Pre-Order for Reclaim


So, I know the Lady Gaga concert is tonight (oh wait, or maybe it’s the Super Bowl, or something), but I wanted to let you all know that you can now pre-order Reclaim (Reborn Series Book 3)! It’s available through Kindle, Smashwords, Nook, and many other platforms. Pre-order it now, and it will be delivered to your e-reader on February 15, 2017.

Revenge, a Reborn series novella that takes place between books 2 and 3, is also available for purchase! (To be honest, you don’t have to read it to understand what’s going on in Reclaim, although there is a neat tie-in between the two installments.)

The paperback version of Reclaim will also be available on February 15.

*****

reclaimcoverCarly just lost the last week of her life trapped in Pandora, the space between universes. Most of it was spent navigating an illusion created by her only companion, Dolos, the god of trickery. Even so, the time Carly spent there changed her. She fell in love. She’s more fearless and more determined than ever to leave the darkest parts of her past behind. And she’s learned that, sometimes, family is the one you make for yourself, like the one she’s found at Gamma Lambda Phi.

But a lot can happen in one week, and Carly returns to a sorority in jeopardy. A curse has been placed on her sisters, and it’s up to her to break it. With the Gammas out of commission, Eric’s halfling army is plotting something big, and Carly and her sisters are the only ones who can stop them. To make matters worse, Dolos is working for the bad guys and up to his old tricks.

Time is running out, but the antidote for the curse is proving impossible to find. To save her sisters and stop Eric’s army, Carly has some tough choices to make. But will she choose duty and sisterhood, or the kind of passion that comes around only once in a lifetime?

Art and Culture


I’ve been debating over whether I should write this post or not. I’m still not sure, but–since the Internet provides us with such an easy avenue for (over)sharing of opinions–it’s happening. Why the uncertainty? Well, for one, this post was inspired by a certain movie, based off of a bestselling book, that released on Valentine’s Day and has, in a short time, grossed bajillions of dollars (I may be exaggerating, slightly…). That’s right–the both much beloved and reviled Fifty Shades of Grey. And, to some degree, I–as some of you may also be–am simply getting sick of hearing about it, period. So I will try to make this post a little more broad than just this book/movie, but I can’t ignore it completely. Secondly…if the Fifty Shades controversy has shown us anything, it’s that some people can’t engage in a critique or debate without being just plain mean. More than likely, only my friends will read this post and few others will actually come across it–and fewer still will leave a comment–but there’s always that nagging fear that someone will just respond with something nasty and counterproductive.

And, third…I don’t really feel strongly about this book either way. I read all three of them out of sheer curiosity (I jumped on the bandwagon after they became popular). I haven’t seen the movie, yet. I’m nowhere near a super fan…nor am I an extreme “hater,” either. It’s been awhile since I read them…I reviewed all three of them (you can read my review of the first book here). I was surprised when I went back and read my critiques, because my opinion has changed (somewhat) over the last several years.

I will tell you upfront what this post is not about: the quality of E.L. James’s writing. Did I feel like they were the most well written books ever? No. Did I like the main heroine, Anna? Not particularly. Like the franchise the Shades books were inspired by (Twilight, if you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know that by now), Anna is sort of a bland character, if you prefer strong, vivid, interesting characters (and I hope you do)–then again, she’s the perfect character if you are seeking to “insert” yourself into the book in place of Anna for the purposes of fantasizing. Look, there’s a lot of bad, poorly written porn (even if it’s more visual rather than literary) geared towards men’s fantasies–and I don’t think I’m exaggerating this time when I say it’s probably a billion dollar industry. My point is, just because Shades is in a book form, doesn’t mean it’s required to have outstanding style. Its purpose is to titillate (and, most likely, shock).

(As an aside: That’s definitely not to say that a book can’t have all the things–be well written, with strong, interesting, dynamic characters, and also be sexy. I’m just saying that, when it comes to what may be a book with mediocre writing that is written by a woman intended for a bunch of other women to read–suddenly everyone has exceedingly high standards of the written word and cinematography.)

I’m going on off a tangent–as I’m prone to do, with posts like this–so let me bring it back to today’s intended topic: art and culture. Because, while some dissenters criticize James’s writing, and others call it a Twilight rip off and accuse her of plagiarism, much of the criticism has been over Christian’s personality, his relationship with Anna, and how that might affect impressionable readers.

I don’t think any of us can deny that art can affect us, and can do so deeply. In fact, as artists, writers, singers, performers, etc., we’d be doing our crafts a disservice by trying to argue otherwise. We’re usually willing to accept this when we find other people who consume and enjoy the art we put out into the world, but it becomes a little harder to stomach when we have to admit that it can also affect some people negatively. So I think we can all agree that, yes, art can evoke both positive and negative responses–including unintended ones–and that the culture surrounding us in turn affects art, maybe sometimes in ways we don’t even realize.

At its core, art is also a very selfish activity. Before you put your art out into the world (whether it’s a painting, a short story, a book, a song, a movie)–before you have readers, listeners, viewers–it’s just you and your idea. In the case of writing, you’re writing characters and themes that are, for whatever reason, interesting to you–you’re expressing yourself and your emotions. (I’m not trying to speak for all writers when I say this, but…to be completely honest, I haven’t always worried about what others might say/how others might interpret my books, or how they might affect people (in the negative sense). Recently, I’ve started obsessing over this, but, if I’m going to get anything down on paper, I have to block it out. I’m not going to censor myself because I’m worried about what someone else might think.)

What motivates the people consuming said art can vary widely and, often, be at odds with the creator’s self-expression or intention. I’m going to try to stick to the book example because a book inspired this post, and, as a writer, it’s what I can speak to best. Fans may fall in love with the book for any number of reasons–the style, atmosphere, and characters drew them in, the characters really spoke and jumped off the page for them, they see themselves as one of the characters, the book got them through a difficult time, whatever. For some others, it may be the opposite–it could be that a situation or character reminds them of a difficult time in their life, or something about the book clashes with a believe or value they cherish–whatever the case, they find the book offensive. Critics analyze the book and, not only consider aspects like the style and quality of the writing and characters, but also perhaps what it reflects about our society–and how it might affect other readers. This is all fair. The artist also has to be aware that, once that book or painting or song goes out into the world, it’s open to different and varied interpretations.

I guess where I’m going with this is: Critique is fine. I’m not about to say that we shouldn’t critique Fifty Shades, or talk about what kind of impact our society has had on it–and the kind of impact it could have on our society or even certain individuals. Art and culture are intertwined. I’m just wondering why, as a society, we can’t seem to have a reasonable discussion about a book written by a woman, seemingly intended for and read by millions of other women, without being mean. And not just mean–ugly and horrible. (I mean, E.L. James (as other famous people have) gets harassed a lot on Twitter. Which is one thing I hate about social media–although it has its perks, it also makes it really easy for people to anonymously harass other people and say things they would never, in a million years, have the guts to say to someone’s face.)

Okay, I was going to try to keep this general, but my brain keeps coming back around to Fifty Shades, in particular. Most of the cultural criticism I’ve alluded to centers around Christian and Anna’s relationship–some interpret it as abusive (well, I guess they wouldn’t say “interpret,” they would say it is abusive). I think it’s fair to say there may be undertones of that.

But I also have to say I’m not sure why we seem to be so afraid that millions of women can’t separate a book or a fantasy from reality. Like I said, it might affect some people negatively…and, maybe to try to prevent that, we should point out and discuss the seemingly questionable material (as we’ve been doing).

There’s something about the amount of criticism we’ve been heaping on James and Fifty, though, that I’m starting to find just as disconcerting as some people find the books themselves. For one thing, there does seem to be this element to it that we’re talking about it so much because, again, it’s a sexy book written by a woman for other women…and that we usually seem to be overly concerned with, not how art is affecting us, but how art is (negatively) affecting women…because somehow we’re more prone to messages (“hidden” or otherwise) in art and the media. (I guess the flip side to this is not that we feel women are more susceptible to these messages, but that the formula in Fifty Shades is outdated and patriarchal, and that these themes are being perpetuated by the fact that the books are so popular.)

The other element I find disturbing is that I’ve started to see posts and things encouraging boyfriends/husbands to not to take their girlfriends/wives to see the movie because it’s not really “romantic,” and we don’t want them to get the wrong impression (because, see above comment)! I think that’s a terrible and counterproductive suggestion and could actually backfire. Your boyfriend does not get to decide for you what guilty pleasures or fantasies you choose to indulge in. I also read this article by some guy who went to see the movie and also seems to be overly concerned that a woman (again, I’m talking about adult women, here, not preteens or teenagers) is going to get the wrong idea about romance from watching this movie. Which brings me to what will hopefully be my last two points, because I didn’t expect this post to get so massive.

Why do women like Fifty Shades? Why do they “like” Christian Grey? Perhaps women like Christian because he sounds f***able. He’s hot, and he’s rich, and it sounds like he’s good, at, you know…doin’ stuff. 😉 I think it’s perfectly possible to like a fictional character and realize that not all of their traits are ideal traits for a mate in real life. Romance novels (we’ll get to the genre term “romance” in a minute), like those of other genres, are read for pleasure and escapism. At least when I read them, I’m not looking for the hero (or antihero) to have traits my next boyfriend is going to have. (And I don’t think anyone has ever expressed any concern or fear over whether men are going to date women like those in the porn they watch.)

And, finally, the other argument the crux of the Fifty Shades criticism seems to depend on is that it is a “romance” novel, and many of Christian’s actions are not romantic. Which…they’re not, really, but I think this is an even more complicated issue than you might think. For one thing, women in our culture are expected to enjoy stories about romance and not just necessarily those just about sex…so the couple often tends to have a deeper connection than just a physical one. If it is true that most women tend to need both the physical and emotional connection in their porn or erotica…that’s fine with me. Again, it’s a complex issue–is it true, or is it what society tells us is true?

A related issue: I know that, as a woman who writes stories with strong “romantic” themes, I feel compelled to put the “romance” stamp on it even if it’s not necessarily romantic, in the traditional sense. Romance, as a genre, encompasses more than you might think. Sure, much of it still follows the formula of your archetypal, charming, strapping hero falling in love with the sassy, buxom, virginal heroine…maybe they feel a mutual dislike towards one another at first even as they fight down their growing passion for one another…until one sweltering, starry night they give into that fiery passion…and, after a few more obstacles are thrown in their way–just when you think all hope is lost–they finally overcome all, get together, and live happily-ever-after. Formula romances are great. Often, they’re exactly what you need; sometimes you just wanna know things are going to work out for the best, and not be disappointed when they don’t.

But not all stories that get this “romance” stamp are like this–and they’re not supposed to be. Well, at least not to me. I do know firsthand that there are readers who see “romance” and expect the formula, expect the HEA ending–and, when they don’t get it, are confused, at best–and at worst, pissed. But I think the romance genre has expanded and can evoke more raw emotions than just “awwwww….how romantic!” “Romance” novels can be dark, shocking, or even disturbing–and the characters aren’t required to be cookie cutter heroes and heroines who only do good things and have sound morals. (Maybe what we really need is a new genre name.) Personally, I enjoy writing deeply flawed characters–it’s more fun and challenging to imagine what might motivate someone to choose wrong over right.

I guess what I’m trying to say is…what the heck am I trying to say, anyway? When I read Fifty Shades, I noted that Christian was controlling and some of his behavior disturbing…but I didn’t think this behavior was supposed to be traditionally romantic. To me, it was an author pushing a certain type of character–a controlling, manipulative one with some deep, dark demons and a Red Room of Pain–as far as he could go in that direction. At its core, Fifty Shades is just a forbidden lust story. Anna knows that Christian has flaws and is maybe into some stuff she’s not sure if she can handle, but she’s intrigued by this darker, forbidden aspect. Christian isn’t supposed to be a role model or dating material.

Then again, I could see where maybe a more impressionable reader might be more easily influenced by a story like this than I would be. Not everyone would share the same outlook going into the book, or probably even feels the same way about the genre. Even so, I just personally don’t think there are many types of situations or characters (if any) that are completely off-limits in fiction, although context is also important. I just take Christian to be a (rather poorly constructed) antihero who has a lot of skeletons and not too many redeeming qualities.

So some will love, some will critique, and some will be offended. And some, like myself, will be totally wishy washy and kinda understand where the criticism is coming from, but then again, not really. I just wish we could all discuss it in a civilized way. Because, really, when is the last time you’ve ever heard of a male artist, writer, or anything getting so much slack? (Robin Thicke? He’s really the only example I can come up with.) I don’t think the answer is to ban the movie, either, as others have also suggested.

What I’d hoped would be a more general post kind of just turned out to be about Fifty. For that, I am sorry…but it’s been on my mind lately, and, you know…must…vent…on…Interwebz. I’d love to hear your thoughts…as long as you can keep it rational and civil.

But I have to go, for now…actually, because I’m going to the movie…

 

Book Review: Clockwork Angel


Clockwork Angel is the first book in Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices trilogy. I love Ms. Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series (City of Heavenly Fire is sitting on my bookcase, waiting patiently for me to read it…but it looks sort of daunting…), and it took me awhile to get around to starting The Infernal Devices…but I am oh so glad I did. For me, it was a five-star read. In my opinion, the back cover book summary does not do this book justice. It makes it sound like it’s only about a love triangle–which, for better or for worse, there is a love triangle in this book. That device has sort of exploded along with YA lit in recent years. But anyway, there is so much more going on in this book than that, and I fell in love with all of the characters.

Our heroine, Teresa (Tessa) Gray, comes over to London from the States when she gets a note from her brother, Nathaniel, who moved there for work. Unfortunately, in London she falls into the clutches of the Dark Sisters. They force her to practice her unique ability–with the touch of a personal item, Tessa can shape shift into the person it belongs to–a power she didn’t even know she had until now. If she doesn’t do as the Dark Sisters say, they threaten to hurt Nate. Things are looking pretty grim when they inform Tessa that she is ready to marry the mysterious, powerful Magister. Thankfully, a group of Shadowhunters break into the Dark House and rescue Tessa on what would probably have been her wedding day.

Tessa becomes a guest at the London Institute, run by Charlotte and Henry Branwell and home to three orphans: Jessamine Lovelace, James (Jem) Carstairs, and Will Herondale. She learns about the Nephilim, the world of the Shadowhunters, and the Downworld of vampires, werewolves, faeries and warlocks–the world she herself is a part of. Much of the book is Tessa learning to accept this knowledge, and to accept herself and her ability. There’s also a lot of great action, suspense, and yes, romantic tension, as well as an unexpected twist toward the end.

I loved all of the characters in this book. Cassandra Clare does a magnificent job of weaving together the world of the Shadowhunters with Victorian England. Charlotte, who is truly in charge at the Institute, struggles to make her voice and opinion heard at the Enclave meetings mostly dominated by men. Henry, on the other hand, is too busy tinkering with inventions to run much of anything. I loved Henry–he was the eccentric scientist/inventor whose inventions never quite worked the way they were supposed to. These two worlds also conflict in the character of Jessamine. She’s an aspiring proper Victorian lady who claims to reject her calling as a Shadowhunter, but she’s kind of a bad ass when duty calls. Her parasol turns into a weapon (that was a nice touch).

And then there’s Will and Jem–parabatai, like Jace and Alec are in TMI. There’s a bit of mystery surrounding each of them; both seem to harbor dark secrets, especially Will. Tessa finds herself drawn to each of them, of course. Jem is kind and brave, but unfortunately suffers from a mystery illness that makes it difficult for him to fight. And Will…..well, Will is the gorgeous, dark-haired, arrogant, sarcastic, broody one who lashes out at people because he’s compensating for his inner turmoil/vulnerability–so, naturally, he’s my favorite. Sorry not sorry. You get to find out Jem’s secret in Clockwork Angel, but Will’s past and why he’s so broody and angry is still shrouded in mystery at the end of the book, which was REALLY frustrating, and made  me want to read the next two immediately, except I don’t have them yet. I mean…Will’s not the only reason I want to keep reading, but I won’t pretend like he’s not one of the reasons. Oh, Cassandra Clare, why must you do this to me?

Clockwork Angel also had an awesome ending. Besides the twist, Tessa learns to at least partly accept her unique ability and uses it in a really incredible way. I much prefer when the main character outwits his or her opponent rather than killing them or something. I mean, if the villain was dead after the first book, it probably wouldn’t have been a trilogy, but I just think it makes for a more creative resolution. Tessa is a strong female lead, and I’m excited to see how she grows in the series.

Last but not least, I’m so glad Magnus Bane is immortal, so that he can be in ALL of Cassandra Clare’s books. He was only around a little bit in this book, but the ending hints that he might have a bigger presence in Clockwork Prince. I hope. He better.

 

 

Book Review: The Hush, Hush Series


I haven’t done a book review on here for a while, and I have quite a few to get caught up on. I read the first two books in Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush series back in May, and finally got around to reading the third and fourth book this August. I decided to just review all of them briefly in one post. Overall, I really enjoyed them, although unfortunately the last installment didn’t quite pull me in like the others did.

I actually became curious about the series because of a few bad reviews I saw about it. Well, “bad” is probably putting it lightly…”scathing” is more like it. And they had less to do with Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style/plot/characters and more to do with her main male character, Patch, her quintessential reformed (or is he?) bad boy character, because, you know, it’s impossible to enjoy a character in a book/TV show/movie while recognizing their less desirable qualities wouldn’t make for a good partner in real life. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.) And, although they’re in the minority, she’s also gotten some bad reviews on Goodreads…and this time, by “bad,” I mean actually just pretty horrible and inappropriate. Basically just bullying. I mean, it’s the Internet, so they could be trolls…but if they’re not, there’s really no good excuse for bullying anyone, ever, no matter how justified you think your cause is. (I know by now you’re probably wondering what the heck I’m talking about, so go on Goodreads and take a look for yourself.)

A little more about this at the end of the post. For now, let’s take a quick look at each of the books:

1. Hush, Hush

I thought this was a great debut novel, and I thoroughly enjoyed Ms. Fitzpatrick’s writing style. She sets the story in the slightly dreary Coldwater, Maine, and creates this perfectly sinister, creepy, Halloween-ish atmosphere. It was reminiscent of L.J. Smith’s earlier work (although, in my mind, few people–if anyone–can trump L.J.). Yes, at this point the plot-line is somewhat overdone and predictable, but I gobbled it up just the same: Nora Grey, a smart, cute-if-something-of-a-misfit high school student, encounters Patch, dark, mysterious boy who seems like bad news, and yet Nora can’t resist his magnetic pull (obviously). I know I sound snarky, but I honestly devoured it. The book is mostly centered around unraveling the mystery that is Patch and his relationship with Nora.

Some have criticized the book as being a Twilight ripoff. There are some parallels, but nothing that jumped out at me as obvious plagiarism. I mean, to give credit where credit’s due, Twilight did open up the market for teen paranormal romance, so there are going to be some similarities. But it is also quite possible for two or more people to come up with fairly similar ideas without being influenced directly by each other’s work.

The books are told from Nora’s point-of-view, and I really liked her character. She’s a smart, motivated high school student. Her best friend, Vee, adds some comic relief to the series and is my favorite character. Nora is also the victim of some pretty vicious pranks by Coldwater’s resident mean rich girl, Marcie Millar. I enjoyed most of the characters, even though secondary ones like Vee and Marcie never seem to break out of their stereotypes. (Marcie starts to, a little, later in the series.)

In fact, I have to say the only character I found to be a little underwhelming was…Patch. For being the dark, mysterious, sexy bad boy, he didn’t really pop off the page for me as much as he should. Also, I never could quite get past his nickname. Patch is just not a sexy nickname, in my opinion. It makes me think of an old pirate with missing teeth or a little kid who gets into a lot of mischief and ends up hurting himself.

But, overall, an entertaining read. I gave it four/five stars on Goodreads because it built up a lot to a twist at the end that wasn’t that earth-shattering. (There is, however, a perfectly creepy seen at Delphic amusement park and a particular ride called the Archangel…I LOVE creepy amusement parks in horror/paranormal books!!!)

If you haven’t read Hush, Hush yet and plan to, I’d stop reading now…spoilers ahead…

2. Crescendo

In Crescendo, we delve a little further into Ms. Fitzpatrick’s dark world of sexy fallen angels and the cursed Nephilim–the children of fallen angels and humans, languishing in between these two worlds and destined to swear fealty to fallen angels. We know that Patch was a fallen angel in Hush, Hush, but, due to the events at the end, now has his wings back and is a guardian angel. But his relationship with Nora isn’t picture perfect, and she catches him doing some pretty suspicious things…like hanging around her arch-nemesis Marcie an awful lot. It doesn’t help that Vee is dating Rixon, Patch’s bff, so Nora can’t quite avoid Patch/people-that-know-Patch completely. Meanwhile, her mother forces her to reconnect with a childhood friend, Scott, who turns out to have some dark secrets of his own. Rixon, though, was my favorite character in this book until…..oh, Rixon…..

From what I recall, this book ended with a cliffhanger, so be prepared for that.

Four/Five Stars

3. Silence

I enjoyed Silence a lot more than I expected I would considering what happens in the first few pages. Which, thankfully, I can tell you about, since it’s in the book’s synopsis and not a spoiler! Nora can’t remember the past five months of her life…including, of course, Patch. So, yes, part of the book ends up being a series of revelations that the reader already knows. This could have ended up super annoying, but I think Fitzpatrick did an excellent job with it…at least for me, I could see where it might bug some readers. I also enjoyed Patch’s character a lot more in this book, and there were some pretty sexy scenes.

I also gave this book four/five stars, and I did have a few issues with it. First off, what happens to Vee in this book, and especially in the last book? Isn’t she Nora’s bff? Where did she go? It’s like she just disappears for large chunks of books three and four. Since I liked her so much, this was really upsetting. Also, Fitzpatrick seems like she’s setting up a whole Scott-Nora-Patch love triangle…not that I necessarily wanted that to happen, because that’s overdone, too, but it definitely seemed headed in that direction, and then it just…doesn’t. (And then you find out in book four that Scott thinks of Nora like a sister? Um, his affection for her in Silence definitely does not seem brotherly.) There’s also a lot of to-do about Nora and Scott going “as friends” to her homecoming dance–Marcie drags Nora out shopping for a dress, and they make a really big deal about finding a dress, and then–the dance doesn’t happen. The book ends before the dance happens. I found this to just be really strange and kind of sloppy. But I’m still giving it four stars for having a nice blend of sinister, romantic, steamy and funny moments. And Scott, who was kind of a jerk in Crescendo, really redeems himself in this book.

4. Finale

I gave this book three out of five stars because I finished it, but honestly, it was a really disappointing end to the series for me. It had its moments, including some surprising twists at the end with both new and old characters. But all in all, my least favorite in the series. I guess I prefer the off-and-on again of fictional relationships because, when Patch and Nora finally end up together, it’s just…annoying, haha. Their romantic dialogue was a little too contrived or something. It doesn’t all come easy for them in this book–they still have some barriers to overcome, including Nora’s attraction to her own dark side. That could have been a really good, gritty plotline (and something I’m exploring with one of my own characters right now), but it fell short for me. I think because Nora feels too guilty about it, haha. Fitzgerald should have pushed her just a teensy bit more.

I will say, though, that Nora turns into a pretty bad ass character. She has to accept a new leadership role in this book and embrace her Nephilim side, so I liked seeing her character develop in these ways.

***

In summary, it’s a series I would recommend to fans of YA horror/paranormal romance (except for maybe Finale).

And now, to wrap up this review, I’m going to put in my two-cents about the scathing reviews I alluded to above. There are some people who think that the popularity of YA paranormal romance is a reflection of our current culture…and not the nice parts. Now, I get that the books/TV shows/movies of a time period can say a lot about a culture, although I also think part of it is just paranormal romance happens to be one of the “hot” trends right now in book publishing. Its popularity will wax and wane just like everything else, until something new replaces it. That doesn’t mean authors will stop writing in the genre, or that readers will stop reading…just that it won’t be quite the sensation it is now.

That being said, there have always been books that have sought to appeal to our darker side…books that mix elements of the horror genre with elements of romance. I really think that the current YA horror/paranormal romance genre is inspired by (not saying they’re on the same level as) the gothic and dark romanticism movements of long ago–writers like Poe, Hawthorne, Shelley, Lord Byron, the Bronte sisters, Stoker. Writers that explored fringe/outcast characters, antiheroes, and darker themes like the origin of sin, temptation, lust, forbidden love etc. Work that sometimes had a romantic twist to it, albeit a dark one. The idea of darkness being attracted to light, of sin to innocence (like Patch to Nora), is nothing new, and the mere exploring of this theme in writing or some other media is not the same thing as endorsement. So you really don’t have to read the series that way. It’s a forbidden love story…it’s dark and twisted. It’s supposed to be.

 

Character Profile: Peter


One of my fellow writers (and also my cover artist) Heidi asked me to share a character profile for Peter. Peter is one of my favorite characters in Reborn–probably because he embodies my favorite glam rock artists. He loves to gossip, and in Reborn he functions mostly as comic relief, but you’ll get to find out more about him and his “powers” in Relapse.

Age: Early 20s

Occupation:

  • Student at fictional college Thurston University
  • Keyboardist for punk rock band Search and Destroy

Physical Description:Tall; lanky; British; short, careless blonde hair; twinkling blue eyes; infectious grin; flamboyant

Revenge’s Gabriel Mann

Species: Demigod

Relationship Status: Single

Love interests: Anna is his ex-girlfriend

Other relationships: Jimmy, his best friend and band mate

Sexual Orientation: He doesn’t like labels

Strengths:

  • Outgoing
  • Flirtatious/playful
  • Funny/silly
  • Likes to keep friends in the loop

Weaknesses:

  • Impressionable
  • Nosey/a gossip

Hobbies:

  • Gossiping
  • Performing (pianist and singer)

Power: Messenger between humans and the gods/goddesses

Inspiration: David Bowie

Who would play him in a movie: In my Reborn Dream Cast, I cast Revenge’s Gabriel Mann.

Reborn Dream Cast


As part of her NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) series of posts, my friend Sara over at WhatANerdGirlSays wrote this post about her dream cast were her WIP The Reawakened ever to be made into a movie (as I’m sure it will be!). Anyway, it made me think about my own dream cast for my debut novel, Reborn. Who would you cast? Let me know in the comments!

1. Candace Accola as Siobhan Elliot

Ms. Accola is one of my favorite actresses on The Vampire Diaries. Her Caroline is beautiful and upbeat but also independent and even a little neurotic at times. Siobhan is also very outgoing and at times a bit (a lot) of a control freak–Candace would play her perfectly. Plus, she looks the part: petite, pale, blonde. She just needs some violet-colored contacts and a pair of blue and purple butterfly wings. Amanda Seyfried would also make a good Siobhan.

2. Tom Hiddleston as Jasper Hart

If you know me at all, I know you’re shaking your head right now, groaning, “Oh, Shaina…” I have a ginormous little crush on Tom Hiddleston, most well known as playing scene-stealing Loki in the Thor franchise. Jasper has slightly longish, dark hair, pale skin, intense blue eyes and…well, you know, muscles. He’s charming and sexy with a dangerous, sinister edge. I’m not sure how told Tom is, so he may be slightly older than Jasper is supposed to look, but other than that he’s perfect for the role. Ok, we need to move on because I’m getting a little hot and bothered from this Google image search…

3. Leighton Meester as Anna Wallace

I’ve only seen a little bit of Gossip Girl…to be honest, it was too much fluffy drama, even for me. (Maybe the early seasons are better?) Anna is Siobhan’s ex-best friend from high school. They had a huge falling out in high school, but at the beginning of Reborn Siobhan realizes Anna is the only one who will understand what she’s going through; she needs her best friend back. Anna is a tall, willowy brunette with a healthy tan and hazel eyes. She’s a singer and a music education major. While Siobhan is rather flighty and impulsive, Anna is practical and discerning. At first, I wasn’t sure who would be a good fit for Anna, then Leighton popped into my head. I think she could pull Anna off, plus she contributed vocals to that one Cobra Starship song, didn’t she?

4. Mark Salling as Jimmy Wallace

This was also a hard one to “cast.” Jimmy is Anna’s brother and Siobhan’s ex-boyfriend from high school. They give their relationship another go in Reborn, but Jasper always seems to cause problems for them (like he does wherever he goes…). Jimmy’s character is inspired by Iggy Pop in his Stooges days, but Iggy’s kinda older now. If I could go back in time, extract 20-something Iggy and cast him in my pretend movie, I would. (To do list: Build time machine.) Jimmy has brown hair and hazel eyes. He’s the wild and arrogant frontman of fictional punk rock band Search and Destroy. This was hard for me because I feel like there are few male celebrities or even musicians nowadays that truly embody rebellion. Adam Levine fits the arrogant, sexy rock star stereotype well, but he doesn’t look like the Jimmy I have pictured in my head. Mark Salling played bad boy Puck on Glee, can sing and looks good with a guitar, so I think he’ll do.

5. Charlize Theron as Farrah

Farrah is the mysterious new house mother of Siobhan’s sorority, Gamma Lambda Phi. She has long, ash blonde curls, golden skin and jade green eyes. She has a bubbly personality and is nice to pretty much everyone except Siobhan. Although she seems like one of the “good guys,” she holds a grudge and has a vicious jealous streak. I haven’t seen Snow White and the Huntsman, mostly because I can’t stand Kristen Stewart’s “acting,” but I’ll bet Theron’s Queen was wonderfully evil. She could definitely pull off Farrah’s nice and naughty sides. She just needs to grow her hair out again.

6. Anna Kendrick as Victoria

Victoria is Siobhan’s big sister in Gamma Lambda Phi. She’s tall, athletic with auburn hair and amber-colored eyes. She’s not supposed to be that pretty, but her beauty and strength comes from inside. As president of her sorority, she’s a charismatic and wise leader. (Not that Reborn is a super deep book or anything, but I see Victoria and Anna as reflections of each other. They’re both characters Siobhan trusts and goes to for advice. Victoria is Anna’s counterpart in the Olympian world.) I think Anna Kendrick is very pretty, so casting her as Victoria isn’t some insult to her or something. I just think Ms. Kendrick is great at playing offbeat characters. Victoria is sort of a nice blend of offbeat, awkward but strong that I think Kendrick could pull off.

*****

So these are the “lucky” folk I’d cast as the six principal characters in Reborn. There’s quite a handful of secondary characters, so I could keep going, but I’ll save those for another day. Who would you cast? Who would you cast for your own book?

Reborn Cover Reveal


Reborn FINALHere is the official cover for Reborn, designed by Heidi Sieverding! You may remember my interview with Heidi. She’s a blogger over at Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer, a Secret Cravings author, a graphic designer and a fabulous human being. I am thrilled she designed the book cover for Reborn…every time I gaze upon it I get so many feels, haha! She also designs banners, book trailers, postcards and badges, and I highly recommend her! I’ll have some more announcements later in the week, so stay tuned…

And it wouldn’t be Monday without a little music: Lana del Ray’s Summertime Sadness. This is one of the few instances where I like the remix a little better than the original.  I want to use this version in one of my book trailers.

Checking back in with H. N. Sieverding


HN SieverdingBack in April of this year, I posted my first ever author interview with H. N. Sieverding. Well, a lot of exciting things have happened since that interview, so I thought it was about time to check back in with her! Now a Secret Cravings author, Ms. Sieverding has published the first two books in her delectable Christina’s Kisses series, Initiation and Seed of the Master. (Follow the links to purchase them on  the publisher’s web site. You can also find them on Amazon, Bookstrand, All Romance ebooks, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.) They were bestsellers on Bookstrand and the publisher’s web site. I’m also especially excited for the release of her paranormal romance The Bloodlust Prince. I was a beta reader for it and loved it! The ebook comes out in December, the print version in June 2014.

Ms. Sieverding’s stories have strong themes of dark fantasy, paranormal romance and sexy horror. Right now she’s jumping between edits for her upcoming releases and working on Black Hawke, a Paranormal Romance about a photographer and her secret bad boy boyfriend.  (Throughout the book she is trying to figure out his real identity…or if he’s married…) She’s also one of the hosts of Freshly Booked.

Check out our interview below, followed by an excerpt from Initiation and a list of all of her upcoming releases!

Her blog: Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

***

“What you produce as a writer is art.  A voice that opens a vein and leaves the reader lapping at the blood that’s been drawn.”  

-H. N. Sieverding

***

christain_header_quote6SL: When did you first start writing stories?

HN: When I was in grade school, I used to write about a family of alligators that I named the Ellers. I wrote my first novel, Alexandria, my junior year of high school. I decided to write a novel and I sat down on the desktop in our crowded kitchen (I come from a family of seven) and did just that. I was so proud of it (though now it makes me cringe to read through it) and to me that was a huge feat that most people would never accomplish. From that day on it was my dream to become a published author and now I am.

SL: Who or what most inspires your writing?

HN: I get inspired by things around me but it’s not always people or stories. It might be a line I heard someone say or facial expression that sparks a character/story idea. I find the most inspiration when I’m alone listening to music or during a nice drive in the countryside.

SL: Do you listen to music while you write, or do you need peace and quiet?

HN: I write in front of the TV or while cuddling with my son and his ipad, so I can write anywhere. My ideal writing place is sitting on the bed donning a pair of earphones without any distractions. Whenever I get a moment to myself where I can do that, I will take it. Music drowns out the world and helps me concentrate better, giving me that escape I need to write. I’m a big fan of hard rock so on my playlist is Darkest Days, Hollywood Undead, Disturbed and Saliva. The song in my head right now-Levitate (damn it’s catchy).

SL: Which of your stories is your favorite?

HN: Ooo…hard question. If I absolutely had to choose, I’d say The Bloodlust Prince. I could read that story a million times and never get bored. I’m also a big cat person and I love that they are both Cat Demons (more like anime Cat Demons/vampires than real cats) and have lots of cat-like qualities that make their courting both unique and super cute.

Coming in second would be Nero, even though most people ignore that one. I think the whole description of the ‘zombie army’ throws people off. It’s actually a love story about Nero coming to terms with the tragic death of his love (who isn’t really dead-sshhh) and his father’s insanity. My favorite thing about it-the character of Nero. He’s by far my greatest creation-I love em 😀

SL: Who is your favorite author?

HN: Myself. I write all the stories I would love to read. Beyond editing and reading others writing on blogs, I don’t read (unless some asks me to read something of theirs). The last book I read was Paula’s, Queen of Ages, which was pretty sexy by the way. I could say Reverend Wilbert Awdry is my favorite author but not many people would get that reference 😉

SL: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

HN: If you’re serious about becoming published, make sure you have a thick skin and can take bad reviews. Know in advance you will most likely be met with A LOT of disappointment-whether it be having no fans/readers, bad reviews, no reviews and having your awesome novel be ignored and blend into the woodwork. Remember that writing is something you do because you love it, not to get rich or popular. Most authors don’t make much money (if any), so don’t expect to get rich off this career path.

Below is a sexy excerpt from Christian’s Kisses Book 1, Initiation. Happy reading!

***

Her eyes wandered over to the table where the elites sat near the back of the room. She tried to avoid eye contact with them but soon Inititiation_MEDfound herself trapped by a pair of curious eyes. Her brow rose when her eyes grew wider, her baby blues reflecting the innocent fear of child as she returned Christian’s relentless gaze.

Although she knew how dangerous this man was, she couldn’t break the stare, her dazed expression showing her intense fear of him. She watched him take a slow drink from his glass, a devilish smile gracing his lips as he took in this angel that would soon meet the fate he would create for her.

He was drinking what appeared to be blood, the rings on his tanned fingers sparkling under the lights. He was surrounded by beautiful women, all of them fighting to sit next to him and get as close as possible. Addison took a few steps backward, the intensity and promise of sin in Christian’s gaze terrifying her. Even though the sight of her pleased him, he didn’t appear to be in a good mood, his mind seeming distracted.

Swallowing the lump building in her throat, Addison decided she should leave instead of seeing what more could come from this silent staring contest with Christian. She quickly turned around and started toward the large double doors. She wanted to get out of the room as fast as she could, her lower lip quivering as fear overtook her body. Then, someone grabbed her hand, making her turn around and halting her retreat.

One of the elite vampires, Samson, was holding her fingers, his large fangs kissing his bottom lip as he smiled at her. “Come join us.”

Addison nodded, her fear of him silencing her voice. Samson put a loose arm around her shoulders, leading her over to their table.

Samson laughed when he felt Addison tremble under his hands. He ignored her uneasiness and maneuvered her through the crowd gathered around the table. She kept her head down as she passed people so she didn’t see Christian motioning to the girls around him to leave.

Samson placed her next to Christian, and Addison slowly sank down in the chair. She tried not to look over at all the women that were staring at her angrily, but she could still feel their eyes on her.

Christian sat up a little straighter, pushing a glass of champagne in front of her, “What’s your name?”

“Addison.” She forced a smile, glancing up at him briefly then back down at the drink in front of her.

Addison knew who Christian was, her nervousness about being around such an important person wearing thick on her gentle features. She had seen him a few times at swanky functions held for museum fundraisers and auctions, but their only interactions had been a small smile or a wave in passing.

She worked in the preservation department at the CartwrightMuseum, one of the largest in the country. As a member of the staff, she was allowed to attend the events, but mostly as another body to fill the room. The museum employees weren’t allowed to converse with the donors, like Christian, unless they had reason or were approached by them.

He eyed her curiously, licking his lips as he set down his half-empty cup. Addison studied the contents, noticing it wasn’t blood, but some kind of unidentifiable brownish red drink. Her shaky hands picked up the glass in front of her, and she purposefully took a sip, her long fingers wrapping tightly around the stem.

“Are you enjoying my club?” Like a cat, Christian’s eyes scanned the room quickly, watching a few people that walked by their table.

Addison’s voice was soft and inaudible over the voices of the crowd around them, “Yes. It’s great.”

“What?” Even though he had heard her, Christian pretended like he hadn’t. “I cannot hear you over the music.” He scooted his chair closer to her, his hips banging against hers and making her jump a little. A sly smile appeared on his face as he caught her in his gaze. He knew he was making her nervous.

Addison laughed, her light blue eyes darting all over Christian’s handsome face, “I said it’s great.”

Christian picked up his drink again and took an unhurried swallow, the shifting of his stare smooth as he once again scanned the crowd in front of them. Christian’s poise was unfailing. He was extremely attractive, his firm build and striking eyes enough to cause Addison’s heart to race and make her slightly dizzy.

Even though she knew he was a killer, being in his presence was intoxicating. His good looks were a sin against nature, and sitting next to someone so inhumanly flawless carried an indescribable feeling. This was the lure of the devil that made any woman bow to his every whim.

A beautiful girl with platinum blonde hair and perfect breasts sat down next to Christian, rubbing his shoulder and making him turn to her. However, his attention didn’t stay on her and quickly switched back to Addison. He placed his hand on Addison’s knee for a few seconds before letting it slide up her dress. Then, he rubbed her inner thigh, his touch soft and light. Addison jumped at his action, a fearful expression on her face as she choked a little on the champagne she was drinking.

He looked over at her and chuckled, his devilish eyes settling on hers before he spoke softly into her ear, “Relax sweetheart.” He moved her hair behind her shoulder, gazing at her neck for a few seconds. Leaning even closer, Christian continued to brush his fingers up and down the inside of her leg. “I am not going to bite.”

Christian felt her body shake a little at his comment, which ignited a small chuckle from his lips, “Yet.”

*****

Upcoming release dates (the links take you to the book trailers):

  • Initiation (Christian’s Kisses Book 1) releases in print January 2014.
  • Seed of the Master (Christian’s Kisses Book 2) releases in print May 2014.
  • Secret Scarlet releases in ebook September/October 2013 and in print April 2014.
  • Blood Kisses (Nightwalkers Book 1) releases in ebook November 2013 and in print May 2014.
  • The Bloodlust Prince releases in ebook December 2013 and in print June 2014.
  • Forever Black (Nightwalkers Book 2) releases in ebook January 2014 and in print July 2014.
  • Blood War (Nightwalkers Book 3) releases in ebook March 2014 and in print September 2014.
  • Forever Mine releases in ebook May 2014 and in print November 2014.

 

Character Profile: Jasper Hart


Who is the handsome, mysterious and elegant Jasper Hart?

Tonight, as another shameless plug for my romantic urban fantasy novel Reborn, I’m reposting this character profile for one of Siobhan’s love interest Jasper Hart. [To those of you who had the misfortune honor (sorry, I’m feelin’ silly tonight) of reading the earliest version of Reborn, Jasper has undergone a surname change. It’s still a clue as to his true identity, but I kinda, maybe changed the underlying mythology of the book…..]

ID-10012562Jasper Hart

From: Reborn (paranormal romance, urban fantasy)

Character Type: Antihero

Age: Really old, but he looks about late-twenties (of course)

Physical Description: Tall; shoulder-length, slightly wavy dark hair; midnight blue eyes; well-built with magnificent black wings

Species: Alien from a parallel universe

Occupation: PhD student in the history department; teaching assistant for World Myths and Legends

Relationship Status: Widower

Love interest: Siobhan

Goals: To win Siobhan’s trust and heart

Obstacles:

  • Farrah, Siobhan’s sorority’s nosey new house mother (who probably isn’t human, either)
  • Siobhan’s stubbornness and independence

Strengths: Physical strength and power; seductive; persuasive

Flaws: Arrogant; chauvinistic

Enjoys:

  • Learning about new cultures
  • Flying around the city at night
  • Enticing Siobhan
  • Brooding

Inspiration: Ville Valo, HIM frontman

“You belong to…”

You belong to me. I know that’s what he wants to say, but after a pause he corrects himself.

“We belong together. I love you. You believe me, don’t you?”

***

Book cover black