Monday, May 8, 2017

Amazon gift card & author L.S. O'Dea's "Escape" [giveaway]

If you're in need of a book for Spring, how 'bout the fantasy genre?

Author L.S. O'Dea grew up the youngest of seven. She always wanted to do what her older siblings were doing, especially reading stories. Ill at a young age, she immersed herself in books. Her life changed when she read a short story written by her older brother and realized that normal (somewhat anyway, since her brother was a bit weird in her opinion) people created these amazing stories. From that day forward, she wanted to write. However, as with all good stories, obstacles rose in her path (mostly self-created obstacles) and it took her many years to put finger to keyboard and write/type her first book.

Cover of L.S. O'Dea's "Escape"

Escape is the first book in an ongoing series authored by O'Dea called Lake of Sins. Hundreds of years after the Great Death desolated the planet, the world was reborn. Ruled by humans and filled with human-animal hybrids the difference between life and death is determined by a creature’s purpose and usefulness to society.

For a Producer, the lowest of the classes, the only guarantee of survival is being chosen to stay in the encampment and breed. The other teenagers are loaded onto carts and taken away, never to be seen or heard from again.

Still curious about Escape? Time for an interview with L.S. O'Dea...

What inspired you to write Escape?
I’ve pondered this question quite a bit. The shell of the story has been rattling around inside my head for years being somewhat inspired by my studies on how animals are treated in our society. I mean, why do we eat pigs, cows, chickens, etc but are appalled that other cultures eat dogs and cats? Animals are animals, right? Obviously, not in our minds. We didn’t base our decision on what becomes food on intelligence because many animals, including pigs, are smarter than dogs and cats.

For me, this is how stories begin. One question, one thread and I follow it. For this example, I followed it into fantasy. It didn’t start out that way. In the original shell of a story, all the characters were pure human. There were no genetic modifications anywhere. That all changed as I started writing.

So, in some ways the series was inspired by my studies, beliefs and questions but it took shape and became the story it is on its own. I don’t want readers to think this is a preachy story about animal rights because it isn’t. Many people don’t even pick up on that thread and I’m proud of that. A good book speaks to us on many levels and each time we read it we get something new because we’ve changed. That’s what I hope people get in this series.

How long does it take you write a book, on average?
I’ll have to guess at this one and I’ll explain why in a moment. It probably takes me about six months to a year to write a full length novel. Why so long? Well, first my books are big. The smallest in the series so far is over 300 pages. The others are around 500 plus.

Also, I write differently than many authors. I sit down and write the rough draft for all the books. Initially, Escape and Secrets in Blood were one book but when I finished it was too long (according to agents). So, I broke it into two books. After publishing them, I realized that there was a lot more to the story, so I sat down and wrote the rest. The entire series is done in rough draft format.

Now, I go back and edit, fleshing out the books.

I also have a lot of editing phases which take time. The first phase is the initial edit. This is where I take the rough draft and shape it, adding, moving and removing a lot of text. Once this done and the work is in the shape that it should be, I continue to edit, but this time, I chip away and tighten it up.

When that’s done, I move on to my next phase. This is where I have a beta reader or two who read one chapter and then we discuss it. This takes time. My books have a lot of chapters. The chapters are usually short, but these beta readers and I go through each chapter together.

When that’s done, I edit it again myself—usually, once more in electronic format and then once in paperback. I see typos and errors better on paper. Once that’s done I send it to my next tier of beta readers. I give them a month or so to read the book.

While they’re reading, I continue to edit. I edit my books until I don’t change one thing – not one word.

After the second tier of beta readers is done, I send the book to my third tier. This group looks for typos that I missed. It doesn’t matter how many times I go over the books, there is always something I missed. I also give this group about a month to read the book.

Then, I send it to my ARC (Advanced Reader Copies) readers. These folks agree to give me feedback and leave a review when the book is released. I give them a month to read the story also (although, at this point, I’m working on my next book).

So, it takes me a long time to write each book, but when it’s done – it’s a perfect as I can make it and so far the reviews have been positive with 94% of those who left a review for Escape on Amazon giving it four or five stars.

What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on Betrayed, book four in the Lake of Sins series, and book five (tentative title Whispers). I often work on two (different stages of editing) at the same time.

When book five is done, I’ll probably work on some Conguise Chronicles books (a spin-off of the Lake of Sins series). I only have one in that series and I have several others in my head vying for my attention.

What's the best writing tip you can offer?
Don’t wait for a muse. Don’t believe in writer’s block. Writing is work. It’s a job (one I love, but a job). In my day job, I don’t wait until I feel like going to work, to go (if I did, I’d never get there). Treat your writing like any other job. You have to go to get paid.

Even when nothing is flowing, sit down and write. Don’t worry about getting it right, just get it down. Let your imagination lead you. Edit it later.

What's a book written by another author everyone should read in their lifetime?
There are so many good books out there, that this is a really hard question. I’d have to say that everyone should read the works of Shakespeare. The man was a genius. He covers it all – love, hate, ambition, magic, betrayal, etc.

Old cover of L.S. O'Dea's "Escape"

Interested in a taste of O'Dea's writing style? Here's an excerpt the book Secrets In Blood:

Hugh and Tim followed the Guard inside the room. Red emergency lights illuminated the interior, casting an eerie glow along the tanks and cages that cluttered the lab. In the tanks floated creatures, things not quite…right. Inside one was something with hundreds of tiny legs protruding from its long, cylindrical body. Hugh stepped around to the other side of the tank and froze. The creature had the face of a Guard. He tapped on the glass.
“The ones in the tanks are dead,” said Laddie. “They’re the lucky ones.”
He slowly wandered after Laddie, studying the inhabitants of the other tanks. One contained a creature with gills and many teeth, similar to the animal that was in the water with Tim only larger, much larger. Another held a Guard that had armor plates growing out of his back. The Guard was flat, like he’d been crushed.
“What is this place?” Tim scooted around the tanks, averting his eyes.
“Welcome to Conguise’s retirement home,” said Laddie.
Hugh staggered backward and Laddie grabbed his arm, yanking him forward. A long tentacle snaked out of the cage behind him. It swiped at where he’d just been and slithered back into the darkness of its prison.
“Shit.” Tim backed up against a tank, face pale.
“Stay by the tanks,” said Laddie. “Those are the failed experiments. The cages…well, they ain’t failed yet.”

So who wants to win something?! L.S. O'Dea and I have partnered up to give away a few things - two lucky Giveaway Guy readers will win a paperback copy of Escape and another reader will win a $20 Amazon gift card.

Enter to win using the Rafflecopter form below. You may share on Twitter once a day for extra points for the duration of the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to users in the U.S. only. Winners will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter, which I will contact by email after entries are verified. The winners will have 24 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

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About Me

I'm Seth, owner of the Giveaway Guy blog. I live in the suburbs outside of Boston with my wife and have a career in SEO. I enjoy writing reviews and entering giveaways in my spare time.
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