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Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Promises: Author Edition


What To Expect From H. L. Burke in 2016



I don't really do new year's resolutions. I'm not really into guilt trips and manipulation, even when they come from myself, and like to maintain a really flexible lifestyle. I'm also lazy.

However, I'm also at the stage of my writing career (I still feel like I need to put that in "") where I've learned how to meet deadlines, finish projects no matter what, and basically predict when my next books will be ready with decent accuracy. So there won't be any specific dates here, but just giving you a general idea of what's to come in 2016 ... (the covers also are mockups using concept art, not the finished project) if you want to be up to date on all thing H. L. Burke, use the form below to sign up for my monthly author news email.
   



   
   

   

   So here are the upcoming books:

Cora and the Nurse Dragon


Cora's a young girl with two dreams: to be a dragon jockey when she grows up and to own a pet dragon now. She constantly buys "egg packs" at the dragon emporium in hopes that one will hatch into a rare pet-sized dragon, but only gets short-lived mayflies. However, when an unexpected egg does develop into something new, Cora may be over her head (age of intended audience 9-12).

I've mentioned this a few times because it was my NaNoWriMo project for 2015. I consider it kind of a stepping stone between Thaddeus Whiskers and the Dragon and Beggar Magic, as far as the maturity of themes and intended audience.

The book is written and been through the first round of betas. I'm confident I'll be able to release this in the early portion of 2016.

Call of the Waters: Elemental Realms II


It has been almost a decade since Karvir's sacrifice ended the war between the Fire Elementals in the Humans. The cost was his human form. Now he lives in hiding with his family, protecting the young girl, Pet, whose powers allow her to open up portals between the different Elemental Realms.
Their safety is challenged, however, when Karvir's estranged Father-in-Law Eanan arrives with a story of a mystical gateway to the Water Realm. But will the Water Elementals be friends or foes?

This is the one I'm the most eager to get out. It is written and is in the early rewrites/edits stage. It's a strong follow up to Lands of Ash. I'm hoping to have it out no later than March ... and I'm also hoping to have the third book in the same series (yet unnamed) available late next year.

Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors


Nyssa Glass is a reformed cat burglar turned electrician's apprentice, settled into a life repairing videophones and radio-sets. However, when her past comes calling, she finds herself forced into one last job. No one has entered Professor Dalhart's secluded mansion in almost a decade, at least not and returned to tell the tale. If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she'll brave the booby trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of skeletons, both literal and figurative. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned?

This is my currently-writing project, but I love how it is coming to life. In someways it is a follow up to Beggar Magic in that it is YA and Steampunk (though it is a lot heavier in Steampunk elements than Beggar Magic), but it's also very different from other books I've written. I'm really excited about it. Hopefully this will be available mid to late spring.


The Invisible Princess

Born with a disturbing lack of visibility, Princess Elaina of Thale had a childhood filled with quacks and charlatans, all promising to reverse the curse. When her parents determine that the answer to reversing her invisibility lies in matching her up with a perfect prince, Elaina decides she has finally had enough. She will drive off any suitor who dares to approach her. Nothing, however, has prepared her for the suspiciously ambitious Prince Randolf or for the charming stablehand, Jeff, who wins her friendship. Before she realizes what is happening, Elaina is swept into an adventure with her father’s crown and her very existence at stake. 

This is a rewrite. The follow up to An Ordinary Knight, The Invisible Princess was written roughly the same time (around 2007), so it is completely written, but in need of a desperate edit to polish up the writing and tone down some melodrama. Still, seeing as it is a basically finished book, it won't take me long to prepare, so you can expect this book in mid-to-late Spring.



So that's four promised books. I also plan to get out book three in the Elemental Realms series out by the end of the year, a couple more shorts ... and whatever else pops into my head. I'm really excited to continue sharing my stories with you!

Monday, December 28, 2015

So what is H. L. writing now?

Guess what, guys? I'm going Steampunk!



Just to be clear, that's not a finished cover. I have a person who makes my covers. This is just a quick mock-up I made after searching free to use Steampunk pictures online for a bit and finding this lovely image. Since I was planning to write Steampunk anyway (hence the searching), I picked up the photo, popped it in Canva's ebook cover creator, and made myself an "inspiration" cover. I may try and get my cover artist to use this photo, as it does appear to be free to use based on the information on Flickr, but she often surprises me with something better than my original ideas.

So what is this book about?

Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors



Nyssa Glass is a reformed cat burglar turned electrician's apprentice, settled into a life repairing videophones and radio-sets. However, when her past comes calling, she finds herself forced into one last job. No one has entered Professor Dalhart's secluded mansion in almost a decade, at least not and returned to tell the tale. If Nyssa wants to ensure her freedom, she'll brave the booby trapped halls and mechanized maids. Nyssa has skills, but this house has more than its share of skeletons, both literal and figurative. As she steps into the cobwebbed halls lined with dusty mirrors, she has to wonder. Is the House of Mirrors really abandoned?

It's actually a little bit of a horror story. Creepy old mansion, murderous machines, a mad scientist ... Poe+Wells+Shelley, maybe? Of course with a bit of Steampunk.
I'm pretty excited about this one. I think it'll be a lot of fun to write.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Random Interview Saturday! Frances Hoelsema

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

This week we have captured an elusive Frances Hoelsema. Let us observe her in her natural habitat ...


Frances Hoelsema
Frances Hoelsema is a wife and work-at-home, homeschooling mom residing in Holland, Michigan. Some of her favorites are traveling, kayaking, hiking, shopping and cats. In her spare time she enjoys reading, writing and engaging with others around the world through social media. Ideas for her novels are mostly derived from her own personal feelings, emotions and life experiences, as well as from those she is in contact with.



  1. During an Alien Invasion what would be your weapon of choice?


A rocket launcher – the force is so strong that more than likely the aliens will be gone!


  1. If you could enter any fictional world, which would you choose?


Narnia! I love that story, and I think that it’s totally awesome that most creatures are half animals/half humans.


  1. Favorite flavor (of what? EVERYTHING!)?


Chocolate and peanut butter together!


  1. Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose to do together?


Anna from Frozen would be my best friend. We would go on adventures, build snowmen, ride our bikes down the halls, go to coronations and always protect family.


  1. Rename yourself. Your new name can be silly, pretty, meaningful, whatever you want, but it CAN’T be your real name or penname, no matter how awesome that might be. Sorry, Beezow Doo-Doo Zopittybop-Bop-Bop is taken.





Well, I never was a huge fan of the name Frances because it’s such an old name. That’s partly why I made my email address name bemarie. My middle name is Marie and I think it’s a very nice name – nicer than Frances anyway. So I guess I would name myself Marie.





6.            Write me some Vogon Poetry (for those not in the know, Vogon poetry is so awful you’ll want to rip your ears off and eat them. It’s considered a method of torture in many corners of the galaxy. So give us your worst).


This is going to be completely horrible seeing as I have no idea what I’m doing, but here goes:     


In the bottom quadrant of the room I lay


Chained down keeping rodents at bay


My teeth clenching any words I can say


Begging the keepers to bring on the day





Alas, the darkness, my old friend, will stay


This gruesome torture was my pay


Boy I wished that things would be okay


I gave up…come what may


           


7.            You have superpowers. What are they and what do you do with them?


I’d definitely be able to fly. That’s something I’ve always wanted to be able to do. If I could fly, I would travel around the world whenever I felt like it. Another superpower would be the ability to not gain weight no matter how lazy I was or how poorly I ate (yes, I love my desserts and to lounge around in my pjs).


8.            You find a talking animal. What sort of animal is it and what’s the first thing you do?


A CAT! I love cats and wish my cats could talk. The first thing I would do is have a great conversation with them!





9.            If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?


The question would be, if you could be a fifth ninja turtle, what would your name and color be? The answer would be Picaso and yellow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: The Year the Cat Saved Christmas



The Year the Cat Saved Christmas
Barbara Bretton




The Year the Cat Saved Christmas - a novella (Rocky Hill Romance Book 4)
Christmas used to be the happiest time of the year in the big house on the hill. But this year when the clock strikes midnight on Christmas Day, it will all be over. Can Sebastian, a wily Maine Coon cat, find a way to bring his people back home or will this holiday be their last? 

My Review


The Year the Cat Saved Christmas - a novellaThe Year the Cat Saved Christmas - a novella by Barbara Bretton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a very simple, sweet story.
I honestly really loved the characterization of the husband and the cat (there are a lot of quickly introduced but not really plot integral secondary characters, but the three that are important are the husband, cat, and wife. Everyone else is just there for them to interact with, which is okay) but sometimes didn't get as much of a feel for the wife. That said, the husband was great and the cat was catly, which I'm a sucker for.
The plot does rely heavily on flashbacks to convey the start and growth of a marriage which we see in crisis and some parts were kind of rushed over in a "telly" sort of way. Not a huge sin for a short book that basically takes place over a Christmas-Eve-Afternoon, but I would've liked to see some of the avenues explored about the decline of the marriage, rather than just seeing the adorable highlights. It might've helped me understand the wife's decision to issue an ultimatum a little better. That said, the adorable highlights were adorable and as someone who is enjoying a happy marriage, it was nice to see them portrayed and made it easier to root for the characters getting back together ... and it might be me as a military wife who has picked up and moved with my husband at the drop of a hat several times just not sympathizing with this being a breaking point for a marriage.
However, I did read this in a few days and never regretted my decision to finish it. I think it is a good Christmas themed book that lifts up marriage and cats, two of my favorite things.


View all my reviews

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Random Interview Saturday! Caren Rich.

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.

Today we salute Caren Rich, who obviously didn't know what she was getting into. (muhahaha)


Caren Rich



Caren Rich grew up in a small town, in coastal Alabama.  The swamps and bayous have fueled her imagination and inspired her writing. Her short stories may cross genres but they are rooted in the history and culture of the South.   She lives on the coast with her husband and two daughters. All three are a constant source of inspiration.

The Interview


   You can rescue a fictional character from certain death or resurrect them to live again. Who do you save? Alternately, is there a fictional character deserving of death who you would like to destroy?
That's a tough one. I'd love to kill Bella from the Twilight Saga. She's way too needy.
  Fill in the blanks. I am a were____ but I only turn when the _____. I am a were-mermaid-hybrid but I only turn when the moon is full during hurriance season. 

Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose to do together?  Fortune Redding from the Miss Fortune Mystery Series by Jana DeLeon. We play poker and watch Jackie Chan movies. Sometimes we go to the shooting range for target practice. She doesn't want me to say this, but I'm teaching her how to cook. She wants to surprise her boyfriend with a home-cooked meal.
   What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon?
Calvin and Hobbes taught me the value of childhood and an imagination. I've tried to remember that with my kids.
   For the length of the day, you can replace all the world’s water with one substance of your choice (don’t worry. The sea life will adapt.). What do you choose?
Chocolate! That's an easy question.

  Most RPGs have three basic classes: healers, who heal; tanks, who protect other party members from damage; and dps who damage the bad guys. Which are you? Points if you’ve actually played an RPG and can tell me about your in game character.
I've never played RPGs, I will go with dps. I love it when the bad guy gets his due.

Where’s my supersuit!?!?!?!?
I don't know where yours is, but I'm wearing mine. Did you check the laundry?

 You are tasked with eliminating one letter of the alphabet. Which would it be and why?
X, he causes nothing but trouble!
If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it?
Who's your favorite superhero? Hmm, I would have to say Rogue. She's Southern and feisty. What's not to love? It also helps that have this streak of grey in the front. My kids tell me I'm going Rogue.








Tuesday, December 15, 2015

FAQ Snark: Writer Edition

There are certain questions that inevitably come up in every author interview every, so in this post, I thought I'd provide some alternate answers:

Where do you get your ideas?

  • Google.
  • Your diary.
  • Your mom.
  • I randomly throw darts at a dictionary and see what sticks. 

Why did you decide to self-publish?
  • The gnomes told me to.
  • Because J. K. Rowling has a restraining order against me, and I'm not allowed to come within 500 feet of anywhere her books are sold.
  • Google.

Can you put me in your next book?
  • Yes, but I'll have to kill you.
  • I don't know. Do you even lift?
  • Only if I can change your gender, age, and personality.

All right, to make up for that momentary lapse into snark, here is a bargain for you:
Dragon's Curse will be free 12/15-12/17 so click below to grab your copy.



Oh and for Christmas we have a multi-author giveaway going. Enter through the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Random Interview Saturday: Jessica Elliott

DISCLAIMER
The H. L. Burke Random Interview is not like other interviews. The questions are all over the place. They have no purpose. Their purpose is their lack of purpose.
There are nine questions because cats, but these nine questions are subject to change without notice, so the questions one person answers may not be the questions answered by the next author.


Jessica L. Elliott




Author Bio - 

For as long as she can remember, Jessica L. Elliott has been telling stories. As soon as she could grasp a pencil she began writing those stories down. Reading fueled her imagination, as did spending time with her five younger brothers and sisters. Everything was an adventure, something to be treasured and stories were her first love. Jessica began seriously writing in high school and continued into college while attending Emporia State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She wrote and released her first novel, Charming Academy, in August of 2011. Jessica currently lives in southwest Kansas with her husband and children. 






  1. You can rescue a fictional character from certain death or resurrect them to live again. Who do you save? Alternately, is there a fictional character deserving of death who you would like to destroy? That's a tough one, I have so many characters that I would love to save. I think I'm gonna cheat a little and save one of my own characters. If I could, I would dearly love to bring Phillipa back. And if I was going to kill one off, I think every Harry Potter fan alive would love to be a part of Delores Umbridge's demise.
  2. Fill in the blanks. I am a were____ but I only turn when the ___ is ___. I am a werepony but I only turn when the hour hand is precisely aligned with the minute hand.
  3. You a given a magical whistle that allows you to pick three creatures, real or imaginary. You get one to be your companion/mount, one who you can transform into at will, and one you have to engage in a fight to the death. Catch? You don’t get to pick which is which. What three creatures do you choose? Oh let's live dangerously: I choose a dragon, tiger and Tyrannasaurus. Now tell me, which is which? :)
  4. Who is your fictional best friend and what activities do you choose to do together? Lucian (Charming Academy series) and I are besties. We love to attend jousting competitions, hang out in his absolutely stunning gardens, and determine new ways to tick Moira off without making her so mad that she puts Lucian in the royal doghouse.
  5. What’s the most important lesson you ever learned from a cartoon? Oooh, toughie. I love animated movies, so hopefully those can count as cartoons, and I think one of the most important lessons I've learned is that a parent will do anything it takes to keep their child safe, even if it's the annoying, disobedient and whiny child. Yes, I am referencing The Little Mermaid.

  1. Most RPGs have three basic classes: healers, who heal; tanks, who protect other party members from damage; and dps who damage the bad guys. Which are you? Points if you’ve actually played an RPG and can tell me about your in game character. Can't say I've ever played RPGs, but I've heard enough about them to form a slightly educated guess. My husband says he's never met a more viciously protective person in his life, so I'm guessing I'd be out there taking out the bad guys before they could make a move. Guess it's the mama bear in me.
  2. The Flying Dutchman is offering you three wishes. How do you maximize your wish potential? Doesn't the Flying Dutchman only show up if you're about to die? Maybe this is a different Flying Dutchman. Okay, three wishes and maximizing wish potential. I'm pretty good with semantics, so I'm guessing I'd be adding some descriptive words in there to make sure my wishes are perfectly clear. First of all, I would wish that my family and I could always have legal means to take care of our needs. (No banks robbed here!) Second, I would love to have a 10 acre plot of land with a perfect for me log cabin and one Gypsy Vanner per member of my immediate family. Third, I would like to live a healthy, full life to enjoy with my family and friends.
  3. If you favorite historical era had an ice cream flavor made in its honor, what would it taste like? You have no idea how badly I want ice cream right now! Well, I love the Renaissance era and they loved all things classical and new. So, since I can't have regular dairy ice cream, it would be an almond milk ice cream with lemon and vanilla bean topped with toffee bits, because that's just how I roll.
  4. If this question were any question in the world, what question would you want it to be and how would you answer it? Okay, here's where I throw in a shameless plug. My question is: How are you doing your Christmas sale this year? I'm so glad you asked! This year, I'm putting all my books on a 10% discount on my website. All profits from sales made at my website (as well as ebooks purchased through Amazon or Smashwords, print books ordered through Amazon, and goodies bought from my Sanalbereth Souvenirs shop) will be donated to bring a grocery store to the little town I call home. More info about that at my website in my blog.










Thursday, December 10, 2015

What I Need to Write



What I Need to Write



One thing I love about writing is you don’t really need anything to start. I mean, eventually you’ll need a computer to type on and you won’t get far without at least a notepad and pencil, but I’ve been in places where I scratched out a scene on the back of receipt. Even if I have absolutely nothing to write on or with, I can think really hard about what I want to write, committing it to memory for later.


But yeah, there are certain comfort items and helpful tools that make writing easier, for me anyway. I’m not covering the obvious (pen and paper, or a computer keyboard) or comparing different options (Scrivener vs Word vs Open Office vs Google Docs), this is more a personal preference list than an educational one. That said, here are some of the things that really help me in my writing.


  1. A timer. It can be on your phone, your watch, or a kitchen egg timer (I google “timer” and use the one built into the search engine), but a timer is my personal magic-anti-procrastination ward. I write down my current word count, set the timer, and see how many words I can get out in ten minutes. My average is about 300. I usually reward myself at the end of each ten minute session with checking email or Facebook.
  2. Sounds. Most people say music, but I’m not really that musical, and I’m not picky about my sounds. As long as it doesn’t have distracting lyrics that make me focus on them rather than my work, I’m good. In fact, I do a lot of my writing to nature and ambient sound collections on YouTube. I once wrote several scenes to the Star Trek warp engine sound.
  3. A beverage. I’ve expounded before on my love for coffee, and it really isn’t the caffeine. I legitimately like the taste (though I don’t prefer darker roasts and generally take milk and sugar). Also having water at hand is handy … and wine during after dinner sessions. Having these available at my desk (I put them on a side table lower than my desk to avoid tragic keyboard spills) gives me one less reason to get up.
  4. Thesaurus/Dictionary/Emotional Thesaurus/Google. With the internet at my fingertips, I find it goes a lot easier. No “What is that word … what do you call … what is airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?”
  5. My cat. Cats get a bad wrap as workplace distractions. Yes, they tend to want attention at inconvenient times, but look at my buddy Bruce! In return for an occasional pat he provides excellent company. I told Bruce's story in an earlier post. We’ve only had him about a month, but he’s a perfect ginger gentleman.

So that’s my not-all-that-high-maintenance list of essentials. What are yours?

Monday, December 7, 2015

MOVING!!!!!

Moving!


I’m actually writing this in mid-November in a rush of prepping content for my “black out” period. Honestly, I don’t know that I won’t be able to post, but moving can be a weird experience. I don’t know how long we’ll be between homes (staying with relatives, which will be good for the girls who don’t get to see their grandparents all that often) or what our schedules will be like. I’m preparing for the worst case scenario which will be me somewhat unplugged (Honestly, not really a worst case scenario for any aspect of life but my “professional” life as a writer. It would be sort of a forced vacation, though I’m sure I’ll be writing, just not “promoting” and maybe not able to respond to emails from fans/other writers as quickly as I’d like) for upwards of a month.


Of course, it will also be the holiday season, so maybe I should just embrace it. Enjoy the holidays, the family time, and whatnot.


It isn’t as if this is our first move. It’s honestly a lot less intimidating than our last two which were from San Diego to Japan then Japan to Florida. This time we’re going from Florida to SoCal again, but we’ll be hanging out at my parents home in Oregon for a bit in between.


I’ve done my best to schedule occasional blog content in order to keep at least this space active. My Facebook page may no longer have the #DailyDragon feature I’ve been so careful to update consistently. I’ll probably not be tweeting or pinning at all … so depending on how you follow me, you’ll probably see a little to a lot less of me.
I can’t imagine a total blackout, so if you really need to get a hold of me (for, I don’t know, some sort of author emergency, preferably involving dragons) you can use the contact form on hlburkeauthor.com to shoot me an email.

So anyway, that’s what I’m up to.