Wednesday, 30 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

After reading so many AMAZING books in a row (Ruin and Rising, We Were Liars, More Than This, Shatter Me...etc), I had a few days where I just couldn't get into anything! Which very rarely happens to me. o.O Thankfully, I reread The Archived,  and it got me out of my reading slump. ^_^

I also read Banished by Liz de Jager, an engaging and action-packed contemporary fantasy. Then I read The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, which I also really enjoyed.

Now I'm reading The Memory Keepers by Natasha Ngan, which I picked up at YALC.

What I'm writing

I finished my edits (on Darkworld 4 and 5)! I also worked on my draft, my novella, and outlining for another series - it's been another crazy multitasking week! Mainly because this new series idea just won't leave me alone. :P 
Well, it's the Shiny New Idea I got a month ago and I've been working on it in bits and stages since then. It's a complicated multi-book, multi-universe idea which will need a ton of planning before I even start writing...because apparently, I can never make things easy for myself. :P It's also insanely genre-and-category-confused (it's probably upper-YA/adult crossover urban fantasy...with alternative universes. Like Diana Wynne Jones's Deep Secret.) so I don't even know if there's a market for it...but ehh...

What inspires me

A certain shiny new idea...It's funny, because I used to worry that I'd run out of ideas! Now, I can't even keep track of them all. :P But I'm also a lot more critical, so when an idea sticks, I know it's here to stay! Especially when parts of the story start playing out in my head like a movie. That's when I know it'll be a definite WIP!

I'm also inspired by all the choices open to writers these days. I've kind of come to the conclusion lately that validation is overrated, that there are a ton of reasons books are rejected which have nothing whatsoever to do with quality. I try to make every book I write as good as it can possibly be, and as long as I do that, I'm going to find a way to share all my stories with the world regardless of marketability or publishing pressures!

What else I've been up to

Apart from edits, not much! My shiny new cover was revealed to the world on Monday, so now I'm waiting for the new version of Darkness Watching to go live!

Monday, 28 July 2014

News! Of the Darkworld variety!

Guys, it feels like forever since I've been able to update on the Darkworld series! Progress has been happening behind the scenes, but in jumps and starts and v-e-r-y slow stages, and nothing's been definite until now. But after months of repeated email refreshing and nail-biting, I finally have updates on what's happening with all the books in the series!

  1. Darkness Watching is getting a facelift! Yes - the first in the Darkworld series is getting a re-proof and redesign! Earlier this year, when I was discussing cover design ideas for Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2), it occurred to me that if I went down the road I was thinking of, the first two Darkworld books would end up looking very different. And I wanted the series covers to have a uniting theme. Luckily, my publishers agreed! The updated version will also have some minor changes to the text, as it's been through a re-proofing process, and I'm super-excited to share it! It'll be live on all retailers by the end of the week, and I'll be sure to share the link! :)
  2. Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella also has a new cover, and is still on track for release this summer! I'll update if anything changes on that!
  3. Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2) is through edits and I've just finished the final proofread! ^^ Newsletter subscribers will be the first to see the shiny new cover before I reveal it! And it's set to be released on the 13th November. :)
  4. Demon Heart (Darkworld #3) is with my fabulous editor, and will hopefully be out early next year!
  5. Darkworld Book 4 and Book 5 have been accepted by my publishers, so I'm waiting for the contracts! ^^
So, without further ado: here's the shiny new cover for Darkness Watching!

Gorgeous, isn't it? I can't wait to share the others! :D

So: what's next? 

This week (!!!) - re-release of Darkness Watching (Darkworld #1).
TBC 2014 - Fear's Touch: A Darkworld Novella released!
Autumn/Fall 2014 - Walking Shadow (Darkworld #2) released.
Spring 2015 (?) - Demon Heart (Darkworld #3) released.

Keep up with me on Twitter (@ELAdams12) where I'll share the link for the new version of Darkness Watching as soon as it goes live!

Don't forget you can sign up to my newsletter to get the latest updates on the Darkworld series! :)

Friday, 25 July 2014

Interview - Michael Haley, author of Lost on the Edge of Forever

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!
- Although I wrote a ghost story with intensely religious characters and elements, I'm an agnostic who doesn't believe in ghosts, spirits, and most other paranormal stuff.
- I have a zero tolerance policy for illogical conspiracy theories.
- Everyone knows I can sing Ricky Martin's Livin' la Vida Loca en espanol. What they don't know is that I can sing in in English too. 

Summarize your book in one line.
-- A ghost and a dude meet, have a lot of sex, fall in love, then discover who they are in relationship to the universe.

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
-- The only reason the lead male is named Alejandro is because I love Lady Gaga's Alejandro and had been listening to it a lot during the early days of the book's conception.

Why did you decide to write this particular book?
-- I thought it be really cool to tell a ghost story in the vein of Tales of Moonlight and Rain. The finished product only resembles the original intention tangentially, but I love it!

Best part of the writing process?
-- Having a reader respond favorably to a thought and/or feeling that took numerous rewrites to convey simply and effectively makes everything worth it.

Share one thing you learned writing this book.
-- Never, ever, ever, ever again will I use emotions as a foundation for a plot. Building a cohesive plot from a feeling is a nightmare!

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!
-- A ouija board precisely predicted the name of someone I'd meet several years prior to actually meeting her. I am a being of science, but I got nothing to explain this one.

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.
-- This is going to sound so cliche, but it's true - Hogwarts. It's an awesome school!

Name one real place you’d love to visit.
-- The Cinémathèque Française in Paris. To see a movie in the same place where Godard, Truffaut, and the other French New Wave directors received their inspiration would be an amazing experience.

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

-- "Alejandro, sometimes pain and sorrow are the only proof we have we're still alive."
Author BioMichael Haley was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and cultivated in its neighboring vicinities. He graduated with a degree in Psychology from Iowa State University, and now lives with his wife and son in Bloomington, Illinois. When not writing, he loves indulging and dissecting books, film, and pop art from all canons and genres. Lost on the Edge of Forever is his first novel.

Lost on the Edge of ForeverBook info: Leila, an ambitious and brilliant student, is murdered during her final semester at college, yet discovers she’s been reborn as a spirit resigned to haunt the school of her death. Alejandro, a listless and depressed freshman, arrives on campus eager to reinvent himself after eighteen years of awkwardness, as well as a devastating family tragedy, shake his sense of worth and faith to their cores.

The two lonely souls meet under the auspice of moonlit rain, and soon find themselves irrevocably, passionately attracted to each other. Leila discovers her spiritual body reawakening with sensations that make her feel alive again, and Alejandro discovers a kindred spirit who understands him like no one else. Intoxicated with each other, the impossible lovers begin to dream of finding a way to hold onto their own private miracle. Forever.

Yet how can Alejandro explain to skeptical friends and family that his soul-mate is dead? Why does Leila get the nagging suspicion that within their relationship lies the secret of her continued existence? An unexpected act of evil ignites these unavoidable questions, only to reveal in its aftermath the true purpose of Leila and Alejandro’s star-crossed romance. Will their love allow them to accept a profound destiny that surpasses time and perhaps even God, or is their love destined to die loud and young?

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I read Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, which is wonderfully creepy and well-written! I also read Shatter Me, another book I've been meaning to get to for ages. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. I really, really love the poetic writing style - it's totally unique! So I bought the rest of the series, fell into the story, and devoured them in less than two days. Gasp. #bookhangover

What I'm writing

I'm back into drafting my artsy YA urban fantasy WIP, plus I've been working on another novella-length project. ^_^ Finally making some consistent progress! So naturally, more editorial emails came along. But it's all good! I'm being offered contracts for Books 4 and 5 in the Darkworld series!!!!!!! :D :D *happydance* This has been a LONG time in the making! :D *dances everywhere again*

I also have a super-exciting cover reveal coming up on Monday! *more happydancing*

What inspires me

Hmm...well, it came as a bit of a shock to realise it's been over a year since I graduated from university! So I guess I'm inspired by what I've achieved in the past year with my freelance editing/proofreading business! As for writing, I guess I can say I'm inspired by how I've managed to keep going through what's often felt like a landslide of disappointments and setbacks. Like a lot of people, I try to only share the positives online, but the journey to getting a series published, not to mention querying, has had more ups and downs than the Big Dipper! Writers inspire me with their tenacity and determination!

What else I've been up to

My boyfriend came to visit, and we watched How To Train Your Dragon 2, which was awesome. :D I also finally saw The Fault in Our Stars, and loved it. *sobs* *lies in pieces on floor*

There's been a heatwave this week, so I've been spending a lot of time outside in the sun! Except during the random spontaneous thunderstorms. o.O

Monday, 21 July 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - The Beautiful and the Cursed and The Lovely and the Lost by Page Morgan

The Beautiful and the Cursed (The Dispossessed, #1)

After a bizarre accident, Ingrid Waverly is forced to leave London with her mother and younger sister, Gabby, trading a world full of fancy dresses and society events for the unfamiliar city of Paris.

In Paris there are no grand balls or glittering parties, and, disturbingly, the house Ingrid’s twin brother, Grayson, found for them isn’t a house at all. It’s an abandoned abbey, its roof lined with stone gargoyles that could almost be mistaken for living, breathing creatures.

And Grayson has gone missing.

No one seems to know of his whereabouts but Luc, a devastatingly handsome servant at their new home.

Ingrid is sure her twin isn’t dead—she can feel it deep in her soul—but she knows he’s in grave danger. It will be up to her and Gabby to navigate the twisted path to Grayson, a path that will lead Ingrid on a discovery of dark secrets and otherworldly truths. And she’ll learn that once they are uncovered, they can never again be buried.

The Lovely and the Lost (The Dispossessed, #2)

Ingrid and Gabby survived the Underneath. They saved their brother, Grayson, from a future of dark servitude and exposed a plot to undermine the Alliance. But danger still lurks in the streets of Paris, and the Dispossessed, perched on the city's bridges and rooftops, might not be able to save their human wards this time.

My review

I loved this series! It's a fabulous historical fantasy set in 1890's Paris, with gargoyles, angels and demons. Ingrid's and Gabby's brother Grayson has disappeared, and when they arrive at their new home in Paris, odd things start happening. Author Page Morgan does a wonderful job of creating an atmospheric, creepy setting with the mysterious gargoyle statues at the old abbey, and monster attacks in the streets. And there's something different about their new servant, Luc...

I really liked that the plot took several turns and wasn't easy to predict, and the rotating viewpoints kept things moving forwards and keep the suspense at a constant high! I loved the characters. Ingrid is reserved and sensible yet possesses a strange ability she can't control, whereas her sister Gabby is impulsive and reckless, keen to learn to defend herself despite not having any supernatural talents of her own. But both are brave and resourceful, determined to find out what really happened to their brother. We learn pretty quickly that Luc, their servant, is actually a gargoyle bound to serve them due to a crime he committed, making him one of the Dispossessed. Relationships between the Dispossessed and their charges are strictly forbidden, but Luc may have already fallen for one of the sisters.

I've read other books about demons and gargoyles, but this felt really fresh, and the gothic romance angle works really well. The various plot threads and relationships could easily have become confusing, but they're expertly woven together. The action and suspense are well-balanced with the historical setting, and I was thoroughly engaged from beginning to end. 

Happily, I enjoyed the sequel even more! Ingrid, Gabby and Grayson are dealing with the aftermath of the events of the first book (no spoilers!), and the author delves deeper into the world of the Dispossessed and the Alliance. Again, the suspense, action and mystery had me hooked, and I loved the development of each character.

With vivid writing, great conflict, and a new twist on mythology, this is a fantastic series I'd highly recommend to anyone looking for something new in YA!

Rating: ****1/2*

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday - YALC Edition!

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

At YALC (see below! :D), I bought new books. :D So I started reading More Than This by Patrick Ness, and devoured it in less than a day. It's so gripping, and goes in directions I never expected (I'm pretty sure it defies genre). So. Good!

I finished Fearsome Dreamer by Laure Eve, which blends genres in a really interesting way. 

I read We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I also got from YALC. Wow. o.O I'm still not sure what I thought, but it certainly gripped me hard (and gave me a book hangover!).

Now I'm reading Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman.

What I'm writing

I spent most of last week in the editing/proofreading cave with my Darkworld books. Now I'm back in the editing cave again with my MG fantasy. Getting closer...

What inspires me

YA is definitely inspiring me this week, especially with the success of the UK's first YA Lit Con! It was sooooo awesome to see so many people who love YA in one place, and that the event was such a success - hopefully there'll be many more to come! ^_^
What else I've been up to

Well, on Saturday, I went down to London for the UK's first YA Lit Con! :D I met up with  Cole, and also saw Laura and Sophie throughout the day. YALC took place within London Film & Comic Con, and it was PACKED - I've honestly never seen so many people in one place (and I've been to London Expos before!). But as I set out ridiculously early (which involved getting up at 5 a.m. o.O), Cole and I managed to get inside before the queues got totally insane...
 ...and found the book section. Obviously. Freebies! :D

 And a bookshop, where I caved into temptation, as you can imagine...

...there were quite a few people there. Just a few. o.O

But it was amazing! :D Seeing so many people in one place who loved YA, meeting "our people", wandering around the Comic Con and spending money... 

I also went to the two panels I was really excited for, the first of which was called Bring Me My Dragons, a discussion of contemporary fantasy with Ruth Warburton, Amy McCulloch, Frances Hardinge (who was absolutely hilarious), and Jonathan Stroud.

There was a really interesting discussion, first on the definition of YA, in which the panelists agreed that YA isn't just an age category - which is why you can, in some cases, have older/younger protagonists and still be classified as YA. Some adult books have teen protagonists, too, but YA books have a certain outlook. Jonathan Stroud said he writes books to appeal to all age groups, and that "young adult" is a grey area, seeing as so many people of different ages enjoy YA. Frances Hardinge writes "coming of age stories with revolutionary tendencies", and with a YA frame of mind and a readiness to question. Amy agreed that YA is a state of mind rather than an age category, and Ruth said that YA has a tendency to be more fearless and open than adult fiction.

There was also a brief discussion on violence in YA, and how YA deals with the same level of violence as adult books but in a more considered, thoughtful way.

Then they discussed the qualities of the hero in YA, and the panelists all had interesting things to say! Two things I picked up on were that YA heroes must have the capacity to change, and that they must be a kind of "everyman" (identifiable to the reader) but also have some special quality that makes them unique. Then they discussed villains and complexities, and how in middle-grade there seems to be more of a tendency to separate characters into good and evil. With YA, there's more opportunity to explore shades of grey and challenges from within the characters - for instance, in Amy McCulloch's novel The Oathbreaker's Shadow, the hero and villain start off as the best of friends. Thought-provoking stuff!

There was an open Q&A, and one person asked if the panelists had any tips for writing fantasy for young adults. The two main tips were to research the world thoroughly, and have a set of rules and stick to them!

Up next was the "Heroes of Horror" panel with Charlie Higson, Darren Shan, Will Hill and Derek Landy. Topics discussed included violence, and the panelists made a very good point that up until fairly recently, YA didn't exist and teen readers went from reading Roald Dahl to reading Stephen King. So YA caters for the "in between" stage, generally with the same level of violence as adult books but with a less bleak, cynical outlook. Having read Darren Shan's gripping Demonata series...yep, that's definitely gorier than many adult books I've read! Derek Landy talked about YA horror as a "gateway drug" to adult fiction.

My phone (which I was using to take notes) chose that moment to die a tragic death, so I didn't get as many notes as I'd have liked to, but I was thrilled to get my new copy of Noble Conflict by Malorie Blackman signed! I met the Children's Laureate and the genius who created this event! ^_^

And then it was time for the long journey home. With all these fabulous goodies!

Obviously, I had to buy a Toothless and a minion. :D

So that's it! I'm so happy the event was a success - go, UKYA! I'll absolutely be back next year - I'm hoping to stay for the whole weekend next time!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Advance Review - The Gateway From Which They Came by Heather Marie & Author Interview!

Displaying Heather-AuthorPhotos-3-WEBSIZE.jpgToday I'm featuring author Heather Marie for my latest author interview here on the Writer's Nest! I was the final proofreader for her book, The Gateway From Which They Came, which is out this August from Curiosity Quills Press!

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!

1. For a better part of my teens, I skateboarded all day, every day. Everyone used to tell me I skated like a dude. I think this was a compliment? In any case, I miss it outrageous amounts and still hope to get back to it. 

2.  My front teeth are partially fake. I knocked them out while trying to skateboard on my knees as a kid. This happened way before I actually got hardcore into the sport. I hit a large crack, flew forward, and… you get the rest. Since that, I think I've knocked my front teeth out at least two other times. It's a gift. 

3. I have a fear of ladybugs. I don't know what it is. When they land on me, I lose it. I don't think they're good luck. I think they're gross and ugly and I don't want them anywhere near me. But hand me a crazy reptile, and I'm totally cool. Yeah, I don't get it either. 

Summarize your book in one line.

Aiden Ortiz is a Gateway for the dead, but his gift becomes a curse when the Dark Priest's resurrection threatens to bring hell on earth, and leaves Aiden wondering which side he's truly on. 

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!

Gateway was my 2012 NaNoWriMo project. I honestly didn't think this manuscript would see the light of day. Turns out… it will! 

Why did you decide to write this particular book?

I really felt for Aiden as a character. The second he popped into my head, I knew him. There have been a lot of things in my life that have attempted to sway me one way or another. Some good, some bad. I took all of this into consideration while writing Gateway. It was important for me to demonstrate that inner struggle we all experience, whether it's with faith, love, family, or friendship. To me, I see it as: We are what we choose to be. And that's how the idea for Gateway was born. 

Best part of the writing process?

Being a pantser, the best part is writing in general. I don't outline, so I never know what's going to happen. Every time I sit down to write, I learn something new about my characters. I like knowing that I'm experiencing the action and mystery along side them. 

Share one thing you learned writing this book.

That it takes 8 books to get published. Just kidding. Sorta. I did learn never to give up, as cheesy as that sounds. I've come a long way since my first manuscript, and I'm thankful for all those books in between that will forever be locked away. They helped me grow as a writer. I'd like to think Gateway is proof of that. 

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!

Two years ago, I saw my grandmother. Now that doesn't sound strange, until you consider the fact that she passed away back in 1993. I guess waking up to her lingering by my bed in the middle of the night isn't a horrible thing. But you can say it was a bit of a shock, to say the least. 

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.

Oh, I think we all know my answer. 100 points to Gryffindor! 

Name one real place you’d love to visit.

Spain. I feel like I had to go big with this answer. If I'm being realistic, I really want to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Are we sensing a theme here? 

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

“Are you saying they’re back?” I ask. 

“If what you’re saying is true, and I have no doubts, then yes. I don’t know how, but the Brethren seem to be forming once again.” 

“But what do they want?” It’s a dumb question, I realize, but I’m too stumped to say anything else.

Father Martin stops; his stricken eyes stare into mine. “Son, they’re after what any dark being wants. Power.”

The Gateway Through Which They CameTo seventeen-year-old Aiden Ortiz, letting the dead walk through his body to reach the other side comes with the territory. Being a Gateway isn’t an easy job, but someone’s gotta send Bleeders where they belong. Heaven. Salvation. Call it whatever you want. Dead is dead. But when his search for Koren Banks––the girl who went mysteriously missing seven months ago––leaves him with more questions than answers, he finds himself involved in something far more sinister and beyond his control.

With the threat of the Dark Priest's resurrection, and his plan to summon his demon brothers from hell, Aiden is left to discover his identity before the Dark Priest's curse infecting his blood consumes him, and before the world as he knows it succumbs to the darkness of hell on earth.

Author Bio: 

Heather Marie lives in Northern California with her husband, and spends the majority of her time at home reading. Before she followed her dreams of becoming a writer, Heather worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist for several years. Although she enjoyed the artistic aspect of it all, nothing quite quenched her creative side like the telling of a good story. When the day had come for her to make a choice, she left behind her promising career to start another, and never looked back.

My Review!

I hesitated about reviewing this book because I was involved in the proofreading process and Heather and I share a publisher, but this is a book I’d have picked up anyway, and it’s too awesome not to share my thoughts!

Aiden is a Gateway, someone with the unenviable ability to send dead people – Bleeders - to their final resting place. The dead are literally his life. I was totally hooked on the story (even when combing for typos! :P), and Aiden caught my sympathy from the start. He’s a misunderstood teenager with a power he can’t control, and one which seems to – maybe – be turning him evil. The mystery kept me enthralled and there is tension on every page. The characters come to life, from Aiden’s friends Trevor and Evan to Koren, the girl who he once crushed on and who’s returned after an unexplained seven-month absence leaving him thinking her dead. It’s clear Koren’s connected in some way to the seriously creepy shadow following Aiden around, but the story constantly kept me guessing and I couldn’t predict what would happen next! This is a fantastic, gripping story and one that will keep you reading until the early hours.

Rating: *****

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I've been rereading the Demon Trappers series by Jana Oliver. I've a bunch of new books I can't wait to get into, but I've not had much free time for reading this week!

What I'm writing

Like I said on Monday, I've been kind of scattered this week. And also tired, so I put my draft away to focus on edits. I've been working through CP/beta reader comments on my MG fantasy, which is (slightly scarily) close to being ready!

Now, I'm in the editing cave with my Darkworld books. In fact, I got two of my important emails in two days. o.O Because that's what the universe does. *brain explodes*

What inspires me

This post about discouragement and writing - I need the last part pinned to my wall! :P

What else I've been up to

I've been super-busy with freelance work, on top of waiting for stressful emails! I also took a (possible ill-advised) day off to go to a theme park, Drayton Manor, with a friend. Well, it meant I got to ride real rollercoasters, rather than emotional ones! ;) I'm a self-confessed adrenaline junkie, and it's hard to stress out over emails when you're about to drop from this tower. --->

As well as dropping from rather high places, we also visited the zoo, and saw all the owls, meerkats, snakes and monkeys! ^_^

Then I got those emails, and had to retreat into the Cave. But this weekend (if I escape from Editing Hell) I'm getting the train down to London for London Film & Comic Con - and the UK's first YA Lit Con! I'm excited to meet authors, get books signed, and hopefully I'll have some notes from the panels to share next week! ^_^ Best part? I get to meet writer friends in the real world! I'm so psyched for this! :D