An ARC of a Spark from Michele Fogal

[Note from Jessa: The noise to signal ratio for new books is, er, challenging to rise above. Author LOVE readers to share in the signal! So here’s a way to get involved with a maybe new-to-you author and help spread the words!]

amok monday guest authors

Hello fellow story gobblers,

Hot off the Presses!
I have just created an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of my 3rd published novel, Root of the Spark. Book 1 in my Wild Seed series, it’s a science fiction novel with a strong love story and LGBT elements, and it’s being published by Loose Id, Nov 22, 2016.
I’m hoping to generate reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. Logging in to either of those sites and rating a book really helps an author build street cred. Even a single sentence review counts towards my numbers. Feel free to forward this invite to friends who like a novel with a large dollop of spicy diversity.
The ARC ebook is a copy of the manuscript prior to final proofing, thus there could be small changes in the final. I have it available in mobi, epub and pdf formats, so if you’d like to read it, please let me know what you need.
The Launch
If you’d like to get notified about this launch and my other upcoming books, please join my newsletter here: News emails will be brief and infrequent.
Thanks for your support! I’m looking forward to sharing this quirky tale.

Root of the Spark – Blurb

Dell has an unexpected spark that masculine and feminine energies create when swirled and fused inside a single person. But will this be enough to stop the age-old tide of fear and violence as it rises again?

Born in the midst of the oldest human war, the war of the sexes, Dell is the first true hermaphrodite on the planet of Ameliaura. Dell has used the anonymity of the Fatherlander cities to survive, and the tight community of the Motherlander villages to manage, but reaching maturity means that neither of those are enough to thrive on anymore. After a vicious attack, and an unexpected love interest, Dell must step into the light to fight for a real home.

Warning: this book contains a child who is actually an ancient dragon made of fungus, a lovely villain imprisoned inside the creature’s body, a hasty clan gathering in the collective subconscious, a hermaphrodite orphanage on the brink, and some very naughty acts on a staircase.

Title: Root of the Spark (Wild Seed #1)
Author: Michele Fogal
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, LGBT
Length: 88,000 words (Novel)
Publisher: Loose Id
Release Date: Nov 22, 2016

Excerpt: Root of the Spark

I was huffing and slugging the walls until I fell to my knees, and then I figured it was just as good to beat the hell out of the floor since it was all clearly the same shit. Its body. The whole thing was its lord-forgotten body. With me just like a tiny maggot inside a fart bubble in its gut. I started to shake.

It could probably turn this whole room into that harder stuff if it wanted. It could probably collapse the walls and crush me just like the bug I was. I put something extra into the next wallop I laid onto the floor when I thought of that.

“Come on, you son of a whore! Just get it over with. Come and crush me up like a worm. I’d rather die now than sit here waiting for whatever your sick, fat brain is thinking up for me.”

I flopped out flat and rolled to look at the ceiling. There it was, glowing away like its own little sun was in behind a thin blanket of that stuff. What could I possibly do that would make the hugest beast sit up and pay me any kind of notice? Even if I’d had a knife or a sword, what good would that have done? A shock stick would have barely tickled that thing’s tonsils.

It was time to man up to the fact that not only was I in the plink with no real date for getting out, not only was there no way out, but I was nothing. I had nothing to fight with, no strength worth a wit in here. I cried then, like a baby. Or rather, like a toddler. Any man that’s had kids of his own knows that no baby ever did crying the justice that a two-year-old can.

I gave in and let it roll outta me, snot and sobs and all. The red-hot shame of it was something terrible. I was nothing, and this thing that held me, it was seeing all of this and would now know not just how weak I was—which, when you think about it, Acorn must have known before I was even in here—but that I knew how weak I was and couldn’t keep myself from admitting it.

How long had it taken to break me? A few hours? It was pathetic how weak I was, the toughest of the hard-working guys. I was terrified in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. No booze, no people. I had to have one or the other. To be alone with myself was just not…safe.

Michele Fogal
Love stories of the quirky and diverse
Author Site & Blog:

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Story sweeps up the dust of our lives, moistens it with breath, and grows food for the soul.

The bane of the bottomless budget: A case for editing

I finally got to see Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I loved J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. As a kid, I had the coffee-table size illustrated edition. I actually BLED for that book; I was turning the pages so fast I gave myself a hella papercut.

However, I don’t consider myself a ravening fan-girl. I loved the Hobbit book and songs, and I loved PJ’s The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as well as the LotR source material, but I don’t have any of it memorized. (Although I admit I read The Hobbit 11 times in a row, it was a really long time ago.) I’m never wedded to canonical purity, and I’m totally willing to go along with a compelling new vision, even of a storyworld I love.

So to say I personify the ideal audience for The Hobbit movies is, I think, no exaggeration. And to say that the movie left me rather flat breaks my heart.

Having seen the first installment, I knew part 2 would be problematic, so my expectations were realistic. Indeed, after reading reviews (carefully, to avoid spoilers — sure, I read the book 11 times, but ya never know) my expectations might’ve been below realistic into low territory. I reminded myself that seeing the movie would at least support the epic fantasy genre. I even made sure to be mildly dehydrated so the 2:40 run-time wouldn’t leave me shifting restlessly in my seat.

And STILL I gave a sad sigh as I walked out of the theater at 1:30 a.m. after the late show.

In Desolation, I have seen the positive power of no at work. Or, in this case, not working.

Not the ability to SAY no — that’s one of the first things you learn as a toddler: nononononono — but the ability to HEAR no. As a storyteller myself, I’m inclined to believe that if only I was allowed to run amok, my creative life would be perfect. If only I could do whatever I wanted, with enormous talent and a bottomless budget and brilliant co-conspirators and an automatically adoring audience, certainly I would create a work to both entertain AND endure the ages.

Not so much, apparently.

editing the hobbit

Desolation was a gorgeous, thrilling, wonderful movie… stuck in a too-big hooded onsie, under a winter coat and galoshes, overlaid with a wetsuit, tucked into an EVA space suit, rolling inside a half-inflated bouncy house. Seeing the movie that could have been drowning in the morass of what was actually on the screen gave me a new appreciation for editing. Every single scene in the movie — not kidding, EVERY scene — could have been shortened, sometimes judiciously, sometimes brutally. Every speech (with the possible exception of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Smaug, but only because he was so very, very pretty) could have been trimmed. Every action sequence could have been tighter, most of them by multiple beats (which would have neatly gotten rid of some questionable CGI). Entire characters could have been cut without consequence.

The moviemakers just needed to hear no.

No, the movie shouldn’t be two hours and forty minutes. Heck, now that we think about it, no, it doesn’t need to be a trilogy. No, you can’t have two nearly identical speeches that aren’t even good echoes and you can’t have two nearly identical action sequences involving log rides. And while we’re saying no, no, you aren’t designing an amusement park, you’re making a movie. No, there aren’t that many orcs in existence who can’t land a single bloody blow. No, you don’t need that weak and undermotivated love interest story. (“But at least we added a character with woman parts, so of course she had to fall in love with someone for no fucking reason…” Gah.) No, we aren’t buying that cool special effect app just so you can use it on something that doesn’t even fit into the image bible you’ve already established. No, somebody doesn’t need to say something in a ringing voice because this is the story beat where somebody always says something in a ringing voice. No, we’re not randomly shoehorning this character even if certain fan-girls want it so bad. Okay, yes, you can sneak your cameo in the establishing shot, but it won’t be self-indulgent because on everything else that makes the movie feel slow and unfocused we are going to say no and you are going to hear it. No. Nonononono. Just… no.

In January, I’m writing one story and revising two more, so this lesson really hit home for me. (Hit home like one of Tauriel’s arrows, not like an orc blow which apparently can’t land EVER.) Not that I am anywhere near as indulged as PJ — tragically — but in my own little creative realm, I sometimes want to go easy on myself. And that’s no good.

No one wants to hear no. It sounds so… limiting. But hearing no shouldn’t stop you. No indeed! No is where we find the problems. It’s where we cut what doesn’t work. It’s where we find new ways around and over and through. It’s how we fight to a yes. An enthusiastic, unconditional, orgasmic yesyesyes!

Hearing no can be sharp and painful, honing back to the bone, but it’s the difference between a bloated, soft, weak hobbit who never would have left the Shire and a hot, sleek, glittering dragon who’ll burn everyone’s lowly expectations to the ground. That cutting NO creates the negative pressure that gives lift to the dragon’s wings.

So I’ll be taking NO and running with it like scissors — like Bilbo’s little Sting! — excising the bloat, slicing away the unnecessary, carving through to the shiny gold center. The power of no is a power I will use for good.

But I suppose the real question is, will I see the third Hobbit movie? Well, YES 🙂 I mean, c’mon, it’s The Hobbit!

Jessa’s (mostly) pithy reviews: Gravity

Like a lot of people, my discretionary spending budget is smaller than I’d like, so I’m pretty picky about which movies I see in the theater. It’s easy to pull out two $20s and not get much back, and that’s just for me and XY (plus some popcorn, of course).

But when I heard so many good things about Gravity I knew I’d spend the bucks. And, yeah, it was worth it.

Gravity Poster.jpg

Jessa’s pithy review:

See it. See it on the big screen. See it in 3D.

XY’s even pithier review: “Harrowing.”

A few less-pithy, non-spoiler points that might matter to some people:

1. I’d heard that the beginning of the movie might trigger nausea, and I sometimes get a bit of a queasy headache from shaky cams, so I was wondering about this. But I had no problems.

2. For some reason, I got the impression the movie would be just two people floating in space which sounded like it could be boring to me. But it wasn’t that.

3. Some people object to paying for 3D because either the effects feel pointless or look like a blatant money grab. But Gravity made good use of the 3D. I ducked and winced and gasped. The tension of the story and the sense of immersion were both enhanced by the 3D.

It was wonderful to see something that wasn’t a sequel or a reboot or an adaptation or an otherwise known entity. Go support the storytellers!

To read more of “Jessa’s pithy reviews” for books, find me on Goodreads.

RONE Award finalists!

HOTTER ON THE EDGE received a great review from InD’tale magazine — “a wonderful anthology, with three beautiful and romantic stories” — and the 4 1/2 stars qualified us for the first round of the RONE Awards. Judges saw fit to pass us along to you — the readers — for the final round. If you read (and hopefully liked!) HOTTER ON THE EDGE, we’d love your vote.

The list is also a great way to maybe check out some new-to-you indie authors. The magazine is dedicated to helping connect readers with the best in indie publishing.

Voting starts here. The novella category is open from May 3-10.

Happy reading!

Wherein I am a pig

You should see how much candied yams I can eat!

But actually, today I am a guinea pig over at Author Marketing 101. The brilliant marketing minds of C. Morgan Kennedy and Therese Patrick are offering a virtual workshop reviewing “the online experience Jessa Slade provides through her website.” Well, that sounds as menacing as one piece of pie and two forks.

(I suspect they could start their critical evaluation with my penchant for unnecessarily dense similes, metaphors and analogies.)

So as you bake and roast and whatnot, stop by Author Marketing 101 and we’ll learn together what it takes to create a satisfying experience. (Just add marshmallow fluff.)