Harperpages

The blog of author Harper Alexander


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Queen of Spades – Tentative Release Date

I was looking back at when I released the second Ace book, Ace of Hearts. and I must admit even I was a little horrified to see that it’s been TWO YEARS. Two years that fans (if there still are any out there) have been waiting for the next book in the series to come out. How did this happen? Partly, I know, time has gotten away for me simply because a lot has happened in the last two years. Changing jobs twice, launching a business, moving, releasing other promised sequels, etc. But even I have to admit I didn’t realize it had been THAT LONG.

Worse, the first book was released two years before THAT (I think. I’m too lazy to actually get out of this chair and check, or even look it up online, but I’m pretty sure). I have been working on this series for FOUR YEARS, and only have two books to show for it. And I realize I just can’t blame any of you who have started the series and given up on ever finishing, because I write the books at the pace of a snail on sedatives.

HOWEVER: if you do happen to still be with me, or are just starting the series now, or finishing book two now, I HAVE GOOD NEWS! Life is less crazy at this point, and due to having an actual writing schedule now, I am writing at a much more respectable pace. Queen of Spades (the third book in the series) is well under way, and I’m scribbling away at it like mad.

I also plan to move right onto the next book in the series after finishing this one, so there won’t be a noticeable (or by any means painful) wait.

As for this third book in the series, which is the most important right now, I’m setting a tentative release date of May 31st. I really, REALLY want to get it out before summer, just because it’s getting ridiculous at this point, so I’m hoping to either stick to this release date or get it out there even sooner.

That’s only a month to spew out almost 50,000 more words, though, and edit them, so in the interest of not failing even more miserably than I already have, I’d better cut this blog post short (ha), and get back to writing.


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Starless Excerpt: This is the North

Today’s excerpt from Starless:

***

They rounded the next hillock, and came face to face with an unforeseen impediment. A small party of men, scouting the area.
The Apocalytes drew up short, taking in the group’s display, the soldier-like formation, the insectile gazes of a dozen gas-masked faces.

Northerners.

It was an unexpected encounter, but not a trace of fear passed over either astronomers’ face. Destinies and fates were easy enough to predict, but the route taken, the bends in the road, could never all be known. Free will still existed, still played a part in how each being fulfilled his fate. The journey itself had always been and would always be prone to twists and turns along the way.

“Glacier wasps,” Techa observed coolly. “What brings you buzzing out of the North?”

With a heavy thunk, another figure dropped into the picture from a sequestering hillock, landing in a crouch before them. She stood, straightening to an impressive height made greater by the diamond headdress atop her raven head. “This is the North,” she announced darkly through her own mask. While she left her piercing blue eyes unobstructed, a snout-like chamber covered the bottom half of her face, distorting her voice.

Yet in spite of the masked face and warped voice, it was no mystery who she was.

Rivanya.

That was the last thought Simene harbored before a debilitating steel blow rendered the starry world black.


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Meet the Characters of ‘Starless’ – Biric

It’s time to start introducing the characters from Starless! (Upcoming dystopian YA novel). Today we’re going to meet Biric, the main character of the story.

beauty portrait of blonde girl in profile

This is Biric. She has awesome blue dreadlocks. But not just because they’re awesome and I wanted her to have them. She’s a slave in the dystopian future, a role in which it makes sense to have dreadlocks, and the blue comes from something known as ‘Stardust’, in the book – a type of matter strewn across the Earth when crystalline asteroids (or geode-like asteroids) struck and all but destroyed the world as we know it.

I can’t say much more about Biric without giving away some key plot elements, but I can say that the whippings she has received as a slave have resulted in a strangely artful pattern of scars across her back, creating a symbol that sparks with significance. What does it mean?

What relevance does she have in a world where the Apocalypse is written in the stars?


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In Bardam, it is Illegal for a Woman to Run

An excerpt from my short story, Chasing me Softly:

***

In Bardam, it is illegal for a woman to run. Some say it is because our bodies are fragile, that we snap bones like dry brush, and if we run we encourage a dangerous recklessness. Therefore endangering all women.

Endangering women eventually leads to the extinction of a species. A good thing to make illegal.

Some say it is because running musses our beauty. Our hair goes wild and sweat streaks the paint on our faces, running dark rivulets from our eyes. Crazed eyes.
Men want something pretty to look at. And since men run Bardam, they can decide such things – that anything that ruins a woman’s beauty should be made illegal. Apparently, we are that sacred to them.

There are other disruptions to beauty that come from running. The dry, cracked lips from sucking the wind like a drug you can’t get enough of. The blisters that pepper your feet. The contours of muscle that develop over time; the definition of taboo written all over your defiled body.

I know of these greater details because I have a secret. A dangerous, marvelous, rich dark secret.

I sneak away from my canopied luxury, my silken prison where I should be resting my head upon embroidered pillows, at night, and I do that thing that makes me a criminal.

I run.

***

Available on Amazon: Chasing me Softly


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Queen of Spades – Out of Hibernation

It’s happened. I’ve finally had a breakthrough on Queen of Spades! So for all of you who have been grumbling about the third sequel taking its precious time doing anything remotely along the lines of getting closer to its release, while I joyously plod away on other books, you can heave a sigh of exasperated relief.

I don’t know why I was so stuck on this book for so long, but I have finally brainstormed the necessary ideas and tied the right threads together, and wrapped my head around the whole thing, so it should be swift sailing from here. I’m scratching away in my notebook, and don’t plan to stop.

Thanks to all of my long-suffering fans for your patience, and I maintain what I said a few posts back – that after the Ace and Breathtaker sagas, I promise not to work on multiple series simultaneously.


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Starless Cover Reveal Teaser/Countdown

Starless Cover Reveal Teaser

I thought it would be fun this time around to stir some extra hype with a cover reveal teaser and countdown! I reached the halfway point on Starless last night, and since I’ve had the cover stashed away awaiting the perfect time for its big reveal, I thought it would be a good time to start thinking about that. I’m so excited about this book, and hope to get some of you excited too! So here it is, the maddening cover reveal teaser!

Starless Cover Reveal Teaser

Are you curious yet? 🙂


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‘Starless’ Excerpt: Escaping the Compound

Today’s excerpt from Starless is an exciting one, in which a couple of the main characters stage an escape from the mysterious slave Compound, where blood sacrifices and experiments with mystical crystals and the building of strange machines and devices takes place. Enjoy!

***

The fireworks had stopped, long enough that her eyes were beginning to readjust to the darkness. She could see the figure for what it was, now – a hulking beast of broad shoulders and meaty arms, looming over her and rearing a fist to slam down on her.

No weapons necessary.

But then there was a blur from the sidelines, a second dark mass launching itself from a jutting pedestal of rubble and tackling her assailant with toppling force.

He went down, his grip pulling Biric down too. She was released as he crumpled, but there was nothing she could do to stop her fall. Her head slammed against a chunk of rubble, and for a moment she thought another firework was going off over the Compound. But this one was white, and starrier than the rest, and sent a lancing pain down her neck.

Dizzily, she blinked it away. Something warm trickled down her temple. She raised her fingers to the matted hair there, finding a knot slick with blood.

In a far-off sort of way, she knew she needed to snap out of it, needed to leave her injuries to be inspected later. But a momentary daze gripped her, and she pushed herself away from the ground as if in a dream.

Delicate hands were seizing her, trying to help her up. Only when Darra’s voice managed to filter into her senseless skull did she find her way back to reality, turning back to the dueling silhouettes that tussled across the slope.

The interceptor was smaller than the aggressor, but it was clear he was no novice. He cut and jabbed with viper prowess and used the rubble to manipulate advantageous angles, hammering away at the burly sentry until he was pushing him back. Then, with savage precision, he swept up a chunk of concrete from the slope and bashed it down across the other man’s skull.

This time, when the silhouette crumpled, he didn’t get back up.

Panting, Dasher turned back to Biric and Darra, concrete still gripped in his fist. Did he realize he was still holding it?

“Get out,” he commanded in a tone that brooked no contradiction.

It did not get past Biric that he did not have his mother with him. But she heard the urgency in his voice, and didn’t hesitate long enough to inquire about what he had found in the fortress.

She still didn’t remember where the exact location of the portal was, but she set her feet in the right direction, sweeping Darra up in her current as she went. And now that Dasher was with them, he honed in on their escape route himself, all but shoving them to their knees and stuffing them through the gap.

Biric dropped to the heap of debris below the crack, twisting her ankle and cutting her palm as she caught herself. She received Darra’s weight simultaneously, trying to cushion the other girl’s landing.

“Biric, what is this?” the red-head was gasping. But there was no time, not now. Biric hauled her off the heap and guided her into the chasm as Dasher herded them from behind.

Darra cried out as she stumbled over an obstacle, but Biric’s arm around her waist kept her from going down.

Three currents of rasping breath echoed down the chasm, giving life to the dark. Like phantoms, they scuttled down the passage.

Then a faint light was poking its feelers down in at them, and Dasher was surpassing them, hoisting himself out of the chasm and helping to pull them out.

By the slightly superior light of the dust-hindered moon, the three of them made off across the junkyard, sprinting toward the slope that stood between them and the open wilderness.

An unexpected, delayed series of fireworks went off then, the sky exploding with color as they scaled the incline and leaped off the other side.


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When You Remember Your Indie Book Isn’t a Major Motion Picture

I know I’m not the only one who gets so pumped about the story I’m writing that I sometimes get caught up in the idea that it’s this epic thing , that everyone and his uncle are stoked and raving about it along with me. Like it’s already a major motion picture, complete with the posters and movie trailers, the global buzz and raving fans, the awesome soundtrack, the acclaimed cast, the male lead that makes girls swoon all around the world…

Sometimes I have to rein myself in and remind myself I may be blowing things a liiiitle out of proportion. That I am an indie author with half a first draft, and I may be setting myself up for a bit of disappointment if I’m treating this project like Hollywood is in the cards.

And then I remind myself that I shouldn’t limit myself, either. That I should always write with the passion of one who feels their story could be the Next Big Thing. It may only ever end up being MY next big thing, the story playing across the huge screens of my imagination, the movie trailers stuck on repeat in my head, the posters splashed across my walls, the male lead making ME swoon… But nothing is worth writing, if you aren’t that passionate about it. If YOU don’t feel, on a personal level, that it’s the next big thing. Or that it should be.

Even if it never gets to Hollywood, that one fan that leaves a glowing 5* review saying the story TRANSCENDED THEIR WORLD will make you feel like you’re the sensation you always imagined yourself to be. And on some level, you will be. Being a sensation to one person unlocks the same magic as being a sensation to the masses. On a smaller scale, maybe, but it’s the same magic. And you realize it doesn’t matter so much how big your audience is so long as someone came away with the earth-shattering effect you were going for. The same thing you felt when you were writing the story. Just knowing you have shared that with the world, on whatever level, validates the impact of your story. It doesn’t matter if you have the attention of the masses. If one person thinks it’s epic, it is.

And, who knows; I’m not ruling out Holywood so easily. A girl can dream – and she must, if she’s worth anything as a creative soul.


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Upcoming Book Release Schedule

For those awaiting sequels and anticipating new projects, I wanted to give you the run-down on what the upcoming book-release schedule looks like. These things jump around a bit, but there are definitely a few books I know I need to focus on getting out there, so here are the plans as they currently stand:

I have gotten a good start on the next Ace book, Queen of Spades, and intend to iron out some details this weekend and get back into making progress on that front so it can be done by Summer, or shortly thereafter.

I haven’t yet started the fourth and final book in the Breathtaker saga, Breathless, but I’m collecting ideas and plan to focus on that one this Summer, since it’s a summery sort of a book. So you can expect that one by Summer’s end, or thereabouts.

My new project, Starless, (or old project? It’s been in the works for something like a decade) is well underway and I expect to have it ‘finished’ by Summer. However, this one I’m more serious about (it isn’t just a ‘practice’ book, or one I’m cranking out purely for fun), and so I plan to put it through a more extensive round of edits, beta reading, etc,  before its release. (Don’t get me wrong, it IS completely fun for me to write – maybe even more-so than others I did ‘just for fun’, but it’s one I’m really passionate about, and I want it to shine as a well-rounded, respectable piece of work.) In other words, this is one I’m more excited to develop as the ‘masterpiece’ I feel it could be, so it’s getting some serious devotion. I can’t really predict when its actual release will be, but sometime this year for sure.

With the Breathaker series wrapped up by Summer’s end, I expect to be able to jump more seriously into finishing up the Ace series. I know, it’s high time. I’ve partly avoided it because I myself kind of don’t want the series to ever end, but I know that’s not doing anything for my readers. Heh. Sorry, guys!

So there you have it. Big plans for this year. It’s a tall order for sure, especially given that I’m also focused on developing another business I run (which actually pays my bills), and planning on moving at the end of the Summer. But I get a lot done when I actually set word-count quotas and deadlines and such, so with any luck this schedule isn’t too unrealistic!

Thanks to my readers for being patient, and if you don’t happen to be waiting very patiently – thanks for reading anyway 🙂 I promise not to work on multiple series at the same time in the future.


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Cliff Hangers

Today we’re going to talk about cliff-hangers. You know, the suspenseful cut-offs that leave you stranded and tearing out your hair at the end of a book, that apparently nobody likes.

I myself never really minded reading cliff-hangers, and as a writer I find that I almost CAN’T write a book without ending it with one. But this does elicit some negative feedback from other readers, so I’m rethinking the whole cliff-hanger approach.

I don’t know. I mean, I always found it maddening, of course, but in a good way – a way that made you go ‘AAAAHHH I can’t believe it, I have to read the next book RIGHT NOW, omg, this is crazy’. Personally I LIKED getting hyped up for the next book. And being THAT AFFECTED by what I had just read.

Now, I suppose the issue could lie in the fact that I’m not necessarily speedy at producing sequels. I can see how that would get a little frustrating. But even when the sequels are already out, I’m learning that a cliff-hanger at the end of every book causes an unsatisfying lack of resolution, which can backfire and make readers want to give up as much as pursue the  next sequel, because they can probably count on IT having a cliffhanger too. When there are, oh, six books in a series, I’m told that’s a big commitment. Too big.

But for some reason, it feels wrong to me to end a book that’s in the MIDDLE OF A SERIES with a nice, satisfying, well-rounded ending. And maybe that’s something I just need to get over, but it’s my natural inclination to dismiss that kind of notion outright.

It’s unnatural, when the whole point to me is that it takes six books to tell the story. And I want them to want to read the next book, don’t I? To absolutely NEED to read it. Right now. Yesterday.

Well, this is where I might do well to realize that maybe a mere case of good writing, and lovable characters, goes a long way. If the writing is good, and you love the characters, you’re going to want to read more about them, right? That in itself has spurred me to buy sequels time and time again. It doesn’t take a cliff-hanger to make you fall in love with a story, with the characters, and to never want their story to end.

I could also benefit from realizing I can skip the ultimate cliff-hanger, but still leave a few loose ends. There’s no reason why I can’t grant the readers a little satisfaction and still lure them onward, right?

I just have such a knack for dreaming UP cliffhangers, that it’s going to be hard telling them ‘no’. They’re so EPIC. But it’s not like I can’t put them at the end of chapters, and fill a book chalk-full with them that way, so I’m going to go ahead and say this is one area I’ve decided I do need to choose my battles in order to perfect my craft. At the very least, I need to make sure it isn’t EVERY  BOOK.

What are your thoughts on cliff-hangers? Are they different as a reader vs. writer?