Category Archives: Books

All Is Quiet, Or Is It?

I realized that if you’re following me solely on my website that it’s been fairly quiet the last few weeks. You might assume that means not much is happening, picture me lounging on the couch, sipping an adult beverage. Eating bon bons. If only that were true!

The lull in updates and commentary here indicates a far different situation. Once again, I might or might not have embarked on more than I can keep up with. How is this possible? I was just as involved with a writing organization last year as I am now with my new President gig. My day job isn’t any more demanding than last year. My husband doesn’t work nights anymore so with him here at night to take some of the load I should be ahead of the game. I learned how to say No! So what the hell is going on?

SCSteamfest-ARGH

I forgot one giant detail. I didn’t have to do the Dance Mom thing with Big Sister last year. It was bliss which I did not appreciate and now is gone. Welcome back twelve to eighteen HOUR days, every weekend, sitting on bleachers in high school gymnasiums. I could write during that time. Except I’ll have a six year old in tow, who wants to follow in her sister’s footsteps next year, and will have to be entertained. I still hold out hope I can get some extra writing in over the next two months of dance season, even if it means shoving an electronic device in her line of vision to accomplish it.

I have a deadline – self imposed but still a deadline – to get my novel drafted by May. Not only because I want to pitch it to a publisher – a hand-picked publisher via an inside track with one of their editors – who will be a World Horror Con. Which is a big enough reason alone. But, I also need to go back to school and finish my degree so it doesn’t hinder me with the day job anymore. I know I can’t write and be a college student at the same time. I assume it will only take me six months to finish my degree. In that time I could be shopping the novel around for a home. Querying doesn’t take as many hours, right? Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Call me a dreamer.

I haven’t fully committed to the school thing and logistics are far from being worked out on both the scheduling and the financial fronts but it keeps coming up. I think it’s the Universe pushing me into action. To test my theory, or so I tell myself when I wonder why I didn’t say no to this one, I enrolled in a month-long workshop with three classes a week AND homework this month. No, I did not know it was that intense when I enrolled (on a whim of course).  It’s a fabulous workshop taught by a very successful author about the art of revision. The knowledge will not be wasted and I’ll know if I am capable of adding the school insanity if I survive the month and keep up with everything else in life. I’ll let you know how that goes.

If I’m quiet here, know it isn’t because I don’t have anything going on. It’s because I have too much going on and I’m working hard to get a novel out for those of you who keep clamoring for more, more, more. (Something I only ever dreamed of.) In the meantime, if you’ve picked up a copy of “It Came From the Great Salt Lake” and liked my story, I’d love it if you left a review so other people could stumble across it, too.

Thanks as always for sharing this journey with me!


Cover Reveal – It Came From The Great Salt Lake: A Collection of Utah Horror

My publisher revealed this glorious cover yesterday and I am even more excited now for the upcoming release. It is gorgeous and haunting and mysterious. But best of all is seeing my name on the cover. (Call me narcissistic but it’s a first so I’m going to celebrate it!)

UHWA2015-cover via Facebook

The cover artist is Carter Reid, creator of The Zombie Nation web comic.

One of the unique elements of this anthology is that every author either is from, or has lived in, Utah – including the cover artist. The theme draws every story together around one of the most recognizable and distinguishable landmarks in the state but the stories are still extremely diverse, showcasing some amazing talent the state houses. I can’t wait for you all to read it!

In a creepy side note that thrills me beyond compare… I am the thirteenth story in the collection. My lucky number!


Book List Archive 2015

Time for the yearly round up and archive of my efforts to remain a well-read person. This year I did not reach my goal but I did read a lot of really great books. Here they are, all summed up, for your reading pleasure. And in reverse chronological order because my OCD did not win that fight – this time.

  • The Innocent, Harlan Coben (Book Club) – a light yet entertaining whodunit perfect for the beach or a long weekend. The ending was satisfying although pieces of the story were a tad predictable.
  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt – one of the best books I read all year which definitely lived up to all the hype I had heard about it. There are very bleak elements that leave you feeling grateful for the life you have since they are painted so authentically through the characters. A truly phenomenal book that everyone should read!
  • The Phantom of the Opera, Gaston Laroux (Book Club) – a classic that I hadn’t read. I probably would have put it down had it not been a book club pick. I just can’t get into period pieces that old but still I’m glad I read it.
  • The Good Girl, Mary Kubica – also a good read but only because of how it was written. I found myself trying to solve the mystery of “before or after WHAT” all the way through. The ending was very satisfying. A great read for anyone who likes a whodunit.
  • The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins – one of the best reads of the year. Finally a smart, adult novel with twists I didn’t see coming and characters with real depth. It kept me guessing to the end and I recommend it now to everyone who asks.
  • Birthmarked, Caragh M. O’Brien (Book Club) – a light and easy read that left me wanting far more details than were given since it was written for the superficial YA market who doesn’t demand it. Such a shame!
  • All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr – had so much potential but, just like most novels set in the WWII era, left me feeling bleak and unfulfilled. I think it’s safe to say this is not one of my favorite genres.
  • The Fold, Peter Clines – I picked this up because I recognized the author’s name from the best scifi book I’d read the last year or so. Little did I know it was a continuation of that story which had stuck with me so much. Very enjoyable read!
  • The Paper Magician, Charlie N. Holmberg – I disliked this book so much. It was very clearly written for a YA audience who cannot think critically for themselves. The concepts were intriguing but not enough detail was given for anything to be plausible and the whole thing left me feeling insulted. My daughter probably would have liked it when she was eleven. To be fair, that’s probably the intended market so there’s that.
  • Warbreaker, Brandon Sanderson – a great stand-alone read from the master of epic fantasy. He is still one of my all-time favorite authors.
  • Mao’s Last Dancer, Li Cunxin (Book Club) – it was interesting to see how poor Chinese live but the book overall was not a very compelling one.
  • Mr Mercedes, Stephen King – a good old horror novel by one of my favorite authors.
  • Being Mortal, Atul Gawande – a fantastic book about living on our own terms and dying the same way. Every person everywhere should read this book. I expected it to be a social commentary about the current hot topic of Physician Assisted Suicide or The Right to Die which I was also expected to hate. What I got instead was one of the best books about one of the hardest topics any of us will ever face. I wish I’d read this book before my Mom passed away…
  • Celeste, The Unseen #2, Johnny Worthen (ARC) – the much anticipated sequel to Eleanor which did not disappoint. Except for the fact that the third is not released yet and so I must wait.
  • The Wise Man’s Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2), Patrick Rothfuss – a much anticipated sequel that fell short for me and felt disappointingly like a setup book for the third one.
  • Altered Perceptions, short stories to benefit mental health – I bought this as part of a crowd fund campaign to benefit a local author suffering with a mental health disorder. It is a collection of well-known authors with either deleted scenes or unpublished works. I got it for the Brandon Sanderson early draft of The Way of Kings. And THEN…. It was by far one of the BEST books I’ve read in a long time. Not because of the stories themselves, but because every author included a personal essay about how mental health had touched their lives in some way. Every person everywhere should read this book! Better yet, they should just publish the author essays and that is what everyone should read. Seriously, go read this book.
  • The Brand Demand, Johnny Worthen – FABULOUS social satire set in Salt Lake City so it felt like all the politics and struggles were real. One of my favorite books of the year.
  • Bog Child, Siobhan Dowd (Book Club) – a novel set around the time of the IRA in Ireland with some interesting facts about archaeology.
  • ITIL Service Strategy – a brutal course but I passed the exam and am now certified!
  • The Dovekeepers, Alice Hoffman (Book Club) – an interesting novelization of ancient Christianity with strong female characters. I wanted to hate it but it was a good read.
  • The Archangel Agenda, A.K. Alexander & Jen Greyson – this was a light and semi-steamy read but felt like a serialized novel where just the first act of the story was included and you had to buy the second (and probably third) to get the entire story. Apparently that’s the “in” thing now for Kindle readers?
  • Cutting For Stone, Abraham Verghese (Book Club) – a very slow burn but a fantastic read with a killer ending.
  • Firefight, Brandon Sanderson – much anticipated sequel to Steelheart which Hubby and I both loved.
  • Pretty Things, Christine Haggerty – a novella retelling of a Grimm Fairytale. I’m not a huge fan of the fairy tale but this was not a bad read. Not as Grimm or as dark as I had anticipated and it was very short.

It was disappointing to count and realize I only finished twenty four books of the forty total I set out to read this year. That’s an average of two books a month which is better than years past when I struggled just to finish the book club pick each month. I consume most of my books on Audible which means this small list represents the amount of time I had over the year where it was possible to multi-task. Because of that, it still feels like an overall accomplishment for the year. Here’s to bettering it next year!


Cover Reveal: The Finger Trap by Johnny Worthen

The genre will never be the same… one of my favorite authors jumps into the noir detective pool with his latest book. I want to read it based solely on the beautiful cover.

TFTCover

Because I know it is hard these days to judge a book JUST by the cover, here’s the blurb:

With wit and humor, this modern mystery is a refreshing spin on the noir detective genre

Tony Flaner is a malingering, part-time comedian who is full of sarcasm and never finished a thing in his life. He’s had 12 years to prepare for his divorce and didn’t. He had his entire life to choose a career and hasn’t. Now time’s up, and he’s in a world of trouble. But all of that changes when Tony takes a first date to a drunken party and ends with him facing prison for the murder of a girl he hardly knew. To save himself, wise-cracking Tony must discover who the mysterious girl was, what she was involved in, and what the hell she saw in him in the first place.

Let me tell you, I’ve been hearing about this story – the first in a series – for almost a year and I am dying for my own copy.

Pre-order your copy here!


Cover reveal: Black Jack by Mikki Kells

Mikki Kells is a very hip fellow author and friend. When she asked me if I’d help spread the word about her new book coming soon with a cover reveal, I agreed.

Black Jack Cover

It is a second book so don’t read the synopsis if you don’t want tiny hints of spoilers… Seriously, you’ve been warned (but it sounds ubber cool so just read it anyway!)

Melanie S’velare is a survivor, the strongest witch in her coven, and a princess. With the key to her magic, the Ace of Hearts, presumably destroyed, her powers continue to grow. As her power increases, her control on them becomes weaker until it is clear she may be the most powerful witch on the planet and the most dangerous. The Alaman, another coven, concerned by her strength, send an ambassador to gauge her control, stability, and how dangerous she truly is. The Alaman are well known for killing witches who pose a threat to their own powerful hold over the globe and if they see fit to end her life, she will have no choice but to fight.

With her soulmate by her side and the remains of her Vanguard, Melanie strives to maneuver a maze of political scandals designed to make her falter. If she fails, she will not only lose her throne to the traitorous Lord Rossi, but also her life to the fiery Alaman.

Melanie can only pray her secret that the Ace of Hearts is alive and manipulating them all in a final deadly game is never revealed.

 

Black Jack book two in the Ace of Hearts series will be released July 2015.

 

headshot Mikki Kells

Mikki Kells is both a writer and a rider. She spends her nights crafting fantastical stories and her afternoons bowing to the demands of her beloved horse. Her interests in fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal stories developed from a childhood of imaginary exploits and continue to influence her professional career. She resides in central Utah.

To check out book one in the series go here: http://www.amazon.com/Ace-Hearts-1-Mikki-Kells/dp/0615885055

 

 

Follow Mikki for more news, contests, and extras.

www.mikkikells.com

Twitter/Instagram: @mikkikells

Blog: www.mikkikells.tumblr.com


Interview: Adrienne Monson

Today I have the pleasure of talking with fellow author, Adrienne Monson, about her new book Defiance releasing later this month.

 

Defiance HighRes

Leisha and Samantha barely survived. Now, an explosive battle between the vampires and immortals seems imminent. It’s more important than ever before that the prophecy child is found, but there’s a problem—Leisha has lost her powers. She seems like nothing more than a human. Her newfound humanity is further complicated when Tafari, her old lover, appears with a desire for reconciliation. Can Leisha lock up the past to save those she loves, or will fate tear everything from her once again?

 

 

 

 

Where did your idea for Defiance come from?

I’ve had a fascination with vampires since I was 11. It was inevitable that the first story I write included these mythical creatures, with my own personal twist to them.

Many argue the trend in vampire novels have come and gone. What makes yours different from the rest?

Like everything else, the market for vampires does a roller coaster. But even on the downward slope, there’s fans that will always pick it up. My vampires are unique in many ways, one of which is the story talks about how they came into existence in the first place using Voodoo magic.

What is your secret to balancing romance without cliche?

If you have a strong plot and three-dimensional characters, the romance will just work. It’s when an author forces a romance that a reader doesn’t really feel that it becomes cliche.

What’s the key to writing a second book in a series?

Have the end in mind. Even if you plan on writing a 12 book series, always know exactly where everyone is going to end up at the end. Hopefully, if you do that, all the previous books will flow together.

How long did it take you to write Defiance?

One year. Someday I’ll get as good as some other authors I know and pop out a new book every couple months. Someday…

Adrienne Author - 3650What is your writing process? Where and when do you write?

I have young kids at home, so it’s dicey to have that time. I generally wait until the kids are in bed, which gives me a solid two hours a night. I also have an amazing critique group, and we go on writers retreats twice a year. It’s amazing how much I write during those trips!

What is your favorite part of being an author?

Interacting with the readers! I’ve gotten some amazing messages online from fans and it’s always a blast to meet more readers at book signings. They keep me going on the days I feel like throwing in the towel.

Least favorite?

Actually sitting my butt in the chair to write. Maybe I chose the wrong career… 😉

How did you go from aspiring writer to published author?

It’s really about keeping your eyes open for opportunities and taking it when they come along. I kept going to writers conferences, joined writing groups and critique groups. I immersed myself in the industry as much as possible and worked on improving my craft while seeking opportunities. One day, it paid off!

Any advice for other aspiring writers?

Join an awesome critique group with other writers that will tell you what’s what. Keep an open mind and don’t get defensive about your work. If people are putting in the time to give you feedback, recognize it. It doesn’t mean that they’re right – that’s up to you to decide. But make sure you listen with an open mind before you disagree.

Keep writing. Keep seeking opportunities and don’t give up!

What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned so far on your journey?

That people actually like my books. I know it sounds silly, but I’m critical and insecure when it comes to my craft. I handle criticism from others better than compliments. So I was actually surprised that people really like what I write! (And I have to remind myself of that sometimes.)

Where can readers find and connect with you?

If you’re in the Salt Lake area, don’t miss the launch party for Defiance! Come get your book signed by the author, win door prizes (signed books, gift cards to restaurants and Amazon) and have a great time.

When: February 28, 2015 from 2:00 – 5:00 PM

Where: Barnes & Noble – Sugarhouse

1104 East 2100 South, Salt Lake City UT

http://www.adriennemonson.com/

https://twitter.com/#!/adriennemonson

https://www.amazon.com/author/adriennemonson

https://www.facebook.com/adriennemonson

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6584385.Adrienne_Monson

 


Secrets & Doors: My Personal Irony

I love being part of the Secret Door Society. The vision of giving back to the world appeals to me on many levels. This project isn’t just about getting a publishing credential or selling books. And when you buy a copy, it isn’t just about buying another book. It’s about helping make a difference; making the world a better place. Secrets & Doors is significant for me as a debut author. Wherever the rest of my career takes me, this will always be my first; the culmination of toil and hard work that started with my love of reading way back when I was a child, thanks to my mom.

The irony of Secrets & Doors for me also lies with my mom. All proceeds – from both the authors as well as Crimson Edge Publishing – are being donated to diabetes research. After decades of suffering from this horrible disease, my mom died just five months before my first published work would help rid the world of it. Wherever the rest of my career takes me, this one will always be dedicated to her.

Mom - pic from FB

How does one die of diabetes? In more ways than a horror writer can imagine. Cardiovascular disease, stroke, and kidney failure are the most serious long-term complications. Diabetes also damages the nerves, can lead to amputation of limbs and muscle wasting diseases, damages the eyes and affects every organ system if left untreated. In my mom’s case, it led to liver disease and kidney failure which took her from us at the arguably young age of sixty-five.

Imagine a world where no more moms died of diabetes. No more kids had to take daily injections of insulin to survive. Projects like this are just the beginning for the Secret Door Society but none will have such a personal impact for me like Secrets & Doors. Thanks for letting me be a part of it!


Another Interview for Secrets & Doors

Another stop on the blog tour took me to visit the lovely Kathy Jones and an interview that peeks into my writing process.

Author Interview with Terra Luft part of the Secrets & Doors short story collection

Thanks to Kathy for hosting me!

 


My First Interview as an Author

Check out this very insightful interview over at Amy Bank’s blog today.

My Interview with Author Terra Luft

It was fun to be the author interviewed rather than doing the interview (and hoping someday someone would want to interview me). Thanks for having me, Amy!


Setting the Scene in a Small Piece

Let’s talk short fiction for a minute. I learned so much about writing any length piece by writing short stories. For the Secrets & Doors blog tour, each author is discussing an aspect of writing. Writing is far more difficult when each sentence must do more than one thing since you can’t devote an entire sentence to each aspect of the writing. The old adage of “choose your words wisely” applies especially to short fiction. Set a tone, build characters, set the stage, provide necessary information for the reader to move the plot forward – all of these can be done with an economy of words.

Reflection is a sci-fi dystopian story where the people of Earth have been living on another planet after fleeing a threat that is still searching for them. In order to protect themselves, they hid the truth in rules that over generations have become folklore and superstition. It was originally written as a novelette at eight thousand words. Far too long for the submission guidelines for this project. Cutting more than half the words while conveying an alien world and telling the story was challenging. When setting this particular scene, I found it most effective not to point out every detail but, instead, to note those things that were different from our world. The sky that isn’t blue, the absence of tall mountains, and that it rarely rains become significant. Contrasting these differences with what the reader knows already from his own experience highlights them, creating the backdrop of the story.

Choosing your words wisely is true in individual scenes as well. I am a novel writer which means I can use lots of words. But I don’t have to. Instead of saying he turned and picked up a box, he just picked it up. My writing group called me Verbose Girl because in the early days I had a tendency to write a lot to make sure I fully explained every detail. It didn’t always translate to the reader as I wanted it to. The truth is, even novel writing is better when you use an economy of words like a smaller piece. The last thing you want is your reader to get bogged down. The tighter the language, the more engrossing the story becomes.

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