Behind the Book: The Bones of Who We Are by C L Waters

This book is the finale in the Cronus Chronicles series. I will place links for the earlier books in this series at the end of the post. Each interview covers different writing tips and info about the series.

How long did it take you to write this book once you had the idea?

The idea of Gabe’s story came in flashes, but once I finished writing Abby’s and Seth’s stories, Gabe’s story took about six or seven months to write the first draft. Another month or two to rewrite. I’d say the process from drafting through publication took sixteen months.

This book was written after you lost your dad – was it a therapeutic outlet? I notice that it deals with death.

This book explores my grief to some extent, or the ways in which suppressed grief has power over us. Writing Gabe’s story allowed me to process the loss of my father and my own pain. In many ways, I felt stuck like Gabe. When he walks into that childhood fort, I felt like I completely understood his need to hide there, to face death; though Gabe deals with suicide ideation, I think each of us face the symbolic death of self when we face the pain of loss, and then the subsequent rebirth when we find our way out of it. I’m not sure if that makes sense?

Tell me about the character Gabe?

Gabe has faced immense bullying his entire high school career; it’s called The Freak Challenge, and the object is to get Gabe to fight back. Writer of poetry and lover of Abby, he hasn’t fought back because he knows who started the challenge—Seth—and he’s biding his time to get back at his former best friend for the betrayal. His therapist has tried to help him. His adoptive parents have helped him. Even Abby, now, has helped him, but lingering over his head is the knowledge of his real parents and his fear of becoming them. When things spirals out of control and Seth’s life is on the line, Gabe crashes and feels like everything that’s happened is his fault, the fault of the DNA he carries in his body, and that the only way to save everyone else from the monster he’s becoming is to end it.

Each book is a different character from the series story. What inspired these characters?

You’ll see the parallels with the three characters in the Twilight series. Abby-Bella, Seth-Jacob, and Gabe-Edward (though an awesome reader thought Seth and Gabe were reversed which I love too). When I rewrote the books, Abby was inspired by the emergence of Hawaiian culture in my island home. The exploration of how one’s culture informs identity. Seth, as a villain, was inspired by the idea that even the villain has a story. That those either-or dichotomies are often flawed because as people we are a million variations of color. Finally, Gabe was inspired by my daughter who has struggled with mental health. When I read the statistics about males and sucicide rates, I was so saddened, I knew I wanted to explore this further.

When you finished the series you gave it a new look. What was it like relaunching a book and redesigning the covers?

It was hard work (and costly) but I’m so glad I did it. I am so proud of how they turned out, and they are so much more in line with how I envisioned them in the redesign as opposed to the original covers (which I liked too). It’s a lot of work. Finding a cover designer, formatting, learning the ins and outs of publishing in a more hands on way. I don’t think it’s probably a path for everyone, but I’ve enjoyed the process.

Do you design the covers yourself or use a designer?

I hired a cover designer. Her name is Sara Oliver (https://saraoliverdesign.com) and I think she’s amazing. I love working with her.

Can you share a snippet of the book?

Would love to . . . Though I’m not sure what to share. Here’s one of Gabe’s poems:

Vomit up the monster.

It plays with blocks,

Stacking and rearranging them

Around holes in my heart.

I’m the butt of a joke;

It’s laughing, wide mouthed,

And kicks – cracking what’s already damaged.

The monster crawls back inside

To be vomited another day.

-by Gabe

Excerpt from The Bones of Who We Are by CL Walters

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

My books can be found on any of your favorite platforms. I would always recommend going to your independent bookstore and you can always request them to bring it in.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

Discover more about C L Waters on her website.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Book: The Ugly Truth by C L Waters

Behind the Book: Swimming Sideways by C. L. Waters

Book Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly

Why & how I chose my cover designer!

[kofi]

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 2 of 3

If you missed my previous post – click here for part 1. Or check out the collection for all parts.

So, you’ve drafted your novel, edited it a few times, and now you’re thinking about self publishing it.

STOP!

Every book you publish builds your reputation. If you decide not to get it professionally edited, you risk loosing future readers. Successful authors always talk about the importance of their back list (previous titles). What you want is to create a fan base that will keep coming back for more.

You NEED to get it professionally edited.

Step 2 – Professional Edit

Here is a handy infographic you can add to Pinterest of the steps covered in this post.

There are many professional editors who specialise in different areas. I’ve tried to simplify the process in this graphic, but each editor is unique. Check what they offer as part of their editing service. I will provide links to more info where I can.

Developmental Edit

You can learn so much about your novel and writing from this edit. The editor will highlight what’s working and what’s not, and make some suggestions on how to improve it.

Check out my post on why you need a developmental editor.

Self Edit

When you get your manuscript back you will have a lot of work to do but it’s well worth it. I paid a local printer to print my MS, so I could work through the edits physically and digitally.

Line Edit

Sometimes to save money people choose between a line or copy edit as they have similarities. If you can afford both, do it. The more editing the better. For Ocean Heart, I did skip this but my editor did some line editing within her copy edit.

Self Edit

Read through all the changes made (or recommended) by your editor. These will improve your manuscript. You don’t have to make the changes but I doubt you paid for an editor to ignore them.

Copy Edit

I got a copy edit for Ocean Heart as my final edit. My editor still pointed out areas that needed improving – even by this point, it still wasn’t perfect.

Check out my post on Why you need a Copy Editor.

Self Edit

Got feedback? Use it to to make your manuscript even better. By this point most authors are sick of editing and lost count of the number of drafts – now its ready to publish.

Publish your novel

The next post in my series is about turning your final manuscript into a book and publishing it…

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you might like:

The Benefits of Having a Formatter

12 Tips for Self Editing

Tips on Naming your Character

My Best Kept Writing Secret

Behind the Book: The Ugly Truth by C L Waters

For some reason I wasn’t aware book 2 was out and the crazy thing is, it was out first!

Am I right in thinking this book was originally published as a standalone, and was your first indie book?

Yes! The Ugly Truth started as a stand alone and was my first indie book. The problem was, I was never happy with the ending. It felt trite and over-simplified and I couldn’t seem to figure out how to fix it. It wasn’t until two years later that I decided to finish the series and I started on Swimming Sideways. When that book was finished, I realized I’d written them out of order and they were connected. It allowed me to go back to The Ugly Truth and write the ending which finally worked.

I notice there is a theme of truth and lies in your series, was this intentional?

I don’t know that I made a conscious decision to explore truth and lies initially, but one of the big character flaws of Seth was that he was hiding his truth in lies. Abby faces the same thing. Gabe isn’t lying so much as just hiding. So perhaps the broader theme is how we hide our true selves and the means we do that because we’re afraid or insecure or whatever reason creates that need to hide.

Which character do you relate to most?

Each of them, I think, in some ways. Abby’s “good girl” position; Seth’s need to project he’s got it all together when he doesn’t; Gabe’s sensitivity. I think the one I aspire to be like is the secondary character Dale in Gabe’s, The Bones of Who We Are. I think our stories reflect lots of pieces of us.

Tell me about the main character Seth?

Seth is a “it” guy at his high school, but he knows he doesn’t deserve it. He’s done some awful things to people including his once best friend, Gabe, by instigating “the Freak Challenge” even if he didn’t know it would blow up like it did. Worse yet, he doesn’t come forward to fix it because he’s too afraid. And that’s always been his problem: he’s afraid. At home, where no one knows, his family faces the rage of an alcoholic father, and Seth often bears the brunt of that anger. This story, however, is told through Seth’s memories, because he’s woken up as a spirit outside of his body which is lying in a coma in a hospital bed, and he doesn’t remember how he got there.

Where did the idea for this novel come from.

When I first started writing this story 15 plus years ago, it was a paranormal story. Abby and Seth were Earth guardians and Gabe was a Fallen Angel. It was initially inspired by Twilight because I was so upset with how Meyers had treated the characters. About the time I finished the first installment and began the query process, the book Fallen by Lauren Kate came out and then Hush Hush and suddenly the market was saturated. At the end of that first book, I’d ended it with Seth being dragged into a hell-like place by a demon named Amaros but I’d put the series away because I couldn’t find an agent, but Seth kept talking to me. “You’ve left me down here,” he’d say. “You’ve left me in hell.” So in 2015 I decided to approach his book as a stand alone and changed it to a YA Contemporary with speculative fiction elements. But as I mentioned earlier, I couldn’t get that ending to work! 

How did you come up with your publishing name – Mixed Plate Press?

In Hawaiʻi, where I live and write, a mixed plate (also called a plate lunch) is a little bit of everything —meat, rice, salad—and all of it represents the “local flavor” of the islands. When I came up with the name for my independent imprint business, I wanted to go for that idea of a Mixed Plate Press title being representative of “many flavors” and something for everyone. That more than just the mainstream voices could be represented as a part of the publishing platform even if they’re niche.

Can you share a snippet of the book?

Definitely!

Here’s the first chapter of The Ugly Truth:

The Truth of Being Alive… Well, Kind of…

When I become conscious of myself, the way I am now, it isn’t like the idea of waking. I’m stretched thin, not exactly in the physical world or in the spiritual one, but somehow in between. My physical body is locked, but my spirit, what I guess I am now, moves beyond the confines of my bone, muscle and skin. I hover like a breeze in the flutter of a curtain. I dart back and forth between people and follow them while my physical body remains where it is, a shell that once housed me. I don’t know how I got here.

Time doesn’t function like it once did. This in-between layer seems to have collapsed into the slow motion of time lapse. I don’t know how long I’ve been here, but the longer I am, bits and pieces flash like images spliced together and sound bites in vignettes.

Darkness.

The wail of the siren.

Words: “Stay with us, Seth.”

The wail of a woman (I think she is my mother).

Bright lights.

Beeps and blips of equipment speaking.

Drip.

“Swelling.”

“Induced coma.”

Doctors.

Whir.

Now.

I don’t think it has been very long. If I use the emotion of the woman I think is my mother’s gusts of grief as a measure, this seems recent.

A man appears in the doorway of the room. A haze of familiarity lingers in my consciousness. I think he is my father. Clues: he isn’t dressed like a doctor or a nurse and instead is in worn jeans and a button-up flannel over a white t-shirt. Add to that his hesitation at the door when he sees my body. His face is drawn, pale and heavy with the burden of emotion. I watch him take in the scene from the doorway and imagine how he might see the space from my corner of the room.

It’s a plain room, clean and sterile, a blanket the color of the sky over my physical body. My dark hair looks strange against the pillow, a stark contrast to the whiteness of the bed. The paleness of my face that seems to blend into everything else aside from the beautiful blue and purple bruises, blooming flowers, on my face and the dark cuts that crisscross my forehead. A tube protrudes from my mouth, tubes from my arms, and the loud click and whir of the machine causes my chest to rise and fall with a regular rhythm like a ticking clock.

The woman, her back to the man, holds my hand. “Seth. Honey. Momma’s here,” she says through tears.

That’s a first.

This is a thought which shocks me, a reflexive one that is as natural as breathing but like a punch to the gut. Bitterness tastes like something old and stale, and I want to rinse my mouth, wash the bitterness that dispels fermented hostility like the color of putrid yellow-green staining the atmosphere.

The man walks into the room from the doorway, the sound of his footsteps announcing his arrival. As he crosses the room, I shrink away from him. My mother’s back straightens, rigid while the essence of me tightens up and folds in on itself until it’s so small it can’t be folded anymore. It’s a reaction I don’t understand. I retreat into the upper corner of the room as far I can without passing through the wall. Again, I’m struck with this visceral response that isn’t connecting. I don’t remember. This inexplicable feeling is confounding. Add it to the confusion of being disconnected from my body and fear has planted several seeds.

The man puts his hand on my mom’s shoulder. She shrugs away from his touch as though burned. “Kate?” He asks, and this exchange solidifies he is my father. His voice sounds different than what my unreliable memory insists is characteristic of him: it’s too shallow and lacks thunder.

The man puts his hand on my mom’s shoulder. She shrugs away from his touch as though burned. “Kate?” He asks, and this exchange solidifies he is my father. His voice sounds different than what my unreliable memory insists is characteristic of him: it’s too shallow and lacks thunder.

Something in my psyche reacts to this interaction though I can’t quite name what it is I feel. I know it doesn’t feel quite right. It’s like putting on a new shoe that isn’t formed to the foot yet. Her minuscule rebellion and his muted tone are unfamiliar. I search for what seems more familiar and imagine her acquiescence in his unrelenting storm.

“I won’t speak in anger in front of Seth,” she says. It’s more of a whisper really. “He can hear. The doctor thinks so.”

“I understand you’re angry. I’m angry too.”

She swivels in her chair with acute force and levels a stare that makes him step backward. “You’re angry?” she asks through clenched teeth, the sound more like a hiss.

I stretch in my corner of the hospital room, toward them, revelation like an electric shock moves through me. My father has seen something in my mother’s look that stays him. His face says it all, the stupefaction, the denial, and then the pain. He turns away, unable to hold himself up under her gaze and leaves the room.

I follow him, curious. There is something different about this man – it’s foreign, frightening and strangely freeing. He’s shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans and shuffles down the hallway. This father isn’t recognizable but is broken like a car that needs a new spark plug.

He enters a waiting room filled with people. Emotion rushes at me in a variety of colors: blue, red, orange, green, yellow, purple, brown, black and shades in between. Each person in the room exudes color, some with multiple hues. I don’t know what the shades mean, but I sift through the spectrum to find where the feelings emanate. As I scan the room, I freeze on one face. I know this one: Abby. She is surrounded by an aura of light-blue tinged with darker flecks of blue and gold.

My form is filled with warmth and then chased by regret. I remember her smile and her laugh. I remember the way she made me feel: safe. I reach for a memory that causes the cooling grief, but there is only blackness. “Abby. I have to tell you something,” I say but my memory stalls not able to grasp what I thought I needed to tell her. She doesn’t indicate she’s heard me. “Abby,” I try again anyway.

“She can’t hear you,” a voice from an invisible entity says.

I whirl around the room. The origin remains hidden and the voice silent, so I return to Abby.

I’m in front of her, hovering as though standing on my own two feet. I study her, free to do so. Her brown eyes are rimmed red. She’s been crying and her brown face is pale, her inner-light diminished. She’s crossed her arms over herself as though holding something in. “Abby?” I try again, but she doesn’t hear me.

An awareness I don’t want to recognize dances on the peripheral of my being. I want to turn away from it, but I can’t. It’s like an angry jester dancing within me flashing a terrible smile. Looking at Abby, anguish wraps its arms around me and panic infiltrates my life force. I know I don’t want to be like this – in between. “Abby! Help me!” I yell.

She shivers as if she is affected by my cries but looks right through me.

Someone next to her – a young man – puts his arms around her. When I’m able to focus on him through the soft light reaching toward me, I recognize him: Gabe. A flare of anger rushes through me, fire and hot, that angry jester taunting me with his awful dance again – instinctual. When I focus on my former friend, I see he’s been crying, his eyes defined by sadness. I notice the bruising on his face and my spirit cracks open. A cool-blue washes me and the red steams away. My own perception of things isn’t ringing true, a little flat, like the note needs adjustment. I’m missing something.

“You!” The word is like a shot startling me. It sounds like a curse.

Abby looks up.

I swivel around.

My father exudes black and red. I remember this man. One of his dragons appears ready to burn his intended victim with its internal fire. He’s pointing at me, but I realize he can’t see me. He sees Abby. “This is all your fault,” he yells and takes three menacing steps toward me – her. “You changed him!” He stalks through me approaching Abby with purpose.

A man I don’t remember but seems familiar moves in front of Abby. “Hey now,” he says. At the same time another man dressed in a black suit and a cleric collar appears at my father’s elbow.

“Jack,” one of them says. I don’t know which. “You’re hurting.”

The words break a dam. My father folds in on himself, shrinks as though the impending storm is cut up by a downdraft. The other two men help him to a seat near the window.

Shaken by what I’ve witnessed, I return to my body.

My mother is still there, holding my hand and humming a quiet lullaby through her tears:

When the traveler in the dark…

Thanks you for your tiny spark…

The world around me begins to spin, as though someone has swiped at a table-top globe. The room rotates on an axis and the colors rush together in a blur. I’m compressed and suffocating and though I work to focus on my mother’s song, I can’t find a focal point. This place where I’m in between isn’t freedom. It’s a trap, a prison, and I’m stuck.

Wake up! Wake up! I think. I squeeze myself shut attempting to disappear in order to reappear in the awake world. But nothing happens. The spinning slows. The space around me coming back into focus. I still hover in the room listening to the quiet hum of my mother’s voice who’s accompanied by the percussion of the life support.

Drip.

He could not see which way to go.

Drip.

If you did not twinkle so.

Whir.

Twinkle, twinkle little star.

Whir.

How I wonder what you are.

Chapter 1 – The Ugly Truth by C L Watersx

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

Where can we go to discover more about you and your books?

If you aren’t interested in my website, www.clwalters.net then I’m active on Instagram @cl.walters

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Behind the Book: Swimming Sideways by C. L. Waters

Book Review: And The Stars Were Burning Brightly

Behind the Book: Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by P A Malcolm

Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Why you need a Copy Editor

When I decided to self publish I knew I would need an editor. As much as I love writing and creating stories, English language was never my best subject at school.

I wasn’t the worst but I wasn’t top of the class either. Even if I’d been good at English I’d still need an editor, because people miss their own mistakes.

Once ready for an editor, I was over whelmed by how many different types of editors there are. For Ocean Heart, I used many rounds of Beta Readers, and two rounds of professional edits, and used a professional formatter.

I chose to use Avery McDougall as my copy editor. 

Developmental Editor

Avery McDougall was my Developmental Editor. I wrote a blog post about my experience and included her comments in my Behind the Character series.

Why You Need A Developmental Editor

What is copy/line editing?

The two terms are often used interchangeably as they are similar and it’s important to check what your editor means so you can ensure what you are paying for is what you expect.

Copy Edit: Unsually involves checking SPAG, readability, and clarity. They may highlight where it’s not flowing right.

Line Edit: Usually focuses on the content and use of language. They highlight inconsistent style, where pacing is too fast/slow, if you’ve overused a word (or repeating yourself).

If you can afford both, do it. Traditionally published books will have a copy edit, then a line edit. If you can’t afford both, don’t skip the copy edit. Your spellchecker is not enough.

How I chose my Copy Editor

Avery was at the top of my list as I’d already had such a good experience with her, but I did consider letting another pair of eyes run over my manuscript.

Budget: This was a big deciding factor. I had a limited budget and had to operate within my means.

Recommendation: Connecting with other indie authors gave me a good source of recommendations, many are listed in the World Indie Warriors brochure.

Expertise: All of them had experience as an editor. One was new, but had already built a portfolio and I’d attended a workshop she did which helped build trust. But, Avery was the only one that specialised in YA.

I went with Avery as she ticked all my boxes and was already familiar with my book. As she does writing workshops with teens, she also has a close relationship with my target audience.

My experience

I paid Avery for a copy edit. But, it definitely over lapped into a line edit. For example, she highlighted a scene where the emotional impact needed work, and another scene where my character came off rude towards her friend.

Through Avery’s comments I learnt a lot about my writing. Once I’d actioned her feedback, my novel was definitely better.

Unofficial Proofreader

I wish I could have afforded a line edit but my budget was maxed out. Avery didn’t get to see it again, as I went ahead with my next step – formatting. Once formatted, I sent it off to my ARC readers.

One of my ARC readers was author Cassidy Reyne. She did an unofficial proofread for me. I didn’t ask her to do it, she’s just sweet like that.

As I’d already paid Ingram to publish Ocean Heart (it was on preorder) there was a fee to amend the files. I paid it because I wanted my book to be as perfect as possible. I’m so thankful to Cassidy for letting me know.

For my next book, I will seek out Cassidy’s eagle eyes – if she has time. If not, I will consider getting a professional proofreader.

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

12 Tips For Self Editing

Behind the Character – Mariah

Book Review: Agent Undone – Cassidy Reyne

The Making of the Blurb – Ocean Heart

The Process of Publishing a Novel – 1 of 3

Check out the collection for all parts.

The first step to publishing a novel is often to write the first draft. This is the same whether you wish to traditionally or self publish. There are some exceptions to this rule.

If you’ve have an interesting story to tell from your real life or an expert in your field, a publisher or agent might reach out and request you write a book if there is a market in demand.

Some people prefer to hire a ghost writer to write for them. In this case you’re not the one physically writing your book and this post is not for you because today I’m covering writing the draft version.

Step 1 – Draft a Novel

Here is a handy info graphic of what I’m going to cover in this post.

You can save this to your Pinterest board.

Plan

If you’re writing a full length novel it’s useful to start with a plan. I don’t consider myself a plotter but I still write an outline. It helps me get from A to B, and a few check points along the way.

Some writers want a more detailed plan. They might want to design their characters, do some Worldbuilding and draw maps, or even need to research information.

Write

This is obviously the most important part. If you don’t write the book there won’t be a book. However, don’t get hung up on making it perfect. You will not publish your first draft – in fact nobody has to see that monstrosity if you don’t want them to.

Writing a novel is a big task. It can help to break it down into smaller more manageable tasks. Many writers find it useful to set word count goals. Writing sprints can be useful to focus time on writing in quick bursts.

Here’s a handy post on beating writers block.

Self Edit

Some writers edit as they write – this does slow the process down but afterwards your manuscript is in a better shape. Other writers spew the words onto the page and tidy up the mess afterwards.

It doesn’t matter how you do it but you’ll want to give it an edit before letting anyone else read it. It’s easy to make mistakes whilst you are in the moment.

You don’t need to limit the number of self edits. Edit it as many times as you need to. Some people break the task into different focusses. For example, you might do a read through and look for inconsistencies, or focus on SPAG, or receptiveness, or pacing.

Here is a post with some tips on how to self edit.

Alpha Reader

Not everybody uses an Alpha. They are often someone you are close to and you show them an early draft to get feedback. Sometimes Alphas are used before a book is finished to assess whether the story has any merit before investing a load of time in it.

Self Edit

Whenever you get feedback on your book you should reflect on it. Did your Alpha share some ideas to help you improve your book?

Don’t worry if they didn’t. Many Alphas are already your personal cheerleaders (like your spouse, mum, best friend, etc). They might not have the skills to critique but when you’re battling self doubt, they are the ones picking you up and cheering you on.

They may also have raised issues or ideas you hadn’t thought about. Often when trying to get someone to understand your idea, you discover the plot holes or where things aren’t clear enough.

Beta Readers

These people read a draft you’ve worked on improving. You can even find paid Betas who have skills to highlight where you can improve your novel further.

Here is a post that compares Beta and ARC readers (and touches on Alpha readers).

Self Edit

Yes! You will get feedback from your Betas on how to improve your book. It’s best to have a few Betas and they may even have conflicting views. Allow yourself time to reflect on their advice.

Remember it is your novel at the end of the day and if their ideas are changing the vision you had, you don’t have to apply them. However, if several readers pointed out the same thing, they most likely have a point you should pay attention to.

You may even want to ask your Betas questions. For example, is this sex scene too much for teen readers? Um… yes, I’m working on a story where my Betas will be asked this. 😂

Get a Professional Edit…

The next post in my series is about getting your manuscript professionally edited…

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org Shop Link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this post, you will like:

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5 Tips for Character Names

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Behind the Book: 2020 Collection

Thank you so much to all the authors that took the time to answer questions on making of their books. I learnt so much through your different journeys, the struggles you overcame, your best tips, and discovering more about you and your book.

The book that started this all off was Number Eight Crispy Chicken by Sarah Neofield. I was part of her Street Team for the books launch and interviewed her as my stop on the book’s blog tour.

I learnt so much from Sarah Neofield and it helped me in my decision to self publishing. The “Behind the Book” blog post turned into a series.

By the end of 2020, I had conducted a total of 18 interviews! I have put them all here in this post for your enjoyment. So, make yourself comfortable and get reading!

Sarah Neofield – Number Eight Crispy Chicken

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 Elexis Bell – Gem of Meruna

NB: This title now has a new cover

btb the gem of meruna

Kara S. Weaver – Crown of Conspiracy

copy of btb the gem of meruna

 J.D. Groom – Sorceress of Truth

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Annabelle by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Soul Bearer by Elexis Bell

NB: This title now has a new cover

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Stuck on Vacation with Ryan Rupert by P S Malcolm

World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Lanterns in the Sky by P S Malcolm

Mystical Greenwood by Andrew McDowell

Wiccan Romances: Amelia’s Story by Nicola Hebron

What are friends for? By Sarah Sutton

Wiccan Romances Sam’s Story by Nicola Hebron

Out of my league by Sarah Sutton

Petrified by Ben Meeks

Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

A heart of salt & silver by Elexis Bell

Out Foxed by RJ Blaine

The last Behind the Book interview for 2020 was part of R. J. Blaine’s Blog Tour for her book’s release. It was organised by Xpresso Tours and they created the blog banner.

If you enjoyed this, look out for more Behind the Book interviews in 2021, and my review for some of these books.

Book Review: Agent Undone by Cassidy Reyne

Book Review: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Crown of Conspiracy by Kara S Weaver

2020 Book Reviews

Behind the Book: Outfoxed by RJ Blain

This is the first time I’ve taken part in an Xpresso Book Tour but I just loved the look and sound of Oufoxed. The chance to find out more was so tempting, I applied to host a Behind the Book interview.

What inspired your novel Outfoxed?

This is a weird answer, only because… it’s just going to sound weird. Which is weird. So, I often do ‘what if’ speculative questioning about Life, the Universe, and Everything. This time, I wanted to pursue several things: what would happen if I fractured the United States in a ‘hardline’ fashion? In this case, quadrants due to fluctuating magical zones, with distorting boundaries separating the quadrants. This makes traveling between the quadrants difficult.

How would society change if the United States became separated in such a fashion?

The next question I wanted to pursue was “under what circumstances would people willfully sell themselves into slavery?” I also expanded that to “What would happen if parents could sell their children into slavery?” 

Side-note: most parents absolutely do NOT sell their children into slavery, but some do because they can in this society. Some pare paid to enroll their child into the system, but most parents who do are upgrading life for their kids. Before you get out the pitchforks, let me explain a little.

Here is the scenario: You have a child. You are from a destitute part of society. You are in a situation where you can’t really provide for your child as you want.

You have some things going for you. The right kind of magic. Good looks. Some desirable trait. More importantly, your child has those qualities as well, thus your child is a desirable for someone in a higher bracket of society.

In the system I’ve created, the person being sold is the one who is paid for the sale, most of them do so voluntarily, and there are strict requirements on how they are treated.

Your child, who had no opportunities, now may become the wife or husband (it’s equal opportunity) of someone in a position of power. They are given money to set up in their new life.

This is the pitch voters were successfully sold in the society, and they, as a nation, voted to have this system put into place.

For another fun side note, this system is founded on historical systems from several different countries, where people absolutely did buy the daughters or sons of one family to join theirs. I just implanted pre-existing systems into the United States and modified it to better fit the evolution of the society thanks to magic.

Note: I do not, in any shape or form, support the creation of this sort of society. I just got curious and wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a society like this, put characters in it, and wrote out how the system worked and how the characters fight to change it.

Novels would be boring if I didn’t give them something to work with or a conflict, after all.

And of course, what can go wrong in the book will go wrong, as Jade discovers for herself.

What did you enjoy most about writing your urban fantasy novel?

Just about everything. This story is so complex, and it’s set in such a rich version of Earth… it wasn’t easy to write, but it was a delight, a challenge, and a passion. It’s a lot of things I love about urban fantasy in one package… with a twist(er) tossed in for good measure.

This is book 1 in The Fox Witch series – Did you know you were writing a series from the start?

Yes. Before I even started writing Outfoxed, I had all three covers of the trilogy purchased, titled, and in my hands. I also started the ground work on its sister quartets and trilogies. At current count, there are something like twenty books across a bunch of trilogies and quartets, each one following a different set of characters. The next set in the world to come out will have connections to Jade and her friends in one way or another. (I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’m not going to tell you how they’re connected yet.)

How many books do you anticipate in the series and what can we look forward to in the series?

The Fox Witch books are a trilogy, but there will, as I mentioned above, be a collection of a bunch of trilogies and quartets. There will be a ‘main’ series consisting of ten books, but until I have the cover art for the first book of that set, it isn’t being fully announced. However, I can announce the name of the model for the cover: Mr. Grace Draven, the husband of the wonderfulauthor of the Wraith King series. (I love these books, and I’m extremely biased; I format and proofread for Grace.)

I begged for Mr. Grace Draven to model for me. I begged. He finally agreed, and I screamed happily when it happened.

How long did Outfoxed take to write from the first idea to publishing?

Good question. I think about two years. When I initially started it, it was a pure passion project, and it wasn’t until I started wrapping up a different series I began working on it in earnest.

If you could have any super power what would you choose and why?

Regeneration and brain refreshing. After about six hours of working, I’m so exhausted, but I want to keep writing, but my brain checks out. I’d like to be able to refresh my brain on command. Also, sleep without tossing and turning for hours. I love sleeping… but it doesn’t happen easily or as often as I would like!

Which character in your novel do you relate to most and why?

Hrm. This is a good question. I really don’t know. I try to write myself out of my characters as much as possible, because readers are trying to read adventures about those characters, not about me! I insert food I like into the books. (If you see a character obsessed with a food, it’s probably a food I like. Not always, but often. It’s a controlled self-insertion, and it’s now an ongoing joke. I also do this with cars, although… look for the vehicles I destroy in creative fashions. Chances are I really like that car, SUV, or truck. The more creative I am about the destruction of it, the more I like it.)

In life is stranger than fiction, I bought the truck from one of the books. For my husband. It’s his truck. His dream truck. (It’s also my dream truck, but I would have my dream truck in a different color.) But the lead character in Cheetahs Never Win, following the very creative destruction of his truck… got his dream truck.

Which I now own.

I named my husband’s truck Dipshit. (After the horse in Water Viper.)

My sense of humor is strange.

For the record, my husband calls the truck Warspite. After the battleship.

Can you tease us with a short snippet from Outfoxed?

Absolutely!

The rumble escalated, and the lamp swayed on its chain, a warning one of the twisters passed directly overhead. Sandro frowned, his gaze locking on the light. “I wonder how much damage that swarm’s doing.”
People from all over the United States came to the Alley, and I’d joined everyone else in no longer caring where someone came from. He had an accent compared to the locals, but I couldn’t tell if he was deliberately hiding where he came from or if he always sounded like he could have lived anywhere in the world and magically fit in.
His question, however, told me a simple truth: Sandro hadn’t been in the Alley long. Those who’d survived through their first tornado season no longer cared about the damage ratings of a twister or a swarm.
It didn’t matter.

No matter how bad it got, like a weed in the cracks of a sidewalk, Tulsa endured.

When and where can we buy Outfoxed?

Outfoxed is available at all major retailers, and releases on November 3, 2020!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Outfoxed-Fox-Witch-Book-1-ebook/dp/B08128WGV7/

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/outfoxed-r-j-blain/1134737783?ean=2940160932941

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/outfoxed-14

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/outfoxed/id1486409080

Where can fans find you to discover more and connect online?

My website, hosted by my cats, is https://thesneakykittycritic.com

I can also be found on facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/rjblain.author

Beyond that, I am rather reclusive, usually because I’m hiding in my cave writing more books.

Thank you so much for hosting!



Outfoxed
R.J. Blain
(The Fox Witch, #1)
Publication date: November 3rd 2020
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Death is a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa, and Jade means to keep flipping Mother Nature off until old age claims her. With one eye always on the sky, the last thing she needs is a pack of bounty hunters out for her living head. With no idea of why anyone would want her, her wits might keep her free, assuming she can resist the charming lures of Sandro, one of the men out to claim her as his own.

Left with the choice of being the evening snack of a tornado or taking shelter with the bounty hunter, she does what she does best: she lives on the edge.

Striking a bargain with the handsome bounty hunter buys her another day of life, but it also dumps her into the heart of a sinister plot, one meant to enslave the residents of the storm-tossed city—and the others brave and foolish enough to call the Alley home.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Google Play

Author Bio:

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until satisfied.

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads

GIVEAWAY!
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Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you like this, you’ll enjoy:

More about the Outfoxed Book Tour

Behind the Book: Petrified by Ben Meeks

Behind the Book: Sorceress of Truth by J D Groom

Book Review: Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

My NaNoWriMo Project

Well… I have not one, not two, but THREE projects for November. And, I still probably won’t make the 50k goal.

That’s not me being a defeatist. I’m not quitting before I start. In fact, despite the odds, I’m still going to try. And, you should too!

November is always a busy month. It’s my son’s & I’s birthdays, and the birthday of lots of other loved ones. On top of that, I’m launching Ocean Heart. There’s a lot going on. Plus, someone always gets ill in November – I’m hoping the social distancing is going to help avoid that this year.

Realistically, November is not the best month for me to write. However, the NaNo challenge encourages me to be more focussed and accountable. Because of this, I write more because I took part. And, I love the community spirit, writing with us.

Project 1 – Sky Heart

This is the main project. Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart Series. Getting this published will be my 2021 big goal. So, I need to get it written.

Kiely got dumped for Christmas. Heartbroken she makes rash decisions to get over her ex-boyfriend, starting with a blindfold and a mystery kisser.

Kiely’s new wild lifestyle places her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now she must stay alive, as she’s drawn into an ancient shifter war with werewolves and reapers.

Kiely’s battle to overcome her ex is about to take her to new heights.

Project 2 – Prequel

This will be a short novella. I may give it away as a readers magnet for newsletter signups. It’ll be a Historical Fantasy, but not set a long time ago. It’ll be in the 90s.

Project 3 – Luna

My werewolf villain wants me to tell her story. I’m not sure if it will be written just for me so I know her better or to share her with the world.

Luna’s story is also to be a Historical Fantasy. This will be going back to medieval times. It’s anticipated to be a novella.

What about you?

Are you doing NaNo this year? And, what do you think of my projects?

I usually focus on just one but I’m really feeling all three of these right now and just want my creativity to flow.

I’m planning on attending a few live write ins with World Indie Warriors on Instagram.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this you will like:

Camp NaNo July 2020

NaNoWriMo 2017 — Ally Aldridge

Now you can PreOrder Ocean Heart!

Behind the Character: Kiely

Behind the Book: A Heart of Salt & Silver by Elexis Bell

Elexis Bell is about to release another amazing book, and you can preorder it now. Discover how she created A HEART OF SALT & SILVER, and more on what it’s about.

I have to add how much I love the cover. It has all these gorgeous autumn colours that would look stunning in an outdoors bookstagram pic.

What genre is A Heart of Salt & Silver and can you name any similar books?

It’s a gritty paranormal high fantasy romance. I haven’t seen a lot of paranormal books set in other worlds or fantasy books with demons and werewolves, so comparable books have eluded me.

I’ve recently learned about the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout which blends fantasy and paranormal with some romance, but since I haven’t read it yet, I don’t know if it gets quite as dark as mine.

What inspired your novel A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I imagine a character or two and see what happens. It helps me to center my mind so I can go to sleep. If I like the characters, I come back to them the next night, and the next, and the next. That’s how I got Ness.

I pictured the opening scene and just had to come back to it. So I wrote it. Then, I just kept going, letting the novel unfold as it needed to.

This book has werewolves & vampires, which would you rather be?

There was a time when I might have said vampire. But I’ve been drawn more and more to the woods lately, so I’d have to say werewolf.

Especially if they’re like the ones in A Heart of Salt & Silver. The vampires in my book are especially ruthless and cruel, whereas the werewolves are very loyal and honor driven.

This is your fifth published book, what’s your method?

As far as writing is concerned, I just write. I’m definitely a pantser. If I know too much about where a book is going, I lose interest. So I don’t plan. I just write. If I need to stop and change anything, I stop writing to make adjustments, as that will likely affect the way the rest of novel goes. For instance, I stopped writing A Heart of Salt & Silver at 40,000 words in and did a complete rewrite. Some chapters were removed entirely and replaced with new ones. Every chapter that remained, had to be completely redone because of a very serious perception shift for one character that affected how that particular individual viewed (and acted toward) every other character.

Usually, it takes me about 4 to 6 months to write the first draft. Even with the 40k rewrite, I still came in at 4 months for this novel.

Then, I edit while writing something else.

Are there any genres you can’t see yourself writing?

Contemporary romance. I don’t like writing in the real world. Not unless there are really high stakes for the individual, like in a thriller.

What are you working on next?

Well, I’m editing two dark high fantasy romances and a thriller novella. I’m also writing a sci-fi series that just keeps expanding.

Please share a short snippet or teaser from A Heart of Salt & Silver?

Behind me, the wounded man waits.

Turning to face him, I take in his appearance. A bit of scruff decorates his jaw. Dark eyebrows and tan skin frame shining green eyes. Simple clothes stretch tight over a well-honed physique.

Not that his muscles did much good to ward off a dagger.

No words cross his lips. He stares up at me, part fear and part awe. It’s a strange mixture, but not one I’ve never seen before.

Again, I twirl my finger in the air, releasing his Nether binding, and he slumps against the tree.

Several deep breaths quell the desire to finish him off. Still more chase away the vastly different images of him beneath me, positioned between my legs to drive Nolan from my mind, just for a while.

I blink once more and conceal my true form so that nearby animals may feel at ease. For all the world, I appear to be a normal human woman.

Jaw dropping, he presses a hand to his side and leans his head back against the tree.

“Can you walk?” I ask.

“I’ll manage,” he answers, deep voice coarse with pain.

“And your name?”

“Elias.” His voice comes out strained.

A small part of me wants to heal him. Whether it’s my half-human heart, the morals instilled in me by the Knight who raised me, or the years I’ve spent working at self-control, I can’t be sure. Perhaps it’s my stupid, overly emotional, half-demon heart sympathizing with him. Regardless of the cause, I want to take away his pain.

And yet, another, darker part of me wonders what the ground beneath him would look like dyed red with his blood.

“I’m Ness,” I say, concealing my dilemma carefully. “How about some tea?”

Where can we find out more and buy your books?

All my books are available at the link below:

www.amazon.com/author/elexis_bell

If you’re looking specifically to pre-order A Heart of Salt & Silver, you can do so here:

mybook.to/AHeartOfSaltAndSilver

And if you want to stay up to date on all my upcoming book releases, giveaways, and blog posts, you can subscribe to my newsletter on my website.

www.elexisbell.com

Redfae Bookshop is my Affiliate Bookshop.org shop link.

[kofi]

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Art Breeder for Character Development

Behind the Book: World for the Broken by Elexis Bell

Behind the Book: Petrified by Ben Meeks

Book Review: Blind Tiger by Rachel Vincent

What is #Preptober ?

Preptober

A popular event in November is NaNoWriMo. During the month if November participants of the event take on the challenge to write 50k words.

So, what’s this go today with what preptober is?

Writing 50k words is a big task. As a result, people started preparing during October for NaNoWriMo in November. And, this activity got the name #Preptober.

NaNoWriMo Project

Sky Heart is book 2 in The Soul Heart series. It was almost finished but I struggle with endings. In April, I tried to write the ending (for Camp NaNo) but when I revisited the manuscript… it was awful.

For NaNo, I’m going to start over. I’m going to re-plot, develop my characters more deeply, focus on my world building, and organise my research.

What I’ve done so far…

Got Dabble

Dabble is online writing software. I love Dabble and I went to buy it, but found out there was a trial for NaNo. What’s more, my dabble manuscript will auto update my NaNo word count. How awesome is that?

And, Dabble now is mobile friendly. I’ve saved the site as an icon on my mobile so I can write on my phone. Yay!

Character Development

To work on improving my skills, I treated myself to two new books.

10 STEPS TO HERO by Sacha Black

CREATING COMPELLING CHARACTERS FROM THE INSIDE OUT by L.M. Lilly

View this post on Instagram

How’s your #preptober going? I’m doing the #wiwpreptober challenge but most evenings been so tired I’ve gone straight to bed and done no prepping. But it’s important to listen to your body and relax when you need to. 💛 Day 4: Plotter/Pantser: I’m somewhere in the middle #plantser . I have a vague plan but mostly make it up as I go. I’m more of of pantser but #savethecat has helped me improve my plotting and it’s something I want to improve as I think it’ll speed up finishing my novels. Yesterday, my new books arrived (top of the pile). I’m focussing on improving my character development. The one with no text on the spine is Rayne Hall’s The Word Loss Diet. Have you read any of these? 💛 Day 5: #worldteachersday My favourite teacher was Mr Macy, my English teacher. He gave me extra notebooks for my story writing – the way to a writers heart. Another top teacher was my primary school teacher who taught me what an author is and set my dream in motion. She was either called Miss Fancy of Miss Twinkle – I’ll have to ask my mum. 💛 Day 6: Setting? Book 2, Sky Heart, will start off in my home town Felixstowe but mostly set in the Isle of Skye (Scotland), and a short stopover in Birmingham. The images are from Unsplash by artist Massimiliano Morosinotto (@therawhunter ). 💛 #writingbooks #writingresources #writingtools #theemotionthesaurus #pocketguidetopublishing #thewordlossdiet #takeoffyourpants #theelementsofstyle #creatingcompellingcharacters #10stepstohero #raynehall #sashablack #inspirational #inspirationalteachers #authordreams #setting #writinggoals #isleofsky #isleofskyescotland #skyheart #writingyafiction #yafantasyseries #thesoulheartseries #plotter #pantser

A post shared by Author Ally Aldridge (@redfae) on

Book Bible Workshop

To help get all my story development organised, I attended a free workshop provided by World Indie Warriors and delivered by author J D Groom (who I’m a big fan of). If you’re a WIW member you can catch the replay via their website.

Doing #WIWPreptober

On Instagram World Indie Warriors are doing a photo challenge to keep writers motivated preparing for NaNo, and it’s an opportunity to get to know others better. I don’t take part everyday but here are my posts so far:

View this post on Instagram

How’s your #preptober going? I’m doing the #wiwpreptober challenge but most evenings been so tired I’ve gone straight to bed and done no prepping. But it’s important to listen to your body and relax when you need to. 💛 Day 4: Plotter/Pantser: I’m somewhere in the middle #plantser . I have a vague plan but mostly make it up as I go. I’m more of of pantser but #savethecat has helped me improve my plotting and it’s something I want to improve as I think it’ll speed up finishing my novels. Yesterday, my new books arrived (top of the pile). I’m focussing on improving my character development. The one with no text on the spine is Rayne Hall’s The Word Loss Diet. Have you read any of these? 💛 Day 5: #worldteachersday My favourite teacher was Mr Macy, my English teacher. He gave me extra notebooks for my story writing – the way to a writers heart. Another top teacher was my primary school teacher who taught me what an author is and set my dream in motion. She was either called Miss Fancy of Miss Twinkle – I’ll have to ask my mum. 💛 Day 6: Setting? Book 2, Sky Heart, will start off in my home town Felixstowe but mostly set in the Isle of Skye (Scotland), and a short stopover in Birmingham. The images are from Unsplash by artist Massimiliano Morosinotto (@therawhunter ). 💛 #writingbooks #writingresources #writingtools #theemotionthesaurus #pocketguidetopublishing #thewordlossdiet #takeoffyourpants #theelementsofstyle #creatingcompellingcharacters #10stepstohero #raynehall #sashablack #inspirational #inspirationalteachers #authordreams #setting #writinggoals #isleofsky #isleofskyescotland #skyheart #writingyafiction #yafantasyseries #thesoulheartseries #plotter #pantser

A post shared by Author Ally Aldridge (@redfae) on

October Blog Posts

All my blog posts for October are written, with pics and scheduled.

What I still need to do…

Plot Outline

I want to re-outline my story using Save The Cat. I’ve learnt a lot working on book 1 and want to use this to improve book 2.

BuJu

I’d love to get into bullet journalling. I’ll try and create a reward page to track my progress during the event.

October Newsletter

I need to write this. It’ll go out end of the month and I’m hoping it will contain details of my Preorder Giveaway.

November Blog Posts & Instagram

I’d like to have most of these written before I start NaNo so they don’t interrupt my progress. But, I’ll likely post on how I’m getting on and that can’t be written ahead of time.

If you enjoyed this, you will like:

Camp NaNo July 2020

NaNoWriMo 2017 — Ally Aldridge

Soul Heart Readers – Street Team

Books