Author Archives: Jill Archer

About Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

#Writing #Workshops for April

Below are the online workshops being offered in April by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

The Query Conundrum

04/06/2015 – 04/19/2015

Query writing doesn’t have to be a mystery!

In this highly interactive course, you’ll learn the basics of query writing.  Plus, view successful queries, write your own rejection letters, read all about my chat with a popular agent on what her ideal query would look like, practice your query writing skills, and then receive a free query letter critique from me at the end of the course.

Lessons Include:

Query Me This…

Understanding the Basics

Everybody Loves a Good Query

Right to the Point

You Talkin’ to Me?

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Adding the Unexpected:

Subverting Reader Expectations

04/13/2015 – 04/26/2015

The unexpected can illustrate character, move plot, and provide new goals, all while keeping your reader up at night turning pages. But, you don’t need to have aliens land in the middle of your quiet dinner party with the mayor to keep your readers guessing. By dissecting popular movies and a few books, we’ll discover simple things you can do to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Some of the movies and books discussed will include:

  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider
  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen or read each of the scenes, they’ll be thoroughly described in each lesson and I will post a heads up before each one in case you’d like to watch/read for yourself.

Join me to learn new ways to secure your book’s place on the “keeper shelf”.

About the Presenter, Elle Keen

A longtime member of RWA, Elle enjoys writing paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic stories and since she’s normally got a fairy or two hanging around, unexpected things tend to happen.

“Elle Keen knows her way around the unexpected. You’ll get what you need to take your books to the next level from this class.” – Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series from DAW Books

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Click here to register for this workshop.


POLL — Fantasy Fans: What’s your “Gateway” Book?

Months ago, I was at an event with my husband. We were sitting at a table with some people we knew through others. In other words, it was a friendly environment but we didn’t really know anyone. At some point my husband mentioned that I was a writer and that I wrote “adult fantasy,” which, of course, is true, but…

that label evokes different associations depending on who hears it. Sure enough I was then immediately asked, “Oh, so your books are like Fifty Shades of Grey”?

Um, no. Not really. Yes, there’s romance in them. And, no, I don’t always close the bedroom door. But the world within which my stories are written is very different from Christian and Anastasia’s. Without thinking, I blurted out:

“No, more like Lord of the Rings.”

But then I thought about it, and realized that comparison wasn’t any more appropriate than the Fifty Shades one. My writing is as similar to Tolkien’s as it is to E.L. James’. (In other words, it isn’t. And that’s a good thing. Every writer should try to develop their own style.)

The people we were talking to were genuinely curious about what I wrote. They weren’t avid readers and they were simply trying to relate to the type of stories I write. And when people do that, they tend to make references to people, places, and things that EVERYONE has heard of. Otherwise, there’s no bridge, no connection. There’s no jumping off point, no basis for discussion. It’s just people talking at each other, instead of to each other.

But the experience made me think. And even after all this time, I haven’t really answered the question it raised, which is basically:

What’s my gateway book?

So I’m curious if anyone else struggles with this.

Writers – when you are talking to someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you compare your work to?

Readers – when you meet someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you use as a well-known example of the genre?

Before we get to the fun part, an acknowledgement:

Yes, I know fantasy is replete with subgenres and endless iterations. I’m aware that your answer to this question is highly dependent on your own reading preferences. But that’s why you must choose something that has a 90% chance of being known by someone who is NOT ALREADY A FANTASY FAN AND POSSIBLY NOT EVEN A READER AT ALL. (In other words, this is not a post about all of the stories people should have heard of because they are great examples of the genre, but rather it’s a post about the books we use to start a discussion in the first place.)

So, here are some choices. But I’m also very interested in hearing from you. I can’t possibly have listed all the options…


#Writing: Ten Vendors I Used in 2014

It’s tax season again – and that means time spent gathering up old receipts and reviewing them. In years past I’ve done detailed posts about various things writers might want to talk to their accountants about so this year I thought I’d just do a quick post with the links to various vendors I used in 2014.

1. Etsy: I am a sucker for fun blog tour prizes and there were so many beautiful, unique items to choose from on Etsy.

2. iStock: there are other stock photo websites, but iStock’s my current favorite.

3. Campaign Cartographer: bought this to try to make maps for the Noon Onyx series, but haven’t been disciplined enough to spend the time it takes to master it. Also figure Noon fans would prefer I spend my time writing rather than making maps. :-)

4. Zazzle: business cards

5. Uprinting: bookmarks

6. Bitten by Books: release day party

7. Bewitching Book Tours: blog tour

8. Night Owl Reviews: multi-title box ad

9. Goodreads Ads: writers can determine how much and how long + you can link to an excerpt or giveaway

10. Publishers Marketplace: good resource for anyone who’s looking for an agent or editor. Obviously, it shouldn’t be your sole source of info.

Bonus: Not a vendor, but one of my favorite 2014 Indiegogo/Kickstarter campaigns was the Museum of Science Fiction in DC.

How about you? Have you filed your tax returns yet? Do you have a vendor recommendation for writers? What was your favorite crowdfunding campaign from 2014?

Hope everyone’s week is going well! (We are looking at another potential snow day tomorrow. Sound ridiculous? I’m not joking. In other news: I finally saw INTERSTELLAR. Christopher Nolan loves worlds that fold up on themselves, huh? In any case, it was terrific.)


Laura Bickle: You Don’t Get to Pick Your Spirit Guide

Today’s guest is Laura Bickle, whose newest novel, DARK ALCHEMY, is coming out March 24th. She’s here with a sneak peek at her new MC’s spirit guide. She’s also giving away one copy of her novel as part of her blog tour. Details below. Welcome, Laura!

Laura Bickle Coyote Teaser

“You may not believe in spirit guides,

but all that’s important is that the animal does.”

A spirit guide is a funny thing. The general idea is that a serene and wise entity guides a willing person to enlightenment and self-understanding. There are lotus blossoms and meditation and a lot of focusing on the state of one’s chakras. Can you hear the dulcet tones of angels murmuring?

Yeah. That’s not how it works out for the heroine of DARK ALCHEMY. Petra Dee arrives in the sleepy town of Temperance to search for her father, missing ten years. She’s also running away from her own past, away from the last screams of the ocean.

Temperance isn’t the sleepy gold rush town it seems to be. At the edge of Yellowstone Park, it’s the epicenter of a turf war among the local undead, a meth lord, a cattle baron, and the forgotten alchemical monsters left behind by the town’s founder. Temperance was a town built on alchemy, when gold was conjured from stones, and the heirs of that legacy are still searching for the secret of eternal life.

Petra’s a scientist. She doesn’t believe in anything she can’t touch and measure. But when she’s confronted with bulletproof ranch hands, the Alchemical Tree of Life, and a string of dead bodies twisted and calcinated like driftwood, she’s got to start believing in something beyond the lenses of her microscope.

That something is a coyote who turns up at the doorstep of her trailer, searching for lunch meat. Coyote has long been a trickster in myth, and he’s determined to show Petra that there’s more here than meets the eye. Terrifying things long buried are waking, and he digs up one of these artifacts for her: the Venificus Locus. It’s a golden compass that locates magic and runs on blood.

Well-fed on lunch meat and dozing at the foot of Petra’s bed, the coyote knows that he’s the only one who can protect Petra from the denizens of the dark. He knows where danger lies, and he can help Petra navigate the weird west.

But will she listen to him? She’s given him a bath, a flea collar, and a name.  He’s masquerading as a Good Dog. When push comes to shove, will Petra follow the coyote’s instincts, or will she follow her scientific curiosity to become the next victim in a string of murders?

Dark Alchemy, Laura Bickle, fantasy

More About Dark Alchemy

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up – desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain – her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Available at:

Amazon    BN   Google Books    HarperCollins

Laura Bickle, Dark Alchemy, fantasy

Laura Bickle

More About Laura

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.

The Giveaway

Laura is giving away one e-copy of DARK ALCHEMY. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 and over. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Dark Alchemy Banner

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thank you, Laura, for guest blogging today!

 


Deleted Scenes: one from Dark Light of Day + one from future Noon Onyx B4

Writers: do you share your deleted scenes?

Readers: do you like reading them?

I don’t share many deleted scenes mostly because they’ve been deleted for a reason. They’re either not very good, they’re redundant, it’s a story thread I didn’t pursue, or something similar. So sharing them doesn’t make much sense. If I wanted to sell a beautiful dress, I wouldn’t stand on the street corner handing out remnants, right? And sharing a deleted scene from a WIP is doubly precarious because it may give something away that I shouldn’t or show something that I’ll change my mind about later.

But deleted scenes can sometimes be fun and/or interesting. Who doesn’t watch the blooper reel? I love story extras, whether they’re coming from authors or filmmakers. Below are two of mine. (I’ll also eventually share a bunch of deleted scenes from White Heart of Justice featuring Ari and what he was up to when Noon was down in southern Halja with Rafe, but I’m not sure yet exactly how I’ll share those… I might share them here or I might make them available some other way).

This first deleted scene is from Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1). It’s a second training scene. I cut it because that book was already long and I didn’t think we needed to see another Wednesday in the Manipulation dungeon. The scene below wasn’t as strong as the scene in the book where Brunus attacks Noon with the nadziak.

Deleted Scene from

DARK LIGHT OF DAY

The day after the call from Night was a Wednesday, which meant the next morning I was back in the Manipulation dungeon. My mood was one of weary resignation… that is until Rochester told us we were through (for a while anyway) with learning how to try to shape our magic like weapons. We would now be moving on to our most important magical skill — throwing fire. And we would be practicing it alone, one on one, with Rochester. He picked me as his first victim and then kicked everyone else out.

The dungeon felt like a melting ice-cube today: cold, hard, clear, and dripping wet.

“Have you ever been to the Osmium Mountains, Ms. Onyx?”

I shook my head. No one had that I knew of. They were the edge of the world as far as most people were concerned — high mountains located miles and miles northwest of New Babylon, far past the scattered Hyrke outposts and demon devotion sites situated in Halja’s northern hinterlands.

I stood in the center of the room, near one of the floor grates, listening to the trickle of water. My breath puffed in the cold and I stamped my feet, although it was more out of expectation than impatience. Over the course of the semester, I’d mastered the attitude of this room, if not its lessons.

“They’re glacier mountains, prone to avalanches,” Rochester explained. “Do you know which type of demon is the most common there?”

No, but I could guess. “Ice breathers.”

Rochester’s mouth quirked in a smug little self-satisfied smile.

I wanted to kick him in the shin.

“Oh, there are plenty of those. But there’s even more of another type of demon. Pyrothropes.”

“Pyrothropes? Why would demons whose true form is fire want to live in a land full of snow and ice?”

“It’s not that they want to. That’s where they’re spawned.”

“They could leave. Come down from the mountains. No one’s forcing them to live up there.”

Rochester stared at me. “There’s a lot you can learn from the pyrothropes, Nouiomo. But we’re only going to focus on one of those things today — the difference between heat and an explosion. The pyrothropes are capable of creating huge explosions with their magic.” He raised an eyebrow at me and his implication was clear. Like me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. “But if they went around throwing explosive fireballs everywhere up there, what do you think would happen?”

“Avalanche,” I supplied dutifully.

“Right,” Rochester brightened, smiling at me. I was instantly suspicious. “And yet, despite all their precautions, the pyrothropes are still buried from time to time under natural avalanches. How do you think they use their magic to escape?”

“Explosion?” I said, imagining a plume of snow erupting like a volcano.

But Rochester shook his head. “Definitely not, as you will see. Throwing an explosive burst of fire while lying trapped beneath tons of snow and ice is quite… uncomfortable. Even throwing fire or — for the pyrothrope, reverting to true form — is risky. Do you know why?”

I remained silent, suddenly worried about the direction this lesson was heading.

“The pyrothropes didn’t learn to control their magic because they were afraid of hurting somebody. They did it because, if they didn’t, they would suffocate to death.”

And then — whoosh! — a wave of magic washed over me. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t see. Couldn’t hear.

I could feel though. And what I felt was terrifying. Because I was trapped in a block of something so cold, solid, and crushing, I couldn’t even lift my eyelids to see what it was. I couldn’t expand my lungs enough to take a breath to smell it. I tried to wiggle my fingers. The tips moved the tiniest little bit. All I could feel was cold.

Rochester’s muffled voice called to me, “Use your magic to melt the ice. But be careful, Nouiomo. No uncontrolled explosions this time. If you panic and throw an explosive fireball, you’re likely to be trapped in there with it. Much better to concentrate. Shape your magic into a nice warm ball and then slowly expand it.”

I started panicking almost immediately. How could Rochester use words like nice and warm when he was referring to my being smothered to death? My eyes started to water with tears of frustration. They instantly froze, further cementing my eyes shut. My lungs burned with the need for breath. Before I could stop what was happening, my magic ‘popped’ inside of Rochester’s life-sized ice-cube and the most exquisite blistering pain bubbled up underneath my skin. I screamed, but of course no sound came out of my mouth. My lips didn’t even move. I tried to run, but only my toes twitched.

I tried to heat up my magic again, just to get out, but this time it sputtered. Its spasms echoed mine as I started to black out. Just before I did, Rochester melted the ice-cube. I fell to the floor, burned, shivering, and gasping for breath.

Rochester put me in the cube eighteen more times that Wednesday morning. When I left I didn’t even look at him. I couldn’t.

~

The scene below is from the as yet untitled Noon Onyx #4. It’s from the first chapter, so I don’t think it gives much away, but it’s a fun sneak peek because it shows three of the main characters and hints at a few things. Just remember, like the scene above, it’s an irregularly shaped, rough-edged remnant. It’s been discarded for a reason. (It’s cute, but didn’t have enough oomph for me for chapter one).

Deleted Scene from

Untitled Noon Onyx #4

Like a glowing aura of glamoured light, Fara Vanderlin stood all white and bright at the end of the dirty alley in between Corpus Justica, our law library, and Rickard Building, where all my classes were held, waiting for me.

“What’s with the paper bag?” she called.

“Don’t ask,” I answered.

She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing else as I set the bag down on the pavement.

“Do you think you can cloak this so that it’s safe here until we get back?”

Her slightly puzzled expression turned to one of complete bewilderment. “You want me to cast a cloaking spell over a bag of trash?”

“Yep.”

She shrugged. “Okay.”

She murmured a series of unfamiliar words and the bag disappeared into the grunge of the alley. And that was one of the things I loved about Fara. Unlike my previous Guardian, she didn’t ask all sorts of unwarranted questions. If she knew a spell that could help me, she cast it.

“Where’s Virtus?” I asked.

Fara glanced at Nova. “I thought since he and Nova were still… getting aquainted… it might be better if he stayed behind while we ran our little errand.”

I grunted my assent. Virtus was Fara’s tiger. Her having him as a four-footed companion was just as unusual as my having Nova. We’d been hoping their mutual non-verbal, no opposable thumbs status would make them BFFs but no such luck. It had been hate at first sight.

“And the Joshua School’s still okay with you keeping him there?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t they be?”

“Ah… no reason.”

So… how about you? Thoughts on deleted scenes?

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


#Writing #Workshops for March

Below are the online workshops being offered in March by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Balancing the Paranormal and the Romance

03/02/2015 – 03/29/2015

It’s difficult enough to write a good romance, or to write a good paranormal or fantasy novel—when you put the two together you now have an even bigger challenge. How do you structure your story so the paranormal plot doesn’t overwhelm the romance? How do you create characters that have a great romance—with paranormal elements that increase the conflict and are key to the story? This workshop looks at a process to create a really strong paranormal romance that has a romance as the main story arc, but which also uses paranormal/fantasy elements that are vital to the plot.

Lectures include:

  • What’s the difference between Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Paranormal Romance?
  • Blending other subgenres (such as suspense) into the mix—what can this give you and what are the dangers?
  • What’s a story arc and what are character arcs?
  • Crafting your characters for romantic conflict that includes vital paranormal elements?
  • How to balance action and romance—what are the turning points for each?
  • How to test if your story is really more of a paranormal/fantasy or a romance?
  • Do you have strong enough antagonists—and are they well developed to create maximum romantic conflicts and increase the paranormal/fantasy elements?
  • Making sure the dark moment hits both the romance and the paranormal/fantasy story line.

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

In addition to her Regency and Historical romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burnand Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and does editing work on the side. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

The Nuances of Dialogue

03/02/2015 – 03/27/2015

Whether in prose or dramatic mediums, characters need to speak in a succinct, entertaining manner that moves the story forward. Inner character motivation and personality can be revealed through what is spoken and how. This workshop will cover diction & syntax, concepts of multi-layered meaning, the difference between speech patterns of male-female speakers, influence of age-education-culture, how to control lecturing and argument orchestration.

About the Presenter, Sally J. Walker

Sally J. Walker has taught over 35 different workshops both on-site and on-line.  An avid learner, she is always ready to change and grow her own process then pass on what she has learned in a practical manner intended to challenge participants rather than dictate end-all-be-all concepts.  She has taught for Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City’s Johnson County Community College, Lincoln (NE)’s Southeast Community College, several chapters of RWA including KOD and Scriptscene, a Romantic Times national conference, and the Moondance International Film Festival, as well as conducted a mini-workshop of writing and meditation for Omaha-area churches.  Sally has also been an Artist-in-Residence and motivational speaker at several Omaha area schools and conducts free weekly mentoring sessions for teens at the Ralston Baright Library.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop


Kylie Chan, Author of DEMON CHILD, on Magic, Martial Arts, Romance, #Writing a Long Series, Living in Hong Kong, and More (#Giveaway)

The author interview I was supposed to have posted Tuesday is here! It was worth the wait. Kylie Chan, bestselling author of Demon Child, discusses her characters, their relationship, and what it’s like to write a long, successful book series. She also talks about the Sidhe, or Shining Folk, who are featured in her latest novel, what it was like to live in Hong Kong, and her four favorite things about her current abode: Brisbane, Australia. She’s giving away ten print copies of Demon Child (Rafflecopter form below). Welcome, Kylie!

Kylie Chan, Demon Child, fantasy, romance, magic, martial arts, demons,

Author Interview: Kylie Chan

Your first book, WHITE TIGER, came out in 2006. Since then you’ve released seven other novels in the series, including your latest, DEMON CHILD. You’ve also written a prequel graphic novel and a couple of shorts.

That’s a lot of stories! How do you keep the series fresh and exciting?

Yes it is! It’s been a tremendous journey for me – WHITE TIGER was the first novel I’d ever written. I keep it fresh by raising the stakes. I’m enjoying myself by making things seem a little better and then take it up a notch and make everything terrible again. My characters are suffering. It’s great fun.

Did you know you when you first started writing WHITE TIGER that it would turn into a nine book series? How did the structure of the series develop? Any advice for writers who want to write a long series?

I planned for a three book series – Xuan Wu’s departure, his return, and the big final battle in three volumes. When I was halfway through enough words for a second novel and still not up to the departure bit, I realized that I had more than three books – way more than three books, and started changing the plan to three sets of three.

For writers planning to write a long series I’d suggest that they make each novel readable by itself, but still fit together into something greater. I’d do that in future if I could, so that people aren’t forced to start at the beginning with – admittedly – my weakest work.

Can DEMON CHILD be read on its own? If not, do readers need to start with WHITE TIGER?

As I said, if you want to read the series it would absolutely be best to start from WHITE TIGER. DEMON CHILD is the eighth book in a complex saga and if you try to read it alone you will probably enjoy it, but not as much as if you started at the beginning.

Your stories feature magic, martial arts, and romance.

It’s all good stuff. It’s pure escapism. Sometimes when I’m told by a man in the supermarket to ‘smile, you’ll look prettier’ or the staff at the post office call me ‘darling’ and ‘sweetheart’ in a terribly condescending way I just want to kick heads. This is my way of channeling that aggression!

[Jill: Lol. Yeah, it’s been awhile but I can remember times in my life when I thought, “Is that a compliment or a cut? Do I want to bloody their nose or just say ‘thank you?’” I always opted for being polite, but I’ve also had a lot of dental work done on my back molars. :-D ]

How would John describe Emma? How would Emma describe John?

Both of them would describe each other as infuriating. As one of the biggest gods in Chinese Heaven, John is accustomed to being immediately and unquestioningly obeyed by everybody around him, and Emma’s constant second-guessing and outright disagreements sometimes drive him nuts. Emma finds John’s expectation that everybody will immediately obey him similarly annoying, and sometimes disagrees with him just to see his face when he’s exasperated with her. It never descends into full-on arguments because he’s such a big softie, though.

How has their relationship changed over the course of eight novels?

It was absolutely love at first sight, but the balance of power between them has always been uneven and that’s led some serious relationship issues. It started out very inequitable – he was the employer and she was an employee. She was more willful and disobedient than he was used to, however, and he loved that. Through the books, she’s grown until they consider themselves equal in will and intelligence by the end of the second series. In this final trilogy, he’s regained his full ancient god powers and once again is much more than she is – but he turns to her when he needs a second opinion or someone to back him up when the Jade Emperor is bullying him. When they’re alone all of the ‘who’s more powerful’ business is ignored and they see themselves as equals, even if the rest of Heaven doesn’t. In the book I’m working on now, she throws him out of meetings more than once because people are so awestruck and terrified by him that it’s interfering with their ability to get things done.

How did Emma react when she found out she has demon blood?

It was a huge ‘I told you so’ for her. All along she’s suspected that she’s a demon, and that John’s been in denial about it. When the truth came out about her demon nature, she was completely unsurprised. She has something of a yell at him about it in ‘Demon Child’.

Tell us more about the Sidhe or Shining Folk.

It’s easy to do some light research into Celtic mythology and come back with a theme that’s full of nature-loving Druids, gallant fae and sparkly unicorns. I delved deeper into the original nature of the Druids as recounted by Julius Caesar when he fought the Celts and found a completely different type of theology. The real Druids were a bloodthirsty bunch who basically got off on torture and human sacrifice and collected their enemy’s heads as trophies. I really enjoyed including this into my own venture into the West. The Sidhe in my stories are noble, caring, and gone – they deserted the world just when they were most needed, in a passive-aggressive act of penitence that really helped nobody. I have to admit that I still managed to throw in a unicorn just because.

[Love it. Everyone could use more unicorns in their lives. :-D ]

Without giving anything away, tell us about a scene from DEMON CHILD involving magic, martial arts, or both.

Both magic and martial arts are threaded through the book and an intrinsic part of it. The first chapter has a great deal of both – without either Emma or John being involved. Katie, Number Three Daughter of the White Tiger, goes into Russia to investigate a villa owned by a demon posing as a Russian gangster. She has to use her unique abilities to defend both herself and her squad, and finds prisoners used as lab rats and a new, disturbing type of demon.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

That’s a very long list. I started reading science fiction and fantasy in the 1970’s. My go-to comfort books are Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, Nalini Singh’s angel series (I’m really enjoying the power plays and politics) and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. Jim Butcher gets a shout out, as well as Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series and Nora Jemisin’s remarkable fantasies. I adored Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan books.

If your books were made into movies, who would play Emma? John? Who would direct?

Goodness, I have no idea. I don’t generally look around for actors, that’s Hollywood’s business. It’s not really something I do – when Queenie Chan did the illustrations for Small Shen we designed the characters exactly as they were in my head, so any real-life actor or actress will never match the images I have already created.

What was your favorite thing about living in Hong Kong?

Having a full-time live-in domestic helper. Edwina was part of the family, and when she left us to get married in Australia she arranged for her sister Dahlia to come look after us, because she didn’t trust anyone else. Both lovely women are now married and have settled down to raise families of their own and I am so glad I had a chance to help them start out. Having a live-in helper meant that I could work full-time without having to worry about the kids being cared for at all. It was incredibly liberating and really helped my IT career.

Least favorite?

The crowds. If we went down to the mall on a Sunday it would be like the pre-Christmas sales anywhere else. There would be so many people at the mall that there’d be a queue to enter the car park and you’d have to wait at least two hours to find a seat at yum cha. Migraine-inducing.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Brisbane?

Two things: the wonderful mild subtropical weather, and the fantastic supportive literary community. I have made friends with a magnificent group of fellow writers who regularly go out of their way to help each other. Oh, three things: the great beaches close by as well. Four things: the city’s skyline next to the lovely river, and the South Bank parklands. Okay, I’ll stop there.

Least favorite?

The forty-degree-plus weeks in summer where it’s just way too hot to even go outside. A small price to pay for all the other benefits of living in this lovely city.

More About Demon Child

Australian bestseller Kylie Chan returns with a new, fast-paced adventure of magic, martial arts, and romance.

This trilogy follows the story of John Chen and Emma Donohoe. They have just found out that Emma has Demon blood. The Sidhe – or Shining folk, who defeated the Western Shen a thousand years ago – are prepared to do battle against the Western Shen to retain their dominance.

Emma’s allegiance is torn: to fight for her kind, the Western demons she is descended from, or to stand alongside her beloved Xuan Wu.

Available at HarperCollins

Add it to Your Goodreads Shelf

Kylie Chan

Kylie Chan

More About Kylie

Kylie Chan is the bestselling author of the Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang trilogies. She married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony.

Kylie has studied Kung Fu and Tai Chi and is a senior belt in both forms. She has also made an intensive study of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy and has brought all of these interests together into her storytelling.

She lived in Hong Kong for many years and now lives in Brisbane, Australia.

The Giveaway

As part of her blog tour, Kylie is giving away ten print copies of Demon Child. (U.S. only). To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 or older. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thanks for the great Q&A, Kylie! I enjoyed reading your answers. Good luck with your tour and best wishes for Demon Child!

Kylie Chan, Demon Child, fantasy, romance, magic, martial arts, demons


Egg Timer Reviews: 20 Stories! (Books, Movies, TV & Broadway Shows)

I was supposed to post an author interview yesterday, but I never received it. If I do, I’ll reschedule because I think her Q&A would be interesting and fun to read. In the meantime, however, I was in a bind bc I had nothing of my own ready to post. What to do?

Egg timer reviews.

What the heck are those? Well, it’s where I take a look at my bookshelf, Kindle, movie queue, etc. and see what I’ve watched and read lately (or eons ago) that I can talk about in three minutes or less. So these aren’t really reviews. They’re more like stream of consciousness goo. (I filled in some of the names via internet search later – my memory’s not that good. ;-) )

Are there spoilers? Is it still miserably cold outside!? Yes, there are some spoilers!

BOOKS

Stolen Songbird

Trolls! Trolls! TROLLS!! I always wanted to do a romance featuring a leprechaun but could never figure out how to make a leprechaun sexy. Well, Danielle Jensen found a way to make trolls sexy. When I read the back cover copy, I knew I had to read it just to see how she did it. The first part of the book is the best: the dynamic tension between Cecile and Tristan, the descriptions of Trollus and its inhabitants… good stuff. There was a bit too much coming and going in the end (it felt a little “fillerish” to me) and I worry that the trolls might really be “e—” (maybe not…? since that would take away from the Big Accomplishment here). But, if you love YA fantasy, pick this one up. You’ll love it. (Worth noting: Jensen started out with Strange Chemistry, Angry Robot’s now defunct YA imprint. I think Angry Robot picked this series up, but it’s still nice to support authors who end up in this situation).

The Girl of Fire and Thorns

I loved this character’s transformation. You all know I love big character growth arcs and Elisa has one! At the start of the book she is clueless, overweight, and timid. By the end of the novel, she has sought forbidden knowledge, grown physically stronger, and become much more confident and assertive. The only thing that gave me pause was the almost over emphasis on the character’s weight. I’m a big “love your own body” kind of person. And yet, I can also get behind a person’s wanting to change themselves. (My own work reflects my ideological tug of war between “learn to love yourself” versus “pursue your dream to change,” especially my first novel). The bigger question is always, why does a person want to change? Is it society telling them (perhaps subtly and evilly) that they should or is their desire to change truly coming from within? – But rest assured, genre fans, Girl of Fire and Thorns is mostly an adventure story with some magic and romance.

Throne of Glass

I think I read this in a day or two. (I’m a big DNF’er so that, in and of itself, is a rec to read). Hmm… what else can I say? Cool cover. She looks really bad ass. I think there’s a love triangle, but I don’t mind them. (Ahem :-D ) Who would like this? Fans of YA female assassin characters and YA fantasy with equal emphasis on both romance and action. It’s been a long time since I read it, but this reminded me of Maria Snyder’s Poison Study.

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

It was the cover that drew me to this book. A historical romance heroine in pants! As with Jensen’s troll hero, I had to check it out. What was the story behind this heroine? I read quite a bit of historical romance. And many times the heroines run together. That doesn’t mean the books aren’t well written. They are. They’re doing exactly what they’ve promised their readers they will do: deliver a hot, sometimes witty, romance. So why egg time review this one? Well, the heroine backs up the cover and the title’s promise. There was a lot more going on with the plot than I expected. The heroine had not just one cover (aliases), but two. That’s three different personas for the author to keep track of. Sarah MacLean did a great job! (Worth noting: MacLean wrote Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I haven’t read it, but may now. MacLean was on an RWA panel last summer and discussed how hard it was to come up with titles, especially when you lock yourself into a format. She was funny. (I buy some of the recorded sessions). I’m currently trying to title Noon Onyx B4. It’s tough. Blank Blank of Blank. Left Hand of Darkness? Oops. Taken. ;-) Little Shop of Horrors? Dagnabbit. Nabbed too. :-D In any case, I thought the title to Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover was extra awesome bc it fits MacLean’s “Rules of Scoundrels” series title format, it references the heroine’s aliases, and it’s a nod to the book’s unusual genre cover.)

MOVIES

Belle

A period romance with a great hero and heroine, Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, an illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer who was raised by her rich great-uncle. The film divides its time between the romance and the hero’s quest for social justice (he’s an aspiring lawyer attempting to change the law on slavery, albeit through a fairly narrow ruling). Gugu Mbatha-Raw was excellent.

Begin Again

I actually thought this would be awful. Like some sort of weird Juno [aging music aficionado has unrequited feelings for someone who’s totally inappropriate for him… am I remembering that movie right?] meets Love Actually [clichéd romance]. But it was better than that. My worst case scenario plot prediction did not come true. Instead this was a cool, little story about a down-on-his-luck music exec with zippo money who helps a talented, young up-and-comer. The story’s take on how imagination can be used to see a person’s potential and creatively solve funding problems was fun. I liked that the exec fixed his unhealthy family dynamics (he has a teenage daughter and estranged wife) instead of having a romance with his music mentee.

Chef

The shame of this movie is that it’s rated R but the best part about it was the story of how the character reconnected with his son. Minus a few parts, I’d love to watch this with my kids. What’s it about? A chef (duh) who is fired from his job bc he wants to create exotic dishes versus tried-and-true. When he gets panned by a food critic for his boring menu, he lashes out at his boss and gets the pink slip. After some soul searching, he decides to take it on the road. He gets a food truck and goes cross country. With the help of his social media savvy son, he draws crowds wherever he goes. It ends well. For foodie movie fans, road trip movie fans, Jon Favreau fans, food truck fans, fans of movies where characters reinvent themselves, tell their boss to shove it, and/or tell a critic to shove it (and then make up w them later).

Annie

Saw this over the holidays with my daughters. They loved it. And I did too. It was cute. Quvenzhane Wallis was wonderful. I was less taken with Jamie Foxx. Cameron Diaz as a reimagined Ms. Hannigan was ok, as was Rose Byrne. Who should see this? Quvenzhane Wallis fans and anyone who liked any of the other eighteen million Annies.

Box Trolls

We actually bought this, which meant we were able to watch the extras. And they were pretty neat. There was a featurette on how the filmmakers created characters that live in boxes and the world they inhabit and some cast member interviews, but my favorite was the one where Dee Bradley Baker and Steve Blum talk about how they came up with the Box Troll language. Oh, and I loved Winnie and Eggs! :-)

Magic in the Moonlight

My recollection is that this was not a huge success but I enjoyed it. I like Emma Stone and Colin Firth. I’m not familiar with Woody Allen’s work (although I liked Midnight in Paris). Magic in the Moonlight is for anyone who likes the idea of a stage magician and would-be clairvoyant falling in love against the backdrop of the 1920s French Riviera.

Maze Runner

I had heard so much about this, and it had been hyped so much, before I watched it, that I’m amazed I wasn’t disappointed. That said, it didn’t make me think very much (not like Into the Woods or Predestination did) and that’s the main reason why it’s getting an egg timer review. I thought it was good. Definitely worth two hours of your time. None of the actors really wowed me, but I’d happily watch them again. The sets were visually interesting but not stunning. In fairness, maybe part of my mehness is bc I didn’t read the book so watching this didn’t give me the pleasure of seeing a favorite novel successfully adapted.

Lucy

Finally!! I had been wanting to watch this since the summer when I’d mistakenly assumed it was based on Laurence Gonzales’ book. It isn’t, but (as I’d suspected; it’s not like the reference was subtle) it is based on Lucy, the Australopithecus, and a “what if” evolution scenario. Bottom line: Scarlett Johansson is a good action heroine. I’d watch her in a similar role again. As for Lucy? Read Gonzales’ book instead. I didn’t love everything about it, but it was better.

Showrunners (documentary)

Featuring J.J. Abrams, Steven DeKnight, Jane Espenson, Michelle King, Damon Lindelhof, Janet Tamaro, Joss Whedon, and a gazillion other people, this is a full length documentary on showrunners – the head writers/creators of a show. If you’ve ever wanted a peek inside a writer’s room, or if you’d enjoy hearing behind-the-scenes interviews of some of the most well-known and/or interesting TV show wranglers, this doc is for you.

World without End (miniseries)

I’ve read the book (and read and watched Pillars of the Earth) so when I saw this was available for streaming, I had to see it. I loved the books (although Pillars was my favorite; I liked Aliena and Jack better than Caris and Merthin). Even though I utterly despised her (I was supposed to), the best part of World was Cynthia Nixon’s Petranilla. Conniving, deceitful, murderous, immoral… she was just Jaw Droppingly Awful. Which made the scene where Caris forgives her sins just before her death that much more powerful. If you’ve read the book, like TV miniseries set in the Middle Ages, or just want to see Nixon’s range, rent it.

TV

Finding a TV show that I love enough to watch every single episode is extremely rare. Ones I’ve enjoyed start to finish in the past: Alias, Lost, and Battlestar Gallactica. Shows I’m currently addicted to: Game of Thrones, Downton Abbey, Mr. Selfridge’s, and Outlander. So I wanted to find a new addiction. Below, my candidates.

Reign

I streamed 10 episodes of this before I couldn’t do it anymore. At first, it was amazingly addictive. Definitely a guilty pleasure type of show. Beautiful kids playing monarchs-to-be with friends who have names like Kenna. (Is that historically accurate? Do I care? Does anyone who watches a show like Reign? No! :-D ) BUT the problem was exactly that. History. I know where this story is going. There wasn’t enough tension in the story questions. Will Mary wed Francis? Will Mary become Queen of France? Will Mary live happily ever after? I know the answers to those questions already.

Vikings

I watched 2 episodes before moving on, but may return. I like Lagertha. And kudos to the writer/director/showrunners/whoever for moving the story along at breakneck speed! I remember saying to my husband, “Wow! They’re already going to England.” I thought it would take Ragnar all season to gear up, find men, etc. And then – in that same episode – saying: “WOW! They’re going back home!” After they’d landed in England, I’d just assumed they’d spend all season there. And I liked that it’s based on real Norse mythological characters. But… it didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped.

Arrow

I wanted to like it. The pilot opened well. It captured my attention… but couldn’t hold it. (My husband hated it, although we often differ on TV shows.) As with Vikings, I’m hard pressed to say exactly why. I might return to this. But would choose Vikings over Arrow.

House of Cards

Streamed 2 episodes so far and am very much looking forward to the next one. I had to talk my husband into this one (he watched Vikings and Arrow with me, not Reign; lol). He’s in DC a lot for work and I think he thought the show would be one big cerebral snooze fest. And the opening credits! Geesh, sorry, but horrible. They’d make anyone who works in DC feel like they’re commuting in instead of lounging on their couch getting ready to watch an entertaining show. (Although maybe that’s the feeling the credits hope to evoke…?) But the show itself – terrific! We’re hooked. Kevin Spacey! Robin Wright! My only worry is that the show may end up like The Newsroom, which I stopped watching midway through the first season.

SHOWS

Matilda at the Shubert

Saw this just this past weekend. Fantastic! If you are looking for an entertaining, funny, sometimes heartbreaking, but ultimately happy, family show – see Matilda. The whimsical, bright, colorful sets seemed custom-designed for book lovers. The letter tiles surrounding the proscenium and incorporated into the many sets were decidedly Scrabble-esque. Bookshelves, libraries, classrooms… not to mention swings, scooters, lasers, confetti, strobe lights, helium balloons, a story-in-story told partially through a vintage paper doll/shadow puppet-like presentation. But the best part (as it should be with live shows) was the singing and acting: Brooklyn Shuck as Matilda! So expressive, sweet, sympathetic, and adorable… So confident, bold, and fearless. Also loved Mrs. Wormwood and Rudolpho. And Christopher Sieber as Miss Trunchbull!! (10.0 for the vault number. :-D )

The Illusionists at the Marquis

Saw this a few months ago. Seven magicians, each with completely different acts. There’s an escape artist, an archer, an inventor, a Vegas style comedian “trickster,” a truly phenomenal card manipulator, an Edward Scissorhands type “anti-conjuror,” and a dance performer “futurist.” It was fun trying to figure out the magicians’ tricks. (I’m no magician and lots of their acts stumped me). Watching audience members (who may have been pre-selected?) become part of the act was hilarious (glad it wasn’t me!). Who should see this? Anyone who likes top-notch stage magic and illusionists who can put on a diverse, spellbinding show.

So, please, go forth and purchase, rent, stream, read, or watch. Support creativity… and stories… and egg timer reviews!

What have you read or watched lately that’s worth mentioning? Come on, sharing only takes three minutes or less…


PREDESTINATION: Does happiness require a deep connection with another?

If I was a blogger with a good sense of timing I would have posted this on Valentine’s Day but instead of writing this post, I had lunch with a close friend and, later, played poker with my family. Romantic? Not really, but it was one of the best Valentine’s Days I’ve had in a while. The experience seemed to underscore the meaning of the movie I watched just a few days prior to the holiday – PREDESTINATION.

Predestination, Ethan Hawke, Sarah Snook, time travel, science fiction,  Spierig  brothers, Robert A. Heinlein, All You Zombies

As with Into the Woods, I knew I’d likely do a blog post about Predestination because I kept thinking about it long after I watched it. But Predestination is no fairy tale, not even a subversive one. Its themes are mature and provocative and written with an adult audience in mind. My post is tame but not spoiler free. If you haven’t read the source material or watched the movie, skip the orange section below.

I’ve mentioned before how plague movies never get old with me. But time travel movies… eh. I have to admit, when I first saw the description for Predestination my response was, “another time travel movie?!” But then my husband suggested we watch it AND pointed out its Rotten Tomatoes rating (81%) and I decided to give it a try. I’m glad I did.

Predestination is the story of a time traveling agent who is trying to stop a mass murderer – the “Fizzle Bomber.” It stars Ethan Hawke (who I loved in Gattaca but haven’t seen much of since; I haven’t seen the Before Midnight/Before Sunrise/Before Sunset movies… yeah, I know, I should see them too…) and Sarah Snook (who I’ve never seen before, but hope to see more of in the future).

The movie starts in medias res with a mysterious figure trying to stop a bomb. The bomb fizzles but the stunted explosion is still powerful enough to completely disfigure the person. They then travel back to the “future” (1992) where the story’s basic premise is established.

The injured mystery man is a Temporal Agent who works for the Temporal Bureau, a government agency that sends people back in time to prevent crimes before they happen. That part felt very “PreCrime”/Minority Report-ish to me, which, combined with the fact that time travel was discovered in 1981 [would we have traded MTV or the IBM PC for time travel?] gave the story a slightly dated feel, but it wasn’t until later in the movie, when Space Corps (and its ridiculous “female companions for male astronauts” search) appeared in the plot that the story’s 1959 origins became fully apparent.

(I found out later that the movie is based on Robert A. Heinlein’s “ ‘—All You Zombies—’ ”. And my gripes about Space Corps’ dubious side mission are relatively minor. All I’m sayin’ is that it felt laughable to me that a contemporary non-dystopian sf story would feature a would-be respectable space program that disallowed female astronauts while searching for women streetspacewalkers. And yet… I came to see that searching for companionship, as well as what happens when you find it and lose it, was one of the themes of the story.)

So back in futuristic 1992 the injured agent tells us part of his story as his face is reconstructed. When he’s finally healed enough for his bandages to be removed, he looks in the mirror and declares, “I’ve changed so much, I doubt my own mother would recognize me.”

He’s then sent on another mission – NYC in 1975 – to stop the Fizzle Bomber from killing 11,000 people. He goes undercover as a barkeep and one of his customers insists he tell him a joke. After first refusing, the barkeep opens the next part of the story with, “A man walks into a bar…”

Maybe it’s that I love tricky, trippy plots. Maybe it’s that I know storytellers love to leave clues for people who are paying attention. Maybe it’s because I’d made a late afternoon Starbucks run that day so I was working with more late night caffeine than I’m used to. All I know is that about halfway into it, my husband and I both shared our theories about what was really going on. Both theories were interesting and backed up by story clues but I thought, “it would be impossible for us both to be right.” And that’s when I knew… We were both right. And that’s when the story got really interesting. And heartbreaking.

But this is not a heartbreaking post, I promise. In fact, now would be a good time for those of you who don’t like spoilers, or dark tales about transformative journeys, to jump ahead to my warm and fuzzy closing.

~

If you’re sticking around to read this part of the post it means you’ve read the story or watched the movie…

And so you know that the story revolves around the identities of the barkeep/agent, his customer, the customer’s past/future lover, and the Fizzle Bomber.

Due to the aforementioned mid-afternoon mocha and my husband’s alternative theory of Who Was Really Who, we got it all sorted out pretty early on. But that doesn’t mean the movie was predictable. Seeing a snake eat its own tail isn’t going to be boring even if you know it’s going to happen. I thought the movie’s use of the ouroboros symbol was well done. The movie’s not just about identity, it’s also about reinvention and transformation. Yet that transformation isn’t always welcome or good. Unlike the symbol of the mighty phoenix, which rises triumphantly out of the ashes to begin its life anew, the ouroboros consumes itself. It isn’t kind to itself. It is its own worst enemy.

I condemned and hated the final iteration of the main character. Who wouldn’t? But, oh, how I sympathized with the young, uncannibalized version.

But cannibalized by what is the question. What ultimately destroyed Jane and created the Fizzle Bomber?

Too many time jumps? Maybe. There were all sorts of references to the fact that too many jumps could wreak havoc on one’s mind.

But I think it was loneliness (exacerbated by the character’s repeatedly betraying him/herself) that ultimately destroyed Jane. In the end, the Fizzle Bomber says something like “by killing me, you become me.” So sad. Honestly, I, like everyone else, was blown away by Sarah Snook. Her portrayal made me want to give Jane a huge hug and kick the crap out of everyone who was giving her so much grief. But then I also kind of knew Jane wouldn’t thank me for it. Because this was the same character who willingly admitted (if only to herself) that she was better than everyone else.

Ah, Jane. How could I fix your story? How could I give you an HEA? Leaving aside the perilousness of attempting to tinker with Heinlein, it’s still interesting to contemplate. Reunite her with her parents? Nope. Let her grow old with her one true love? Nope. All the horrible things that happened to her storywise had to happen in order for her to be born, have the childhood she had, live the life she had, etc., etc. because taking away any one of those things would jeopardize her very existence.

~

So, yep, Predestination is a very good time travel movie. Definitely better than a Plain Jane plague movie.

My final thoughts? One day a year isn’t enough. And it doesn’t always have to be about hearts, chocolate, and roses. It can be about tapas or sushi, poker or pedicures, a walk in the woods, a trip to your local animal shelter, complimenting a stranger, or simply smiling at them. You can and should deepen your connections to other living things every day throughout the year and you should be kind to yourself. That doesn’t mean be egotistical or narcissistic. It just means, don’t be your own worst enemy.

Want to read more about Predestination?

Did you do anything fun for Valentine’s Day? Are you doing anything fun for President’s Day today? We’re headed to see Jupiter Ascending later. Tomorrow? Gah!! Looks like it might be another snow day…!? At least my commute is short. Lol. Stay safe and warm, people. Here’s wishing you more than romance – I wish each of you HAPPINESS. :-)


Gracie Madison, author of SING FOR ME, on Magic, Music, Song, and Emotion (#angel #fiction)

Today’s guest blogger is NA PNR author Gracie Madison, whose novel SING FOR ME, came out a few weeks ago. When I saw that she was doing a BBT tour to help get the word out about her release, I asked if she’d be willing to share her thoughts on adding music to her stories and/or the idea of mixing magic, emotion, and voice. As part of her tour, she’s giving away a $25 Amazon eGC and one signed copy of her book. The Rafflecopter link is below. Welcome, Gracie!

[Quick note before Gracie’s post… remember how much I loved the cover for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE? Well, I entered it in the JABBIC (the Judge A Book By Its Cover contest). I’ve never entered before and didn’t realize it’s one of those contests where EVERYONE can vote. So, if you have a minute, it would be awesome if you could check out all the entries and cast your vote. Today is the last day to vote. There are some great covers! Click here for the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Paranormal category link. For new followers who like reading about covers, check out the “For Cover Lovers” links below.]

Sing for Me, Gracie Madison, paranormal romance, new adult, magic, angels, demons, magic, emotion

“Because music is so universal and so many people have their own special relationship with it, music became a natural way to introduce the plot and characters.”

I should preface this blog post…I love music and the theater, but I am a writer for good reason. The only thing worse than my trumpet playing in high school and college was my singing. I earned a scholarship out of pity, and they probably would’ve paid me more to stop. Music always fascinated me, but it doesn’t come easily to me.  It’s brimming with theory and compositions and its own language, and it blends an almost mathematical precision with creativity. It utterly fascinating to me, and Sing For Me utilizes that mysterious quality and blends it with the paranormal and divine to create the romance.

Sing For Me is a paranormal romance novel set within an opera house. The main character, Madeline, is the supporting soprano for the Eden theater company’s production of The Magic Flute. She also happens to be a specific breed of angel called a Choir, which, in the mythology of Sing For Me, means she is a creature created specifically for music and the entertainment of the angelic realm. Her magic exists within her songs and the power of her voice. In Sing For Me, music doesn’t soothe the savage beast, it is the only way to survive it.

So much of Sing For Me is influenced by music—from the Opera production, to the everyday life of the characters, to the very purpose of their creation. Music is not only emotional, it’s a sensual expression, a weapon, and a way to escape the horrors of the darkness chasing Madeline.

But it is hard to write about music, especially opera. Without hearing the songs or seeing the productions, the narrative relies on the feelings created by the music. The characters each have their own emotional connection to what they sing or to music itself. Madeline is actually forbidden to indulge in any emotions as they fuel the power in her voice, rendering it uncontrollable. Natalie, the director’s assistant, is not a singer or star, but she is a songwriter, and the theater offered her a sanctuary from an abusive upbringing. And the prima donna, Danielle, is a feisty diva who lives, breathes, and is her role in the production. Because music is so universal and so many people have their own special relationship with it, music became a natural way to introduce the plot and characters.

Angels are so often portrayed as strumming harps and singing hymns, so it was really fun to re-envision them in a modern way. But let’s face it, opera has a bad reputation. People envision the horned ladies in golden breastplates wailing at the top their lungs. However, there’s a tremendous amount of power and talent and skill involved within the productions, and there’s just as much hierarchy within the theaters as there is within the orders angels in religious mythology. Though Madeline’s attempts to hide within the crew, her natural talent and beautiful voice take center stage. Everything she seems, experiences, or knows is because of music and related through music.

Magic and music are intertwined within the novel, as are song and emotion. The only thing more powerful than a song is the love of the main characters and the promise that Madeline makes to Damascus throughout the story—she always sings for him.

Sing for Me, Gracie Madison, paranormal romance, new adult, magic, angels, demons, magic, emotion

More About Sing For Me

Madeline Noel fled war-torn Heaven to hide within the mortal world, but the blessing that could protect her from evil is the holy realm’s forbidden power.

As a talented soprano for the Eden Theatre Company, Madeline hides among prima donnas and tone-deaf flutists. Her perfect voice may entertain audiences, but a careless laugh may shatter glass, and her greatest scream can kill. To control her unrestrained voice, the angels forbid Madeline from embracing the emotions that strengthen her song. Anger. Fear.

Love.

The demon-hunter Damascus vows to defend Madeline from Hell’s relentless evil, but he cannot protect her from her own feelings. Though they deny their dangerous attraction, her guardian becomes her greatest temptation.

Surrendering to desire may awaken the gift suppressed within Madeline’s soul, and neither Heaven nor Hell will allow such absolute power to exist.

Sing for Me, Gracie Madison, paranormal romance, new adult, magic, angels, demons, magic, emotion

Gracie Madison

Gracie Madison

More About Gracie

Gracie Madison would spend every day, all day writing…if it were socially acceptable.  Ever since she was a little girl scribbling with a crayon, Gracie’s dedicated herself to her books and all the supernatural and paranormal, creepy and beautiful stories and characters born within the pages. Now Gracie is committed to finally sharing those books with the world.  When the laptop is pried from her hands, Gracie is probably working her day job, rooting on the Steelers, or out with her husband searching for Pittsburgh’s best sushi.

More About the Giveaway

Gracie is giving away a $25 Amazon eGift Certificate (international) and one signed paperback of SING FOR ME (U.S. only). To enter the giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 and over. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Sing for Me Banner

So how about you? Do you like stories with angels and demons? I hope so!  ;-) How about music, magic, love, and emotion? Do you think Gracie’s cover is as pretty as I do?

Thank you, Gracie, for guest blogging today!

FOR COVER LOVERS

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artA fun discussion of the Noon Onyx Covers at The Reading Cafe

Goodreads List: Best Books with Jason Chan Cover Art (Fiery Edge of Steel is on there; White Heart of Justice isn’t?!)

The Qwillery: Dark Light of Day‘s Sept 2012 Debut Author Cover War Challenge win – woohoo! (I was a little better about getting the vote out for that contest than I have been for the JABBIC. If you vote over there today, THANK YOU!!)


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