Sunday, December 29, 2013

How Do You Know: A Relationship Or Hookup - Online Dating

Some time ago, I ventured into the world of online dating and I have spotted a few consistent red flags. So, ladies, here are tips to sort your would-be gentleman from the wanna-be boys for this new year.

Hey babe
Um, no. Any variation of this familiarity is already a bad start. "Hey, hottie" or "Hey, sexy" or "Hey, girl" means he has no respect for you as a woman. He will not be a gentleman. The only exception is a "hello, beautiful" and this one can still swing either way.

Motorcycle or Car 
If he's posing with a tricked out ride, you best bet his priorities will not be you. They'll be showing you off, and adding you as an object to the things he's gotten.

He'll want the picture reciprocated. Soon.

Never tasteful. For real. I've had a few of these sent to me unwarranted. Guys, please. No. If you haven't seen his junk in real life and you haven't asked to see it, then block that naked photo guy right away. He'll try to change his tune when he realizes the mistake, but his objective--inside your pants--will stay the same.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Waipio Valley - Hawaii

At the edge,

at the edge of Honoka'a-- 
east side--
Big Island
puka split--
open green lips
old wound ash 
black black sand

800 feet--
Eight Hundred Down
Two thousand and two
switchbacks up to the Valley

800 steep
nioi nioi nioi
creaking knees
Nioi wela o Paʻakalana
black black cliff

Hiss and tumble
the liquid train comes in
Steam of salt 
cool on pink cheek

Blue, blue water

It is.
It is.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pay Off Student Loan for My Amazing Aunt

As the oldest of five kids, my parents always wanted me to go to college. However, they didn't have the money or the credit to help me pay for it. So I filled out the FAFSA, worked two jobs, and went to school full-time. Still, I fell short in funding so my retired aunt stepped up to help me pay the last bit. In 2011, I graduated a semester early with a double major.

Now, I've gotten a full-time job. The only problem is it doesn't pay very much. Don't get me wrong. I'm thankful to even have a job and I take full responsibility for all my student loans. Still, because my aunt cosigned on the last two loans, she gets the bills in the mail and I feel horrible. She's an amazing lady. The only one in my whole family to step up and help me. She's retired now and lives by herself in a small apartment in DC. She had a stroke some years back but bounced back with ferocity.

I want to prove to her that her help was worth it. I want to surprise her and show her a balance of 0. Please help!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kimie Hawaii and My First Friend

This is my new favorite singer Kimie! I saw her in concert earlier this month and it was amazing! Her voice is so smooth and, I swear, her latest single plays on the local stations at least twice an hour.

I also have a funny and very dedicated friend named Benjamin. Too bad he lives on the other side of the island. We are both broke as hell but we manage to see each other every other week.

We trade music and books. That's about the only things we agree on. Otherwise, we are polar opposites.  On good days, we hop in his beat-up white truck to search for good swimming holes, pull our money together for yummy dinners, or do a little exploring.

That's how I saw my first turtle while I was in the water. And a MONK SEAL! So fat.

Here's a snapshot of my tiny Kealakekua library. The caution tape was for a banned books display earlier this month.  It's a really small library with only me, the boss librarian, and my coworker.  We get along really well though, holding small celebration parties and talking about odd non-librarian subjects (e.g. tattoos, drinking, and a whole bunch of swear words).

Some days are still very hard.

Some days I'm not sure of what I'm doing.

Some days are better than others though.

Oh and you'll see below a strange dog. Yeah, she followed me home one day for no reason. Good thing her collar had a phone number. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Author of Heirs of War on Self- Publishing

My Road to Self-Publishing
By Mara Valderran

This is a hot topic lately since a lot more authors are doing it—and doing it the right way. What is the “right way” with self-publishing since there are so many ways to do it? My answer is simple.

Don’t publish a rough draft.
I think that’s how self-publishing got such a bad reputation when it first emerged onto the literary scene. It was too easy for people to write a draft, run over it a few times for typos or errors, call it done, and hit publish. There’s a lot more that goes into writing a book than the first couple of drafts.

I finished the first draft of Heirs of War October 21, 2011. I edited it quite a few times, had friends and family read it, and even had one person I’d never met or talked to read it. Everyone loved it! It was perfect! It was awesome! When was the sequel coming out? So I decided I’d start querying. I really think that everyone who intends to publish in some way needs to query first. It really makes you think long and hard about your book, and you make some great connections along the way when you take part in the contests out there. I participated in Gearing Up To Get An Agent, WriteOnCon, and The Haunted Writing Clinic just to name a few. I made friends, found critique partners, and ended up with two amazing mentors from Curiosity Quills that I still keep in touch with.
Even as I was participating in these contests and querying, something felt off to me. I felt like I didn’t want it as much as other people did. Honestly, I felt like I was the Oliver Twist of the literary world, knocking on people’s virtual doors.

And I really didn’t like that feeling. I didn’t want to make millions of dollars or see my books in a bookstore. I just wanted to share my books. Heck, I’d already passed out tons of free copies. So I think that’s when I started to lean in the direction of self-publishing. I was so tempted to hit that button and be done with it. When authors say they edited so much they were sick of their own book, they tell the truth. I was done with the first book and ready to move on to the next.

It’s a good thing I didn’t hit the publish button back then. When I compare my manuscript now to what it was then, I can see the improvements. I was lucky enough to come across an acquisitions editor willing to work very closely with me and teach me the error of my rookie ways before I’d really settled on the idea of self-publishing. She taught me so much, and my book is so much better for it. Ultimately, it wasn’t what she was looking for, which is fine. 
I think this is the point where I really got serious about self-publishing, because I went and hired myself an editor. I really only thought it needed to be shined up a bit, but boy was I wrong. I’m a much better storyteller than I am writer, and that definitely shows. Her guidance landed me another re-write just two weeks before the release date I had set for myself. I had two choices. I could either ignore her advice and publish the polished manuscript, or I could take her advice and make it a better book. I chose the latter and pushed back my release date. It was a hard choice, but my opinion is this: If you are going to expect people to pay for your work, you should respect them enough to give them the best quality possible.
So my advice: Wait before you hit that button. Sit back, work on something else, and come back to it later. Get beta readers and critique partners, but don’t depend on them to make your book the best it can be. Get an editor, and listen to what they have to say. Some are willing to do payment plans and I’ve even heard of some taking a smaller flat fee and working off commission. But whatever you do, make sure your book is ready before you publish it. Your audience is worth it.

For more information on Heirs of War, or the author, visit Mara Valderran's website or Facebook!

The new adult/older YA novel, Heirs of War, debuts on October 13, 2013

Stay tuned for Heirs of War blurb below.

 Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a plac or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Demon Warriors and Dark Elves: Dysus Dreamer by J.A. Garland

Title: Dysus Dreamer
Author: J.A. Garland
Published: July 1st, 2013
Publisher: Burst Books
Word Count: 70,000
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Content Warning: Contains violence and minor adult language.
Recommended Age: 18+
Synopsis: Demon warrior, Slade Aesus, is determined to destroy the werewolves controlling his cousin. But a beautiful elf, consumed by her own vengeance, finds the wolves first. Botching her assassination attempt, Annwyn has the most powerful Packs in the world biting at her heels. Both fiercely independent, can the two join forces long enough to fulfill their missions and stay alive?

About the Author:
Writing under the pen name, J.A. Garland, Jennifer is a full time firefighter in the state of California, an addicted trail runner, a connoisseur of all things cheese puff, and a urban fantasy author. When she isn't slogging through the obstacles at a mud run, you can find her hunched over her computer unleashing demons, vampires, and werewolves upon the world.

Excerpt from Dysus Dreamer by J.A. Garland:

A solid assassination operation takes one part opportunity, two parts discipline, and three parts disposition. Having two out of three this chilly Seattle evening, Slade considered himself in abundance of good fortune.
Parked in front of a solitary office building, in the zone clearly marked “No Parking,” Slade cleared his mind of distractions consisting of the little here and there that could creep in and throw him off, just a hair, but enough to jeopardize his mission. Satisfied, he slid out of the rental car and re-tucked a stylish black golf shirt monogrammed with “Constantine Vineyards” into a pair of crisp, steel gray slacks. In this particular scenario, image was crucial.
Tonight, the element discipline presented itself by his waiting for the precise moment to strike. He made a living analyzing people and their habits, so he knew his targets relaxed around the holidays and were less likely to see the danger lurking behind his smiling façade. The current festivity du jour was Christmas, and coupled with his gift, destined Slade a popular man. I'm counting on it.
He moved around to the trunk, where he heaved free a slatted, wooden case. It smelled of musky oak. The peaceful scent hinted at candlelit dinners shared with a long time lover. His jaw clenched.
Not in my past and not in my future.
Slade lugged his precious cargo toward the sprawling metal office building. Immense, the structure stabbed farther into the heavens than any other in the area, yet fell short. Just like my target. Outwardly, Joe Larsen appeared a dedicated family man, a real pillar of the community whose flourishing internet and telecommunications business, ProCom, employed hundreds. In reality, the werewolf belonged to the Dirty Dozen, a group of the twelve most ruthless wolf Packs roaming the earth.
How ironic. I was once your target. A year ago, the Dozen kidnapped his cousin Amber, a half-demon, half-human. Able to keep a shifter from shifting, Amber's ability proved irresistible, since more times than not, the Dozen's meetings devolved into an unproductive, fur-flying brawl. We saved Amber, but left behind some unfinished business. Starting with Larsen, the wolves would learn a lesson...a demon’s memory rivals the most scorned woman, and paybacks were indeed a bitch.

Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Up for grabs is a $50 Amazon Gift Card!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

12 Years Ago

Twelve years ago, they turned the televisions off.
Twelve years ago, they refused to speak to us.

Twelve years ago, the class bell still rang.
But, they stopped teaching and we played guessing games.

Twelve years ago, we still changed rooms.
Twelve years ago, we walked empty hallways of middle school.
Because twelve years ago there were no instructions, no plans or rules.

Twelve years ago, my mother took me out of class.
Twelve years ago, she refused to speak to us.

Twelve years ago, she called our father in D.C.
She twisted our corded phone, waiting impatiently.

Twelve years ago, he came home and got on bended knee.
Twelve years ago, he turned on the TV.
Because twelve years ago, there was something we needed to know.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Where I've Been

I did not post in August. I know this. I'm still adjusting. New relationship. New job. New city and state. Frequently sick and depressed.

Instead, here are pictures of my trip to Oahu.

A tiny crab searches for food on the bar wall

The view from the lanai in Waikiki

Art gallery that used to be a community pool

I won't give up on Paradise yet. I'll move there end of this year or beginning of 2014.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Get Happy: Happify Website Boosts Mood

It's no secret that I've been struggling for a while with unhappiness. I frequently tell me psychologist, my parents, and my friends that all I want is to be happy.

Still, my blog posts are infrequent. My sleep schedule is off. I've moved to Hawaii and struggle to find peace.

Anyway, I was contacted by the creator of the new website Happify, which has a vision to 'bring the science of happiness to mass market.'

Did you know happiness isn't about being happy?

It took a few days for me to get around to it, but I signed up. I took a test and Happify started me on a track to Appreciate What You Have. 

Sounds good because I tend to have negative thoughts: "If I didn't have student loans...If I had a job that paid more...If only..."

I took some quizzes, participated in some polls, and reflected on life. I wrote entries and responded to comments. I played a few games, meditated, and stretched too.

My mood did go up. Marginally. While I was on the website. Still, it was better than my parents saying "You should appreciate what you have" because after a while that shit gets irritating and really starts working the opposite way.

Why can't I appreciate what I have?

Every two weeks, I took a test and my mood did go up a few points each time, but slowly. And I still wasn't at my full-happy potential.

I think it's important here to mention I have Depression with a capitol D. Perhaps, this site works like Prozac does. It's slow, but if I stick with it overtime it will conquer more worries. Also, it would probably help if I interacted with the people more, and develop a good support system.

Anyway, I do appreciate my life more now. Or I try to.

I'm on the Cope with Stress Better track now. We will see how it goes.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Get A Job - Maximize Your Alumni Network

I've been out of college for a while now. I have a stable job and my own place, but it wasn't easy. Not as easy as if I knew how to network.

I think it would probably have been better if I knew how to use my Alumni network. I don't like relying on people. I don't like asking for help. Recommendation letters are the hassle. They make me feel as if I couldn't do it myself, as if I couldn't prove I was worth it without someone else.

Pride aside, Andrew Miller has a fantastic resource on how to maximize your alumni network

Here's a genius part:

  • Start early. The earlier students start working with alumni, the better. DeLapa says, “The best time for students to start connecting with alumni is freshman or sophomore year. The second best time is now.”
  • Use your school’s resources. Your tuition doesn’t just cover your courses; it also offers you access to a wide range of services on campus. Among these is the career services office, which is usually a great place to contact for information on getting in touch with alumni. Many schools will offer career fairs, networking events, and resume help through these offices, so they’re definitely worth checking out.
  • Don’t be afraid to reach out on your own. With social media it’s easier than ever to connect with alumni on your own, but many students feel awkward or unsure of doing so. They shouldn’t. According to DeLapa, most alumni are honored to be asked for career advice and help, and if they aren’t, the worst they’ll say is no.
  • Once you make connections, stay in touch. Don’t let your alumni connections go cold after you’ve made them. Send regular messages to those who’ve helped you, updating them on what you’re doing and asking any additional questions you may have.
  • Be professional. When interacting with alumni and career services staff, you should do your best to look and act professionally, just as you would with a potential employer. Think it doesn’t matter? DeLapa says it definitely does. “If I meet a student who is poorly dressed, poorly groomed, demanding, or otherwise unprofessional, I will assume that’s how he or she would appear to an alum or potential employer.” This obviously isn’t how you want to be perceived, so if you don’t know how to dress or act, ask for help. Most career services offices offer courses on professional dress and etiquette.
  • Ask about jobs. If you need a job after graduation, one of the first places you should look to is your alumni network. You can ask alumni you know, check out the association’s Twitter feed or LinkedIn page, or even contact career services to see what inquiries they’ve had from alumni. Sometimes, alumni will share these openings with their alma mater before the general public, giving you first access to great positions.
  • Look for in-house alums when applying for jobs. Alumni can also help when you’re applying for jobs you haven’t found through your school. Do a quick search on LinkedIn or your school’s alumni network to see if any former students work at the company to which you’re applying. Steve Langerud, director of professional opportunities at DePauw University, says that alumni are often willing advocates for fellow alumni and students. “The range of opportunities is from company owners, who hire other alumni or students, to recommendations to hiring managers on behalf of another alum or student to even a simple introduction,” he says.
  • Give back. If you’ve benefited from alumni connections, don’t forget to give back to your fellow students to return the favor. You may just find that it helps you in your own career by keeping you up-to-date on new trends and issues and lets you scout out some great new talent for your company.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

My Month Off

As you may have noticed, I took some time off.

For those that don't know, I work against an anxiety disorder and, lately, depression. Writing has been difficult, if not impossible.

It's more than "I don't want to" or "I don't feel like it." It's an all-consuming frustration that makes me second-guess every move and decision. My brain freaks out and shuts down or flies into panic. I have a hard time just doing and understanding the basic parts of life. Sleep, eat, shower, work, eat, sleep.

I slept too much...

I didn't care that I'd published a book. I couldn't be bothered to finish the last few edits for the sequel. My mind kept taking steps in-between reality and dreamtime.

But I'm back! (I hope)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hafu documentary to premier in NYC July 28!

The documentary HAFU will finally premier in NYC on July 28 at 5:30PM during the Asian American International Film Festival at the Anthology Film Archives.

It seems like just yesterday we interviewed Lara Perez Takai and Megumi Nishikura about their film, which features the different experiences of mixed-race in Japan.

We can't wait to see it!

Buy tickets here.

Check out our exclusive interview.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Paradise Isn't

It's hard to admit say that you made the wrong decision. It's happened a lot more than I'd like to admit recently.

Sometimes it came in the form of rejection. "We don't think you're a good fit for the company" or "I don't love you anymore."

Sometimes it was a worm that bothered me from the inside out. "I made the wrong choice. I took the wrong path" or "I just want to go home. I should have gone home."

Once I swallowed that apple and came to terms with my own defeat, the problem became explaining it to everyone else. Especially when it was supposed to be good news.

A broken engagement.
A new job cut short.

Paradise isn't.

It wasn't just my hopes and my expectations. It was my family's, friends', fans' optimistic ideas that had to reshape.

Explaining it to them is probably the hardest thing.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beguiled by Urania Sarri Cover Reveal

A cover reveal? My first time hosting someone's reveal? Hooray!

This paranormal/time-travel romance is self-published by Urania Sarri.

Available May 14 on Amazon Kindle!

Here's a quick blurb: The war between the present and the future has started. Compelled to cooperate with the forces of the future in order to gain Christopher back, Emma has taken on a new mission. The portal that connects the two worlds must be relocated otherwise there is no hope for humanity.

But there are so many obstacles she has to overcome; Christopher has given up on their love, her best friend has been kidnapped and the life-changing truth about her family is revealed. Worst of all, a new, unexpected menace under the name Frederick, Christopher’s evil double, threatens their lives. Will she be able to secure the future of mankind and claim the love she has fought so hard for? What if Christopher has decided to sacrifice himself again in order to save her?

In Beguiled, the second book of the Gate Deadlock series, love knows no deadlocks.

To read an excerpt from Beguiled and see the cover on other sites, visit Juniper Grove Book Solutions. 

Urania Sarri lives in Korinthia, Greece with her husband and sons. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature and an Msc in Teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). She specializes in teaching English to young adults and she totally adores her job. While doing so, she takes any opportunity to convey to her students the passion of reading. She is fascinated by paranormal stories and appreciates good romance whenever she gets her hands on it!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Blog Swap! Katie Teller and Kiya: The Hope of the Pharoh

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing the character Hormheb from Katie Teller's new novel Kiya. He has allied with the female protagonist in order to keep Nefertiti from stealing the throne. He's hard and a bit wordy, but I think he has a kind heart underneath it all. 

Let's start easy. Do you have a nickname? Nickname? 

No. I am the Commander of the Army. I am not anyone’s friend. The men must fear me. 

Okay. Did you grow up wanting to be the commander of army? Or did you have other aspirations? 

I was born to be a great man. My father was a highly ranked nobleman in Amenhotep’s courts in Heliopolis and Thebes. My family has served the pharaoh’s for generations. When I was a boy, my father taught me how to use the sword and saw I had a gift at warfare, so taught me how to be a soldier. He also taught me the importance of killing before someone else kills you. He taught me that survival among people of our rank relied on cunning, caution and carefully placed alliances. I knew since I was twelve that I wanted to be the commander, so my father helped me rise to the position, and after he died I simply finished what we started. By the time I was twenty, Akhenaten trusted me and saw my fearsome nature and knew I’d make a great military leader, and so he made me his Commander… not that under him that actually means anything. All I do is serve as a carrier for treaties. Urgh. One day I will kill more than treacherous thieves. One day I will battle more than simple nomads raiding our food stores. 

What do you think of Naomi--er Kiya? What drew you to ally with her even though she is a Hebrew? 

Naomi was defiant. Everyone knows Nefertiti is out for the crown, to keep it in her family once our sickly king passes. But her bloodline does not deserve the crown. Only a true male heir can inherit, and Smenkhkare, the king’s brother, is a vile and disgusting man. I suspect Nefertiti and her father, Ay, are up to something which I do not like, so I need someone who isn’t dimwitted to watch her in the women’s wing, among the wives where she rules unquestioned. Naomi, who is now Kiya, is bright and strong and has no ulterior motives. All she wants is to protect her humble little Hebrew family and stay alive. She doesn’t crave the crown, so who better to defy Nefertiti and assist me with my own plans? 

Finally, what do you think of your friends and foes? (You can tell me this as tactfully as you want. I don't want to incite the queen or pharaoh's wrath!) 

Friends? I have no friends. The only person who would even come close to a friend is Kiya. She is the only tolerable person I’ve ever met. I can’t even tolerate my wife, the barren little viper. My foes? Well, everyone is potentially my foe if they cross me or threaten the crown. Nefertiti is doing just that, so I must remove her, but carefully as unfortunately the King is fond of the wretch. But if I have my way, his fondness will shift. All my other foes were easily removed, I just killed them in secret, but a queen is not so simple. 

Wanna know more about the book? Check out this blurb: 

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for… The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya. Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood. 

 More about the author? Follow her on Twitter @katieteller1

Buy the book on Amazon, B&N, or Kobo!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Help! Kazuko Hayashi Lost WWII Photos

A patron came into my new library in February and donated a book with old WWII photos inside of it. We haven't been able to find Kazuko Hayashi or who the photos belong to:

If you have any information, please contact me at or call Kealakekua Hawaii Public Library at 808-323-7585.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Post Script, Post-College

A lot has changed since college. I've moved more times than I can count, visited places I'd only dreamed of, opened my life to three important new people, and started a new career and a new job.

I've lived with roommates, my parents, on my own, and in a dorm through an employer. It's been a wonderful adventure and I can't wait to continue it.

My writing has turned into career. My first book came out last month and I've already done a blog tour, live talks, and book signings. I have people talking to me about writing more, which I love and I've already started.

The encouragement has been more than I ever hoped for.

At the same time, I've been invited to live in paradise on the Big Island of Hawaii and work in a small library.

But it was a struggle to get here. I've had the lowest moments of my life since college also. I couldn't make ends meet or find a job like I thought my degree would provide. I lost a position that I loved because of my health and felt betrayed by the employer. I had to admit to myself and my family that I had a mental illness. I needed help. I struggled to open my heart to new loves and aspirations.

That's the thing though. You have to have those rough spots to get what you truly need.

You have to have to hit the bottom to motivate you to reach for the top again.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

11 Life Lessons to Remember

When I become a parent, I want to remember:
  • Kids don't want you to dismiss their problems or act like I know the problem. 
  • My life is not theirs.
  • Kids will always be different from how you grew up.
  • My style is not their style.
  • Do not split sides. I will always use their mixed race together positively or not at all.
  • I will not ask the kid to see in black or white or yellow or brown or red.
My parents had good lessons I want to pass on:
  • Question everything.
  • Think for yourself.
  • Read.
  • Value education, athleticism, and music equally.
  • Don't let anyone else define you.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Repost: Setonian Article on Zarconian Island

Seton Hill alum publishes young adult novel

Katelyn Snyder, Senior Staff Writer

Imagine working two jobs, being a full-time student with extra curricular responsibilities and writing a novel. Aja Hannah, a Seton Hill University (SHU) alumni who just published her first novel “Zarconian Island” with Curiosity Quills Press, spent her last year at SHU doing just that.

“It wasn’t like I had to make time to write. Mostly, I do what I want in life, and writing is the thing I like to do so I do it a lot,” said Hannah, who graduated with a bachelor’s of art in creative writing and journalism from SHU in 2011.

“Zarconian Island” is a young adult novel that mixes romance and adventure as the main character Attie, a descendant of a magical race who once lived in Atlantis, gets trapped on a tropical island with some classmates.

“I decided I wanted to write a novel and then I was like ‘Okay, Aja. What do you like?’ And I was like ‘Strange superpowers, but not like superhero-y. And uncharted islands and prehistoric animals and Atlantis.’ So I wrote that. Then, the characters started falling in love and making their own decisions and becoming their own people, and I was like ‘Um, okay. We can do that too,’” said Hannah.

As a creative writing and journalism major, Hannah gained experience in various styles of writing. She was a section editor for the Setonian and editor-in-chief of SHU’s literary magazine, “Eye Contact.”

“My journalism experience broadened my writing voice. I am better able to write different characters, different points-of-view and even different texts. Like adding the ‘nonfiction’ website piece to the first-person POV narrated story,” said Hannah.

Hannah, an active blogger at, has been completing a “blog tour” by having her book featured on various blogs.

“I loved “Zarconian Island”! It was a great story with a very unique premise, and characters that were so easy to fall in love with,” said 33-year-old blogger and author Jessa Russo.

Hannah recently accepted a new job as a librarian on the Big Island of Hawaii. “Zarconian Island” also has a sequel in the works that, according to Hannah, should be even better than the first.

Hannah’s publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, is an indie publishing house that started in 2011.

 “With readers, bloggers and aspiring authors playing such an important role in published authors’ success in this new publishing climate, we realized it might not be such a bad thing to share the publishing reigns with them. When readers, writers, bloggers and everyone in between get involved in the excitement, publishing becomes a collaborative process in which everyone ultimately wins,” said Lisa Gus, operations director.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Zarconian Island Book Signing on April 3

I'm excited to say I will be selling books and signing them at La Madeline in Columbia on April 3 from 6pm to 9pm.

Feel free to drop by and browse.

If you want to buy a book, please have cash or the email address to your Paypal account so that we might complete the transaction at the time of purchase.

You may also buy the book in print or e-book at Amazon.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book Trailer for Zarconian Island

Courtney from CQ Press has made a book trailer for my debut novel Zarconian Island! Check it out!

If you read it, please tell me how much you love it (or hate it) at Goodreads.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Schedule for Zarconian Island Blog Tour

My debut novel is out and I'm on a blog tour! Below are a list of blogs that Zarconian Island and I will be featured on. Check out each blog for exclusive interviews, character posts, behind-the-scenes info, and reviews.

March 15 - Interview with Book Reviews by Sus
March 19 - Interview with Jessie Krehlik
March 20 - Blog Tour Swap with Gerilyn Marin

DEBUT DAY: March 25
March 27 - Zarconian Research and Writing Process with Vicki Trask
March 28 - Am I Attie? with Krystal Wade
March 30 - Interview with Jessica Wentz
April 3 - Character Post "Claire Voyant's Post-Island Interview" with Sharon Bayliss
April 4 - A to Z Blogfest with Alicia
April 5 - Interview with Katy Snyder
April 6 - From Snoopy to Published with Hiroko
April 8 - Review by author Jessa Russo
April 11 -Review by Adrienne Bracken
April 13 - Review by author Jennifer Welborn
April 15 - Interview at YAlicious with Melissa Pearl

Zarconian Marks and Colors

Every Zarconian has a heart-shaped mark on their body and it changes color depending on mood.

Black = Emotionless or Calm
The default color of the Zarconian mark. It means the Zarconian has no singular strong emotion. Many Zarconians learn to remain at a darkened state so as not let humans in on their existance. This also tends to make them appear standoffish or apathetic.

Red = Embarrassment
Blushing, which is essentially blood rushing to the face (or other areas).

Orange = Anger
When a fire gets hotter, it turns from red to orange. The color is aggressive and bright, and it sometimes hurts if you stare at it too long.

Yellow = Happiness
Excitement. Positivity. Think of the sun, which gives life and energy to almost every living thing on Earth. You probably think of the pictures you drew as a kid with the bright yellow sun in the corner, sometimes with glasses on and wavy streaks shooting down. The sun itself, and happy Zarconian marks, give off a light that is nearly blinding if looked at directly.

Green = Jealousy
Green-Eyed Monster, Envy. When someone is nauseated, people say they look "green around the gills." A mark that turns green signals that the Zarconian is sick to their stomach with irritation.

Blue = Fear
The cold feeling of anxiety. Being frozen in place. A rip tide. Unable to stop what's happening.

Purple = Pain or Sadness
A twisted version of fear. Darker. I'm also guilty of liking the alliteration "purple pain" because it reminds me of Prince's "Purple Rain" breakup song.

Pink = Love
Less of a heavy feeling than red, a lighter blush. Lips. No guilt at the rushing blood. Pink hearts.

Anything else you want to know? Another cheat sheet? Leave it in the comments.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Author of Buried, Gerilyn Marin's True Ghost Story

I have the pleasure of featuring author Gerilyn Marin and her new novel Buried. But before I get into the story, Gerilyn told me an interesting story about paranormal activity some years ago. 

This very short, true ghost story takes place when she, her husband, and first born toddler were living in her great-grandmother's house. (Because, you know, there's creepy stuff in old houses.) 

Gerilyn: It was early in the morning and my husband had gotten up to shower for work, and I closed my eyes and tried to go back to sleep. It must have been a good few minutes later, I was still wide awake and I felt like someone had come into the room—you know that very distinct feeling when someone is near you. I honestly thought I would open my eyes and my son, Alex (who would have been about three years old at this time), would be standing there. Nobody's there so I get up and go through the house, my husband was still in the shower and Alex was in his room, still tucked into bed from the night before, sound asleep.

Authors pull from their own experiences, and I don't doubt Gerilyn has more to this story that she's keeping under-wraps. For more of her ghost interactions, check out her blog tour.

Now, a teaser for Buried!

Like every resident of Fane’s Cove, Cadence McKenna knows her town is, well, odd. And yet, they’re accustomed to the near-daily supernatural happenings- so accustomed, in fact, that when Grey Addison moves to town and stays, she is shocked to find that she’s the only one who insists that there must be something strange about him. 

With her life-long—if minor—psychic sensitivity handed down from her grandmother, she knows that what she feels isn’t simple paranoia. After all, how many normal guys pay no mind to random poltergeist activity occurring right in front of them? 

Cadence can’t blame anyone for wanting to ignore that there might be more to his presence there- perhaps if he is a normal guy, it’s just the first sign that whatever it is about the town that drives visitors away is fading. She might have even grudgingly let it go, but then she sees Grey acting very suspiciously and knows that she can’t dismiss her feelings until she understands why he’s in Fane’s Cove. Even if it means sticking her neck out by pretending to get close to him . . . and learning more about her town’s history than anyone would ever want to know.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Aja of Travel

In a few weeks, I'll be on a plane again, heading to the Big Island of Hawaii. In college, I read The Art of Travel and it epitomized how I feel about myself as a traveler.

“Journeys are the midwives of thought. Few places are more conducive to internal conversations than a moving plane, ship or train." - Alain de Botton

On the plane, I will be surrounded by people that I probably won't talk to, and (more likely) won't want to talk to. I am an introvert and I like introspection. To travel by flight is to exist in a place existing between worlds. Around masses of people but all alone. In new cities, but never setting foot on the cement.

Airports are homes away from home. Uncomfortable and exhausting homes with plastic seats and not enough electrical sockets. Outside the giant windows, planes park instead of cars.

"At the end of hours of train-dreaming, we may feel we have been returned to ourselves - that is, brought back into contact with emotions and ideas of importance to us." - Alain de Botton

I like deserted airports in the middle of the night. By nature, I am nosy. Wandering through empty terminals and closed down food shops, I imagine how I could break in if I wanted to. I test doors. I walk the wrong hallway on purpose. I imagine I'm in a post-apocolytpic world and the terminal is my base. I think up settings for a new stories. I mull over what-ifs and run around in my imagination.

But, in the back of my mind, I'm thinking about me in the world; who I am, who I want to be, and who I will be.

And that's always changing, I think.