Showing posts with label contests. Show all posts
Showing posts with label contests. Show all posts

Giveaway winners and the future

The Izanami's Choice signed giveaway is over, and our two winners have been selected. Congratulations to Jeanna M. and Jackie! I've e-mailed the winners and will send out your copies as soon as I can.

For the rest of you, I know. I'm sad, too. I wish I had signed copies for everybody! But you can still buy your own copy at any of these fine places: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Broken Eye Books. I can't sign them for you, but maybe some day. Yeah... some day.

So what's up next? Several things:

1) Torment. We're pushing toward our release (early Q1, 2017), so expect to hear more about that as we get closer.

2) I'm working on my own stuff (specifically, I'm plotting the project listed as "Secret Fantasy Project" on the Works in Progress page).

3) I hope to write more in the world of Izanami's Choice, but that's not up to me yet. (In a way, it's kind of up to you. BUY MY BOOK!)

4) I'm obsessively watching my Amazon sales rank, because I heard you're not really an author until you do that.

5) I'm coming up with the next No Thank You, Evil! campaign for my kids.

6) I'm trying to finish Stranger Things before somebody spoils it for me. I mean spoils it more.

All of which means I'm... still doing more than one human should be capable of in 24 hours. Yeah, I don't know how it works either (most of the time it doesn't, I think).

As always, watch this space (or this one, or this one) for what I'm doing, whether any future giveaways surface, or whatever the latest ridiculous thing my kids' said is. And stick with the newsletter to make sure you don't miss any new fiction I have coming out.

Izanami's Choice Giveaway, less than 2 days left!

Right, folks, if you haven't already entered to win a signed copy of Izanami's Choice well... I'm sure you have a good reason.

If you don't have a good reason, best sign up right now, sirs and madams!

And I'll tell you what. As I write this, there are 200-some entries in the contest (an "entry" being the number in the form there -- it goes up not only when a new person enters but also whenever somebody uses the form to share the contest on Twitter, Facebook, or elsewhere). If you guys can get that number up to 400, I will give away an extra signed copy.

So for those of you who look at these contests with a cynical eye (like me), you know that every time you share it, you risk lowering your own chances to win. This will help balance that out: share the contest, get more entries, get other people to enter, and it will increase your chances again by throwing another prize in the pot.

How has the release been going, you say? I'm glad you asked, imaginary straw person. In my experience, having never launched an actual book before, it's been great. And I am in no way unqualified to say that!

(Really, I have a very limited view. Those who have read the book and told me about it have loved it. The book's Amazon sales rank has been a nice, nigh-horizontal line instead of the jagged mountain range it was in pre-order. And John Scalzi even let me borrow his blog for a day. So... good? I guess? This is probably why authors don't talk about this stuff....)

Also, I've received another review, this one from author S.J. Paponas. Here's an excerpt for those of you who are still undecided as to whether or not this book is for you:
I’ve always wanted to write a Japan alternate history book and now I don’t have to because Adam Heine did a wonderful job with IZANAMI’S CHOICE! Rich with culture and tradition, he wove androids into early 1900s Japan and IT MADE SENSE....

The pace of the novella kept me reading furiously all the way to the end. I even read it while I WAS IN JAPAN! And that was such a treat. Itaru’s own demons about a mission gone wrong and his estranged daughter came to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion, and I especially loved the final scene which was a great nod to the samurai way of life.

This was the first book I’ve read by Adam Heine, but I’m sure it won’t be the last.

I know it sounds like I'm only showing you the good reviews, but the truth is I haven't seen a bad review yet. Seriously.

And for three bucks? There's really no reason not to try it out.

Izanami's Choice Launch Day and Giveaway!

It's here! It's here! Today is launch day for my little samurai sci-fi story Izanami's Choice. E-books have been making their way to people's inboxes, and I've even heard news of paperbacks in the wild. You've bought one, right? Why haven't you bought it yet?!

Here are some of the nice things people have been saying about it so far:
"Choice is a ferocious little genre blender in book form: part Hammett novel, part Kurosawa Samurai epic, part Blade Runner, and entirely obsessed with keeping the reader’s eyes moving from one page to the next." ~ Seattle Weekly

"Once I started the book, I couldn’t put it down.  Heine does a great job of building a world replete with rules and history and uses both to construct a mystery with an awful lot of intrigue and surprise." ~ Nerds on Earth

"So if Science Fiction action and exploring cultures through different phases in time is something you enjoy, this is worth a read." ~ SF Reader

"The writing is spectacular, there's fantastic use of period-fantasy-language, and the story is tight, enthralling, and leaves you wondering what's *really* going on right up until the end." ~ Susan Kaye Quinn

"Mr. Heine did an admirable job of making his robots (Jinzou) both sympathetic and terrifying." ~ Victoria Dixon (with interview)

"If you want a really fun, fast-paced robot vs. samurai story then I really think you'll enjoy this." ~ Elena Robertson

And if you can't get enough info (and I'd like to think you can't, because I'm unrealistically optimistic), here are a couple more interviews from the fabulous Natalie Whipple and Authoress. (For you writerly types, Authoress is also running a contest in which you can win a 30-page critique from me, so check that out, too).

But wait! I promised to give away signed copies! To enter the giveaway, all you have to do is subscribe to the newsletter and fill out the form below. I'm very nice to my subscribers -- I give them free excerpts, advanced notice of fiction and giveaways, and I've hardly killed any of them at all!

If you're really ambitious, you can earn additional entries by sharing the giveaway on Facebook or Twitter -- every day, if you want!

This contest is open worldwide. I'll sign 'em and ship 'em anywhere.

I'm offering two signed copies at the moment, but if enough people enter, I'll give away more. So don't hesitate to tell everyone!

Robots in 1901 Japan?

Izanami's Choice comes out in three days. So for the next 72 hours or so, this is me:

Interviews and reviews are trickling in, with more due to appear around the release date. Seattle Weekly loved it, calling it "a ferocious little genre blender in book form: part Hammett novel, part Kurosawa Samurai epic, part Blade Runner, and entirely obsessed with keeping the reader’s eyes moving from one page to the next."

Nerds on Earth said, "Heine does a great job of building a world replete with rules and history and uses both to construct a mystery with an awful lot of intrigue and surprise."

I'm not even kidding! They actually said those things!

On release day, I'll be giving away two signed copies of the book. There may be other giveaways going on around that time too, so watch this space for more info. (Watching Twitter space or Facebook space will also get you what you want). UPDATE: Oh, look! Here's one of them now: a chance at a 30-page critique.

So in Izanami's Choice, Japan has functioning robots and machine intelligence as early as the 19th century. I was recently asked how the heck that's even possible. After all, in our 1901 computers didn't exist then, and things like simple radio technology were still very primitive.

First of all, it should be noted that Japan has had actual automata as early as the 17th century. Karakuri puppets are relatively simplistic  compared to the creations in Izanami's Choice, but it shows the idea of Japanese robots is very old -- much older than the timeline of my novella.

As for machine intelligence, well that's where science fiction comes in. It's primarily a combination of two what-ifs:
  1. What if Charles Babbage had successfully completed his difference engine and analytical engine designs? (This is essentially the same what-if behind The Difference Engine by Gibson and Sterling).
  2. What if evolutionary programming were discovered around the same time?
The latter would require a variety of factors, like Babbage chatting with Charles Darwin and coming away with programmatic ideas, and 19th-century logicians figuring out how to codify reasoning as mathematic deduction -- not probable, but plausible.

Evolutionary programming is the idea of pitting competing parameters or programs against each other to achieve a certain goal (like getting a computer to handle facial recognition). Those parameters that perform best are then modified further and tested against each other again. This process is repeated until you have a programmatic solution to otherwise difficult problems.

The key idea behind Izanami's Choice, then, is that this method was used with the analytical engines to rapidly improve the design of the engine's programs and even the engine itself. The engine was improved to the point where it could evaluate the results automatically, and then it was improved further to where it could revise the programs itself as well. When that loop was closed, the engine would become capable of revising and improving upon itself at a rapid rate -- a robotic singularity.

Of course the novella doesn't have a big old infodump like this in it, but I do love talking about world-building!

Want a Critique? Let's Talk

We're gonna start something new here on Author's Echo. And it pretty much involves only good things for you.

FIRST, you can get a critique. I will accept:
  • Query Letters
  • Back-Cover Copy
  • First Pages
  • 1-page Synopses
  • Basically anything under 300 words that is used to answer the question, "Do I want to read this book?"
These are your first impressions. Agents look at query letters, readers look at back-cover copy, and everybody will read that first page. You want to make an impact right from the start, and I want to help you do that.

Send your first impact material to Tell me WHAT IT IS (query letter, back-cover, etc.), the TITLE, the AUTHOR (that's you), the GENRE, and then no more than about 300 words.

Every Wednesday, I will post one of these to the blog along with my thoughts. Then I'll open it up for critiques from Author's Echo readers (who, by the way, are really smart and talented individuals themselves).

But wait, there's more!

The SECOND good thing is for those of you who will be critiquing. Not only do you get to experience all the goodness of giving a critique, but every month I will randomly select one critter to win EITHER:
  • $10 at Amazon or B&N
  • A 20-page critique from me

Seriously, I can't see a downside for anybody here. First Impact posts start going up next week. If you have any questions, read the fine print or ask away in the comments.

  • I will try to critique everything sent to me, but I make no guarantees. What if you guys send me like a thousand query letters? What if I go blind from awesome? What if the Mayans were right? YOU JUST NEVER KNOW!
  • I will accept any genre, though keep in mind sci-fi/fantasy is my thing.
  • Critters will receive one entry for each week they offer a critique. Most months, this means you can earn up to 4 entries for the drawing.
  • Only actual critiques will be entered for the monthly prize. They don't have to be long, just useful. "This rocks!" or "This sucks!" won't cut it.
  • You may comment multiple times on a single post, but you'll still get only one entry for the drawing.

Which Prize Would You Like?

If I were to, say, run semi-regular contests around here, what sorts of prizes would you be most interested in, do you think?

For those suggesting their own prizes in the comments, remember this is for science; try to be mostly serious. Emmet, I'm looking at you.

Giveaway in Support of Asian YA Book Covers

The amazing Ellen Oh has written a heartfelt and needs-to-be-heard post on why the Pretty White Girl YA Book Cover Trend needs to end. From Ellen's post:
Asians have long been the silent minority in this country. It's gotten so bad that when someone makes a racist remark toward Asians, they just shrug it off and make it seem like you're the one making a big deal about nothing. . . . Like a couple of white guys who think they are being clever by opening up a restaurant called "Roundeye Noodle shop" in Philadelphia. . . .

If anyone thinks "Roundeye" is not racist, you should come explain that to my youngest daughter who had the singular pleasure of being told by two boys in her class that her "small Chinese eyes" were ugly compared to her friend's "blue round-eyes." She was in kindergarten and only 5 years old. She cried for days. Words can scar you for life.
This hurt my heart and made me want to hug all my Asian and half-Asian kids and tell them once again how beautiful they are. Go read Ellen's post now (but come back, because I have books to giveaway).

So one commenter wisely asked what can we do about it? "What short-term and achievable goal will start that process?"

I don't know how to fix the problem, but I know two things that won't hurt any: (1) Talking about it and (2) Supporting covers that don't follow the trend.

To that end, I'm giving away two books that are both awesome and feature an Asian model on the cover: Cindy Pon's Silver Phoenix (the original hardback cover) and Malinda Lo's Huntress.

Here's how you can win one:
  1. Post a link to Ellen's post (NOT my post here, but Ellen's post) on Twitter, Facebook, your blog, or wherever people will see it. Then fill out the form below.
  2. Two winners will be chosen randomly and notified next Friday, March 16th.
  3. Each winner may choose which of the two books they want: either Silver Phoenix or Huntress (if both want the same book, that's cool with me).
  4. Contest is open to any country will ship to (note: I may use Amazon or B& to ship the book, if it turns out to be cheaper).

UPDATE: Form deleted. Contest is closed.

What do you guys think? What can we do about this? Anything? What other awesome YA books with Asians (or any other minority for that matter) should I know about?

Question Time (and INCARNATE Giveaway Winner!)

The winner of my INCARNATE giveaway is...

Myrna Foster! Congratulations, Myrna. E-mail me with an address and preferred edition (hardback, Kindle, Nook book, etc), and I will get your copy of INCARNATE to you, post-haste!

The rest of you: go buy your own!

Also IT'S QUESTION TIME! Ask me anything you want in the comments -- serious or silly, professional or totally inappropriate, about writing or Thailand or who would win in a fight between the Emperor and the Lord Marshal. Seriously, WHATEVER. They will be answered next week.

For example: "Q: Adam, who were the other finalists in the giveaway?"

A: I'm glad you asked! Here they are:
  • "What kind of defense mechanism is this? A giant cat comes and we turn into YARN?"  -- K.D.Aziz
  • "Ninja Cat skill #2: camouflage."  -- Lori M Lee
  • "I've got him!  Run, run, run!"  -- Angela Brown
  • "The humans told me yarn was for playing. The humans lied."  -- Lexie B.  
  • "It's on my back, isn't it?"  -- Myrna Foster

INCARNATE Giveaway Finalists

On Monday, we had a caption contest to win a copy of Jodi Meadows' debut novel INCARNATE. You guys did not make it easy to choose finalists, and I am incredibly glad I decided not to pick the winner myself.

That's your job now.

Without further ado, here's the picture and the finalists:

The poll is open until Friday, when I reveal the finalist's names and announce the winner. If for some reason the poll isn't working, you can vote in the comments.*

ALSO, even though you can no longer enter captions for MY contest, any caption entered on this form is eligible for Jodi's grand prize drawing until Monday, Feb 6th, 11:59 pm EST!

So get voting!

If you refer to the captions in the comments, specify them by name, not number -- the poll randomizes the order each time the page is loaded.

INCARNATE Giveaway and Gushing

You guys know Jodi Meadows, right? I don't see how you could not. She's the most awesome person that ever awesomed (even before she became an Air Pirates fan).

And she wrote a book. It's called INCARNATE about a world where everyone is reincarnated and remembers their past lives and builds on their past lives . . . except for one girl. Ana's new, and nobody knows why, and worse, they don't know what happened to the person who was supposed to be reincarnated in her place.

UPDATE: Read an excerpt here.

So yeah, it's a tough life for Ana, but an awesome book for you! And it comes out tomorrow! And I'm giving a copy away to one of you lucky people!

Good day, yeah?

Even more, 45 bloggers are participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. Simply by participating in MY contest, you automatically gain entries for Jodi's BIG drawing to win some of that stuff. Then you can head to the next activity for more INCARNATE fun! There are 19 INCARNATE activities around (I linked a few below). The more you do, the better your chances of winning the grand prize.

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post here.

Now, to win a copy of the book from me, and also get entries to the grand prize drawing, all you have to do is come up with a caption for this (NOTE: the knitted critters are characters from INCARNATE, though your caption does not have to reference the book):


To be eligible for both contests, you MUST fill out this form:

All captions will be entered for Jodi's grand prize drawing. Additionally, I will choose my favorites and post them here on Wednesday. Then you will vote for a winner and that way no one can get mad at me that person will get a copy of INCARNATE from me (unsigned, but I will send it internationally).

UPDATE: The finalists for my contest have already been chosen, BUT any caption entered on this form will still get entries for Jodi's grand prize drawing, until Monday, Feb 6th, 11:59 pm EST.

If you have any questions, post them in the comments.

Improve your chances to win the INCARNATE grand prize giveaway by checking out some of these blogs (who in turn link to more; it's a big wicked circle):

A Contest for My Tiny Little Cash Cow

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Winter 2011
So it's not really a cash cow, but while Air Pirates fights its way through the query trenches, "Pawn's Gambit" is still over there making money.
That's right, you guys. Those selfish requests I made? You totally stepped up. Thanks entirely to you, my first-and-only pro sale is going to be printed in Beneath Ceaseless Skies' Best of Year Two Anthology. And I'm going to pay you back the only way I know how: with a contest.

Leave a comment, and one of you will randomly win your choice of the following:
  1. $5 for Amazon or Barnes and Noble (enough to buy, say, the anthology when it comes out in the fall...if you wanted).
  2. A critique of a query letter and/or the first 10 pages of a novel.
  3. A sketch of anything you like.
The winner will be announced Friday morning, July 29th.

I feel a little silly celebrating every little dollar this one story makes, but when you're in the query trenches, you gotta take what you can get, aye?

And anyway, as long as I'm going to have a patron, I'm glad it's Beneath Ceaseless Skies. The art, the stories, the editor...that magazine is a class act all the way. If you haven't already, go check it out (besides, it's free).

Is that your Fantasy Trope Smashed and Bleeding on the Floor?

Today is the day! (Well, yesterday, actually, but you get the point). Cindy Pon's novel, FURY OF THE PHOENIX, is out in the world, and to celebrate I'm giving away two copies here today.

The first copy, by random drawing, goes to....

J.J. Debenedictis!

And the best bad dialog--winner of both FURY OF THE PHOENIX and the prequel, SILVER PHOENIX--is the one that not only mocked As You Know, Bob sequel dialog, but it tore apart every single fantasy trope at the same time.

Seriously. I have to rethink my own WIP now.
        "Let's go. We must hurry to Mount Sin."
        "Varen, you mean so we can find out you if you are not really the son of your father who is a farmer but may in fact have royal lineage flowing in your veins, and your mother died because she kept you secret because the evil Lord Goranthianolian received a prophecy from a wandering gypsy who said a child with a glaring star birthmark on their forehead is the only thing that could destroy his evil empire at the solar eclipse sixteen years hence, which just happens to be this summer, but your fake mother, who is actually your mother's nurse maid who ran away with you on your real mother's order to save your life kept this great secret from you for unknown reasons until now, and we only know about it because of Moira, who we thought was a boy but is a girl who was dressed as a boy so she could avenge her father's death and whose death may be from the hands of Lord Goranthianolian's most trusted war leader and chief commander, Tim, and is only exceeded in evil by the great lord himself, and for a little bit we thought she was related to you, but that turned out to not be true, which is a good thing for you, and now we have to travel across hundred of miles to Mount Sin and seek the wisdom of an old shaman woman who lives on a volcano for no apparent reason and see if you truly are the star child of the great prophecy, and we have to do it before the month wears out so we still have time to assemble an army, make new friends, probably pick up a talking cat, and a couple of side quests along the way to deter us, oh, and Moira will probably be kidnapped at some point as well and we will have to rescue her, and do it all in a logistically impossible short amount of time, and save the world?"
        "Yes, exactly. Saying it like that makes it sound horrible. Please don't ever say it like that again."
        "Yes, young possible lord."

It also may be the single longest sentence in the history of bad dialog. Anyway, congratulations Heather Zundel! If the winners could e-mail me at with a shipping address, I'll have their prizes shipped straight away.

As for the rest of you, are you sad you didn't win? A bit jealous, maybe? Well get your own copy! You know you want to.

Fury of the Phoenix Giveaway!

Cindy Pon's latest book, Fury of the Phoenix, is due to come out next week. I love the ancient-China-like world Cindy has created, and I really want to know what happens after Silver Phoenix! From the website:
When Ai Ling leaves her home and family to accompany Chen Yong on his quest to find his father, haunted by the ancient evil she thought she had banished to the underworld, she must use her growing supernatural powers to save Chen Yong from the curses that follow her. Part supernatural page-turner, part love story, and altogether stirring, Fury of the Phoenix further heralds the arrival of Cindy Pon as a stellar author of paranormal romance and fantasy.
Want a copy of this book? Here's what you have to do.

TO WIN 2 BOOKS: Fury of the Phoenix and it's prequel, Silver Phoenix, you must write some bad sequel dialog in the comments. See, when an author writes a sequel, they have to somehow catch new readers up on what came before. Clearly the best way is to have the characters talk about the prequel for the reader's sake. For example:*

     "You remember that time the evil Dr. Shiv nearly killed us all with his plan to clone razor-toothed marsupials?"
     "Oh yeah! We would be his slaves now if you hadn't discovered your latent ability to cause animal shedding just by singing Bad Romance. Thanks, by the way."
     "No problem. It's too bad I never figured out who I love more: you or your twin brother."
     "I know, right? I was meaning to ask you about-- Hey, is that Dr. Shiv on the news?"

The one I deem funniest will win. Length is unimportant (though you know: brevity, wit, etc). The sequel in question can be fake, as above, or for an actual novel, whether a true sequel exists or not. Heck, even for a movie, I don't care.**

Alternatively, TO WIN A COPY OF Fury of the Phoenix, all you have to do is comment on this post, and I will randomly choose a winner.

Winners will be announced next Wednesday, March 30. An entry to the 2-book package is automatically an entry to the random drawing (though you can't win both). Contest is open internationally. Spreading news of the contest is encouraged, but not required.

I can answer any other questions in the comments. Have fun!

* The nature of this contest is in no way related to actual Fury of the Phoenix dialog (I haven't even read it yet!). I just thought it would be funny.

** If you do write fake dialog for an actual sequel, keep in mind that I might not have read the books in question. I'd hate for a great joke to be wasted just because I never read Pride and Prejudice or something.

Sketch: Phoenix Fan Art

If you haven't heard, Cindy Pon got a box of ARCs for Fury of the Phoenix, the sequel to her debut novel. Now she's holding a contest to giveaway at least one of those ARCs. I read Cindy's debut last year and really enjoyed it, so I had to do my best on this one.

So what do I love about Silver Phoenix? The action, yes, but mostly the Asian setting and mythos (I wanted to draw the gods or immortals, but this scene was hard enough as it was).

I don't know why, but rice fields make me happy.

I tried a lot of new things with this (I really want that ARC!), so I screwed up a lot of things too. But watercolor pencils? My new favorite. I found a pack (Disney brand?) with the stuff that came with our four newest kids. They don't know how to use them, so I figured I'd learn.

They're so cool. Like painting, but without the abject fear that I'll get it wrong (because I can pencil everything in first). If I keep fiddling, I'm going to have to get my own high quality pack.

Anyway, there you go, Cindy. Congratulations on getting not one, but two novels published, and thank you for writing them. If any of you guys want to get in on the contest, there's still time. It doesn't close until December 1st (and you don't have to draw to win).

Sketch: Hidden Pushers

Susan Quinn of Ink Spells won second place and a sketch in the Demotivational Contest we had last month. This is her prize, a scene from one of her works in progress:

Although everyone now reads minds, sixteen-year-old Kira Moore can't and never will. When she almost kills her best friend by accident, she discovers she can control the minds of others and is torn between passing for normal and exposing the hidden pushers of her world.

In this scene, Kira meets a young pusher named Laney, while on their way to deeper trouble.

I've only read the one scene, but already I want to read more of this. Thanks for letting me draw some fan art, Susan!

Demotivational Winners

You guys are hilarious. The number one reason I wish I had more readers is so I could have more hilarity to enjoy and share with you guys. Maybe when I hit 200 followers or something we can do this again (even though followers aren't readers).

Enough talk. To the posters!

First, the honorable mentions. Most Likely to be Put Up in My Office goes to "Monday" by the recently wed L.T. Host, and Late But I Still Like You goes to "Courage" by K. Marie Criddle (who has her own contest going on, by the way). Click these entries to enlarge.

The winners were chosen entirely based on how hard they made me laugh. Third Place goes to J.J. Debenedictis, who provides the best reason for exercise EVER.

Second Place is Susan Quinn, who made excellent use of the ubiquitous internet cat images (not an easy task!).

And First Place with both barrels is Emmet Blue. Both his posters made me laugh so hard they both win. What can I say? The man knows his judge.

I'll contact the winners to figure out your prizes. Congratulations, and thank you everybody who played!

Demotivational Contest!

It's been a while since we've done a contest around here. So here's the deal: you make a demotivational poster, and my three favorites will each win a prize.

(I can't take credit for this one. The internet is a treasure trove.)

These are not in order. First Place will get to choose first. Second Place chooses second. Third Place gets what's left. (In the event that Third Place cannot use what's left, I'll figure something out. Don't worry, you'll still win something.)
  1. $4.00 credit towards eligible Amazon Video On Demand movie and TV purchases (US only).
  2. A sketch of anything you like (almost).
  3. A query critique from a one-time published writer (that's me).

  1. Make one or more demotivational posters. All you need is a picture, a title, a caption, and this website. Though feel free to get more creative than that, if that's your thing.
  2. Send them to me before Wednesday, Oct. 27, 5 PM Pacific. You can use any method available (e-mail, link in the comments, Twitter, Facebook, etc).
  3. Come back on Friday to see some of the best ones and to see if you won a prize.

They're parodies of those inspirational posters you might see in the office -- the ones with an inspiring picture and a caption about perseverance, effort, or "customer care". My favorite demotivationals mimic inspiration with cynicism, like these on motivation, teamwork, and uniqueness.

Or they might mock something, like this one on priorities or this awesome one on exercise. Or they can be just plain funny, covering topics such as pirates, ninjas, steampunk, or regrets.

The $4.00 because I have the promotional code in my inbox from an Amazon purchase, but since I don't live in the US, I can't use it. The sketch because nothing gets me drawing like outside pressure. And the query critique because aspiring authors like that sort of thing, and I'm occasionally a nice guy.

None. You don't have to follow the blog. You don't have to give me your e-mail. You don't have to promote the contest (though if you did, it would just make it more fun for everybody, and it would make me smile -- you want me to smile, don't you?).

Good Cause Giveaway and Last Minute Questions

First, the questions. Then the giveaway. Asea asks: What's something you really love about living in Thailand?

A lot, actually. Except for the polluted hot season, it's beautiful. I love the rain, so the hundred million inches we get in the rainy season are actually pretty cool. The food is good. Everything is cheap. And there's not this underlying cultural pressure to PRODUCE, PRODUCE, PRODUCE! (That last one probably contributes to Thailand's weaker economy, but whatever).

Is reverse culture shock hard? (I struggle with it a lot.) 

Sometimes it's hard, though it's probably made easier by the fact that I know I (most likely) won't be living there again. I don't know how to be more specific without sounding like I'm complaining about America. I like America, but sometimes it can be a bit overbearing about safety or how kids are raised, while at the same time not caring so much about what gets shown on TV (though that last one's not very fair; TV drives me batty in general).


Our friends, Aaron and Carrien Blue, are helping an orphanage near the Burmese border. The kids there are refugee orphans, whose parents have been lost or killed as a result of the genocide and fighting that has been going on in Burma for decades.

They have about 40 kids, but no truck. The kids have to walk to school everyday, about 3-4 miles on a fairly large street. If someone gets sick or hurt, they have to hire a truck to take them to the hospital, spending money which could be better spent on things like food, water, or medical bills.

So the Blues are trying to raise $6000 by the end of this week, so that when Aaron comes to visit he can buy them a truck as well. To that end, Carrien is giving away a bunch of cool stuff on her blog to anyone who donates or spreads the word.

Last I heard, they were at $3,280, which is AWESOME, but they still have a long way to go. This is a really great cause, guys. These kids are at risk in all kinds of ways, but giving them a home and education reduces that risk significantly. And a truck is a big help to that end.

So get over there. Any donation, any word spreading, will help these kids.

UPDATE: They're up to $4,519 now, and Carrien has added additional prizes to the giveaway. If you've already entered, you're eligible for these new prizes as well. If not, what the heck are you doing, get over there!

Contest Winner! and Thoughts About Contests

And the winner is..... MYRNA FOSTER!

Congratulations, Myrna. Just let me know what book you like, and I'll send it your way. Any book at all (except maybe this one).

Thank you to everyone who entered, and thank you especially to all of you who read the story and offered thanks and encouragement. You guys are awesome.

If you enjoyed Pawn's Gambit, you might be interested to know there is an audio podcast version available at BCS as of today. Like everything there, it's free to listen to. Also, you get to learn how to pronounce my name (dang, I should've made a contest for that!).

So this was my first time running a spread-the-word style contest. You know, the ones where you get bonus points for each of: being a follower, already having been a follower, commenting, linking on your blog, linking on Twitter, linking on Facebook, following on Twitter, following on Facebook, already having followed on Twitter/Facebook, etc, etc, etc.

Obviously I didn't do all that. It was intentional, of course. I wanted things to be simple. You had to spread the word, because otherwise, really, what's the point? But that's it. I didn't require anyone to read the story -- I understand fantasy adventure isn't for everyone -- but I wanted everyone to hear about it and read it if it sounded interesting.

I also wanted it simple because of how I tend to do contests. When a contest gives me a list of things to get points for, rather than go, "Gosh, I can enter this contest any way I want!" I tend to be all, "Dang, that's a lot of stuff I have to do to maximize my chances."

Cuz that's the thing: I don't want to enter unless I give myself the best chance possible. But I don't always want to follow a random blog I just met, or give up one of my three posts per week to someone else's contest. You know? It's psychology: when people are given more options, it makes it harder for them to decide, not easier.

I got some proof of that in your contest entries. I expected the simplicity of the contest, and the attractiveness of the prize, to garner a bunch of entries who didn't answer the bonus question. That is, people who entered but didn't read the story. But what happened was, out of all the contest entrants, only TWO people entered without answering the bonus question.


Interesting, no? Well it is to me, but then I like psychology.

Anyway, what about you? What makes you want to, or NOT want to, enter a contest?

Pawn's Gambit Contest

It's here! "Pawn's Gambit" has officially been published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies. (Read it here. Do it! DO IT NOW!)

(If my self-promoting gets a bit out of hand today, I apologize. I'm just really, really excited.)

This story is set in the same world as Azrael's Curse, the novel I'm currently querying. Though I often refer to the setting as the Air Pirates' world, "Pawn's Gambit" is somewhat pirate-deficient. But it does have smugglers, assassins, and bounty hunters, so hopefully there's something there for everybody. (Read it now!)

In celebration of my publishing debut, I'm giving away a free book. For a chance to win, all you have to do is mention this contest (linking to this post) on your blog, Facebook, or Twitter, and fill out the form below.

If you'd like to improve your chances (while simultaneously enjoying a free adventure story), there's a bonus question requiring you to read the story -- or at least skim it in a fact-finding sort of way. Answer correctly to triple your chances.

Contest is open until May 6th, 12:00 PM EST. So if you don't have time now, bookmark this, star it, send yourself an e-mail -- whatever you need to do so you'll remember to read it later.

That's it. Go read the story.