Tag Archives: fantasy

Book Release: A Fading Amaranth by Shauna Aura Knight

To make this clear: This is not my book that’s being released. Shauna’s new novel, A Fading Amaranth, is out in e-book with a print release to follow. I haven’t even actually read the book yet — but I have read portions of it, and I have read her other fiction, and I am so excited about this I cant stand it. I have a small number of obligatory reads to get through first, but this baby has mode to the top of my list once that’s done because, you know, vampires. *rubs hands gleefully*

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From the blurb: Nathaniel’s been a vampire long enough to grow weary of glamoured seduction, and he’s lost his poetic muse. He meets reclusive artist Alexandra—her telepathy has overwhelmed her for years, and she can bear no one’s touch. However, she can’t hear Nathaniel’s thoughts, and she’s immune to his vampire glamour. During scorching nights together, they rediscover their passion for life.

When a Faerie creature stalks Alexandra, the lovers find themselves snared in a paranormal battle alongside Chicago’s mage guardians. Worse, Nathan’s rising bloodlust places Alexandra in danger. Will she master her abilities before going insane? What will they risk to be together?

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Look, if you haven’t checked out Shauna’s fiction by now (what’s wrong with you?) that’s okay, you can fix that. As an author, her world building is detailed, lush, believable, and fits the stories she’s telling. I love when writers manage to make the world around as much a player in the story as the characters are. Alexandra and Nathan are interesting, intriguing people, and I love seeing them interacting together . .. and, you know, ‘interacting’ together. Because, be advised, Shauna’s stories run hot, if you know what I’m sayin’. I am so looking forward to diving into this book!

The Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker — a review

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Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin, is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

Thus kicks off a seven book series (with an assortment of ‘in between’ shorts and an eighth book that’s related) which follows Amaranthe, Sicarius, and an assortment of unlikely companions as they do their best for emperor and country . . . and if doing their best results less in reward and more in bounties on their heads, surely that’s just misunderstandings, right?

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I am so happy to have discovered Lindsay Buroker’s writing. I came across her work first in the Nine By Night bundle, which contained the first book in her Rust and Relic series. I snagged Emperor’s Edge in December, after reading the available Rust and Relic books, because I needed more of her writing; I was expecting to enjoy this series. I wasn’t expecting it to become my favorite of her work thus far. Lindsay handles a wide cast of characters with seeming ease. While Amaranthe and Sicarius are the main main characters, the rest of the team gets a decent amount of screen time, and the chemistry between them all is believable. Her mastery of pacing and tension is a delight to read, and she weaves connections between the characters with a skilled hand. I cannot, cannot recommend this series highly enough. What do you have to lose? The first book is available for free, still, so you may want to hop on that.

Mistwalker — Saundra Mitchell — a review

Oh, this book. This book, y’all.

I don’t go browsing shelves that much these days, preferring to do my browsing in the comfort of my home, but there’s something to be said for ducking in and checking out physical shelves now and again. It’s an engagement of chance, of happenstance, and sometimes the best discoveries are made this way.

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Saundra Mitchell’s Mistwalker is one of those best discoveries.

First things first: sometimes covers really do their job well. Catchy, somewhat spooky title? Young woman staring up at a fog-enshrouded light house? Yeah, that alone is enough to rope me in. But then, oh, then, the blurb:

When Willa Dixon’s brother dies on the family lobster boat, her father forbids Willa from stepping foot on deck again. With her family suffering, she’ll do anything to help out—even visit the Grey Man. Everyone in her small Maine town knows of this legendary spirit who haunts the lighthouse, controlling the fog and the fate of any vessel within his reach. But what Willa finds in the lighthouse isn’t a spirit at all, but a young man trapped inside until he collects one thousand souls. Desperate to escape his cursed existence, Grey tries to seduce Willa to take his place. With her life on land in shambles, will she sacrifice herself?

Is this not the perfect book for me to want to read? Why, yes, yes it is, please let me devour that, thanks.

This is a heart-breaking story, and from page one I was with Willa as she struggled to deal with the grief of having lost her younger brother. Worse, to feel responsible for his death, Willa has a weight dragging at her that she cannot shake lose. All around her family and friends are continuing with their lives, but she watches the ramifications of a tragedy  which she’s put in place, and she knows — she knows — that it’s all her fault. Her heart longs for the comfort of the sea, to be out on the open water, to escape from this hell that her whole world has become, and in this yearning, she becomes someone the Grey Man can reach out to. She is pulled, more and more, to the haunted light house that stands sentinel over her island home.

The Grey Man — or, Grey, as we come to know him — was not always the monster he is now. He was not always a prisoner of this curse that chains him by a sea he despised during his lifetime. No, once he was a foolish man who made a foolish promise, and now he’s caught, forced to capture a thousand souls or forever remain trapped in the light house, alone, not dead, but not alive. That is, unless he can get someone to take his place . . .

Mistwalker is romantic, not so much in the ‘will they jump each other’s bones?’ sort of way, but in the classical, tense-ridden, yearning for so much more than just physical contact sort of way. It is a dance between freedom and enslavement, a dance between right and wrong, between the mystical, the magickal, the unseen, and the very, very mundane. It’s a story filled with the superstitions of the sea, the history of people living life at the sea’s mercy, of human courage and human failings. This is a beautiful book written by an author who has a mastery of setting. I’ve longed for the east coast, during the reading of this book, like I haven’t in quite a while. I did not just read about a small fishing town in Maine. Mistwalker picked me up, transplanted me, and stuck me down by the docks while I watched this story unfold. I loved this book. I can’t wait to gobble up the rest of  her books — though I suspect this one shall remain my favorite.

 

 

Chapter Three will be going out in a couple of days! Also, some babble.

Just a reminder on that! Remember, if you’re interested in signing up and getting the previous two chapters, you can! Just leave a note when you’re paying and I’ll send those along, too.

Remember how I said I’d be curtailing my social media presence in February in order to buckle down? Remember how I said I really wanted to meet my (albeit self-imposed) deadlines? Remember how I’ve talked about realistic goals, and knowing thyself, and all that crap?

Yeah.

So, to recap: going in to 2015 I recommitted to Writing All The Things. All the things in this case was: get the Marriage trio (need a serial name!) written (three books, roughly 50k each), using the 1st which is halfway done as the Story Subscription to give myself cushion to finish it, and get going on the next two. I also wanted to get Poseidon: A Narrative print ready. And I wanted to maybe find some time to write some short stories. Full time job, part time job at Fiberwytch, and the Story Subscription alone is a part time job, too. (An AWESOME part time job. My favorite job right now.) To that I wanted to add a second full time job, writing.

And maybe that was do-able. Maybe it still is. I’ve failed at my mini-goals, my deadline to get the first book’s rough draft done by the end of February, but the big goals for the year are still attainable . . .

Except, I’ve opted to participate in the Pagan Experience blog project this year, and I’m enjoying it, and I want to keep doing it. Beth and I have made significant headway into a book we’re writing together which, tragically, has required some research done and extra, unanticipated reading *cough*.

So, on the one hand, I failed at my mini-goal to have A Marriage of Land and Sea completed by tomorrow, but on the other had, I have met my word-count goals. I’ve also remembered something really important:

I hate writing every day on the same project. Deciding I’m going to write at NaNo pacing for the whole of the year on one project is worse than silly — it’s ignoring what I know about myself, my writing habits, what works for me, what doesn’t, and it’s making sure I fail before I’m even out of the gate.

What works for me? While I’m working full time at a day job, having some evenings home when I can veg out, knit, or read works for me, so it’s important that I have two days set aside to get large amounts of writing done. Having a goal of 10k for two days is a tad on the high side. 8-9k seems more sustainable. Part of the joy of working for yourself is making your own schedule, right? Who says you have to spread your work out over a whole week? Writing 1-2k a day on something 4-5 days a week bores me to tears, and by week two I just don’t want to see it anymore. Why set myself up to not want to write? I love writing.

Not over-committing myself works for me, too. This is frustrating, because I want to get more wordage out this year, I want to see a few projects through to completion, and I love fiction writing. I don’t have a huge blog following, and I’m not looking to becoming a blogger-name, but I’m owning up to the fact that writing blog posts count as writing and, more to the point for me right now, I really like writing nonfiction, tooWriting theological, spiritual, or even mundane nonfiction helps me internalize, reflect, and grow. It makes sure that I’m not just sitting and not engaging. It’s important, as important to my well being as writing fiction is. So committing myself to nothing but fiction? Not a good idea. I’m glad I committed to the Pagan Experience. Part of me knew this, because as soon as I said, Fiction Year! I came across the project and jumped in. There was some internal scramble to help me save myself from myself.

So, to re-prioritize these goals. I want to have A Marriage of Land and Sea done by the end of April. If I give myself one day a week to work on that and one day a week to work on the non-fiction book, I’ll be happy. (I suspect). And, obviously, I can tweak that as needed. But deciding at the start of the month that i’m going to write every day, 4-5 days a week, on a project? Psychs me into being tired of that topic before I even start. I suppose I could muddle through it and sacrifice the enjoyment I get in writing, in letting the next chapter or next scene steep in my mind for days until I sit down and let it go like a flood released from a dam, just so I can say I have discipline . . . but why? I don’t want discipline beyond upping my wordage and producing material. How that looks day to day doesn’t matter so much, and I’d rather be disciplined in knowing what my strengths are and then working with them, rather than against.

I have, over the course of last year, thanks to Beth and also to Shauna, admitted that writing nonfiction still counts as writing, even when it’s my own writing.  This year? This year I need to admit that I do know my strengths and it’s time to work with them toward my goals. I’m standing in my own way. Again. MOVE, Jo.

(I also need to stop deciding that easing off FB browsing will mean I can’t interact with people I only interact with on FB, or mostly on FB. Once I said I’d be backing away to focus on the writing. I was all I MISS YOU!!!!! and on even more. Feh.)

 

Story Subscription has gone out!

If you’re signed up for my Story Subscription, chapter two of A Marriage of Land and Sea ought to have landed in your inbox by now. It left late, and my apologies about that. I knew February was coming, I knew the end of January was in sight, and I still . . . just . . . I don’t know what happened.

Now that February is here I’m going to be tucking in to the writing, as I’ve got deadlines looming that i’m not quite ready to face. I hope everyone has a good month, and I’ll see you again in March!

Chapter Two will be hitting inboxes in a couple of weeks!

Just a reminder that the second chapter in A Marriage of Land and Sea will be going live on February 1st! If you signed up and didn’t receive your first chapter, I hope you’ll let me know. I did switch to a different email account for this, and there were a few (operator caused) snafus in the process. (My apologies!)

If you missed chapter one, it’s not too late! Just send along a request as well as your preferred format with your payment choice, and I’ll send that out to you within 24hrs. Also — and this is for chapter one only at this point — if you’re signing up for chapter two and you’ve got a friend who you think might be interested, send their email and preferred format along and I’ll send them out chapter one, at no cost to you or them! My thanks for your contribution already and, yes, a desire to get my work to more people! (I’ll be honest: currently staring yet another big vet bill in the face, and I don’t like the looks its giving me.)

Spread the word, talk my writing up, get to send a sample chapter to a friend! And, of course, have my gratitude, because you already do.

Poseidon: a Narrative, excerpt

(in part just to keep this on the frontmost of my back-burners. This editing project is my dangling carrot to get through the trilogy, lemme tell you)

I knew I was being watched as I stood, dripping sea water and shivering in the night. It felt so bizarre, to be in air rather than water. My limbs felt heavy, and my muscles quivered from the effort standing took. My skin was over-sensitive. Maybe that’s why the weight of her regard felt so . . . prickly. I found her standing up the shore, her back pressed to the cliffs, her features cast in darkness. I stood, and I’ll admit, I was confused. The need to leave the watery depths faded like the ghost of a memory now that I was on dry ground, and I wanted to simply turn and dive once more. Why should I leave the ocean that cradled me? Why should I stand upon land, exposed, when I could be submerged, when water could fill my ears, my mouth, my nose with its low sounds and briny taste? In my time below I’d known stillness, I’d known calm, I’d known solitude the likes of which I’d never experienced before. What care did I have in this world?

Still, I stood, waiting. Something held me in place. Perhaps it was as simple a thing as her regard. Unlike with Hekate, this woman felt . . . akin to me, in some way. We had yet to exchange greetings; I could barely see her, but there was something about her that Meliboea lacked, something that Hekate could never hope to match, something familiar and compelling. Something that held me still while she approached.

The shadows slid from around her like veils, parting in her advance as though they were clouds and she was the sun whose luminescence could not be contained. The very night seemed to rearrange itself so that it was an adornment for her, rather than the atmosphere around us. Vision was not a problem – by the time she paused in her advance I could see her clearly. Plant life clung to her form in a riot of greens, yellows, blues, and golds. Moss framed her face and provided a second layer of covering beneath the vines and flowers that created the embroidery. She wore moss, lichen, and plants around her as though they were fabric. More plants twined through her hair. I saw eyes peeking out from under her locks that did not belong to her, but she did not seem bothered by them.

“The ocean suits you,” she said in lieu of a greeting.

Her voice. I closed my eyes to savor the sound of her voice, the power in her voice, the promise . . .

I hadn’t intended to kneel. My knees hit the sand, and I fell forward, awash in . . . I still, still have no words for what I experienced. Around us the whole world went still. I knew the solitude that I’d experienced in the seas for the lie it was, the quiet, the peace – they were nothing compared to what she could provide. Everything ceased to be, ceased to matter, as I knelt before this woman dressed in earth.