Tag Archives: Noon Onyx

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!!!


Five Photographs: Jill Archer (#writing: challenges, frustrations, joy, and hope!)

No post last week because I was on vacation. We went to wonderful Cape May, a place I’ve blogged about many times. Did some new things there too, which was nice: biked to the lighthouse and climbed to the top, biked to the brewery (a good way to work off the calories of a seasonal sampler! :-D ), and tried a few new restaurants/bars (among them, The Blue Pig at Congress Hall and 410 Bank Street). But now it’s Monday and time to get back to work!! Today’s Five Photographs guest is ME! :-) I share one of the things that brings me joy that I can’t believe no other writer picked. I dish on some things that frustrate me and I tally up everyone’s “biggest challenge facing writers today” answers and add my own. This will be one of the last posts this summer, so please give me a shout out in the comments if you’ve enjoyed this series!

Something that represents something unique about you

Mother Sculpture

My older daughter made this awesome sculpture for me when she was in elementary school. It’s me! There are two kids poking up from my head and arm, a tree growing out of my middle because I love nature, and I’m holding a pencil because I’m a writer — and because my daughter’s art has a practical side. Is that the coolest pencil holder you’ve ever seen or what? :-D

Something that represents where you live

Fly Fishing

There were so many pictures I could have picked for this (see below), but I wanted to share a picture that I hadn’t posted yet so I went with this one. This was taken in the Gunpowder Falls State Park during a hike. The Gunpowder Falls offers world-class catch and release fly fishing. Even though I don’t fish, it’s neat to see the fishermen quietly going about their business in the river as you hike along its banks. It’s an amazingly beautiful park. Hard to believe when you’re in it how close you are to urban centers like Baltimore and York, PA.

And, because I love Maryland so much, here are some links to other posts I’ve done highlighting just some of what Maryland has to offer:

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Panda Plant

I’ve shared lots of pictures over the years of all of my pets so I wanted to share something new. This is the Panda Plant that my daughter grew from a cutting in Ag Science class. It now keeps me company in my office. If you want to see pictures of all of my pets though, here are some links:

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

BUTTONS!!! Not the kind like “he really pushes my buttons” but the myriad, omnipresent buttons that you actually suspect do nothing. They’re smoke and mirrors. You press them and nothing happens (like the “Comfort” button in my car. Huh? What exactly does that thing do?! I notice zero difference when I press it.) And just look at all those buttons on my remote controls!!! (Yes, we actually use all of those. Yes, we probably need a universal remote. But that would just add MORE BUTTONS to my life.) Take my washing machine, for example. Fourteen settings. Fourteen!!! (Convenient that 14 can be divided by 2 so that each side of the dial has an equal number.) And, yep, I realize that my washing machine technically has only one button and the other settings are controlled by a knob. My old machine had half as many settings but they were all buttons. I’m not sure which is worse.

I saved the worst (best?) for last — my alarm clock!!! Retro is cool. This thing is like circa 1985 or something. It picks up weird signals when you leave your cell phone too close to it. And it’s called the “Dream Machine.” But. Really? As if! The thing lives to torture you with its hideous a.m. screech. The one good thing I can say about it is that there are only seven buttons and I know what each and every one of them does. See? They don’t make ’em like they used to. :-D

BTW — a quiz for writers — which buttons can we not live without?

[Hint: QWERTY :-) ]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Coffee

Of course my family brings me joy!! And my friends. And all sorts of other stuff in my life like books, movies, hiking, biking, day tripping, etc. But I had to pick the one thing that I couldn’t believe no one else picked — COFFEE!!! We’re writers for crying out loud! Where’s the COFFEE LOVE?! :-D Pictured above are three of my favorite coffee mugs.

I also had a runner-up I debated picking:

Pac Man

Yep, PAC-MAN! This is the real deal, folks. Vintage Atari. (My husband still has his old console, as well as about fifty katrillion cartridges. He was much better about keeping all his old electronics than I was.) When I was getting this post together, I was telling him about all of my choices. And before I decided to pick coffee, I told him I picked Pac-Man as the thing that brought me joy. And he was like, “Why?”

Huh?

Why?!?

Because it’s Pac-Man!!!

(In his defense, his question wasn’t because he doesn’t understand the appeal of old video games, but because Adventure is his favorite, not Pac-Man.)

Like vintage gaming? Check out these posts:

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Sometimes a reviewer can say it better than I can:

“A thrilling adventure that brings Noon and her Guardian Angel Rafe, literally to the gates of Hell…” The Qwillery

What are you working on next?

A YA duology and more stories set in Noon’s world.

What are you currently reading?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Everything I usually watch (GoT, Outlander, Downton Abbey, and Mr. Selfridge) is on hiatus so I may go back to watching Vikings and/or Orphan Black.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Ah, so many choices! And, even though I’m the one who came up with this question, I’ll admit that “what’s your favorite” questions are always tough for me. My favorites constantly change depending on my mood, what I’ve recently read or watched, sentimentality, the season…

So here’s my answer to this question as of today:

Favorite fantasy creature: Temeraire from Naomi Novik’s HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON

Favorite fantasy villain: Lasher from Anne Rice’s THE WITCHING HOUR

Favorite fantasy weapon: the sharing knife from its eponymous series by Lois McMaster Bujold

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I was curious about the final tally for this question so I went back through everyone’s answers. For the most part, there were six answers:

  • Discoverability (5)
  • Marketing (3)
  • Deciding whether to self-publish or traditionally publish (3)
  • Balancing writer demands like social media and marketing while writing the next book (2)
  • Pressure to write faster and produce more (2)
  • Digital disruption (1)

There’s no doubt these are all significant challenges facing writers today. But I’m going to pick something different yet familiar to all of you writers out there to talk about:

The challenge to KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON. It’s not a new challenge. It’s a timeless one.

How can we meet that challenge?

Challenges will always be there in one iteration or another. Anyone who sets a meaningful goal for themselves will have obstacles to overcome. The key to success is perseverance. Is it hard? Yes!!! Writers suffer rejections, bad reviews, low pay, long hours, self-doubt, and countless other buzz and bliss kills. Some days, meeting the challenge of “keepin’ on” can feel like you’re hiking up Mt. Everest with an anvil on your back.

When it starts to feel like that, take a breather. Do something else. Not for too long, but for a little while. When you return to the mountain the anvil will be lighter. Why? Because it’s not real. Yes, the challenges that writers face are real. But once you step back from them they merge and meld and blend and mix into the rest of what comprises a writer’s life (imagination, creative expression, immersing yourself in stories with emotional resonance, spending time with characters that make you laugh, cry, and/or admire them, the wonderfully rich dynamic between writers and readers, your love of the written word, narrative, drama, etc.)

You will realize that climbing a mountain is difficult but doable. The anvil is no more real than a knot in your shoulder, a cramp in your calf. Rub it out, smudge it out, and keep going!

Have fun and be proud of the fact that YOU ARE HIKING A MOUNTAIN!!! :-D


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!


WHAT’S UP WITH ME FOR 2015 (#Writing Life and #Reader Appreciation)

Enough of you have checked in about what’s next for Noon (and possibly Night) that I figured I’d just do a post that I could refer to when answering.

My 2015 plans are still somewhat in play. But here are a few things I’m working on:

A SUPER SECRET NEW PROJECT

Ok, it’s not 100% secret bc I mentioned it when I did my release day party for White Heart of Justice. This project is my YA duology. It’s a two book “series” – no more, no less. I’ve got the whole thing plotted out, start to finish, and am currently slogging my way through the first draft of book #1. I think it’s a really cool, fun, creative, amazing project, but I’m admittedly biased. :-) Ideally, I’d like to find a traditional publishing partner for it. So that’s why I can’t say much else about it now.

THE NOON ONYX SERIES

There will be at least two more books. In a perfect world, I would release the fourth book myself sometime in 2015 – and that’s my goal. If I’m lucky enough to find a home for my YA deuce, however, then I’ll need to prioritize that. While this might be disappointing to some Noon fans, I’m hoping you/they will understand why I would prioritize “guaranteed money in” (an advance) versus “initial money out” (self-pub).

That said, Noon fans are owed a bit more news than this. So what else can I share?

When I finished WHOJ, I was at a crossroads. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to continue the series. Some of you suggested that I write a novella to wrap things up. And this was a great suggestion. I love hearing from readers, especially readers who care enough about the series to share specific thoughts. But in for a penny, in for a pound and all that. When I started writing the series, I envisioned seven books. I’m not sure it will end up being as long as that, but a novella won’t give me enough room to tell what’s left to tell. So… my intent for now is to write two more.

What about Nightshade?

I haven’t forgotten about him and I hope you haven’t either. I’ve mentioned doing something with him for years. He is a great character with lots of potential. In 2015, readers will get either a short story or a novella, depending on how long it is when it’s done. Here’s the blurb:


 

PORTENT OF LOVE… AND DANGER

SCARLET AUGUR

A NIGHTSHADE NOVELLA

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

Aceraceae “Acer” Feldspar’s healing magic only works on one person: her. Losing her mother at the age of seven to a disease she couldn’t cure, she was determined to find a way to use her magic to help others. Now, at nineteen, Acer protects her tribe’s perimeter. But the intrusion of a scarlet augur – demon harbinger of passion, pain, and tumultuous change – threatens far more than Acer’s pride.

 HE WANTS TO HEAL IT; SHE WANTS TO KILL IT

ONLY ONE THING IS CERTAIN:

WORKING TOGETHER WON’T BE EASY


 

From SCARLET AUGUR, Chapter 1:

The blackbird lilies were well and truly black instead of their natural brilliant red. Every part of the flowers – leaves, stems, calyces, and corollas – seemed to thrum with dark waves of infrasound. But Night knew it was just the absence of color he was sensing rather than sound. These plants looked dead, which was extraordinary considering where they’d been cultivated: Demeter’s third largest greenhouse. Frowning, he set his watering can down amongst some martagons and crouched down for a closer look.

Nightshade’s given name – Nocturo Onyx – and his grim, foreboding looks belied his medic profession. Kneeling in the dirt between two wooden tables loaded with zinnias and orchids, he looked like a Haljan impossibility: the love child of bloodthirsty Bellona, Patron Demoness of War, and virile Vervactor, Patron Demon of the Plough. He wore a loose linen shirt, soiled with fresh dirt and rolled up at the sleeves, with a puce-colored kilt and filthy, steel-toed, worn leather boots. Strapped to his left arm and right leg were two small knives: the short, but deadly sharp, pugiones that many of Demeter’s Mederies carried.

The sun had barely begun to rise, but under the glass, it felt like midday. Night rubbed the back of his neck, which was already wet with sweat – Luck, how he hated the greenhouse! – and thought about what the blackening might mean.

The sweltering summer heat ruled out a furnace failure or frost as the cause.

Mold?

Maybe. But if so, it was unlike any mold that Night had ever seen.

This was no mottled splash of sage, smoke, ochre, or ink. Instead, the blackening was preternaturally uniform, as if the lilies had been carved out of lead, dipped in nacreous pitch… or brushed with waning magic.

Nightshade reached out toward the closest lily, catching the tip of one of its black petals between his thumb and index finger. Immediately, his first impression – that the blackened greenery was giving off some sort of subsonic hum – intensified. His arm throbbed but instead of pulling his hand back, he sent a pulse of waxing magic from his fingers into the petal in an attempt to coax any latent life back to an active, healthy state. But Night’s waxing magic pulse instantly mirrored telling him that the plant’s organic compounds had already begun to break down. His magic was powerful enough to bring simple organisms back from the brink of death, but even he couldn’t bring something back to life after it had passed into its next stage of existence: decay.

He sighed and stood, glancing around the humid interior of the greenhouse. Though the possible causes of death were few, it was still hard to accept that waning magic had killed the lilies. There were only two kinds of waning magic users in Halja: Maegesters and demons. The former were human, the latter were shapeshifting beasts, but neither of them were often seen in Maize.

Night pulled a small wooden box out of the sporran hanging from his waist. He withdrew his shorter pugio from its sheath, deadheaded one of the lilies, and placed its top in the box. Later, he would prepare a few slides for his microscope. If some new type of fungus killed these plants, Linnaea, the tribe’s monarch, would want to know.

And if it had been a demon… well, the best that could be said was that it hadn’t been intentional. Otherwise, every single plant in the greenhouse would be dead.


Nocturo Onyx, Nightshade, Scarlet Augur, Jill Archer

“She had only one vulnerability – and it wasn’t demons.
It was Nocturo Onyx.”
– Acer Feldspar

Acer Feldspar, Scarlet Augur, Jill Archer

“Pretty as a milkmaid, but instead of carrying a pail,
Acer wore mail.”
– Nocturo Onyx

DREAM, INTERRUPTED

Yes, I can understand if you’re just a wee bit tired of hearing about this project. It’s only 13,500 words and yet I’ve done at least a few posts about it. Why? Well, I never did a blog tour for it bc it’s just a short story/novelette and yet I had things to share and say. In fact, you’ve likely not heard the last about it because I hope to make an audio version of it. I think it’s a story that would be well suited to that medium so it’s something I want to explore. For now, all I can say is working with my cover designer to create a cover for it has been FUN.

book cover, mock-up, Dream Interrupted, Jill Archer, dark fantasy, Corelei Neverest, gothic romance, mystery

MOCK-UP COVER FOR
STAND-ALONE VERSION OF
DREAM, INTERRUPTED

OTHER STUFF

There’s more?! Well, not in 2015. But I’ve got two other adult fantasy series ideas that I haven’t yet developed into proposals. Depending on how the first half of 2015 goes, I may move them forward. I’d love to work with my Ace editor from the Noon Onyx series again. I’m committed to trying to be a hybrid author.

So let the juggling of projects begin! Thank you to each and every one of you who have contacted me via various channels to inquire about what’s next. Stay tuned…


#Writing: Transitions and Taking Chances

Is 2015 gonna be the year of audio? Who knows? This is a post about transitions, not predictions… :-)

What are transitions? Well, for purposes of this post, I’m defining them as those passages that take a reader from one scene to another.

So what’s so important about them? And how do you write them?

I think of transition paragraphs as mortar and the action/dialog scenes as bricks (taking this building analogy one step further, your mid-point crisis is like an arch’s keystone and your setpieces are like friezes). Transition paragraphs connect scenes and smooth the transition from one scene to another.

Transition passages should:

Anchor the reader in time and space

Readers like to know where and when they are. No one likes to be lost. It’s frustrating and distracting. If you wait too long to tell readers when and where they are, their attention will be on that instead of on the story.

If a scene occurs immediately following the last, your transition can be as short as a phrase. But if some time has occurred in between scenes, or if the scene takes place in a different location, then a longer transition may be required.

Contribute to worldbuilding and/or characterization

Really any piece of a novel is an opportunity to create or support the reader’s experience of the world through the characters that inhabit it – dialog, description, metaphors – all are parts of a manuscript where a writer can add character and/or world-specific details that bolster verisimilitude.

Be written in an interesting voice

There is character voice and there is author voice. Character voice is, obviously, specific to a character. It’s much more than how they speak. It’s how they think – their internal thoughts, how they process things, how they view their world. It’s a verbal and psychological manifestation of their being.

Author voice is similar, but different. It encompasses things like writing style, syntax, favored themes and motifs. Voice is one of those things that’s difficult to describe but easy to recognize. It’s one of those “you know it when you see it” kind of things.

This isn’t a post on voice, but if you’re a beginning writer and are still wondering what I’m talking about, one of the best pieces of advice I heard about how to develop your own voice is: Tell the story only you can tell. Tell it in a way that’s unique to you. The best author voices are unapologetic and full of personality.

Examples

From DARK LIGHT OF DAY, Chapter 12:

Tuesday dawned brighter and colder, reminding me that, though the Yule greens would be burned this week, winter was far from over. Ivy and I scarfed down stale pastries and coffee laced with sugar and headed to meet Fitz for a crack-of-dawn Sin and Sanction cram. Later, we suffered through Meginnis’ meandering morning lecture on esoteric Evil Deed remedies like detinue, replevin, and trover and howled over Fitz’s one-man skit about demon conflicts of interest in Council Procedure. I’d avoided looking in Ari’s direction throughout the morning’s classes, but couldn’t help noticing that Fitz’s antics made even him laugh. Dorio, never one to condemn a clown, gave Fitz extra class participation points. More than a few students were outraged. Neither Fitz nor Dorio cared. By late afternoon, it was time for Manipulation again.

Unlike A&A, Manipulation was held every day of the week. It was grossly unfair. If the demons didn’t kill us, the workload would. As Fitz and Ivy headed home, I tromped up to the fourth floor of Rickard, bracing myself for another brutal round with Rochester.

When I entered the classroom, only Rochester, Ari, and Mercator were there. In contrast to the day before, the environment was almost welcoming. I nodded to Rochester and Mercator and slipped into my seat beside Ari.

From FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, Chapter 5:

Wednesday morning I woke cranky and irritated. It wasn’t that it was still dark out when I woke (although who in their right mind would make plans before daylight in a country ruled by demons?); it was that it wasn’t dark, at least not in my room. After one hundred eighty-one days of successfully ignoring the nearly all consuming urge to set my morning alarm bell on fire, I’d finally gone and done it. And in spectacular fashion too. In those few seconds between sleeping and waking, I’d torched the whole thing into a mini mountain of melted copper and bronze that glowed like a night lamp and smoked like a volcano belching toxic fumes. I was so ticked off; I left it there to harden, uncaring of whether I would later be able to remove it from my desktop.

Ivy had left a note:

Noon—

Went to get coffee and biscuits. Meet Fitz and me in Timothy’s Square at dawn to discuss Angel candidates.

Ivy

p.s. Wear something sexy. I heard Holden Pierce is a hottie!

I groaned. I’m surprised they didn’t make an exception to the “Future Maegesters Only” rule for Manipulation for Ivy. She was a master manipulator, even if she didn’t have waning magic. This was her m.o., always dropping very unsubtle hints about my need to bare my demon mark. As if the whole world didn’t know already I was the Host’s version of a Hyrke strong girl in a carnie sideshow. Despite Ivy’s postscript, I made sure I wore something that covered my mark, but I amped up the vamp more than I would have otherwise. It wasn’t to attract whoever this Holden Pierce was (I had my own hottie and was more than happy with him); it was to bolster my own confidence with superficial gloss.

From WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, Chapter 14:

As we had last semester when we’d worked together during our first field assignment, Rafe and I quickly established a routine. We rose before dawn, roused the barghests and let them hunt for food. Sometimes they brought back freshly killed herons and hares, other times a mouthful of maggots (those days, I was even more insistent about my “no licking” policy; barghest breath was bad enough, saliva laced with chewed up bits of grubs was not to be borne). Around sunrise, Rafe and I would heat water for tea and washing up. After breakfast, we’d pack up our tent, poles, pots, pans, and plates, douse the fire, and harness the beasts. From then on, it would usually take us all day to travel just ten miles because all manner of mundane things seemed to impede us: rocks, stumps, and other debris getting caught on the sledge’s runners, ice forming between the pads of Brisaya’s or Telesto’s paws, as well as soft patches of snow or crackling ice that had to be given a wide berth. Yet . . . despite the body-numbing coldness of the environment and the mind-numbing banality of the everyday hazards, those early barghest sledging days were almost fun.

Sure, we knew that greater dangers lay ahead. We’d only been warned a half dozen times or more about them. (Heck, I’d already survived one possible attempt on my life). But last semester’s assignment had taught us how short life could be. How one moment a person on your team could be alive and the next moment . . . not be. So we weren’t going to waste a single second of the time we weren’t under attack—from demons, beasts, the weather, our opponents, or Luck himself if he thought to end our lives earlier than we wanted him to—on feelings of fear, dread, or anxiety. Carpe viam! Seize the road! became our motto and our mantra. We headed for Corterra with near reckless abandon.

From “Dream, Interrupted“:

10:00

There’s an old song by a band called the Black Crowes titled “She Talks to Angels.” At first blush, the woman in the song is a liar. She talks about being an orphan but she has a family. She’s also an addict and a lunatic. She smiles when she’s in pain and she rings her eyes with more kohl than any one woman has a right to use. You may not like her, but if so, it’s because you don’t really know her. Because a third cousin twice removed whom you see only once every five years doesn’t count as “family.” And sometimes, addictions are the only thing you have left. I’m an addict.

What’s my addiction?

Sleep aids. Oh, you know, zaleplon and zolpidem, diphenhydramine and doxylamine, tryptophan and turkey legs. Forget about coffee; it’s chamomile tea for me. Lately, I’ve even traded in my nasal strips for a full on CPAP mask. How’s that for laughs?

Well, don’t. Because my addiction is more deadly than you’ll ever guess.

Breaking the Rules

Like anything in writing, once you know how to do it, you can play around with it. My transitions in Dream, Interrupted break two of the “rules” above.

They do not smooth the transition from one scene to another. Rather the opposite. They break the story up into a countdown of sorts, interrupting it in an arguably annoying way (like someone shaking you awake one too many times when you’re tired and just want to sleep).

They also do not anchor the reader in time and space. Instead, they jump around, discussing songs from our real world that add to the story’s meaning and complexity but in an admittedly disjointed, intrusive, jarring way. I think it works because it supports the story’s conceit – that Corelei’s world is a shifty one. Neither she, nor the reader, will ever be anchored. Instead, Corelei drifts from one scene/dream/reality to the next.

Did I pull it off?

Who knows? Readers will be the ones to say. All I can say for sure is that I was happy with how it turned out. Creatively, I feel the story did what I wanted it to. And if I attempted techniques that were/are slightly beyond my abilities, well, I’ll never apologize about being an ambitious writer. :-D

I hope this post encourages some of you to take chances.

Read outside your comfort zone. Push yourself as a writer. Have fun!

Anyone have any questions about transitions? Has anyone read any transition passages recently that made you smile, laugh, cry, or think? Any that were unusual, unique, or particularly creative? Lemme know in the comments!


#Writing: The Elements of Southern Gothic Romance (and TWO #Giveaways for Readers)

THE ELEMENTS OF SOUTHERN GOTHIC ROMANCE

The popularity of Southern Gothic Romance ebbs and flows but its continued existence and entertainment value is never in doubt. Why? Because this is a subgenre with a potent mix of dramatic ingredients. In honor of the recently-released-stateside Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance (which includes my novelette “Dream, Interrupted”), here’s my list of What It Takes To Be “SoGoRom”:

Mandatory

Set in the South: exact geographic boundaries are debatable so, to be safe, stick with one of the five “Deep South” states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, or South Carolina.

Romance: perhaps an even more hotly contested definition than what states should be considered southern is what “romance” is, especially when the element is not a central part of the story (RWA, I’m looking at you).

Gothic: even trickier to define than romance. Gothic fiction has been around for centuries.

Gothic novels were labeled as such because their “imaginative impulse was drawn from medieval buildings and ruins, such novels commonly used such settings as castles or monasteries equipped with subterranean passages, dark battlements, hidden panels, and trapdoors.” – Encyclopedia Britannica

But gothic fiction is more than just a story set in an old building. Notable authors who wrote gothic fiction include Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker, Edgar Allen Poe, and Nathanial Hawthorn.

Strongly Advised

The Aforementioned Old Building: Encyclopedia Britannica doesn’t lie. It all starts with the setting. For SoGoRom that means, in addition to a Deep South state, you gotta set your story in a castle, an old manor house, a crumbling mansion, or the like.

Supernatural Creatures and/or Characters: Ghosts, witches, vampires, zombies (a la Frankenstein’s monster)… If there’s magic, it has its own feel; more magical realism than sorcery.

Graveyards: the older and creepier the better, even if you don’t think real graveyards are such. Mausoleums, memorial sculptures, and cemetery statutes too.

A Sense of Menace and/or Isolation: ofttimes there is a darkly handsome, potentially sinister man and a young, vulnerable woman. (The man usually has a hidden vulnerability and the woman inner steely grit).

Atmospheric: Related to the sense of menace but includes the entire “southern creepfest” milieu.

A Mystery: the reader doesn’t really know what’s going on. Not necessarily a whodunit, but something is amiss and part of the reason readers keep reading is to figure out what’s going on.

Eccentricity or Even Outright Insanity: Nearly everyone in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Bertha Mason from Jane Eyre. Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca. The Narrator from Tell Tale Heart.

Southern Drawl: Yeah, it’s hard to get this right if you’re not actually from the south, but it’s hard to take a southern story seriously if there’s not even a nod to this.

Optional

  • Spanish moss
  • Oak trees
  • Magnolias
  • Antebellum anything
  • Alligators
  • Wrought iron
  • A curse
  • A tragedy
  • Voodoo or folk magic
  • Dreams, portents, or omens
  • A swamp, bayou, or other body of water
  • Endless rain, heat, and humidity (a.k.a. “steaminess” – in the weather sense :-) )
  • Parasols
  • Gowns
  • Southern drinks and food (e.g. biscuits and gravy, fried green tomatoes, mint juleps, sweet tea)

Did I get the mix of elements right in my novelette “Dream, Interrupted”? I’m not sure (which is acknowledged in the story itself).

But you know what the most important ingredient is? Having fun. So if you can twist these elements in a unique way that’s fun for you – do that.

Interested in reading more about southern gothic fiction?

More About the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance

gothic romance, dark fantasy

Set in a lush, steamy world of ceaseless rain, swamps, alligators, overgrown cemeteries, and home-grown magic, these are dark and scary, yet pleasurably thrilling stories that unfold sinister secrets at every turn. These paranormal, suspenseful Southern Gothic romances are by both bestselling authors and bright up-and-coming talents, including Erin Kellison; Jessa Slade; Laurie London; Shelli Stevens; Coreene Callahan; Bec McMaster; Jill Archer; Elle Jasper; Angie Fox; Kait Ballenger; Tiffany Trent; Michele Bardsley; Sonya Bateman; Shiloh Walker/JC Daniels; JD Horn; Dianne Sylvan.

BUY LINKS:

More About Dream, Interrupted

What if your snoring really did wake up the dead?

When Corelei Neverest ends up at a sleep disorder clinic, she’s searching for a cure for Apnea Anima, a rare sleep condition that occurs when a person’s snoring wakes the dead. But after countless therapy-filled days and terror-filled nights, Corelei’s almost ready to call it quits when an old crush shows up.

Alluring, irresistible, and beguiling, Caradoc Ambrose has had his eye on Corelei for years. When he hears Corelei is a resident at the Oneiroi Institute, he can’t resist meeting her at breakfast one morning. They’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship that feels like one big dream, interrupted to Caradoc. He wants a chance to convince Corelei to stay with him, forever.

Approx. 13,500 words, “Dream, Interrupted” is a stand-alone story.

Giveaway No. 1

I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. If you entered my previous MBOSoGoRom giveaway, you are automatically entered for this giveaway. This giveaway is open to international so long as Book Depository ships to your address. If you live in the U.S., I’ll send you a signed copy. The cover will be the one shown in this post. (I’m not sure what happened to the previous cover. I really liked it and it fit my story better, but I’ll admit that the cover pictured in this post in immediately tells readers that most of the stories are set in the Deep South).

To enter to win, comment below, use my contact page to send me a message saying you are interested in winning the book, OR tweet one of these tweets (one entry per person):

I love gothic romance! Win copy of Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance: http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M @archer_jill #gothic #romance

I love dark fantasy! Win copy of Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance: http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M @archer_jill #fantasy #anthology

Does Corelei Neverest really suffer from Apnea Anima? Win Mammoth Book of SoGoRom: http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M @archer_jill #shortstory #mystery

Will Caradoc convince Corelei to stay? Win Mammoth Book of SoGoRom: http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M @archer_jill #fantasy #romance #mystery

Giveaway No. 2

So… my new kitten, Nutmeg, got into one of my boxes of books and chewed the corner of one of my copies of Fiery Edge of Steel. Bummer. But maybe it will be to someone’s benefit. I’m giving this slightly damaged copy away (U.S. only). I’ll sign it (or, if you wish, I’ll sign it on behalf of Nutmeg — kind of funny since cats were a big motif in the book :-) ).

Nutmerg-Gnawed FEOS

BAD KITTY

Fiery Edge of Steel  Final

To enter to win, comment below, use my contact page to send me a message saying you are interested in winning the book, OR tweet one of these tweets (one entry per person):

I love Nutmeg-Gnawed #Books! Win copy of @archer_jill’s Fiery Edge of Steel http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M #fantasy #UF

Virtute non armis fido. Courage over weapons; #cats over sanity.” Win copy of @archer_jill’s Fiery Edge of Steel http://wp.me/p1G39m-25M

Giveaways will be open until midnight EST on January 16, 2015. I’ll announce the winners here by January 23rd.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over. For my official rules for website giveaways, click here.

Now go forth and purchase, tweet, read, write, etc. :-D

Hope everyone is having a great week!

 


So Long 2014: Odds and Ends

In this post: some links and pictures I don’t think I’ve shared here before and a heartfelt BEST WISHES FOR 2015!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

What’s up with the cute little pig? It’s a marzipan pig. My MIL, whose father was from Norway, brought one down for the kids at Christmas. Tradition says you make rice pudding and stick a whole almond in one of the cups. Whoever gets the pudding with the almond gets the marzipan pig. I think marzipan pigs are also given out at New Year’s in Germany for luck (they are a “Glücksbringer” — a bringer of luck).

LINKS

For anyone who missed my Twitter and/or FB posts, here are a few (both old and new) links to some fun Noon Onyx posts:

Sabina’s Adventures in Reading: Back in September, Sabina posted a terrific review of White Heart of Justice.

“I loved every page of White Heart of Justice; from the beginning where you see how feisty Noon has become, how determined she is to not only do the right thing, but also to be able to choose her OWN destiny… [to] the ending… OMG the end of this story… It was amazing, heart breaking, horrifying and joyful… The best book so far… I truly hope we will see more of Noon, her brother Night and everyone else.”

Tote Bags n Blogs: Back in October, I did a fun, little post about Nova and Virtus, Noon and Fara’s awesome buddies from the series. I talk about barghests, share an excerpt, and muse about their first meeting. (Yes, you will get to read about it! :-) )

The Qwillery: Just before Christmas, Tracey/Trinitytwo posted her favorite books of 2014. Honorable mentions included White Heart of Justice. :-D

LAST PITCH OF 2014

Yeah, I’m shameless. But it’s an odds and ends post so why not? If you haven’t yet purchased or reviewed any of the first three books in the Noon Onyx series, what are you waiting for? It’s never too late!

 

Jill Archer's Dark Light of DayDARK LIGHT OF DAY

Jill Archer's Fiery Edge of SteelFIERY EDGE OF STEEL

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artWHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

FOUND/FINAL PHOTOS

National Geo has a fun feature in their print magazine and on Tumblr called “FOUND” where they find and show old photographs from their past. Some have never before been published and some have only had limited exposure. I was trying to think of a fun, EASY way to pull together a last-minute 2014 post and their feature was inspiring. (Not that my collection of photographs is in any way comparable to Nat Geo’s! hahahaha!!)

Below are a bunch of miscellaneous pics from 2014. Mouse over for explanations. Some are personal and have nothing to do with writing. If that’s your content preference, no worries. I’m planning at least three writing related posts for early 2015 that will hopefully be helpful and/or interesting to new writers and readers who like to read about how we craft our stories. In the meantime, enjoy my final-not-at-all-inclusive-or-representative-of-the-year 2014 photo collection.

Times Square Usie Anyone going to be there tonight? HAVE FUN!!

Times Square Usie
Anyone going to be there tonight?
HAVE FUN!!

Everyone, have a fun, safe New Year’s Eve!

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2015!!


BALTIMORE BOOK FEST: My Take (+ pics from my engagement party and rehearsal dinner: remember I said it was my anniversary?)

Two weekends ago, I went to the Baltimore Book Fest. Mostly as an attendee, but also as a panelist. It was a wonderful weekend!

The event was held at the Inner Harbor. In years past, it’s been held in Mount Vernon but the Washington Monument is under construction so the event coordinators thought the harbor would be a better venue.

I think current plans call for the festival’s return to Mount Vernon, a historic neighborhood that is home to the Walters Art Museum, the Peabody Conservatory, and the George Peabody Library (if you haven’t seen pictures, click here! it’s a beautiful library!), but I have to admit that I enjoyed attending the festival at the harbor and wouldn’t mind if future festivals were held there. While the harbor lacks the cultural feel of Mount Vernon, the Inner Harbor offers waterfront views and room to spread out.

There were tons of tents, most of them with books and authors in them. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and Maryland Romance Writers had a tent. Individual authors had tents. Barnes & Noble, indie bookstores, local museums, small presses, and library groups all had tents. It was fun seeing writers I’ve known for years as well as meeting many new ones.

Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.  I'm standing beside MRW's tent with a friend.  Can't you see me waving? ;-)

Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.
I’m standing beside MRW’s tent with a friend.
Can’t you see me waving? ;-)

One of my favorite things was walking around the book festival with my family. My younger daughter was away but my husband and older daughter spent time checking out all the tents and exhibits.

Jack Clemons, a former engineer and team leader of NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, did a “Flags on the Moon” presentation at SFWA’s tent. He talked about each of the missions he was involved with from a perspective neither my husband nor I had heard before, focusing on the U.S. flags that were left behind by the astronauts. It’s hard to overstate how much we enjoyed this talk. Jack mixed in video clips, photographs, and his own personal anecdotes and memories. Watching a History Channel documentary is not at all the same as seeing a live presentation by someone who was actually involved in these missions.

My daughter loved meeting Marissa Meyer. She’s currently reading Cinder for her outside reading assignment. I gave her a stack of YA books to choose from and she read the first few paragraphs of each and choose Meyer’s book about a cyborg Cinderella in part because Meyer establishes immediate sympathy for her protagonist. My daughter had her sign Cinder and Scarlet and even got to play Taboo with her, Charles Gannon, Sarah Pinkster, and Michael Underwood as part of SFWA’s Dangerous Voices Variety Hour.

Marissa Meyer's Cinder

The Dark Fantasy panel was great – a much more intimate setting than NYCC’s genre-benders panel in 2012! We opened by discussing “dark fantasy” and what the heck that term really means. I’m not sure a consensus was reached but it was interesting hearing everyone’s take. I shared my thoughts: basically, that the term dark fantasy can be used as a catchall category for works that otherwise defy categorization. When I hear the term I assume the story will have at least one element that is disturbing, unsettling, provocative, or even violent, and that it may not end happily. Other writers shared their view that dark fantasy, including horror, can be cathartic for both writer and reader. Overall, however, I think the biggest takeaway from the panel was this:

Write for yourself. Yes, genre writers want to be commercial and should pay attention to the market. But chasing trends won’t make you a success. Instead, it will almost always guarantee you fail. Why? Because you’ll never get the timing right for one thing (by the time your work is finished, submitted, bought, and published, the trend will be stale). What’s worse though is that your work won’t be genuine.

Jill Archer, dark fantasy panel, Noon Onyx, Baltimore Book Festival, SFWA

Jill Archer
DARK FANTASY PANEL
Baltimore Book Fest 2014

We didn’t spend a lot of time discussing the market, preferring instead to answer questions about our work or share tips for other writers in the audience, but it’s worth noting here that I’ve been hearing various behind-the-scenes chatter about a decreased interest in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because if UF and/or PNR is your love, then write it. Read it. Trends come and go. If I’ve learned nothing else from my time as a writer, it’s that the most important thing is to be disciplined and stick to your own goals. For writers, it’s not the early bird who wins, it’s the one who hunts for the worms they think are perfect, from sunup to sundown… and then on through the night and into the next day… and so on and so forth.

It was also nice just getting down to the harbor. I used to work there and now I rarely get down there. So it was great having lunch with friends – and going to dinner! I mentioned before that it was our 17th wedding anniversary. (17 years?! Jeez, how did I get to be so old?! :-D )

Saturday night after the Author Meet & Greet, Craig and I cabbed it to Jack’s Bistro in Canton, a waterfront neighborhood to the east of the Inner Harbor. It was tiny and packed but absolutely terrific and just what we were in the mood for. Our waitress was super friendly with all sorts of helpful suggestions. We splurged: apps, wine, ridiculously large entrees, and a dessert.

Since I shared a wedding picture of us for our 15th anniversary, I’ll share two other vintage pics with you for this year: one from our engagement party and one from our rehearsal dinner. Enjoy!

Our engagement party circa 1995. I'm rocking the "young lawyer" look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!

Our engagement party circa 1995. I’m rocking the “young lawyer” look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!

Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997

Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997

Hope everyone’s week is going well! Tomorrow, I have another guest blogger. (She says she doesn’t like to dress up for Halloween! But we’ll forgive her. It’s a great post! :-) )


Baltimore Book Festival: I’m going; are you?

Baltimore Book Festival, fantasy author, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Fest this weekend. Details on my scheduled events are below. The rest of the time, I’ll likely be wandering around, checking out everyone else’s events. If you’re going, it would be great to meet you! Stop by my Friday night panel and/or Saturday’s Meet & Greet. Tell me whether you’re a writer, reader, or both. Let me know if you’re a Noon Onyx fan. Or wish me and my husband (who will be there too) a Happy Anniversary (it’s our 17th!). There will be a limited number of all three Noon Onyx books for sale at the festival — and I’m offering special pricing! If you haven’t yet purchased a Noon Onyx novel, now’s your chance to buy one at a discount and have me sign it. :-D Come on, don’t make me lug my books home from the festival! If you live in the Baltimore/Washington area, help me sell out! (I’m also happy to sign books you’ve previously purchased if you want to bring them.) Hope to see you there!

Friday 9/26/14 6:00-7:00

Writing Dark Fantasy

So you’d like to write dark fantasy, horror fiction, or paranormals, or demons, angels, post-apocalyptic, and genre-bending fiction that puts you on the edge of your seat. Meet with writers of these genres to talk about what’s trending, what publishers are doing, and what tips our panel of authors has to offer.

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jill Archer, Em Garner, John Maclay, Sunny Moraine

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.

Saturday 9/27/14 5:30 -7:00

Reception and Meet & Greet

(Authors, Music, and Food!)

Join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at our reception, autographing session, and Meet and Greet with our program participants at the Baltimore Book Festival.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Jill Archer, Catherine Asaro, Jack Clemons, Brenda Clough, Scott Edelman, Charles Gannon, Ronald Garner, Em Garner, Herb Gilliland, Anne K Gray, Elektra Hammond, Justina Ireland, Jim Johnson, Alma Katsu, Cheryl Klam, L. Jagi Lamplighter, John Maclay, Marrisa Meyer, Sunny Moraine, Christine Norris, Ellen Oh, Sarah Pinsker, Caroline Richmond, Don Sakers, Karen Sandler, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Rori Shay, Alex Shvartsman, Dawnyell Snyder, Bud Sparhawk, John Tilden, Mike Underwood, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde, Ilene Wong, Karlo Yeager

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.


Goodreads #Giveaway and Other News

Hi all– quick post today to share links to two giveaways that end soon and links to a few new reviews:

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

Goodreads Book Giveaway

White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer

White Heart of Justice

by Jill Archer

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

15 print copies (U.S. only)

If you’ve already bought the book and/or added it on Goodreads, please share the link with friends and followers.

Kings River Life

Review and Giveaway

Kings River Life is “a California magazine with local focus and global appeal.” It has a “Fantasy & Fangs” section that reviews fantasy and horror. Their reviewer recently reviewed WHOJ:

“[T]he journey approaches an epic, mythic level, pitting Noon against puzzles and monsters that can’t be defeated by flat-out attacks. The solutions are ingenious, and they help Noon build power in the magic she spent most of her life trying to hide and deny… Archer builds on the classic journey formula where the prize must be won at a cost.” Terrance McArthur for Kings River Life on White Heart of Justice

KRL is giving away one print copy of WHOJ (U.S. only). Giveaway ends tomorrow. Details on how to enter are here.

Other Wonderful Reviews and Reviewers

The Qwillery

“The chronicles of Noon’s journey to accept her place in her world culminates in a thrilling adventure… unpredictable and thoroughly satisfying… inspired and exhilarating… I loved the introduction of new creatures… [and] I love when an author surprises me. Archer raised my level of appreciation by catching me unawares.” Trinitytwo, reviewer for The Qwillery, on White Heart of Justice

 That’s What I’m Talking About

“[T]he overall story arc… was gripping and intriguing… [Noon’s] growth over the course of these books is immense and heartfelt… If you are looking for something different – this alternate realty where the apocalypse has occurred and the demons won – you should really think about picking up the first book, Dark Light of Day and enjoy the journey.” Gikany & Una at That’s What I’m Talking About on White Heart of Justice

 Proud Nerd Book Reviews

“Archer does an excellent job of constructing and explaining the magical system in her world… the “law school” angle is intriguing… The fantasy elements in the story, especially magic and the demons, work extremely well… Anyone who reads fantasy, romance, or especially a combination of the two should thoroughly enjoy Noon’s adventures.” Matthew Cirilli for Proud Nerd Book Reviews on Dark Light of Day

“While Dark Light of Day focused on Noon’s myriad struggles coming to terms with her waning magic and her new life at St. Lucifer’s Law School, Fiery Edge of Steel sweeps Noon to the edges of New Babylonian civilization into the unknown… One of Jill Archer’s greatest strengths is her ability to create unique and intriguing creatures and characters to populate Halja.” Matthew Cirilli for Proud Nerd Book Reviews on Fiery Edge of Steel

Thank you to each of these reviewers for their interest and support! I’m grateful to them for taking the time to read the books, write such thorough and thoughtful reviews, and for sending me the links so that I can share them with you. If you aren’t already following them, please check out their sites.

Readers: I’m also incredibly grateful for your interest, support, ratings, and reviews. If you’ve read White Heart of Justice but haven’t yet posted a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, GoodreadsPowell’s Books, or wherever you hang out online, please consider adding your thoughts and comments! :-D

Best wishes for a terrific weekend, everyone!


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