Saturday, 30 August 2014

#WIPMarathon Update #7

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I'd finished my pre-edits on Darkworld 4 and 5, plus I was at 45K of my draft.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
 I finished my draft at 75K! Including one crazy 6K-in-a-day marathon! :D


I've also done a ton of planning, research and outlining for Shiny New Series, and started writing the first book! I'm at around 30K so far. ^_^ It's been a crazy few weeks!

WIP Issues this month: 
Getting distracted by Shiny New Series, which took over my mind and demanded to be written. The problem? I knew it was a complex idea, with multiple alternative universes and layers of plots and magicky stuff. But I couldn't let it go, so I decided to let myself research whenever I had free time after meeting my daily writing goals and finishing work.  I have to finish every draft I start (and the WIP wasn't going badly... it was just less appealing than the new shiny, which is always the way!) so I made myself juggle both at once until I'd finished my draft. It was tricky, but I'm glad I did it - I hate leaving projects unfinished!

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • If I really, really love an idea, then it doesn't matter how much work I'll have to put in or how many other things I have to do - I'll find a way to make it happen. I forgot how amazing it is when a story creeps up on you and takes over your mind so you HAVE to work on it, regardless of whatever else is going on! Like when my flash drive broke when I was on the way to Italy...and the only other copy of the series plan for my novel (not to mention 23,000 words of the manuscript!) was at home. But it didn't kill my desire to write, and I actually wrote 14K in 4 days, including 7000 words of a companion novella. (And the file survived! Hallelujah!) 
  • To maintain sanity, I work on plotting in small stages. As I've been wrestling with a super-complex series idea for the last month, I've been trying to focus on the details rather than the whole project at once to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Also, keeping all the information in one Scrivener document = a good plan! I have all the worldbuilding info, character profiles, and files just for cool ideas that occur to me as I go along. BUT I did get quite a dramatic reminder to back up my files in more than one place. o.O
  • I've been trying out new techniques to get more words down per day without sacrificing quality. For instance, running through a scene in my head beforehand and scribbling in a notebook, writing bits and pieces of it down, then putting it all together. It takes a bit longer, but it ultimately has a smoother result! Right now, I'm actually writing several chapters at once, in fragments, and when I run into an issue with one, I move onto another. This is partly because I'm alternating between two 1st person POV's, so two stories are happening at the same time.
  • Speaking of the dual 1st person POV, it's also the first time I've done that - and the first time I've written from the perspectives of two characters who couldn't be more different from me! It's challenging, but I never expected it to be so much fun!
What distracted me this month when writing: 

My book re-releasing!

Also, querying. o.O And various mini-breaks and fun trips. :) Spending time with the boyfriend and the family. ^^

Goal for next month: Carry on with this draft! :D I'm trying to stick with one series rather than hopping around, and this particular one is...demanding. Obviously, I'll have to take breaks for Darkworld edits and if anything happens with the book I'm querying, but for now, I'll focus on this new series! :)


Last 200 words: *deep breath* This is a tad nerve-wracking, but I'll share the opening to Shiny New Series Book 1! (Bear in mind the first-draftiness of it!)



Pulling my hood to hide my face, I slipped from the fog-shrouded London street into a narrow alleyway between two broken-down buildings. No one saw me.
I rubbed my arms, feeling the chill from the alley wall penetrate the thin fabric of my coat. Several feet in, the brick gave way to another substance which wasn’t obvious at first glance. This area was so off-radar, no one would ever come looking for trouble here - not of the magic variety, anyway. But my fingers found the familiar cracks between brick and metal, and a gentle push was all I needed. Before my eyes, the fake part of the wall slid away, revealing cold metal in an arched shape.
Whoever had first found the Passage here, I didn’t know. Even Nell didn’t. They couldn’t be created - they just existed, anomalies in nature.
The metal wall was icy to the touch and vibrated under my fingers. It wasn’t a door, exactly, though it functioned like a sliding panel, moving back to reveal a dark corridor.
I stepped over the threshold.
The Passages were always freezing, no matter the time of day - there was no sun here, and it grew colder the further in you went. Officially, only the first corridor was accessible, but there was nothing official about this. And I knew all the secrets of the Passages. I could walk them blindfolded, even into the dark places the Alliance didn’t want anyone on Earth to know about.

Friday, 29 August 2014

August Monthly Reading Wrap-Up! (And changes on the blog!)

Hello, lovely readers! I'm back from Italy, and I'll be sharing my photos during next week's What's Up Wednesday post. ^_^

I have a confession. Like a lot of writers, my TBR list is out of control, and my time's extremely limited. Now, I'm a fast reader, but my reviewing speed is flagging, and I just don't have time to review everything I read...which often leads to me feeling guilty for reviewing some books and not others! So, I've decided to start doing monthly recaps of my reading with mini-reviews of what I've read that month.  This is taking the place of Monday Mini-Reviews after September!

Silver Shadows (Bloodlines, #5)First up: Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead! Technically, I read this in July, but I've reviewed all the other books in the series (and if I'd been reading at normal-human reading, I'd have finished it this month... but with my crazy reading speed, I finished it in a couple of hours!).

Silver Shadows is the fifth book in the Bloodlines series, and follows Sydney Sage, an Alchemist who, when sent into hiding with the Moroi (vampire) Queen's half-sister, became embroiled in magic and a forbidden relationship with a Moroi, Adrian. Now, she's suffering for the mistake she made in the previous book, and the tension's at an all-time-high. Richelle Mead writes in a way that pulls you into the story immediately, and keeps you there from beginning to end! I can't wait for the conclusion to the series!


The Falconer (The Falconer, #1)Next up: I read The Falconer by Elizabeth May! I've had my eye on this one for a while (faeries? Steampunk Edinburgh? Kickass female lead? Hell yeah!) and I'm happy to say it met my expectations! The ending, however, was cruel. *wants sequel*

Gates of Thread and Stone

I had my eye on Gates of Thread and Stone by Lori M. Lee ever since I first saw the blurb, and I'm glad to say the story more than lived up to the beautiful cover! There's so much originality here, and so many cool elements (time manipulation, mythology, even a dash of steampunk). Highly recommended!


The Thief (The Queen's Thief, #1)This has been a great month for unique fantasy! Based on many recommendations, I read The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner, and wow. It's about a thief who's offered freedom from imprisonment in exchange for stealing a treasure from legend...but it's so much more than that. It's hard to say without spoiling the story, but I really appreciated how subtle and clever the whole setup was. Amazing!



The Emperor's Blades (Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne)

Blackfin SkyAs a reader, I'm picky when it comes to epic fantasy, but I was instantly hooked by The Emperor's Blades by Brian Staveley. The compelling story, gripping action, and three-dimensional, complex characters made this one of the best epic fantasies I've read - I can't wait for the sequel!



Blackfin Sky by Kat Ellis has to be one of the most original books I've read in a long time! The setting and the creepy atmosphere drew me in, and the mystery had me guessing up until the end.

City of a Thousand Dolls (Bhinian Empire, #1)


Another great find was City of A Thousand Dolls by Miriam Forster. I loved how the story-world was different to most other YA high fantasy I've read, rich and detailed and full of mystery. It had me hooked from beginning to end!



Dust to Dust  (Experiment in Terror, #9)
Opposition (Lux, #5) Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout is the final book in the sci-fi romance Lux series, and I really enjoyed it!  I never thought I'd enjoy sci-fi alien romance before I found this series, but JLA's writing is addictive and the suspense, drama and hilarious one-liners make her books difficult to put down. And this is no exception! Packed with tension, action, and the usual JLA humour and romance, I thought this was a great end to the series.


Another fantastic finale was the final book in the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle! Dust to Dust wrapped up this NA paranormal/horror romance series wonderfully. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the whole book!

Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin, #1)

Darkness Hidden (The Name of the Blade, #2)I've had Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers on my list forever, but I finally got round to reading it! It's about assassin nuns in medieval France, who kill whoever is marked by the god of death himself. I'm picky when it comes to historical fiction, but this story is the perfect balance of politics, tension, romance and the fantastical. I was hooked!

I was really excited for the second book in Zoe Marriott's exciting Name of the Blade trilogy, and I loved Darkness Hidden even more than The Night Itself! I can't wait for the finale!

It's definitely been a great reading month! I think I'm going to enjoy doing this feature. ^_^


Monday, 25 August 2014

Fall Into Fantasy Tour Kick-Off! The Darkness & Light Series by K. L. Schwengel


Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 1: The Darkness & Light Series
Book One: First of Her Kind
Book Two: Emergence
Book Three: Edge of Darkness (Release date 2015)


It seems everyone wants to dictate what Ciara does with her life: Serve the Goddess, destroy the Goddess, do as you promised your aunt -- all Ciara really wants is to keep the two magics she possesses from ripping her apart.

And that's not going to be easy.

Not only is her earth magic in complete opposition to her other power, blood ties pull her in divergent directions as well. And then there's Bolin, the man sworn to protect her. There's no denying the growing attraction between them, but is it Ciara he wants, or her power?

None of which will matter if Ciara can't overcome her fear and learn how to use her gifts. No one knows the depths of the ancient power she possesses, or what will happen if it manages to escape her control. Will she lose herself entirely? Or be forever caught between Darkness and Light?

Buy the e-book: Kindle Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble


The battle for Ciara's power has drawn the full attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Mages, forcing Bolin to put duty above safety and take her to Nisair. It won't be an easy trip, even with an Imperial escort and a Galysian elder accompanying them. Especially since Donovan has found himself some new allies, one of who wields a dark magic that has literally gotten under Bolin's skin.

For Ciara, coming to terms with the increasingly tangible manifestation of her power could destroy her. Even if they make it to Nisair--something that grows more unlikely by the day--there is no surety of safety for Ciara, or any of them. Not with Donovan willing to gamble everything to achieve his goals, or Bolin's uncharacteristically reckless behavior, the result of which is the attention of something that has everyone worried.

Loyalties will be tested, lives will be lost, and no one will emerge unchanged as they find things are not always so clear on the line dividing Darkness and Light.

Buy the e-book: Kindle  Nook
Or the paperback: Amazon  Barnes & Noble



ABOUT K.L. SCHWENGEL

K. L. Schwengel lives in southeast Wisconsin on a small farm with her husband, a handful of Australian Shepherds, Her Royal Highness Princess Fiona the Cat, and assorted livestock. Growing up as the youngest of nine children, and the daughter of a librarian, Kathi spent many hours between stacks of books, and secluded away in dusty archives, drawn to tales of medieval heroes and conquering knights. With so many characters and ideas spinning in her head, she had to get them onto paper or risk what little sanity she possessed. She has been penning wild tales of magic and mayhem as long as she can remember, but opted to follow her artistic muse first. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts and spending many years working as a freelance artist, grocery clerk, art teacher, graphic designer, stable hand, advertising account coordinator, dog trainer, and process technician (among other things) she answered the call of her writing muse. When not writing, Kathi trains and trials working Australian Shepherds, still paints, dabbles in photography, graphic design, and anything else creative her assorted muses send her way.

Connect online at…

Blog  Facebook  Pinterest  Twitter  Amazon Page  Goodreads


Want to get involved with the Fall Into Fantasy promotional tour?
  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
  • If you are interested in joining up as a blogger, you can always sign up here. We are happy to welcome more bloggers into the fold as the promotion continues. 
  • If you are an author or blogger and want to sign up to help with the party, please fill out this form.

Cover Reveal - The Wicked Path by Eliza Tilton




Wicked Path, by Eliza Tilton

Genre: young-adult, fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release: October 6, 2014

Series: Daath Chronicles (#2)

Cover Artist: Michelle Johnson at Blue Sky Design (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Blue-Sky-Design/1401031006827361?sk=timeline)

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22452354-wicked-path?from_search=true

Description:

In Wicked Path: Book Two of the Daath Chronicles brother and sister are forced to opposite sides of Tarrtainya on a fast-paced adventure where the wildlife isn’t the only thing trying to kill them.

Three months have passed since Avikar defeated the Reptilian Prince, and he still can’t remember his battle with Lucino. On the hunt for answers, he returns to the scene of the fight and discovers a strange connection between his family’s dagger and the mysterious kingdom of Daath, and it seems only his distant father can reveal the truth behind it all.

Before Avikar can travel back home, Lucy assaults him in the market and forces him to flee to Nod Mountains—a place few dare to enter, and even less return from. With Raven and her childhood friend by his side, they must survive the treacherous journey through the pass with a vengeful Lucy hunting them. If they don’t, they’ll never see home again.

Jeslyn’s new life in Luna Harbor is the perfect remedy for her confused and broken heart. But when a group of mercenaries kidnap her beloved Grandfather, interrupting her daily routine as his jewelry apprentice, she's forced to join forces with the one person from her past she tried to forget.

And his assistance comes with a price.

--

About The Author:

Eliza graduated from Dowling College with a BS in Visual Communications. When she’s not arguing with excel at her day job, or playing Dragon Age 2, again, she’s writing.

Her YA stories hold a bit of the fantastical and there’s always a hot romance. She resides on Long Island with her husband, two kids and one very snuggly pit bull.

Find Eliza Tilton Online:

Website (http://elizatilton.com/)| Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Eliza-Tilton-YA-Author/245765852217133) | Twitter (https://twitter.com/ElizaTilton)| Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7047768.Eliza_Tilton)

Friday, 22 August 2014

Author Interview - Pippa Jay, author of Restless in Peaceville

Welcome to my latest author interview! Today, I'm talking to Pippa Jay, whose latest book, Restless in Peaceville, was released on Wednesday!


Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!
I love to do freestyle street dance for exercise, I have a celtic butterfly tattoo on my right wrist, and my nickname as a child (even into my teens) was Dormouse due to my habit of curling up in a nest of blankets to sleep.

Summarize your book in one line.
Luke Chester thought being dead would solve all his problems, but being undead sucks worse.

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
I have a fight between a vampire and a zombie, something I’ve not seen anywhere else. Want to place bets on who wins?

Why did you decide to write this particular book?
I got absolutely obsessed with a film called Warm Bodies, despite not being a fan of horror, zombies, or anything remotely scary or gory. I loved how it made me feel sympathy for a character that should be seen as a terrifying monster. Also I’d read books with zombies that weren’t like the classic Hollywood creatures (by Terry Pratchett and Piers Anthony), so I started researching how the brain eating thing began and really digging into the whole zombie mythology. What I learned was so interesting--and inspired by Warm Bodies--I decided I wanted to write a book about a different kind of zombie.

Best part of the writing process? Finishing. Lol.

Share one thing you learned writing this book.
That I really can’t say I won’t write a particular genre. Because every time I’ve thought “This isn’t my kind of thing to write” I’ve gone ahead and written it anyway, and been really happy (if slightly freaked out) by the results. Never say never!

Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!
Hmm, not so much me exactly, but when my husband and I were first living together, we rented an old house near the centre of our home town. One evening he went into the second bedroom, light off, and saw someone standing there. He thought it was me waiting to jump out on him, but a moment later I came out of the bathroom and the figure disappeared. He was really spooked! We’d also had our stereo system switch itself on a couple of times, yet it never did it before we’d moved into that house, and never did it again after we moved out.

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.
Pern. It has dragons!

Name one real place you’d love to visit.
Louisiana. I set my book there and had to rely on research, Google maps, and friends who live and/or were born there to get the details right. I’d love to go there and see it for real! And of course meet the people who helped me with it.


Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!
The demon rolls its glowing red eyes. “Die of stupidity, did we?”

Book info:
Welcome to Peaceville, population 2067 and rising...from the grave...

Luke Chester has had enough. He’s the school geek, the girls laugh at him, he’s lost his dead-end job at the pizza place, and in the midst of the world’s messiest divorce his parents don’t even know he exists. An overdose of his mom’s tranquilizers and a stomach full of whiskey should solve all his problems...

But they don’t. Instead, Luke finds himself booted out of the afterlife for not dying a natural death, with nowhere to go but back to his recently vacated corpse and reality. How the hell is he going to pass for one of the living without someone trying to blow his brains out for being one of the undead?

And it just gets worse. He’s got to fight his own desperate craving to consume the living, evade the weird supernatural hunter who’s having a field day with the new undeads rising, and there’s this creepy black shadow following him around. Add to that the distraction of female fellow undead Annabelle burning to avenge her own murder, and clearly there’s no rest for the wicked. Jeez, all he wanted to do was R.I.P.

Restless In Peaceville, a YA supernatural story coming 20th August from Lycaon Press. Add it to your Goodreads shelf here - https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22062985-restless-in-peaceville
Sign up to my newsletter for release info here - http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk/p/artwork.html

 
Author bio:

After spending twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay is now a stay-at-home mum who writes scifi and the supernatural. Somewhere along the way a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moment playing guitar very badly, punishing herself with freestyle street dance, and studying the Dark Side of the Force. Although happily settled in the historical town of Colchester in the UK with her husband of 21 years and three little monsters, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.
Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade, blogging at Spacefreighters Lounge, Adventures in Scifi, and Romancing the Genres. She’s a double SFR Galaxy Award winner, been a finalist in the Readers Favorite Contest, the Heart of Denver RWA Aspen Gold Contest (3rd place), and the GCC RWA Silken Sands Star Awards (2nd place), and a semi-finalist in the Kindle Book Review’s 2013 Best Indie Book Awards.

You can stalk her at her website http://pippajay.co.uk, or at her blog http://pippajay.blogspot.co.uk, but without doubt her favourite place to hang around and chat is on Twitter as @pippajaygreen.

Wednesday, 20 August 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 Dust to Dust, the final book in the Experiment in Terror series by Karina Halle. I never expected to love this series as much as I did, and I'm sad it's over!

I also read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, which has been on my list forever! Assassin nuns in medieval France? Hell yeah!

What I'm writing

I finished my draft!!!! :D In a crazy marathon session on Saturday, I wrote over 6000 words. I'm still not sure how I managed that...but my artsy WIP is finished! :D Well, the first draft is, and it'll be joining the other two drafts I've finished this year in the "Needs Serious Revision" folder. But for now, yay! *dances*

I've also been doing more outlining for the Shiny New Series and officially started writing it! ^_^ I'm casually working on the first book for now, because the next couple of weeks are going to be busy. It's my first adult book, which is proving an interesting challenge (especially as the voice is turning out to be similar to my YA books!). And I still haven't nailed down the genre. (It's urban fantasy with alternative universes, so it's basically tap-dancing over all the sub-genres of fantasy...)

What inspires me

Epic marathon writing days! Until Saturday, I hadn't had one of those in a while! :D And now, I'm inspired by my shiny new manuscript! ^^

What else I've been up to


I finally watched Guardians of the Galaxy, and I absolutely loved it! My boyfriend and I also spent a day in London, seeing the sights, and then we went to a gig. ^_^

I've also discovered the genius of the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. It's awesome. 

And today, I'm travelling up north to visit my boyfriend for a few days. Then I'll have one day to pack for my second impromptu mini-break of the year. On Monday, I'm going to Italy with my family for three days! So life's going into Crazyville for a bit, and my presence on le interwebs might be a tiny bit scattered (I'm on a train today, but I'll return comments as soon as I can!).

Monday, 18 August 2014

Monday Mini-Reviews - Mary: The Summoning by Hilary Monahan and Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

MARY: The Summoning (Bloody Mary, #1)
There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.

Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them--Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna--must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.

A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: "Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY." A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.

Once is not enough, though--at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary's wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.

A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary--and Jess--before it's too late?


My review


The creepy cover and blurb caught my attention immediately. This is one seriously scary story! It starts with the well-known game “Bloody Mary”. Shauna’s friend Jess is obsessed with the idea of summoning the ghost of Mary from a mirror, and manages to convince Shauna, Kitty and Anna to go along with her plan. None of them expect it to really work, and for the gruesome spectre to walk out into the real world. Mary attaches herself to Shauna, haunting her through every reflective surface and threatening everyone she cares about.

There are very few books which I can honestly say terrified me, but this one did. From the beginning, it had me glued to the pages. The characters and their friendships are well-drawn and the added conflict when Mary targets them made each chilling reveal even more effective. The suspense kept me riveted and it never slowed down, keeping just the right pace. I haven’t read a ghost story this good since ANNA DRESSED IN BLOOD. Recommended for all fans of creeptastic horror!

4.5 stars.



Something Strange and Deadly (Something Strange and Deadly, #1) 

 There's something strange and deadly loose in Philadelphia....

Eleanor Fitt has a lot to worry about. Her brother has gone missing, her family as fallen on hard times, and her mother is determined to marry her off to any rich young man who walkers by. But this is nothing compared to what she's just read in the newspaper—

The Dead are rising in Philadelphia.

And then, in a frightening attack, a zombie delivers a letter to Eleanor...from her brother.

Whoever is controlling the Dead army has taken her brother as well. If Eleanor is going to find him, she'll have to venture into the lab of the notorious Spirit-Hunters, who protect the city from supernatural forces. But as Eleanor spends more time with the Spirit-Hunters, including the maddeningly stubborn yet handsome Daniel, the situation becomes dire. An now, not only is her reputation on the line, but her very life may hang in the balance.

My review

I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this book for ages, but as it isn’t published in the UK, it’s taken me ages to find a good-quality second-hand paperback. But it was worth the wait! Susan Dennard’s debut novel transports us to a 19th-century Philadelphia with a zombie problem, and I was thoroughly swept up in the story. Eleanor Fitt’s brother has disappeared, and when Eleanor receives a note from him delivered by a dead man, she decides to seek out the Spirit-Hunters, a group dedicated to fighting the supernatural forces invading the world.

I’ve honestly never read a book quite like this. 19th century and zombies is a combination that works (perhaps surprisingly) really well, and the storyline is enjoyable with no dull moments. The developing romance between Eleanor and Daniel and the social complications of this are well-handled and the chemistry between the characters is one of the books’ strengths. A creepy and unique historical-paranormal mystery for anyone looking for a unique spin on zombies!

Rating: 4.5 stars.