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!

THE FINAL ADVENT Release!

After years of drafting, editing, rewriting, and (of course) more editing, THE FINAL ADVENT has officially been published! Go pick up your copy today of the final installment in the NO ANGELS trilogy, where action, adventure, and intrigue abound. (Only available in eBook format for the time being. It should be available in paperback soon!)

Also, for those of you on Goodreads, add it to your list here!

Getting to this point has been such an incredibly long, toiling, and rewarding journey. Without the support of all those I know and love, never in my wildest dreams would this have been possible. Each and every one of you–yes, YOU reading this right now–have been invaluable to me, whether you’re aware of it or not. I’ll cut the sentiments short for now (that’s for a whole different post), but be warned: they’re coming for you!

Thank you so much for following me on my adventures thus far. With the No Angels trilogy wrapped up, it’s time that we take the next steps out into an even bigger, if mysterious, world.

Until next time!

Author Interview: Elisabeth Wheatley

5139754Elisabeth and I have known one another for a few years now. We met at the 2011 Texas Book Festival, exchanged info, and have been reading each other’s books since! And on the book front, Wheatley is a machine. She’s written over 400,000 words this past year alone. She’s published five books in less than four years, – but what’s more is that they’re amazing. Anyone can throw down words on paper, but to make them quality? That’s a whole different ball game, and one she routinely conquers.

So, let’s take a look at the mind behind the work!

First off, here’s a look at her official bio: “Elisabeth Wheatley began what would be her first novel at eleven and hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not daydreaming of elves, vampires, and/or hot guys in armor, she can be found wasting time on the internet, fangirling over her latest obsession, and pretending to be a functional citizen.”

So, what got you into writing?

Well, at first it was the desire to create my own world. Then I started really getting into it and realizing how happy it made me, and now I can’t seem to quit.

How long have you been writing?

Oh, I would say about twelve years if you count all those “books” seven year old me scribbled on copy paper.

What process do you use to write? Do you use an outline, or just sort of wing it?

In truth, I have a “living” outline in my head that grows and changes as I explore the story. I once tried writing outlines, but I never stuck to the plan and eventually gave up.

Regarding the above process (or lack of), why do you prefer that method?

Like I said, I write largely for the joy of it. That’s why I prefer not to stress myself with an outline. I usually have an idea of where the story will go and how it will end, but I do enjoy letting the characters surprise me.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?

I love drafting—that’s when I’m first discovering all the characters and their plans and roles in the particular story. I loathe editing with the fiery intensity of a thousand bursting supernovas—it’s a slow form of torment; going back and tightening up the story, the dialogue, proofreading, making sure there are no plot holes, on and on and on.

What is the most difficult thing, (whether conveying a certain emotion, writing love scenes, specific settings, etc.), for you to adequately transfer from your mind to paper?

When it comes to romantic scenes, I usually spend about an hour on a single page, trying to make it sound right. Most the time, I feel weird writing that sort of thing, worried it sounds corny or stupid. I suppose it’s that I’m not comfortable with them yet.

What is the process of editing generally like for you? (In terms of ease, the number of rewrites, beta editors used, etc.)

Editing for me is like shoveling mud with a spoon. I stress out a lot because there’s all the pressure to get the story right and I rely heavily on a few beta readers to tell me when I need to change something. Depending on the manuscript, I may go through 30+ “drafts”. It just depends.

Are there some different genres you see yourself pursuing in the future?

I think I would like to explore more paranormal romance and maybe sci-fi. I have a few story ideas in those genres and I think they would be fun.

What genres do you never see yourself writing in?

Well, certainly never erotica. Aside from that, I think I’ll always have an attachment to the paranormal. It’s hard to picture myself writing anything that didn’t have some degree of fantasy in it, I simply lack an affinity for the “real” world.

What keeps you motivated to write?

Pathological ambition, that’s the best answer I have. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t not write and still be happy with myself. My family can tell you all about it.

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And there you have it! A glimpse into the mind of an imaginative powerhouse. For an even further look, check out her books, and sign up for her mailing list for news and exclusive content!

Book Review: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

16084685Title: Sora’s Quest (Cat’s Eye Chronicles #1)

Author: T. F. Shreffler

Publisher: The Runaway Pen

Release Date: November 20, 2013

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Summary: “A noblewoman, an assassin, and a soul-stealing necklace…. Sora planned on running away from her wedding, but she never expected to be kidnapped! Dumped into a world of magical races, arcane jewelry and forgotten lore, she finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous assassin, haunted by an even darker past. She yearns for freedom, but he won’t let her go—not when her Cat’s Eye necklace is the only thing that can save his life. But the necklace itself presents a problem. It is an ancient device from the long forgotten War of the Races, and its magic has the ability to steal souls. Can Sora learn to wield its power—or will the power wield her?” – Goodreads

I have a weird relationship with this book. My affection for it is split along a very clear divide. There’s the first 80% of the book, which I’ll review in one chunk, and then the remaining 20%, which I will also review in its own separate chunk.

So, let’s take a look at the first 80%.

For the first 80% of the book I really wasn’t feeling it. It read more like a middle grade book to me. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with middle grade, but it just wasn’t what I was expecting. I didn’t feel a huge connection with the characters, nor was I super interested in their dynamic with one another. (I did however like all the bits with Dorian though. He’s such a darling.) The writing was just okay at this point. It wasn’t anything spectacular, and to be honest a little cheesy in parts. The pacing had a major lull in the middle, as is sort of common in fantasy novels. Also common is the fantasy formula for generating plot which is “don’t know what to do next with your characters? Have them get attacked by a crazy monster!”. This gets very old vey fast when used in abundance, as it is here.

Now, the remaining 20%.

You may be wondering, then why the high rating? You see, I have no idea what happened in the last bit of the book, but the writing suddenly took on a new, astonishing quality. The pace was perfection. The character dynamics showed multiple layers, tantalizing and rich. The characters were infused with an indescribable vitality. I have to be honest, if I’d only read the first 80% I wouldn’t have been interested in reading the next book. The last 20% changed everything, and I’m very excited to read book number two!

In conclusion, I would recommend this book. While I initially didn’t care for it, the ending part was just too compelling, too awesome to ignore. It has the promise of an exciting world to explore, authentic characters, and a plot that draws you in.  If you’re a fan of fantasy far and wide, this is most definitely the book for you!

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Oh, and by the way . . . Sora’s Quest is permanently FREE on Amazon!

Freebie Friday: NO ANGELS, newly revised!

As many of you know, the newly revised edition of my novel No Angels is back on the market!

Woohoo! Books!

Woohoo! Books!

But as a special treat to further celebrate its re-release, No Angels will be free all of today and tomorrow! (January 30th – January 31st)

Have you not yet read my book? Well, now that it’s free you have nothing to lose! Check out my summary of it below and follow the link to get it (again, FOR FREE!) on Amazon!

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Click here to find No Angels on Amazon! 

12949450“Liz Patrona never expected to lose her normal life completely. She never expected that people’s memories of her would vanish, or that all records of her existence would disappear. She never expected to be stolen away to a city beneath the desert. And she definitely never expected to be told she was the God-chosen barrier between the common man and paranormal threats.

Liz is a teenager perfectly happy with her mediocrity, that is, before she’s taken by a peculiar group of people and forced into a role she never imagined, – and definitely doesn’t want. Distinguishing illusion from reality, realizing her abilities as a pyrokinetic, and keeping other-worldly objects from the hands of normal folk are only some of the things that await her. Prepared for this by her new mentor, a rude, possibly sadistic, but oddly attracting man, Liz braces herself for what is to come. But many an unknown thing lurks here, and what she doesn’t know may just kill her.”

Click here to find No Angels on Amazon!

Writers: Love Your Own Books

Congratulations! You’ve published your book! You promote it, give away free copies, network, etc. And then you wait.

If you’re lucky, a couple reviews come in. Maybe more, maybe none, depending on if you’re self-published, with a small press, with one of the Big Five, or something in between. Some of those review will say that they liked your work. Others will slam it into the ground.

And you know what? It hurts. You’ve likely spent years creating, molding, and breathing life into this single piece of yours only to have some people despise it or flat out ignore its existence.

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Sadness abound.

Despite that, you must remember this: love your own books. Don’t you recall all the time and effort and affection you poured into them? How happy writing them made you? (Okay, maybe the editing portion didn’t fill your soul with glee, but some part of the writing process did.) When’s the last time you spent so much time on something? While it’s difficult not to linger over the feelings of “person y & z didn’t like it” or “I guess it wasn’t as good as I hoped it was”, you can’t do that to yourself. It doesn’t help you in any way whatsoever*.

In a similar vein, you also should never feel bad about or look down on what you do. Don’t let people make you feel like you should quit writing or take your work less seriously. Heck, to this day, despite having multiple published novels, my parents still see my writing time as trivial and unimportant. It’s always been seen as something I shouldn’t prioritize, (which of course made me want to prioritize it even more. Reverse psychology, perhaps? Ah, the parental masterminds at work.)

You have to remember the joy your books give you, because at the end of the day that’s the only person who matters. Would you rather slave over a book for months, if not years, you hated working on from beginning to end, but yet one that received success? Or, would you rather have a book you enjoyed molding in your hands and bringing into the world, but one that didn’t experience much acclaim?

I know where my answer lies. As writers, we’re naturally critics of our own work. We have to be for the editing and revision process alone. And yet, valuing and enjoying our work when all is said and done should never be forgotten. Though it’s difficult to teach oneself these things, it’s a pursuit we should never abandon.

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* However, if you’re book receives many a negative review all pin-pointing the same thing, you may want to take another look and consider how you can make it better. This does not mean though you should ever hate your book. Read my post Biting the Bullet for my experience with this.

Book Review: The Moon Queen – Another Book of Rhyme

20819540Title: The Moon Queen – Another Book of Rhyme

Authors: Bex Pavia, Jackie Pavia, Boo Shaw

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date: February 15, 2014

Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: “From the author of The Soul Bearer – and other poems comes a second collection of rhyming verse. This book offers twenty pieces of poetry that take a walk on the dark side as well as the light; from the fantasy-tale to the slightly humorous – by way of the emotional. Be taken away to an imaginary world in ‘The Tower’, and chuckle at a common human failing in ‘Thick Skin’. Includes four excellent poems by the author’s daughter and mother.” – Goodreads

As The Moon Queen is a brief collection of poems, I’ll keep my review of it brief as well.

First off, if you want to read it but worry you won’t have the time or are too busy, fear not! I read this all in one short sitting and didn’t feel rushed at all. The Moon Queen hits the perfect sweet spot in it’s length.

However, due to it’s short nature, one can see overarching patterns in it. Most of the pieces in The Moon Queen are very similar to one another, all with a dark, gloomy, and foreboding atmosphere. I don’t mind the themes, but I would’ve liked a little more variation. But don’t misunderstand; variation was in fact present, – from Thick Skin to Mistletoe to Snowman -, but it fell the slightest bit short in the amount I felt was needed.

The writing was enjoyable, with differing melodies and lush imagery. The descriptions draw you in without you even realizing it, the writing style painting a clear picture without drawing too much attention to itself. Another plus of this book was that it had multiple authors, which means that the reader has the pleasure of experiencing the distinct voices of each.

I feel this collection was put together quickly, with attention to detail falling a bit by the wayside. The melody in certain lines didn’t add up where I didn’t see a use for dissonance and the language could’ve been shaped up some more. None of the aforementioned was very present, but it still caught my attention where it did.

Overall, The Moon Queen earns a solid 4 out of 5.