Friday, November 25, 2016

Five Star Novels of 2016

Out of the 64 novels I’ve read this year, most of them were duds. I very rarely rate a novel five stars, (see my rating system) and the majority of the novels I read were four stars with a toppling 15 three star ratings.

Which books made the top of the list when even Harry Potter and the Cursed Child rated 3 stars for me?

Now remember, these novels are five stars because they had me screaming, “You’re so good! Oh, wow, I can’t believe that just happened. Holy crap that’s hot . . .”

I think you get the idea.

But I had to be screaming those words, at some point.

My list

Water Shaper

This was an enchanting read. The author really wove a beautiful work, taking aspects of real folklore. The main character is realistic and indecisive in her thoughts. She feels as if she belongs nowhere. She can't trust others because her whole life she's been harassed and belittled. But she has an inner fight. The magic brings a real element of curiosity. I wanted to learn more the whole story. I couldn't wait to see it's secrets unfold.
The book is just so amazing. A real tale told by a master storyteller.
Brilliant. I was completely sucked in.
Clean read. Would even be safe to read aloud as a family. Fairy-tale lovers would enjoy this book. 

beautiful, fairy-tale, folklore, magical, mystical, mythology, otherworldly, quick-read


Cornerstone

Okay, Okay. Why am I screaming?

I was absorbed into the way the author described everything. She used every day comparisons to describe the most complex emotions in a way that completely related to me. I think some readers might be turned off by the number of metaphors and similes, but I enjoyed them, especially when they described how Nalena was affected emotionally by Garrett. Eep! I loved it.

favorite, guys-that-make-me-swoon, i-want-to-write-like-her, magical, powers, quick-read, read, romance, wonderful






Destroy Me

The whole Shatter Me series is my most favorite ever. This novella did not disappoint. I love the first person present. I love being in the moment with Warner. He's twisted. He's crazy. He's passionate. He has fire. And he's crushed and destroyed. So much emotion wrapped up in a few pages. This is a read to devour in one sitting.

Only draw back--I wish I had an entire novel from Warner's POV.
Mafi has inspired me as a writer.

Amazed.

adrenaline-rush, best-book-ever, blown-away, dystopian, favorite, gasp, guys-that-make-me-swoon, i-want-to-write-like-her, quick-read, read, thought-provoking, well-crafted



What Lainey Sees

This book was a fun and suspense-filled read with a bit of mythological magic. I loved how the story flip-flopped between the modern-day story about Lainey and Gage and the heartbreaking tribal story about Bright Eyes and Satsokis. Both stories together brought the magic of this adventure to life.

This story is Reader Rated 18+ for graphic sex; also contains moderate profanity and mild violence.

favorite, gasp, read, romance






The Kinshield Legacy

Loved this book on an epic scale! A real faulted hero that I just adored. So many characters' storylines woven together into one awesome adventure. And a villain who is just creepy. Must read more!

Reader rated 14+ for mild language, crude humor, mild sensuality, and mild torture.










Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic

I loved this novel! From the sexy cupcake names to the magical werewolf dance club "orgy" to the very horny main character. Fave character was Kett--aka the vampire. So mysterious in a I-want-to-rip-your-head-off way. This was just fun, quirky read. And apparently everything about magic is either really scary or sexy. Will definitely read the other novels!

Reader Rated 15+ for mild language, mild sensuality, and mild violence.










Broken Symmetry

This was a thrilling novel. I was riveted. How in the world did the author come up with this and pull it off? The dynamics of breaking symmetry were hard to follow, but regardless, I was unable to put his novel down. I just decided to go with the the flow and the ride. It's a pretty good trip.


  


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Birthday Bash Blog Tour: A Mighty Fortress



Who doesn’t like a birthday party? Faith certainly does. November 19th was the third birthday of her debut novel, A Mighty Fortress. To celebrate, she has all sorts of fun going on. First, she’s released a newly revised version of A Mighty Fortress. Second, she has most of her published books on sale. Third, she’s releasing the box set of all five of her novels for a special discounted price. And fourth, but not least, she now has the audiobook of her AMF available! Read on for more party fun.


About the Book

“Stay back!” Joshua ordered.  He kept his eyes on the scene below while waving his arm in Ruth's direction.  “Get deeper into the woods and stay down low to the ground.”
Joshua hazarded a glance behind him.  He could no longer see Ruth and breathed a sigh of relief.  In one swift move, he grabbed his rifle and lay flat to the ground.  Extending the rifle, he aimed at the shorter man whose gun was pointed at Bradshaw. 

Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who's hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom's gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss's right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what's one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God's strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town?   Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running--the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?


Audiobook

Faith is excited to announce that she partnered with Michael Stanton to produce an audiobook version of her book. We’re not sure exactly when it will be available, but if you sign up for her New Releases newsletter, you will get an email with the announcement.







About the Author

Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. (The picture doesn’t show it well, but there are scribblings on the page of Green Eggs and Ham). Now that she has grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.
When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana, someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.
There are many ways to connect with Faith online. All of them can be found in one convenient place: http://FaithBlum.com. On her website you can find links to her various social media sites and both of her blogs.


Giveaway


Faith is offering three prizes!

Grand Prize:
·       Audiobook of A Mighty Fortress (MP3 download)—Could be a short delay
·       The Solid Rock Notebook

1st Prize:
·       Feather Quill Necklace

2nd Prize:
·       eBook set of Hymns of the West: The Complete Series

Use this link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9912248015



a Rafflecopter giveaway Hymns of the West, the Complete Series


Faith also just released her first box set, the complete Hymns of the West series. It’s available for a special discounted pre-order price until November 26th and will stay at that price until November 30th.

About the Book


Two Families…
The Brookings family move from Illinois to Montana to start a horse ranch. Their journey to Montana has hazards of its own, as does their life in Castle City, affecting each of them in various ways.
The Stuarts have been living a secluded life in Tennessee since the matriarch of the family died. When Jed runs away, they seclude themselves even more until a letter arrives that changes their lives—one at a time—forever.

Two Worldviews…
One family has believes in God with their whole hearts, living out their lives to the glory of God. The other family believes in God in a general sense, but they have no commitment toward Him or His ways.

One Providential God.
A stagecoach robbery instigates their meeting. Two years later, they meet again. Another year and their lives cross paths again. What happens when God's providence brings two families with two different worldviews together in ways only He could have planned?

Mega-Sale!


Every eBook in the Hymns of the West series is on sale. A Mighty Fortress is permafree, and the other eBooks in the series are $0.99. In addition, the spin-off novella series has a book on sale as well.

Links:

Life and Salvation: Hymns of the West Novellas 1-3

Faith also has the paperbacks on sale if you buy them from Createspace with the discount codes.
$2.00 off (8.99) with code: MBJB3XSY
$2.00 off (6.99) with code: GQ3KTJYY
$1.50 off (9.49) with code:93LQLRJ8
$2.00 off (11.99) with code: TJXAYXD2
$1.50 off (10.49) with code: 7626YZAK
$2.00 (6.99) with code: V4Y5K46D

Tour Schedule


November 19
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Author Franky A Brown-Book Spotlight

November 21
Writing Dreams-Author Interview
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae-Character Spotlight-Joshua
Zerina Blossom's Books-Author Interview

November 22
The Overactive Imagination-Review of Be Thou My Vision

November 23
Frances Hoelsema- Book Spotlight
Thought of Anna S. Brie-Author Interview

November 25
Bookish Orchestrations-Candid Author Interview
Firethorn Blog-Author Spotlight

November 26
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Character Interview with Ruth
Ladies in Defiance-Guest Post

November 28
Once Upon an Ordinary- Author Interview
Written Rest-Character Spotlight -Anna

November 29
The Overactive Imagination-Review of A Mighty Fortress
Jaye L. Knight- Character Spotlight-Caleb

November 30
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Wrap-up and winner


















Friday, November 18, 2016

What Subgenre Am I?

Today I decided to hunt down what genre my novels really fall under. Yeah, they’re fantasy, but the subgenre needed to be narrowed down.

So there’s my trilogy, Chronicles of the Half-Emrys. And then there’s Fallen Emrys, my new release. We will look at each, and then I will make a declaration, and then you, the reader, can decide if these novels are for you.


In Master of Lies, Ahnalyn is fighting a personal battle within herself while facing the outer conflict with the villain Lord Caedryn. Along the way romance ensues between Aneirin, but if the romance was left out, the main plot would continue.
Fantasy with romance.

In The Two Masters, the novel follows two protagonists, who end up being each other’s antagonists. Einion and Rhianu are both fighting against their competing powers of light and darkness. Take out the tender feelings they have toward each other, and the internal conflict would still be there, but the novel wouldn’t be as juicy.
Fantasy with romance.

In Master of Time, Catrin and Meuric end up back in time, which drops the time-travel aspect. They end up on a quest to learn the way back home while saving a local village and the first dragon egg. Their feelings of hatred toward each other change, but take out their budding romance, and the main plot would still work.
Fantasy with romance.

See where I am going? Fantasy with romance woven in—in a completely different world, making it also high fantasy.

In Fallen Emrys, Niawen feels unrest. She uses Aneirin as an excuse to leave her immortal paradise so she can search for adventure in the mortal world. This novel relies heavily on romance—it’s around every corner—but take out the romance, and the core problem, Niawen’s corruption from coming into the mortal world, is still evident. So the novel is fantasy, but thick on the romance. The story would still work sans the romance, but without all the humans falling all over her, the story would be less dramatic.

So here’s where I say, if you like fantasy elements intertwined with romance, but don’t like the hefty world building of epic fantasy novels, my novels are right up your alley. They are light, but emotional reads. And steamy, clean fun!

Other elements in my novels
Characters engage in conflict, but romance is present—check—sword and sorcery
Focus mainly on personal battle rather than world-endangering matters—check—sword and sorcery
Setting in an imaginary world—check—high fantasy
Good versus evil—check—high fantasy
World has its own magical rules—check—high fantasy
Very strong romance aspect to it, but the precedent is on the events and plot—check—romantic fantasy
The magic is of a gentler, more innate type. Strong intuition and empathy, or mastery of one of the elements (the power of light)—check—romantic fantasy
Plot focuses on the change and choices made by the protagonist—check—high fantasy
Small cast of characters—check—high fantasy
Protagonist discovers that his or her powers are necessary to right some huge wrong, or restore something important that has been lost—check—high fantasy


Master of Time
Time travel aspect—check—time travel romance

Fallen Emrys
Plot is a means of facilitating the romance—check—fantastic romance
Quest is more personal than world changing—check—fantastic romance


So my verdict? Chronicles of the Half-Emrys and Fallen Emrys are ROMANTIC FANTASY!





Keywords to look for

All my novels have magic and dragons. The Two Masters and Master of Time have fae. The Two Masters has angels. My emrys are all immortals, or godlike beings. The Masters are the gods in my novels. The Two Masters has a case of amnesia. Fallen Emrys has a love triangle. All the novels are about immortals who behave between the ages of 18-30, so they fall under new adult.

*** If these elements ring a bell for you, please pick up my novels. I know you will love them. ***

And guess what? My boxed set is on sale now for 99c. You can also pre-order Fallen Emrys for 99c, and it will arrive in your inbox on Thanksgiving! That's all four novels for $1.98! Click on pictures to purchase.




Genre definitions that fit my novels

Sword and sorcery is a subgenre of fantasy generally characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters.


High fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy, defined either by its setting in an imaginary world or by the epic stature of its characters, themes, and plot.

The secondary world is usually internally consistent, but its rules differ from those of the primary world. By contrast, low fantasy is characterized by being set in the primary, or "real" world, or a rational and familiar fictional world, with the inclusion of magical elements

Thegood versus evil fighting against each other is a common concept in high fantasy, and the character of evil is often an important concept in a work of high fantasy
High fantasy is often used interchangeably with Epic Fantasy. There is a distinction, however. High Fantasy tends to focus more on the setting and the change and choices made by the protagonist while epic fantasy tends to focus on the SCALE of conflict which affects the world at large. Epic fantasy features a large cast of characters while High Fantasy usually fewer.


Time travel romance is a subgenre of romantic fiction associational to paranormal romance. Time travel romance focuses on romantic love and includes an element of time travel. Time travel romances feature at least one character transported to an unfamiliar time period. A recurring theme is the conflict of falling in love and subsequently the character must decide to stay in the alternate time or return to the time he/she came from.

Romantic Fantasy is more traditionally romantic than those in the Fantastic Romance category. 

Romantic Fantasy may also put more emphasis on the plot events than a Fantastic Romance.
There are several “typical” storylines, but they all share the common element that the heroine has lost her home or place in society in some way, and comes to find completion and acceptance in another group. Thus, various relationships are important parts of the story: social, political and—of course—romantic relationships.

While searching for these new relationships and discovering/developing her powers, the heroine is likely to fall in love with a man who also possesses the gift of magic. 
The magic in these stories is usually of a gentler, more innate type than in other fantasy. Things like strong intuition and empathy, or mastery of one of the elements, are typical.
As the two lovers (or they may remain just friends or traveling companions for some time) travel the kingdom and perhaps beyond, they will gradually discover that their powers are necessary to right some huge wrong, or restore something important that has been lost. They will need to learn about each other in intense ways so that together they can fulfill this responsibility.


Fantastic Romance
We've all fallen for someone who's all wrong for us—too rich, too spoiled, too selfish. The heroines in these novels show a more disturbing lack of judgment by accepting the courtship of vampires, werewolves and other creatures of the occult
Oh, that's not to say things won't work out. They're just asking for all kinds of problems that weren't really necessary, like the probability they will have to kill their beloved before the story can end happily.
But seriously, the romance form has two requirements: the love story is the center point of the tale, and the ending must be emotionally satisfying.

Not all blushing brides of Frankenstein will be unaware of their beloved's true identity, and some may even succumb to the temptation of everlasting life by becoming sort of undead. If done right, just about any ending can fulfill the requirements of romance. And these might provide more interesting moral considerations that make the story more than a light read.
Quite often, Fantastic Romance takes place in a contemporary urban setting, incorporating quite a few elements of the Paranormal Fantasy genre with creatures such as vampires, werewolves, and other such myths.

The difference between the two?
Fantastic Romance tends to exaggerate events in some way—the saucy heroine moves through the plot, but the point of the plot is simply a means of facilitating the romance. Fantastic romance often doesn’t take itself too seriously—the quest may be more personal than world changing (i.e. the heroine is trying to find a guy, not stop a dark lord from destroying the universe). As such, if you want light reading, then Fantastic Romance takes the cake. Romantic Fantasy tends to have a very strong romance aspect to it (just like Fantastic Romance), but the precedent of the story is on the events and plot, not necessarily only the romance. Romantic Fantasy may have more epic plots, ones in which the choices faced by the hero/heroine may save or end the world.

Most definitions taken from this site or Wikipedia.


 



Friday, November 11, 2016

How Long Does it Take to Write a Novel?

If it was up to me, as a writer, I'd be stuck in revisions, obsessing over perfecting my novel. So last year I came up with a plan to write two novels in a year. The writing plan forces me to move on when I'm spending too much time in one section. Each month attacks a different step for each novel.

An explanation follows below, with a concise list afterward. While I am working on one step of novel 1, I am at a completely different spot with the novel 2. It doesn't matter how I divide my month. I might work for a week straight on novel 1, or alternate days. If I spend the first half of my month on only one novel, mid month I switch it up.

This way I am never bored, or driving myself nuts if I am sick of something.

1. & 2. Snowflake and outlining. I give myself a solid month to plan my novel. And even though it's a solid month, I'm also working on revisions for my second novel. I divide my time between the two. If I become tired of outlining, I have something else to break up the monotony.
3. While my other novel is out with beta readers, I have a month to write 50,000 words for the novel I just outlined. My own NaNo.
4,5,6 & 7. This step is filling in the gaps that my rough draft left. I read through the draft and compare to my outline. I expand scenes. I analyze the scenes to make sure they accomplish their goals.
8. I hate saving revisions until last. So I start tackling revisions as I go along. Alternating with months of analyzing my draft. I have my own personal list of revisions that I check off as I go.
9. I go back and compare everything to my notes again and expand descriptions, and even add scenes.
10. More revisions. Focusing on misused words and poor grammar.
11. Steps 4-7 again.
12. Finally time for beta readers! I give them a whole month with a very polished copy. I would hate to have them tripping over obvious typos.
13. Finish revisions list and work on suggestions from beta readers. Beta readers suggestions can be overwhelming so I allow a month to allow time to stew.
14. It's so important to edit your novel backwards and even read it out loud. You will catch many mistakes.
15 & 16. This is the polishing. Sending to an editor. Type setting. You want to allow plenty of time for this if your editor doesn't have a fast turn around. My editor is usually done in two weeks, and I edit from her suggestions for about two weeks.
17. Publish. Allow a nice month to sit back and catch your breath. Implement promotion plan.


A Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance

1.     Snowflake
2.     Waypoints and Outline
3.     Rough draft
4.     Compare to outline and waypoints. Make adjustments.
5.     Read through while scanning for mistakes and content.
6.     Elaborate scene descriptions and emotions.
7.     Scene analysis
8.     Begin Revisions list
9.     Repeat steps 4-7
10.   Continue Revisions list
11.   Repeat 4-7
12.   Beta readers. Let the novel rest while working on the other one.
13.   Finish Revision list and Beta reader suggestions.
14.   Work through novel backward while editing. Read out loud.
15.   Send to editor. Edit. Type set
16.   Final read through. Proofreads. 
17.   Publish and Promote.

A chart to keep each month straight. Feel free to adjust the months based on what works for you. January and July are better NaNo months for me, so I built my calendar around those. The numbers correspond with the Year’s Writing Plan at a Glance.

Month
Book 1
Book 2
December
1 & 2
11
January
3
12
February
4, 5, 6 & 7
13
March
8
14
April
9
15 & 16
May
10
17
June
11
1 & 2
July
12
3
August
13
4, 5, 6 & 7
September
14
8
October
15 & 16 
9
November
17
10
  

 So how long does it take for me to write a novel? A year. Two novels in a year. This is working for 4 hours a day, five days a week.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Pre-outlining: PUTTING IDEAS TO PAPER

I generated this questionnaire after reading K.M. Weiland's book  5 Secrets of Story Structure. This is a must read, and it's free, so pick it up.

Filling out this form is the first step in making your abstract ideas concrete. If you don’t know these answers, the reader will suffer and ultimately put your novel down after the first few pages or even the first few paragraphs.

Book Title:
Thesis or theme:
One sentence summary:
One paragraph summary or blurb:
What is the goal of my novel? Or, another words, how do you want your reader to feel, or what do you want your reader to learn from the experience?
What is the Lie the Protagonist Believes? What does he want in the overall story? What are his goals? What is he trying to achieve?

Protagonist:
What mysteries lay hidden in the protagonist’s past that must be uncovered to confront them and move on?

Antagonist force:
What is the Hook? What happens next?

Inciting Incident: What event starts the ball rolling in the plot? Where does the conflict begin? What sets the story in motion?

Key Event: What event reveals what the story is about? How does it draw the protagonist into the story line?

First Plot Point: What event kicks the protagonist out of the normal world? How does he try to regain his footing?
What is the doorway between the first and second act? What is each side of the doorway? (The Key Event and the First Plot Point)

Act Two: What is the main conflict that the protagonist has learned?

First Pinch Point: What is the new information that foreshadows the Midpoint and Third Plot Point? How does the Pinch Point influence the following scenes? How does the Pinch Point provide new clues about the nature of the battle the protagonist is waging? How does the protagonist react?
What choice will the protagonist ultimately choose? What forces are out of the character’s control? What does he not comprehend about the situation?

Midpoint: Moment of Truth: What is the central truth about the nature of the story that shatters the Lie the Protagonist Believes and changes his perspective? What is the catalyst that makes your character fight to resolve his conflict? What does the protagonist understand about what needs to be done? What does he do to fight back?

Second Pinch Point: What happens to remind the reader what is at stake? What is at stake? What slaps the protagonist in the face? What is he willing to pay to defeat the antagonist and achieve his goal?

Act Three: Third Plot Point: What event turns everything around and lands a deep emotional blow to the protagonist?
What is the climax of the protagonist’s inner arc? How does he finally face the truth? Will he rise above and conquer or will he fall deeper in a tragic negative arc? How does he embrace the new truth he has learned? Or, how does the Third Plot Point force him deeper into darkness, reaffirm his Lie, and compel him to rise bent on destruction?

Climax: What is the true conflict that is the heart of the story, and how is it resolved? How is the protagonist’s conflict obliterated? When is the protagonist’s true goal realized?


Resolution: How is the protagonist different from whoever he was in the beginning? How has the world changed around him? How does his future look from here? What is the final emotion I want to leave with the reader?