Thursday, March 31, 2016

Another Month, Another Challenge #PowerProject

So March has come to an end and this is where I recap what I've learned from my past month's challenge and forge ahead with next month's challenge.

So this past month "The Power of Small Steps" proved very insightful. I learned:

1) Small incremental challenges really do facilitate change
2) Even with small changes you can see progress rather quickly
3) Small change mentality can be applied to a lot of ideas.

What are some results of my small tasks this month?

Well I did the plank and push up challenge which means that each day I did plank pose and some pushups. I started small (1 minute of plank; 10 pushups) and I built on it a little each time until I ended up doing 4 minutes of plank and 32 pushups. And if you think that's not impressive, you're failing to take into account the accumulation!

In the last 31 days I've done 651 pushups and held plank pose for 78 minutes...BAM! I'm not rock hard yet, but I am markedly less like a marshmellow-y Peep than when I started.

Am I the only one who likes to eat these?

I applied the same mentality to reading. I made a little more time to read each day and knocked out more books that usual--because those pages add up. I woke up just a little earlier each day and now have a better start time.

This mentality has also helped me with procrastination and getting &^%$ done. When a task seems too daunting, I can put it off for weeks or days. But if it's bite-sized, I'm likely to tackle it sooner. Really  this idea of "just a little" can be applied to almost anything and it's got great momentum behind it. So there is power in this approach and I'm glad I explored it. If you're interested in what I did but missed the posts, you can revisit the March index. For the rest of us, Keep Moving Forward! 

Next month: The Power of Belief!

There's a primer for the importance of believing here.

Also, I'm giving away ALL the audiobooks. Want one?

Monday, March 28, 2016

#Mondayblogs: #Audible 3-book #audiobook #giveaway

It's that time!

The Dying for a Living boxset is now available as an audible audiobook. Audible users can now get 3 audiobooks for one credit. And if you aren't an audible user and you don't want to be, good news! I'm going to give away several copies of the audiobook and you don't have to have an audible account to listen to it :)

I'm also hosting an ebook giveaway on Amazon. If you don't have a kindle copy of Dying for Her, and are in the US, then you are eligible. You'll find out instantly if you are a winner by going here

For the audiobook giveaway interact with the rafflecopter below for your chance to win free books. And as always, thanks for playing! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An #Easter parable for #Writers #inspiration

Today was Easter (happy Easter to those who celebrate!).

I'm not religious so I didn't really celebrate except for the fact that I went to a Easter brunch buffet and I watched The Matrix.

I know you must be thinking...wait, what? How does The Matrix relate to Easter? To which I say, come on! There's a guy who is "the one" who is going to save mankind. He dies then comes back to life and so's soooo Easter!

But anyhoo, I actually don't want to draw a metaphor between Easter and The Matrix, the real comparison here is between Neo "The One" and You.

Yes, YOU.

This movie chronicles Neo's journey to accepting who he is and where his power lies. But he doesn't just get ripped out of the matrix and then realizes "Oh, I'm THE ONE? Okay, cool. Let's do this."

Instead he has to be trained up, shepherded along, and faithfully supported (by Morpheus). 

And that is really how we all come into our power too, isn't it? We don't believe in ourselves at first. We have to figure out what we are doing (training), we have some awesome mentors come along and point the way (shepherding) and whenever we falter, we have some true believer to bolster us up (family, loved ones, friends).

And I know this is true for a lot of creative-types out there. They don't believe they are THE ONE. Not really. They know they want to create stuff. They know they are drawn to answers and the truth and the hey-get-a-real-job system be damned...but when someone shows up and says "Here you are! The search is over!"...they just can't believe it. 

But no amount of praise can make you believe you are what you are. In Morpheus's own words "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path."

Everyone can tell you that you're a writer...a painter...a musician...(I don't know what you're into), but it won't matter until YOU believe it. No amount of praise or support is going to get you where you need to be if you don't BELIEVE it yourself.

Neo doesn't become a badass until he realizes he CAN fight the agents. He CAN save Morpheus. Likewise, you're not going to impress anyone until you believe in yourself too.

So here's an Easter meditation for you: what's holding you back from embracing your full power? What hold does The Matrix (self-doubt; society; frivolous expectations) have on your mind and what steps can you take to free it?

Friday, March 25, 2016

#Read a #Poem Friday: Coyote Song

Coyote Song
by Marsha De La O

Inside the night, this hospital, asylum,
this party for those undone by desire, forever
unslaked, inside a house inside the night,
I'm inside

this house with eight beams and moonlight
pulling on the past through skylights, this house
of white noise, wind and dry heat, lonely
house on a ridge line, house of ordinary

my sister's house with corrals and outbuildings
around it, and beyond that, the dog
patrolling, and beyond that, skirts and folds
of the mountain rising in rumpled geologic
scrolls into the range.

At the center
beneath the moon's silence that nothing
ever changes, muffled in blankets with fear
beside me on my little bench of sleep,
I can hear their voices,

could be three or twenty-three,
unhinged saints gabbling to their shadows,
or panty-sniffers, drug-trippers in all flavors
past vanilla, could be Birnam wood
on the move, the shriek of its roots thirsty
and air-brushed, or a pack of lunatics
crooning norteƱo songs.

What is certain is advent.
They're coming down,
                             coming towards
the heart beneath the feathers,
coming for
what can't be protected,
on a beam of dread,
riding that ray.

I'm listening, my eyes snapped-open
inside darkness, other people in other rooms
who know how to sleep through a night
like this night, thrown against the roundness
of the world which is desire.

The old bitch guards this night on the ranch,
half shepherd, half other, this is her watch,
she gallops the perimeter, anxious to sound like
more than one dog, though she's going arthritic
and her paws strike the hard ground.

Now they quiet, penitents, lunatics,
marauders and ragpickers, quiet.
Only one left behind and the moon
                           is his hieroglyph,
one creature padding
                down the mountain,
coming closer.

Coyote knows a good joke,
he only wants to let her in on it.
He can't stop laughing, can't stop
crying, can't stop licking the crevices
clean, licking safety and duty
until they're empty.

I hear the dog listening, ears lifted.
Coyote's tongue slides into night
air, pressing narcotic vowels through
wonder, through longing
and longing and wonder awaken. She's close
to that edge, that border in the night
where one thing becomes another and even
an old dog who's worked a ranch eleven years
feels the urge to let loose, blow this little
settlement, go wild.

Clouds loose and blue in the arms
of the moon, slant light on this mountain raking
us, the dog and I, we feel the pull. Imagine
a woman trying to come between
coyote and the female he's after
when she knows

what is dark and offers itself and vanishes
has come for her at last? The body wants
what it can't have, to follow the path
of thirst through the rent in the wire
beyond the corral.

The dog doesn't move, but who knows
better than she the small outpost
death has set up in her, maybe she's all
desire now to slip under the moon
and chase down that lure.

Coyote wheedles and croons another minute
or two, then lopes off, calling over his shoulder
in a language even I can understand,
the right names for things
not kept in heaven.

Learn more about this awesome poet and read more of her work here.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy #Zombie Day #Book #Sale! #amreading

It's that time of year again! In honor of the holiday that celebrates dead people coming back to life, we're going to celebrate our very own Jesse Sullivan, death replacement agent extraordinaire!

For Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the following Jesse Sullivan novels will be on sale

Price: Free. Always!
Price: $0.99

Price: $0.99
Price: $0.99

Price: $0.99

Buy links
Dying for a Living:    Kindle       Smashwords
Dying by the Hour:   Kindle       Smashwords
Dying for Her:           Kindle        Smashwords
Dying Light:               Kindle        Smashwords
Boxset:                        Kindle        Smashwords

So for those of you who aren't paying attention, you can get FOUR books for $1.98 (Boxset +Dying Light) or you can get FOUR books for $2.97 (by buying them individually)...depending upon how you feel about purchasing boxsets. Either way, each book will be just $0.99 until Monday morning.

And then you'll six weeks to READ THEM ALL before the 5th book, Worth Dying For, is released. Muahaha! ;)

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

#Book #Review: Red Queen #amreading

3.5 out of 5 stars. More specifically, 4.5 stars for tension and a genuine seat of my pants interest. 2.5 stars for originality...which is an odd combo, right? Because how in the world did Aveyard have me by the seat of my pants if she failed to be very original. Let me tell you!

So this book is generally a mashup of all the YA that has gone before.

We have The Selection in the Queenstrial and Mare's sudden betrothal to Maven.

We have The Hunger Games--all the conscription tyranny, and the way The Capital--uh, I mean the Silver Court--rules over the commoners. Particularly, how it uses the Mockingjay, uh, I mean Mare, as a way to quiet the hoardes but really they want to follow her into battle.

We have Graceling--some people have powers (Silvers) others do not (Reds).

And then there are some of the threads that I can't pin to a particular novel, but you can find in about a dozen YA books: the love triangle, court intrique, the rebellion, etc.

So for these reasons, the novel only got a 2.5 for originality. It felt like a mashup of all I'd seen before, thrown together in a way that was rather predictable. And yet...

I was hooked! I was listening to this on audiobook. I found myself cleaning a little longer....sitting in the car a little bit longer...staring vacantly at the wall a little bit longer... you know how it goes.

So clearly the writing wasn't that bad. I liked Mare--the lead. I liked the world building. I liked the themes of classism. The moment when Kal kisses Mare, I grinned like a fool--you'd have thought someone was sticking their tongue down MY throat.

So props to Aveyard for her mad character development and worldbuilding skills. Let's hope that the next book Glass Sword takes an interesting and unique departure from the rehash we got in Book 1.

Monday, March 21, 2016

#Mondayblogs: Short Fiction vs. Novels?

Many of you know about my novels (otherwise, why are you here?! ;), featuring my snarky, protagonist Jesse. However, you may not know that I also write short fiction.  I was thinking of compiling my short stories some day, making a whole collection for my fans to enjoy, but here is the rub: Would you guys READ that? Neil Gaiman often jokes about how no one buys or reads short fiction--funny considering he's a pretty successful short story writer! Ditto for Stevie King.

So here are my questions: Do you enjoy short stories? Do you buy short story collections? And if yes, do you prefer collections that focus mainly on ONE character (i.e. linked short stories) or collections with a variety of short stories about different characters or worlds? 

You might be thinking--I don't know, Kory! It depends on the story! It depends on the writer! Touche! 

So this is the part where I share a short story with you to give you a better idea of what I'm talking about. Here's a 6 1/2 page short story for you to enjoy. I wrote it while listening to “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine. (Don’t you love that song?!?) and it turned out to be some kind of demonic fairytale—heh.

Without further ado:

Seven Devils

Holy water cannot help you now
A thousand armies cannot keep me out
I don’t want your money
I don’t want your crown
See I've come to burn your kingdom down
—Florence and the Machine

Six dead brothers held vigil at my beside. Wake, they commanded. Wake and avenge us.
My pale body glowed in the gray light before dawn. There was no birdsong, no crackling fire on the hearth. The smoke from an extinguished candle flame rose as silent as a hawk circling in the sky. I did not have a heartbeat, my chest a perfect mimicry of the stillness. The cold hands folded over my chest a replication of winter lying in wait.
I thought of the queen in her castle. I would see its ancient, scarred walls if only I turned my head an inch to the left and gazed out the gaping arched window. But I could not turn my head. I was not alive.
How can I take vengeance against her? I asked my brothers. I have no life inside me. Our enemy saw to that.
My eldest brother, Ronan, stepped forward. Light from the window cut across his cheek, revealing skin much paler than it had ever been in life, devoid of flowing blood and the complexion it lent to the living. His hair was no longer crow-feather black, a gift from our mother to all of her children. Now it was the color of hemlock blossoms. His eyes glowed like embers, and when he turned his gaze just so, they gleamed like a jackal’s in the torchlight.
Yet in all other ways he was the same.
I met the eyes of each of my brothers in turn and found them to be filled with the same hellfire. Each changed, yet the same, boys I’d known all my life.
You are dead now and will be again before the day is done. We come with the sunrise and leave with the sunset. In the hours between we will serve you. But say you do not seek vengeance and we will leave you cold in your bed, sister.
I did want vengeance.
But even without a beating heart, I knew no wish granted came without its price.

Would I pay that price?
For my father, hounded like a mule in the fields, and then whipped to death when the Earth could yield no more grain. For my mother, who starved to death with a child at her breast, who scraped her meager portions onto the plates of her seven children. Vengeance for the infant who also starved without her. 
And if not for the cruel queen on her alabaster throne, who was to blame for the loss of each brother? They were demons now, but had been flesh and blood once.
Ronan and Lux had been slain in her war for more land. Jax, Christian, and Jaden had been imprisoned for false crimes, beaten, and then hanged.  One year before my own death, almost to the day, Kaleb was slain before my eyes, his throat slit by her knights, dogs as cruel as she.
I watched the blood pour from his throat onto the earth while each took his turn upon my back. When they were finished with me, I was too weak and cold to carry his body home. I buried him beneath the tree’s black limbs and said my father’s prayers.
If our starvation had not driven us to seek that tree, perhaps Kaleb would still live. It was foolish to risk what little I had left to lose. Hope is a luxury and I was no longer a careless child. Yet my mother’s stories had always held power over me, and the story of The Crone Tree was no different.
If a sacrifice is made, a wish is granted.
Here Kaleb stood at the foot of my bed as if I had not placed him in the dirt myself. His throat still bore the coarse line of the knight’s blade.
You wanted vengeance, Ronan said. He clasped one of my hands in his and turned my chin with the other so that I could not dwell upon Kaleb’s face. His fingers smelled of sulfur. So that too had changed.
We are your army. You need only accept us.
Over his shoulder, framed in the open window, stood the great castle, its barbed spires gray in the coming dawn.
I met Ronan’s eyes. I want vengeance.
Fire spread from his palm into mine, through his hand into my cupped cheek. I cried out, trying to pull away from the flames.
Do not fear the hunger, my brothers said. It is the only way to move through life.
Then the pain of living was upon me.
My muscles filled with the fire of life. A pulse stronger than any heart song coursed in my limbs.
I placed my bare feet on the gritty stone and saw the world anew. In life, I had despaired of this room: its drab appearance, the curtains darkened with dirt, and the tapestries fraying at their edges. It had been a great house when my father brought his new bride here long ago. It was no more.
I thought nothing of these things now. I had only one desire. One concern.
We must go to the castle, I said.
We went straight away. We donned no armor. I did not even stop to slip on the worn goat-skinned boots sitting by the door. I walked out into the morning, placing one bare foot after another onto the snow.
My hair, so carefully braided in life, hung long and wild. It blew back in the breeze, as worthy a war banner as any we had.
We marched.
Minutes after dawn, we came upon her first knights. I could see by the look in their eyes, I was much changed. Perhaps I looked like my brothers now: pale-skinned with black orbs burning. Yet I knew my hair had not paled. I could see the black locks blowing about my face in the current of a northern wind.
It wasn’t until Kaleb reached up and tore a squat man from his saddle, hissing into his face, that I recognized the soldier as one who had killed him. Now his throat was ripped open by my brother’s own teeth. I found satisfaction in the wet, sucking sound the wound made as the man choked on his own blood. He coughed, his eyes fluttering, and then he moved no more. His heart pumped what was left of him out onto the snow.
Lux, Jax, and Jaden slayed the others as swiftly as a cat might snap a mouse’s neck. We mounted their horses. At first the beasts refused us, rearing high on their hindquarters. Ronan murmured soft words, his hand on their necks and they went still beneath us, not moving again until we kicked them forward. The wild smell of their fur soothed me, though I had not ridden a horse since I was a very small child.
We reached the outer walls an hour after sunrise.
Guards manned the gate that would allow us to pass through the stone wall into the castle. My brothers caught and killed each, while I remained on my mount, waiting. Horrid hunger churned in my guts.
The gleeful way my brothers chased each man reminded me of happier times, of the pheasants that used to haunt the back fields behind our home. We would crouch low in the high honey-grass for hours until we heard the soft cooing. Then we would leap up, hands curling into claws. The squawks and falling feathers made me squeal with delight.
Though this game, as with the pheasants, ended too soon.
Send us all you have, my queen, I called up to the archers on the high wall. We are waiting.
The arrows flew true. One tore through my right shoulder, but I felt no pain. No fear. Only that persistent hunger like a stone in the hollow of my throat.
We tolerated this until it seemed all arrows were spent. Then Lux stood apart from us and raised his arms up, palms out as if he intended to catch an arrow. When he was alive, he had caught rain like this, pulling me from my bed in the dead of night, out into the wildest storms. We would cup our hands and drink all that we could catch, before putting out buckets to collect the rest. And as they filled, we would hold our arms out and spin and spin and spin.
We had each been happy once.
Until she took that from us also.
A great torrent of wind shot forth from Lux and sailed high over the wall. The archers were blown back, some tumbling like leaves to the moat below.
No more arrows came.
By noon, she sent the priests. They stood in their thick robes, talismans clutched in their hands. They chanted words I did not understand. Frustrated, Jax and Jaden at last climbed the stones. Like twin lizards they slithered up the rockface and reached the uppermost wall where the priests stood spouting their incantations. All four howled on the way down, their robes flapping like kites in a gale about them.
Jax and Jaden opened the gate.
More soldiers met us in the courtyard. My brothers dispatched them as easily as one chases a barn cat from its supper dish. Only Ronan stayed by my side as the blood colored the courtyard. A quick movement in my side vision drew my eye.
A woman in gold silks yanked a small child back as if I’d burned her with my gaze alone. She was no older than I, yet her body was strong, full of life. Her child looked as enchanting as lilac blossoms after a spring rain. Neither had starved a day in their life. They’d never known hunger.
Do you want them? Ronan asked, he tensed beside me. They were complicit to our suffering.
I wanted to hold the child. I wanted to cut a lock of hair from her head and keep it. But I had not been a demon as long as my brother. And my hate had but one object.
I steered the horse away. We did not come for them.
The courtyard gave way to the garden. Though I had never seen her with my own eyes, I knew the queen the moment she appeared. I dismounted, handing Ronan the reins.
Before I reached her, Christian killed all her guards with a flex of his fist. Her long red silks splayed like blood around her in the snow.
What do you want? she asked. Her eyes were the color of a pond. She looked from me to Ronan as if unsure who to address. I do not think a man would have had the same dilemma. Anything you desire in the whole world, it is mine to give.
I want your life, I said.
My six brothers came to stand beside me, forming a semi-circle around the queen.
I walked toward her, crushing snow beneath my bare feet. I took her in my arms as tenderly as one might take one’s beloved. I placed a hand on her cheek.
Please, she said. Crystalline tears pooled in the corners of her eyes.
Seven devils all around you. Seven devils in your house. See I was dead when I woke up this morning.
And I’ll be dead before the day is done. But before the sun sets on this world, I 
will feed this hunger.
I did not choose to be queen, she cried, her lip quivering pitifully.
Just as I did not choose poverty, I said, twining my pale fingers up in her hair. Maybe I would have my golden lock after all.
What would you have me do?
Your power was a gift and no gift is free.
I consumed her then. Heart and soul.
Her heart was bitter. Her soul sweet cream. Full of her, I knew a satiation I’d never known in life. I was whole.
My brothers stood waiting.
We are avenged, I said, licking blood from my fingers.
Ronan smiled, his teeth as sharp and bloodstained as my own.  We are avenged.
A bluebird flew through the great windows high above, swept a curtsey through the cathedral and landed on a candelabra gone cold. The queen, now as light as her silks, slipped from my grip to the snow.
We walked west from the castle without ceremony. The snow had already begun to glow orange with sunset before I saw the great tree, black and gnarled before us. My brothers stopped, knelt as if addressing a queen.
I did not.
A woman, her skin as black as the tree bark, stepped from the thick shadows cast by its branches.
You have your vengeance, she said though her voice was unlike any voice I’d heard before. It was the voice of a cat or a crow. Are you satisfied?
Yes, I said, kneeling at last, knowing her for who she was, and the power she’d granted me.
I am not. My enemies live.
I looked up from the snow to see her standing before me, her breasts bare, chest heaving.
You have a clear mind and strong heart, VendettaWould you serve me?
I turned to my brothers to find they were my brothers no longer. Instead, behind her in the great tree’s branches were six birds. A crow. A heron. A hawk. An owl. A blue jay. And a black swan.
The heron had Ronan’s eyes.
But I was alone now, in body and in choice. And I understood that.
Sunset had bled into twilight, and now twilight gave itself over to the night. I was to die before the day was done.
You will live until my vengeance is served, and all the world shall know your name until I am avenged. Will you serve me, Vendetta?
I thought of each brother I had loved and lost. A mother and father too. Which is nothing to say of my own life and dignity.
Then I thought of the queen’s tears on my lips as I devoured her. The taste of her blood as I cleaned my nails with my teeth. I had been given a gift and no gift came without its price.
Yes, I said. I will walk the earth until you have enemies no longer.
She threw back her head and laughed, a deep riotous roar, and all six birds took flight into the starry sky.

*                               *                                   *                                                                                  
That's it for this story! Don't forget to answer my questions!