Book Review: White Stag (Permafrost #1) by Kara Barbieri

White Stag by Kara Barbieri

Jenneke is a human who’s been living amongst the goblins in the Permafrost since they raided her village a hundred years ago. When a fight between two powerful goblins leads to the death of the Erlking, a hunt ensues: the goblin who fells the escaped white stag (the embodiment of the goblin king’s power) will become the next Erlking.

Jenneke accompanies her master Soren on the hunt. Though he is one of the most powerful of goblins, Soren has treated Jenneke as more of a friend than subservient. But Soren’s biggest rival is his uncle Lydian, an appallingly brutal sort who has inflicted tortures on Jenneke that continue to haunt her. Jenneke is torn between her hate for the goblins for the destruction they caused her family and the kindness she feels toward Soren, who has done nothing other than protect her. To make matters worse, Jenneke discovers she may be transitioning into one of the monsters she hates most—a goblin. But can she accept becoming that which she hates most, and must she give up her last shred of humanity to do so?

White Stag (Permafrost #1) is an epic, fantastical journey ensues, ripe with battles and creatures. But the one thing I found was that, while the concept is rich, the world-building was not. I wanted more details, more to anchor me into the world and make me feel as if I was right there alongside the characters. Some of the dialogue also felt a bit stilted and lacked a natural rhythm.

Kara Barbieri has a brilliant concept, but sadly I was hoping to love this book more than I actually did.

 

*I received an ARC (Advanced Reader’s Copy) courtesy of Wednesday Books and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Author Spotlight: Annie Sullivan

Name:   Annie Sullivan  

Author of:   A Touch of Gold (HarperCollins Publishing, Available August 14, 2018)

 

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing? 

I started out writing short poems in grade school, and one even got published in a local poetry book. But the first short story I wrote definitely had a princess in it, so I haven’t strayed far from that! But looking back, I don’t think that story quite holds

up today. I’ve definitely come a long way.  

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

When I was trying to decide what I wanted to major in in college, I remembered how much I enjoyed writing, so I got a degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing. I’ve always loved reading stories, so it only seemed natural that I start telling them.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

I had some great advisors at Butler University, where I got my master’s degree in creative writing. I also had a lot of support from everyone at the Midwest Writers Workshop, and it was there I met a lot of my critique partners, who have helped me in more ways than I can count. I’ve also had the opportunity to talk with some great authors like John Green and Brenda Drake, who have both given me great advice over the years. And I definitely couldn’t have done it without my family too!

 Do you exclusively write young adult fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I pretty much write YA fantasy. I would love to do some sci-fi or something set in the old west. I also want to start dabbling in picture books, but my heart will always belong to YA fantasy. I just love everything I can do in that space—like inventing new worlds and creatures.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

I strive to write a minimum of 500 words a day. Some days I can write 3,000, and some days those 500 can be a struggle. Usually when I’m writing, I try to take the weekends off so I can have some work life balance. When I’m on a deadline, like when I’m revising, then it becomes a little harder to maintain a balance. 

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

It takes about 3 months to write a first draft if I’m keeping to my writing goals. I like to then do revisions with a few different critique partners. Then, I revise after my agent has read it. Finally, I revise again after I get an editor. So I feel like I spend countless hours revising. But the better you know your story, the easier it is to revise. So I’ve gotten better at it over the years.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m pantser, so I don’t plot out my stories ahead of time; I fly by the seat of my pants. I basically get an idea and just start writing. Granted, I end up doing a lot of rewriting later because I slowly discover how I want the story to go, which sometimes means reworking the beginning over and over again.

I basically consider all the stories and fairytales I’ve read over the years as research, and I do some research as I go along depending on the topic.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Well, I know it would drive some people crazy, but I like to listen to the same song over and over again when I’m writing. I change the song after a few days, but I’ve probably listened to some of them a few hundred times in a row.

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

 I wouldn’t say I’ve done a literary pilgrimage, but I love to travel. I’ve traveled to every single continent—yes, including Antarctica—and to over 50 countries. As a writer, I think I have to take advantage of every opportunity to travel that I can. Seeing the world can inspire new settings, and I’ve even based some characters on people I’ve met during my travels.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For some of my projects I can, but not for all of them. For A Touch of Gold, I came up with the idea after watching Pirates of the Caribbean. I was thinking about all that cursed gold the pirates had to track down, and that got me thinking about gold and having golden powers. That led me to thinking about King Midas, but I typically write about strong female characters. So I got to thinking about his daughter and whatever happened to her after she was turned to gold. And that was that! A story idea was born.

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

Just as I love to write YA fantasy, I love to read it too. Some of the books I’m loving right now are Frostblood by Elly Blake and Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson. Some of my other favorite authors include Meg Cabot, Jane Austen, and Madeline L’Engle.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

Haha! Yes, I actually do. I hide family stories, family names, and fun little Easter eggs. I enjoy hiding these little details even if I’m the only one knows they’re there.

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

All of my characters have some small part of me in there, and some have characteristics of people I might know. But I wouldn’t say they ever hold too much a resemblance to real people.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry. I know this book published a long time ago, but it has stayed with my since I read it as a kid. And I hope it will affect others the way it did me.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot. It was just such a fun short read that reminded me of Pride & Prejudice, so of course I knew I was going to love it. Swoon!

Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I have before, but honestly, if I do it now, it’s mostly to find my blog or my book on Amazon so I can share the link with people. Although, I do have to note that since I share a name with Helen Keller’s teacher who is named Annie Sullivan that I’m just glad I can find myself at all because for years I couldn’t!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

I would choose a goat! I love goats because they have really cool rectangular pupils (Google a picture!). Also, I’ve been told goats are social creatures that like to eat, which pretty much describes me. Desserts are my weakness!!!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

I love coming up with plots. My characters are always secondary, so I always have to spend extra time making the characters feel real and unique. Luckily, I have an agent who is amazing at characters, so she always keeps me on track!

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

Don’t give up. Seriously. I started this book in 2010. I finished it in 2012. It’s coming out in 2018. That’s 8 years from start to finish. There were so many times I wanted to give up during those eight years—times when I was getting rejection after rejection. But I stuck with it. I wrote multiple books while I was waiting. And because I didn’t give up, I ended up where I am today.

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Enjoy it. Being a debut author is a crazy, thrilling, confusing time. It’s like everything is happening at once, but the day your book comes out, nothing truly changes. Yes, you have a book out in the world, but it’s not the earth-shattering event you think it’ll be. So just enjoy what you can and then get back to writing the next book.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

I try to help aspiring writers any way I can. I judge writing contests, help out in mentoring contests, and guide as many authors as I can through the tricky path to publication. I had to figure out how to write query letters and pitch agents all on my own, and I know how difficult that process was. So anything I can do to make it easier on others I’ll do gladly!

Looking for more information on Annie?

A Touch of Gold

Gold is wealth. Wealth is power. Power is a curse.

King Midas once had the ability to turn all he touched into gold. But after his gift—or curse—almost killed his daughter, Midas relinquished The Touch forever. Ten years later, Princess Kora still bears the consequences of her father’s wish: her skin shines golden, rumors follow her everywhere she goes, and she harbors secret powers that are getting harder to hide.

Kora spends her days locked in the palace, concealed behind gloves and veils, trying to ignore the stares and gossip of courtiers. It isn’t until a charming young duke arrives that Kora realizes there may be someone out there who doesn’t fear her or her curse. But their courtship is disrupted when a thief steals precious items from the kingdom, leaving the treasury depleted and King Midas vulnerable. Thanks to her unique ability to sense gold, Kora is the only one who can track the thief down. As she sails off on her quest, Kora learns that not everything is what it seems—not thieves, not pirates, and not even curses. She quickly discovers that gold—and the power it brings—is more dangerous than she’d ever believed.

Midas learned his lesson at a price. What will Kora’s journey cost?

From author Annie Sullivan comes A Touch of Gold, the untold story of the daughter King Midas turned to gold, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Wrath and the Dawn.

 

Order A Touch of Gold from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

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Author Spotlight: C.M. McCoy

Name: C.M. McCoy 

Author of: EERIE

From: Alaska

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?  It was a “descriptive paragraph” assignment from the 5th grade. My teacher, Mrs. Brady, was so excited about my stinky hamster paragraph, she made me read it aloud to the 3 other 5th grade classes. I was mortified, dead scared, and actually vomited. Worst reward ever.

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession? It was after I’d retired from the Air Force and after I’d retired from engineering. I’d written a memoir and signed with a literary agent. After that, I caught the fiction bug, and the rest is mystery. Writing is a funny profession in that one never stops pursuing it. The market is ever changing; agents and editors come and go, and one misstep on social media can rally the review trolls–effectively torpedoing your paycheck. Sometimes it feels more like the pot at the end of the rainbow than it does a career.

Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author? There have been many who’ve been the proverbial lighthouse in the channel. Too many to name really, but agent Michelle Johnson tops my list of advisers/supporters during my journey to publication. She was extremely generous with her time and wisdom, and I’m forever grateful for her unwavering support. In addition, I have been blessed with the world’s best critique partners, who helped me hone my craft and who helped me shape up the structure of what would be my debut novel. Quite honestly, after paying thousands for professional editors who offered little to nothing in the way of actual editing suggestions, I found critique partners were far more adept at recognizing and suggesting edits for structural shortcomings, character arcs, plot holes, and craft mistakes. Sarah Adair, an unpublished author who shies away from social media, was especially helpful. I found her through Maggie Stiefvater’s Critique Partner Match-up several years ago.

Do you exclusively write paranormal or have you written in other genres? I also write YA and Adult thriller, speculative, and Picture Books. I’ve dreamed of writing a contemporary, but something urgent and usually monstrous seems to always pop up on those opening pages. I’m sure there’s something psychologically avoidy (that’s totally a thing) is happening there, but I’ve never dug deep enough into my psyche to figure it out.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance? Good lord, it’s hard to find quiet time between mom-ing and wife-ing and agent-ing. I love my family to pieces, and I’m acutely aware of one thing: when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll never regret “missing out  on writing time,” but I’ll sure as hell want more play time with my husband, my kindergartener, my sister, my mom and dad, etc. I’ve had enough close calls to know what’s truly important in life. And so I sneak writing time in when everyone’s asleep. Getting up at 0330 helps. And coffee. Lots of coffee.

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions? First drafts–this varies from 2 weeks to 7 months for me. Revisions continue until I perform the “good enough” nod. My husband, who piloted the Space Shuttle back in 2006 and whose mission rewired the Space Station, has this saying he picked up from one of his commanders at NASA: “better” is the enemy of “good enough.” For me, here on Earth, it means to mind your resources–an author’s time and energy are finite quantities, and spending them on an endless pursuit to make one MS “better” (which is a moving target) means the next MS never gets written. Recognizing when a MS has reached “good enough,” even if it’s “good enough for now” means moving forward. Getting stuck in the “it needs to be better” loop can stall a writer’s career. Some MS’s won’t sell (for now) no matter how many revisions an author makes, and it’s okay to put that MS in a drawer and call it good enough for now.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book? Most of my preparation involves daydreaming. I have to know my main character through and through before I begin a draft. I may scribble out snippets of dialogue or a scene here and there, but most of my prep stays in my head. As for research, I find and interrogate people who share an experience or hobby or career or personality trait that one of my characters shares. I also research maps, chemistry, medicine, murder, mental health, engines, thermodynamics, string theory, bacterial growth rates, etc…you know, the usual.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)? Nope. 😀

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list? I spent 7 days canoeing through the no-kidding Alaska bush. Out of cell phone coverage, far from roads and people, and on a deadline to reach to a checkpoint near the Yukon river so that I didn’t miss my scheduled bush-plane pick-up. It was refreshing and terrifying at once, and it truly helped me shape the setting of EERIE and of my YA thriller, both of which are set in part in the Alaska bush.

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects? I usually find inspiration from staring at the back of my eyelids after an exciting day. I can say that I remember an acute moment of illogical tree fear while camping one winter night, and that may have fed into EERIE’s carnivorous tree problem…

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites? I’m a mood reader who switches between nonfiction and fiction of most genres. I rarely get into a literary phase, and high fantasy isn’t my jam, but for the most part, I’ll read anything that tickles my neurons.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for? Oh yes. *evil grin*

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life? Yes to both. Some characters are a mash-up of different friends, and some are inspired by chance encounters with complete strangers.

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated. SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. I absolutely adore that book.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure. A BEDTIME STORY by LC Moon. This was a steamy Beauty and the Beast retelling by an indie author who, sadly, hasn’t published the sequel. I’m still hoping though…

Be honest: Do you Google yourself? No, but I do have a Google news alert set up, which sends me the strangest emails. For example, just a couple weeks ago, I learned a very beautiful actress would portray a fictional me in an upcoming film starring Natalie Portman.  *shrugs*

As a writer, what animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus? Tough choice. I’d say a snow ember. Or a snarling Yeti. Tough choice…

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with? Am I constantly answering questions that aren’t asked? Yes. Yes I am. Which is not as much a struggle as it is an annoyance. I should be more focused. I should take my own advice.

What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer? Don’t quit. (that’s 2 words)

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author? Don’t quit. Many authors have such an unfulfilling and even discouraging experience after their first book publishes, that they stop writing altogether. Don’t quit.

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers? I mentor. In 2017, I mentored an author in #PitchWars, and prior to that, I’ve mentored in contests like #NoQS and Query Kombat. I sneak into support groups and offer encouragement whenever I can. I lead workshops at schools and online. I’m still a work in progress myself, and I appreciate the reciprocation in this wonderful community. Now that I’m a literary agent and building my list, I try to be as specific and encouraging in my feedback as I can. I hate rejection. It stinks. Having received over 300 rejections for my own work before finding an agent, I can appreciate the sting I now send out, and I’m always thinking of the person on the other end and hoping they persevere in their journey to publication. <3

Would you like to know more about C.M. McCoy?

Eerie

The sensational teen paranormal romance featured in PEOPLE Magazine and on INSIDE EDITION! 

Hailey Hartley has just enrolled in the world’s premier supernatural university. It’s a school she’s never heard of, located in a town called The Middle of Nowhere, and run by a creature that’s not supposed to exist. But at least she got a scholarship…

Hailey’s dreams have always been, well…vivid. As in monsters from her nightmares follow her into her waking life vivid. When her big sister goes missing, eighteen-year-old Hailey finds only one place offers her answers–a paranormal university in Alaska. There, she studies the science of the supernatural and must learn to live with a roommate from Hell, survive her otherworldly classes, and hope the only creature who can save her from an evil monster doesn’t decide to kill her himself.

Get Eerie on Amazon or from Barnes & Noble

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Book Release: Searching (The Fading Series, Book 2) by Cindy Cipriano

Searching
Cindy Cipriano
(The Fading Series, #2)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: July 20th 2018
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult

A fast-paced fantasy romance with rich characters and immersive storytelling,Searching is the second book in theFading series by award-winning author Cindy Cipriano.

To say Leath is traveling light is an understatement. She’s only bringing three things on her trip. One is a silver heart locket—a gift from her longtime best-friend-turned-boyfriend Victor Santana. Next is a wedding token in the shape of a J, from James Turner. And of course, she’s packing her pistol. That’s it. She knows that when she leaves Woodvine, even her own mother may not remember her in the shifted reality that will be left behind. Bringing anything else would be pointless. But she’s driven now, by something that eclipses everything else, something she just got back: her memories. And now that she remembers James—she won’t stop searching until she finds him.

Goodreads / Amazon

LEARN MORE ABOUT SEARCHING!

One-liner for Searching?
How far would you search for The One?

More details?
Leath is packing light: just her two lockets (one from Victor, one from James) – and of course, her pistol. She knows that when she leaves Woodvine, even her own mother may not remember her in the shifted reality that will be left behind. But she’s driven by something that eclipses everything else: her recovered memories. Now that she remembers James—she won’t stop searching until she finds him.

Where did the idea come from for Searching?
Searching is the second book in The Fading Series. Searching takes up immediately where Fading left off, just as Leath puts her foot down inside Judaculla.

What genre is Searching?
Young adult.
But – the entire series crosses genres. It’s a paranormal, dystopian, young adult romance mash-up. Searching is also a crossover, appealing to young adults and up.

Who would enjoy reading Searching?
Fans of Fading who are waiting to find out if it’s Victor or James.

And, anyone who has ever been in love with two people at the same time.

Favorite lines from Searching:

  1. I wanted to touch him. So I did. (pg. 1)
  2. The first time I held hands with Victor Santana, it wasn’t romantic. Not at all. (pg. 3)
  3. Victor’s strong hand cradled mine, and he became my tether to reality. (pg. 3)
  4. His warm lips brushed against my ear as he whispered three little words. “I can wait.” (pg. 6)
  5. Name James Turner. Age 17. Parents Emancipated Minor. (pgs. 10-11)
  6. “I don’t usually get this close to a girl, unless I’m going to kiss her,” said the boy, giving me a playful grin. (pg. 23)
  7. When we were apart, it seemed as if all of eternity passed before I saw him again. (pg. 110)
  8. To one boy, I’d gladly give my heart. To the other, my life. (pg. 130)
  9. I wondered how long a person could live like this, so completely torn in half. (pg. 130)
  10. She could have any boy in the restaurant. Why was she falling all over mine? (pg. 147)
  11. But right now I had him. The boy of my dreams. (pg. 174)
  12. “I will never stop loving you,” he said. “Not even in death.” (pg. 268)

James is sort of a two-sides-to-one-coin kind of guy. Was it difficult writing his character?
Definitely, but so worth it!
*sighs*
He’s drop-dead gorgeous and funny, but he hovers over dark territory. It was a challenge writing him because I wanted my readers to see what Leath sees in James. In Searching, fans will see just how deep James’s feelings for Leath go.

And Leath’s other love interest, Victor, was it hard to write him?
Not a bit.
*sighs again*
Victor is the definition of the perfect guy. He’s good-looking, funny, confident and charismatic. Not to mention he has an exceptionally beautiful heart.

Who is your favorite character in Searching?
Ever continues to be my favorite character. She’s the girl you love to hate. I think we’re all hoping that in the end, she’ll do the right thing. The problem is we lose a faith in her each time she opens her mouth. As I continue writing the series, I’m currently working on book three and James is fast becoming a close second to Ever as my favorite character. I think readers will enjoy watching James’s growth from Fading to Searching to where I am now in writing the series.

Who designed the cover of Searching?
The talented Marya Heidel. Isn’t it stunning?!

How many books are in the Searching series? There will be at least 4 books in the series.

How can readers keep up with you and the Fading series?
Anything and everything about The Fading Series can be found at Clean Teen Publishing or CindyCipriano.com.

 

Author Bio:

Cindy Cipriano lives in North Carolina with her husband, son and their 27 pets.

Not really.

Just three dogs who think they are children and three cats who think they are raccoons. It only seems as if they make 27. When Cindy isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and the avoidance of cooking.

Cindy’s first novel, The Circle, Book One of The Sidhe won the 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Silver Award for Pre-Teen Fiction – Fantasy. Other titles in the series include The Choice, Book Two of The Sidhe (2015) and The Lost, Book Three of The Sidhe (2017). This seven-book series is published by Odyssey Books.

Miller’s Island Mysteries #1 The Case of the Toxic River (2017) is the first in her eleven-book science mystery series (Vulpine Press). #2 The Case of the Catalyst will release in 2018.

Look for Fading, the first in her young adult series, in April 2018. (Clean Teen Publishing). Fading is the tale of first loves and the consequence of dreaming up Mr. Right.

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Cover Reveal: The Witch’s Tower by Tamara Grantham

The Witch’s Tower
Tamara Grantham
(Twisted Ever After, #1)
Published by: Clean Teen Publishing
Publication date: March 11th 2019
Genres: Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Young Adult

Gothel is a witch. Punished for the actions of her mother, her choice is simple: either she stands guard over Princess Rapunzel—or she dies. But just because a choice is easy doesn’t mean it’s pleasant. Protecting Rapunzel means watching as the princess lays trapped in a tower, bedridden by hair that is so long and heavy it’s slowly driving her insane. Gothel’s life has become one of imprisonment and solitude as well—until a prince and his handsome squire appear at the tower.

Only one object can cut Rapunzel’s hair and end the curse: a pair of magical shears. But the shears are guarded by the most terrifying witches in the land, who also happen to be Gothel’s aunts. As Gothel and the prince’s squire, Raj Talmund, work to form a plan, she finds herself more and more drawn to the mysterious young man from the Outerlands. Unfortunately, his destiny is far more dangerous than she wants to admit: to save a princess, he must kill the witch who’s been forced to guard her.

THE WITCH’S TOWER is the first in an inspired new series of fairy-tale retellings from award-winning fantasy author Tamara Grantham.

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Author Bio:

Tamara Grantham is the award-winning author of more than a dozen books and novellas, including the Olive Kennedy: Fairy World MD series and the Shine novellas. Dreamthief, the first book of her Fairy World MD series, won first place for fantasy in INDIEFAB’S Book of the Year Awards, a RONE award for best New Adult Romance of 2016, and is a #1 bestseller on Amazon with over 200 five-star reviews.
Tamara holds a Bachelor’s degree in English from Lamar University. She has been a featured speaker at multiple writing conferences, and she has been a panelist at Comic Con Wizard World speaking on the topic of female leads. For her first published project, she collaborated with New York-Times bestselling author, William Bernhardt, in writing the Shine series.
Born and raised in Texas, Tamara now lives with her husband and five children in Wichita, Kansas. She rarely has any free time, but when the stars align and she gets a moment to relax, she enjoys reading fantasy novels, taking nature walks–which fuel her inspiration for creating fantastical worlds–and watching every Star Wars or Star Trek movie ever made. You can find her online at www.TamaraGrantham.com.

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Book Review: The Forest Queen by Betsy Cornwell

*Note, I was provided an advanced reader’s copy of The Forest Queen from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review*

Robin Hood reimagined as a female? Yes, please!

The Forest Queen is the story of Lady Silviana of Loughsley, “Silvie”. Raised amongst the wealth and power of nobility, Silvie has been isolated from the struggles of the countrymen who live just outside the walls of her manor. But when her father grows ill, and the king names her brother, John as Sheriff, Silvie begins to see just how barbaric and cruel he’ll be with the power he’s been granted.

In the dark of the night Silvie flees her home with her best friend, Bird (Robert Falconer). Together they, along with a steadily increasing band of followers, build haven in the trees of the surrounding forest.

In true Robin Hood fashion Silvie and her new friends return to Loughsley in nighttime raids to “rob from the rich and give to the poor”.

The Forest Queen was an intriguing concept. I found it a bit hard to get drawn in to at the beginning and found the build up to be slow. This book might be setting the groundwork for further books, which I understand, but I’d prefer more swashbuckling and adventure with my Robin Hood stories (even if it’s just Book 1).

Some of the characters felt underdeveloped, I did come to really like Bird and Little Jane though.

One of the things I really appreciated in this book was the idea that a female character could be relied on to take the leadership role in both a rebellion and the establishment of a community. Just because of her own attributes Silvie was viewed as the authority figure in the band of evacuees from Loughsley.

I can’t say I liked The Forest Queen enough to rave about it, but it was entertaining, interesting and an easy read.

 

The Forest Queen will be available on Amazon as well as Barnes & Noble and from other retailers on August 7, 2018 (follow the links for more information or to pre-order).

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Author Spotlight: Kim Chance

Name:  Kim Chance

Author of: Keeper; Seeker (coming Fall 2019)

From: Flux Books

 

 

Can you tell me about the first piece you remember writing?

The first piece of original fiction I remember ever writing was a short story about a girl named Katie and a boy named Barry who fall madly and love and get married. It was about three pages long. I was very much into romance and fairy tales when I was younger! I still have it somewhere, though I think I’d be slightly horrified to read it! Can we say insta-love? LOL! 

When did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a profession?

I majored in Journalism in college, so I was already on the path of using writing for my career, but I never occurred to me to pursue fiction writing until after I had graduated. I was 22 and newly married. My hubby was deployed and I was living in a brand new town with no friends or family nearby. I started dabbling in fanfiction just for fun, and when a friend suggested I write my own story, I decided to give it a try! The rest, as they say, is history!

 Is there anyone who went out of their way to help or advise you during your journey to become a published author?

 Not really. I sort of fumbled way through it on my own, to be honest. I did a lot of research and read a lot of craft books. Now, I’m part of a wonderful writing community and I have some amazing people in my corner. However, when I first started this journey, it was pretty much just me, my laptop, and a dream!

Do you exclusively write fantasy or have you written in other genres?

I’ve not written in other genres yet, but I’d like to in the future. I really don’t want to limit myself or put myself in a box. I know they say that writers should stick to one genre, but I’m not sure I agree with that. I plan to tell whatever story I’m most passionate about at the time, regardless of genre. Fantasy is definitely a soft spot for me, so I’m sure I will continue to write those types of stories, but I’d love to branch out as well.

What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book? Is it difficult to achieve a work, life, write balance?

My schedule is 100% unpredictable. I have two school-age children and a baby. That in itself is a recipe for chaos! J I do the majority of my writing at night once the littles are asleep. It’s not ideal, but it’s the only time I can truly focus without interruptions. I do try to squeeze writing time in during the day if I can (i.e. while the baby naps), but I usually have other responsibilities to manage during that time (laundry, cleaning the house, paying bills, etc.) as well. It is VERY difficult to juggle everything, and honestly, I’m not sure I’ve yet to figure out a true work/life/writing balance yet. I’m constantly working towards that though. I think the key is readjustment and trial and error. Just keep changing things up until you find what works for you!

How long does it generally take you to write a first draft? How long do you spend on revisions?

FOREVER. I’m seriously the world’s slowest drafter. When I wrote Keeper, I wasn’t agented and I didn’t have a publishing contract, so I wrote on my own timetable. It took me about three years to write the draft that ended up being the published book. For Seeker, the sequel to Keeper, I’m on deadline with my publisher. I have a little less than six months to write and turn in the draft. No pressure! Revisions tend to go much quicker for me because I enjoy the revision process so much more than drafting. I’ll likely get about two months or so to revise Seeker before it gets sent off for ARC printing.

Can you describe the preparation/research you do for each book?

I’m a big plotter, so I do an extensive outline and character profiles before I begin each book. If there’s research to be done, I typically try to do as much as I can ahead of time, but stuff always comes up while I’m drafting too.

Do you have any quirky writing habits (the things you’d never want anyone to know)?

Haha! No, not really. I’m pretty boring! I do need music and hard candy though (jolly ranchers are my fav!).

Have you ever done a literary pilgrimage—or any interesting research—for your novels? If not, do you have a research destination bucket list?

Unfortunately, not. I’ve never been outside of the US, which is something I hope to remedy soon! There are so many places I’d love to see and visit—especially for writing inspiration!

Inspiration comes in many forms. Can you recall the exact moment of inspiration for each of your projects?

For me, I don’t think it was one specific thing that inspired the story in Keeper. There were many things! I do remember the moment when a certain plot twist popped into my head. It changed EVERYTHING I had already written, but it was so exciting, I didn’t mind!

Do you have a specific genre you prefer to read? What are your favorites?

I’m a pretty eclectic reader, but fantasy and historical are my favorites!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find or know the real inspiration for?

I didn’t do that in Keeper, nor do I have anything like that planned for Seeker. However, I do have another WIP that I plan to finish after Seeker is turned in. In that book, there are multiple easter eggs!

Are your characters inspired—in part or whole—by people in your real life?

Yes and no. Most of the characters are entirely their own people, but there are some bits and pieces I pulled from real like. For example, Lainey’s name comes from my middle name which is Elaine. I’m named after my grandmother and wanted to honor her in that way. Also, Maggie, Lainey’s best friend, is very similar to my real life best friend, Carrie. Carrie isn’t a comic book nerd, but she is fiercely loyal and protective of me and always has my back—just like Maggie always has Lainey’s! I also used my husband as inspiration for the villain of the story, the Master. That sounds really odd, doesn’t it? Lol! My husband has a pretty dry sarcastic wit and so does the Master. That’s where the similarities stop though!

Name one book you think is entirely underappreciated.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer. It’s her adult sci-fi and it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s so undervalued and appreciated, which is a shame because it’s an incredible book. I can’t recommend it enough.

Name one book that was a guilty pleasure.

Twilight, of course! (Also, by Stephenie Meyer)

 Be honest: Do you Google yourself?

 Not very often, but I have done it before!

As a writer, which animal would you choose as your mascot/avatar/patronus?

 I would definitely choose a fox! I think they’re cute and clever!

Is there one thing you think you, as a writer, should be better at, but secretly struggle with?

Characterization. I always feel like I need to dig a little deeper with my characters. I usually get there, but it takes a while to really get inside their heads.

 What is one word of advice you’d give to an aspiring writer?

 Don’t be your own worst enemy. Writing a book is a difficult process, and it’s very easy to succumb to self-doubt and fear. Don’t stop yourself from doing what you love just because it’s scary. Keep writing and never stop. You can do it!

What is one word of advice you’d give to a newly published author?

Don’t read your reviews. I know the temptation is there, but don’t do it. Reviews are for readers not for authors, and while the good reviews are awesome, negative reviews can really hamper creativity. Have someone else send you the good ones, but stay away from the bad ones. Protect your creative headspace!

In what ways do you “pay it forward” to help other aspiring writers?

Helping other writers is super important to me! That’s why I started my YouTube channel so that I could share what I’ve learned on my journey with others. I post weekly writing advice videos on my channel. I also host a monthly twitter chat to help writers connect with other writers under the hashtag #Chance2Connect. The chat is on the 2nd Tuesday of each month at 9pm CST.

Want to find out more about Kim?

 

Keeper

When a 200-year-old witch attacks her, sixteen-year-old bookworm Lainey Styles is determined to find a logical explanation. Even with the impossible staring her in the face, Lainey refuses to believe it—until she finds a photograph linking the witch to her dead mother.

After consulting a psychic, Lainey discovers that she, like her mother, is a Keeper: a witch with the exclusive ability to unlock and wield the Grimoire, a dangerous but powerful spell book. But there’s a problem. The Grimoire has been stolen by a malevolent warlock who is desperate for a spell locked inside it—a spell that would allow him to siphon away the world’s magic.

With the help of her comic-book-loving best friend and an enigmatic but admittedly handsome street fighter, Lainey must leave her life of college prep and studying behind to prepare for the biggest test of all: stealing back the book.

 

Get your copy of Keeper from Amazon or Barnes & Noble 

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