Friday, May 30, 2014

Independence for Authors

I don't usually blog about other blog posts, especially not posts directed more at writers than at readers, but this is too good to pass up.

Right now, Amazon, which really opened up the possibilities for independent authors with its invention of the Kindle (the first really usable e-reader) and Kindle Direct Publishing (Smashwords also gets credit for starting the independent author revolution, but it was Amazon that brought it mainstream) is involved in difficult negotiations with one of the Big 5 publishers (Hachette). The news media (which in large part is owned by the same giant international comglomerates that own the Big 5 publishers) has been in an anti-Amazon frenzy, spouting out ridiculous claims about how Amazon means the end of literature and ideas and civilization and life the universe and EVERYTHING!!!

Passive Guy is an IP (intellectual property) and contracts lawyer with a special interest in independent writing and publishing and in the disruptive technology and business practices that make this revolution possible. His blog is a must-read for independent authors. Here is part of his response to the frenzy:
As independent authors arise, empowered by Amazon’s democratic commons of ideas, PG says we’re looking at a renaissance of American literature, an upheaval that is shoving the suits out and putting authors back in charge of the art they create.

Despite the dying spasms of Big Publishing, the wall between writers and readers is coming down. Uncontrolled and unmediated ideas are being released into the wild, giving readers the opportunity to decide which will flourish.

Whether the path out of corporate serfdom comes via Amazon or someone else, authors who have discovered the freedom that comes with owning and controlling the fruits of their labors are not going back to the plantation.
You can read the whole thing, along with quotes from the article that inspired this response, here:
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/05/2014/how-the-amazon-hachette-fight-could-shape-the-future-of-ideas/
For readers, the independent author revolution means more books, less expensive books, a wider variety of books - not just what the sales departments at the publishing companies decide they can market, access to previously out-of-print books whose authors have gotten their rights back (often at great time, expense, and stress), continuation of series that were cancelled by publishers, easier and more convenient access to books in a variety of formats, and closer interaction with authors. Big publishing does not see readers as their customers; their customers are the book distributors and the big chain bookstores. The independent author revolution is good for readers, good for authors, good for everyone except those with a vested interest in preserving the old, bloated, exclusionary, wasteful way of doing things.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Book Review: Monochrome

Picture Monochrome, by H.M. Jones
* * * * (4 stars)

Monochrome is a strikingly original tale of a young wife and mother who, overwhelmed with post-partum depression and fears about her marriage, comes close to giving up on life. When she awakens from a panic attack, she finds herself in the strange, dark world of Monochrome (fittingly colored blue), where good memories are the highly-coveted currency. With the help of her guide, Ishmael, she has the chance to find her way back to the life she no longer wants to leave behind - but at what cost?

I love the idea of a world where you have to pay your way by giving up memories. The book takes a close look at the different kinds of memories we have - from nice ones that we could live without to those memories that define who and what we are - and how giving up even the ones that don't seem significant affects our perceptions of our whole selves. It really made me think about what memories I would give up if I had to - and in Monochrome, only good memories are valid currency, you can keep the bad ones. The thought was chilling.

Ishmael and Abby are both appealing characters. I especially liked Ishmael, the deeply wounded young man who never made it out of Monochrome and instead took a job of trying to help others find their way out. I would like to know more about his past, and his future. I'm also intrigued by how the world of Monochrome came to be, and would love to read more about that and about the menacing Boss, who rules Monochrome.

There's some action, but this is mostly an introspective book, with long conversations between Ishmael and Abby, two very articulate and self-aware young people. They are both also poetry buffs, and quote a lot of Romantic (as in style, not in lovey-dovey) poetry to each other.

Monochrome is a dark book, but also filled with hope and beauty. Recommended if you're looking for a fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal that will make you slow down and think and feel.

(My interview with Abby)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Author Spotlight: Mary Bernsen

Introducing fantasy/paranormal author Mary Bernsen, and her novel Healing the Bayou.
Picture
What is a Queen without her King?

After learning that she is adopted, Eliza sets off to locate her biological family and finds them in the Louisiana bayou. But they’re more than just locals—they’re descended from the area’s most famous Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau—Eliza’s great-great-grandmother. Surrounded by a mysterious world of séances, spells, and sacrifices, Eliza finds herself worshiped as the last great priestess. What’s more, she’s inherited the ability to heal the souls of others with a simple touch of her hands.

Eliza is expected to cultivate this gift so she can claim her title as Queen and return the Voodoo community to glory. A task Eliza wouldn’t mind as long as she could perform it beside the devastating Samuel Mueller. But according to tradition, Samuel is her keeper, and a keeper never becomes romantically involved with his ward. His sacred duty is to protect her. And the bayou is rife with enemies who would sacrifice anything to eliminate outsiders like Eliza..

Interview with Eliza:

1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?My name is Eliza Lane Morgan.  I guess what's different about my name, is that it really isn't my name.
It's the name my adopted parents gave me.  Nicole Paris was my birth name.

2. How old are you?Twenty-four.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?Well, the family that I grew up with was pretty awesome.  There was Mom, Dad, Uncle Charlie, and Aunt Patrice.  They were  the most welcoming, and accepting people I've ever known.  But they lied to me my entire life about who I was.

My biological family is a totally different story.  I never met my parents, but my aunt Vivian is a plotting, scheming, witch (literally!)

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?Samuel was my first kiss, and it was...breath taking.

5. What is your occupation?I'm a student--a psychology major.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?I definitely have a tendency to be way too trusting, which I guess could count as both my best and worst trait, right?

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?I have to know he will protect me without smothering my independence.  I want to know I can rely on him.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?Help the wonderful Voodoo community...be it providing blessings, teachings, or just a warm, welcome home.

9. What is your greatest fear?Losing any one else I love...I've lost way too many.

10. What is your most treasured possession?The djakout Samuel gave me.  Even when I didn't believe in the power it posesses to protect me, I knew he did and I loved him for it.

Healing the Bayou is available at:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add on Goodreads
Picture
About the author:
Mary Bernsen is a southwest Florida native currently living in Punta Gorda with her two beautiful children and a third, much larger child that she affectionately calls husband. She is a stay-at-home mother and spends her days creating characters on the good side of twenty-five because she is in serious denial about the fact that she is now on the bad side of it. She has a passion for fantasy of any kind along with historical fiction. If she isn't having conversations with her made-up friends, you can usually find her clipping coupons or out on the boat enjoying the muddy waters of Peace River (as long as it isn't below 80 degrees).

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Book Spotlight: Till Death and Beyond

Picture
Today I'm happy to welcome Lyn C. Johanson, author of Till Death and Beyond, here on her blog tour with Saskia Book Tours. Learn about her and her book, and don't forget to enter the giveaway down at the bottom of the post!
Picture
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
Even as a child I had my head up in the clouds, it's really a wonder it took me this long to realize that creating stories is what I want to do. And not just stories. I love creating new fantasy worlds where anything is possible.

I’m incurable romantic who has a sweet tooth, loves to travel, and spends hours at a dancing studio every week perfecting my waltz and rumba steps.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing poems when I was eleven or twelve years old because words were just flowing out of me. In rhymes.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write romance novels with heavy emphasis on fantasy elements. I try to combine both so that fantasy and romance work hand in hand, creating a stronger story with just enough twists to keep a reader on the edge of the seat.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Till Death and Beyond is the first book in Witch World series, and my debut novel. The sequel will follow – I’m neck-deep into writing it, and I’m having a blast!

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
Magic is real in the Witch World. But anyone who is suspected of being a witch is mercilessly hunted. It is a world torn apart by dark powers and bloodshed, and ruled by gods and demons.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Amira is unique. She is not a practitioner like all the other witches. She has real power—little good that it does her. She’s bound by the prophecy and controlled by the gods, but it doesn’t mean she bows down meekly. She might have a kind heart, but she can zap you in no time if you mess with her.

Raven is a man who has lost everyone he loved. He lives for the sole purpose of saving his younger brother from the grips of madness; living mostly on a road, searching for a way to accomplish it.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
In a way, Till Death and Beyond was born out of boredom. I was writing my master’s thesis when Amira came to me and started telling her story. I got hooked, and had to put it down so that more people could enjoy it.

8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
Facebook | Goodreads
Till Death and Beyone is available at Amazon

Picture
Till Death and Beyond

Till Death and Beyond is a sizzling tale of two souls bound by destiny in a cruel plot to separate them forever...

A COLD BEAUTY WHO KNOWS DEATH INTIMATELY...

Amira is the strongest witch on the face of the earth, with psychic abilities no others possess. And yet, she is but a slave to the whims of the gods. Forced to be born anew every time she fails in fulfilling an ancient prophecy, Amira is desperate to break the vicious cycle.

A TORMENTED WARRIOR WHO HAS LOST EVERYTHING...

Plagued by the memories and guilt over his family’s demise, Raven lives for the sole reason of restoring his younger brother. And kidnapping a witch is only the beginning—for he intends to right the wrongs of his past by any means necessary.

A DESTINY TO CHANGE THE WORLD...

While the gods might have planned for her to be captured, surrender is not something that comes easy to Amira. Yet one glance into her captor’s eyes, and she is swept away by emotions long ago denied to her. She decides to play along. For a while.

Despite the hatred Raven harbors for their kind, he is intrigued by the witch. One taste of her lips, and she becomes his obsession. Soon, he discovers that fighting against the passion they ignite in one another is futile. But as they strip each other’s secrets, a powerful force threatens to destroy them both.

For in this game of gods nothing is simple—the whole universe seems to conspire against them. And no matter how fiercely they fight, or what they are willing to endure to save each other ... the path they travel is paved with loss.

Will they survive the ultimate test, if even their determination—to fight till death—might not be enough?

About the author:

A computer science major, Lyn C. Johanson decided to leave the cold world of code lines and pursue her passion for writing romance stories. Now, she mostly lives in the world she dreams up. Except when her husband and sons drag her back to reality—where she enjoys photography, dancing, and spending time with her family.

Giveaway not sponsored by Kyra Halland/Welcome To My Worlds

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Spotlight: Sentinel

Last July, I reviewed Sentinel by Joshua Winning, and gave it a rare 5-star review. Recently, Joshua achieved a major goal and received a publishing contract for Sentinel. To celebrate the re-release on May 19 of this awesome book, I'm re-posting the review here.
Picture
Sentinel, by Joshua Winning

Kyra's Star Ratings:
Characters: * * * * *
Story: * * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Emotional Engagement: * * * * *

(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

"Sentinel" is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy, Nicholas Hallow, who, when his world falls apart, learns that he has abilities and a heritage that he never dreamed of. Evil beings who were long held at bay by the Sentinels have begun to gain a foothold in our world, and Nicholas finds himself the object of the stuggle between the Sentinels and the servants of the Dark Prophets.

This book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go till the end. The sense of menace never lets up - even when Nicholas finds refuge, the danger is still out there, waiting. The descriptions of a world where evil is gaining power are chilling, as are the antagonists themselves. The characters are vividly drawn, and I found myself loving the good guys (and girls) and loving to hate the baddies. The book is also emotionally gripping - I felt the highs, lows, fear, relief, and shock right along with the characters.

"Sentinel" is described as "dark YA fantasy," but it hits that sweet spot of having a teen protagonist and being appropriate for/interesting to teens, while also being written with a deeper, more sophisticated adult voice and outlook and featuring some adult point-of-view characters. I'm not a big YA reader, preferring adult characters and an adult voice, but I found myself deeply engaged in and satisfied with reading "Sentinel." Besides being a good example of YA-adult crossover, I think this book would appeal very much to teen boys who enjoyed the Harry Potter books.

[Note: It's very likely that the book has been re-edited prior to this release, so this part of the review may no longer be valid.] It isn't perfect; there are a few bits of the story that didn't quite hang together for me, though it never lost my attention, and the author occasionally uses words to attribute dialogue that don't really work as substitutes for "said."

Other than those tiny nitpicks, I thought "Sentinel" was fantastic, and enjoyed it immensely. (Plus it gives a whole new meaning to the term "crazy cat lady"!) I highly recommend it, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.


Sentinel:

“What is a Sentinel? A guard. A killer. A detective.’

You see them every day, but you would have no idea who they really are or the power they hold. They are the world’s best kept-secret – and now the world needs them more than ever.

Mobilised against the devastating return of centuries-old dark forces, the Sentinels face their greatest challenge and a threat to their ancient existence. And when 15-year-old Nicholas Hallow’s parents are killed in a suspicious train crash, the teenager is drawn into a world where nothing is quite what it seems.

Against the backdrop of a summer snowstorm, Nicholas and hardy pensioner Sam Wilkins embark on a treacherous journey in which their pursuers are never far behind.

A young adult dark fantasy set in Cambridge, Sentinel is the first book in the thrilling Sentinel Trilogy. Filled with action, mystery, monsters and murder, it takes the reader on a terrifying adventure with unconventional heroes and a touch of magic.


The Sentinel Trilogy Website |
Facebook | Twitter

Coming May 19

Peridot Press | Amazon UK | Amazon US
Picture
About the Author:

Joshua Winning was born in Cambridge, but don’t hold that against him. He’s attempted to escape reality for most of his life by writing. As a child, that involved poring diligently over anything by C.S. Lewis or Robin Jarvis, and attempting to come up with stories that were even half as good.​​

He mostly failed. His stories were often gruesome and had titles like Skull and Skull II: The Revenge. (He even bound them using the old binding machine at his dad’s school.)​

When he was 16, Joshua started writing his first ‘proper’ novel. It didn’t have a title then (or at least, it had a terrible one that Joshua refuses to reveal), but it slowly morphed into Sentinel. Almost 15 years, a film studies degree, and about five thousand cups of coffee later, he’s finally finished it. It’s turned out to be a very personal story, even if it does involve big explosions and nasty demons.​

When he’s not writing about Sentinels, Joshua can usually be found watching Buffy The Vampire Slayer, The Wire and Daria. He also works as a freelance journalist, writing about movies for Total Film, movieScope and Grolsch Film Works.​

Joshua currently lives in North London with his cat Mia. Unfortunately, she’s not a great conversationalist, but he’s working on it.

Website | Twitter


Kyra's interview with Joshua Winning

Friday, May 16, 2014

Author Spotlight: Teshelle Combs

Picture
Today I'm pleased to introduce author Teshelle Combs and her YA sci fi/paranormal novel The System:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
The name’s Teshelle and I'm 25 years old. My favorite food is bread (“Bread is the paper of the food industry You write your sandwich on it.” -Dwight K. Shrute). I'm also a singer/songwriter and a Christian. I have an English degree from UCF. I'm from the beautiful island of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. Lived there for most of my life. Oh, and I write books!!

2. When did you start writing, and why?

I started eating novels when I was about 10 years old. I just opened them up and devoured them whole. Before I knew it, I'd spend my nights lying in bed imagining up alternate endings to the books I'd read. Then, alternate characters. And BAM, I was coming up with my own stories. With a few teachers and my best friends urging me on, I started writing down the weirdest, most dramatic magical realist short stories you could ever imagine (one of them even won an award later on). And that is the story of how I started writing.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write Young Adult novels. Contemporary fantasy and sci-fi, paranormal--anything kick-butt really. I love love, so look out for romance somewhere in everything I write. But it has to be YA. I think that it gives me the greatest freedom to write within my chosen genre. Besides, I still think I'm 17 most of the time anyways. I have two novels out write now, and I'm working on both of their sequels, so soon I'll have two totally independent YA series available at the same time! I do it that way because sometimes my brain needs a break (and I'm afraid that if I keep writing for one character too long, I might become them or something looney like that).

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My newest release is 'The System.' Think assassins. Assassins who use mental mathematical algorithms to do amazing things—like kill people. Because they’re assassins. It's YA, of course, and it's got a splash of sci-fi, paranormal, action/adventure, and romance. It's set in California, although you can hardly tell where you are outside of the mildewed confinement of the System walls. It's set in the present day, and it's dark and funny and scary and romantic all at the same time. It’s set up to be a series, so once you read it, you’ll be hounding me about the second installment, ‘The Syndicate.’

My next endeavor should be released around September, and it’ll be a novella that sheds some light on a new character in my ‘Core’ series. ‘Core’ is a contemporary YA that makes dragons sexy, bad a-word, and way too interesting.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
I love this question!! ‘The System,’ is not a fun world to be trapped in. It’s run by people you never get to see for reasons you never really know. But there are rules. Rules that are so strict, they could mean the end of your life–or worse, the end of the people you love. Yet…the System doesn’t have all the high tech gadgets and facilities one would expect from an assassin organization. They keep their recruits in the dark–and the cold, and the hunger, and the fear. In this world, Nick and Nessa have to let go of parts of themselves that made them ‘good’ people. They have to learn to survive. And maybe that means they’ll learn to need each other.

Picture
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Nessa. Nessa Parker is a high school slacker. Her hobbies are sunbathing, falling asleep on the bus, and skipping class. Until she’s thrown into a world where she’s expected to kill people she’s never even met before. Equipped with sass, never-failing humor, and a few big secrets, Nessa changes the System for good.

Nick. Nick Masters is one of my favorite characters ever. He’s dark, quiet, dangerous, and gorgeous. But he’s incredibly broken, and fragile in ways most people could never withstand. He’s got so many secrets he forgot most of them. In fact, he can’t remember much of his life–and he prefers it that way. At least he doesn’t have to feel if he can’t remember…until he meets his new partner.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
I have a happy dance. I do it all the time. It is the purest and most magical form of artistic expression, because it comes from my very being and pours fourth unrestraint and unmonitored from the essence of me. I often accompany it with a sort of shrieking, swooping howl, head tilted back so as not to hinder the natural resonance. Flailing arms and a very rapid, quick side-to side hip swing may signal others in the vicinity that the happy dance is commencing. If you see these signs, it may be wise for you to take cover. My husband and those who love me tend to fear my happy dance. They often claim it as a danger to civilization itself.

That only makes me dance more.

Hear this. I will do this dance wherever I am if anyone comments on this blog post. No matter the time of day or the venue. This I vow to you. Your comment will make me that happy.

8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
Amazon
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | email

The System:1 + 1 = Dead.

That’s the only math that adds up when you’re in the System.

Everywhere Nick turns, he’s surrounded by the inevitability of his own demise at the hands of the people who stole his life from him. That is, until those hands deliver the bleeding, feisty, eye-rolling Nessa Parker. Tasked with keeping his new partner alive, Nick must face all the ways he’s died and all the things he’s forgotten.

Nessa might as well give up. The moment she gets into that car, the moment she lays her hazel eyes on her new partner, her end begins. It doesn’t matter that Nick Masters can slip through time by computing mathematical algorithms in his mind. It doesn’t matter how dark and handsome and irresistibly cold he is. Nessa has to defeat her own shadows.

Together and alone, Nick and Nessa make sense of their senseless fates and fight for the courage to change it all. Even if it means the System wins and they end up…well…dead
.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Author Spotlight: M.H. Soars

Introducing sci fi/fantasy author M.H. Soars and her novel The Prophecy of Arcadia:
Picture
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I was a total nerd while growing and up and enjoyed the company of books more than of people. Thankfully, I've moved on from that anti-social phase and can call myself a geek now (trust me, there is a difference).

I might not be that introverted person anymore but my passion for books not only remains, but it has evolved into something much bigger. I'm not satisfied with only reading books. Now I have stories to tell too. Oh, and before I forget, I'm also a shoeholic. :)

2. When did you start writing, and why?I started to write because I had these stories in my head and one day I decided to type them away. Just to see if I could do it.

The more I wrote, the more the story took shape.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write? I write what I like to read. As a reader, I've lost count of how many times a book frustrated me.

I'm one of those people who yell at fictious characters when they make bad decisions like they are real.
What I enjoy most about writing is the power and freedom it gives you. The fate of my characters rests on my hands. It's like playing with Barbies but much, much better (fyi, I haven't played with Barbies since I was 9, I just collect them now ;) ).

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
The Prophecy of Arcadia is my first published work and it's the first book in the Arcadian Wars series. I plan to published the second, Prodigies Unbound, beginning of next year.

I'm also working on a YA standalone novel that might still be published this year.

5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.Arcadian Wars tells the story of a group of very talented alien teens who were placed on Earth to protect two kids from there.

Those human kids are prophesized to be the key to save Arcadia which at the point the story begins, is on the brink of complete destruction.

There are sci-fi elements but in the first book it takes a backseat. The story feels more contemporary with the aliens pretending to be humans and facing regular teen problems while trying to protect their charges. The following books will feel more Sci-Fi and there will more action too.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?

Samantha is my favorite character and the easiest to write. She encompasses everything I look for in an heroine. She's sassy, loyal, and flawed in a realistic way.

Alexia is human and one of the kids the Arcadians are protecting. She's doesn't know her role in the Prophecy and believes her protectors are actually her cousins. She's kind and adores her family.

Matthew is another Arcadian and he's the total package: gorgeous, myterious, and protective.
You get to know at lot about them because The Prophecy of Arcadia is told in their POVs.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.A lot of the weird alien names were concocted by my sister and me after we drank a whole bottle of champagne. So yeah, I blame it on the alcohol, lol.

8. Where to find M.H.:
Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Google+
Prophecy of Arcadia is available at Amazon.


Picture
Being a teenager is tough, especially when you have to pretend to be something you’re not, and you’re in love with someone you shouldn’t. 115 years ago, a small planet called Arcadia was invaded by a vicious alien race and nearly destroyed. Cut off from their resources, the Arcadians turned to Earth for help. A group of Arcadian explorers discovered a Prophecy that claimed their salvation lay in the hands of two children from Earth. To ensure their safety, the Arcadian Council sent their most gifted youngsters to Earth to act as protectors. Samantha is one of them.

To succeed in her mission she must learn to control her Arcadian powers and keep her true identity from her best friend, and the girl she swore to protect, Alexia. But Samantha will soon realize that nothing is as it seems. Someone is trying to prevent the Prophecy from taking place and the prophecy boy hasn't been found yet. There is also a new drug circulating at school that is turning students into freakishly strong menaces.

To make matters worse, distractions keep getting in her way. Such as her love/hate relationship with her “cousin” Matthew. Or her confused feelings toward popular and mysterious Julian. She wants nothing more than to be free to live her life. But the survival of Arcadia depends on her and her friends. Free will is not an option.


Excerpt from Prophecy of Arcadia:

“You all must be guessing why I requested a meeting this morning,” Gary said in a good mood, and I wondered why he was so cheeky at 6 a.m. He ignored the grunts he received in response.

The boys still wore their PJs and were suffering from a collective case of awful bed hair. I was the last to arrive -- not surprisingly, since I was the only one in the house who had bothered to change clothes and brush my hair.

The need to look somewhat presentable put me in a less than comfortable situation when the only seat left in Gary’s spacious office was next to Matthew. Considering the situation between us, I might have hoped the others would be more thoughtful and not make me sit next to him. No such luck.

I avoided making eye contact with Matthew as I took my seat on the big leather couch, putting maximum space between us. He shifted in his seat uneasily.

Gary’s office was a mix of contradictory influences. It had several pieces that could easily belong to a very conservative law firm, like the massive mahogany desk and the button tufted, classic leather sectional sofa in dark brown. His chair had a classic design too but it was in neon green leather, and the paintings hurt the eyes if you stared at them for too long. It was like two different people had decorated the office. The result would make an interior designer have a seizure.

I focused my attention on Gary sitting behind his desk, and waited for him to explain why we had been summoned for the second time in less than twenty-four hours. Alexia, our charge, was coming to Santa Barbara to spend her summer vacation with us and as usual, we had gone through a debriefing the day before.

As the Prodigies, we had been appointed since birth to be her protectors. However, unlike the majority of our fellow Arcadians, our abilities hadn’t started to manifest until very recently. The appointment had been more symbolic than anything else. This year, however, things would change.

Sean yawned loudly and received an instant glare from his twin brother in return. Not that he cared. My own twin sister, Mia, smiled sympathetically at Zach, which prompted him to soften his countenance.

“I’m pretty sure you must have a good reason for the meeting.” Matthew replied to Gary’s earlier statement, and I looked over at him. He was impossibly good looking, even with disheveled hair.

He sensed me staring and glanced my way, eyebrows furrowed. I felt heat rush to my cheeks and looked away.

Gary stood up and started to pace in front of us. “I just received word from the Council that Melanie must remain in Arcadia until she completes her training.”

“Why?” I asked. A sliver of dread pierced my heart. Since our abilities started to manifest we had taken turns going to Arcadia for training, but we never stayed more than a few days.

“Do you know how long it will take?” Zach asked before Gary could answer my question.

Gary stuffed his hands in his pockets and shrugged. “Who knows? But don’t worry about it. I’m sure she’ll be back in a jiff.”

A typical Gary response, I thought as I tried to hide my annoyance. Sometimes I wondered why Gary, with his carefree personality, had been appointed to be our mentor. And the Council wondered why we didn’t take our roles more seriously. It was kind of hard to relate with the tragedy of our planet when we had never lived on it, and the person who should be guiding us treated everything like a joke.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Book Blitz: Wonderfully Wicked

Picture
Today I'm really excited to be part of the Book Blitz for the launch of Wonderfully Wicked, by C.J. Burright! C.J. has been a great supporter of my books, so I'm thrilled to help introduce her first published novel! And don't miss the giveaway down at the bottom, to win an ebook of Wonderfully Wicked and an Amazon gift card! :-)

A dreamcaster with the ability to channel creatures from her nightmares, headstrong and cynical Kalila Montgomery longs for a peaceful, picket-fence life…until the man literally of her dreams kidnaps her. Survival quickly becomes her number one goal, yet a growing attraction to the man in her nightmares is impossible to ignore. While she fears he will kill her, other, more terrifying enemies surround her, and Kalila succumbs to his scheme to escape. She may be his one hope for freedom…A deadly combination of power, cunning, and cold-hearted charm, Lydon v'al Endrian fears nothing. Feels nothing.

Chained to a brotherhood of men with the supernatural ability to invade dreams, he hunts dreamcasters to be harvested for their dreams and killed. His target: Kalila Montgomery. But Kalila awakens an undeniable dark desire and a longing for a freedom long-lost. To gain everything he craves, Lydon must seduce Kalila before his plot is discovered…a hopeless challenge which, if failed, will earn him a death-sentence. Caught up in a dangerous world of secrets and obsession, doubt and betrayal, Kalila and Lydon face the nightmare of their lives, where love will either deliver them—or destroy them both.

Find Wonderfully Wicked on Goodreads
Wonderfully Wicked is available at:
Amazon | Kobo
Picture
Excerpt from Wonderfully Wicked:

“I took great effort to see you.” His tone hinted the act made him deserving. “You sleep; I’ll keep watch. And my vow of yesterday stands. I won’t molest you.”

To her annoyance, her pulse danced a country jig. Whatever efforts he took on her behalf were of questionable nature, not romantic. She made a rude noise in case he held any such illusions.

“Keep watch for what? No one besides you could reach my window and my door’s bolted.”

Lydon laced his hands behind his head, his lips twitching as though fighting a smile. “Then I’ll watch you. Like before.”

Horror prickled over her in a rushing tide. She leapt up. “You watched me sleep? Not skulked around in my bedroom to attack me?” She groaned, imagining him watching her drool, snore, or grind her teeth.

He laughed, low and warm. “You’re so lovely when you dream, Lils. An angel.” He patted the empty spot beside him.

Her traitorous body, defenseless against him, obeyed. The red, silken comforter hissed beneath her knees while she climbed onto the opposite side of the giant bed. The lone lamp by the bed cast a mystical glow over Lydon, catching golden highlights in his light hair, the silver shards in his eyes. “Watching people sleep is creepy.”

He shrugged. “Not people, just you. Besides, I am creepy.”

Definitely not creepy. Kalila settled into a cross-legged position and fixed him with a no-nonsense look. “Since it seems you have nothing better to do than lie there like a sloth, be useful and fess up. Why am I being treated as some freaking porcelain doll in a glass case? How can my nightmares benefit the V’alkara? Can the V’alkara really take my dreams away? None of you seem sick—and no, mental doesn’t count—so what’s wrong? And when will you take us home?”

Lydon jiggled one black boot. What she thought might be disapproval flickered in his eyes. “I won’t waste our alone time answering inquiries. I have other plans.”

She swallowed hard. Maybe she’d misjudged him. Maybe he was so confident in his assassin abilities—and her helplessness—he felt sneakiness was unnecessary.

He sat up in a blink of an eye, moving with inhuman speed. One large hand was planted next to her knee. His breath fanned her chin. The scent of the outdoors and a tinge of smoke drifted from his clothes. His voice whispered spider-soft.

“Do you care to know what other less attractive names some call me?” The world seemed to shrink to Lydon and the force of his gaze. “Angel of Ruin. Living Nightmare. Scourge.” His eyes gleamed, darkened. “As you might guess from such monikers, peace in my life is rare. I’ll relish any fragments of it I happen to stumble across for as long as possible.”

His fingers trailed her cheek to cup her chin. In the span of a heartbeat, his face changed. From beautiful man to skeletal beast then back to beautiful man. A chill coiled around her soul, deep and cold as a winter storm. Who--what—was this guy?

“Do you feel it too?”

Kalila’s heartbeat rumbled in her ears, kicked at her throat. Her fingers jerked with a fierce need to touch him. Instead, she fisted the blanket. Admit nothing to the enemy. Yet the urge to nestle her cheek into his palm and purr grappled with reason. She had to take control before she did something stupid.


Picture
About the Author: CJ blames her love for reading and all things Medieval on her father, who plied her often with fantasy novels ranging from Sir Lloyd Alexander to Piers Anthony.  Her love for romance, however, lies completely at the feet of her best friend Michelle, who dared to give her a romance novel for her birthday.  She smiled, politely said thank you, and tossed it in the corner, where it gathered dust.  In a moment of desperation, when only the revolting romance remained in her almost-always toppling stack of awaiting books, she sucked it up and read the romance.  Doomed.

She started writing fantasy and paranormal romance for the cathartic experience, decided she liked it, and after two overlong, horribly written novels joined RWA and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter.  Best classes and critique groups ever.  Double doomed.  Now, writing is a necessity, not just a hobby.

In her spare time, when she’s not writing or reading or actually working, CJ might be found in the dojang (4th Dan Black Belt, baby), rooting on the Mariners (who will some day win the World Series), working out (P90X, anyone?), gardening (a little dirt never hurt anyone), or playing Music of the Night on the piano (without mask or cape). She lives in Oregon with her fabulous husband and daughter. Not to mention her minions, a herd of cats.

WONDERFULLY WICKED is CJ's Burright's first novel.

Where to find CJ:
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway not sponsored by Kyra Halland/Welcome to My Worlds
Book Blitz Organized by:
YA Bound Book Tours

Monday, May 12, 2014

My Book Boyfriend Blog Hop

Picture This week, hop on over to my main site for the My Book Boyfriend Blog Hop, sponsored by Harper A. Brooks and TF Walsh. Lots of heroes, hunks, and hot love interests to meet!

Get to know Adan Muari, the hero of my dark romantic fantasy novel Sarya's Song, a little - or a lot - better. Also make sure you check out other stops on the Book Boyfriend Blog hop, and don't forget to enter the giveaways! Here on Welcome to My Worlds, you can enter to win a signed paperback copy of Sarya's Song or a Love and Magic ebook 3-pack of Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song (international entries welcome!), and there's also a Blog Hop grand prize giveaway of a signed HIS HAVEN paperback by Harper A. Brooks, signed CLOAKED IN FUR paperback by T.F. Walsh, and a $20 Amazon gift card!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Daughter of the Wildings Book 6 Cover Art Reveal!

Welcome to the reveal of the cover art for For the Wildings, Book 6 of Daughter of the Wildings! I'm really excited to show this one off. I love all the cover art for the series, but I think this one just might be my favorite. I tried really hard to end the series on a strong note (I hate it when series fall flat at the end), and I think this art really shows the intensity of the epic final battle that Silas and Lainie face. Many thanks to the awesome Mominur Rahman (me-illuminated) for the amazing cover art!

And now, here's the full wrap-around version for the paperback:
Picture
Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And the ebook version:
Picture
Mominur Rahman me-illuminated.deviantart.com
And now, a sneak peek from the first chapter of Beneath the Canyons, Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings (this is not the final version, but pretty close). Silas has come to the town of Bitterbush Springs on the hunt for a rogue mage, and finds himself in the middle of some excitement:

Picture
Silas reined in his horse in front of the boarding house and looped the reins around the closest hitching post. As he headed inside to inquire about a room, a crash from inside the saloon across the street caught his attention. He turned to see a big-bellied, bushy-bearded man come flying backwards through the swinging doors of the Bootjack Saloon and land on his back in the street. The man leaped to his feet with surprising speed for a fellow his size, then a second man charged out of the saloon and plowed into him, knocking him to the ground again. The two men tussled in a cloud of dust, until the second man pinned the first one face down with a knee in the small of the back.

"I ever catch you blasting on my land again, I'll draw an' quarter you an' chop you up for dog feed!" the second man yelled. "You hear me, Gobby?"

In a blur of motion, Gobby twisted out from under the other man and dropped him with a blow to the jaw that sounded like an axe thunking into wood. "You threatening me, Dinsin? Cause if you're gonna threaten me, you better be ready to back it up!"

"Yeah, he's threatening you," said a man with an extravagant moustache from the covered wooden walkway in front of the Bootjack. His right hand dropped to the holster at his hip and came up holding a six-shooter aimed straight at Gobby. "An' I'll back up his threats for him."

The gun was also aimed straight at Silas. Silas stepped back into the shadows of the covered walkway in front of the rooming house and edged out of the line of fire. A handful of men from the saloon next door, the Rusty Widow, came trickling out to see what was going on. Gobby stood up slowly, turning to face the moustached man with the gun. He was now also holding a gun. "Well, Winnard?" he said. "You think you can beat me?"

"I can --"

A shot fired from right next to Silas. Winnard tumbled back against the wall of the Bootjack and collapsed. More men came pouring out from both saloons, guns drawn. Holding onto his hat, Silas dove aside as gunfire exploded from both sides of the street.

And then -- a wild burst of magical power, panicked and uncontrolled, and close by. The rogue mage? That power didn't have the same flavor, the same feel to it as the brief flares of power that had led him to Bitterbush Springs. Silas started to raise his head to look around, then a bullet split a board in the wall of the rooming house not one arm-length above him. Throwing up a protective shield would slow down the bullets enough that they would do little harm, but it would also give away his presence to any other mages who might be around, so Silas pressed himself even flatter against the boards of the sidewalk. He lay flat against the wooden walkway, praying to the Defender that the unwritten law of the Wildings that it was an even worse crime to kill a horse than a man would keep Abenar safe.

All at once the gunfire stopped. "What's all this, boys?" a deep, resonant voice called out from nearby.

Now Silas raised his head. Three or four men lay sprawled in the dirt of the street, unmoving. The fighters who were still standing had all lowered their guns and were looking at a man standing in front of the Rusty Widow. He was tall, with a hearty build, handsome, pale face, and luxuriant black moustache. He wore a finely-fashioned black suit and black flat-brimmed hat, and had a lace-and-ruffle-bedecked house lady clinging to each arm. Silas got to his knees, made sure his hat was still in place, and stood, brushing dust from his long brown coat. He kept close to the wall, in the shadows of the overhang, curious about this man who had the power to stop a gunfight just by appearing.

"Dinsin threatened me, Mr. Carden, sir," Gobby said. "Me an' my friends was just defending ourselves."

"Go back inside, my dears," the black-suited man, Carden, said to the house ladies. "No need to worry yourselves." The ladies retreated into the saloon, and Carden stepped down from the wooden walkway into the street. He stood in front of Gobby, shaking his head. "Don't tell me you went into the Bootjack again, Gobby," he said. "You know damn well that's rancher territory. You're stupid enough to keep going in there, you deserve whatever you get." Though the words were harsh, the deep voice was genial. The crispness of a Granadaian accent underlaid his informal Wildings speech.

"When are you gonna start paying us for the ore that was taken off our land, Carden?" Winnard, the wounded man in front of the Bootjack, shouted. The right shoulder of his shirt was soaked with blood, but judging by the anger in his voice, he was a long way from dead.

"If you have a difference with me, Winnard, I'd be happy to discuss it peacefully," Carden replied in the same friendly manner. "There's no need for anyone to be shooting anyone else."

Two men helped Winnard up, and they and several other men who had come from the Bootjack walked over to Carden and started arguing with him. A small man with a silver sword-shaped badge pinned to his shirt came over as well, but he stood back and remained silent.

Silas couldn't make out what the men were saying. He looked around, wondering who had been responsible for that explosion of magic. Further down the street, towards the east end of town, in the direction the burst of power had come from, he spotted a boy hunkered down behind a barrel, arms wrapped around his knees. Silas walked over, taking care to avoid attracting the attention of the angry men.

When he reached the barrel, he saw that what he had taken for a boy or youth was actually a small, slender young woman wearing men's clothing -- brown canvas pants, a green plaid shirt, boots, and a straw hat with a curved brim like those favored by cowhands. A long braid of light reddish-brown hair trailed down her back from under the hat. She had her face buried against her knees and she was shaking badly.

"I think they're done for the day," Silas said. "It's safe to come out now. You okay?"

Abruptly, as though startled, she raised her head and looked up at him out of wide hazel eyes, set in a delicate, pale face with a dusting of freckles across her nose. Slowly, she took a deep breath and seemed to relax. "Yeah," she said. "I'm okay. I just hate it when they start shooting like that."


When Silas met Lainie... And the rest, as they say, is history :D

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Book Review: The Sacred Band

Picture
The Sacred Band, by Janet E. Morris and Chris Morris
* * * * * (5 stars)

(I was gifted with a copy of this book by the author for the purpose of giving an honest review.)

I really didn't know what to expect with The Sacred Band when the author requested a read-and-review. I was not familiar with the Thieves World shared fantasy world and the book looks like it's based on Greek history and mythology, perhaps even set in ancient Greece, which isn't really my thing, but it looked intriguing so I decided to give it a go, and I'm glad I did.

The Sacred Band is an exciting and deeply emotional epic fantasy about a band of warriors, dedicated to each other as brothers, who find themselves in a battle to restore their integrity and right some old imbalances in their world. It touches on ancient Greece, when the Sacred Band of Stepsons comes to our world to save a group of otherwise-doomed Theban warriors (in an incident based on a historical battle). Then the action returns to Thieves World, a world where gods and demigods, wizards and mortals interact in a struggle for control. A member of the Sacred Band of Stepsons then commits a terrible crime, stirring up other forces and bringing old tensions and imbalances to a head in a great, epic, magical battle.

The writing is gorgeous, rich, colorful, and emotional. It slips between present and past tense, which at first I found confusing. But when I got used to it, the passages in present tense gave a very immediate and impressionistic feeling to the story.

This book is a later stand-alone novel that follows an earlier trilogy (beginning with Beyond Sanctuary). The author recommended that I start with The Sacred Band, and I was able to pick up on the characters, setting, and backstory pretty well, but I might have had an easier time understanding who the characters are, what they want and what drives them, and what was at stake for them, if I had started with the earlier trilogy. The Beyond trilogy is now on my TBR list, and I'm looking forward to catching up with the characters and events before The Sacred Band.

It took me a while to really get a grasp on the characters, again because I was coming into their story later on, but eventually each one stood out to me as an individual, well-drawn character. I particularly liked Niko (although a brief mention of his activities in a brothel left me somewhat less sympathetic and admiring of him than maybe the reader is intended to be), and Kouras, one of the youngest Stepsons. There are a number of admirable female characters as well, though I was a little disappointed that they are all goddesses or other supernatural beings. There is no major female character who is an ordinary mortal. Thieves World appears to be very much a man's world, with ordinary women being relegated to the roles of dancing girls, servants, and prostitutes.

For a 5-star review, this review seems to have a lot of reservations, but in the end, despite the difficulties I had with the book, I couldn't put it down. It's a long book and it took me a while because I was reading it during a particularly busy period, but every chance I got, I picked it up just to read a little more to find out how the characters were doing and what happened next. I was deeply emotionally touched by the honor and loyalty that the members of the Sacred Band feel for each other, and intrigued enough by the characters, events, and world that I'm looking forward to reading the trilogy that comes before.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Author Spotlight: Sharon Stevenson

Picture
Once again I'm happy to welcome Sharon Stevenson, here today on her blog tour with Saskia Book Tours. First up is a character interview with Devon Parrish, one of the characters from the Gallows series. He's Sarah Gallows's best friend, and grows to have a more important role later on in the series. And then read on for an overview of Sharon's Gallows series of paranormal novels. Finally, don't forget to enter the giveaway for a free copy of Demon Divided or a $25 Amazon gift card!
Picture
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
Devon Parrish, but just call me Dev, seriously. *sigh* No, man, there's nothing significant about it, other than it sucks and not in a good way.

2. How old are you?

Age is just a number, unless you're underage and then it's a very important number.  I'm only 23...  Oh, okay I just turned 24 in February.

3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?

Mum bakes an awesome breakfast on Sundays but she still waits up all night when I'm out; she worries way too much.

Dad gives me the nod when I bring an 'overnight guest' home and he doesn't give me shit for being hungover.

My family are pretty great.  They're older parents but that just means they're happy they met each other in time to have me.

Lucky them :)

4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?

Eh...  Is it bad that I don't actually remember?  Must have been some drunk chick at a high school party.

5. What is your occupation?

Bleh, I'm part of the Prentice n' Parrish technical helpline which means I get to explain computers to a load of crabbit old gits in town.  I paint and draw when I have time to myself so maybe, when I grow up, I'll be a graphic novel artist...

Hey, a guy can dream.

6. What are your best and worst qualities?

Well I don't want to brag but I do pretty well with the ladies.  Some people might call me a man-whore.  I'd give those people a high five.

I don't like to focus on negatives.  I think I'm pretty awesome.

7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?

My 'romantic partners' don't stick around too long for me to figure that kind of thing out.  I'm not looking for anything serious but it might be nice to have an actual girlfriend sometime.  I'd probably have to fall out of love with Sarah first though so it's probably going to be a while.

8. What is your favorite thing to do?

Get high, drink, go out and get off with women.  Or hang out on Sarah's couch watching shitty horror movies.

Y'know, whatever.

9. What is your greatest fear?

Sheesh.  Drag that up why don't you?  I've been used by a demon and I'm pretty sure that means I'm going to hell when I die.

Man, why'd you have to bring that up?  What a downer.

10. What is your most treasured possession?

Possessions don't mean that much to me.  I do have a ring my gran gave me before she passed on but its just sitting in a drawer, gathering dust.  I was instructed to give it to a 'special lady' but I have to find one of those first so...

I guess I don't have any treasured possessions.


Picture
Book 1: Blood Bound19-year-old twin demon trackers Shaun and Sarah Gallows are used to running into trouble - mostly the kind with fangs - but while Sarah embraces her powers to their fullest extent, trusting her instincts implicitly, Shaun distances himself from his abilities and can do little more than despair at his sister’s reckless nature and idly back her up.

When they come across 17-year-old Melissa Carling, a demon tracker who’s been torturing innocent super-naturals, they know they have to stop her. Sarah is desperate to punish Melissa for what she’s been doing but Shaun’s instant attraction to the girl points to a soul-mate bond stronger than anything he’s ever had to fight before…


(Read Kyra's review of Blood Bound!)

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Picture
Book 2: Demon Divided
***This is the second in the Gallows series of novels - the following description contains spoilers***

Twin demon trackers Shaun & Sarah Gallows are getting used to dealing with supernatural threats...

Six months after Sarah's reckless choice, she is struggling to deal with what she has done and trying to find a way to break free from the demon bond she has made. She finds out the vampire lied about his maker and she's faced with more difficult decisions.

Clueless to what his sister is going through, Shaun has been spending time in White Oaks on the pretence of training with his parents. He’s determined to find out who Elle’s working for, and he’s thinking about asking her out, maybe.

A new threat surfaces in White Oaks and the twins have to neutralise it before things get out of hand, and before the Council find out. It would just be another day's work, if Shaun wasn't being accused of murder and Sarah wasn't being driven to distraction by her demon..

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Picture
Book 3: Fate Fallen
***This is the third book in the series and as such the following contains spoilers for the first books***

Shaun & Sarah Gallows are demon trackers, hunting down and dispatching supernatural threats by order of their Council.

A few months past their twentieth birthday, Shaun takes Elle to Shadows Grove to check out the site of the brutal murder he's become obsessed with. The ill advised trip starts unlocking his own past and the mystery of his destiny begins to unravel.

Sarah realises she needs to train Ray to keep him safe. When her mother finds out she took him on a job, she gives Sarah an ultimatum that forces her rethink their relationship.

Amazon | Smashwords

Picture
Book 4: Curse Corrupted
***This is the fourth in the Gallows series of novels - the following description contains spoilers***

Twin demon trackers Shaun and Sarah Gallows are used to dealing with supernatural threats but what happens when that threat comes from within?

The twins are in the middle of a murder case when Shaun is captured by werewolves. Suddenly his future as a tracker is in question. Faced with the choice of remaining as he is and continuing to serve both the Council and the Seelie Court, or becoming a werewolf powerful enough to be an Alpha and gaining a life with a mate he is already attracted to, Shaun is conflicted. His werewolf curse was corrupted after he was ravaged in battle and now a witch has removed the corruption. He has days before his first shift takes all choice away from him and he becomes wolf. Can he make his decision in time, or will it be taken out of his hands?

Meanwhile Ben has come back into Sarah’s life and is attempting to prove he has changed. She isn’t sure if she can trust him but when it comes right down to it she may have no choice. When she is marked for death she must find a way to defeat a demon and avoid being dragged to hell without the use of her physical fighting skills. Her demon bond might be the key to her survival, but can she trust War to look after her best interests when he could have her to himself in hell?

***Be warned these books are Adult Modern Fantasy, not YA. They are not suitable for younger readers as they contain profanity & sexual references.

Amazon | Smashwords

Picture
About the Author:
I'm your typical reclusive author type. Anti-social in person, but I love tweeting online friends! I love my laptop, probably a bit too much mind you.
If you want to know more, check out my website or follow me on twitter.
I'm a reader and enjoy finding new indie authors to follow - there are so many good ones out there! I'm fairly new to posting reviews but I do try to be fair and honest and will not post anything less than 3 stars, as if it is not at least that good I just won't finish it.

Where to find Sharon:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Weekend Sneak Peek 5/3: Chosen of Azara

Welcome to this weekend's Sneak Peek! Today we're going back to Chosen of Azara, as Princess Juzeva meets her new husband, the man she's being married to for political purposes, for the first time (Ilvana is her mother, the queen):

Picture
“And here is Idan, Crown Prince of the Madrinan Empire,” Ilvana said. She gestured towards the young man standing between the Emperor and his advisor. “Your future husband.” Prince Idan was tall and well-built, with red hair, a strong-boned, handsome face, and clear green eyes. His clothes and armor were less elaborate and more practical-looking than his father’s. Though he was young and handsome, his expression was grim.

This was the man she was to spend the rest of her life with, the man who would be the father of the children she had never planned to have. Fighting back a sudden urge to flee from the room, Juzeva curtsied to him.

The Prince stepped forward and bowed to her, then spoke in formal, carefully-pronounced Savarunan. “My lady Juzeva, I know this duty is difficult for you, as it is for me. We are both forced to give up our own desires for the sake of peace between our lands. But I promise you that from now on I will look forward, not back, in the hope that we can be, if not happy, at least content with our destiny.”

Juzeva hadn’t expected such a courtly speech. The Prince had clearly spent a great deal of time practicing it, and Juzeva found herself moved by the effort. If nothing else, she would be married to a gentleman. She bowed her head to him, grateful for his courtesy and thoughtfulness. “I thank you, Prince Idan. I too will do my best to make our union a successful one.”

She watched the Prince take his place beside his father again. Her gaze slid past Sajur Golu’s face just as the priest was hiding a look of deep contempt. Another prickle of revulsion or fear, or both, crept up her spine.

“Let us be done with this, then,” Queen Ilvana said. She and Ezdar moved to a table which stood beneath the great middle window, where a scribe waited with the marriage and peace treaties. The scribe began reading the documents out loud. Juzeva didn’t bother to pay close attention; it made no difference whether or not she knew what they said. The terms had all been worked out already. She had had no say in them, and her opinion and consent had not been asked. The essence of the agreements was that, in exchange for a marriage-link to the Savaru royal family, which would bring with it a significant voice on the Queen’s Council and a healthy portion of the profits from Savaru’s rich fishing, farming, handcraft, and mining enterprises, the Madrinan Empire promised to not run its armies over the land. A bloodless defeat for Savaru, a quick and cheap victory for the Empire.


Chosen of Azara is available at:
Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Barnes & Noble | CreateSpace
Apple | Smashwords | OmniLit

For more Sneak Peeks, visit the Sneak Peek Sunday blog. #SPeekSunday on Twitter and Facebook.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Daughter of the Wildings Revision Progress

Picture
With Sarya's Song out now, I'm finally able to turn my attention full-time to revising Daughter of the Wildings. Which makes me really happy: finally I get to start turning the first drafts I wrote into the books I want them to be!

I started out by analyzing the whole series, diagnosing problems with plot, worldbuilding, character development and stuff like that. This is a picture of my binder with the printout of Daughter of the Wildings when I first started that process.

Picture
So that took about three months, splitting my writing time with Sarya's Song. Then I just worked on Sarya's Song for about the next month and a half, getting it ready for release. Once Sarya's Song was out, I made the revision cards for Daughter of the Wildings. I make an index card for each scene as I want it to appear in the revised version of the novel, with a summary of the scene and its purpose in the story. On the back I list the major issues that need to be addressed in the revision of that scene. Then I color-code each card, to show an estimate of how much work each scene is going to need - up to 25% (green), 25%-50% (yellow), 50-75% (orange), and 75% to complete rewrite or new scene (pink). This stage was a lot faster than the analysis stage, and only took a couple of weeks. This is a picture of my lovely stack of DoW revision cards. You'll notice that many pads of Post-Its gave themselves to the cause, especially yellow and orange.

Picture
Once that was done, I got to start the fun part - actually marking up the manuscript. And here is where I really realized how much my initial ideas about the characters and the story changed from when I started Book 1 to when I finished Book 6. Usually, my estimates for how much work each scene needs are pretty accurate, but so far this revision has called for a lot more work than I thought it would. "Green" and "yellow" scenes, that I thought would need changes to less than half of the scene, have ended up completely obliterated with red ink.

Here's the first page of Book 1 of Daughter of the Wildings, with lovely red scribbles, scrawls, arrows, lots of words crossed out, and some blue ink where I changed something and then changed my mind about the change. And this page is pretty clean compared to a lot of the pages I've done since then. The numbers down the sides are references to my notes; I have hundreds of pages of notes and thousands of individual revision notes for this series.

The great thing about revising this way, analysis - plan - markup, is you discover all the issues with your manuscript and figure out what to do about them before you ever start in with the red pen, so that you don't get halfway through and then *forehead slap* realize that subplot isn't working or this character's development is way off. I'm still making changes to my plan as I go, but it's easy to go into my notes and update them. I still refer to my notes as I do the markup; the summaries on the cards give me an idea of the major changes that have to be made. I do those, then go back and check on the more detailed changes that I put in my notes. Half the time, those changes don't apply any more because I already re-wrote that whole section while making the big changes.

Picture
And so it goes. After a little more than a week of working on the markup and type-in, I'm about 1/3 through Book 1. This stage is going to take at least a couple of months; hopefully, it'll start going faster after Book 1 because I won't need to make as many major changes to bring the later books into consistency. (Real life issues, including a bad flare-up of my fatigue, also slowed things down over the last week or so.) In the meantime, I'm going to start scaring up some test readers, and I'm putting the lettering on the covers. Here's the prototype for the cover for Book 1 with the lettering. I kind of hate having to put lettering all over the gorgeous art, but if I have to, I think this is kind of cool. I'm open to feedback, though. Cool, or not?

Also, I haven't had the reveal for the cover art for Book 6 yet, so watch for that in a week or so!

(Note:
I revise using the method taught in Holly Lisle's How To Revise Your Novel online course. That's my affiliate link, and I'm an affiliate for that course and recommend it every chance I get because if you want to publish your writing, whether self or traditional, it's the best $250 you can spend on your writing.)