Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Virtual Launch

Second, Jessica's virtual launch party blog post (which you can also find here), ver-ba-tim:

(Children of the Gods #1)

There are others like her. 
Many of them. 
And they have been waiting for her 
...for a long time.

Elyse knows what it means to keep a secret. She's been keeping secrets her whole life. Two, actually. First, that she ages five times slower than the average person, so that while she looks eighteen years old, she's closer to eighty. Second, that her blood has a mysterious power to heal. For Elyse, these things don't make her special. They make life dangerous. After the death of her parents, she's been careful to keep her secret as closely guarded as possible. Now, only one other person in the world knows about her age and ability. Or so she thinks. Elyse is not the only one keeping secrets. There are others like her all over the world, descendants of the very people the Greeks considered gods. She is one of them, and they have been waiting for her for a long time. Among so many of her kind, she should not be very remarkable--except for the prophecy. Some believe she will put an end to traditions, safeguarded by violence, which have oppressed her people for centuries. Others are determined to keep her from doing just that. But for Elyse, the game is just beginning--and she's not entirely willing to play by their rules.

$0.99 E-Book
Amazon Kindle Edition (UKFranceGermany)
$12.99 Paperback
Amazon (US)
Barnes & Noble (US) - (Currently SOLD OUT - check back for updates)
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The Virtual Launch Party Is Here!!
Get Ready for Dancing, Fun, & Prizes...

(The first two words cut out. They are, "Hi! I'm...")

Here's What You Can Win!

Grand Prize: Signed Paperback Edition of Oppression


Another Super Cool Prize: Lined Paper Notebook

Pretty Neat Prize: Oppression Poster


How Can You Win?

To be entered to win these prizes you can do any of the following:

1. Tweet about the release of Oppression using the hashtag #Book1OPPRESSION.

Example: Celebrate the release of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by @jessicatherrien #Book1OPPRESSION #YA Available NOW!
Example: Read #Book1OPPRESSION (Children of the Gods #1) by @jessicatherrien today for only .99 cents! http://amzn.to/wBDtn1    

2. Facebook - tag @Jessica Therrien (Author) about the release of Oppression.

Example: Celebrate the launch of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by @jessicatherrien! The e-book is on sale now for NOOK & Kindle for only .99 cents! http://amzn.to/yidy6C
Example: Spread the word for prizes! Today is the official release of Oppression (Children of the Gods #1) by @jessicatherrien
3. Visit any of the following Virtual Launch Party Host blogs and comment on their Virtual Launch Party posts:


Jaime Morrow
Avery Marsh
Marisa Corvisiero

The Press Release

So many people have been looking forward to the release of Jessica Therrien's debut YA novel, Oppression - the story of a seemingly young woman who discovers she is not alone in a world of prophecies and powers - that we've decided to share a few more Oppression-related things.

First off, today's press release:

ZOVA Books Releases Jessica Therrien's Debut YA Novel "Oppression"

ZOVA Books, a publishing firm in Los Angeles, releases Jessica Therrien’s “Oppression” on February 28, 2012.

Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) February 28, 2012
Jessica Therrien is releasing the first title in her “Children of the Gods” paranormal romance and adventure series. “Oppression” is the first of three books in the series published by ZOVA Books, a mid-sized publishing firm based in the Los Angeles area. The novel combines traditional Greek mythology with contemporary young adult fiction in a narrative that will appeal to fans of “Twilight” and “The Hunger Games.”
ZOVA Books has established themselves as a premier mid-sized publisher of genre and literary fiction, representing such bestselling novelists as “Dances With Wolves” author and Academy Award winning screenwriter, Michael Blake; Pulitzer Prize nominee for “Sacajawea,” Anna Lee Waldo; and current Wall Street Journal bestselling author A.K. Alexander. ZOVA was first introduced to Therrien’s work at a writers’ conference in San Diego in early 2011. Since then, ZOVA has established her as the first in their catalog of young adult fiction.
“We have been looking to develop our children’s and young adult catalog, not simply because it’s a strong market in the book industry, but most of all because it’s an audience we deeply care about,” says ZOVA publisher Molly Lewis. “Jessica Therrien has this incredible ability to reach a wide variety of readers, from romance lovers to fans of dystopian fiction. ‘Oppression’ is a wonderful set-up to a highly-anticipated series.”
“Oppression” puts a new spin on traditional Greek mythology, combining a unique coming-of-age story with an introduction to an X-Men-like universe. The book follows the character Elyse as she realizes that she is not alone in the world. There are others like her, people with unusually long life-spans and special abilities. It’s the start of a new life for her, one where her choices will have far-reaching consequences, not just for herself but potentially for the whole world.
Jessica Therrien has established herself as one of the most highly anticipated novelists of the year, winning a number of awards for her flash fiction and breaking numerous rankings on both Goodreads and Amazon. Her work is represented for film and television rights by Circle of Confusion. Foreign rights of “Oppression” are represented by Whitney Lee of The Fielding Agency.
ZOVA Books is actively developing its catalog of children’s fiction, both for middle grade and young adult readers, with such releases as Clive London’s “Prince Albert and the Doomsday Device,” which received a Kirkus starred review and was recently listed among Kirkus’ New and Notable Fiction list, and Jessica Therrien’s young adult paranormal romance novel, “Oppression.”
"Oppression" is distributed through Baker & Taylor and available for sale with Amazon, Barnes & Noble and wherever fine books are sold.
For media and rights inquiries and interviews, please contact Molly Lewis at ZOVA Books.
About ZOVA Books:
ZOVA Books is a publishing firm located in Los Angeles, California that publishes genre fiction titles, including works by New York Times #1 bestselling authors Michael Blake (“Dances With Wolves,” “The Holy Road,” “Into The Stars”) and Anna Lee Waldo (“Sacajawea,” “Watch the Face of the Sky”), as well as screenwriter and children’s book author Adam Kline and illustrator Brian Taylor (“Escape from Hat”), Kirkus Star recipient Clive London (“Prince Albert and the Doomsday Device”) and internal bestselling author Michele Scott (aka A.K. Alexander). ZOVA Books’ film, television and foreign rights are managed by Hollywood production and management company Circle of Confusion.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Some Links We're Loving

Jessica Therrien's debut novel, OPPRESSION, has been getting a lot of love in the blogosphere. Here are a few of the many bloggers highlighting the book prior to its release. They write some sweet stuff, so be sure to follow them for all their YA reviews:

Alexa Loves Books
Mina Burrows
Aimee Laine
Catch the Lune!
Realm of Fiction
Depression Cookies
Tina's Book Reviews
Kindred Dreamheart
Blook Girl
Shelftalkers Anonymous
Stories & Sweeties
Eve Quinn's Notebook
Endlessly Bookish

There are so many more where these came from! And we're just utterly delighted by this shout-out to both Jessica Therrien and Wes Albers.

Be sure to check out Jessica Therrien's blog while you're clicking around. Not to mention that Mike Sirota has a new blog as well, where he's most recently featured the launch for The Burning Ground. There are pictures!

Okay, enough squeeing for today.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Oppression, Chapter One

IT WAS DECEMBER 12, 1973. I remember because it was my fiftieth birthday, and Christmas was coming, so the snow was to be expected. In this area of northern California, we rarely saw anything but a white Christmas. Chilcoot was nestled high up in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. A small rectangular green sign was the only evidence that the small town actually existed: Chilcoot, California, Elevation 5000 ft, Population 58. A distracted driver could easily pass through the two-mile stretch of road that touched its borders without realizing he’d seen it.
We were on our way into the city, the closest to our house being over an hour away, and Daddy was grinning ear to ear as he drove his new forest green Cadillac Coupe de Ville into the oncoming flurries. He loved that car.
“Now, make sure the tree is sturdy, Elyse, and nice and tall,” Daddy said.
“I know, Dad. I think I’ve picked enough trees in my life to know a good one. Besides, you never let me choose it anyway,” I mumbled under my breath. I saw my mother’s cheeks lift into a smile. She must have heard me, and she knew it was the truth. We’d had this birthday tradition for the last twenty years. I was supposed to be the one to pick out the Christmas tree, but my choices hardly ever passed Daddy’s final inspection.
“Don’t you like this one?” he’d ask. “Yours is a little thin on the bottom. This one’s much better, right?”
“Right,” I would mutter mechanically.
“See, Sarah, she’s a good sport, knows a good one when she sees it.”
My mother never argued. He was too much of a perfectionist to let anyone else handle those sorts of things. It was kind of funny really, one of his little eccentricities that I overlooked in my youth.
It was two o’clock in the afternoon, but the day was dim. The sun had been swallowed up by the all-consuming white. I was gazing out the back window as it happened, trying to judge the visibility through the whiteout. I couldn’t see far, just beyond the edge of the fence that ran alongside the road.
“Richard, slow down!” my mother shouted. The words triggered the incident like she had seen it coming. The car drifted into the next lane, and I felt the loss of control as the paved road became slick ice. My body stiffened in response to the awkward gliding sensation, and I braced myself for the impact. Every second of the slow motion tumble seemed an eternity as I prepared for the last moments of life. I clung to those seconds, taking in the final images that my eyes would see, and listening for the closing lines that would mark the end.
My mother’s panicked voice rang out in the hollow silence of the cab with a sort of knowing uncertainty just before we hit.
It had been thirty-nine years since the accident, and still thesephotos stirred up the last memory I had of them. I stared down at the faded pictures, the delicate paper worn on the edges. I would never forget. The last words of my parents, the flickering image of a deep red that stained the snow like an open wound on the skin of the earth, and the crumpled Cadillac flipped over in the bank.
The photos were old, too old for me to be in them, but I was. My mother’s silky brown hair billowed over her shoulders, and I was glad I still remembered the toasted almond color of it because the gray and white image didn’t do it justice. The lack of color masked her would-be sky blue eyes and rosy cheeks. She was gorgeous. My father, to her left, was looking far too concentrated on the camera, furrowed brow and closed mouth. His skin, dark from working in the sun, nicely contrasted his short blond hair which he wore parted and combed to the side. I was at his feet, and we were posing in front of the tree like a typical storybook family. It was the Christmas of 1939. I looked three years old, but in truth, I was much older.
I was born in 1923 with a rare genetic abnormality. Like my mother and father, I aged five times slower than the average person. I’d been alive for eighty-nine years making me almost eighteen in the eyes of the rest of the world, and for the most part I felt young. I was living in San Francisco now. I found the city much easier to hide in than the small towns I had been moving to every five years or so since their death. In the city, I was just another face, another body in the crowd, completely invisible amongst the masses.
“We’ve gone to great lengths to live as we do, Ellie. It’s for your safety,” my father had always insisted. “Our bodies are durable and strong, but that’s a blessing and a curse. The secrecy of our identities is precious, and there is no telling what could happen if we were to be found out. People like us could not live a normal life if we were exposed.”
It was all I ever learned about myself and why I was so different, why I had to live in secret. Looking back, there was so much more I wanted to know, so many unanswered questions. What about my grandparents? What about my future? Was I destined to be alone? How did my parents find each other? Were there others? My father never went into detail. Instead, he avoided my questions, always suggesting a distraction that would divert my attention for a while.
“In time you’ll learn to live under the radar as we’ve done. For now, why don’t we get you a puppy?”
They bought me a Border Collie. She was black with white spots and white feet. I named her Sweetie, and I loved her like I had never loved anything. She went with me everywhere, and in my friendless world, Sweetie became the best friend I’d ever had. The attachment we’d formed seemed unbreakable, but as nature would have it, Sweetie died when I was nine. On that day, I fully understood why my parents had not wanted me to have friends—friends who I would love, who would age, and leave, and die.
The phone rang loud and unexpected, waking me out of my nostalgia. I returned the old photos to the small gold chest I kept them in and stumbled over unpacked boxes trying to get to the receiver. I had just moved in about two weeks ago, and the naked living room still void of furniture was a scattered mess. I picked up on the third ring, still lost a little in my own head.
“Hello?” I answered, expecting the only person who had my number.
“Hey,” I said, happy to hear from her. “I know I haven’t called. Sorry.”
I caught my reflection in the hallway mirror, still so young. My light brown hair was tied back in a loose ponytail, my cheeks wrinkle-free and rosy. I felt guilty listening to Anna’s older voice. Over the years, she’d become a woman of forty- eight, and I’d barely changed.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

News and Events

It's Saturday, but it's still a busy week over at ZOVA. On Thursday we headed down to Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego for the release of Mike Sirota's contemporary Native American ghost story, The Burning Ground, newly released just this past Tuesday. Yes, a ghost story for Valentine's Day. For some, it may seem the most appropriate gift on such a holiday. Following that, this weekend's Southern California Writers' Conference (also in San Diego) is featuring a number of ZOVA titles, from Sirota's newest, to pre-releases of Wes Albers' police drama and Jessica Therrien's highly anticipated YA debut, Oppression. We can't wait to hear feedback from the first readers of each of these very different books. There's more to come of course, from Jessica Therrien's official book launch at the Barnes & Noble in Fullerton on March 3rd to a variety of book signings and festivals in the months ahead.

We hope to see you at all of them.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ask the Author: Jessica Therrien concluded

6. The Descendants all have special abilities. What do you think yours would be if you were one of them?
I have to admit that writing in the first person makes me relate to Elyse more than anyone else, so I imagine myself with the ability to heal. BUT, if I could choose, I’d definitely be a messenger of some sort with the ability to fly or travel anywhere within a matter of seconds.
7. What have you discovered about being an author that you didn't expect before you started writing?
It is work (fun work, but work nonetheless). When I originally started writing, I wrote when I felt like it. I might not write for a few weeks, a month or two, then I would get an idea and it would pour out. Now I have to consider deadlines, marketing, social media, etc. I no longer get to be a lazy-pants when it comes to writing. Every day I strive to write something, whether it’s a paragraph, a page, or a chapter. Thank God I’m still in love with writing…it’s a fun way to be busy.
8. What do you hope readers will take away from your work?
I really hope readers will be left wanting more. I love it when I’m so carried away by a book that I never want it to end, and it would be wonderful if readers felt that way when reading Oppression. It would make me so happy to know that readers love the characters as much as I do.
9. Why do you write for teens in particular?
I wouldn’t say I write for teens. I would say I write YA (which, as most Twilight-loving moms know, isn’t only for young adults). I love writing YA because the stories are compelling. They’re fast-paced and full of what every reader wants:  page-turning action, a good love story, and a heartbreaking conflict. Also, I love writing from a young adult perspective for so many reasons. Young adults feel new, exciting and intense emotions, especially in terms of love, and as readers we enjoy reliving those days when we experienced our first taste of love.
10. What are some books that have influenced you?
So many, but as I was writing Oppression I’d have to list the obvious ones: The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Host. More recently I’d say I’ve been influenced by Divergent and Blood Red Road. I never wanted any of those books to end, and I’m a little jealous of anyone who has yet to delight in their awesomeness.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ask the Author: Jessica Therrien continued

5. What is your favorite passage from Oppression?
This might be the hardest question ever, but if I have to pick…then here you go:
It was two o’clock in the afternoon, but the day was dim. The sun had been swallowed up by the all-consuming white. I was gazing out the back window as it happened, trying to judge the visibility through the whiteout. I couldn’t see far, just beyond the edge of the fence that ran alongside the road. 
“Richard, slow down!” my mother shouted. The words triggered the incident like she had seen it coming. The car drifted into the next lane, and I felt the loss of control as the paved road became slick ice. My body stiffened in response to the awkward gliding sensation, and I braced myself for the impact. Every second of the slow motion tumble seemed an eternity as I prepared for the last moments of life. I clung to those seconds, taking in the final images that my eyes would see, and listening for the closing lines that would mark the end. 
My mother’s panicked voice rang out in the hollow silence of the cab with a sort of knowing uncertainty just before we hit. 
It had been thirty-nine years since the accident, and still these photos stirred up the last memory I had of them. I stared down at the faded pictures, the delicate paper worn on the edges. I would never forget. The last words of my parents, the flickering image of a deep red that stained the snow like an open wound on the skin of the earth, and the crumpled Cadillac flipped over in the bank. 
Oddly enough, this is one of the scenes taken from my own life experience. When I was eighteen I totaled my mom’s car in a snowstorm just outside of Chilcoot (the town where I was raised and where part of Oppression takes place). 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ask the Author: Jessica Therrien

This week we sat down with Jessica Therrien, debut author of the upcoming YA novel, OPPRESSION, to ask her questions about her new release. Here are some of her responses to our most pressing curiosities:

1. What first inspired you to write Oppression?
 A few years ago, when the Young Adult genre was just starting to take off, I whipped through the Twilight Saga and the Hunger Games Trilogy. Once I finished, I needed more. I was eager to dive into something just as compelling. I searched and searched, but nothing captivated me like those books did, so I decided why not write my own? After all, I knew what I was looking for in a YA novel. A year later Oppression was born.
2. Did you have to do any research while you were writing?
Yes. I was constantly doing research on Greek Mythology. Not only did I want the concept to seem believable, but whenever I was lacking ideas, I would look up Greek gods and goddesses to see how I could turn them into a character with a supernatural ability.
3. Are any of the characters or events of the book pulled from your real life experience?
Absolutely. I’m actually a Descendant! 
Okay, I wish I was, but I’m not. However, much of the book was pulled from my own life experience, the love story in particular. As I was writing Oppression, I was falling in love with the man that is now my husband. He is my William. Don’t get any crazy ideas ladies. He’s taken.
4. Did you always know it would be a series? Are there any hints you can give us about the upcoming books?
Like most debut authors, I didn’t start writing this book with the idea that it would ever be published. I wrote on the fly and for fun, satisfying my YA book addiction, but as the story progressed and I grew to love the characters, I knew I’d have to keep going.
I’m so excited about the next book. I want to tell you everything, but I’ll have to restrain myself. Let’s just say that there are new characters, new abilities, action sequences and fighting scenes, death, rekindled love, new love, new life, and twists around every corner that you won’t see coming.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ask the Author: Mike Sirota, Part Two

Q: Have you ever considered writing a sequel to any of your horror novels?
A: I suppose a sequel can be made to anything. Cripes, in Star Trek III they brought Spock back to life after Trekkies revolted! But mine have so far been stand-alone stories. I mean, how many people get the calling to help spirits move on to the next world (Fire Dance and The Burning Ground), or drive demons back into the hell that spawned them (Demon Shadows and The Modoc Well) more than once?
Q: In what way do you feel this book stands apart from the rest of your catalog of work?
A: When I dug farther back into the decimation of California’s indigenous population I became appalled at the extent of this genocide, beginning with the arrival of the Spanish missionaries and encompassing the decade or more after the Gold Rush. While my other two Native American-themed novels, Demon Shadows and The Modoc Well, have a comment or two about the treatment of Indians, none come close to The Burning Ground. This includes an Author’s Note and a significant plot adjustment with regard to the Maidu spirits—though sharing that here would be revealing too much.
Q: Are there any writers or books that were influential in this particular novel...or in your career in general?
A: Not this particular story. But for my career? That answer is always the same: Edgar Rice Burroughs. Tarzan, John Carter of Mars, Pellucidar—all of his 100+ books were among my favorites. Without ERB I would have never become a writer.
Q: Looking back at the books you've written over the years, how has your work developed with time and experience?
A: I re-read many of my early works over the past year or so in preparation for making them available again under my own imprint, Atoris Press, via my second website, Swords and Specters. Most of them made me want to hurl. Each one will require extensive revisions before I would ever let anyone see them. As a teacher, editor, and writing coach these past couple of decades I also learned a great deal. With every book—with every page—that you write, you should be improving your craft.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Ask the Author: Mike Sirota, Part One

Q: How did you get the idea for The Burning Ground?
A: One of the most used and abused books in my collection is A.L. Kroeber’s Handbook of the Indians of California. (“Handbook” is a misnomer; you can barely hold this thick tome in one hand.) I used it to research the Washo tribe in my novel, Demon Shadows, and the Modoc tribe in The Well (now The Modoc Well). When I read about the burial customs of the Maidu people—they actually called their cemetery a burning ground and set fire to brush spread across the graves to help the dead pass on to the next world—and then learned that most of the Maidu had been slaughtered during the Gold Rush, the old “what if” kicked in. What if, because of the violent way in which they died, the spirits of those from one particular small village remained trapped in their burning ground? Then, in more contemporary research, I read about the (still ongoing) desecration of Indian burial grounds by people digging for artifacts. What if the graves of the Maidu from this village were desecrated, releasing the spirits—who are really pissed off by this time? And so the plot evolved.
Q: What research was involved in fashioning the life and culture of the Maidu?
A: Just about any and every book about California Indians that I could get my hands on (not too many), though again, Kroeber was the primary resource. A cultural anthropologist, Kroeber spent seventeen years among California’s indigenous population in the early twentieth century. The scope of his research is remarkable. (His daughter was Ursula Kroeber, better known to readers of science fiction as Ursula LeGuin.) Three lengthy chapters are devoted to just the small Maidu tribe. TMI for most people, but I loved doing the research.
Q: How do you feel your work as an editor helped or hindered your writing?
A: Well, I would think that you, as my editor, probably appreciate the fact that my manuscripts require minimal work, as evidenced by the handful of changes that we made in both Fire Dance and The Burning Ground. As a perfectionist, I probably go overboard in being anal. As an editor, I don’t want any typos or other errors. As a writer I want every detail to be correct. This doesn’t always work out 100% of the time, but I do my best.
Q: What writing habits do you keep?
A: I take a long walk in the morning and then start writing about mid-morning. Late in the afternoon, four, maybe five o’clock, the “creativity” button in the brain shuts off, and I stop. The usual output is 1,500 to 2,000 words. That’s the day-to-day routine. The bigger picture: I prepare an outline and do extensive preliminary research before I write word one. Then I write the first draft, beginning to end, not stopping at all for research. The second draft consists of grunt work—trimming the fat, filling in the many blanks I leave while focusing on getting the story down, that sort of thing. The third—and final—draft is my favorite, for it always follows a trip to the locale of the story. For The Burning Ground I traveled to the active ghost town of Downieville, population 300, in the Sierra Nevada foothills. This “living research” breathes life into my stories.