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Check out this great review!

Book Review – FIRST by Chanda Stafford
When I was young(er) I used to look at pictures of, say, Mick Jagger sharing a beer with Paul McCartney, or learn that Keith Moon was godfather to Ringo Starr’s son and be flabbergasted. In my mind, these guys were in competition with each other. Competition for the charts, competitions for sales, competition for awards and accolades. How could they hang out together? It was like finding out Churchill used to babysit Hitler’s children or something.

Now that I’m a little bit older and little bit wiser (okay, okay, a lot older and not wiser at all) I finally figured out what I was missing. I had assumed that artists who were contemporaries had to be rivals. Now that I’m an author (of sorts) I realize that contemporaries actually form a tribe. We’re united by our knowledge of the industry (or lack thereof), our love of our shared craft, and our favorite artists. Mick and Paul and Ringo and Keith were all trying to make it at the same time and they all loved Muddy Waters, right?

Anyway, I’m pleased this week to introduce you to three members of my tribe, which is something I don’t get to focus on very much. Chanda Stafford, Collin Tobin, Laura Kolar, and I all share a publisher in Red Adept. I’ve read and enjoyed their books and the reason I haven’t left starred reviews in the past isn’t because we’re all trying to gut each other on a race to the top of the charts. It’s because it’s generally a conflict of interest for me to do so. But this week, in my capacity as an industry blogger (boy, don’t that sound fancy) rather than as an author, I’ve joined RAP’s Young at Heart tour. Fittingly, our first spotlight is on FIRST by Chanda Stafford.

Review

 

Long-time readers of the blog may recall that I first (ha!) read FIRST last year as part of the 2013 Hundie Challenge. Since then the book has actually gotten a total facelift. I still have the original or “classic” cover on my copy of FIRST, but the rest of you will have to make do with this pretty new thing.

So what the heck does the title mean? Well, Firsts are the (theoretically) wisest and smartest of all people, certainly they’re the oldest, technically speaking. Technology allows the mind of a First to be downloaded into a new body, essentially erasing the “Second.” This process can be repeated multiple times, presumably forever, so that Firsts become effectively immortal as long as they have a pool of Seconds to draw from. But who would volunteer to give up their bodies in such a grotesque manner, you might ask?

In the future, the United States is rocked by a second civil war, which the victors primarily blame on “Texans.” I gather that the rebels were not exclusively from Texas, but the term is used as kind of a non-PC catchall, for instance the way today we might say “The Arab World” even though that area is full of Persians, Copts, Kurds, and countless other minorities. Anyway, the “Texans” of the future form a slave class, and the only real hope for a Texan to be anything other than a slave is to be chosen as a Second.

The reality of a Second’s duty is hidden from the Texans. They only understand it to be a great honor. And so, with this set-up, Chanda Stafford opens up a whole world of heady philosophical questions. Are some people inherently better than others? If so, isn’t it a small sacrifice to give up a lesser person for a better one? Are there ethical limitations to the pursuit of medicine? Just because we can live forever, should we? Is there still dignity in death?

You’d think from the way I’ve described it so far that FIRST was a densely plotted political treatise of interest only to intellectuals and politicians, but quite the opposite is true. This is a Young Adult novel, with teenage characters dealing with the world and raging against the unfairness of it all just as I did when I was a teen (although perhaps main character Mira has more legitimacy for her angst than I did.) It is much to Chanda’s credit, I think, that she managed to slip such dense, thinky themes into such a fast-paced, crowd-pleasing story.

Whether you’re shopping for a teen or YA is your guilty pleasure, you should definitely pick up a copy of FIRST.

Check out the full review and enter the contest on Stephen’s website, Manuscripts Burn. While you’re there, also check out Stephen’s own zombie  novel, Braineater Jones, which is a unique and refreshing take on the zombie genre.

Write-on Con is next week!

If you’re not a writer, you might want to skip this post. However, if you’re at any stage of the writing game, and eventually want to pursue publishing, you should definitely check out Write-on Con. It’s an online convention, which is great for those of us who live in the boondocks, and completely free. All you need to participate is a computer and decent internet. Well, it helps if you have a novel written and a query letter, but I’ve done it without and still gotten a lot out of the conference just by watching and listening.

Did I mention there are a number of agents who participate in this conference? Not only do they offer critiques, but they interact with writers. These connections prove invaluable, but several people have also had agents request partials or fulls. So it’s a win-win!

P.G. Holyfield.

Yesterday we said good-bye to a great author, P.G. Holyfield. His novel, Murder at Avedon Hill , was the first podiobook I ever listened to. I never met him, but his words touched me and his loss, at such a young age, is also a great loss to the world, as well.

Some of his friends have opened up a gofundme account to help his family with expenses. I think you read some of the comments and see how much P.G. meant to so many people, it might help you understand what a great loss this is. If you’re inclined, I know his family would greatly appreciate the help and support. Or, buy one of his books. I know I will.

 

Guess what?

If you purchased an electronic version of First,  you can get it signed by me via Authorgraph. <click on the link to go to my author page and request an autograph. Try it, you know you want to :).

Editing news :)

So I just heard from my publisher that I get to start content editing on book 2 this month. Yay! I can’t wait to get this one out there. I absolutely love this book! However this means I should probably finish my two works-in-progress before then though. One is a retelling of an ancient Greek myth (no, not Hades/Persephone) and the other was supposed to be a short story related to the Live Once universe but, um… it’s now turning into a novel. It’s funny, I had the whole plot laid out and then I’m like look at all this wonderful other stuff I can do. So yeah, new cast of characters, kick ass heroine, and a little bit of romance. Oh, and robot horses, can’t forget those.

I actually have news :)

Last week I signed a contract for book 2 of the Live Once trilogy with Red Adept Publishing. I’ll give you more information as soon as I receive it! 🙂

Keeping on keeping on :)

It’s been a busy oh… four months is it? I’ve been working on book 2 of my Live Once trilogy and let me tell you, I’m very excited about it! One thing I love about being a writer is putting characters through the wringer and watching what happens. I don’t want to say too much, but man, I wouldn’t want to be them in this book, that’s for sure. I’ll update more as I can, but until then, have a great spring!

Two days and counting

So NaNoWriMo starts in two days. If you’re not familiar with it, thats when thousands of certifiably insane individuals embark on a 30 day quest to write a novel in a month. I’ve done it for twelve years, and only failed once. One year, I wrote two novels. The first of those two projects became First. The second will never see the light of day. It was so bad I had to kill of the main character just to be done with it.

This year I’m writing a book in the First universe that tells the story of the Immigration War because I love Socrates as a character and just can’t let him go. That and he won’t shut up in my head. He keeps demanding me to tell this story, so I am. I guess that makes me as certifiable as the rest of the Wrimos. If you’re participating in NaNo this year, send me a message and I’ll friend you.

Blog Tour of Author’s of Children’s Books

Recently I was invited by my friend, Kimberly G. Giarratano, a fellow young adult author, to participate in a blog tour. Every author who participates is asked the following questions:

What are you working on right now?

Right now I’m working on editing the sequel to First, my novel published last May by Red Adept Publishing.

How does First differ from other works in its genre?

What makes First different? Well, it’s got a love triangle. Wait, a lot of other books have that. It’s a dystopian… Crap. There’s a ton of those out right now, too. Let’s see… Oh, I got it. It’s told from two different perspectives. No, don’t give me that look. One is, of course, the teenage heroine, the other is what one might consider the antagonist, an elderly man who’s purpose, at least at the beginning of the book, is to take the teenage girl’s life. He’s not really a bad guy, I promise :). There’s also a ton of action and intrigue, and… well… you’ll just have to read it and see.

Why do you write what you do?

I write what I write for probably the same reason a lot of authors write what they do. I love to read it. I wanted to write a book I would love to read. Since I enjoy reading young adult books, I decided to write in that genre.

How does your writing process work?

For a first book or a stand alone, I prefer to write by the seat of my pants. That is, the lazy man’s writing style– no outline. Since I’m working on a series, I’ve had to outline the books to make sure it’s relatively consistent and I don’t change character’s names half way through the series or kill someone off only to have them selling ice cream in the next chapter at a strip mall. Not that there are any strip malls in this series, but you get the picture.

Any departing words of wisdom for other authors?

Yes. Write. It’s the suckiest advice ever, but it’s also the truth. So if you want to be a published author, you need to sit your butt in a chair and write. The rest comes later.

Thanks Kimberly. Please check out her blog, book reviews, and information on upcoming projects. Also check out some of my other fellow writers who are participating in this blog tour.

Laura M. Kolar
Melissa MacVicar
Rosemary Fifield

Once upon a time…

There lived an author who never posted to her blog. Yeah, that’s me :). Over the past three months we moved half way across the country, had a baby, and moved back–in that order. But I’m back now and I hope to be able to post semi-regular updates but between a newborn and working on editing book 2 of the Live Once trilogy, I can’t guarantee daily posts. November is NaNoWriMo, too, so I’ll be posting about that as I’m super excited for this years NaNo project.

Fun fact: Did you know First was a NaNo baby? So was another Red Adept book published today, Braineater Jones.

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