that I would most likely be the first one to arrive. While Esmour was a great leader I did not fancy the idea of being alone with him for too long. At last when I convinced myself to walk on over, I pulled my jacket in close around my dress and rushed to the door. One knock was all it took, and then Esmour dashed to the door, greeted me, and invited me in. To my surprise Malin was already present and sitting down in the lounge room, drinking ale. The moment he saw me he stood up and offered to take my jacket.
            “A merry Christmas to you, Malin,” I said, handing over the jacket.
            “And to you, my lady,” he replied, winking.
            I sighed and sat down in a chair, knowing now the wait would seem even longer. There was no hiding the fact that I fancied Malin, but he and I both knew the flirting was innocent and would never lead to anything more. He was not the kind of man to settle down with anyone, and to be honest, I was not certain I would ever know the true story behind who he was. Once he returned he smiled at me uneasily and bit his nails.
            “I barely slept through the night, and I must admit I am glad to see you. You brighten this room, you know?” he commented, sliding over on the sofa to be closer to where I was.
            “That’s flattering,” I replied, hardly knowing what to say. Since when had Malin started a conversation with a compliment? I was accustomed to the flirting and the longing stares we exchanged, but there was something new in the way he talked and his movement. He could not sit still without fidgeting, and I could feel beads of sweat dripping down the back of my neck.
            Don’t you dare make a fool of yourself. I thought, glancing around the room for Esmour. He was standing by the window, waiting for the remainder of his guests to reply. I loved the idea of wanting someone and that person wanting me in return, though we were destined to be kept apart. It was the only romantic dream I held onto these days, and if Malin suddenly wanted to commit and admit his feelings to me I would not know how to react.

            At last I reached Esmour’s house and knocked on the door. He opened it and welcomed me inside where I saw Malin and Nicia sitting. The Christmas tree was in the middle of the lounge room with presents underneath of it, all of which we had placed under it on Christmas Eve night. I was eager for Nicia to see her gift, especially since I had yet to determine what would interest her. Though she was a few years older than me, I respected her as a magician and found her to be the most attractive woman in Neutadt. There was no one who could compare to her natural beauty, and Malin was allowing it to go to waste by not advancing.
            “Merry Christmas to all,” I said, sitting down on the opposite side of Nicia.
            “Enjoy the holiday while it lasts. Tomorrow we return to our duties,” Esmour called out from the window. There was another knock at the door and Alaire and Jacquette arrived, which meant that the celebration could begin. Other members of our organization would be arriving, but for now we could exchange gifts amongst ourselves. Esmour joined us to watch the unwrapping of gifts. I grabbed two presents from underneath the tree and handed them to Nicia.
            “I didn’t know what to get you, but hopefully one of these will suit you,” I said, smiling.
            Nodding, she unwrapped the first present: a necklace with a silver amulet and a white jewel inside of it. I rarely saw her with any jewelry, and since she preferred to wear darker colors I had thought a bright necklace would bring out her eyes more. Since I had not been certain the necklace would please her, the second gift would hopefully save me. Placing the necklace carefully down on her lap, she opened the second gift and stared down at it. It was a dagger, one I had specifically made for her.
            “The necklace is beautiful, and the dagger is stunning. Thank you, Léal; that was thoughtful of you,” she said, smiling.
            Léal’s gift were more than thoughtful; they were perfect. Though I did not waste my time covering myself in diamonds and jewels, I was glad to see that Léal recognized the kind of woman I was. He saw that I was both a warrior and a woman, not one or the other. It made me realize how much attention he had been paying to me, and I hoped my present would be as much of a success. Placing the dagger and necklace down, I grabbed my present from the tree and handed it to Léal. It was larger than the gifts he gave me, and once he opened it he revealed a light blue vest. For whatever reason he loved wearing vests, and when had seen that one it was without a doubt the perfect one. The color matched with his eyes, which made him all the more handsome.
            “This will be my favorite vest,” Léal said, feeling the fabric.
            Without thinking, I leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. Then I hurriedly returned to my original position and attempted to hide the redness on my cheeks. It was not a maddening idea to think that perhaps one day our relationship would grow even more, and the years that separated us we could make up with the time we spent together. He had a strong family line and inheritance, and more importantly he was handsome and sweet. No one here treated him like a boy; in battle he always proved himself as a man. I did not have him now, nor did I want him at this moment, but I accepted that if fate would allow it our relationship could become something unexpected and wonderful.

            There would be more holidays to come and years to pass, but I was certain this would be one to remember. As I watched my friends and fellow partners open their gifts, Nicia and I talked about a variety of subjects. All the while I realized we were not as different as I once thought when we first met years ago. Every now and then I glanced up at the Christmas tree, and when it was time to feast Nicia and I sat next to one another. Alaire sat beside me, and Malin sat on the other side of Nicia. Everyone passed around food and talked about missions and their lives, and I thought to myself that Mama had been wrong. Christmas was not a holiday for any particular age; it was a holiday that lived on and continued bringing happiness so long as you were surrounded by the people you loved. I couldn’t ask for better people to be with; these were my friends and the people I trusted to save my life.

            “Merry Christmas to all of you, and here’s to the new year,” Esmour toasted, standing at the front of the table. Everyone cheered, and I was relieved that for one day we could forget about the magical world and the battles that lay ahead.  

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Lindsey R. Sablowski

Monday, December 16, 2013

Q&A with cover designer Christopher Saghy

Here's a surprise right before the holidays! The man behind the cover design of Cursed With Power, the first book in the Magicians series: Christopher Saghy. Chris agreed to do an interview with me, and I've been eager to share his answers with all of you. The first questions I usually receive from readers or potential customers when they see the book is about the cover, and I've been answering those questions to the best of my knowledge, but here with more of an inside look to it all is the designer himself. And remember to stop back in later this week for another special post; you might be in for a special holiday related scene!

Without further ado, here's Chris!

1.    Tell us about yourself: how did you become a designer, what have been some of your favorite works, etc.

About myself… here goes… I’ve been drawing since before I can remember. Seriously. All through school, Art was my favorite class. By the time I was a senior at South Carroll High School, I managed to fill my schedule with art classes from Commercial Art, Studio Art, Applied Art and even an Independent Study class. (I also had a Study Hall that – more days than not – I spent in one of the Art classrooms.) I went to UMBC and studied Fine Art but found that no one was going to pay me to sit in a field and paint pictures of flowers and such (LOL) so afterwards I ended up studying Computer Graphics/Graphic Design at Catonsville. Right now, I am working as a Graphic Designer for Kohn Creative in Westminster… That’s my steady paycheck – which is important when the freelance work dries up, but more on that later! We do everything from Business Cards to High End Museum Displays.
As a Freelance Artist/Designer I do much of the same things…  illustrations, logos, posters, and, as you know, a lot of book covers. My freelance work provides me with a second source of income, but I am careful not to rely on it too heavily… Most of the times it’s “feast or famine.” Meaning, sometimes I don’t have a cover or illo for a month or more and then I am all of a sudden hit with three covers at once, with an illo and a logo to boot. That gets back to why it’s important to have that steady daytime job!
As far as my book cover work goes, Cursed with Power definitely rates up there as one of my favorite cover designs along with The Legend of The Bully Slayer – which features my son as the model and is a rare case of me shooting photos for a cover… mainly ‘cause the model came cheap!! (LOL) Some of my other favorites include: The Jack of Many Trades, His Salvation, A Broken World and Midnight Eclipse. (All available through Old Line Publishing.) I am sure I am forgetting a bunch, but so much work has come across my desk that it’s hard to remember it all! One of my first covers for Old Line had an Elvis impersonator on it AND it was a sci fi novel… kind of a fun juxtaposition of concepts…  you don’t get commissions like that every day!

2.    How did you decide on the design for the cover Cursed With Power

SOP for a cover design is that the publisher will send me a story blurb – rarely do I get the entire text – the author’s ideas and, if I ask for it, a description of the characters if they are to be featured on the cover. So it’s usually not a whole lot of info from which to come up with one image that represents the whole story.
In the case of Cursed with Power, I got a blurb from Craig Schenning at Old Line, your ideas and descriptions of the character and your thoughts on the mood/feel that the cover should have. I also had the “working cover” which helped me get a feel for the mood for which I should shoot.
At that point it became a matter of finding an image that fit the mood and (HOPEFULLY) the description of the characters. I use a couple of stock photo sites. The reason for this is that I am working within a set budget and do not always have the time and/or money to shoot custom pics… renting costumes, hiring a model… yeah... it just isn’t there. And that is the reason I go the graphic design route on most of my covers as well. The budget just does not  - except in rare cases – support me creating a painting or illustration for use on the cover.
So, for Cursed With Power, I set out to find one pic or a couple of pics I could cobble together for the cover. (A good example of this “cobbling” is the cover for Midnight Eclipse. There are at least five different photos that were used for the vampire alone!) The description I was given was “Celestria has long red hair, green eyes, would be wearing a dress… nothing too elegant; simple and dark…” So I downloaded several thumbnails but when I found the image I ultimately used, I knew it was the one! The mood was right. She had red hair. It was a very dramatic pose… I almost instantly knew what I was going to do with the text… have her holding it and make it the source of the under lighting while making it look like it was “her power.” Only problems… she had brown eyes and was wearing a traditional witch’s hat. Solved the witch’s hat problem by careful cropping and lighting effects… and changing the eyes from brown to glowing green was not too big a deal. Really.
Actually, those changes were extremely easy compared to creating the text for the cover. To create the text, I started in Adobe Illustrator because it lets you warp and manipulate the text much easier than Photoshop. Once I brought the text into Photoshop, it took 7 different layers to get the lighting effects that you see on the finished cover and that does not include the layer I had to create so her finger can overlap the title!
I usually send lo-res comps to Old Line for approval, but with this one I was so sure I nailed it that I went for broke and did a complete hi-resolution version right from the start. (Plus, I did not want to have to create that text twice!!)

3.    What is like to design book covers for published authors and see your work across the internet and (possibly) make it into bookstores?

It never gets old… seeing your work in print is as exciting the 40th time as it was the first. It’s wild, really. Y’know, a lot of times I sit here and think, “Hey, I’m actually getting paid to do this. How cool is that?!”

4.    What's the most challenging part of your job and the most enjoyable part? 

The most challenging part is making every cover or illustration or whatever that much better than the last one. I try to make the covers look like me… my style... but still be their own thing while serving the needs of the publisher and making the author happy and proud that their name is on the book. Yeah… that can be quite a challenge… but so far so good. Having all that happen would be the most enjoyable part. (And  -- except for some very rare occasions – it usually does.)

5.    Any work in the near future we can look forward to?

Yeah… I am getting ready to shoot pictures for the sequel to The Legend of the Bully Slayer. Going to tap my son, Michael, again for the model. I figure I can pay him with the rubber band guns I had to order as props for the picture!! (LOL)

6.    Anything else you'd like to add?

I think I’ve said enough. (LOL) But seriously, thanks for taking the time and letting me talk about the cover and my work. Best of luck to you as an author! Remember, if you love what you are doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Thicker Than Blood: Summary REVEAL

Happy Wednesday, and here as promised is the summary reveal for the upcoming third book in the Magicians series, Thicker Than Blood. A huge thank you to everyone who has been so patient. I know there's been a lot of unveiling lately, and believe I still have lots to share as we move closer to publication day, so thanks for understanding and especially for your enthusiasm.
All right, where was I? Oh right... Summary reveal! Here it is, ladies and gentlemen:

Alaire Sencler is not the man he used to be. He left behind a foul and bloody past to be with the woman he loves, but the memories never allow him to forget what he did.
While the White magicians rise an army, their leader hides his true reasons for going to war. Meanwhile the Dark magicians seek out a new haven, one that might keep them hidden long enough to prepare for the war that is raging on outside their doorstep.
Though Alaire has a unique gift and the woman of his dreams by his side, he has yet to come to terms with Esmour's death and what the future holds for him. New faces and the revealing of the fifth Dark magician offers hope, but only the strongest will survive in the final battle.
Whoever said "blood runs thicker than water" never knew what it was like to be part of a current.

I wrote up the summary myself, so I tried to keep it as spoiler-free as possible. So far I think I've managed to pull it off while still letting you in on the journey we're about to enter into. For me what's been enjoyable is seeing each individual character's story come alive. I started over two years ago with Celestria's story in my head, and now here we are finally getting closer to hearing Alaire's own story. I'm hoping you're as excited about it as I am.
There is so much that awaits us in the third book: the revealing of the fifth Dark magician, a deeper look into Alaire's past, new settings with new faces, and the war starting up to determine which species will survive.
 Before I go I'd like to remind you that the holidays are right around the corner, and books always make wonderful gifts -whether it be for a friend, avid reader, aspiring writer, someone you don't that well, or a significant other. Now is the time to purchase copies of Cursed With Power and Shadows and Embers while they are at a discounted price. If you're interested in buying both books together and want a discount, send me a message and let me know -I have plenty of books at home to send your way (and autograph them)!
Lindsey R. Sablowski

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Snow days spent writing

These past two days have been snow days for me, so I've been spending my days off writing as much as I can for the upcoming book in the Magicians series. As I have mentioned before, my goal here is to have it all finished and out for release in 2014.
Now before I get too far ahead of myself I did want to mention how everything went on Saturday at the book signing up in Hampstead. This was me and Eric's second time going to the Local Author Fair at the North Carroll Library, and you can see a lot changed since we had last been there. For one, when we went back in 2012 I had blonde hair and my only book available for purchase was Cursed With Power. This year I now have black hair and two books up for purchase: Cursed With Power and the sequel, Shadows and Embers. I love looking back and seeing how much has changed, and how I've grown as both an author and a person in general. It's also so wonderful to see that Eric has been with me through all of this, and I wouldn't imagine doing it without him.
Progress in Thicker Than Blood:
Today looks like my last snow day until more comes around, but I managed to write 3k yesterday and 1k today. Today I was slacking a bit because there was so much else I had to do around the house, but overall I'm very pleased to see the book coming along. Today that 1k brought me to the end of chapter sixteen, and now I can move onto chapter seventeen. I'm up to approximately 44k, so I expect to be reaching 50k very soon. The whole point of reaching 50k is to set up another marker, and once I do that goal will be 70k where I am assuming the end of the book might be at. Most likely it will be over 70k, but for now it's all a matter of writing it out and seeing what happens. I don't know where this book is going to take me, especially in terms of the ending, but I'm eager to find out and get an idea of what is to come for the fourth book.
Numerous fans have told me about how much they fell for Alaire, and I am hoping that with this book I can give you the story that you've been waiting for. Originally Alaire's story was not planned out to be the third book in the series, but I go where the plot takes me and at the end of Leal's book it felt only right to go to Alaire next. So as for who will narrate the fourth book, I'm in for as much of a surprise as you will be.
Coming up: Thicker Than Blood's summary REVEAL:
I've told you the third book is about Alaire, but you don't know all of the details yet. As promised, I have more to share with you. I will be posting the official summary of TTB tomorrow (Wednesday, 12/11) night on the blog. If you're afraid you'll miss it, never fear, I'll post links on Facebook, Twitter, and so forth so you don't forget or miss out. I'm excited to be sharing the summary with you; only one more night of waiting!
Lindsey R. Sablowski

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Title Reveal: Thicker Than Blood (Book 3)

These past couple of months I've been talking a lot about the upcoming third book, and now that it's December I can finally give you all of the details I've been keeping to myself.
Official title: Thicker Than Blood
That's right, the third book in the Magicians series is titled Thicker Than Blood. There are several reasons why I chose this reason, but the main reason being because of the saying that "blood runs thicker than water." I'll leave you to think about the meaning of that, and I will get into more details about it later on. I am just as eager as all of you for this book to release, which means first I have to finish writing it. Don't worry, though, I have plenty more to share.
In November was the 4 month mark for Shadows and Embers, book 2 in the series. Excitingly enough, now I can also reveal the main narrator for the third book.
Main narrator: Alaire Sencler
Alaire Sencler, the Dark magician we've known since Cursed With Power finally has his chance to tell his story. This is the character I have been dying to tell you more about, and I have received plenty of requests to hear it. We've heard Celestria and Leal's story, and over the past couple of months I've been working with on a whole new level. It's been exciting to dive into his world and look further into his past and future. While some of us just can't get enough of his charm, we also can't forget about his past as Hunter. The good and the bad, I'll be covering it all.
Although Alaire is the main narrator, we will be hearing some narration from other main characters (as you've seen in the previous books. You can also expect to read certain chapters narrated from a White magician's point of view, whose name I won't reveal... yet. There are plenty of new and familiar faces we'll be meeting throughout Alaire's story.
Progress Update
So far as you can see from one of the pictures above I am in the middle of working on chapter fifteen. Unfortunately I didn't make it to the finish line for NaNoWriMo, but I'm at approximately 37k and have several pages to type up tonight. I admit I'm a bit off schedule, but winter break is three weeks away and then I will have more time to dedicate to writing. In the meantime the goal is still to reach 50k and then plan out reaching 70k by January or February. Who knows, maybe when I hit 50k I'll share a quote from the book.
After spending several hours on wrapping Christmas presents, it's back to writing for me. Enjoy your night, and I'll be back for more later this week. I will be present at North Carroll Library this Saturday for a book signing, so expect some pictures and more. If you have any questions or comments about Alaire or Thicker Than Blood, please don't hesitate to comment away!
Lindsey R. Sablowski