Saturday, 25 October 2014

#WIPMarathon Update #9

Last report wordcount and chapter count/scene count: I was at 15K of Shiny Book 2! I was also working on two novellas.

Current report WC + CC/SC:
 I finished my draft at 76K! :D

I also reached 16K of this novella, so that's 4K added this month.

I also worked on several rounds of (intensive!) edits on Shiny New MS based on feedback from two rounds of readers. I cut/rewrote close to 10,000 words (it's now 79K). And I still love it! ^_^

And my first round of publisher edits on Darkworld Book 3 came in from my awesome editor! So... more edits. *brain explodes*

WIP Issues this month: Not so much a writing issue as a technological one, but I kind of broke another laptop. (Or rather, a certain book broke it :P) So I had to replace it with a new desktop computer (which is awesome!) and deal with all the technological.. stuff.

Also, juggling, an inevitable consequence of getting editorial notes on a different project while working on a draft! It meant pulling out my brain and shaking it a bit so it wanted to work on the right series, which was a bit more difficult than I expected! I wish my brain came with a project switch...

Four things I learned this month in writing:

  • Hmm... you know, it's been another rollercoastery month (publishing!), but I think (I hope!) I'm starting to just... write through it. The first half of this year, I really struggled with constant knockbacks kicking my progress off-track, whereas now, something "meh" happens and I kind of give it a glance and then carry on writing anyway!
  • I learned that it's totally okay to stop mid crazy-drafting mode and fix major issues before they steamrollered out of control. I was THAT close to the end of my draft, but some issues were just annoying me so much that it was stopping me making progress until I went back and fixed them. (My OCD means that when something's bugging me, it's REALLY bugging me, so I had to do it, really!) I ended up cutting 3000 unnecessary words and adding a couple of new scenes, and the words just started flowing again!
  • ...that's all I've got. *falls asleep*

What distracted me this month when writing: ICELAND! *ahem*

Goal for next month: Hmm... I wasn't going to do NaNo, but based on the way this series has been going so far, I might give it a try for Shiny Book 3! Or perhaps some short stories. I still need to finish Darkworld edits, though. (Then again, I got over 50K this month without even realising it, so there is hope!)

Last 200 words: Book 2 is spoilery, so this is from the latest version of the first book! 

Skyla grabbed my arm and dragged me out of the way of a swiping claw. The monster reared up to its full height, letting out a roar loud enough to make my eardrums hurt. Claws slashed madly, and the beast drove us further and further back, out into another, narrower corridor.
“We’ve got to lure it away,” I gasped, my dagger suddenly feeling like a flimsy knife in comparison to those claws.
“This way!” Skyla pulled me down a side-tunnel, panting, hair plastered to her face with blood from a cut on her cheek. The wyvern screeched, angry its prey was escaping, and struck out – we backed up further down the tunnel. The ceiling was narrow, so I’d hoped the wyvern wouldn’t be able to fit, but as it dropped to the ground and began to slither in a rapid, snake-like movement, I knew we’d driven ourselves into a bigger trap. Skyla’s nails dug into my arm. We backed away further and further and as its teeth snapped, pure panic took over.

We ran, the beast’s cries echoing behind us, faster, faster – claws swiped at our backs and I felt my coat tear, shredded to ribbons. Another swipe, and the dagger clattered from my hand. No!
No time to stop. My heart pounded in tandem with our frantic steps as we ran through corridors even I didn’t know, until I skidded to a halt at a dead end.
Dead. We were dead.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Review - Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen

Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy, #1)

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the ruins of Forsaken Mountain. Time enough for their dark and nefarious magic to fade from human memory and into myth. But a prophesy has been spoken of a union with the power to set the trolls free, and when Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she learns there is far more to the myth of the trolls than she could have imagined.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind after she is brought to Trollus: escape. Only the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time, wait for the perfect opportunity.

But something unexpected happens while she’s waiting – she begins to fall for the enigmatic troll prince to whom she has been bonded and married. She begins to make friends. And she begins to see that she may be the only hope for the half-bloods – part troll, part human creatures who are slaves to the full-blooded trolls. There is a rebellion brewing. And her prince, Tristan, the future king, is its secret leader.

As Cécile becomes involved in the intricate political games of Trollus, she becomes more than a farmer’s daughter. She becomes a princess, the hope of a people, and a witch with magic powerful enough to change Trollus forever. 

Wow! Danielle L. Jensen has a winner here. I was hooked from the start, where Cecile is kidnapped from her village and dragged underground. There, she learns that a hidden group of trolls is trapped underneath the mountain under a curse that can only be broken if the prince marries a “daughter of the sun” – and they’ve chosen her.

After an opening like that, how could I put it down? This is a YA high fantasy unlike any I’ve read before, and with a unique take on troll mythology. I loved Cecile as a protagonist. From the start, her reactions were realistic – who wants to marry a troll? Crucially, though, she’s clever, and uses her own wits and common sense to navigate her way around this dangerous, politically fraught underground world. Tristan, the prince she’s bonded to, is about as happy with the situation as she is – not at all! He’s rude and abrasive, and to make things worse, his marrying Cecile doesn’t break the curse as the trolls hoped. Now he and Cecile are permanently bonded, and each feels whatever the other does. Slowly, they move from enemies to grudging allies.

I loved all the details of this story, from the trolls’ magic to the uprising Tristan is secretly involved with, to save the half-troll, half-humans who are doomed to a life of slavery. The trolls despise humans, and if the curse is broken, then the troll king would be free to conquer the world. I found all the interwoven conflicts fascinating, and simply couldn’t put the book down. Of course, with so much detail, it’s inevitable that this is the first book in a trilogy, but it’s one I’ll definitely be sticking with. The characters are complex, the romance is sweet and not forced, and the worldbuilding is compelling – I absolutely can’t wait for the next book!

Rating: 5 stars.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

What's Up Wednesday

It's time for What's Up Wednesday, a weekly meme run by Erin L Funk and Jaime Morrow. Here's what I've been up to this past week!

What I'm reading

I've been reading Heir of Fire! I started rereading the series a while ago, but I've been trying to tackle the never-ending TBR pile on my Kindle. But I loved this book even more than the previous two. And GAH THAT ENDING. *dies for the next book*

Next up: Blue Lily, Lily Blue! I've been waiting a whole YEAR for this one! *collapses in a flailing heap*

What I'm writing

SHINY BOOK 2. Er...  so much for stopping the power-drafting. I literally couldn't stop writing this book! At one point, I was pretty sure my hands were superglued to the keyboard. (Or frozen, which is probably more likely seeing as my house is FREEZING right now...) I wrote 30K in a week! Even I'm not quite sure how that happened...

And I'm finishing up beta edits on Book 1, getting ready for the next stage... *restrains self from dropping hints*

Also, I've been working on a prequel novella-length thing which is emotionally destroying me. I am so very cruel to my characters. *cries*

And I'm working on Darkworld 3 edits, too.

What works for me

Firstly, I still keep getting that question about how in the universe I write so fast, but I probably wouldn't recommend what I do (which is wander around in a story-drugged state and completely neglect the real world, not sleep enough, drink too much diet coke, and type at hyper-speed until my fingers fall off :P). I am working on another blog post with more sensible tips, though! :)

Secondly, I can't actually remember where I learned how to do this, but it's possible to combine documents in Word so several beta readers' notes show up in the same copy of the manuscript. In Word 2013, go to Track Changes and click "compare", then "combine", and then select the two documents you want to combine into one. Simple! :) 

I've done this for my past two manuscripts, and it can be so helpful in contrasting opinions if you're on the fence about changing something. And there can be such polarised opinions sometimes! When I'm editing, I use a notebook to list the general points readers made in their emails, and then I create one of those combined documents so I can look at specific comments if there are any in the manuscript. If you have multiple annotated copies of your manuscript, it can be a tad overwhelming, so this has been really useful!

Also, it's fun when more than one reader comments with a "LOL" on the same line. ;)

What else I've been up to

Not much, aside from work and recovering from the post-Iceland hangover. *sniffles* Also, avoiding the crazy on the Internet... and that's about all I have to say on the matter. o.O

Monday, 20 October 2014

Author Interview - Quanie Miller, author of The New Mrs Collins

Displaying The New Mrs. Collins - Blog Tour Banner.jpg

Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!
1.      I trip getting inside of my own car
2.      I’m probably the only person on the planet who actually failed at taking a selfie
3.      While growing up, one of my aspirations was to be a rapping psychologist.
Summarize your book in one line.  
When Leena Williams suspects that there’s something other worldly about her son’s new stepmother, she goes digging for answers and discovers a little too late that some secrets are better left buried. 

Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!
When I sat down to write the first draft of The New Mrs. Collins, a funny voice took over and it turned into a comedy! I was going to tell the story from the point of view of a nanny who discovers that her boss’ new wife is a sinister woman with mystic powers. This is how the story was going to go: the nanny, because of a flat tire, would get stranded in an affluent neighborhood without a cellphone, end up knocking on a random door, mistaken for an interviewee, and land the nanny job by mistake. But when I put the character on the page, this humorous voice took over, and the nanny-to-be never made it into the house. That character ended up being Jasmine T. Peacock, the protagonist of my first novel, a romantic comedy called It Ain’t Easy Being Jazzy

After that, I had doubts about whether or not I could even write a paranormal novel but then I asked myself: what kind of story do you want to see? I knew I wanted to write about a main character I could relate to, from my neck of the woods (Southwest Louisiana!) who discovers that there is a bit of magic in the world.  So I re-evaluated the The New Mrs. Collins(whole new plot, page one rewrite), set it in a fictional town in Louisiana called “Carolville,” and it was full speed ahead. It took some time, but I’m so glad I didn’t give up on it because writing it proved to me that if you push through fear and doubt, you can accomplish exactly what you put your mind to.

Why did you decide to write this particular book?
I wanted to explore what would happen when a woman pulls the veil back on the seemingly normal world she lives in. The main character, Leena, has lived her whole life in this small Louisiana town, never once suspecting that there are people in the world with mystic powers, and all of a sudden, not only does one such woman come into her life, but the woman is beautiful, has stolen her fiancé, and is now the stepmother to her son!  In an attempt to solve the mystery of who this woman is, Leena ends up going down the proverbial rabbit hole. I was intrigued by how I might get her out of it.

Best part of the writing process?
I think it’s the feeling you get when the story in your head (finally!) matches what you put on paper.
Share one thing you learned writing this book.
I learned that you don’t know what you’re capable of until you try. I had a lot of doubt while writing this book, wondering if I could even write something paranormal, but I’m glad that I pushed through the doubt and proved to myself that if I put my mind to something, I can do it—even when it looks like it’s not going to be easy.
Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!
I commissioned someone to do the cover for my first novel and during the process, started to get the feeling that he’d run off with my money since my emails to him went unanswered. One night, I had a dream about a redheaded woman with glasses waving to me from her front porch.
The next day, I googled the cover artist and one of the first links that popped up was a cautionary blog post saying why you shouldn’t hire that particular artist. The strange part? There was a picture of the woman who wrote the post. She had red hair and glasses and looked eerily similar to the woman from my dream. Yikes!

Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.
I’ll just go ahead and say Oz (I would say Wonderland but that Mad Hatter might just be a tad bit too loony for me).

Name one real place you’d love to visit.

Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!
It took her twenty minutes to walk back to the house on the lake, and all she could think about was finding something to chop off that bitch’s head. She would do it and God would just have to forgive her. What could she use? She looked at all the trash in front of the house that she’d hauled from the shed. The wheelbarrow. Boxes. Lumber.  The pruning saw. The blade was sharp. And over ten inches long.
She picked it up by the handle and walked into the house.

 Book Info

Displaying collins_promo.jpgTitle: The New Mrs. Collins
Author: Quanie Miller
Genre: Paranormal
Release Date: October 13, 2014

Book Blurb
In the small town of Carolville, Louisiana, no one knows that Adira Collins inherited mystic powers from her great grandmother. All they know is that she’s beautiful, poised, graceful, and ruthless—especially when it comes to love. And no one knows that more than Leena Williams, who was all set to marry the man of her dreams until Adira swooped into town and stole the man’s heart.
Being left at the altar is bad enough, but Leena and her ex share custody of their son, so she has to see the new Mrs. Collins on a regular basis.
And it burns every time she does.
But soon, Leena starts to suspect that there is more to Adira Collins than meets the eye. And it’s not because she owns some kinky lingerie shop or allegedly insulted the pastor’s wife—it’s the strange way she can make a door close without touching it, or take one look at something and make it drop dead at her feet.
Leena starts digging for answers and soon discovers that, unlike her public persona, Adira’s true nature is somewhere on the other side of grace. She also learns, a little too late, that some secrets are better left buried.  

Displaying QUANIE MILLER - PHOTO.jpegAuthor Bio

Quanie Miller grew up in New Iberia, Louisiana. She fell in love with reading at an early age and spent most of her time at the Iberia Parish Library discovering authors like R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike (she was often found walking back home from the library with a stack of books that went up to her chin). She holds degrees from Louisiana State University and San Jose State University. She has been the recipient of the James Phelan Literary Award, the Louis King Thore Scholarship, the BEA Student Scriptwriting Award, and the Vicki Hudson Emerging Writing Prize. She is the author of
The New Mrs. Collins, a southern paranormal novel, and It Ain't Easy Being Jazzy, a romantic comedy. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and is currently, as always, working on another novel. To find out more about Quanie and her works in progress visit

Book Purchase Links

Social Media Links
Twitter: @quaniemiller

Fall into Fantasy: Week 9

Welcome to the Fall Into Fantasy Tour, where we are keeping your mind off any end-of-summer blues and welcoming the cooler weather by introducing you to some incredible fantasy reads to curl up with and giving you plenty of chances to win awesome prizes!

Week 9: Salvation by James Wymore

 A man wakes on a frozen battlefield when a scavenging couple finds him among the dead. As they nurse him back to health, he is struck with the horrible realization he can’t remember who he is or anything about his past. Taken in by the kind pair, he begins helping with their farm. She even takes him to meet her family, especially her single sister. The ideal life offered in the high mountains of Winigh is shattered when he sees a transport bringing enemy monsters to the shores below. Cut off by high snow on the pass, their fate will soon be the same as the town his company failed to protect in the last battle, if this estranged soldier cannot help them fight off the next wave of invaders. Even worse, the people of the town don’t trust this Selene soldier. He has a strange resistance to their folk magic which some say make him as dangerous as the enemies preparing to destroy them.

Buy it from: Amazon  Barnes & Noble  Kobo
Or add it to Goodreads

On a lifelong search for fantastic worlds hiding just out of sight, James Wymore writes to explore. With three books and six short stories in print after just one year, he continues to push the boundaries of imagination. Journey with him at

Find James online: 

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  • Don't forget to join us at the Facebook party here
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Saturday, 18 October 2014

Cover Reveal - Altar of Reality by Mara Valderann

Today is the cover reveal for Altar of Reality, the first book from Shifted Realities--a brand new series by Mara Valderran. This YA dystopian is set to be released January 31st, 2015 by Curiosity Quills Press. Mark your calendars, and be sure to add the book to your Goodreads list! Want to stay up to date on all things Altar of RealitySign up for Mara's newsletter so you don't miss a thing!

And now...the moment Mara's we've all been waiting for...

When sixteen-year-old Madeline suffers her first grand mal seizure, she finds herself in an unfamiliar reality, surrounded by strangers wearing familiar faces. Her best friend, Brandon, tells her that the world has fallen to chaos, the aftermath of World War III ten years ago. Madeline doesn’t remember anything from this life— especially not the explosion four years ago that killed her parents and landed her in a coma, or the Lord Commander; a zealot leader of the Southern Territories now searching for her.

Madeline barely has time to process everything before waking up to the life she’s always known. As soon as she dismisses it all as a strange and vivid dream, she finds herself back there once more. Unsure if she’s truly caught in the middle of a brewing rebellion, or teetering on the brink of insanity, she finds herself flipping between the two lives. Her heart becomes torn between two versions of the same boy and the lines between her realities begin to blur as she struggles to save her lives in both worlds.


Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she's more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Find Mara Online: 

Be sure to check out the Heirs of War, Crown of Flames blog tour going on right now! There are excerpts, interviews, a giveaway, and more. You can find the tour calendar here.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Interview - Mara Valderann, Author of Heir of War and Crown of Flames!


Emma: Tell me three interesting facts about yourself!

Mara: Hmmm… Questions like these are always the toughest. J One: I’ve never actually seen Star Wars all the way through. Two: I got my license when I was 25. Three: Goats freak me out.

Emma: Summarize your book in one line.

Mara: If I said “Girl power, magic, and crap like that” it probably wouldn’t sell, so I’ll go with: Seventeen year-old Zelene doesn’t give a damn about magic or prophecies—she’s getting her sister back.

Emma: Tell me something cool/crazy/quirky about the book – it can be anything!

Mara: I like to think that it’s cool that I have five female main characters who are all very different. I also make a lot of geek references to stuff I love like Stargate, so judge that how you will. ;)

Emma: Why did you decide to write this particular book?

Mara: These characters and this story had been in my head for the better part of ten years before I sat down and wrote it all out, and I honestly couldn’t tell you what made me sit down that day and start the draft that I’d end up finishing. Something just clicked into place, and before I knew it, I was finished with the first draft I’d restarted a dozen times over the years.

Emma: Best part of the writing process?

Mara: New things. I love sitting down to write something fresh, because there’s always surprises. That’s when I get to have my fun and explore and watch everything play out in my head. Whether I’m learning something new about a character, creating a brand new character, exploring my world more, or starting a brand new story in a brand new world…it’s all thrilling. If I go too long without writing something new, I start to get cranky.

Emma: Share one thing you learned writing this book.

Mara: There’s more to a character than their eyebrows and how said eyebrows move with each line they speak. Lol I’ve learned so much from this book and from my editor during this book. One thing I am trying to strengthen is being descriptive outside of the characters and really exploring the other senses and the settings. I always say I’m a much better story teller than I am writer, and being descriptive is definitely one area where that shows. Luckily, I have a brilliant editor who pushes me to be a better writer, so I’m constantly growing and learning.

Emma: Tell me about one strange experience you’ve had. Again, it can be anything!

Mara: This might sound weird, but I get the strangest and most random deja-vous ever. Like I will have a dream about a bit of conversation before it happens, or finding something random like a pink sock under my bed and what happens when I find it. Usually it is really small, stupid stuff, but I did once freak a boyfriend out by basically telling him exactly how I dreamed a make-up conversation of ours would go, even down to him telling me about a letter he wrote me. I’m pretty sure he might still think I’m psychic (I’m not, but it is weird.).

Emma: Name one fictional place you’d love to visit.

Mara: Hogwarts, hands down. And not just because I love the books. I mean, I love The Hunger Games too, but I think I can do without visiting that world. Ever. But Hogwarts? J.K. Rowling did an amazing job of creating this beautiful, mysterious, magical, and enthralling place that is so big, you are bound to be able to find some corner of it that feels like home. That’s pretty awesome.

Emma: Name one real place you’d love to visit.

Mara: It would be a tie between New York and Los Angeles. Luckily, I’ll be seeing both over the next couple of months, which is really exciting for me! As someone who has always loved the arts and used to dream of becoming an actress (before I discovered that I can have more fun creating characters than playing them hehe), I’ve always been drawn to those two cities.

Emma: Share one sentence/mini-excerpt from the book!

Mara: How about a teaser image that is a mini excerpt from the book? =D


The NA fantasy series Heirs of War has taken Wattpad by storm with over one million reads, and the second installment has arrived. Catch up on Heirs of War (#1) for just 99 cents now!

Heirs of War #1:

When seventeen year-old Zelene finds herself thrust into a world of magic and prophecy, she discovers fighting destiny might not be the toughest battle she has to face. Now she must join with three other girls, complete strangers linked only by blood relation, to fight a war they know nothing of and rescue the twin sister she's never met.

Add it to Goodreads

The adventure continues with Heirs of War, Crown of Flames...

Heirs of War, Crown of Flames
Heirs of War #2
Mara Valderran
Cover Art by Gretchen Byers

Weeks have passed since Ariana and Alec escaped from Kellen's dungeon, but danger isn't far behind them. The guilt of his past weighs heavily on Alec’s shoulders, and his secrets only push Ariana further away. As they travel through unknown lands and encounter multiple threats, their biggest challenge might be trusting one another.

The world appears to be going on regardless of the risks Ariana faces. The Duillaine insist that they are doing everything they can to find Ariana, but their actions betray that claim. Despite the danger and the war closing in around them, all of Anscombe seems to be more interested in the upcoming Imbolc festival and Terrena’s betrothal than rescuing Ariana.

Well…not everyone.

Tired of waiting for the Duillaine to help her twin, Zelene starts plotting on her own and finds a surprising ally in Rhaya, even as the Cynewards prepare to make a move of their own. But Zelene’s plans go awry when she finds herself with a new ability, a mysterious new friend, and more enemies within the walls of Anscombe than she thought.

Add it to Goodreads

Mara Valderran is an author of young adult and new adult books, but she's more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She is an avid reader and fan of all things sci-fi and fantasy. She loves roller skating and movies, though typically not together. She lives in Las Vegas with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or counting down the days until DragonCon.

Find Mara Online: 
Website & Blog  Twitter  Facebook  Google+  Goodreads  Wattpad  Amazon Author
Sign up for Mara's newsletter so you don't miss news on new releases and fun contests!

Want to follow this blog tour? Check out the calendar below!

Monday 10/13
Krystal WadeMargo Bond CollinsHere is What I Read Book Blog
Vicki TraskJessa RussoLorraine Harvey
Priya KanapartiNerd Girl OfficialTerry's Book Addiction
Ali DeanShooting Star Book Reviews
Tuesday 10/14Wednesday 10/15Thursday 10/16
Ali Dean (Review)Jan Farnworth (Review)James Wymore (Guest Post)
Terry's Book Addiction (Review)Jamie Ayres (Promo)
Friday 10/17Saturday 10/19Monday 10/20
Emma Adams (Interview)Laveda Kasch (Excerpt #1)Eliza Tilton (Excerpt #2)
Elsie Elmore (Interview)Jessa Russo (Excerpt #3)
Cait Spivey (Guest Post)Shooting Star Book Reviews (Excerpt #4)
Here is What I Read (Interview)
Tuesday 10/21Wednesday 10/22Thursday 10/23
Michael Panush (Review)Book Lover Blog (Review)Ayden Morgen (Guest Post)
Friday 10/24Monday 10/27Tuesday 10/28
K. L. Schwengel (Guest Post)Katie Teller (Interview)Priya Kanaparti (Guest Post)
Charity Bradford (Excerpt #5)Sharon Bayliss (Review)
Vicki Trask (Review)
Sarah Anderson (Interview)

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