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!

Writing Update: February 2016

(It feels so weird to not have a No Angels section of this anymore! I suppose I’ll adjust.)

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My monthly progress with this one has been halting, mostly due to essays and midterms. That being said, I’ve written 13k thus far and plan to be at 15k by the end of the month. It’s still wildly fun to write, but the fact that school has been getting in the way had been less than satisfying. I’ve also missed the previous two writing-treat-weekend sessions because of life’s hiccups. It’ll be nice to feel on-track again!

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Still subbing. Still no response. *Bangs head on desk.* Waiting is just part of the game!

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Again, this one is still out with no response. I’ve been toying with the idea of reworking it a little since my writing has developed over the years and I want to bring it up to par, so next time it comes back that’ll be what I do!

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Ah yes, my sci-fi/horror short. It’s decided to take a very different, more compelling turn from what I originally intended, one that makes for lots of morally-gray areas. (A definite plus!) Again, this one feels halting in its progress, but that’s just how this month is going I suppose. I can tinker with the flow once I have a finished draft!

How is your month going? Are you working on any projects or goals? Comment below!

Stop Giving Me ‘Strong’ Female Characters

I’ve been seeing more female characters lately, which one would think is a good thing. Unfortunately, female characters don’t mean much when they’re barely characters. Instead, they’re often one-dimensional props. You know the type I’m thinking of. Extremely sexy clothing & figure, sarcastic, literally kick ass aaaaaaaand . . . not much else. Deep background? Nuanced characterization? Complexities? Almost nonexistent.

In my experience, this doesn’t pertain as much to books, but then again I tend to mostly read books by female authors who aren’t as guilty of this (because women are *gasp* people!) That’s not to say this isn’t an issue, though. Because it certainly is.

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Damn it, Tifa. You better be glad I love Final Fantasy so much.

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It doesn’t help that Abrams straight-up admitted this scene was solely for the male viewership.

I don’t mind sexy, slim women. Truly I don’t. Physically fit and empowered women are by far my favorite characters to write, and are even inspiring in a way, but women are more than that. They are their backstories, their emotions, their inner conflicts. Instead of saying “okay, we have a walking pair of boobs that throws punches; diversity, check” and stopping there (please, please do not stop there–don’t even go there to begin with), instead give me more Furiosas, more Dana Scullys, more Marthas, and more Eowyns. (Also pls give me more PoC and LGBT+ characters thx.)

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I want women who are developed, fully dimensional characters, with flaws, backstories, and who’s importance isn’t relegated solely to her beauty or sexual prowess.

In short, don’t give me a female character who can throw punches, is therefore considered progressive, and stop there. Don’t give me a physically strong female character, give me a female who has strong characterization. That’s what makes all the difference.

Who are your favorite female characters? What do you like best about them?

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!

What’s Changed in NO ANGELS

As with all long projects, No Angels has had a multitude of alterations made to it. While the bare-bone structure has largely stayed the same, that’s about it. Below are just a few of the most memorable changes that’ve been made to the series over the years.

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Riven used to be little more than a comic relief character. His name was Bobby. (And no, I’m not kidding.)

For a time, Liz was actually supposed to end up with Mark. I’d liked the idea of the non-special, normal friend getting the girl, but as Riven’s character developed, Mark got cut out of the picture. Muggle.

There were originally four books. Count ’em. The extra (and initially second) book took place in the Australian outback because, as a kid, I was obsessed with the deadly variety of creatures the continent hosts. I deemed it extraneous pretty early on.

Originally Guards who’d been brought back to life existed only in animal form, but I’d found that didn’t work into the mechanics of the story as well.

Liz’s primary weapon used to be a flame-arrowed bow. She also used to have power over stone/earth, but I thought that was getting a bit too Avatar: The Last Airbender-y so I gave those powers to a different race, the Viri Lapideus.

Liz’s last name was originally Crenshath. She had about 10 last names before I finally just picked one.

Liz initially had another best friend in addition to Mark: Josie. In the end, she betrayed Liz by trading confidential information to Jakeus in exchange for him not attacking her when his plans came to fruition. She didn’t serve much of a purpose in the story overall, though, so out she went!

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Did any of these surprise you? Did you see some of them coming? Comment below!

 

The End of Hiatus

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In February 2015 I announced that I was going to be taking an official hiatus, as things in my life were getting pretty stressful. I’d assumed that I would be back in a few months or so. Ha ha. Ha.

I’m going to level with you guys and be completely transparent. 2015 was the worst year of my life to date. My little brother unexpectedly passed away. I was diagnosed with a life long, semi-degenerative, incurable illness. (Said illness got much worse this year, so for a lot of 2015 I’ve been struggling to just stay afloat.) I developed chronic nausea so bad that I could hardly eat anything; I was hospitalized for a week; I randomly passed out; I fell down two flights of stairs and had an icebox land on me; and so on. You hopefully get the picture at this point.

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A summary of 2015

But now I’m back. While this year has been nothing short of a pain, I’ve learned how to adapt and make it through. I’ve had to focus in on what’s truly important to me, and writing is one of those things.

Thus, I officially declare my hiatus as over! And boy do I have a surprise for you guys.

The Final Advent will be released in January of 2016. (It’ll likely be ready towards the tail-end of December, but I don’t want to harm the book’s release my putting it too close to Christmas and New Years.) The cover is done, the formatting is largely finished, and all I have left to take into account is one beta editor’s feedback. The No Angels trilogy will finally be complete!

I’ve already started drafting my next novel, The Immortal, which I have high hopes for, and am also drafting a short, loose horror retelling of Frankenstein.

I’m so happy to be back at it again. When I’m writing, when I’m reading, when I’m doing ANYTHING book related, I feel a sense of ease and excitement all at once. Thank you guys so much for your incredibly patience in my absence; I can’t thank you enough for your support and kind words.

While 2015 was undeniably rough, 2016 is set to be the best year yet! Let’s get to it!

Back and Better Than Ever: Key of Amatahns (#1)

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Do you like fantasy? Action? Adventure? (Of course you do!) In that case, Elisabeth Wheatley’s The Key of Amatahns is right up your alley, and I’ve got some good news for you. Not only does it have a gorgeous new cover, it’s also re-edited and more wondrous than ever.

“In a land where those with magic are esteemed and revered, Janir guards a secret that would send her to the headsman’s block at a word. As one of the reviled Argetallams, she has the power to destroy enchantments and steal others’ magic—an ability that has caused bloodshed for generations.

Raised as the illegitimate daughter of an influential lord, she was determined to turn her back on her heritage, but when her power manifests, leaving a nobleman dead, she has no choice but to flee her adoptive home. In exile with the help of a fearless young enchanter and an elf sworn to protect her, she finds herself entangled in a quest to hide an ancient artifact from the kingdom’s enemies.

But they are not the only ones after the relic and soon their paths cross with a rival from Janir’s distant childhood. With no hope of help or rescue, the fate of nations will depend on a fifteen year old girl and her mastery of powers she doesn’t understand.”Goodreads

I wanted to get in Wheatley’s head and pick her brain regarding her editing process. Every author has different goals and approaches, so read below to find out hers!

  1. What made you decide to re-edit The Key of Amatahns?
When I started wanting to shield the book’s very existence from the world, I realized I had to do something. There’s always things I want to change post publication (in every single thing I’ve published ever), but not as badly as this. And because I’m self-published now, I could do so something about it. Ha!
  1. What sort of changes did you make this time around?
There were lots of changes. LOTS. The basic storyline is still the same, but a few characters were cut and other characters who were originally killed off were spared long enough to fulfill their parts (and then I killed them all over again). There were some forms of address that were changed, plenty of scenes that were completely rewritten, and details of the world that were overhauled.
One thing that was very important to me in the rewriting process was to show a more balanced distribution of bad and good between the Brevian/Stlavish “sides.” I aimed for that before, but I tried even harder this time around.
  1. I’ve noticed TKoA has a gorgeous new cover! What led you to seek that out and will any of your other books be getting new covers?
TKoA was given a facelift for the same reason I carved out a new book—I wanted to be proud of it. The old one just sort of felt blah and I wanted something ooh. And yes! I have actually picked out the model and images for the rest of the series and we should be getting matching new faces for them, too, as well as the future installments!
  1. What process did you use to edit TKoA this time, and (considering it was released once before) was it any different from how you’ve edited books in the past?
Actually, it wasn’t that different from how I usually edit a first draft. I opened it up and read through, fighting back the urge to vomit as I went and making up a laundry list of things that would be mercilessly altered. I had plenty of moments where I wanted to shoot my computer, my manuscript, or perhaps myself, but we got through (computer, manuscript, and all) and I think it was definitely worth it.
  1. What was it like re-editing TKoA? Nostalgic? Frustrating beyond belief? Something else?
Most of re-editing involved me sitting before my computer and screeching to the heavens in a mournful wail. “What was I thinking?” echoed frequently from my room during this process. In some ways, it was nostalgic as I recalled what had been going on in my life as I had originally written this or that, but the warm fuzzy feelings were usually short lived. For the most part, I was trying to figure out how 15-year-old me could have thought that thing was ready to meet planet Earth.
  1. As someone who is also re-editing an already released novel, I’ve had to come to the realization that a book will never really be “done,” but that we as authors will have to concede at some point and say we’re finished with it. On this project, how and when did you decide on that point for yourself and how do you feel?
The “give it up” point for me was hard to reach. I gave myself a deadline of January, but didn’t let go of the story and hit publish until halfway through March. I wrestled with this and tussled with that, but in the end, I had no choice but to let it go after the third overhaul. I was going to go crazy if I didn’t and my family had been through enough tribulation and wailing as it was.
I’d like to thank Ms. Wheatley for her time, (and for her highly enjoyable series). Go check out Key of Amatahns now!
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To find Elisabeth Wheatley at her respective sites, follow the links below!