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Showing posts from 2017

2017: A Year In Blog

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Well, it's been a hell of a year, hasn't it?

2017 did not start off happy or calm for me. 2017 was a year long exercise in seeing how much outside events can seriously mess with your head and make one feel instantly drained in a creative sense. I'm referring to the political climate in this country and around the world this year; the balance between staying informed, researching the news to gain accurate information, but also needing some space for self-care is not a balance I've yet perfected.

On a personal note, my grandma was declining and died in January. In November, my aunt and uncle moved out of the house they'd shared with my grandparents for over forty years, a house I grew up in because grandma's house was my afterschool. It was a bit sad to sell the house, but also good in other ways.

But there were good things about 2017 as well!

The big news of the year is this:

Guys, that's my name in a paperback!!


Which was published on October 30th in Full Da…

2017 reading challenge: the stats

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So, what did I read this year?

From Goodreads:





Out of the 35 books I read this year, 25 were fiction, was poetry, 9 were nonfiction. (In 2016, I read 18 nonfiction books. Then again, my reading goal was higher by 9 books in 2016).

Of the 9 nonfiction:
-1 was a travel guide
-1 was a memoir
-2 were about romance as a writing genre
-1 was about self-publishing
-4 were history, specifically British history; 1 of these was the history of Indians living in Britain

Of the 25 fiction:
-6 were historical fiction
-7 were historical romance; 1 of these was a novella and another was a collection of 3 novellas
-2 were contemporary romance; 1 was contemporary women's fiction with a heavy romantic element
-1 was historical mystery
-1 was contemporary YA
-1 was contemporary adult
-1 was cozy mystery; another one was a mystery/adventure
-3 were fantasy; 1 was steampunk, 1 had paranormal and supernatural aspects, and the other was a fantasy retelling

Overall, 30 of the books I read this year were w…

Goodreads Reading Challenge: Done!

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Yay! I hit my 35 book goal for 2017 today, so here are the final five.

I'll post later this week on my reading challenge stats, so stay tuned :-)


31. Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin. Fiction/Fantasy/Young Adult/Retelling. 5 stars.



32. Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes. Nonfiction/Writing/Storytelling/Romance. 5 stars.


33. A Hope Divided (Loyal League #2) by Alyssa Cole. Fiction/Romance/Historical Romance/United States/Civil War/Espionage. 5 stars.

34. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Fiction/Women's Fiction/ Romance/Contemporary Romance/Britain/Royalty. 4 stars.

35. The Collected Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats. Poetry/Irish Literature. 4 stars.

The Downton Abbey Exhibition

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Everyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows that I am a hardcore Downton Abbey fan. So when I heard that there was a Downton Abbey limited time exhibition going on at 218 W. 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan, I bought tickets and dragged my mother and a friend to the city. 
I'm not sure what that building was originally, because it's not a museum, but it was more than adequate to house this exhbition, which is only in New York City until the end of January, I think. It features original set pieces, costumes, and props from the show with some historical context to guide you along the way.

We walked into a very busy lobby area, our e-tickets were scanned, and we were ushered into a small introduction room with a video introduction by a beloved Downton character. The first floor was about the servant characters.




There were objects and props from the show which the servant characters would have handled. Each room had an explanation of what would have gone in that …

IWSG December

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It's December, the last IWSG post of 2017! Check out the group here.

For the past few weeks, I've been working on a writing project only a few people know about. I haven't blogged about it. I don't mean to be cryptic or secretive, but I'm also kind of afraid that if I talk about the project--which I'm outlining--and then it falls apart, then I have to explain that it's fallen apart or is on hold, as a few of my projects in the last few years are. On hold, that is.

And I don't want to do that because I want to see this idea through and I want it to work and come together. I want to finish it and see it published in whatever way it'll be published.

I'm outlining because when I pants a story, it always falls apart in the middle--I get stuck and I freeze. Part of that is lack of plotting skill and a great deal of it is anxiety, I think.

I'm also outlining because this idea is a series idea--it's romance, so the main characters are different…

Story Beats

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It's no secret that I have problems plotting a novel out. I attributed this to being the kind of writer who usually thinks in characters rather than story events.

Well, frankly, I'm tired of stalling on my projects/being a slow writer/not getting how to plot/or how to pace out a plot.

I mean, it's weird. I recognize a plot when I'm reading. I can see the steps the story takes as the tension builds toward the climax. I've just always had a hard time replicating your basic plotting pyramid thing in a longer piece of writing (over 30, 000 words). I'm horrible at mathematics and I'm not strategically-brained; to some extent, plotting a novel and pacing it well is organization, applying a formula, a pattern, strategizing how and where things will happen.

For some reason, I feel like I flail around a lot while trying to plot.

Plot: definiton: the events that happen in your story.

First of all, I don't think the plotting pyramid is accurate. You know the one. Y…

Winter's Siren: Author Krystal Jane Ruin on her new book

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The last novel I finished reading was my writing friend Krystal Jane Ruin's second novel Winter's Siren.

Upholding blog tradition, I bugged Krystal this weekend with some questions about her book and she was gracious enough to answer them!

Winter's Siren was released on November 1, 2017, and is currently enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.


In Fairy Tales, The Monsters Are Always Slain...

For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.

His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.

As Fawn plots her escape, whispers spread through the shaded corridors of dark sorcery, warning her that she must flee by the next opening night.

But when Fawn draws close to the exit, it’s Devi who’s standing in her way, leading Fawn to suspect that Devi has something to gain if she fails.

(a dark reimagining of Swan Lake)
Now available at Amazon!
Sunf…

30 Books Read!

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Whoops. I got all caught up in the novel I'm currently reading--Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin-- that I finished book 30 and forgot to document it on ze blog.

Also, one other book-related thing: the first time my name is printed in a paperback, y'all. I bought the Full Dark paperback on Amazon and it arrived on Wednesday.



And now, on with the reading challenge: 30 down, 5 to go.



21. Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History by Rozina Visram. Nonfiction/History/Indian history/British history. 3 stars.


22. The Girl He Left Behind (Mills & Boon Indian Author Collection) by Shilpa Suraj. Fiction/Romance/Contemporary/India. 3 stars.

23. Butterfly Swords (Tang Dynasty #1) by Jeannie Lin. Fiction/Romance/Historical Romance/Action and Adventure/China/Ancient China. 4 stars.

24. Pursue the Unknown End (The Antiquities Series #2) by Emily Steers. Fiction/Mystery/Adventure/Action/Contemporary/American/Boston. 5 stars.


25. The Turncoat (Renegades of the Revolution #1) by Donna …

5 Things About "Haunted Lake"

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"Haunted Lake" is the title of my paranormal short story in the anthology FULL DARK, now available on Amazon and B&N.

Haunted Lake is also a real place--and the region around it is real as well. I don't think it's haunted in real life, though. At least it wasn't the one time I've been there.

1. Haunted Lake is a lake in Francestown, New Hampshire. Real name: Scobie Pond. This is what Haunted Lake looks like. Apparently, there's another Haunted Lake in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which is nearby.



It's a beautiful place and it is not creepy at all. It's natural beauty. But being a city kid, I generally associate rural countryside with creepiness.
2. There has to be a reason why a lake is known as "Haunted Lake," no? I quizzed my college roommmate and her sister (who grew up along the shores of said lake) about how and why it might've gotten its name. There were a few stories; some of them ended up in a mish-mash in my story. 
3. Ma…

Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin! Book Blitz!

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Winter’s Siren
Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: November 1st 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.
His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.
As Fawn plots her escape, whispers spread through the shaded corridors of dark sorcery, warning her that she must flee by the next opening night.
But when Fawn draws close to the exit, it’s Devi who’s standing in her way, leading Fawn to suspect that Devi has something to gain if she fails.
(a dark reimagining of Swan Lake)Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes &Noble / iBooks / Kobo


EXCERPT: Frosty air nips at my nose. I stand almost knee deep in fresh fallen snow, letting the diffused sunlight hit my face. There is no sound. Peace settles over me. In this moment, I truly feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere.

Something cold and wet explodes on the ba…

IWSG November

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It's Wednesday, November 1st and it's time for IWSG! The IWSG is a large network and we post our writerly insecurities on the first Wednesday of every month.


I've had a busy last week or so.



One: I am a contributor to FULL DARK: An Anthology, available now on Amazon and B&N. It's an anthology of dark short stories, benefitting the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has a bevy of programs and initiatives supporting first responders and active and former military.

With everything going in the world--including the truck incident in Manhattan yesterday afternoon, which killed 8 people--I'm fine, everyone I know is fine, New York City is fine (we're a hardy bunch)--it's important to remember all the people who do so much to keep the rest of us safe.

My short story is "Haunted Lake." There will be a blog post with some background on the story up in a few days.


Two: My friend Krystal Jane Ruin is releasing her second novel, Winter's Siren, today! Can&#…

FULL DARK: An Anthology is now out!

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Add FULL DARK to your Goodreads shelf here
Available on Amazon and B&N.
It's October 30th, which means that FULL DARK: An Anthology is now officially OUT!


What happens in the dark will come to light.
Full Dark is a collection of eleven short works with impressive depth and range. Twisted tales of ghosts, villains, and the paranormal await you—mystery, heinous fantasy, and pure suspense. Acclaimed and award-winning authors as well as a few talented newcomers have joined forces to be your guide. Venture into the dark if you dare.
Just A Matter Of Time by Loni Townsend Forerunner by David Powers King Taking Care Of You by Carrie Butler The Apartment by Lisa Buie-Collard The Caricature by Nick Wilford Shifting Sands by Elizabeth Seckman Shadows Falling On Rainbows by Celeste Holloway Meringue, Murder or Marzipan by Tonja Drecker Haunted Lake by Michelle Athy Soul Coin by Laura Rich Retribution by Melissa Maygrove
FULL DARK is a benefit anthology. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Gar…

Why I Love Roger MacKenzie

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Outlander season three has begun--I'm patiently awaiting the airing of episode 6 in another week. I read all eight Outlander novels in 2014-2015, not long after TV version began.

And yes, Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall Fraser loom large in the Outlander world--the time-crossing lovers who have very odd adventures and associate with an ever-increasing growing cast of characters.

But I realized about halfway into the series that my favorite character in Outlander world is Roger Wakefield MacKenzie, who [spoiler] is Jamie and Claire's daughter Brianna's love interest and eventual husband.



Over the last year, I've been doing a very slow re-read of the Outlander books, but I've only been re-reading the Roger and Brianna parts. It's a very different series when you only read their parts, much less improbable adventure and more two twentieth century people living in the eighteenth century and all the complications that would ensue from that. Jamie--and Claire, in a l…

Pursue the Unknown End by Emily Steers: An Author Interview

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Last year, a college classmate released her debut novel Collecting The Constellations, a contemporary  mystery-adventure story. The sequel to that book, PURSUE THE UNKNOWN END, was released on September 1, 2017.


Fresh off their life-altering trip to Kathmandu, Charlotte and Rory left New York City for the relatively quiet confines of Tilly's Texas ranch. On the day of their wedding, a mysterious gift arrives on the doorway, soliciting the pair to uncover the secrets of its confines A.S.A.P.


The contents of the box send the pair to Boston, the former Hub of the Solar System, to dig through America's complex history of business, representation, and human rights. 


But as Charlotte and Rory get closer to uncovering one of Boston's best-held secrets, new revelations about their relationship come to light.

Add Pursue the Unknown End to your Goodreads shelf. You can get both books in Emily's Antiquities series on Amazon for $1.98.

On with the interview!

1. Pursue the Unknown End

IWSG October

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It is the first Wednesday in October, which means it's time for IWSG Day! The awesome co-hosts for the October 4 posting of the IWSG are Olga Godim,Chemist Ken,Jennifer Hawes, and Tamara Narayan!

What insecurities do I have this month? Well, I have one project I'm losing interest in, but trying to persevere and finish. I have another project idea bearing ideas for a series and characters and plot.

Which brings me around to this month's IWSG question:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?
I remember my theater major friends in college talking about how they had to "find their way in" to a character. The longer I write, the more characters I come up with, the more I realize that I, too, need to find my way in to a character, even if our circumstances are utterly different. 
For my historical characters, the personal information we share isn't very personal at all, if we indeed share anything…

My Collection of Research Books

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I was looking around the blogosphere this morning and saw a blog post by one of my favorite historical fiction authors Elizabeth Chadwick, with a huge list of her mountain of research books.

Go check it out here.

So I decided to take a few pictures of my molehill of research books, which I've acquired for a variety of past projects and/or just out of curiosity and exploration of an era.

(Which is to say, I'll get back to the Victorian era when I damn well feel like it).



I used to have Tudors boooks (I'm down to two, which are biographies of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I), but when I finally acknowledged that a) Tudor-land is oversaturated and b) I wasn't actually going to write that story of the monastery being tore apart during the English Reformation, not knowing anything about Catholicism, Anglicanism, or monasteries beyond what Ken Follet's books taught me, those books were sold on Amazon. 
I expect some of these will get rotated out as well, at some point. 

If you…