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.”
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.
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 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.
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.
Hermione 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.
Jude (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.
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!
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!
Inga Andersson is the envy of every girl in Asgard. On the surface she has it all — great friends, a job as Odin’s personal fight choreographer, and a happy ever after with her realm’s hottest assassin. But when evil invades Asgard, her perfect world comes crashing down. Someone is planning to kill off the gods, and Inga’s best friend Ull is first on their list. With the Norse apocalypse a nanosecond away, Inga has to decide how she’ll spend her final moments of freedom. Because from the moment this battle begins, Inga’s happily ever after will be nothing more than a memory.
Some things are worth fighting for.
TUR is an Elsker Saga novella. It is approximately 10,000 words long.
As I mentioned a few days ago during the launch blitz for book two in this series, I just finished reading Tur, the novella from Inga Andersson’s perspective that is set just before the events of Elsker start to unfold.
I really enjoyed this little tale from Inga’s perspective. There’s enough action and foreshadowing in here to keep the momentum of the novella going, and it seeds the romance between Ull and Kristia in the sweetest way. (That last page or two. Aww!) Ull is a very serious and intense fellow — as you would be if you were the God of Winter being drafted into a different portfolio, one you really didn’t want — and it was fun to see Inga trying to get him to lighten up.
Inga and Gunnar are definitely the focus of the novella, though — Inga’s drive to be taken seriously as a warrior by Odin, and Gunnar’s desire to, well, spend some “quality time” with Inga. This is a sweet romance though, like the rest of the series, so it fades to black at appropriate moments. Part of me regreted that, to be honest, because it was so promising. ;)
One touch that I really love in this series is that the gods are given a modern makeover. Even in Asgard they live in modern houses and wear modern clothes. It made the sprinkling of references to the more ancient parts of their world stand out even more. Fun!
I felt Inga’s frustration at the blokes’ desire to protect her, given what a kick-butt warrior she is. At first I thought it was old-fashioned chivalry or even sexism (she’s weak; we can’t let her go to battle). It was a relief to discover it was more about politics, in Odin’s case at least. Gunnar on the other hand just didn’t want his wife in danger; I can respect that, because who wants to see their loved ones get hurt?
Also, if this has intrigued you, here’s one more thing to consider: Tur is a great opportunity to try a new author, because it’s free. It can be a risky proposition buying a book by an unknown author, but you can, ah, suck it and see. (Speaking of Gunnar…)
Before I start, I wanted to let you guys know that I’m going to have a giveaway when Isla’s Inheritance gets to 50 adds on Goodreads. Only 15 to go!
I think I’ve already mentioned that I’ve been working off some of that “my book comes out this year” nervous energy by playing with Photoshop, making little teaser pictures and promos and so forth. I’ve shared this one with you already:
I thought to celebrate the fact that there are less than three months to go till Isla’s Inheritance hits the virtual shelves (the paperback may take a teeny bit longer; I’m not sure), I’d share another couple of pictures — these of Dominic and Jack, both of whom feature in the book’s blurb.
Isla was content to let her father keep his secrets, but now she can’t stand the touch of iron and her dreams are developing a life of their own. She must discover the truth — before it’s too late.
Seventeen-year-old Isla Blackman only agrees to participate in a Halloween party séance because Dominic, an old crush, wants to. She is sure nothing will happen when they try to contact the spirit of her mother. But the séance receives a chilling reply.
SHE IS NOT DEAD.
Isla doesn’t want to upset her father by prying into the family history he never discusses. When the mysterious and unearthly Jack offers to help her discover the truth, Isla must master her new abilities to protect her loved ones from enemies she never knew existed.
Dominic was in the same year at school as Isla’s older cousin, Ryan, making him a couple of years older than her. She had a crush on him in high school, which she’s totally over. Until he kisses her at a Halloween party.
Isla meets Jack after her life takes a turn for the weird. He is very polite and proper, and has these, um, ears… (As an aside, I could stare at this picture all day. A high-res version of it is actually my desktop wallpaper right now.)
Both of these pictures have been made with legally purchased stock so they are safe to share around. You know, if you wanted to. *shuffles feet*
A guest post by Diantha Jones
We may not want to marry them, but we sure love to read about them.
Talk about the good guys finishing last, the bad boy/asshole/jerkface has quickly become a staple of fiction books, especially in books geared towards females. I can’t quite pin down the sole reason why there is such a fangirl base for these dudes, but I have my theories. I’ll keep this quick.
Nice guys are seen as weak. And boring. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a weak guy who lets a woman run all over him. True, not all nice guys are weak. Hell, some of them are only nice until you piss them off real good, and then you see how bad boy they can get! But overall, in fiction at least, nice guys do finish last and are terribly boring to read about.
Bad boys have more fun. They’re more daring and audacious. And hey, girls just wanna have fun, right? Bad boys will do almost anything, say almost anything and for some reason, that is appealing.
Bad boys make women feel protected. Women want a guy that makes them feel secure, and when she’s with her so-called bad boy, she feels that way. No one is going to mess with her for fear of meeting their maker way ahead of schedule. And it’s all because of the sexy, tough, one-wrong-look-you’re-dead man standing at her side.
Those are just a few of my theories. I personally enjoy the sheer entertainment value jerks add to my reading experience. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the guys who verbally abuse (and definitely not physically abuse!) the women in their lives. But I have a fine appreciation for smart ass comments, snarky banter, and the occasional troubled soul (which most bad boys are, have you noticed?).
Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1)
by Diantha Jones
She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.
Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. Fed up with prescription meds and therapists, she wishes for a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.
Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.
After a vicious attack and learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. While on a mission to discover the Most Beautiful, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.
Enter to win two paperbacks and some swag HERE! (Open internationally!)
Diantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.
The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star.
Tortured Souls (The Orion Circle #1)
by Amazon Bestselling Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton
YA Paranormal Romance
Sometimes Rest in Peace isn’t an option
Kacie Ramsey sees ghosts—and it’s ruining her life. Her mother left, her father blames her, and no matter how hard she tries, she can’t keep the ghosts away. Now a new power has emerged. Nightly visions of grisly murders and a relentless predator draw her to the brink of insanity.
When the phantom appears at a party, Kacie’s longtime crush, Logan, saves her. He invites her to join the Orion Circle, a group of supernatural hunters with chapters in schools all over the country. Through the Circle, Kacie learns to embrace her spiritual powers, and for the first time in her life she feels in control rather than a victim.
But the Foxblood Demon will not give up so easily. A demented serial killer in life who trapped the souls of the thirteen children he murdered, imprisoning them within the walls of his mansion. Now in death, he plots his return while drawing power from the pure souls of the children. He recognizes something in Kacie he’s never seen before—a medium powerful enough to provide a vessel for his tainted soul.
Kacie can’t ignore the tortured souls of the children crying out to her every night. With Logan at her side, she will fight the Foxblood Demon. But can they banish this powerful phantom, or will Kacie lose not only her body, but her eternal soul to the monster.
Deafening music shakes the walls, vibrates the floor, and pounds a rhythmic beat in my skull. Gyrating bodies turn every bit of space into a dance floor. Sweat breaks out on my forehead, and my heart races. Strobe lights flash, teens dance with wild abandon. Shrieking laughter bubbles around me.
“Gotta take a leak!” my dance partner shouts over the music.
He races off, weaving through the thick wall of bodies. Mike or Mick or something—I didn’t catch the name he yelled when he asked me to dance. Doesn’t matter, he wasn’t my type at all. I mean, the guy guzzled beer while dancing. After grabbing a diet soda from a nearby cooler, I’m about to search for my friends when a dark feeling washes over me. My feet refuse to move, and I stand rooted in place.
The once loud music is now hollow in my ears. I gasp for breath, choking on the lack of air around me. Tiny hairs on the nape of my neck rise to attention. Something wicked is behind me. I know I’m the only one here who feels a difference in air pressure. An oppressive weight presses against my skin, making me feel as though I’m underwater. I blink a few times, watching the people around me continue their manic dancing—oblivious to the bogeyman that just entered the room.
Afraid to turn around, I stand my ground, sipping my soda. I pretend I’m unaware of the shuffling noises behind me, sounds I shouldn’t be able to hear over the blaring music. Swaying my hips, I hum along with the music, trying to ignore the ominous presence crushing me.
Whatever it is, I can’t let it know I sense it. Evil pours off it in waves, blanketing the entire room. I close my eyes, willing the creature to go away, return to whatever mausoleum or grave it calls home. Malevolent spirits feed on fear. I must control mine at all costs.
When I open my eyes, I’m gazing into the face of an angel. Not literally, but he may as well be in my book. Logan glances behind me, and I know he sees the spirit. He doesn’t gasp or scream or faint dead away. His golden eyes narrow as though he’s in a staring contest with the specter.
“You’re not welcome here,” Logan says to the presence behind me. He meets my gaze again. “You know it’s there.”
It’s not a question but a statement. I nod, a weak bob of my head, unsure whether this intimate moment with my dream guy is a good thing or not. Meeting over a nasty phantom is not my idea of romantic. And yet I can’t stop staring at the way his blue t-shirt hugs his broad shoulders and chest—how his light brown hair curls around his earlobes. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. For six weeks I’ve wanted out of the friendship box with Logan, but I was hoping for girlfriend, not crazy girl.
“Kassandra,” a voice rasps behind me.
Enter to win HERE!
About the Author
Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a bestselling YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs, four cats, and lots of dragons. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states.