Category Archives: News and Updates

The world is getting bigger and life is moving fast!

Call for Artists

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The day is fast approaching. Vassal: the Second Book of Tir Athair will be available in two more months! If you live in Reno, you can buy the print version on September 20th at Grassroots Books, Reno’s best independent bookstore!

To celebrate the release, I am teaming up with Grassroots to coordinate a medieval street faire for the enjoyment of all Tir Athair fans and Grassroots customers. Join us September 20th for entertainment, demonstrations, and books from me and other local authors Jean Booth and Kurt Winans. We’ll have storytellers to entertain the kids while parents shop, and even food vendors to help you through your midday hunger.

We invite you to a lineup that already includes Old World Spinning by Beck, storytelling by emerging author David Nightingale, acrobatics by marital artist Nancy Bouffiou, Renaissance-inspired music by Jaidyn MacDonald, and singing by the Nielson Princesses. The schedule is almost full, but we have a few spots left.

I’m looking for demonstrators. I need:

  • actors
  • artists
  • singers
  • dancers
  • musicians
  • educators
  • craftsmen
  • anyone who can represent medieval, Renaissance or Old World skills for the enjoyment of others.

We intend to publicize this event with press releases, sign twirlers in medieval garb, Facebook and Twitter announcements, and professional posters designed by Blue Harvest Creative and placed in local independent stores and coffee shops. We even hope to attract media coverage. If you participate in this event, your organization will be noticed!

This is an outreach gig, not a paid gig. You may hand out information for your venues or sales endeavors. We’ll provide a large bowl labeled “Ye Olde Tips” to help you out. Per Grassroots’ needs, we cannot offer you space to sell your own products. We also cannot involve the public in any demonstrations which may be dangerous, such as combat or acrobatics. You may involve the public in the more innocuous arts and crafts. We will ask all demonstrators to sign waivers.

If you would like to take part in this fun opportunity for artistic outreach, please message me at marissaames4@gmail.com or on my Facebook author page! Let me know what demonstration you wish to offer, and we will see if we can add you to our lineup.

But hurry! This schedule must be finalized by July 31, 2014!

If you are a Tir Athair or Grassroots fan, watch this blog or my Facebook page, or sign up for Grassroots’ newsletters to get updates on the street faire. We hope to see you there!

Book Signings and Renaissance Faires

Who says Reno doesn’t have culture?

This Sunday, I’ll be signing books at the Nevada Opera Renaissance Faire, alongside local authors Jean Booth and Kurt Winans. Also available are books from award winning authors who write with a fantasy edge: A.D. Trosper, Hannah Steenbock, Katie Jennings, LaDonna ColeNatalie Gibson, and Sophie Moss.

Would you like free signed books? Read on to find the secret buzzwords!

Nevada Opera’s Renaissance Faire

An Artown Event

  • Sunday, July 6, 2014
  • 10am to 9pm
  • Wingfield Park (on the river)
Ren faire color

Banner by Blue Harvest Creative

An excerpt from Vassal, available September 20th, 2014:

Aislin marched arrow-first into the hall. The sun, now peeking full into the window, danced along the high points of the men’s faces. They reacted the same as all men did when facing Aislin’s bow. Their somber expressions became dubious, and they retreated a step.

Darrion demanded, “What do you want?”

The same husky voice rasped, “We seek wheat and rye.”

Immediately Darrion replied, “We have stores to share, if you are needy.”

Aislin’s arrow sagged. She didn’t often feed beggars, for she rarely had ample food for her own fief. “What do you—No, we don’t. We have to plant.”

“I’ll take care of this,” Darrion said.

“But we don’t—”

“I said—” He set a hand on her bare shoulder. “—I’ll take care of this.”

Shrugging his hand away, she lowered her bow.

The men stood patiently. One, blond with long hair tied back in a tail at the base of his neck, carried an axe slung on his belt. The other, with a mane of dark, scrubby wool on his face and his chin, carried a one-handed arming sword. They watched Aislin’s bow, but they did not approach.

“The grain is in the barn,” Darrion said. “Allow me to retrieve my boots, and I’ll fill a sack for your journey.” Passing by Aislin on his way back to the room, he whispered to her, “Try not to shoot them.”

Her mouth fell open, and her head turned to watch him leave. One of the intruders shuffled his feet. Aislin aimed her arrow at him and cocked her elbow back. “Don’t move,” she snarled.

Did you catch the buzz word? In case you didn’t:

I’ll be giving a swag bag to the first person who approaches our booth and proclaims, “I seek wheat and rye.” Within Vassal, those words promise trust within a secret and illegal organization. On Sunday, they might win you a signed copy of Minstrel, swords and tiaras for up to 5 children in your group, and a tote bag courtesy of Blue Harvest Creative.

Author Jean Booth is also offering a swag bag. Visit her website for her buzz words:

Please drop by the Renaissance Faire. Listen to amazing music. Visit vendors for some tantalizing food and unique wares. And come see us! We’re offering a free sword or tiara for every two books you purchase, and have many stories to suit your personal tastes.

“What do you like to read?”

Announcing J.A.Mes Press!

Ailsa Abraham

Author Ailsa Abraham with her copies of Tales by the Tree

It all starts with a dream. A notebook, a pen, and perhaps a laptop. A lot of time spent staring out the window. Characters, dancing like sugarplums within writers’ heads.

Then, somewhere between giddiness and reality, writers realize they have talent! They receive accolades that are from people other than their mothers. Fans return for more. The writers get exited and starry-eyed with possibilities. Then they panic.

Where do they go from here?

Do they jump first into a novel? Build an author platform? Freelance a little and get clips? But who is going to accept their work, and actually pay for it, if they’ve never before been published? And, in this world of independent publishing and a broad arc of costs, can any of these authors really afford that first jump into publication?

What if they are published, but seek outreach? Four novels later, they need to expand without paying for expensive advertisements. If only they could submit to a publication that hosts forty other authors, and get their work to the fans of those authors.

Laura Jamez

Laura Jamez

J.A.Mes Press has jumped in to help with these concerns. Started by two independent authors, Laura Jamez and Marissa Ames, the new publishing company creates anthologies to help with author outreach. This is not a paid project, even for the editors and publishers. All proceeds go to selected charities. Even their creative partner, Blue Harvest Creative, donates its time so all money can be allocated to better causes. J.A.Mes Press is completely non-profit.

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Marissa Ames

So if the authors are not paid for their writing, how do they benefit? For independent authors, and even authors seeking representation or publication, networking is everything. Outreach is everything. To be able to say you are published, in a tangible book, carries a lot of clout. Sometimes, even the act of being published will drive an author to go further.

Authors testify of the boost they received by writing for the anthologies. “Me!” says Sorcha O’Dowd. “It gave me the boost I needed to get more serious about my WIP, and reminded me why I love writing. Whilst I haven’t published anything else since, it made me serious about writing as a career.”

Eric Sproles told us, “My first publication, it shows me the process does not need to be overly complicated to get one’s work out there. This is something I hope to put in practice in the release of my RPG and perhaps further short stories in the future.”

Tales by the Tree cover

J.A.Mes Press started in December, with Tales by the Tree, a collection of seventy-five stories by over forty authors. Topics range from Family Friendly to Noel Nightmares, and all stories range between 300 and 1000 words. Authors wrote whatever their whims dictated, with only two stipulations: All stories had to be PG-13 rated or lower. And, though religious stories were encouraged for the Christmas anthology, no story could bash another religion or belief system. Tales by the Tree went live on Amazon on November 24, 2013. It has since sold 225 print copies and 37 eBook copies, in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, and Australia. Authors also received free eBook copies.

“It was my first publication,” says Theresa Miller. “The first time a lot of my friends knew I write.”

Beth Avery, who has two stories within Tales by the Tree, says, “It was a reboot for me. Several years ago I published some pieces in a now defunct zine called Mad Lovin’ Mamas, but when it went dark, I stopped publishing. It definitely was a boost I desperately needed. I have a hard time justifying writing without any venue for publishing.”

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The anthologies consist of flash fiction: Stories between 100 and 1000 words. Each anthology has a theme, and author interpretation of that theme is vast. Authors need no special credentials to contribute. The anthologies aren’t just thrown together, though. Each story goes through a round of edits by an accomplished writer. The only images used are provided by Blue Harvest Creative, which has over 20 years experience in graphic design. And through Tales by the Tree consisted of 75 stories, future anthologies will be capped at the 50 best tales submitted to each project.

Authors are not asked to spend any of their own money, unless they wish to buy print copies. Because J.A.Mes Press publishes through CreateSpace on Amazon.com, anyone (including authors) wishing to purchase print copies must comply with Amazon’s pricing. This has allowed Tales by the Tree to raise over $375 for Mount Rose Elementary School in Reno, Nevada.

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“Blue Harvest Creative is excited to be working with J.A.Mes Press as their official book designers,” says a representative of the design company. “Their vision of creating anthologies featuring new authors as well as seasoned veterans and giving all profits to charity is amazing and matches our vision of bringing indie authors the opportunity to be recognized for their extraordinary talents.”

With her very first publication ever in Tales by the Tree, Mary MacFarlane now believes that she can, and will, someday have a book with all her own work. She tells the other authors, “So my mom is pretty impressed with our stories! She was just asking me the other day if any of you guys have books published she’d be interested in. Also, will J.A.Mes Press be doing another collection like this anytime soon?”

Why yes. And yes.

Each contributor to Tales by the Tree received a spot within the “Author Bio” section, where they spoke briefly about themselves and provided links to blogs or Amazon author pages. Fans of Rebecka Vigus may read A.D. Trosper’s story, look for her within the bio section, and proceed to buy one of her Dragon’s Call novels.

Jeffrey Hollar, who wrote several rather gritty stories within the anthology, said, “Not my first publication but it was nice to add to my catalog of publishing credits and, of course, fun and enjoyable hanging out with all of you throughout the whole process.”

J.A.Mes Press has two anthologies planned for 2014: This spring, they will orchestrate an anthology based on springtime and new beginnings, with all proceeds going to a charity that brings awareness to stroke victims. In October, writers and readers can expect a horror-based anthology that has many people excited.

Angie Trafford, who wrote one story for the anthology, loved the whole experience. Leslie Fulton, a journalist, had been published before, but never within the flash fiction genre. A longtime author, Rebecka Vigus, had never before tried flash fiction, nor had she written for children. Now she has new markets to explore. Authors Jean Booth and Lara Hays received additional outreach for their published novels.

Would you like to write for a J.A.Mes Press anthology? The next collection will feature the 50 best stories contributed, and will allow each author to present a bio and a link where readers can find their work. Follow the project at their blog or Facebook page.

And happy writing!

Conspiring Against Cancer

Some give their lives in the fight against cancer. Sahara, twelve years old, doesn’t suffer from cancer, but she has friends and family who have survived it. Or who still fight the battle. Sahara doesn’t have to give her life, but she’s giving her hair.

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Last year, Sahara W. shaved her head for St. Baldrick’s, a charity that encourages donors to raise funds and shave their heads, to support research fighting childhood cancer. Last year, Sahara raised $500. This year, she strives for $1,000 in donations.

To help her reach this goal, we’d like to offer something in return.

If you donate to Sahara W’s page, you will receive in trade:

  • Your name (pen name, business name)
  • One link (your website, Facebook page, or buy link)
  • One image (shown as a thumbnail, but also linked up to your page)

Donor names will be categorized by amount donated, and the list will be posted on Marissa Ames’ author site, and on our sister site, Ames Family Farm. This list will be shared on all affiliated Facebook pages, and will be regularly Tweeted. Also, other bloggers/donors are encouraged to share this page to further your outreach.

To take advantage of this networking offer, make a non-anonymous donation to Sahara W’s St. Baldrick’s page. Then message me on my Facebook page and share what name, link, and image you would like displayed. I will build the page, and inform you when it’s available to share.

This opportunity is not available for:

  • Pornography
  • Drugs, even if they’re legal in your state
  • Any illegal activity
  • Spam
  • Hate groups, or even hateful comments

All money paid goes straight to St. Baldrick’s!

Thank you! -Marissa Ames

Darrion: A Story of Tir Athair

Darrion cover

In one week, just a few weeks prior to Minstrel’s release, a new short story of Tir Athair will be available for both Kindle and ePub readers. “Darrion” takes place about 20 years after Minstrel, and about 20-25 years before my next novel, Vassal. Within about 10,000 words, it tells the story of the supporting protagonist in Vassal.

Blurb:
The first time Darrion struck her, Lana loaded her wagon and left Cynegil. Two-year-olds should not hit like that. She draped the windows of her cottage with dense cloth and worked by a single candle. If she timed her flight well, she could pass through the market during changing of the guard. In another era, under another king’s reign, Lana would have rejoiced that Darrion had inherited his father’s gift. Now, if Lana did not present her son to the king, she could lose her head.

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Blue Harvest Creative has done its magic yet again.

I have a stunning cover and internal format that rivals the big publishing houses. Beta readers have rated it highly. Now I just need my other readers to give me their input and to build excitement for both Minstrel and for my new work-in-progress, Vassal.

Design Credits:
Cover painting of bluebells by Marissa Ames
Cover Concept by Marissa Ames & Blue Harvest Creative
Cover Design by Blue Harvest Creative
eBook Design by Blue Harvest Creative
Imprint concept by Marissa Ames
Imprint Design by Blue Harvest Creative

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In addition to formatting both “Darrion” and Minstrel, Blue Harvest Creative has helped me create the imprint name, under which all my books shall be published.

Dead Sea Games Reading Challenge

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Read a book. Write reviews. Win prizes. The third reading challenge is going on right now over at Facebook.

We’re switching genres with a wide arc this month. We’ve done young adult mystery, and we’ve done fantasy romance. Now we’ll highlight some books that I have really enjoyed, by J. Whitworth Hazzard. James is releasing the third book in the series, Kidnapped, very soon. We’re hosting the reading challenge for him, to ramp up the excitement.

The Dead Sea Games books begin where all the other zombie apocalypse stories leave off: after the infection. Jeremy, aka “Deathwish,” is a 15-year-old boy during a time when adults haven’t even figured out how to live again. Teenagers never had it figured out in the first place. Jeremy and the survivors live in a cell of apartment buildings, in lower Manhattan, where zombies mill about on the streets below and teenage orphans aren’t welcome in society.

DSG-Exiled-280px

Both “Adrift” and “Exiled” are eligible for this contest. You may read/review either, or both if you would like. Expect action from the first page to the last, satisfying all through these quick reads.

To learn more about the Dead Sea Games books before downloading, check out a review I wrote about the Dead Sea Games books. You can also check out J. Whitworth Hazzard’s blog over at Zombie Mechanics.

Parenting info: Mature language and situations. Violence and language comparable to Zombieland.

Rules:

1) Read one of the books (or both).
2) Write reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, BN.com, or your blog. Or all of the above! The more places you post, the more entries you get. Each review earns one entry into the prize hat, whether you liked the book or not.
3) Post the links to your reviews on this event page.
4) Reviews must be posted between October 1st and October 31st. If you have already read the book and have not yet reviewed it, all new reviews are allowed in this contest. Any review written prior to October 1st will not be valid.
5) Invite friends! If a friend submits a review and tells us that you invited them, you win another entry.
6) All winners are drawn by a random number generator, and will be chosen after October 31st.

There will be one grand prize winner, who will receive a hard-copy book. Five other people will win free eBooks from other amazing authors!

And on October 1st and 2nd, both Dead Sea Games books are FREE! Check out Adrift and Exiled over at Amazon. Both versions are free in the UK as well.

A Public Identity!

I’ve had two major steps in my author process.

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First of all, Minstrel is available on Amazon for pre-order, with a discount over $4. I also have a corresponding author page set up on Amazon. Feel free to click on the link to my author page and send me a “Like.”

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Minstrel Cover

Second, Minstrel is also available on Goodreads! If this is a work you are interested in reading, please indicate it by clicking the “Want to Read” button!

Thank you all for your support! The likes, links, and reposting are all noticed, and they mean so much to me.

6 Weeks til Minstrel

Minstrel Cover

In exactly 42 days, Minstrel will be available in eBook and print formats. Now that I type that out, it feels a lot longer than saying “six weeks.”

However, with projects going on like the Fall Flash Festival, AMMC, and the Jingle Bells anthology, those six weeks will probably fly by as we rush to make these deadlines. But these six weeks are going to be full of excitement and anticipation.

In two weeks, I’ll have a surprise to offer. This surprise will only be free on specific days. (No, it’s not Minstrel. We all have to wait until November 5th for that.) To keep updated, and know when you can snag this surprise, “like” and follow my Facebook page. I will only be posting the links on there!

Thank you! Now go out and enjoy those fall leaves.

A Merry Minion Christmas: The Evolution of a Fantastical Anthology

On behalf of LauraNick & Ruth & myself (Missy) I’d like to introduce (drum roll please……)

red dragon

Photo Credit: zazzle.com

AMMC-DFQ – Rules and Guidelines

A Merry Minion Christmas: Assorted Tales from the Realm of the Dark Fairy Queen

In the style of the #DFQWBS that brought many of us together, we’re now collaborating on a Christmas anthology. This project is open to members of the Facebook group Dark Fairy Queen and her Brilliant Minions. If you are not a part of this group and would like to contribute, please contact the owner of this blog for details. This is a free publication, with no royalties. However, an eBook will be available for download upon completion. If we receive over 50 contributions, the book will be available for print, for only the cost of printing and shipping. By submitting to the project, you agree to these conditions.

1. The submissions may begin on September 23rd with a final deadline of October 28th. This deadline is critical to produce a book by December.

2. The theme is a “Fantastical Christmas.” Use fantastical elements, even if they’re elements you believe in but someone else doesn’t. Examples include dragons, monsters, angels, fairies, magic, etc.

3. Tales must be between 500-1000 words in length. If necessary, we can allow some leeway, but no more than 50 words to either side.

4. Stories with dark, gory, romantic, or religions tones are all allowed and encouraged. Soapboxes are not. You are welcome and encouraged to write within your genre or religious element. However, if the editors feel you have slandered another culture, religion, or lack of religion, we will politely ask you to change the focus of your story.

5. Because this book may be read by younger children, keep your story within PG-13 guidelines. No f-bombs, sex scenes, or explicitly gory details, please.

6. You may make up to three submissions. Each submission must be a separate, complete story within 1000 words.

7. Each submission must be “satisfying,” i.e. a complete scene, leaving no unanswered questions or cliffhangers.

8. You may dedicate each story to someone as a Christmas gift, using up to two lines for your dedication.

9. Stories should be posted on your own website, or hosted on another writer’s website. If you would like to keep your dedication a secret, approach someone else within the #DFQ group about hosting your story. If you do not have a blog or do not know someone willing to host your story, message us – Laura James, Missy Ames, Nick Johns, Ruth Long via the FB group AMMC.

10. Each story must have a Title and Author Name, and “eBook Yes (or No)” to indicate your willingness to have it included within an eBook.

11. By tagging your story with #AMMC-DFQ and indicating “eBook Yes,” you agree to the publishing conditions mentioned above.

12. We will create a Facebook group (AMMC) to contain discussion of this anthology until its completion. Follow us on Twitter using the hashtag #AMMC-DFQ. Soon, a link code will be added to this post, which will connect all of our contributions.

13. Please use the following formatting, to make editors’ lives easier:

• Use double quotes for speech
• Use a blank line after each paragraph

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We are pleased to announce that Blue Harvest Creative is on board to for our cover design and formatting! This will be a beautiful finished product. So start thinking up your Christmas tales! We look forward to reading about your romance, mystery, crimes, dark tales, and passion. About fairies, angels, dragons, zombies, elves… or zombie elves! About the beginnings of your traditions, or the nuances of them now, through a fantasy element. We’re excited to see what everyone brings to the book!