Category Archives: Writing

STILL stuck inside? Sign up for my newsletter! (#read #darkfantasy)

We are slowly digging out from under snow storm Jonas, i.e. Snowzilla. Almost two and a half feet here! How about you? How much snow did you get? Are you still trapped?

If you’re still stuck inside and looking for something to do, you can sign up for my quarterly author newsletter.

What will my newsletter offer?

Newsletter

Quarterly newsletters will be sent every September, December, March, and June. Content will vary but will likely be some combination of:

  • Snippets from old or new work
  • Quizzes
  • Fun quotes and tweets
  • Recipes related to the books
  • Random Facts (background info on characters, etc.)
  • First look at Extras I’ll be adding to my website
  • Interesting stuff I’m researching
  • Meet the Team (bios of people who help me behind the scenes)
  • Be an Ambassador (ways readers can help me spread the word about my books)
  • Contests/Giveaways

Newsletters will also be sent out for each NEW RELEASE!

How will the newsletter differ from the blog?

The newsletter is mostly for readers who like my books and want to hear more about them. Some content, including occasional giveaways, will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers.

This blog will continue to be what it always has been – an inconsistently scheduled mashup of all the things I’m interested in: books, movies/TV shows, writing, day tripping, guest posts, etc.

Feel free to share my newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n

Thanks, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!


Stuck Inside? Here’s what to do…

Read: I’m currently reading Naomi Novik’s UPROOTED.

Write: The chapter I’m currently working on is called “Domesday Weapons.” Have been researching the Domesday Book, allodial title, the ancient Egyptian god Sobek, and Multnomah Falls, among other things.

Here’s a snippet (any bit of which might change before I publish POCKET FULL OF TINDER):

It was a bit eerie staring at myself.

I squinted at the familiar figure – a 22-year old female wearing black pants and a short wool cloak. She stood beside a barghest, a tiger, and a nymph, but though her companions were unusual, my gaze was drawn to her weapon – a fiery pepperbox that flickered dangerously in the hazy greenish-gray mist. Hopefully, the woman and her companions wouldn’t flicker tellingly as well. Fara and I had argued about the weapon, but she’d insisted the gun would look the most confident – if only because it was the most unpredictable.

The spell was called Simulacrum. Fara had recently learned it and suggested we use it this afternoon for our meeting with Acheron. Considering the river demon had chosen the Memento Mori viaduct as the site of our meet, I’d readily agreed. Even if my father hadn’t warned me to use “extreme caution” when meeting him, I would have anyway. Afterall, this was the place where over a hundred people had lost their lives only three short months ago.

Have your kid talk you into using Snapchat’s filters: If you’re getting this post via email, you’re going to have to click through to see my ridiculous selfies. Stay safe & warm, East Coasters!


#Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways to Keep Them!

I’m over at RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter today with 5 Ways To Keep Your Writing Resolutions. Haven’t yet made a 2016 writing resolution? There are plenty of ideas. Made one but not sure how to keep it? That’s what the post is for. Made a resolution and already know how you’re going to keep it? Stop by and share your secrets!

New Year’s Lagniappe: Is your resolution to write a novel this year? I’m offering to coach one member of FF&P who hasn’t yet reached PRO/PAN. Details are in the post. Happy writing, all!

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.


GOODBYE 2015 — Two Things I Did Wrong and Two Things I Did Right

My first post for 2016 is a tell-all. 

Ha. Kidding, of course. I don’t have any shocking or salacious secrets to share. I do, however, love hyperbole, alliteration, and taking stock at year-end.

TWO THINGS I DID WRONG

(SORT OF) IN 2015

Nothing Published

I never promised a new novel in 2015 and for that, I’m grateful. It really bugs me to say I’ll do something and then not do it. I knew even back at the start of 2015 that getting a fourth novel out last year would be difficult. Still, I thought I would be able to publish other, smaller projects, like a Nightshade novella, a standalone of my short story “Dream, Interrupted,” or an audio version of something. But I didn’t. And that sucks. Because I wanted to.

But there were good reasons for each of those projects not happening.

(The Nightshade novella has always been ancillary to the Noon novels; it took longer than I anticipated to confirm that I have the right to do audio versions for the first three Noon books; and “Dream, Interrupted” was somewhat experimental. I’m not sure, frankly, if it’s worth it to do anything more with it. If so, it will require more thought than I want to give it right now.)

Still… not publishing anything feels very unproductive, especially in the current über-prolific publishing world where it seems that authors everywhere are being pressured (regardless of whether they are traditional or self-pub) to publish a minimum of one book a year.

I’ve said many times that if I could change one thing about me as a writer, it would be the pace at which I write. I’ve tried with zero success. When I attempt to write something at a faster pace, I produce garbage. Garbage that can probably be fixed. But fixing it takes time. And then I’m back to square one.

At least I’m in good company. George R.R. Martin recently revealed that he won’t be releasing The Winds of Winter anytime soon. Obviously, he’s GRRM and I’m Jill No Middle Initials Archer, but a lot of what he said in his post really resonated with me.

Ok, it’s true that I don’t have to worry about HBO, the Emmys, or a ginormous fan base, but his simple, truthful admissions (e.g. “sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t”) are encouraging to slow writers like me.

It’s crap that I didn’t publish anything in 2015. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a crap writer.

No Newsletter

Oh. My.

If I could go back in time à la Marty McFly or Claire Randall Fraser nèe Beauchamp I would start an author newsletter in the summer of 2012, two months before Dark Light of Day’s release.

As it is, I neither started a newsletter, nor did I save in any easy-to-locate place all of the email addresses of the various readers who have contacted me in the years since. Stupid? You bet. But live and learn, I suppose. (And, to be clear, I’m not saying I’d sign anyone up for a newsletter without their permission, but I don’t think it’s out of line to email them once to tell them I’m starting one and ask them if they’d like to subscribe.)

In October of 2015, I mentioned here that I’d be launching a newsletter “soon.” Didn’t happen. Why? Well, the biggest reasons are elsewhere in this post, but I also got lazy about learning how to use Mail Chimp and I worried that a year+ after my last release, no one would sign up. Obviously, I need to get over myself. I continue to think that newsletters can be an effective part of an author’s outreach plan. The only way I’ll ever know if it works for me is to do it. The sooner the better, but at the latest, before Pocket Full of Tinder is released.

♦♦♦

TWO THINGS I DID RIGHT

IN 2015

I continued to participate in the writing/reading/publishing community

Though 2015 was a quiet year for me, I didn’t disappear completely. About halfway through the year, I scaled back my online activity so that I could spend more time on Pocket Full of Tinder. But I still posted here occasionally. I checked in on Facebook and Twitter. I lurked on writer’s group loops. I scheduled workshops for FF&P. I read lots of books. I took classes on self-publishing. I responded to readers who reached out to me. I served as a writing accountability coach for a nonfiction writer who lives near me – and SHE published in 2015 – something I was incredibly happy about.

I kept writing and submitting

This is the key to everything, of course. If 2016 shapes up to be a good year, it will be because of the work I did in 2015. I may not have released anything in 2015 but I:

  • Wrote a 20,000 word adult fantasy proposal (I submitted it to my agent, but we both decided it wasn’t ready to be submitted to New York. I could have revised, but decided to stuff it in a drawer instead. I want to finish Pocket Full of Tinder.)

[For those of you who don’t know, once you are published, you can sell future work by submitting a proposal. Typically, a fiction proposal is the first 50-100 pages of the manuscript, a complete synopsis/summary, back cover copy, and your bio. Twenty thousand words may not sound like much, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting those first 20,000 words right. Putting a saleable proposal together is no easy task. Much of the research, worldbuilding, plotting, and characterization has to be done before that first portion of the manuscript can even be written.]

  • Submitted my YA fantasy proposal to five editors (in addition to the six editors we sent it to in 2014). Out of eleven editors, two passed it on to another editor (a great sign), one exchanged emails with my agent (another potentially good sign), but ultimately all rejected (two in one day!!). All of them gave the proposal serious consideration and nearly all of the rejections were kind and complimentary – “clever concept” “intriguing” “fresh and original” “compelling premise” “REALLY good writer” “reluctantly passing”………

But. No. Sale. Argh!!! :-(

[For the record, in case anyone beyond my readers or writer friends reads this, I’m truly grateful for the experience. I very much appreciate that nearly a dozen awesome editors took the time to review my proposal and consider buying it. I think the books would have been fantastic. But publishing is a weird beast, half-creative and half-commercial. Editors not only have to love the books they buy, they also have to believe those books will have mass market appeal. A writers’ life is challenging, but I don’t envy Big 5 editors. It’s got to be a tough gig.]

  • Wrote 50,000 words of Pocket Full of Tinder. Do I wish I was further along? Yes! But I’ll get there. The book’s halfway finished and fully plotted. I found an illustrator to do a custom cover for me and I’m on her wait list. Hopefully, we’ll start designing the cover by the end of February.

♦♦♦

Things I did in 2015 that were neither right nor wrong

Left my literary agency

This was as amicable as it could be. I’m still friends with my former agent and, if I see her at a future conference, I will give her a big hug and ask her if she wants to grab a coffee, wine, lunch, or whatever. I’m so very grateful to her for all that she did for me. She is a terrific mentor and a dedicated, loyal, committed, and tenacious agent. So why leave? After spending fourteen months trying to sell my YA proposal, I knew my next step was going to be to self-publish the next Noon book. Our paths started to diverge and it felt like the right time to clarify my relationship with the agency. I don’t regret the decision but that didn’t make it any easier. It was INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT (anyone who has ever left an agency can probably relate, although every situation is different so maybe not).

Judged myself more harshly than others

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. The fact that, when other people share their challenges with me, I’m much more forgiving with them than I am with myself.

When I talk with other writers, I’m constantly stressing that the important questions are whether they’re happy, whether they feel creatively fulfilled, whether they’re meeting THEIR GOALS, but with myself, I strive to be unflinchingly objective. This is good and bad.

Setting quantifiable goals and meeting them is a guaranteed way of achieving what you want. You know the Yoda quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I get that.

But writing fiction is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. It requires imagination and emotion and letting go as much as it does discipline and structure and bearing down.

♦♦♦

Goals for 2016?

Make the transition from traditional to self-pub

This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on being a hybrid author. I’d love to sell to New York again. But it will be a while. I’m going to self-publish my fourth novel and then…

And then…

We’ll see. :-)

A lot depends on how that goes. But, after a somewhat rocky 2015, I feel sanguine about 2016.

A return to my irregular, inconsistent blogging schedule

Hahaha. You all know I’m the poster child for “Do as They Say, Not as I Do.” My blog has NEVER been a contender for any “Best Websites for Writers” list. And that’s not me being too harsh on myself. That’s just me calling it like it is. But blogging isn’t meant to be perfect. So, in a way, my blog *is* perfect. :-D

Expect some of the same type of posts I wrote in the past – writing, books, movies… Noon Onyx updates, posts about my first time self-publishing… that sort of thing.

Ok, that’s it for now. If I would have put this many words into Pocket Full of Tinder I would be one very happy lady right now.

How about you? Did 2015 end the way you wanted it to? What are your goals for 2016?


#Writing #Workshops for November (and my two cents on what to do if you hate the scene you’re writing)

Below are the online workshops being offered in November 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.

I’m including a picture of flowers this time instead of animals… There’s also a brief bit from me at the end about a scene I’m struggling with and what I intend to do about it. For those of you who are in a hurry, here are the take aways from this post:

  • Register for workshops
  • Keep writing!
  • Carve Pumpkins
  • Eat Candy
  • Happy Halloween!! :-D

Book Covers: The Poster for your Book

11/02/2015 – 11/16/2015

If a book is a  movie in your head, a book cover is the poster to entice the crowds. Whether you’re doing your cover yourself or working with a designer, same principles can be applied to ensure a marketable poster for your book to attract a reader’s eye.

Join award-winning cover artist Fiona Jayde in a two-week course covering the joys of trends, the fun of fonts, common misconceptions, false starts, and Fiona’s driving philosophy on book covers: go big or go home.

About the Presenter, Fiona Jayde

Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.

In life, she is tinkers with images to create cover art for amazing books, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, used to be a hot-shot web developer, scared to death of snakes, loves jazz piano, and can bench-press  20 pounds — with effort. She learned English reading Nora Roberts and watching Growing Pains, and when pried away from her computer, enjoys movies where things frequently blow up.

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

Register for This Workshop

Lessons of Firefly: Learning From the Works of Joss Whedon

11/02/2015 – 11/29/2015

Though Joss Whedon’s television show FIREFLY only aired through the fall months of 2002, it has continued to generate followers through word of mouth, DVD sales and an exhaustible amount of followers known as “Browncoats”.  The Romance Writers of America has many “Browncoasts” in their midst as Jacqui Jacoby learned though discussions with members at the RWA National Conference in both Atlanta and Dallas.  Many of these followers love to listen and talk about what they learned from watching the series.  Discussing dialogue is a favorite pastime, both at the conferences and online in writing loops.

FIREFLY, created by the Rod Serling of our generation, was a masterpiece of writing.  Each of its thirteen episodes taught character development, dialogue and plotting techniques.  Its motion picture sequel, SERENITY, not only touched on these subjects but added relationships, loyalties and loss to its repertoire.

In this workshop, Ms. Jacoby will reveal the lessons of FIREFLY.  By using class participation and examples from the episodes, she will translate with words what Mr. Whedon was teaching us on screen.

About the Presenter, Jacqui Jacoby

As a die-hard Firefly fan who can quote dialogue and scenes from both the series and the movie, Jacqui Jacoby knows how to get a crowd excited about the Lessons of Firefly.

She is a workshop teacher who has appeared both live and online to give such classes as “From Austin to Aliens: How to Create Classic Tough Chicks” and “Behind the Scenes: The Research Before the Book.”

Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award in Excellence, as well as the Suzannah and the Dixie for her books, Ms. Jacoby’s articles have appeared worldwide.  Lessons From The Giants ran in publications in the United States, Canada and Australia.  Her article, Tough Chicks: Heroines in Today’s Market ran in the June 2006 RWR Magazine.

A graduate of UCLA, Ms. Jacoby lives in the Arizona mountains with her husband of twenty-four years and their three children.  Besides studying martial arts and sword fighting, Ms, Jacoby has recently returned to school to achieve her second Bachelor of Arts, this one in Modern Languages.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." - Claude Monet "I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special." -Ina Garten My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
“I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special.” -Ina Garten
My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

What to do if the scene you’re writing sucks :-D

So Noon #4 is going well. I recently finished a big, emotional scene and I love how it turned out. It made me smile and laugh and, you know, feel stuff. But then I got to the next scene and everything started C-R-A-W-L-I-N-G… like Glacial Pace City. At first, I thought it was bc I’d just come from a big scene and, in comparison, this scene felt small and slow. Not every scene can be a Big Scene, right? Well, sorta but also sorta not.

Every scene doesn’t have to be BIG, but every scene has to have meaning and move the story forward. Every scene can’t be full of non-stop action (at least not in my books), BUT it has to be full of tension. I want readers engaged in the experience of each and every scene. I want them to want to turn the page. So when *I* start to feel kind of blah about a scene, I know readers probably will too.

So what to do about this little bit of blah in my manuscript?

1. “Houston, we have a problem.” The first step in fixing a problem, is knowing you have a problem. If you find your attention drifting when writing, editing, or reviewing your work, it might be a sign that the scene lacks tension, which is a problem that needs to be fixed. How?

2. Make a list of the things that you know are wrong with the scene: When your problem is lack of tension, it’s hard to know how to fix it without digging deeper. One of the things I hate about the scene I’m working on is the dialog. It meanders. I think it’s because I need to better understand exactly what I want the scene to do. The scene also features a secondary character I haven’t 100% figured out yet.

3. Make a list of things that might fix the scene. I’m a big fan of brainstorming lists. Someone once gave me this advice: when you’re stuck, make a List of 20. Twenty things that might work. The trick is to not hold back. Put crazy ideas on that list. The first five will be crap so the more ideas you put on your list, the better. For my current scene, I could: (a) make the secondary character scarier, meaner, nastier; (b) add other characters (sometimes just adding another person to a two person scene changes the dynamic and makes it more interesting); (c) build a more suspenseful set (the place where the scene takes place); (d) fix a possible timing issue (maybe the scene needs a ticking clock… or more room to breathe?); (e) change what the characters are doing (add more action and/or give them something else to do while talking that serves a purpose or has greater meaning). (See? I told you the first five are always crap. ;-) )

4. DON’T PANIC. Don’t let one scene undermine your confidence or give you temporary writer’s block. If you need to, step away from your keyboard for a moment. (That works wonders for me). Know, deep in your heart (because it’s true!), that this scene will get fixed eventually.

5. Do your best and move on.

–OR–

6. Rip it out and start it over (just that scene though!!) If you find yourself endlessly repeating step #6, go back to #5. I’ll admit that #5 is probably the most efficient way of writing a first draft. And for fast first draft fans, the only way. For me, it’s hard though. I tend to build each scene from the scenes that have come before. So if I have a scene I know is weak, it’s hard to move on. To me, it feels like I’m building a house of cards without one of the bottom cards — or a beach house without one of the stilts.

In the end, the advice is always the same: Keep Writing! Only by continuously writing will you be able to know your writing style and what works for you.

BEST WISHES, EVERYONE!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

TO ANYONE STARTING NANO ON SUNDAY — GOOD LUCK!!!


OCTOBER 2015 UPDATE

What’s up with me? In a nutshell:

Noon Onyx Book #4 — well underway. Tentatively titled POCKETFUL OF TINDER. (Thoughts on title? Let me know below or send me a note. The great thing about self-publishing it is I get to pick it. The nerve-wracking thing about self-publishing? I get to pick it. :-D But I’m the one who suggested the first three so I suppose it’s not very different.) No one is sorrier than me for the delay. There are reasons but I want this to be a QUICK update. I’m shooting for an early 2016 release and will keep everyone posted.

Nightshade novella — I envision this as a companion piece to the next Noon book so, if all goes well, I’ll release it around the same time. There may be some extras in it. A deleted scene from WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE featuring Ari and/or some other character vignettes.

Audio versions of Noon Onyx novels — trying to make this happen. Frankly, I’m not sure how it will go. It’ll be interesting to see if I can find a narrator who’s willing to have a go at all the Latin and other crazy, near-unpronounceable words in the books. :-D

Dream, Interrupted — on the back burner for now. I know I said I’d get this published as a stand alone short story, share some discussion questions, and maybe do an audio version of it in 2015, but other projects are more important right now. No one is clamoring for it. It’s a piece I thought was neat and fun to write and I’ll definitely do something more with it — later.

My YA Duology — on submission, which means I really can’t say anything about it other than I WISH I COULD SAY SO MUCH ABOUT IT!!! :-D :-D :-D

Author Newsletter — I will be launching one soon. My plan is to publish it quarterly with a blast for new releases. More details in a future post.

Halloween — what? this wasn’t on my original list of updates back in January? well, it should have been, huh? Only three weekends until the BIG DAY! (That’s my younger daughter below, modeling costume bits and pieces from years past.)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!


Blogging Swan Song

You may have noticed that my posts here have dwindled lately. Months ago, I decided to take a break from blogging (originally, I thought I wouldn’t blog past June but my vaca got in the way of me posting these final hurrahs so now it’s nearly mid-summer and I’m just getting around to my bloggy swan song).

Why I’m Stopping

Mostly, because I want to focus on my books more than my blogging.

And it’s good to shake things up every now and then – to take a break and/or try something new. I think it’s been clear from the beginning that my goal was a casual, eclectic site where I could discuss things that I think are fun and neat and invite other writers to share their thoughts on the same.

It was important to me when I first entered the crazy world of social media that I be seen as a whole person and not just the author who wrote books about a world where the demons had won.

But now that four years and three books are behind me, I think lots of you know who I am and those that don’t… Maybe they just want books, not blog posts! :-D

I’ve achieved my goal, which was TO BLOG. Period. (Admittedly, I had some loose secondary goals like “at least once a week” “add guest bloggers” “increase traffic” “learn how to use WordPress” “reach 100 countries” … that sort of thing). But I’ve reached those goals too now.

I’ve loved the quirkiness of blogging, the random connections, how blogging isn’t perfect and no one expects it to be. I’ve loved its serendipity.

Who remembers that one of my top referrers for years was Sir Jog A Lot (a marathon runner!) or that one of my top posts in 2014 was my review of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (bc, it turns out, lots of people search the internet for… well… if not the meaning of life then at least the meaning of ghost cat metaphors) or that a vintage aircraft/WWII researcher contacted me with info about my grandfather seventy years after he died bc of a Veteran’s Day post I did back in 2013?

IF YOU HAVEN’T BLOGGED YET, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!

That feeling of being part of a larger whole and using your blog as a tool to connect with others is powerfully addictive stuff.

I’ll miss it, that’s for sure.

But I’ll still be around (see below). And there’s nothing stopping me from starting up again in the fall. (Although, if I do, this blog may become more of an author newsletter with info about my upcoming releases, contests, cover reveals, and the like.)

Thank You for Following!

I very much appreciate everyone’s support with this blog. All the shares and comments, all the tweets and RTs, all the follows and likes. You guys are TRULY AWESOME!!! (Over the years, I’ve received many compliments about different posts. One reader told me she printed out all of my Disney park reviews so that she could save them for future trips. More recently, lots of people have told me how much they enjoyed the Five Photographs author interview series.) I always say I’m a novelist first and a blogger second, but it’s been fantastic hearing people say how much they’ve enjoyed blog posts that I wrote or hosted.

Final stats:

If you are a Noon Onyx fan, or if you want to know more about my future writing projects, stay tuned… I don’t expect to post any news this summer, but hopefully I’ll have an exciting update in the fall. In the meantime, I’ll be writing!!

If you are a writer, I’ll still be lurking on RWA’s FF&P loop (and occasionally PAN). And who knows? I just might storm the gates of SFWA’s forums this summer… ;-)

Other Places You Can Find Me

Brought To You By…

the Noon Onyx Series

Gotta give a final shout out to my Noon Onyx series…

If you’ve enjoyed ANY of the posts I’ve written here over the last four years or so and you haven’t yet bought the books, PLEASE do so now! :-D

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

NOON ONYX #3

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

One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return…

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. Noon’s task, however, 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…

“High stakes and powerful magic collide” —Publishers Weekly
“Demanding, powerful, full-flavored and utterly destructive” —Bitten by Books
“I was hooked from the beginning.” —Night Owl Reviews (TOP PICK)
 

Amazon Barnes and Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound


FIERY EDGE OF STEEL

NOON ONYX #2

Fiery Edge of Steel  Final

When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…

Noon Onyx is the first woman in memory to wield waning magic. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways. When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined…

“Excitement and action leap from the page” —Publishers Weekly
“A fresh and fascinating series!” —RT Book Reviews (4 Stars)
“Danger, adventure, magic, love, and the quest for truth.” —The Qwillery

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound


DARK LIGHT OF DAY

NOON ONYX #1

Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

Into the darkness, we bring light…

Noon Onyx has been accepted into the prestigious St. Lucifer’s Law School where her mother hopes she’ll be trained as a Maegester. But Noon doesn’t want to control demons, set fires, or destroy things. She wants to become a Mederi so she can grow gardens and heal people. Noon’s best friend, Peter Aster, is an angel spellcaster who thinks he has the answer to Noon’s predicament: an ancient, mysterious, lost spell that can turn Noon into the Mederi she always wanted to be. Only one person stands in the way of Noon’s dream – Ari Carmine, a fellow classmate who seems fascinated by Noon’s fiery side.

“A spectacular debut novel.”—USA Today bestselling author Faith Hunter
“Set against the backdrop of university life, there is an abundance of adventure, mystery and passion!”—RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Books-A-Million

Powell’s Books  Book Depository  IndieBound

 

*****

STAY TUNED FOR MORE NEWS IN THE FALL!! HAVE A FANTASTIC SUMMER, EVERYONE!!!


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.)


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!


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