3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag: Day 3

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I was tagged by the lovely Liz from Stellar Kitten Book Reviews to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll already know how much I adore quotes. Thank you so much for tagging me, Liz! Make sure you all take some time to go check out her blog. 🙂 ❤

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“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”

– J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I Tag:

Heather @ The Sassy Book Geek

Anna @ My Bookish Dream

Ashleigh @ A Frolic Through Fiction

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3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag: Day 2

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I was tagged by the lovely Liz from Stellar Kitten Book Reviews to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll already know how much I adore quotes. Thank you so much for tagging me, Liz! Make sure you all take some time to go check out her blog. 🙂 ❤

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“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”

– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

I Tag:

Dani @ Touch My Spine Book Reviews

Lacey @ Lacey Paris Books

Jo @ My Little Library in the Attic

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3 Days, 3 Quotes Tag: Day 1

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I was tagged by the lovely Liz from Stellar Kitten Book Reviews to do the 3 Days, 3 Quotes tag! If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you’ll already know how much I adore quotes. Thank you so much for tagging me, Liz! Make sure you all take some time to go check out her blog. 🙂 ❤

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“I would always rather be happy than dignified.”

– Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre

I Tag:

Ioana @ Dragon Waffles

Cher @ Laces and Books

Nada @ Early Bookish Birds

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Top 5 Most Anticipated Releases of Spring 2018

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Hey Everyone!

First of all, I want to start by welcoming all of my most recent followers! Thank you so much for joining all of us here. I’m really looking forward to talking with you guys! ❤

I’m a bit late with this post since we are already a little way into the season, but better late than never! Spring has arrived—though it was snowing here last night—and with it comes a ton of amazing new releases. There are a lot that I am hoping to pick up throughout the next few months, but here are a few that I am most excited to get my hands on. 😀

The Crooked Castle by Sarah Jean Horwitz (April 10th, 2018)

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Shortly after saving the faeries of Skemantis, magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III and his faerie companion, Grit, head out to see the world. They soon come across a mysteriously magical flying circus. As they get to know the outlandish world of Rinka Tinka’s Roving Wonder Show, it becomes clear there’s something not quite normal about this circus or its inventor—and that recent airship disasters plaguing nearby Driftside City may have a sinister explanation.
Fans of the Wildwood trilogy and Lockwood & Co. series will love the thrills and chills of The Crooked Castle as it takes readers up in the air with a flying circus, under the sea to the evil Unseelie kingdom, through a terrifying magical snowstorm, and on a chase with the menacing Wild Hunt.

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody (April 10th, 2018)

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Welcome to the City of Sin, where casino families reign, gangs infest the streets…
and secrets hide in every shadow. 
Enne Salta was raised as a proper young lady, and no lady would willingly visit New Reynes, the so-called City of Sin. But when her mother goes missing, Enne must leave her finishing school—and her reputation—behind to follow her mother’s trail to the city where no one survives uncorrupted.
Frightened and alone, her only lead is a name: Levi Glaisyer. Unfortunately, Levi is not the gentleman she expected—he’s a street lord and a con man. Levi is also only one payment away from cleaning up a rapidly unraveling investment scam, so he doesn’t have time to investigate a woman leading a dangerous double life. Enne’s offer of compensation, however, could be the solution to all his problems. 
Their search for clues leads them through glamorous casinos, illicit cabarets and into the clutches of a ruthless mafia donna. As Enne unearths an impossible secret about her past, Levi’s enemies catch up to them, ensnaring him in a vicious execution game where the players always lose. To save him, Enne will need to surrender herself to the city…
And she’ll need to play.

The Boy from Tomorrow by Camille DeAngelis (May 8th, 2018)

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Josie and Alec both live at 444 Sparrow Street. They sleep in the same room, but they’ve never laid eyes on each other. They are twelve years old but a hundred years apart. 
The children meet through a handpainted spirit board—Josie in 1915, Alec in 2015—and form a friendship across the century that separates them. But a chain of events leave Josie and her little sister Cass trapped in the house and afraid for their safety, and Alec must find out what’s going to happen to them. Can he help them change their future when it’s already past?
The Boy from Tomorrow is a tribute to classic English fantasy novels like Tom’s Midnight Garden and A Traveller in Time. Through their impossible friendship, Alec and Josie learn that life can offer only what they ask of it.

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware (May 29th, 2018)

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On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money.
Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it. 
Full of spellbinding menace and told in Ruth Ware’s signature suspenseful style, this is an unputdownable thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

The Mermaid by Christina Henry (June 19th, 2018)

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From the author of Lost Boy comes a historical fairy tale about a mermaid who leaves the sea for love and later finds herself in P.T. Barnum’s American Museum as the real Fiji mermaid. However, leaving the museum may be harder than leaving the sea ever was.
Once there was a mermaid who longed to know of more than her ocean home and her people. One day a fisherman trapped her in his net but couldn’t bear to keep her. But his eyes were lonely and caught her more surely than the net, and so she evoked a magic that allowed her to walk upon the shore. The mermaid, Amelia, became his wife, and they lived on a cliff above the ocean for ever so many years, until one day the fisherman rowed out to sea and did not return.
P.T. Barnum was looking for marvelous attractions for his American Museum, and he’d heard a rumor of a mermaid who lived on a cliff by the sea. He wanted to make his fortune, and an attraction like Amelia was just the ticket. 
Amelia agreed to play the mermaid for Barnum, and she believes she can leave any time she likes. But Barnum has never given up a money-making scheme in his life, and he’s determined to hold on to his mermaid.

What books are you looking forward to picking up over the next few months?

Let me know in the comments!

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Guest Post: Author Sarah Jean Horwitz

Today’s post is a guest post about the process of character creation, written by the very lovely and talented author, Sarah Jean Horwitz. Sarah writes the Carmer and Grit series, which rocketed up my all-time favorites list early last year. I am incredibly honored to have this chance to feature her on my blog and to work with her to promote her wonderful books! Please make sure to check out Sarah on her websiteTwitter, Instagram, and Goodreads. The Carmer and Grit series consists of The Wingsnatchers and The Crooked Castle.

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14612081The Crooked Castle, my second book in the Carmer and Grit series, begins with something very large crashing into Carmer’s roof.

Well, not something, exactly – someone. 

When seventeen year-old balloonist Bell Daisimer loses control of his balloon and literally crashes into the lives of Carmer and Grit, he starts a chain of events that leads them to a magical flying circus, a brand new mystery, and a whole lot of scary faeries. An aspiring pilot always game for an adventure, Bell helps Carmer and Grit navigate the aeronautical community they suddenly find themselves immersed in. The story couldn’t exist without him.

But Bell Daisimer was not always a balloonist.

In fact, the Bell Daisimer that exists on the pages of The Crooked Castle is nothing like the character I originally imagined – and that’s what so great about him, and about writing stories in general. Back in the early days of brainstorming for the book, Bell was one of the first characters I knew I wanted to add.

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The first book’s villain ran a number of enterprises, including a scientific school for boys. With the villain’s defeat came the unraveling of many of his businesses. Bell had little connection to said villain, but he was a scholarship student at that school. Bell lost his scholarship in the fallout, and at the start of the second book, he was determined to find out the real reason behind his benefactor’s meteoric rise and fall.

Bell was supposed to spend the book as the thorn in Carmer’s side, always sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, eagerly searching for evidence of faerie magic. Much of the book’s plot at that time revolved around telephone and radio technology, so Bell was named after – you guessed it – Alexander Graham Bell.

If you’ve read The Crooked Castle – or even taken a casual glance at the jacket! – you’ll know that there’s nary a mention of telephones, radios, or dissolved educational institutions. But Bell Daisimer somehow managed to make it through every iteration of the story, evolving and changing until he became the character on the page today.

thewingsnatchersThis character evolution was a new experience for me. Most of the characters in The Wingsnatchers simply popped into my head, fully formed and ready to be written. Carmer, Grit, the Amazifier, Kitty, Gideon Sharpe, Madame Euphemia – even minor characters like Echolaken and Ravene – they all simply appeared in my mind’s eye, walking and talking almost exactly as they do in the finished draft. I was extremely lucky to have such a great cast of characters pop out of nowhere, ready and waiting to be written about.

While writing The Crooked Castle, however, fewer characters appeared to me as fully formed. Many, like Bell, started out as mere seedlings of ideas. Perhaps I knew one or two of their distinguishing features, or how I wanted them to function in the story. I definitely had to work for them, teasing out their voices through lots of brainstorming, reading aloud, and revisions. 

Sometimes, stories and characters come easily, like a garden that flowers all at once, filled with vivid and healthy and complementary plants. Maybe they need a bit of rearranging or a bit more sun here and there, but otherwise, they’re complete. Other times, you’ve got to stare at your plot of dirt for a bit, plant a few seeds, and coax them into something beautiful yourself. You’ve got to go in pruning and weeding and watering and getting your hands dirty. Both processes have their pleasures – and at the end, you’ve still got a garden. The trick in storytelling, of course, is to make the finished story smooth enough that no one can tell how you grew it!

I hope you and your readers enjoy meeting Bell and the new cast of The Crooked Castle. Though this book was a challenge for me, I do hope to write more Carmer and Grit stories in the future. I can’t wait to see how my garden will grow with each one.

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The Crooked Castle will be out on April 10th! And of course, make sure to check out The Wingsnatchers as well!
My review of The Crooked Castle will be up in a few days, and if you would like to read my review of The Wingsnatchers, click the teacup below!

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An Interview with Author Sarah Glenn Marsh

Today’s post is an interview with the extremely lovely and talented author, Sarah Glenn Marsh. I am incredibly honored and excited to have had this chance to talk with her and get to know her, as well as to work with her to promote her wonderful books! Please make sure to check out Sarah on her website, Twitter, and Goodreads

Reign of the Fallen | Fear the Drowning Deep | Selfie Sebastian | A Campfire Tail 

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Hey! I’m Sarah: currently blond (but sometimes pink-haired!) lover of animals; mother to four rescued greyhounds, three birds, and tons of fish; eater of sweets; always anxious; sometimes funny; someone who loves writing books for kids and teens.

How did you get into writing, and when did you decide to pursue it as a career?

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I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember (we’re talking little stories when I was five years old about why my parents should get me a dog…!), and I’ve always been a voracious reader. I started loving trips to the library in preschool!

I didn’t take my writing seriously until I was out of college, however; it was actually my husband who pushed me to follow my writing dream and supported me every step of the way, however he could, because he believes in my talent (even when I don’t)—I hope everyone who’s seeking a partner in life finds one who supports their dreams like that! 

What is your writing process usually like?

Quiet, full of looking up dog memes, and consuming copious amounts of kit kat bars 😉

In all seriousness, I’m one of those people who edits as I draft, so what I usually do is spend the day getting down a bunch of new words, the evening going over them to edit, and then the next morning before writing any more, I’ll read over what I edited the previous day to refresh my memory!

Where do you usually go to write, and is there anything in particular you do to get yourself in the right mindset?

I like to write in my dining room, because it’s quiet, sunny, and there’s a big table in there! Plus, whenever I get stuck on a scene, I can stare at my awesome fish tank on the opposite wall 😉

As for getting in the writing mindset, what helps me most is routine. I write in the same spot every day, during the same general hours, and so when I go sit down in the dining room, my brain switches into ‘work mode’ with little effort!

Sometimes, to set the mood for a certain scene, I’ll also listen to music first 🙂

What do you find to be the most challenging part of the writing process?

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Credit: Penguin Teen

The most challenging part of the process for me has changed over time. It used to be revisions that I found daunting, though after plenty of experience, I now love them.

Now that I have a publisher and write under contract, I usually have to think up a synopsis for a story ahead of drafting. And since the most magical part of creating a new book used to be discovering things about the world and characters as I wrote, I’d say that currently, the toughest part of the process for me is plotting in advance. However, I figured out a way to help myself plan ahead while working on the sequel to Reign—the index card method.

I write out every scene I can think of on individual index cards—and not just scenes, but character building moments, pivotal moments in relationships, and so on—and then lay out all the index cards and try to put them into the order in which I think they belong. This allows me to see what’s missing from certain sections of the plot (ie: if I have three action scenes in a row, I’m clearly in need of a quiet, character-building moment in there somewhere), where I need to tie certain plot threads together better, and so on. Sometimes, my husband will take a peek and help me rearrange them. Having another pair of eyes is helpful even at that early stage!

Your characters are incredibly well-crafted, realistic, and easy to connect with. How do you typically approach the task of creating their personalities and bringing them to life within a setting and narrative?

My biggest tip for characters is to give each one a fully realized character arc (yes, even for the most minor of characters named in the book!) before starting to write the story. I found this really helped me make everyone in Reign distinct and more real. Before writing the book, I also spent time giving each character detailed backstory- even stuff that didn’t make it into the story in the end!

While reading Reign of the Fallen, I was really struck by how refreshing and unique every aspect of the story felt. How did you come up with the world, the magic system, and the overall role that necromancy played in Karthia? 

 

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Credit: @BeautifullyBookishBethany

Thank you! When I began world building for this story, I knew I needed a unique take on death and necromancers, since they’re a part of so many fantasy novels and I didn’t want mine to feel cliché! To do this, I went back to one of the earliest stories of necromancy– the Greek myth of Orpheus, a man who attempts to rescue his wife from the underworld and is told by Hades that he can take her back to the living world as long as he doesn’t look at her until they’re both out of his realm. Spoiler alert: he takes a peek and loses her forever. Drawing from that mythology, as well as researching rituals surrounding death from around the world, helped me to start building the culture in Reign of the Fallen, where the Dead must wear shrouds in the living world or else become monsters; where change of even the smallest sort is outlawed because the Dead fear it; where entering the spirit world demands a painful sacrifice of any living person who dares to go there. The spirit world in the book, known as the Deadlands, was also inspired by the Greek underworld! I took some of the themes from that world and put my own spin on it by having my Deadlands be a landscape that’s ever-shifting, ever-changing, unlike the spirits themselves. It seemed fitting, somehow. Same with my spirit world being full of flowers and beauty, things that grow the way the spirits long to still.

 

Since we are on the topic, Reign of the Fallen is such an emotionally intense story, and it’s clear that you put your heart and soul into every word. In what ways did that emotional intensity affect you while working on it?

Writing from Odessa’s POV, being so close to her thoughts throughout the tragedies that befall her during the novel was definitely a challenge at times! But the emotional intensity was actually…freeing, and healing, in a way. My grandmother was really sick while I was writing this book, and I was frustrated at some of my circumstances—getting to channel that negative energy into something positive through writing this story helped me tremendously. 

How does it feel to know your stories are published and out in the world for people to read, and what has been your favorite part of the experience so far?

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I won’t lie; it’s a little nerve-wracking knowing your work is out there to be judged, loved, hated, discussed, etc.! But the coolness factor completely outweighs that. It’s a joy to be able to share stories with the world. I feel very fortunate.

My favorite part of the experience is when people contact me and say that after reading Reign, they were inspired to work on their own book. Knowing I’ve inspired someone else to make their own art is the best feeling! I also love hearing from readers who identify with one or more of my characters, because they are such a part of me.

What books and/or authors have inspired you the most?

Patricia McKillip is probably my biggest influence. Her writing is the strongest and most beautiful I’ve ever read, and I wish I had a style as elegant and mysterious as hers. If you’re not familiar with her work, here are some titles I love: Ombria in Shadow, Winter Rose, and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

I also have to give a shout-out here to the most recent book I read and loved to pieces: MAMMOTH by Jill Baguchinsky. It comes out this November (2018) from Turner Publishing, and just…do yourselves a favor, friends, and read this book!

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Here’s my best advice for aspiring authors, broken into three parts:

  • Get others to critique your work, but more importantly, offer to critique for others! Critique as much and often as you can. There’s nothing like finding the strengths and weaknesses in a variety of different authors’ work to teach you about how to edit your own stories.
  • Read voraciously in the genre/category in which you want to publish. When you’re doing that, and you have a strong response to something- love it, or not so much- try to identify what it is you’re enjoying, or what’s not working for you about the story you’re reading. You’ll pick up things you might like to try in your own writing this way (for instance, maybe you’ll be inspired to try a new POV!), and will also identify things you may want to avoid (the things that don’t work for you as a reader).
  • Seek community. In the online writing community, I’ve found like-minded people, learned more than I ever would have imagined possible, and made life-changing connections with wonderful authors and bloggers who I’m so happy to call friends. You have everything to gain by interacting with other book lovers online!

Thank you so much, Sarah! If you guys would like to check out my review of Reign of the Fallen, click the teacup below! And for all of you out there who haven’t yet, in the words of Sarah…do yourselves a favor and read Reign of the Fallen! 😀

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Guest Post: Author Jeremy D. Holden

Today’s post is a guest post by the very talented author Jeremy D. Holden. I have had the great pleasure of reading and reviewing both of his novels (Sea of Doubt and Valley of Time), and when I reached out, he kindly agreed to write a guest post for my blog. As many of us here in the book blogging community are writers and aspiring authors, I asked him to speak about his approach to writing novels. 
I am incredibly honored that I have had this chance to work with him to promote his fantastic series–the Mal Thomas Mystery Series! Please make sure to check out Jeremy on his TwitterGoodreads, and Amazon author page. There are also links to the Goodreads pages of his individual titles scattered throughout, so definitely make sure to check those out as well!

How I approach writing my novels

8385563Ariana had asked me to write some thoughts around how I approach writing my novels for her excellent blog, and I was more than happy to oblige.

For me, writing a novel is akin to painting a landscape that you may have glimpsed in the past, but aren’t able to look at while you’re painting it.

I spend months just thinking about the scene, imagining and remembering things which are relevant to the overall vista. At first, they appear to be dissonant elements, each of which is somewhat out of focus, but then the more I think about them, the more they crystalize in my mind.

I very consciously never write down any of these elements, for fear that if I do they will be fixed in time, and therefore unable to evolve in my consciousness as they need to.

This process of letting the different elements of the painting appear often takes about six months, before I’m ready to start seeing how they might begin to fit together. I never push things at this stage, but rather allow my unconscious mind to make the connections as it sees fit.

All at once there will be a realization that the various strands are ready to form together into something resembling a cohesive whole. At that point, perhaps on a wet afternoon or in the wee hours of the morning, for the first time I’ll allow my mind to fully let things start to form together.

seaofdoubtOnce I’ve arrived at this point I still won’t write down everything that has formed, because I’m loathe to shape the story prematurely. So, I will let this partially visible landscape sit with me for a number of weeks, as the infant chapters continue to assemble.

Sometime during this period I’ll recognize that a barrier or hole exists in the connected narrative, and in order to stitch it together, I’ll go and swim laps. Something about being fully immersed in water and the sensory deprivation, allows me to think with greater clarity.

And then, because I haven’t been greedy or impatient in my desire to rush its inception, I’ll be rewarded with the recognition that I’m ready to layout the complete flow of the story.

In the case of Sea of Doubt and Valley of Time, as well as with the new novel I’m working on, Halo of Power, I’ve been able to have a summary outline written in just several days, because the narrative is already formed in my mind.

From there, in each case it has taken just five weeks to have an early draft of the full novel completed. When I tell people that they are often surprised at the short time period, but in reality the full creative process I’ve described actually takes closer to nine months.

And of course, during those roughly five weeks, it isn’t a simple process of direct translation from my fixed thoughts, as the inventive mind is fully engaged, and the story is still being refined in real time. With each book, at least twenty percent of the storyline was created during the writing period itself.

valleyoftimeI prefer to write my books in January, after the distraction of the holidays is passed, and while the longer winter nights and colder weather is upon us. And in truth I don’t sleep a lot, often going to bed at ten and getting back up at midnight and working through until the early hours, at which point I might go back to bed for a couple more hours sleep.

There is a tangible sense of fear during those five weeks that if I don’t write down the thoughts as they are forming, that they’ll be lost to me, so I never resist the instinct to write, whatever time of day or night.

And there are periods when I lose track of time and myself with it, as I’ll seem to wake from unconsciousness to discover that a thousand words has miraculously appeared.

I still have a full-time job running Clean, our branding agency, and have wondered if I’ll have the ability and desire to write more than one novel a year when I do one-day retire.

Part of me would like to think I could, and yet I consider being given stories to tell to be the greatest of gifts, and so I’m loathe to abuse that privilege by writing more than my allocated quota.