Author: Liz

Book Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

Book Review: The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi


Two words: Magical. Heist.

It’s 1889 in an alternate Paris, where those who have the ability to “forge” can manipulate matter or minds just like magic–except it’s really about science and art–with infinite possibilities. It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland–especially when you can pass through a mirror to another place. The secret society of the Order of Babel regulates forging, controlled by the high Houses. Plants can be forged for beauty and function, statues can be forged for security, clothes can be forged to give you as many tricks up your sleeve as you can imagine.

This lush backdrop is where Séverin lost his inheritance. Spurned by the Order, he teams up with Enrique, the historian looking for a voice and power with his own community; Laila, the dancer with a life altering secret; Zofia, the engineer who is excellent at math yet awful with anything social; Tristan, a brother to him; and finally Hypnos, the entitled yet clever patriarch of one of the Houses. I have to say, Hypnos was my favorite! He was funny without being too over the top. Enrique was also funny, especially when paired with Séverin:

“You’re doing it again,” said Enrique.
“What?”
“That whole nefarious-whilst-looking-into-the-distance-thing. What are you hiding, Séverin?”
“Nothing.”
“You and your secrets.”
“Secrets keep my hair lustrous,” said Séverin, running his hand through his curls. “Shall we?”

This big cast of characters wend their way through a fantastical mystery at the heart of the Order of Babel. I did wonder sometimes whether the big cast was a bit too much–their voices sometimes blended together, when you jumped from one to another in the chapters. Sometimes their personalities were a bit too similar, except Zofia who was quite unique. They each do have clear motives, but it was really their voices (internal & external) that were a little too similar.

A simple heist leads them deeper into the mysteries of the Order than any of them ever dreamed. They must use their wits and their tricks to not only prevent total chaos–but to survive.

All in all, I really enjoyed the fantastic magic, the storytelling, and the suspense. Oh, and there was just enough romance–I’m not a big fan of over the top romance (unless I’m reading Outlander, of course), and Chokshi did a great job with some light romantic touches: it all felt very real and unforced.

I’ll definitely be on the lookout for the rest of this series!

The book is available for pre-order, and releases January 15, 2019.

I received an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for this honest review.

Book Review: Jack Be Quick by Benjamin Thomas

Book Review: Jack Be Quick by Benjamin Thomas

Occasionally I try to reach outside my normal reading genres and try something different. My comfort genres are of course Fantasy, Sci-Fi and YA. My favorite local bookstore recommended this book, Jack be Quick, by fellow Connecticut author Benjamin Thomas. I will be completely honest, I think it is the first thriller I have ever read, and I really enjoyed it! Now if it just had some vampires or something, it’d be perfect…just kidding!

Thomas writes a fast-paced thriller that just keeps you hooked from the beginning. I couldn’t stop reading it. The main character Noah is fascinating. A paramedic trudging through his own pain and addiction; meanwhile trying to decipher and stop the murderous Jack-the-Ripper style killings happening around him. It all starts with a message scrawled in blood when Noah responds to a paramedic call. And while Noah tries to figure out the pattern of the killings, the murderer also seems to stalk Noah.

The murders follow the pattern the original Jack-the-Ripper held, in Noah’s small Connecticut town. Noah knows finding the killer will prevent more murders, but he needs to battle through his own mental and physical wounds to stop the killings.

It’s a great read, it goes by very fast!

New! Short Story Anthology from Owl Hollow Press

New! Short Story Anthology from Owl Hollow Press

Coming this fall from Owl Hollow Press, my short story “Red Sneakers” will be published in the anthology Under the Full Moon’s Light:

This anthology will explore stories that all feature the full moon, and I’m excited to be a part of it!  I normally don’t write short stories, but decided to take a break from my current works in progress–and I’m glad I took the chance!  It was a much different process for me, since I’ve grown used to writing stories that are parts of series. It was a fun process, and I think I’ll keep writing short stories now!

More info coming soon on the anthology!

Book Review: Coiled by H.L. Burke

Book Review: Coiled by H.L. Burke

What a magical book!  I was really excited to read this book, because it’s a retelling of a Greek myth–but it’s entirely unique, and very well-told.

I recently interviewed H.L. Burke on my blog as part of her Coiled release blog tour, and the book will be available on June 15, 2017.

A twist on Eros and Psyche, the story of Laidra and Calen is at times heartbreaking, heartwarming, and full of intrigue, adventure, and even an Olympian-style quest.

Laidra is cursed with hideousness that worsens whenever she heals someone, while Calen is cursed with the incredibly debilitating–and rather inconvenient to say the least–problem of turning into a giant snake when he is seen by another person.

There’s beautiful symmetry with the two curses, and ugly humanity rears its head in different ways when their respective families are confronted with just how to handle their cursed children.

I enjoyed this read from beginning to end, and though I thought I could see where it was going one moment, was pleasantly surprised by each turn of events. I thought the tale was expertly woven, and–importantly for me–no cringe-worthy romance: I loved watching Laidra and Calen’s relationship develop right from the start.

Burke’s characters always have real depth to them, especially in this book. Even the gods and demi-gods, though by definition are stuck within a certain role, each has quite a personality and lends their voice to the story.  I always love the humanization of mythological gods.  On the side of a vase the gods look all perfect and pristine, but when they get involved with mortals, they’re squabbling and plotting right down in there.

I would highly recommend for a pleasant YA read that will give you a good adventure, love, curses, intrigue, and even a magical beast or two!



Available on Amazon, Kobo, Nook and iBooks.


Also check out the Facebook Launch party happening June 23rd!

Coiled Blog Tour & Author Interview by H.L. Burke

Coiled Blog Tour & Author Interview by H.L. Burke

Welcome to the first stop on the Coiled Blog Tour!  We’ve got some great stuff leading up to the Coiled release!

Welcome to the Coiled blog tour: a collection of posts celebrating the release of the new YA Mythological Romance from Uncommon Universes Press and author, H. L. Burke. Via the links below you will find interviews, informational and entertaining posts about the story behind the story, and of course, sneks.

Seven stops on this blog tour contain special Scavenger Hunt Clues, presented by #TheodoretheDragon and #PistachioSnek. Look for a photo of either or both of those little guys holding up a note. Each note is part of our secret phrase. When you have all seven pieces of our secret phrase click here and tell us. All correct entries will be put into a random drawing for a signed paperback of Coiled. The winner will be drawn at our Facebook party on June 23rd.

Blog Tour Dates

June 5 – Liz Delton, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 7 – Monsters, Misfits, Mushy Stuff Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 8 – Brianna Merritt, Book Spotlight
June 10 – Rebekah Gyger, Greek Gods Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 12 – A. R. Silverberry, Guest Blog (scavenger hunt)
June 13 – Heather Hayden, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 14 – Lea Doue, Author Interview
June 15 – Alyson, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 20 – Jebraun Clifford, Guest Blog
June 22 – Laura Pol, Author Interview (scavenger hunt)
June 23 – Olivia Fisher, Book Spotlight

About Coiled

In the vein of Eros and Psyche, two cursed souls find each other on a forsaken isle and together must shed the darkness inflicted upon them–or else live as monsters forever.

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

Where to buy:
Buy on Amazon

Buy on Kobo, Nook, and iBooks

 

About the Author, H. L. Burke

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Follow her personal blog at www.hlburkeblog.com

And now for the interview!

When did you first come across the myth you based Coiled on?

I first read variants of this story probably in middle school when I was going through all the fairy tale books my local library had to offer. I’d go to that section and seek out books that had stories with unfamiliar names because I didn’t really want to read another version of Cinderella or Snow White (though if I could find one with different details, like the older version where Cinderella’s stepsisters got their toes cut off, that was great). The thing is, Eros and Psyche is one of those stories that has been retold by multiple cultures. East of the Son, West of the Moon had a public radio story time version that I really liked when I was young, so that might’ve been my earliest exposure, and of course, I read the C. S. Lewis version, Til We Have Faces, in high school.

I like a lot of the concepts, the falling in love sight unseen, people changing into monsters/animals, the redemptive quest at the end. Of course, there were other aspects I really wanted to change, so it was nice to play around with that.

Besides Eros and Psyche, do you have any other favorite myths or tales?

As mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of slightly obscure fairy tales and mythology. People turning into animals is a favorite, so I think stories like The Blue Bird or The White Cat.

When writing, was it harder, or easier (or the same) to have the myth as your reference? Did you do anything differently than when you wrote your other books?

Hard to judge. The myth gave me a really good starting point, but about the middle of the myth, there were some things that I didn’t feel worked for the story I wanted to tell, but because of the myth, I spent more time than I should trying to make them work than I might’ve otherwise spent on an idea that didn’t click with my vision. Freeing myself from absolute adherence to the outline allowed me to finish the story and tell the story I wanted to tell. However, the original myth did give me the inspiration for the world being Greek inspired. Originally I’d planned to place it in a world of castles and knights, you know, typical fairy tale fare, but diving into the older origins of the story definitely took the world in a more interesting direction, for me anyway. Plus Greek gods are all sorts of fun.

Have you considered doing any other retellings?

I have no definitive plans for it, but you never know. Honestly, this is the one fairy tale I’ve always wanted to tackle, and now that I have, I think the retelling bug is out of my system.

I have done some short stories inspired by fairy tales. I have a Steampunk version of Pandora’s Box (another Greek myth. I grew up on those. I recently bought my daughters the same Greek Myth book I pored over as a kid and can’t wait to share it) in an anthology of Steampunk fairy tales and I have written a story inspired by the Minotaur legend for an upcoming Fellowship of Fantasy anthology (you can find information on that here www.fellowshipoffantasy.com).

If I were to do another retelling, it would probably be either the Blue Bird or the White Cat, just because I haven’t seen them done yet (they probably have been because everything has, but not to the extent of say Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast).

Connect with the author:

on Facebook
on Twitter
on Instagram
at her website

 

 

I can’t wait for the release of this great book–I’ll be putting up my own review of it on the 15th!

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Indie Author In-Person Event: How To

Indie Author In-Person Event: How To

Over the past few years, I’ve been participating in and experimenting with in-person events to promote my fantasy series the Arcera Trilogy. After doing my taxes this past February, I discovered that these events were actually where the majority of my sales came from last year, so this year, I decided to book more events. I’ve learned a lot of things first-hand that I wanted to share with other indie authors, so here goes!

Book Launch event for The Fifth City, at a local library

1. The Basics

To do a book event you absolutely need two things in hand: Books, and a way to accept payments.
Whenever I’m on my way to an event, and I’m experiencing that last-minute “what did I forget” moment, I just ask myself: Do I have my books and my change? If the answer is yes, I pull out of the driveway.
The books: If you publish your books through CreateSpace like me, this part is fairly easy, but it is an investment. The hard part is knowing how many books you will need, because you never know how many books you might sell. This is something you will most likely learn from experience–I have sold anywhere between 1-27 books at a single event, but average 10, so try to prepare as best you can.  Books don’t go bad, but you’ll probably also be reporting them as inventory on your business taxes.  You’ll also need to physically lug them to the event, so you might want to invest in some sort of cart.  I have this one.
Accepting payments: Part one of accepting payments is to first look into your state’s tax laws, and any other laws pertaining to selling items.  Obtain any permits or licensing before doing an event.
Part two is the actual payment.  You will want to have change on hand for cash purchases, so calculate how much you will need beforehand and go to your bank and get as many 1’s 5’s or 10’s you might need.
Accepting credit cards is exceedingly easy these days, and is likely to get you more sales than if you only accept cash.  PayPal and Square both make card swipers you can plug into your phone.  Generally, you’re getting hit with a small fee for each transaction, so make sure to factor that in with your recordkeeping.

At the Big E (a huge New England fair), sharing a booth with other authors.

2. Finding Events

The first event I ever attended was at my alma-mater: they were hosting an art show, and were looking for alumni who were authors to be part of it.  I happened to get an email about it.  The second event I attended was at a local library, with several other authors doing book signings–I found out about it from a newspaper clipping someone found for me.  The point here is that you can find events through almost any channel.  These days, I find most things through Google, or Facebook to be honest.  Join mailing lists, groups, and search for “local author event” or “fairs” in your area.  When you fill out an application, or contact the coordinator, make sure to follow instructions, and provide what’s requested.

Libraries and book stores are the first places that probably come to mind for a book signing–Getting people to attend a single-author event, however, is a whole ‘nother topic.  As I did more and more events last year, I began to expand my horizons, and have since done flea markets, craft shows, and renaissance faires.  These types of shows have actually seen the most sales for me.

With the markets and shows I’ve done, I’ve had my own booth (10×10 or so), so there is a little more involved here that I’ll go into in the logistics section about setup.  They also usually charge a fee, which you’ll need to consider when weighing your options.  (If you know any other authors in your area, try partnering with them and sharing a booth to split the cost if it’s high.)

Yes, I hand painted this sign. #AuthorWithTooManyHobbies

3. Logistics

The amount of things you may or may not need will depend on the type of show.  Places like libraries and bookstores will generally provide tables and chairs, at the very least, whereas at an outdoor craft show you might need a pop-up tent to go with your setup.  Here’s a list, in no particular order, of things I suggest to have (besides your books & change):

  • eMail List sign-up sheet
  • Table/Table Cloth/Chairs/Tent/Tent Weights etc. if needed
  • Business Cards
  • Other promo materials, if you have them (postcards, bookmarks, etc.)
  • Designated book signing pen (I like fancy pens, personally)
  • A way to track sales, even if it’s just a designated piece of paper or notebook
  • A receipt book, in case someone wants one
  • Stands to prop up your book(s) (Like these)
  • Signage: banners, posters, flyers, stands, etc.
  • If it’s going to be a long day, bring food, snacks, water, caffeine, etc.
  • A spare battery, to charge your phone.
  • Various supplies: tape, duct tape, rubber bands, binder clips, Purrell wipes, tissues, hand warmers, scissors.  (Can you tell I used to be a Stage Manager?)

 

My latest setup at the Made in CT Expo (a 300 vendor show)

4. Event Day

Now, you’ve been getting ready for this day for a while now, and it’s finally here!   First: be early.  Whether it’s the library, or the several thousand people market, there are many reasons to be early, and you certainly don’t want to get stuck in traffic, parking, or be late setting up.  I like to pack my car the night before, if I can.  Second: do you have your books and change?

A few tips, for once you’ve set up:

  • Smile at people, or at the very least, try not to look unfriendly.
  • Take pictures of your setup, or event signage, and put it out on all of your social media channels to let everyone know you’re there.
  • Prepare an “elevator speech”–a quick, 30 second synopsis of your story, or explaining your book.
  • If someone picks up your book to read the back, try not to talk, and let them read.
  • Don’t be disappointed.  Not everyone likes to read, and not everyone may like your genre.  It is what it is!
  • Make friends with the other vendors/authors/staff.
  • Don’t pack up early.  This is a big pet peeve of mine because it drives customers away from all vendors.  Besides, you might miss out on those sales!

5. Weather

There is no getting around it: if you do an event outside, you will be dealing with the weather.  There are some things you can do to prepare, but sometimes there is nothing you can do.  If you have a tent, you can get walls to attach to it, to keep out rain and sun.  You can also get weights to keep your tent from leaving the ground (highly recommend!).  You can wear rain boots.  And you can sit there and watch as your booth gets flooded–whoops, yes, that did happen to me recently.  It was relocated.  But the show must go on, and it did.

And you can even cosplay! This is my setup at the Connecticut Renaissance Faire last year.

There is a lot that goes into doing an in person event, but I have to be honest, that feeling of signing your book and handing it over to a reader is incredible!  I can’t speak for all writers, but I myself am better with words coming out of my hands than my mouth, BUT sometimes you just need to get yourself out there if you want to get your books into reader’s hands!

Do you sell at markets and events?  What kinds of things do you bring?

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Book Review: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

Book Review: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem

Go ahead, judge this book by its cover!

The world behind it is just as intriguing and mysterious as the cover will lead you to believe.  Ri just wants to cure her adoptive father Samuel, but two chance encounters in the woods lead her on a wild journey through worlds she never knew–and Samuel and his sickness are part of a much bigger tale.  And to top it off, a strange phenomenon called the Culling is wreaking fatal havoc wherever they go.

The characters immediately grow on you.  Ri herself had an element to her that I couldn’t quite place–but, no spoilers, you’ll actually find out why that is later in this book.   And, to leave us wanting more, that element is revealed in full in the epilogue, no doubt to be explored in the sequel.

Ri encounters and picks up a band of characters throughout her journey, and some very unlikely ones at that–which is probably why the journey is so “fun” as a reader.  The chemistry is really fun to explore, and most of them are driven by love, which generally redeems their sometimes darker sides.

I did have a bit of trouble with the pacing in the beginning, but it picks up speed as it goes along.  The places Ri and the team travel through, and what they find there will keep you itching to know more about the Culling, what it may or may not have to do with Ri, and what the gods have in store for them all.

Sylvia in the Wilds Short Story

Sylvia in the Wilds Short Story

In the Arcera Trilogy, Sylvia Thorne discovers just what happens when the first war in a thousand years breaks out.  But before that, she was just a Rider, spending her days traveling through the wilds between the Four Cities.

Right before the first book Meadowcity, she gets stuck in Lightcity, waiting for a package to deliver.  She isn’t stuck for long though, when a young girl decides to go on a haphazard mission into the wilds–and Sylvia feels compelled to follow.

Which brings us to Sylvia In The Wilds–the short story prequel, which will be available as a free ebook in April 2017!

The story is currently with my beta readers, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

A Prequel Adventure

A Prequel Adventure

Before the first war in a thousand years, Sylvia Thorne was just a normal sixteen-year old girl, who happened to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the Four Cities.

Now that I wrote that above line, I’m convinced I need to add it to the description below…  Anyway, you get the idea.  You’re about to find out what Sylvia’s life was like before Meadowcity, before the war, in this upcoming short story (title TBA).  Check out the description, which might change right after I publish this post:

For a thousand years, the Four Cities of Arcera lived in peace behind their protective walls, while the lands between them turned wild and full of danger.  Only the few people willing to brave the wilds will step foot there, and Sylvia Thorne is one of them.
Sylvia is used to delivering messages between the cities for a living–and she will soon deliver the message that breaks the peace between the cities, but before that, she gets stuck in Lightcity, waiting for a package to deliver.
Her wait for adventure isn’t long, when she discovers that a young girl named Maddy has left the city–untrained in the ways of the wilds.
One of the youngest Riders in Arcera, Sylvia feels she must go after the girl and bring her safely back to her sister.
When Maddy brings them into one danger after another, desperate to find her missing parents, Sylvia must draw upon her training to protect the both of them.
But a wolf pack lurking about is acting strangely, and something seems very wrong in the wilds of Arcera.
….
What do you think?  Look for this prequel short story sometime in April or March, depending on how ambitious I am.

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New Year’s: Done

New Year’s: Done

Like many others, I can’t help but look back on 2016 and look forward on 2017.  I think it’s beginning to be a blog tradition for me, anyway.

2016 was a crazy year for me.  Crazy fast and crazy amazing.  And I can’t wait for what this next one brings!

It started off with a trip to Japan:…Which I won’t be forgetting any time soon.  We arrived just in time for the cherry blossoms (sakura).  I guess I didn’t realize how quickly they peak and begin to die: in the beginning of our trip, the sakura in Tokyo were at peak (like above in Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden).  We then spent a week traveling to Gotemba, Kyoto and Osaka.  By the time we came back to Tokyo, the sakura were gone or dropping petals.  The timing was amazing!

I was more than a little inspired by Japan, and have begun to learn more of the language, as we are planning a second trip in 2017!  The inspiration reached even further, and might be finding some influence over my next book series, which is currently brewing.

Once we returned, I had to buckle down and finish up A Rift Between Cities.

Lots of things (including our trip) stole time from my writing schedule, but I managed to complete it in time!  Seeing the trilogy finished was an incredible part of the year.

Turns out I couldn’t say goodbye to Sylvia, however.

In 2017, look for a short story prequel following Sylvia’s adventures before the war.

The new series I’m working on is in the world-building stages, which I have learned is probably my favorite part of writing.  I’m tentatively planning a 4 or 5 book series, which I can’t wait to share with you!

In 2017, I’ll also be selling and signing my books in the Artist’s Colony at Connecticon!

Despite a lot of negativity and bad things that happened in 2016, I don’t mind saying that I had a great year.  The New Year gives us a chance to turn the page on the old, and start blank: