What Would You Do If Your Mother Was Killed and You Wound Up on the Streets?

 

Imagine this: you’re a teenager and living in a small, one-bedroom apartment with your mom. She works 16-hour days and barely makes enough money to eat. You live in a desert inferno and barely leave your boxed home.

Then, one day, you take your younger brother for ice-cream. When you return, you find your mother dead. With no one left to care for you, you wind up on the street, trying to protect your younger brother.

What would you do?

The Making of a Monster

This is the premise of “Stone from HELL: An Apollo Illusion Short Story,” which just released on Amazon for only $0.99 this week (or FREE for Kindle Unlimited subscribers).

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I’ve always been fascinated by the birth of a villain, and “Stone from HELL” is the backstory of the most notorious hacker from my futuristic debut novel, The Apollo Illusion. If you read “Stone from HELL,” you might find hints of yourself in its protagonist. The story is dark, gritty, edgy, but most of all, it’s scary.

Scary because more than anything, “Stone from HELL” is about society’s dark forces that turn the best of us into the demons we fear at night.

Of course, you could go on living in your happy-go-lucky bubble, where these things don’t happen to your or your family. But then you wouldn’t get the thrill of challenging your mind to wonder, “What if?” And you’d miss the subliminal messages and hidden commentary about certain issues today. Issues that might affect you without your knowledge.

“Stone from HELL” is Short and Cheap, So Why Not Grab It Now?

For less than $1, “Stone from HELL” is a short story (about 24 Kindle pages) that you can read in 30 or 40 minutes. Really, if you buy it, I guarantee you won’t be sorry–especially if you’ve already read The Apollo Illusion and are dying for more.

Buy “Stone from HELL” now for only $0.99, and find out what makes a monster …

 

Prices for ‘The Apollo Illusion’ Increasing by December!

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Due to wider distribution, prices for my debut novel, The Apollo Illusionwill soon be going up. If you haven’t grabbed a copy yet, now’s the time while the e-book is only $2.99 and the paperback is $10.99.

These changes may happen as early as December, so if you’re curious to read it, hurry and buy it now!

About The Apollo Illusion

Nothing is ever what it seems in this riveting science fiction dystopia about a future society’s frightening overdependence on technology.

The year is 2150, and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden.

When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.

The Apollo Illusion is a story for the hackers, the techies, the seekers, and the rebels of the world.

MORE INFORMATION:

  • Audience: ages 15+ (older teens and young adults)
  • Genres: dystopian suspense, science fiction, young adult (YA), speculative fiction

Editorial Reviews

“This is a story that’s well-written and the mysteries contained within the plot draw you in and keep you hooked from one page to the next. The Apollo Illusion should occupy a spot on the to-read list of any true dystopian sci-fi fan.” — John Coon, author of Pandora Reborn

“Pacey, exciting storytelling with great characters, loads of action and a super cute romance. What’s not to love?” — Lucinda Winters, book reviewer and blogger

“The timely release of The Apollo Illusion comes in the wake of ‘alternative facts’ and attacks on the ‘fake news’ media from President Trump and his administration … It’s a dark look at a future more closely in alignment with the present than Lopatin anticipated when she completed the first draft four years ago.” — Arizona Daily Sun

Guys, the e-book price is crazy affordable: only $2.99. So if the storyline piques your interest (even just a little bit), I really encourage you to buy The Apollo Illusion now!

Cover Reveal! Stone from HELL: An ‘Apollo Illusion’ Short Story

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Oooooo guys, doesn’t it just give you CHILLS? If you haven’t read a sneak peek of this sucker yet, read the first two chapters now!

What Makes a Monster?

In this short story about The Apollo Illusion’s most notorious hacker, Stone, we learn about the teenager he was before everything fell to pieces. And the man he became to establish the infamous, frightening group, HELL.

When Stone’s younger brother tears into his world midsummer 2131, Stone is sure his life is over. With every penny going to care for his brother, Stone can no longer save for college, dooming him to a life of economic slavery in the desert inferno of Sector 1.

After a random ice-cream trip one night, tragedy strikes, turning Stone’s life upside down. Thrust into a sudden reality filled with his worst fears, Stone harnesses his desperation to survive. But in the process, will he drive away the one thing he loves most?

If you liked the world of The Apollo Illusion and are dying for more, you’ll get your fix with “Stone from HELL.” It is the backstory of Stone’s creation, of the birth of HELL, and of society’s dark forces that turn the best of us into the demons we fear at night.

COMING SOON, SO STAY TUNED!

**(If you want to be the first to know when “Stone from HELL” becomes available, sign up for my Readers Club email list now!)

READ A SNEAK PEEK! Apollo Illusion Offshoot to be Launching Soon, ‘Stone from HELL’

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If you read my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, then you know all about Stone and HELL. But how did Stone become the person he was in The Apollo Illusion?

Stone from HELL: An Apollo Illusion Short Story” is the backstory of how Stone came to be, and the birth of the infamous organization, HELL. And yes, one other main character from The Apollo Illusion is also in this short story. 😉

[Read the first two chapters now!]

In essence, “Stone from HELL” is to The Apollo Illusion what “Rogue One” is to Star Wars. It’s an offshoot, an extension, a further explanation. And if you loved the world of The Apollo Illusion and were dying to know more about it, you’ll get your fill in “Stone from HELL.”

Read a Sneak Peek!

Because you follow my blog, I’m excited to offer YOU a sneak peek of this brand new short story!

DOWNLOAD YOUR SNEAK PEEK HERE.

And stay tuned. I still have the cover reveal coming, and “Stone from HELL” will be available on Amazon. My Readers Club subscribers will be the first to know when the rest of the story becomes available, so don’t miss out! Sign up now!

Meet Me at the Phoenix Public Library’s First Read Local Author Fair!

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I am crazy excited to announce that the Phoenix Public Library chose my book, The Apollo Illusion, to be included in its FIRST Read Local Author Fair event! In partnership with Local First Arizona and along with about 30 other Arizona authors, I’ll have a booth set up so you can purchase a copy of The Apollo Illusion, get your book signed, and/or grab a selfie for Facebook or Instagram. Best of all, 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the Friends of the Public Library, so you’re supporting a good cause.

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If you live in Arizona, or plan to be in Arizona during the author fair, I’d love to meet you! Check out the details below, and SAVE THE DATE!

Date: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018
Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85004
Mark your calendars now! [RSVP to the Facebook event here]

I hope to see you there!

Goodreads Giveaway! One More Shot to Win ‘The Apollo Illusion’

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The bad news: the giveaway to win one of two signed copies of The Apollo Illusion ended yesterday.

The good news: you can still win an e-copy of The Apollo Illusion via Goodreads!

New Goodreads Giveaway Just Launched!

That’s right. 🙂 A new Goodreads Giveaway just launched on Saturday this week. This time, your odds of winning are MUCH better. I’m giving away 100 e-book copies of The Apollo Illusion.

YES, YOU HEARD ME CORRECTLY. 100 E-COPIES!

But hurry and enter now, before the giveaway ends! https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/284907-the-apollo-illusion.

 

 

 

ONE WEEK LEFT! Enter to Win a SIGNED Copy of The Apollo Illusion

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In case you missed it, I launched a giveaway for two SIGNED copies of my debut YA science fiction/dystopian suspense novel, The Apollo Illusion. That means YOU could win one of the autographed books!

But the giveaway ends in one week (oh no!). So if you want your shot, hurry and enter now!

What’s the Catch?

To enter the giveaway, just sign up for my email list, “The Readers Club,” by clicking here: https://mailchi.mp/128965a01501/apollo-illusion-giveaway-entry. On Oct. 3, 2018, I will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. It’s that easy!

Seriously though, you lose NOTHING by trying. 😊 And The Apollo Illusion is getting crazy four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers: “an enthralling dystopian story” … “absolutely fascinating” … “one of the best books I’ve been asked to review” … and “a gripping story of opposing futures.”  

If you want to know more about the book, then hey—enter the giveaway! You might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink).

Win a SIGNED Copy of my Book, The Apollo Illusion!

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Do you love reading, author-signed books, and fun giveaways? Well …

Starting today, I’m launching a giveaway for two SIGNED copies of my debut YA science fiction/dystopian suspense novel, The Apollo Illusion. That means YOU could win one of two author-signed copies! Wanna enter? Here’s how:

Enter the Giveaway!

To enter the giveaway, just sign up for my email list, “The Readers Club” before Sept. 30, 2018. Then, on Oct. 3, I will randomly select two lucky winners from the list of giveaway participants. You could be one of them!

  1. Sign up for “The Readers Club” at this link: https://mailchi.mp/128965a01501/apollo-illusion-giveaway-entry.
  2. That’s it!

Here’s More about The Apollo Illusion

The Apollo Illusion has been getting consistent four-and-five-star reviews from readers and book bloggers (and yes, I’m lovin’ it!). Reviewers have called it “an enthralling dystopian story” … “absolutely fascinating” … “one of the best books I’ve been asked to review” … and “a gripping story of opposing futures.”

Personally, I think people are saying these things because the book is about the future consequences of society’s overdependence on technology. Kind of a timely topic. 😉

If you want to know more about the book, then hey—enter the giveaway! You might even get a sneak peek at the opening chapters (wink, wink).

How to Deal with Criticism After Publishing Your Book

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No matter how you slice it, reading criticism of your beloved book is hard. Especially when it’s your first book, and a critique can feel like a personal assault on your child.

I get it. As I prepared to read the first public reviews of my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, I mentally put up my “wall.” I’ve been a journalist and professional writer for 12 years now, and I became an expert at letting naysayers be naysayers.

But reading criticism of my first novel as a published author—as a creative writer—was a whole different universe I wasn’t prepared for (even though I thought I was).

You will undoubtedly LOVE some of the reviews you receive. You’ll share them on social media, on your blog, in your newsletter, or in paid advertisements. However, others may feel unfair (or at least aspects of them may feel unfair). But everyone knows, as an author, it’s not your place to defend your work once it’s been published.

Judgement now becomes the public’s job.

So, how do you cope when you have to remain silent?

First of all, understand that by trying to argue with the critics, you’ll appear defensive and immature. People will think you’re thin-skinned or an unsuccessful writer who simply can’t take the heat.

In my opinion, the only time you should publicly criticize a critic, is if the critic attacks you PERSONALLY, attacks a loved one, or makes a statement that is false and slanderous (such as claiming you plagiarized your work, when you didn’t).

Here are the ways I dealt with silently swallowing some of the critiques I received:

  1. Realize the unfavorable or unfair review is just ONE PERSON’S opinion. And people are entitled to their own opinions, right? As writers, we thrive on freedom of speech and expression of ideas. It’s all part of the dialogue.
  2. The copyright of your work belongs to you, but the judgement of your book belongs to the readers. It’s the next stage in the creative process, and you have to understand that YOU DON’T OWN THIS. So let it go.
  3. You will probably receive far more positive reviews than negative reviews, so concentrate on the trends! I know this has been true for me with The Apollo Illusion. When I look at the big picture, I realize that overall, people liked my book far more than they disliked it.
  4. You cannot please everyone. What one person loves, another person will hate. Your reviews will reflect this, so try not to take them personally. What matters is that you stuck to YOUR vision when writing your book.
  5. It takes time to build the emotional barrier against critiques of your work. If you’re on your first or second book, be patient. With time comes experience, and with experience comes expertise. I know that I need to give myself more time to get better at “not caring” what others say about my creative work.

If all else fails, you can always decide to just not read the reviews of your book!

**As a writer or author who has dealt with critics, what would YOU add to this list? Comment below, and don’t forget to share!**

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Have You Seen these Dope Artists? They Designed My Rockin’ Book Cover

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One of the reasons I went indie with my debut novel, The Apollo Illusion, was creative control—not just of my story, but of the cover art and presentation.

I had two artists in mind who I wanted working on my book’s look, because these guys are seriously awesome AF.

Cover Art: Rebecca Lopatin

Rebecca Lopatin_Darrel_charcoalYes, we have the same last name, because yes, Rebecca is my sister. But she’s also a professional, accomplished fine artist here in the blazing hot desert of Phoenix, Ariz. Like, she graduated Magna Cum Laude from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. She studied art in Italy. F’ing ITALY.

You guys, she hand-painted my book’s cover art. Like, the classical way. Savage, right?

 

Rebecca has a garage full of oil paintings for sale that need some serious walls. Even if you’re not looking to buy, you gotta check out her work and give her a follow:

Cover Design: Ryan Quackenbush

Ryan is a sick digital artist and illustrator. I mean, this guy sells his own graphic novels at Phoenix Comic Fest (a.k.a. Phoenix Comicon). His stuff is dark and edgy and just AWESOME.

So naturally, I wanted that look and feel for my cover design, considering the genre of my book. He took Rebecca’s art and turned it into a badass book cover that seriously makes people gasp when they see it.

 

 

If you’re into the graphic novel scene (and even if you’re not), I’m telling you to head over to Ryan’s pages NOW and scan his stuff, or follow him: