Friday, February 19, 2016

Let The Kazumi Chronicles begin – Excerpt + 10 writing advice tips

Shadow of Deception by Sophia L. Johnson
(The Kazumi Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: 9 April, 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult


2153, Toronto, United Nation of North America (UNNA)

A horrific plane crash kills all five hundred and forty-two passengers except one. Kazumi emerges from the wreckage physically unscathed but has lost all her memories. Her miraculous survival has the whole city buzzing but all she wants is to go home, wherever home is.
After waiting a month in the hospital with no one to claim her, Kazumi is deemed homeless. She is about to be sent to a nearby teenage shelter when the nurse she grew to trust ushers her down a mysterious path, one that promises safety and maybe even the chance to recover her memories. With no better options available, Kazumi takes her chance and finds herself in the headquarters of the Sarcomeres, a secret society of genetically advanced humans hidden deep inside the Rocky Mountains. The Sarc’s heightened physical abilities and high-tech gadgets are not the only things that fascinate Kazumi. Finnegan O’Riley, a fellow Sarc she meets along the way also gets her heart racing. When Kazumi discovers that she possesses the genetic potential of a Sarcomere, she jumps at the chance to train with them, not knowing the death defying tests that are involved.
Meanwhile, a centuries-old nemesis of the Sarcomeres begins to stir in the dark, setting their dark plans in motion. Just when Kazumi thinks she can help protect her new found home, past memories surface to threaten her new identity. She soon realizes that layers of deception run deep and everyone has a secret agenda, including herself.
Who can she trust when she can’t even trust herself? One wrong decision could bring forth consequences worse than death.

Shadow of Deception is the gold medal winner at the Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.

Excerpt from Shadow of Deception
The Kazumi Chronicles #1

Despite my slower pace, we manage to put a good distance between us and the pursuing soldiers. The ruin that was once the train station is far behind us now.
Just when I think we are out of harm’s way, four dark figures emerge from the trees fifty feet ahead, blocking our path. Their faces are hooded by their purple robes.
Finn stops abruptly and I stumble forward. He tightens his grip on me so I don’t trip and fall.
“What is it?” I gasp, feeling like a very large person is sitting on my chest.
“Neuronics,” Finn says under his breath. “Stay close to me, don’t look them in the eye, and don’t believe anything you see. Use this when you have the chance.” He hands me a gun.
I don’t remember if I ever held a gun before, but it’s heavier than I thought. The cool and smooth metal is somewhat soothing against my hot and sweaty palm. There are red markings infused into its gleaming surface, just like the blades I saw back in the training hall. The lines and curves of the characters remind me of ancient runes. And the red ink inside seems to be moving, like a mini river flowing through a maze. This is his gun, not a stolen one from the soldiers like I thought.
“Duck!” Finn pulls me to the ground as a massive tree trunk flies over our heads. I look up and see the four figures still standing at their original spot. Their hoods lowered, revealing their stern faces. All of them male.
I want to ask Finn where did that tree trunk come from but the blue soldiers have caught up to us from behind. Finn springs onto his feet and collides with the crowd of blue in a flash.
I hold up my gun with trembling hands, thinking I can help Finn clear out a few enemies. But the chaotic blur makes it difficult for me to aim. I shift my attention to the purple figures and they too have advanced closer.
Trying to steady my aim, I heedlessly stare into the eyes of one of the Neuronics and find myself immobilized by his intense gaze. No matter how hard I try to look away, my eyes will not comply. I begin to feel something invisible reaching into my mind, like tentacles creeping through my brain, scrutinizing my every brain cell.
Frantically, I drop the gun and clutch my head with both hands. I need to get these tentacles out of my head. But they are growing in number and are now in every orifice of my head.
AHH!. . . gross!
I can see their ends flailing from my nostrils. I grab onto one with my fingers and I pinch as hard as I can. But the damn thing won’t die. The feeling is horrible, like a sickening itch in my brain that I can never scratch.
The sensation intensifies. I drop to my knees with a piercing cry. “Get off me!” I scratch, squeeze, rake, and peel at every bit of tentacle that I can get my hands on. They are too slimy and quick. The terrible itch spreads down my neck, threatening to take over my whole body. I yank one tentacle out of my neck just before it creeps down to my chest, but three more take its place with a vengeance.
“AHHHH . . .”
My hands are furiously battling with the creatures when my knee bumps into something solid. Through the flailing limbs, I see the gun on the ground, the gun Finn told me to use when the time is right.
I grab the gun and press the cold barrel to my head. The agony is insufferable. I wrap a finger around the trigger, ready for my sweet relief.

Last but not least, author Sophia L. Johnson answers: What are 10 random pieces of advice you'd give a writer?

1.  Start small to build up your discipline. Write a short story or just a description of your main character.

2.   Get in the habit of writing something every day, like 200 words each day. Doesn't take that long. And do it even if it's gibberish.

3.     Write a topic/genre you love. Readers can tell if the author is not passionate about his/her words.

4.     Don't try to sound fancy. Readers nowadays don't have the time or patience to google your ostentatious vocabulary as they read.

5.   Don't try to beautify your first draft. Let your words flow—however bad they might seem—and edit AFTER the story is done. Or else you will forever be stuck in that editing/re-editing mode without a complete story.

6.   DO YOUR RESEARCH! Can't stress that enough. Doesn't matter if your character is a farmer or a magic wielder, the fundamentals of their occupation must be or seem accurate. This goes for your world building as well. I once had a writing instructor who spent weeks trying to figure out if Vaseline in the 50s were in jars or tubes. Tubes, they came in tubes!

7.   Read! You'll be surprised how much you can learn from other authors by just reading their books. Don't be afraid to imitate their writing styles. Hardly any new writers can invent their own style in the beginning. So imitate until you find your own voice.

8.  Join a writer's group or a critique group. This is extremely helping in improving your craft and not to mention networking opportunities. It's very helpful to get others' opinions on your manuscript. We are so submerged in our work that often we oversee a lot of details or mistakes. A fresh set of eyes will spot those easily.

9.     Keep a notepad or use your phone to jot down any ideas that come to mind at anytime. Sometimes inspiration comes at the weirdest time and place.

10.  Stop procrastinating! Sit your butt down and start writing!

As part of the tour, there is a tour-wide giveaway for a $10 Amazon gift card. Ends 28 February 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Buy links for Shadow of Deception:
Amazon and B&N.

About Sophia L. Johnson:
I had my first adventure at the age of nine when I flew halfway across the globe all by myself, not knowing a word of English. I was lucky my parents didn’t decide to cheap out and ship me as a parcel instead. But all jokes aside, it was because of financial and physical limitations that I had to fly to Canada solo. It was a great adventure for a nine year-old girl to be honest; aside from the puking, the starvation due to inedible raw vegetables and smelly goo of which I later found out were called salad and cheese. But I made it. I reunited with my parents and soon welcomed my baby brother to the world.
Twenty-five years later, I have a beautiful daughter of my own and a loving husband. We all live in Toronto, enjoying the cultural diversity the city offers. The only adventures I get to have nowadays is by living vicariously through my characters.

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