WIPmarathon Check-in No. 18

July has been a weird month. It seemed to go so slowly and yet I can’t believe it’s almost over. Since I’ve been on summer holiday, I actually managed to get a pretty decent amount of writing done.

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 83,414

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 84, 615

Writing Issues This Month:

None really. I got stuck into the edits for Scardust at the beginning of the month and I managed to get them done a little ahead of schedule which gave me the rest of the month to tackle revisions on the YA fantasy. The fantasy is definitely not perfect yet, but edits for Scardust are back with my editors and the revised fantasy ms is now with my CPs so I don’t really know what to do with myself at the moment…

Things I learned this month:

1. Something I knew already, but editing is my favourite part of this process. While working through Scardust was emotionally draining, I also loved it because the book is definitely much better for the changes made.

2. Fantasy is hard! Every time I return to work on my ms, I realize how important all the details are and that getting those little details right require quite a bit of research.

3. Sometimes a lack of decent summer weather isn’t a bad thing if it means I stay inside and write :)

What distracted me this month while writing:

I guess technically edits distracted me from doing any actual writing, and technically revising the fantasy novel completely derailed my plans for writing the short story that’s due in August.

Goal for next month:

Write that short story I should’ve already written! August is also when I’ll be heading back to work and I know that’s going to be chaotic and intense at first, so I’m no putting any pressure on myself to get much writing done.

Last 200 words: I’m dying to share some of the more polished scenes from Scardust but I can’t yet and the last 200 words from the fantasy are way too spoilery so I’ll just have to skip this part this time…

That’s it for July, how did you do?

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The Scion by Guy T Martland

The Scion by Guy T Martland

Release Date:

July 1, 2015

The Scion cover

The aliens from your nightmares are coming. The colonies of Earth are next. And it looks like nothing can stop them.

A blue star, a dying friend, a kidnap and the dusty contents of an old room: Septimus Esterhazy’s life is about to change. As he blows cobwebs from the manual of an old spacecraft, hidden for decades, a Pandora’s box creaks open.

Little does he know that the universe’s very nature is being threatened by a powerful alien race. Nor does he know that he is somehow involved with why the Wraith, destroyers of worlds, are coming.

The self-proclaimed ‘Protectors of the Known Universe’, the Sassrit, are trying to do everything they can to thwart a Wraith attack. But time is running out and resources are stretched.

A Sassrit agent, one of the shapeshifting Jarthiala, is recruited to help. The path he follows leads to the doorstep of a planet called D, an Earth colony, above which a blue star hangs, its light reflected in the eyes of Septimus below.

This is a journey which will change Septimus Esterhazy forever. It will make him question his nature. He will uncover secrets about his family that have lain dormant for years. And it will test the loyalty of those closest to him.

But first he has to watch his best friend die.

Book Links:

Safkhet Publishing

Buy Links:

Amazon | Amazon UK

Excerpt:

The swirling, towering clouds of black which had gathered on the horizon didn’t look right. A writhing movement within them suggested something else, something more organic than a simple weather pattern. Bolts of lightning flickered from the cumuli, lightning that seemed to harness the entire colour spectrum: red one minute, purple the next, then an iridescent green. The light was reflected in the eyes of the onlookers on the shingle beach ridge, who cheered as one of the first warships roared overhead, heading into the fray.

Khail’s fear had escalated to a level where it was now numbness at the back of his mind. He knew better than most what these creatures could do. He’d seen their devastation first hand. But it was only now, standing on this beach and seeing them with his own eyes, that he knew it meant the probable end for Arkenthria. As if to mark this thought, the warship was hit by a sheet of lightning and exploded. A gasp of shock rippled through the crowd. The ensuing ball of fire arced onto the broiling sea, flames dancing over its surface until they were eventually extinguished by the waves.

His fellow Arkenthrians watched aghast as the eldritch cloud continued its approach unabated. Khail wondered how many actually knew what this was about, how he and his team had brought this upon them all. Would they be standing next to him in solidarity if they knew? The images of the mangled spacecraft – those that had made it – limping back to their planet had been broadcast to every home, as had the ceremonies for those lost. And then the images of the creatures which had done this, images that had struck terror into the heart of the planet, had filled their screens. The research on the creatures since the first attacks had been widely publicized: Khail’s department.

They’d gathered to face the oncoming disaster calmly, in unison, in a defiant although probably futile gesture. His wife stood to the left, his arm draped over her shoulder. She watched, eyes glued to the horizon. His two boys stood on either side, slightly confused by the adults’ strange behavior.

A blind man stood nearby, a priest, kissing the hands of the devoted in a final act of absolution. A strong gust of wind caught the man’s robes, flapping them around his thin body, before his tail whipped out to flick them back into place. Someone next to him then began to jump around in a spontaneous dance, a man from the local hippy commune. Nearby acolytes began to copy his motions, crunching around on the stones.

Khail shook his head, overcome with a desire to laugh. His scientific thinking was at odds with these people’s thoughts, sometimes even at odds with his wife’s more ‘spiritual view’ on life. He tried to contain it, but something inside burst, deep rolls of laughter booming out of his barrel chest. As people turned to look, his wife instinctively nudged him in the ribs. Her desire for them to fit in at such a time seemed to him more inappropriate than his outburst. But he stopped himself, the laughter replaced by a wave of sadness which crashed down, smothering everything. He turned around to look at the other faces, most of whom were staring ahead, waiting for the end, as they solemnly watched two more of Arkenthria’s prize warships get swatted out of the way of the incoming clouds.

Mixed emotions still ran through him when he thought of the strange man, the alien Huwred. He could hardly bring himself to think of his name – if that indeed was his name – but found himself looking up into the heavens, willing him away from the planet, hoping he’d escaped. There were bigger things afoot here than Arkenthria, this Huwred had made him see that. There was a whole delicate tapestry out there, mysteries woven into its fabric; mysteries that he, Khail would now never see. At least Huwred had shown him that, and had shown him how important a part he’d played in the whole thing. He’d just been too late to save his own planet, to save Arkenthria.

The clouds started to approach with greater speed as they scudded across the ocean, but the perspective looked wrong. The sun remained hidden in the overcast sky, a faint bright blur in their cover. As they approached, they ceased to be clouds and became an edgy swarm: thousands of black winged creatures, swirling around with a furious energy. Their wings and talons were clear, but their torsos were blurs of darkness, hurting the eye when it tried to focus. People on the beach began to wail, plaintive sounds that seemed to carry the basest human emotions in their tone. The cries of a small child rose in reply, clearly oblivious to what lay ahead, but detecting the growing unease of the surrounding adults. Those who’d started the crazed dancing stopped abruptly.

Part of the cloud burst forward, expelling a shard of coloured fire, which flickered as it tried to hold onto reality, before crashing into the ocean. The impact caused the sea to swell and rise, a wall of water coursing toward the pebbled shore. To Khail, everything seemed to slow, as fear put a brake on time. More buds broke off from the swarm, issuing similar evanescent bolts of flame. Groups of the creatures descended from the heavens, attacking the beach directly.

The sky turned dark as the Wraith swooped over them. The wind ceased, and there was a sudden hush across the water. Then an impression of sound, rising in volume: the clattering of the creatures’ wings, like bones being crushed in an ossuary. Khail closed his eyes, held his head back as the sea exploded onto the beach. He felt a wing glance his cheek and pulled his wife and sons tighter to him. Searing pain scythed across his back and he was thrown forward, his wife and sons torn from his grip. He saw a black talon and glimpsed a blurred, cowled head, mucus dripping from its angry maw. A black flash of pain, followed by the water cracking like a whip, then seconds later, Khail was gone forever.

Space moves inexorably slowly. On its wide canvas, one hundred and twenty six years pass in an instant. And then, in the vicinity of a planet called D, a blue star blossoms into life. At almost exactly the same time, perhaps separated by a few milliseconds, something similar happens in a nearby system. Above a planet called Sanrelick, the natives look up and see a heavenly body bursting into existence, its wavelength the same. However, unlike the inhabitants of D, for those on Sanrelick, this event is something they’ve been expecting. And for some of them, it may be the defining moment of their lives.

Guy-martlandAbout the Author:

Guy T Martland has been writing Science Fiction since he was a teenager. The flow of adolescent words was interrupted by a medical degree at Trinity College, Cambridge. He subsequently qualified and then became a pathologist, because he had a thing about cells and microscopes.
Guy’s stories have been published in various places, including Noesis, Xenos, Lexikon, Jupiter SF, Bento Box and Albedo 2.0. He is an alumnus of the Milford SF course. He has also occasionally been known to publish poetry.
He lives in Bournemouth, close to where Robert Louis Stevenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and a few miles from where Mary Shelley is buried. Also living under the same roof are his fiancée Darya and a grumpy Scottish fold cat called Gordon.
At 6’8″ Guy is one of the tallest Science Fiction writers in the world. He can sometimes be seen riding around Bournemouth and Poole dressed in unfashionable fluorescent clothing on an extremely large bicycle, which has been likened to a gate. On Friday evenings he usually scrapes away at a 19th century fiddle with a local orchestra, before going to the pub to sink a few pints of Boondoggle. His collection of vinyl records is extensive, and he has a Cure T-shirt for every day of the fortnight.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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Writing Wednesdays – A Writerly Update

WritingWednesdays

#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. Since I missed last week again (I’m terrible at this) I’ll fill you in on the last two weeks.

1.  I finished edits on Scardust – woo! This was an emotionally draining endeavour but I’m thrilled with the editorial direction this book has taken and I really do think it’s a much better book for all the edits.

2.  I started major revisions on the 83k word YA fantasy novel. This is a behemoth task. This story world I’ve created is complicated and trying to keep it all in my head just wasn’t working, so I created multiple spreadsheets detailing everything: magic, burial rites, languages, style of dress, style of fighting… yeah, there’s a lot to remember. There’s also a lot of research required to get all these details right.

3. When not writing, I’m researching: everything from the ecosystems found in Africa’s volcanic lakes to kukri fighting techniques to how gendered pronouns are or are’t used in Indo-Aryan languages. I’m kinda loving it, but I have a new found respect for fantasy writers, because this is some epic hard work people!

My goal for the week is to continue revisions on the YA fantasy – which currently has many working titles! Maybe you can help. Which title would make you want to pick up the book most:

1) Impundulu
2) The Lightning Bird
3) Of Light and Shadow
4) The Keeper of Memory

How has your writerly week been going?

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Waiting-On-2016!

WO2016

Waiting-On-2016 or #WO2016 is a support group for authors of MG, YA and NA books releasing in 2016. We are a diverse group of indie and trad published authors who have come together to support each other and help spread the word about our titles. You can follow us by following the tag #WO2016 on Twitter and Instagram. We’ll be hosting some themed chats on Twitter and will probably be hosting future events on Facebook too, so watch this space!

In the mean time, I’d like to introduce you to all our currently participating authors and their 2016 releases. Be sure to mark your calendars people, there are some fantastic books heading your way next year!

Spring

Megan O’Russell
The Dragon Unbound
The Tethering Series
YA Urban Fantasy
Silence in the Library

Jessica Gunn
Gyre
NA science fantasy
Curiosity Quills Press

Katie Kennedy
Learning to Swear in America
YA Contemp – sci-fi cross-over
Bloomsbury

S.T. Bende
Perfekt Control
The Aere Saga series
Upper YA paranormal

Vicki L. Weavil
Facsimile
YA science fiction
Month9Books

Dorothy Dreyer
My Frayed Eternity (working title)
Reaper’s Rite series
YA dark paranormal
Month9Books

Summer
Melanie McFarlane
There Once Were Stars
YA dystopian
Month9Books

Pintip Dunn
The Darkest Lie
YA contemp thriller
Kensington Teen

Amy McNulty
Nobody’s Lady
The Never Veil Series
YA romantic fantasy
Month9Books

J. C. Davis
Cheesus was Here
YA contemp
Flux

Emily Cox and Nicole Allen
Magic 8
YA contemp
Swoon Romance

Stacey Mosteller
TBC
NA contemp
Swoon Romance

Fall

Tobie Easton
Emerge
YA contemp fantasy
Month9Books

Louise Gornall
Rose Tainted Skies (working title)
YA contemp
HMH/Clarion

Suzanne van Rooyen
Scardust
NA science fiction
Entangled

Lauren K. McKellar
TBC
NA contemp

Emma L. Adams
TBC
YA fantasy

Jennifer Bardsley
Blank Slate
YA spec fic
Month9Books

Bethany C Morrow
The Last Life of Avrilis
YA spec fic
Month9Books

This list will be updated as new authors join us or as new deals are struck! Follow our hashtag and be the first to hear about cover reveals, trailers, teasers and more! 2016 is going to be a fantastic year for books :)

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Discovering Delilah Release Day!


HARBORSIDE NIGHTS is a sexy, hot, and evocatively real New Adult Romance series that follows a group of friends who have known one another for years as “summer” friends, and now come together after college to build their lives. They’re tough, edgy, and accepting—most of the time. This series is written in the loving, raw, and emotional voice readers have come to love by New York Times & USA Today bestselling, award-winning author Melissa Foster.

DISCOVERING DELILAH is an #LGBT New Adult Romance
.

After the death of her parents on the day of her college graduation, Delilah Armstrong thought she could finally follow her heart and come out to her closest friends, but the guilt of going against her parents’ beliefs haunts her. The feelings she has for her best friend,

Ashley, are stronger than anything she’s felt before, but Delilah has never even kissed a girl, and fear stops her at every turn.
.
Ashley Carver promised herself that she would never again date another girl who wasn’t out, but that was before she met intoxicatingly sweet and sexy Delilah.

When another girl offers to teach Delilah the ropes, it changes Delilah’s whole world and gives her the courage to go after the only girl she really wants. But coming out isn’t as easy as Delilah imagined, and moving past her parents’ death and the feelings of guilt she is left with is even harder. The intense passion between Ashley and Delilah is too strong to deny, but coming together means risking everything.
.

Discovering Delilah is an edgy, evocative, romantic story of friendship, family, and the courage to love.

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

Available to buy from…… 

Paperback

About Melissa Foster

Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes contemporary romance, new adult, contemporary women’s fiction, suspense, and historical fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Her books have been recommended by USA Today’s book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the World Literary Café and Fostering Success. When she’s not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success. Melissa has been published in Calgary’s Child Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Women Business Owners magazine. 
Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa at The World Literary Cafe or her personal website.Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.
Follow Melissa on the following sites…
COMING SOON the full Harborside Nights series…

Catching Cassidy (Het)

Discovering Delilah (F/F)

Tempting Tristan (M/M)

Chasing Charley (Het)

Breaking Brandon (M/M)

Embracing Evan (Het)

Reaching Rusty (Het)

Loving Livi (Het)

Characters from the Love in Bloom series will appear in the Harborside Nights books.
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Writing Wednesdays – A Writerly Update

WritingWednesdays

#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. Since I missed last week due to a con hangover from Archipelacon, here’s what’s been happening the last two weeks…

1.  Archipelacon was awesome! The con was brilliant, the people I met were fantastic, and the Åland Islands were pretty spectacular. We’re definitely going again to do more proper exploring of the archipelago.

2.  Archipelacon was exactly what I needed in order to jump start my brain for revisions of the YA fantasy and for edits of Scardust. Since getting back, I’ve been working on Scardust edits and they’re going well. I’ve also been making notes as the Muse speaks to me about things I need to add/fix/change/improve in the YA fantasy.

3. After tackling bigger chunks of edits addressing specific story edits, I’ve gone back to the beginning and am now reading the ms out loud. This is tiring and slow going but definitely worth it. I’m noticing a lot more than I would’ve had I just read it quietly. It also helps a huge amount when it comes to the voice of characters and making them unique.

My goal for the week is to continue plugging away at edits and keep thinking about my YA fantasy. Letting that percolate at the back of my mind is doing the story a world of good I think :)

And that’s it for this week!

How has your writerly week been going?

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Archipelacon SF/F Reading Lists

During Archipelacon, several diverse SF/F titles were discussed at both the Diversity in YA and QUILTBAG in SF/F panel. Below is a list of books from Cheryl Morgan, Dirk Weger, and me. Please note, some of these books we have read and can personally recommend while others are titles on our radar which we are hearing good things about. All opinions are entirely our own and may differ radically from yours. That’s great! Please let us know your thoughts and feel free to recommend more titles so we can grow our list.

We are specifically interested in queer/questioning, undecided, intersex, lesbian, trans, bi, asexual, and gay characters in SF/F as well as characters of colour, with mental illness, physical disabilities, and/or minority ethnic or religious identity. Here we go…

QUILTBAG Reading List as per the LGBT panel at Archipelacon 2015

Dirk’s Lists

Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds

Cheryl’s Lists
*Cheryl’s original list contains links to her reviews but for some reason the links didn’t work on my blog so please visit Cheryl’s original list HERE for reviews!

Single books

This list is by no means exhaustive. It simply includes books I have read and liked (in no particular order, and limited to one per writer).

Was – Geoff Ryman
Swordspoint – Ellen Kushner
Slow River – Nicola Griffith
China Mountain Zhang – Maureen McHugh
Shadow Man – Melissa Scott
The New Moon’s Arms – Nalo Hopkinson
The Drowning Girl – Caitlín R Kiernan
Vellum/Ink – Hal Duncan
The Forever War – Joe Haldeman *
The Passion of New Eve – Angela Carter
Dangerous Space – Kelley Eskridge
Brasyl – Ian McDonald
The Summer Prince – Alaya Dawn Johnson
Beyond Binary – Brit Mandelo (ed.)
Triton – Samuel R Delany
Palimpsest – Catherynne M Valente
The Courier’s New Bicycle – Kim Westwood
Ash – Malinda Lo
2312– Kim Stanley Robinson
Diana Comet & Other Improbable Stories – Sandra McDonald
The Black Opera – Mary Gentle
Eon – Alison Goodman

* For the benefit of those of you whose eyebrows have shot up, The Forever War contains one section in which the troops return home to discover that same-sex relationships have become the norm on Earth and heterosexuality is frowned upon. Joe is, of course, simply reflecting the unease felt by Vietnam veterans returning home to find the USA full of Hippies, but I include the book here to make the point that things like this could happen in a book in 1976, and the book could still win a Hugo.

Series

Again these are all books I have read, though in the case of series possibly not all of them.

The Outremer series – Chaz Brenchley
The Orokon Saga – Tom Arden
The AngeLINK series – Lyda Morehouse
The Wraethtru books – Storm Constantine
The Element Logic series – Laurie J Marks
The Jacob’s Ladder Trilogy – Elizabeth Bear
Rhapsody of Blood – Roz Kaveney
Chaos Walking – Patrick Ness
The Siobhan Quinn books – Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Engelsfors Trilogy – Sara B Elfgren & Mats Strandberg

Dodgy Trans Books

These are all books that you will see held up by cis people as great books about trans characters, but which have some highly problematic elements.

The Female Man, Joanna Russ – basically TERF** propaganda, for which Russ has since apologized.
Ilario, Mary Gentle – great on intersex, but essentially contrasts “valid” intersex identities with “invalid” trans identities.
Pantomime, Laura Lam – shock reveal and use of circus freak symbolism.
Steel Beach, John Varley – bizarre and hilarious, nothing like actual trans people.
The Bone Palace, Amanda Downing – shock reveal and mired in trans community politics it doesn’t seem to understand.
I Will Fear No Evil, Robert A Heinlein – basically transvestite porn.
Friday, Robert A Heinlein – OK on trans, but awful in just about every other way.
A Civil Campaign, Lois McMaster Bujold – transition for political gain with no understanding of personal issues.
I got asked during the panel what I thought authors should do to treat trans characters respectfully. What I said amounted to the following:
1. Treat the character with the same respect you’d give any other character;
2. Don’t use any shock revelations in the narrative, as this plays into the narrative that trans people are somehow deceitful;
3. Try not to use transition narratives — there is so much more to trans people’s lives than their transition;
4. Try to get an understanding of the breadth of different identities encompassed by the term trans, and do not confuse different identities in one character; and
5. Don’t use the story to privilege one type of trans people over other types.

** Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. The Female Man uses the TERF idea that trans women are a creation of the patriarchy intended to replace “real” women once those “real” women have become emancipated and no longer wish to associate with men. This includes the idea that “real” women are not naturally feminine, but two out of every seven men are naturally feminine.

Books with major characters who are L/G/B

Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett

Books with minor characters who are L/G/B

Wylding Hall – Elizabeth Hand
Glorious Angels – Justina Robson
The Area X Trilogy – Jeff VanderMeer

Books with minor characters who are T

Karen Memory – Elizabeth Bear (slightly dodgy)
The Galaxy Game – Karen Lord
The Coldest Girl in Coldtown – Holly Black
Elysium – Jennifer Marie Brissett (very dodgy)
Shadowboxer – Tricia Sullivan
Mirror Empire – Kameron Hurley
Gideon Smith and the Mask of the Ripper – David Barnett (not yet published)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes – Paul Cornell (not yet published)
Utopia – Cory Doctorow (not yet published)

Books with major characters who are T

Rhapsody of Blood: Resurrections – Roz Kaveney

Books that redefine gender

Ancillary Justice & Ancillary Sword – Ann Leckie
Distress – Greg Egan
Diaspora – Greg Egan
Shadow Scale – Rachel Hartman

Interesting re-releases from Wizard’s Tower

Resurrection Code – Lyda Morehouse (major T character)
Damage Time – Colin Harvey (major I character)

Anthologies with some LGBT content

Kaleidoscope – Alisia Krasnostein & Julia Rios
Long Hidden – Daniel Jose Older & Rose Fox

Comics with major LGBT characters

All New X-Men – Michael Bendis
Angela, Asgard’s Assassin – Kieron Gillen
The Wicked & The Divine – Kieron Gillen

Authors

The following authors of speculative fiction all identify somewhere on the LGBT spectrum. Apologies to those whom I have omitted. There are of course many more, but all of these are people whose work I have read, and whom I know are openly out.

Geoff Ryman
Nicola Griffith
Samuel R Delany
Ellen Kushner
Kelley Eskridge
Delia Sherman
Chris Barzack
Caitlín R Kiernan
Roz Kaveney
Chaz Brenchley
Melissa Scott
Tom Arden
Lyda Morehouse
Laurie J Marks
Ellen Klages
Patrick Ness
Rick Bowes
Malinda Lo
Severna Park
Catherynne M. Valente
Hal Duncan
Charlie Jane Anders
Nalo Hopkinson
Joanna Russ
James Tiptree Jr.
Elizabeth Bear
Steve Berman
Catherine Lundoff
Candas Jane Dorsey
Elizabeth A Lynn
Tanya Huff
Jessica Amanda Salmonson
Billy Martin (formerly Poppy Z. Brite)
David Gerrold
Thomas M. Disch
Lawrence Schimel
Kij Johnson
Sophia MacDougall
Maria Davana Headley
Tove Jansson
Oscar Wilde
Frank M. Robinson
Octavia Butler
Katherine V. Forrest

Suzanne’s Lists

Books I’ve read featuring LGBT+ characters or themes:

Hobverse Series by Cat Hellisen (When the Sea is Rising Red, House of Sand and Secrets)
Coda by Emma Trevayne (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
Proxy by Alex London (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Sandman graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman (various LGBT+ characters)
Skulk by Rosie Best (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Adorned by John Tristan
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater (that one of the major characters is gay only becomes apparent in book 2, The Dream Thieves – also shows socio-economic diversity)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Lost Souls and Drawing Blood by Poppy Z. Brite
Dust by Elizabeth Bear (I’ve only read book 1 in this series)
The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice (various LGBT+ characters)
Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler (polyamory, possible pansexuality)
The Chaos by Nalo Hopkinson (Lesbian/Bisexual minor character, some discussion of LGBT+ issues + PoC and disabled characters)
Love is the Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson (LG supporting characters, PoC)
The Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward – (skip ahead to book 11 😉 )
Adaptation by Malinda Lo (only read book 1 in the series)
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block (features a queer cast of main characters incl. trans character)

Books with questionable LGBT+ content

Embassytown by China Miéville
The Burning Sky (Elemental trilogy) by Sherry Thomas (cross-dressing character)
The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey (gay supporting characters)

Books I haven’t read yet, but have heard good things about:

Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (book 3 of the Graceling series)
Huntress by Malinda Lo
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Witch Eyes by Scott Tracey
Every Day by David Levithan
Archangel Academy series by Michael Griffo
The Engelsfors Trilogy by Sara B. Elfgren and Mats Strandberg

‘Diverse’ SF/F Reads as per my YA Diversity talk at Archipelacon

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Un Lun Dun by China Mieville
Ship Breaker series by Paolo Bacigalupi (loved this, especially book 2 – suited for more mature YA readers)
Gilded by Christina Farley (questionable representation of Korean protagonist)
This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Tabula Rasa by Kristin Lippert-Martin
Icons by Margaret Stohl
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
City of a Thousand Dolls series by Miriam Forster
Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee
The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (starts more MG but ages up with protagonist)

TV series

Sense8 (excellent trans representation – questionable racial/ethnic representation due to stereotyping)
Penny Dreadful (problematic)
Sleepy Hollow (PoC lead roles)
Teen Wolf (LGBT rep)
Dark Matter (PoC lead roles)

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WIPmarathon Check-in No. 17

Geez, where did June go? The first couple of weeks were pretty intense as we wrapped up the school year. The rest of the month has been delightfully chilled and filled with writing. My final days of June will be spent at Archipelacon in the company of George R R Martin amongst others, but I’m totally okay with spending the next four days away from my PC because the WIP is finished!

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 68, 000

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 83,414! Done!

Writing Issues This Month:

Nothing really. After re-outlining and getting into the groove with my beat sheet, it was a sprint to the finish that took surprisingly less time than anticipated. All in all, a good month for writing.

Things I learned this month:

1. I can write fantasy. Not only that I can write it, but I really really enjoy it. Granted this is more science fantasy but being my first foray in fantasy, I’m quite happy without the result despite all my misgivings at the start.

2. The real world is complex. The fantasy world needs to be just as complex. World-building is a huge undertaking and it’s going to take me a revision or two to refine the way my world works but I’m having so much fun with it!

3. I’ll never stop learning new things about craft. I’ve been watching Brandon Sanderson lectures on writing – thanks again Emma – and they’ve reaffirmed certain things I know while providing a fresh perspective, as well as provided much needed insight on things I didn’t know I needed to know.

4. Finishing a draft always has me simultaneously feeling elated and depressed. I’m always sad to finish a story, to bring the characters’ journey to a close, while I’m also super ecstatic to be done with the darn thing! Not that I’ll be away from these characters for long considering the amount of revisions this novel is undoubtedly going to need.

What distracted me this month while writing:

I received edits for Scardust on my first day of holiday when I still had three chapters left to write on the WIP. Usually, I dive straight into edits and shove everything else aside, but this time, I shoved edits aside to finish the WIP and it was a very smart move *self-five* Now, when I get back in July from Archipelacon, I can get stuck into edits without having a fantasy hangover.

Goal for next month:

Edits, edits, all the edits. My first pass edits of Scardust are due back by the end of July so that’s pretty much all I’ll have time for next month. It’s also all I want to work on.

Last 200 words: No way! It’s the end after all, so instead here are the top ranking first lines from a little ’10 first lines’ game thingie I posted on Facebook. Let me know which of these you like best, because that’ll be the next WIP :)

1) They say a man died here, hung from the thickest branch when the leaves were the color of blood. They say that when the wind blows through the fireoaks, it whispers the names of the dead. I’m listening to the wind now, but the only name I hear is my own.

2) His scars are staves, waiting for me to fill them with music.

3) My brother twitches in his sleep and bursts into flame.

4) The scent of magic hung in the air, peppery and sneeze-inducing. Once again my allergies were going to get us busted.

5) With the gentle strokes of a brush, I am pulled from nothing and made real upon a stretched canvas in shades of viridian and raw umber.

That’s it for June, how did you do?

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Writing Wednesdays – a writerly update

WritingWednesdays

#WritingWednesdays is a weekly blog hop/meme where we writers tell the world how all the writerly things are going. It’s a way for us to self-motivate and cheer each other on. And so here’s how this week has been going…

1. The WIP is finished! *sound the trumpets* I wanted to get it done before going away for Archipelacon this weekend and it happened! :)Although my initial word count goal was around 73-75k words for the first draft, the ms ended up being 84k words! Since I’m trying to keep the final ms around 85k words, this doesn’t give me much wiggle room for revisions.

2. Thanks to Emma Adams, I’ve been watching a lot of Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing craft. Much of it I already know and have been using *self-five* but some of his ideas have given me a fresh perspective on the fantasy genre and I know there’s a lot I need to go back and fix in my ms.

3. My goal this week is to focus on Archipelacon and get my head out of the fantasy ms so I can come back ready to focus on Scardust edits starting next week.

And that’s that for this week!

How has your writerly week been going?

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Amber Smoke Blog Tour

AMBER SMOKE
Official Blog Tour June 8th-22nd

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Amber Smoke
The Monster Within #2
Author: Kristin Cast
Publisher: Diversion Books
Release Date: June 9th, 2015
ISBN: e-9781626815520 | p-9781626815537

Price: e$9.99 | p$14.99

Amber smoke_approved_hi res

There is a world that runs parallel to our own, a world in which the souls of the damned are caged, where they are looked over by the Furies, and where they spend eternity in torment, mirroring the devastation and mayhem they created when alive.

Someone has opened the cage.

The worst of terrors has crossed the barrier that separates our world from theirs, and the Furies send a great, albeit untested warrior—their only son, Alek—to try to bring those souls back.  He is young and handsome, headstrong and impulsive, and he won’t be able to do it alone.

Eva has grown up, beautiful and beloved, but surrounded by secrets.  First, she will be hunted in an ancient feud that will threaten her life.  Then, she will become the hunter.
With the police closing in and two worlds on the verge of crumbling around them, Alek and Eva must find each other, discover the limits of their powers, and work together to save everything they hold dear, including one another.  Blending elements of mythology with the dazzling storytelling that her fans have devoured through the House of Night series, Kristin Cast weaves a spellbinding and passionate tale that starts a thrilling new series with an explosive charge.

Add this book on Goodreads or pre-order on on Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Kobo

PRAISE

Amber Smoke is thrilling and funny with just the right amount of magic. Brilliant job, Kristin Cast!” —Kresley Cole, #1 New York Times bestselling author
“I love Kristin Cast! In Amber Smoke, Cast’s wit, creativity and talent shine!  I turned the pages at lightning speed, ready for more! What a tasty treat!” —Gena Showalter, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author

Kristin Cast_PRIMARY PHOTOABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kristin Cast is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who teamed with her mother to write the wildly successful House of Night series. She has editorial credits, a thriving t-shirt line, and a passion for all things paranormal. When away from her writing desk, Kristin loves relaxing with her significant other and their dogs, and discovering new hobbies. This year she’ll work on swimming, yoga, and adding to her Doctor Who collection.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest | YouTube

GIVEAWAY

AmberSmokeGiveaway1

One winner will get: (One) signed copy of the book (print), $50 Nook gift card,  temporary tattoo metallic (book inspired object). US only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TOUR SCHEDULE

Main Tour Page

June 8th: Bookish REVIEW
June 9th: Once Upon A Twilight REVIEW
June 10th: Book Briefs REVIEW + TENS LIST
June 11th: Taking It One Book At A Time REVIEW
June 12th: Novel Novice TEN RANDOM THINGS
June 13th: Good Choice Reading REVIEW
June 14th: Fiktshun REVIEW
June 15th: Fictitious Delicious MUSIC PLAYLIST
June 16th: A Dream Within A Dream REVIEW
June 17th: Two Chicks On Books AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 18th: Curling Up With A Good Book REVIEW
June 19th: Bookaholics Anonymous REVIEW 
June 20th: Lost in Ever After REVIEW
June 21st: Bitches & Prose REVIEW + EXCERPT
June 22nd Me, My Shelf and I REVIEW

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