Category Archives: Writing

#Writing life: Should you keep your face to the sun… Or your nose to the grindstone?

sunflowers 2

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” HELEN KELLER

I’ve been keeping my face to the sun and my nose to the grindstone. It’s why I’ve been mostly absent on Facebook and Twitter lately. I’m enjoying summer and my sunny writing cave. What am I working on? A novella featuring a character I’ve wanted to spend more time with for a while now. Here’s his character blurb:

Nocturo “Nightshade” Onyx has the sinister looks of a Maegester but the soft, healing magic of a Mederi. Eight months ago he joined the progressive Demeter Tribe so that he could hone his skills. He now wields surgical scalpels, defensive daggers, and waxing magic with ease. But his greatest challenges are still to come: trapping a demon, capturing a young woman’s heart, and bringing his sister back from the brink of death.

What else have I been up to?

Reading: Tina Connolly’s IRONSKIN and the first two books in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series.

Map Making: Bought Campaign Cartographer 3. CC2 was tough for me, so wish me luck! If I can master the upgrade, I’ll be able to make maps of the places I write about. Maps I’d love to share: St. Luck’s campus; New Babylon, Etincelle, and the Mederi outposts; the eastern Lethe; the Shallows; southern Halja; and — if all goes according to plan — Rockthorn Gorge!

Animal Shelter: Took some food, treats, and my youngest to visit our local pet shelter. I’m still trying to talk my husband into adopting another cat in the fall. lol.

Sharing someone else’s good hiking/writing advice: I read this article recently about the Appalachian Trail. It struck me that thru-hiker Jim Parkins’ words about hiking a 2,180 mile trail might also apply, with one slight tweak, to writing a 100,000 word novel => “The hardest part is the mental part, [putting your butt in the chair every morning].” (emphasis added :-D )

sunflower

So how’s everyone’s summer going? Are you writing? Reading? Working? Sunbathing? Are you keeping your face to the sun… or your nose to the grindstone?

Hope everyone is having a terrific week!


Functional Nerds Podcast: #writing #violins #scrivener

John Anealio and Patrick Hester, hosts of the Functional Nerds podcast, interviewed me recently (Episode #198). We covered a range of interesting topics, which are listed below so that, even if you only have a few minutes, you can tune in and hear select bits. I’m also including links to some other podcast episodes you may enjoy. If you’re not already a Functional Nerds subscriber, check it out. Podcasts are free, but if you like what you hear, consider donating and/or sharing the links!

04:10 — My Pick of the Week: A Natural History of Dragons

09:09 — Patrick’s Pick of the Week: Magic: The Gathering

12:40 — John’s Pick of the Week: The Shambling Guide to New York City

14:00 — How my past career as a lawyer impacts my writing

18:20 — My alma maters: Penn State and University of Baltimore

19:20 — Me, rambling about how/when I started writing

22:20 — The Episode’s Big Reveal: Patrick tells me there’s a sequel to The Devil Went Down to Georgia (! — I had no idea).

23:10 — I talk about how I used to play the violin; great discussion on kids and music

29:00 — I do a horrible job discussing the original blog post that caught John’s attention (my post at SF Signal: What Is It With The Devil And Violins?). For some insane reason, I thought this would be the one thing John wouldn’t want to talk about (naively assumed he’d have a been there, done that feeling about the topic. Duh.) John’s articulate. I am not. Please forgive and read my original post instead of listening to my inane, totally unprepared response.

38:40 — We discuss fan conventions. John and Patrick share their favorites and recommend some for me.

42:00 — Urged on by me, Patrick gives a mini-intro to Scrivener spiel. I’ve written in Word pretty much since I first switched from typewriter to computer so I wanted to hear his perspective on why Scrivener’s so great.

51:10 — Episode closes with — what else? — The Devil Went Down to Georgia :-D

Other Functional Nerds podcasts you might enjoy:

Episode 195 — James SA Corey

Episode 148 — Mur Lafferty Part 1

Episode 149 — Mur Lafferty Part 2

Episode 146 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 1

Episode 147 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 2

I hope everyone is having a great July!


Last Day! My White Heart of Justice blog tour is coming to a close…

Today’s menu:

  1. Final list of topics and links in WHOJ blog tour
  2. Discussion questions for White Heart of Justice
  3. Brief bit about the current “should adults read YA?” debate

I’ve had a terrific time visiting all of the blog hosts and reading and responding to reader comments. Each release has had its own vibe and I gotta say — even despite the uncertain future of the series — WHOJ’s release has been my favorite. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting to know the online book blogging community better (and they are getting to know me) or maybe it’s because I wasn’t a clueless newbie nor was I under enormous deadline pressure at release time. Regardless, I’ve had fun and I hope you have too. As a final thank you and one last chance for everyone to enter to win my awesome prizes, I’m listing all the blog tour participants below with dedicated links to each site and a brief description of topics. If you haven’t already checked out the posts, interviews, and reviews, please do! I am grateful to each and every tour participant and to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours for setting it up.

What else have I been working on? Among other things, I’ve been tinkering with my website. As promised, I added Discussion Questions for White Heart of Justice. If you read the ones for either Dark Light of Day or Fiery Edge of Steel, you know they contain MASSIVE SPOILERS. Pretty much the entire plot is revealed so don’t read them if you haven’t already read the book(s). Also, after nearly three years of blogging with the same header pic, I finally decided to change it. For those of you who get updates via email, I’m including the before and after pic. I also created a static landing page for my blog. It’s an experiment. I had been using my latest blog posts as a landing page, but it’s probably time to switch over to a static “hello, welcome, here’s who I am and what I write,” right? Check out the new static page here and let me know what you think.

iStock/almotional

BEFORE: Gargoyle of Notre Dame de Paris

iStock/maroznc

AFTER: architecture in Ghent, Belgium

What’s next? Ha! Well, those of you who have been following along on the tour know that I’ve got at least two potential WIPs waiting in the wings: a Noon Onyx B4 and a new, fantastic, creepy-romantic “YA deuce” I’ve been working on (meaning I envision two books). An aside: lots of online noise lately about whether adults should read YA or not. Wow. Really? I’m not going to waste too much time on an articulate response, but the very idea of someone else telling me what I should or shouldn’t read is mind-blowing. My general approach to reading fiction for entertainment is READ WHAT YOU LIKE, PEOPLE. And don’t let anyone tell you to read anything different. At one time or another, readers of young adult, new adult, romance, science fiction, and fantasy have all been called out for their “odd tastes.” What do I do when I hear this sort of nonsense? Ignore, ignore, ignore…. (Now if you’re reading for educational purposes, the entire discussion changes, but that’s a discussion for another day). Keep calm and read on, my fellow genre lovers!

Below are the WHOJ blog tour topics and links. Except for the post where I’ll be announcing the blog tour prize winners, this is the last you’ll hear about WHOJ in such concentrated fashion. You have all been WONDERFUL SPORTS, but I’m sure you’re looking forward to posts on some other topics too. Speaking of that, I’ve got a great guest blogger stopping by tomorrow — Susannah Sandlin (a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson) with her five favorite scenes from Allegiance. See you then! :-D

BLOG TOUR DATES, TOPICS, AND LINKS

For giveaway details see below

Teaser posts and posts marked with an * are outside of the BBT tour

May 20 Spotlight/Excerpt

Butterfly-o-Meter Books

 

May 20 Review

“The best so far… I SERIOUSLY CHEERED”

Happy Tails and Tales

 

May 21 Interview

Books Direct

Topics: what my family thinks of my writing, thoughts on a possible B4, more hints about a future short story featuring new heroine Corelei Neverest

 

May 21 Spotlight

Bookin’ It Reviews

 

May 21 Spotlight

Deb Sanders

 

May 22 Guest Blog

Magic and Mayhem

Top 5 Cool Things You Can Do With A Sword &

Why Heroes and Heroines Can’t Do Without Them

 

May 22 Spotlight

Coffee Break

 

May 22 Spotlight

Cherry Mischievous

 

May 23 Guest Blog

Christina McKnight

Reinventing the Goddess of Sleep: how I used Caer Ibormeith as inspiration for a new patron demon

 

May 23 Spotlight

Shut Up & Read

 
* May 27 RELEASE DAY PARTY!
Bitten By Books
Kalisto’s Crystal Palace and Raphael Sinclair’s Wish: I discuss how I created the setting for the “gearing up” scene. My inspirations? Snow globes, greenhouses, guardian angels, London’s Crystal Palace, whether and when wishes should be granted… and there’s an excerpt that sheds some light on my Rafe sneak peek tweet.
 

May 28 Guest Blog

Night Owl Reviews

Gifts from the Gods: What do rusty gardening tools and 1981′s Clash of the Titans have in common? What the heck is a daisy grubber? Did Noon’s mom really give her “one to grow on” in each book so far?

 

* May 28 Guest Blog

The Reading Café

Topic: The Noon Onyx Covers — discussed in greater detail than ever before! (And there’s a fun, little “ode to covers” intro)

Review too! (“A must read for fans of urban fantasy and dystopian fairy tales where Armageddon is only the beginning, not the end.”)

.

May 29&30 Spotlight and Review

What the Cat Read

Dark Light of Day (“I loved Noon. She’s feisty, conflicted, [and] rather sarcastic at times…”)

Fiery Edge of Steel (“Ah, Rafe… he stole the show in this book.”)

White Heart of Justice (“I have to give Archer serious purrs and a tail wave of approval for this one… Action, adventure, romance, humor, suspense, danger, deception…”)

.

* May 29 Guest Blog
SFSignal
Topic: What Is It With The Devil and Violins? Come read about The Fifth String, Norwegian fossegrimen, and Fiddler’s Green. BONUS: I share the original titles to each of the Noon Onyx books. WHOJ’s is the best!

 

May 30 Interview

CBY Book Club

Wanna know what my very first favorite book was? I also talk about books in my TBR pile: past, present, and future.

 

May 30 Spotlight

Melissa Stevens

 

June 2 review 

“If you’re looking for a new adult fantasy series with exceptional world building, exciting storylines, and strong characters, you need to try the Noon Onyx books.”

Tynga’s Reviews

 

June 3 Guest Blog

Preternatura

Topic: Lord Lawless and the Festival of Frivolity (how I used Saturnalia and the Lord of Misrule as inspiration for a St. Luck’s winter celebration)

 

June 4 Guest blog

Addicted 2 Heroines

Topic: Noon’s missing tooth. Yep, Noon loses her tooth in Chapter 1. Come read about why I knocked it out and give me your opinion on über heroines: If you could choose only one word to describe your ideal heroine, would it be interesting, relatable, or admirable?

 

June 5 Interview

JeanzBookReadNReview

Topics: Reviews, DNFs, and book trailers

 

June 6 Interview

Fantasy Book Addict

If you could choose one book cover to put on your wall as a poster, what would it be? I also talk about how I came up with Noon’s name.

 

June 6 review

“With WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, the Noon Onyx series is now one of my favorite urban/dark fantasy series.”

Leeanna.me

 

June 9 Spotlight

3 Partners in shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too!

 

June 9 review and interview

Topics: Am I a pioneer of New Adult Fantasy? I also include a message for Spanish and international readers.

Review: “This book is a homage to Noon’s independence…. With a quirky sense of humour and [fantastic] worldbuilding, White Heart of Justice delves deep into a quest of magic, freedom, redemption and love.”

Tower of Babel

 

June 10 Spotlight

On the Broomstick

 

June 10 Spotlight

Fang-tastic Books

TEASER POSTS

Cover Reveal

The Laurel Crown Race and Its Targets

What Can Readers Expect and Sneak Peek at Page Proofs: Prologue and Page One

The Noon Onyx Series: Urban Fantasy, New Adult… or Neither?

RT Book Reviews: White Heart of Justice

Publishers Weekly: White Heart of Justice

Sneak Peek Tweets + Giveaway

Super Quick Author Interview at Night Owl Reviews

BBT TOUR-WIDE GIVEAWAYS

  • $50 Amazon eGift Certificate (or bookseller of winner’s choice) (international)
  • 5 copies of White Heart of Justice (or an earlier book in the series, winner’s choice) (international so long as Book Depository ships to your address)
  • Dark Light of Day themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • Fiery Edge of Steel themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • White Heart of Justice themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 and over. For official rules, please see my Giveaways page.

DARK LIGHT OF DAY

PRIZE PACKDark Light of Day Prize Pack

  • Signed print copy of Dark Light of Day
  • Handmade bookmark with charm
  • Natural Face Paint Kit
  • Orange Silk Flower Hair Clip
  • Atomic Fireball Candies
  • Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL

PRIZE PACKFiery Edge of Steel Prize Pack

  • Signed print copy of Fiery Edge of Steel
  • Handmade bookmark with charm
  • “The Queen of Flowers” T-shirt Tank Top
  • Set of three Silver Glass Mercury Votive Holders
  • Petite Pear Candies
  • Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

PRIZE PACKWhite Heart of Justice Prize Pack

  • Signed print copy of White Heart of Justice
  • Handmade bookmark with charm
  • White Crystal Headband
  • Vintage Star Pin
  • White Chocolate Meltaways
  • Signed copy of galley pages of scene that inspired prize pack

White Heart of Justice, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, dark fantasy, fantasy, urban fantasy, demons, angels, post-apocalyptic


One to Grow On: Noon’s Mom + Cover Lovers Chat

My blog tour resumes today with some fun posts: I’m discussing vintage gardening tools, Clash of the Titans, and Noon’s mom’s growing gifts over at Night Owl Reviews and I’m at The Reading Café discussing my covers. I know I’ve discussed them before, but I share more about the process, covers in general, and give each of my covers a “stat report.” If fantasy covers were baseball cards, click here for what would be on the back of mine. Finally, I’m wrapping up my Release Day Party at Bitten by Books. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, there’s still time! Readers have asked TONS of terrific questions — and I’ve answered them, in great detail. Skim through for more background on just about everything or leave a question of your own!

Local Lending Libraries

And because I like to include pics w my posts… here are two for all of the book, coffee, and pizza lovers out there => Starbuck’s and Bertucci’s versions of the local lending library. I like it!

Bookshelf at my local Starbuck's -- what's missing? ;-)

Bookshelf at my local Starbuck’s — what’s missing? ;-)

Bookshelf at my local Bertucci's. Mostly children's books... so they get a pass. :-D

Bookshelf at my local Bertucci’s. Mostly children’s books… so they get a pass. :-D

Hope to see you over at Night Owl Reviews, The Reading Café, and/or Bitten by Books!


RELEASE DAY PARTY: WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE! (author chat, excerpt, contest)

Ok, you knew this post was coming, right? This is the post I’ve been working toward for… well, a year now! :-D

Release Day Party at Bitten by Books going on RIGHT NOW! => Click HERE.

The Bitten by Books contest ends at midnight CDT on 5/31/14. I’ll be over there all night and then will be checking in periodically until it closes to answer any questions and/or respond to comments. (There have been some good ones! Come add yours!)

And, probably the last time I’ll be posting/emailing these links to you for a LONG time (although they’ll be up everywhere else, of course)… Here are White Heart of Justice‘s BUY LINKS (Yay! Exciting! Buy links instead of pre-order links. Depending on where you live, you could start reading WHOJ tonight!)

Now is also a good time to thank everyone who has: been following the blog tour (resuming tomorrow); already stopped by the release party; shared, posted, tweeted or RT’d a link or sneak peek tweet; or pre-ordered the book! I appreciate the support and well wishes. Terrific participation and feedback so far. You guys are all awesome! THANK YOU!!!

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

Have a great night, everyone! Hope to see you at Bitten by Books!


All Sorts of Good Stuff

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone! I know this weekend is both solemn and celebratory. Whatever your plans are, I hope they are exactly what you want to be doing.

Today’s post is a mishmash of all sorts of good stuff: some beautiful pictures from a hike I took with my girls last weekend, a link to my guest post at Christina McKnight’s blog where I discuss how I reinvented the Celtic Goddess of Sleep for White Heart of Justice, a link to Bitten by Books wonderful review of WHOJ, and a happy picture of my grandfather, who was a WWII pilot.

A Walk In The Woods

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Caer Ibormeith, the Celtic Goddess of Sleep and Dreams

Yesterday, I guest blogged at Christina McKnight’s site. I talked about how I used the legend of Caer Ibormeith as loose inspiration for Crae Ibeimorth, the Patron Demon of Sleep, in White Heart of Justice. I tell the story of how Angus, the Celtic God of Love fell in love with Yew Berry (Caer Ibormeith). It’s a great story! I also share some sleep facts and wax poetic about how much coffee means to me. :-D

Stop by for a chance to win my awesome blog tour prizes and to confess whether you’ve ever been inspired by Celtic mythology, anagrams, or are spending your nights reading instead of sleeping. (Shhhh instead of Zzzzzz — I won’t tell. ;-) )

Bitten by Books Review and Release Day Party!

Bitten by Books posted their review of White Heart of Justice today. It’s a wonderful summary of what readers can expect from the book. Here’s a fun quote from the review:

“The prologue…ah, the prologue, like a gritty rum on the tongue, demanding, powerful, full-flavored and utterly destructive… I spent the entire novel compulsively reading, racing to the finish to see what would happen [next].”

:-D How can I *not* smile about this review? I was very flattered to read Terrie’s thoughts on the book. A big thank you to both her and Bitten By Books for their enthusiasm and support!

An interesting aside: the prologue was a late addition to the manuscript. I also wrote a bunch of other scenes for the book similar to the prologue… but took them out during the final round of edits. My editor thought that, since I’d always written the story from Noon’s point of view, including them would be breaking my own rules so her advice was to leave them out. I agreed and deleted. But I still have them and I’m in the process of trying to decide what to do with them. :-)

DON’T FORGET => I’M HAVING A RELEASE DAY PARTY AT BITTEN BY BOOKS ON TUESDAY, MAY 27TH FOR WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. EVERYONE IS INVITED!!!

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day is a holiday of mixed emotions. It’s sad, because its purpose is to remember those who have died while serving in the U.S. military. And yet it’s also an acknowledgement of their lives, accomplishments, and sacrifice. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing that it’s also the unofficial kick-off to summer. It’s hard not to have tears for those who aren’t with us anymore, but I like to remember those who’ve passed away with a smile. After all, that’s how I want to be remembered.

So, in honor of the holiday and in memory of my grandfather, who served in WWII as a pilot, here’s a happy picture of him and my grandmother that was taken in 1938 — two years before they got married.

M and M

Want to read more about my grandfather, the WWII pilot, or see more vintage pictures?

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! See you Tuesday for THE BIG RELEASE!!!!! :-D


Book Series: How Many Books Is Enough?

To B4 or Not To B4, that is my question…

Yesterday Lynda from Books Direct posted her interview of me.  We talked about what my family thinks of my writing, my upcoming short story “Dream, Interrupted” (featuring new heroine Corelei Neverest; she was tons of fun to write), and how darn difficult it was to write the ending to White Heart of Justice.

Why was it so hard?

Well, because White Heart of Justice may be the last Noon Onyx book. As I mention in the interview, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to make sure the ending was emotionally satisfying for those who have followed the series so far – which was challenging considering where I’d left things at the end of Fiery Edge of Steel and the fact that, originally, I’d roughly plotted a total of seven books in the series. (Go ahead, you can say it, what sane writer plots that far ahead of her own career?!)

So, after a mild (dare I admit, significant) panic attack, I got down to business and wrote the ending to WHOJ. That ending changed countless times. I’m not sure what readers will think of it. Early feedback has been wonderful but no one (including me) has really addressed whether this is THE END.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’ll likely self-publish any future books in the series. And self-publishing a book the way I’d want to (with quality editing and a fantastic cover artist/designer) wouldn’t be cheap.

The final decision is mine. Creatively, I have to want to do it. And financially I’ll have to decide whether or not I’m comfortable with the risk and investment of moving forward with a Noon Onyx B4 instead of some other equally awesome but different project.

So I’m curious…

READERS: After you finish White Heart of Justice, let me know whether you’d be interested in reading another Noon novel. I feel the ending is satisfactory enough for us all to walk away happy… and yet… as I said during yesterday’s interview, it’s hard to say goodbye. Halja is a fascinating world and Noon is an interesting, strong character to write about.

WRITERS: Have any of you continued a traditionally published series on your own? How’d that work out for you?

Ok, enough already with the serious talk!!!

Today, I’m over at Magic and Mayhem with a really fun guest blog:

Top 5 Cool Things

You Can Do with a Sword

and

Why Heroes & Heroines Can’t Do Without Them

You gotta come check it out. I actually mention WHOJ only once (to point out its inclusion on the Goodreads “It’s All About The Swords!” list). If you love swords, the post is a MUST READ. :-D

In addition to my Super Serious questions above, I also want to know:

What’s your favorite book cover with a sword on it? Have any examples of cool things you can do with a sword?

Lemme know your answers over at Magic and Mayhem!

Thanks for following, everyone! I’m loving all the tweets!!!


Winners and Wrap Up

 

This week I interviewed six new adult SFF authors. (Tuesday: Sarah Harian and Summer Lane; Wednesday: Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall; Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler). We discussed some great topics and showcased some of their novels. To thank participants, I offered one free book (chosen by the winner from among the featured books) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners...

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners…

My elder daughter picked the winners. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

(Enlist elder daughter’s help).
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

FREE BOOK WINNER => Ruth
$10 EGC WINNER = > bn100

I’ll be in touch about prizes by Monday!

I hope everyone found the interviews and posts as interesting and informative as I did. Surprisingly, my opinion is not much different than it was last year at this time: New Adult is a category that, like its characters, is full of potential. Whether it ever reaches that potential will be up to NA writers and their readers.

I’ll admit that, sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t be going in the other direction. If we shouldn’t just jettison the sub-genres and kick the category labels to the curb. There’s so much genre blending these days, maybe those of us who write stories set in imaginary worlds should just label all of our work “speculative” and call it a day.

But I only consider that for a moment. Because today’s publishing world is abuzz with words like “discoverability” and “metadata” and labels matter. Why? Because they help readers find books that are similar to other books they’ve liked.

A few other thoughts

Just to be clear, for anyone who’s been following this who may be new to my work, I think DARK LIGHT OF DAY qualifies as a “new adult” novel, although it’s not a contemporary college romance. It’s got a boarding school setting, a significant romance plot, and a youthful tone. DARK LIGHT OF DAY is also an urban fantasy with deep worldbuilding. In fact, that’s how it was marketed, which is fine. It shares as many characteristics with UF as it does with NA.

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL is neither NA nor UF, although lots of people consider it urban fantasy. I think that speaks to UF’s inclusiveness more than anything else, which is nice but less helpful to readers. It’s a river adventure with romance and mystery elements. That’s why I started calling my work “genre-bending fantasy.” Ha. A cop-out for not coming up with a better label? Maybe.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is a similar adventure story to FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, but this time Noon’s adventure is on land… in a colder, lonelier, harsher environment. It’s more of a quest than a mystery. And, even though Noon’s still a student and one of her biggest motivations in the book is that she wants the right to forge her own career path, I don’t think it’s NA. The character has moved past her earlier NA struggles.

So I continue to label my Noon Onyx series as “genre-bending fantasy.” :-)

And I continue to follow the development of NA literature with interest. :-D

If you enjoyed this Q&A series, please consider supporting my work by pre-ordering WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

And finally…

This week’s series started with one writer’s question, left as a comment on one of my random blog posts. If you have a question about books or writing, lemme know! Who knows? I may do another series of posts in the future to try to answer it. :-D

Thank you to everyone who participated, both authors and commenters. You are all awesome! Best wishes for the weekend, everyone!


Is Multi-Genre NA a Fantasy?

This week, I’m doing a three-part Q&A with six New Adult SFF authors. If you missed Tuesday’s post with Sarah Harian and Summer Lane, click here. If you missed yesterday’s post with Karen Duvall and Juliana Haygert, click here. As a thank you to participants, I’m giving away a free book (winner’s choice from among the books featured in the series; format and delivery method will vary based on winner’s choice) and a $10 eGift Certificate to a bookstore of the winner’s choice. Want to enter to win one of the prizes or add your thoughts to the discussion? Please do by commenting below! Today, please welcome Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler. I’m interviewing Rebecca in the same Q&A style as the rest, but Carrie’s going to wrap up this series with a guest post.

THE AUTHORS

Rebecca Hamilton

Becca Hamilton

Becca Hamilton

Rebecca Hamilton is a bestselling Paranormal Fantasy author who also dabbles in Horror and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and four kids. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren’t for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently. She is represented by Rossano Trentin of TZLA and has been published internationally, in three languages.

Carrie Butler

Carrie Butler

Carrie Butler

Carrie Butler daydreamed her way through college—until they thrust a marketing degree into her hands, slapped a summa cum laude seal on the corner, and booted her out into a less-than-stellar job market. Instead of panicking at the prospect of unemployment, she used her Midwestern logic to steer into the skid and point her life in the direction she really wanted to go: writing out those daydreams. Her passion for New Adult fiction led her to co-found NA Alley—one of the first websites dedicated to the category. A year later, she started a design business specializing in graphics for the publishing industry, called Forward Authority. Her Mark of Nexus series has appeared on Amazon bestselling, top-rated, and hot new release lists in various genres.

THE QUESTIONS

Jill Archer: Do you feel the term “New Adult fiction” has become synonymous with “college romance”?

Rebecca Hamilton: No, not at all. In fact, many of my favorite New Adult authors aren’t writing the college setting or a romance plot! One thing to keep in mind is that New Adult is an audience category, not a book genre. Categories: Children, Middle Grade, Young Adult, New Adult, Adult. Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Mystery, Horror, Sci-Fi, etc. Sometimes genres mix, like Paranormal Romance or Paranormal Mystery. Then they are categorized by audience. You might have a New Adult Mystery or a Young Adult Paranormal Romance or an Adult Fantasy or Middle Grade Horror (like the Goosebumps books). I do think some categories seem to preference certain genres more. For example, we aren’t seeing a lot of New Adult Horror–maybe because New Adult is still a new category?–but we are seeing a lot of New Adult Romance and New Adult Mystery.

Jill: Do you think the label “New Adult” is helpful to fantasy readers (versus romance readers)? If so, what do you think distinguishes New Adult fantasy from adult fantasy?

Becca: I think the category is definitely helpful. It indicates to readers (whether they read fantasy or romance) that the story is written in a new-adult-appropriate way. The sexual content and violent content and language are new adult appropriate. The tone and language and delivery of the story is more advanced than young adult but a little softer than adult. New Adult is meant to appeal to the 18-25 category, and the protagonist in these books is often in that age range as well. I feel, as a reader, that the New Adult category helps me know what to expect from the content and style of the book. The protagonists “real life” problems will be new adult problems: going off to college, moving out on their own, settling down in life or with another person, and sometimes “coming of age” problems fit as well. Adult books I find have a slightly slower pace and more “later in life” problems. This is true even with fantasy. A well-developed character might have to worry about vampires tracking them down, but they will still have “real life” problems, like they can’t miss dinner with their parents on Sunday night or a term paper is due at college or their boss is about to fire them for coming into work late every day (must be those late nights slaying vamps…). The “real life” problems in an adult book may sometimes be similar, but are often different–like having to deal with the death of a parent, starting or caring for a family, or paying off debts.

Jill: Last month, a writer left a comment on my blog, which is paraphrased below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. (You can see her original question and my answer here).

I am a writer who is currently working on a fantasy manuscript featuring an 18 year-old apprentice. There are romantic elements, but the relationship is not the focus of the story – her adventures are. I’ve noticed that most NA fantasies have a romance plot rather than a quest or mystery plot. Do you think there’s a market for a story such as this? What are your thoughts?

Becca: I’m a bestselling (on kindle) and internationally published (Hungary and Germany) New Adult author. My series, The Forever Girl, has a quest/mystery plot with the romance as a subplot, and it has even been optioned for film. I have read a ton of new adult books in 2012 and 2013 where the romance is the subplot, not the focus of the story, so I would say from my writing and reading experience that there is definitely a market for stories like these! I’ve also noticed such books have more crossover appeal between male and female readers. So keep writing and stay in tune with your audience. You’re writing what people want to read, and you’re in good company!

Jill: Are you currently writing, or have you recently published, a New Adult Fantasy? If so, can you share a little bit about it?

Becca: My paranormal fantasy series, The Forever Girl, fits into the New Adult category quite nicely. I was happy when the category came about because the content is too mature for most teens and yet the style and story really wasn’t going to apply to the older adult audience. Book two in the series is with my agent and being shopped around to publishers now, and I’ll be starting on Book 3 in April (hopefully!).

Here’s the blurb of book 1: At twenty-two, practicing Wiccan Sophia Parsons is scratching out a living waiting tables in her Rocky Mountain hometown, a pariah after a string of unsolved murders with only one thing in common: her. Sophia can imagine lots of ways to improve her life, but she’d settle for just getting rid of the buzzing noise in her head. When the spell she casts goes wrong, the static turns into voices. Her personal demons get company, and the newcomers are dangerous.

The series introduces all of the Forever Girls (there will be five in total) and brings them together to fight off the Maltorim–a preternatural council only concerned with helping their own species to thrive, by any means possible. I can’t say too much more than that without giving away spoilers!

Jill: Besides yourself, which authors and/or books can you recommend to readers who are looking for New Adult fantasy?

Becca: Five from the elemental emnity series by Christie Rich. That was a fun read! I also really liked Girl Over the Edge by Amy Kinzer. Powerful story and a perfect example of how New Adult books aren’t all romance!

CARRIE’S THOUGHTS

Is Multi-Genre NA a Fantasy?

The struggle is past us. The stigma is fading. After years of fighting to make New Adult (NA) a legitimate category, it’s finally happening—but the definition has shifted.

As with most industries, ours is shaped by consumers’ purchasing decisions. So, because NA’s awareness was brought on by the success of contemporary romance, it initially became synonymous with college romance. (Media sensationalism didn’t help either, calling it “sexed-up YA”… *grumbles*) Fortunately, many of us have been doing everything in our power to promote a wide variety of genres within the category, i.e. writing outside of contemporary romance, petitioning retailers to list NA in more places, doing special blog-hops to create awareness, etc. It’s been an uphill battle, but things are slowly changing.

And just in the nick of time.

There’s a market waiting. At the end of last year, I conducted an NA-specific survey and stumbled across some interesting results. When asked which genre readers would most like to see more of, 9% of them answered fantasy, 8% answered paranormal romance, and 7% answered paranormal. That adds up to almost a quarter of all respondents!

New Adult fantasy differs from adult fantasy in that it highlights that oh-so-crucial transition between adolescence and adulthood. We get to explore the learning experiences that come with newfound freedom, while providing a fantastical outlet. If that isn’t a recipe for disaster (read: entertainment), I don’t know what is. ;)

As for my speculative endeavors, I just published Honesty (Mark of Nexus #2.5)—an urban fantasy novella/series side story—in March. If you’re into warped, male POVs, it might strike your fancy:

“Blackmail and vigilantism hold no consequence for Cole Blake, until an error in judgment stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks. Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, he must own up to his past and fight his darker impulses—before it’s too late to shield those he actually cares about.”

AMAZON | NOOK | KOBO

Dun, dun, dun… right? Do me a favor. While you’re on Amazon buying Honesty (kidding!), have a look at their category system. You may notice something encouraging: They’ve finally listed “New Adult & College” as a subcategory of fantasy! I think we can count that one as a victory, don’t you? ;)

THE BOOKS

Her Sweetest Downfall Cover

Ophelia’s been successful at hiding her true identity, until the mark of the serpent appears on her neck—a death sentence, should it be seen by anyone in her town. Hiding the mark might save her from falling victim to the witch hunts of her era, but the scorching sensation it carries can’t be ignored.

When the mysterious Ethan is sent to collect her for a life of something more, she learns concealing the mark is the least of her concerns. She’s destined to do a new task—to join a dark, supernatural world and protect the future of people she may never meet.

What she doesn’t know—what she learns too late—is that her initiation won’t be complete until she kills the man who’s captured her heart.

Honesty Cover

Cole Blake is more than just a roguish ladies’ man. He’s also a dedicated worker—so dedicated, in fact, that he’s willing to blackmail his boss with a falsified sex tape in order to keep his job. And his proactive efforts don’t end there. After hours, he uses his Dynari abilities to moonlight as a vigilante, keeping his neighborhood safe from drunks, dealers, and would-be thieves.

Until a mistake stops him dead in his super-accelerated tracks.

Now burdened with the closest thing he’s ever had to a conscience, Cole struggles to justify his once-reckless actions. It’d be all too easy to give in to his darker impulses, especially with ERA making dangerous advances toward their goal of revolution, but embracing that hatred could jeopardize the few relationships he actually cares about—including his pursuit of the saintly Rachel Ranford. No, in order to keep everyone safe, he’ll have to come clean about his warring compulsions and ask for help… before his dark side takes over.

So, everyone, how about you? Have any questions for either Becca or Carrie? Interested in winning a copy of HER SWEETEST DOWNFALL or HONESTY?

We’d love to hear from you so please add your thoughts in the comments! Let us know what you think about new adult fantasy, what you’re currently reading, what you’re doing this weekend, what your favorite day of the week is…

Thank you to Becca and Carrie for participating in this Q&A series! Tomorrow, I’ll share my final thoughts and announce the winners. (Commenters have until 4:00 p.m. EDT on 4/4/14 to enter to win the free book or the eGC).

Have a great night, all! Until tomorrow…

 


Is there a market for #NewAdult Fantasy?

This week, I’m doing a three-part Q&A with six New Adult Fantasy authors. If you missed yesterday’s post with Sarah Harian and Summer Lane, click here. Tomorrow, I’ll interview the last two authors. On Friday, I’ll give away a free book (winner’s choice from among the books featured in the series; format and delivery method will vary based on winner’s choice) and a $10 eGift Certificate to a bookstore of the winner’s choice. Want to enter to win one of the prizes or add your thoughts to the discussion? Please do by commenting below! Today, please welcome Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall.

THE AUTHORS

Juliana Haygert

Juliana Haygert

Juliana Haygert

While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.

Karen Duvall

Karen Duvall

Karen Duvall

Karen Duvall is an award-winning author with 4 published novels and 2 novellas. Harlequin Luna published her Knight’s Curse series in 2011 and 2012, and her post-apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, was released in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in January 2013. Karen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. She is currently working on a new contemporary fantasy romance series.

THE QUESTIONS

Jill Archer: Do you feel the term “New Adult fiction” has become synonymous with “college romance”?

Juliana Haygert: Unfortunately, it has, though that’s not all that NA is. I like to refer to characters of NA books as college-aged, because they don’t necessarily need to be in college. And romance is also not required. Like any YA and Adult books, the NA category can and should have any genre – romance, drama, thriller, fantasy, paranormal, horror, etc.

Karen Duvall: I think that’s how it started. Writers and publishers wanted to cross the boundaries of innocence required by the YA genre so that characters could be free to have sexual experiences, which often happens in college, and to shed the restrictions of childhood. But what appears to have happened is many of these college romances just took teenage children with teenage issues, added a year or two to their ages, and plopped them into a college setting so they could have sex. I heard of one agent who labeled NA as “college f— fiction.”

The college romances I recently read were infused with YA tropes like sports jock heroes, mean girls, petty jealousies, juvenile gossip, unfair teachers, meddling parents, cheating boyfriends and girlfriends, pubescent tirades and other issues faced by children on the cusp of adulthood. Those stories hadn’t evolved to the next level of becoming a grown up.

YA is about the transition from child to adult. NA is about finally getting to be an adult. There’s a big difference, different enough to warrant a whole new category of fiction.

Thanks to college romances, my agent has no interest whatsoever in NA fiction.

Jill: Do you think the label “New Adult” is helpful to fantasy readers versus romance readers? If so, what do you think distinguishes New Adult fantasy from adult fantasy?

Juliana: I think NA fantasy distinguishes from Adult fantasy, the same way NA distinguishes from Adult fiction, in general. Adults are focused on other matters in their life (like paying bills, succeeding on their jobs, starting or providing for their families) while college-aged characters are still trying to find themselves, to choose what they will want to do for the rest of their lives, having their hearts broken and mended. There’s more angst, more indecision, more instability. Only, with fantasy, you got magic and other supernatural elements along with all the other problems. :)

Karen: I think it’s too soon to tell. Go to any bookstore and walk down an aisle in the fantasy and science fiction section, then ask someone browsing if they like New Adult fantasy. I bet nine out of ten won’t know what the hell you’re talking about. New Adult is not yet in the mainstream. Not enough readers know what it is.

I think what would distinguish it is if the story incorporates the challenges faced by characters who have recently crossed the threshold into adulthood. In adult fantasy, aside from the older ages of the main characters, the plot’s focus is on the magical elements and the story world rather than new awakenings within characters who are new to adulthood. They have other challenges to face, and though the characters grow and change during their journey, their story arc doesn’t depend on what they learn from growing up. It’s assumed they are grown up.

Jill: Last month, a writer left a comment on my blog, which is paraphrased below. I’d love to hear your thoughts. (You can see her original question and my answer here).

I am a writer who is currently working on a fantasy manuscript featuring an 18 year-old apprentice. There are romantic elements, but the relationship is not the focus of the story – her adventures are. I’ve noticed that most NA fantasies have a romance plot rather than a quest or mystery plot. Do you think there’s a market for a story such as this? What are your thoughts?

Juliana: I think romance is a big seller, yes, but there are readers for all genres. On my fantasy trilogy, there’s romance, but the focus is on the story, on the adventure the protagonist goes through. Some readers complain that there’s little romance in it, but I have other books with more romance if they want that. It may take some time until NA expands to other genres but I believe it’ll get there. Especially if we keep writing non-contemp or non-romance NA books. :)

Karen: The New Adult category is still something of a slippery fish when it comes to defining what it is and isn’t, but one thing it’s not is romance. It can be romance, but it can also be mystery, or historical, or horror or science fiction. New Adult doesn’t focus on any one genre, but neither does it relate to the adventures of an 18-year-old in her apprenticeship unless those adventures are directly tied the challenges of new adulthood. Those challenges might include: financial independence, self-empowerment, loss of innocence, living away from parents for the first time, military enlistment, friendships after high school, first jobs, new marriage, wedding engagement, starting a family, and so much more.

Jill: Are you currently writing, or have you recently published, a New Adult Fantasy? If so, can you share a little bit about it?

Juliana: I’m writing the third book of my NA fantasy trilogy, The Everlasting Circle. The first book, Destiny Gift, tells the story of a girl who lives in a dark world and has visions of gods and demons—and clues. She has to follow the clues and succeed in her quest to bring light back to the world.

Karen: I’ve always written NA even though there was no such thing at the time. The problems and challenges faced by this age group have always been important to me so it’s what I like to write. In answer to the question, however, I’d have to say no. My Knight’s Curse series, published by Harlequin Luna, featured a NA character facing NA issues, but it’s categorized as adult urban fantasy.

I’m currently working on a new fantasy romance series that features NA characters in a NA situation, but I don’t know if it will be marketed as New Adult. It’s not yet contracted and only the first book is written, the second book now underway. I’m on tenterhooks while I wait for my agent to start the submission process. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

This is the blurb for my (possibly NA) fantasy romance, Mirror Reader:

Alice Dodgson, a descendant of Alice from Wonderland who possesses a psychic ability to read the past in mirrors, faces a painful past when a dangerous god abducts her little girl out of revenge for a crime Alice didn’t commit. She is forced to ask for help from the man who broke her heart eight years before… the man who fathered her child and doesn’t know he has a daughter.

Jill: Besides yourself, which authors and/or books can you recommend to readers who are looking for New Adult fantasy?

Juliana: The Crescent Chronicles by Alyssa Rose Ivy, The Collapse Series by Summer Lane, The Mark of Nexus series by Carrie Butler, Eldaen Light Chronicles by Victoria H. Smith, Wasteland Trilogy by Lynn Rush, Moonsongs by E.J. Wesley.

THE BOOKS

Kinght's Curse

A skilled knife fighter since the age of nine, Chalice knows what it’s like to live life on the edge—precariously balanced between the dark and the light. But the time has come to choose. The evil sorcerer who kidnapped her over a decade ago requires her superhuman senses to steal a precious magical artifact…or she must suffer the consequences.

Desperate to break the curse that enslaves her, Chalice agrees. But it is only with the help of Aydin—her noble warrior-protector—that she will risk venturing beyond the veil to discover the origins of her power. Only for him will she dare to fully embrace her awesome talents. For a deadly duel is at hand, and Chalice alone will have to decide between freedom…and the love of her life.

Soul Oath Cover

It’s been three months since Nadine last heard from Victor, Micah or Ceris, allowing her to concentrate on her own life. But until Victor and Micah find the scepters that will restore them as true gods, their human bodies will require her healing touch and it’s only a matter of time until they wreak havoc on her life again.  As if to prove that, Victor shows up at the hospital dragging along with him a swarm of demons. Nadine is forced to flee to safety. Despite her attempts to keep her loved ones protected, the demons find her, and they bring her to Imha, the goddess of Chaos. Now, confronted by her greatest fear, Nadine finds a new motivation. Vengeance. And when seeking revenge, no risk is too great, including her own life.

So, everyone, how about you? Have any other questions for either Karen or Juliana? Interested in winning a copy of KNIGHT’S CURSE or SOUL OATH?

We’d love to hear from you so please add your thoughts in the comments! Let us know what you think about new adult fantasy, what you’re currently reading, where you live, what your favorite color is…

Thank you to Karen and Juliana for participating in this Q&A series! Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow for Part 3 of 3…

 


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