MEMORIES OF ASH [Cover Reveal]

IT’S. FINALLY. HERE. (Well, almost!)

For ages I’ve been eagerly awaiting Intisar Khanani’s second installment in her Sunbolt series, Memories of Ash, and am privileged enough to have her on the blog today to revealing the cover for her newest novel. This cover was designed by the amazing Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio, and there’s also a Kindle Fire giveaway, so make sure to scroll down to the end of the post to enter. First off, a few questions!

Describe Memories of Ash in 3 words.

Walk with courage.

What compelled you to write your first book?

I always wanted to write a novel, so my senior year of university I decided I’d better buckle down and try. I chose a fairy tale (The Goose Girl) to give me an over-arching plot and narrative structure, and then went to town with it. I really wrote it as an exercise to test myself, not intending to do anything with it when I finished. But, by the time I finished, I loved my characters so much that I ended up working through over a dozen revisions to take it from “writing exercise” to my debut novel, Thorn.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

Definitely the world of the Sunbolt Chronicles. Sunbolt follows Hitomi, a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, the dark mage who killed her father. Although there is a lot of darkness in Sunbolt, there’s also a lot of light. It’s a real world, in its way, and I love the diversity and vibrancy of the cultures and creatures that populate it. I’d have my choice of living in a tropical island sultanate reminiscent of historic Zanzibar, or among the nomadic desert tribes that eke out an existence alongside the cursed Burnt Lands, to name my two favorite options. Then again, in Memories of Ash, there’s the decaying grandeur of the capitol of a fallen empire that feels a lot like an Istanbul of old, right at the heart of the Eleven Kingdoms. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having shape-shifting friends and charms to keep my bread from burning.

What authors, or books, have influenced you?

As a young duckling, I imprinted on Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley’s earlier works. I read pretty widely, but those are the authors I kept coming back to, especially McKinley’s Damar books. I am also an incorrigible Jane Austen fan, but my books don’t reflect that very much!

 

Your first reaction to the cover in GIF format.

 

 

And, at long last, here it is…

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In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

Amazon Pre-order | Barnes & Noble Pre-order | Add it to GoodReads

A Special Treat For Those Who Pre-order…

Not only is the pre-order of Memories of Ash on sale for only 99 cents, but anyone who buys the pre-order will receive a free digital art print of Hitomi by artist Grace Fong. Just email your proof of purchase to moapreorder@gmail.com!

Haven’t read Sunbolt (Book 1) yet? It’s been knocked down to just 99 cents to celebrate the release and is available at most major e-retailers. That’s two fantastic books for less than a cuppa joe.

MoA_PreOrder Special

About Intisar Khanani

Khanani_Author_PhotoIntisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.

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Are you as excited as I am? (IMPOSSIBLE) Comment below and pre-order now!

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The End of an Era

Warning: a lengthy post, gif usage, many sappy feelings lie ahead

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The Final Advent has at long last been published. The reality of that still hasn’t quite seeped in for me. Why, you ask?

Turn back the clock to 2005, eleven years ago. For me that meant fourth grade in Mr. Leeland Looper’s class, Girl Scouts, and a crazy amount of playing make-believe.

Mr. Looper always gave us at least thirty minutes each week so we could write whatever came to us. (He was big on childhood literacy. Woohoo!) In those thirty minutes, something came over me and I wrote an eleven page story, the basis of what would become No Angels today. My parents encouraged my writing, and so then I expanded it to thirty pages. Then I wrote a second one, clocking in at 50 pages. You get the idea.

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Actual photo of me after finishing a draft.

Over the course of the next few years, I dreamed up plot ideas and character concepts and so on to flesh out my writings, and in eight grade I completed what would become today’s No Angels. In my sophomore year of high school, I completed Collapsed Cathedrals, and in my freshman year at university, The Final Advent. While all of the aforementioned have undergone a massive amount of editing and reconstruction, still the effort stands and boils down to one truth: working on the No Angels trilogy had been a constant in my life for eleven years, by my side from childhood to adulthood.

Now the last book has been published. I will never again work on No Angels.

It’s immensely satisfying to have seen this project through to the end, yet it’s also bittersweet. Finally I can release this story and continue down my journey’s road, but I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. These characters have become my friends over the years. My own life story has been threaded into the pages. And now it’s time to move on. The phrase “thanks for the memories” has never been more apparent to me than it is now.

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Yet more actual footage of me.

I want to thank everyone who’s helped me reach this point, who’s helped me achieve my still-startling reality of completing and publishing a complete trilogy by age 20. Never in my wildest dreams could I have done it without the following:

JD Hinze – My dad, the person who introduced me to storytelling and fantasy in the first place. He read over eight (horrific) versions of my first book, but with each of his edits I learned and my skills grew. Without his belief in me and his fostering my abilities and telling me to go and just do it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

John Nagle – I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nagle about eight years ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of independent publishing, and has offered his assistance and feedback in many of my efforts to this day. Without his suggestion and encouragement, never would I have taken the plunge into indie publishing.

Elizabeth Wheatley – Elisabeth Wheatley and I met at the Texas Book Festival a few years back, exchanged contact info, and have been writing buddies from then on out. We’ve beta-read one another’s novels, talked about story ideas, and supported one another since. She’s cheered me on and given me incredibly valuable insight for years, plus gave me the confidence and motivation to continue on my journey.

Intisar Khanani – Much like Elisabeth Wheatley, Intisar has beta-read stories of mine and given me great insights into the craft of writing. (Once she even mailed me a signed copy of her novel Sunbolt, which I LOVED.) Without these writing friends, it would have been near impossible to see this trilogy through to the end.

Matthew Bogard – I met Matthew nearly over a year and a half ago, and from day one I knew he was endowed with a sharp wit. I’ll admit to you (we’re close, right?) that we’ve also been dating for just as long. (Anecdote: I wiped the floor with him during a sparring match and he immediately asked me out to dinner.) One of my beta readers was too busy to go over The Final Advent, so Matthew volunteered in their stead. I was hesitant at first (it took him MONTHS to convince me to let him near it), but he ended up being fantastic.  Not only that, but he’s been an incredible source of support throughout my endeavors.

You – Yes, you, reading this right now, long-time reader or complete newbie who just stumbled across this post. Without the support of those in the background (especially my lovely commenters and like-rs!) I’d feel and be fruitless in my efforts, without support save those I’ve mentioned above. Knowing that my blog followers and readers are here makes everything worth it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

For me the publication of The Final Advent marks the end of an era. And so, here’s to the next one, where ever it may take us!

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Find The Final Advent on Amazon.

TFA-Cover-Reveal Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

My 2016 Writing Resolutions

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Read 30 Books

I know 30 books sounds like a meager amount to some, but hear me out. I’m in college full-time, will be drafting an entire novel this year, and will be spending 2+ months abroad with little-to-no access to personal reading material. I’ll likely end up reading beyond 30, but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by aiming too high.

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Publish The Final Advent

Okay, so this resolution is sort of a ‘gimme’ considering the book’s is almost totally ready, but it still counts! All I’m waiting for is one beta reader’s feedback, then a read-through with minor edits on my end, then bam! We are done!

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Draft The Immortal 

This resolution was actually on my list for 2015, but with how crazy the year was, it simply didn’t get done. I’ve already started drafting it–by which I mean I’m about 3 pages in–but I have a long ways to go. That being said, I’m SO INCREDIBLY excited to write this. It’s very different from the rest of my work, and hopefully will rip your hearts to shreds. <3

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Complete my Short Horror Story

I worked a bit more on the short sci-fi/horror piece in 2015, but I’ll admit it fell by the wayside as the year spun out of control. Still, I’m chipping away at the thing and am eager to see if anything will come of it! At the very least, it’s a good exercise.

Continue Subbing The Stolen Sun

This resolution is accompanied by a bit of good news! A few months back, I submitted TSS to the Writers of the Future Contest, established by L. Ron Hubbard. It’s an extremely well-regarded contest with big name judges, and tens of thousands of people have entered over the years. While I didn’t place, I received an honorable recognition, which thankfully is not the equivalent of a participation ribbon. Only about the top 5-10% of entrants earn an honorable mention in a given Quarter, which lets me know I’m on the right track! For me it’s at least a nod that I’m doing something right, if not a publication credit. So in 2016 I’ll continue plugging away and see if any publications will bite. ;)

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What are your 2016 writing and/or reading resolutions?

 

My 5 Favorite Characters when Writing No Angels

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1 – Liz Patrona

This one should be relatively obvious! She’s strong, endlessly determined, and, no matter what, does what’s right by her, damn the consequences!

2 – Riven Samson

Oh, Riven, I’m so sorry. I put this poor soul through so much suffering, and lets face it, he was pretty mean in the beginning. However, the gradual process of softening him was one of my favorite things to write across the series.

3 – Azriel Patrona

Azriel is sort of loosely based off my dad, so how could I not put him in my favorites list? He’s kind, welcoming, and devoted to being a thoroughly good person who fiercely protects his home.

4 – Vita

Since this post is leading up to the release of The Final Advent, you have no idea who Vita is yet. But! It doesn’t mean I love her any less. She has a deadly sharp wit paired with iron resolve, plus all the patience in the world–making her incredibly deadly when she wants to strike.

5 – Jakeus Vinco

My tragic baby! He had quite the hard life, but still, I know that doesn’t mean he’s exempt from morals or, y’know, basic human decency. Since he had control ripped away so early in life, he’s been fighting for it ever since, though not always with the best of intentions.

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Who’re your favorite characters? Comment below!

Betty the Chicken, and Why You Should Have Faith in Your Ideas

For those of you unfortunate souls who have not yet heart of the wonder that is Betty the Chicken, allow me to inform you.

Betty the Chicken is an actual, Red Sex Link chicken who runs a fast food chain’s Twitter account. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s been given a keyboard that she hops around on at will, and her tweets are then submitted. This began as a marketing campaign on behalf of the fast food company, Chicken Treat.

What a time to be alive.

Now, sit and think. Someone had to think of a way to draw attention to the company, so they said, “hey, you know what would be a great idea? Let’s have an actual chicken f*cking tweet.”

Cue the responses. “Like tweet tweet? As in bird noises?” and “Totally unrelated, but how much have you already had to drink today?”

Hilarity aside (well, as much as you can separate hilarity from this), this is an actual concept that has come to fruition and gotten a ton of press.

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Someone had to hatch this idea, figure out the logistics for it, and pitch it to a marketing board full of their higher-ups. You’d have to really believe in your ideas to be willing to risk humiliation on that scale, but in the end? It paid off. Betty the Chicken has thrown this company into the spotlight.

Betty can teach us all something, too. No matter how strange or out-there your ideas may be, have faith in them. Develop them, pitch them, and throw them out into the world. At the very least, you’ve tried instead of caving to embarrassment or self-consciousness. (Imagine if the mastermind behind this endeavor never stepped forward with her/his idea? The world would be devoid of that much more chicken-related-joy.) Pursue your dreams and ambitions, and maybe one day, like Betty the Chicken, the world will be watching you as well.

5 Things I’ve Learned from Writing NO ANGELS

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As with any large project, writing No Angels has taught me many valuable things over the years, and my writing has improved tremendously along the way. Here I boil it down into five lessons I’ve learned throughout my journey.

1. Originality

For so long, I visualized my favorite stories when I thought of what I wanted my own to look like. While inspiration is necessary, it took me a while to truly find what I wanted my own story to look and feel and read like outside of what inspired me. My stuff used to be mostly rather embarrassing carbon-copies of other works, but since I’ve flexed the creativity muscle more and more, my own ideas have come about as a result.

2. The Value of Editing

I edited No Angels thirteen times. Thirteen. 13. 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + . . . Well, you get it. These weren’t small rewrites either, but full-on rewrites. Cutting out characters and putting new ones in; rearranging or in some cases deleting entire scenes; altering the language to flow more smoothly; finding what was hackneyed and what wasn’t. This process took years, but it was worth it. Even if editing can be a royal pain, it’s like working out; laborious and at times irritating, but it just feels good.

3. Letting the Words Breathe

This one was extremely hard for me to grasp. I used to jump from one thing to the next so fast in my books, not taking time to let the scene or happenings sink in and breathe. But you have to let the reader absorb the mood without throwing five billion things at them at once. If I had to choose, I’d still take a faster paced book over a slower one, but I don’t have to chose. I can find a way, as I still am every day, to write with solid pace.

4. Outlining

I don’t understand people who can work without outlines. I mean, I can, (I didn’t use one for my first two books), but now it’s unfathomable to me. It allows me to do the groundwork beforehand so that when it comes time to write, I can just sit down and write. I can take care of most plot holes, see potentially more satisfying avenues, etc. For my first books, I certainly wish I’d taken different directions with some things, but what’s done is done and I’ve learned what I can from it.

5. Determination

This one sort of speaks for itself– but only half way. I wrote a fourteen page story back in fourth grade, which has now turned into No Angels today. I knew I wanted to get my story out there so other people could read and enjoy it, despite that I was so young and inexperienced. Some were quick to point that out. Along the way I’ve had people say my dreams were too big, that I’d never actually see it through, and so on. I’d doubted myself, trashed parts of my work, spent countless late nights and early mornings and holidays toiling away, and let me tell you, it was all completely worth it. It’s perhaps the most valuable lesson I’ve learned over the course of this all, and one I’ll be forever grateful for.

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Despite only being 20, I’ve learned a lot in my time, in no small part due to this twelve year endeavor. What have you learned in your years, specifically relating to a project of yours? Comment below!

 

Cover & Blurb Reveal: The Final Advent (No Angels #3)

At long last, I’m proud to finally reveal the cover and blurb for The Final Advent! It’s been a long journey in getting here, but well worth it.

The Final Advent is the third and last installment in the No Angels trilogy, one that I’ve been working on for a long time now. In the days leading up to the release date (soft date is January 5th), I’ll be publishing some posts on my journey up to this point, what I’ve learned, and so on.

For the time being, check out The Final Advent‘s cover and blurb below!

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TFA-Cover-Reveal

Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

Find the rest of the trilogy below:

No Angels

Collapsed Cathedrals

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Thoughts? Predictions? I hope you’re just as excited for this book’s release as I am. Comment below!