Friday, February 5, 2016

Ramblings of a Gamer: On the Final Fantasy VII Remake (from an FFVII Fanatic)

Happy 2016, folks!
First off, I’ve decided to stop calling myself a casual gamer. I may not be a hardcore gamer, but I do take my games seriously; therefore, I am a gamer.
What does this have to do with Final Fantasy VII?
Everything.
FFVII was the RPG that opened my heart to gaming. The immersive story pushed me to keep going even after I died repeatedly trying to get past that giant freaking snake. (If you’ve played, you know the one.) I was so in love with the characters that I didn’t want their stories to end, and when they were continued through spin-offs, I eagerly bought them to live in their world for just a little bit longer..
Thank you, Crisis Core, for the uncontrollable sobbing, by the way.
Over the years, Square-Enix has teased us with demos for the new platforms, showing us glimpses of what a remake could be like, planting the dream of traveling through a HD Midgar with a detailed Cloud Strife and crew.
And now it’s going to be real.
I’m terrified, but I can’t wait. I need to see how they handle turning a 20-year-old turn-based game into something that will grab new fans while keeping the love of the old fans. There isn’t much info so far, but the snippets Square-Enix has released look really killer. Some people think episodic is a bad way to go, but honestly, if this allows them to flesh out all the story gaps from the original and to turn out the best remake they can possibly make, then I’m happy to dish out the extra cash.
This version will be fully voice-acted, and I’m hoping Steve Burton and George Newbern will continue to play Cloud and Sephiroth. I’m pretty happy with Steven Blum as Vincent, too. They have a great roster of actors who are familiar with the characters from previous games and Advent Children, so they shouldn’t have to search too far.
Things are changing—Square-Enix has made that clear. I’m going to embrace it, for better or worse.
I hope this has been in the planning for much longer than we’ve been told, and the first installment will hit in 2017—the 20th anniversary of the originally FFVII.  

Monday, October 19, 2015

PitchSlam! 250 Word Critique Selections: Peeves Edition

Hi there, PitchSlammers! The Goblet of Fire was sent out for cleaning--can't have all that smoke tarnishing its shine! We tried to get a mandrake to choose, but frankly, we couldn't handle the shrieking. So we asked resident poltergeist Peeves to choose the 100 selections for this second feedback round.
 
To be honest, he didn't seem interested, but he enjoyed the brief moment of tossing the paper slips into the air. Until he shredded them, that is. These were titles left intact.
 
Titles are sorted by AGE category. Please read carefully to see if your title is included. Please remember that feedback is subjective.
 
Adult
THE DARK MATTERS
FOUR TRAGEDIES
THE REBIRTH OF LILLIAN ROSE
CIRCUITS
SETTLE THE SCORE
SERENGETI
 
BEAUTY BOUND
THE MAD BARON'S DOOMED DAUGHTER
AVA AND GRAHAM
KISMET FALLS
A FRAGILE STATE
FAE FAVORED
FINDING PERSEPHONE
 
COLLARED
THE GOLD IN THE RED DIRT
THE VALLEY OF ROSES
THE REMOTE PART
BAD THINGS COME IN THREES
SADISTIC
 
WINTER RAINS
THE PENDRAGON'S SON
INFINITY LINE
TIDES OF MAGIC
A SONG FOR SARAH MCPHEE
 
Women's Fiction
THE PERFECT WIFE
THE CONFESSIONAL
 
New Adult
MY SOUL TO GIVE
ASHES
ALETHIA
CHASING HAPPILY EVER AFTER
JESSICA ROSIO, PI
 
Young Adult
THE STOLEN GIRL
GLUTEN FREE
THE EVASION THEORY
A CURSE MOST WICKED
STORM COMPASS
THE OTHER PLACE
 
SKIN DEEP
FOUR WINDS FROM A TEMPEST
CLOUD 9
THE BLOOD PIRATE
LOVE STORIES
NAKELLE
THE DECEMBER STONE
AS SEEN ON EVIE
ECHO CHAMBER HEIST
 
AFTER LIFE
HASHTAG WITNESS
EMBERED FLAME
A COMPLETE LIFE OF ITS KIND
TOP SECRETS
RIDE THE LINE ETERNAL
RED
GHOST KARMA
 
SPIRITS OF SHAMBHALA
MUSE
SUN OF THE BEAST
HEADS OR TAILS
THE TRAVELER'S TRUTH
DEFINING NORMAL
MY GOOD ANGEL
 
THE GHOST FROM NOWHERE
GENESIS
PROTECTORS
THE MARK OF THE CARAIRAIN
THE CURSE OF JENNY GREENTEETH
LITTLE BLACK BOX
A TALE OF JACKETS AND PHONES
 
REMINISCE: CALL OF TWO ROADS
MISSION X
THE FIRST LAW OF LOYALTY
FIELD OF VIOLETS
STAGED
GLORYLAND
 
THE UTOPIANS
CUSTODIAN
FIREBIRD
HER GOLDEN CRIMES
THE STONE OF VIRTUE
SYD-PLY MISUNDERSTOOD
BAD BLOODS
RED RAIN
 
THE MEXICAN DREAM
THE LAMB
DIA DE LOS MILTON
 
Middle Grade
I'M NOT A ZOMBIE, BUT I PLAY ONE ON TV
SEARCHING FOR HOME
THE CHALLENGER
JEREMIAH STOUT AND THE CURSE OF THE GOLDEN HARP
THE SHADED EYE
THE OSTRICH AND THE ROSE
 
THE TREASURE OF ZENO ARCHIMEDES SMITH
WHIMSY GRAYSE
THE NOWHERE STAIRS
PETDEMONIUM
SULTANA SINKING
 
THE GRYPHON RIDERS
FINDING ME
BUMPER MCGEE
WHEN YOUR BEST FRIEND WANTS TO BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND (AND OTHER HORROR STORIES)

Saturday, October 17, 2015

PitchSlam! The Pitch Round Goblet of Fire Selections

Hey PitchSlammers! it's the moment you've been waiting for, agonizing over, maybe even losing sleep over!

The entries have been tossed into the Goblet of Fire, and the following have been spat out of the flames! *blows off ashes*

Selections are grouped by age category and listed by title, so please read carefully!

Adult
ERIN JANE
TO FIND THE AIR
MENDED
THE COINS OF MAMMON
SERENGETI
THE LAST LEAF
THE TREASURES OF DODRAZEB
SUFFER THE CHILDREN
START, KILL
INNOCENT LIVES MATTER
KISMET FALLS
THE MAD BARON'S DOOMED DAUGHTER
INVISIBLE INK
WINTER RAINS
THE VALLEY OF THE ROSES
THE DARK MATTERS
THE ORCHID GIRLS CHASE
VENOM
THE STALKING HORSE
COLLARED
A SONG FOR SARAH MCPHEE
FINDING PERSEPHONE
FAE FAVORED
BAD THINGS COME IN THREES
THE STAGE
THE WRITE TYPE OF WRONG
UNTIL THE END
TUMBLE INTO ME
SADISTIC
CODED FOR MURDER
BEAUTY BOUND
FAMILIAR SPIRITS
A STORM'S MIGHTY FURY

Women's Fiction
THE PERFECT WIFE
AMERICAN PANDA
STUPID GIRL
BEATRICE BLAKE, NOVICE

New Adult
NOT FIGHTING FAIRE
CHASING HAPPILY EVER AFTER
AN UNDERGROUND FAIRY TAL
GOOD GONE DARK
ALETHIA
MY SOUL TO GIVE
SCIONS AND SAINTS
DEEPLY ALIVE--A BADASS LOVESTORY
SECOND-SELF


Young Adult
LITTLE BLACK BOX
NORTHERN GHOSTS
SEVEN SEAS
MISSION X
THE FATED UNDESIRABLE
SOUL BLADE
PROTECTOR: AURIA'S SONG
THE UTOPIANS
CUSTODIAN
FOUR WINDS FROM A TEMPEST
DIA DE LOS MILTON
A MARVELOUS FAMILY TRAGEDY
ISLES OF ALYIS
BAD BLOODS
ILLUSION

FIELD OF VIOLETS
THE EVASION THEORY
PROJECT SIREN
THE PALACE OF SAND
THE VAULT
DRAGON'S CURSE
SOCIOPOP
THE BACKSLIDERS
THE STOLEN GIRL
THE DARKNESS DEVOURS
HAVEN
IMMORTAL SECRETS
A COMPLETE LIFE OF ITS KIND

MUCH ADO ABOUT HOMECOMING
THE DREAM WARS
WHITE RAVEN
HACKER GIRL
THE MECHANICS OF HAVING HORNS AND WINGS
STATUS: POSITIVE
CHILDREN OF AVALON
MUSE
ALICE GAMES
THE NEW RECRUITS

THE CHALLENGER
RESPAWN
FAIRY RING
SMARTS
WILD CALLING
THOSE NOT CHOSEN
LILY AND LION
AFTER LIFE
THAT PLACE IN MY HEART
UNDER THE ICY LAKE
WEIRD
THE DROWNING OF MOLLY WHITFORD

MARISOL
A TALE OF JACKETS AND PHONES
GLORY'S REALM
BETWEEN SOUND AND SILENCE
RED RAIN
OUT OF THE COLD
TOP SECRETS
THE CURSE OF JENNY GREENTEETH
THE GARDEN
REMEMBER NINE
THE WOLF AND THE RAVEN
WILLOW MARSH
FINALLY AWAKE
SYD-PLY MISUNDERSTOOD

THE DISAPPEARANCE OF SLOANE STEVENS
ALISHA'S TREE
A TRACE OF MADNESS
SAVAGE ARIA
REMINISCE: CALL OF TWO ROADS
THE WORLD IN GRAY
THE UTOPIANS
EMBERED FLAME
RIDE THE LINE ETERNAL
FOREST LAKE
THE DESTINY MATRIX
SKIN DEEP
A CURSE MOST WICKED
WHITE AS SNOW
IN THE SPACE BETWEEN

BORNLESS
BRAIN DAMAGE
186 LIES & COUNTING
DEFINING NORMAL
HASHTAG WITNESS
HOTEL FROM HELL: THE 108 MILE MURDERS
THE FLAMES OF ORIANA
THE BLOOD PIRATE


Middle grade
WHEN YOUR BEST FRIEND WANT TO BE YOUR GIRLFRIEND (AND OTHER HORROR STORIES)
THE SHADED EYE
THE MARVELOUS ADVENTURES OF GWENDOLYN GRAY
FINDING ME
THE CHALLENGER
PETDEMONIUM
LARIMAR--THE HIDDEN CITY
BFF GUIDE TO EVERLASTING FRIENDSHIP
THE LAST PAPER DAHL
SULTANA SINKING
THE HOUSE ON WINGING WAY
TO THE OTHER SIDE
GIRL
THE STORYTHING COMETH
MERMAID OF THE FORGOTTEN ISLAND
CATNAPPED
THE JUSTICE DRAGON'S SECRET
THE OSTRICH AND THE ROSE

Monday, October 5, 2015

#Pitchslam is Nigh! A Bit About Feedback

It's time for another season of Pitchslam, the writing contest with the bonus of feedback! For all the nitty-gritty, you can check out our fearless leader's post here:
 
 
There's all kinds of bonuses to writing contests: feedback, getting your work in front of agents who might not be open to queries at the time, camaraderie between contestants, and even finding critique partners who get you but aren't afraid to tell you when you're way off course. (Seriously, crit partners (CPs) are essential. If you don't have one, get one. Or three.)
 
What I really like about writing contests is getting fresh eyes on my pitch or first pages. As the writer, we know the ins and outs of our story, and those details never really leave our minds. So when we're writing queries or pitches, it's easy to think our summary makes sense when really we're filling in a gap with our insider knowledge. When we think it's good, that's when we need fresh eyes on it.
 
If an outsider can tell what your novel is about from the pitch/query, then you're on the right track. If not, then you might want to look at it again.
 
:: FEEDBACK IS A SUGGESTION, NOT A DEMAND::
 
All feedback, when it comes down to it, is a suggestion. No one is required to make changes someone else recommends. It's important to strike a balance in receiving and utilizing suggested revisions. If a dozen people give you a dozen different comments, then it's probably safe to disregard them. If a dozen people give you the same piece of advice, then you should probably consider reworking that place in your story.
 
::WAIT BEFORE YOU JUDGE THAT FEEDBACK::
 
You've toiled away on your novel, put into it lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and having someone tell you that you need to change it can be hard to swallow. Step away from it all for a minute, take a breath, and really consider it. Depending on the size of the change, take a week or month if you have to. Decide if it's the right move for you. If it feels like it's absolutely wrong, then thank them for their suggestion and move on.
 
::REVISIONS ARE A NORM::
 
Expect change. Nothing we put out is perfect. All the way up to the day your novel hits the bookstore shelves, you'll be asked to make changes by your critique partners, your agent, or your editor. And even after it's all said and done, you probably find something you'd wished you'd changed. If you can see it as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, it'll make the road a lot less bumpy.
 
So, in the spirit of feedback, give me some of yours in the comments!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

FRACTURED by Lisa Amowitz

Hi, folks! Today I have for you FRACTURED, Book 1.2 in the VISION SERIES! Here's a little about it:
 
 
Bobby's a hick who sees visions. Jeremy's a smartass who sees dead people. Together, they have a weekend to stop a murderer...if they don't kill each other first. Sparks fly when the worlds of Lisa Amowitz’s BREAKING GLASS and VISION collide.
 
  
 
Nice cover! How about a taste of what's inside? 
 
“Hey. You were the kid that played with that amazing redhead. Not bad, man. Not bad.”

“Um, thanks.”

“Not from around here, are you?”

“No. I mean, I’m not, really.”

The guy smiled and extended a hand. “Sorry. Just a little cranky tonight. I came in this morning on an epic bus ride from Duke just to see my girlfriend and she’s stuck in a study group with a bunch of other assholes. Oh. I’m Jeremy Glass.” He lowered himself on the bench next to me and massaged his leg. “Too much walking today. Damn.”

I tried to keep my eyes from going wide as the guy lifted the cuff of his black jeans. Instead of an actual leg there was only a hydraulic metal pole.

Jeremy Glass looked at me and smiled. “Veronica’s been sticking a little lately. I think I’ll have to bring her back to the shop. What’s your name?”

I glanced from his face to the metal leg. “Bobby. Bobby Pendell,” I choked out. It wasn’t the leg. It was just hard to breathe around him, like he was sucking up my share of the oxygen.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to know how Jeremy Glass had lost that leg, though I was pretty sure he’d be happy to tell me. I thought about bolting back inside the club, but that would be rude.

Instead, Glass said breezily, “You were awesome, dude. Where’d you learn to play guitar and sing like that? Man, all I can do is run.”

I bit back on the obvious response. How could a guy with a fake leg run?

Glass laughed. “Ha! Most people are too polite to ask, but I’m not shy about it. I was a sprinter. Fastest in my school. Until—well, until the accident. But now I’ve got a Teflon blade and I’m the fastest on the team. Technology is awesome, huh?”

I cleared my throat. Something about this guy was making my skin crawl. Maybe it was his fast talking. Or the way his eyes twinkled but looked steely and cunning all at the same time. I felt like he was silently laughing at me. Like his brain worked two and a half times faster than mine did. He eyed me with one eyebrow raised, as if he didn’t actually expect a response. 

“Um, it was nice to meet you. But I really should be getting back inside,” I said, and finally got up to leave.

Glass stared calmly back at me. “Who’s your friend, then?”

A shiver rolled up my spine. I had to get away. Ever since my last brush with Agent Maura Reston on the Scratch Lake dock, I’d had the distinct feeling I was being watched. Maybe I was just being paranoid, but this guy seemed to be probing me for something.

“What friend?”

His gaze shifted over my left shoulder. “That guy.”

The blood froze in my veins. I pivoted and saw a brief white flicker, a disruption, then empty air.

Glass laughed. “Yeah. You’ve got to learn to ignore them. They’re everywhere.”

“I don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”

Glass’s smile vanished. “I don’t like it any more than you do. But I can always tell when I meet someone like me.”

“Like you?” I backed away toward the club entrance, cold sweat trickling from my scalp down the back of my neck.

“You can see them, too. Things no one else can.”
He pressed a card into my hand. My mouth went dry. The sidewalk tilted. I pressed my palm to the glass of the club window to steady myself.
I didn’t have to look down to know what it said. 

He’d seen the thing that I’d seen. He was like me.
He was working with Agent Reston and her paranormal goon squad.
 
 
You can pick up FRACTURED in these fine places:
 
 
 Enter to win a $25 Giftcard to Amazon or Barnes and Noble and ebooks of VISION and BREAKING GLASS! 
 
 
About the Author
 
Lisa Amowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot. She is a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly twenty years. She started writing eleven years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children. Lisa is represented by Shannon Hassan of Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency. shannon@marsallyonliteraryagency.co
 
BREAKING GLASS, released in July, 2013 from Spencer Hill Press, is her first published work. VISION, the first of the Finder series was released September, 2014. FRACTURED, a novella combining the worlds of BREAKING GLASS and VISION releases as an ebook only, June 7, 2015. UNTIL BETH, the first in the Life and Beth trilogy will be released September 2015.
 
Lisa Amowitz is available for guest appearances, Skype visits, school visits, libraries & interviews. Please contact her for scheduling.
 
Website:
Email: mommatoo@optonline.net
Social Media:
 
 
 Check out VISION and BREAKING GLASS by Lisa Amowitz, and keep an eye out for UNTIL BETH, coming in September!

VISION
released
 
 
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press (September 9, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1937053997
ISBN-13: 978-1937053994
 
The light is darker than you think… 

High school student Bobby Pendell already has his hands full—he works almost every night to support his disabled-vet father and gifted little brother. Then he meets the beautiful new girl in town, who just happens to be his boss’s daughter. Bobby has rules about that kind of thing. Nothing matters more than keeping his job.

When Bobby starts to get blinding migraines that come with scary, violent hallucinations, his livelihood is on the line. Soon, he must face the stunning possibility that the visions of murder are actually real. With his world going dark, Bobby is set on the trail of the serial killer terrorizing his small town. With everyone else convinced he’s the prime suspect, Bobby realizes that he, or the girl he loves, might be killer's next victim. 
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“Haunting and intense, VISION grabbed a hold of me in the very first scene and never let me go”
—Kate Brian, author of the bestselling PRIVATE, PRIVILEGE and SHADOWLAND series
 
 
VISION won a 2014 the Gold Moonbeam Award for Young Adult Mystery:
 
 


 
 
BREAKING GLASS
 
 
Lisa Amowitz
Young Adult Fiction
Spencer Hill Press, July 2013
ISBN: 978-1937053383
 
On the night seventeen-year-old Jeremy Glass winds up in the hospital with a broken leg and a blood alcohol level well above the legal limit, his secret crush, Susannah, disappears. When he begins receiving messages from her from beyond the grave, he’s not sure whether they’re real or if he’s losing his grip on reality. Clue by clue, he gets closer to unraveling the mystery, and soon realizes he must discover the truth or become the next victim himself.
 
Available at:
 
Praise for BREAKING GLASS
 



BREAKING GLASS won a 2013 Moonbeam Award for Young Adult Mystery:

http://www.independentpublisher.com/article.php?page=1704


Praise for Breaking Glass:
 
 
THE SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL says
Posted on 
12/01/2013
Gr 9 Up—"This novel is an edge-of-your-seat thriller with a supernatural twist. Jeremy Glass is the star runner for his high school track team, has a stellar GPA, and is in love with his best friend Ryan's girlfriend, Susannah. He's also a secret alcoholic. He uses vodka to escape the nightmares that have haunted him since his mother drove the two of them off a cliff. However, for the past year, he's found himself relying on alcohol to dull his desire for Susannah, as well. The night she discovers Ryan cheating on her, Jeremy follows them to the gorge where they are engaged in a heated argument. Hoping to mediate, he leaps from his car directly into the path of an oncoming truck. He awakens in the hospital with a crushed leg and to the news that Susannah is missing. Once he is released, he begins to receive links to videos and cryptic messages indicating that she is dead and becomes determined to find her killer. In a fog of pain killers combined with alcohol, Jeremy risks his life to uncover a past murder that involved his mother, Susannah's mother, and Ryan's wealthy and influential father. Amowitz does an exceptional job of portraying the fragile mental state of a young man who has faced three devastating losses. Readers will wonder if he is truly solving a murder or experiencing a mental meltdown."—Cary Frostick, formerly at Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA
 
 
USA TODAY says:
“Jeremy's story is gritty and suspenseful, and at times downright spooky, but his intelligence, tenacity and quick, sarcastic sense of humor brightens the darker moments. The novel is also about hope and a young man who prevails in the face of insurmountable challeges. BREAKING GLASS is an impressive debut from Lisa Amowitz.”
Full review from USA TODAY
 
 
JUST JARED JR. says:
 
“This book is a suspenseful mystery and you’ll find yourself trying to figure it out before you actually do. There are tons of twists and turns and you won’t put the book down until you solve it all.”
Full review from Just Jared Jr.
 
 
ForeWord Reviews says:
“Every character has a secret in this intricately plotted YA paranormal mystery that delivers a wild and rewarding ride for teen readers.”
 
 
 “Betrayal, addiction, murder . . . and of course, a ghost . . . Just when you think you know what's happening, BREAKING GLASS punches you in the gut and leaves you breathless!”
 
~Jennifer Murgia, author of the ANGEL STAR series & BETWEEN THESE LINES
*
 
"A dark romance that will keep you up at night with its twists and turns, BREAKING GLASS is a must-read debut. Lisa Amowitz has burst onto the YA scene with this intriguing novel. You'll be hooked from the first page - I certainly was! The characters are drawn with depth and sensitivity, and the plot is heart-pounding. Don't miss this one.”
 
~ Christine Johnson, author of Claire de Lune, Nocturne and The Gathering Dark
 
*
 
“Breaking Glass was a surprise addition to my reading list for July . . . definitely a book that will keep you guessing right until the very end. It wasn’t a matter of if I was going to read the book, but when and how much I would like it.”
 
~ Shelley (Gizmo Reviews)
*
 
“From the first page I was hooked. Lisa Amowitz has a writing style that made me feel sad I had social engagements because all I wanted to do was sit down and read this book from start to end.”
 
~ Emily, On Emily’s Bookshelf
 
UNTIL BETH
 
 
Releasing September 29, 2015
 
Paperback: 260 pages
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press (September 29, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 163392033X
ISBN-13: 978-1633920330
 
 
 
She doesn’t just play, she kills it.

Talented rock guitarist Beth Collins has been barely holding herself together for months, ever since her boyfriend and bandmate became the latest victim in a string of suspicious disappearances. When her brother is injured an accident and she sees something dark billowing around him as he hovers close to death, she’s convinced her sanity is collapsing for good. 

Then she's accepted by a boarding school for the musically gifted. All of her new friends are bursting with talent, but they're also keeping secrets. Can she trust Vincent, who's so sweet that his very touch makes her fears melt away? Or Xavier, who's trying to tell her something but is hiding even more?

And will anyone be safe when her true Talent comes out? 
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Expected publication: September 29th 2015 by Spencer Hill Press