Excerpt and giveaway: If Ever I Would Leave You: ‘Arthurian Stories For A New Generation’ anthology

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Surfacing
Bronwyn Green

 

A year after Tabby Nolan’s sister vanished from the Lake Michigan shore with her boyfriend, Liam, Tabby visits the spot where the two were last seen– and finds herself pulled into the crumbling world of Avalon.

 

Since his disappearance, Liam has been trapped in the mythical land, with no link to the world he knew. Now, their shared memories of Tabby’s missing sister are all they can cling to as Avalon dies around them.

 

But Tabby doesn’t want to be a replacement for her sister, and her growing attachment to Liam feels like a betrayal. As Avalon fades around them, Liam and Tabby must rely on each other– or be lost with the ancient kingdom forever.

 

Albion’s Circle: The Deepest Cut
Jessica Jarman

 

For nineteen years, Anna has been plagued by dreams of lives lived only in legend. Finally free from the family that believed her hopeless and worthless, she’s ready to start her life over—alone.

 

When Anna meets an enigmatic stranger claiming to be the legendary wizard Merlin, she is forced to question the very reality she’s struggled to accept. With the mythic figures from her dreams intruding on her waking life, Anna learns that she’s been reborn to fight an ancient evil alongside King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table.

 

Caught in an ages old conflict, Anna is the key to stopping a dark magic that will destroy the world—and Merlin wants to make sure that this time, Anna isn’t alone.

 

A Choice Fit For A Queen
Jenny Trout (writing as
 Abigail Barnette)

 

For perpetual overachiever Madison Lane, a summer studying Arthurian mythology in the Welsh countryside with professor Thomas Evans is a dream come true, and the adventure of a lifetime.

 

Of course, the enormous crush Madison developed on the professor after a semester of his lectures at U of M has absolutely nothing to do with her desire to learn more about the enduring legend of Camelot. At least, that’s what she’s telling her parents.

 

When Madison meets fellow student Rhys Crewe, sparks fly, throwing her plans for wild fling with Professor Evans completely out of whack—as do her unexpectedly complicated feelings for Thomas. With tales of Arthur and Lancelot haunting her every waking moment, Madison has to make the most difficult choice of her life.

If Ever I Would Leave You_Cover

Giveaway

Enter to win a DVD prize pack or one of two $25 Amazon gift cards.

Excerpt

From A Choice Fit For A Queen

To say that the Rose and Pig was off the beaten path would have been an understatement. There were no streetlights. The street wasn’t even paved. It was barely more than a dirt two-track leading past the low stone fence that surrounded the field. At the end, a two-story wattle-and-daub house stood, chimney smoking. The light spilling from its windows promised warmth and a place to get dry. Though my feet ached and stung with raw blisters from jogging around airports all day, I practically sprinted the last leg of my journey. Mud splattered onto the legs of my jeans, and I didn’t care. All I wanted was to get inside, away from the hellish downpour. I reached the door, prepared to fling it open and launch myself into the warm embrace of a charming Welsh pub.

It was locked.

No. Visions of sleeping in the cold, shivering in the dark, wet, pneumonia-encouraging night put urgency into my arm as I pounded on the door. “Hello! Hey, is anybody inside? Can anyone help—“

A guy opened the door. A hot guy. An annoyed hot guy. One look at him and my heart jolted. I froze in shock, but managed to stutter out, “m-me?”

He was absolutely gorgeous. Flawless dark brown skin stretched over a face that made the words “aesthetically pleasing” an understatement. His cheeks were full, like he’d retained baby fat in the exact right places, and his lush lips spread in a smile that was half “let’s be friends” and half “let’s be friends with benefits” as he looked me over.

Unfortunately, the longer I stared at him, the more his smile faded. He leaned his shoulder against the door and slung a white bar towel over the other to cross his arms over his chest. “Let me guess. American white girl, thinking, ‘What do you mean, they have black people in Wales?’” He held up his hands in mock apology. “Sorry, we’re everywhere. Hope you’re not too disappointed.”

“N-no, I wasn’t—“Explaining was not going to work if I couldn’t talk like a normal human. I had to glance down and push my wet hair from my face to concentrate and steel myself against his good looks when I raised my head again. When I did, I managed a smile. I hoped I didn’t look goofy. “I was actually thinking, ‘wow, the guys are a lot hotter here than at home.’”

His smile returned slowly. “Yeah, all right. You’re forgiven. Come on inside.”

His accent. Oh god.

About Jenny Trout

Jenny Trout is an author, blogger, and funny person. Writing as Jennifer Armintrout, she made the USA Today bestseller list with Blood Ties Book One: The Turning. Her novel American Vampire was named one of the top ten horror novels of 2011 by Booklist Magazine Online. She is a proud Michigander, mother of two, and wife to the only person alive capable of spending extended periods of time with her without wanting to kill her.

Jenny Trout

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This Writer’s Space: Cassandra Page (not me!)

This Writer's Space

Ok, I feel like I need to start off with a disclaimer here: the Cassandra Page featuring this week isn’t me — even though I too am a gamer, reader and child wrangler who lives in Australia. My child is older and we don’t live in the Hunter Valley. We are both equally awesome, though. (Ahem!) Take it away, Cass!

Where I Write

Most of my actual writing is done on my PC, which is located, in a very small alcove, in the main living area of our very small flat. My desk is rather uncluttered at the moment which is quite out of the ordinary for me as usually it is buried under a mountain of random crap important stuff. I have a hardcore mild stationery addiction so always within reach are a plethora of coloured pens, highlighters, sharpies and post-its. These are guarded by Mr Boney the Dia de Muertos skull. The Delorian is there in case I need to duck back in time to check a random fact or get inspiration for a new story. There is also a bird’s nest, random selection of crystals, photos of Mr Almost-Three, Strunk and White and two spinning tops. Outside the photo are my reading glasses, more stationery, a jar of bobby pins, painkillers, and a stack of folders full university stuff. I made the pin board behind my monitor myself out of cork tiles from the hardware store. I use it for pinning up inspiration pictures when I am working on a story. Yes, that orange post-it has a Yoda quote on it.

WIW CPage PC

I also use notebooks and journals for writing when I have been spending too much time at the computer or I am out and about. The little green one on top is always in my handbag, the purple one is for my current WIP and the peacock one is for note taking at workshops and conventions so it has more industry knowledge in it rather than actual story ideas, but it does have some of those as well. Not pictured here are the stack of envelopes and random scraps of paper that have scribbles all over them; they are in a shoe box in the drawer. Really I’ll write on whatever it at hand if I get a flash of an idea or, failing writing implements, I use evernote on my phone. Evernote’s voice recording ability is particularly helpful when I am driving.

WIW CPAGE Journals

Where I’m Inspired

I was going to put up a photo of the universe, because for me it would be more of a question of where am I not inspired. My inspiration comes from everywhere: a section of music, a snatch of conversation, a strange sight, a smell, and the questions – What If? Why? Why Not?

I love that time vampire known as Pinterest for getting the creative juices flowing and have boards for each story idea that is currently building inside my head. Reference books (and documentaries) on obscure topics (or even mundane topics) are another go-to for me. Children’s reference books are particularly good for getting a basic understanding of certain topics or idea and are usually my starting point. Non-fiction gets my imagination firing better than fiction sometimes.

The photo is just a section of the view from my front step. Of a morning it can be truly breathtaking. Some mornings the fog is so thick you can’t see the water trough; the world is nothing but swirling white and dark shadows where the tops of the trees puncture the mist. Other mornings it is all shades of gilded apricot and dusky purple with big clouds that look like floating cities or migrating dinosaurs. It is quite inspiring and just one of the perks of living on a small acreage in the Hunter Valley region of NSW, Australia.

Inspiration CPage view

To Be Read

This is like 0.04 percent of my current to be read pile. These are just the ones that are stacked on my desk there are others hidden in the bedroom and still more procreating on the various bookshelves jammed into every corner of this flat. I have an extensive list on Goodreads but also a wishlist on Fishpond and Book Depository and even one on Amazon. To add to this huge list of books that I probably will never get enough time to read (or space to store), I rarely come home from a shopping trip without at least one book either brand new or second hand. I love second hand bookstores.

TBR Pile CPage

About Cass

C. E. Page lives in the Hunter Valley region of NSW Australia and has a penchant for speculative fiction is all its various forms. In her spare time she is a gamer, voracious reader, knitter, toddler wrangler and sometimes painter (and vaguely wonders how she has time to fit it all in). Her flash fiction piece, The Doorway, recently appeared online at 365 Tomorrows. She has spent the last eight months putting together an anthology of speculative fiction entitled Novascapes: Speculative Fiction from the Hunter which is due for print in late July.

You can find her at:

Website: http://ignorethebird.com

Twitter: @bibliosapien


Top Ten Tuesday: Authors by Whom I Own the Most Books

toptentuesday
Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is authors by whom I own the most books.

I was a prolific — but not very adventurous — reader when I was a teenager. My love of reading really started when I read Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey in English class; I picked it because it had a dragon on the cover and I’d really enjoyed The Hobbit. I fell in love, and went on a McCaffrey spree. From there, after reading a series she co-wrote with Mercedes Lackey, I read Magic’s Pawn and went on a Lackey spree.

These sprees are reflected in the numbers. They’re also often reflected in my Top Ten Tuesday lists, because while I own a LOT of books (as the removalists snarkily observed last year when they were carting boxes upstairs) I don’t own a huge variety.

My tastes have changed since then, largely moving from fantasy to urban fantasy. While I still have my old favourites, some of the newer Mercedes Lackey releases (for example) haven’t really wowed me. I still own many of them, though, for sentimental reasons as much as anything else.

Robin Hobb and Charles de Lint – 12 books each (tied)

Kate Forsyth — 13 books

Jacqueline Carey — 14 books

Laurel K. Hamilton — 17 books

Charlaine Harris — 19 books

David Eddings — 22 books

Stephen King — 33 books*

Terry Pratchett — 35 books

Anne McCaffrey — 63 books

Mercedes Lackey — 74 books**

* If you count all the Green Mile novellas as one book.

** Three of these I haven’t even read yet. Whoops!

This is one shelf of my Mercedes Lackey books. There are more.

This is one shelf of my Mercedes Lackey books. There are more. (Please ignore the random fluff on the carpet — I have dogs.)

My Stephen King collection, hanging out with Jay Kristoff and Kermit.

My Stephen King collection, hanging out with Jay Kristoff and Kermit.

All my Anne McCaffrey books. She co-wrote quite a few, especially as she got older, but they TOTALLY count.

All my Anne McCaffrey books. She co-wrote quite a few, especially as she got older, but they TOTALLY count. (I didn’t count the books in here that were only written by her son, Todd.)

Yes, I am a book hoarder. I think I need help more shelves! Which authors would be at the top of your list?


3 Reasons to Write the Book That Calls to You

There is a lot of different advice about what writers should write. I see the occasional clickbait article on social media claiming to give advice on how to write a bestseller, for example (although I’ve never clicked, because I know when someone is trying to sell me something!). The more common mantra for writers is “write what you know”, something I believe in so long as the definition of “what you know” is expanded to include things you’ve researched, or a fantasy world you’ve built until you know it inside out.

But probably the best bit of advice — IMHO YMMV etc — is to write the book that calls to you. I don’t believe in a muse in the literal sense, but there’s no doubt that when I’ve been choosing between two projects, the one that drags me in like a whirlpool, that won’t leave me alone, is the one that gets written.

I’ve been pondering this a lot lately, for various reasons. So here are my three reasons to write the book that calls to you.

Because chasing trends is pointless

If you’re thinking of traditional publishing, there’s not a lot of point in chasing trends. Say you look around the bookstore and think, “Gee, were-swans are hot right now.” By the time you write your were-swan book, edit it, get it beta read, edit it again (and again), and start querying agents or editors, your idea is one of many were-swan books on the slush pile. Publishing is a slow-moving beast; that new trend you see breaking in the bookstores today was actually bought by a publishing house 18 months ago (or longer). Right now, they are buying something new, not the trend you’ve just discovered.

This is also true, although to a lesser extent, with self-publishing. If you’re going to be a proper author–publisher, that still takes time to do right. (Again with the editing, but also with the typesetting and acquiring of or designing a professional cover.)

I’m not saying you shouldn’t write your story about were-swans if that’s what you really want to do, but don’t write it because you think it’s going to be the next were-swan hit. Write it because it’s the story you have to write.

Because writing a book is hard

I don’t want to sound like I’m having a pityfest over here, but sometimes writing a book is simply hard work. It’s not always glorious, giddy typing to the Murder, She Wrote theme — sometimes it’s awkward transition scenes and words that move about as quickly as my son gets dressed when we’re in a hurry. (For the record, that’s not very fast.)

If you love your story, if in the middle of the night you think about your characters and ways you can mess with them, getting through these writing rough patches will be so much easier. This is particularly important if you’re still working on your first novel, wondering whether you can do it. (Note: you can.)

Because you’re going to read that book a lot

I just finished proofreading the galley proof of Isla’s Inheritance. I’ve read it from cover to cover (so to speak) at least two or three times in the last six months. Before I got my publishing deal, I read it maybe four more times, going over it again and again, looking at places to tighten or tweak. So not only was it my life for as long as it took me to draft it, it’s been a huge part of my life since then.

Regardless of how you decide to publish, you’re going to read your book again. And again. And again. If it’s not a story your passionate about, you’re going to get more than a little stabby. Even if you are passionate about it you may get a little stabby; it can’t be avoided. But love makes it easier.

I feel like I should leave you with some sort of uplifting message: art harder, or write the story you want to read. Something like that. But instead, I’ve decided to make you an inspirational meme. It’s my gift from me to you. :)

Inspiration


This Writer’s Space: Ashley R. Carlson

This Writer's Space

This week on This Writer’s Space we have fellow Fall 2014 debut writer, Ashley R. Carlson — although her debut is steampunk fantasy! I love it already!

Where I Write

This is my office, where I write fantastical prose about zeppelins, corrupt governments, and futuristic Victorian clothing (at least I am right now with my steampunk WIP). As you can see, I have an official “writing” chair, with the side ripped up by another item in the picture—my destructive cat, Ava. She rarely sits on my keyboard, instead preferring to leap onto the back of my chair at random times and give me mini-heart attacks. To the left is a notebook full of my WIP’s character names, places, and inspiration/themes to remember, as well paperwork for my one of my current jobs, as an editorial intern for Arizona Foothills Magazine. The post-its are quotes that inspire me, including my favorite by William James: “Our belief at the beginning of a doubtful undertaking is the one thing that assures the successful outcome of any venture.”

Ashley_My writing space 1

Where I’m Inspired

I get inspired in a variety of weird places, but felt it best not to take pictures of the inside of my cluttered car or shower—yes, the shower. Please tell me I’m not the only person who gets inspired there; the entire idea behind my current WIP came to me in the shower after watching a Real Housewives of Orange County episode…so yeah. Weird times and places. This is a picture of my whiteboard, which really helps to arrange my thoughts as I plod through my current novel. When I’m writing, I can just spin my chair around (and yell “Wheeee!” if I go ‘round a few times before stopping) and refresh my memory about the current scene, or brainstorm ideas if I get stumped.

Ashley_My writing space 2

To Be Read

Being that I am a huge supporter of e-books and the digital age of the publishing industry, I buy my books on my iPad more often than not. Currently, my TBR list includes Rosehead by Ksenia Anske, Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig, How We Fall by Kate Brauning (a first cousins’ romance?! What?!), and Divergent by Veronica Roth (to see what all the fuss is about).

Ashley_My writing space 3

About Ashley

Ashley R. Carlson is a fantasy author and editorial intern for Arizona Foothills Magazine and Midnight Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @AshleyRCarlson1 for thoughts on Tinder, animals, and self-publishing, and check out her blogs at http://www.ashleyrcarlson.com/ and http://midnightpublishingllc.com/writing-editing-publishing-industry-blog/. Ashley lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with two dogs and a mean-spirited cat. Ashley will release her debut novel, a steampunk fantasy, in Fall 2014.

Ashley Carlson


Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Characters I’d Want on a Deserted Island

toptentuesday

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is the top ten characters I’d choose to have with me on a deserted island. I’ve only dipped into five different books, though.

HermioneHermione Granger (The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling). My reasons for choosing Hermione should be obvious: she’s clever and versatile. Obviously life would be easier if she had her wand with her, but even if she didn’t, her knowledge of random trivia would definitely come in handy. I’d pick 18-year-old Hermione, though, not 12-year-old Hermione. Because she’s passed her OWLs.

Katniss and Primrose Everdeen (The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins). I’d wager anyone doing this week’s Top Ten Tuesday who reads a lot of YA will have Katniss on the list, because she’s the ultimate survivalist—good with a bow and traps, knows how to skin an animal, great with her herb lore and so on. I’m adding Prim because she’s competent with low-tech medicine options and isn’t as likely to freak out and go comatose as her mother is.

The Hunger GamesJude (The Rephaim series by Paula Weston). Jude is nearly indestructible, and totally hot. He also has an in-depth knowledge of boats—he wouldn’t just be eye candy! (Plus there’s a chance he may be able to teleport. Useful!)

Yukiko and Buruu (The Lotus War series by Jay Kristoff). Yukiko’s fast with a sword and able to talk to animals…and if she had her thundertiger, Buruu, with her, we’d have a way off the island if the boat thing doesn’t work out. Plus Buruu can create storms with his wings so we’d have a source of water. The only downside would be the language barrier—Yukiko is from a Steampunk fantasy version of feudal Japan. I wonder if Hermione speaks Japanese? If she doesn’t, Jude might. He’s travelled.

Aragorn

Gandalf the Grey; Aragorn, son of Arathorn; and Samwise Gamgee (Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkein). These three are all being added for different reasons. Like Hermione, Gandalf knows a lot about a lot, and we might be able to use his fireworks to make flares. Aragorn could supplement the food brought in by Katniss—although I’d wager those two would get it on in a hot minute—and help Prim with healing herbs. And Sam would be in charge of cooking.

Actually, I’m going to go back to The Hunger Games and add Peeta Mellark. I’m not sure whether Sam can bake. That might complicate Aragorn wooing Katniss though. ;)

So that’s my ten. I’ve got hunting, general knowledge (and magic), a boat, medicine and cooking taken care of. Plus Aragorn and Jude are honeys, and Peeta’s not bad either. I’d be set!


Review: ‘Behind the Scenes’ by Dahlia Adler

Behind the Scenes

High school senior Ally Duncan’s best friend may be the Vanessa Park – star of TV’s hottest new teen drama – but Ally’s not interested in following in her BFF’s Hollywood footsteps. In fact, the only thing Ally’s ever really wanted is to go to Columbia and study abroad in Paris. But when her father’s mounting medical bills threaten to stop her dream in its tracks, Ally nabs a position as Van’s on-set assistant to get the cash she needs.

Spending the extra time with Van turns out to be fun, and getting to know her sexy co-star Liam is an added bonus. But when the actors’ publicist arranges for Van and Liam to “date” for the tabloids just after he and Ally share their first kiss, Ally will have to decide exactly what role she’s capable of playing in their world of make believe. If she can’t play by Hollywood’s rules, she may lose her best friend, her dream future, and her first shot at love.

I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately, but I don’t normally read contemporary fiction. I picked this one up because I “met” Dahlia via Twitter and then started following her blog, where she posts all sorts of interesting and informative posts for writers (plus a whole passel of book reviews and recommendations). I love her snark, humour and heart — all of which are things that come across in Behind the Scenes. In spades. Truckloads, even.

Unlike my other recent contemporary reads, though, this book isn’t one that tears your heart out and stomps it into the dirt. I kind of appreciated that — I wasn’t in the mood to be sobbing into my pillow when I read this BASICALLY IN A SINGLE DAY!

The thing that makes Behind the Scenes is definitely the characters. None of them are perfect, not even the gorgeous Hollywood actors. Especially not them. I don’t think there’s a single character that doesn’t make a stupid decision at one point or another, but those decisions didn’t make me feel like I was watching a car accident. Instead, I was so immersed in the story and the characters’ headspaces (especially Ally’s, as the POV character) that I was totally understanding and supportive of them in all their complexity. To the point where when Liam’s friend Josh has a go at Ally for something dumb she did, I was all, “WOAH, WHAT?!” right there along with her.

The friendship between Vanessa and Ally is complex and sweet; it could have very easily have been one-sided, especially given Ally ends up working as Van’s assistant and doing most of the “giving” in the relationship. But Vanessa only hired Ally because the latter needed a way to make money for college, and Ally refused to just take the money as charity or a loan. Plus Vanessa does what she can to help Ally out in other ways.

Also, let’s take a moment to appreciate that Vanessa is a Korean actress, not a blond bombshell. This wasn’t just tokenistic diversity either; one of the reasons Ally is so keen to help her friend’s career is that she’s been there for her with icecream and tissues every time Vanessa was rejected from a role for not being Caucasian enough. It’s one of the layers that form their relationship. The racism Vanessa faces from some quarters is by no means the central theme of the book — Dahlia doesn’t rub our noses in it or anything — but it’s there and feels real.

And then there’s Liam. Ah, Liam. He’s a little bit troubled without being a bad boy (unlike Josh, who is both of those things). He’s intelligent, witty, charming, and — as you are if you’re a Hollywood heartthrob — drop-dead gorgeous. All the talk of his blue eyes and defined abs were enough to make a girl drool. *fans self*

Another key relationship is the one between Ally and her family. It was nice to see a YA book where the family unit is present — for the most part, anyway, as her dad spends a lot of time in hospital being treated for cancer — and all look out for each other. Ally’s little sister Lucy is adorable (and actually, I just realised she may be the only character that dosen’t make a stupid decision — there was one after all). I just wanted to give her all the hugs.

This is a great, light YA read with huge dollops of romance and some of the funniest dialogue I’ve read in a long time. I was disappointed when I finished it. Five happy stars!

Five stars


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