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Wardens of Archos Release Week Day 5 – A Review and Excerpts!

Here’s the final release week stop, friends and Sparrows! Author and Blogger Rhianne Williams did an interview and shared some excerpts over on her blog. Take a look:

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Review: Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (The Illuminae Files, #2)

“Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.”

What I thought:

I meant to have this review up last week but life got busy. You all know how it is, right? You’ll forgive me if I throw cookies at you?

This is difficult to review without including spoilers; there are loads of things I want to talk about but I can’t because it would spoil Illuminae for you. My review will be shorter for that reason 🙂

“Patience and Silence had one beautiful daughter. And her name was Vengeance.”

One of my favourite things about Gemina was Hanna’s drawings. I can’t draw to save my life, but I love seeing other people’s drawings and Hanna’s were beautiful. They added a very personal touch to the book, and they were lovely to look at to boot! What more can you want? 😀 I especially loved them because the little blood stain in the corner told a little story of its own. Every time we saw a page from her diary, the blood stain got a little bigger and you worry about whose blood it’s going to be.

I’m not sure if it was the characters or their situation (which is just as deadly, by the way – they’re not dancing around in cotton, exactly) or just that Illuminae has slaughtered all my feelings and left no survivors, but Gemina didn’t hurt as much. There was one scene that got to me more than the others, and that’s when Nik told Hanna about his dog Billy. That one hurt. It hurt a lot.

Hurting she might be, but Hanna Donnelly was raised by a man who thought talking military tactics was a fun way to spend daddy-daughter time. And judging by the set of her jaw, she’s ready to change the rules of the game.

I love how this series is slowly building up to the great finale through the little bits outside the files and video footage. You know, the ones at the very beginning and the very end. The ones with–oh, wait. Right. Spoilers.

Damn it 😛

I’m really excited for Obsidio to come out next year. I don’t usually pre-order books but I will pre-order this one, and I will be ready for it when it arrives! This series is a must if you love strong characters and excellent story telling. A love for sci-fi probably helps but the characters are so strong I don’t think it’s necessary – when your favourites keep dying it doesn’t matter where they do it, you hurt either way.


Have you read Gemina? Get some cookies, drop me a comment and let’s get this book club going!

I don’t review books professionally. These reviews are mainly a small summary and my opinion on books I’ve loved, they are not intended to be anything more. All ‘reviews’ include a picture, title and name of author linking to the book’s Goodreads listing, the blurb from the back of the book and my non-professional verdict.

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Wardens of Archos Release Week Day 4 – A Small Interview with K.J. Chapman, and a BIG Reveal!

Good morning, friends and Sparrows! Today, I’m over on K.J. Chapman’s blog for a quick interview and a BIG reveal! If you want to know what Book 3 in this trilogy is going to be called, I suggest you head over there 😉

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WWW 18th October 2017

This meme is hosted by Sam over at Taking on a World of Words. A similar meme, This Week in Books is hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

Why not join in? Just answer the following three questions in a post and then put a link to that post in the comments over at Taking on a World of Words.

WWW Wednesday

I’m a bit later than usual today since my release week takes priority, and I didn’t want to post twice in one hour 🙂

This meme will be categorised together with my book reviews. All links will get you to the book’s Goodreads listing, as always 🙂

***

What I’m currently reading

Daughters of the Oak

It’s taking me longer than I hoped to get through this. I haven’t got as much time to read this week , otherwise I’d be finishing it today :/ I’m enjoying it and I’d love to give it more of my time, but there’s too much going on at the moment :/ I’m still hoping to finish it this week so I can squeeze three books into October, but it might be tight.

Blurb:

1646 – The English Civil War. The Royalists of King Charles I, and Cromwell’s Parliamentarians, battle, both eager to lay claim to a tattered country, where life has become cheap and death trivial.

Though, for the lowly commoner, a greater, far more devious, war rages. It threatens the souls of the weak, timid and needy. Seeking refuge in the Lord’s word, God fearing folk employ the skills of one man, the Witchfinder. His success speaks of his talent, to seek out, punish and rid the countryside of Witches, the Devil’s Whores.

2016 – A paranormal team are called to investigate, as poltergeist activity brings terror to one family. Under the cover of darkness, in silent suburbia, an endless night of battle against evil ensues, until finally, a new day dawns.

Lies, secrets, and treachery, it seems, are never forgotten.
Welcome to Manningtree…

***

What I recently finished reading

Dracula

This wasn’t entirely what I expected, but in a good way. I expected Dracula to feature a lot more actively rather than just behind the scenes since the book is, you know, named after him, and it wasn’t as difficult to read as some books of that time. I actually found it very easy to read! It just took me a while because the font is relatively small and a lot of the paragraphs take up most if not all of the page.

Blurb:

The vampire novel that started it all, Bram Stoker’s Draculaprobes deeply into human identity, sanity, and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire. When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client. Soon afterward, disturbing incidents unfold in England—an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby, strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck, and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his “Master”—culminating in a battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries.

***

What I think I’ll read next

Frankenstein

This is a maybe. I’m not getting through Daughters of the Oak as quickly as I thought I would because I’ve had less time to read, and I don’t want this month’s read to spill over too much into November since I’ll need my NaNo reading to get me through the month.

So, depending on when I finish Daughters of the Oak, I may or may not read Frankenstein next.

Blurb:

Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.

***

Have you read any of these and would like to chat about it? I look forward to hearing from you if you do – just leave a comment below and we can get this book club started!

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Wardens of Archos Release Week Day 2 – A Review and Excerpts

Today, I’m over on Meka James’s blog for her review of Wardens of Archos and a couple of excerpts chosen by her, so head on over there and take a look 😉

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NaNo Prep Sessions – Week 3 | Your Plot

Good morning, NaNonites! We’re halfway through October, and you know what that means? NaNoWriMo is CLOSE! Time to give your prep hell!

We’ve already looked at your characters and your world, but today we’re going to look at the one thing that’s going to bring the two together: your plot. This is kinda important and today’s worksheet is a four-page monster, so if you haven’t made tea already do it now 🙂

All good? Then let’s begin!

Your plot is everything, friends. Everything. Without one, your story is going to lack direction, and while it’s been said that a book with a weak plot can be saved if the characters are exceptional, we don’t want to take that risk. Especially during NaNo. Also, the weaker your plot is when you start, the more re-writing you’re going to have to do later, and no one wants that.

The number one reason writers get stuck halfway through their drafts is because they haven’t got a plot, and NaNoWriMo is so not the time for that.

But I don’t mean to scare you or put you off. Honestly, it’s not that bad. It’s because the plot is so important (seriously, tho, not trying to send you running) that I love creating it!

I didn’t always find it easy, though. I mean, your plot is your book! Where do you even start? What do you write down first? How do you make sense of something that doesn’t fudging exist yet?

Today’s worksheet is designed to help you figure out what your book is all about, and what your plot is or could be. It’s the one worksheet that will make sure you don’t get stuck halfway through NaNo. Might sound scary, but this worksheet breaks your plot down into manageable chunks.

And they’re big chunks, friends, so do take your time with this one.

I can’t give you an example of my own work this week because River forbids it, so let’s dive right into the key points:

  • Opening – just write down a few lines describing the opening scene – where is your MC? what are they doing? how does it set up the rest of the book? If you already have a great idea for a first line, include that, too!
  • Theme – is your book going to be dark? Do you want to make people smile? Are you hoping to inspire people? Your theme is so important and yet it’s often overlooked at this stage, so be sure to include a few lines about your book’s overall theme, and how you hope to achieve it throughout – trust me, this’ll be a great reminder as you write. If your unicorns start pooping rainbows two thirds through November but your theme said something about darkness, you may want to rethink the direction your story has taken or change the theme.
  • Character Set-Up – we’ve already looked at your characters, but include them here, anyway – a couple of details, like their name and relation to the MC, will do. You’ve already done all the hard work a couple of weeks ago. (this is a good moment to pat yourself on the back and get a cookie as a reward)
  • Catalyst – this is the big event that sets your MC on their journey, and essentially the reason you’re going to have a book. (deep breaths, friends, you’ve got this) This needs to be big enough for your character to decide to leave his old life behind, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the MC’s decision – it’s okay for your MC to be forced into their new role! Acceptance comes later.
  • Doubts & Decisions – your character has set out on her journey, but now she’s wondering if she can really do this. Your MC also needs to come to a decision – why does she continue despite her worries? Does she overcome her doubts, or does she decide that her quest is bigger than she is?
  • Progression – aka the awkward middle part of your book. Now that your MC has decided to go ahead regardless of their doubts (or with their doubts dead on the ground behind them), how do they, well, proceed? What’s their next step after deciding to do this?
  • Side Plot – your plot – the big, main plot – is what moves the story forward, but the side plots are what move your character forward. Quite often this is love, but it could be anything! Just remember – the plot is important to the book, but the side plots are important to your individual characters. I recommend having one side plot for each MC for this very reason.
  • Recess – think of this as one big party before everything goes to hell; it’s insane how often this is a wedding! Your characters are about to lose all hope and go through a huge struggle, so this is a good moment to give them a last moment of happiness before you make all their worst fears come true.
  • Mid-Point – this is quite literally the mid-point in your book – once your MC gets here, there’s no going back. Your character needs to come to a decision here, and it needs to be a point of no return. For example, your MC could decide that, to defeat evil, he will sacrifice himself, or he could conclude that, no matter how easy it sounds, joining a phone sex line is not the way to get through college and he’ll take the boring but socially acceptable mechanic job instead.
  • The Baddies Close In – this is the calm before the storm. Everything was going so well, but your MC has just decided that she won’t back down, and now your antagonist don’t give your MC any other option, either. The bad guys are coming. This is it, friends. The moment your readers have been waiting for.
  • All is Lost – Blake Snyder describes this as the part where mentors go to die, because that’s usually what happens here. Someone, or maybe something, your MC has relied on throughout their journey dies, and it sends your MC to a very dark place. It’s also the reason the MC then rallies his troops and gives the bad guys hell. It doesn’t need to be a person. If your MC doesn’t have anyone like that but has drawn strength from the bracelet her father gave her on his deathbed, make sure your MC loses that bracelet in a very dramatic way.
  • Doubt – your MC has just lost everything; this is a natural reaction. They are hurting (and hopefully your readers are feeling things right about now, too), and doubt how they can possibly continue now their mentor/bracelet is gone.
  • Merge Plots – remember your side plot? Fortunately, you’ll have been developing this throughout the awkward mid section, so merging your side plot with your main plot won’t be a problem 😉
  • Finale – dun dun dun DUN! This is it! One side either wins or loses (or makes it look that way, anyway – if you’re writing a series, you do kinda need to leave a few things open). How does your book end? I know this bit is hard for many of us, so be vague if you need to be. I also like to make a note here of where my characters are at the end of the book. Where are they physically? Where are they emotionally? Who are they with?

You may recognise some of these points if you’ve ever read the wonderful book that is Save the Cat by Blake Snyder. When I first started writing, his list of beats was a huge help. I’ve adapted his points since then to fit what I need and how I work, so feel free to do the same with mine! If you haven’t read Save the Cat yet, I recommend that you do. It’s humorous as well as educational, which makes it the perfect theory read, if you ask me.

You may remember me saying that your characters and your world are going to develop and grow as you write? The same is true for your plot. If you decide now, in the prep stage, that Jonny is going to break up with Karen halfway through the book but Jonny then decides they give having an open relationship a try, run with it! See where it takes you! Your characters will do this sooner or later, so you may as well get used to it 🙂 You can only do so much – if your characters have other plans, trust their instincts. Prepare, but expect that your characters won’t agree at some point and turn left when you made it quite clear that they are to turn right.

Just like with the previous two weeks, don’t panic if you don’t have all the answers right now. If you don’t know how exactly everything is going to go downhill yet, leave it blank. Quite often the answers will come to you while you do something else. Going for a walk, taking a shower, or doing the dishes are excellent ways of letting your mind wander and hopefully solve these holes while you do other things. Just remember to keep a notebook or app handy. My characters tend to answer whatever is left while I write and yours will probably do the same, so don’t worry.

This thing you’re writing is all about them, after all. You’ve got this, and so have they.

Take a deep breath, do what you can, set the rest aside, and know that you’ve given yourself an excellent start. You’ve got this, NaNonite! I’m with you all the way!

Here’s your free 4-page worksheet:

NaNo Prep Week 3 – Plot Worksheet

If you’d like to do a little more, consider signing up to my newsletter – you get a free novel project planner when you do 😉 The sign-up form is underneath this post. Just don’t over-plan, okay? It’s the death of NaNo, friends.

That’s the hard work done! You’ve created your characters, you’ve built your world, and you’ve got the faint outlines of a plot ready to go – it’s time for a bit of fun! Next week we’re going to set our rewards and look at our reading lists. There’s nothing like staying motivated and inspired when you’re putting yourself through NaNo, and that’s precisely what we’ll ensure next week 😉

You’re welcome to join me on the official NaNoWriMo website, too <3

Happy plotting, NaNonite! I’ll see you next week!

How do you plot your book? What are your pitfalls? Which parts worry you? Get yourself another tea, get a cookie, and let’s chat!


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A-Z Name Prompts – U

Since Wardens of Archos is out TODAY (what?!? show me!), this writing prompt will be trilogy themed 😉 Or it’s trilogy world themed, anyway. Which isn’t to say that there’ll definitely be more books set in this world in the future 😉 *wink wink* Totally not saying that. At all. *ahem*

This week’s prompt, chosen by you, is:

As always, if the prompt speaks to you feel free to use it 🙂 If you do, please link back here so I can be nosy ^-^

***

Ulric

(m.; power of the wolf)

A quiet forest just outside Maishi Hou in Midoka wasn’t the most logical place for a Tramuran to move to, Ulric had known that. The magic was everywhere here, sizzling in the air and glowing through the leafs. And no one tried to stop it. It made him nervous. It made him uneasy.

But it was beautiful and it was wild, unlikely Tramura.

This untamed magic hadn’t tried to harm him yet, whereas his daughter was dead because of Tramuran bandits. All his life he’d been taught that magic was evil, but it was swords that had killed her, not spells.

He felt a weak tug on the bait and reeled in his catch. The lake outside his little cabin held few fish and nothing exotic – not by Midokan standards, anyway – but it gave him everything he needed. Fresh water, fresh fish, and the serene calm Tramura had lacked.

It gave him peace.

At night, sei came out to dance on the water; beautiful, glowing lights unlike anything he’d ever seen. He’d hid and slept high up in a tree during his first night, they had spooked him so much. When he’d woken in the morning, one night-wisp was resting on his arm. It had scared him awake and he’d almost fallen out of the tree, but the sei hadn’t jumped or laughed or run away.

That’s when he had realised that there was nothing to fear here. Magic was as dangerous as the swords the mercenaries back home carried – deadly in the wrong hands, but harmless if left to itself.

“What have you got for me today?”

He could hear the warm smile on her voice. He had never imagined he’d sell fish and herbs to a mist woman one day. Back in Tramura, he’d have been burnt alive for helping a sorceress.

“Nothing much, I’m afraid. They’re not biting as much today, but I’ve got you the leafs you wanted They’re inside on the table, help yourself.”

He got up and turned around, meeting her dark eyes. Anei Rin reminded him of his daughter; maybe that’s why he didn’t mind what she was. Or maybe he just finally knew better.

He followed her as she entered his small cabin, and left the meager catch to dry outside.

“How are your studies going?”

She didn’t turn around. It was a sore subject, but he felt rude not asking. He had a feeling not many people did.

“They’re not. How much do you want for these?”

“You can have them,” he said. “They’re worth more to you Mist Sorcerers than they are to me.”

“Mist Women, Ulric, not sorcerers. It’s not the same. And I’m neither, anyhow.”

“You study in Maishi Hou. I don’t know any others, true, so I can’t compare, but you’re a Mist Woman to me.”

Anei Rin examined the herbs and smiled, but it was false. The sparkle had left her eyes.

“Don’t let them hear you say it. I’m a failed experiment to them.”

He cringed at the deep loathing in her voice. “That’s not–”

“How much? I refuse to take them for free.”

He sighed. Anei Rin was too stubborn to back down, he knew that. Just like his daughter.

“Just the usual price. Two quarters will do.”

She nodded, and pulled the leather pouch from her belt. The movement exposed her shoulder, and revealed the black vine-shaped tattoos underneath. Anei Rin hated them, said they were useless, even blamed them for her inability to use magic, but he knew better. He felt something every time he saw them.

Her tattoos were magic, and they were dangerous. His inexperience with the gift made it more obvious to him, perhaps – he didn’t see her as something to study, he just saw what was and felt what his gut was telling him.

Rin wasn’t his daughter, but he’d protect her all the same.


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Wardens of Archos RELEASE DAY – Release Week Schedule and Character Aesthetics

IT’S HERE, FRIENDS AND SPARROWS! Wardens of Archos is now officially OUT!

To celebrate, there are all kinds of things going on this week. Here’s the schedule so you know what’s happening where and when:

 

MondayFaith Rivens shares some of her favourite lines and pretty character aesthetics

TuesdayMeka James shares her review and favourite excerpts

WednesdayDana Fraedrich does an interview with me

ThursdayK. J. Chapman does a mini interview with me and also has a HUGE reveal regarding Book 3, friends!

FridayRhianne Williams shares her review as well as two excerpts

Faith Rivens is kicking things off today by sharing her favourite lines and also some character aesthetics (which I had so much fun creating, by the way). Take a look:

Show me more!

I’ll be sharing a link to each stop as they become available. Since we all live in different time zones, most of them won’t go live at my usual time but if you keep an eye on this blog – or the links above – you won’t miss a thing 🙂

You can buy it here. Don’t forget to add it on Goodreads, either 😉

Now, share away, friends, and happy reading! <3


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NaNo Prep Sessions – Week 2 | Your World

Welcome back, NaNonites! *waves* *makes tea for everyone* How are your preparations coming along? 🙂 Are you starting to feel more confident/excited yet?

Last week we developed your characters, but this week is all about your world! Whether your book is set in London or a world of your own creation, you need to know what’s what, because your world informs your book more than you might think. Even if you don’t plan on using your world all that much, it still helps to know a few basics. You’d be surprised how often it’ll come up while you write!

Every country has its own religious beliefs, for example. While they tend to be similar in many places, they can also differ greatly, and you will usually find some differences, even if they’re only small ones. So, if your MC is a visitor to one country, their religious beliefs might clash with those of that country. It may not seem like an important detail now, but it’s little things like this that’ll make your world more believable.

Today’s worksheet looks at some of those country-specific details 😉 Here’s another example from my own WIP, Darkened Light:

The key points are:

  • just like with last week’s character sheet, I like to include a picture or two to give me a better feel for the place.
  • are any of your characters at home here? (it’s not included in the example above since none of my characters are Vaskan, but it’s included in your worksheet)
  • the capital city
  • the country’s main trade
  • the education
  • what is this country known for? It’s easy to struggle with this point, so if you’re not sure what to put answer this instead: is your fictional country based on a real one? (Vaska is loosely based on Estonia) What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of that country? What made you want to base a country in your book on this real country?
  • what is the official language?
  • what is this country’s religion?

It’s fine if you can’t fill in all of those details right now. Just like your characters, your world will develop as you go, so don’t worry if you can’t answer every point right now. I always struggle a little more with the world details, and need longer for my country sheets.

You could also easily add more points! If your country is a kingdom, who sits on the throne? What are its most valued laws? You could even add a few phrases in each country’s language! (personally, I like to add swear words; my characters tend to have a swearing problem (Doran and Ash especially))

If one or more of your countries is based on a real place, you can draw information from that. Vaska is loosely based on Estonia, so some of the details above reflect Estonian culture. Of course, Vaska is a fictional place, so there are plenty of differences, too!

If you want to do a little more prep, check out my series on world building here. Just remember not to over-prepare 😉 I think this is a risk especially where your world is concerned, because your world is such a great tool for making your book more believable. It’s easy to get caught up in all those little details that make a country unique, and before you know it you’re too worried about getting some details wrong to continue!

Unfortunately, getting stuck or not remembering a certain detail is likely with big projects like NaNo, but it doesn’t have to stall you. When I get stuck and can’t remember a name, for example, or haven’t named a country yet, I use placeholders. My first drafts are full of them! Whenever a country or a person I haven’t named yet comes up, I type [ADD], and then when I start editing or when I’ve named everything I can run a search through my document, and find every placeholder easily 🙂

Here’s your free worksheet, NaNonite:

NaNo Prep Week 2 – Country Worksheet

You can also join me on the official NaNo website here.

How do you create a whole world out of nothing? Which details does your world need? Is there any part of this you’re worried about? Get yourself a tea, open a pack of biscuits, and let’s chat!


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For Cookie Break’s home page, have a look here.

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