Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Reblog- Moonscript!

Moonscript Cover Reveal- I’m thrilled to be part of the cover reveal for Moonscript by H. S. J. Williams! I’ve been hearing about this book for years so I’m super excited that it’s releasing soon — in May! :O

It's Live!! Cover Reveal, Plus Giveaway!- Hi, YABCers! Today we're excited to celebrate the cover reveal for Moonscript by H.S.J. Williams, releasing May 7th, 2020 from Trilliam Press!

Books, HSJ Williams- Book 1 of the Kings of Aselvia series
"It is said that Darkness is empty and whatever vanishes into its depths is lost forever. I know this better than anyone. For I have suffered here in the shadows, and there are none who might find me.”

Moonscript finally has a cover! And a release date! And is available for pre-order!

Image result for Hobbits celebrating iand dancing

Though this admission makes my inner bookwyrm shrivel in shame, I've never pre-ordered a book before. I've always waited until the day of release, or even a few weeks after the release date (sometimes years, depending on the series) before I buy a book.
This book is officially my first pre-order. I think waiting--five years? Whoa, no, it's been seven--is long enough.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Review: Circus Phantasm

Not a pro photo by any means, but I want to start showcasing my lovelies.

SPOILERS AHEAD!


Not too much plot-wise, but a few cautions about violence and whatnot that edge this book over the thin defining line between adult and young adult fiction.


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4.5 stars, rounded up to 5

Confession: I didn't think I would enjoy this very much. Not after the first couple of pages (the things that put on edge are listed in the cautions below.) I expected to be confronted with love hexagons, standard superhero scuffles where half the city is crushed beneath their powers, and flashy shows of magic.
What did I get? Most definitely not what I expected.

All the Things I Loved

-There were quite a few ships in the habor, but they weren't overly complicated ones. A couple were well-established, others were developing, and the rest were "this is going to happen eventually."
WITH NO LOVE TRIANGLES IN SIGHT.

-Loyalty and friendship were also key motivators in action and relationship alike. I'm sorry I can't go into more detail, but if I do, I'm going to end up spoiling the whole book. Suffice it to say that my favorite BROTPs are Tristan and Celeste, and Timaus and Lucien.

-The fighting wasn't as...hmm, epic as I thought it would be? No, that makes it sound bland. The build-up, tension and everything were wonderful, had me turning pages as quickly as I could. The fights, however, didn't wipe out whole city blocks. They revealed skeletons in the closet, and occasionally put them to rest. That being said, I would love it if future stories showcased a prolonged battle between two Keepers.

-The magic, which in this world is called the Blessing. The origin of Blessings is something I haven't come across before, not quite in this way. I would love to recap in detail, but part of the fun of this was figuring it out along with the MCs. Here's an overview: The Blessings are kind of like superpowers, in that they grant things like pyrokinesis, super strength, phasing, etc. They were originally a gift bestowed upon humanity by the elves, who wanted to help pull humanity out of some of their troubles. So far as I recall, the source of magic for the elves is never specified.
A few spells are cast in the story, but it's never detailed: "whispered a spell" is the most common descriptor. The effects are described, and when it does something against a person's will, it's never painted as "the end justifies the means". Characters get upset, they argue, they fight back, and the occasional apology is issued.

-DRAGONS. As the blurb mentioned nothing about dragons, I hadn't been expecting them. Though I began to suspect not far into the book, I was still pleasantly surprised when the resident dragon showed up. Oh, and griffins. Well, one griffin. One very imperious griffin. T'was very interesting to see these two strong-willed magical creatures together.


Light caution
-Some cursing in the beginning (it's quickly put to a stop, as Emma hates hearing curses in thoughts, and doesn't want to hear it come out of her brother's mouth)

-High drama (things like torture are hinted at; 
a character is nearly drowned in an attempt to get her past a block in using her abilities )

-A bit of innuendo/implications/romance (things like "turning red at the implication" are mentioned; a female is found sleeping in a male character's room and while nothing happened, no one believes it/says they disapprove; light kisses and things like back rubs)

-A character purposely dresses as if he's gay so that he can annoy his dad (this is in the beginning, but it's never mentioned/done again)

Why take off a half star? 

There were enough small errors in the kindle version (missing paragraph indents for different speakers, a repeated sentence or two, etc.) that they pulled me out of the story a bit. Some of the description was odd as well. The two main things that come to mind are:

a) a mermaid character's clothing is only ever described in one or two of her appearances, leading me to believe that she's not dressed half the time (especially since this character loves designing clothes), 

b) Emma's complexion/hair color aren't mentioned until the very end (if they were mentioned before, then I must've missed it). It just kind of annoys me a bit when you imagine a character one way, then come across a line of description later on that contradicts that.

However, the circus acts, the magic, the hints at relationships and past wrongs...all beautifully done. Though it was somewhat frustrating at times, in the way that only deep, anticipated backstory can be. 

I feel the need to mention that my enjoyment of the book increased tenfold once I finished. Because, from all appearances, this is a standalone fantasy book. When was the last time a standalone fantasy book came out? I can't remember the last time I read one of those!

Definitely check this book out if you love circuses, engaging characters, dragons, and don't want to be overwhelmed by the number of books in a series. 
I've read this twice and I'm still pleased beyond belief that this is a standalone.

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Seriously, can you recall any? Standalone fantasy books, that is. They don't have to be recent.
Comment below with recommendations!

I had some fanart commissioned for this story! Check them out in the Gallery.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

12 DoC tag!

I haven’t had much time to write/edit RoS lately, but I need to write something as it’s been about three days since I’ve written anything. Plus, it’s Christmastime, and I haven’t posted anything remotely resembling the Christmas spirit. I also just realized that I never updated my blog from Autumn colors to winter. Whoops. This shall be remedied in a few moments...

Many thanks to Angela R. Watts for providing this tag. Feel free to comment with your own answers below!

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Cookies or pie?
Hahaha, why would I choose just one? Cranberry pistachio cookies, or gingerbread men, and pecan tassies (it’s not pie, but I don’t like the store-bought pecan pies; too much syrup, not enough brown sugar and nuts.)
Hot coco or eggnog?
Again, both. But the eggnog has to be homemade (it used to be here, idk why they have the page up but not the recipe). I can’t stand store-bought anymore. It’s just so much thicker (vs. creamier), and the egg taste is a lot stronger. *blech*
Old Christmas music or new Christmas music?
It depends on my mood, and what atmosphere I would like, but mostly modern. Some favorites:
You're a Mean One (Jordan Smith)
Cactus Christmas (Brian Setzer Orchestra)
Christmas Medley (Clamavi De Profundis)
Carol of the Bells (Trans Siberian Orchestra, and for whatever reason some Kingdom Hearts clips go really well with the song)
White Christmas or Australian Christmas?
A white Christmas would be great, but they are few and far between. We had a series of snowfalls the week of Thanksgiving, then some rain, then gloomy dryness. There are a lot of clouds, though so far no snow has made it down into the valley. *sings* Yippe ky-oh-ky-ay Cactus Christmas.
Tree decorating or bedroom decorating?
Tree.
Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
I prefer Christmas Eve, because tamales. The anticipation of the next day is nice, too (though it’s been a while since I felt that). Christmas Day consists mostly of opening presents, videotaping, eating strudel, and being glad beyond belief at not having to attend our extended family’s get-togethers.
Home Alone or Elf?
Both! Though Elf is a family favorite, while only a couple of us really enjoy Home Alone.
Hallmark or Mitch Rapp novels?
I'm not really a fan of either. XD
I prefer Hoops and Yoyo Ruin Christmas, and a Charles Dickens Christmas anthology. 
Ugly sweater or pretty outfit?
You’re not going to be able to make me choose between a lot of these things. XD
I have an ugly sweater I’m fond of, as it utilizes a Beanie Baby (specifically Jingles) in the center of a wreath. I made it myself. I may edit for pictures later.
A pretty outfit would be nice, but we don’t go out anywhere, and it would feel weird to be all dressed up while everyone else is in their jammies. Not that I don’t have any pretty outfits, I just don’t have much occasion to wear them.
Go caroling or act in a nativity scene?
Hmmm...nativity scene. I would love to go caroling, but I can't stay in one key for longer than a few seconds and I know that would be annoying for everyone else. :P
Be stuck in an airport during a blizzard (on Christmas) or home alone (on Christmas)?
Home alone. Because presumably the only reason I would be home alone is because I’ve moved out of state and neither me nor my family would be able to get to where the other is living. In which case, I would cry because I’m home alone, but also be happy because I would be able to do what I like to make it feel special.
Read the story of Jesus on Christmas Eve or Christmas day?
We used to read Jotham’s Journey at the beginning of the season, but that stopped once we got older.
Gift bags or wrapping paper?
Uh, wrapping paper. Because what’s the fun of opening presents if you can’t tear into it like a squirrel into a roll of paper towels? (I found out one camping trip that they will eat anything left on the table. Fun times.)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Reblog- Hazel West's Character Purgatory: Book Sale, Sneak Peak!

Book Sale!: So, the other day when I posted my sneak peek of The New Emperor's Concerto, I mentioned I was going to do a book sale to help raise money to hire a cover artist. I thought this would be a fun way to do so since I recently unhauled a lot of books that are in really good condition (some signed special editions I got in subscription boxes) and books are always great for Christmas gifts :)

The New Emperor's Concerto Sneak Peak!: So, if you've been following me on social media you might have seen me tease a bit about this book, but now that NaNo is over, I am officially starting promotion on it as I'm hoping for a February release.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Know the Novel: Renewal of Spirit

Check out the other entries here!
Alright, we're doing this.
Because I need to up my word count. XD

THE QUESTIONS



1. How’s the writing going overall?



Better than I expected. Not as well as I would like (I had 2 days of writing zilch), but better than expected. 


2. What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?


Editing/making my scenes readable. The initial writing is torture, essentially vomiting words out so that Karen (who is currently level 28) doesn't die. But, if I didn't have Not-A-Block to motivate me this time around, I would probably still be tweaking plot/structure things rather than getting any actual writing done.


3. What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?



They've all come a long ways from draft 1, for certes.

Notah's POV scenes are fun, because I get to channel my inner grump. Plus, I enjoy having my little brother be a part of the process (he's gotten into grandiloquent words lately, and quite frankly he can recall words/definitions off the top of his head faster than I do.)


4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?



Mmm...kind of? There have been a few realizations ("oh she's not really like that, she's more like she was in this earlier draft"), but no big surprises. *hastily adds* SO FAR. I see y'all convening over there. Git! Back to your scenes!


5. Have you come across any problem areas?



Corinna. For whatever reason, her motives and theme have been hard to nail down.

I thought I had all of her stuff nailed down to the bone. Then I talked with a writing mentor, who asked, "So what does she want? Like, really want? Outside of the plot?"
I had no answer, I'm ashamed to say.
Now I do (autonomy), but it still needs some tweaking before it's solid enough to guide her.


6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?



To get colloquial: I ain't counting my chicks/dragons before they hatch. The fact that I'm doing actual writing is enough of a victory for me right now.


7. If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?



Probably...uh, Notah, to be honest. :P

Nope! I'd totally be the selfish, story-obsessed hermit that he is. Because I would be him, and I wouldn't be me in his body. If I were me in his body, on the other hand, yes, I most certainly would make different choices. Because I would be me, and would have less fear of bodily harm because of all of his abilities. Getting out and doing crazy things would also be easier since I would be wearing someone else's face. Plus, I would be operating under the most likely misguided notion that even if I die, I would be fine, because I still have my own body to return to. Sorry, Notah.

8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!


I've shared the entire opening already, so instead here's the beginning to some backstory/possible prequel. Or something in the second chapter, depending on whether or not I rearrange it; I have tremendous trouble in getting stories from start to finish without altering something in the structure.
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From her vantage point on the thatch roof, Corinna looked at the town that twined through the striated mountain slopes. Men, women, and children wandered among the mostly uniform houses—daub, thatch, some with wooden beams. The houses went down to the base of the valley.

The walls that bordered each section of the town, tall though they were, wouldn’t last long against the beasts. Sabotaged from within, the notes that pulled solid stone from the earth had been mixed with notes of clay and sand by those within the pay of the Witch Aranka. These walls would be easy for the elephants to break down. Even easier for the bandersnatches to break through, to tear up the mountain in their ascent to Music Hall at the peak.
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I don't know why I like this description so much. Maybe it's because it's contrasted by the stone behind it (slate grays/blacks)?
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Grass sodden with dew despite the noon heat bent beneath her steps. Honeysuckle, lavender, mandrake, and Lady’s Mantle bent closer towards the path she hadn’t even realized she’d been following. The air above her shimmered.
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I just like the vibe of this paragraph. 
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“If you say so.” He turned to see how the finches were doing. Two of them were tangled in a messy braid. The other three had gone off further into the room, chirping in the dark. Trying not to laugh, he stood and began untangling the two from his hair. “You’re obviously no help here, little devils, so go find me someone who believes that riches will fill the tombs of their hearts, want a spouse that was never meant to be theirs, or…” He paused. “…or a plant from a Witch’s garden.”
Fingering his hair, he watched the finches flit away. His hair shimmered. Voices that belonged to faces he’d never seen echoed in his head.

9. Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)


Uh, for one or three days I procrastinated and drew up a world map. It's a small world, with only one continent (so far) a smidgen bigger than Australia. But, it goes through every latitude, so it has everything from desert to jungle.
One thing that surprised me in the making of it: there are no mountains. A volcano or two, plus a small collection of hills, but no mountains. The way I arranged the plates made it so that there's one ginormous canyon that splits the continent nearly in two, and a fault line near the bottom.
I've never written a fantasy setting without mountains before, and will have to alter some description because of this odd discovery.


10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (*cough, cough*)? Tell all!


Wake up. Eat. Work. Return home. Pound out as many words as I can (I've found it's easier to write 200-600 words at a time, rather than 1K+ all at once.) Sleep. Repeat.

On my days off, I wrote sporadically throughout the day: while I have my breakfast shake, after lunch, after chores, etc.
When I'm reluctant to write a scene, Fighter's Block helps keep me from being distracted and perusing Pinterest or trying to design an aesthetic/find that *one* bit of scenery that would totally fit this current location.
I have two types of music that I listen to: lyrical, and instrumental. Lyrical is primarily for editing, instrumental is for writing. Check out the Music for the Muse tab above!
Also, apologies for the funky fonts, I'm trying to figure out why Blogger is doing this...

Friday, October 11, 2019

Reblog: iamcharlesbakerharris, Tolkien

Of Crowns and Kings and Elves and ThingsBuckle up, lads . . . it’s time to talk about Tolkien!!! What brought on this PARTICULAR bout of Tolkien musing, you might ask?  Well, it’s pretty simple.  People be out here tellin’ me you need to read Tolkien if you want to write good fantasy.
And I, er, am not on board with that?
Imma just say that, as a Tolkien lover, I agree with everything this lovely lady has to say. Tolkien, while amazing (I LOVE extensive worldbuilding), has cast a huge shadow over Fantasy, to the extent that most of it seems to be a messy regurgitation of his imagination. Elves used to be creepy midgets before he came along, y’all. Just...something to keep in mind.
Regal elves are well and good, but they’re not the only kind of elf around. Take the LotR predecessors in the Silmarillion. *snicker* (I will link to a two-panel comic illustrating this as soon as I am able.)
I would also like to say that this post gave me a few random components that may or may not become a story:
-A medieval village/hamlette/fief/whatev.
-A mountain, and a shadow you can never leave (well, you can but it’s frowned upon to the extent that guards will attempt to slay you if you try)
-A heck of a lot of rule-breaking outside of said shadow
Crud. Looking at it written out makes me realize that I could totally fit this into a partially-formulated story featuring a spoiled rich-kid who wants to be an adventurer (and actually has the skills to do that), a jaded bard, and a swordsman who would just as gladly feed an orphan as behead a king. Or maybe it was a bard who would behead a king, and a jaded swordsman...
I’ll have to check my notes, but I think one of them is a Scot/Scot equivalent (I’m pretty sure it’s the sword guy).
Anyways. Read the article.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

"Would You Rather..." Tolkien Edition

I'm a bit late for the blog party, but these questions are too good to pass up! So onward...


Click to head to Hamlette's blog!



Would You Rather...


1.  ...join Thorin's Company or the Fellowship?
Thorin's company, if only because the awesomeness of the Fellowship would overwhelm me to the point of being a star-struck idiot. XD
Once the initial excitement wears off, I think being with the dwarfs would be more like being around my family. Plus, if I were with the Company, I'd stand a chance at meeting Beorn. Do I need to specify why it would be awesome to hang out with a were-bear hermit who tends giant honey bees?

2.  ...ride Shadowfax or an eagle?
Can I volunteer someone else who would enjoy this to ride one or the other? Because I hate heights, and speed in general. :P
But, if I absolutely have to choose...an eagle. If I have to be that high up in the air, I want it to be on a sentient being who is more or less invested in my survival. Methinks something crazy would have to happen for an eagle to even consider being friends with me, though. I'm not exactly "epic" material. XD

3.  ...travel through Moria or Mirkwood?
It would totally depend on who's with me, because by Melian's Girdle, there's NO WAY would I go into either alone. It would also depend on the time period. I'd love to see both in their heyday.
Ooh, wait; the Mines of Moria (Khazad-dûm), or the Mountains of Moria? If we could stay on the mountain range, and had plenty of supplies, definitely the Mountains. Though, partying with elves sounds like fun, too...can we do both? Mountains first, then on to Mirkwood as a celebration (assuming it hasn't been overrun by dark ilk and is still populated by elves)? X-)

4.  ...learn to make elvish rope or mithril chainmail?
MITHRIL. SCINTILLATING. USEFUL. FABULOUS. EPIC.
If I knew how to lasso, I'd say elvish rope.

5.  ...try to outwit Smaug or Saruman?
Ahahahaha. Ahaha. Oh you're serious. Smaug, then. I wouldn't mind my epitaph being "Slain by Smaug, Last of the Great Dragons." Just so long as whatever fumble I made that led to my demise isn't included. Unless it was a slip of the tongue that would be hilarious in hindsight. In which case by all means, laugh atop my grave. I'll be laughing with you.

6.  ...spend an hour with Grima Wormtongue or Denethor?
Grima. I wouldn't be able to resist trying to defenestrate Denethor, or smack him upside the head with a spear shaft, both of which would likely land me in prison or warrant an immediate execution. But if I did it to Grima, he would have been asking for it, and I wouldn't feel guilty for doing something to him before the event of nastiness that made him infamous (assuming that time travel of some sort is necessary for this meet-up). Plus, I would be able to turn to Eomer for sanctuary.

7.  ...attend Faramir's wedding or Samwise's wedding?
Probably Sam's, since it would be more informal than Faramir's wedding. I'd be able to learn to dance, try out Hobbit food, and generally not have to worry about dropping things or getting stains on my outfit.
(*cough* I'd also be able to feel tall. *cough*)

8.  ...have to care for the One Ring or the Arkenstone for a day?
Is it weird that I'd want the One Ring? Just to see how long I'd be able to resist its call?
It probably wouldn't be that long, as I'd totally use it to avoid unwanted conversations or make mischief at work.

9.  ...have tea with Bilbo or Frodo?
FRODO! Bilbo's awesome, but my poetry skills are horrendous (c'mon, talking to Bilbo, poetry's going to come up at some point), and I'd embarrass myself sooner rather than later. I think Frodo would be more chill, and we could swap legends and other stories without having to worry about the input of an actual legend (assuming that this is before Frodo's adventures. Hmm, I'm assuming a lot of things today...).

10.  ...fight alongside Boromir or Eomer?
Ooh. Uh. The most likely scenario with either of these: me sticking so close, that I become a tripping hazard. XDI would like to fight with Eomer, if only so after the fight we could brainstorm ideas to kidnap/otherwise aid Eowyn (and possibly enact revenge/concoct capers that would distract and keep Grima away from her.)