Archive for June, 2012

Please enjoy this guest post by Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of the paranormal YA novel with a literary bent Moa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $6000 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.

 

The Story Behind Moa
by Tricia Stewart Shiu

I've always loved Hawaii and was thrilled when my husband booked a visit for us to see his relatives in Honolulu, Hawaii in October of 2006. We packed light and brought our daughter, who was three-years-old at the time.

Our condo was close to parks and monuments that oozed history. We enjoyed wandering around and indulging in the local cuisine. I even tried poi and liked it!

The morning after we arrived, I rose early to push my daughter’s stroller through the quiet, cool morning air. It felt like such a gift to experience Honolulu before the rest of the island was up.

After a hearty island breakfast, we headed out for a morning at our favorite sandy reprieve, Kuhio Beach. The water was calm and protected by a breakwater. Our daughter enjoyed digging and splashing and my husband and I sat sit nearby without worrying about the strong current.

Afterward, we headed back to our condominium, ate a light lunch, and took a luxurious siesta. Although I'm not usually a mid-day napper, the fresh sea air and sun lulled me into a light sleep—the kind where I felt like I was awake, but I was actually deeply asleep.

I heard a voice say my name and a part of me awoke. I use the word “part” because I could definitely feel my body touching the soft material on the couch. And yet, another part was keenly aware of a young woman with dark hair standing over me. It felt real, but dream-like, so I decided to go with it and ask her her name.

She pronounced a long Hawaiian string of letters, which seemed to go on for minutes. After repeating the name three or four times, she told me to call her “Moa.” Through my exhausted, sleepy haze, I remember being skeptical. If this was, indeed, a dream, I would ask as many questions as possible. So I did.

Why was she here? Where did she come from? How could I be sure she was who she claimed to be?

Instead of any answers, she flashed a mental picture of a woman and said that she was a long lost friend of my husband’s. She told me her name and explained that my husband’s family and she had lost touch 15 years before and had been orbiting around one another trying to reconnect.

I awoke from that nap, slightly groggy. That was an indication that I was definitely asleep. Perhaps it was just my creativity kicking into overdrive, I reasoned, and decided to go on with my day. We walked to a park with my daughter and began playing. Suddenly, there was a squeal and my husband and I turned to see the woman from my dream charging toward us with her arms stretched out wide. As she spoke, I tried to gather my wits. Here was the same woman from my dream, someone I’d only seen a mental picture of, and she was standing on the grass right in front of me.

She and my husband exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch. For the next few hours, I tried to make sense of what happened. I had never had an experience like this before, but there was no denying that I saw a picture in a dream before I met someone and then they showed up in real life.

When I went to sleep that evening, Moa visited again. She answered the other questions I’d asked earlier that afternoon and wanted me to know that I was protected and should share my experience with the world. Since this was definitely my first metaphysical encounter, I had no idea how to form the correct words to share what had happened. How on earth, I asked Moa, am I supposed to convey such undocumented, unsubstantiated, unusual information?

She said that our world exists on many levels which all play simultaneously. Her analogy was of a DVR. Several shows can be playing at the same time but are on different tuners. That, she said, is where she existed.

When I awoke, I began writing and continued to do so. The story evolved into “Moa,” then the sequel, “Statue of Ku.” My daughter, now seven, took the cover photo and illustrated, as well. The photo was taken a few years ago on the North Shore as we played on the beach. The artwork has been compiled over the last two years.

Since my visit with Moa, I began an extensive and sometimes circuitous search to explain my metaphysical experience. I took classes on mediumship, Huna, energy work and through my education, I learned to create healing essential oils and elixir sprays and incorporated that information in the book. Not only did my experience with Moa inspire me and guide me through four-and-a-half of the most challenging years of my life, I also believe that writing about those events and including information I received about that inspiration and guidance, brought my own deep physical, mental, emotional and spiritual transformation and healing. Writing, editing and publishing Moa has opened doors to a new way of understanding myself, those around me and the energy we share.

Whatever your belief or understanding of the metaphysical world, I believe that if one person is transformed through learning, then we are all transformed. I truly believe the Moa I met came through in this work and, just as I connected with her as I wrote, those who read the book will experience her as well.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Please enjoy this excerpt from Moa, a paranormal YA novel with a literary bent by Tricia Stewart Shiu. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $6000 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.

Eighteen-year-old, Hillary Hause’s left thumb searches frantically to turn on the “I’m Okay to Fly” hypnotherapy recording. Her nerves on edge, fuchsia fingernails press into the blue pleather armrests of her airplane seat.

“No spells can help you now,” she whispers to herself under her breath—then checks to see if anyone notices. Nope, they don’t.

The plane lifts through the early morning, gray fog of California, “June Gloom” giving way to the azure sky, and Hillary covers her curly brown head and retreats beneath the questionably clean plane blanket cranking the volume to drown out the drone of the engines.

“Outer shell close to breaking.” This time she doesn’t care if anyone hears.

I hover just beyond her “outer shell”—a movement in the periphery, a faintly familiar scent, a fond memory just beyond recognition, a non-human observer. Before the week is up, Hillary will save my life, as I will hers. But, for now, more about Hillary.

The drink cart rolls past the blanket, which has, by now become a moist steamy cave.

“Hey, freak. I hope your plane crashes.” The memory reverberates through her brain despite her attempts to distract herself with the hypnotherapy recording. She increases the volume, but the ugly conversation, which occurred just before school ended, still haunts her mind.

“I guess the only people they check on those flights are the suspicious ones,” Krystal Sykes, a bully from her home room, leans in as Hillary hastens to grab books for her next class. Krystal, also a senior, has hounded Hillary since the first day of freshman year and this is the final day during the final hour at this tiny high school of 376 students —where everyone knows everyone else’s business.

“Look, Krystal.” Hillary turns her eyes toward the sneering blonde. “It’s the last day of school, we’ll never see each other again. Can you give it a rest?” These are the most words the two young women have exchanged in the entire four years of high school.

A look of shock replaces Krystal’s smug snick, “Oh, so now you talk.” She leans in, so close that her spray tan becomes a patchy Impressionist painting. Her pores are blotched with cakey, two shades too dark powder, her unblended cream eyeshadow creases across the center of her lid and her tropical breeze flavored breath threatens to strangle the words right out of Hillary.

“I know all about your witchcraft practices and have made a few spells of my own. Trust me. You’ll never make it to your sister’s house in Hawaii.” Krystal’s backpack jingles and Hillary watches her spin around and skip down the hall.

Hillary is not a witch. She has, however, carefully crafted a “shell” to protect herself from bullies like Krystal—who, as far as Hillary can tell—is not a witch either. She has watched Krystal throughout elementary, middle and high school and has not been able to discern whether or not she practices witchcraft. No matter what Krystal’s background, her intent is to harm. And there is nothing worse than a spell with an aim to hurt. Hillary has had no choice but to remain in a constant state of defensiveness.

The twenty-minute recording ends and Hillary falls into a troubled sleep—feeling every bump and hearing every creak of the plane.

With about an hour left in the flight, Hillary awakens with a “turtle headache.” Hillary’s older sister Molly taught her this term which means a headache caused by sleeping too long underneath the covers of one’s bed.

Sadly, Molly lost her husband, Steve, last year in an unfortunate surfing accident. The throbbing pain in Hillary’s left temple could be the result of remaining submerged beneath an airplane blanket and wedged between the window and armrest, or it could be from worry about how Molly and her niece, Heidi are dealing with their devastating loss.

Disoriented, Hillary pokes her head out just in time to glimpse puffy clouds and sparkling sea below. A flood of excitement and sheer wonder flows through Hillary in the form of a tingle from her head to her toes. And then, a lovely thought: “…And for an Everlasting Roof, The Gambrels of the Sky…” She will enjoy this plane ride, thanks in part to Emily Dickinson.

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Please enjoy this interview with Tricia Stewart Shiu, author of the paranormal YA novel with a literary bent Moa. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including $6000 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, 5 autographed copies of Moa, and 5 autographed copies of its sequel, Statue of Ku.

 

1. The Moa Book series has a metaphysical theme. Do you have any expertise in this area?

I am an energetic intuitive and have a talent for creating powerful healing essential oil blends and gem elixirs. The unearthing of these talents occurred as I embarked on a metaphysical journey, which included studies in mediumship, pagan and Huna rituals as well as an energy healing technique called “Crystalline Consciousness Technique.” I also studied a variety of shamanic clearing methods and healing rituals.

2. You get pretty heavy into the metaphysical. Are you, in fact, a witch?

Like, Hillary, I question who I am on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. For centuries, women have been persecuted and even killed for being labeled a witch. I have studied many forms of healing rituals and magic and discovered that I have talents for using essential oils and crystals for the highest good. Others, who have witnessed the results of my practices, have called me many things: healer, shaman, and yes, witch. I choose not to accept any of these names but to embrace all of them as one growing changing name—wishealer or heshitch—to coin a phrase…or maybe not. As I discover more talents, gifts and unique parts to myself, this unusual word is sure to undergo a metamorphosis and may grow to the size of Moa's real, and quite lengthy, Hawaiian name.

3. What are your favorite books and how have they touched you as a reader?

Albert Einstein said, "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” The books/stories that touch me most echo the theme of humanity and self discovery and include a sense of adventure and wonder. Ray Bradbury's short story, Frost and Fire is a shocking, but tender story about a boy's journey into a world where people only live eight days. James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man inspired me to unleash my inner censor and allow my truth to shine though my writing. If I could wish anything for those who read my books, it would be the gift of self acceptance and self acknowledgement.

4. How long does it take you to write a book from start to finish?

Good question. I went back into my notes and discovered that it took me exactly three months and ten days to write Moa from beginning to end. That seems to be my average writing speed, three months. My aunt Rebecca Gummere is my editor extraordinaire. We have developed a comfortable and productive working rhythm that balances creativity and structure and brings such joy and enrichment to the work.

5. Who designs the covers for your books?

The brilliant and talented Sydney Shiu took the cover photos when she was six during a trip to Hawaii. Scott Torrance brought his years of experience in photographic art and design to the layouts.

6. What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The time between stories is the most challenging for me. When I am inside a story and writing I am filled with peace and joy. When I finish and have to leave that world, I mourn the loss of this comforting place–the same is true when I finish reading a great book. Nevertheless, I believe that this sadness brings with it a great opportunity and depth of creativity and I wouldn’t change a thing about the process.

7. Any take-away message you want readers to grasp?

Each of us has at least one divine gift to remember. The moment we wake up and retrieve the memory of who we are and what we are here to do, that's when the adventure begins.

8. When did you first consider yourself an author?

I was in middle school and read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist for the first time. About an hour later, I was overcome by an urge to write, an impulse I readily indulged. Time stood still, I still can't quite remember what happened during that frenzied period of first creation. All I remember is coming to with pages upon pages filled with words in front of me. It felt incredible to express myself so freely. I've never looked back.

9. Did you start out writing novels?

No. I started out writing short stories when I was young. Then when I began acting, I wrote one-woman shows and plays, eventually combining my efforts of performance and writing in a piece called Doing Lunch which made it’s way into a short film trilogy directed by Hal Trussel. That film won “Best Dramatic Short” at the Houston Film Festival.

10. What was your main source of inspiration for the Moa book series?

When I was five, I was visited by a vision. I'll never forget it, I was running down the stairs and the entity, a girl with dark hair, stopped me in my tracks. The spirit said that I would go through a deeply challenging time in my life, but would resurface, later in life, with unimaginable joy and fulfillment. That vision stayed with me. In middle school, I would sit quietly at my desk adding up the years to figure out exactly when my life would turn around.

And then I forgot. I got busy, my work and the stress of family life took over and I was completely overwhelmed and in desperate need of a vacation. My husband, daughter and I decided to go to Hawaii.

When the plane landed in Honolulu, I remember feeling the difference in the atmosphere as I disembarked. The air made me somehow, remember that there was a part of me that knew…something…what was it?

Never mind, I was in Hawaii it was time to see the sights! So, I sped off to see Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach and then headed home for an afternoon nap before an evening luau. As I drifted toward sleep, I heard my name being called. In my mind's eye, I saw a beautiful young woman with dark hair, who said her name was Moaahuulikkiaaakea’o Haanaapeekuluueehuehakipuunahe’e—Moa for short.

And then I remembered.

 

As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, the price of the Moa and Statue of Ku eBook editions have both been dropped to just 99 cents this week. What’s more, by purchasing either of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes. The prizes include $600 in Amazon gift cards, a Kindle Fire, and 5 autographed copies of each book.

All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!

To win the prizes:

  1. Purchase your copies of Moa and Statue of Ku for just 99 cents
  2. Enter the Rafflecopter contest on Novel Publicity
  3. Visit today’s featured social media event

About Moa: Eighteen-year-old, Hillary, anticipates adventure as she embarks for trip to Honolulu, but gets more than she bargained for when Moa, an ancient Hawaiian spirit, pays her an unexpected visit. Get it on Amazon.

About Statue of Ku: The second book in the Moa Book Series, "The Statue of Ku" follows Hillary and Moa as they jet to Egypt on the Prince’s private plane to reclaim Moa’s family heirloom, the inimitable statue of Ku. Get it on Amazon.

About the author: Tricia Stewart Shiu combines her addiction to the written word with her avid interest in the healing arts and all things metaphysical in her novels Moa and Statue of Ku and looks forward to finding new ways to unite her two loves. Visit Tricia on her website, Twitter, Facebook, or GoodReads.

Next week my blog is hosting Tricia Stuart Shiu ’s Moa whirlwind tour.  Stay tuned for more information.  

I would love to say I loved this book, and indeed there was much I did enjoy about it.  I found the main characters to be engaging and well written.  The world building I thought was excellent. I enjoyed reading it and will certainly read the sequel, Bitterblue. 

What really let the novel down in my opinion was the poor pacing.  I felt too much time was spent on the wrong things.  For example we seem to spend several chapters wandering around in the snow with Katsa and Bitterblue and yet the final confrontation with Leck, to which the entire book has been leading, is over within half a page or so.  This left me feeling somewhat cheated.  In addition, this confrontation occurs still some way from the end of the novel; I kept expecting another twist, not setup for the next novel.

I also felt the author missed some golden opportunities to explore some interesting themes, such as how do those who have grown used to power cope when they are powerless?  It is touched upon briefly, but I would have welcomed a deeper exploration of these.  

Having said that, I think these are things the novelist will become more adept at handling (this is her debut novel, after all) and I imagine a bright future for her.  

I've had a day to play around with this now, and at this point I'm unlikely to keep it.  As I mentioned in my initial post, my main use for this would have been as a multi-platform e-reading tablet.  From what I've seen, it's going to struggle to fulfill that purpose, for me at least.

What I liked

The inbuilt functions seemed to work fairly well.  The main Kobo app is almost identical to the one on the iPad and works in much the same fashion.  I tested the Email, YouTube and Zinio apps, and again, all of them worked reasonably well.  My existing content downloaded to the machine with no trouble.  I also found the capacitive touchscreen to be reasonably responsive, which was a criticism I'd read in other reviews.

I particularly liked the Kobo widget which brings your currently being read content right to your home screen.

Being used to iOS, it took me a little time to get used to Android, but it wasn't that difficult.  

You also can't really argue about the price – $169 is a pretty good deal – if you're prepared to accept the limitations.  

I also really liked the 7 inch size.   I found it a comfortable size and weight for one handed reading – something I cannot do with my 10inch iPad.  

What I didn't like

The performance.  The 800 Mhz processor and 512 RAM really do show their lack of power.  It's not so noticeable if all you're doing is reading, but if, for example, you switch the orientation of the device you can expect 3-5 seconds of white screen, spinning circle while it catches up.  

Battery life.  This can't really compare to the eInk Kobo and Kindle, but I fully charged the device last night and got in about four hours of mainly reading before it requested a recharge.  For me this is not really acceptable on a device I intend to use primarily for reading.

Difficulty installing non Kobo approved apps.  As a dedicated multi-platform eReading device there were a few apps I wished to install on it: the Kindle app, Overdrive (for library books) and Goodreads.  None of these apps were available on the Kobo app store.  I downloaded the Amazon App Store, but as I'm not in the US I was unable to download even free apps.  Likewise the Kobo blocks apps from Google Play.  In the end it took a great deal of internet searching and fiddling to be able to get them installed.  At least, once they were installed they were functional.  

In summary then, I will try the Kobo Vox a little longer, but I will likely not be keeping it.  It just doesn't have the power to do what I need.  The power aside, there are other Android tablets coming on the market with similar specs which allow more freedom with installed applications.

As I received a nice tax rebate today, I decided to check out the Kobo Vox 7 inch e-reader Android tablet.  For the Canadians amongst you, FutureShop is offering $10 discount. Now, it's possible I will return it before the return period expires; the reviews I've read and seen on YouTube have been rather negative – sluggish, unresponsive machine, poor quality build – but I will see for myself.

I am not expecting it to be comparable to the iPad – Apple's tablet has a dual-core Apple A5X custom-designed, high-performance, low-power system-on-a-chip with quad-core graphics and 1GB of RAM compared to the Vox's 800 Mhz processor and 512 RAM – and of course with at least $400 difference in price, you wouldn't expect them to compare.  I intend using them for different purposes.  I expect my iPad to remain my go to tablet of choice, and the Kobo to be purely e-reading based.  The main advantage I'm hoping to get from the Vox is that I will be able to read books from all three of my main sources – Amazon, Kobo and the local library – on one e-reader sized device.  

This will also be my first experience with Android.  As most of you know, I'm an iOS girl through and through, so it will be interesting to see what I make of it.  I will let you know how I get on!

The genre of political thriller is not one I read particularly often, and it usually has to have a very interesting premise for me to pick it up in the first place.  This one did catch my attention: what could happen if wealthy and influential individuals lost a loved one in a terrorist attack and had the means, motive and opportunity to take personal revenge?

The first half of the novel introduces the protagonists, describes the initial terrorist incident which sparked the titular revenge, while the second half follows its setup and first stages of execution.  One thing I found detracted from the novel slightly was the abrupt end.  I understand this is the first in a two book series, and it felt as though the ending was neither a tied up ending nor a lead in to book two. 

I found the characters to be well developed and in general sympathetic – at times it was all too easy to forget that what they are planning will cost the lives of many innocents in the name of personal revenge.  The author does very well though in the way he describes their grief to gain the reader's empathy.

The descriptions of the political and practical discussions was also very well done – it was intelligently written and easily accessible to someone who doesn't move in the exalted circles of the protagonists. That said, I would have welcomed a more moderate religious viewpoint to balance the fanaticism on both sides of the Islamic/Christian divide.

I will certainly be checking out book two when it it is published and look forward to it.  I gave The Serpent's Head: Revenge four stars.