Friday, December 5, 2014

I Just Released TIMELOOPERS #2--The Ghost At Retreat Lake

Time travel sucks.

You have to squeeze inside this fridge-sized quantum computer and suffer hours of mind-numbing boredom while it loops back in time. No light, barely enough air, total solitude. All the time in the world.

The good news...

The book where you get to time travel is now out! And here's where you can go to buy it: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PJ1ZALY.

But first, if you haven't checked out the first book in the series, A Strange Machine, click here to buy book one.

Finally, if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below for updates on all my new releases. I announce all my books a month early and offer sneak previews and free pre-release copies only to subscribers, so make sure you're on the list:

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Timeloopers #2 (The Ghost at Retreat Lake) Now Available for Pre-Order

pre-order it here. Keep reading for a sneak peek.

Someone jumped out from behind a tree. “Boo!”
    Iris screamed.
    Cory.
    He broke away laughing, wiped tears from his eyes. “Oh man, I got you good.”
    She backed away, shaking, too terrified to speak. A deer caught in headlights. He’d seen her. He saw her. He was looking at her right now. Too late, she couldn’t undo it. Any second now, her entire past would rewrite itself. She’d be torn to pieces.
    “Wow, she finally came out of her cave . . . Iris?” His laughter died off. “Iris, you okay?”
    She just stared at him, shook her head. Couldn’t move.
    His eyebrows pulled down. “You forget how to talk?”
    She closed her eyes and clamped her palms over her ears. Please go away, please go away, I don’t want to die . . .
    “Yeah, you’re cute. You have fun,” came his muffled voice.
    Then nothing.
    She peeked. He was hurrying up the trail to catch up with the others.
    No.
    “Wait, Cory!” she shouted, then clamped her hand over her mouth. He halted, looked back, eyebrow cocked.
    Don’t speak.
    But nothing happened.
    A breeze rustled the trees. Kids laughed in the distance. Life continued on as if nothing had happened.
    “You coming, or what?” he said.
    She had to play it off.
    Maybe it wouldn’t change that much.
    Tentatively, she spoke again. “Cory, you . . . you can’t get on the zip-line. If you go on it, you’re going to die.”
    “Says my grandmother,” he scoffed. “Come on, Iris, live a little.”
    She peered around, uncertain.
    A hawk soared in the blue sky, insects chirped. Still nothing.
    She was still alive. Still here.
    But how?
    And then she remembered. Because somehow, this was exactly what she did last time—Cory’s whole story about her being up there.
    You were there, Iris.
    All at once, her mind went crazy trying to process it. She must have tried to sneak after them last cycle, and Cory had spotted her then too, just like now. Without knowing it, she had done everything the same.
    But what about feedback?
    Her deafening pulse roared in her ears, blotting out everything but her frantic thoughts. Anything she did differently this time around would directly affect Cory, who would later interact with her past self, and the ripple effects would propagate to her present self—right back to her. In fact, right now she should be causing major feedback.
    So why wasn’t she?
    She stared dumbly at Cory, unable to speak. Last time, she couldn’t possibly have acted this stupid. She must have said something else, but she had no clue what, no idea how to repeat it. This had to be changing something.
    “Iris?” Cory waved his hands in front of her eyes. “Anybody home?”
    No, wait. She blinked, and her brain did another somersault. Last time, she would have had exactly these thoughts.
    Exactly the same.
    But what about now? Now that she realized, she could change it, right?
    Nope. Again, she had it all wrong.
    As long as she didn’t actually know what she’d done last time, she would inadvertently end up repeating the same actions, doing just what it took to make the past and present self-consistent. Either that, or the loop itself was changing without her realizing it.
    She understood now.
    This morning, that horrible feedback—it only happened in the presence of herself, when her past could directly perceive her future. Then, and only then, did she have the free will to change it.
    It was kind of simple, actually. If you could see your own future, you could change it, resulting in a vicious feedback loop. If you couldn’t see your future, then no matter what you did, you would only end playing right into it.
    So as long as she avoided interacting directly with her past self, she would avoid major feedback—the kind that killed her, at least. Right now, her every shaky breath could be rewriting everything that led up to this moment, but as long as it didn’t rip her apart, fine.
    “Look, I don’t know what berries you ate—” Cory marched back, grabbed her wrist, and yanked her up the trail, “but you clearly need me to babysit you right now, and since I’m going zip-lining, you’re going zip-lining.”
    Oh, this was bad.
    This was very, very bad.
   
Click here to pre-order Timeloopers #2, The Ghost at Retreat Lake        

Finally, if you haven't already, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below for updates on all my new releases. I announce all my books a month early and offer sneak previews and free pre-release copies only to subscribers, so make sure you're on the list:

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Friday, October 17, 2014

For Writers: Plotting a Story with Cause and Effect

Here’s a crash course on how to plot a novel. A lot of writers seem to struggle with plot. Their stories meander, and their scenes are episodic, which means they only feel loosely connected. The story never gains momentum. Consider these three scenes in a typical YA book.

Scene 1: Amy goes to school and hears about a school science project
Scene 2: At lunch, Amy’s boyfriend breaks up with her.
Scene 3: At home, Amy argues with her mom that she’s too coddling.

Is there anything that connects these scenes—other than the fact that it’s the same character? No. These scenes feel disconnected. Zero momentum. In order to make them feel connected, you have to make sure each scene inevitably leads to the next scene through cause and effect. You might think these scenes are in logical order, because they occur one after another in time. Amy goes to school, experiences a breakup at lunch, then comes home. It seems logical. But it’s really not. It’s just one random scene after another as we’re slogging Amy’s boring ass day. We need to add a missing ingredient—cause and effect. Each scene should cause the next scene, even if it comes right after in time. Now consider these three scenes.

Scene 1: Amy goes to school and hears about a school science project
Scene 2: Wanting to have the best science project, she ditches her boyfriend at lunch and heads straight to the library to look up ideas.
Scene 3: Because she ditched her boyfriend, he calls her later at home and breaks up with her, saying he’s sick of her putting school before him.

Now, it’s not the best plot, but you can see how each scene directly causes the one that follows. You can structure an entire book this way, and it will hold together much better than if you just show random snippets of a characters day.

I write mind-bending YA sci-fi series. To see cause and effect in action in a book, sign up for my newsletter below to get an email when my next book comes out:

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teaser Thursday: A Short Teaser from God’s Loophole #4

Gabe ushered his brother and Raedyn into his apartment and slammed the door behind him, hyperventilating now. Fear pricked every inch of his skin.
   It got Dr. Lane.
   Just like that.
   “Okay . . . okay,” he said, dragging his hand through his hair. “We just need to think. We need to think. So it’s still out there. We know it’s still out there . . . damnit!” He kicked the wall.
   Jer sank into a barstool. “Oh man, oh man, oh man. There was no warning, no sound, nothing.”
   Rae sat against the wall, clutching her knees, teeth chattering. “It just . . . it just took her. It was in the same room as us, and it . . . and it took her.”
   Jer’s head snapped up, and the color drained from his cheeks. “It could be in here . . . with us . . . right now.”
   The three of them went deadly silent. They glanced around. Suddenly, every creak and rustle was amplified a thousandfold.
   “Guys, no, we need to focus,” said Gabe. “We need to think.”
    “It just took her,” Rae said. “Right in front of us. It attacked in broad daylight. It’s never done that before.”
   Gabe nodded. “It’s changing the rules on us.”

God’s Loophole book 4 (Time’s Beginning) will be coming out in early 2015. Don’t want to miss it? Sign up for my newsletter below to get an email the day it comes out:

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Do We Read Stories: Creating Genuine Experience

Ever wondered why it is we enjoy reading stories so much? They’re just words on a paper, yet they seem to have such a profound effect on us. Reading a good book can leave you feeling different afterwards, almost more complete. Or at least you with a euphoric high. Why is that, though?

I’ve got a theory. I think reading gives us access to real experiences. You’ve all probably heard that saying that there’s no difference in your mind between an experience you vividly imagine and an experience that actually happens. What this means is what we read on paper, the characters we begin to root for and love, the struggles and the triumphs, are one hundred percent real to us. They’re real experiences. Not literally real, but our brain responds to them as real.

So when you go on a good adventure in a book, your brain has actually experienced that adventure, and your brain has actually made friends with the characters. Your brain releases the endorphins from whatever it is you read. You’ve actually grown and gained wisdom from the experience.

Now really, let’s be honest, your brain does know the difference. Obviously. And that’s what allows you to have fun while you’re reading, rather than going into fight or flight mode every time your character gets into a jam.

So read books. You’ll be happier and wiser and have more fun because of it. A good movie can do the same thing. But I heard once to get that kind of experience out of a movie, you have to read the movie. This means thinking about it, vividly imagining it afterwards. Otherwise, if you experience it passively, you don’t really experience it at all.

I write mind-bending YA with a twist. To learn more about what I’m working on and what’s coming out next, sign up for my newsletter below:

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: A Short Teaser from Timeloopers #2

“Damn, you got here quick,” Cory said, eyeing Iris up and down. He climbed off her and kept going, just as Anneliese ran past them. “She fell over here.”
   Iris bounded to her feet and followed, gasping to regain her breath. “What happened? Who screamed?”
   “Seriously?” he said. “Just give it a rest.”
   “Cory, who screamed?”
   He paused to stare at her. “Are you for real right now?”
   “What?” She caught up with him. “I just want to know what happened.”
   “Just help us find her, okay? I’m not going to play this game right now.”
   “What game?”
   “Samantha, you asshole. Help us find her.”
   Iris’s hand shot to her mouth. “Was she on the zip-line?”
   “You were there, Iris.”
   “What?” Her eyebrows knotted. “No I wasn’t.”
   “Whatever. You’re creeping me out.” He turned and lumbered away, leaving her very confused about the whole encounter.
  
Short teaser today, since I don’t want to give away too much of the book. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter below to get an email when Timeloopers #2 comes out!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

For New Fans: What to Read Next—Summaries of My Mind-bending YA Standalones and Series

Right now, I have seven books out, with a new one coming out every two months. If you’ve just discovered my work through one of my books and want to read another one, here’s a little summary of each one of my works you can use as a kind of guide.

The Series


God’s Loophole

This is a four book series about a creepy machine that cuts people out of the universe and ends up making two teenagers telekinetic (three of the books are out, with the final book coming out early in 2015). This one crosses into genres of technothriller (a lot is told from adult scientists’ perspectives) and toward the end of the series, horror. As of yet, this is my major series, so if you’re a fan of mine, make sure you read this series.

Timeloopers

Combines a private high school with a time machine. This is going to be a longer series. The first book is out, and the second one is coming out early December. This one’s also a must for fans. Though less serious than God’s Loophole, this one has some seriously fun characters and fun time travel paradoxes. 

The Standalones

If you’re not ready to jump into a series, and just want to read a standalone story, here are my three standalones.

Broken Symmetry

This one follows Blaire Adams and hot bad boy Damian, both of whom can walk through mirrors. What happens on the other side is the subject of this book. It’s a trippy story and my most original idea so far. I would recommend this to anyone who hasn’t read it, as I think this most captures my style of mind-bending YA with a twist. If you’re looking for a standalone and started with one of my series, read this one first.

Triton

On a cruise ship, everyone suddenly vanishes into thin air, leaving five teenagers to regain control of the runaway ship and solve an ancient mystery. This one might be called a supernatural thriller, but it’s a fun, fun adventure with a good twist at the end. Highly recommended. 

Entanglement

Although this has been a popular book of mine for a long time, it was the first book I wrote, and my style has changed. This is more of a romance, and has less of the fun twists and turns you’ll recognize from my later work. I recommend you read this after you’ve read some of my more recent stuff.

So that’s it for now! Next out around early December is Timeloopers #2, and then in early 2015, God’s Loophole #4. Then I’ll be starting a new series. More on that to come. Make sure you sign up for my newsletter below to get an email when these books—and all my future books—hit the shelves:

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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Singularity: When Humans Become Cyborgs

Here’s some food for thought: computers double in processing power every 18 months. This has been known as Moore’s law, and has been true since the 1950s. It is still true today.

Today, the fastest supercomputer is approaching the processing power needed to simulate a human brain. In the next few years or decades, this feat will be achieved. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when. Humans will build human level artificial intelligence. The Human Brain Project is attempting to accomplish this by 2020, although that’s probably optimistic. My estimate is 2030, considering how those things usually go.

But Moore’s law continues to hold sway, and when we build human-level AI, we will be able to build twice human AI, then four times human AI, then eight times human AI, all within a matter of years. The intelligence of our machines will grow exponentially, greatly outpacing our mammalian brains. We’ll be left in the dust, say some, and machines will take over the world, yada yada yada, you know the drill. It’s the plot of half of all dystopian stories. But here’s why it’s not going to happen.

There’s going to be a nice big window of time where computers are almost as smart as humans—or even a little bit smarter—where other technologies will also be catching up. The one I’m interested in is brain-computer interface technology. It’s going to get better too, which means we’re going to be seeing memory chips implanted in our brains, external processors wired us to assist our thoughts, and a whole bunch of crazy stuff like that.

So it’s not going to be a competition between brains and computers. It’s going to be a competition between brains plus computers and just computers. And brains plus computers will always beat just plain computers. So we’ll become smarter and faster with our machines. Eventually, machines will be so fast that the biological components won’t even be necessary anymore, and we’ll just ditch those. But we’ll be essentially us. I’m not worried about AI taking over the world, because we’re going to turn into the AI.

I write stories about mind-bending ideas with a twist. Sign up for my newsletter below to get an email when my next book comes out:

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