My Take: Team Urban or Team Epic?

 

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Hi all,

Today is the final day of Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Fantasy Promotion, and in honor of the conversations of this week, I would like to elaborate on a statement.

Earlier this week, I clearly declared what side I was on. Now I’m going to tell you why.

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I have always loved fantasy novels of any kind. A popular theme here on the blog is that I like weird stuff. I like to read it, I like to watch it, I like to write it. So I enjoy most stories in which something out of the ordinary occurs. Fantasy was a natural interest for a person like me.

There is nothing wrong with epic fantasy. There is a beauty to the pure inventiveness, the creations of entirely new worlds, languages, people. For the early part of my childhood, I was raised on fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. My father even had a Tolkien calendar. My favorite video game was The Legend of Zelda, and if that isn’t an epic fantasy loving gamer’s dream, no game is.

But at some point, things shifted. As I grew up, I became exposed to television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and it touched me in a way no other series, or anything else for that matter, ever had. I was absorbed, completely moved. I fell in love with these characters, saw myself in them, saw myself in their weekly trials. I tried to decide which one I was more like. It didn’t matter if they were dealing with real life troubles, the monster of the week or some deep seated evil that spanned seasons. They felt more real to me.

The reason for that is that they were grounded in my reality. I could see myself going to school and having to deal with my principal as I snuck out to fight a demon. I could see myself sacrificing my social life to devote my life to something bigger. And somehow, those metaphors for life that were present in every fantasy novel struck a chord within me. Suddenly, I saw the challenges in my world as monsters to be defeated, the lessons to be learned as my spell book.

And ever since then, I found myself leaning towards Urban Fantasy, because if Buffy was a book, that’s exactly what it would be. I still love Epic Fantasy, but not with the ferocity with which I devour stories about real people dealing with their supernatural problems in concert with real world troubles. Killing monsters while dodging police. Hiding magical abilities from their parents. Having nobody believe them about who they are. Coming to terms with the strange in such a normal society.

I’d take a thousand magical societies hidden in plain sight over a dragon flying over head any day.


Thank you for hanging out with me for Entangled Teen’s Team Urban vs. Team Epic Promotional Event! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway and check out all of the books we discussed this week!

I’ll be back next week to discuss the difference between outlining a short story and a novel. See you then!

 

Entangled Teen Presents: Why I Love Urban Fantasy!

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Today, we’re continuing Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week with Entangled Teen’s Urban Fantasy Authors discussing why they love their genre.

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Brenda Drake – Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers, #2):

I’m such a fan of Urban Fantasy for many reasons, but mostly because writers can take our normal world and, either secret or not, add a dash of the fantastical to it. With mystical creatures hiding from humans or living side by side with them, deliciously nefarious things can happen. There’s just something extraordinary about urban fantasy. It’s the ability of the writer to look at something normal in the human world and mix it up. Changing a simple book into something that can transport someone from library to library or hiding a zoo of magical beasts in a common suitcase.

Book Description:

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Being a Sentinel isn’t all fairytales and secret gardens. Sure, jumping through books into the world’s most beautiful libraries to protect humans from mystical creatures is awesome. No one knows that better than Gia Kearns, but she could do without the part where people are always trying to kill her. Oh, and the fact that Pop and her had to move away from her friends and life as she knew it.

And if that isn’t enough, her boyfriend, Arik, is acting strangely. Like, maybe she should be calling him “ex,” since he’s so into another girl. But she doesn’t have time to be mad or even jealous, because someone has to save the world from the upcoming apocalypse, and it looks like that’s going to be Gia.

 

Buy Guardian of Secrets

Chris Cannon – Fanning the Flames (Going Down in Flames, #4):

1. There are no maidens that need to be rescued in urban fantasy. More than likely the females are the ones kicking ass.

2. I love the snarky banter that occurs when you throw modern day characters into strange/magical/supernatural circumstances.

3. Anything is possible in urban fantasy. There are no rules about what types of paranormal creatures you can have. If you want to create dragons that breathe fire, ice, wind, sonic waves, and lightning, you can, just like I did in Going Down In Flames *cough cough* shameless self promotion

Book Description:

S9781633758773he isn’t afraid of anything…except losing the knight she loves. Bryn McKenna has it all, including her smoking-hot knight turned live-in boyfriend, Valmont. Even though she’s a hybrid dragon, she’s finally fitting into the new shape-shifting dragon world that’s become her own. But her grandparents want to ruin everything by making Bryn’s nightmare of an arranged marriage to Jaxon Westgate a reality. It doesn’t help that Jaxon’s father is on a witch hunt for Rebel sympathizers and Bryn finds herself in his line of fire.

If she doesn’t say, “I do,” she’ll lose everything. Good-bye flying. Good-bye best friends. Good-bye magic. But if she bends to her grandparents’ will and agrees to marry Jaxon, she’ll lose the love of her life—her knight.

Buy Fanning the Flames

Shonna Slayton – Spindle:

Urban fantasy reminds me that our own world is magical. We are so used to the way our world works that we take for granted how incredible it is that our heart beats, our brain imagines, that our eyes see color.

As a writer, urban fantasy allows me to open up my imagination on multiple planes. I still work with the real world, but I get to add layers onto that. It’s like going from black and white TV to color. Like Dorothy in dusty old Kansas stepping into the colorful land of Oz.

Book Description:

spindleIn a world where fairies lurk and curses linger, love can bleed like the prick of a finger…

Briar Rose knows her life will never be a fairy tale. She’s raising her siblings on her own, her wages at the spinning mill have been cut, and the boy she thought she had a future with has eyes for someone else.

Most days it feels like her best friend, Henry Prince, is the only one in her corner…though with his endless flirty jokes, how can she ever take him seriously?

When a mysterious peddler offers her a “magic” spindle that could make her more money, sneaking it into the mill seems worth the risk. But then one by one, her fellow spinner girls come down with the mysterious sleeping sickness…and Briar’s not immune.

If Briar wants to save the girls—and herself—she’ll have to start believing in fairy tales…and in the power of a prince’s kiss.

Buy Spindle

Tara Fuller – Inbetween (Kissed by Death, #1):

Book Description:

9781620610138_fcDeath doesn’t fall in love. Usually. Since the car crash that took her father’s life three years ago, Emma’s life has been a freaky—and unending—lesson in caution. Surviving “accidents” has taken priority over being a normal seventeen-year- old, so Emma spends her days taking pictures of life instead of living it.

Falling in love with a boy was never part of the plan. Falling for a reaper who makes her chest ache and her head spin? Not an option.

It’s not easy being dead, especially for a reaper in love with a girl fate has put on his list not once, but twice. Finn’s fellow reapers give him hell about spending time with Emma, but Finn couldn’t let her die before, and he’s not about to let her die now. He will protect the girl he loves from the evil he accidentally unleashed, even if it means sacrificing the only thing he has left…his soul.

Buy Inbetween

Danielle Ellison – Salt (Salt, #1):

Whether it’s witches, demons, ghosts or other types monsters, there’s nothing like escaping the sometimes mundane reality of our world, or giving what we know every day a spice of fantasy. Filled with kick-ass heroines who aren’t afraid to fight for what they believe in (and hot, just-as- fierce love interests) Urban Fantasy inspires you to look beyond what you see and be more than you think you can be.

Plus, life is more with some magic: more dangerous, more unpredictable, more chaotic, more fun.

Book Description:

9781622663484-1Penelope is a witch, part of a secret society protecting humans from demon attacks. But when she was a child, a demon killed her parents—and stole her magic. Since then, she’s been pretending to be something she’s not, using her sister’s magic to hide her own loss, to prevent being sent away.

When she’s finally given the chance to join the elite demon-hunting force, Penelope thinks that will finally change. With her sister’s help, she can squeeze through the tests and get access to the information she needs to find “her” demon. To take back what was stolen.

Then she meets Carter. He’s cute, smart, and she can borrow his magic, too. He knows her secret—but he also has one of his own.

Suddenly, Penelope’s impossible quest becomes far more complicated. Because Carter’s not telling her everything, and it’s starting to seem like the demons have their own agenda…and they’re far too interested in her.

Buy Salt

Rachel Harris – My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century (My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century, #1):

Book Description:

9781620611364-1On the precipice of her sixteenth birthday, the last thing lone wolf Cat Crawford wants is an extravagant gala thrown by her bubbly stepmother and well-meaning father. So even though Cat knows the family’s trip to Florence, Italy, is a peace offering, she embraces the magical city and all it offers. But when her curiosity leads her to an unusual gypsy tent, she exits…right into Renaissance Firenze.

Thrust into the sixteenth century armed with only a backpack full of contraband future items, Cat joins up with her ancestors, the sweet Alessandra and protective Cipriano, and soon falls for the gorgeous aspiring artist Lorenzo. But when the much-older Niccolo starts sniffing around, Cat realizes that an unwanted birthday party is nothing compared to an unwanted suitor full of creeptastic amore. Can she find her way back to modern times before her Italian adventure turns into an Italian forever?

Buy My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century

Gloria Craw – Atlantis Rising (Atlantis Rising, #1):

I love Urban Fantasy because it infuses normal life with myth and magic. It’s so exciting to have something in common with a character who finds a magic object, special ability or a secret origin. The possible ways her courage and passion might be tested are endless. When she does triumph against fantastic odds, I’m left feeling inspired and reassured that I can overcome great obstacles in my everyday life too. Urban Fantasy reminds me that the ordinary in us can sometimes be…extraordinary.

Book Description:

ar_500We’ve stayed hidden too long… I am different. I have always been different, but no one can know or my life will be in danger. So I hide in plain sight, wearing drab clothes and thick glasses and trying to be invisible. I’m so good at hiding, no one has ever noticed me. Until Ian…the mysterious and oh-so-cute boy I know I need to avoid.

Now I have been seen. And more terrifying still, I am wanted—by those who would protect me and those who would destroy everything and everyone I love. But if they’re all terrified about who I am, wait until they see what I can do…

 

 

Buy Atlantis Rising


Okay, that’s it for today! Come back tomorrow and learn all about Team Epic!

Entangled Teen Presents: Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week!

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In my continuing effort to talk all about YA literature and the fantasy genre as well as introduce you to new authors and books here on the blog, I am participating in Entangled Teen’s Urban vs. Epic Week! 

The Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week is a chance for readers – like me and you – and Entangled Teen authors to make their allegiances to either urban or epic fantasy known. You may have kept your preferences a secret until now, but now it’s time to confirm your #TeamUrban or #TeamEpic tendencies loud and clear over the course of the week. You bet I will.

Here’s what we’ll be doing over the course of the next few days.

Urban vs. Epic Fantasy Week Schedule: 

  • Tuesday, February 28th: Team Urban vs. Team Epic Fantasy Twitter Chat @ 9-10 pm EST
  • Wednesday Mar. 1st: Bloggers post a feature with authors who ascribe to #TeamUrban
  • Thursday, Mar. 2nd: Bloggers post a feature with authors on #TeamEpic
  • Friday, Mar. 3rd: Bloggers and authors can write / share related posts, including: why they’re Team Urban or Team Epic, their Top 5/10 Fave Urban or Epic Fantasy Reads, and/or the Top 5 Reasons They Loved _____ (an urban or epic fantasy read).

Wednesday-Friday’s events will be taking place on my blog as well as many others!

Enter the Giveaway hosted by Entangled:

As for me, I’m pretty sure you know where I land…

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See you for the rest of this week!

Bibliobattling

According to Bibliobattle’s official website, “Bibliobattle is a social book review game which was developed in the Graduate School of Informatics at Kyoto University in Japan.” The first and second American Bibliobattles took place at Kinokuniya NYC and I happened to be part of both of them. Because I would like for you to someday be a part of them as well, I’d like to describe my experience to you and see if I can maybe get you to sign up for a future Bibliobattle.

Me and Megan, putting up our dukes
No, it’s not engaging in fisticuffs, but little sis (Megan Manzano) and I thought it would be a great pic.

How it Works:

The organizer assigns a topic in advance to determine what kind of books will be used to battle. This can take place up to a month before the actual battle. When a date is assigned, the organizer asks what book each battler will use. Those books will actually be available on the table for reference or purchase during the battle.

On the day of the battle, the contestants pick a number and that selects the order. Then each battler goes up one by one. They get five minutes to discuss why they love their chosen book, and three more minutes of Q&A time with the audience. Once all battlers go up, a vote is taken in the audience. Which book do you want to read the most?

The winner gets a prize, but everyone gets a little something for participating. I usually walk out with a handful of books that I’ve now grown interested in after watching the other battlers at work.

Technique:

How you Bibliobattle is up to you, but this is what I’ve learned after two Bibliobattles (admittedly, not that many, but everything is a learning experience). The first time I participated, the theme was YA novels, and I chose a whopper. If anyone has ever read the Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, they can tell you the sheer breadth of material it covers: war/peace, misogyny, racism, fear of “the other”, the power of being unique, religion and how it can be corrupted, what makes a man a man. It’s an amazing novel, but it is a very deep read.

So, when I sat down to prepare my Bibliobattle speech, I wrote a book report. I loved my chosen book because of all of the deep topics it delved into, and the way it presented them. I wrote a five page paper on these things, how the voice, the structure, and the formatting of the book informed the way these issues were brought across and why they hit so hard.

I had a lot of good points, but when I sat down to actually battle, I ended up jumping through my original pitch and being cut off in the final lines of my report by the ringing bell. Oops. (If you check out the link to the first battle at the bottom of the page, you can watch me run out of steam. It’s a tad embarrassing. Luckily, I like to make fun of myself).

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Me during my first Bibliobattle

When I was asked to do a second Bibliobattle, this time for the Supernatural genre, I signed up without having a clue about which book I would choose. I loved Supernatural books, and I could probably talk about them for DAYS, no problem. So I agreed to tackle it again, this time from a different angle.

Using Kelley Armstrong’s Omens, the first book of my absolute favorite book series, made my new approach easier. I love Ness’ series for many cerebral reasons, and they are just as worthwhile as the reasons I love Armstrong’s series. But while there is middle ground regarding both books, the main reasons I love Armstrong’s is all heart.

I fell in love with the characters. I loved the mythology. The mystery of it all intrigued me. Yes, the story covers interesting history and contains important character studies that subvert the tropes of strong female characters and leading men. Yes, the mystery was twisty and surprising. There were intellectual reasons to love it, but there was also plenty of heart reasons to love it.

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Me at Bibliobattle 2 with moderator CJ Malarsky

So, I sat down and wrote out all of the reasons I enjoyed the book. I read it a few times so it stuck in my head. And when the day of the battle came, I spoke from memory and from heart. Though I didn’t win that time either, I did finish it without running out of steam, and I felt better about the way I’d spoken, because I’d been able to speak to the people reading, rather than read to them. I think I found my technique!

Videos/Images:

Want to see the Bibliobattles I discussed? Well, here’s the first: 

And here’s the second one, in which YA writer Zoraida Cordova participated:

To stay in the know regarding upcoming Bibliobattles in the US, follow Kinokuniya on Twitter and Facebook. See you at the next battle!

Surviving Social Media Series Part 2: Stereotypes and Fact-Checking

Welcome to Part 2 of my Surviving Social Media Series. You can read Part 1 here.

Also, before I dive into Part 2, I wanted to announce that I was interviewed by Libby Heily last week, and it’s up on her blog, so please check it out! It will give you a little insight into my book and about working with Fantasy Works Publishing. Please pop on by!

And now, without further ado…


Did you know that people think they know a lot about you from your favorite social media account? There are actually plenty of people out there who firmly believe they know you based just on that. I must give them a hell of a time predicting with my collection of social media.

If you use Facebook, you’re a sheep, one of the crowd. I mean, come on. Great-Grandmothers use Facebook.

If you use Twitter, you’re a rabid fan, looking for contact with celebrities. You probably only got on there to talk to your favorite actor and you probably have never received a reply to any of the thousand tweets you’ve tweeted @him.

If you use Instagram, you are either self-involved and proving it with a countless number of selfies, or you are lying about your life and are proving it with well-lit photos of your surroundings looking perfect. Just out of frame of your perfect healthy meal is the tremendous bag of Oreos.

If you are on Pinterest you are a stay at home Mom or a perfectionist. After all, who else makes pretty DIY crafts like that?

If you are on Tumblr, you are probably a social justice warrior! And a hipster! You silly person, you. You couldn’t possibly have a decent opinion on real things, you delusional equality-believing artsy dummy! (written as an avid Tumblr poster since 2010).

So, how do you feel about that? Does any of that fit you?

Probably not. And there’s a reason for that.

Stereotypes of anything are bullshit.

The truth is that many different people post many different things on social media. The things we complain about are everywhere. But for every annoying post we run into, there is the ability to get news spread faster, the self-esteem boosting posts, people sharing love for their friends, the ability to find homes for animals, and just an increased awareness due to the spread of social media.

So we have an increased awareness of important news topics. And we also have an increased awareness of every. Single. Thing. That one poster ate in a given day. It comes with the territory and we’ll discuss that part further in a later edition of this series.

But for now, let’s talk about that glorious spread of information. When it is good, it is very very good, but when it is bad, it is HORRID.

6beThough this meme is obviously a joke, it is a satire about the way people post incorrect memes all the time. Nobody in social media fact-checks. When some new bit of dubious information arises, it spreads like a damn plague before anybody realizes it could potentially be false.

This is one of the major problems about the spread of information in the age of social media. We repost, we share, we retweet and reblog and pin, and we often don’t know the truth of the news we are sharing. We often don’t know what agenda the initial disseminator of the information has. We don’t pay attention. As Captain Smek from Home said of the internet, “The Internet does not lie.”

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Sure, it doesn’t. The internet is a connected web of computers. It doesn’t lie. But the people who are putting information out to be shared through the web of computers? They lie. They lie plenty.

So remember, folks, if it’s on a website that is solely about your ideological bend, whatever that may be, you might want to double check those facts. And if you think you know something about a person based on what kind of social media they use, you might not want to base your stock portfolio on that great predictive mind of yours.

I’m sure you’ve all run into people like the ones I mentioned above. Feel free to share your tales of woe in the comments. And stay tuned for next week, when we discuss a need for approval and social blackmail.

 

Author Spotlight: Christi J. Whitney

Today, I would like to introduce you to a fellow YA Fantasy author, Christi J. Whitney. Christy is in the middle of writing her series, “The Romany Outcasts”. The first book, Grey, came out at the end of the year, and the latest installment, Shadow, will released on June 2nd. In the blog post below, you will learn about both of Christi’s books, get to know a bit about Christi, and read a mini-interview I conducted with her. Enjoy!


Released: Grey, Book 1 of “The Romany Outcasts”:

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Amazon
Goodreads
YA urban fantasy
Available with: HarperCollins, HarperCollinsUK, Amazon, AmazonUK, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.

Even if that means life might never be normal again.


Excerpt: 

‘Sebastian, are you still there?’

I transferred my phone to my other hand as I buckled the seatbelt. ‘Yeah, I’m here.’

‘Weren’t you listening to me?’ Katie asked.

I paused, trying to remember what we’d been talking about. The two hours since lunch had been a blur, and my brain was mush. ‘Um . . . ’

Katie sighed on the other end. ‘The project Ms Lucian talked about in class today,’ she continued impatiently. ‘When are we going to work on it?’

‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, starting the engine. ‘The pounding in my head’s making it difficult to think.’

‘Another headache?’

‘You know me and sunny days,’ I said dismissively. I stepped on the gas and coaxed my old van onto the road. ‘But about the project. I don’t know if I can do it this week. Can I get back to you?’

‘Yeah, just don’t wait too long. I know we’ve got almost a month to work on it, so Ms Lucian’s not going to cut us any slack, and the rest of our group is totally avoiding me about the whole thing.’

Katie hated procrastinating on anything related to schoolwork. This was probably killing her. ‘Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to the guys, and we’ll come up with a day to work on it. I promise, we won’t let you down.’

‘Thanks, Sebastian,’ she replied, sounding relieved. ‘You’re not nearly as much of an idiot as the rest of your species.’

I chuckled. ‘I think you mean gender.’

She giggled. ‘No, I don’t.’

‘Talk to you later, Katie.’

‘Bye.’

I tossed the phone on the passenger seat and rubbed my temples. By the time I made it through town and steered my van into the parking lot of the Gypsy Ink, my headache had traveled, setting up residence between my shoulder blades. The last thing I felt like doing was homework.

I shuffled through the waiting room, giving a brief wave to Kris, who was busy behind the counter. I’d grab a quick snack and then lay out flat on the floor of the apartment for a while. Just until the aching eased. I paused in the hallway just outside the door of Hugo’s workspace. I didn’t have to say anything. My brother knew I was there.

‘Hey, Sebastian.’ He glanced up from his sketchbook. ‘What’s up?’

‘Do you have any sports cream?’ I leaned against the wall and squinted as a sharp pain lanced through my shoulders. ‘My back’s killing me.’

Hugo’s brows settled low over his dark eyes. ‘In the drawer beside my bed.’

‘Okay, thanks.’

I continued down the hallway, followed by the weight of my brother’s stare. He probably thought I was trying to get out of work, which wasn’t a bad idea. I chucked my bag on the bed and rummaged through Hugo’s nightstand until I located the tube of medicine. I worked the cream into my back, but it felt as if someone was digging long fingers between my shoulder blades, attempting to separate muscle from bone.

I gave up with the cream and stumbled to the bathroom on a quest for aspirin. Just as I reached for the medicine cabinet, another shock of pain doubled me over. I gripped the edge of the counter and straightened. My gaze flicked to the mirror. For a moment, I almost didn’t recognize the face staring back. I was crazy pale, even for me, and my skin made the hazel color of my eyes look dull. But then I noticed something else. Another chunk of gray was poking through my disheveled hair.


Coming Soon: Shadow, Book 2 of “The Romany Outcasts”

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Digital release date: June 2, 2016

The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.

When stone hearts break they shatter.

Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.

When the Romany gypsies need his help, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But this is no easy task when some of them think he’s as bad as the shadow creatures attacking their camp.

Yet to keep Josephine safe, Sebastian might have to embrace his darker side. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.

Available for Pre-Order:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

 


Excerpt: 

‘My apologies if Caliban hurt you,’ said the man. ‘It’s what he’s trained to do.’

The men lowered their hoods. It was Phillipe and Stephan – two of Quentin’s Marksmen. They watched me with disgusted expressions as I forced myself to stand. My muscles felt like iron cords.

‘You’ve trained him to attack innocent people?’ I snarled, brushing myself off.

‘Of course not,’ Phillipe sneered. ‘He’s trained to attack your kind.’

My kind.

I really hated that phrase.

I examined my arm. The sleeve of my jacket was ripped, but there wasn’t a mark on my gray skin. My eyes widened. Not even a scratch. But it still hurt like crazy, and I rubbed my arm gingerly.

‘It’s fortunate we weren’t out with the rest of the dogs,’ said Stephan with a cold smile. ‘Caliban here is relatively mild-tempered.’

As if on cue, the dog’s muzzle flashed with sharp teeth.

‘Nicolas asked me to come,’ I said evenly.

Stephan tilted his chin. ‘Yes, we know.’

I was about to get an escort, I realized.

‘Come with us,’ Phillipe ordered.

Stephan slid his bow from his shoulder and fitted an arrow to the string. ‘Caliban and I will follow behind. Just as a precaution, of course – in case you start getting any ideas in that ugly gray head of yours.’

Quentin Marks’ welcoming committee was not something I’d anticipated. I gathered my bags, and Phillipe led our unpleasant little party across the Sutallee Bridge. I unconsciously slowed as we passed over the abandoned mine shaft where Josephine and I had taken refuge so long ago. There was a sharp poke in the middle of my back, right between my pent wings.

‘Move it,’ Stephan said, jabbing me again. ‘We’re already late for lunch.’

I fought the insanely strong desire to whirl around and shove the arrow down his throat. Instead, I bit my lip, tasting blood, and picked up my pace. We reached the iron fence that surrounded the Fairgrounds. Phillipe pulled out a ring of keys and opened the I’d assumed everything would look as it had the last time I’d been within the walls of the Circe de Romany. But there were no tents or pavilions. No rides or decorations, either. Only trailers – along with several RVs, trucks, and buses – arranged in a tight circle, right in the middle of the property.

Their configuration created a large open space in the center of the caravan. Tarps were arranged over tables and chairs. A fire pit had been built, and laundry hung from clotheslines spread between trailers. People bustled around the clearing, preparing for the approaching storm. Another peal of thunder echoed overhead. The clouds had thickened, and the sky looked ready to split apart at any moment.

‘Hurry it up,’ said Stephan with another jab to my back. ‘I don’t intend to get wet.’

Lightning flashed. Women scurried to get the clothes off the lines while men anchored the tarps more securely in the ground. Phillipe led me to a small trailer and flung open the door.

‘Get inside.’

The howling wind was motivation enough – even without Stephan’s sharp arrow in my back – and I scampered up the steps. My nose instantly wrinkled at the unpleasant smell. Phillipe caught my look.

‘The dog trailer,’ he said.

‘Just be glad they’re out on patrol,’ said Stephan with a malicious laugh. ‘They’re quite territorial.’

The Marksmen backed me into the stinky enclosure, weapons drawn.

‘We’ll come for you when Nicolas returns,’ said Phillipe. ‘Until then, welcome home.’

With that, he slammed the door, locking me inside.


Bio:

 ChristiJWhitney_Head Shot
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the dramatic. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, geeking out over Doctor Who, and watching superhero movies.

Website      Twitter    Facebook      Goodreads     Instagram


Mini-Interview with Christy J. Whitney:

Q: What drew you to writing?

A: I’ve always loved making up stories in my head, and I used to write quite a bit when I was younger. When I became a high school theatre director, I set writing aside, but I always kept stories in the back of my head. I shared one with some of my students one day, and it rekindled my passion for writing. Being an author and being a theatre director are very similar – both careers have allowed me to create stories and bring them to life, either on the stage or on the page.

Q: Tell us one thing you learned, during research or about craft, while writing your latest book.

A: I learned so much about the Roma culture while doing research for The Romany Outcasts Series, but I also learned how to write for YA. I began as a pretty wordy author in my early days – bogged down with way too much detail. Writing young adult fiction has taught me how to streamline and move the plot and characters along.

Q: What’s next on your To Be Read list?

A: I have way too many books in my TBR pile, but at the top would be An Ember in the Ashes, Mistborn: The Final Empire, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and Thorn Jack.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I was definitely inspired by my former students while writing the first two books of this trilogy. But I love sitting down to read or watch good fantasy and science fiction stories. It always recharges me.

Q: What makes a story interesting to you?

A: Stories with unusual, but believable characters always interest me. I’m a sucker for underdog heroes and endearing, slightly awkward sidekicks. I adore transformation tales and stories of self-discovery. At the end of the day, if I can relate to the characters, then I’m going to keep turning the pages.


 I hope you had fun meeting Christi J. Whitney! Stay tuned for more posts from me and Author Spotlights in the weeks to come!

Author Spotlight: Ismael Manzano

It’s funny. I do these author spotlights every now and then, and while the writers involved are often my friends, I have never done something like this for a person I know better than I know myself, about a book I read in its nascent stages, a story I’d heard about for years in various possible incarnations before it became what it is today. But here I am. My author spotlight today is for my husband, Ismael Manzano, and his novel, Soulless.

Now, below you will find a whole lot of press release type information, and I want you to read it and enjoy it, because it’s good stuff. But before I even get to that, I want to tell you the truth about this book.

I love this book. And not just because it’s my husband’s book. The story is imaginative, and I connected with the characters immediately, particularly the main character, Charlotte. Learning about this world through her eyes has been an exhilarating experience.

But more importantly, I love the writing, the way he weaves words together and takes you on a ride with them. I speak a lot about writing on this blog, but I rarely point out this fact – I am only a writer because I was inspired by Ismael. He not only told me I could, but he challenged me, and he showed me what dedication to the craft looked like, and without him I’d probably still be auditioning for acting jobs with my own stories dancing in my head. I got very lucky. I got to marry my favorite author. And I’m so very pleased to help create some of the fanfare surrounding this book.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about Ismael, and a little about Soulless.


Available Today!

Soulless
by Ismael Manzano

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Synopsis:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need bodies to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible, if you are the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and gives her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of other people. To help them as Trisha had helped her father.

This mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two: get her father’s soul back and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

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Excerpt:

I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger’s seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus.

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body’s reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon | Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Author Bio:

Ismael_Head shotIsmael Manzano was born and raised in New York City, and has lived his entire life in the Bronx, first with his parents, and then with his lovely and talented wife, Justine, and now with their kinetic maelstrom of a child, Logan.

Ismael is an avid reader of fantasy books, and knew at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. He worked his entire life to hone his craft to achieve the goal of removing the prefix, ‘aspiring,’ from his title, and referring to himself as a writer.

He has written many reviews and social commentaries for the web magazine, G-pop.net. Recently, Ismael has found success publishing his short stories, Playing in Shadows, at This Dark Matter and Cold, published in July 2015, at Grey Matter. In 2015, Fantasy Works Publishing signed his Urban Fantasy series, Soul Broker.

Ismael loves watching historical documentaries and listening to audio lectures about Medieval England, Ancient Rome, and Egypt. He considers himself an amateur historian, and has never met a BBC historical drama he didn’t like. One of his favorite things to do is to watch shows like the Tudors and movies like Elizabeth, and try to pick out the discrepancies between fact and fiction. He also hopes to one day solve a Rubix Cube puzzle, but that dream, sadly, seems to be the greatest fantasy of them all.

Website: IsmaelManzano.com

Twitter: @IsmaelManzano76

Facebook: Ismael Manzano – Author