Cover Reveal: Jennifer McConnel’s Daughter of Chaos

Nothing is more terrifying than the witch who wields red magic.

DOC cover

Witches must choose the path they will follow, and Darlena Agara is no exception. She’s been putting it off long enough, and in her case, ignoring it has not made it go away. In a moment of frustration, Darlena chooses to follow Red Magic, figuring she had outsmarted the powers that be, since there’s no such thing as Red Magic. But alas, Darlena’s wrong (again) and she becomes a newly declared Red Witch.

Her friends are shocked and her parents horrified by the choice Darlena has made. As a Red Witch, she now governs one third of the world’s chaos. She is the walking personification of pandemonium, turmoil, and bedlam, just as the patrons of Red Magic would have it to be.

But Darlena believes there must be more to Red Magic than chaos and destruction, and she sets out on a journey to achieve balance. Only doing so puts her at odds with the dark goddess Hecate, who simply will not allow Darlena to quit. She encourages Darlena to embrace who and what she is and to leave good magic to the good witches. If only Darlena could, life would be simple, and she would not be the Daughter of Chaos.

DAUGHTER OF CHAOS is the first in a YA paranormal trilogy. Coming March 2014 from Month9Books.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jen McConnel first began writing poetry as a child. Since then, her words have appeared in a variety of magazines and journals, including Sagewoman, PanGaia, and The Storyteller (where she won the people’s choice 3rd place award for her poem, “Luna”).
She is also a former reviewer for Voices of Youth Advocates (VOYA), and proud member of SCBWI, NCWN, and SCWW.
A Michigander by birth, she now lives and writes in the beautiful state of North Carolina. When she isn’t crafting worlds of fiction, she teaches writing composition at a community college. Once upon a time, she was a middle school teacher, a librarian, and a bookseller, but those are stories for another time.

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New Book Preview: Sebastian Falls by Celeste Holloway

I’m excited to share a book with you that I’m looking forward to reading. It’s a young adult paranormal called Sebastian Falls by the very fabulous Celeste Holloway.

sebastian falls 200x300 Here’s the teaser:

A year after her parents’ death, seventeen-year-old, Meadow Parker, is close to having a grave of her own.

Beyond her shrink’s false diagnosis of PTSD, there’s no medical reason for her failing health. Only she knows the cause. But if Meadow told the truth—told them what comes for her at night—they’d lock her in a padded cell.

Grasping to help her find closure, Meadow’s best friend, Casey Somner, drags her to the place her parents were obsessed with—the historical landmark that fuels Meadow’s fears and nightmares.

Once Meadow steps foot on the hallowed ground, she has a supernatural encounter that leaves her stricken with terror, but charged with power, fulfilling the legendary prophesy about the coming of The Keeper.

Both the holy and the unholy have waited over a hundred years for a new Keeper to resurface. Like it or not, Meadow’s destiny as Keeper is sealed, and the battle for her soul begins. A sharp double-edged sword, she will either save the world from Armageddon or fast track its annihilation.

About Celeste Holloway:

164373_1362740007456_1800296437_703952_4318880_nWhen Celeste isn’t writing, she might be found snuggled up, kid on one side, cat on the other, trying to read a book, which never works because kid and cat must have her undivided attention. She lives a small town life in Arkansas, but dreams of world travel. If she ever gets rich and famous, her first stop is Rome. A former hairstylist, she recently tossed her scissors to embark on a career as a fulltime writer. It was a huge leap of faith, but she has no regrets. If you’d like to learn more about Celeste, visit her blog, Words Done Write http://celholloway.blogspot.com/ or send her a friend request on Facebook.

Links:

Go add Sebastian Falls on Goodreads!

Find it on Amazon!

An Interview with Author Heather Reid

Today I’m excited to host a debut author whose book Pretty Dark Nothing from Month9Books is setting the interwebs afire! Heather Reid is here to talk about her inspirations for the book.

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About the Book:

Seventeen-year-old Quinn hadn’t slept a full night in twenty-three days. She’s terrified of the demons that stalk her dreams, pull her into a deep dark nothingness and whisper hauntingly of her death. Exhausted, Quinn dozes off in the school hallway, and Aaron, an amnesiac with a psychic ability, accidentally enters her nightmare. If Quinn can learn to trust her heart, and Aaron can discover the secret locked away in his fragile memory, their combined power could banish the darkness back to the underworld for good. That is, unless the demons kill them first.

How did you choose your title?

The title was chosen by my publisher after agreeing that the original title I queried with, When Darkness Whispers, was too similar to other titles. The team did some brainstorming and came back to me with a few choices. Pretty Dark Nothing was my favourite. I LOVE the title. I can’t imagine it being called anything else now.
Were there any other titles you considered?

When I first started writing, the working title of the manuscript was Soul Stalkers. I queried it a few times under the original title and then decided to do a huge revision to the manuscript. After the revisions, I didn’t feel Soul Stalkers really fit anymore so I change it to When Darkness Whispers and started the query process again. After it was picked up by Month9Books, it was agreed that When Darkness Whispers was too similar to books already out there. After some brainstorming, they gave me the choice of either The Darkest Hour or Pretty Dark Nothing. I loved Pretty Dark Nothing the moment I heard it so that’s what the title was changed to.
How did you name your characters?

I wanted Quinn to have a quirky, kind of modern name so I looked through a baby name book and did some name searches until I found one that fit. Aaron just came to me along with his voice in a dream. He was always called Aaron and the name fit. His last name, Collier, came from a set of leather-bound children’s books that were up on my shelf at the time. Collier was the publisher.  Teresa was named after my best friend in college, even her nickname, Reese, was stolen from her. Thanks, Reese! While my character shares the same name as my friend, the Reese in my book is not really like my real life friend
Are any of your characters based on people from your real life?

As a writer, I do draw on my real life experiences, but each of my characters is truly unique to themselves. While there are elements of people I know in some of my characters, none of them are fully based on any one person. For example, I did draw on my own relationships when writing Quinn’s best friend, but Reese isn’t like any friend in particular, she’s a mixture of experiences and feelings poured onto the page. Drawing from real makes characters more authentic.
If you could have a pajama party with any of the characters in your book, who would you choose and why?

He’s a secondary character, but if I had to choose, I would pick Marcus. He is so much fun! He makes me laugh and I can only imagine what he might do at a pajama party. For one thing, I think he would let me paint his nails and he would put on a wig and dance around in pink fuzzy slippers. He would deny it, of course, if anyone asked. I’d have to order extra pizza though because he would eat all the snacks and leave nothing for me. He has no shame. It makes me want to write a pajama party scene just to see what he would do.
Can you tell us about any other books you’ve written?

Pretty Dark Nothing is my debut novel, but I do have several books in different stages of completion, including a sequel.

Bio:

Heather L. Reid is both American and British and has called six different cities in three different countries, home. Her strong sense of wanderlust and craving for a new adventure mean you might find her wandering the moors of her beloved Scotland, exploring haunted castles, or hiking through a magical forest in search of fairies and sprites. When she’s not venturing into the unknown in her real life, she loves getting lost in the worlds of video games or curling up by the fire with good story. For now, this native Texan is back in the Lone Star State, settling down with her Scottish husband and dreaming up new novels to write.

Thanks for stopping by today, Heather!

Learn more about Heather and Pretty Dark Nothing at the following links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Pretty-Dark-Nothing-Heather-Reid/dp/0985327812/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368808104&sr=8-1&keywords=pretty+dark+nothing

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/pretty-dark-nothing-heather-reid/1109686541?ean=9780985327811

Twitter: @HeatherLReid

Website: www.heatherlreid.com

“It’s all Happening”…

Name the movie!

One of my very favorites…

So things have been busy. I got the manuscript for Men and Martinis back from its developmental edit, and realized many things.

  1. When you really think something’s done…it’s probably not done.
  2. There are many schools of thought on narrative in fiction. This is another post, but I just finished un-narratizing my manuscript and then read “Something Blue” by Emily Giffins this weekend, and was flabbergasted. There are whole chapters that are narrative. Like no dialogue. And its a good book. I’m gonna guess that the amount of narrative “allowed” depends on the editor, the publisher, the genre and lots of other things like moon phase and what I had for dinner. Like all “rules” of writing and publishing, it’s a fuzzy one.
  3. Having someone else invest in your work is more rewarding than I could have imagined. Having several people from the publisher actually read the whole MS and insert comments throughout — not just “this is wrong” but things like, “this isn’t working but what if you did X Y and Z or had him say something like “yaddayadda” and then tied this to that scene back on page 40?” It is an amazing thing to feel like someone else read  your words and that they cared as much about them as you do. (If you’re working on a YA novel or romance, DEFINITELY consider pitching Month9Books or Swoon Romance. So impressive so far, and the author board they’ve set up for us rings with similar endorsements.)
  4. I have a lot of work to do.

And that last one is why I haven’t been “around” as much. I need to turn the MS around this weekend if possible to get things ready to begin promotion in April… eek!

So, with that in mind, go check out: http://www.girlfriendsofgotham.com — it’s not much yet (and that is not the official cover art). But the site will be SO fun when it’s done!

 

Does it Pay to Use Multiple Pen Names for Various Genres?

So here’s what I’ve been thinking about and lately. I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Lord knows my husband is tired of debating it with me, and neither of the small people we live with seems to care much. I’ll pose a thoughtful question to them and usually get a response along the lines of, “Mommy, my giraffe likes crayons.” So they’re really not much help.

Here’s the topic. Pen names. Maybe you guessed that from my clever title. Anyway, if you recall, JK Rowling caught a crapload of crap for using the same name to pen the Harry Potter books and her recent adult novel, A Casual Vacancy. The argument – in case you didn’t catch it in the news was something along the lines of this – should she, in acknowledgement of her great success in the middle grade realm under the name JK Rowling, have published her adult book under a different name? Parents worried that their children, on seeing a new book from a beloved author, might mistake it as intended for them, and the book contained situations that were unabashedly adult. Rowling’s response to this idea was something along the lines of, “I’m a writer, not your babysitter.” I actually loved that she said that, and agree wholeheartedly. She is a writer. And she’s writing. And she’s entitled to use her name, of course!

But here’s a different way I’ve been looking at it… we’ll use my own case as an example. I write in several genres. I write literary fiction – mostly short stories, though I’d like to attempt a novel that could be construed as literary someday soon. I also write romance, YA romance and some new adult. These last three are clearly more “commercial” pursuits. I don’t expect that anyone who picks up my new adult series (yet to be announced…) will necessarily enjoy Through a Dusty Window. They’re drastically different. The voice is different, the content, the setting, the mood… all of it. So would it make sense for me to use a different name for my “commercial” pursuits since “Delancey Stewart” has already been established and branded as literary?

The other side of this coin is equally valid. As a new writer trying to build a following, I’d like to capitalize on every little bit of loyalty I might be able to inspire in a reader. If someone who loved TADW picks up Samantha’s Solace and is disappointed (despite it being clearly marketed as a YA romance), should I feel guilty about that? I might a little bit, but really…I’d be happy that someone liked one thing I wrote enough to buy something else. Isn’t that kind of the goal? To build some momentum?

Of course JK Rowling wouldn’t change her name to write a new novel. Why would she waste the capital she’s built over years of branding the name JK Rowling? Sure, some readers were disappointed. That isn’t really her fault, is it?

But I’m – clearly – not JK Rowling. Don’t worry, I have no delusions there. I just am not sure that it would make sense to start over again with a whole new name for my new efforts… and the social media marketing alone is daunting. Would that mean two blogs? Two Twitter feeds? Two facebook and email accounts? I don’t think I could do it!

What do you think? I know there are authors with several names going at once… I wonder what the payoff is…

Poetry in Prose

Like most writers (I assume), I read a lot. Usually three or four books at a time, and usually fairly quickly. I’ve got one going now that I keep taking breaks from. And it’s had me thinking more than any book I’ve read lately. I’ve taken breaks from it because I don’t want it to end, and because the content needs time to sit and simmer in some places.

I’m reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. And it’s been a wonderful experience. It’s a book that has changed the way I think about some things. YA literature, specifically. I grew up reading YA classics, but I didn’t know, at that time, that there was any such thing as young adult literature. I read whatever I wanted, and some of the things I read happened to have characters that were more relatable than others. As a writer, of course, the genre is not unfamiliar, especially with the fairly recent successes of the big ones like Rowling and Meyer. And I enjoyed those series very much. And I think the writing in both was just fine. The stories were what kept me reading. But with the Book Thief, it’s different. The language is what’s keeping me reading.

My former experiences with YA had led me to believe that writers who focused that way were looking for one thing – marketability. The quality of the writing didn’t seem to matter quite as much if the story hit all the necessary plot points and kept younger readers engaged. But Markus Zusak has challenged that idea.

I should say, first off, that I have no idea why this book would be construed as YA, if you want the truth. The protagonist is a “tween”, I suppose… but outside of that… the themes are universal, the setting and action are quite adult (although in this day and age, with kids playing ridiculously violent games and watching blood and gore in movies, maybe there’s no line there anymore).

But I’ve gotten off track. My point isn’t to consider the rise of YA literature or find rules for its categorization.

My goal was to basically GUSH over Zusak’s work. I don’t know if he sits down and worries every little sentence to make them read as they do. I’m guessing it’s a bit more natural to him. And I envy that… On every page is a sentence I wish with all my heart I had written. My husband is getting irritated because as I come across these, I tend to read them out loud, several times. So he’s been woken to me saying things like:

“In fact, on April 20 – the Fuhrer’s birthday – when she snatched a book from beneath a steaming pile of ashes, Liesel was a girl made of darkness.”  A GIRL made of DARKNESS. Lovely.

“It was a Monday and they walked on a tightrope to the sun.”

“She wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched the darkness stride forward.”

“The tears grappled with her face.”

“Her wrinkles were like slander. Her voice was akin to a beating with a stick.” That one has been in my head since I read it. Her wrinkles were like slander. I adore this idea.

I’ll let you read the rest yourself if you haven’t done so already.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that feels like it was painted with a brush and palette. Thanks, Markus Zusak, for reminding me that literary fiction and YA do not have to be different things.