fiction

It’s Giveaway Time!

As I was going through my books after all the outdoor events I did in July, I discovered a few that didn’t quite survive the rain and constant transportation. A few water stains and crinkles pages here, a folded cover there. These books are no longer pretty enough to be sold for full price, but is that any reason to cast them to the curb? NO! So I’m giving them away! Over the next couple of months, keep your eye here, on my newsletter, or on my Facebook page to see what books are up for grabs. While open, click the link to head to the Rafflecopter giveaway
This month: enter to win a signed copy of Evensong, book 1 of the Meratis Trilogy! If you haven’t already, dive into Andvell, a world of magic, dragons, and characters who will capture your heart.

After you’ve entered, head on over to my Facebook page and share your “shelfie” in the comments of the giveaway post!

The winner will be chosen on August 23. Good luck!

Advertisements

Book Release: Death at Peony House

The ghosts of Peony House have awoken, and you can finally find out why – Death at Peony House is officially available on Amazon!

peony_promoThis urban fantasy with a mystery twist follows the story of Daphne Heartstone, the sorceress and journalist first introduced in The Invisible Entente prequel novella that was released last month.

Eight months later, one of the most powerful sorceresses of her bloodline is now wary of her own magic. Losing herself to her power would bring Daphne back to the dark path she once walked, breaking promises to her family, and taking away her chance to build a solid life for herself.

But, of course, the best laid plans rarely happen as we want them to. One night, on a tip, Daphne heads to Peony House to dig up the next morning’s headline. Unfortunately, she finds herself facing the shadows of her past and has to find out whether she’s strong enough to stare through them without getting sucked back in.

Death at Peony House is available for $3.99 (less than a speciality coffee!) or free through Kindle Unlimited!

Grab your copy today

 

Grab a Free Novella

To celebrate DEATH AT PEONY HOUSE’s book birthday tomorrow, I’m trying to get as many people as possible to start right at the beginning.

To achieve that end, THE INVISIBLE ENTENTE prequel novella is FREE to download on Amazon until September 22.

entente_promo“If you’re reading this note, I’m already dead.  I find even more pleasure in the idea that one of you will soon join me.”

At the precise moment of warlock Jermaine Hershel’s death, seven strangers are transported into a magically sealed room with only a letter from the dead man to explain. If they want to go home, the way out is simple: discover the murderer — and kill them. Tensions rise as each stranger reveals their connection with Jermaine, but the puzzle isn’t so easy to solve. At least one of them is lying. In an unlikely alliance, they have to act quickly to unravel the mystery before the murderer acts first.

This 130-page locked-room urban fantasy mystery introduces you to the team of unlikely and reluctant heroes that make up The Invisible Entente.

Spread the word, grab your copy, and step into a version of our world where even the smallest coincidence might be a part of  greater, growing pattern.

Once you’ve finished, come join the party! Every birthday needs a celebration, and book releases are no different.

Tomorrow, from 4pm – 10pm EST, I’ll be hosting the Facebook launch party. Choose your favourite snacks and chat with a fantastic group of authors and have a chance to win some great swag. Hope to see you there!

The Invisible Entente has come to play

As I continue to my spontaneous BLOG POSTS ABOUT EVERYTHING streak, I figured I might as well take the time to blog about my new book release. Because, y’know, I have one. S’cool. No biggie.

NO! WAIT! DON’T WALK AWAY! I’m actually REALLY EXCITED about this book release, because it marks my first steps into official urban fantasy. I’ve played with the genre in private for years, but I’ve finally worked up the courage to slip into a non-epic genre and build castles in a new sandbox.

entente_promo

“If you’re reading this note, I’m already dead.  I find even more pleasure in the idea that one of you will soon join me.”

At the precise moment of warlock Jermaine Hershel’s death, seven strangers are transported into a magically sealed room with only a letter from the dead man to explain.

If they want to go home, the way out is simple: discover the murderer — and kill them.

Tensions rise as each stranger reveals their connection with Jermaine, but the puzzle isn’t so easy to solve. At least one of them is lying. In an unlikely alliance, they have to act quickly to unravel the mystery before the murderer acts first.

Don’t get me wrong – I love and miss my Andvell gang, but the Invisible Entente is a brand new kind of trouble. Supernatural and mythological figures trapped in a locked-room mystery, tempers being tested (and when you have the power to set fire on things with your mind, that can be dangerous), and alliances being formed.

This prequel introduces the characters I’ve spent the last couple of months with and launches the first in a 7-book arc as it goes through each of the characters and culminates in…well, you’ll find out when you get there.

These characters are witty, dangerous, powerful, conflicted — all the good things you want to see in a bunch of reluctant heroes — and I hope you fall in love with them as quickly as I did.

The novella (130 pages) is available through Amazon for 99c or through KindleUnlimited for FREE, so grab a copy, brew a cup of tea, and then leave a comment below to let me know who your favourites are.

Grab your copy now!

If you’re not sure yet, you can read an excerpt here

What’s next?

What is the title of your work in progress?

The Invisible Entente series

Book 1 – The Invisible Entente, a prequel novella

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I wanted to come up with some new content for my newsletter subscribers. I enjoy sending free short stories for my loyal readers. So I tried to come up with a new, exciting idea.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of Agatha Christie novels and over the winter, BBC’s Poirot mysteries were my go-to to pass the cold, dark evenings. The more I watched and read and studied Christie’s style, the more I realized I wanted to stake a stab at writing a cozy mystery. Who doesn’t love the round-up at the end where the spunky detective accuses everyone in turn, building up the suspense until she denounces the real murderer?

But I’m a fantasy author, and I didn’t want to step too far outside my genre, so I brainstormed ways to merge the two – and the IE prequel was born.

Currently, this novella is available for free for my newsletter subscribers, but in another month, it will be removed from the subscription bundle and will be available to purchase via my usual ebook/paperback distributors.

From there, as it seems to happen, an entire series revealed itself. Each of the characters introduced in this round-table mystery is getting his or her own fantasy/mystery novel.

What genre does your book fall under?

Urban fantasy with a cozy mystery twist

What is a one sentence synopsis for your book?

Prequel: Following the death of a mad scientist warlock, seven murder suspects are transported into a magically sealed room and only six can leave.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published – and I couldn’t be more excited about it. My team behind this series is strong, and the results will show it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The prequel took me a couple of weeks, but each novel takes me about a month. The rest of the work comes during edits and early outlining.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

One of the elements I’m most excited to play with in this series is taking familiar creatures/characters from mythology and twisting them into new forms. Among others are a descendant of Vidar, the Norse god of vengeance and silence; a Gorgon-fae, the descendant of Medusa; and a sorceress from the line of Morgan le Fay.

Each character has a unique voice, and a unique perspective on the humanity they both live in and apart from. Each story touches on a different aspect of “otherness” and what it means to stand on the outside looking in.

I’ve got some really fun ideas for promo and can’t wait to get started.

Expected kick-off date: August 2016

 

The Year Plods Onward – March in Sum

Before we get too far into April, I guess I should take a look back at March.

First off: HOW IS ALREADY APRIL?! (I have a feeling this will be a frequent message for the blog posts)

Second: It’s April, dammit, WARM UP!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. March.

Goal: exercise 20 mins a day (10 hours/month)

This one I seem to have knocked out of the park this month at 19h30 for the month. Most of this is walking now that I don’t need to worry (or at least, worry less) about falling and hurting myself. I should be using my standing desk more than I am during the day, though, so I’ll try to work on that.

(Psst. The more people who buy my books, the closer I am to getting the perfect sit-stand desk that will allow me to write even MORE while staying healthy. Win-win!) 

Goal: read for pleasure 30 mins a day

While the goal to get my exercise in as been great and super helpful, I think tracking what I’m reading and having reading being on my to-do check list each day has made a huge difference. I went from reading fewer than 10 books last year to (I think) having already reached that so far this year.

Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chodron is a book my dad got me. He offers courses in mindfulness and meditation, and is always trying to get me to slow down. (DOES HE NOT KNOW WHO I AM?! But really, he’s right). This book was an amazing read. Very quick, and one that I’ll likely pick up again going forward when I need a pick-me-up. Among other wisdom, I picked up two wonderful mottoes that I now have written up on my bulletin board.

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

It’s right up there with “My father used to believe as many as six impossible things before breakfast” from Alice in Wonderland (movie), but I find the statement stirring. At any point in the day, you can make a decision that could change your life. Even if you’re not aware of anything changing or moving, something in the background could be falling into place the launches you forward to get you where you want to be.

The other:

FAILURE IS AN OPPORTUNITY

It gives a whole new spin on something not working out the way you wanted it. You COULD see it as an ending, or see it as a new foundation to build your next step. It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me with a lot of plans going awry, so this was a lesson I needed to read.

Other books I read:

The Secret Country by Pamela Dean. This one was recommended to me by a friend. She said it reminded her of the premise of my Meratis Trilogy is she was very right! It’s the story of five cousins who create a game over the summer…and then find themselves living in. But things aren’t quite as they imagined. I had some trouble getting into the language of the game (very classical fantasy) and the characters were distant but the story kept me engaged and I’ll be continuing on with the series.

And Then There Were None and 13 to Dinner (or Lord Edgware Dies) by Agatha Christie. That’s right – I went back to Christie, as I said I would. I first read And Then There Were None in high school, and the re-read lived up to my memory.

The Martian by Andy Weir. I didn’t know what to expect from this book. I’d heard all the hype about the novel and the film, but doubted I would be interested. I’m a fantasy girl, not a sci-fi reader! But it hooked me. I stayed up into the wee smas to finish it off and  loved every page.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Decoded by David Day. This book was everything I wanted it to be. It looked at Alice from satirical, theosophical and mathematical levels and broke down the symbolism of every character and every speech. Did you know the shape of the rabbit hole Alice falls down matches the pattern of a Fibonacci sequence? And the feud between Carroll and Alice’s father, the Dean of Christ Church, was rampant all through the text.  A fascinating read and I recommend it for any history buffs who like digging deeper into the text.

Goal: read 1 craft book/month

Achieved! I read Susan Kaye Quinn’s The Indie Author Survival Guide and wondered how I hadn’t read it years ago. Concise, casual, and full of information on all the basics, as well as tips on marketing and production, which I hope to put into effect.

Goal: 2 social events/month

I squeezed this one in at the last minute, but I achieved it! First was my niece’s third birthday party, which was wonderful fun; then I had an impromptu breakfast with a friend I haven’t seen in far too long; and finally, two other friends and I went out to the opening of a tea room nearby. The Vanitea Room is a cute little place with pretty great food and reasonably priced tea service. The wait times ran on the long side, but it was packed because of the opening, so I would go back and give them another try.

What else have I been up to?

Editing. March was a full month of editing. Remember in my last post when I talked about learning through errors? Well March was a month of dealing with the consequences. The delay in Bladelore edits led to a rushed first draft of Death at Peony House, which mean that when I got DaPH back from my alpha reader, I had to rewrite a bulk of it. So I pushed through Bladelore edits to get it to a second beta reader, and then pushed through DaPH edits to make sure it got to my editor on time.

So I’m finally breathing. I mean, not completely easily, because I got the brilliant idea to jump into CampNaNoWriMo this year, so April will be spent drafting book 2 in the Invisible Entente series. But at least it’s light and something fun. I’m really enjoying this new series.

I promised all kinds of WIPpets and previews, and they are all coming. I’m going to start sharing the first chapter of Bladelore next week, for one thing. I’ll break it up into three sections and hopefully by the time the third section is up, the book will be in the process of going up for purchase!

*deep breath*

What about you? How did you pass your March?

 

 

Cover Reveal for Keri Lake: Backfire

It’s been a long time since I’ve hosted Keri Lake on this blog, and I’ve missed her.

But just because she’s been silent on the Raven’s Quill doesn’t mean she hasn’t been busy!

Her stand-along dark contemporary romance Ricochet came out last year, and now, in June 2016, she’s revealing

Backfire-3D-book

No matter how unbreakable he may seem, every man has a weakness.

A year ago, my home became a bloodstained crime scene. That night marked the beginning of my hell—the same night I was tortured by my enemies and tossed into an underground prison to die.

They failed. I survived.

Now that I’m free, only one motive burns in my soul:  revenge.

Lucky for me, they think Jase Hawkins is dead.  Maybe I am. I’ve got nothing but a cold, merciless rage, and Black Betty, the sharp steel blade that never leaves my side.

Then she drifts into my life.

Lucia wants answers—so much so, she’s willing to fall into the darkness where my enemies lie in wait, to kill her for what she knows.

Or to take her for the depraved fantasies her body alone can rouse in a man’s mind.

Me?  I want her for the fire in her touch that feeds my addiction, forces me to feel what has become numb, but my appetite for bloodshed runs deeper than flesh.

For my own sanity, I’ve vowed to stay away from her. Because she’s my only weakness, an obsession that leaves me craving more—one that could make even the most steadfast plan backfire.

~~

Yum yum, am I right? If this is anything like her previous work, I can’t wait to greet the spring thaw with this steamy story.

But she’s not just offering the cover in this reveal, oh no. What a sneak peak at the prologue? Keep reading!

Backfire Prologue Teaser

 

Author Q&A: Kevin Nielsen

The last in this round of fantasy author spotlights is Kevin Nielsen, the author of the fantasy novel Sands! Based on what I’ve heard, it’s a stellar read, so be sure to grab a copy. A voracious reader, traveller, and dragon enthusiast,  Kevin has a lot to offer the genre.

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your favourite childhood idol?

Well, I hope to one day be able to make a living as an author – that and eventually become a dragon rider.  As I child, my idol was actually my dad, though David Eddings was a close second for a while there.

sands2. You have a project that just came out – what’s it about?

Sands is an introductory epic fantasy novel set in the Sharani Desert.  For nine months of the year, the genesauri monsters sleep.  The clans are safe and everything is peaceful and prosperous.  Then, like clockwork every year, the genesauri monsters wake up for three months and death and chaos reign.  The clans are forced to take refuge in the Oasis and live together in a tension-filled confined space until the genesauri once again return to their sleep.  But suddenly, everything changes.  The genesauri come early.  When seventeen-year old Lhaurel takes up a sword in defense of a friend, her clan leaves her stranded as bait while they run for the Oasis.  She is saved from certain death by a mysterious stranger who helps her discover that she holds a mysterious, uncontrollable power, one upon which the fate of all the clans rests.

3. Why should people read your work?

Honestly, Sands offers a lot in the way of a unique look at the fantasy genre.  From the environment, to the magic system, and even to the characters within the story, there is a unique twist on what one would typically find in a similar YA fantasy novel.  Sands has flying monsters, desert climates, a unique magic system, and a strong female protagonist.  What’s not to love?

4. Who is your target audience?

As many people as I can get to read it.  Due to the nature of the novel, I would say it is decidedly YA and up.

5. Of everything you’ve learned and developed over your projects, what are you most proud of achieving?

Honestly, I am most proud of having been able to recently publish with a traditional book publisher.  I’ve been working toward that goal for 15+ years and to have that process end and another one begin is a feeling of indescribable joy.

6. What is your writing process?

I am a signpost writer.  By that I mean that I pick five points (or signposts if you will) I want to hit within the novel and flesh those out to begin with.  These signposts always include the beginning, middle, and end of the book, plus any two points within those three.  Once I have those, the real writing begins, moving from signpost to signpost like a game of literary connect the dots.  Sometimes this means the revision process is longer, but it works well for me.

7. How can people find you?

I can be found at kevinlnielsen.com, on twitter at @kevinlnielsen, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorkevinlnielsen

Bloodlore Free Promo!

CoverYou read it right – Bloodlore is available on Amazon for FREE from September 3 to September 7! Take up the opportunity to meet Venn Connell, an assassin with a salty tongue and a sassy wit, as she battles her past to protect the life she never knew she wanted. Full of magic, warbears, and inner strength, Bloodlore is sure to help you stretch out these last few days of summer with some chuckles and whimsical fun.

What does this mean for you on a larger scale?

Well, Evensong, book one of the Meratis Trilogy, is also free across all channels, so, in perspective, for this very limited time, you can grab the entire Meratis Trilogy AND book one of the Cadis Trilogy for the price of 2 books. That’s a pretty great deal, right?

So pick up your copy, put your feet up, and let me know what you think! I’m looking forward to meeting a few new readers in the days to come.

Author Q&A: Thea van Diepen

The second week of the fantasy spotlight features fellow Canadian author Thea Van Diepen. A Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan with a great sense of humour, I can attest that this lady is good people and can’t wait to dig my teeth into the new project she soon has to offer. See the link to sign up for her newsletter below? You can download some free fiction by doing so – I recommend it!

(That being said, you can also do the same by signing up for MY newsletter… )

So put your feet up, take a read, and enjoy this other new voice in Canadian fantasy (FTW!). Thea, take it away…

1. Tell us a little about yourself. Your hopes, your dreams, your favourite childhood idol?

Well, I hope and dream of reaching 5’1” someday. You can get growth spurts in your mid twenties, right?

It’s funny, I’ve been thinking about what it is that I really want out of life and what I’m aiming for and I just realized that I spent this huge chunk of my life focusing on finishing up school (I just finished my undergrad degree in psychology this year! :D) and becoming an author that I didn’t really consider what I’d do next once I’d achieved them. How do I want to inspire people?

One of my childhood idols who comes to mind when I think about this is Madeleine L’Engle, an author best known for her book A Wrinkle in Time. She’s my favourite author, and that’s my favourite book. Her books have always made me believe that I, Thea, exactly as I am right now, am loved and, therefore, capable of good and beautiful things.

I think if my stories’ impact for others could be just a tenth of what hers have been for me, I would be very happy.

In the mean time, I’ll continue enjoying life: good friends, good food, great books, spending hours trying not to die by killer bees in unnecessarily difficult video games. Procrastinating cleaning the bathroom. Buying twenty books right even though I have nowhere to put them because they were super cheap and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Liking every single photo of my niece and nephew on Facebook because they are literally the cutest kids in the whole entire world.

And suchlike. 🙂

2. You have a new project about to come out – what’s it about?

Hidden in Sealskin is about an outlaw (Adren) who, while attempting thievery to get a cure for an insane unicorn, runs into this awkward teenager (Nadin) who can see through her invisibility and insists on helping her.

I mean, there’s also magic, secrets, an explosion, a daring escape or two, and a footman who I swear has the voice of Alan Rickman, but Adren and Nadin are the reason this whole story is even happening.

It’ll be out sometime late September. Sign up to my email list to keep in the loop. 🙂

3. Why should people read your work?

It explores what it means to live in a world as upside-down and crazy as ours. It has heart, a healthy dose of fun, and when you reach the ending, the entire story – maybe even the entire world – takes on a whole new light. Even the destination is a journey. Sometimes, that journey is dark, but I believe that, no matter how deep that darkness, the light is greater still.

4. Who is your target audience?

If you’re not afraid of words and you love a good paradox, then my books are for you.

The lines from the “Are These Books for You?” (link above) that apply most to Hidden in Sealskin are:

These books are for you if…

…you like humour that says: “Moar ridiculous!”, and one or more of the characters say back: “It’s all perfectly normal.”
…you like seriousness that says: “Everything bad that can happen, will”, and one or more of the characters say back: “No way in hell.”
…you like fantasy that asks: “Who is human?”, and where magic is not always in the forefront, yet its existence is integral to the story.
…you are fascinated by the endless possibilities of the human mind, both light and dark and everything in between.
…you believe that ignorance of the truth comes not through lack of opportunity to learn, but lack of desire to see beyond mere assumption.
…you still believe in right and wrong, good and evil, and understand that shades of grey mean that light and dark get mixed up in everyone, not that they’re indistinguishable or don’t exist.
…you refuse to believe that darkness is all there is even if, sometimes, the darkness wins.
…you believe that people are capable of being childlike, even in the midst of and with full knowledge of the world’s horrors.

There’s a few more that apply as well, but these are all the big hitters. 🙂

5. Of everything you’ve learned and developed over your projects, what are you most proud of achieving?

Actually editing Hidden in Sealskin. Editing and I have a love-hate relationship, whereby it loves to remind me that it’s important and I hate to do it. With my two previous books (Dreaming of Her and Other Stories and The Illuminated Heart), editing did happen, but on nowhere near the scale it has in Hidden in Sealskin. About 10,000 words got deleted, the beginning and ending both gained extra scenes, and Adren got snarkier. Plus, I got to add an exchange wherein Nadin almost faints. That was fun. 🙂 All in all, I learned a lot about the process, which made it less scary and made a better book as a result!

6. What is your writing process?

  1. Come up with an idea while working on another project
  2. Get totally sidetracked by that idea
  3. Plan out ten books
  4. Write the first draft of the first
  5. Publish two completely unrelated books in the intervening three years
  6. Edit practically rewrite that first draft
  7. Send it to the editor and hope to all that’s good that you didn’t totally break the darn thing with all the changes you made because you have a deadline, dammit
  8. Answer interview questions and try not to think about that last step too much

Oh, wait, that’s just how I did Hidden in Sealskin.

Usually, I have an outline of some kind. This can be as simple as knowing how I want to end it and a vague idea of what I’m trying to do to get there (this works best with short stories) and as complicated as writing out a synopsis punctuated by copious usage of the phrase “and then a miracle happened.”

This is followed by writing the thing from beginning to end, in as strict of a chronological order as the story will allow. One of my more recent short stories yet to be released in any way is the most glaring reason for fudging the chronological aspect: in order to make progress on that one, I had to write scenes that happened way after where I was at and then go back to fill in the blanks. I don’t know why. That one’s an odd child.

Editing is supposed to follow this. I really do proofread, but I tend to be light on the editing because I just want it all to be done yesterday. 😛 Hidden in Sealskin is the exception to this, and I hope it’s the first of many because the post-editing version is a lot better than the first draft.

All this is punctuated by long moments of staring out into space while trying to figure out what the heck I’m doing, and sessions of totally geeking out over way too much worldbuilding and symbolism and stuff. And potentially getting completely sidetracked with new projects.

7. Do you have any superstitions that factor into your writing process?

No. And if they try creeping in, I squash them. They make it hard for me to be flexible if they accumulate too much, like rust on the Tin Man.

8. If I stranded you on a desert island, allowing you only three books – what would they be?

You’re stranding me on desert islands now? Rude. 😛 Ok, in no particular order:

  1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, duh
  2. All the Chronicles of Narnia in a single volume (shush, it totally counts)
  3. The Bible. 66 books full of stories, poetry, and the good, bad, and ugly of people being people as they learn what life’s all about? Plus bonus trippy dreams and visions? Sign me up!

9. If you could design your ideal writing setting, what would it be?

Anywhere with wifi that I can plug in my laptop, sit comfortably, and write in peace while listening to awesome music. I’m not too picky.

10. How can people find you?

Google is an excellent search tool that comes very highly recommended. 😀

Snarkiness aside, you can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr (my Tumblr is in temporary hibernation before I get back to more than just posing links to my blog posts. I’m working through a learning curve, but I’ll be back). There’s also my website, Expected Aberrations, where you can sign up to my email list.

My favourite place right now is Patreon, where you can support my work on an ongoing basis while getting a whole ton of exclusive behind-the-scenes stuff, early access to ebooks and other digital content, and signed copies of books as a thank you for your help in making everything possible. 🙂

LIGHTNING ROUND:

Fiction/non-fiction: Fiction!

Sweet or salty: Salty 😀

HBO or Netflix: Netflix. Because X-Files. And Stargate SG-1, whenever they renew the licence for it.

Talk or text: Talk. Always talk.

Paperback or ebook: What. No. I can’t… THEY ARE ALL MY PRECIOUS BOOKS AND I LOVE THEM *curls up in a corner, stroking Kindle and cuddling as many paperbacks as she can hold*

***

New Pic (square)Thea van Diepen hails from the snowy land of Canada and that fairest of cities, Edmonton, Alberta. She is, of course, completely unbiased (that’s what you’re supposed to get with a psychology degree, right?) and is also obsessed with Orphan Black, the books of Madeleine L’Engle, and nerdy language things. Her next book, Hidden in Sealskin, will arrive on the interwebs sometime before September 25, 2015.