Thursday, July 26, 2012

Derby Pics & Book Tour

A Humbling Experience

(pic from an actual Sour Orange Derby game)

My first book blog tour has come to an end, and I'm pleased with the results. I got some great reviews, generated some awesome press, and sold some books! I've provided the links to all the reviews, interviews, and other posts below.

Before that though, I just wanted to say that this has been a pretty incredible experience. I don't even care so much about the sales as I do what fans and reviewers are saying. Truth be told, I never expected so many people to enjoy The Sour Orange Derby. I don't know what exactly I was expecting, but I did worry it would come off as confusing, disjointed, and with an overall air of "why is this important?" After all, it's a story I understand and appreciate, but would others outside the family?

Now, though, I'm pleased that readers get as much out of the story as I did writing it, living it. So many great reviews make me even prouder to be a Standridge (you know what I mean), and recall those memories with an even bigger smile. So, thank you for making The Sour Orange Derby a fantastic experience for me.

Blog Tour Links:
Mommy Reads Too Much (Review)
Generations of Savings (Excerpt)
My Crafty Life (Review)
Couponing with Boys (Review)
EReading on the Cheap (Author Interview)
Susan Heim on Parenting (Guest Post)
Day by Day in Our World (Review)
Niki's Book Corner (Review)
Identity Discovery (Review & Interview)
Gina's Library (Review)

And Now, Some Pictures!

"June Standridge"

"Kariss Standridge"

A Solid Hit

Injury on the Field!

Sour Orange Fight!

Cleanup Time

"Kariss and Christian Standridge" at "Sugar Plantations"

"K.B., Joyce, and Colly Standridge"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Indie Year Challenge

I recently decided, for no real reason, that for 1 year, I am only going to read indie novels. This means no novels by traditionally published authors, a pretty big sacrifice for me. But, I've read some great books by indie authors lately, and I'm looking forward to supporting more throughout this year. My Goodreads to-read list is pretty full, so this will give me a chance to finally go through it!

Side note: Another reason why I'm determined to do this is because when I mentioned it to S', we had the following conversation:
Me: So, I think I'm gonna go an entire year reading only indie books.
S': Good luck with that.
Me: Meaning what?
S': Meaning you have too many favorite authors to not buy their new books as soon as they come out.
Me: Are you doubting me, peon?
S': Of course not, minion.
Me: So what are you saying then?
S': That "one year" in Kristina Time is more like 3 months. No way you make it a year.
Me: Challenge accepted.

And thus the Indie Year Challenge was born.

HOWEVER, S' is right in that I do have many favorite authors. I'm considering allowing myself 2 "cheat" books. One would be reserved for whenever the next Percy Jackson book comes out (shut up, I love Rick Riordan). The other, probably either Cassandra Clare or Veronica Roth, whoever comes first. But I will have to earn these cheat books, so we shall see.

My Indie Year Challenge begins with 3 books:

Collapse by Richard Stephenson (Amazon)

Fairy Circle by Johanna Frappier (Amazon)

Flame of Surrender by Rhiannon Paille (Amazon) <---I don't know if this actually qualifies as indie since it's through a small press, but I'm counting it because it's not a traditional publisher.

Let the Challenge begin!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Helping Hands: Get Your Copy Today!

Kindle & Nook Coming Soon

Fans of the series, you'll notice this book is a bit shorter than the original (by about half). Not to fear! Part Two is coming soon. I suspect these first two books will be the shortest of all 7 in the series, but because it was soooo long originally we just couldn't make it work without charging readers a small fortune or making the font super tiny (you're welcome). Book Three will certainly be longer!

Also, I would like to note that The Helping Hands is not like my other books. It is not YA, has no elements of fantasy or "magic," as I like to call it. I might even venture to say it's not for the faint of heart (feint of heart?). There is a lot of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, language, and general dark themes. But at it's core, it's a book about hope, overcoming the bad, and fighting for the good.

I only give this warning because people have told me they never know what to expect from my books as I don't stick to any one genre, so I wouldn't want anyone to go into The Helping Hands expecting something more light-hearted or YA-age appropriate. I'll even admit that one woman called my main character, Melanie, such an "evil, morally depraved character with no hope for redemption" that she had to stop reading. First of all, how fucking awesome is that. Thank you. Second of all, if you actually read the book, you'll see this is not true at all. Melanie's just a little rough around the edges. But it's still my favorite book insult-compliment ever.

And yes, I am fully aware that the entire book is based on an entirely implausible plot that might as well make it fantasy. Just go with it. It's fun, I promise.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Helping Hands - Cover Reveal & Excerpt!

We have a cover for The Helping Hands, and it's great. Many thanks to Jake at Sage Words Publishing for all his hard work in getting this series going again. We're in the final edit, so for now I'll leave you with the new cover (you'll notice similarities with the original, though this one is much cleaner and, in my opinion, more eye-catching), and the prologue!




A thin trail of smoke drifted from the lips of the fourteen-year old girl as she sat on the back of a bench located just outside the gates of Cedar Hill Elementary School. Glancing over her shoulder at the school, the girl took in a deep breath, scanned her surroundings, and then looked back to the street. She leaned forward, her elbows resting on her knees as she held the burning cigarette loosely between her fingers, waiting for the second hand of her watch to hit the twelve and signify the end of another school day.
An elderly pedestrian strolled by, giving the girl a disapproving scowl as she glanced down at the cigarette and then back up at the black eye makeup and gangster clothes that seemed to make the scars on the teenager’s face all the more menacing. The woman, leaning heavily on her dark-red fiberglass cane, grimaced at the teenager’s appearance. She stared disgustedly at her greased hair that was held back by a bandanna, then at the ring that was pierced through her eyebrow and at the spiked jewelry wrapped around her neck. The girl eyed the stranger back, taking a long drag off the cigarette and deliberately blowing smoke in the old woman’s direction. The woman hurried across the street and the girl turned her green eyes away after she had disappeared around the corner.
Soon, restless children poured from the redbrick school building as the final bell of the day rang. They ran for their bikes, their parents, or for the sidewalk, all determined to race home so they could call their friends or watch TV. The girl on the bench waited patiently, her eyes searching for the one particular child whom she was intent on finding. Kids ran by her, some giggling as they passed when they saw her strange makeup and the tattoo on her hand, others not giving her a second thought as they hurried home. Finally, as the last of the children exited through the large green double doors, the girl saw the small child.
Mathew Harper walked slowly, dragging his book-filled backpack behind him with all the strength his eight year-old muscles could gather. He knew that he would get in trouble with all the books he was bringing home, but he wanted to read them and his teacher had let him borrow them for the next two days. He trailed behind his classmates, not bothering to catch up to them, for he knew he would not be able to play with them even if they asked, which he was sure wouldn’t happen. Crossing the street carefully after searching to his left, to his right, and then back to his left again, the child turned left and began the ten-block walk home, not noticing the thin curtain of cigarette smoke he walked through as he passed the bus stop waiting bench.
The girl raised her eyebrows as she watched Mathew Harper walk past her without even a glance up. Her dark green eyes watched his retreating figure, and when he had walked about two hundred feet from where she was waiting, the girl jumped off the bench, threw her cigarette to the ground, and started after the little boy. She walked quickly yet casually, not wanting to waste time but also not wanting to attract attention to herself. She kept her eyes trained on the boy’s back, ready for him to turn around at any moment, which would mean that she would have to duck from his sight. He didn’t turn, however, so the girl quickened her pace.
The teenager pulled up directly behind Mathew as he came to a dark alley filled with an abandoned car and seven dumpsters, along with several other small objects that were long past useless. As he walked by it, the girl came up to his side and casually pushed him into the dark passage, then continued on her way. Glancing around only once, she quickly made sure nobody had seen her before disappearing into her surroundings.
Mathew couldn’t stop himself from being pushed into the alley. He hadn’t been expecting the sudden shove, so he had no time to keep his feet from losing their balance. He vaguely saw a dumpster flying by his eyes as he fell, but he was then caught by strong hands and pulled behind an old, rust-covered station wagon. Fear began to well up in his throat and he swallowed heavily as the figure ducked down to his level. He was unable to scream, for the hand that was clamped over his mouth kept him from making a single sound. He stared into the person’s eyes, his own wide with terror and tears.
“Are you Mathew Harper?” the person, one that Mathew perceived as a middle-school boy, asked softly. Terrified, Mathew nodded. “Don’t be scared. My name is Caleb.” The voice was no more than a whisper, but to Mathew, it seemed like a shout to his young, scared ears.
“You’re a stranger,” Mathew replied behind the boy’s gloved hand as he looked at the person wearing a black hat and clothes. “I’m not supposed to talk to you!” He raised his voice and began to struggle with the male teenager, but it was useless. The boy who called himself Caleb tightened his grip on his arm and kept his other hand over his mouth. Mathew looked at him once again, silently wondering if the boy was going to kill him. His back was beginning to ache because of the car door handle that was sticking into it. As Mathew observed Caleb in the slight second it took for him to lean closer to his ear, he thought he saw a cord going to his ear from the collar of the jacket he was wearing.
Caleb, his hand still covering the young boy’s mouth, gave a regretful yet reassuring smile. “I know what your daddy does to you, Mathew,” he said softly, his eyes searching the child’s. Mathew’s eyes widened at that.
Suddenly, the stranger didn’t seem so scary anymore. He didn’t know how the boy dressed in black knew about his dad, but he didn’t care. Mathew only wanted to know one thing from the masked figure as he lowered his hand from his quivering lips.
“Can you help me?” the child whispered, his request coming out in tears as the stranger slowly nodded his head.
The sky was black with nightfall, the air clouded from a late-night fog when the dark blue speedboat crept through the ocean waters. Waves splashed roughly against the sides, then smoothed out as the boat continued further into the sea. A light rumble of thunder made its way throughout the sky, warning all who dwelled beneath the clouds that a storm would soon be upon them. The passengers gave no worry, however, for they knew that their destination lie just ahead.
The driver of the speedboat pulled around to the back of the island as they approached, carefully maneuvering through sharp rocks that were protruding from the dark ocean waters. As the rocks began to clear, the boat was piloted into a small channel surrounded on either side by dense trees and shrubbery. Slowly and silently they came up next to a newly constructed wooden dock that was standing steadily among the ocean.
Dark green seaweed floated around the underside of the wood as Caleb Brinson tossed a rope to a figure that was waiting on the dock, his accomplice holding onto the wood with one hand. When the boat was secure, the driver turned to Mathew Harper, who was sitting on a navy blue seat, his backpack and a small suitcase next to him. He didn’t know when the two strangers had gotten some clothes and toys from his house, but when he asked they simply told him that they had done so when his parents were at work. He was no longer scared, for the boy and girl had been nice to him, had given him a good dinner and even played a game with him while they waited until nighttime.
Mathew rose from his seat when the girl gestured to him. Caleb took his bags and handed them up to a second person on the dock. The boy looked up, but couldn’t make out the faces of the figures, for the fog was thick and the sky was dark. He watched as one of the forms leaned down and extended a hand, as did the driver. The girl in the boat said nothing as he looked at her hand, at the short fingernails that were painted black and then at the black HH tattoo right above her thumb. He vaguely remembered seeing the same tattoo on Caleb’s hand as well, but he didn’t know what the letters stood for.
With his mind clear of any fear or worry, Mathew reached up and took hold of the second hand that was waiting in front of him. The person’s fingers closed around his, and he felt safe as he was led out of the boat and down the dock. Looking back, he saw the speedboat gently floating away and he waved, but the people that had saved him from his father weren’t looking. Even so, he knew where they were going.
They were going home, so they could help more kids just like him.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

So, I had this dream...

...and I'm pretty sure it indicates that my mind is eternally messed up. And now I'll share it with you.

In my dream, S' and I went to visit his mom, who all of a sudden lived in Pittsburgh (don't know why, I've never even been there). After a nice visit, S' decides he wants to go kayaking in the misty, monster-infested marsh. It's getting late, but I agree anyway.

We kayak our little hearts out, seeing lots of wildlife, teasing each other on being slow or for running into trees, and then it gets dark. Being the smarties we are, we didn't bring any lights. But we see a glow up ahead so we decide, hey, why not? Let's go toward the light.

Finally we come upon a beach (yes, a beach in the middle of PA). People are standing around having a grand ole' time, so we park our kayaks on the shore and head up to figure out where the hell we are. There's a creepy music-filled carnival going on just up the road with ferris wheels, strange games, roller coasters, and people pretty much getting it on in the middle of the street, so we walk around, have a good time, totally not concerned that someone has probably stolen our kayaks back at the beach. It's a weird festival that I know is inspired by Anne Bishop's Ephermera series and the Den of Iniquity (or, the carnal carnival)  since that's what I was reading before I went to bed last night.

I ask someone where we are and she says, "Fitchland Burns." Where is Fitchland Burns, you ask? I have no idea, since Google couldn't tell me when I checked on my phone. So I start panicking figuring we just kayaked our way into some kind of hell when I see an information booth.

According to the woman at the booth, we are about 7 hours from Pittsburgh. HOW did we kayak 7 hours away in such a short time? I blame the misty marsh. Before we can decide what to do, one of S's friends appears out of nowhere. Turns out he lives in Fitchland Burns and is more than happy to show us the way home because, naturally, we have decided to walk.

Why didn't S's friend offer us a room to stay for the night? Why didn't we call a taxi, or S's mom to figure out what to do? Why didn't we go back for our kayaks? I have no freakin clue. No, walking was a much better solution.

So, we set off for the open road. We've walked a couple hours when S' decides he's tired and is going to sleep. "You can't sleep in the middle of the road, idiot," I say, annoyed. "Someone will rob you, or kill you." S' then says, "Well, you can carry me." Of course, why didn't I think of that?

But S' is too heavy for my weak arms to carry. "And how am I supposed to do that?" I ask. To which S replies, "I'll make it easy for you."

Here's where it gets really weird, people. How does S' make it easy for me? By turning into a large pile of sticky spaghetti noodles. Oh yes, a pile of noodles. But dream me doesn't find this weird, so I gather the noodles in my arms and keep walking.

Fast forward some 5 hours later and I'm walking down the sidewalk in the early morning light. It's a pleasant little town with cobblestone walks and shops lining the street. People greet me warmly as I pass and when I see a bakery I decide to get some breakfast. Glass of OJ, chocolate-covered donut, and a sprinkle donut hole.

I resume my walk, enjoying my treats, when I realize I'm no longer holding my noodles. I start to panic, searcing all around for my poor lost husband. The noodles were nowhere in site, my hands filled with nothing but fried ddough deliciousness. Before I could start a mad search  andd rescue, I woke up.

So, yes. I left my poor noodle-form S' somewhere between Pittsburgh and Fitchland Burns, more concerned about my donuts than his safety. Luckily S' found this dream quite hilarious and told me I'm one of the biggest weirdos he's ever met.

He better be careful. I might leave his noodles somewhere more dangerous next time. Like a boiling pot.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Helping Hands: Remade

So, some decisions have been made. And they are awesome.

Those of you who have read The Helping Hands already will be the only ones to notice these changes, but I'm going to tell everyone else anyway because it helps me to talk through them. Or type through them. The biggest of those changes - The Helping Hands is being split into two books.A novel idea, I know! I've toyed with this idea for years but figured it wasn't really possible since it was already published as one. But when my new publisher suggested the idea, I figured hey, it's my book, I can do whatever I want with it.

As of now, it is divided into two parts, with Part 2 taking place about 4 years after the end of Part 1. Part 2 is now getting its own book. This not only makes the (very) long book shorter, but also more affordable for readers. It also gives me an extra title in the Helping Hands series overall, which I love. That means we're now at 7 books. When I say I love series books, I mean it. Y'all have no idea how hard it is for me to keep the Whisper Legacy at just 4 books -- and I've already planned a spin-off with two characters introduced in Book 3. I have a problem. But luckily, everyone else benefits from it.

Side note - The Helping Hands series is WAY different from the Whisper books and from The Sour Orange Derby. It's dark, gritty, violent, and I like to think, pretty damn cool. It's not YA and not for the faint of heart. If you're looking for a light read, this probably isn't your cup of tea.

Second side note - Something just fell out of my laptop and I don't know where it goes back in, or what it does. Here's to hoping my laptop doesn't spontaneously combust on my lap and turn me into a puddle of purple goo.

Anyway. So what happens next?

First of all, a new cover for The Helping Hands. We've picked the image, and the final piece is coming soon. We also have a final edit before formatting. Because of the split, I'm happy to say that The Helping Hands is set to be released by the end of the month, or very early August (assuming all goes well, of course, nothing is ever final). I can’t wait for the “new” Helping Hands to be released. After what, 8 years? I'm finally able to get back to this series and share it with the world.

While The Helping Hands is being finalized, we now have to focus on book 2. The most important change here is a new title. This is harder than it sounds. I had a title for Part 2 when it was just one book but I haven’t yet decided if I’m going to stick with that or go with a brand-new exciting title. We also have a new cover to think of and I might change up the opening a bit to make it a better prologue.

And there you have it. After these two books are released we’ll turn our focus to The Iron Fist: Legacy of the Helping Hands, what is now the third book in the series. I’m not sure yet if this will remain one book or be split. More on that to come!
I think this is a great development for the Helping Hands series. It's hard for me to put the books in someone else's hands, as this series is very close to me and it's not easy to give up control. Changes have been made that I know are for the better, but anyone who knows me also knows that I am not always the most flexible person. Giving up that control is something I've been struggling with, all the while loving that my publisher is awesome at what he does and is making excellent decisions. It's a weird internal conflict.
I also worry what people who have read the first two books will think about the changes., even though I know deep down that this reprint is for new readers. At this point I'm just pushing doubts aside and moving forward.
I think we all will be thrilled with the results.
I feel weird not having a picture in my post. All posts need a pic but I don't have one that fits. So, here is  one of me in a creek in North Caroline this past June.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Kristina Versus The Internet

So, you know how this blog started as a way to kick myself in the butt and stop being lazy with my writing to-dos? Well, I've come to discover that I'm not lazy - I'm just way too easily distracted by the wonders of the Internet. And by too easily distracted, I mean my brain needs an "off" switch for random thoughts and an "on" switch for only concentrating on the things that matter in the moment.

I was actually trying to be productive today. Got some work done on the third Whisper Legacy book (and it's going to be completely awesome, by the way), got some pre-ordered books ready to be shipped, and then started working on my guest post for my upcoming blog tour. And here's where the day spiraled downward.

Image Found Here

About 5 sentences into my blog tour post, I remembered I haven't checked any of my friends' blogs lately. Obviousy that's more important. Off I went to check the dozens of blogs, and after reading this one about Ryan Gosling my brain naturally switched to "Ryan Gosling is hot. So is Sam Worthington" since we just watched "Wrath of the Titans" last night.

Cue the Google search for all things Greek gods. My minor was classic civilizations so I already have a pretty decent background on the Greek gods, but I still love reading about them anyway. I'm pretty sure about 2 hours were spent reading about Poseidon, Agenor, Perseus, and Theseus, among others.

Ah, Theseus. You can't read about Theseus without looking up the movie "Immortals." Greatest collection of hot dudes since "300." Naturally, this search was conducted primarily in Google Images looking at, well, I'm sure you can guess. And after looking at hot movie guys, of course that would lead one into seeing what movies James McAvory is working on (I just watched "Wanted" today, it was a natural progression).

(I mean, of course you'd want to know more about these people)

Side note - In case you were wondering, "21 Jump Street" was surprisingly hilarious. Go watch it.

Amidst this search I also was playing Words with Friends with my cousin and had the opportunity to play the word "shat" for 18 points, which I didn't even think WWF would accept since it rejected my numerous attempts to play words that probably don't even exist. This amused me for reasons I can't really explain, but I decided that I should nonetheless tell the Internet about it. And here I am. You're welcome.

But now I have to go back to work. I'm seriously considering disconnecting the wireless for an hour or so. But who am I kidding. I'll just tell y'all that I did and then lurk like a champ. I need an Internet-vention.

Also my spell-check said I wrote this entire thing without a single misspelled word. I refuse to believe this, but I'm going to accept it anyway because who knows, maybe I really am that awesome.