Friday, December 2, 2022

November 2022 Doings!

Hello all! December is here, which means CHRISTMAS — but that is not the point of this post. The point of this post is November's doings. And last month was, in fact, pretty busy and pretty productive, especially on the writing front. So, let's get to it!

Writing!

  • Good news! Through a Shattered Glass is formatted and will be ready to send off for ARCs and my author proof copy (which I'll use to do one of two final proofreads) this weekend! That doesn't mean that ARC readers will receive their copies this weekend, as it's typically Kendra who handles those . . . but it does mean a better chance they'll be out soon.
  • On a related note: have you preordered yet? Requested an ARC or joined the release tour? Added it to your Goodreads TBR? We're almost to release week, and it's very exciting!
  • In some additional good news, Bastian Dennel, PI #4 is also coming along, still at a nice slow-and-steady pace. Is it where I hoped it would be at this point in the year? No. But I'm about 20 chapters in, and the pieces are starting to come together for the characters, and I'm figuring out ways to make the story better than originally planned, so we're all good.
  • And in still more good news, I finally figured out how to manage something in my D&D campaign that I'd been uncertain of for quite some time. And we're almost done with combat-heavy sessions for a bit, thank goodness. I like planning them, but they are not my favorite sessions to run.

Reading!

  • The biggest reading event of the month happened at the start of the month: the end of Dracula Daily on November 6. It was a very good ending, but I was also so sad that it was over! I was quite attached to the whole cast by the end, and I enjoyed receiving my semi-daily updates from them in my inbox. At some point, I'll read the book in the traditional fashion, but I do think this was the best way to experience it. (I was also amused to realize that Bram Stoker is just as allergic to falling action as I am, if not more so.)
  • Aside from finishing Dracula, I finished rereading the League of Princes series, which was fun. I also continued my Goldstone Wood reread with Starflower and Dragonwitch. And I have to say, I had forgotten just how good Dragonwitch is. Or I didn't appreciate it as much when I first read it. Something. It's so good. And Alistair is such an underrated character. Dear goodness.
  • My two new reads this month were Dana Illwind and Growing Shadows by Arthur Daigle and Relapsed by H.L. Burke. Both were quite good. I enjoyed the Dana Illwind stories in the Fellowship of Fantasy anthologies, and the book was more of the same. I'll have to get my hands on the sequel sometime. And Relapsed was a prequel to the Supervillain Rehabilitation Project series, so it was fun to see Fade when he was younger and going through the program the first time.

Watching!

  • November and December tend to be the months in which I watch the most movies and shows, and this year looks like it'll follow that pattern.
  • I finished Over the Garden Wall towards the start of the month. I thought it was a good show overall, one I'll probably rewatch if I have time. It is, of course, a story about brotherhood, and a story about stories, and a story about not being destroyed by despair, all of which I can appreciate. I think the fact that I'd seen so much analysis and meta-analysis and so forth before watching it meant I enjoyed it more, since I was able to watch for and pick up on themes that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. Of course, I also liked that it was . . . y'know. It's a silly, slightly spooky show meant to be enjoyable for all ages and aimed a lot at kids.
  • Skipping to the end of the month, we have Christmas movies! I fully admit that I'm a bit weird and picky with what Christmas movies I like (and dislike), but there are some that I generally want to watch ever year. We squeezed in two movies while my sister was home for Thanksgiving: Shop Around the Corner (which is not explicitly a Christmas movie, but does take place at Christmas, so . . . it counts) and The Lemon-Drop Kid (which is one of my favorites). I was hoping we'd get to watch White Christmas then, but oh well.
  • Other than that, I ended up rewatching some of the early Fairy Tail episodes midway through the month (because I was too tired for new stuff and also sometimes I miss the characters — by which I mostly mean that I miss Erza). I had forgotten how long the power sequences are at the start of the show, so that was an adjustment. And I was also a bit amused to realize that the characters start doing their whole "defeat the villains the the power of friendship by befriending at least one villain" so early. I had forgotten that, but it does explain why I like the show so much.
  • One last movie I almost forgot — I ended up with an unoccupied evening around the start of the month and rewatched Where Eagles Dare with my family. It's a good movie, and it's much better when you've seen it once before and therefore have an easier time telling people apart.

Life!

  • I FINISHED MY SCARF.
  • That was, obviously, not the most important thing that happened this month . . . but it is a thing that happened and was quite exciting. I also learned how to do a Russian yarn join when my yarn broke in the middle of a row, so that was cool.
  • In terms of big events: my birthday was midway through the month, so that was fun. One of my coworkers made me cheesecake, and my mom made an utterly delicious caramel apple cheesecake pie.
  • And, of course, we had Thanksgiving! My sister was able to come home for the weekend with one of her friends, thankfully. I've missed her quite a lot. Sadly, we didn't get to play Sentinels, but it was still good to see her. As per the usual, our Bible study had Thanksgiving together. It was a smaller group than we typically have, but still fun. I made rolls (non-sourdough), and my family also brought pie and sweet potato casserole.
  • And in accordance with tradition, we put up the Christmas tree and decorated the day after Thanksgiving! I've been working on Christmas-related stuff pretty much all month at work, so I was READY for the season to start, if for no other reason than so I can finally listen to Christmas music.
  • Speaking of work, it's been every bit as busy as I expected, but it's been generally good. Christmas and Advent is my favorite season to design for because the colors are just so lovely — deep blues and rich reds and bright golds and forest greens and snowy whites, my beloveds! And motifs of candles and stars and shimmering lights and occasionally snowflakes — it's lovely, ok? It makes me very happy.
  • And . . . yeah. I think that about covers everything. It was a busy month, but not an eventful month.

December Plans

  • CHRISTMAS.
  • Also, THROUGH A SHATTERED GLASS RELEASE MONTH!
  • Um, yeah. That pretty much sums it up. I will be spending most of the month, both at work and at home, gearing up for one or both of those and also praying for good weather around Christmas so my grandpa can come down and visit.
  • I'd also like to finish Bastian Dennel, PI #4 by the end of the year, but given that December is usually really busy . . . we'll see. I'll do my best, but I'm also not holding my breath.
  • And, of course, Christmas season means crafting, though not on the scale that I've done the last couple years. My biggest gift crafts are already finished and wrapped, so from here it'll just be one or two small, hopefully quick things. I do still need to figure out what I'm getting some people, though that's not exactly unexpected.

How was your November? Any exciting plans for December? Are you ready for the holidays? What season's colors are your favorites? What's your favorite Christmas movie? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 25, 2022

Black Friday Book Sale Alert!

 

Hey'a, everyone! I hope everyone had an excellent Thanksgiving yesterday — or, if you're outside the US of A, an excellent Thursday. I'm just popping in to remind y'all that all five of my published books — Blood in the SnowMechanical HeartThe Midnight ShowGilded in Ice, and Mask of Scarlet — are on sale for $0.99 each as part of the Perry Kirkpatrick Black Friday book sale! This sale runs from Black Friday (today, November 25) through Cyber Monday and includes literal hundreds of clean and Christian indie reads from authors like Kendra E. Ardnek, Jaye L. Knight, Tara Grayce, Jenelle Leanne Schmidt, H.L. Burke, and myself. There's free and $0.99 ebooks, plus some special deals on print and audiobooks. You can click the images below to go straight to my sale listings, or you can browse the whole sale.

 

 

 

 

Through a Shattered Glass is not included in the sale . . . but ARC requests are still open if you're a reviewer eager to give it a read, and we're still looking for people to join in the Broken Mirrors release tour. So if either of those sound appealing, make sure you sign up!

Have you checked out the Black Friday sale yet? Which books in it are you eyeing up? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 18, 2022

On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 6: Novmeber 2022

 

Hello, everyone! Once again, my Taleweaver's Desk update is coming out a month after I originally intended it to; if this happens a third time, I'm going to have to think about permanently adjusting the schedule. In any case, the post is here now, and that's the important thing. As a reminder, On the Taleweaver's Desk is my quarterly broad-view update on my writing projects. If you want to know more about any project in this post, you can ask me in comments or take a look at my Works in Progress page. Also, you may notice that a couple projects have been removed from the list. This doesn't mean I've abandoned them entirely; it just means that they're not currently a significant enough consideration to include.


On the Taleweaver's Desk Issue 6: November 2022

On the Desktop

These are the projects you might find open on my laptop or desk if you took a peek at it during a normal day. They're currently in progress and at the top of the priority chart.

Through a Shattered Glass

What is it? A dark-ish portal fantasy remix of Lewis Carroll's Alice books combined with The Snow Queen.

Status: Almost fully edited and in the process of being formatted! Anyone want to sign up for the release tour?

I'm really pleased with how Through a Shattered Glass came out after my beta feedback, and I can hardly believe that there's only a month left before it releases into the world! I'm currently working on getting it formatted so I can send out ARCs and upload it to Amazon well in advance of the release date. Speaking of which, don't forget to preorder it on Amazon so you can get it as soon as it comes out — or, if you want it even sooner and you have a place to review it, request an ARC! And, of course, we're currently taking signups for the release tour; if you have any form of social media, blog, or newsletter, you can help — there are options for any level of commitment. 

Bastian Dennel, PI #4

What is it? Book 4 in my Bastian Dennel, PI series and my first murder mystery.

Status: Seventeen chapters drafted and counting.

My work on this story hit a few hiccups at the start, but it's been coming along at a slow-but-steady pace since I restarted. There's lots of interesting character dynamics to work with, so that's nice. The most stressful bits have been keeping my timeline in order, balancing POVs, and making sure characters find the right information at the right time. I'm hoping I'll be able to pick up the pace on this soon, as I'd like to have it drafted by the end of the year.

D&D Campaign: Defenders of Serys

What is it? Defenders of Serys is the homebrew D&D campaign that I run for my D&D group.

Status: Still slowly writing the Middle Earth adventure, currently a session or two ahead.

My aim lately has been to write a little bit of D&D stuff each week, and that's worked out so far. I don't think that the Middle Earth adventure will be done by the end of the year unless the group decides to go home early, but that's ok. The fact that we're playing through an established story makes it easier for me to figure out things that need to happen, if nothing else. And we've been trying some new things, including some optional rules, to help keep things moving smoothly, and they've gone over well for the most part.

Stacked on the Side

These are the stories that I'm not actively working on (at least not officially), but I'm keeping close at hand because I plan to get back to them soon (or I just work on them sporadically as the urge takes me).

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Blood in the Earth

What is it? Blood in the Earth is the sequel to Blood in the Snow and a retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with the myth of Hades and Persephone.

Status: First draft finished; awaiting rewrites. I probably won't get back to it until late 2023 at this point due to all the Bastian Dennel, PI books I have planned.

Once Upon a Dream

What is it? A light steampunk (or gaslamp fantasy?) Sleeping Beauty retelling; the predecessor to The Midnight Show

Status: Edited several times over. Awaiting another round of rewrites/expansion/edits.

Shelved for Now

These are stories that are also on hold, but which I don't have specific plans to work on very soon. They're still within easy reach should I decide to return to them, but they aren't a top priority.

There are no significant changes to any of these projects since my last update, but I'll leave the list here for anyone who hasn't seen it before!

Dust of Silver

What is it? Classic-ish fantasy retelling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses crossed with Rapunzel, the first book in what has the potential to be a rather long series. Also, a rewrite of a book I wrote years ago that won't let go of me because CHARACTERS.

Status: Several chapters into the rewrite, though those several chapters haven't been touched in a few years.

Between Two Worlds

What is it? A portal fantasy adventure about what happens when you come home from the adventure, only to discover that the adventure isn't quite as done with you as you thought.

Status: Awaiting another round of edits/rewrites while I write other things and daydream about its sequels.

The Way of the Pen

What is it? Self-aware fantasy adventure about a girl and her author.

Status: The first draft is sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting for its turn back in the spotlight, as it has been for some time. Of everything in this section, this is the most likely book to move up to Stacked on the Side or On the Desktop, as I occasionally have wild thoughts of editing it and shopping it 'round to traditional publisher

Berstru Tales series

What is it? A classic epic fantasy series and the longest-running series I've worked on (either in the number of books written or in how long I've worked on it.

Status: Needs to be rewritten from the ground up, but the bones are good. There's a particular character who's getting a whole new arc, and I'm really excited to write it . . . when I have time.

Awaiting Delivery

These are the stories that are on their way, but haven't quite arrived yet to the point where I can write them: ideas I'm toying with but haven't even started to draft because they're still too nebulous.

Additional Bastian Dennel, PI novels

What is it? Exactly what the heading said.

Status: Books 5 and 6 have been locked in as far as plots and source stories go — barring calamity, Book 5 will be Jack and the Beanstalk, and Book 6 will be The Little Mermaid (plus a surprise non-fairytale that will be revealed at a later date). I'm hoping Book 5 will be short to make up for the fact that Book 6 will almost certainly not be. I am very excited for both stories, especially Book 6 — I've been doing a lot of planning for it via brainstorming chats with one of my author friends (hi, Wyn), and it's just going to be so good. Another reason I want to hurry up and finish Book 4, ha! Past those two, I have another three ideas that are reasonably solid in terms of what fairy tale I want to retell (The Goose Girl, The Nutcracker, and part of the story of Pwyll, Prince of Dyved) and how they'll fit into Bastian's world, though I don't know exactly what order they'll land in.

Novellas from the world of Blood in the Snow

What are they? Currently, three ideas for spinoffs, most of which are also fairy tale retellings: one Puss in Boots (no, really), one Orpheus and Eurydice (probably crossed with a similar Japanese myth, Izanagi and Izanami), and one that's not currently a fairy tale retelling but would be about Gan and Azuma before they were animal-keepers at the emperor's palace (inspired the summer I spent watching a lot of Hogan's Heroes).

Status: Won't be written until after I edit Blood in the Earth.

Unnamed Fantasy Murder Mystery

What is it? Exactly what the headline says. A prominent noble is murdered; his adoptive daughter is poised to inherit his lands and position — but some are saying her hand was behind his death.

Status: Still just an idea, but it's an idea with a really good soundtrack. Still not going to be tackled until after Blood in the Earth.

What projects (writing or otherwise) are you currently working on? Any guesses what non-fairytale I'm planning to mix with The Little Mermaid? Have you signed up for the Broken Mirrors Release Tour yet? Tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, November 11, 2022

Why I Love the Schlock Mercenary Webcomic

Hello all! Over the last couple weeks, I have been rereading Schlock Mercenary, a completed sci-fi adventure webcomic chronicling the escapades of a group of space mercenaries as they get into and out of trouble in their repeated efforts to stay alive, make payroll, and repeatedly save the galaxy. Some of you — possibly a fair number of you — may have heard of it already; it ran consistently for twenty years, and it was nominated for a few awards in that time (and I'm not sure which of those is the bigger accomplishment). However, knowing my audience, I wouldn't be surprised if a good number of y'all either haven't heard of it or heard of it and wrote it off. So, given that it has occupied a lot of my brainspace lately — and also given that there's currently a Kickstarter running to get Book 17 in print — I figured I'd share my thoughts on it.

(Side note — you absolutely should go check out the Kickstarter, especially if you already love the webcomic but haven't been keeping up with news since it ended. There's lots of shiny stuff. Also, stretch goals! Most have already been reached, but there are some recently-added ones still to go!)

Why I Love the Schlock Mercenary Webcomic

  1. It's a huge, weird, colorful universe, alien in the best possible way. Reading Schlock Mercenary, you get the impression that a major part of Howard Tayler's worldbuilding method is asking "What would be the weirdest, most fun option?" and then following that up with, "How can I make that work in a way that's believable?" And let me tell you, he does a magnificent job of answering both questions, creating a galaxy that's vibrant and strange and full of weird, wonderful life with equally weird (but sometimes less wonderful) cultures — where you can have a superintelligent AI puppetmaster whose avatar happens to look like a cuddly koala, a sweet-natured, terrifyingly efficient mech-bug medic (for whom internal organs are semi-optional), amorphs like the title character, and more. Everything feels believable, lived-in, down to specific idioms used by particular alien races.
  2. Even the most alien characters and cultures are very human in the important ways. Very few, if any, of the Schlock Mercenary characters are perfect heroes. Tagon and his Toughs don't have a problem with saving the day, but once it's been saved, they'd like to end it with a heavy paycheck (and if they can get paid twice, even better). Petey and the Fleetmind want to protect the galaxy, but they'll cross lines and manipulate both friends and enemies as necessary in order to achieve their goals. Morally grey is possibly the term I would apply, if it didn't conjure up associations of angsty, goth-adjacent anti-heroes. But the humanness, the fact that these characters' natural inclination is so obviously not always towards doing good, is what makes their character growth and the many, many times when they choose to act heroically despite everything truly sing.
  3. It's harder sci-fi without being intimidating. TV Tropes categorizes it as being in the "Physics Plus" category, which means it's almost entirely scientifically plausible. And it's impossible to miss the fact that Tayler has put an immense amount of thought into How Stuff Works on pretty much every level, which is a good thing, given that many of the overarching plotlines stem from technology and its effects on culture and the world. However, you don't have to be an engineer to keep up — Tayler works the important explanation into the story in a way that's natural and easy to read, and bonus information goes in footnotes for those who want it. And as I've already touched on, this doesn't have the grim, cynical, and angsty vibe that I, at least, tend to associate with a lot of other hard sci-fi. In fact . . .
  4. It's just the perfect balance of humor and seriousness. Yes, it's a joke-a-day webcomic. Yes, every strip ends with a punchline. Yes, as I already said, there's a lot of worldbuilding and character elements that probably had their start in "You know what would be really funny?" And yes, most of the humor is very good, especially once you get past the first few storylines (which do contain a higher percentage of "haha, gender-based stereotype"/"haha, innuendo"/"haha, you know what the main character resembles?" than the rest of the comic). But this is also a story about courage and sacrifice and friendship. It's a story about being a leader and making the tough choices that come with that. It's a story about free will and what it means to have it. It is a story that, to paraphrase my favorite Sanderson quote, doesn't tell you what to think, but certainly asks you to think and gives you questions to think upon. Like all great stories, it rewards whatever amount of thought and effort you put into it — but even if you only put in a little, you can get a lot out. (And, if you ask me, it takes an astonishing amount to do as much as this story does while still delivering on the humor side of things.)
  5. I am forever astonished at how Howard Tayler can turn a throwaway detail (or joke) into a magnificent plot twist. This is, obviously, hard to discuss without giving away spoilers, which is why you should read the comic if you haven't already (and also why you shouldn't skip the early strips if you can avoid doing so). Suffice it to say that just because something is silly does not mean it's not important and that, when it comes to storytelling cleverness, Tayler is in the same class with Brandon Sanderson (appropriate, since they have a podcast together) and Megan Whalen Turner.

Have you read Schlock Mercenary? What did you think of it — and if you're a fan, what makes you love the series? On the other hand, if you haven't read it yet, have I successfully tempted you to give it a try? It's long (twenty years of daily comics!), but extremely bingeable. If that much comic sounds kind of intimidating (or if you're giving the early art a sceptical side-eye), you can pick up with the Longshoreman of the Apocalypse storyline, which is about halfway through and will give you a good feel for the characters and storytelling style. (That said, if you find you enjoy it, I do recommend going back and reading from the beginning! There's a lot of good stuff, and it's fun to watch the art evolve.) Whatever you think, please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

 

Friday, November 4, 2022

A Superhero for Christmas Release Tour: Interview with H.L. Burke

 

Hello hello! This week, I'm hopping on the release festivity train for H.L. Burke's newest release, A Superhero for Christmas, which comes out tomorrow, November 5. This Supervillain Rehabilitation Project spinoff is a crossover between two genres: superhero action and Hallmark holiday-esque rom-com. I've really enjoyed Heidi's SVR books, and this was no exception. You can head over to Light and Shadows to find out what I liked, but before you do that, I have an interview with Heidi here in which we chat about story inspiration, the challenges of long series, and the best SVR character to make cookies with. Oh, and there's also a giveaway you can check out, wherein you can win a Superhero for Christmas gift basket and a Supervillain Rehabilitation Project ebook library. First, however, let's get the scoop on the book and author.

About . . .

A Superhero for Christmas


When superhero, Glint's, aka Henry Nichols's, powers go on the fritz after a supervillain attack, he finds himself rethinking his priorities. Years of devotion to public service have left him with little for himself, and with forty swiftly approaching, he finds himself longing for his youth on his grandfather's farm. An incognito vacation is just what he needs.

Former reporter Lara Landis lost her career and her only long-term relationship all in one humiliating blow. Broke and rudderless, she retreats to her parents' small town grocery store to try and make one last career rally, but how is she going to get a big scoop living in the middle of nowhere? When a poorly disguised superhero lands in her neighborhood, insisting that he's just a normal guy, she can't help but smell a story.

As their chance encounters turn into a begrudging friendship, Lara is surprised to find a caring, sincere human beneath Henry's press-conference-ready exterior. When the truth comes out, though, her big story could turn into his worst nightmare.

Order on Amazon || Add on Goodreads || Discover the SVR series

 

H.L. Burke

H. L. Burke has written more books than she can count—because she's written a lot of books, not just because she can't count very high. Easily distracted by shinies, she has published in many subgenres including fantasy romance, Steampunk, and superhero, and always creates story worlds with snark, feels, and wonder.

Married to her high school crush, she spends her time writing, spoiling her cat, and supervising her two supervillains in training (aka her precocious daughters).

An Oregon native, she wilts without trees and doesn't mind the rain. She is a fan of delicious flavor, a follower of the Light, and a believer in happily ever after.

Find Heidi online at: Author Website || Facebook || Instagram || Twitter

 

Interview with H.L. Burke

Welcome to the blog, Heidi! To start out, please tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, what are your favorite hobbies (aside from writing) or favorite books (outside your own), and do you prefer coffee or tea?

Hobbies: I’m a bit of a gamer. Currently most Lord of the Rings Online and Stardew Valley but I’ll dabble in other games from time to time. I do crochet a bit. I’ve been playing Dungeons and Dragons for a little while now, and I think I’m starting to finally get the hang of it. I’ve got a level 10 Wizard who gets into trouble and some alts for smaller campaigns, and I’ve even DM’d a couple of one-off sessions.

Favorite books: Lord of the Rings, Coraline, Brother’s Dostoevsky, Cancer Ward, The Little Prince … those are my top five.

Coffee or Tea: insert “why not both” meme? Generally, it’s coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.

I've seen some of your posts about your D&D adventures, and it sounds like y'all have a lot of fun. Where did you get the initial idea for A Superhero for Christmas, and did you come upon any other sources of inspiration while you were writing it?

So, Glint, the main character (or at least half of the main couple, romances kind of split the MC focus between the male and female) is a long-time character in my superhero universe, and he started out as kind of a joke character. The idea was that he was a cheesy Superman stand-in that was so into the role that it kind of became his whole personality … but apparently I can’t write joke characters because even in his first appearance he has some moments of really distinct humanity, and as he continued to show up and kind of mature, I realized that he was really lonely.

He’s the son of a politician who pushed him to always be the best but who valued appearance over sincerity, but Glint’s main quality is that he is super sincere. He doesn’t appear that way but it’s because he’s bought into the idea of being the perfect hero. It’s not just a mask for him. It’s what he identifies as, what he thinks he has to be in order to be “enough,” but when that’s your whole focus, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for vulnerability and making connections. When he let his “cape slip” in Power Up (the fourth book in my young adult series in this world) to come to a friend out of uniform to warn her that something was going down off the record, I kind of stared at this scene and realized that this is a guy who deep down really just wants someone to accept him for who he is but doesn’t see his own value outside of the spectacle and his ability to do his job well.

So … what would happen if you took that job away from him? What if he HAD to interact as a normal human for a while?

The fact that he was originally envisioned as kind of a Superman parody made me think of having his love interest be a reporter, and after that the story kind of wrote itself. I realized the plot I had in mind was super Hallmark, so I just nudged it into Christmas for the final cherry on top.

Makes sense. I really enjoyed getting into Glint's head when I was reading this book. Now, A Superhero for Christmas is the twelfth book in your superhero universe — that’s a pretty long time to spend in one set of series, especially for an indie author. What are some things you love about this story and storyworld that have kept you writing in it so long?

It’s the possibilities. I generally speaking design a world around what a story needs when I’m world-building. I’m practical that way. If I’m not going to use the city’s financial system or its history back thousands of generations or what sort of trees grow in the woods, I do not bother to incorporate it into my world-building. So most of my worlds are designed tightly around what the story needs and once I’ve used that up, there’s not a ton more to explore. Maybe little elements but they rarely catch my attention.

Similarly, I prefer a smaller cast of characters generally, so there aren’t a lot of side characters who are demanding spin-offs.

By its very nature, superheroes have a huge expansive world because it’s OUR world. Like I normally wouldn’t envision much outside the city the story takes place in, but because my world has Oceanside and San Diego, it is assumed that it also has New York, Chicago, DC, and if I say there’s a superhero team in most major cities, then we HAVE to believe there are heroes in all those places. A lot of times I’ll end up populating a team just for a one-off scene and I’ll end up with new characters who tend to have their own stories.

Glint is a perfect example of this. He originally existed as the team leader a city over from my lead characters who would show up when they needed support. Now he’s got his own book… maybe two?

It’s also become multi-generational as characters have families. It’s a lot more like real life than the tightly controlled systems I’ve written for single books or even a single series.

I guess that's an advantage of writing in a variation of the real world! And I have to say, I really like that you include that multi-generational element. On the flip side, what challenges have you run up against in writing such a long set of connected stories, even split up across multiple series, and how have you worked through those difficulties?

Timelines. I don’t usually keep track of these that closely. I might scribble down a few dates here and there on the notepad I keep next to my computer to keep a timeline straight for a book, but with this one, multiple books, sometimes overlapping, I’ve had to start a spreadsheet and mark down where each story takes place on it and how old the characters are.

The second is just names. I try not to reuse names, but when you’re dealing with so many minor characters sometimes it’s hard to keep track. I keep intending to go through the books and make a character list (something I’ve never had the need to do because I can easily keep a couple dozen names straight in my head) but trying to remember the characters who had one scene in book three of series two … it gets hard.

I should be easier on myself and repeat a name here and there. After all, how many people do you know with the same first or last name in real life? The Marvel universe gets away with multiple Peters and both a Stephen and a Steve. I probably could too.

Ugh, yes, timelines are stressful. Moving on, at this point, you’re a pretty well-established and well-loved author, with thirty-some published works under your belt. What advice would you give a new author just starting out on a similar journey?

You have to know what you’re doing it. There are a million different ways to be an author and if you are going indie your options are expansive. Knowing the “why” of your writing is going to influence a lot of your decisions.

If you need this to be your full-time job and be able to support yourself or potentially a family on it, you’re going to have to make different choices from someone who is comfortable doing it as a side-hustle or as an outreach or just for the love of the art.

An author who really wants to write for the love of writing and write the stories they want to write (which to an extent is me. I’ve never chosen to write super marketable or profitable subgenres. I’ve skipped from genre to genre a lot. I don’t go super hard on the business side of things because I make enough from my day job that I don’t need to push that hard on book sales.) gets advice from a super, “write to market, make a living, this is a business” type writer, they’re going to get frustrated and burned out.

That's excellent advice — arguably, good advice for life in general, not just writing. Now, time for a fun question! Which of your characters (either in A Superhero for Christmas specifically or in the SVR-verse in general) would you most want to have on your team in a Christmas-cookie-making competition?

From a personality standpoint, Lara is competitive and precise and would come into things with a plan and get things done. She’s a normie, though. No powers.

From a powers standpoint, Fleet–who is a fairly minor character from the main SVR series–is a speed sable and would probably be able to get everything done in a flash.

Both sound like good choices! To wrap up the interview, can you tell us a little about what you’re currently working on and what we can look forward to next from you?

I am in the editing stage for Captured by a Supervillain, the third book in my Supervillain Romance Project series (the romcom wing of the wider SVR universe), and was planning to write Engaged to a Supervillain (book four in that same series) next, but I’ve only written a couple of scenes and I got an idea last night for a sequel to A Superhero for Christmas, tentatively titled “A Supervillain to Have and to Hold” or “My Superhero Wedding” or something like that.

This was not planned, and I don’t like to work on multiple projects at once, so I’m now trying to choose between them.

Either way, you’re getting at least three more superhero books from me and this universe. Probably more, but we’ll see how it goes.

I am so excited for all of these! They sound great, and I'm glad that we have plenty more stories to enjoy in the SVR world. Thanks for stopping by the blog for this interview!

And that's it from me! So, are you excited for A Superhero for Christmas? If so, remember that you have one more day to preorder it on Amazon (and don't forget to add it on Goodreads too). Also, make sure you enter the giveaway! And before you go, tell me in the comments: what character from either the SVR-verse (if you know it), your own writing, or your favorite other media would you want in a cookie-making contest?
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 28, 2022

October 2022 Doings!

Hello hello hello! You may notice that, unlike a lot of my posts lately, October Doings is going up on the early side. For one thing, today is actually closer to the end of October than next Friday will be . . . but also, next Friday is going to be taken up with a blog tour, so here we are! While we only have a few weeks to cover, they've been a busy few weeks, so let's get going.

Writing!

  • So, the good news is that BDPI #4 is still coming along pretty smoothly. I'm averaging a little over a chapter a week, which is a slower pace than some of my books, but still respectable, especially considering that a lot of my weekends this month have been occupied with non-writing activities.
  • The other good news is that I got to participate in a short story writing challenge on another site and got my piece in on time. It's a story that I've had in my head in various forms for a while, based on a few of my favorite Celtic songs. I misremembered the deadline as being a week later than it actually was, so the writing ended up being done in a rush, and I didn't get as much time to edit as I wanted, but it did get done, and I'm pleased with the result. I may go back and polish it and see if I can submit it somewhere at some point.
  • The bad news is that Through a Shattered Glass edits and formatting are coming . . . slowly. I finished another round of edits, but still need to do a little more polishing before I can switch to a formatted document. That's another project I'd been planning to do on weekends that didn't work out. I also worked on some of the interior graphics for the book, though nothing is finalized yet.
  • I've done a little bit of D&D writing, though not a ton. Nothing much to report there.

Reading!

  • Another slow reading month, though I did get some good books in. I finished rereading Veiled Rose, which meant rediscovering one of my favorite Goldstone Wood quotes — I had forgotten which book it was in. That quote is, of course, this one:

"Maybe it does have a happy ending. At least, when it's actually complete. I mean, this part of it is sad. But maybe something good will come from it still? I suppose you have to read all the legends together to know for sure, but I don't know all of them. This one is sad, but there might be a story out there somewhere to make it happy."

  • Very much in the vein of the "old stories" quote from The Lord of the Rings that I love so much. Anyway, after Veiled Rose moved onto Moonblood, which is one of my favorite Goldstone Wood books, so that was a delight. I did not, however, continue my reread further, as I had library books that were coming due soon.
  • Those library reads that I turned to next were Delicious in Dungeon #10 and Diana Wynne Jones's The Time of the Ghost. The new installment of Delicious in Dungeon was quite good, and I liked it almost as much as I did the early books at the start of the series. We also got some backstory on the conflict, which was fun. The Time of the Ghost was rather dark (especially for a Jones book), and not my favorite of her works, but it was still a fascinating, twisty read. I also spent most of the book thinking I knew a major spoiler for it, and then discovered at the end that I had either misheard or misremembered said spoiler, so that was an interesting experience.
  • My other new read of the month was an ARC of H.L. Burke's upcoming novel, A Superhero for Christmas. I'll have a Friday 5s post about it next week, so I won't go far into my thoughts, but I will say that Burke has yet to disappoint me with any of her superhero books.
  • I finished out the month by jumping into another reread, this time of the League of Princes series by Christopher Healy (which is not, in fact, called the Hero's Guide series, no matter how much I try to call it that). A friend of mine on another site was reading (or rereading?) them and posting quotes, and it made me want to revisit them, which was definitely a good choice, even if getting back into the first one took a bit. I finished the first book, The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, and I'm currently reading book two.

Watching!

  • So, after years of seeing other people reference and obsess over it, I've finally watched Over the Garden Wall! Or, you know, I'm in the process of watching it, with the goal of finishing it by the end of October. I'm enjoying it, though so far, I don't love it to the same degree that others seem to. It's a fun show with an excellent edge of creepiness. Also, Beatrice is kind of a mood, not going to lie.
  • I will note that, despite the fact that I'm not a superfan or anything, I sorta want to do a genderswapped Wirt cosplay simply because I want to have his cloak (or a real life version of it, you know) for myself. It looks so fun and comfy! Quite frankly, if I find the money for good materials, I would probably wear it for more than just cosplay.
  • Otherwise, I'm still watching a little Fullmetal Alchemist here and and a little Critical Role there and a lot of short-form YouTube content and not much else. I've been tired lately, which means it takes me longer to get in the zone of writing, which means I have less time to chill afterwards . . . plus, I'm not really enjoying the current Critical Role arc, and that was the primary thing I was getting excited about watching for a long while.

Life!

  • There's no doubt about the highlight of the month — it was, without a doubt, the day that Wyn Owens and I met up at the Renaissance Festival! We had a grand time wandering the village, visiting the shops, enjoying delicious food (including crepes! I love crepes so much), chatting about our writing (and getting excited when we encountered anything that reminded us of our characters), and watching three different jousting events. We even coordinated costumes so we could attend as Ailsa and Siobhra from Wyn's The Dark King's Curse! (After all, if you already have the outfits, it would be a shame not to wear them together.)
  • So, yes. It was a lovely day, and I also think that particular Ren Faire is one of the better ones I've visited. It's definitely my favorite setup — quite large, and situated in an area with lots of trees — and the joust was tied with Ohio's in terms of quality. Ohio's seemed a little more authentic, but this one was more dramatic and managed to work in a storyline without it seeming terribly forced. I was sad that neither of the knights I was rooting for won, though.
  • Outside of the Ren Faire, I actually had something going on almost every weekend this month aside from the first weekend (when the remnants of Hurricane Ian meant everyone was hiding inside for the most part). The weekend before the Ren Faire, my family went to a fall party held by our next-door neighbors, which was nice. I don't really know most of our neighbors aside from two couples, but the event and the food were good. And the weekend after, a couple from our Bible study had a bonfire at their house, so we went to that. It was lightly attended, but the families who were there were some of the ones we're closer to, and there was plenty of hot apple cider, so that was fun.
  • (I also have an event this weekend — my church is doing Trunk or Treat, and I'm running a trunk, so the Interdimensional Curiosity Shoppe will return, with some adjustments. But that obviously hasn't happened yet, so I can't say much else about it.)
  • Things at work have been picking up with fall events and the approach of Advent, specifically the Advent newsletter. It's not unmanageable, but it's definitely keeping me busy! I was pleased that people actually sent me the majority of newsletter pieces well in advance of the deadline, rather than a day or two before the deadline, so that's making things much less stressful.
  • And on the food front, our Bible study is currently studying Ezekiel, so I tried my hand at making Ezekiel bread. It turned out pretty well, even if it did overflow my pans — it's a very dense, cakey bread, but it has a good taste. I don't think I'd want to eat nothing but that for a year and a half, but at the same time . . . y'know, there are worse things to have to eat for that long.
  • Finally, for those curious . . . no, I still haven't finished my scarf. I'm working on it. There were just multiple weeks when I missed a time when I normally would've worked on it. At this point, I will be happy to get it done by the end of the year.

November Plans

  • First and foremost: I am not doing NaNoWriMo. Besides the fact that I'm not in the place for a mad-rush writing marathon right now, I've been moving away from the NaNoWriMo organization as a whole. While it was a great help and a lot of fun during a particular season of my life, I don't care for a lot of the new aspects they've added since the site change, and more importantly, I don't agree with many of their recent policies. So, no NaNoWriMo.
  • My October writing goals will carry over into November, as I continue to draft BDPI #4 and prepare Through a Shattered Glass for publication in December. My new aim is to have TaSG be ARC-ready by midway through the month, which I don't think is unreasonable, especially if I can find a good point in BDPI #4 to switch to having TaSG be my weeknight project and BDPI #4 as my weekend work.
  • At work, I expect a busy month — it's the start of the holiday season, after all. I don't think it'll be too bad, though, barring calamity. And I do enjoy all the holiday design projects, especially the church Christmas card!
  • Outside of writing and work, I don't have a ton of plans other than Thanksgiving, when my sister and one of her friends will be home on break. I think we'll be getting together with our Bible study for that as usual, which I'm looking forward to. (I may already be trying to decide what to make. My sister has requested pumpkin bread because I forgot to give her the extra loaf I made when I visited back in September . . . but also, pie. It's a tough decision.)
  • Finally, on the reading front, I'll probably be flipping between books for review and trying to finish up at least some of my rereads and reading goals before the year ends, assuming I don't get too distracted by mood reads. We'll see what happens.

How was your October? Any exciting plans for November? Did you go to any Ren Faires this fall? Have you watched Over the Garden Wall? Are there any characters you want to cosplay just because you think their outfit looks fun? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 21, 2022

5 Reasons to Read Emmazel

Hello, everyone! Not too long ago, Kendra E. Ardnek released a third installment in her Austen Fairytale series: Emmazel, a blend of Rapunzel and Emma. I very much enjoyed this book — in fact, it surpassed my expectations — so, naturally, I'm reviewing it here on the blog (albeit a little later than I usually would — it's fine; I'll catch up soon).


5 Reasons to Read Emmazel

  1. It's a clever twist on Rapunzel. I love the story of Rapunzel, which means I have read a lot of Rapunzel retellings, and I can say that Emmazel is one of the most unique I've come across. It's not a straightforward retelling by any means, but Kendra works in pretty much all the important elements (and some less important ones), and I rather like how she distributed the fairy tale's various roles throughout the story, with characters occasionally trading roles at different points.
  2. It's the first version of Emma I've actually been able to finish. Historically, I have not been a fan of Jane Austen's Emma, mostly because the titular character rubs me the wrong way. I tend to get to a certain point, get frustrated, and give up. So, I was a bit nervous when picking up this book . . . but then Kendra gave me a version of Emma who I actually liked and sympathized with (even if I yelled at her more than a bit), and whose story I genuinely wanted to see through to its (very satisfying) ending, and I was quite pleased. That feat alone would get this book five stars from me, but I still have four more points to get through, so sit tight.
  3. You can enjoy it even if you don't know the original story. From what I can tell, Kendra makes a point of working in as much of both the original Emma and the original Rapunzel as possible, and other readers seemed pleased with how she handled the Emma elements. However, as previously mentioned, I have never finished Emma, and my memory of what I did read was somewhat hazy in points. Even so, I never felt confused or lost while reading this, and I doubt others would either.
  4. I love to see how the past Austen Fairytale characters have grown. And, also, how they slide into new roles with each new fairy tale. It makes for a very fun game of "spot the familiar character." And, of course, it's delightful to watch Elinrose, Earnest, and others continue their journeys, even if they're not in the spotlight.
  5. Enchanted cat! Y'all know I'm a sucker for magical or enchanted cats of pretty much any kind, and that continues to be the case. Night is a talking cat and is without a doubt, my favorite character in this book — he's sarcastic and a voice of reason and perfectly cattish. He's fun, y'know?

Have you read Emmazel (or any of the Austen Fairytales) yet? If not, you can pick it up on Amazon in ebook form (and paperback is coming soon) or add it on Goodreads. What's the most unique Rapunzel retelling you've read? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, October 14, 2022

Autumn 2022 Reads!

Well, this post is about half a month late, but in my defense, when it should've gone up, I was in the middle of the Silmaril Awards and in Ohio, so I think I can be excused for delaying it a bit. In any case, we're well into autumn, so it's high time to spotlight a new season of reads. But before I do that, don't forget that all six Snow Queen retellings in the Broken Mirrors Arista Challenge collection will release in December (just late enough to be not fall) and are currently available for preorder! That includes my own Through a Shattered Glass, Wyn Estelle Owen's The White Queen's Spell (much-anticipated sequel to The Dark King's Curse), and Kendra E. Ardnek's Snowfield Palace (book 4 in her Austen Fairytale series). And now that we have that bit of shameless promotion out of the way, let's take a look at some other books that have either released recently or will come out this season.

Autumn 2022 Reads

1. Unraveller by Frances Hardinge (September 1). While the blurb for this book is a bit vague, what we have does sound cool — apparently, we have a world where curses are common and one boy is able to undo them, except not everyone is happy with that. It's also maybe a nomance, which y'all know I'm happy about. I haven't picked it up yet, but I hope to sometime.

2. What If? 2 by Randall Munroe (September 13). I loved the original What If? — it's lots of weird, fun questions answered with a magnificent blend of sarcasm and sincere curiosity — so I was pretty hyped when I saw there was going to be a follow-up. I've already read it (I requested it from the library pretty much as soon as it became available), and I can confirm that it's just as good as the first book was.

3. Sweet Vendetta Blues by Hazel West (September 27). Y'all have already heard my thoughts on this one (unless you missed that post), but it was a good (though sometimes dark) book, so I wanted to make sure it made this list. Road-trip thriller vibes, brotherhood, angst, a bit of mystery, it's got all that good stuff.

4. Road of the Lost by Nafiza Azad (October 18). It's a new fae story! We'll see which side this one leans to, but it sounds like it has potential, with hidden destinies and identities and journeys between worlds. Also, brownies are rather underused as fae creatures, so I'm interested to see how the author handles them.

5. Strike the Zither by Joan He (October 25). This is Asian-inspired epic fantasy featuring a strategist-turned-spy, and it sounds quite good. I read a sample chapter on the Tor.com blog a while back as well and enjoyed that. I am a little wary, as the last thing I read by this author was a bit frustrating in the end, but maybe the second time will be better.

6. Moira's Pen by Megan Whalen Turner (November 1). More Queen's Thief! Sort of! This is a collection of short fiction, some previously published and some not, from the world of The Queen's Thief, and I am so excited! This is definitely one of my top two most anticipated releases for this season . . . though I am kind of annoyed that the cover matches literally none of the other covers in the series. What the pumpernickel, Greenwillow Books? Who made that decision?

7. The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson (November 15). And we have the other most-anticipated read of the season! To say I'm nervous for this book would be an understatement — it sounds like Big Stuff is going down in this story, including a lot of new Cosmere connections, and I am quite worried for my favorite characters. But I am also excited for a return to Scadrial and more of Wax and Wayne and company. (I am not reading the preview chapters, though. I want to read the whole thing as it's meant to be experienced.) Of course, that means I should probably finish my dropped reread of the other Mistborn books . . .

What book releases are you excited for this fall, or what books that have already released this season have you read and loved? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

 

Friday, October 7, 2022

September 2022 Doings!

Hello, all! So, this post is going up a week later than usual due to the Silmaril Awards and the Sweet Vendetta Blues tour, but that's fine. We're only a week into October. No biggie. Anyway, September was a pretty busy month, with a lot of exciting stuff going on, so let's not delay — time to get to the Doings!

Writing!

  • The big news of the month, is of course, that Through a Shattered Glass has a preorder and a release date! (And also a Goodreads page.) In case you missed the big announcement, the book will release on December 23. But if you want to get your hands on it sooner and you are able to post a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or social media or a blog, you can request an ARC.
  • Through a Shattered Glass is part of the Broken Mirrors Arista Challenge release group, and I highly recommend you go check out the other books in the release as well. They all sound quite delightful. (And I'm not just saying that because I'm a beta reader on two of them.)
  • The other big event was the 2022 Silmaril Awards. I hosted the Most Faithful Friends category this year, which was quite delightful and a big change from the Magnificent Dragons and Marvelous Rulers categories I've hosted in the past. We had a lot of truly excellent ceremonies, and I highly recommend you go read through them (or catch any you've missed).
  • Otherwise? I have, happily, gotten un-stalled on most of my writing projects. I'm currently on Chapter 11 of Bastian Dennel, PI #4, which isn't quite where I'd like to be but is still good progress, all things considered. I was also able to finally jump back into Through a Shattered Glass edits and work on applying beta feedback. I'm currently working on either the last or second to last round of edits before I move to formatting, so that's good.
  • The one area that hasn't gotten a lot of attention has been D&D writing, since my group hasn't met much this month. But I've kept up with what I needed week to week, so we're still doing ok there.

Reading!

  • This has been a rather slow reading month. How to Invent Everything took a long while to finish and left me in a bit of . . . not exactly in a slump, but not in a great mood, reading-wise. It wasn't a bad book, and it stuck its concept pretty well. It just kinda dragged after a while, reading it straight through.
  • I've already reviewed Sweet Vendetta Blues here on the blog, of course. It was quite good, though I think it could've used a little more polish. I am a sucker for a good found family story, and this is no exception.
  • After that, I ended up rereading The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie because the Silmaril Awards had them on my mind. These were on my favorites list when I was younger, and they were just as I remembered them, so that was nice. They were also a nice change of pace after a lot of darker or heavier reads.
  • Sticking with the reread theme, I started a reread of the Tales of Goldstone Wood by picking up Heartless. This was partially motivated by the fact that Rose Red was a finalist in my category for the Silmaril Awards, but it was also something I'd been meaning to do ever since I got ahold of a paperback copy of the book. I'm happy to say that I love Heartless as much as I ever did (which is to say, it shows no indication of being knocked out of tied-first-place), and I'm currently working through Veiled Rose, which is . . . a bit slower going.  It is not my favorite book in the series, even if I do love both Leo and Rose Red. But it's going.
  • Of course, it would probably be going faster if I hadn't gotten distracted by reading Randall Munroe's new release, What If? 2. This is the follow-up to What If?, one of my favorite nonfiction books, and it's the same concept — seriously (and somewhat sarcastically) answering ridiculous science-related hypothetical questions, such as, for example, what if you tried to make a lava lamp out of actual lava? It's great.
  • Oh, and I'm still following Dracula Daily, and this month's installments have been giving me Ideas (besides being very good and very feels-inducing).

Watching!

  • My watchlist this month has been a little of this and a little of that and not much of anything in particular — if anything, it's been mostly short-form YouTube content that I'm watching because I'm tired and procrastinating, and if a video is four minutes long, I can easily say "just one (more)." You know how it is.
  • Probably the most noteworthy thing I watched all month was the other version of The Parent Trap. The 1961s version of Parent Trap is one of my favorite non-spec-fic movies, but I'd never seen the 1998 version, as I am Highly Skeptical of remakes of perfectly good movies. I still prefer the original, but the 1998 one does have its good points.

Life!


  • Well, this month has been a lot. Or it feels like it, anyway.
  • The highlight of September was a trip back up to Ohio to attend the wedding of one of my closest friends. It was a fun trip and a lovely wedding, and I enjoyed the opportunity to see quite a few of my college friends in person. While I hadn't met her now-husband prior to the wedding, he seemed very nice, and I could tell that they're good for each other.
  • Plus, I drove up a day early so I could spend a day with my sister at her college. Conveniently, she didn't have class that day, so we got to go out for lunch and ice cream (at Young's Dairy, naturally), and we spent a lot of the rest of the day playing board games with various of her friends. That was a very good day.
  • That said, the drive to Ohio was the longest distance I'd driven solo, and I don't think there was a single day of the trip on which I spent less than three hours in the car. So, much as I enjoyed it, it was kind of exhausting.
  • Outside of travel, work has kept me plenty busy with Big Events either happening this month or coming up next month, along with the normal assortment of tasks that kept getting squished into short weeks. I'm not complaining, mind you. I would rather be busy than bored. I'm just tired, and the arrival of colder winds and rain is not helping that.
  • Getting back to a more cheerful note: I finally tried making cheese bread! The specific recipe is from Sally's Baking Addiction, and it's a sort of twisted loaf absolutely STUFFED with cheese. I've been wanting to try it for absolute ages, and the result was so tasty!
  • I also made chicken potholders as a wedding gift for the aforementioned friend (don't worry; she's already aware of them), and I'm quite pleased with how they turned out. Apparently I forgot to take a picture of them, though, which is unfortunate. I did not finish the scarf I've been working on, but I am closer, so . . . there's that?

October Plans

  • On the writing front, I'll probably spend most of October bouncing back and forth between drafting BDPI #4 and editing and formatting Through a Shattered Glass. At minimum, I want to have ARCs ready to go by the end of the month (or sooner); ideally, I'd like to be almost or fully print-ready. (And if I'm not, I'd better have a full or nearly-full draft of BDPI#4 to show for it.)
  • I'm also making plans for some fall fun, namely a visit to the Renaissance Festival with a writer friend. I'm very much looking forward to that, and I'm hoping that the weather will allow for coordinating costumes.
  • On the work front, I image that things will continue to be busy. Hopefully not quite as busy as this month, but . . . I don't see it slowing down much.
  • I still want to finish that scarf. I'm so close, and if I finish this month, I can move straight into holiday gift projects. Whatever those end up being. (I'm already done with the biggest gift item, which I am so pleased about.) I know there'll be something, though, because there always is.
  • Reading will probably be a mix of continuing ongoing rereads and mood reading (because stress), but I do have an ARC of A Superhero for Christmas that I need to pick up. It's a little early for Christmas reads, admittedly, especially for someone with a strict no-Christmas-music-before-Thanksgiving policy, but maybe it'll make for a good transition into holiday prep at work? I don't know.

How was your September? Any exciting plans for October? Did you follow the Silmaril Awards (and if so, were you excited about the winners)? Will you be going to (or have you gone to) any Ren Fests this fall? Please tell me in the comments!
Thanks for reading!

Friday, September 30, 2022

Sweet Vendetta Blues Release Tour: Author & Character Mini-Interviews


 

Hello, everyone! As promised, today I'm joining up with the Sweet Vendetta Blues release tour! Sweet Vendetta Blues is the latest release from Hazel West, and it's set in the same world as The New Emperor's Concerto, which I haven't read but intend to sometime. (Concerto has a hardcover edition preorder going on right now, by the way; details here.) I reviewed this book last week, and for this week's post, I have two mini-interviews: one with the author and one with the book's two leads, adoptive brothers Jack and Sebastian. But first, let me share a bit about the book and author.

About . . .

Sweet Vendetta Blues

It’s been eight years since Jack left his life in the mafia. Eight years since his adopted father was murdered. Eight years since his own brother shot him in revenge and he had to go into hiding, nothing but a dead man.

When the past comes back to haunt him in the worst way possible, Jack is forced to leave his new life as a homicide detective to flee his faceless enemy, leaving a dead partner in his wake. But the bodies keep piling up and Jack can no longer avoid his past when he finds out that all of the deaths turn out to be connected to one person—The Don of Rosa Nera.

Things get even more complicated when his brother shows up out of the blue, leading his own investigation with information that their adopted father, Paccioretti, had gathered before his death. Despite their turbulent past, Jack and Sebastian decide it’s in their best interests to join forces and fight against the enemy who took so much away from them.

Set in the same world as The New Emperor’s Concerto this new novel by Hazel B. West contains the overarching theme of family woven throughout a noir adventure with a cross-country road trip for information and justice. 

Buy the book: Kindle || Smashwords || Paperback || Hardcover (preorder) || Prequel Backstories || Add on Goodreads

 

 

 

Hazel West

Hazel is an indie author, book wyrm, and coffee connoisseur. She typically enjoys writing books with an unconventional flair, maybe with a bit of mythology or literary symbolism, most definitely with a lot of siblings or found family in them. When she’s not writing, she manages an Etsy shop, drinks a lot of coffee, listens to music, or just holes up like an eldritch horror and binges favorite shows and manga. If you meet this rare creature on the street, she has been known to respond to the offer of coffee and old bookstores.

Find her online: Website || Ko-Fi || Instagram || Twitter || Goodreads

And now, what we've all been waiting for . . . the interviews!

 

Interview With Hazel West

Welcome to the blog, Hazel! First of all, how did you get the idea for Sweet Vendetta Blues, and how (if at all) is the final product different from the original idea?

So, the original idea was kind of a branch off of Concerto (the companion novel to this one) and Jack and Sebastian are actually more like my original concepts for Lysander and Flynn, who were originally supposed to have had a darker past instead of just being on opposite sides of a conflict. I still wanted to write that sort of relationship, though, so when I was originally coming up with the idea for SVB I just decided, what if I add family drama into it? I think for the most part a lot of the original storyline stayed intact; it just branched out and became more cohesive. (And then there was a major twist at the end that I didn’t actually know until I got to that point in the story.) I actually go into depth about my writing process in today’s tour guest post as well if anyone wants the full story!

Oh, cool! I'll definitely have to check that guest post out. Now, Sweet Vendetta Blues involves some dark topics and problems that are all too present in the real world. How did you approach researching and writing these in such a way as to balance honesty and sensitivity (and without becoming depressed)?

For me, writing this kind of story is actually therapeutic; I think it was more born as a way to deal with the kind of depression researching these subjects can cause instead of being the purveyor of it. There’s something refreshing about having characters who are morally grey enough to take out the seriously bad people in a way that’s actually satisfying. As far as portraying these topics, I’ve always been a big fan of letting the reader read between the lines. The lack of graphic detail is actually a lot more telling. I think a good example of this is how the issues faced during the WWII era are portrayed in books like The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray. I think it’s stupid not to acknowledge that bad things happen even in fiction. After all, that’s how you create characters. But you also don’t have to shove it in a reader’s face either. A subtle touch, what you don’t say, often has a lot more impact when crafting a story.

I would definitely agree with that last statement. Now, let's lighten the mood a little . . . Would you rather spend a day with Jack or Sebastian? (Bonus: what would you want to do in that day?)

I mean, no offense to Jack, but I think Sebastian would be more fun (laughs). I would love for him to take me around all his favorite restaurants and gelato stands in New York or even to see a concert. Maybe there’s a My Chemical Romance tribute band in 2228? I’d also like to give him a hug, though I don’t know if he would accept it after all I’ve put him through.

Yeah, characters do tend to be suspicious of the authors who make their lives so difficult. Last question! What projects are you currently working on? What can we look forward to next from you?

I’m not really at the point where I want to give too much detail on my next project, but it will be a standalone action/adventure and for a hint, it’s like Winter Soldier + Spy x Family + Trigun.

Sounds exciting! I look forward to hearing more about it. Thanks for taking the time to share.

 

 

 

Interview with Jack and Sebastian

Welcome to the blog, Jack and Sebastian. To start out, what does normal look like for you right now, and how is that different from what you expected it to look like ten years ago?

Sebastian: (looks at Jack) You want to go first?

Jack: (sighs) Well, I don’t know how you really define normal when the brother who accepted a hit on you from your former boss is now working with you to take down said boss.

Sebastian: It does get a little complicated.

Jack: That’s one way to put it.

Sebastian: (whispers) I’m sorry.

Jack: (rolls eyes) 

Sebastian: As for how I expected my life to go? Um, yeah, definitely not this. 

Jack: I’ve already had three career changes before I was 25, so nothing has obviously gone to plan there.

Oof. Sounds . . . stressful, to say the least. Next question: what is your favorite memory of your brother?

Jack: (folds arms) Well, definitely not when he shot me—

Sebastian: (covers Jack’s mouth) You don’t have to keep bringing that up, you know.

Jack: Fine then. I’m pretty fond of the memory of when I used to tow you on my e-bike in Central Park while you were on rollerblades. And you would always wipe out.

Sebastian: Okay, not bad. That was actually a lot of fun. 

Jack: So what’s yours then?

Sebastian: How bad a liar you were when you tried to cover for Luca after he ate my ice cream.

Jack: How do you—

Sebastian: Oh, please, the only reason I didn’t make a fuss was because I had broken Luca’s favorite mug right before then and neither of us mentioned anything about the disappearance of either item.

Jack: (snorting) Leave it to you to actually win in that situation. 

Ha! Last question: if you could say one thing to one person in your past, what would you say, and who would you say it to?

Sebastian: (takes a deep breath) I…would actually like to tell my younger self that it would actually get better. There were a lot of times that…would have really helped.

Jack: (nods) There are…a lot of people I would like to say things to. But I think that if I could go back now, I would just like to tell Paccioretti that I’m grateful for everything he did for us.

Sebastian: (nods) Yeah, agreed.

Jack: (turns to Sebastian) There’s actually something I’d like to say to you now.

Sebastian: Yeah?

Jack: (sighs heavily) …It was actually me who ate your ice cream.

Sebastian: I hate you.

Well, that was very touching and then it was very . . . brotherly? Thank you both for answering my questions!

I hope you all enjoyed those interviews as much as I did! Now, we just have one more thing to cover before we go . . . the free stuff!

 

Swag & Giveaways

 

Hazel is offering some fun preorder swag, as shown in the graphic above! Any purchase of the book qualifies for swag, but if you order in ebook or paperback form, you'll need to claim your gift by filling out the form here. In addition, if you preorder the hardcover, Hazel will be signing those live on Instagram and answering some questions at the same time — keep an eye on Hazel's socials for more details.

And as one more bonus for those of us on Instagram, @onemorechap on IG is currently hosting a giveaway for an ebook copy of Sweet Vendetta Blues. Make sure you go check that out if you think you might be interested!

Well, that's all for me. Make sure you check out the rest of the tour stops (there's a full list here), order the book, request your swag, and enter the giveaway. And before you leave, let me know in comments what you think of Jack and Sebastian and whether or not you're excited for this release.
Thanks for reading!