About Amy’s Courage

The second book of my series already has a title. Unfortunately, it has little else.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve written the book. But it’s a first draft and like all first drafts, it’s ugly. Really ugly.

I’ve been struggling with the editing. Really struggling. I kept opening up the draft, shuddering with horror and basically closing it again. I thought about settling and just doing a mediocre job but I hated doing that.

Then I read D. Emery’s excellent post Good News and Bad News, and I felt so validated. D. Emery writes about being stuck writing his second book, Darkness Revealed. He puts eloquently into words exactly what I feel.

Darkness Revealed is much more obvious about the philosophy aspects, and that takes a lot of thinking to get right. I need to craft philosophical ways of thinking and explaining the situation behind the Darkening, and they need to be logically sound.

And I don’t have the mental capacity (and barely the time) to do that right now.

…I realize that’s a disappointment for the people eager to read the sequel, but as I said with my retrospective post, quality is first, quantity will come with time.”

He could go ahead and write a mediocre book but his integrity won’t let him and I admire that in him. In fact, that’s what I want for my book too.

D. Emery’s post gives me hope. I hope that, like he wrote, ‘quality first, quantity will come with time’. For a beginning writer like myself, hope is a wonderful thing.

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Review: Archangel’s Shadows

I couldn’t wait to get this book. Nalini Singh is one of my favourite paranormal authors. She has a way of creating amazing heroes. Men who are flawed but are still awe-inspiring and just a little scary.

Janvier is a little different from her usual terrifying heroes but he’s just what Ash needs. She’s a hunter recovering from a traumatic past and someone who won’t let a very grim future get in her way. I won’t go into specifics but I’ll say mention that, if life had dealt me those cards, I would have folded in. Ash, fights her way forward and I loved her for it.

We also get to see Raphael, Elena and the Seven which I adored. There are many characters that I truly love in this series and I was so glad we got to see bits of them.

The entire world that Ms. Singh has created is so appealing or maybe its just her magical writing. I don’t know. What I do know is that her next book in this series isn’t coming out until the summer and that’s a long time away.

If you’re a fan of paranormal romance, don’t miss out on Nalini Singh. She’s absolutely fabulous. You don’t have to follow this series if that’s not your taste, she also has another series on changelings that’s absolutely amazing. Click on the cover below and it’ll take you to her site.

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Review: Match me if you can

I love a feisty heroine who fights for a dream and this story was exactly that. Annabelle is determined and a fighter. She’s desperate to keep her matchmaking business going and to try to stay ahead of the bills. In order to do that, she wants to get the city’s most eligible bachelor, Heath Champion, as her client.

Heath and Annabelle set off sparks from the very start. He’s determined to have things go his way and, at the beginning, she’s got the losing hand. But here is where her intelligence and quick wit come in and soon she’s turning the tables on the tough Heath.

One of my favourite parts of any book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips is the dialogue. It’s fast, light, and really funny. This book didn’t let me down. I laughed out loud at Annabelle’s attempts to keep the elderly clients in her business happy, as well as the jokes the other football players played on her house.

Though its a book in a series, there’s no need to have read the previous books. This one is certainly one to savour and enjoy. I’ll keep it among my favourites and re-read it slowly. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance with a little bit of humour, don’t miss out on this one. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is one of the best of the genre for good reason.

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Pay-It-Forward-Friday: Ellen Hawley

Pay It Forward Fridays came from this post by Emily Guido. The idea is to feature a blogger or author on Fridays and give them a little shoutout. Anyone goes as long as they’re interested.

I’ve received an incredible amount of support from bloggers, authors and people I’ve met on line who didn’t know me and were just very kind, supportive souls. And, when I read the post by Emily Guido, I thought: time to give back.

I loved this quote from Emily’s mother:

“I CAST A COUPLE PIECES OF BREAD ON THE WATER AND THE WAVES BRING ME BACK A HAM SANDWICH.”

Karma is a beautiful thing.

My focus today is Ellen Hawley.

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Ellen says this about herself: “I was born and raised in New York, and it’s hard to talk about my life without talking about politics. My parents were organizers for a CIO union when they met, and my mother later helped found a New York tenants’ rights organization, Metropolitan Council on Housing. I grew up during the McCarthy period helping my mother pass out leaflets on the street and watching her speak at meetings and from sound trucks.”

She has a Masters in Fine Arts in Writing and has written two other books: Trip Sheets

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and Open Line.

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Her next book The Divorce Diet is due out in January 2015 and “is dedicated to every woman who ever walked away from a relationship. Or a diet.”

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Check out her sites:

http://notesfromtheuk.com

http://www.ellenhawley.com

Or find out a little more about her writing here.

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Of paint and books

In his latest attempt to sell our house, my lovely hubby has pulled out all the stops. He hired an interior decorator (to give him ideas) and argues with himself about everything from paint colour to decorative cushions. So far, he had only been talking. Until today.

I arrived home to the smell of paint and noticed there were several bushes missing outside our house. One more glance told me I was wrong, there weren’t several bushes missing, there were trees missing as well. Then I looked inside the house.

This morning our house was a cream colour. Today, every room is a new rainbow shade. Furniture has magically moved or is missing altogether, we have new covers on our beds, pictures are in odd spots and every counter is bare. Not a soap, or toothbrush in sight. Our dogs, who could easily disrupt this transformation, were banished outside.

But then, today was also the day when I got this:

IMG_0575It really is a beautiful day.

Pay-It-Forward-Friday: Melissa Barker-Simpson

Pay It Forward Fridays came from this post by Emily Guido. The idea is to feature a blogger or author on Fridays and give them a little shoutout. Anyone goes as long as they’re interested.

I’ve received an incredible amount of support from bloggers, authors and people I’ve met on line who didn’t know me and were just very kind, supportive souls. And, when I read that post by Emily Guido, I thought: time to give back.

I loved this quote from Emily’s mother:

“I CAST A COUPLE PIECES OF BREAD ON THE WATER AND THE WAVES BRING ME BACK A HAM SANDWICH.”

Karma is a beautiful thing.

My focus today is Melissa Barker-Simpson, a very talented author who also works as a British Sign Language Interpreter.

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She says of herself: “My first novel was published in 2008, and I love nothing more than working on a new project. The voices inside my head invariably pull me in different directions, so although I try to work on one thing at a time, those who know me would tell you it doesn’t always work!

I have two beautiful daughters who bring me great joy. They also keep me grounded, because otherwise I would have my head in the clouds permanently!”

Melissa Barker-Simpson is the author of several books including Hands of Evil and Sins of the Father. She’s coming out with a new book on November 21st. It’s Sci-fi and titled The Fifth Watcher.

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Personally, I have read both Hands of Evil and Sins of the Father and loved them both. I find her writing captivating and would highly recommend her books. I have reviewed Sins of the Father and Hands of Evil.

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Her blog is: http://mbarkersimpson.wordpress.com/blog/

And she also has a site: http://melissabarkersimpson.wordpress.com

Check out this fantastic interview here.

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Review: Voyager

At over 1000 pages, Voyager is not brief but it’s an excellent continuation of the story started with Outlander and continued with Dragonfly in Amber. I’d encourage anyone interested to not be discouraged by the length. Diana Gabaldon has a way of creating a story that makes the reader forget the number of pages. Believe it or not, this book was an absolute page-turner.

The incredibly accurate account of history is here again, as is the beautiful love story. And this is a love story because Claire and Jamie have to find their love for each other again. I won’t mention details and ruin the book but suffice it to say that they need to reconnect.

The characters have grown, yet in the most important ways have remained the same Jamie and Claire that we fell in love with in Outlander. There is still danger and adventure and through it we rediscover our hero and heroine and find new ways to love them.

Like all of Ms. Gabaldon’s books, there are cultural details, biologically accurate facts and rich background stories to liven the story. This is not a single, weak plot but a thick tapestry of tales, mystery and plot twists. We meet new characters and new places that are as wonderful as they are dangerous.

It’s easy to see why this series has caused such an international following. The writing is superb, the history flawless and the love story breathtaking. This is a must-read for anyone into romance or historical fiction and I know I will reread this book many times in the future. What an absolute delight.

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Note: click on cover to go to site.

Awesome October books

Eagerly awaited, these books are the ones I’ve marked on my calendar and keep me going through those dreary Mondays at work. Here are a few along with other favourites!

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Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

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Never Marry a Viscount by Anne Stuart

Only Enchanting A Survivors' Club Novel (Mary Balogh)

Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh

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 Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh

 

If you’re still looking for books, here’s another post with even more books from All About Romance.

Interview with D. Emery Bunn

I was very intrigued with Darkness Concealed and, when D. Emery Bunn suggested doing an interview, I leapt at the idea. He was kind enough to agree and gave me some fascinating answers to my questions. Here’s a more in depth look at the creation of the book and what we can expect in the next instalment.

 

1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

In the story itself, there’s a couple of messages that I’m trying to communicate:

  • Hope endures until one loses it. Hope in a better world, hope in survival, hope in triumph. There are dozens of reasons why the characters in the story should give up hope, but they don’t. And it strengthens them enough to keep going, even in the midst of despair.
  • Heroes aren’t the people who charge into the midst of the fight, weapon swinging. Heroes are the people who realize that they’re in over their heads, and refuse to quit. Heroes are the people who don’t abandon their friends even when things are grim. Heroes are those who have deep flaws, and don’t let that stop them at any point.

As somewhat of a sequel hook, there are other messages that are built into the trilogy itself, and isn’t visible in Darkness Concealed itself.

 

2. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

No. It’s a better story than I thought I’d ever write, and I will not look back and say “well, I could have done this better”.

 

3. What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the story of Darkness Concealed to life?

Research-wise, it wasn’t too much of a challenge. The story and setting had been sitting in my head for years before I wrote the first draft of it, and intricate reasons and logic for everything that goes on came into being without me having to work that hard.

Likewise, my only literary insistence was maintaining a unique vocal style for each of my characters. I might have speech tagged to prevent any and all confusion, but after a point their dialogue alone should hold them distinct.

Psychological aspects were the hardest part. Darkness Concealed is not a happy story, and there is more than one scene which if I read it and fully comprehend what I’m saying, fills me with tears.

Logistically, the only snag I had was when I threw out the first draft as unsalvageable garbage (it was, trust me). I wrote the second draft from scratch, and as I was writing it I kept on skewing off the rails of what had previously been written. Where I’d had action and mind-bending scenarios, subtlety reigned. The thematic whiplash, as someone who’s read both versions, was pretty big.

 

4. Which authors have influenced you the most?

When it comes to having an answer for absolutely everything in my world, and being able to trace its timeline back thousands of years, I have to credit J. R. R. Tolkien. I have a bookshelf full of the stuff he’s written.

When it comes to having meta plot twists that were there the entire time, only invisible until the moment, I’ll credit Isaac Asimov. I’ve read the Foundation Trilogy twice, which is a very rare thing for me to do.

Beyond that, I can’t name my influences. My writing is an amalgamation of everything I’ve ever read.

 

5. Who was the hardest character to write? Why?

Alexandra. She started out as a very put-together sort of person who got thrown off her life path by unexpected tragedy. But when I wrote the third draft, the tragedy consumed her. Her pain and loss drove her very character, and I had to rewrite almost every single thing she said and thought. I hadn’t been expecting such a transformation, but when I read it afterwards, it made sense.

 

6. What started the idea/concept of Darkness Concealed?

A play-by-post campaign where to apply you needed to present a fully-formed land with adventure hooks and other juicy bits the dungeon master could use. I thought “hey, I can do that, and that sounds cool, too!” I took a shower while thinking about it, and one sentence formed: “idyllic, peaceful pastureland…except for when the apocalypse comes.” Everything built from there.

 

7. What are you reading right now?

I’m presently doing two beta reads for two different authors, and reading for pleasure another book. I won’t say much about the beta reads because I don’t know when the books will release, nor the author’s preferences.

  1. Family Ties by Debi Smith (Beta).
  2. Kidnapped by William Twentyman (Beta).
  3. Breadcrumb Trail by Adam Dreece. Emergent steampunk YA, with tons of allusions to fairy tale characters and mythology. I’m really digging the darker tone of the story, though the worst is likely still yet to come.

 

8. Darkness Concealed is the beginning of a trilogy, what can we look forward to in the next book? Do you have a title for it yet? When can readers can expect it?

I’ll be honest and say that Darkness Concealed leaves a lot of questions unanswered, a lot of plot threads dangling. The sequel, Darkness Revealed, is exactly what it says on the tin. That pile of questions will be answered, but the answers are very, very dark.

As for when it will release, I plan to write its first draft in November, and hopefully its second between January and February. I’m aiming for a 9 month release schedule from the start of the story to when I get it out there.

 

9. Does being an editor make writing easier or harder? Why?

Easier, but mostly because I’ve come to terms with it. I don’t write at top speed, ignoring the typos and grammatical gaffs. I also don’t write without considering whether it works. As a result, I don’t write as much in a given period of time as someone who’s pushing through the draft and worrying about it later.

When drafting, I will outright delete a “bad direction” with the story, where it doesn’t appear to be going where it should. I performed that sacrilege during NaNoWriMo, deleting entire scenes because I realized they weren’t what I was supposed to write. I refuse to let terrible material sit when I can replace it just as fast with something that’s good.

It also means that when I come back to a story to spruce it up, I’m comfortable throwing entire sections out. Darkness Concealed was written once, rewritten from scratch once, and reworded completely scene by scene a third time. I don’t mind this, because what got put in place is head and shoulders above what got removed.

 

10. How can readers discover more about you and your work?

I maintain a blog at www.demerybunn.com, as well as an email address (emery at the same domain). Blog topics can be anything from advice about writing and editing, to stories of what’s going on in my life, to reviews, interviews, and rants in defense of independent publishing. Oh, and posts about how what I write is coming along.

I also have a very active Twitter presence (@DEmeryBunn), and looking to add Goodreads to my list of places I frequent.

 

A huge thanks to D. Emery Bunn for this interview! As a little bonus, here’s a teaser quote from Darkness Concealed.

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Reality and romance

I love romance. It’s my favourite genre by far. Still, there are times when I shake my head at a book or two. See, once in a while, romance borders on the…well, unrealistic.

The hero can definitely be over the top. His hair is perfect, his teeth are perfect and his smile can make females swoon from miles away. Sometimes perfection itself is not enough. I’ve read books where he was ‘incredibly male’, whatever that means.

Other times the love is over the top. There are love stories where the hero and heroine despise each other the entire book but magically come to passionate, desperate love in the last two pages of the book. Really?

But the worse infraction by far are those sex scenes. I’m all for imagination and trying new things but some of the scenarios I’ve read made me cringe–and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t the reaction the author wanted. I’ll leave alone the fact that no one in a romance seems to have any sort of realistic sexual issue, some of the situations made me wonder if it was physically possible at all.

Can two people actually have sex on a horse? Really? Because I’ve ridden a horse and I’ll tell you I had trouble simply staying seated on the animal. How come no one ever slips during hot, steamy shower sex but I barely make it out of mine alive in the mornings? Should I mention how dirty pirates were (no tooth brushes!)? How could sex with them be even remotely appealing?

If you’re interested, here‘s the article that got me ranting about the topic. A fantastic read by All About Romance.

What do you think? Is it realistic or do we say, eh, and just believe?

(credit:motifake.com)

(credit:motifake.com)