Cover Reveal!

No, it’s not for Cobalt, but now that I have your attention, today I’m spotlighting another Xchyler author, Ben Ireland – who is apparently not Irish, but Australian and lives in Texas. Awesome. So Ben’s exciting news is that his second book with the X, Kingdom City: Revolt, is going to release in a couple months, and all of us at the X are freaking out about his new cover today, the best day of the year.

I’m just going to get straight to the candy first (ahaha, candy, Halloween, you see what I did there?) and let y’all geek out a little over the book trailer:

I love the dark, edgy art theme for this series. In case you missed it, here’s the cover spread, including the back cover copy:


About Ben Ireland:

Ben Ireland 200x240Ben churns out his prose from his home in Southeast Texas, where he lives with his wife and three children, and works in IT. When he isn’t writing, he’s either thinking about writing, or he’s driving his wife insane talking about his novel ideas. His work has appeared in two X-anthologies: “Kissed a Snake” in A Dash of Madness: a Thriller Anthology (July 2013), and “Fairykin” in Moments in Millennia: a Fantasy Anthology(January 2014). His first novel, Kingdom City: Resurrection was published in February 2014.

Find Ben on Facebook, Twitter, and his website Ben Ireland Books.

KCR_200x274Take a look at Xchyler’s other books here. Oooh, can you see why I can’t freaking wait to see what they come up with for Cobalt??

And now I’m off to get into my kids’ candy stashes have a lovely Halloween with my family!




Arachnophobia 2: Terror at the Library

He’s probably hunting for bookworms.

I don’t know if you’d call this arachnophobia or something else. I’m at the library so I can work on some procrastination while the kids play on their computers. Suddenly this giant wolf spider appears from beneath the armchair next to me. I don’t freak out or scream – this is a library after all (the same couldn’t be said for my daughter Emily).

I also decide not to stomp on the spider. Even though I’ve been known to drop everything and rip my shirt off screaming if I even think a spider’s on my clothes, I don’t just kill them for no reason. I’ll put them in jars with lids and leave them on the kitchen counter for the kids to discover when they get home. Then I’ll throw them in the backyard.

So this hairy little horrifying thing stops just two feet shy of my sandals and is clearly considering climbing up my leg, and I can’t scoot any farther away without crawling onto the arm of my seat. We’re at a stalemate. I can’t concentrate on my law blogs, because I have to keep one eye on the spider. I consider moving, but I’d have to unplug my laptop from the outlet on the floor and that not only risks getting my hands close to the spider, but I will win this fight, dammit. I’m not that much of a wimp.

I pull out a library receipt and use it to flick the spider away. He’s having none of it. He turns around as if to charge, and I quickly find out that my feet fit quite nicely onto the end table next to my chair.

Losing interest (and probably thinking he’s won), the spider turns around and makes for the nearest table of computers. Still uncomfortably within range in case he’s deciding to wait it out and catch me by surprise again.

Let me just mention that some of the people who sit on the computers at the library are – interesting people – and I’m all too aware that with my feet up off the floor while nervously glancing around every few seconds, I definitely fall into this category.

The spider is currently hiding out under the computer chair nearest me, but I can’t keep an eye on him without leaning over to the side and peering around the chair leg. I realize it looks as if I’m acutely interested in the feet of the man in the next chair over, who looks to be having a lot of fun on Twitter and keeps swearing under his breath.

The productive library session I’d planned is, as usual, not very productive at all. And now I’ve lost sight of the spider. Definitely time to go home.


Blog blog noodle noodle

So at the beginning of January, I got excited about finishing Cobalt and all the other positive changes that are happening in our lives, so I got bold and tempted fate with a Facebook status update guaranteed to induce an epic fail:

Sure enough, within a couple of days, the epic fail showed up like this:
The van was totaled, and now I’m stuck at home with a serious case of cabin fever. I hate losing my independence! Plus, it was my mom’s van I broke. 😦 She’s just glad we’re all okay.
I’m not one to be daunted, however. Cobalt‘s rewriting is going well, I’ve lost six pounds, and I’m gaining all kinds of editing experience with my new work responsibilities. And I narrowly avoided another fail by deciding to keep my phone’s insurance when I was in the AT&T store a couple weeks ago trying to get my bill reduced. The very next day, my smartphone decided to derp out. So my insurance mostly covered a shiny new Android without requiring a new contract or anything.
On the subject of fails, texting fails are some of my favorites. I’ve had a few good ones, like this one when I was apparently sleep-texting Emily:
All I remember about this is that I actually thought I was answering her question when she was reading Cobalt.
Another good one:
Here, Anya got ahold of my new phone.
Autocorrect struggles are my very favorite kind:
I had a lot more like those saved on my old phone, but they were forever lost when it died.
Now it’s time to take care of my procrastinating fail, I guess, and start working on my legal articles!

Why Are We Not Laughing?!

Correction: Why am I not laughing? Well, I do laugh every day but I haven’t done my blog funnies in a while. Does anyone miss them? Does anyone even read my blog since I got all boring and angsty??

My laptop is crying right now.

I’d do this. Would you do it? I totally would.

Suddenly I stopped eating Oreos for the rest of my life

Aw, Sweet Brown. She’s talking about Oreo Spider!

Pretty much my sentiments exactly about this season. I have faith the finale will redeem itself, though. Thoughts?

I’m dying. I was like, “What is the internet’s sudden obsession with sloths? Have they replaced kittehs as the new meme, I don’t underst…AAAHAHAHAHA”
And finally, these total dorks cracking me up at a party at the YMCA. I especially love how they just get into it at the end when the Y employee starts dancing with them!

This time last year:

Being Your Own Reviewer? – I reviewed my books honestly, then glowingly, then hated on myself. Fun stuff! Oh, and a short Cobalt excerpt too.


Judging a Book By Its Cover and GRRAGHBLAGRAGH

I was just complaining a few minutes ago that I’ve had nothing to blog about for weeks, so I decided to just make something to blog about. :B I remembered a funny thing about books that happened a little while ago.

Way back when my oldest was about 7, we were at the library and I was looking for some good “chapter books” to read to her. I picked up this one whose cover looked mildly interesting, and read the inside jacket blurb. I came really close to checking the book out, then decided it sounded cliched and dull, and I put it back. I’ll tell you what book it was after the following interlude (kinda like a more entertaining way of doing that “scroll down for the spoiler thing that some posts do)…

So this is a comic that Lia and Emily came up with late one night (late night is when it gets all crazy up in here) called “The Adventures of GRRAGHBLAGRAGH.” I’m unofficially the star in the comic because they kept tagging me as the star on Facebook, especially after they made three in a row and I started yelling, “DO YOUR HOMEWORK EMILY!” The comic has kind of turned into an undersea representation of our everyday lives…

The scary sea monster is apparently my mom.

Alrighty, spoiler scroll is done. Here’s the book I turned down. A week or so after that library visit, the 4th book in the series had just been released and there was a piece on the news about some excitement with its fans. That got my attention. I’ll forever regret not discovering it on my own before the news told me it was popular and I should probably read it.


Have you ever judged a book by its cover (not like the Harry Potter covers are really bad at all, anyway) and then later found out the book you put down was actually super awesome?

This time last year:

RIP Laptop (at least until it’s resurrected) – My laptop is doing something stupid again because I dropped it. Actually, I fell asleep and kicked it off the couch onto a hardwood floor. They tend to get all butthurt when you do that.

Here’s a nice angry song because things have just been ticking me off today…


Just a Bunch of Random Monday!

Oh hey, it’s Monday again! And I think I missed last Monday’s funny, didn’t I? I apologize and will reward your patience with more funny pictures, since I don’t have the hysterical video edited that I was planning on putting up (more incentive for you to come back next week, isn’t it?).

But first! Head over to Behind the Steam to see what I missed last weekend, on account of my stupid exploding water heater sucking away the travel funds I’d saved up. (I may be exaggerating a bit when I say exploding, but I’m still butthurt I couldn’t go, because I was supposed to co-moderate the music panel with some of my favorite bands! Alyssa got to have all the fun, but there’s always next year.) Speaking of Behind the Steam, we have some really exciting interviews and music reviews lined up, but for now they’re still super secret. I’ll just say they’ll be interesting for steampunk fans and newbies alike. As I cannot state enough, steampunk music appeals to a wide range of audiences. My mom is a huge Abney Park fan! 😀
And now, on to the funnies!
This was me last week:
If superheroes posed like supermodels:
I know! How was he holding the camera??
You have my axe…
This guy has the weirdest mouth.
I prefer this version of The Lion King to the original:
Okay, if you’re still in the mood to watch a funny video, here’s one for you. Olan has so much geeky personality, it just goes screaming out of him. I embarrass my 19-year-old by telling her she’s allowed to date this man (although she doesn’t object).
Now bats don’t bother me, but uninvited creatures in my tent is a big reason I don’t like to go camping without actual walls – not canvas – between me and the wilderness. That, and Shia LaBeouf.
Writing news! Cobalt is being beta-read (as I’m scrambling to finish it) by one of my bff’s, a fellow steampunk and airship aficionado, whose input has been more helpful than I ever dreamed in making this a great young adult steampunk adventure! (If I do say so myself.) Oh, and look at my blog post for today at ANWA’s blog. Because I said so, and also KITTY! 🙂
A final weird Monday thought: It’s the first week of summer vacation, and I’m wrapped up shivering in a blanket, as a chilly wind blows in storm clouds and the air smells like petrichor. And I love it!

is there such a thing as too much hope?

For a long time, hope has been an important theme to me. Hope that one day, my lifelong dream of publication will come true; hope that my husband will find the job our family needs; hope that we’ll soon be able to move closer to my family. At Christmastime, I found this sweet little plaque and gave it a home on my living room lamp.

Now I wonder if it’s possible that hoping for something extra hard isn’t necessarily a good thing. I get those hopes up sky high whenever I get a request for a partial or full manuscript submission, especially when the request begins with, “We’ve enjoyed what we’ve read so far and would love to read more…” So when the inevitable rejection comes, it destroys me. This last time, I did extensive research on the publisher and was so sure we were a perfect match. Sure enough that, when the letter showed up in my inbox, the smile was already plastered to my face, a giddy scream of delight building in my throat, when I clicked on the email and then read the form rejection.

I called my mom and had a total meltdown, and I still feel the sting. I don’t blame the publisher for this; it’s my fault for not reining in that hope before it got uncontrollably high. So if someone knows how I can avoid that next time, please tell me! Because it happens to me every time, no matter how many times I tell myself the next big rejection won’t bother me. (I’m long past the stage where the standard query rejections get me down.)

Which takes me off on a tangent now: I understand the necessity for form rejections in the slush pile. Agents and publishers are crazy busy, and I appreciate getting even a form letter to let me know I can cross that query off my list. Maybe it’s just me, but I kinda think that when we get a request to send more material – and we spend all that time waiting and hoping that they like the additional chapters as much as they liked the original query and sample writing – in this case we just might deserve a brief explanation to let us know why it was rejected? My rejection from Sarah LaPolla (who was awesome, said she loved the subject I was writing, and requested a full) came with a very kind and reasonable explanation as to why The Moongate ultimately didn’t work for her. I used her suggestions to polish my manuscript even more.

I don’t want to come across as whiny or unappreciative, but I’m going to flat-out say it now: Dear agents and publishers, when you like us enough to pick us out of the slush pile and request more of our writing, please do us a favor and let us know why it didn’t work out for you, when at first you liked our stuff and we got our hopes up that you thought we were super awesome. That kind of courtesy would be so much appreciated, and also let us know what we can do to avoid a rejection with the next materials request. Thanks!

Now it’s back to the drawing board. As many of my dear friends have told me, Cobalt might be my breakthrough novel. And I’m okay with that, especially since it’s so close to being completed (and I know enough about rewriting to avoid it taking more than a few months this time). And of course I will never give up on The Moongate, because I’m not the only one who believes in that story.

Now this past Monday, when we posted our latest podcast at Behind the Steam, I completely forgot to freak out about it on my blog! So here it is. Get your booties over to our music blog and check it out. I know our podcast interviews tend to be long – about an hour on average, but we won’t force you to listen to the whole thing, or any of it if you’re pressed for time. (And I’m so embarrassed because, as usual, I’m so nervous that I seem really out there!)

But Erica Mulkey, known by her stage name Unwoman, is a beautifully talented cellist and singer, and deserves to be heard. If you only visit BtS to check out her website and links, it’s worth it. 🙂 I’ll end with the first song of hers I heard at an Abney Park concert (Ball of Cthulhu in San Francisco), which instantly made me a fan. 🙂

Link to her performance at the Ball of Cthulhu