#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.

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DARK LIGHT OF DAY on sale for $2.99! (#fantasy #NewAdult)

Jill Archer's Dark Light of DayBrief post today just to let everyone know the digital version of the first Noon Onyx novel, DARK LIGHT OF DAY, is currently on sale. It’s only $2.99, which is a great entry price for anyone who hasn’t yet tried the series. I have no idea how long the publisher will keep it on sale, so don’t wait to buy if you’re interested. (And THANK YOU for helping me to spread the word; apologies if you’re getting this info from multiple channels! :-D )

Who would like Dark Light of Day? Anyone who likes urban fantasy, dark fantasy, and/or new adult fantasy. We pitched it as Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series meets Scott Turow’s One L. The series has evolved from there.

The e-book is on sale here:

In other news:

My March newsletter is out. The newsletter is mostly for readers who want a quarterly update and notice of new releases, whereas this blog is more eclectic. It’s not necessary to subscribe to both (although I appreciate it!). I leave it to everyone to figure out which works best for them.


My Newsletter

Quarterly newsletters are sent every September, December, March, and June. Content varies, but is usually some combination of:

  • Snippets from old or new work
  • Quizzes
  • Fun quotes and tweets
  • Recipes related to the books
  • Random Facts (background info on characters, etc.)
  • First look at Extras I’ll be adding to my website
  • Interesting stuff I’m researching
  • Meet the Team (bios of people who help me behind the scenes)
  • Be an Ambassador (ways readers can help me spread the word about my books)
  • Contests/Giveaways

This month, I shared some pictures of various real world places that inspired settings from Pocket Full of Tinder.


This Blog

  • 2017 Reading Challenge
  • 5 Photos Author Interview Series
  • Posts on Writing & Publishing
  • My Thoughts on Various Books, Movies & TV Shows
  • Occasional “On the Fly” Day Trip Posts
  • Wild card posts (guest posts, vintage pics, pet posts, etc.)

Up next? Possibly some pics from a recent trip to Key West. Stay tuned and thanks for following!

Kings River Life Reviews Pocket Full of Tinder (#fantasy #giveaway)

Kings River Life is a California magazine with local focus and global appeal. They have a companion site that reviews mystery, fantasy, and horror. A few years ago, they took an interest in the Noon Onyx series, so I sent them a copy of my latest and asked if they wanted to review it. Happily, they said yes. Their publisher sent me the link yesterday and, I have to say, it contains one of my favorite quotes yet:

A good series that isn’t afraid to throw game-changers into the mix. It’s as if Mary Tyler Moore was hired to play Kojak.—Kings River Life

Reading that made me smile. (IMDb describes The Mary Tyler Moore Show as portraying “the lives and trials of a young single woman and her friends, both at work and at home” and Wikipedia says Kojak was “stubborn and tenacious in his investigation of crimes—and also displayed a dark, cynical wit, along with a tendency to bend the rules if it brought a criminal to justice.”) I didn’t watch either showbut it’s nice to have Noon compared to such iconic characters.

What do you think? Have you seen The Mary Tyler Moore Show or Kojak

You can enter to win a print copy of Pocket Full of Tinder by commenting on the Kings River Life Review. While you’re there, check out the magazine. If you like what you see, consider subscribing. A winner will be chosen by March 11, 2017. Good luck, all!

Jill Archer, Noon Onyx series, Pocket Full of TinderClick here for my thoughts on reviews and my review policy.

Thank you to Kings River Life and everyone else who reviewed my latest novel. You all are terrific for taking an interest in the series!

A final, quick programming note:

I know I owe everyone some 2017 Reading Challenge posts. I blame it on February being a short month… and a bunch of other stuff that would take too long to write about and would border on IIO (irrelevant-info-overload – TMI’s less awkward, but more infinitely more boring cousin). I’ll be posting my thoughts on February’s reads and March’s choices very soon, however. Until then, happy reading and writing!

Pocket Full of Tinder, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, paranormal, fantasy

Night Owl Reviews Pocket Full of Tinder – TOP PICK!

Pocket Full of Tinder is a Night Owl Reviews TOP PICK!

Pocket Full of Tinder does not disappoint. It has all that I have come to expect from Ms. Archer… action, character building, friends (what’s a good story without the side characters), demons, couples and an arc that will leave you saying… I need to read the next book now!!!

So thankful for everyone’s interest and support! 🙂

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.

POCKET FULL OF TINDER: Blog Tour Kick Off and Other News

What I Learned from Self-Pubbing B4

I kicked off Pocket Full of Tinder‘s blog tour yesterday with a post at fellow author Marsha Moore’s place: 8 Things I Learned from Self-Publishing my 4th Novel.

There are also two nice spotlights at Books N Pearls and Sapphyria’s Book Reviews where you can enter to win my tour-wide giveaway (details below).

Still Available on NetGalley

Pocket Full of Tinder is still available to reviewers through NetGalley. Click here to request a copy! While you’re there, check out the other great books being offered by fellow SFWA members.

Please Review!

If you received an early copy of Pocket Full of Tinder, please review it. Amazon doesn’t allow reviews to be posted before the release date, but Goodreads does. Next week, I’m hoping everyone who received an ARC will post reviews as widely as possible – on Goodreads, Amazon, iTunes, Nook, your blogs, and wherever else you hang out online.

The number of reviews a book gets has a direct impact on its success. If you want to read more Noon Onyx books, help support the series by writing a review.

A big shout out and thank you to Matt at Bibliomania Book Reviews for his early review:

May be the best book in the Noon Onyx series to date… The genre-bending nature of Jill Archer’s novels is inventive and refreshing, and world-building is one of her greatest strengths… Those who are new to the series should read all of the previous books first to get the full impact of this one, but [there is] enough backstory that it is possible for a new reader to jump in.

And to Lissette Manning, a.k.a. LizzieBeth at Simplistik, for her wonderful review. Loved her description of Noon:

A headstrong heroine who… is decisive and is often led by her emotions, yet she will never back down from a fight. She will do everything possible to set all wrongs to right, even if it means she’ll die trying…. This is a series that sinks deep into your heart.

Thank you too to those of you who have left reviews at Goodreads! I tread carefully there because I think it’s a sacrosanct reader space. So I don’t comment here on reviews there. However – they are VERY MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!

Still Available for Pre-Order!

Even if you received an advance copy, please consider pre-ordering. Pocket Full of Tinder‘s price is half the price of previous books. (It’s less than lots of the crap stuff they sell at Five Below!)

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

In Other News…

  1. I’m going to be doing a release day blitz with Xpresso Book Tours. Originally, I’d wanted to do another release day party at Bitten by Books (I really enjoyed the last one), but Rachel’s not currently scheduling them. Giselle at Xpresso was able to book a little blitz for me on short notice. She’s also based in Canada and I thought it might be nice to reach out to more Canadian readers. My release day giveaway is a $25 eGC and signed books. That giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada! 🙂

  2. I received an email the other day from BookBub. For one brief crazy half-second, I got excited. BookBub?! I mean, everyone talks about BookBub as if your launch will fail if you’re not using it. (Disclaimer for any new followers, my Twitter bio used to say, “Queen of Hyperbole”). But then I remembered I’m not doing a BookBub ad. (Pocket Full of Tinder isn’t even a good candidate because it’s not heavily discounted and it’s not a first-in-series). Then I read the email:

    Your new release alert will be sent to your BookBub followers. You currently have 4 in the US.

    Seriously, WordPress, where is your laughing/crying emoji? Clearly, I have not been encouraging my followers to sign up for new release alerts over at BookBub – and I’m still not! If you are a new follower/fan/friend who is interested in receiving new release alerts, please sign up for my newsletter. That said, I appreciate BookBub’s handling that for me and I would definitely like to do business with them in the future. 😉


  3. Penny took her first flying lesson!
    😀
    pennys-take-offpenny-in-the-air


More about my BBT Giveaway

The winner will receive their choice of either:

#1 – an Etsy “Book Lover” prize pack, which includes a book hoarder dragon poster, a dozen book page flowers, six book wine charms, and a pair of book earrings. (U.S. Only for Option #1. If these items are no longer available on Etsy, winner will receive Option #2); or

#2 – $50 worth of fantasy books from Book Depository and a $25 Etsy gift certificate.

For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you, everyone, for following this blog and supporting the Noon Onyx series! You are all amazing and awesome!

POCKET FULL OF TINDER is now available on NetGalley (#fantasy)

Pocket Full of Tinder is now available on NetGalley. If you are interested in getting an advance review copy via NetGalley, click here, sign in or register, and request a copy. I offered it via SFWA’s NetGalley co-op, which is a terrific benefit to members. (Why join SFWA?) Check out the other ARCs being offered by fellow SFWA members here.

Other ways you can get an ARC of Pocket Full of Tinder

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

Pocket Full of Tinder

by Jill Archer

Giveaway ends December 01, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

My Author Newsletter

I’ll be offering ARCs via my newsletter one more time before the book’s release. Click here to subscribe.

Don’t Forget to Pre-Order!

Pre-orders help support the series. There will be at least one more book. What happens after that depends on readers!

Amazon

iTunes

Kobo

When Pocket Full of Tinder releases on December 15, 2016, it will also be available for purchase on Nook and CreateSpace.

POCKET FULL OF TINDER: #GoodreadsGiveaway

Want a chance to win one of ten signed advance copies of Pocket Full of Tinder? Then enter the Goodreads giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer

Pocket Full of Tinder

by Jill Archer

Giveaway ends December 01, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

In other news:

Saw Doctor Strange this weekend. Thought it was great. I’m not sure it was as cerebral as some reviewers have said (ahem, EW, I’m looking at you), but I do love a good origin story. Visually, it reminded me of Inception and Insurgent).

Also watched the first two episodes of Timeless, which was good. E loved it. I’m interested enough to keep watching.

If you’re doing NaNo this month – GOOD LUCK!!!

And… if you live in the U.S. (you know where I’m going with this last bit, right?) – Don’t forget to vote tomorrow! I can’t imagine that anyone who follows this blog won’t, but I have, on occasion, talked to people who have a false belief that their vote won’t count. Huh? Every vote counts. If you have a right to vote – exercise it. The fact that you live in a non-battleground state, the fact that you think your voice will be better heard online than in the voting box, or the fact that you’re fed up with this election aren’t good excuses. Vote!

Tomorrow, Penny, E, and I will be home watching CNN. On Wednesday, I’ll have the fabulous Suzanne Johnson here, who will be discussing the worldbuilding in her Sentinels of New Orleans series. Belle Chasse, the penultimate book, releases tomorrow, so pre-order now!

Best wishes for Monday, all!

Pocket Full of Tinder Pre-Order Links (#Fantasy #Paranormal)

I have pre-order links for Noon Onyx #4!

Pre-Order on Amazon

Pre-Order on iTunes

Pre-Order on Kobo

The digital version is $3.99 and the print version will be $12.99. That digital price is the lowest price of any book in the series so, even if you haven’t yet read a Noon Onyx book, I’m hoping it’s an easy entry price. Yes, I know it’s not $0.99 — and it likely never will be. (So, please don’t wait for it to go on sale; if you want to buy it, please pre-order it now 🙂 ).

When the book releases on December 15, 2016, it will also be available on Nook and CreateSpace.

Want a Sample Booklet?

Pocket Full of Tinder, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, Fantasy, Paranormal

Interested in receiving a sample booklet with Pocket Full of Tinder’s prologue and first chapter? Then use my Contact Page to send me your U.S. mailing address. (While supplies last. My newsletter subscribers get first dibs.)

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend, everyone! Don’t forget to pre-order before your weekend festivities!!

Pre-Order on Amazon

Pre-Order on iTunes

Pre-Order on Kobo

THANK YOU!!!

THIS BOOK WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE AMAZING SUPPORT OF THE INDIE AUTHOR COMMUNITY, THE READERS WHO HAVE PATIENTLY WAITED FOR ME TO CONTINUE NOON’S STORY, AND MY OWN STUBBORN INSISTENCE TO KEEP WRITING IN THE FACE OF SOME VERY STRONG HEADWINDS.

TO MIX METAPHORS, I’M GOING BACK TO MY ROLLER COASTER ANALOGY — PRE-ORDER LINKS MEAN THAT WE ARE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE LIFT HILL, BALANCED FOR ONE BRIEF MOMENT (OR FOR THE NEXT 49 DAYS) BETWEEN THE MASSIVE HEAVY LIFTING THAT HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS POINT AND…

THE UNKNOWN…

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!!!

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

HallowRead — Author Interviews, Schedule, and Ticket Giveaway!

Today’s post is all about HallowRead, the book festival and mini-con for authors and fans of paranormal, urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror. It’s happening on October 21-23 in Havre de Grace, Maryland. I’m giving away one ALL-INCLUSIVE TICKET (includes Friday Workshops, Saturday Panels, Ghost Tour, Book Signing, and Sunday Brunch & Wine Tasting). Details on how to win the ticket are below. For those of you who can’t make it, here’s a fun Halloween themed Q&A with me and two other HallowRead authors:

RYSA WALKER is the author of the bestselling CHRONOS Files series. Timebound, the first book in the series, was the Young Adult and Grand Prize winner in the 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. The CHRONOS Files has sold nearly half a million copies since 2013 and has been translated into ten languages. Rysa currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, two youngest sons, and a hyperactive golden retriever. When not working on the second book in The Delphi Trilogy, she watches shows where travelers boldly go to galaxies far away, or reads about magical creatures and superheroes from alternate timelines.  She has neither the time nor the patience for reality TV.

DYLANN RHEA was raised in a small town in Bergen County where she still lives today with her family. She has always shown a passion for writing despite the difficulty she faced in school with dyslexia. Rhea spent most of her time daydreaming and writing during her childhood with no vision of becoming an author. After attending community college for a semester, she decided to pave her own path and create the world she wished she could have read about as a young adult. She published her first two books, Tormented Soul and Fallen Warrior, in 2015.

What’s your favorite Halloween treat?

Rysa: Take5 bars that I steal from my kids’ haul on Halloween.  I don’t buy the darn things, because it’s one of the few candy bars that I will scarf down with a shameless lack of self-control.  I may have to break the no-buying rule this year, however, since my guys now insist that they are too old to trick-or-treat and it’s really not Halloween without Take5.

Dylann: What isn’t my favorite? Honestly, I eat any treat you put in front of me, however I really enjoy the classic Candy Corn. You can never go wrong with the classics.

Jill: Twizzlers and Sour Patch Kids… also caramel apples, salted caramels, Milk Duds, and Milky Ways. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Take5 though, which means I’m going to have to hunt one down now to see what I think.

What do you think this year’s most popular Halloween costume will be?

Rysa: I’m pretty sure Star Wars will top the list.  I’m guessing we’ll have about as many Reys at our door as we did Groots last year, and Harry Potters a few years back.  Those were my favorite Halloweens, because I could dress  up as Bellatrix and chase all of the little Gryffindors around the cul-de-sac shouting “I killed Sirius Black!” without the neighbors complaining.

Dylann: I wouldn’t be surprised if the ‘joke’ costume is either Trump or Hillary. The kid’s costume is always tricky, but I think this year it could be Star Wars costumes. I know I dressed up as Jarjar when I was in Kindergarten even though everyone hates him.

Jill: I’m wondering how many Harley Quinns I’ll see and if that’s a good thing or a bad thing…

Do you have a favorite horror movie?

Rysa: I love scary books, and I like some scary movies, but not gory ones.  Spewing arteries put me off my popcorn (although probably not off my Take5 bars).  My favorite is probably “IT,” especially Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise the Clown.  I’m more than a little afraid of clowns to begin with, so he scared the bejeezus out of me. 

Dylann: Horror is one of those things that I hate, thriller movies creep me out ten times more. If I had to pick it would be Friday the 13th. Someone invading your mind is horrifying and part of me feels like it could happen one day.

Jill: I think my current favorite is Spring. Other creepy, scary, and/or Gothic movies I’ve enjoyed: Sleepy Hollow, The Village, Underworld, Crimson Peak, Jane Eyre, Edwards Scissorhands, Shaun of the Dead…

If you could be any type of monster, which would it be and why?

Rysa: It wouldn’t be a clown, that’s for sure.  Maybe a dog-shifter like Sirius Black? My golden retriever has a pretty sweet life.

Dylann: Do witches count as monsters? I’ve been obsessed with them ever since I watched Charmed when I was younger. Witches have a perfect balance of being on the border of human, but not. There’s something so fascinating about them, but if witches don’t count werewolf in a heartbeat. There’s something sexy about the beast within and again you’re only a werewolf once a month so you have that humanity.  

Jill: A Valkyrie or one of the Furies for sure. 😀

Are you superstitious? If so, about what?

Rysa: Usually not, although I was somewhat more superstitious when I was a kid.  I’d worry a bit about my mom if I stepped on a crack in the sidewalk, and I’d avoid walking under ladders — although the last is partly because I’m so clumsy I’d likely knock the thing down.

Dylann: Hell yes! I’m always looking up my horoscope and reading my tarot twice a day. I LOVE seeing psychics and mediums, palms readers, the whole nine. Sometimes I play back my recordings of what a psychic has said to me and try to decipher it. I don’t believe in the whole walking under a ladder thing or black cats being bad luck. I do throw salt over my shoulder if I spill it.

Jill: I’m superstitious in the most inconsistent ways. I think nothing of stepping on cracks or walking under ladders, but I try not to open umbrellas in the house or break mirrors. I knock on wood, wish on stars, wonder if things really do happen in threes…

Have you ever seen a ghost?

Rysa: I haven’t seen one, but I’ve seen evidence of one.  When I was about seven months pregnant with my middle son, we had several odd incidents in our house.  A floor lamp suddenly dipped to one side, making the dog go crazy.  A piece of stuffing from a pillow  suddenly appears in a glass of water that was clear a second before.  Several other things happened that involved water, and all of this took place within a couple of days and then ended.  The family joke is that it was my son checking us out as potential parents to make sure we had a sense of humor. 

Dylann: No and I don’t have a desire to. I already know spirits exist, but I don’t need to be scared shitless and see one.

Jill: Only on-screen or in costume.

What is your latest book about?

rysa-walker-2Rysa: The previous question was a perfect segue, since my latest book, The Delphi Effect, which launches October 11th, is–at least in part– about a ghost.  Anna Morgan has the unfortunate ability to pick up mental hitchhikers who have unfinished business.  Her current hitcher, Molly,  is a bit more insistent than most, and Anna gets pulled into the search for a serial killer and a government conspiracy that could get Anna and her friends killed…but could also help her figure out the origin of her abilities.

One of the reasons that I’m really excited for this year’s Hallowread is that it’s located in Havre de Grace, Maryland.  Havre de Grace is one of the settings of The Delphi Effect.  Some scenes are also set in nearby Port Deposit–although I guess I should really say under Port Deposit…at the site of the former Tome School.  It’s great to be able to do my first post-launch event in an area that had so much influence on the book.

Dylann: Right now I’m in the process of finishing my first trilogy The Storm Trilogy which is about a young girl named Kaden who comes from a dysfunctional family and has in turn created her own idea of family through her sister and best friend, Megan. One night while she’s out with Megan, things go awry and Megan ends up missing. Kaden is forced to work with a young man, Finley, who shows Kaden a fae world hidden within the streets of Seattle. As Kaden gets pulled further into the darkness of the world, she realizes Megan is in much more danger than she thought.

Jill: Maegester-in-Training, Noon Onyx, heads to Rockthorn Gorge to work for its new demon lord – who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend.

Where can we find it?

Rysa: You can find The Delphi Effect, along with my other books, on my Amazon page and at select book stores.

Dylann: The first book, Tormented Soul can be found here and the sequel, Fallon Warrior, can be found here. Both can be purchased through Barnes and Noble upon request.

Jill: You can add Pocket Full of Tinder to your Goodreads shelf here and subscribe to my newsletter for future ARC and pre-order info.

Where can we find you at HallowRead?

Rysa: I wouldn’t miss the Ghost Tour in Havre de Grace on Friday October 21st.  I’ll also be on two writing panels, Saturday October 22nd.  The first is “An Architect and a Gardener,” which looks at the differences between writers who are plotters and those who fly by the seat of their pants. (I’m very much in the latter category!) The second is “Suspending Disbelief,” where the group will be looking at the challenges of writing magical stories while keeping it “real” enough that the reader buys into your world. Finally, I’ll be signing copies of The Delphi Effect at the Havre de Grace Library on Saturday afternoon from 4-6 PM.

Dylann: I will be on the Urban Fantasy Round up panel and hovering around the event all weekend so come say hello!

Jill: I’ll be at the Books You Can Sink Your Teeth Into panel and the book signing and generally around all day Saturday.

Where can we find you online?

Rysa:

If you find me at Facebook or on Twitter, please tell me to get back in the Writing Cave.  I spend way too much time there.  I’m also occasionally on Goodreads and you can get updates on my books, appearances, and other information at my website. Plus, if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get a free CHRONOS short story.

Dylann:


More about HallowRead

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.

Get your tickets here.

See a list of attending authors here.

For more about HallowRead founder, Rachel Rawlings, see this previous post featuring her Maurin Kincaide UF series.


More about the Ticket Giveaway

I’m giving away one all-inclusive ticket to HallowRead. To enter to win, comment below (answer one of the questions in the Q&A above) or contact me no later than midnight EST on October 4, 2016. My complete giveaway rules are here. Hope to see you there!

Thank you to Rysa and Dylann for the Q&A. It was fun reading your answers. I’m looking forward to meeting you in person in October.

Hope everyone’s fall is off to a great start!

Haunted Halloween Spooktacular! (Chance to win Kindle Fire + IT’S FUN!!)

Before I get into the details of the Halloween Spooktacular, I want to say THANK YOU to each and every one of you who helped make the Pocket Full of Tinder cover reveal as awesome as it could be. I very much appreciate all the shares, likes, tweets, RTs, host posts, Goodreads adds, etc. There is simply NO WAY I could launch a book without your help. I’m still not quite sure what to expect in December, but I do know the more people who know about the book’s release, the better. Hugs to all of you who continue to help me spread the word about the Noon Onyx series!!

(Cover Reveal Giveaway Update: Ann B. won the $25 eGC. The Sneak Peek Tweet Contest is still going on. It doesn’t end until September 30th. PLENTY of chances to win. How to enter? Simply tweet one of my sneak peek tweets. Details here.)

Halloween, giveaway, books, authors, fantasy, horror, demons, angels, magic

HAUNTED HALLOWEEN SPOOKTACULAR

What is it?

A month-and-a-half-long online event featuring authors who write horror, dark fantasy, and paranormal stories. Our books have magic, witches, vampires, werewolves, demons, and/or all sorts of otherworldly elements.

Who’s participating?

Participating authors include: Marsha A Moore, Laura B. Diamond, JC Andrijeski, N.D. Jones, Ash Krafton, Krista Carlson, Natalie Nicole Bates, Vanta Black, Jenn Windrow, Constance Burris, Kirsten Weiss, Rayna Noire, Roxanne Rhoads, Catherine Winters, Traci Douglass, Jamie K. Schmidt, Sam Baltrusis, Lexxie Couper, Lily Harlem, Angelique Voisen, MA Church, BA Tortuga, Erzabet Bishop, Sam Crescent, Kelex… and me!

Click here for the full schedule.

Where to find me and when

September 19: Urban Fantasy Investigations & Zenny’s Awesome Book Reviews

September 21: Author Kim Richards’ Blog

September 28: ParaYourNormal

October 7: Kayl’s Krazy Obssession

October 19: Books, Dreams, Life

October 20: Mello and June, It’s a Book Thang! & Infinite House of Books

October 21: Eskimo Princess Book Reviews

BONUS FACEBOOK PARTY

on October 19

I’ll be hosting a Facebook Halloween-themed party from 2-3 p.m. EST on Oct. 19th. I’ve never hosted a Facebook party before, but with each release, I like to try at least one new thing. This should be lots of fun. I’ll have some quizzes, games, maybe some old Halloween pictures, and PRIZES! Get more details and RSVP here. I’ll post a reminder in a few weeks.

Giveaway

The big giveaway for the Halloween Spooktacular is a Kindle Fire Tablet, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB. Neat, right? There are also smaller prizes being offered by other participating authors like Amazon gift cards, ebooks, and signed print copies of their books. To see the full list of prizes, click here and scroll to the bottom for the Rafflecopter form.

Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

In other news…

And, because posting pure promotion can be perilous (although not, perhaps, as bad as endless alliteration 😉 ), here are a few other updates:

Penny got her braces off. Yay! 😀

A few nights ago, Craig gave a beekeeping talk at the library where I work with another, more experienced beekeeper. They brought in an observation hive (it was like a big wooden suitcase with bees in it), a honey extraction video, and lots of tips for first-timers. Whole families came and it was fun! Hopefully, we’ll have some new beekeepers in our area soon. 🙂

E read Raina Telgemeier’s latest book, GHOSTS, and really enjoyed it. Click here for an audio snippet from NPR books editor Barrie Handyman, who discusses the book’s tough topic (death) and how the author masterfully handled it.

I checked out the first episodes of American Horror Story S6, Haven, Wynona Earp, and The Expanse. The winner (at least for now)? The Expanse. I don’t know when I’ll get to watch again, but want to soon!

Did you have braces? Do you remember the day you got them off? (I did and do).

Does your library offer programs? What’s the best one you’ve ever been to? What program do you WISH would be offered?

Have you read or watched anything good lately?

Best wishes and happy reading, all!

Pocket Full of Tinder, Cover Reveal, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, Rebecca Frank, fantasy

Cover Reveal: POCKET FULL OF TINDER (#Fantasy #Giveaway)

It’s here!!!!! Today, I’m sharing the new cover for Pocket Full of Tinder, the fourth book in my Noon Onyx series, which will release this December. Below are my thoughts on the cover, links to all of the wonderful bloggers who are participating in the cover reveal, information about the two giveaways I’m offering, and — of course — more information about the book. Please share and enjoy!! Thanks, everyone!!!


Pocket Full of Tinder, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, Rebecca Frank, fantasy

Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente.

Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…

Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heart breaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.

When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.

Add the book to your Goodreads shelves here. Sign up for my newsletter here.


My Thoughts on the Cover

I hired Rebecca Frank to custom illustrate and design the cover of Pocket Full of Tinder for me. Rebecca’s a terrific artist, who’s been getting lots of attention lately. (Did you see her work in BookBub’s recent post “19 Fantastic Book Cover Design Resources“?) Because I’ve had three cover artists over the course of four books, I told Rebecca one of the most important things was to maintain a sense of continuity. She did a great job!

I love the clothing details (in particular, the burning leaf motif on the cloak clasp – Rebecca’s brilliant idea), the dark setting (Rockthorn Gorge at night), the fiery pop of the gun (a signal to readers to expect the unexpected), and Noon’s two-toned face and hair (a serendipitous foreshadowing of both character and story).

In all, a very satisfying addition to the series cover gallery, don’t you think?


 Cover Reveal and Series Spotlight Blitz

Interviews

Preternatura: I share what’s on my nightstand now, the books I’ve recently read and can recommend, and some book covers I’ve adored.

Urban Fantasy Investigations: I talk about the first bike I ever owned, a challenging character from Pocket Full of Tinder, and UF/PNR authors with recent releases who are on my TBR List.

Literary Musings: my UPDATED dream cast for the Noon Onyx series, a bit about the bout of writers block I had two summers ago and how I dealt with it, and the hardest part of being an author.

Other Participating Bloggers

Many thanks to each and every blogger who is helping me spread the word about the series and the upcoming fourth book. Indie authors rely on bloggers like those above and below to help us tell the world about our books. At each stop, there are more chances to win the eGC (think of all the books you can buy! 🙂 ). Some of the bloggers may also be sharing a Pocket Full of Tinder excerpt, as well as reviews of the previous three books. Please check out their sites, share their posts, and follow them!!

The Qwillery

The Reading Cafe

Happy Tails and Tales Blog

One Book Two

Books That Hook

Lissette Manning

Literaria

The Silver Dragon Scriptorium

Share My Destiny

Mello and June, It’s a Book Thang!

Books, Dreams, Life

Ramblings of a Book Nerd

What the Cat Read

The Book Junkie Reads

Fanatical Paranormal Romantical

More Books Than Livros

The Book Tree

Infinite House of Books

Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer

3 Partners in Shopping: Nana, Mommy, and Sissy Too!

Books N Pearls

Sapphyria’s Book Reviews

T’s Stuff

Don’t Judge, Read

Illuminite Caliginosus

The Cubical Escapee

Ogitchida Kwe’s Book Blog

Lisa Loves (Books of Course)

Sylv – All About Books and Films

Lisa’s World of Books

Ali – The Dragon Slayer

Books and Tales

Supernatural Central

Just a Little R and R

The Indie Express

Boundless Book Reviews

Special thanks too to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours, who helped organize this Cover Reveal!


Sneak Peek Tweets and Twitter Contest

Anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (so long as Book Depository ships to your address) (up to $10.00). Contest ends on September 30, 2016. One tweet/entry per person per day.

In a dark world, follow one woman’s search for goodness, light, and love…
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
Lucem in tenebras ferimus. Into the darkness, we bring light.
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
Noon Onyx is back! Return to the dangerous world of Halja in @archer_jill’s upcoming POCKET FULL OF TINDER
#NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
“Have you ever wanted to do half the things you’ve told me you’ve done?”
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
My right hand flexed, an instinctive precursor to shaping a weapon.
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
“I’m not trying to forget… I’m trying to forgive.”
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy
My body soared, my stomach dropped, and my perspective of the world changed forever.
@archer_jill #NoonOnyxSeries #Fantasy

$25 eGift Certificate Giveaway

As part of my Cover Reveal celebration, I’m giving away one $25 eGift Certificate to a bookstore of winner’s choice. The Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway is here.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law. Open to international participants ages 18+. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.


Want to be notified when the pre-order links are up for Pocket Full of TinderInterested in possibly receiving an ARC? Then sign up for my quarterly newsletter here.

I send the newsletter out four times a year (September, December, March, and June) PLUS extra editions when I’m promoting a NEW RELEASE!

Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, Pocket Full of Tinder, fantasy

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!

#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!! 😀

More Thoughts on Gozer the Destructor (#PuppyDestruction)

Facebook reaction to Tug’s destructive tendencies has been along the lines of “Holy Crap!” (I know Jen; her comment made me laugh). Another friend asked if we had a crate. (We do, but we only use it at night.) In any case, this isn’t a post about best practices for training your dog. It’s just a post about pets and how we love them and sometimes aren’t sure if we’re raising them right.

We adopted our last dog, Clipper, before we had kids. Both my husband and I were lawyers working in Baltimore and we lived in a row house. Our next door neighbor became a very good friend. She was a waitress in Little Italy and she would come over during the day and let Clipper out and he would play in the backyard with her dog, Shadow. Clip chewed stuff too – the knob off of a dresser and some door trim in the kitchen. There were probably other things. I don’t remember because it was a while ago. Maybe it’s selective memory (many times, I still feel as if Clipper was the Best Dog Ever and Tug is the Young Whippersnapper trying to take his place), but Tug seems more… feisty. And, heck, maybe he is. Dogs have different personalities same as people, regardless of their common breed characteristics.

This time, with Tug, we still use a crate. He sleeps in there at night, but spends his days (when he’s not outside) in our kitchen. We bought baby gates for the doorways, which has been interesting. It’s been years since I’ve had to hurdle in my own house and I’ll admit I even fell over one the other day. (Yeah, it was awesome. Thankfully, I wasn’t holding a cup of coffee!!) I’ll also admit that, when I’m in some other part of the house or out of it, I occasionally leave Tug in the kitchen instead of putting him in his crate and THAT’S when he becomes GOZER THE DESTRUCTOR.

Oddly, most of the stuff he’s destroyed is easily fixed. I have spackle and paint and Home Depot has the wall trim (it’s not like the trim in our old house, which was 100 years old). The Lifeproof case did its job and I can read the digital version of April’s RT Book Reviews. The couch I’m a bit miffed about, but to be fair, my cats had already done a number on it (why, oh why, won’t cats use the scratching posts you buy for them??)

Amy asked if Tug’s a hunting dog. No, although if he had a proper trainer, I’m sure he’d be great. But he’s a family dog. And Craig doesn’t hunt birds. He was interested in some of the training techniques for hunting dogs – and anyone with a lab knows how they LOVE to feel like they’re a helpful member of the pack. So he bought a copy of WATER DOG and has been working with Tug, using some of the techniques suggested in there. Me? I mostly train Tug to fetch by taking him out back with a cup of coffee (in a mug with a lid!) and a ball. I throw. He fetches. 😀

Here’s one other Gozer the Destructor story, which I didn’t document because I was too furious, although it looked like a crime scene that should have been documented. At the time, I was pleasantly watching the election coverage (who am I kidding? I’m sure I was horrified at what I was hearing, but this isn’t a political post). I was sitting on the end of my couch with a glass of red wine (yeah, you know where this story is going, right?). I don’t know what set Tug off – the cat? Something someone said on TV? Ha. – but he went nuts. Jumped on me, fled behind my end table, got wrapped around the light cord, pulled it off the table, it came crashing down on my drink… Red wine splattered EVERYWHERE. On me, the table, floor, lampshade, him. Ugh. Believe it or not, I got it all cleaned up. (We have dark carpet and a good stain remover).

If nothing else, these pet challenges make good story fodder. I don’t want to be too much of a spoiler, but Pocket Full of Tinder opens with Nova getting in trouble for chewing up something in Noon’s dorm. Poor Nova! She’s a good girl too.

That’s it for today, folks. Lest you be worried that I’m suddenly going to be filling your in-boxes with daily posts, I’ll tell you that my next probable post will be a guest post next Thursday.

HAPPY SATURDAY, ALL!

Pocket Full of Tinder (Noon Onyx #4) Newsletter Update – Last Chance!

If all goes well with Mail Chimp, I’m going to be sending out my first quarterly newsletter this week. This is your last chance to sign up before it goes out! If you don’t, you’ll miss out on all the good stuff and will have to find one of the subscribers and beg them to share it with you. 😀

Newsletter

What’s going to be in the newsletter?

  • UPDATE: Pocket Full of Tinder
  • SNEAK PEEK: Frigore Luna, a new Haljan holiday
  • FIRST LOOK: Map of St. Luck’s
  • WHO SAID IT? Match the Quote to the Character
  • BE AN AMBASSADOR: 3 Awesome Things You Can Do
  • CONTEST: Fireball Laser Cut Wood Earrings or a $10 eGC

The update will give readers an idea of what to expect from book #4. I also share my draft back cover copy (still working on it; it may change; I’m worried it might be too confusing/complicated). The sneak peek is a behind-the-scenes look at a new Haljan holiday I created for B4 based on two real world holidays. There’s also a map of St. Luck’s campus and a fun quiz where you can match characters and quotes. Finally, there are three ways you can help me spread the word about the series (do one, two, or all three!) and a contest exclusively for newsletter subscribers. Further dets are in the newsletter.

Sign up Here

What’s the difference between this blog and my newsletter? See this post.

I’ll share some puppy pics, maybe some “On the Fly” pics, and what I’ve been reading and watching soon. So stay tuned and, in the meantime, happy reading and writing!

DARK LIGHT OF DAY Pinterest Book Board #Fantasy #Romance #Giveaway

I’m on Pinterest, people! 😀

I made a book board for DARK LIGHT OF DAY. Twenty quotes from the book matched with twenty pictures of items sold on Etsy. The result? A relatively quick, easy, creative project for me and a fun extra for readers and Noon fans.

I plan on creating boards for the rest of the books and will update with new pics and quotes every now and then.

In the meantime, a small giveaway to celebrate the fact that I’ve crossed one item off of my 2016 To Do List (“Check out Pinterest”)—

GIVEAWAY

Winner’s choice: one print copy of DARK LIGHT OF DAY or any other fantasy book from Book Depository up to $10. Open to international. Other details here. (Why not an Etsy gift card? Theirs start at $25. I’ll be giving away an Etsy gift card in connection with one of the giveaways I do for POCKET FULL OF TINDER though…)

I’ll draw the winner from those people who are following the Pinterest Dark Light of Day board by midnight EST on Valentine’s Day. Winner will be announced here. (I’ll also try to reach the winner via Pinterest). Since there are only a handful of people currently following the board, your chances of winning are terrific!

And quick plug for my newsletter – the first one’s coming out next month with some POCKET FULL OF TINDER sneak peeks! Sign up here.

Okay, back to work. 🙂

STILL stuck inside? Sign up for my newsletter! (#read #darkfantasy)

We are slowly digging out from under snow storm Jonas, i.e. Snowzilla. Almost two and a half feet here! How about you? How much snow did you get? Are you still trapped?

If you’re still stuck inside and looking for something to do, you can sign up for my quarterly author newsletter.

What will my newsletter offer?

Newsletter

Quarterly newsletters will be sent every September, December, March, and June. Content will vary but will likely be some combination of:

  • Snippets from old or new work
  • Quizzes
  • Fun quotes and tweets
  • Recipes related to the books
  • Random Facts (background info on characters, etc.)
  • First look at Extras I’ll be adding to my website
  • Interesting stuff I’m researching
  • Meet the Team (bios of people who help me behind the scenes)
  • Be an Ambassador (ways readers can help me spread the word about my books)
  • Contests/Giveaways

Newsletters will also be sent out for each NEW RELEASE!

How will the newsletter differ from the blog?

The newsletter is mostly for readers who like my books and want to hear more about them. Some content, including occasional giveaways, will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers.

This blog will continue to be what it always has been – an inconsistently scheduled mashup of all the things I’m interested in: books, movies/TV shows, writing, day tripping, guest posts, etc.

Feel free to share my newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n

Thanks, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!