Super Secret Project


As I was giving this web site a much needed makeover, I realized I hadn’t written a post since…December 2018?! *Gasps*

And to be honest, I don’t really have the compulsion to blog as much as I used to (although I could probably do a bit better than once every ten months…). I mostly want this web site to be a place where people can find out more about the Reborn series, and what I’m currently working on, all in one place.

I do have a few more books planned for the Reborn series. The first wraps up Siobhan’s (and Carly’s) stories from the previous three books. I also have a partial draft of a stand-alone, Halloween novel that takes place in the Reborn world. I thought I’d be able to get that out for this Halloween, but I’m pushing it back again. (Sorry about that, but I had a wonderful, whirlwind of a summer getting married and moving!)

Also, I have a super secret WIP that has kind of taken precedence. I’ve been working on it on and off for a long time, and it just needs to get done. But I’m excited about it! There’s really no reason for it to be super secret, except that it’s not part of the Reborn series, and I’m not ready to talk much about it yet. I will say it’s a YA science fiction novel with some romance and a lot of drama. (Think Riverdale…with aliens. LOL.)

In any case, you know I like to share playlists of the songs I’m listening to while I’m working on a project. So, here you go…my super angsty, YA book playlist (with YouTube links).

In retrospect, there is a lot of Billie Eilish on here. I’m an adult.

Bad Guy – Billie Eilish

Bubblegum B*tch – Marina (formerly & The Diamonds)

Girls Like You – The Naked and Famous

Starry Eyed – Ellie Goulding

Lock You Up – Charli XCX

Shampain – Marina (side note: this is the best music video ever)

Bury A Friend – Billie Eilish

One Of A Kind – Placebo

Indie Rokkers – MGMT

Teen Idle – Marina

Emotional – Charli XCX

Ocean Eyes – Billie Eilish

E.T. – Katy Perry

Updates August 29, 2017


Why hello there! It’s been a while (sorry about that)…

Madelaine Petsch ouch yikes riverdale cringe GIF

It’s been a pretty busy summer. A great summer, but a busy one.

Even so, I did make some time for writing! However, I stepped away from the Reborn series for the latter part of the summer to work on a different project. I spent much of the summer revamping an old young adult sci-fi (with some romance) novel I’d written awhile ago to get it ready for Pitch Wars.

What is Pitch Wars, you ask? You can get the deets on author Brenda Drake’s web site, but it’s basically a contest to try to win a mentor (usually an editor or previously published author) that will help you further revise and polish up your manuscript. Later in the fall, there’s an agent showcase where you can pitch your newly revised manuscript to agents.

To enter, you need a completed middle grade, young/new adult, or adult novel. You start by submitting a query letter and the first chapter of your manuscript to four mentors of your choosing. There are different mentors for each of the three categories, and before the submission period there’s a blog hop during which each mentor describes what genres they’re interested (or not interested) in mentoring.

I gave it a try this year and didn’t get a mentor…but that’s okay. I’m remaining optimistic. 😉 If anything, I got to see what the contest was all about and may try again next year with a different manuscript. There were around 3000 entries this year and about 180 mentors, I think (I don’t remember the exact stats), so competition was fierce. Plus, now I have a manuscript I can fiddle around with more. I may try to query agents and small publishers with this one first. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll consider self-publishing it.

But now I’ll get back to other writing projects/ideas as well. This summer I also joined a few professional organizations to up my networking game, including Romance Writers of America and Pennwriters. I’ve been meeting some great people through them so far. I have a few author friends I keep in touch with online, but it’s nice to have some real life author acquaintances, too. The writing life, as you can imagine, can be a pretty solitary existence, so it’s super important to take that extra step to network with other writers and potential readers.

I’ll have to check back in with my writing/publishing plans for fall because…I don’t know what they are yet.

Geek & Sundry reaction sam and GIF

It might be fun to post another short story for Halloween, though, like I did two years ago with the short that eventually become my novella Revenge. But we’ll see!

 cat future sunglasses future is bright GIF

Goodbye Spaceboy


Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard that English musician/icon/Goblin King David Bowie passed away last week at age 69 from cancer. (As if that weren’t sad enough, Alan Rickman, the talented English actor who portrayed–among other memorable roles–misunderstood Potions professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, also passed away. At age 69. From cancer.) I’m not usually one for getting emotional about “celebrity” deaths–then again, this is the first time that someone well-known I actually really liked has died. I mean, when you’ve spent hours upon hours listening to someone’s music, feeling feels (I’m sorry, I’m not good with the words today) and getting inspired, it’s hard not to feel sad. Bowie is an artist who seemed larger than life, but his death was sort of a weird reminder that he was mortal, just like the rest of us. He’s left quite an impact over the years, a legacy I’m sure will endure far beyond his death.

There’s been a huge outpouring of grief over his passing and support for his family over social media, which, of course, not just any normal person would get, and I hope it brings some comfort to Iman and his kids–to know how many lives he touched. As a side note, I’ve found it a little strange that the press keeps calling his death “sudden.” For his fans, yes, it was unexpected, and I suppose that’s what they mean. But perhaps not for his family. An 18-month long battle with cancer is long and emotionally draining for all involved–and yet Bowie didn’t let it get in the way of creativity, of getting out one last album for his fans. That album, Blackstar, has become his first number 1 selling album here in the U.S., which is awesome but at the same time a little depressing. He had many other albums that deserved to get that spot, but death has that kind of effect on art.

I can’t say that, without Bowie, there would be no Reborn series, but it would probably be a somewhat different series. His songs and various stage and film personas have definitely inspired me, and will continue to do so. So, as my own little tribute to the Thin White Duke, here is a top ten list of my favorite Bowie songs. This was hard to compile, since I like most of his work. But I made myself pick 10 that mean something personal to me, or that I just simply love. Also, except for number 10, this list doesn’t include some of his collaborations that I like (like Placebo’s Without You I’m Nothing and the PSB remix of Hallo Spaceboy). They may not necessarily be everybody’s favorites or critical darlings, but this is my blog and my list, dammit. And feel free to share your favorites in the comments!

10. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy

This is probably a random one, but for me, this is the song that started it all. Before I heard this delightful Bing Crosby/Bowie duet on the radio circa Christmas 2005 (yes, the radio, this was pre-YouTube/Pandora/Spotify), all I had heard about David Bowie was that he was kind of weird. But then I heard this angelic voice singing with Bing and was surprised, in a good way, to learn who it was.

9. Oh! You Pretty Things

Probably one of the main reasons I like Bowie so much is due to my love for science fiction and fantasy. Much of his work, particularly in the 70s, incorporated sci-fi themes and characters. Oh! You Pretty Things has a sci-fi/dystopian flavor to it coupled with a lively tune, and the lyrics are pretty catchy, too. (Anna and Peter sing a duet of it in Relapse, which was also a bit of foreshadowing for things to come in future books).

8. Life on Mars?

I think this is probably one of his more famous tunes, although perhaps an acquired taste. The lyrics string together a series of seemingly disjointed scenes, but together they create a picture of a young person trying to make sense out of the world and images around them.

7. Moonage Daydream

Just like all of the songs that made this list, Moonage Daydream is one of my personal favorites–the only thing is, I’m not even sure why, haha. I just love this song.

6. Underground

I couldn’t write a Bowie top ten list without including a song from the Labyrinth soundtrack. Although there are lots of gems on there (Magic Dance, When the World Falls Down, Within You), I decided I had to go with Underground. At the risk of sounding pretentious, this song, from the soundtrack of an 80s children’s fantasy movie, sounds better than most of the songs they play on the radio today, lol.

5. Five Years

As an urban fantasy/paranormal romance writer, it takes me 200+ pages to create the world and story I envision in my head. It takes Bowie 3-5 minutes, in songs like Five Years (below), and Drive-In Saturday (an honorable mention).

4. Modern Love

80s Bowie likely had a bit more widespread appeal than Ziggy Stardust, and–although there was a disappointing lack of space/aliens–his hits during this phase of his career were fun and catchy. Modern Love is my second favorite thing (Labyrinth is the first) Bowie did in the 80s.

3. Rebel, Rebel

I think one of the reasons Bowie’s glam rock days have had such a lasting impact is that he showed people it’s okay to be “weird” (whatever that means to you). He was a voice for the outcasts of his generation, telling them “you’re not alone” in songs like Rock ‘n Roll Suicide. His most covered track (according to Wikipedia), Rebel, Rebel captures this spirit.  Also note his fabulous getup in this video.

2. Starman

Okay, so clearly Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust/glam rock days are my favorite. So many great songs, especially Starman.

1. Heroes

And, finally, my number 1 favorite song of all time, out of all the songs and all the musicians. Well, it might be tied with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, but right now it has a slight edge. Heroes gives me chills and feels.

Cover Reveal: The Awakened by Sara Elizabeth Santana


Happy Saturday! Today I’m happy to be a part of the cover reveal for The Awakened, a YA science fiction novel by Sara Elizabeth Santana. I “met” Sara through her blog, What A Nerd Girl Says, and I’m super excited for Sara and her new book! The official release date is December 1, 2015, so make sure to mark your calendars. It will be available in Kindle and paperback formats, and preorder will be available for the Kindle edition! I think the cover looks pretty fab:

Official Awakened Cover

Synopsis:

Zoey Valentine is concerned with two things: surviving the multitude of self-defense classes her dad makes her take and avoiding Ash Matthews.

That is, until the Z virus hits, wiping out a third of the population in a matter of weeks. If that weren’t frightening enough, the bodies of the victims disappear and suddenly reappear, awakened from their dead state. They’re faster, smarter, and they work together to get the one thing they crave, human flesh.

The United States is in a panic and then the government decides the unthinkable: to bomb every major city overrun with the awakened.

Now Zoey is on the run, with her dad and Ash, desperate to find a place of safety amongst the ruined remains of the country.

Add The Awakened on Goodreads.

***

Author Bio:

Sara Elizabeth Santana is a young adult and new adult fiction writer. She has worked as a smoothie artist, Disneyland cast member, restaurant supervisor, nanny, photographer, pizza delivery driver and barista but writing is what she loves most. Her first story was written at age nine. She runs her own nerd girl/book review blog, What A Nerd Girl Says. Her favorite books are a tie between Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JK Rowling and Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce. She lives in Southern California with her dad, five siblings and two dogs. Her debut novel is The Awakened.

You can also visit Sara at her website.

Official Awakened Paperback Cover

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

 

Friday Featured Blogger: H. D. Lynn


I am extra super excited for today’s interview because Heather is not just a fellow writer, but also my sorority sister and good friend! We are both scientists who love writing fiction. In her spare time Heather enjoys hiking, and she’s a Harry Potter and Dr. Who fan as well. Check out an excerpt from her novel GOD’S PLAY at the end of the interview – it definitely left me wanting to read more!

Her blog: Throw This Book At Me

Follow her on Twitter.

***

SL: When did you first start writing stories?

HD: For as long as I can remember. I’d buy cheap notebooks in elementary school and write down cheesy stories about magical animals — then I got a computer and upgraded to floppy disks. With the internet came fanfiction, writing contests, and better critiques. Taking rhetoric classes cleaned up my style. I don’t think I’ll ever be done reinventing my stories and the ways I write them. But the best way to start writing is to grab a dollar store notebook and see what happens.

SL: Who or what most inspires your writing?

HD: Extraordinary places and everyday life — the sense of wonder that this world exists is why I write fantasy. Because the manic energy in my brain refuses to let go of certain stories. It’s like I’ve got a book in my brain, and I’m constantly transcribing it — getting it as close to the one in my head as possible.

SL: On a similar note (pun intended), what music (genre, artist, etc.) most inspires your writing?

HD: I love folk and indie rock music. Sound tracks and classical music are great when I don’t want to hear a specific voice in my head, though.

SL: Which of your own stories is your favorite?

HD: The one I’m currently writing, of course.

SL: Who is your favorite author?

HD: I should never try to answer this question — I love too many books! I suppose the authors that influenced my early writing were Garth Nix, Robin McKinley, and JK Rowling (not so much her style but getting involved in the HP fan community). Currently? It’s everything from ancient history documentaries to Shakespeare to Monty Python. I have a very active GoodReads page.

SL: If you could be bffs (best friends forever) with any fictional character, who would it be?

HD: If I was one of the Doctor’s companions, I could theoretically travel to all the fantasy worlds I’ve read about and meet my favorite characters. But of course, traveling with Bill and Ted might be less dangerous. (I’m also under the opinion Hermione and I would get along famously.)

SL: What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

HD: To sell my work — and give a bit of it away for free. I want to share my stories in a way that ensures they’re read. Some money and success would be nice, too.

SL: If you could be anything you wanted (besides a writer lol), what would you be and why?

HD: I’m already a scientist, which is one of the best jobs ever because I get to discover new things in the world. I get paid to use my brain, read papers, listen to other people’s discoveries, and talk to people about their research. I also love to hike, so I’m always scraping out as much time as possible to travel and explore nature. (With an audiobook or two, of course!)

SL: Tell me about your current work-in-progress and what your plans are for it.

HD: I’m currently shopping GODS’ PLAY around — so it’s in limbo. Here’s the ‘official’ blurb and an excerpt:

***

With a touch of his hand, Toby can lift the magical protection shape-shifters use to disguise themselves as human. It’s an unusual skill for a hunter, and he prefers to kill monsters the old-fashioned way: with a blade. Because of his special skill, Toby suspects he may be a monster himself. His suspicions deepen when William, a jackal-headed shape-shifter, saves him from an ambush where Toby’s the only survivor. And Toby doubts William helped him for purely altruistic reasons. With his list of allies running thin, Toby must reconcile his hatred of shifters and the damning truth that one saved his life. It’ll take both of them to track down the monster who ordered the ambush.

***

My mother has this butterfly knife, silver ends capping a well-worn pearl enamel grip. She grew up learning its feel, doing tricks with it like some girls do with batons. She never uses it in the kitchen, never to cook, but when she’s thinking — her brow knit up and her eyes hard — the knife materializes in her hands, and she palms it like rosary beads before flicking it open. Some people bob their legs, pace the room, or pull their hair. My mum twirls her knife.

“You know why we train with knives?” my mum asks one day, when I cut my palm pulling the knife from a target. “Knives, not guns?”

I wipe the blood stains on my track pants, another smear to add to the collection. “Henry is teaching me how to shoot,” I remind her.

She holds up the hunting knife and turns it in her palm, the steel glinting in the afternoon sun. “Monsters have claws, they’re quiet, deadly. They get close to you, slit you open with their own nails. You need your knives because, when they pull their claws, you have yours. We can be just as silent and stealthy. With our claws, we’re deadly, too.”

She’s an artist when she flings the knife into the target, burying it to the hilt. Her eyes are sharper than that blade when she glances at me. “Being a hunter and being the hunted is a fine line.”

*****

That afternoon, sitting on the Northern line heading into town, my mother palms her knife. She doesn’t take it out of her pocket, not on the train, but she caresses the pearl handles, clutching it like her safety blanket. I tap my own pocket; my wooden handled knife presses against my leg. Sheathed in leather, it was a gift for my sixteenth birthday. I know its balance, the feel of it in my hand, how to make it stick in a mark. Every time the knife sinks into the wood or Styrofoam target, I feel like I’ve pierced it with a piece of myself; my will made into steel.

The train lurches to a halt, the conductor announces a stop, and I follow my mother onto the platform. We merge with the people streaming towards the WAY OUT signs and ride the escalator to the exit gates. Ascending a last set of grime-stained stairs, we reach the surface. In our travel across the city, the fog rolls off the river, bringing a premature darkness. We cross the street, but instead of going over the bridge with the crowd, we descend the sloping path leading below the bridge, down to the water’s edge. The fog squats on our heads, keeping out any last rays of sun. Not that we want light. It’s better for the predators — us — to lurk in shadows. When you’re on a hunt, the best cloak is a silent footstep and a steady heartbeat.

Three figures, two large and one small, emerge around the corner of the capillary sized lane. The short man is only a few years older than me and compactly built. “You’ll be the sister, Sharron, with her boy. That’s it then.”

The woman is the oldest of the three, but she’s tall, even if her face looks doughy and round. The other man with the dark eyes and salt-and-pepper hair I know: he’s my uncle Henry. He nods to my mum, but they don’t embrace, not on a business night like this. Henry pulls a folded piece of paper from his coat, flattening it with his palm. He hands it to my mother. I glance down at the address. It’s not far, maybe only a ten minute walk.

The other man pulls off a black back pack, unloading several more knives made for hunting. There are two guns, both with silencers. He hands one to the doughy-faced woman and keeps one for himself. I take a small pocket knife, slip it into my hand, and strap a Bowie knife at my waist; my hoodie covers it. My mother does the same, making sure her black trench hangs down over her sheath. Clad in black coats, denim, and trainers, we’re not a stealth squad, but we blend well as poor urbanites.

I mouth, How many? Henry holds up a single finger. Five to one: good odds.

Henry takes the lead, and my mother follows him. The other boy and I go next, and the big woman takes the rear. I pull my black baseball cap lower on my head, tugging the sweater’s hood over top. The other man tilts his head, the black hood obscuring his features and making him look like a sinister wizard. I pad over the concrete, light on my feet, my treads soft and soundless. I palm the pocket knife, planning to throw it first before I pull either of the larger blades.

We stick close to the river, keeping it on our left. I step over a puddle, not wanting to leave tracks. My mother’s black hat bobs in front of me. She’s tucked her usual ginger pony tail into it, not wanting to be a neon sign in the washed-out twilight. We approach a warehouse, fronted by a furniture store. A sign in neon green reads END OF SUMMER CLEARANCE! BEST DEALS, 50% OFF BEDS, DESKS, SOFAS! 70% OFF LAWN FURNITURE! Two of the windows are boarded up, and a third one is cracked, glass spider-webbing out from the impact point. In the final display, a metal patio table with black lattice work is already rusted around the edge.

Henry circles around back, and at the side entrance, he takes out a key and swipes through the security code. The pad flashes red. Henry hits some numbers, and it turns green. He presses on the handle, and we queue up behind him. My mother takes out her knife in one hand, a flashlight in the other. Henry darts in, and my mother and the other man rush in after, weapons raised. I flick my knife out, ready to throw. The woman covers the rear, shutting the door quietly behind us. We fan in a semi-circle, pressing into the warehouse; it’s dank, carpet muffles our steps, and the only sound is a pair of rats padding away from the flashlight beam.

Empty. I mouth the word to my mum. She shakes her head, twirling the knife in her left hand, keeping the flashlight steady in her right. The other man pulls out his flashlight, scanning the other side of the wall. We don’t want to turn on the store lights and get a call put out on us; the cops consider this breaking and entering, even if there’s nothing worth stealing. I grab my light, shining it around, checking inside of the wardrobes near me.

“Bad lead,” the man says. I meet his eyes and nod. We were both hoping for a kill, the first since winter. It’s been a slow year for hunting monsters.

Motioning with the barrel of her gun, the tall woman takes the man and goes to search the back. My mother shakes her head, but she’s examining the beds with a sharp gaze worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Henry and I fan out around her, and I check behind a stack of mattresses double my height. My mum continues to comb through the place with practiced eyes. “No sign of habitation. Bad tip, brother.”

Henry shakes his head, still scanning with his flashlight. He turns to her and mouths one word. Father. My mum frowns, the shadowed creases in her forehead half-lit by the dual beams. Henry treads without so much as a shoe squeak towards the front of the store; mum and I sweep out, moving like a single pair of headlights.

A door shuts. I jerk my head up. A thump from the back of the warehouse, and something crashes over. The woman shouts. There’s a gun shot.

There’s more than one.

***

Thanks again to Heather for playing and to all of you for checking in with us! Until next time, check out my past interviews here!

Book of the Week: The Immortal Highlander


I actually read The Immortal Highlander (Book 6 of Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series) a few months ago, but I never got around to reviewing it (a.k.a. going on an obsessed, fangirl rant), so it is this week’s book. You may remember that Adam Black and Darroc made my list of the Top 10 Bromances awhile back. But this post is dedicated to the entire book -every delicious page.

Summary: “BEWARE: lethally seductive alpha male of immense strength and dark eroticism, do not look at him. Do not touch him. Do not be tempted. Do not be seduced.

“With his long, black hair and dark, mesmerizing eyes, Adam Black is Trouble with a capital T. Immortal, arrogant, and intensely sensual, he is the consummate seducer, free to roam across time and continents in pursuit of his insatiable desires. That is, until a curse strips him of his immortality and makes him invisible, a cruel fate for so irresistible a man. With his very life at stake, Adam’s only hope for survival is in the hands of the one woman who can actually see him.

“Enter law student Gabrielle O’Callaghan, who is cursed with the ability to see both worlds: Mortal and Faery. From the moment she lays eyes on this stunning male, Gabby is certain of one thing: He could be her undoing. Thus begins a long, dangerous seduction. Because despite his powerful strength and unquenchable hungers, Adam refuses to take a woman by force. Instead, he will tease his way into Gabby’s bed and make her want him just as he wants her.

“Now, no matter how hard Gabby tries to avoid him, Adam is everywhere, invisible to all but her—perched atop her office cubicle in too-tight jeans, whispering softly from behind the stacks of the law library, stealing her breath away with his knowing smile
all the while tempting her with the promise of unimaginable pleasure in his arms. But soon danger will intrude on this sensual dance. For as Adam’s quest to regain his immortality plunges them into a world of timeless magic and the deadly politics of the Faery queen’s court, the price of surrender could be their very lives. Unless they can thwart the conspiracy that threatens both mortal and Faery realms
and give them a shot at a destiny few mortals ever know: glorious, wondrous, endless love.”

***

Before reading Immortal, I did read The Spell of the Highlander. (Yes, it’s Book 7. Yes, I’m reading them in reverse order. More about that later.) But I didn’t post anything about Spell because, although I enjoyed it and it still showcased Moning’s talent for expertly combining elements of romance, fantasy and mythology, it wasn’t my favorite of her books.

Immortal is a different story. (Pun intended?) It has the traditional formula of a romance novel, of course, but it lays the framework for her Fever series, which means it’s a little bit dark and full of meddling Fae. I was really disappointed when I read Spell and the Fae only cropped up a few times. Immortal was exactly what I was craving. In this case, our Highlander is actually a Fae trapped in his Highlander glamour when Queen Aoibheal punishes him by taking away his immortality. Gabby is a sidhe-seer and is the only one who can see Adam. She tries to resist him, but Adam Black is persistent in getting Gabby to help him so that he can return to his immortal form -and in getting Gabby for himself. Their dynamic is so entertaining, full of that typical love-hate tension, but the way Moning develops it, it feels fresh and exciting.

And in the background, we have Darroc trying to get Adam Black and his little sidhe-seer out of the way so that he can blinde-side Aoibheal and free the Unseelie from their prison. It was so much fun reading about Darroc as a Fae and the threads of what later transformed into Moning’s much beloved Fever series. I guess one could call it a prequel. I just love how Moning’s Fae are these majestic, epic characters operating in the background, tinkering (and sometimes more than tinkering) with the order of things on Earth, unbeknownst to humans. I don’t know why, I’m just obsessed with the idea, and I love how Moning incorporates it.

There’s an unexpected twist towards the end of Immortal, and also a few pages that made me really scared and nervous for the ending, even though it’s formula fiction and we know how it has to end. But still, it scared me. Not only does Moning nicely wrap things up, at the end there’s a scene that will just make you “awwwww.” Ugh, again, so perfect. I want to be able to write like her…

 Beyond the fantasy and sexual tension, there’s a nice touch of “reality” in it, so to speak, because Gabby’s dealings with and feelings for Adam go against what she was taught as a young girl -go against everything she’s read about Adam in her family’s books. Namely, that her fantasies about a sexy Fae prince are wrong -that the Fae are to be avoided, and Adam Black is especially to be avoided. This element actually makes what is definitely a fantastical book feel a little more down-to-Earth. We have a young woman who is learning firsthand the truth about a person she was taught to fear. Sure, some of what her family said about the Fae is true, but there’s much more too it than that, and some of it stemmed from their own prejudice.

So, what did I not enjoy about this book? That would be nothing. Seriously, nothing. It was epic, and it made me want to read the Fever series again. Which needs to happen this summer. After I get done reading all of the other books on my summer reading list…

As a last note, although the Highlander books aren’t as connected as the Fever series -each book is distinct and focuses on a different couple -characters from past books do show up in the later books, mostly brothers Drustan and Dageus. I read Spell and Immortal first because they were available at the library, and she gives you enough background information that you don’t get confused when she brings in these old characters. So I personally don’t think it’s super necessary to read them in order; however, this would probably bother many of you, so of course go ahead and read them as they were meant to be read. 😉 My OCD did kick in and I realized I should read them in some order, so it looks like that will be reverse order. No, really, I have The Dark Highlander (Book 5) sitting on my bookshelf, waiting to be read…

Upcoming Books of the Week (in no particular order): The Dark Highlander, The Gathering (Kelley Armstrong), City of Bones (Cassandra Clare)

 Related Reads:

The Urge to Write: Isn’t it Bromantic?

The Urge to Write: Sunday Showdown: Fever versus Iced

The Readist: On Saying Goodbye to Your Favorite Characters

LittleDallilasBookshelf: Darkfever

Pure Textuality: Burned release date

Book of the Week: The Darkest Powers Trilogy


I’m starting yet another new type of post -Book of the Week -an idea I’m borrowing from WhatANerdGirlSays. (You can find her most recent Book of the Week about Obsidian here.) Hopefully this will motivate me to do some more reading this summer outside of the usual science-y things I read for my research.

This week I have a fun new series I’ve been dying to tell you about (I just haven’t had the time). Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Powers trilogy (The Summoning, The Awakening, and The Reckoning) is  my most recent guilty pleasure and is now one of my all-time favorite series in this genre. These are the first of Armstrong’s books that I’ve read, but they won’t be the last. (I believe she usually writes adult fiction.) I also had some pangs of nostalgia reading them because they reminded me of old school L. J. Smith. In fact, the plot is reminiscent of Smith’s Dark Visions trilogy. (I’m not at all saying they’re a rip off, just that there are some similarities. I mean, it’s really difficult to come up with a completely fresh idea. What I really look for is how successful the author can put a new twist on what might be not an utterly original idea.) Especially if you are an L. J. Smith fan, you will love these books. They are young-adult-paranormal-romance-perfection.

Summary: Our heroine (and aspiring screenplay writer) Chloe is sent to a home for “disturbed” teenagers after having a public “meltdown” at her high school. At Lyle House, she is diagnosed with schizophrenia. Chloe soon realizes that her “schizophrenia” is actually a true supernatural ability: She is a necromancer; not only capable of seeing ghosts, but also raising the dead. Several of her housemates turn out to be supernaturals as well. This secret new world of the supernaturals is home to necromancers, witches, sorcerers, psychics, werewolves and demi-demons -as well as those of their own kind that want to tamper with the special abilities of supernaturals. This series is packed with action, plot twists and subtle sexual tension. (It is, after all, a young adult book…don’t want it getting too racy…)

Despite her diagnosis at Lyle House, it’s clear at the beginning that Chloe can “see dead people.” Honestly, in the first few chapters, I wasn’t sure I could really get into the whole “necromancer” thing, but I’m glad I stuck with it because I ended up loving it. It was a nice break from the normal paranormal fair (and by that I mean vampires). It’s told from Chloe’s POV, so we get a lot of insight into her inner struggle with her abilities. Although these books aren’t character-driven, most of the main characters change throughout the series as their experiences shape them. And Kelley Armstrong is simply talented at writing fast-paced, suspenseful fiction.

Some of you will love this, some of you will hate it (I LOVED it), but there is a love triangle in the books between Chloe and two foster brothers who are also at Lyle House: Derek and Simon. First of all -OK, I keep throwing around the word “loved,” so let’s change it up a bit -I was OBSESSED with Derek. Just like many fictional bad boys, Derek is mysterious, brood-y, and does NOT play well with others, except for maybe Simon. As Ms. Armstrong makes clear in the books, Derek and Simon may not be related by blood, but they are brothers and friends in the truest sense. Chloe gets along more easily with the amiable, good-looking Simon, while she and Derek clash at almost every turn.

My favorite thing about Derek, though, is that he’s not supposed to be stereotypically handsome. In fact, especially in The Summoning, puberty is not being kind to this boy. As the series progresses, Derek grows out of this, but he’s still no Damon Salvatore. 😉 I just found it refreshing. Then again, it’s not like he’s totally hideous or something, either…let’s just say, he works out…

Not gonna lie, probably the biggest reason I loved these books was the Derek/Chloe dynamic. I don’t know if this trilogy inspired any Simon/Chloe shippers, but I was all about Derek and Chloe. (What should we call them? Dloe? Chlerek?) I also really loved the plot twists Armstrong throws at her readers, leaving them questioning who the characters can really trust. The only thing that didn’t work for me is the whole Chloe-wants-to-be-a-screenwriter aspect. It just seemed really forced. It was more natural in the last installment, but in the other two it felt like Chloe was talking about movies or how she would turn something that just happened into a scene in a movie in every other paragraph. Perhaps it’s because I can’t relate to it, but in my opinion it was overdone. Chloe likes movies. I got it the first hundred times.

But other than this personal pet peeve, I highly recommend The Darkest Powers trilogy if you are looking for a quick, fun, and at times sexy escape. I liked them so much I wish I had bought them instead of borrowing them from the library. That is a big deal for me. I don’t buy books that often unless I am absolutely sure I will reread them, and even then I don’t usually end up reading them again. I read the last book twice before returning it to the library because I didn’t want them to end. Luckily, Armstrong has another young adult trilogy called Darkness Rising, which I think is in the same world as Powers, although with a different set of characters.

Genre-Bending


What genre do I write?

In my About page I loosely call myself a smut romance writer. But I’ve come to realize, I don’t really write that much smut -do I? Some of my fanfic ideas pretty much revolve around S-E-X, but, while there are sex scenes in my other stories, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the plot depends or revolves around them.

I’m not even really a “romance” writer, paranormal or other. Romances follow a formula: Two people meet, usually hate each other but have undeniable sexual tension, stuff happens, it looks like they’re not going to wind up together, but then they do. (I’m not saying this is a bad thing, at all -sometimes you want a predictable ending, and it doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy yourself on the journey to get there.) But while I would say that love and romantic relationships are very important themes in my stories, I don’t think they really follow this formula. So calling myself a romance writer could be misleading.

I throw around the term “urban fantasy” a lot to describe my novel-in-progress. I think it’s a pretty fitting description: It’s a fantasy or paranormal book, and the setting is in the city. My author idol Karen Marie Moning identifies her Fever series as being urban fantasy. But I’ve also heard the genre “urban fantasy” used to specifically describe stories or books that combine African American main characters and culture with fantastical elements. Most of my stories or even mere ideas for stories involve sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal themes, so I think they’re still fitting descriptions for my work. And obviously, if the main characters are of high school age, you can stick it in the “young adult” category.

I’m just trying to find a niche for myself, to be able to succinctly describe my work to other people. To be honest, I’m not even sure I want to stick a specific genre on my stories. I want to borrow elements from different genres, although as I said all of the categories I’ve mentioned above do fit. I don’t want my work to follow a formula. I want my books to be sexy, but I don’t want the whole point of the book to be waiting for the two main characters to have sex. I do love a good love triangle, though, which unfortunately has also become a popular formula as of late. This also isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just I’ve always loved this device, but now that it’s in every single immensely popular book that’s out there, it’s overdone. Now it’ll just seem like I’m joining the crowd.

My WIP The Fallen has a love triangle developing, but again, that wasn’t the point of my writing it. It’s really about this girl who is forced to confront some demons from her past and who is trying to reconcile that with her new life in college. Although the book is certainly not supposed to be anything super profound -it’s meant to entertain -I did want it to follow Siobhan’s journey of self-discovery, which is why it takes place in college. She’s trying to unravel the mystery behind these powerful new people in her life. And sure, all the while she has three hot guys who all want her: Her college hook-up Max, her high school beau and sexy punk rocker, Jimmy, and her handsome but manipulative TA, Jasper.

Sorry, I know this is a weird post -I’m just typing as I think this over. I guess I’m trying to get in marketing mode so if/when I write some query letters, I can be very persuasive. 😉

What genre do you classify your own work as? Or do you like drawing from a variety of influences? What genre do you think I write (lol)? Feel free to sound off in the comments!

Character Profile: Celeste Lowe


Well, somehow it’s Wednesday already, and since I don’t have another chapter of The Fallen ready to post, I’ve decided to post a character profile such as those Heidi’s been posting on her fantastic blog, Inside the Mind of a Fantasy Writer. (I’m also borrowing her format because I like it.)

But first, a little shameless self-promotion reminder to “Like” my blog’s Facebook page by clicking on the link in the menu on the left. (You may have to scroll down a tad, but it’s there!) And thanks to those of you who have!

Now, let’s meet:

Celeste Lowe

From: Star Eyes (paranormal romance, YA)

Character Type: Protagonist

Age: Sixteen

Physical Description: Silver-blonde hair and blue eyes

Species: Alien from the planet Mondra

“Occupation”: High school student

Relationship Status: In a relationship…but it’s complicated

Love interest(s): Dave, a human teenager, is her true love, but she can’t deny her attraction to Hazri, another Mondrian.

Goals: To feel like a “normal teenager”; to be a good friend and girlfriend; to figure out what the Mondrians want with Earth

Obstacles: Since her people are telepathic, it’s almost impossible for her to keep anything from Hazri.

Strengths: Telepathic and telekinetic; loyal; open-minded

Flaws: Forgive the clichĂ©, but she “cares too much” -but seriously, she cares deeply about her friends and family, so can be easily devastated. But she also does have a jealous streak.

Enjoys: Astronomy, journalism, hanging out with her friends

Excerpt:

“You know what?” Dave said after the server had already left. “I just realized that I don’t have any silverware.” He tried to flag down the host.

“Yes, you do,” Celeste said, nodding toward his plate.

“I swear that wasn’t there
oh well.” He placed the napkin on his lap and drizzled some dressing over his salad. Celeste glanced around, hoping that no one had seen the bundle of utensils wrapped carefully in a dark red napkin rise off of the empty table next to them, fly through the air and land quietly beside Dave’s plate.

This was actually really enjoyable to write -I sort of abandoned the world in this book, so it was fun to revisit! Hope you liked this glimpse into Celeste’s character, too!