Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Viking WIP Snippets

 


Hi guys! 

I come bearing gifts! A blogpost containing something other than book reviews. Scream and shout for joy! 


I just passed the 25k mark on the Viking story yesterday. It’s both exhilarating, and depressing. Eight months of working on this thing and that’s all the farther I’ve gotten? Then again, fifteen thousand of those words were written in the last month and a half. So I’m gonna focus on that. 


With that lovely milestone fresh off my keyboard, I thought it would be fun to share some snippets from the story. 


If you haven’t already heard the gist of the story, here is the unofficial blurb. 


When a band of raiders descend on the island, kidnapping all of the healers, Ailith is willing to do anything to get her mother back—even sail with the invaders to their country to try and stop the sickness that is sweeping through their people. But the kingdom’s own witch doctor has other plans. The healers’ success means her downfall, and she doesn’t intend to lose.


———————


The bone hooks are smooth from heavy use and click together as I work. The gurgling is the river and rustling leaves creates a steady music the musicians are always trying to imitate but can’t come close to. 

It should bring calm to my soul, but instead it feels like the river is flowing through my stomach, and my thoughts are as stable as the water. 

There’s another sound on the wind. Faint and distant. It’s rhythmic and haunting, like a chant, but I can’t identify any words. I tip my head, trying to hear more, but it’s gone in the next gust, just a trick of the wind and my tangled emotions. 


———————


Keavy jerks toward the trees suddenly, her wings poised ready for flight. A horse nickers above the noise of the falls.

I freeze and scan the shadowed tree trunks along the river. There is nowhere to hide and I slide my sword from its scabbard slowly, careful not to let the metal ring. 

“Put that away.” Kade rides out of the trees, leading another horse.

“You’re supposed to be with the boys.” I yank my collar back into place so he doesn’t see the bite. We don’t have time to take care of it.

“I’m not their shield partner.”


——————


He lets out a long low whistle and four Stri materialize from the brush like spirits taking on flesh. They appraise me with wary eyes and I told perfectly still. This is no time to make any sudden moves. 

“She says she’s alone,” my captor says. “Make sure.”

“Do you think she’s the traitor?” A ruddy faced boy with flaxen hair asks. He doesn’t look old enough for the earring marking him as an adult, but the bloodlust in his voice is no child’s. 

———


As a little girl I’d always thought he was unbreakable, but he’d cried. He’d cried for days and I remember how badly it scared me. My best friend was undone and wounded in a way all of Mim’s healing couldn’t fix. And I vowed to protect him from ever being hurt like that ever again. 

——————


I turn to the young man. “He’s my shield partner. We’ll be back by tomorrow morning.”

“I don’t think you realize who is in charge here.” He smiles patronizingly, like I’m a stupid child who won’t learn her lessons. “You be back by morning. He’s staying here. If you get any bad ideas about trying to bring poison instead of medicine, or trying to get help, he’ll be right here with me to suffer the consequences.”

—————


There is a place for a bonfire, and someone arrives moments later with a forth and lights the wood that’s already waiting. I squint against the dancing flames but there’s nothing about the cracklings sparks that is reassuring. The heat reaches for my skin, and sweat slicks my brow. The tongues lick hungrily at the air, waiting for an offering of human flesh. And the light illuminated the rough wooden benches surrounding us, offering a perfect view of the entire spectacle. 

————


Coilin pushes the door open and motions me forward. “Let’s go before someone changes their mind and decides to kill you now.”

I tuck the bag of herbs under my arm. “Right behind you.”

———-


My hand slides around the knife in his belt and the blade hisses as I whip it out of its sheath. “You’re not going to stop me.” I swing into the saddle and point the knife at him. “I’m going.”

He stares at me and I meet his gaze, waiting for a challenge, or an attempt to take the knife back. But he just shakes his head and mounts his own horse. “I’m coming too.”

“They told me I have to come alone,” I protest. I can’t afford to anger them in any way.

“Then I’ll wait out of sight. I’m not letting you charge into a band of murderers with my knife and a pack full of herbs as your only defense.”

————-


Their leader walks toward me, but the witch intercepts me first. Her painted black lips part, revealing teeth filed to wicked points. “So much work, just to pay for your own death.”

“Ani.” The leader sets a hand on her shoulder and juts his chin back toward the group. “Let us see what she has to offer before you go tearing her throat out, hmm?”

She casts him a heated look beneath her kohl caked lashes, but the corner of her mouth curls up in the faintest of smiles. “I can wait.”

Bile rises in my throat and I pull back on the reins. “We have an agreement.”

He turns to me and smiles. “So we do. But I also have an agreement with her, and I happen to love her.”

———


“You came alone?” Kade asks, and I glance over at Arran.

He nods. “The elders couldn’t get anything out of the warrior they captured. He didn’t speak our language. They wanted to go after them, but with so many in our village gone there weren’t enough. A rider was heading for Cladach for help when I left.” His eyes slide over to mine. “I was worried about you.”

“I’m touched,” Kade says flatly. 

———



I’m so happy this story is finally starting to take shape and come together. My goal was to have it done this month but...that might be a bit lofty. We shall see what happens. 


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

The Heart of Betrayal Book Review

 



Hey guys! 

Man, Wednesday’s just sneak up too fast. 


We’re smack dab in the middle of harvest right now, so I’m just going to keep shoving book reviews at you for now. Hopefully in a few weeks I’ll have time and brain cells to talk about other topics. 


Today is my five star review of The Heart of Betrayal, the second book in Mary E. Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles. 


I’m going to try to not include any big spoilers, but it is the second book so some spoilers are just going to be unavoidable. Proceed with caution. 


The Blurb:


Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia's life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar's interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.


Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There's Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country... and her own destiny.


The Plot: 

This book guys. I am notorious for hating the second/middle book in a series. But this one could very well be my favorite book in the entire series. The world building of Venda is fantastic. So often these dry “evil” kingdoms are painted in earth tones, but this one was such a fun colorful landscape. The Komizar is one of my favorite villains of all time, and he really made the plot. More about him later, but suffice to say, this book keeps you on your toes. There are so many twists and turns, and everyone is trying to outguess each other, and even though in this book, we know who everyone is, you still aren’t really sure who you can trust. 


The Characters:


I want to go on record saying I love Kaden, and always was and will be team Kaden. For good measure, the Kaden bookish candle I bought smells just like my husbands cologne. It’s pretty much a sign. 


Lia and Rafe continued to deliver fun, heartbreaking, mind numbing, infuriating fun. 


But my favorites (aside from my teddy bear, Kaden) are Rafe’s team of friends. These guys are such a motley crew of misfits, and absolutely hilarious. I love everything about them. 


The real star of the show in this book though , in my opinion,  is the Komizar. I love him. And not in an “oh I have a crush on the bad boy” way. No. He is just such an excellent villain. He’s bad. So bad. But he makes sense. And his people fear him. But his people also love him. The amount of control, and cunning he has is absolutely entrancing to read and I was so desperate to figure him out. I feel like I need to launch a full investigation on him so I can learn how to write a villain that compelling. This past year I’ve become really interested in mind games and physiological warfare (as a writer. I’m not a psycho), and he is such a master of it. It’s so refreshing to read a book where the villain really is a handful (stringer even) than the heroes. The stakes went through the roof. 


That’s all I have for you today! I’m off to make dinner for the harvest crew. I’ll try to be better about answering comments. Enjoy your week! 

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Kiss of Deception Book Review


Hi guys! Remember a few weeks ago when I said I’d been reading a lot? That was a warning for all these book reviews I’ve been posting. 


Today’s model is The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Five stars. 


The Blurb:


In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.


On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love. 


The Plot: 


I actually don’t like this blurb because it makes the book sound like a cliche, and I didn’t find it cliche at all. Now, there are tropes. Runaway princess, arranged marriage, love triangle. But they’re done exceptionally well in my opinion, each with a unique twist. 


The Characters:

These hooligans kept me up all night. Several times. I think I read the entire series in a week. 


Lia is a tough lead, but she’s also got some very vulnerable, and very feminine attributes, which I appreciate. I love the fact that she’s a full fledged princess and completely content to just throw that life away to become a waitress. 

And she would have succeeded too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids.


Enter Rafe and Kaden. I’ve got bookish candles for each of them if that gives you any hints at how much I like them. What was so stinking fun about this book is that these chapters are written from the point of view of The Assassin and The Prince. No names. So you’re left guessing for a long time and have no idea which one is planning to kill her and which one is planning to marry her (boys and their horrible communication). It’s brilliant. 


There’s a slew of amazing supporting characters too. The inn keeper, Lia’s best friend. I loved them all. 


Have you read this series yet? Do you like a good love triangle, or loath their existence? 


 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Caraval Book Review


 

Hi guys!


Fun story. Last summer I started a book that everyone was hyped about. I got one chapter in, decided I hated it, and didn’t finish it. 

Today, I’m giving that same book a five star review. 


The Blurb:


Scarlett Dragna has never left the tiny island where she and her sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval—the faraway, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show—are over.


But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt-of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.


Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless she becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic. 


The Plot:


The plot to this book was so fun. Knowing the tag line—remember, it’s only a game—had me suspicious of literally everything. It was a really interesting ride of twists and turns, where some of the things that seemed perfectly ordinary were some of the biggest tricks, and then other things I was positive were important turned out to be completely ordinary. 


This is one of the first books in a long time that I didn’t guess the outcome long before finishing it, and the ending left so many strings to tie up that it just makes a person want to dive right into the next book.


The Characters: 


Scarlett makes an interesting leading lady. It seems like most of the books I read have girls who’s flaw is to dive into things without thinking. Scarlett has the opposite problem. I spent a good part of the book screaming at her to just do something. Anything. It definitely kept a person in suspense. 


Tella perfectly captures that youngest child attitude and it’s fun to see how the two sisters bounce off each other. 


Julian. Ah, Julian. I started out hating him, then liking him, and it just went back and forth about a thousand times. The perfect book boyfriend. 


I could go on about Legend, how despite not being on the page much (at all?) his character came through so delightfully in all of his schemes with the games. I really liked getting to see some of the letters he wrote too. Dante, with all his tattoos and his vain personality is quite possibly my favorite. Tragic that. 


Really the one point that needs to be drove across is just how aesthetic this book is. From the main cast, all the way down to the background characters who only appear for a scene or two, each and every one of them had such a beautiful, obvious aesthetic. The author did a fantastic job of painting this magic dipped world, where the beauty is on perfect display, with evil undertones coloring the shadows, all without it becoming sensory overload. 


Spot on. 


Wednesday, September 23, 2020

All the Stars and Teeth Book Review


 


Hey guys!


Today I’m reviewing All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace. I’ve had it for awhile, but finally got around to reading it this summer. 


Here is the blurb:



Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice.


She will reign.


As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer — the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.


When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.


But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder — and more peril — than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.


I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom. 



Cool right? I’m giving this book 4 stars. 


The plot: 


The idea of soul magic is very creepy, and the author did a fantastic job of making it such an aesthetic part of the culture. Really, the whole book is very aesthetic, weaving in bones and colors and of course pirates and ships, and delicious stuff like that. 


My only qualms were that the first chapter or two really dragged for me. It felt like I was being bombarded with world building, and all I knew about Amora was that she really wanted to sail, and it kind of made her a brat. There were also a few places where the wording threw me. The story world was so deep and captivating, and then a handful of modern sounding phrases were thrown in and it pulled me of the moment. 


That being said, the wording wasn’t the end of the world, and after chapter two things took off, and got moving. Then I couldn’t stop reading. And the world building was necessary to understand what happened next, so I’ll forgive it all being thrown into the first chapter. 


There were several fun plot twists that I didn’t see coming (keep an eye out on Bastian), and the entire magic system felt very fleshed out and in depth. I loved all the different cultures on each island, and the scene where the mermaid takes them underwater gave me goosebumps. 


The characters:


Like I mentioned, Amora starts out a bit of a brat. But that actually turns out to be a neat aspect of her character arc. In the beginning, she’s very much got the attitude of she’s the only one who can rule her people, in a very haughty way. By the end, she still thinks she’s the only one who can rule her people, which is really fun since I think it’s unusual for characters to not actually change their opinion by the end. But this time her attitude about it is much more humble, and urgent. She cares deeply about her people and wants to rule well. 


Bastian is very fun. I was expecting more of a pirate figure, and instead I got an injured puppy. Poor little guy. He just needs a hug. He does a good job of hiding it with his suave pirate facade though, which adds in plenty of humor. 


Amora’s fiancĂ© is a hoot. If nothing else it’s fun to watch (read?) him squirm at all the horrors Amora drags him through. The dude had his arm cut off for her. That’s some dedication right there. 


There is also a mermaid in the book (I’m sorry, I’m blanking on her name) and I love her. So much sass. So much vicious. She’s one of those characters that while she’s technically on the good guys’ side, you always get the feeling she could snap and kill them all at any moment. It’s thrilling. 


The sequel will be released next year, and I will absolutely be buying it. *my bookshelf wailing in the distance* 


Have you read this gritty fantasy? 


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Hiatus is Over


 Hello peoples! 

It’s been a minute, but I think it’s time to officially break my hiatus. 


Dare I even ask how your summer went? 


This year has been nothing short of a whirlwind. So many good things have happened. But so many awful things have happened too. 

On a small scale, my family is doing great, and life has been good. But it hurts my heart seeing the turmoil that this country and world is caught up in. Sometimes I wonder if maybe the world as we know it is just over. Then other times I hear about things that restore my faith in humanity. 


I missed you guys, but the break was much needed. I used the time off to recharge and adjust to life as a mom of two, watch good movies, spend absurd and lovely amounts of time outside, write, and read some fantastic books. In the future I’ll have some book reviews and some updates on The Queens Three for you. 


Today, I’ll catch you up on life. My little man is three now, and every day with him is an adventure. Sometimes a messy, overwhelming adventure, but an adventure nonetheless. Miss Lorie darlin’ is eight months (what??) and cruising along furniture like a pro. I’m sure walking is right around the corner. The arrival of a tooth robbed me of my perfect happy baby who sleeps all night, but I’m hoping the crabby season is behind us for now. 


I’m 25. Which is bizarre. How can I be old enough to be a quarter of a century? I feel eternally sixteen. Maybe that’s a good thing. 


I spent my evenings staying up till 2 in the morning watching Poldark, so if anyone has any tv recommendations similar to that to fill this void in my life, that would be great. 


In a nutshell, my summer could be summarized as a chicken coop roofing, garden tending, vegetable canning, flower planting, house updating, diapers and snuggles filled blur. And I loved it. 


It’s good to be back! Tell me about your summer. What did I miss?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Exciting News and the Subsequent Screaming



Hi guys! 
I break this hiatus to bring you exciting news—I signed with an agent! 



The Story: 

I believe I mentioned early this year that I pitched my Alice in Wonderland spinoff, The Queens Three, on Twitter during #FaithPitch. I got two requests from agents, so sent out my query letters to them. About that same time, another agent turned down Blood and Dust, but invited me to query her with a different project, since she liked my writing. So I sent her a query also. 

Within a week of #FaithPitch, both agents responded. One passed on the project, but let me know that she had passed it along to another agent she thought might like it—which was awesome of her. The second asked for a full. 

Fast forward a while, and I get an email from Kenzi Nevins, of Cyle Young Literary Elite (C.Y.L.E) asking to see the full. She had been passed my query from the original agent and was really intrigued. So I sent it to her and waited. 

Last week I got another email from her. Apparently her emails to me had been bouncing (horror of all horrors) but she was trying again because SHE WANTED TO REPRESENT ME AND MY BOOK. 

Cue the screaming. 

My mom wouldn’t answer the phone, and Jarod was excited but not exactly sure what I was talking about, but luckily I have some excellent writing friends to scream with (you gals are the best). 

After a good bit of screaming and some heart palpitations, we set up a time for a phone call, and had a lovely chat. I was terrified for the first 45 seconds, and then things calmed down and I felt really good by the end of the conversation. Kenzi is super easy to talk to, which is great. 

After the phone call I spoke with one of Kenzi’s other clients about what it’s like working with her, then emailed the two other agents to let them know I had an offer, which I’m told is standard query etiquette. 

The next day I heard back from both of them. Both had some very nice and helpful things to say about the book. One passed due to lack of time, and the other made her own offer of representation. 

Cue more screaming and heart palpitations. 

So I scoured the internet looking at agency websites, and recent books, and all that good stuff. I talked to some of my writing friends, my family, and prayed on it. 

After a few days of stewing on it, I emailed Kenzi to let her know I accepted her offer. 

*Happy Scream* 

She sent over the contract, I asked a few questions, and then ladies and gentlemen
 I SIGNED IT. 

I am THRILLED to be working with Kenzi, and so excited to start taking steps to bringing this (and hopefully many more) books to life.