‘False Awakening’ (‘Lucid Dreaming’ #2) cover reveal and excerpt

I’m so excited to be able to finally show you the cover for False Awakening, the second book in the Lucid Dreaming duology, my adult urban fantasy series. Kim Last of KILA Designs has designed all of my current book covers, and I love each one more than the last (IT HAS A DREAM CATCHER ON IT).

I can’t wait till I can hold this one, and maybe pat and fondle it a little.

(What?)

So, without further ado, here they are! But don’t just look at the pretties; while you’re here, check out an excerpt below.

Ebook cover

Paperback cover

Excerpt

Usually when I stepped into someone’s dreams just after they’d fallen asleep, I didn’t arrive in an active dream so much as in a place of significance in their subconscious: a proto-dream of sorts. The kind of place they’d have recurring dreams about. As a lucid dreamer, I didn’t have true recurring dreams—deliberately conjuring dreams of my favourite places didn’t count. But I was familiar with the concept. Jen had told me that, usually, when she remembered her dreams, she found they contained elements of her family home. Brad often dreamed of his grandparents’ house, where he’d spent a lot of time as a child.

That was why, when I appeared in a brightly lit department store, I raised my eyebrows. Huh. First job, maybe? I stood in an aisle full of bags of confectionary: liquorice sticks, mixed lollies, chocolate drops. But, in the fashion of dreams, everything was slightly off. When I focused on a rustling purple and yellow packet, trying to make out the brand name, the logo slid away from my gaze as if it didn’t want to be nailed down. Price tags were illegible: smeared or written in gibberish characters. And when I looked between the packages I didn’t see a backboard filled with mounting holes but sheer, impenetrable darkness.

The darkness gaped back at me.

With goosebumps shivering along the length of my forearms, I took a moment to prepare myself, sparing a thought and a shred of energy to conjure my set of trusty motorcycle leathers. I didn’t have any such thing in the real world, but in dreams I’d found they served quite well as armour against the barbs on a blight’s tentacles. A clear-faced, round helmet made me feel like an idiot but protected my eyes. I didn’t know for certain that there was a blight here, but something was definitely not right. Even if it was just a creepy manifestation of Daniel’s subconscious—even if he was indeed going crazy—it paid to be careful. Ephemera could still have teeth.

I crept towards the end of the aisle, leather squeaking faintly as I listened for the telltale bubbling hiss of a blight. Peering past a stand of round-bellied plastic animals stuffed with jellybeans, I saw a row of unattended registers to my left. To my right, clothes swayed in a breeze I couldn’t feel. In front of me was the store’s main entrance: the roller shutter was down, allowing the vague impression of a darkened mall beyond.

Deserted apartment stores were bloody creepy. Even ones with the lights on. Still, this didn’t look like a place a blight had trashed. Brad’s had shredded the surface of his dream, tearing holes in walls and coating everything with a mess that would do a slimy Ghostbusters spectre proud. This store was creepy, but trashed? No.

Like my thought made it happen, a corner of the store went dark as one fluorescent light, then another, went out with a pop and a tinkle of glass onto tile. “What the…?” I whispered, looking up.

That was when I spotted the blight.

It hung upside down from the ceiling, somewhere above the menswear section, like a deranged bat a few feet wide, made of smog. Its tentacles were jammed deep into the rectangular ceiling tiles; the tiles themselves were slick with an oily coating of blight ichor that dripped downwards, spattering across a garish display of novelty ties that hurt my eyes.

“Gross,” I said, my voice somewhat muffled behind the helmet’s faceplate. The blight turned, rotating slowly until its stained yellow eyes glared down at me.

Oneeiiiiroi,” the creature hissed.

“I was talking about those ties, but you’re gross too. You look like an evil Christmas ornament up there, you know.” I gathered power around my hands, threads of blue-white lightning encircling my wrists and licking down my fingers. The fine hairs on the back of my hands stood on end, tickling until I had to resist the urge to scratch them. I forced my back straight and my shoulders square so the blight wouldn’t see my energy flagging, draining into the lightning.

With a shriek so high it hurt my ears, the blight yanked downwards, its tentacles tearing ceiling tiles free to smash to the floor. One tile, three, five. Then dozens. Fluorescent lights exploded, plunging the store into gloom. Tiles shattered around me and jellybeans scattered like marbles. By the glow of my lightning charge, I darted towards a service counter, diving under the counter hatch. Huddling in my leathers and helmet, I barely fit.

I stared at the rain of tile fragments as it slowed, and then stopped. Each was coated on one side with blight ichor, as if the entire ceiling cavity had been filled with the blight’s contamination.

This blight hadn’t destroyed the surface of the dream. It had rotted its very bones.

Blurb

How can you fight your nightmares when they’re real?

Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?

Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.

Add to your Goodreads ‘to read’ shelf today

 


Cover reveal for ‘False Awakening’ — sign-ups now available

It’s hard being the second sibling (or so my friends who are second siblings assure me). Certainly that seems to be true of books, too. For the longest time, Lucid Dreaming, first in my adult urban fantasy series, got all the attention, the cover, and the series named after it.

But now it’s time to shine for the second book in the series, False Awakening, with its very own cover made by the fabulous KILA Designs!

The cover reveal is scheduled for 7 May. You can sign up here, which is an excellent way to get to see it first!

And, to celebrate, I’m offering Lucid Dreaming free to reviewers in all ebook formats. You can sign up for THAT here, or just email me directly. I don’t bite.

Hard.

Seriously, I am so excited to be able to share this cover with you … almost as excited as I am at the idea of photographing the two books together, united at last! ❤

False Awakening blurb

Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?

Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.

Goodreads


Book announcement: ‘Lucid Dreaming’ sequel coming in 2017

ld_coverwrap_final_sml

I’ve posted so many reviews lately that recent followers of my blog might be forgiven for thinking that’s all I do here. But, despite appearances, I have been slowly beetling away for the better part of the year on the sequel to Lucid Dreaming, my adult urban fantasy. I’m about half a chapter from “the end” — the goal is to have the first draft done before Christmas, if I can overcome the distractions of the silly season.

It’ll be a near thing.

At this stage, the plan is for Lucid Dreaming and its sequel to be a duology — a two-book series. The goal is to release the sequel in the middle of 2017.

So, what can I tell you about this sequel?

The title!

Well, first off, there’s the title:

False Awakening title fireworks

Source: Image Chef

Yes, False Awakening — inspired by that phenomenon that is “a vivid and convincing dream about awakening from sleep, while the dreamer in reality continues to sleep”. (Thank you, Wikipedia.)

The blurb!

I can also share an early version of the blurb (although this one is subject to change once my lovely editor finishes her maternity leave!).

“Sometimes I have nightmares where I dream I’ve woken up, and then I start attacking people…”

Melaina, half-human dream therapist, just wants her life to return to normal. Yes, her Oneiroi father is in prison and, yes, the place she worked burned down, but she has a cute boyfriend and a new house. She beat the bad guy. She’s earned a break. Right?

Unfortunately for Melaina, people are still getting possessed by nightmare spirits; the police are investigating her past; and the bad guy’s brother, the Morpheus himself, is coming to town to demand answers. When a deranged ex-nurse checks himself out of hospital on the same day her cousin runs away from home, Melaina is dragged into a fight not just for her life but for her soul.

Also, note — if you’re a Goodreads user, you can add False Awakening to your “to read” shelf. You know, if you want to.

The sale!

To celebrate, the Lucid Dreaming ebook is on sale for $0.99 (US) at the following websites.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon Australia
Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

Tell your friends!

false-awakening-image

Not the book cover — I don’t have one of those yet. But it is pretty! Source: Shutterstock


What Hogwarts Houses Are My Characters?

Sorting Hat

I was asked on Facebook what Hogwarts Houses my characters would be; apparently this was a thing authors were doing back in 2014, and we all know how cutting edge I am! I’ve been chewing over the idea, because—like Harry, who could have just as easily been Slytherin as Gryffindor—most of my characters could fit into more than one house. Still, I’ve donned the Sorting Hat and done my best!

Isla’s Inheritance trilogy

Isla has elements of Hufflepuff and Gryffindor, and could easily go into either house. However, when we first meet her, she is definitely a Hufflepuff, so that’s where she would’ve been sorted when she started high school. Her loyalty in particular drives her to do some very courageous things, but she’s still more comfortable not charging into danger, given the choice.

Like Isla, Jack has elements of Gryffindor (his chivalry and courage, in particular). However, he is a Hufflepuff through and through. Patience and loyalty are two of his defining characteristics, and his desire for justice has gotten him into trouble in the past.

Sarah is a Gryffindor. Although she is musical, which could have qualified her for Ravenclaw, she is the most honest, determined and forthright of the characters in the trilogy. This causes Sarah to butt heads with Isla at times, when she gets frustrated with her cousin’s reluctance to be as honest as she probably should be.

Lucid Dreaming

Of these five characters, Melaina is the hardest for me to sort. She has traits valued by three of the four houses (she’d make a pretty poor Hufflepuff, all things considered). Still, I’d sort her into Gryffindor, given her tendency to leap into situations and think about the consequences later.

Brad is a Ravenclaw. He’s an educated, intellectual sort of person who is very good at thinking his way through a problem or puzzle to find a solution. That is why he struggles at first, when presented with information that doesn’t fit neatly into his worldview. But once he understands the new “rules” of Melaina’s world, he is able to think his way through them.

Are you a writer? Have you ever sorted your characters? It’s a fun little mental exercise that gets you to think about who they really are, beneath it all. (And special thanks to Belle for suggesting it.)


Notebook_coffeeIn case you missed it, on Thursday I was over at Aussie Owned and Read, talking about finding time in a busy life: time to write, blog, review and do the squillion other things I try to get done.

What I really need is a Time Turner…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Valentine’s Day fun: kissing excerpt and other news

In the lead-up to Valentine’s Day in this month of luuuuuurve, there are a couple of things going on I just wanted to quickly let you know about.

The first is that today over at Aussie Owned and Read I’m sharing an excerpt from my latest novel, which is a fantasy that I describe as “Beauty and the Beast meets Ancient Greece”. There’s kissing. (The draft doesn’t yet have a name. For those that have been following my blog for some time, this will come as no surprise.)

The other is that, starting on Sunday, I’ll be giving away two copies of Lucid Dreaming over at Goodreads. The giveaway is here if you want to bookmark it and add it to your calendars — and why wouldn’t you? 😉

I’ll now return you to your regularly scheduled awesomeness.

Aussie_Vday Pink

Brad_quote


An update ramble (aka proof that Cassandra shouldn’t blog tired)…

So, err, January has sort of gotten away from me. I had all these ideas for blog posts — primarily to, you know, write them — but clearly that hasn’t gone well. So of course, since I got maybe five hours sleep last night, now seems like the perfect time to write an update. Mostly so you know I haven’t been eaten by rampaging drop bears or whatever.

Me, writing this blog post

Me, writing this blog post

One of the posts I was planning was going to be a “my goals for 2016” post. It can more-or-less be summed up in this short list:

  • Self-publish Melpomene’s Daughter (Isla’s Inheritance #3)
  • Write the sequel to Lucid Dreaming
  • Be awesome

Melpomene’s Daughter is going well. I have the paperback proof from KILA Designs and have maybe 50 pages left to read. My goal is to get it done by the end of this weekend, so that I can get it back to Kim before my son and I scarper down to the coast for a week of probably getting rained on at the beach. (It’s going to be awesome.) That way, when I get back, the book should be all go for a February re-release.

Melpomene's Daughter paperback title page

Such a lovely title page. I could pat it.

I started drafting the sequel to Lucid Dreaming over Christmas. I’ve got three chapters down and, well, lots to go. I’ve also got my next project lined up — one I’m super-excited about — so, aside from wanting to finish off Melaina’s story for its own sake, I’m also keen to finish it so I can move on to fresh pastures. I’m so fickle. 😉

Lucid Dreaming has been getting some great reviews on Goodreads and other review sites/blogs. If you’ve reviewed it (or any of my books), then know that I love you from the bottom of my heart.

Over at Aussie Owned and Read, I blogged about how audiobooks are the best thing since, well, books.

I haven’t been reading as fast as usual — unless you count my own books, which I have read many, many times. In fact, I’ve been on the same two books (one audio, one ebook) all year. Which is not to say that they aren’t awesome, because they are. I just haven’t had as much time lately — and my usual time to read audiobooks, on my commute, hasn’t been viable because my son has been with me more often than not. If it does rain at the coast as much as I anticipate, at least I can catch up on some stories.

Currently reading 0116

On a personal note, this month has been pretty rough for me and the boy. Close friends of mine have moved away for an awesome work opportunity; their kids are good friends of my son’s, so he has been just as sad as me about the whole thing. The difference is that, when you’re six, you process these things differently. It’s been hard, but this week has shown signs of improvement. (And the coast trip is a distraction that couldn’t be happening at a better time. Awesome parenting high five, me!)

I’ve also spent a bit of time being sucked into a casual, mobile game called Fallout Shelter. It’s based on the Fallout games, but is more of a resource-management game than a shooter. I like it … though I’m less wild about some of the decisions the game designers have made. Maybe one day I’ll have a rush of blood to the head and review the game, but IT IS NOT THIS DAY.

I’m not that tired.

LOTR dachshund

So, that’s where I’m at. How about you? Has 2016 been treating you nicely so far?


Wrap-up for 2015

As I said in my Christmas post, 2015 has been a crazy year for me. It started off with a bang, with Isla’s Oath being released in January. In April, Melpomene’s Daughter came out.

However, for both books, only the ebook version was released — and, in October, just as I was gearing up to self-publish Lucid Dreaming, I got the word that Turquoise Morning Press was closing. The bright side is that I got the rights to the trilogy back straight away, as well as permission to use the original covers if I wished. I ended up deciding to commission new covers, and so the scramble to re-release them commenced.

I couldn’t have done it without Kim from KILA Designs; as well as being my designer and friend, she also patiently explained the parts of self-publishing a book that I hadn’t even considered to that point.

The upshot is that, in 2015, I had five release days for three books. Is it any wonder I’m spending my new year’s eve in my pyjamas and a T-shirt (a black one that says “The book was better”)? I’m too knackered to contemplate anything else!

I achieved most of my
reading and writing resolutions…

but not all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I only read 9 out of 12 of the books in my Aussie Readers challenge. And, although I did indeed release Isla’s Oath, Melpomene’s Daughter and Lucid Dreaming, and I did finish writing my fantasy novel, I didn’t manage to write another Tammy Calder novella. I’ll have to save that one for next year.

I also set myself a goal of blogging at least twice a week, but I don’t know that I always achieved that. (Trivia: according to the WordPress stats monkeys, my most popular post in 2015 was my review of Eleven Weeks by Lauren K. McKellar.)

I haven’t done up a list of 2016 resolutions yet. I know I’m supposed to do it before the year kicks over, but at the moment I can’t think past “don’t release three books five times”!

I read one book a week…

That wasn’t deliberate; it just worked out that way. For the last two years, my Goodreads challenge number has been 40 books + however many kids books I read/listen to with my son (excluding picture books, which I don’t bother recording). This year, that worked out to 50 books. I overachieved a little.

Of these:

  • 87% were by women writers (or, in the case of Three Slices and Illuminae, had at least one female writer)
  • 75% were speculative fiction of one stripe or another (including the children’s books)
  • 31% were by Australian authors (or, in the case of Losing It, had at least one Aussie author)
  • 25% were by Kim Harrison (I gobbled the entire Hollows series this year)
  • 12% were by Cressida Cowell (the boy and I went on a How to Train Your Dragon kick earlier in the year — did you know the audiobooks are narrated by David Tennant?)
  • 4% were non-fiction

Goodreads2015

So there you have it!

This year has been busy, but I got by with a little (or a lot of) help from my friends. And also my family, and you guys — my lovely readers. I hope your 2016 is filled with love, hugs, laughter and, above all, books.

See you next year!