What do you look for in a book?

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A portion of my own book collection.

Everyone chooses books for different reasons. It might be that they only read one genre, or prefer dialogue to action, or vice versa. There are many ways to choose a book.

I start with my genres when I’m looking at a book. Being that I work in a bookstore, I’m subject to all sorts of books every day, and I like to think that I read a variety of things, but I still always look for a few certain things to begin with. My favourite genre is fiction, and to break it down, I prefer epic and high fantasy, and historical fiction. Despite the old adage, I do judge a book by its cover, because a cover is like the face of a person: it doesn’t tell you much about the inside, but it helps you choose whether or not you want to keep going. If that makes me terribly shallow, so be it. I have found many books with terrible covers that are decent reads – but I have also found many terrible books with terrible covers that should have warned me. Again, working in a bookstore gives me access to this every day.

I love epic dialogue. Characters who can have banter and arguments back and forth, and build relationships that way. That being said, I do really love action and description. Purple prose isn’t something that’s really enticed me, because it’s so exhausting to read after a while, but I do appreciate colourful settings and thoughtful descriptions. Descriptions help make a character and a story, and a combination of dialogue and description is what really does it for me. If I had to choose, I would probably pick dialogue over description, though, being that I do more of that myself.

I look for strong female characters who don’t behave like childish idiots, and history that has been properly researched. Fantasy that is believable, despite being just that – fantasy. I really dislike most urban fantasy, despite PURITY being technically classed as urban fantasy. If a book has a sassy-looking woman on the cover wearing pleather and holding a sword, I won’t give the book the time of day. It might be the book that changes my life, and I’ll never know. It just looks so silly to me that I can’t even stomach it.

And it probably goes without saying, but I won’t read a book if it isn’t well written. When Fifty Shades of Grey was hot shit last year, many of my friends and family insisted I read it. I wouldn’t, and not because it was filthy erotica, but because I heard it was terribly written. I am a fan of the Game of Thrones HBO show on tv, and upon the urging of a friend I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire books. I seriously dislike Martin’s writing style. I know it’s terrible to like the show more than the books, but oh my god. I’m love the overall story, but the minute and useless details and rambling idiocy and text walls and flashbacks make me want to slit my throat. It’s taken me half a year to read two and a half of the books, and I can read faster than most.

Historical fiction that’s well done, epic fantasy, bold dialogue and beautiful descriptions, and an understanding of good writing. Pretty straightforward, actually.

So how does a book jump off the shelf for you?

The conundrum of being a writer

WRITER’S BLOCK.

There. I said it. And what a phrase it is.

Two simple words shouldn’t be so terrifying. But they are. They really are.

Whenever I want to sit down and write, I’m at a place where I can’t – namely, at work. And vice versa: whenever I have time to sit down and write, I’m unable to do much more than gawk at my computer screen or get wholly distracted by imgur or the newfangled television James set up in my bedroom. Even as I write this post, I’m getting distracted by the Tudors.

Like, three days distracted. I’m sick.

But the thing is, distraction is the only cure. If you sit there and stare at the cursor, waiting for something to happen and damning your brain for suddenly being a sack of shit, nothing will ever come to you. Distraction is the only means.

My best time for inspiration is Tuesdays and Wednesdays at work. Why, you might ask? Well, I might answer, because that is the day the LMPI – import – magazines arrive at the store, and the day I do nothing but sit in the back and price and receive. It’s monotonous and distracting, and because of it my house is littered with handwritten notes for full write-up at a later date.

I’m weathering a bit of a slump right now. It isn’t terrible, and I am powering through it, but it’s a challenge. After not touching ABOMINATION for a while and only working on OF THE ARBOUR, I’ve pretty much switched places, only I’m trudging on the former and now flying through it as I did with OF THE ARBOUR.

Ah, the life of a writer is a troubled one.

What does everyone else do to power through writer’s block?

A new year

Happy New Year!

The fourteenth year of the new millennium is upon us. Just when I started getting used to writing 2013 on things, too.

2013 was an interesting year for me. It had plenty of highlights – some good, and some bad.

I hope 2014 will be as eventful, if not more.

    • I hope to publish CHANGELING, my one true love of fantasy novels.
    • I’ve made a pact to go to the gym, which I can see going fairly well. The main reason I never went before was because I had no one to go with, but I have two friends in said pact this time.
    • I’ll, in all likelihood, have to move again – but this time to live with the aforementioned love of my life.
    • And also get a cat.
    • And maybe blog properly, because my current schedule is shit and should maybe be managed better.

How has 2013 shaped up for everyone else? The general consensus that I have seen was that it was a mediocre year – but together we can make 2014 amazing.

Happy New Year, everybody!

for auld lang syne, my dear
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet
for auld lang syne!

The finale: Of the Arbour teaser

His palms were sweating, and he doubted it had anything to do with the fact that it was already so hot out despite being early in the summer. For the hundredth time in a minute, he wiped his hands on his pants and wished he could scratch the sweat off his scalp.

The professors were still assembling themselves in front of the crowd that stood before the great wooden doors of the Arbour. Clenching his teeth, Sage stole a furtive glance through the little crowd. He couldn’t see Briar in the sea of combed hair and solemn faces, but he spotted Ash further down the line, looking as stoic as ever.

Behind the professors stood the rest of the Arbour’s body. Kell was easily visible despite the number, standing high above the others as the sun caught her hair and turned it to fire. And though he couldn’t see her, somewhere in that mass of people was Arcana.

Murmurs brought his attention back to the line of professors. They seemed to have finally organized themselves into a neat line, squinting against the sunlight. The grandmaster stood at their centre, wearing the same frown he always did despite the delighted atmosphere thick around the two groups of students. It was a joyful day, from the mood to the blue sky and sunlight, but one would never be able to tell by looking at the grandmaster’s sour expression. Sage wondered if the old man was capable of a truly genuine smile, or if he had long ago lost the ability.

“Children,” the grandmaster called, and it seemed as though even the birds quieted to hear his words.

The sweat burst out on Sage’s palms with renewed vigour. Part of him was still unable to wrap his head around this. He had made it. He had survived fifteen years of brutal training to become one of the most renowned and elite warriors in the known world. Continue reading

Updates, because I suck

I’ve been really bad at keeping this updated in recent weeks – hell, in recent months, even. My real life has been crazy, and trying to keep up with it is a battle. So here are some idle updates, and I promise I’ll do more teasers or something soon. Maybe a book giveaway. Been pondering that one for some time.

The Of the Arbour rewrite is at ~45 000 words. Sage has left the Arbour and is starting is life as a mercenary, and pretends to be Sage of Courton so nobody knows he’s from the Arbour.

Abomination is at ~150 000 words. I’ve been a bit nonfunctional with her lately because, I think, I’ve been so caught up in OtArb. But otherwise, she’s progressing nicely.

I’m dragging my ass and haven’t processed my ISBNs yet, even though I was assigned some. Working on it.

I’ve passed the point of season 3 in a Storm of Swords. I’ve learned to bear GRRM’s writing style, as I found it terribly grating when I first started reading the books. I can’t imagine I’ll ever do reviews of these, because I’m biased by the show, but eh, never say never.

So I guess that’s that. Woo.

Dark dreams: Of the Arbour teaser

Letting out a long sigh, he shut his eyes.

And opened them again a moment later when a cool hand touched his face. It took a moment for his vision to adjust, but the infirmary seemed much darker than it had only a moment ago. The beds were all empty and though the candles were lit, the room was swallowed in darkness.

The hand that cupped his cheek was joined by another, and a shadow loomed over him.

Sage squinted through the darkness, but the shadow remained veiled. “Who are you?” he asked.

One hand lifted and fingers combed through his hair. How you look like him, a soft voice whispered. I wish he could see you now.

Sage glanced down at the hands that touched him. Long and slender, with creamy skin marred only by calluses from long years of labour. “Maybe he will see me one day,” he suggested, if only to comfort the shadow. It seemed so terribly sad; he didn’t want it to suffer.

It gave an unhappy sigh and once more cupped his face in both hands. You deserve to know what happened. You deserve to know the truth. Bastard, they call you. Orphan. They are cruel words spoken by cruel children who do not know the truth. You will do great things some day, my son. I know you will. I have always known. You are the sunshine of my life.

The hands slipped away, and the shadow faded into darkness.

Sage jerked forward and reached after it. “Wait! Please, don’t go!”

His words were greeted with silence.

He gave it another moment, then flung the blankets off his bed. He had to find the woman behind the shadow. He didn’t know what was driving him, but he had no choice.

His injured leg bothered him little as he stood and padded across the room. There was no sign of the woman who had spoken. It was as if she had disappeared from the infirmary entirely.

Well, no matter.

Moving slowly so his steps made little noise on the stone floor, he wandered across the length of the room to the door leading out to the rest of the Arbour. The handle was icy when his palm touched it. He winced and pulled his hand back, and listened at the door instead. Silence rang from the other side.

Gritting his teeth, he opened the door and stepped into the bitter cold.

He was no longer in the Arbour. Continue reading

Release… the PURITY!

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The time has come—

Purity is upon us!

Caitlyn is a bright, headstrong girl with a twisted past she unconsciously smothers into lost memories. When she is only eleven, she is kidnapped by her father’s business rival in hopes of giving up much-needed information. Refusing to talk – and knowing nothing of use – she is placed in the Silver Room, a desperate man’s sinister torture chamber, where she meets the monsters who inhabit her nightmares. 

A lifetime later, on an innocent summer vacation to her paternal relatives in Romania’s notorious province Transylvania, these memories return in a flood when she meets strangers with an aversion to sunlight and bloodstained smiles. 

As prisoner to a condemned prince, Caitlyn becomes privy to an underground world where myth and nightmare are all too real, and where at every turn, a new threat emerges. 

With dogs waging war and men bent on bloodshed, Caitlyn must team up with the unlikeliest of people to save what is theirs, while standing on the precipice of destruction.

Are vampires your thing? Werewolves? Dark magic, mythology, and a world only dreamed of? Heroines out of their element, brooding heroes, and allies who toe the line; blood and bones and an internal struggle; business and politics, scheming and plotting – Purity has all this and more.

 PURITY is now available for sale on Amazon, for a scant $4.99

Postscript: Final formatting for Apple Books, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble will happen over the weekend, and she will be for sale in those places sometime next week. Keep your eyes peeled for further updates!

I’m so excited I can barely function right now 😀

The countdown to Purity

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OCTOBER 25, 2013

 

A friendly reminder to all that it is only 3 days until Purity is released on Amazon. Once it’s prepared for release on Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords, I’ll let out another announcement. Friday is the day, people. We’re coming up quick 🙂

Happy anniversary!

I missed it. Like some kind of forgetful man.

Yesterday was my second anniversary blogging here. How time flies when you’re having fun, right?

In writing news, Purity is just finishing up the very last dredges of editing and will be published at the end of the month, as per my last post. Abomination is just about 150 000 words in, and aside from a writer’s block I’m currently weathering, still going strong. I planned out the next few chapters (which is terribly rare for me) and it looks as though it’s going to very easily overcome Changeling’s 180 000+ word count that being said, Changeling could have easily gone longer, but I thought I should probably end it at some point. The Of the Arbour rewrite is about 17 000 words in and things are really kicking off. So things are happening, albeit a little slowly. Purity is my first priority right now, naturally.

What better way to celebrate an anniversary than with a publication?

Knowing when you’ve made it as an author

It isn’t when you start making an actual profit on your books, or even your own satisfaction with your writing and your plot.

You know when you’ve made it as an author when a reader feels genuine emotion for your story.

It has to be for your story and characters, too – emotion felt for their plight, because they’re unhappy with a character’s behaviour or thrilled when something finally goes their way. When I feel intense hatred reading Twilight, that isn’t a compliment to Meyer’s work at all – it’s the exact opposite, because I have no respect or enjoyment from the way she writes or her listless characters.

You have made it as an author when a reader weeps over the death of a favourite minor character. When a reader forgets to eat or sleep because they have to know what the hero will do next.

I have experienced this kind of thrill and joy as an author several times, but several rather notable times in the past.

I got my friend Bethany to read Of the Arbour and its sequel, Of the Arena, when I was first writing them. As she was in the midst of the sequel, I accidentally let it slip that one of the minor characters dies. This minor character happened to be her favourite. She was so upset with me she had to put the story down and hasn’t touched it since which actually works out okay since I’m rewriting it anyways.

More recently, my friend Lexi started reading Changeling. When she finished, I printed off a short story collection, The Time Between, that takes place between Changeling and its sequel, Abomination. She was so upset with the behaviour of one of the main characters, one usually charming and endearing who turned into a bit of a brute, that she almost phoned me to chew me out. Rather than do that, she stifled her rage until we met up at work the next day.

This very day, too, she read a defining chapter in Abomination that upset her. I hadn’t planned this chapter – I don’t really plan anything except major plot points though I guess this counts as one, technically, and the characters just sort of started acting this sequence out. It is a rather heartbreaking chapter, I’ll admit – and I even hesitated to put it in the book in the first place. But I decided that keeping it would allow for a sweeter, happier ending, so it remained.

Lexi read the chapter on her break today. I was putting out magazines when she finished. She found me, crouched down, picked up an ad slip that fell out of a magazine, crumpled it up, and threw it at me.

Don’t get me wrong – there is more to my stories than sadness. The happy stuff gets them too, but the things that upset readers seem to really stick out to me. I’m terribly attached to my characters, and I love it when others are, as well.

Despite the fact that both Bethany and Lexi were upset with me, I feel like I’ve accomplished something great, here. They were both so attached to the characters that when they did something decidedly out of character – or died – it genuinely touched them.

To me, that feeling is more important than any amount of money I might make.