Monday, October 26, 2020

Acktorek: The Void Is Here!

Today's the day! The sun is shining! The tank is clean! And we are getting out— The tank is clean!

It's my thing. Deal with it. πŸ˜‰

Acktorek: The Void is HEEEEERE!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited to finally introduce this book to the world. These characters are my babies and I put them through so much and it's been a long, hard journey to get to know Emma (and get her to not hate me), and now you can meet them properly!

I've got a small blog tour going on with reviews and author interviews and character interviews and a giveaway, so check it out!

Tour Schedule

Monday, October 26
· Tour Announcement at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke
· Book Review at Living Outside the Lines
· Author Interview at Isamonkey Reviews

Tuesday, October 27
· Book Spotlight at Jaye L. Knight
· Author Interview at Living Outside the Lines
· Interview with Emma at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Wednesday, October 28
· Book Spotlight at The Music of a Story
· Interview with Mitchell at Living Outside the Lines

Thursday, October 29
· Book Review at Tricia Mingerink
· Interview with Carla at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke

Friday, October 30
· Tour Wrap-Up at Morgan Elizabeth Huneke


Enter to win a signed copy of Acktorek: The Void! Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Introducing Carla Edsel

Carla's my baby. I want to give her all the hugs. She's a brave and selfless girl, and at almost-thirteen, she's the youngest of the three point of view characters.

She's never known a time when her mom wasn't mental and her dad wasn't emotionally distant. She wouldn't know there ever was a time when things were different if Emma hadn't told her. And Emma herself barely remembers. Emma practically raised Carla, and Carla very much looks up to her older sister. They are quite different when it really comes down to it, but they're very close even so. Emma would do anything for Carla, so even though Emma isn't much into fiction, and especially isn't into speculative fiction, Emma has read Carla numerous L'Engle and Haddix books, in addition to fairy tales when Carla was really little. Those are precious memories to Carla.

Carla loves music. Even though Emma doesn't much care for music herself, she's actually responsible for Carla's love of music. Emma was trying and failing to explain the sunrise to Carla, and remembered she'd just had Grieg's "Morning Mood" in music appreciation at school. She played the song for Carla and that was the moment Carla fell in love with music. She loves playing piano, both Baroque/Classical/Romantic music, and modern songs such as "Let It Go." She is currently learning "Le Petit Noir" by Claude Debussy for a school talent show. But she will always have a soft spot for Grieg.

Carla can be kind of a mess. While Emma's room is sparse and neat, Carla's room is full of stuffed animals and audiobooks and clothes often end up on the floor. She also has a habit of twirling her fingers in her hair if she's concentrating or nervous or just trying to think, which often knots it up.

Carla has been blind since birth. It doesn't really bother her or hold her back—it's just a fact of life. The only thing is, she does feel like it makes Emma worry about her more, and makes things harder for her. Not that Emma wouldn't worry about her if she was sighted. She would. Emma's always done so much for Carla. Carla just wishes she could do more for Emma.

Carla's relationship with Emma is extremely important to her life, but her relationship with God is first. She has a strong, unwavering faith that inspires me. She's so young, but she's selfless and wants to do what's right no matter what the personal consequences are. I want to be like Carla when I grow up.

I love Carla so much and I can't wait for you to meet her properly next week!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Introducing Mitchell Banks

Mitchell Banks is the main guy in Acktorek: The Void, and he is not from our world. (Like my post about Acktorek itself, some of this isn't actually in the book, but just a part of my development of Mitchell's character/backstory.)

He comes originally from a world called Aglion, but he currently resides in the city world of Ebraria, from which the company Acktorek operates.

Mitchell grew up in Aglion with his family: his parents and his older sister Lara who married a teacher named Tucker and had two children, Anise and Jason. Mitchell was very close to his family, and Anise especially is a huge influence in his life. Aglion puts a huge emphasis on academics, and, as they supply Acktorek with some of its greatest scientists, it's a big deal to pass the Acktorek Preparatory Program, as Mitchell did.

At fourteen, Mitchell moved to Ebraria to attend Acktorek Academy, a four-year program that trains future Acktorek agents. Like I said before, it is their main program, but they do have other training programs as well. Mitchell's preference would have been special ops (basically investigating and taking care of weird sciencey things that happen, and all in all being Force-less, lightsaber-less Jedi/Team Flash/The Doctor people, and special ops is the best name I could come up with—though I could have gone with "Daddy" as a kid my sister babysits suggested), but he ended up in breach control. Which is typically a boring go-to-this-world-and-throw-a-neutralizer-into-this-breach-before-it-gets-toxic-or-otherwise-dangerous job. Only that's not how it's turning out.

Mitchell is a kind, compassionate person, who wants to help others. He experiences doubts about his abilities and adequacy. He's very dutiful, but also determined to do what's right, even if it means disobeying a direct order. He's stubborn and determined, but also knows when to back off. He has a soft spot for little girls because they remind him of his niece, Anise. He misses his family like crazy and will never get used to living away from them in a city instead of near them in the countryside. He likes to cook, he doesn't especially like shoes (though that never comes up in the first book), and he often runs his hand through his blond hair making it stick up (it's a similar cut to BBC Arthur and Luke Skywalker). He also speaks several languages and much prefers physics to biology. He's eager to please, but he'd much rather please his Heavenly Father than his superiors at Acktorek. And he has a tendency to get injured and not bother treating the wound until someone makes him. But he will 100% make sure you don't skip any meals.

All in all, he's a great guy who was a LOT easier to develop than Emma, and I hope you like him as much as I do. And I can't wait to write more stories about him. 😊

Monday, October 5, 2020

Introducing Emma Edsel

Technically I did a post about Emma a little over two years ago, but that was before I really got inside her head, so while that post is still mostly accurate, it's rather incomplete. Now to introduce her without giving major spoilers...

Emma is a high school senior with very little personal ambition. She has an interest in science, particularly biochemistry and molecular biology, but she doesn't feel free to pursue her own interests. She never has.

Until Emma was about four, her life was fairly normal. When her mother was pregnant with her younger sister Carla, however, everything changed. Mom went crazy, Dad became distant, and little Emma became largely responsible for bringing up her blind little sister.

Everything about Emma's life revolves around Carla. Emma's goal is to become financially independent as soon as possible so she and Carla can move out of the toxic environment that is their dysfunctional family. She wants to give Carla a stable life. And she doesn't feel that she can do that with Mom talking to people who aren't there and freaking out about nonexistent dangers, and Dad always being checked out emotionally. Carla deserves better than that.

Emma's a loner...with a best friend she can't get rid of. Grace Holland has considered herself to be Emma's best friend since they were four years old, ever since Emma spent lots of time at her house during her mom's pregnancy with Carla. The two girls are vastly different—Grace is happy, bubbly, and loves her fandoms, and Emma is angry, closed off, and thinks most fiction, especially spec fic, is stupid—but for all their differences and for all Grace never ceases to get on Emma's nerves, they still talk to each other every day and always sit together at lunch. Not that Emma has much of a choice in the matter.

Emma has no interest in boys or relationships. She's seen her parents. Sure, they love each other, but their life isn't exactly sunshine and lollipops. She doesn't want to deal with that. Nor does she have the time for a boyfriend. She has to focus on preparing to be on her own and supporting her sister. So does Grace have to keep pushing her to date? And pushing the new boy, Mitchell, on her?

Emma likes for things to make sense. To be under her control. She has a hard time accepting anything that's outside of her carefully constructed idea of how the world works. She's had so little control over the chaos that comes with her life. She has to hold onto what little control she has.

But that may not be possible.

Read an early copy of the book and help spread the word about the upcoming release!

Monday, September 28, 2020

Acktorek Blog Tour and ARC Sign-Up!

Calling all bloggers and reviewers and social media people! I'm putting together a blog tour for Acktorek: The Void and I need volunteers. I've got several different options requiring varying degrees of effort, the easiest being copying and pasting the book spotlight info I'll send. πŸ˜‰ And the most fun being interviewing one of the POV characters. 😊

I'm also giving away eARCs! You can do a review as part of the blog tour, or even just post about the book on your favorite social media.

Just fill out the forms below!

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What is Acktorek?

In short, it's a word I made up off the top of my head that has no etymology whatsoever. πŸ˜‰

In all seriousness, though, it is (obviously) something very important to the Acktorek series.

Initially, it was a species, but then I decided to call the species Zambina (another word I'm not sure where it came from, except for maybe an subconscious twisting of Zamboni) and Acktorek instead became a company.

What kind of company? Well, to get to that, let's have a (made up) history lesson.

Note: Most of this isn't actually in the book, just in my worldbuilding notes, so it's bonus info. 😊

Caelan Macaulay, a scientist from the world of Ebraria, invented world traveling devices. Through these devices, he gained contact with scientists from Aglion (the homeworld of Acktorek main guy Mitchell Banks), and the technology made huge leaps. Within about 16 years, the devices became available to those who could afford it, which quickly caused immigration issues, along with space/time continuum issues. The Ebrarian government placed restrictions on world travel, but damage had already been done.

Affected worlds got together and formed the Council of Worlds to determine how to handle this growing problem. It resulted in the foundation of Acktorek, and the permanence of the Council of Worlds. Both institutions are somewhat independent of each other, but yet work closely together. A little more on that when I get to how I actually came up with Acktorek.

Initially, Acktorek focused on repairing damage directly caused by world travel. Within a few decades, they began getting requests for assistance on issues not directly related to world travel, which prompted a major expansion of Acktorek's services. This expansion caused a huge influx of immigrants into Ebraria turning it into a city world that's a melting pot of species and cultures.

Acktorek has a four-year training program (which is their primary program) that typically takes students of high school age. They also have an accelerated program that takes only one year but is harder to get into. Also, they have more specialized training, and everyone is required to do some form of continuing education.

Okay, history lesson over.

So what does Acktorek do? Well, think of it this way: put the Jedi Order and Team Flash into a blender with a heaping spoonful of Doctor Who and a dash of the Wood Between the Worlds, mix it up really well, and you've got Acktorek.

First off, this isn't a parallel world story. TBH, parallel worlds only make sense if you don't think about it too hard. Like, usually so many things are so different, yet the same people got married at the same times and had babies at the same time for enough generations for you to have a doppelgΓ€nger? So while I do enjoy stories with alternate realities/parallel universes, I prefer the more traditional fantasy concept of other worlds...even when said worlds have technological advancements and world travel is done by technology rather than by magic.

The portal technology is somewhat similar to the technology Team Flash uses to go to parallel universes, etc. though I actually came up with mine before I started watching The Flash. And as for the sorts of situations they help with, it's also similar both to the sorts of situations dealt with on The Flash and on Doctor Who. Weird science incidents, invasions of alien-like creatures, supervillains, honestly, the imagination's the limit.

But the primary inspiration for Acktorek actually comes from the Jedi Order. I'm most familiar with the workings of the Order from Jude Watson's books, and I started there and discarded the things I didn't want (like the no attachments rule, and taking small children to train). There's also nothing like the Force, but there are species with abilities such as telekinesis and telepathy, as well as there being empaths, though I don't delve deeply into all of that in book one. (Yeah, I know it's minus so many iconic things about the Jedi, but it was still my jumping-off point, and it's not like I could copy it.) But the main way that they're like the Jedi is that their whole purpose is to serve and help others. People ask for their help, and they send agents out to do it.

How do they work with the Council of Worlds? Well, I haven't gotten too deep into it, but it's similar to the Order. Actually, it's somewhere in between the old Jedi Order and Luke's Jedi Order (Legends). Basically, not as much a slave to the government as the old Order, but not quite as independent as Luke's Order. (Though he did move them off of Coruscant because the GA oversight was getting overbearing, assigning them government observers and keeping them from helping where people really needed help. But I digress.) Acktorek does have to keep accountable to the Council of Worlds, but they don't have to run operations through them. (That would get ridiculous really fast. But I haven't exactly worked out how they get their funding either.) 

When it comes down to it, I think of Acktorek agents as something like Jedi without the Force (and unfortunately without lightsabers) who travel to other worlds to help instead of to other planets. And with more specialized divisions. (Not that there aren't any divisions within the Jedi Order, but they're not emphasized much in the media I've seen.)

So that's a snapshot of Acktorek, and a (probably very vague) idea of what you can expect from the series. But hey, go ahead and check out these worldbuilding boards. 😊

Monday, September 14, 2020

Acktorek Cover Reveal!

The cover is finally here!!!

This is my favorite of all the covers I've made so far, and I'm super excited about it. I can't wait to be able to hold the book in my hands. 😊

But before I give you the cover, here's the book description:

Which would you choose—save your sister or save the world? 

Emma Edsel’s first priority has always been protecting her blind sister Carla. So when Carla begins to develop science-defying abilities that threaten her life, Emma will stop at nothing to save her. With nowhere else to turn, she seeks help from Mitchell, the new boy at school who seems to know much more about it than he will admit. 

After his last mission went horribly awry, Mitchell Banks is relieved to have a simple task: seal a small, accidental portal between Earth and other worlds in the multiverse. He didn’t count on his growing feelings for Emma—and the dangerous levels of dimension energy contaminating Carla. 

Carla knows the voice in her head is evil. Manipulative. Feeding her with a strange energy she can control. She doesn’t know that she is the key to a coming global catastrophe and Mitchell’s boss will use any means possible to prevent it…including blackmailing him into murdering her.

Coming October 26!

And now...


What do you think? I really can't wait to share the book itself with you. It's definitely the one that's gotten me the closest to crying while writing, and these characters are very dear to my heart.

October 26 will be here before we know it! (And I just realized that it's the same week that season 2 of The Mandalorian premieres, so two things to be excited about!)

Check out these other reveal posts, some including interviews:

And by the way, this is my 500th blog post and the cover reveal for my 10th book, so I've got nice round numbers and two milestones. I feel like Monk would be proud. 😊