Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review Time!

Well, the time has come. My review of "The Burning of Cherry Hill" has been published on ACReads! Hopefully, this will be the first of many! Be sure to check it out!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Liar Liar

Alright, you caught me. I'm a damned liar. This is not "tonight" but actually more than a week later...The sad thing? I actually have lots to say! Well, kind of.

Let's see if I can quit singing along to the new(ish) Fall Out Boy album long enough to write this...

The first thing I would like to announce is that I've agreed (more like I begged) to do some guest reviews on the blog ACReads. I'm very excited for the opportunity. As any reader of this blog knows, I'm not the best at posting regularly. I'm hoping silly things like deadlines, etc.. will help push me to write more updates and such. My first review will be posted Sunday July, 28th, so check it out!

And in relation to that--cue excellent segue--the first book I'm reviewing is "The Burning of Cherry Hill," the winner of this year's Indie Reader Discovery Awards. The same award for which "Benajah's Keeper" was named winner in the paranormal category! 

IndieReader is a website dedicated entirely to independently published books, striving to prove that there is quality self published literature out there. They do reviews (you can read mine here) and interviews, work with industry professionals, and run various contests throughout the year. 

Being named a category winner is a great honor! I've already been featured in an online USAToday article, in addition to seeing "Benajah's Keeper" on the front page of their website for a week. I can't express my gratitude! 

Also in award news, "Benajah's Keeper" was given "honorable mention" in the Fantasy category for ForeWord Review's Book of the Year Award! I can't remember if I mentioned this in an earlier post, but in case I didn't, the book was named as a finalist in both the Romance and Fantasy categories. I would have been happy with just be given an honorable mention (in a category my book doesn't neatly fall in to) far exceeded my expectations!

Hopefully, in addition to some presence at all the big book fairs this summer, all this good press will grab someone's attention. If not, I shall plug on, ever determined.

And finally, I just wanted to give a shout out to all of the excellent reviewers/bookish people I've talked to over the past month. You guys have all been great, and it's been a real treat to hear what everyone has to say about the book! Thank you all so, so much!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Checking In

Alright, this is going to be quick (for now). Just wanted to let everyone know that I guest wrote the Top Ten Tuesday on ACReads! The topic this week is Best/Worst fiction into film, so be sure to check out my answers and add your own. I'm sure the conversation will be scintillating. You can find it here.

That's all for now, but I will hopefully be back later tonight with updates and all that jazz. Now, time for a shower and then work. Blech.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

What's Better Than Romance?

Bromance, that’s what. Yeah, you heard me. No, don’t argue. It’s way better. Shush.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve done a bit of reading in the past few weeks. Probably the most influential—to the point that I’m already re-reading it—were the "Infernal Devices" books. If you haven’t read them and you like paranormal, adventure-y, steam-punky sort of books, I highly recommend them. They will eat your life away, I promise.

With that introduction (shameless plug, really) out of the way, I would really like to talk about bromance. Because there was some major bromance going on between Will and Jem. Heart jerking, tear inducing bromance. And I enjoyed every second of it.

For those wondering what bromance is exactly, Urban Dictionary—a VERY reputable source, I know—says it is “the complicated love and affection shared by two straight males.” However, bromance, to my understanding, is a fairly new term. And finding literary bromances was not all that easy at first. 

TV and movies have TONS of them. Shawn and Gus of "Pysch", JD and Turk ("Scrubs"). Julie Plec said once in an interview about "The Vampire Diaries" that her vision for the show is not about Elena’s various relationships but focused on the ups and downs of the Salvatore’s brittle brotherly love. Then, of course, there are the characters of Jason Segel and Paul Rudd in “I Love You, Man.” It’s everywhere in our culture.

Here are a few of the literary bromances I (with the help of others) came up with:

Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley- Yeah, I’m pulling the “Harry Potter” card early. But really, I can’t help myself. Harry Potter was my childhood; I grew up with Harry and his pals. When I think of how a friendship should be, tumult included, I think of Harry and Ron. The fact that they are both male just makes it that much better.

Howl and Calcifer- I don’t think I’ve ranted about how much I love, love, love Diana Wynne Jones’ “Howl’s Moving Castle” on here. It’s my go to book whenever I want to read, but I don’t want to invest myself into something new. And despite reading it a million times, it still manages to keep me on my toes. Pretty great for a “kid’s” book.

I think one of the reasons I love it so much is because of Howl and Calcifer’s relationship. Calcifer is the only one who understands (mostly) why Howl is the way he is. While he might not be all that helpful—and somewhat self-serving—in aiding Sophie to break Howl’s curse, he does care about my favorite literary Welshman quite a bit. I mean, who wouldn’t want a fire demon/fallen star as your best friend?

(I feel like now is the time to add that Will Herondale, mentioned above, is also a Welshman, looks like Howl, and has a best friend that puts up with his “people issues.” I see you, Cassandra Clare, I see you. Maybe.)

Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt- A friend of mine and I debated for some time over whether or not these two vamps have a true bromance. Granted, there is a lot of sexual tension between dear Louis and Lestat, but there’s a lot of sexual tension across the entirety of “The Vampire Chronicles.” Like, every character. Either way, sexual or not, these boys definitely have a complicated relationship.

Romeo and Mercutio- Thanks to Baz Luhrmann, I will never be able to envision Mercutio as anything other than a black man in drag. That does not, however, change that Romeo and Mercutio’s relationship is totally bromantic. Even Shakespeare had it in him, guys!

A third of the Fellowship of the Ring- Sam and Frodo, duh. Merry and Pippin, hell yes. Legolas and Gimli, two total opposites brought together by battle and a common goal? Psh, now we’re talking. What I love about all three of these bromances is that each individual would go to the end of Middle-earth (and do…) for their other half. Bromance, pure and simple.

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson- A good bromance should be a frustrating one. One that you could never, ever live without. But should you want to strangle your “other half” on a daily basis, fear not. As long as you’re there to pick him up out of the gutter when it’s all over, you’re still the best friend a guy could ask for.

I could go on for hours. Calvin and Hobbes (adorable), the gentlemen from Count of Monte Cristo (a bromance turned sour), Loras and Renley from Game of Thrones (debatable), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (hilarious), Sixsmith and Frobisher (though definitely intimate) in Cloud Atlas, and I like to think (though you don’t get too much of it in the actual text) that Messiah and Zak have a pretty bro-tastic relationship…the list keeps going, trust me.

So, who are your favorite bromances? Why do you think bromance is so popular in our culture? Thoughts? 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Confessions Of A Serial Reader

For those of you who do not know me, it is important to know that I am a "serial reader." I very rarely read stand-alone books. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, I just find myself more interested in stories that carry over several volumes, or at least have familiar characters or the same “world.”

Now, when I say “interested," I really mean “obsessed.” Tragically obsessed. To the point where I don’t stop reading until every page has been read. While I won’t go into all the reasons that this is actually a charming characteristic (I will not defend myself!), I do want to note some of the reasons it can be harmful.

It hurts the pocket book:

Personally, I don’t think I spend all that much money on literature. I know for a fact that there are people who are far worse than I when it comes to buying books. Generally, I try not to buy Kindle versions (of anything) that are more than $5, and, generally, I’m good about keeping to it.

My problem is that I have no issue throwing down any amount of money when it comes to series books. If I read a book and liked it and there are more of them, I can almost guarantee that I will by all of them. Instantly. It doesn’t register that I just spent $60 on books until I get the email bulleting my purchases. Oops.

And before anyone says anything, I’ve tried the library. I’m just too impatient. Damn you, instant gratification!

It hurts the love life:

Nothing gross, guys. Okay, maybe a little bit. Point is, my boyfriends HATES it when I become engrossed in a new series. Mostly because he knows that he will not be having any conversations/snuggle time/quality time of any sort until I resurface once finished. While, I’d really like to hold this against him, I suppose I can’t. Not really, at least.

I feel like I should note, however, that during my last spell of bad girlfriend-ness, he bought me a Kindle Paperwhite. Now he can’t even turn off the lights to get me to stop reading. He must really love me.

Most importantly, you start to notice all of the words/phrases an author uses over and over again:

I will give some examples: in Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series, Ash is always “raking” a hand through his hair; Cassandra Clare’s characters (The Mortal Instruments and The Infernal Devices) all have “bow lips,” insanely angular cheekbones, and “unhitch” themselves from walls and doorways; Harry Potter “stops dead” more often than not; and in Game of Thrones everyone’s insides “turn to water” in intense situations.  

I don’t know who to be upset with. Is this an editorial issue? Is the author’s fault for not noticing the recycled and over used phrases? Or is it my fault for reading the series at an all-consuming pace? It might be because I also write—and, by no means, I am not above this sort of “mistake.” I am equally (if not more so) guilty as any of these authors. Hell, I’m bad enough within the confines of this blog.

All in all, it doesn’t really matter. I enjoyed all of the series listed above immensely. If I hadn’t, you wouldn’t be hearing about them.

So question(s) of the day: What are your favorite books series’? Do you read them in measured doses or like the world is falling down around your head? Have you ever noticed annoying repeats? WHO-WHAT-WHEN-WHERE-WHY-NOW!

All I Seem To Do Is Fall Behind

Well. It’s been…four weeks since my last post? A crappy post at that. To say I have no excuses would not be exactly true—I do, but I seem to give nothing but excuses here. House, blah blah blah, weddings (not mine), blah blah blah, reading 8 books in the course of two weeks, blah blah blah. It gets monotonous, eh?

But guess what? You’ll get to hear all about it in the next few days. Because I’m making up for lost time, damn it. And you’ll like it.

So, stay tuned for actual content. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


I don't really feel like writing a blog post today, but as I promised myself I would write one a week, I will do so anyway.

Not much to report. Work has been hectic. Construction on the new (old) house my boyfriend and I bought started on Tuesday. Book two is moving along splendidly.

That is when I actually get a moment to sit down and write...and it doesn't end with me staring at the computer screen.

Like now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At a multi-media blog post. Should be simple, riiiight? Let's hope my internet skills don't fail me. Fingers crossed.


Today I would like to share some of the musical inspirations behind "Benajah's Keeper." I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's a soundtrack--I originally tried to find a song for each chapter, didn't work.  I will say that if the book were ever produced into another medium (movie, nudge nudge), these are the songs/artists I would hope/beg/demand were included. 

Either way, each of these songs have significant value. To me they not only represent Evanna, her comrades, and many of the themes woven throughout the book, but they have pulled me out of numerous writing ruts. Sometimes all it takes is a listen. And I think that's just great.   

So here we go, kind-of-sort-of in listening order:

1) Spectrum- Florence + the Machine; Ceremonials

This song pretty much sums up how I imagine Genesis. Oddly enough, I wrote that bit way before I heard this song, and if I'm being honest, I really hated the song originally. But the more I listened to it, the more I identified with it. Or, I guess, the more I identified the story with it? 

I should note that Florence is probably my most favorite performer/musical act right now. I'm kind of obsessed. The fact that I chose one of my least favorite songs of hers for this list...yeah, she just that awesome. 

"When we first came here,
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin,
We were light and paper-thin.
And when we first came here,
We were cold and we were clear
With no colors on our skin
'Til you let the spectrum in.

Say my name,
And every color illuminates.
We are shining,
And we'll never be afraid again."

2) Half a Week Before the Winter- Vanessa Carlton; Harmonium

Vanessa Carlton is a guilty pleasure of mine. What can I say? I'm a sucker for piano. Side note: the other day a girl at worked asked who sang "A Thousand Miles" (legitimately did not know). I was flabbergasted, mostly because that song is SO overplayed. But then I thought about it...and realized that I'm old. That song came out when I was in 8th or 9th grade. Lame. 

This song, however, is one that you don't hear at every grocery store or home improvement center on a daily basis (ahem). It's a bit haunting in sound, different from her more pop-y stuff. And I feel like it's a good introduction to Keeper and Evanna. Kind of sums up their relationship. 

"He sits behind a desk of mahogany,
He whispers dreams into my ear.
And though I've given him his empire, 
He delivers me my fear."

3) Scarborough Fair

This is really just a general suggestion. I'm not a big fan of the Simon and Garfunkel version (even though it's the one I'm linking), and ultimately, if I had my way, Florence would be doing a cover. But that's a long shot. 

I mentioned it last post, but this is the song that gives Messiah his last name. I've always been fond of it--I used to drive my parents nuts playing it over and over and over on the piano. That and Greensleeves, but I digress. No matter what version, male or female vocalist, etc... the important part about this old folk song are the lyrics. Two people have been separated and only a series of impossible tasks will bring them back together. And it's wistful in a lost love/memory sort of way, so there's that.

I imagine this playing in most of the dream sequences, in case you were wondering. 

"Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parlsey, sage, rosemary, and thyme.
Remember me to the lass who goes there,
For she was once a true love of mine."

4) A really awesome mashup

Again, just a general suggestion, but if someone were to make mashup of Katy Perry's "ET," Lady Gaga's "Monster," and Ke$ha's "Blow," the end result would be the music playing at the club/party that Evanna first meets Rian and Messiah. Despite being pop, all three songs have characteristics that remind of Rian. Being fun helps, too. 

So who loves me enough to do it? 

Instead, I give you this mashup:


5) Fear and Loathing- Marina and the Diamonds; Electra Heart

A friend of mine turned me on to Marina and the Diamonds. If you haven't given her a listen, I highly recommend it. So fun. 

Fear and Loathing is one of her more "mellow" songs, for lack of a better term. I love the message, the sound. Pretty much everything. Oh and I love that I can literally hear the words coming from my characters. Like a good heart to heart between Zak and Evanna. 

"I've lived a lot of different lives,
Been different people many times.
I live my life in bitterness
And fill my heart with emptiness."


"Got different people inside my head.
I wonder which one that they like best.
I'm done with trying to have it all
and ending up with not much at all."

6) Daylight- Matt and Kim; Grand

That "punk-peppered" music Messiah is such a fan of? Well, this is it. To me Matt and Kim embody what is Messiah. Genial, fun, free, a bit of reckless abandon. He might be a little rough around the edges (the "starving" artist appeal shall we say?), but really when it comes down to it, he's got his shit together and he knows what he wants. 

You can thank the Bicardi commercial for this gem, by the way. 

7) Never Let Me Go- Florence + the Machine; Ceremonials

Aaaand we're back to Florence. But the imagery is just too good to resist.

"And it's breaking over me.
A thousand miles down to the sea bed,
Found the place to rest my head.

Never let me go, never let me go.
Never let me go, never let me go.

And the arms of the ocean are carrying me, 
And all this devotion was rushing out of me.
And the crashes are heaven, for a sinner like me,
But the arms of the ocean deliver me." 

8) Existentialism on Prom Night- Straylight Run; Straylight Run

This is probably my all time favorite song. I can think of a million and one reasons why I love it so much, but when I list them they seem silly. I will say that I am a big fan of Existentialism. Most people find it a very pessimistic stand point; I find it uplifting.

I imagine this song playing the morning Evanna wakes up in Messiah's house, at a time when she's caught in between her life at Benajah and her life in the "human world." A bit of reflection, perhaps?

"When the sun came up,
We were sleeping in,
Sunk inside our blankets, sprawled across the bed,
And we were dreaming.

There are moments when,
When and I know it and the world revolves around us.
And we're keeping it, keeping it all going,
This delicate balance,
Vulnerable, all knowing.

Sing like you think know one's listening.
You would kill for this, 
Just a little bit, just a little bit.
You would kill for this."

9) Degausser- Brand New; The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Oh, Brand New, how you do me in. When you're not being scream-o (exhibit A) half the songs on "Daisy"), you have such emotionally jarring music (exhibit B) most of the songs on Devil and God). And I can't get enough of it. 

Degausser is such a poignant piece of music to me. It makes my skin crawl. It gives me chills. It's dream crushing and heart wrenching and...okay, you get it. 

This song would play as *spoiler* Evanna drags Rian's body through the trees and ultimately dumps him off the cliff. Can you hear it?

"Take me, take me back to your bed.
I love you so much that it hurts my head.
I don't mind you under my skin,
I'll let the bad parts in, the bad parts in.

Well, you're my favorite bird and when you sing,
I really do wish that you'd wear my ring.
No matter what they say, I am still the king.
And now the storm in coming, the storm is coming in." 

10) Blue Lips- Regina Spektor; Far

We wrap up with Regina Spektor. There is a plethora of Regina songs that inspire me (ex: Samson), but this one resonates with me the most. To me, "Blue Lips" is about being human. The ups, the downs. Moments of strength and moments of weakness. And if "Benajah's Keeper" is about anything, it's about learning to accept all of these things. And so, I give you the "credits" song.

"He stumbled into faith and thought,
God, this is all there is?
The pictures in his mind arose
And began to breathe.

And all the gods and all the worlds
Began colliding on a back drop of blue.

Blue lips, blue veins."

So what do you guys think? Are there any songs that remind you of Evanna's plight? If so, I'd love to hear them!

PS This is the song that's driving book #2 right now. Because I feel like throwing all the "when is the next one coming out???" commenters a bone. Not much of one, but hey, it's something.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


As a good name. Okay, that might be a little over exaggerated. There are lots of important things that go into good story telling/writing. However, I'm not kidding when I say that names are pretty close to the top of that list for me. A name should make sense. It shouldn't be chosen simply because it looks good, especially if it looks weird next to all the other names in a book (I once read a book where the main character's name was Raven and her younger brother was Billy. Drove. Me. Crazy.).  It should help build the character. It should mean something.

Though I'm fairly new at this author thing (I still choke on the word...), one of the questions that I consistently get asked is, "Where did you come up with all the names?" As this is a subject I am so passionate about, I figured I might fill you all in.

First, I should say that my biggest aid was a book I found on Amazon called "Best Exotic Baby Names" by Allison Jones. This is seriously the best name book I've found, despite not being very long. It's loosely set up by alphabet and gender, but for each name it not only gives the origin but the root of the name, the derivatives, and their meaning. For instance the name 'Nikoteleia' is listed under 'Teleia'. Teleia = pefection. Nike = victory. Nikoteleia = pefect victory. The only problem with this is that I often lose just took me 5 minutes find that and I've looked it up a hundred times.

But not all of the names came from this gold mine. Several of the names that appear in the final, published version of "Benajah's Keeper" are the same as they were in the very first draft. That's not to say their characters didn't change drastically. Here are some examples:

Zak: The original Zak was nothing like the one that guides Evanna through her journey in "Benajah's Keeper." In fact, he was total fluff. He was the tag along friend of Tierra, more or less a female version of the Zak we know today. When I revisited the story four years later, I came to the conclusion that Evanna simply didn't need two vampire friends. Especially because she didn't really want any friends at all...

Rian: I'm fairly sure that I chose the name Rian originally because I had a crush on a kid named Ryan. Highschool, you know? And it was soooo edgy to change the spelling. Turns out Rian is a legitimate name, meaning 'king.' Rian's last name was originally Doreland, a name I'm pretty sure I made up. When finalizing the characters, I began to look for a more meaningful last name for my villain; I stumbled upon Delmar, which means 'of the sea.' And it just worked with the ocean imagery, the circularity of the story, while maintaining the same sort of sound. Boom, Rian Delmar, King of the Sea.

The Scarboroughs: Messiah was always Messiah. Noelle was always Noelle. Lucky for me their names just fit. In the first draft, however, Noelle and Evanna had their first spiff in the family owned fish and chips restaurant. I believe the chapter ended with something like, "Messiah, get away from her. She's a vampire." Very dramatic.

Like most of the characters in the book, neither Noelle or Messiah had last names at first. I chose Scarborough almost entirely based on the traditional ballad "Scarborough Fair." If you are not familiar with the song GO LISTEN TO IT NOW. Educate yourself. You'll be thankful.

Keeper: I'm throwing him in here for the hell of it. The 'Keeper' of Benajah was always called 'Keeper,' he just didn't originally have a name other than that. As the story grew, it became necessary that he gain one. And so Abram--meaning 'high father'--came into being.

That's pretty much it for characters that kept their original names, but here are a few more insights:

-Solada did not exist in the first version. Nor did Serah or Nikoteleia. Between the three of them, the remaining parts of the original character Tierra (minus Zak's bit) were divided.

-I did not decide on the name of Benajah until very late into the rewrite. Even after I had narrowed it down, I bounced between several names before making it the official name of Evanna's home.

-Asael was originally named Gabriel. The meaning of Asael ('God has created') just fit better. That's not to say we won't be seeing a Gabriel later...

-Many of the fluffier names in the book (like Messiah's "long list of girls") are real(ish) people. Rachelle, Danielle, Jessica, Alyssa, Dave, even Emilia. Tannon was a kid in my gym class. The name Serah comes from a combination of Serry and Sarah, two good friends of mine. One of them is even a red head.

-Evanna (versus Wrenna) was the hardest character to name. In the first draft, she was deemed Ebony Flame/Flammette. That was the first thing to go, though it was not for a very long time that she got a new [vampire] name. I'm not sure where I first heard the name. I might have just randomly stumbled upon during one of my internet searches (the kind that alway scare my family and boyfriend). It might have been when I became aware of Evanna Lynch, the actress who plays Luna Lovegood (my favorite Harry Potter character). Whatever it was, I'm just happy I found it.

Until next time...