#amreading #amwriting – November’s Challenge

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started yesterday! Are you in? Libraries, book stores, and coffee shops across the globe are offering “write in” spots so that you have WiFi, caffeine, and company during your month-long marathon.

Even if you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo, you can still get in on the spirit of it by reading one of the books below. For this month’s reading challenge, I chose three novels that were started during NaNo and two writing books that are on my TBR list. Happy reading! Best of luck, writers!!

November’s Choices

(all book descriptions are from Goodreads)

Fangirl

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

27 Days to Midnight

Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.

Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.

Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.

In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.

Born of Illusion

Anna Van Housen has a secret.

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

Other novels that were written or started during NaNo: Hugh Howey’s Wool, Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Kalayna Price’s Once Bitten. Click here for the full list of published NaNoWriMo novels.

Writing Advice

I’m reading Story Trumps Structure right now. Good, sound, basic advice; well presented. Dialogue is on my list because it’s Robert McKee and I’m curious about what he has to say.

Story Trumps Structure

Don’t limit your fiction – LIBERATE IT

All too often, following the “rules” of writing can constrict rather than inspire you. With Story Trumps Structure, you can shed those rules – about three-act structure, rising action, outlining, and more – to craft your most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories.

Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make your story believable, compelling, and engaging, and debunks the common myths that hold writers back from creating their best work.

Ditch your outline and learn to write organically. Set up promises for readers – and deliver on them. Discover how to craft a satisfying climax. Master the subtleties of characterization. Add mind-blowing twists to your fiction. When you focus on what lies at the heart of story – tension, desire, crisis, escalation, struggle, discovery – rather than plot templates and formulas, you’ll begin to break out of the box and write fiction that resonates with your readers. Story Trumps Structure will transform the way you think about stories and the way you write them, forever.

Dialogue

The long-awaited follow-up to the perennially bestselling writers’ guide Story, from the most sought-after expert in the art of storytelling.

Robert McKee’s popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation. The list of alumni with Oscars runs off the page. The cornerstone of his program is his singular book, Story, which has defined how we talk about the art of story creation.

Now, in DIALOGUE, McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. DIALOGUE applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech. Famous McKee alumni include Peter Jackson, Jane Campion, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, the writing team for Pixar, and many others.

Advertisements

#amwriting – Kickass Heroines and Wise Women in the age after Buffy, Bella and Hermione

This is my second and last follow-up post to this past weekend’s fantastic HallowRead. Writers and readers, if you’re going to be in the Maryland area next year in mid-October, be sure to check out this awesome mini-con. Rachel Rawlings does an amazing job of organizing it!!


The other panel I participated in was the “Nevertheless, She Persisted” one (such a great title, aptly referring to both creators and characters). As with the indie panel, the actual discussion was more organic, but I’m sharing the quick notes I prepared because they’re already written and because several questions during the panel touched on these ideas.

I first started writing in the heyday of urban fantasy. There’s no doubt that heroines like Buffy, Bella, Hermione and many others have left their mark and are hard acts to follow. It was also a little unsettling when the market started to change and drift toward contemporary fiction. But change is constant and that’s the way of publishing. You have two choices: change genres or continue writing what you love. If you love paranormal characters (which I assume all of you do or you wouldn’t be here), then keep creating them!

But how?

Regardless of genre, your characters should be relatable, but unique. Kind of like your story. You want to give your readers something that feels familiar — something that’s the same as what they already love — but also different.

Sympathetic characters: when you work with characters who have special powers, they still need to feel human and vulnerable. Make sure their magic isn’t so powerful your character can’t be defeated. My main character has waning magic, which is super destructive. But she’s not immortal. She suffers pain and injuries. In the beginning of the series, she’s inexperienced and naive.

Growth arc: Readers like characters who learn from their mistakes and grow over time. It’s fun, for both writers and readers, to reflect on how much a character has changed over the course of a novel or series. In each book, I try to give Noon both external and internal growth opportunities. Her external growth occurs as a result of training and increased experience. Noon’s magic allows her to shape weapons out of fire. In Dark Light of Day, she has trouble shaping anything more complicated than a fireball and she has no control or aim. As the books and her magic progress, she gets better at shaping things. And her aim improves. For her internal growth, each book has posed a question: will she embrace her true self? Can she kill in cold blood? Will she give up control over her own destiny for the greater good? Can she survive something heartbreaking and unexpected?

Unique spin: even though your character needs to be relatable, they shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter version of every heroine that has come before. It’s okay to put a little bit of yourself in the character. I value wit and knowledge as much, if not more than, physical strength, so I made Noon smart. She still does dumb things, but I give her assignments, quests, and challenges that require her to use her intellect as much as her magic.

How about you? Are you working on a WIP with a kickass heroine, a wise woman, or both? What traits do you and your character share? How is she the same as every other woman? How is she different? What are her strengths? What are her vulnerabilities?

Make your character’s obstacles feel insurmountable… and then write her/your way through them.

#MondayMotivation – 5 Simple Tips for Surviving #IndiePub

HallowRead was fantastic! Loved every bit of it. Saw writer friends from past events, chatted with awesome readers, listened to Darynda Jones’ excellent keynote speech, sold some books, and participated in two terrific panels. Below are the notes I put together to prepare for the indie panel. The discussion itself was more organic, but I’m sharing these thoughts because they’re already written and ready to go – hopefully perfect for some Monday writing/publishing motivation! 

The Pep Talk I Prepared for HallowRead’s Indie Uprising Panel

  1. Don’t get discouraged. Writing is hard, self-publishing is even harder. But there are benefits that can make it worthwhile. Creative freedom, flexible schedule (you determine your own release dates), the best covers you can afford, a sense of empowerment (you are the ultimate writer entrepreneur), and being part of a supportive, helpful community.

  2. Don’t quit your day job. Overnight successes, whether traditional or self-published are rare. It’s okay to write for commercial reasons, but plan on a slow build. Most writers grow their readership one reader at a time. Remember that quote from Dune, “Fear is the mind-killer”? Well, for self-published authors, frustration is the career-killer. There should be an indie “Litany against Frustration.”

  3. Do try to work somewhere that is compatible with your writing, both in terms of hours and substance. During the many years I’ve been a creative writer, I’ve had several different day jobs, but they’ve all supported my creative writing goals in one way or another.

    Years ago, I was a lawyer. As a practicing attorney, I didn’t have much time to write but I crammed it in during lunch hours, evenings, and weekends. On the plus side, lawyers are wordsmiths and that career gave me countless hours of butt-in-your-chair discipline. By the time I left, I was used to spending hours in front of my computer, hacking away at my keyboard, in the hopes of finishing a competently written piece.

    After that, I worked as an adjunct professor and taught legal writing. That experience gave me an appreciation of structure and knowing who your audience is and what they want from your writing.

    Currently, I work part-time as a librarian, which is probably one of the best “supplemental” careers a writer can have. Every time I work, I’m exposed to new books, fellow readers, and innovative ways to reach them.

  4. Publish only your best work. Take the time to learn your craft. There’s always something new to learn. Hire the best team you can. For me, essential team members include an editor, a cover designer, and a formatter. It can be tempting, with indie publishing, to load up a manuscript before its ready. A good chef wouldn’t serve undercooked food. Don’t be the writer who offers an undercooked book. Cook it to perfection and then “plate it” to the best of your budget’s ability.

  5. Have fun! With so much emphasis on To Do Lists and Don’ts, it can be easy to lose sight of why you started writing in the first place. As much as we’d all like to make money at writing, the reason we started — and the reason you will be successful — is your passion for this form of creative expression. If you’re like me, you love to live in made-up worlds, spend time with fictional characters that make you feel something, and you like to play in a sandbox full of words. When things get tough, always go back to the core of what matters — YOUR STORY. When the business side of things starts to drive you nuts, return to your WIP.
Shared a table with Kim Alexander, former co-programmer for Sirius XM Book Radio, who (like me) switched careers and is now an indie author. If we can do it, you can do it too!

#Maryland #Writers – Writing and Publishing Workshop in Westminster this Sunday!

Hi all–I’ll be at the Westminster Library this Sunday, April 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. along with three other Maryland authors (JL Lora, Jamie Farrell, and Tracee Lydia Garner, who put the whole event together — thank you, Tracee!) I’m going to briefly discuss some of the things I talked about at the Indie Author Day Follow Up we held in Hereford but I’m also going to share the #1 thing I wish I would have done when I first started writing and the top three things that every new writer should DO RIGHT NOW. I’ll have some books to give out. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you!!

Self-publishing v. traditional – which path? This video might help you decide… (#amwriting #getpublished)

Terrific Indie Author Day Follow Up at BCPL this past Saturday! Was fantastic seeing writers who attended the first national Indie Author Day back in October and great meeting new people who came. Below is the video from my “Path to Publication” presentation. Great discussion on the pros and cons of traditional v. indie publishing. Let me know if anyone has any follow-up questions in the comments! Good luck and best wishes with your writing!

Indie Author Day Follow Up: March 25th at Hereford Library – Come see me!

My wonderful local library participated in the first (ever) Indie Author Day back in October of last year. (The 2nd Indie Author Day will be on October 14, 2017 — indie authors, mark your calendars! Contact your local libraries! Get involved!! 😀 ) In the meantime, my library didn’t want to wait a whole year to round up indie authors from the mid-Atlantic area for another sit-down, so we’re hosting an Indie Author Day Follow Up on March 25th. Details below!


What’s Indie Author Day?

On October 8, 2016, nearly 300 libraries across North America invited thousands of local writers in their communities to join them for a day of celebration and inspiration devoted to indie authors. During the inaugural Indie Author Day, libraries big and small hosted events where local authors connected, networked, shared experiences and offered advice to one another, while also featuring locally written books to library patrons in their communities. http://indieauthorday.com/


Hereford Library’s

Indie Author Day Follow Up

March 25, 2017

10:00 a.m. Meet and Greet: Grab a coffee, buy a book, and get it signed.

10:15 a.m. Path to Publication: An overview of traditional publishing versus self-publishing. Discussion of the pros and cons of each.

11:00 a.m. Author Platform: Building your social media foundation.

11:30 a.m. Readings/Book Sales/Q&A: Space for readings and sales are limited. Pre-registration required.

1:00 p.m. Break

2:00 p.m. Self-Publishing Nuts & Bolts: Hiring editors, formatters, and cover designers. Writing back cover copy. Obtaining blurbs and ISBNs.

3:00 p.m. More on Marketing: How to get reviews and author quotes. Perfect your elevator pitch and social media strategy.


More Details

I’m doing the “Path to Publication” part of the program. This event is mostly for writers, but would appeal to any reader who wants a behind-the-scenes look at writing as a business. And the readings are for everyone, of course!

If I do it correctly, my presentation will be dry, professorial, and purely informational (kidding — hopefully there will be a lively Q&A). I’m not doing a reading (they aren’t my bailiwick and I wanted others to have more time), but I will be giving away a few books.

girls-weekend-by-cara-sue-achterbergThe “Author Platform” session will be led by Cara Sue Achterberg, who is a blogger and novelist from South Central, Pennsylvania. She’s the author of I’m Not HerGirls’ Weekend, and Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids haranguing her. She teaches creative writing and is working on a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs. (She currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.)

The “Nuts & Bolts” and “Marketing” sessions are panels featuring authors with a wide range of experience, including:

Nechama Frier, co-editor of Vertoscope, A Villainous Collection by Many Devious Minds, which is “an original comics anthology that specializes in beasts, villains, shadows, and anything else you might find by taking the wrong way home.”

Rachel Rawlings, author of the Maurin Kincaide series and founder of HallowRead.

viking-by-katie-ritterKatie Ritter, author of Viking, The Green Land.

Demi Stevens, writing coach, founder of York Book Expo, and CEO of Year of the Book Press.

mosaics-by-p-k-tylerP.K. Tyler, co-curator of Mosaics, A Collection of Independent Women, an anthology whose profits were donated to the The Pixel Project.

We’d love to see you for the whole day, but you can also come to whichever part of the program interests you the most.

Hereford Library, 16940 York Road, Hereford, Maryland


Are you an author who wants more information on the upcoming October 2017 national Indie Author Day? Click here

Are you a librarian who wants to get involved in the 2nd national Indie Author Day? Click here.

In the meantime, if you live in my area…

Hope to see you at our local Indie Author Day Follow Up next month on March 25th in Hereford!

#amwatching: 3 Documentaries for #BookLovers

Quick update: Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction posted a great Friday the 13th review of Pocket Full of Tinder. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, beating a dead horse, etc., thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who has reviewed the book so far! I’m very grateful to those of you who take the time to write and post such thoughtful reviews.

Now on to today’s topic: three documentaries… one about a book club and two about two of my favorite genres… (btw, I’m linking to each show’s JustWatch page so you can see where to buy or stream).

book club

Book Club

Sixty-two years! Can you imagine being in a book club for 62 years?! I just joined a book club for the first time ever this year. If my book club makes it that long, I’ll be well into my centenarian years by then.

This film chronicles the lives of eight women as they discuss what compelled them to start a book club (at the time, women were discouraged or prohibited outright from working once they were married; hard to believe, huh?), what kept them in the book club (spoiler: it was as much about their relationships and supporting one another as it was a desire to keep their minds sharp), and the books they read and enjoyed (various book excerpts are read throughout; the readings at the end are moving and memorable).

Many of the women had husbands who worked in government jobs and they wanted to read and discuss books about religion and politics to offset countless hours of changing diapers and cleaning houses. I laughed — not at them, but at myself — because I’d rather read and discuss books that are magical and otherworldly. My book club has other ideas though. They picked Ron Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton for next month. But my theory is that we look to books to fill perceived gaps in our life: knowledge, feeling, experience… I spent a decade practicing law and three years before that studying it. Only now that I’ve been out of practice for nearly the same amount of time can I bear to think about reading something like Alexander Hamilton for pleasure.

At one point, one of the women explained that their book club was an escape from her laundry pile, and then another mentioned a bygone practice – “listening to the radio while you were refereeing your kids’ fights and ironing.” And then, oddly, impossibly, Penny and E picked that moment to start yelling at each other about a missing pair of ear buds or a pilfered iPhone charger or a borrowed shirt or shoes or something… and I looked down at the pile of laundry I’d been folding and thought. Hmm….

The more things change, the more they stay the same. 😀

Love Between the Covers, romance documentary

Love Between the Covers

A fantastic documentary about romance writers and the genre they write in.

Starts with a riff on Jane Austen by telling us the documentary is a story of pride and prejudice — women’s pride in their work and the prejudices they encounter. Romance is a billion dollar industry. It’s the bread & butter of publishing. It keeps the lights on and yet… there is still a lot of ignorance and condescension about the genre’s importance to publishing and society at large. Mary Bly shares the story of how she was initially discouraged from sharing that she is the über successful Eloisa James because her colleague was worried she wouldn’t get tenure (thankfully, she’s now a tenured professor of English Literature).

The film is chock full of other anecdotes from authors, bloggers, readers, editors, publicists, and more. It explores the contributions of African-American and LGBT authors to the genre. Len Barot, a former surgeon who is now a multi-published author, talks about her journey from writing her first lesbian romance to starting her own publishing house, which now publishes 140 authors worldwide. Beverly Jenkins tells watchers that her path began because she wanted to read romance books with heroines who look like her. Now she’s a USA Today bestselling author who inspires both readers and authors alike.

The documentary makes clear that romance novels aren’t just about sex; they’re about relationships. And the film details many behind-the-scenes relationships as well. Writing might be a solitary endeavor, but published authors have a support team. Various authors’ writing processes were discussed, including collaboration and the role of critique partners.

Finally, the movie highlighted a few of the things that have shaped the industry: book blogs, the digital revolution, self-publishing… There’s even a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene with me! (Parts of the movie were filmed at Nora Roberts’ bookstore, Turn the Page, in Boonsboro, Maryland where I did one of my first book signings.)

If you are a romance fan or romance writer, the film is a MUST SEE. Click here for the website and more info.

the-real-history-of-science-fiction

The Real History of Science Fiction

I watched the time travel episode, which was fun. There wasn’t anything mind-blowing in it, but there were brief interviews with David Tennant, Christopher Lloyd, Neil Gaiman, and Audrey Niffenegger, as well as some background on popular time travel movies like Groundhog Day, 12 Monkeys, and Looper. Other episodes are: Invasion, Space, and Robots. Terrific line up of interviewees, so I’ll probably keep watching.

So, what about you? Have you seen any other documentary movies or TV shows that bookish types or genre lovers might like? Have you seen any of the above? What did you think?

RELEASE DAY FOR POCKET FULL OF TINDER!

Last New Year’s I celebrated with a bunch of my friends and had a really great time, but I was still inwardly bummed about 2015 and vowed this year would be different. I picked two resolutions and promised myself no matter what I’d figure out how to accomplish them. The first was to finally self-publish already! I’d been talking about it for years and it felt like this gaping hole in my author resume. Everyone was self-publishing (or so it felt to me) and I was stuck on the sidelines. 2015 was the year I published nothing, which felt really crappy. (In my defense, I was still writing and submitting, but since the proposal we’d been shopping around didn’t sell, it felt like a wasted year writing-wise even though, if it were anyone else, I would tell them ABSOLUTELY NOT – that any and all time spent in the pursuit of your passion, or which could lead to paid written work, is time well spent and… blah blah blah. I published nothing in 2015 was all I could think about.)

My second 2016 New Year’s resolution? To get a bookish job so I could afford to self-publish the way I wanted to. I started working as a librarian this past June, which has been fantastic, but TODAY, with only two weeks to spare, my #1 goal for 2016 has been met. (Yay!)

If you haven’t already bought Pocket Full of Tinder, TODAY IS THE DAY! Forget about that midnight showing of ROGUE ONE. What you really want to be doing tonight is reading PFoT!

More reviews are trickling in…

Trinitytwo at The Qwillery gave the book a fantastic review (and there’s a separate giveaway for the book there too!):

There is something for everyone in Pocket Full of Tinder: magical skirmishes, romance, espionage, betrayal, death, and redemption… Noon Onyx is a great heroine… Although powerful and extremely badass, Noon’s decisions are tempered by an admirable degree of love and compassion. I appreciate that she has a great sense of humor, is fiercely loyal to her friends and that she has one heck of a stylist… Archer has taken the series to new heights… I am a big fan of this series and hope to read about Noon’s life and adventures for years to come.

Luna Lovebooks from One Book Two called the book:

Heartbreaking… uplifting… devastating… the best Noon novel yet.

and Gikany & Una at That’s What I’m Talking About said they were:

Thrilled to be back in this unique and fascinating world… The supporting characters are just as compelling as Noon… We cannot wait to see what happens next…

I’ll continue to share positive and mixed reviews that are sent to me. I cannot thank those who have already reviewed the book enough. I’m humbled and grateful for all the kind words.

If you received an ARC and haven’t yet posted a review, TODAY’S THE DAY to share your thoughts on Goodreads, Amazon, and wherever else you hang out online.

If you pre-ordered, or buy the book today, please try to post a review by this weekend. Reviews help keep Amazon’s search algorithm juiced. I’d love to see if I can break into the Top 100 in the Fantasy New Adult category. (Is that even possible with this book? I don’t know! It’s been on pre-order for longer than it should have been, it’s a fourth book in a series where the first book is the highest priced one in the series, there’s been two years in between the last book and this one… basically, if I can break the Top 500 in my Amazon category it would be a Christmas miracle. I think in the time it took to write this post, my rank actually went down. So, for the record, if my rank tanks I’m still going to stubbornly consider this release a success because – hello?! – didn’t you read paragraph one? 😀 )

THANK YOU TO EACH OF YOU for all the shares, likes, tweets, posts, purchases, and reviews. No one can launch a book alone. I’m so grateful for your enthusiasm and support.

Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, fantasy, new adult, paranormal

FOR PRINT COPIES: CREATE SPACE eSTORE

FOR DIGITAL COPIES: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Nook


Release Day Blitz!

A bunch of bloggers agreed to help me spread the word about today’s release. They’ll be sharing excerpts, teasers, Q&As, and chances to win my release day giveaway: a $25 Amazon eGC + a signed set of Noon Onyx books. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada. To see the list of participating bloggers, click here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here. And to stay up to date on all of the Bewitching Book Tours blog posts, spotlights, and reviews, click here.

#SFF Genre Talk: The Queen of the Tearling and Low-Tech Futuristic Worlds

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the first book in a fantasy trilogy featuring Kelsea Raleigh, a nineteen year-old newly crowned queen. One of my favorite parts of the story was its world, which is a low-tech futuristic one.

fantasy, futuristic, medieval, magic, Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling

The story takes place in a fictional country called Tear, which exists at some point in the future (Wikipedia says it takes place in the 24th century, although I couldn’t find where that was mentioned in the book) in a New World (which, I assume is somewhere in the Old World, i.e. Europe??). This vague backstory might be frustrating to some, but I was interested as both writer and reader in how Johansen built her world.

In the distant past, the new queen’s ancestor sailed himself and a bunch of followers from America to wherever they are now. But utopianism didn’t work out as well as everyone wanted and, at the story’s open, the country has been subjugated by the neighboring country, Mortmesne, which is ruled by a queen as evil as her country’s name suggests.

The world of the Tear and Morts might seem odd or inconsistent to a reader unwilling to imagine a low-tech future without a causative apocalyptic event. There are geneticists, but no cars. There are ruling monarchs and magic, but no guns. There are cities, but very few books. There was a Crossing, not a Catastrophe. But I think low-tech futuristic worlds are ripe with potential. (Yes, I’m admittedly biased; my Noon Onyx series takes place in a low-tech futuristic world. As a writer, I love the possibilities of this as yet unlabeled sub-genre… which I’m not necessarily suggesting we label. Are we any closer to understanding what “dark fantasy” is or what type of stories are truly “new adult”? Worth noting, though, that others have already taken a stab at naming it. Best Fantasy Books uses the term “Futuristic Fantasy” and its list of books shows how long the sub-genre has been around.)

Regardless of what we call them, low-tech futuristics seem to offer the best of two other sf/f sub-genres: historical fantasy and post-apocalyptic fantasy. Readers get to immerse themselves in a medieval-ish, make-believe otherworld, but one with recognizable references (e.g. the Brothers Grimm and Leonardo da Vinci). Instead of centering on how the characters will survive the immediate aftermath of some sort of grand catastrophe, a low-tech futuristic story has more room to breathe in terms of plot. It can be epic instead of laser-focused. Its pacing can be slower and less breakneck. Most importantly, however, it provides flexibility for a writer to pick and choose which real world elements work for them and their story. This expansive, though eclectic, approach can lead to a world that feels familiar, but different – to a world that has broken its historical constraints while at the same time remaining accessible and identifiable to readers.

The bottom line is that low-tech futuristic stories allow writers to play with the past, instead of being limited by it.

So what about the rest of the story?

The Queen of the Tearling is part of a trilogy (the third book, The Fate of the Tearling, comes out tomorrow) and this first book feels a lot like Act I of a bigger story, which is fine. There are lots of unanswered questions for future books to address, such as:

Who is Kelsea’s father?

What’s up with Andalie, her lady-in-waiting?

And the Robin Hood-like Fetch? (whose name brings out my sophomoric sense of humor because I could NOT stop thinking of Gretchen from Mean Girls every time his name was mentioned in the book)

Here are a few other brief, disjointed thoughts about the book:

I loved all the fictional epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters. Yes, they seem to give much of the plot away, but somehow story tension remains (see unanswered questions above).

The book has been shelved multiple times on Goodreads under Young Adult, but it’s not YA.

Emma Watson is starring in, and producing, the movie adaptation.

What do you think of low-tech futuristics? What do you call them?

Have you read The Queen of the Tearling? What did you think? Have any other, similar books to recommend?

My Thoughts on Reviews (#writing #publishing advice)

As I head into the pre-release period for Pocket Full of Tinder, I figured it would be a great time to share my thoughts on reviews, readers, and writers.

  1. A reviewer’s opinion is never wrong. Ever. Their interpretation of your story is what it is. You can’t change it. Nor should you try to. The wonderful thing about writing and publishing (as opposed to keeping your work locked in a drawer) is that it becomes a dialog of sorts between you and the reader. A reader’s own backstory and experiences become a part of the reading experience. That explains, in part, why fairy tale retellings are so popular. The amount of story information that is immediately conveyed when a character has a red hood or a magic mirror or a glass slipper is incredible. Include two words in your character description and suddenly a reader is drawing upon generations-worth of mythological information. (That’s, obviously, a very simple explanation of how the unwritten dialog between an author and a reader works.) The bottom line is: A writer can’t control that final missing piece of their story – the reader’s interpretation of it. Which is all to the better. If we could, it would be like writing a story for ourselves. Boring! The risk and uncertainty involved with crafting something that requires a last sine qua non from someone else is what makes the writing process challenging and worthwhile.
  2. In the unlikely event that a reviewer states something factually incorrect about your book, I’m still not sure I’d argue with them. Writers, you’ll have to judge this for yourselves based on the situation, but I don’t think it’s worth it. Quibbling over minor book details seems petty as best, and insecure and antagonistic at worst.
  3. What happens if a reader or a reviewer is mistaken about you personally? This is a tougher situation and it’s only happened to me once. Years ago, a reviewer posted a review that included thoughts on me and my personal beliefs. What was said was so egregious that I felt I had to correct the record (privately, at least). I ended up reaching out to her via email and we actually had a nice exchange. I have no idea if she continued reading my books or not, but the experience ended up being (for the most part) a positive one.
  4. From the perspective of the writer, bad reviews suck. There’s no getting around it. We all want everyone to love our books. (Although, that analogy that your book is your baby isn’t one I subscribe to). But we all know, either consciously or deep down, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for everyone to adore our work. Simply impossible. And the more you want your work read, the more you’ll find readers who don’t like it. It’s a math equation. The answer isn’t hiding your work and living in fear. The answer is always to KEEP ON. I don’t want bad reviews (who does?!) but, at this point, I’m more afraid of the fact that, four years after being published, I’m still a slow writer. And that I promised to finish a series in which I have no control over the first three books. (Commercial suicide, people, don’t try this at home! More on that later. Maybe.)

What about positive or mixed reviews? How should a writer handle those?

With cartwheels and confetti and ticker tape parades!!!

Seriously though, unequivocally enthusiastic and supportive reviews will keep you going during those inevitable times when you want to throw in the towel. (If you are a writer who has never thought about quitting, then you are either new to the game or some sort of unprecedented confidence-crackerjack.)

And mixed reviews contain all sorts of valuable information. I love thorough, thoughtful reviews that discuss the many different aspects of a novel.

What’s my policy on sharing reviews?

Since I’ll be reaching out soon and asking for reviews of Pocket Full of Tinder, here’s my policy on sharing the reviews:

First, I hope you’ll review Pocket Full of Tinder! Readers/reviewers, don’t ever think that your thoughts on a book don’t matter or shouldn’t be shared.

If someone sends me a link to a review (or lets me know about it through social media) and it’s a mixed or positive review, I will share it.

If it’s a positive review, I may also include a quote from it on my “Novels” page and include the reviewer’s blog on my “Book Reviewers & Bibliophiles” blogroll. Quotes might also be included in marketing materials such as bookmarks and media kits.

If it’s a negative review, I’ll ignore it. It’s not sour grapes; it’s business. No one expects those to be shared by the author anyway. (But I still hope that any reviewer who doesn’t like the Noon Onyx series might try something else of mine later.)

That’s it for now because I need to get back to work. Updates and more blog posts later…

Hope everyone is having a fantastic October!!!

Indie Author Day

Back from my last summer vaca — visited family in Tennessee last week. This week, I’m continuing to put plans in place for POCKET FULL OF TINDER’s release. I added the book to my Goodreads page. Add it to your shelves by clicking here. Cover reveal and series spotlight will be on September 15th. (Want to host me? Sign up here.) There will be a Twitter contest, excerpt, giveaways, and, of course, much sharing (I hope!) of Rebecca Frank‘s wonderful final cover. (Newsletter subscribers saw preliminary sketches back in June.) More details soon…

For today, I figured I’d share some info on Indie Author Day. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of it, it’s happening this October. This year is the FIRST ONE and YOU can be a part of it!

What’s Indie Author Day?

During the Inaugural Indie Author Day on October 8, 2016, libraries from all across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. In addition to these local programs, each library’s indie community will come together for an hour-long digital gathering at 2 pm Eastern featuring Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity for libraries and authors to connect on both local and global levels!

http://indieauthorday.com/

Which libraries are hosting local programs on Indie Author Day? Click here.

Are you a writer who wants to get involved? Click here.

Are you a Maryland writer who wants to get involved? Click here and contact me.

July Update: POCKET FULL OF TINDER #SelfPub

I promised to give a more detailed update of my self-publishing journey in July. Since it’s the last day of July, my day of reckoning has come.

Where am I in the process?

It’s summer so I’m going to use a roller coaster analogy. You know that part of the coaster ride when the chain lift pulls your car to the top of that first, uber-tall lift hill? Well, I’m almost at the top of that.

Shutterstock, roller coaster, Image ID:197772362, Copyright: MyImages - Micha

What the heck is a “lift hill”?

In publishing, it’s EVERYTHING THAT GOES INTO GETTING YOUR BOOK READY FOR LAUNCH, which includes:

  • The book:
    • Outline/Research/Buy 12 month supply of coffee, wine, M&Ms… whatever you need to power through
    • Write it! (if this is where you are, DON’T QUIT!!! It’s like getting off the roller coaster before it peaks on the lift hill. Don’t you want to ride the ride?! 😀 )
    • Edit/Revise: I hired Betsy Mitchell to help me and her comments and notes have been terrific. She’s worked with some amazing writers and I was really excited when she said she was interested in working with me. In many respects, it’s been a lot like working with my former editor, Jessica Wade (who I still miss!!). Betsy gave me a four page editorial letter and a marked-up manuscript. As I’ve done with each of my past manuscripts, I started with the localized, easy fixes and am working my way toward solving the bigger, more systemic problems. Revisions are less daunting that way.
    • Proof/Format
    • Design the cover
    • Create the book “extras”: praise page, copyright page, author’s note, discussion questions, acknowledgements, bio, back cover copy, etc.
    • ISBN
  • Distribution plan:
    • Decide what formats you want to offer (I want to offer both digital and print versions, although I might offer the print version a bit later… not really sure yet)
    • Decide where you want to offer your book (I still need to decide whether I want to enroll in KDP Select or go for wider distribution. Have thoughts on this? Let me know in the comments!)
    • Price. I haven’t set this yet but the digital version of Noon #4 will be lower than previous digital versions of books in the series (current Amazon prices for those, which are NOT set by me, are $7.99 for B2 and B3 and $8.99 for B1 – !!) If you have thoughts on price — what you’re willing to pay, what you think readers are willing to pay — let me know in the comments. The price for the print version of Pocket Full of Tinder, on the other hand, will likely be higher than the mass market versions for the first three books. But it’s still nice to have the option to offer print books.
  • Marketing plan:
    • Cover reveal: would be nice to do this when I have my pre-order links ready, but I’ll have to see if this makes sense once I’m at that point (hopefully, soon!)
    • ARCs / advance reviews: this one, I’m still thinking about. LOTS to consider – timing, logistics, etc…
    • Blog tour
    • Release day event
    • Other events: I mentioned already that I’m going to attend HallowRead. Due to my work schedule and the still-uncertain release date, I might just be hanging out in the audience, soaking up all the awesome genre goodness with everyone else. Will keep you posted though — and will let you know of any other places I might be this fall. It’s always fun to meet readers and other writers!!
    • Advertising: I’ll probably buy one/some, but gotta keep it reasonable. While I think ads can be effective in terms of letting readers know what might be available, I’m already worried about blowing my budget. I mentioned before that continuing the Noon series on my own might be a fool’s errand (not because the character, world, and stories aren’t compelling, but for business reasons). I’m determined, however, to release Pocket Full of Tinder and make it the best that I can!!

Newsletter winner

ROB L. won my June newsletter giveaway. Rob, I’ll be in touch! Everyone else, THANK YOU for subscribing! Sign up here.

Thoughts on my newsletter sign-up pop-up? Are any of you blog subscribers annoyed by it? I hope not! If I designed it right, it should only pop up the first time you visit and then you shouldn’t see it again. But let me know if it’s not working the way I think it is. Obviously, newsletter subscribers are really important to me, but I care about my blog subscribers and casual drop-in visitors too!

Hope everyone’s having a nice summer — full of reading, writing, roller coasters, and other favorite things!

HallowRead 2016 Book Convention Tickets On Sale Now!

Received this info from Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours and Rachel Rawlings, HallowRead’s founder. Bought my ticket this morning! Hope to see you there!!

Halloween, books, book convention, HallowRead, Maryland, fantasy, horror

Hallowread is a book festival and mini-con for authors and fans of Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Steam Punk and Horror.

October 21-23 2016 in Havre de Grace, Maryland!

Multi author event with various activities throughout the weekend including Writing Workshops, Ghost Tour, SteamPunk Author Tea, Author Panels, Book Signing, Paranormal Investigation and so much more. Hang out with your favorite authors in our new host city, the haunted and historic town of Havre de Grace, Maryland!

Local Maryland author of dark urban fantasy, Rachel Rawlings, had a crazy idea. Create a book convention for genre fiction and hold it the weekend before Halloween. Haunted and historic Ellicott City held a special place in her heart so there was no other place to take her first ever convention. The town welcomed her and HallowRead with open arms. Each ticket sold helped raise money for the Ellicott City Partnership- a coalition of residents and business owners for the betterment of the town. HallowRead raised money for projects like rain barrels which help reduce the sediment and contaminants running into the Patapsco River and fund grants for projects like Paint Main Street which helped small business owners get a much needed fresh coat of paint improving the moral and over all appearance of the town.

Rachel is excited to take the convention on the road for 2016 and raise funds for Harford County literacy programs and the local library system! One ticket, whether it’s a $10 paranormal investigation or the full monty ticket, makes a difference for the town and the wonderful people who call it home, something Rachel is extremely proud of.

Click here to see a list of HallowRead events http://hallowread.com/events/

Get your tickets here: http://hallowread.com/tickets/

See a list of attending authors here: http://hallowread.com/authors/

Author Opportunities still available!


About the Founder of Hallowread:

Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.

When she isn’t writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.

More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com

and www.facebook.com/Hallowread.

She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

www.rachelrawlings.com | www.authorrachelrawlings.com | www.hallowread.com

Asteroid Day… Etc.

I’m back! After blogging nearly every day during the first part of June, I went radio silent for the last two weeks. Part of why was that we went to Florida for a while. Bucking social media trends as always, I almost never post during my vacations. I’ll share a little bit about that trip in a later post. Here’s a hint about where we went:

Waiting for the bus...

In any case, I returned from vacation with an elephant-sized pile of laundry to do, a Nile-length list of emails to slog through, and a new summer schedule to get used to.

Did I mention that I’m a part-time librarian now? I am!! 😀

My local library just underwent a big expansion/renovation and, as a result, they hired a handful of additional part-timers. Considering my love of books, research, chatting with people of all ages about stories in any format, and my desire to find a steady source of bookish income, the job is PERFECT FOR ME!!!

Our new library is beautiful—twice the size now with all sorts of nice features: meeting rooms, reading nooks, public computers, as well as laptop bars for patrons who bring their own, teen/tween/children’s areas, and a maker space, which is one of the neatest parts. Libraries are doing their best these days to transform their spaces into places where all members of the community can meet, learn, read, and create. Maker spaces/tinker labs provide a place where artists and other creators can come together to share tools, knowledge, and camaraderie.

Writerly news: I’m expecting my editor’s notes on Pocket Full of Tinder any day now. Once I get them, I’ll have a better idea of how long it will take me to revise (ahem, maybe even rewrite some of it). Part of me now thinks I’m EVEN MORE INSANE THAN I PREVIOUSLY THOUGHT for deciding to continue the Noon Onyx series on my own.

When I decided to write and publish book 4, I didn’t realize that not having the rights to books 1-3 would limit me as much as it does. That doesn’t mean I regret publishing with Ace!! (as if) It just means that I didn’t realize, before I committed to self-publishing Pocket Full of Tinder, that not having control over series pricing and packaging means that I won’t be able to offer “first in series free” deals or boxed sets… etc…

(For background on why series get orphaned, see my contribution to SF Signal’s 8/14/14 Mind Meld, “What’s Your Take on Author Legacies? Should Unfinished Series Remain Unfinished?” or, more recently, Suzanne Johnson’s post from today, Shop Talk: Why Series Are Orphaned.)

That said, I’ve got my hands full with just trying to publish B4 let alone do any collective anything with respect to the entire series. I’ve loved certain aspects of self-publishing (working directly with my cover illustrator/designer, being able to hire an editor who only needs to worry about the manuscript/story), but I can’t say with any credibility that I’m loving trying to juggle everything by myself.

That’s all for now. If you’re a new blog subscriber or just stumbling across this post–final reminder! Today is the LAST DAY to sign up for my newsletter in order to be eligible to win my June prize:


Fireball Laser Cut Wood Earrings + small SWAG pack
-OR-
a book from Book Depository (up to $10)
(winner’s choice)

Goodies in the SWAG pack include:

Atomic fireballs (super hot cinnamon candy!)
Book cover charms
Artist Trading Card created and signed by yours truly
Bookmarks
+
Misc bibliophile buttons (wear with pride, people!)

Contest is open to international, however, any winner who does not have a U.S. address will receive the book. All newsletter subscribers as of June 30, 2016 will be entered. I’ll announce the winner in my next newsletter and will also get in touch with them via email. Complete rules for my giveaways can be found here.


Oh, and – hey! – today’s Asteroid Day.

These Lakes Are Actually Craters Made By Asteroids” is my favorite article from today about asteroids. Enjoy!

#Gothic #FlashFiction #BookSpine Story

A dying knight goes to heaven, witnesses a dark battle for a divine crown and the bleak, cold aftermath of immortal war. The everlasting itself seems destroyed, but the knight finds a buoyant, hopeful survivor, who casts a beautiful new world…

That’s a summary of my attempt at a book spine story, which you can read below. I “wrote” it last night, just before and after dinner. Thanks to Carla Richards for the idea!!!

If you try one yourself, take pictures, post, and link to it in the comments. I’d love to read! 🙂

Blink of an Eye, Ted Dekker, The Sword of the Lady, S.M. Stirling, Fallen, Lauren Kate, Fade to Black, Francis Knight, Death Comes as Epiphany, Sharan Newman, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 1 of 6
1
the five people you meet in heaven, Mitch Albom, Rivals for the Crown, Kathleen Givens, The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova, The Prince, Machiavelli, The Fencing Master, Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 2 of 6
2
Instruments of Darkness, Imogen Robertson, The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, The Battle of Blood and Ink, Jared Axelrod, Steve Walker, City of Bones, Cassandra Clare, Dust, Joan Francis Turner, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 3 of 6
3
A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Diana Gabaldon, Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater, Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, World Without End, Ken Follett, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 4 of 6
4
In the Shadow of Eagles, Rudy Billberg, Jim Rearden, The Exile, Diana Gabaldon, The Girl Who Could Fly, Victoria Forester, Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare, Dream Weaver, Gary Wright, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 5 of 6
5
New Moon, Stephenie Meyer, Magic Study, Maria V. Snyder, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen, The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, A Beautiful Mess, Elsie Larson, Emma Chapman, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 6 of 6
6

Blink of an eye,
The Sword of the Lady fallen;
Fade to black,
Death comes as epiphany.

The five people you meet in heaven, rivals for the crown:
The historian, the prince,
The fencing master,
The golem and the jinni.

Instruments of darkness: the sound and the fury;
The Battle of Blood and Ink;
City of bones…
Dust.

A breath of snow and ashes,
Shiver into thin air;
Gone with the wind,
World without end.

In the shadow of eagles, the exile,
The girl who could fly,
Clockwork angel,
Dream weaver.

New moon magic study;
Garden spells: The Name of the Rose;
A beautiful mess;
Brave new world.

ONLY 5 MORE DAYS TO ENTER! FFnP’s On The Far Side Contest (#SFF #Writers #GetPublished)

Unpublished writers: FF&P’s OTFS Contest gives you an opportunity for feedback and the possibility of getting your work in front of an editor. Rules, categories, and list of final round judges are below.


Futuristic, Fantasy, & Paranormal RWA chapter presents:

2016 On The Far Side Contest

Write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal? Then the On the Far Side contest is for you!!

Welcome dragons, witches, ghosts, psychics, vampires, shapeshifters, unicorns, and any creature your imagination can conjure up in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long past, or in your very own backyard. Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.

The deadline for submissions is May 15, 2016. All entries and fees must be received by the contest coordinator by this date.

Entrant Eligibility:

1st rule: Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
2nd rule: Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.

Entry Fees:

  • FF&P Members in good standing:      $20 each entry
  • Non-members:                                      $25 each entry

On The Far Side IS ALL ELECTRONIC!! NO MAILING FEES!

To Enter: Click Here
Email address for contest: otfscontest@romance-ffp.com


Rules

  • Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
  • Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.
  • Entry must begin with the first pages of your WIP, and may include a short synopsis. Entry MUST BE 20 PAGES TOTAL. This includes any synopsis pages. (Synopsis is not judged, but may help judge determine the elements of your story and offers chance to practice a very important skill). Do not send more than 20 pages even with your synopsis or your entry will be disqualified.
  • When submitting your 20-pages total, please adhere to industry standards:
    • 1” margins
    • Double-spaced
    • 12-point face type, Times New Roman
    • Optional synopsis should follow manuscript portion of entry. (If manuscript is 18 pages, then synopsis must be 2 pages)
    • Do not include illustrations, author bio/photos, vocabulary lists, or footnotes
    • The title and category should be on the top left of the page, page number on top right
  • The author’s name shall not appear on the submission. If your name appears anywhere on the submission, you will be disqualified.
  • Entry and payment for submission must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time by May 15th, 2016
  • No changes may be made after the contest deadline.
  • Entries must be sent in: .doc or .docx files are preferred, but .rtf files will be accepted.
  • No more than TWO (2) entries per entrant per category.
  • ALL RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED OR YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

Judging:

  • First round entries will reviewed by experienced, qualified, or published judges
  • FF&P cannot guarantee commentary on every entry, however we strongly encourage our judges to provide positive, constructive feedback through track changes. However, judges will remain anonymous.
  • Entries will be judged by a minimum of FOUR (4) first round judges. Lowest score will be dropped to determine final average. Three highest score manuscripts will advance to the final round. All judged copies will be returned to non-finalist entrants Coordinator chosen date. Finalist entries will be returned after winners are announced on Coordinator chosen date.

To Enter: Click Here


Categories

Please choose category which best suits your submission. If you are unclear which suits your story best, pick closest, then an alternate.

  • ROMANTIC ELEMENTS: Any of the below categories with romantic elements (a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. No HEA required. Think Gone with the Wind)
  • HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC: Set in the future with science fiction elements that include technological advancements; these stories may involve futuristic earth, other planets, aliens, or space travel. (Think Star Trek)
  • DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL: Paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot. (Think JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood)
  • TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: A character or characters travel back or forward in time; these stories can take place in a historical, contemporary, or futuristic setting. Steampunk should include typical steampunk elements.
  • URBAN FANTASY: Includes mythical creatures and magical/paranormal elements. Settings and time frame are current modern world.
  • FANTASY: Setting takes place in medieval world. (Think Lord of the Rings).
  • YOUNG ADULT: Novels appropriate for teen and young adult readers, typically featuring main characters in high school or college. These stories may take place in a contemporary, historical, futuristic, or otherworldly setting. Minimum word count: 40,000 words. (Think Twilight)
  • NEW ADULT: Specialty romance for readers ages 18-24.
  • HISTORICAL: Historical with paranormal elements. These stories must take place in the past – from ancient times to WWII.
  • EROTIC ROMANCE: (WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS): No straight erotica – this means there must be a HEA ending or at least a Happy For Now and your entry must contain a significant paranormal element (such as a futuristic setting; time travel; paranormal creatures–vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and or any other mythical creatures or magical elements typically deemed fantasy, futuristic or paranormal in nature.)

* If you have entered the contest, you may not judge in the category you have entered.

For more information contact the Contest Coordinator, Jillian Jacobs at  otfscontest@romance-ffp.com

Coordinator will not judge contest.


Timeline

  • March 14th: Contest opens for entries and judges
  • May 15th: Contest closes at Midnight EST
  • May 22nd: All entries distributed to 1st round judges
  • June 19th: Deadline for 1st round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • July 5th: Finalists notified via email and phone.
    1. All scores/feedback returned to contestants who did not final
    2. Notify 3 finalists per category- by phone then email
    3. Finalist entries sent to final round judges
    4. Post finalist list on all formats
  • August 1st: Deadline for final round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • August 8th: OTFS winners notified and announced
  • September 15th: Certificates and On The Far Side pins delivered

Judges for Final Round

ROMANTIC ELEMENTS Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Inc.
HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC Laurie McLean, FUSE
DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL Peter Senftleben, Kensington
TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
URBAN FANTASY Melissa Singer, Tor
FANTASY Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing
YOUNG ADULT Becca Stumpf, Prospect Agency
NEW ADULT Samantha McMahon, Soul Mate Publishing
HISTORICAL Penny Barber, Lyrical Press
EROTICA Deelylah Mullin, Torquere Press

The Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA appreciates your willingness to enter this contest. Not a member of FF&P? Find more information at www.rwa.org or visit the FF&P website:http://www.romance-ffp.com


Good luck, everyone!

fantasy romance, Jeffe Kennedy, Twelve Kingdowns, The Crown of the Queen

Jeffe Kennedy: “Grateful I couldn’t selfpub easily” (#amrevising #writerslife)

The speed at which one can self-publish is often mentioned as one of its biggest advantages. A writer can get a book to market via self-pub MUCH faster than via traditional publication. But fast isn’t always best. If the mantra of real estate is location, location, location then the mantra of writers should be revision, revision, revision. Both rising star and hard-working author (those two adjectives are hardly a coincidence; they go hand in hand), Jeffe Kennedy, is here to share her thoughts on drafting versus revision and why all of us should take the time to get it right. Welcome, Jeffe!


One of the best parts of being a writer, I often say, is getting to have in-depth conversations with writers I admire. At the RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas, I had lunch with amazing SFF author Kate Elliott. Not only is she a brilliant author of some of my favorite fantasy series, she’s been in the business for over twenty years and generously shares her accumulated wisdom.

At any rate, during lunch, as we talked about our current projects, she asked me if I love or hate revising. This is one of those litmus test questions writers often ask each other, because most of us fall into one of two camps on it. I always say I hate it. For me, revising has always given me the sense of fixing the things I got wrong the first time I wrote it. In contrast, one of my good writer friends calls revision “God’s work.” Which I find amusing because, biblically speaking, God didn’t do much revising at all. Unless you count Lilith as the first draft of woman and Eve as the revision.

Kate falls into the revision camp. She hates drafting and feels she really shines when revising. What she hates are the ups and downs of drafting, the going from exaltation to utter despondency. As we discussed the ins and outs of both phases of writing, it occurred to me that maybe I’ve changed.

Because I really don’t hate revision as much as I used to. Largely because that feeling of fixing mistakes has diminished considerably.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying that it feels like God’s work, but revising gives me the opportunity to make the story better. Learning to relish the revision process has also taken the pressure off of drafting for me. I don’t have to get everything right on the first draft, because I can retool it later.

Finally, I think I’ve changed my feelings on this for two more reasons: I’ve grown as a writer and I’ve grown as a human being.

Seriously, I think I’m a better writer than I used to be (which is a huge relief), and because of that, I’m stretching more. I’m taking on bigger story challenges, which means that revising gives me sometimes much-needed opportunities to dig in.

Also, and this was the big revelation: I think I’ve matured into this place. A lot of that “revision is just fixing mistakes” feeling comes from me being a perfectionist and from me being impatient – two of my greatest flaws. I’ve never liked having to labor over a task. I want it to be perfect, yes, but I also want it to be perfect right out of the gate. Because I’m rational enough to know that nothing is ever perfect, I’ve managed to disengage a lot of that particular expectation, but it’s always seemed that the price I pay is still wanting it to be wonderful the moment I finish.

But not so much anymore. I still want the book to be as wonderful as it can be, but I have much more patience these days for working and reworking until it is. I don’t feel the same pressure of vanishing time that I used to.

Maybe that comes from being older, or from being farther along in my career. Regardless, it’s a better place to be.

I often reflect on how grateful I am that self-publishing was not so easy, acceptable and readily available when I was shopping my first novel. I revised that sucker numerous times because I felt forced to. If I wanted to sell that book to a publisher, I had to find ways to make it better. If I’d been able to publish it myself, I would not have put myself through that pain. And it is a much better book. Though not as good as I’d make it now, if I could go back and revise. I cringe a little when someone says they’re reading that first novel, but nothing like I would if they read that first version I hugged and cuddled like a precious baby – and lacked the perspective to recognize just how bad it was.

Perspective that also now allows me to value the revision process in a way I never could before.

So, though I’ll still answer the question that I love drafting more, I also don’t hate revision the way I used to. Which is kind of a cool place to be.

What about you all – Team Drafting or Team Revision?


This was such a great post and so timely for me! Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. I’m Team Drafting: While I definitely understand the value of revision (I think its presence/absence can make or break a book), I much prefer drafting. The story feels immediate and real. Yes, the “exultation to utter despondency” can be emotionally draining, but I prefer riding the roller coaster to reviewing its engineering plans. Revision, for me, always requires bird’s- eye view to microscopic… big picture to itty, bitty and back again… It’s enough to give me a migraine.
  2. I probably feel that way because I’m currently revising Pocket Full of Tinder. 😀
  3. I’ve talked before about the pressure writers feel to produce more work faster so I’m not going to belabor that point again, but I think it’s related to Jeffe’s post. I absolutely agree with her — revision is ESSENTIAL. Don’t rush to publish. And yet I understand why some writers would want to. You hear a lot about FOMO these days (“fear of missing out”). Whenever I read those articles or posts, my gut reaction is to scoff. “Yeah, right,” I think. “Like I’d ever feel like I’m missing out. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.” … … … But I realized the other day that I *do* experience FOMO. Maybe not with respect to social events or life experiences or keeping up with every little bit of online info but with respect to PUBLISHING. So, yeah, ye writers in the starting gate who are kicking at the door — I get you.
  4. I envy writers like Jeffe who seem to grow more and more confident with each book. For me, I feel like each one is as tough as the last, just in different ways.
  5. But you know what they say: if it was easy, everyone would do it. ANYONE can click a “publish” button these days. But not everyone can write a quality novel. Don’t be the person that just clicks a button. Take the hard road. You’ll be in great company! 🙂

fantasy romance, Jeffe Kennedy, Twelve Kingdowns, The Crown of the Queen

The Crown of the Queen

A Twelve Kingdoms Novella

Dafne Mailloux, librarian and temporary babysitter to the heirs to the High Throne of the Twelve – now Thirteen – Kingdoms, finds it difficult to leave the paradise of Annfwn behind. Particularly that trove of rare books in temptingly unfamiliar languages. But duty calls, and hers is to the crown. It’s not like her heart belongs elsewhere. But how can she crown a queen who hesitates to take the throne?

This novella will be part of a duology called For Crown and Kingdom, which will also contain a novella by Grace Draven called The Undying King

For Crown and Kingdom (The Crown of the Queen) will release on May 31, 2016 and will be available in digital format and print.

Buy links will be added to the bookpage once available: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/for-crown-and-kingdom/

More on Jeffe

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

* Jeffe also gets the award for Most Links In A Bio. 😀 😀 😀

Writers, what about you? Which is your favorite — drafting or revision? Do you regret mistakes in earlier works? Wish you could go back and change them? Thank you, Jeffe, for guest blogging today. Best wishes for The Crown of the Queen!

Java Junkie, coffee lover, Christmas tree ornament

What story element do you struggle with most? (+ 5 Writer Resources)

In the U.S., tax season is well underway. My returns are thankfully filed, but the process of gathering receipts, etc. for the woman who helps me prepare them always reminds me of various things I spent money on throughout the year. The list below is NOT a list of things writers can deduct. (Ask your accountant about that). It’s just a thoroughly incomplete list of various resources you might find helpful.

In no particular order, here are some things I thought worth my $$$ in 2015 (keep in mind I didn’t publish anything last year; I’ve already lamented about that here so moving on, but it explains, in part, why this list is so thin):

  1. Book cover design: Way, WAY back in the beginning of 2015 I had Amber Shah at Book Beautiful design a cover for me for “Dream, Interrupted.” Although I didn’t use the cover, I loved it and would absolutely work with Amber again. She was fast, did great work, and was really nice to work with. I’m currently working with another cover designer for Pocket Full of Tinder, but that’s because I wanted an illustrated cover for it. (More info on that designer later). In any case, it never hurts to have 2-3 awesome service providers you can go to in case one has a scheduling conflict. There are a lot of great cover designers out there!

  2. Goodreads Ads: I stopped running Goodreads ads because it didn’t make sense for me to continue until I had another book to promote. But I plan to create an ad later this year for Pocket Full of Tinder. I like that authors can link to a brief excerpt or a giveaway. (All this said, I’m sure I’ll explore additional ad options for B4).

  3. Bewitching Book Tours: I’m obviously a fan of Roxanne Rhoads! Although she helps authors who write in all sorts of genres, she specializes in paranormal blog tours. If you’re a new PNR author, check her out here.

  4. Functional Nerds: Singer/Songwriter John Anealio and Author/Blogger Patrick Hester host SF/F focused podcasts every week on books, music, and technology. They are funny and down to earth — plus their guests are great. I’m woefully behind but (somewhat) recent episodes I loved were: Episode 245 with Fran Wilde, author of UPDRAFT, and Episode 237 with Naomi Novik, author of UPROOTED. Like what you hear? Back them on Patreon here.

  5. Various and sundry non-fiction guides2015 Guide to Self-PublishingMailChimp for BeginnersCreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Master Class

Obviously, a meager list. But YOU can help me flesh it out in the comments below! 🙂

I’m HOPING my next post will be a joint mother-daughter post. My older daughter took some great pics in Cape May a few weeks back and I’m going to experiment with having her write part of a future post.

Pocket Full of Tinder Update: I haven’t written the last chapter yet. I moved to internal revisions to really understand the totality of the novel – what the heck I’m trying to say – before writing that final bit. One of the BIGGEST things I struggle with in every novel is the mystery element. I love mysteries but for some reason, those subplots don’t come naturally to me. It’s almost always the #1 I have to beef up during revisions.

Have you filed your tax returns?

Any resources or recommendations you want to share?

Writers, what story elements do you struggle with the most? 

Readers, what are you reading?

Are you a fan of the beach during the off-season?

Java Junkie, coffee lover, Christmas tree ornament
What does this picture have to do with taxes, resources, recommendations, or challenging subplots? NOTHING! But who doesn’t love a Java Junkie? This is one of my favorite Christmas tree ornaments. (Yes, I know it’s April. But it was snowing only a few days ago so why not continue the seasonal anachronisms?)

#Writers: Do you name your chapters? (also: Pocket Full of Tinder update)

Very quick post. I’m nearing the end of Pocket Full of Tinder (yay!!!) and I want to get back to it. Plus, this weekend is Easter and next week, my kids are on Spring Break, which means less writing time for me.

[added later: I left my original intro to this post in here so I could laugh at myself. “Very quick post” = 1,700+ words. Guess I had more to say than I thought. There are headlines to help you navigate this beast and questions for YOU are in red.

Read my post. Enjoy your spring!!]

What have I been up to?

Pocket Full of Tinder – the aforementioned ms. I haven’t yet written THE END, but it’s in sight. Always an exciting time. This book will probably need more internal revisions (before I hand it off to an editor) than any previous book. But that’s okay. I have a revision process that I like. It’s the initial draft that’s always the hardest for me.

(WARNING: some meandering ahead…)

So, a few thoughts about structure for beginning writers or readers who enjoy behind-the-scenes type stuff:

Most of you have heard my “do as they say, not as I do” speech. It applies here sorta. The best advice everyone gives about writing is DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU. Excellent advice. But kinda general. The trick is to try to learn as much as possible about ALL the methods out there and then pick and choose what works for you. Fine.

Structure generally – if you are BRAND NEW, you should at least be familiar with these concepts: three act structure, hero’s journey, and GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict).

Structure specifically – When I first start plotting, I write GMC for main characters, a rough synopsis (which almost invariably ends in a way the novel WON’T, but it gets me started), some work on the BIG LOCATION of the novel, and a quick description of chapters. Obviously, it’s a fluid, dynamic outline – more of an organic skeleton with all sorts of interconnected, moving parts than a rigid, inorganic, metal scaffold.

Chapter Names

I’ve mentioned previously (maybe here? definitely elsewhere) that I name my chapters. In the past three Noon Onyx books, we took out the chapter names because my editor felt like they foreshadowed too much. I agreed, but I love chapters with names. I’m toying with leaving them in for Pocket Full of Tinder.

[Writers: do you name your chapters? Readers: do you like chapters with names or do you even notice that?]

The chapter names I love the most add another layer of meaning to the story (yep, it’s a thin veneer) but I love it when the name of the chapter gives readers a little clue as to the chapter’s meaning or purpose or when it IS a warning of what might lie ahead.

But sometimes, chapter names are just descriptive sign posts. Sometimes, I think of chapters in the same way I think of movie scenes. (Back in the DVD days, if you wanted to watch a particular scene in a movie, you could load your DVD into the player and pull up a list of scenes in a submenu).

Revising Tip You May Have Never Tried: Label your chapters. Your label can be perfunctory, but it will give you an immediate idea of what the chapter’s purpose is in the story. And if you are struggling to name it… examine it more closely. It probably needs more work. Or maybe it doesn’t belong there. Maybe it belongs somewhere else. Or maybe it needs to be deleted entirely.

Writer Blogs

I follow Chuck Wendig’s blog (most of you probably do too; his language is often colorful but he’s hilarious). The other day, E.J. Wenstrom, one of his “Five Things I Learned” guests said (in the context of much other good advice) that, “Writing a book is a hot mess.” Ain’t it though? I laughed out loud. Pocket Full of Tinder is a hot mess right now. It is one stinking pile of poo. But I will shape that mass of steaming tauri merdam (is that even right? I have no idea. “Track down woman who helps me with my Latin” is #2,097 on my To Do List) into a GREAT NOVEL come Halja or high northern mountains! 😀

As an aside to my aside, I also follow Scalzi’s Whatever blog (his writer guests share their “Big Ideas”), The Qwillery (Sally interviews debut SF/F authors and also some cozy mystery authors), Suzanne Johnson (who helps me keep up on new releases and shares interesting thoughts on writing and publishing; her new book Wild Man’s Curse comes out on April 5th — go pre-order! 🙂 ) I also started following Magical Words recently (don’t know how I missed it before; GREAT posts by Faith Hunter, Diana Pharoah Francis, et al.) There are others I follow too… don’t have time to look through my in-box. Will try to do more comprehensive list later about people I follow as both reader and writer.

[In the meantime, if you have a great blog you follow for writer advice or new release info, please share in the comments!]

Final thoughts on structure/chapter names/my chapters:

Now that I have four tables of contents in front of me, I can see the general structure I follow for each Noon novel (although Dark Light of Day, as the first, doesn’t follow my “formula” as closely).

In the first third of the novel, I set everything up. The central question, the main characters, Noon’s assignment, hopefully some thematic elements. These scenes are always in there:

  • Introduce Noon to the reader
  • Her assignment
  • Preparations
  • Leaving

The trick with each novel is to make each of these scenes feel different. I don’t want the books to feel like repeats. Here’s a comparison of the “intro” scenes from the first three books:

Dark Light of Day

Chapter 1 “Winter Garden”

Noon was introduced as a character with fire magic whose touch instantly kills growing things and whose mere presence threatens them. Because of its destructive nature, Noon hates her magic and dreams of living a different life, becoming a different person.

She feels young, even a bit immature. But her reluctance to embrace herself comes from a good place. Noon wants to heal people and grow gardens. And if her tone sounds grumpy or rebellious… well, I think defiance can sometimes be a good thing.

Fiery Edge of Steel

Chapter 1 “Carne Vale”

A carne vale is a demon execution. Noon’s grudgingly accepted her magic, but she’s still a pacifist at heart. She’s honestly not sure if she can kill in cold blood, even if it’s a rogare demon, which are “the worst Halja has to offer… the lawbreakers, the criminals, the unsanctioned sinners…”

Noon doesn’t feel – as much – as if she’s the victim of fate or things beyond her control. She’s still headstrong but she also recognizes that she has duties and obligations to fulfill. A minor theme of Fiery Edge of Steel was noblesse oblige (or optimus obligatus as it’s called in Halja).

White Heart of Justice

Chapter 1 “The Gridiron”

The most immediate thing I wanted to establish was how much Noon had changed since the first book. The Gridiron is an underground sparring area where St. Luck’s MITs are trained. I opened with Noon in the midst of a fight with Ludovicus Mischmetal (a.k.a. Vicious), who knocks one of her teeth out.

After defeating Vicious, Noon calmly picks up her tooth, pockets it, and asks if she’s still on track to be her school’s pick as the upcoming Laurel Crown Race contender. If she wins the race, she’ll have a say in her future. Noon feels super strong, but also aware that she is a cog in a bigger wheel.

Other quick updates

Pocket Full of Tinder Cover

In the works! Which is also very exciting. My cover artist sent two preliminary sketches to me last week. I might do a bonus newsletter sharing them and other cover thoughts in the future. I’m still mulling over cover reveal options. You all know this is my first time self-pubbing so I need to work out the logistics of pre-pub promo, pre-order links, etc.

The bottom line is that covers are fun and I’m really happy with the direction Pocket Full of Tinder’s is heading in and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!!

Newsletter

In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, here’s the sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n. The March edition went out already, but I’ve been sending links to it to those people who’ve signed up since. (Will probably do that again next week).

My March giveaway is a pair of fireball laser cut wood earrings + a small SWAG pack –OR– a $10 eGC to Book Depository (winner’s choice). Newsletter subscribers who share via social media or who email me their favorite quote from the books get an extra contest entry. The last one I received was, “The demons’ll get me one day.” (Bragging rights to you if you remember who said that and in which book).

What else have I been up to?

Last weekend, we dyed Easter eggs while it was snowing out. (The Northeast’s weather couldn’t have been weirder, huh?)

Those are snow flurries, not flower petals blowing about in the wind!
Those are snow flurries, not flower petals, blowing in the wind!

My husband’s getting ready to become a beekeeper… Bzzzzz….. (more on this later… maybe)

"NO BEES, NO HONEY; NO WORK, NO MONEY" (Um, I'd better wrap up this post soon!!)
“NO BEES, NO HONEY; NO WORK, NO MONEY” (Um, I’d better wrap up this post soon!!)

I missed celebrating National Puppy Day, which is kinda nuts since I have a puppy! In honor of it, and the movie everyone’s buzzzzzing about (haha, couldn’t resist), here’s a picture of Tug:

Batman v Superdog

[Are you going to see Batman versus Superman? Who do you think would win in a fight – Batman or Superdog?]

And here’s a final picture my younger daughter took. If you celebrate Easter, have a happy one! If not, best wishes for SPRING!!!

"NO WINTER LASTS FOREVER" Winter might be coming soon on HBO, but here in Maryland, it's OVER!! :-D
“NO WINTER LASTS FOREVER” — Hal Borland. Winter might be coming soon on HBO, but here in Maryland, it’s OVER!! 😀

Burning Questions, Haunted Holloways, and Contest Winner

Contemporary romance writer and “professed book nerd” S.L. Marshall found me because my first novel shares a title with T.M. Frazier’s The Dark Light of Day (technically, Noon #1 lacks the the, but I digress…). We connected and she’s helpfully shared several of my posts. We’ve since swapped emails about writing and the writing life and then, a few weeks ago, Susan asked if I wanted to participate in her “5 Burning Questions” series of author interviews. She mentioned that paranormal romance writers weren’t her usual subjects, which sealed the deal for me. Of course I said yes!

Her first question was a question I’d never been asked before—

Kill, marry, or screw: Gideon Cross, Kellan Kyle or YOUR HERO?

Uh…

Susan was game enough to let me tweak the interview questions. Noon answers three questions (including that one, sort of) and I answer another three. I LOVED the interview. It’s been a while since I’ve done one and it was fun. It touches on my Anne Rice crush, her house in New Orleans, the type of stories I want to write and my writing process, as well as Noon’s favorite curse word and who she’d invite to a dinner party. Click here to read the interview. (Noon’s answer to the question I’ve never been asked is a small sneak peek at Pocket Full of Tinder).

Haunted Holloways

If you hop over to Susan’s place, you’ll see (as part of the discussion about The Rosegate House) a link to an Atlas Obscura post. This site/newsletter is my newest diversion. Many of you already know how I love reading and writing about places and buildings that change over time. Well, Atlas Obscura is right up my alley (pun intended)! In its own words:

Atlas Obscura is the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places.”

There’s a road near me that I’ve always wondered about. It’s a deep-set narrow lane lined with tall, dirt walls instead of a berm. You can’t tell from my photo, but the road has a relatively steep grade. Turns out, it’s a holloway and I have Atlas Obscura to thank for finally helping me figure out its mystery and history. Click here to read their article “Holloways: Roads Tunneled into the Earth by Time” (their pictures of similar sunken lanes from various spots in France and England are much more beautiful than mine from Baltimore County).

WALKER ROAD | BALTIMORE COUNTY HOLLOWAY
WALKER ROAD | BALTIMORE COUNTY HOLLOWAY

Dark Light of Day Pinterest Book Board Contest Winner

My Pinterest book board contest winner is MISTY GEE. Misty, if you follow this blog, let me know whether you want a print copy of DLOD (if you live in the U.S., I can send you a signed copy) or another fantasy book up to $10 from Book Depository (you’ll need to tell me which one and your mailing address). Send me an email at: archer at jillarcher dot com. I’ll also try to reach you on Pinterest.

Putting the Pinterest board together was fun so I’ll have to do another one for Fiery Edge of Steel + another contest soon! 🙂

That’s it for today. Happy reading and writing, all!