Thursday, March 28, 2013

GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers

Okay, so remember how I've been in a bit of an in-between place with my writing? Well, that usually translates to a lot of reading for me. Thus, today's Bookanista recommendation of GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers.

I'm a lover of fantasy, especially if it doesn't feel too High-World or Un-Re-Latable. I like the kind of fantasy that doesn't need a map, let's put it that way.

And GRAVE MERCY fits that bill nicely.

Here's a bit about it: Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage to the respite of the convent of St. Mortain. Here she learns that the god of Death has blessed her with dangerous gifts and a violent destiny. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others. But how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who has stolen her heart?

I loved the historical setting, the premise of Death's servants, and the fact that this novel was about assassains, but wasn't too gory. I am not a fan of the gore.

Ismae is a great main character, but I also found the cast of supporting characters to be three-dimensional and root-worthy as well. There was intrigue, and danger, and castles, and yes, a romance.

I found it all believable, and well-written. Oh yes, GRAVE MERCY was my kind of read, one that kept me wondering what was going to happen while formulating what I *wanted* to have happen.

If you like fantasy that doesn't require maps, you'll like GRAVE MERCY. If you like intrigue and danger without the graphic gore, you'll like GRAVE MERCY.

And the best part? I just read this, and the sequel DARK TRIUMPH comes out next week!

What kind of fantasy do you like? What have you read this week that you enjoyed?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are recommending this week:

Monday, March 25, 2013

I'm Back!

Sorry to have been gone so much these past couple of weeks! I feel like I've fallen off the edge of the Earth, and have just barely been able to claw my way back to the top of the cliff.

I've been spending a fair bit of time over on the WriteOnCon forum, as we just held our first-ever pitch-fest! We had over 350 people enter, and 14 agents comment, and it was amazing. If you're interested in seeing what specific agents are looking for, combing through the boards would be beneficial.

Then I've been spending some time watching my daughter dance, reading some amazing books,  playing a little too much Bakery Story, and watching some of my favorite movies like Bend it Like Beckham and The Village. 

I think one of these days I'm going to have to get back to actual writing. Yeah, that's probably a good idea...

What do you do when you're not writing? Did you check out the WOC boards? 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch

Okay, I'm back with another great book recommendation! MAGISTERIUM by Jeff Hirsch. Now, I don't like to read the back cover copy before I open a book, so I honestly didn't know what this book was about. All I knew was that I loved THE ELEVENTH PLAGUE, and Jeff used to blog for The League, and I'd purchased MAGISTERIUM way back when it came out last fall.

I just hadn't read it yet. If I had known what a treat it would be, I would've devoured it right away!

About MAGISTERIUM: On one side of the Rift is a technological paradise without famine or want. On the other side is a mystery.

Sixteen-year-old Glenn Morgan has lived next to the Rift her entire life and has no idea of what might be on the other side of it. Glenn's only friend, Kevin, insists the fence holds back a world of monsters and witchcraft, but magic isn't for Glenn. She has enough problems with reality: Glenn's mother disappeared when she was six, and soon after, she lost her scientist father to his all-consuming work on the mysterious Project. Glenn buries herself in her studies and dreams about the day she can escape. But when her father's work leads to his arrest, he gives Glenn a simple metal bracelet that will send Glenn and Kevin on the run---with only one place to go.

First, the cover is mysterious and beautiful. Much like the story inside. There's basically two worlds in the book: One filled with science and space travel and technology. The other filled with magic. I loved that. I loved that the book was a blend of science fiction and fantasy--my two favorite things!

Glenn is a great main character. She's complex, with hopes and dreams--and disappointments. She's scared, but she acts. As she navigates her way through a new, strange world, she changes into a character the reader can really cheer for.

Oh, and there's just the right amount of romance. ;)

So if you're looking for something different, something unique, something with excellent world-building and supreme imagination, read MAGISTERIUM.

Find out what the other Bookanistas are recommending today!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Query Letter Advice: Let Someone Else Write It!

Lime tart to the right of the computer. That may or may not be my gmail...
 Okay, so I spend quite a bit of time at my local library, writing. I copyedited most of ABANDON at the library. I sneak in cherry limeades from Sonic, and baked potatoes, and mini sweet tarts. I wear headphones, I turn off the Internet, and I get so much done!
Erin actually works...

Well, when I have projects to work on. (Don't judge me! I'm between projects.)

For the past several weeks, I've been meeting with a friend of mine, Erin Summerill. She is one of the best photographers I know (she took my author photo!), and you should definitely like her Facebook page so you know about her contests! She's giving away some headshots later this month.

When she's not snapping photos, we meet at the library. She writes while I, uh, answer email and read on my Kindle, and sometimes tweet.

So we were there last week with the Pegster, and I was whining about how I didn't have anything to work on. Erin said, "I know what you can do! You can write my query letter."

I already knew a little bit about her book, but I told her to tell me about it. She starts talking, and I'm typing a few notes here and few details there. She's still talking. I stop typing. I was totally rude, actually, and I said, "I've got it. I don't need to know any more."

It's actually better in pictures. Here you go:
Erin tells me about her book.

"I just can't fit in ALL THE THINGS!"

The most exciting part...

"Stop," I say. "I got it. I can write it."

And that's the thing right there, my friends. The reason you can't write your query letter is because you know ALL THE THINGS.

Today's advice: Don't write your own query letter. Ask a good friend to do it for you. Tell them the basics (or what you think are the basics), and let them craft the letter.

I can pretty much guarantee that what you think are the basics won't all make it into the query. There just isn't room. Really the query is the setup of your novel -- think, "What does someone need to know to understand my main conflict?" -- and the inciting incident that leads to the main conflict. It's what you write in the first 30 - 50 pages of the book.

After that, all the query letter needs is the consequence. Think, "What will happen if my MC can't overcome the main conflict?"

We seriously don't need anything besides that.

So I wrote Erin's query and I sent it to her. Now, it's probably not perfect. The voice might be a bit off. Some details might not be quite right. She might not like the way I crafted a sentence. But at least now she has a starting point. A piece of writing that ONLY HAS THE BASICS of the book and not ALL THE THINGS she has in her head.

This method works because the query letter was written by someone who is free from all the things.

So there you go. Stumped on your query letter? Ask someone else to draft it for you! Then, of course, you'd edit it the same way you edit your manuscript. With love, and care, and possibly a few more sets of eyes on it.

What do you think? Have you ever thought to have someone else write your initial query letter? Do you think it might actually work? 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger

It's release week for LET THE SKY FALL by Shannon Messenger! I really enjoyed this book, but before we get to all that, let's take a look at the gorgeous cover. I wants to stroke it. I can't wait to get my hands on a physical copy!

About LET THE SKY FALL: Seventeen-year-old Vane Weston has no idea how he survived the category five tornado that killed his parents. And he has no idea if the beautiful, dark-haired girl who’s swept through his dreams every night since the storm is real. But he hopes she is.

Seventeen-year-old Audra is a sylph, an air elemental. She walks on the wind, can translate its alluring songs, and can even coax it into a weapon with a simple string of commands. She’s also a guardian—Vane’s guardian—and has sworn an oath to protect Vane at all costs. Even if it means sacrificing her own life.

When a hasty mistake reveals their location to the enemy who murdered both of their families, Audra’s forced to help Vane remember who he is. He has a power to claim—the secret language of the West Wind, which only he can understand. But unlocking his heritage will also unlock the memory Audra needs him to forget. And their greatest danger is not the warriors coming to destroy them—but the forbidden romance that’s grown between them.

I beta-read this book for Shannon, oh I don't know. Two years ago? Maybe two years ago. I'm thrilled it's made it's way to print, because it's a great YA novel. It's got snark, and heart, and kissing. You know I like all three of those things.

Vane is a great character that both male and female readers will connect with, and Audra is the hard-nosed girl determined to keep her promises. She's got issues too, and well, you've got to read it. LET THE SKY FALL is really everything a YA novel should be.

Be sure to add it to your TBR pile! You won't regret it.

What new release are you dying to get your hands on?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cover Reveal: DESCENDANT by Nichole Giles

Cue the muppet flailing! A good friend of mine finally gets to reveal the cover for her debut novel, DESCENDANT! So you want to see it?

I think it's awesome!

Doesn't it look so sparkly? And warm? And AWESOME?!

About DESCENDANT: Seventeen-year-old Abigail Johnson is Gifted.

Blessed—or cursed—with Sight and Healing, Abby lives an unsettled life, moving from place to place and staying one step ahead of the darkness that hunts her. When she arrives in Jackson, Wyoming, she is desperate to maintain the illusion of normalcy, but she is plagued with visions of past lives mixed with frightening glimpses of her future. Then she meets Kye, a mysterious boy who seems so achingly familiar that Abby is drawn to him like he’s a missing piece of her own soul.

Before Abby can discover the reason for her feelings toward Kye, the darkness catches up to her and she is forced to flee again. But this time she’s not just running. She is fighting back with Kye at her side, and it’s not just Abby’s life at stake.

I've read DESCENDANT, and I'm pretty sure my email to Nichole had a lot of smiley faces and exclamation points. It is a fantastic read, and comes out from Rhemalda Publishing on May 1. You should definitely add DESCENDANT to your Goodreads.

About Nichole: Nichole Giles had early career plans of becoming an actress or a rock star, but she decided instead to have a family and then become a writer. Writing is her passion, but she also loves to spend time with her husband and children, travel to tropical and exotic destinations, drive in the rain with the convertible top down, and play music at full volume so she can sing along.

What do you think of Nichole's cover??

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