The Eighth Rank Cover Reveal

I love Wattpad’s the blend of community, writing, and self-determination that happens when you post a chapter every week, and I’m so excited to a new series. The Eighth Rank is a fairytale retelling that mixes stories along the lines of Once Upon A Time and The Tenth Kingdom.

More About The Eighth Rank:

When the Queen of Hearts goes missing, Red must stop the Big Bad Wolf from seizing the crown. In this land, magic has a price, one that Red has already paid by losing her memories. While the royals are focused on their own bittersweet dramas, Red finds a strange freedom in not knowing all the classic stories by heart.

She weaves together fractured memories and glimmering spells in hopes that an old treaty can bring peace, but learns the real danger might lie with The Riders, a rebel group willing to kill to protect their own.

Now that you know the details, I hope you are ready for the cover reveal!


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The design is more symbolic than my usual covers, but I think it really takes a snapshot of the story’s heart.  If you are ready to visit this magical world the prologue is up on Wattpad now, and new chapters will be posted weekly at 2 PM PST!

Interview with Author Claudie Arseneault

I’m thrilled to have Claudie Arseneault on the blog today because I so rarely am able to show all the love I want for this growing body of work. City of Strife is a new series coming out soon so I hope you jump on the hype train with me!

Many authors have overarching themes from book to book. For people who are already your fans, or would like to be, in what ways is your newest, City of Strife, like your other works?

The major thing they have in common is the importance of teamwork—of several people all doing their own small part to fight something. I don’t do The One Hero. Viral Airwaves might have Henry as a lead, but a lot of its message is that you can’t stand aside and let others do the work, that “being a hero” really only means doing your best, no matter how small.

City of Strife has a slightly different approach to this. The trilogy’s overarching storyline starts when Diel Dathirii decides to go against the imperialistic enclave that is slowly invading his city’s politics. A lot of his struggle is in how the rest of the city won’t join him, and how alone, he doesn’t have the power to do this.

All of my work has this “don’t fight alone” and “don’t leave anyone behind” feel, and a lot of it also translates into major non-romantic relationships—friends, family (found or otherwise), mentors, etc.

I adore that message and thrilled to see more of it. The first thing that stands out about the book’s blurb is the character’s age. Does Arathiel being older change how you go about writing him? If so, in what ways?

Having elves in a story creates great opportunities to play with age, memories, and maturity. Arathiel is older, true, but this prolonged survival is artificial—most of the hundred thirty years he spent away from Isandor passed in a flash. This creates a huge amount of dissonance for him between the city he knew when he left, and the one he finds upon returning. People he knew back then are dead now… all except the elves.

So those elves do remember him, but they lived that 130 years fully. Arathiel is a lot more distant in their memory, because their lives changed and evolved since. I had to give a lot of thoughts on how I wanted to treat elven longevity in the context of an otherwise human city. It was a lot of fun.

Many fantasy worlds comment on real life organizations or nations, is there any symbolism hidden in your world building?

No? Maybe it’s just that I wouldn’t call it symbolism. I didn’t put anything in it thinking “this is a stand-in for X” and part of that might be because I first imagined this world some 8-9 years ago, and my political awakening was barely beginning at the time.

On the other hand, the parallels are really easy to draw, and I am very aware of them. There’s no denying Isandor is literally lead by a handful of merchants and that these rich peeps will gladly let the poorer folks rot if they can keep living in luxury, including through laws that maintain their status. Then there’s Avenazar… It’s kind of surreal, how the main villain of this is abusive, racist, vengeful, reckless, and easily-provoked. He’s existed for as long as the universe, and much longer than I knew Trump did, but here we are. I’ve had readers comment he should get more of a backstory to explain why he’s like that, but in all honesty, recent US events make me think the shithole racist empire Myria is constitutes all the backstory Avenazar needs.

Fiction has a way of being a bit too real at times… You’ve mentioned there is an all LGBTQIAP+ cast, and I know an aromantic character is included in that lineup. Could you tell us more about this diverse cast?

I could spend a long time talking about that. Isandor is written with a huge cast and many narrating characters (I approached this as a mosaic of point of views). Here’s the secret rule to it: if a character narrates, they’re queer. It’s not always explicit in the first book, but it will be through the trilogy.

But let’s talk about the aromantic and asexual characters! The cool part is that I technically don’t have enough of one hand to count them. Writing this book was like sprinkling the A everywhere. ^^ The most important ones are:

Nevian is a sex-repulsed biromantic asexual nerd. He’s a teenager who constantly deals with abuse (there are massive tw for abuse in this novel, and most of them are tied to Nevian). He’s also resilient, wary, and he loves to be right, even on technicalities.

Cal is both aromantic and asexual, although his aromanticism is the one briefly discussed. Cal is everybody’s friend, he’s a bit of a gossip monster, and although he neither has attraction or really wants a relationship, he loves seeing other fall in love and get together.

Hasryan is demibiromantic and heterosexual. Most of his relationship with his aromanticism is a big ???? because he also has fairly solid trust issues, and as the story starts he can’t be bothered to figure out where one starts and the other finishes. He definitely treasures his close circle of friends, and as the story progresses, there’s a lot of movement in it that leads to more exploration.

Larryn is grey-Ace and bi, though this stays Word of God in the first novel. A friend once called him the Grey-A Rage Baby, and that’s pretty accurate. He’s the owner of Shelter for the homeless, the bastard son of a Dathirii, and perpetually angry at the amount of injustice around him. Which would be great if he dealt with his anger a tad better.

There are more aro and/or ace babies! They become more important later in the trilogy, though, and this is already longer than it should have been sooo, let’s stop here.

Wow, what a huge collection! In a guest post you mention that the book is friendship-centered could you tell us more about the dynamic, and possibly the tension, between Arathiel’s connections to the Dathirii, and the new friends he meets?

A lot of Arathiel’s storyline in City of Strife revolves around trying to find a new place in the city, and the dissonance caused both by what he remembers of Isandor, and what he now discovers of it (this plays on several level, as most of Arathiel’s senses were numbed by what happened to him when he left, adding another distance).

There are… multiple layers of complexity here. His new friends (Cal, Larryn, Hasryan) live in the Lower City, and upon arriving he stays in a Shelter meant for homeless folks (owned by someone who absolutely cannot deal with rich people, no less). His old friends are nobles who live in pretty tower and spend more time discussing trade deals than scrambling for their food. These are two very different lives, and Arathiel’s not sure he can, should, or want to jump back in the old one. Figuring what home means to him and how to reconcile the different parts of it is a huge aspect of his story.

City of Strife’s official cover has just be revealed, can you tell us about the the style, or even feeling you want it to convey with it.

I wanted the city on it. Isandor is a character in and of itself to me, an universe I’ve been building brick by brick for a long time. I asked my cover artist to convey the eclectic feel of the tower, to go wild with the architecture. The end result is gothic towers, lions spitting water, beautiful glasswork, and a fantastic amount of details. Bonus: this is a concept we can reuse with every cover to give them a unified feel while still being quite different!

City of Strife releases on the 22nd! Which is the day after Hello World, it makes me feel hopeful so that such an aggressively a-spec filled book sits next to mine date wise. Last week had the re-release of The Princess Saves Herself In This One and Island of Exiles and now these two being so close to each other is just- well beautiful really.  Make sure you add it to goodreads so you don’t miss Claudie Arseneault’s newest gem.

Announcing Tastes Like Ash

 

 

 

 

 

Guess what I did? I did the thing!

Today I am officially announcing Tastes Like Ash

If there is one thing I seem to enjoy doing, it’s mixing things. Last time, it was video game culture in a novel format. This time we are going on a food blog adventure run by a vampire. First, I’ll give ya the blurb, then below we can check out the cover reveal! It’s a busy day and I hope you are as excited as I am!

About Tastes Like Ash: 

Two teachers, a vampire and a witch, start a food blog…

To be fair, it’s a bit more complicated than that. Terrence Rogers is a vampire stuck in the house all day, hungry, and killing nothing but time. This leads him to the obvious choice, starting a blog about food, history, and life with his fellow teacher and roommate. Written in the style of blog posts, follow along for actual recipes and other paranormal happenings.

And by follow along, I mean prepare for the most interactive story from me to date. Everything will be written from the character’s point of view. The tweets will come from the characters, so will the tumblr posts, and if you are a wattpad user I got you covered, or if you are a more traditional blogger you can sign up here.

Ready for the cover reveal?

….

Tastes Like AshBeautiful, aye?

Now hop over to the blog and learn more about this food loving vampire because this story starts next Friday!

 

Merry interview time with J.M. Frey!

The Untold Tale coverToday I have an amazing interview from author J.M. Frey. We talk about The Untold Tale, fandoms, fic, and other untold tales in life as a writer. But, first let me tell you more about the novel!

About The Untold Tale:
Forsyth Turn is not a hero. Lordling of Turn Hall and Lysse Chipping, yes. Spymaster for the king, certainly. But hero? That’s his older brother’s job, and Kintyre Turn is nothing if not legendary. However, when a raid on the kingdom’s worst criminal results in the rescue of a bafflingly blunt woman, oddly named and even more oddly mannered, Forsyth finds his quaint, sedentary life is turned on its head. Dragged reluctantly into a quest he never expected, and fighting villains that even his brother has never managed to best, Forsyth is forced to confront his own self-shame and the demons that come with always being second-best. And, more than that, when he finally realizes where Lucy came from and why she’s here, he’ll be forced to question not only his place in the world, but the very meaning of his own existence. Smartly crafted, The Untold Tale gives agency to the unlikeliest of heroes: the silenced, the marginalized, and the overlooked. It asks what it really means to be a fan when the worlds you love don’t resemble the world you live in, celebrates the power of the written word, challenges tropes, and shows us what happens when someone stands up and refuses to remain a secondary character in their own life.

No need to wait for Santa, you can get it now! 

Q: The title of The Untold Tale has such a classic feeling. Could you tell us the story of how you settled with that title?JMFrey_Author Photo

A: Oh, gosh, it was a process. I usually don’t title my books right away, so the filenames are generally something really snarky like “The One With The Gay Blue Aliens” (which later became Triptych.)

The Untold Tale was originally “That Meta-Thingy”. After the first draft was done, I started searching the manuscript for a great line or phrase to use. I really liked the titles of books like The Knife of Never Letting Goor Where the Red Fern Grows, and I wanted something like that. But nothing in the book really stood out like that.

I asked friends, asked beta readers, asked my agent. I think at one point I had a list of about fifty possible titles. I finally landed on Between the Lines and really adored that title, but when I Googled it, it turned out to be a Jodi Picault novel. Next I went with Untold, and that’s where the book lived for a few weeks, and then Sarah Rees Brennan released a novel with that title.

I’d already had problems with people mistaking my Triptych for Karen Slaughter’s, so I wanted something unique. In the end, after about a year, my agent and I finally landed on The Untold Tales of Turn, and then in the middle of her shopping the book, I shortened it to simple The Untold Tale, because that’s what the book was, in essence. It’s a tale that hasn’t been told yet.
And boy howdy, the process was just as loopy and frustrating for the next two books in the series, too. The Publisher’s Marketplace announcement lists them as “The Returned Tale” and “The Final Tale” but I didn’t think those were evocative enough. Those were I’m-panicking-and-I-only-came-up-with-these-story-ideas-and-titles-three-days-ago titles. Once I’d actually had the opportunity to discuss the books with my acquiring editor, Kisa Whipkey, and we’d decided what the next two books in the series would really be about, we started brainstorming titles. They ended up being The Forgotten Tale, and The Silenced Tale, and they literally could not be more perfect.

Q: What is your favorite thing about fandoms?

A: For me it’s the sense of community. It’s the tribe of it. I can (and have) look across a room, see a woman with a fan-art printed bag, and know, instantly, that this is a person that I will like and have something in common with. They say watching people read in public is like seeing a book recommend a person. With fandom, it’s the same. It doesn’t matter who you are, what your age, gender expression, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, etc. if you are wearing a Stargate SG1 mission patch on your coat I know in an instant that you are someone that I will get along with.

I also love the creativity that is expressed through fandom. I adore the idea of someone so moved by a story, so engaged that they can no longer simply passively consume it. They must seek out more, and make more. They have to write, or cosplay, or make art, or go to conventions, or RPG online. That’s stunning. And as a creator, that’s flattering as all get out. I really hope that people will be inspired enough by my work to create fanworks. I think there’s no better way of telling an author you love what they wrote.

Q: After studying them for a while, have you noticed a change with how readers either react or interact?

A: Well, I mean, the readers I studied for my MA were all internet-based; I began with research in Yahoo Groups before Tumblr was even a twinkle in its creator’s eyes. And the only really difference I see is that the intense and deeply engaged discussions are happening on public walls instead of in closed-room groups that can sometimes become echo chambers of bias, to their detriment. This means the discussion is open for anyone to jump into.
Now, sometimes this opens the way for bullies, trolls, flamers (do we even use that word any more?) and douchecanoes, and I can absolutely say that I’ve seen a rise in the self-important entitled troll. But I’ve also seen a rise in diverse discussions, where people with differing opinions, or new information are welcomed into the thread and conversation, and their contribution is welcome, celebrated, fairly considered, and replied to politely. And I think that’s fantastic. Discourse can only be augmented by fairly reasoned, well researched, interesting additions. It’s just unfortunate that it’s also been joined by the rise of the entitled whiney trolls.

Q: What advice could you give to people looking to add more diversity into their own stories?

A: Ask yourself “why” more often when you’re creating your characters. For example, “Brian is a straight, white, man.” Okay, but ‘why’? What about this character Brian is inherently straight, or white, or male? Why does Brian have to be any of those things? Why is that the default? Why can’t Brian be Brienne, and not straight, and not white? Will it ruin the story?
The thing is, the world is not homogenous, and groups are not monolith. The default is white, and straight, and male, and it should not be. The white straight male is a sliver of the population of the earth. It’s time to start making art that shows the rest of the human race as well.
And once you’ve decided to make Brian different, be meticulous, fair, and as unbiased in your research as you can be. Figure out what the stereotypes are for Brian’s gender expression, sexuality, ethnicity, etc. and avoid them. Create a whole character, not just a caricature, and do it with as much thought and care as you would any “default setting” character you may write.
And most importantly, do not tell the stories of diverse writers FOR them. Include diverse characters, but don’t co-opt their voices and experiences.

Q: We’ve talked about fanfiction before, what sort of fanfiction would you love to see with your characters or worlds?

A: I tried so hard to write the “how they got together” story for one of the couples in The Untold Tale and every single time I tried to write it down, I could never do what was in my head justice. In the end, it was removed from the book completely because it didn’t work with the novel’s single narrator POV. I would just die with joy if a whole spate of “how they got together” fics sprouted up!

Q: In a few tweets, it’s been mentioned that there is another whole level under what is written that is filled with personal things like “I was on the train when I wrote this scene.” Could you tell us a moment of The Untold Tale that is soaked with one of these memories?

A: What I was talking about that series of tweets was the nostalgia of rereading one’s own writing. Books are intensely personal because there is a lot of the author in not just the story, but because the creative journey is long and laborious, and when we re-read our own work we inevitably are also experiencing the memories of when we wrote that part. We experience not only the book, but where we were when we wrote that bit (or cut it out again). For an author, a book is not just a story. It is also an emotional time capsule of who we were, and where we were when we wrote it.

For me, I think one of the scenes packed with the highest number of emotional moments for me is the ball at Turn Hall in The Untold Tale, where Pip dances with Bevel and Kintyre, and ends up telling them off. That rant was the very first thing I wrote for the book, and it came from an extremely long and infuriating conversation I had with a male friend where I tried to explain to him what it felt like to never be the intended audience. I couldn’t argue with him anymore, I was too emotional, so I fled into my office and ended up writing it all out.

I came back to that scene a lot to recapture Pip’s rage, and so I read it everywhere – on planes, on trains, overseas, under the covers, and out loud at several workshops, coffeehouses, and reading series.

And now there’s a new layer! I was out at a pub listening to the Steel City Rovers play, and they did an instrumental song called Aibhlinn’s Dance.About five bars into the song I burst into tears, and had to hide my face in my sleeves because the song was exactly what I’d had in my mind for the “Waves Upon the Shore Dance”, which Pip and Bevel dance at the ball. I was absolutely slammed with the memories of writing and reading the scene aloud, all at once.

Now when I reread the scene, I hear this song in my head and it makes it even more perfect and emotionally gripping for me.

Q: I know I’m really excited for The Untold Tale, what are some upcoming things you are excited for?

A: SLEEP! No, seriously, I really am looking forward to that. I’ve been really pushing myself to finish a few more projects before the release of The Untold Tale so I can just enjoy the celebrations. (As soon as I finish this interview with you, I am rushing straight back to a screenplay that is THIS CLOSE to being done.)

In terms of stories, I’m pumped for Captain America: Civil War and the Sherlock: The Abominable Bride. And of course I hang on every page of Meagan Kearney’s Beauty and the Beast, and series two of The Riftworld Chronicles, if it ever happens.

And I’m super excited to share the #SecretScreenplay project with everyone, once it’s complete and I can tell!

Need more of author J.M. Frey? | Website | Tumblr | Twitter

Sachael Desires Soundtrack

Today I sadly have no puns for you. I do however have the soundtrack to Melody Winter’s Sachael Desires so that’s better anyways! And remember Sachael Desires is now available and you can still enter this huge giveaway!

SD2 SONG LIST

Even better than jamming out to some of these killer song choices is the why behind them.

Take That – Rule the World 
The overall theme for Sachael Desires. To me, this is all about how Azariah feel’s about Estelle. It also hints at what’s to come.

Nickleback – If Everyone Cared 
A great song for a moment a chapter that see’s Estelle struggling with other people’s reactions. She doesn’t always agree with the ways in which Sachaels live.

OMD – Our System
I love this song and it fits the moment when Estelle and Azariah prepare for the full moon submergence.

Ben Montague – Miracle 
The perfect song for the perfect moment between Azariah and Estelle.

Linkin Park – The Catalyst 
The Ultimate song about war and revenge. Here comes Orontes!

Evanescence – Secret Door 
When I listen to this I always imagine that I’m under water, traveling to a place that is hidden away from anyone who doesn’t know it exists.

Melanie C – Stupid Game 
Kaimi’s song. This is the song that makes me think of how Estelle would approach him.

Metric – Good Guns Girls 
Another fast and upbeat song which fits the moment when Estelle has more decisions to make.

Enya – Stars and Midnight Blue 
I always think of Enya when I write submergence scenes. The haunting and melodic tunes always transport me to the magic that surrounds Estelle on these nights.

30 Seconds to Mars – Stranger in a Strange Land 
A song that grinds along, threatening what you’re going to do with your enemy. Be careful Orontes!

Paramore – We are Broken
When the person you love is so damaged and broken, they break you as well. The ultimate song for broken hearts.

Bailey Tzuke – Strong 
Quite the reverse of the previous song. The lyrics to this are a wonderful fit for one of the final chapters of Sachael Desires. In the end, when you have a love that’s strong, nothing can break it.

*Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for any songs getting stuck in your head

Dive into Sachael Desires!

Will I get tired of that pun? That answer is no.  Check out the trailer before I think of another!

During her ordeal with the Sect, Estelle Bailey dreamt of escaping back into the arms of the sea—and Azariah. But freedom came at a price, and though she’s back with the Sachael who’s stolen her heart, she’s also land-bound until the next full moon. And with the threat of Orontes looming ever larger behind them, Azariah, Estelle, and Michael—her once-captor turned rescuer and friend—are on the run.  Following Michael’s lead, they seek sanctuary amidst the natural beauty of the Orkney and Shetland Islands until Estelle can complete her next submergence ritual and Azariah can whisk her away to the safety of Saicean.  ​ ​ Secrets, betrayals, and old enemies await them, though, and as events spiral out of control, Azariah makes a decision that puts all their lives at risk, forcing Estelle to face a journey she never wanted to take. With time running out and tempers running high, her only hope to save the man she loves lies in a reconciliation between two kingdoms who despise each other.

Book Two in the Mine Series, Sachael Desires further expands on the intricate underwater world of the Sachaels, and the hostility and isolation of not belonging.​ | Get your copy today!

But, wait there is more~ You can win all of this! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You wouldn’t want to swim away from that chance!
That was really bad, I’ll let you all go read now. 📚