Thursday, 31 October 2013

Writing scary stories

Because it's Halloween, I thought now was an opportune time to blog about a topic I love: scary stories. It'll come as no surprise to anyone who's read any of my books to learn that I like to sprinkle my stories with a fair amount of creepy (The Puppet Spell received a light sprinkling, the equivalent of a shiver down the spine; whereas the Darkworld series was submerged under an upturned salt cellar of terror, one step below a full-blown horror movie - RIGHT, that's enough of the dubiously-structured metaphors, Emma...). But I don't think I've ever discussed the topic at length. 

So...onto scary stories. People have different ideas about what makes something scary. For me, it rests on two things: the familiar and the UNfamiliar. Now, these are complete opposites, which at first glance doesn't seem to make much sense. But it's based on Freud's essay on 'The Uncanny', which I studied on my undergrad English Lit course. Freud talks about the 'heimlich' and 'unheimlich', which literally translates as 'homely' and 'un-homely', or uncanny - and they're not opposites. The uncanny is something that is recognisable, but scary BECAUSE of that familiar element. He uses the examples of the doppelganger, the doll, and the automaton. All have human characteristics but aren't human. It's the familiar element that makes them frightening.

Other than the familiar, I also try to draw on things that I personally find frightening and make them equally unnerving for the reader. Things that I find scary include the loss of control. Maybe this is why I find the idea of demonic possession so fascinating. It was when I was researching the Darkworld series that I discovered the origin of 'nightmares', which in the original legend are creatures that visit you when you're asleep and attempt to strangle or suffocate you. This was probably based on sleep paralysis, of which I have personal experience! The first time I had sleep paralysis was the night before a major A-Level exam. I couldn't sleep, and when I did, it must have been around four in the morning. I almost immediately fell into this bizarre dream in which I was in the middle of a crowded room and suddenly couldn't move. No one noticed I was paralysed, and I couldn't open my mouth to tell them.  I was terrified out of my mind! And it got worse. The door opened, and I couldn't move my head to see who came in, but I got this horrible feeling of dread. Something sinister had just come into the room, and was approaching me, and I couldn't move...

I woke up. And couldn't move a muscle. It was like I was still stuck in the dream, but I knew I was awake, in my bed. My eyes were open, but my entire body was numb all over. I couldn't even open my mouth, though I would have screamed the house down if I could. Genuinely the most terrifying moment of my life. But eventually I started to get a tingling feeling in my fingers and toes, and slowly, sensation came back. I think it took about twenty minutes for me to be able to move again, and obviously, there was no chance I was going back to sleep after that!

It was a year before I found out sleep paralysis was actually a thing. The scene in Darkness Watching where Ash finds that out is almost a mirror of how it actually happened. Reality does occasionally overlap with fiction, as much as I usually try to avoid it. It's the emotions that matter. I wanted people to feel Ash's panic as she realises she's awake, but powerless to move, paralysed by an unseen force. Demons? You'll have to read the book to find out...

There are lots of scary things in Darkness Watching, and the Darkworld series as a whole. Many draw on the idea of the uncanny. The harpies are repulsive because they look part-human, as do the ghouls. And the antagonist in Book Two is a doppelganger - a ghoul who bears a striking resemblance to Ash...

I also write about darkness, literal and figurative. If I were to subject the Darkworld itself to literary analysis (never a good idea), I could come up with all these metaphors for darkness buried within, darkness as a reflection of self, personal demons, yada yada. But I'm not going to go there. The STORY comes first. Always.

On that note, let me tell you a little story of my own. One of the scariest things that's happened to me was in July this year, when fraudsters hacked into my bank account and transferred all my savings into their own account. The frightening thing wasn't that it was so easy for them to somehow access my details and transfer my money over the telephone by pretending to be me (yes, I have a real-life doppelganger, apparently) - it was the attitude of the bank when I called them to report the fraud. They accused ME of transferring the money myself and lying to them.

Suddenly, I was forced to deny something I couldn't possibly have done, and was embroiled in a full-on interrogation. It was like living my own stories! I write about demons that can read every detail of a person's life, and doppelgangers which take on someone's identity and get the real person blamed for it -but I never thought there was a real-world equivalent. The idea that someone can take your identity and leave you powerless to defend actions that weren't yours. The idea that when someone gets hold of certain details, they can for all intents and purposes BE someone they're not. Our identities are tied to strings of numbers. We live in a world of modern technology, and it's easier and easier for people to take advantage of that. I admit I was naive: I always assumed I was safe. Maybe we all do. My bank account comes with online banking as a feature and I never for a second believed that it was possible for someone to hack through three layers of security. But someone did.

This story did have a point, I swear. It's not just that I felt like ranting because I feel completely violated, not to mention scared that it could happen again (it's not like I haven't taken every safety measure, either). I think what scares me the most is that criminals can get away with stealing everything from someone - in fact, was made to feel like I'd done something wrong. And that's scary.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

What's Up Wednesday #13

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

This week, I've been working through my TBR list as a way to relax post-editing! I read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, which is a zombie book unlike any I've read before! I also read Hex Hall, a book I've been meaning to read for ages, and I loved it. It's hilarious and witty and fun, and I've picked up the second book in the trilogy already!

What I'm writing

Firstly, after finishing editing Beneath the Waves, I sent the draft to CP's/betas! As I also decided my MG fantasy was going to be my NaNo project, I was left at a bit of a loose end. There was no point in starting a new project, with a week before NaNo and an Epic Email of Doom on the horizon at some point in the future, but I had to be writing SOMETHING...and my one attempt to start a short story tanked. I have no idea what my problem is with short stories, but I just...can't do them. Every idea I think of demands to be part of a novel, possibly because it's so rare for me to think of a decent story idea that I don't want to let it go that easily!

So instead, I picked an idea from my 'Future Project Ideas' list (this is a godsend when I'm having one of my panicky moments that I've run out of ideas!) and decided to see what I could do with it. The result? An outline for a new YA urban fantasy trilogy! It's VERY rough, and full of gaping holes (planning is the worst part of the process for me because I'm an obsessive outliner BUT I know it can kill an idea faster than you can blink...), but it's something I can go back to later. Unfortunately, I still haven't had an idea that's gripped me as hard as Darkworld did, but every book is different, and I have to really love a story to get to this stage with it - so there's something there!

What else I've been up to

Watching anime, editing for clients, and freaking out a lot  a little about this blog tour! Mainly because I was half-afraid it would be something like this:

What inspires me right now

LOLcats. In all seriousness, sometimes I need a laugh. It's very lonely up here in Writerville, and I have a LOT of different projects giving me different levels of stress/insecurity. So sometimes, just a picture of a LOLcat can make a difference to this overly-sensitive soul.

But nice reviews always make my day. :)

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Review - Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

Holly Black tells a wonderfully chilling story of three friends, Zach, Poppy and Alice, and a creepy china doll that turns out to contain the remains of a dead girl. It has the same eerie quality as Coraline or The Graveyard Book, a story that will appeal to adults and children alike.

Poppy, Alice and Zach have been best friends for years, playing imaginary games involving pirates, mermaids and queens, but their friendship is put to the test when Zach’s father throws away his toys. Angry and embarrassed, Zach refuses to play the games any more, but when Poppy is visited by the ghost of a girl who was killed by her father, and whose bones were used to make a doll. This is the china doll which acts as the Queen in their games, and the ghost tells Poppy that it needs to be buried in her grave otherwise

The three lead characters are really well-crafted and believable, children on the cusp of adolescence and dealing with the awkwardness and strained friendships that come with it. It’s a delightful combination of an adventure story, a ghost story, and a coming-of-age tale, and brilliantly written. Despite it being a children’s story, I found the doll and the ghost genuinely sinister and it’ll definitely appeal to fans of the Goosebumps books.

Holly Black spins a fun and engaging tale of friendship and adventure, with relatable characters, and it’s perfect for the target age group. Creepy without being outright terrifying, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read and a brilliantly told story.

Rating: ****1/2*

Monday, 28 October 2013

Darkness Watching Blog Tour Kick-Off!

It's finally here! The review tour for Darkness Watching kicks off today over at Xpresso Reads!

OK. *deep breath* Let's see what today's lovely bloggers and reviewers have to say about Darkness Watching!

"Emma is an amazing writer. She has become one of my favorites. I couldn’t put Darkness Watching down." - Diane at A Creative Mind

"Darkness Watching provides an original world that is fully complete and from a teens POV. It was dark and entertaining and sometimes teen books don’t go full out, this one did. The world building was truly strong in this novel." - Lexi at Book Bliss


Also, Darkness Watching is now available in paperback from AmazonAmazon UK and Barnes and Noble!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Series Review - Experiment in Terror by Karina Halle

It's time for my series review, and as it's October, I thought it was an appropriate time to upload my mini-reviews of Karina Halle's fabulous Experiment in Terror series (the first seven books)! :)
Darkhouse (Experiment in Terror, #1)

With all the vampire, werewolf and faerie books out there, it's easy to become numb to all things supernatural. The antidote? Darkhouse introduces two real and unforgettable characters, Perry Palomino & Dex Foray, amateur ghost hunters who are "attractive, relatable and oddly heroic," "flawed but loveable," "slightly crazy" and just the most endearing pair to ever tackle the paranormal...just don't call them normal.

Darkhouse is a thrilling and sexy new take on concepts like Supernatural and The X-Files, bringing a breath of fresh air to a genre that has been inundated with the dead.

Perry Palomino feels like her life’s out of her control. At 22 she’s stuck working as a receptionist after studying for a degree she realised last-minute she wasn’t interested in, whilst all her friends have moved onto successful careers. But when her far-more-successful teenage sister asks her to take over her blog for a few days, Perry finds herself an unexpected hit on YouTube when she uploads videos of herself and a mysterious man named Dex as they explored a supposedly haunted old lighthouse the weekend before. When Dex offers her an opportunity to be hosted on his web show, they return to the lighthouse to confront whatever is lurking there – but Dex has secrets of his own…

I absolutely loved this take on the supernatural. It’s been a while since a ghost story really creeped me out, and this managed to scare me with is relatable out giving me nightmares. The easy writing style swept me along, and Perry’s narrative made me laugh on occasion. I love her interactions with Dex. This is a thoroughly engaging and entertaining paranormal read which sets things up nicely for the rest of the series – and it’s free to download!

Rating: ****1/2*

 Red Fox (Experiment in Terror, #2)

With Book Two of the Experiment in Terror Series, Perry Palomino and Dex Foray trade in the stormy Oregon coast for the unforgiving deserts of New Mexico. 

In the for­got­ten town of Red Fox, New Mex­ico, a Navajo cou­ple is tor­tured by things unseen and by motives unknown. Wild ani­mals slink through their house in the dark, a bar­rage of stones pound their roof nightly, and muti­lated sheep car­casses are turn­ing up on their prop­erty. Armed with a cam­era and just enough to go on, Perry and Dex travel to the des­o­late locale, hop­ing to film the super­nat­ural occur­rences and add cred­i­bil­ity to their flail­ing web­cast. Only their show has a lot more work­ing against them than just grow­ing pains. Tested by dubi­ous ranch hands, a ghost from Dex’s past, and shapeshift­ing decep­tion, the ama­teur ghost hunters must learn to trust each other in order to fight the most ancient of myths…or die trying.

Book 2: Red Fox

Perry is jobless and trying to hide it from her parents; and her demonstration of the first episode of her and Dex’s online ghost hunting show didn’t have the impact she hoped for. They travel to New Mexico, where a family is being terrorised by a poltergeist, in the hope of finding a better story, and end up caught up in a dangerous series of events. The local animals are behaving strangely; someone is throwing rocks at the windows in the dead of night; and when Perry and Dex arrive, things only seem to get worse. Perry’s been told before that she’s a ghost-magnet, but put that together with local legend and a family that can’t be trusted, and she might be in over her head…

I really like Perry as a protagonist. She’s self-conscious and awkward, but isn’t annoying. She’s a believable, three-dimensional character, and I love her snarky narration. Dex is as mysterious as ever, although we do get more of an insight into his character in this book. I love the dynamic between them and their almost-romance, and I found it amusing that they had to pretend to be a married couple.

This is a nail-biting read, even more so than the first book! There are legends of creepy animal shifters, suspicious locals and bizarre attacks from wildlife. With great characters and great writing, you can’t go wrong with this!

Rating: ****1/2*

Dead Sky Morning (Experiment in Terror, #3)

With the Experiment in Terror show finding some success, amateur ghost hunters Perry Palomino and Dex Foray embark on their most terrifying investigation yet. A tiny, fog-shrouded island in the rough strait between British Columbia and Washington State has held a dark secret for decades: It was a former leper colony where over forty souls were left to rot, die and bury each other. Now a functioning campground, Perry and Dex spend an isolated weekend there to investigate potential hauntings but as the duo quickly find out, there is more to fear on D’Arcy Island than just ghosts. The island quickly pits partner against partner, spiraling the pair into madness that serves to destroy their sanity, their relationship and their very lives.

Book 3: Dead Sky Morning

The Experiment in Terror show has taken off in a big way, and now Perry and Dex are off to a creepy island where a leper colony died in horrific conditions. This cheery set-up inevitably leads to a seriously scary experience. Before they even reach the island, we have creepy faces and grabbing hands on the side of the boat – yeek!

Firstly, let me reiterate how much I LOVE the lead characters in this series. They continue to surprise me, and that’s no easy task! Perry is both snarky and vulnerable, and her reaction to hurtful internet comments struck a chord with me. We learn more about both Perry and Dex and, given that they’re alone together on an island, the tension between them inevitably kicks up a notch. There’s some serious chemistry between them despite Dex’s absentee girlfriend, and complications arise.

Meanwhile, there’s the island itself. The historical accounts of sinister happenings barely scratch the surface, and there are some seriously terrifying moments. For their entire ordeal, I was caught up in the heart-racing terror, and I loved it! Karina Halle really knows how to write a scary story, but with romance and humour to balance the nerve-shredding moments. Loved it!

Rating: *****

 Lying Season (Experiment in Terror, #4)

Amateur ghost-hunter Perry Palomino has battled ghosts, fought off skinwalkers and skirted the fine line between life and death. But can she survive bunking down in Seattle for a week with her partner (and man she secretly loves) Dex and his perfect girlfriend, Jennifer? And can she do so while being tormented by a malicious spirit from Dex's increasingly shady past? With love and life in the balance, Perry must discover the truth among the lies or risk losing everything she's ever cared about.

Book 4: Lying Season

After reading this, I hate wasps even more than I already did! *shudder*

Things are decidedly awkward when Perry and Dex decide to film an episode of their show in Dex’s hometown, and Perry ends up having to stay with him and his girlfriend. They have to battle their growing attraction to each other as well as the terrifying ghosts of the local mental institute – where Dex himself spent a dark time in his life. As a shadowy figure from the past makes an appearance, both have to confront the ghosts of the past and present.

I can’t get enough of Karina Halle’s writing. She can create a fabulously gripping horror story with real emotional depth. I adore all the characters in this series - well, I hate Jenn, but she’s just as complex and troubled as the others. Perry and Dex are as awesome as ever, and Perry gets more of an insight into Dex’s past. This book took me on an emotional ride, that’s for sure! I’m officially addicted to this series, and with an ending like that…well, I’ll have to pick up the next one, now!

Rating: *****

 On Demon Wings (Experiment in Terror, #5)
When the life you wanted has crumbled beneath your fingers, there’s nothing left to do but pick up the pieces and soldier on. You’ve done this before.

But what happens when you no longer feel like yourself anymore? When fires spontaneously start-up around you, when you hear growling coming from underneath your bed, and you no longer recognize your face in the mirror. What happens then?

Ghost-hunter Perry Palomino doesn’t have much time to find out. Now, the evil she used to hunt is a lot closer to home. It’s inside of her, taking over her life bit-by-terrifying bit, and there’s only one person who can help her. 

If part of her doesn’t kill him first.

Book 5: On Demon Wings

Perry’s in a bad way, and after quitting the show, she’s had to take a job in a coffee shop. But even though she’s no longer hunting ghosts, something evil is after her, and horrifying things start to break into her normal life. Meanwhile, there are gaps in her memory, and she starts to fear that there’s something dark inside her that’s slowly taking control.

Holy wow. This book was a shocker in more than one way, and I could never have predicted the way things would turn out. I write about demonic possession and this freaked me out! I also like that we got more of an insight into Perry’s family, and she and Ada have some great moments in this book.

This was an intense, heart-wrenching read, and I loved it. The plot twists are unexpected, the writing is gripping, and the scary moments are at full effect. Poor Perry goes through some trauma, that’s for sure! I was completely glued to the pages.  I need the next book now!

Rating: *****

Into the Hollow (Experiment in Terror, #6)

Perry Palomino has fought her demons – and won – but the battle is far from over. She’s now left broken and on her own, leaving behind her life and family in Portland to focus on giving Dex Foray – and the Experiment in Terror show – a second chance. But their past mistakes continue to tease and test their relationship, as does the wild and desolate terrain of the Canadian Rockies.

The snow-covered peaks and ravenous forests hide an urban legend too unbelievably frightening to be true and the only way the duo has a chance of surviving is if Perry can let in the very man who sent her to hell and back.

Book 6: Into the Hollow

Perry and Dex attempt to patch up their relationship and put past events behind them as they head off in search of a Sasquatch-like monster in the Canadian mountains. Perry has been forced to move in with Dex to avoid putting her family at risk again, but she’s even more reluctant to open her heart to him after he betrayed her.

 This book has everything I love about the Experiment In Terror series – fabulous characters, humour, terrifying moments, and emotions that tear at the heart. In all of these, Into the Hollow delivers!

It’s hard not to give away spoilers here! Dex and Perry continue to develop as characters. Both have been through hell, and they’re struggling to find their way. I love their interactions – by turns hilarious and heart-wrenching. Karina Halle knows how to write a great romance between two deeply flawed, psychologically complex characters. The dialogue is great, and even after everything that’s happened. Perry and Dex have this great verbal play.

Then there’s the scary monster in the snow. All I can say is: I am never camping on a snowy mountain. Not that I’d ever do that anyway…

Bring on the next book! I can’t get enough of this series!

Rating: *****

Come Alive (Experiment in Terror, #7)

 It’s one thing to bring the woman you love back into your life. It’s another to try and keep her there. For Dex Foray, con­vinc­ing Perry Palomino to open her­self to their bur­geon­ing rela­tion­ship has been more chal­leng­ing than hunt­ing ghosts, bat­tling demons and stalk­ing Sasquatch com­bined. Add in the fact that the only way they can keep their Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror show run­ning is to take on a third part­ner in the form of the mys­te­ri­ous Max­imus Jacobs — all while inves­ti­gat­ing a sin­is­ter voodoo sect in New Orleans — and you’ve got the per­fect South­ern storm and a recipe for dis­as­ter. Luck­ily, Dex has never been one to back down, even when his life –and heart — are on the line.

Book 7: Come Alive

In the seventh book in Karina Halle’s Experiment in Terror series, we get Dex’s perspective as he and Perry are forced to partner up with someone they’re both less than fond of in order to investigate a voodoo cult in New Orleans. Once again, it’s hard not to give spoilers! Suffice to say that Halle manages once again to combine a thrilling storyline with romance, emotion, humour and jump-out-of-your-seat moments.

Zombies never fail to creep me out, so this one’ll be haunting me for a while! I love that each book’s storyline is unique and that the characters and their relationships continue to evolve over the course of the series. With Dex’s POV, we get an insight into his slightly warped, hilarious mind, as well as a fantastic story. This is another page-turner and once again, I can’t wait for the next one!

Rating: *****

Friday, 25 October 2013

Review - Kiya: Hope of the Pharoah by Katie Hamstead

KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh

When Naomi’s sisters are snatched up to be taken to be wives of the erratic Pharaoh, Akhenaten, she knows they won’t survive the palace, so she offers herself in their place. The fearsome Commander Horemheb sees her courage, and knows she is exactly what he is looking for…

The Great Queen Nefertiti despises Naomi instantly, and strips her of her Hebrew lineage, including her name, which is changed to Kiya. Kiya allies herself with Horemheb, who pushes her to greatness and encourages her to make the Pharaoh fall in love with her. When Akhenaten declares Kiya will be the mother of his heir, Nefertiti, furious with jealousy, schemes to destroy Kiya.

Kiya must play the deadly game carefully. She is in a silent battle of wills, and a struggle for who will one day inherit the crown. If she does bear an heir, she knows she will need to fight to protect him, as well as herself, from Nefertiti who is out for blood.

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, but I love all things Ancient Egyptian, so I jumped at the chance to review Kiya!

When Pharaoh Akhenaten demands a Hebrew wife, Naomi offers herself in the place of her younger sisters. She travels to his palace, where she is given a new name, ‘Kiya’, and makes a deadly enemy in the jealous Queen Nefertiti. Torn between her duty to the Pharaoh and her own feelings, she has to navigate this perilous world of deception and intrigue whilst learning who to trust.

This is historical fiction as it should be – a great story in a compelling setting brought vividly to life in the writing. I never once felt that anything didn’t fit or didn’t feel authentic. I was completely sucked into this world! Kiya is a fierce and strong heroine with plenty of spirit, and is easy to root for. She refuses to compromise her beliefs even if it means risking her life. The other characters are equally well-drawn, and the plot kept me hooked. This is a well-researched and well-written debut, one I’d highly recommend!

Rating: ****

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Review - Courage by Carrie Butler

Courage by Carrie Butler
Blog Tour  •  October 14th–16th

Title: Courage
Author: Carrie Butler
Series: Mark of Nexus #2
Expected publication: October 15th, 2013
Category: New Adult (NA)
Genre: Paranormal Romance (PNR)

• Short description:
Rena Collins never thought she’d long for the past—back when affection from Wallace, her freakishly strong boyfriend, was the most dangerous aspect of her life. But now that the human-altering organization known as ERA has gone on the offensive, nothing is safe. Her bloodline is exposed, her relationships torn apart, and just when it seems like things can’t get any worse, ERA ups the ante. To save mankind from forced evolution, Rena will have to mend her broken ties and form a resistance... hand-in-hand with the one she hurt most.

Long description:
Making a deal with the bad guys wasn’t the highlight of Rena Collins’ semester, but, hey, it saved her boyfriend. Now, in order to appease the human-altering organization known as ERA, she’ll crawl under their microscope while they study the Mark of Nexus and plot their eye-glazed version of the future—until she realizes that’s not all they’re plotting.

Wallace Blake has always known his girlfriend is unlike most girls. But now that information has surfaced regarding the two bloodlines that balance his supernatural race, he finally understands why. Rena belongs to one of them. She’s been augmenting his power, all along...

Enter: Corynn Catley. Brought into the country under the guise of an internship, she’s intended to become ERA’s secret weapon. Kind of. Her abilities cancel out Wallace’s, rendering him powerless, but that’s exactly what he’s always wanted. Too bad it only works when his girlfriend’s not around.

All the while, Rena fails to notice the crush her geeky best friend, Aiden Ross, is nursing. He’d give anything for her to see him in a new light—even reinvent himself through questionable means--but there’s a reason people are told to be careful what they wish for. Finding the courage to tell her could put everyone’s lives in danger.

Courage (Mark of Nexus #2) is a New Adult paranormal romance that features four unique points-of-view. While the novel stands alone, it is best enjoyed after Strength (Mark of Nexus #1).

   LINKS   (

Title: Strength
Author: Carrie Butler
Series: Mark of Nexus #1
Publication: September 16th, 2013 (First publication: March 7th, 2013 by Sapphire Star Publishing)
Category: New Adult (NA)
Genre: Paranormal Romance (PNR)

• Short description:
When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, she’s stunned. Wallace Blake is everything she’s ever wanted in a man—except he can’t touch her. His uncontrollable strength, a so-called gift from his bloodline, makes every interaction dangerous. And with a secret, supernatural war brewing among his kind, there’s no time to work it out. To keep Wallace in her life, Rena will have to risk a whole lot more than her heart.

• Long description:
When college student Rena Collins finds herself nose-to-chest with the campus outcast, her rumor-laced notions are shattered. Handsome, considerate, and seemingly sane, Wallace Blake doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, screaming and banging on the walls of his dorm room. Hell, he doesn’t look like he spends his nights alone, period.

Too curious for her own good, Rena vows to uncover the truth behind Wallace’s madman reputation--and how two seconds of contact had left her with bruises. Of course, there are a few setbacks along the way: guilt, admiration, feelings of the warm and fuzzy variety…

Not to mention the unwanted attention of Wallace's powerful, supernaturally-gifted family.

They’re a bloodline divided by opposing ideals, two soon-to-be warring factions that live in secret among us. When Rena ends up caught in their crossfire, Wallace has no choice but to save her by using his powers. Now they’re really in trouble. With war on the horizon and Rena’s life in the balance, he needs to put some distance between them. But Rena won’t let go. If fighting is what it takes to prove her own strength and keep Wallace in her life, then that’s what she’ll do--even if it means risking a whole lot more than her heart.

   LINKS   (

Author bio:
Carrie Butler daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams.

Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—a widely recognized informational hub for the category. She is the author of STRENGTH (Mark of Nexus #1) and COURAGE (Mark of Nexus #2).

   LINKS   (

My Review

Rena made a deal with the ERA, and now finds herself dragged even further into the supernatural mysteries surrounding Wallace’s family. But when she learns that she has abilities of her own, and that her family is connected to a bloodline that augments Wallace’s power, things get even more complicated. Rena can amplify or take on Wallace’s powers herself, but his uncontrollable strength is a barrier they have yet to overcome. Meanwhile, Faye’s world-domination plans for the ERA involve kidnapping Corynn, a girl with the ability to nullify others’ powers, and infiltrating Rena’s university to offer their experimental vaccines to students. But the temptation of superpowers comes with a price…

Courage was awesome! I enjoyed learning more about the three supernatural races, the Dynnari, the Augari and the Nullari, and the differences between them. I also really like the way Rena’s and Wallace’s relationship develops. The supporting characters add new dimensions – and complications – to the plot and kept me turning the pages. We get Rena’s best friend Aiden’s perspective as he nurtures a hopeless crush on Rena, and will do anything to win her attention. Corynn is an interesting character, who complicates Rena’s and Wallace’s relationship because she alone can nullify his uncontrollable powers. This isn’t a typical love-triangle situation, though! I’m looking forward to seeing more of her in the next book and finding out what happens next!

Rating: ****

What's Up...NaNo?!

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

I've had some time to read some great books in the past week! I read The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud and Doll Bones by Holly Black, both of which were awesome.

And I finally read The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, which grabbed hold of me and made me stay up until 3.30 a.m. to finish it. Wow. I'm trying to drag my thoughts back together to write a review!

What I'm writing

As you can probably tell from the blog title, I'm sort of doing NaNo next month! I'd intended to save a certain MG fantasy WIP, but the little devil took hold of me and made me write 11,000 words already. However, 30th November is my deadline to finish the first draft, so it should help me keep focused! Any other NaNo-ers, feel free to add me (username EmmaLAdams) as a buddy! :)

At the moment, I'm contemplating edits on TWO manuscripts at once (because I'm a crazy person)! I'm waiting (biting nails, rocking back and forth in the corner, etc) to hear from my publishers about Walking Shadow (Darkworld Book 2), and I've also been immersed in the major edit of Beneath the Waves after attacking the draft with red pen, and I finished yesterday! :) So it's off to more beta readers, and then the next round of editing can begin...

What else I've been up to

Apart from driving myself insane with my own edits, I've also been doing more edits for clients! I'm now an editor with Crescent Moon Press, so I've been talking with my first victims...I mean, authors. :)

What inspires me right now

I mentioned Writers Helping Writers last week - well, today they're helping me to promote my book! Be sure to check out the post here!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

What's Up Wednesday #11

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

I've been rereading The Raven Boys ready to finally read The Dream Thieves, which I finally managed to buy! (it involved spending the money I had saved on my Waterstones card, but was totally worth it!) I've also been continuing with Neil Gaiman's Sandman, which I'm really enjoying!

What I'm writing

I've been making steady progress with my new MG fantasy WIP. It's a lot of fun to write, but the inevitable ups-and-downs that come with a book release is making it difficult to get as much done as I'd like. Still, I reached 10,000 words yesterday, so that's 1/5 of the way through! I won't be doing NaNo 'properly' this year, but 30th November is my self-imposed deadline to finish this draft! Which means I'll have finished...FIVE first drafts this year. FIVE. o_O Holy wow.

What else I've been up to

Dealing with the aforementioned insanity, really! And hiding from the rain. I've also been doing some editing for clients (I do still have spots available, so if anyone knows someone looking for a copy-editor or proofreader, feel free to send them my way!).

What inspires me right now

One of my favourite writing tools, the Bookshelf Muse, has now been reinvented as Writers Helping Writers! This is a fantastic resource, especially if, like me, description isn't your forte. It has an excellent emotion thesaurus so you can find ways of showing character emotion, and other thesauri for setting, weather, character traits, symbolism, shapes, textures and colours...pretty much everything!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Darkness Watching Release Day!!!!!! (and get a free bookmark!!!!!)

Eighteen-year-old Ashlyn is one interview away from her future when she first sees the demons. She thinks she's losing her mind, but the truth is far more frightening: she can see into the Darkworld, the home of spirits– and the darkness is staring back.

Desperate to escape the demons, Ash accepts a place at a university in the small town of Blackstone, in the middle of nowhere - little knowing that it isn't coincidence that led her there but the pull of the Venantium, the sorcerers who maintain the barrier keeping demons from crossing from the Darkworld into our own world.

All-night parties, new friendships and a life without rules or limits are all part of the package of student life - but demons never give up, and their focus on Ash has attracted the attention of every sorcerer in the area. Ash is soon caught between her new life and a group of other students with a connection to the Darkworld, who could offer the answers she's looking for. The demons want something from her, and someone is determined to kill her before she can find out what it is. 

In a world where darkness lurks beneath the surface, not everyone is what they appear to be...

Guys! It's finally here!!!!!!!! (excuse the over-use of punctuation marks, I may be a little excited! :P)

And I'm offering a FREE bookmark (signed) to the first TEN people to buy a copy, in any format! Just email proof to and also send me your address so I can post it to you by airmail! Yes - it's international!

Here are the links:
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble

If you want to win a paperback, there's a fabulous giveaway happening on Goodreads!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Darkness Watching by Emma L. Adams

Darkness Watching

by Emma L. Adams

Giveaway ends November 09, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What's Up Wednesday #10 - Compulsive writer edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

I've finally been reading my shiny new Sandman comics, which are amazing, like all of Neil Gaiman's work. Then I've been reading The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, which is awesome. Such an amazingly realised fantasy with a strong heroine. Methinks I've found a new fantasy author to add to the ever-growing favourites list!

What I'm writing

If you've been following me on Twitter or watching the sidebar, you'll see that I finished the first draft of my YA fantasy book, Beneath the Waves! At 72,000 words, it's the longest book I've ever written (my first drafts are notoriously skeletal and often missing entire sub-plots, but this time my epic Outline of Doom paid off!). I'm now staring at a printed copy, red pen in hand, whilst waiting for notes from my critique partners. 

I was supposed to take a few days off to recuperate (I wrote 5000 words in a day when I finished it, beating my personal record!), but apparently I'm a compulsive writer who is incapable of leaving her keyboard for longer than a few hours. I've been doing outlining work for a MG fantasy book I was intending to save for NaNo, but I sort of accidentally opened a word document the other night and wrote the first five hundred words. Well, I couldn't leave it like that, could I? So I added a thousand the next day. And another thousand the next. Such is the fickle nature of creativity. What can I say - it's what I love doing. I write because I can't NOT write.

What else I've been up to

Stressing about the Darkness Watching release. I really, really want this to work. I'm trying not to get my hopes up too much, because it's so hard to get a new book noticed, and the number of bumps - more like mountains - I've encountered along the way have left me with a fair number of bruises. I feel exhausted already, and the book isn't even out yet! I wish I had some kind of book launch event, but my friends are kind of scattered across the country, so I don't want to run the risk of repeating one of my scarring childhood birthday parties where no one shows up (*pushes the lid on traumatic flashback*)...  

What inspires me right now

Epic music. I wrote the final scenes of Beneath the Waves to Two Steps from Hell, Future World Music, Audiomachine and Nightwish.

Also, a certain book release happening tomorrow...

Monday, 7 October 2013

Review - Vampire Academy: Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Blood Promise (Vampire Academy, #4)

Rose Hathaway's life will never be the same. 

The recent attack on St. Vladimir's Academy devastated the entire Moroi world. Many are dead. And, for the few victims carried off by Strigoi, their fates are even worse. A rare tattoo now adorns Rose's neck, a mark that says she's killed far too many Strigoi to count. But only one victim matters . . . Dimitri Belikov. Rose must now choose one of two very different paths: honoring her life's vow to protect Lissa—her best friend and the last surviving Dragomir princess—or, dropping out of the Academy to strike out on her own and hunt down the man she loves. She'll have to go to the ends of the earth to find Dimitri and keep the promise he begged her to make. But the question is, when the time comes, will he want to be saved? 

Now, with everything at stake—and worlds away from St. Vladimir's and her unguarded, vulnerable, and newly rebellious best friend—can Rose find the strength to destroy Dimitri? Or, will she sacrifice herself for a chance at eternal love?

Amazon UK

The fourth Vampire Academy novel sees Rose take on a quest that might just be the end of her – saving Dimitri from the Strigoi. She knows she’s most likely already too late - and if he’s become one of them, she has promised to kill him, whatever the cost to herself. She travels to his home country of Russia where she faces the difficult task of telling his family about his fate. Meanwhile, she feels guilty for leaving her best friend, Lissa, behind, especially as she’s starting to use her spirit powers again and is spiralling out of control. But Rose finds herself facing an impossible choice: to kill the man she loves, or become a monster herself.

I thought this book was much slower-paced than the previous ones, although there is still plenty of action, and given the killer cliffhanger at the end of Shadow Kiss, it was impossible not to want to keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. It’s packed with emotion, tough choices and a number of new characters, some of whom I suspect will come to be significant later on. I did find some plot elements to be a tad predictable, but this was nevertheless a great read, and sets the stage for the next book in the series!

Rating: ****

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

What's Up Wednesday #9 and IWSG #7 - Moving on and perspective!

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow and is a great way for readers and writers to catch up!

What I'm reading

I've been reading White Cat by Holly Black, which is awesome!

What I'm writing

I'm still working on the first draft of my YA fantasy, tentatively titled Beneath the Waves (not, as I've been referring to it, 'Attack of the Mer-Zombies... :P). It involves merpeople, zombie-vampire-creatures, dark magic and my first fully realised fantasy world! I'm currently exchanging chapters with my CP's as I go and compiling a file in Word ready for all my editing notes...

Meanwhile, I've been working on getting my notes together for another series! This one's upper-MG fantasy, with steampunk elements, clockwork monsters, and Dianna Wynne Jones-esque alternative universes! It MAY be my NaNo project, if I can complete the outlines and hold off starting the draft until November...

What else I've been up to

Well, I finished my placement on a high note! I've learned a lot in the past month (not least, how to balance writing and working full-time at the expense of sleep and sanity!). I left London on Saturday and battled my way through  the public transport system to get home. Home! Where I plan to spend the next week catching up with friends I've neglected, making more plans, reading books, and of course WRITING.

And here are the photos of London I promised!

The London Eye! I haven't ridden it yet, but I plan to!

 Big Ben and Westminster Abbey

Waterstones = my favourite place in the world. So, given the opportunity, I visited two of them in one day!

And there's always space for a floating Yoda in front of the National Portrait Gallery!

What inspires me right now

Lots of things. Autumn leaves and ideas floating in the air. So many potential ideas...if only I had the time to turn them all into books!

It's also the first Wednesday of October, which means it's time for The Insecure Writers Support Group, the genius creation of Alex J Cavanaugh!

I'm swimming in a pond of insecurity at the moment, because my book, Darkness Watching, comes out in EIGHT DAYS. Now, I've been through this before, sort of, but when The Puppet Spell came out, I wasn't expecting it as there wasn't a set release date. This time, there is. And I still have so much to do. Promotions to sort out, blog tours...I planned WAY in advance, but with the release date changing and Life being stressful and just...everything, I still don't feel ready to face it. Another of my books out in the world. The culmination of years of broken dreams and dreams resurrected and all that dramatic crap...but it's true that the original idea for these books came from the first novel I ever wrote. The first book I received an encouraging rejection for, three years ago now. I've learned so much in the interim, but it still feels just as nerve-wracking to know people out there are going to be reading my books!

Not to mention, I'm kind of in limbo at the moment. I've finished my placement, meaning I have no full-time job. I freelance, write and work on my internship for Entangled, but I've lost that routine of always having somewhere to go...even if it was a nightmare of a commute, and fitting in writing was like battling the universe every day! So I guess I'm drifting a bit. Also, so many people I know are going back to university right now to start post-graduate courses, and I'm not because I has no moneys... *sob* So with no placement, no course, and a life that seems to make crazy directional changes every other day, it probably shouldn't be surprising that I'm thinking of my book as one of the few definites - one thing that IS happening. On the 10th October.

The thing I know I need to do? Let go. Perspective, that's what I need. And a whole lot of courage. Terrifying it might be, but it's also exciting. A new step on my writing journey. A new dream fulfilled. Once upon a darker time, I used to be terrified of everything, scared to try anything new because I was so terrified of failure. I don't ever want to be in that position again, so I keep doing things that scare me. I write books that scare me (not because of the demons or monsters, but because they're scarily challenging!). I keep chasing dreams. I think that when life gets crazy, it's easy to forget what I've ALREADY achieved. So that's my goal for this month. No matter what happens when my second novel hits the shelves, I'll try to remember that!