Blog Blitz: Suspected by Rori Shay

Suspected banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for Suspected (#2) by Rori Shay. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 20 April till 3 May, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

So far this series contains 2 books: Elected (The Elected series #1) and Suspected (The Elected series #2). The Elected series is about the environment and environmental change and what can happen after climate change. It’s about a girl pretending to be a boy for the good of her country. Fans of Mulan will love this series.

SuspectedSuspected (The Elected series #2)
By Rori Shay

Genre: Dystopia
Age category: Young Adult

Blurb:
East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.

In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there is no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for 100 years to ensure stability. Women aren’t allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology use of any kind is banned to preserve what’s left of the environment.

And yet, I’m my country’s Elected. I’ve just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I’m about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor. And…I’m a girl. Shhhhhh…..

You can find Suspected on Goodreads

You can buy Suspected here:
Amazon

First book in the series:
ElectedElected (The Elected series #1)
By Rori Shay
Genre: Dystopia
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Blurb:
It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret—the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

You can find Elected on Goodreads

You can buy Elected here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Rori ShayAbout the Author:
Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat. In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy, The Elected Series. She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel! Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

You can find and contact Rori here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Suspected. This giveaway is US and Canada only. These are the prizes you can win:
– a kindle ereader and a signed copy of Elected by Rori Shay

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lola's Blog Tours

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April is National Poetry Month

Plumier I’m a little behind, but I couldn’t let April go by without mentioning that April is the national month of poetry. Now, I don’t write much poetry any more. As a teen, it was my go-to medium for expressing all my angst, but I haven’t written much poetry since then.

I’m still a huge fan of poetry though and poetry has inspired my own writing in several ways. One of my favorite poets is Charles Baudelaire, who penned the deliciously dark collection called Fleurs du Mal, or Flowers of Evil. For ages I’ve been wanting to write something connected to or somehow inspired by Baudelaire’s words and then it happened.

While I was writing I Heart Robot, Baudelaire’s words kept flashing through my mind during various scenes, so I decided to make it a thing and give those words to my android Quinn. Considering Quinn admires and envies the humans, and wants so desperately to prove himself capable of human emotion, I thought having my android being able to quote poetry would only add to Quinn’s perception of emotion and human condition. While Quinn quotes an older translation in the book, here’s my favourite translation of my favourite poem by Baudelaire… for those who don’t know, Baudelaire’s poetry is particularly dark, but also beautiful.

The Fountain of Blood

It seems to me sometimes my blood is bubbling out
As fountains do, in rhythmic sobs; I feel it spout
And lapse; I hear it plainly; it makes a murmuring sound;
But from what wound it wells, so far I have not found.

As blood runs in the lists, round tumbled armored bones,
It soaks the city, islanding the paving-stones;
Everything thirsty leans to lap it, with stretched head;
Trees suck it up; it stains their trunks and branches red.

I turn to wine for respite, I drink, and I drink deep;
(Just for one day, one day, neither to see nor hear!)
Wine only renders sharper the frantic eye and ear.

In terror I cry to love, “Oh, put my mind to sleep!”
But love for me is only a mattress where I shrink
On needles, and my blood is given to whores to drink.

Who is your favourite poet? What’s your favourite poem?

Quiz courtesy of Grammarly.

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Author Interview with Dylan Peters

Today I’m pleased to welcome Dylan Peters to Off the Page chatting about his latest book, Everflame.

E1_Paperback

Did you grow up knowing you wanted to be a writer?

No. In fact, if you had told me ten years ago that I would be working on my fifth book now, I wouldn’t have believed you. While I was going to school for graphic design, I had to take a creative writing class and my professor was impressed enough with my writing that she suggested I try to have something published. A couple months later, I woke from a dream and began Everflame. Everything just fell in place from there.

What inspired your book Everflame?

The initial concept came from a dream. I’ve always been a very lucid dreamer, and I can usually remember most of my dreams when I wake in the morning. In the dream that inspired the beginnings of Everflame, I was Evercloud, tied to the tree, unable to move. I began to write when I woke that morning and the rest of the story followed just as if it had been there all along, waiting to be written. Many of my dreams find their way into my books. It’s just a matter of changing names, locations, and circumstances so that they fit the overall story. I suppose I should count myself lucky that I have such an overactive imagination.

Which authors or book have had the biggest influence on your writing?

Ayn Rand is the author I have derived the most enjoyment and inspiration from. Anthem would probably be my favorite among her works. Just say the word dystopia and I’m in.  Its mix of science fiction, Rand’s philosophy, and self-righteous rebellion keep me coming back, over and over. It’s a very quick read and I think that is partly what inspired me to make the Everflame books rapid reads. It is the only book I have had to purchase multiple times because I give my copy away in an effort to get people hooked on Rand. Best quote: “But what is freedom? Freedom from what? There is nothing to take a man’s freedom away from him, save other men. To be free, a man must be free of his brothers. That is freedom. That and nothing else.”

I love the cover for Everflame, can you give us a little background info on the design?

I am a graphic designer by day, so I do my own design for my book covers. When thinking about the cover for Everflame, I wanted to create a striking logo. In my opinion, logos are what stay with people, and make your product easily identifiable. So in my creation of the logo, obviously a flame came to mind. I wanted the logo to be accompanied by a background that seemed mysterious and clouded, as the first book of the Everflame series is concerned with mysterious origins.

Can you tell us about any new works or works-in-progress we can look forward to?

The project I am currently working on is called The Dean Machine, and I hope to release it before the end of the year. This will be the first book I’ve written that will not be part of a series, so I’m interested to see how that goes. My inspiration for the novel came from a rescue dog I adopted who was named Dean. Here’s the book blurb:

Dan Delacor was a normal citizen of Yellow City. He put on his yellow shoes, and yellow tie, and took the Tunnel Runner from the suburbs into downtown, every day. He had a job, lived with his loving, yellow-haired girlfriend, and never wondered what waited beyond the great glass wall that surrounded Yellow City.

Sure, he wondered why people at his work annoyed him so much, he wondered why everything in Yellow City had to be yellow, he wondered why he suffered constant anxiety attacks, and he wondered why he couldn’t help himself from strolling through dangerous neighborhoods, or running wildly through the wheat fields that separated downtown from the suburbs. Mostly though, Dan Delacor wondered how he had lost most of his right arm, and he wondered why he couldn’t remember anything before five years ago.

So, when Dan’s mysterious yellow world is interrupted with the seemingly impossible presence of a little, red dog, the man can’t help but wonder why. Unfortunately for Dan, what he finds leaves him running for his life, doubting everything he knows, and wondering what side of the glass wall he is really on.

Quick, it’s the zombie apocalypse! If you could choose any author to be your survival buddy, who would you choose and why?

I would choose whichever author was the slowest. It would make escaping the zombies easier if they were preoccupied with someone else. I’m kind of a loner.

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True Calling Blog Tour

True Calling blitz banner
This is my stop during the book blitz for True Calling by Siobhan Davis. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 13 till 17 April, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.
From 13 till 17 April True Calling is free! So go grab your copy at Amazon.

True CallingTrue Calling (True Calling #1)
By Siobhan Davis
Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: August 1, 2014

Blurb:
Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.

As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.

Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.

You can find True Calling on Goodreads

From 13 till 17 April True Calling is free! So make sure to grab your copy:
Amazon USA
Amazon UK
Amazon Canada
Amazon Australia
Amazon India

Here’s what reviewers had to say about True Calling:
“In a word, WOW!! Talk about a fascinating and magnetic tale!” Dianne Bylo. Tome Tender.

True Calling is a dystopian-sci-fi-romance that is FABULOUS! Siobhan did not fail to impress me with this debut novel.” Ashley Colby. The Caffeinated Booknerd

True Calling is an excellent read from YA to adult. The entirety of the story is addicting.” Bri Wignall: Natural Bri-Pursuits of Life

“Story driven with a nice cast of characters. I was pleasantly surprised at the paranormal twists and I found it an original addition.” Lola’s Reviews

“It is a true page turner. I read this book in 2 days and I can’t wait for the sequel.” Etnik. Geeky Bookie

“I really loved this book! I liked the characters, the writing, the plot, the world-building….all of it.” Lillian. Mom With A Reading Problem

“The story line was awesome, it kept me into it, and was hard to put down.” Kim Gailey. Superbookgirl13

“Now my problem is: I WANT THE NEXT BOOK!” Amber Hodges. Paradise of Pages

5 Star accolades from Readers Favorite:
“A perfect blend of reality-TV-show, super high-tech sci-fi and teenage drama meets government conspiracies.” Faridah Nassozi

“This is the type of book you’ll recommend to everyone you know and one you’ll read again.” Samantha Rivera

“True Calling takes you on a stimulating journey, then screeches to an abrupt halt, leaving you screaming for more.” Cheryl E. Rodriguez

“… A world with a government that’s not unfamiliar in YA fiction these days, but a fresh and interesting take on it.” Kathryn Bennett

“… caught my eye immediately and held my attention until the very end.” Trisha Dawn

SiobhanAbout the Author:
Siobhan Davis is the author of YA science fiction romance series True Calling.
A self-diagnosed ‘teenager forever’—at least when it comes to books, music and movies; Siobhan is totally addicted to teen fiction and superhero/blockbuster movies. Siobhan loves baking, crime novels, shoes, bags, make-up, anti-wrinkle cream, anything pink, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Robert Pattinson (definitely Team Edward).
Siobhan has forged a successful corporate career, in Human Resources, over the last twenty years.
A member of the IWI writers group, Siobhan resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons.
Contact Siobhan at: www.siobhandavis.com

You can find and contact Siobhan here:
Website
Author blog
Book website
Facebook
Twitter
Google +
Goodreads

Sample chapters, quotes, reviews and book excerpts are all available to download from the authors website

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of True Calling. These are the prizes you can win:
– three $10 Amazon gift

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lola's Blog Tours

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YA Scavenger Hunt Spring 2015

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Team

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. I am a part of the GOLD TEAM–but there are many others teams with a whole different set of signed books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE

Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by DATE, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

SCAVENGER HUNT EXCLUSIVE CONTENT FROM ERICA O’ROURKE

erica-orourke-press

Today, I am hosting Erica O’Rourke on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!

Erica O’Rourke is the award-winning author of the Torn Trilogy (TORN, TANGLED, BOUND) and the Dissonance series (DISSONANCE, HARMONIC, and RESONANCE), about a girl with the ability to walk between alternate universes. She lives near Chicago with her family, and loves coffee, Doctor Who, and anything ginger.

Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!

Website

EXCLUSIVE CONTENT

What’s In Del’s Bag?

One of my favorite tools for getting to know a character is to figure out what’s in their bag – that is, what are the essential things they carry with them every day?

Del’s backpack is her constant companion as she Walks between parallel worlds. And while her grandfather believes a good Walker does more with less, at the beginning of RESONANCE, nobody – Del included — is sure if she’s a good Walker or a bad one.

Either way, here’s a peek inside Del’s beloved backpack – though its current whereabouts are…unknown…

The Backpack:

backpack

Basic, black, roomy, and gets better with time.

Smartphone:

phone

Walkers can’t get phone service while they’re in parallel worlds – but the other functions, like Eliot’s map software – still work. It also helps Del keep track of how long she’s been in Echoes, so she doesn’t risk catching Frequency Poisoning.

Lock picks:

lockpicks

A gift from Monty, Del’s grandfather. Definitely not standard issue for Walkers, but Del’s never met a locked door she didn’t want to open.

Chocolate bars:

choklit

Frequency poisoning is a risk all Walkers take, and sugar is one of the best ways to counteract the effects. Besides, a girl gets snackish when she’s running through parallel worlds.

Fingerless Gloves:

gloves

(Photo: Purlbee)

Walkers navigate by sound and touch – fingerless gloves help Del withstand Chicago winters without losing the ability to find Echo strings.

Hair ties and lip balm:


tieslipbalm

It’s a lot easier to check out alternate universes when your hair’s not in your eyes. And nobody likes chapped lips, no matter which world you’re in.

Origami Paper:

paper

Monty taught Del to leave breadcrumbs in every world she visited. Del’s stars mark the way home – and to Simon’s Echoes.

Bonus: Want to fold the stars on the new covers? Try this link.

Rosin:

rosin

Violinists use rosin on the bow of their instrument to help the bow hair grip the strings, and Del has plenty of half-used rosin cakes lying around. This one has little flecks of gold in it.

Sheet music and blank staff paper:

staves

sheetmusic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only homework Del reliably does is for Music Theory and Orchestra, so this is the only paper she has on hand most of the time.

Key Chain:

keychain

(Photo: Kaufmann Mercantile)

Del built her own keychain, full of all sorts of essentials: Compass, flashlight, screwdrivers, pry bars, lighter. There are a zillion combinations here.

Train Pass:

train

Del doesn’t have – or want – a driver’s license. Instead, she relies on public transportation to get to Walker training four times a week.

Del’s backpack served her well in DISSONANCE, but in RESONANCE, she’ll need an entirely new set of tricks and tools if she hopes to find out the truth about Simon…

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, Erica, and more! In fact, I’m pretty sure there are more than 14 books up for grabs 😉

Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the green team and you’ll have the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT

To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author Gina Damico!

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WIPMarathon Check-in No. 14

March totally kicked my butt and the craziness is still not over because I HEART ROBOT releases on Tuesday and *flail* !!! Despite how busy this month has been, I managed to achieve my goal: “write more words!”

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 14, 624

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 41, 700 – I tried so hard to write another 300 to make it a round 42k but just couldn’t do it in time for this check-in. Also, this puts me at more than half way to my first draft word count goal of 80k! *pass the wine*

Regarding that M/M WIP, yeah that’s on hold. This YA fantasy has taken over my life and I’m not going to fight it.

Writing Issues This Month:

I sent out this story to a couple of readers and they loved it! 0_o While I still struggle with self-doubt, it’s not quite as crippling as before so I’m forging ahead with this story while the Muse is willing. So no real issues I guess other than finding time to write.

Five things I learned this month:

1. Preparing for a book release and writing posts for a blog tour takes up some serious time and creative energy. I felt the pressure when writing these because they’re meant to be promoting my book, as in people will read what I have to say and then decide whether or not to buy my book. Scary!

2. Writing fantasy is still awesome! I’ve let go with this WIP and haven’t put any restrictions on my imagination. It’s weird, but wonderful to write and I’m enjoying writing this so much more than I thought I would.

3. I can’t juggle two works for long (despite my February elation that this might actually become a thing I could do). Nope. Eventually, my heart and brain will latch onto one and those characters become all-consuming. I’m okay with this.

4. I’ve always written to music. I struggle to write without it, however, teaching a lot of music now and finding myself in a noisy school environment most days has resulted in wanting the resounding sounds of silence while writing. This has never happened before and I hope it doesn’t last for long.

What distracted me this month while writing:

All the things for I Heart Robot! Happy distractions, but distractions none the less. Also it’s report time at school so I have been furiously grading dozens of projects, some of which are brilliant and once again I find myself learning so much from my students!

Goal for next month:

Keep writing words. I’m going easy on myself here. I do have a week off over Easter so I’m planning to use that time for writing. I’m hoping I’ll hit 60k on the WIP in April.

Last 200 words: Way too spoilery to post the last 200, so here’s an extract from a little earlier in the work.

Parting the sweeping branches of weeping willows, Taryk entered a maze of ferns and orchids glistening wet from the recent showers. His sandals sank into the mossy ground-cover as he hurried along the spiraling path. As usual, Zenza waited for him in the boughs of the ancient baobab, his black and white plumage visible through the dangling flowers.

“Are you going to sulk up there all night?” Taryk planted his hands on his hips and waited. With a crackle of electricity that prickled along Taryk’s skin, Zenza dropped from the branches.

“I never sulk.” His voice stirred the leaves of the trees like a breeze, wafting away the sour scent of the flowers. Zenza rose from where he crouched, ebony under-feathers melting into silk trousers. Bare above the waist, he opened his arms and welcomed Taryk into an embrace. Zenza’s long black hair fell across his shoulders, soft between Taryk’s fingers. The clutch of white feathers sprouting from behind Zenza’s left ear tickled Taryk’s face as he dusted kisses across Zenza’s neck and jaw in search of his mouth.

He tasted of rain, his kisses as fierce as a storm. Taryk let himself be swept away as Zenza backed him up against the broad trunk of the tree. Hands that a few moments ago had been talons, trailed charged tingles across Taryk’s chest. Cool night air whispered against his skin as Zenza peeled away his clothes until they both wore only shadow.

That’s it for March, how did you do?

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WIPmarathon Check-in No. 13

Second WIPmarathon report for 2015 and lucky no. 13 since these check-ins started! February was rather busy given that I got a new day job – teaching music, yay! – and that ate into some of my writing time. Also, procrastination and distraction… sigh…

My plan for February was to write words. Sound the trumpets – this happened! I am going to continue to set realistic goals for myself and then celebrate every small victory. Can there be wine and cake for the completion of every paragraph?

Last report WC for M/M WIP: 31, 765

Current report WC for WIP:  18, 878 – I seem to be ‘unwriting’ this one, but I realized that the story wanted to go in a certain direction and I was fighting that all of January. This month I let the story go where it wanted to which meant axing a point of view character and entire subplot, hence the lower word count. While I cut more than 20k words, I managed to add about 10k brand new words in all new scenes! *pats self on the back*

The SNI has been reworked and now includes a sci-fi element (I seriously struggle to right contemporary stuff) and I’m totally in love with it, but want a proper outline before I dive into this, so for now it’s percolating and has a blurb along with a very rough synopsis. I’m not allowing myself to write a single word until I know how this story ends.

Last report WC for YA fantasy: 2, 779

Current report WC for YA fantasy: 14, 624 – which is pretty impressive considering this story scares the crap out of me because it’s epic fantasy and I’ve never done this before and I feel totally out of my depth.

Writing Issues This Month:

Self-doubt threatened to derail my fantasy WIP every single time I opened the document. I keep thinking no one is going to want to read about this world, that it’s all rubbish and silly, but then I start writing and the words flow and cool things happen and I fall in love with the story all over again, which shuts up that irritating voice in my head telling me it’ll never be good enough.

Five things I learned this month:

1. Writing fantasy is so hard. So much world-building. So many details to create and remember and make plausible. I’m loving it, but it’s seriously challenging. I need to create a support document for myself telling me exactly how the world works because I keep forgetting or making tiny changes that result in the need for substantial changes.

2. Writing fantasy is awesome! I am having so much fun with this – creating my magic system and all the cultures inhabiting my world. I love it!

3. The fantasy novel includes an agender character and I almost gave them a gender just because it would make writing easier being able to use pronouns. But I stopped myself from doing this and am sticking with it even if it’s harder because the default straight, white, male characters shouldn’t populate fiction just because they’re easy to write!

4. The power of pyjamas is totally a thing. This week was a school holiday so I’ve been extra lazy and spent quite a few days in pyjamas. The days I did ended up being my most productive writing days. I think this may become my go-to tactic for whenever I’m feeling creatively constipated in the future.

5. I can juggle two works at a time! I’ve never been able to work on more than one work at a time before but because these two novels are so completely different, I’m managing to share my time between them, working on one and then other depending on my mood. So far, it’s working out pretty well.

What distracted me this month while writing:

The TV show Shameless, which I watch on lunch breaks and makes me want to write my own story about a delightfully dysfunctional big family. Swedish lessons. I’m trying to be diligent and actually study this weirdly idiosyncratic language even though it eats into writing time.

Goal for next month:

Write more words. It worked for February so I’m hoping it’ll work for March.

Last 200 words: 229 words to be specific and these are actually the last 229 words I wrote in the YA fantasy. Not sure it’ll make much sense, but here we go…

They’d taken less than ten steps when the forest fell silent. A chill snaked up Taryk’s spine despite the cloying humidity. Shani whimpered and pressed against Taryk’s legs as the jungle became suffused with a glowing mist, illuminating the overgrown path upon which they stood. The mist brightened as it wrapped syrupy fingers around Taryk’s body and wound golden tendrils about Shani’s legs. She snapped at the mist and it broke apart as if to avoid her teeth, rejoining in golden ribbons beyond the reach of her muzzle. Behind them, the horse whinnied in fear and Taryk’s right hand gripped the saber even though he knew very little about how to wield it.

A low humming replaced the silence, gradually drawing closer. The mist brightened again, the light reflected from the wide staring eyes of bushbabies in the trees and revealing the sleek body of a mamba slung across the branches. Taryk froze, unsure of the new threat yet unwilling to give up so soon.

The humming became a chant, the words indistinguishable, as figures emerged from the mist. They were garbed in pale robes, faces shadowed beneath cowls as their rapid procession continued along the path. As one they seemed to sense Taryk’s presence. The chanting continued, but the figure at the front threw back her cowl, revealing a dark face banded across the eyes with white.

Witches.

“We know,” she said and Taryk swallowed hard. “We won’t let them get away with this.”

That’s it for February, how did you do?

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Author Interview with Damien Angelica Walters

I am currently reading an amazing short story collection entitled Sing Me Your Scars. It’s a little bit Gaiman, a little bit Brite, and a whole lot of awesome. I’ll be writing a full review of the anthology when I’m done for South Speculative Fiction Review, but in the mean time, I got to chat to the fabulous author of these stories, Damien Angelica Walters.

B & W Head Shot - DAW - 2014

1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Who is Damien Angelica Walters?

DAW: She’s a writer with a penchant forAlien, Star Wars, dinosaurs, dark chocolate, and red wine, not necessarily in that order. She’s also a retired bellydancer who lives in Maryland, near Annapolis, and has two rescued pit bulls, Kane and Ripley. When she counts by two, she does so in odd numbers, starting from 0, but she has no explanation as to why. Her favorite colors are orange and green, her favorite piece of art is “Flaming June” by Frederic Lord Leighton, and Damien is her real name, not a nom de plume.

Damien Angelica Walters’ short fiction has appeared in various magazines and anthologies, including Year’s Best Weird Fiction Volume One,The Best of Electric Velocipede, Strange Horizons, Nightmare, Lightspeed, Shimmer, Apex, What Fates Impose, and Glitter & Mayhem. Forthcoming in 2015: Sing Me Your Scars, a collection of her short fiction, from Apex Publications and Paper Tigers, a novel, from Dark House Press.

You can find her on Twitter @DamienAWalters or online at http://damienangelicawalters.com.

2) I love the title, Sing Me Your Scars. It’s provocative and poetic – can you tell us what inspired the title?

DAW: I knew I wanted to use one of the story titles for the collection entire and wanted something that encompassed the general tone. I narrowed it down to Like Origami in Water and Sing Me Your Scars, asked a few writer friends for their opinions, and ultimately chose the latter. Without giving too much away, the story itself is an homage to Mary Shelley and her creation.

3) You’re a short story writer and a novelist. What do you find most challenging about switching between the two?

DAW: Novels and short stories require different skill sets. I don’t think switching between the two is necessarily challenging, it’s more of a changing of the toolbox and the focus. I like the freedom of the short form, the ability to experiment with form and voice and tense, but I also like the deeper exploration of a character that a novel allows.

4) What can you tell us about your forthcoming novel, Paper Tigers. Another great title, by the way!

DAW: Thank you! Paper Tigers is about a disfigured young woman and an old photo album she finds at a thrift store. It’s partly a haunted house story and partly a ghost story, but the ghosts are both external and internal. It’s very different from my first novel, Ink, and closer, I think, in flavor to my short fiction.

5) You’ve also been an editor – for Electric Velocipede no less! – how do you think being an editor has influenced your writing?

DAW: I hope it’s made me a better writer, but I know it’s made me more cognizant of the importance of a good first line, setting the scenes properly, and ending on the right note. It’s also made me appreciate reading short stories I don’t care for and spotting exactly why they’re effective stories.

6) What attracts you to speculative fiction?

DAW: It’s the what-if, the magic, the mystery. It’s the ability to tell a very human story in a strange way. To dream up monsters and the monstrous, peel back the layers, and see what makes them tick. To use pretty metaphors to talk about ugly things. It’s a playground of possibility that non-speculative fiction doesn’t hold for me.

7) What’s next, more short stories or perhaps another novel?

DAW: I have short fiction forthcoming in several anthologies and magazines including the UK zine Black Static and Cassilda’s Song, edited by Joe Pulver, a King in Yellow anthology of all new stories written by women. I’m also working on more short fiction, as well as a portmanteau novel.

sing

Sometimes a thread pulled through the flesh is all that holds you together. Sometimes the blade of a knife or the point of a nail is the only way you know you’re real. When pain becomes art and a quarter is buried deep within in you, all you want is to be seen, to have value, to be loved. But love can be fragile, folded into an origami elephant while you disappear, carried on the musical notes that build a bridge, or woven into an illusion so real, so perfect that you can fool yourself for a little while. Paper crumples, bridges fall, and illusions come to an end. Then you must pick up the pieces, stitch yourself back together, and shed your fear, because that is when you find out what you are truly made of and lift your voice, that is when you Sing Me Your Scars. 

In her first collection of short fiction, Damien Angelica Walters weaves her lyrical voice through suffering and sorrow, teasing out the truth and discovering hope. 

 

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BRICKS Blog Blitz

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Today John Davidson’s YA novel BRICKS is in the spotlight!

Bricks cover

Sixteen-year old Cori Reigns learns that not all tornadoes take you to magical places. Some take your house, your school, and life as you knew it. Struggling to put the pieces of her life back together, Cori learns to rebuild what the storm destroyed by trusting a family she didn’t know she had and by helping friends she never appreciated. Continue reading

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C1 Blitz – First Chapter Checklist

I’m super honoured to be part of Freshly Squeezed Read’s Chapter One Blitz. Readers and writers alike know the importance of that first chapter, but it’s tough to get right. Writing an awesome first chapter is an art unto itself, plus, agents, editors, and readers all have certain expectations of a first chapter. In order to hopefully meet those expectations, I like to refer to my trusty checklist. Here it is…

1) Have I sucker-punched the reader with my first sentence? Now, I have read some very clever first sentences that deliver a solid right hook, only to fizzle into nothingness in the following paragraph. A killer first sentence can’t stand by itself. It has to relate to what comes next. One YA writer who I think does an amazing job with first sentences that segue into great first paragraphs is Maggie Stiefvater. If you don’t know this author, you need to! Go find her on Amazon right now, I’ll wait…

2) Have I introduced the main character in a way that makes the reader care? The easiest way to do this is to introduce your MC so that reader can relate to them. Show a vulnerability, a cute quirk, hint at their internal conflict – basically give the reader a reason to root for your character. In my new YA book, I Heart RobotI deliberately opened the story with what was most important to main character – music – and how she felt alone with her passion, making her both quirky and vulnerable.

3) Have I established the setting? I like to know from the very first paragraph whether I’m in a medieval fantasy world or contemporary New York. Don’t keep the reader guessing at the where and when, but you don’t want to go overboard with description either.

4) Does something happen? This is possibly the most important function of the first chapter. Ideally, by the end of those first few pages you should have provided the reader with the inciting incident, the event which changes the status quo and sets the character on the story path. In I Heart Robot, by the end of the first chapters from both Tyri’s and Quinn’s POV (my two protagonists), something has definitely happened to set them on that story path and the reader is already going to be thinking ‘uh-oh’ at the inevitable conflict.

5) Have I established the stakes? This ties in with #1 and #4. By establishing what’s at stake for the MC, you will help the reader care about your character while kick-starting the plot.

6) Am I excited by this chapter? If you’re not excited to write the words, readers certainly aren’t going to be excited to read them. If the first chapter doesn’t make you fall in love with your story all over again, it might still need some work.

My final test for a good first chapter comes from handing it over to beta readers without giving them any description of the book. If by the end of chapter one they’re not sure of the setting, aren’t convinced they care enough about the character to keep reading, and 
can’t tell me what the story is about, then back to the drawing board I go. I reworked the first chapters from Tyri’s and Quinn’s POV several times before settling on a final version and even those needed further edits, so don’t be afraid to rewrite.

A good first chapter is extremely important so be prepared to write and rewrite and rewrite that chapter again until it’s perfect. But also bear in mind that it doesn’t matter how awesome your first pages are if the rest of the book doesn’t live up to that first chapter’s promise.

Happy writing!

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