Cover Reveal for Kristen Strassel’s SECONDHAND HEART

Today I have the exclusive…okay, maybe not exclusive, BUT the exciting cover reveal and excerpt for Kristen Strassel’s 5th release, SECONDHAND HEART. 

I ADORE the cover and can’t wait to read this one. Check out the cover and excerpt below and let me know what you think!

 

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Title: Secondhand Heart

Author: Kristen Strassel

Age: NA

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Scheduled to release: October 7, 2014

Cover designer: Designs by Hang Le

Goodreads

Pre-Order Link:

Amazon

Blurb:

Daisy Mangold thought she had her life figured out until a roadside bomb in Afghanistan changed everything. Now a twenty-one-year-old military widow, Daisy moves back home to start over.

Cam Hunter won the reality show The Spotlight, and thought he was on his way to becoming the next big country star. But when whispers of how he won begin to surface, Nashville is less than welcoming. After he loses his record deal, Cam heads back home to open a country bar.

When Daisy meets Cam, she isn’t sure she’s ready to let go of the ghosts from her past. Cam’s ex-wife isn’t ready to move on either, and the tragedy she causes will expose Cam’s secrets and shatter Daisy’s family.

Will Daisy be able to follow her heart into a future with Cam, or will her grief keep her trapped in a past that no longer exists?

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Excerpt:

The lights went down, and the crowd went wild and swarmed the stage. The VIP section was to the right of the stage, and elevated just enough that we could see everything perfectly. A cover band had played up until now, but Cam Hunter was headlining his grand opening celebration.

Ev and Bree cheered when Cam came onstage, so I did too, more to be polite. He was picking up my bar tab tonight, after all. I’d never met Cam in person. I’d only heard Ev rave about him and of course I’d seen him on TV. He was taller than I expected, his broad shoulders straining the fabric of his blue and orange plaid shirt. I know, the shirt sounds hideous, but it actually looked hot on him. Bree’d said it enough tonight, I was thinking like her now. He wore the top few buttons open, showing just a hint of his tan chest. I couldn’t see his eyes under the brim of his white cowboy hat, but his sandy hair curled around the collar of the shirt. He opened the show with his biggest hit, Lonely Heart Saloon, in case you were wondering where he got the name for the bar. I found myself staring at his lips as he sang the words of the song, watching them move in front of the microphone, wondering what those lips would feel like on my skin.

I shook myself back to reality, looking at Ev and Bree singing along, and I was the last thing on their mind. Looking back at the stage, I forced myself to look anywhere but Cam’s mouth. Only being able to see the lower part of his face drove me crazy. What was hiding behind those eyes? Were they laughing, twinkling? Hell, I didn’t even know what color they were, and suddenly, I needed to know.

Look away from his face. Jesus Christ. The faded denim made his thighs look amazing. Who the hell checked out thighs? Well, if you saw these thighs, they were worth checking out. On The Spotlight, Cam had been an overgrown, almost goofy kid, playing a role. Doing what he was told. Now, on this tiny stage just feet away from us in this club, it was obvious he was all man. All smoking hot man.

When Cam said good night and thanked us all for coming, I was surprised how disappointed I felt. I’d been so lost in watching him play, not only his guitar, but teasing the fans in the front row by dipping down low, those delicious thighs spread wide and staying just out of their reach, his fingers brushing their fingertips, I got so lost in my own fantasies that I forgot all about time.

After the show, my skin was all tingly and strange. Cam had awakened something inside of me I hadn’t even known was sleeping. But at the same time, it felt wrong. I shouldn’t be thinking that way about any man, yet. My husband hadn’t been dead a year.

But I wasn’t dead.

This was safe, lusting after some musician who didn’t know I even existed. No harm could come of it. Cam had built his entire career off of people wanting to be him or be with him. It was a fantasy, nothing more.

The crowd had thinned out a bit after the show, but since this was an Ev production, we were closing down the place. Bree babbled about the show, the songs I didn’t know. “Cam’s record company didn’t renew his contract. Can you believe that shit? So maybe he’ll be playing here all the time.”

If life could even be that kind. “It is his bar, so that would make sense. Cheap labor.” I giggled at my own joke. Beer made me hilarious. I thought so anyway.

“I read online that he’s thinking of taking a new direction with his music. Collaborating with some new songwriters and stuff,” Bree continued. “Maybe we’ll get to hear it first.”

Ev had disappeared again, to the mysterious backstage area. She came back out, with a huge grin on her face.

And Cam following her.

Holy shit, she was bringing him over to us. Bree started hyperventilating and squeezing my arm. “Calm down,” I hissed. “You’re going to break a bone. I can’t act cool if my arm is dangling below my elbow.”

“How can you even joke at a time like this? Oh my God, here he is.” Bree let go of my arm, and blood resumed flowing semi normally. I didn’t know what to say to him.

“Oh my God, I love you.” Bree’s teeth could never catch all the thoughts that came rambling out of her brain, even if she wasn’t at least three beers deep.

Cam took it in stride. “I love you, too.” He took her hand in his, and brought it up to his mouth and kissed it. Bree gave an Oscar worthy performance and did not faint.

“And this is my sister, Daisy.” Ev brought his attention to me.

His eyes were blue.

The kind of blue that jumped out against his tan skin, almost perfectly matched with his shirt. Somehow, my hand landed in his, I only knew because the electricity that danced along my skin.

“Evey’s told me all about you.” Nobody called my sister Evey anymore. It surprised me, and I liked it. I missed her being Evey. One side of his mouth went up higher than the other when he smiled, and the skin around his eyes crinkled at the corners. I knew too much time had passed for me to reply, but my brain kept short circuiting every time I tried.

“Not everything.” Ev bumped into him playfully. “You know, Daisy’s been looking for a job—“

“No, I haven’t.” What the hell was she doing?

Her mouth dropped, and she shot me a look as if she couldn’t believe I could be so stupid. “Do you have a job?”

“No.”

“So, as I was saying, my sister could use a job.” Ev rocked back and forth on her heels and batted her eyelashes at Cam. “You still hiring here?”

She totally caught Cam off guard. Great. “I’m sure we could make room for you, Daisy.” His smile made me melt, and almost forget I wanted to kill Ev. I liked the way my name sounded coming out of his mouth. “Why don’t you come in tomorrow for an interview?”

“Okay.” I think I squeaked. Ev, satisfied with mortifying me, moved in closer to Cam and continued chatting with him. He kept looking over at me, probably trying to figure out if I’d make a good bar back or dishwasher.

And he still held my hand.

“I’ve got to go. It was nice talking to you ladies.” He bowed his head and squeezed my hand one last time before he let go. “Daisy, let’s say, one tomorrow?”

I nodded, then watched him walk away and join another group. I know you’re wondering how his ass looked. Amazing.

 

About the Author:

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Kristen shares a birthday with Steven Tyler and Diana Ross. She spends each day striving to be half as fabulous as they are. She’s worn many hats, none as flattering as her cowboy hat: banker, retail manager, fledgling web designer, world’s worst cocktail waitress, panty slinger, now makeup artist and author. She loves sunshine, live music, the middle of nowhere, and finding new things to put in her house.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

 

 

Finding Your Writing Routine.

With all the writing advice out there, how is one to know which advice is the best?

The truth is–there are no set rules to follow. Writing is not only a process of sharpening your skills, it’s about learning what kind of writer you are, what your process looks like, and what routine you need to be the most productive.

If you look back on the post How 12 Different Authors Write a First Draft, you’ll see how different the process is for everyone.

Technique aside, the one question I see asked a lot is: “How do I find the time to write?”

This is a tough one to answer because everyone’s needs are different. We hear often that writers should write every day. I used to believe this myself, but the more writing became a routine, the more I learned that writing every day doesn’t work for me.

By nature, I’m an all or nothing person. I have to force myself to be obsessive about projects, because if I step away for more than a few days, I’ve completely lost interest in working. I tend to write in bursts, and since I don’t have kids, I have a lot of freedom to set my schedule as it suites me. I’m sure this will change some day, but for now my writing routine is fairly simple. I treat writing like a full-time job. I wake up to an alarm, get dressed, and hopefully by 9am I’m sitting at my computer working. Once I get in the writing zone, I will usually work for 5-8 hour stretches of time, sometimes more, 7 days a week.

By the time I get through 8 hours of writing, I’m practically brain-dead and exhausted, so it’s not a pattern I can keep up for long periods. Once I reach a milestone–which is usually a finished draft–I take a break to recharge.

I usually read books the same way I write them–in bursts. So during my writing down-time I spend as much time as I can devouring as many books as I can squeeze in before I have to start working again.

When my novel is finally completed, edited and ready to go, I’ll take a month, even 2 months off to regroup. There might be days when the muse strikes and I’ll write out a quick chapter or start plotting, but I don’t force myself to write. It’s a nice break and it gives me time to develop ideas before I start putting them to paper.

Now, I know everyone doesn’t always have the flexibility to spend 8 hours a day writing. Back when I used to work a full-time job in advertising, I remember using the same pattern of burst writing, only I would do it at night. I would sit with a glass of wine (or four) in my apartment in Toronto and work from about 7-8pm to sometimes 2 in the morning. I love that I have more freedom with my time now, but I definitely miss those late nights of writing where all my best ideas were born (Mara, Corbin and Malcolm were created during those night writing sessions).

Finding the time to write, especially when you have a lot of other things demanding your attention, can be tricky. But you might find it easier to manage if you know what kind of writer you are. Are you a burst writer? Do you like to write one scene a day? Do you go back and read your work, editing as you go?

On twitter there’s a 5am Writers Club. They are the morning writers, and if you don’t have time at night, this is a great way to get an hour or two of writing in before work.

My writer/mom friends usually say the evening works best for them. They also say that the summer months are a toss up for writing. Most seem to wait until the kids are back in school before they really push themselves to get writing done.

The bottom line is, find out what KIND of writer you are, and then tailor a routine to meet your needs. If you’re okay with writing a chapter a week, GREAT! If you have to knock out half a book in a short stretch, FANTASTIC! But don’t give up. Don’t tell yourself that you don’t have the time. There is ALWAYS time to be found for writing, if you want it bad enough. Apparently humans spend up to two years of their lifetimes sitting on a toilet. Imagine two full years of time dedicated it writing *wink wink*.

I think for my next book, I’m going to try and adjust my routine a bit and give myself weekends off. That way I don’t find myself procrastinating on a Sunday because all I want to do is eat candy and have a netflix marathon. I’m learning that time off is important. :)

Tell me what your writing routine is. How do you find the time and what kind of writer are you?

 

 

 

What to expect from a developmental edit.

After months and months…and MONTHS of sweating over my drafts of THE EMBERS OF LIGHT, I finally got it to the point where it was ready for developmental editing. I think this is a step many indie-authors skip, thinking that beta-readers, critique partners and a proofreader or even better, a line-editor will suffice.

But let me tell you this. Unless you have a super-genius friend who KNOWS what they’re talking about, you NEED a developmental editor, otherwise known as a content editor.

I’ve had experience with two developmental editors or DEs, as I call them. The first DE I had for The Darkness of Light used a summary approach. I sent her the manuscript, she read it, and then sent me a three page detailed report, mostly written in point form, of areas I needed to fix, plot holes that needed filling, and certain word choices I needed to cut.

With her notes I was able to restructure my novel and make changes to certain scenes and characters.

The most recent DE I used for EMBERS was from Julie Hutchings (find her, she’s amazing!) It cost double the price, but it was worth every penny! The notes were line-by-line within the manuscript and included a summary. For me, this works better because I can follow her thought process as she reads. I can see what the reader sees and understand what a reader might need to stay interested in the book. Luckily for me, Julie also can’t seem to bypass typos. So in addition to line notes, she also gave me some grammar and punctuation corrections throughout the manuscript.

When I opened the document she’d returned to me, the first thing I saw was a sea of purple comment bubbles on the right side of my screen. But as I read through them, I saw how insightful and positive her comments were. Any critique or suggested change made perfect sense to me, and I feel like she really GOT the story (do you know how hard that is to find in an editor?). I had a few discussions with her on some of the changes, just to clarify what she thought would work best, and after sifting through all the grammar corrections, I got to work on the content.

I’m lucky this time, in that most of the changes needed are minor enough that I don’t have to do huge re-writes. Most of the comments/critiques involved character voice and the development of dynamics between certain characters.

I am SUPER happy with this edit and am working on the changes right now…well, right now I’m writing a blog but…you get what I mean. :)

Now, a lot of critique partners will also use this method of note taking, but remember, a DE is a person being PAID to give you an opinion. They know you expect them to be 100% honest about every single thing. THIS is why DEs are so important in the writing/publishing process. Not all of us can rely on beta-reader feedback alone.

What you should look for in a DE.

It’s important to choose a DE that works with other authors within your genre/category. For example, you don’t want a DE who is a YA author or only works with YA authors, to edit your erotic novel. Some editors are versatile, but if you pick the wrong DE and your vision doesn’t match theirs, you’re going to end up with a bunch of notes you don’t agree with and can’t use.

Pick someone who you believe will be honest, and when they are honest, don’t take offense. Editors spend a lot time going through your manuscript, and while you might not always agree with their suggestions, you don’t have to take their comments as a personal attack. Let the editor know your expectations prior to hiring them. Julie warned me that she would be really tough if she needed to be, and that was perfect because that was exactly what I was looking for.

Ask how they deliver their notes. Is it a summary? In document comments? How thorough are they going to be? You’d better ask what you’re getting for your money before you start shelling it out.

What comes next?

For the next couple of weeks I will work on the changes Julie suggested, and then do a final read-through of the entire manuscript. The next step (which is one no author should ever, ever, EVER skip) is the copy-editing/line-editing stage. Even though Julie made corrections for me, I need to have one final defense against typos, errors, bad sentences, and bad grammar. A line-editor is someone who goes through your manuscript and fixes ALL the mistakes. I think I learned a lot through my last edit for DARKNESS, so we’ll see if I have less errors this time around. :)

 

WE OWN THE NIGHT Cover Reveal & The Re-release of Because The Night and Night Moves!

You might recall a spotlight and review I posted a while back for Kristen Strassel’s Because the Night and Night Moves. Well these two novels have be re-VAMPED (get it), and have gorgeous new covers. But first, today is the cover reveal for WE OWN THE NIGHT, the third and final installment in the Night Songs Collection.

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The Ultimate Manipulation. 

Callie Chabot would stop at nothing to save her ex-boyfriend Blade Bennett from the clutches of vampire clan leader Talis de Rancourt, even if means becoming immortal herself. What she doesn’t know is that Blade has already defeated Talis, and he’s waiting for Callie in the afterlife.

Now Callie only has her creator, Tristan Trevosier, to turn to for guidance. But he’s too wrapped up in the debauchery of the Las Vegas rock scene to give a damn about the particulars of being undead. That’s enough to drive Callie crazy on its own, but female vampires are automatic clan leaders.

Not only does Callie have no idea how to wrangle a vampire clan, but her would-be followers have more to gain from her failure. They instead choose to follow Blade—and he’s hell-bent on making Callie pay for her bad decisions. Since he took out the existing clan leader, that automatically puts him at the helm of what should be Callie’s new clan.

A Master of Deception.

That’s when seasoned rogue vampire, Cash Logan, shows up, shrouded in magic and mystery. No one is sure which side Cash is on, but Callie needs to take a chance on the one vampire who is willing to give her the answers she needs, no matter how dark and frightening they may be. Callie must trust her instincts and form alliances that may backfire. Cash shows Callie that playing nice is no longer an option, and that fixing her wrongs won’t always make everything right.

To take control of her clan, Callie must look to her rival to discover exactly what makes her a leader.

Available September 1, 2014.

Add to Goodreads    Preorder on Smashwords     Preorder Audible

But be sure to check out BECAUSE THE NIGHT (re-VAMPED and only now only 99 cents!) and NIGHT MOVES first! These books are fantastic and both earned a 5 star rating from me :)

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Purchase on Amazon

 

 

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Purchase on Amazon

Book Signing, Fan Art, and Sequel Update!

Wowza! It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for me.

This past Saturday I had my very first in-store book signing. I was very nervous leading up to the day, imagining all sorts of horrors that I’m sure most authors experience before a signing–what if no one shows up? What if no one buys my book?

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to face those fears, because the singing went great. I sold some books, made some new friends, and got some experience under my belt.

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Another cool thing that happened last week was that I received a sketch of my book cover from Savannah Bolger, a very talented young artist from Ireland. Earlier in the week I posted on FB that I wish I had an artistic fan to sketch my cover, and the Universe must have heard me, because here it is! I’m so grateful that Savannah took the time to make this for me. I love it!

 

20140705_222055 20140705_222129Now for the update.

Ever since late May, The Darkness of Light has been steadily selling every single day and currently sits at #42 on Kindle’s top 100 for Mythology, and #82 on Kobo for Historical Fantasy. This is more than I could have ever hoped for my book, and the fact that it’s been out for almost 6 months and STILL continues to gain readership is amazing.

The sequel, The Embers of Light, is going to the developmental editor this week. I’m just adding some finishing touches to the end scenes, and will soon start revising based on the editor’s feedback. I’m terrified this book won’t live up to the first (I think all writer’s have that fear), but I’m hopeful that Malcolm’s story will fascinate readers as much as it has fascinated me.

That’s all for now!

 

Reader Questions Answered

A week ago I promised to answer reader questions on my blog. I’m a little late in getting it done, but now that I’m back to work, I’ve got some great questions from Facebook and Twitter to answer.

But first, here’s an update.

For the past month The Darkness of Light has been in the top 100 on the Amazon bestsellers list for Mythology, and for the very first time since its release it has broken into the Kobo top 100 for Historical Fantasy!!! I am still amazed that people want to read a book that I wrote and I am so grateful that four months after release new readers are finding my book. Thank you!

The Embers of Light is coming along. The release date is November 11th, and by the 30th of this month, the manuscript will be sent off for developmental editing. There is a definite sense of urgency to get this book out on time, and while I hate pressure, I love how it motivates me. The end is in sight!

Now for the questions…

How do you overcome writer’s block?

This is a hot topic. I’ve done about 30 interviews and have been asked this question about 28 times. Writer’s block is a terrifying prospect for writers and a source of fascination for non-writers, but let me tell you—it’s very real, and it sucks.

Back when you were in school, if you ever sat down to write an essay and spent hours staring at a flashing cursor, or typed paragraphs and then deleted them, then you know a little bit of what writer’s block feels like. It’s stagnancy, an inability to move forward, a complete block in your creativity.

In my experience with writer’s block, I’ve realized that when I can’t move forward, I need to take a step back. Instead of forcing myself to write (usually frustrating myself further), I pick up a book and read. The best way to find inspiration to write is in books. And once the pressure to write is lifted, I am more open to ideas that seem to come out of nowhere.

Another technique I use is pen to paper writing. I have a plotting notebook that is never far from reach. When I’m stuck on what to write, I start scribbling notes and ideas, plot points that may or may not work, and sometimes I even start writing the story by hand.

It’s always best to embrace writer’s block than fight it.

Why didn’t you use a pseudonym (pen name) for your book?

Back in the day when I used to write more …ehem…salacious material, I wrote under the pen name Dahlia Knight. I liked the freedom the pen name gave me. I could become someone else and write whatever I wanted without feeling limited by the fear of judgment.

When I wrote The Darkness of Light, I’d considered using a pen name or even just my initials, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this particular novel needed my real name on the front. I don’t fear the content, I don’t have a job that requires me to mask my author persona, and I don’t care anymore if anyone judges the novel or me. I am very proud of my novel and I am brave enough now to put my name on it. I am not saying that authors who use pen names are hiding. Everyone has their reasons. :)

What is the impact of digital vs. print on you as an author? Clearly there is a huge price difference between the two.

I sell way, way, WAY more ebook copies of The Darkness of Light than I do paperback. The ratio is about 10-1, I’d say. The ebook is only $2.99 whereas the paperback is $11.12-$13.75, so it’s not hard to see why this happens.

As far as the impact goes, there really isn’t any. I make the same royalty amount on both ebook and paperback versions. While there are copies of my book sitting on bookstore shelves, I don’t rely on those sales to make money. Instead, I spend all of my promotional efforts on selling ebooks. If the $2.99 price tag is enough to grab someone’s attention and they decide to buy the paperback instead, that’s great. But if they choose the ebook, that works just as well.

Do you think one day we will have no hardcopy books? Limited number of libraries?

This is a scary thought. Just a quick google search for this kind of question will bring up pages and pages of debates and theories on the fate of big publishing and the extinction of libraries.

I will always want and NEED printed books. They are my preferred method of reading.

The ebook surge has revolutionized the publishing industry. And while many bookstores are suffering (even Barnes&Noble seem to be in a bit of trouble), I don’t think hardcopy books will die out completely. Eventually, I think the big publishers will start to use the more economical “Print on Demand” platform that dominates the indie-author world. For example, if you order my book, that book is then printed specifically for you at one of the many print distributors around the world. There are no warehouses with boxes of my book collecting dust. The buyer pays for the product and the product is then produced. I think as the print on demand option becomes more popular, the quality of printing will improve, and hardcopy readers, like me, will continue on as usual.

With regard to libraries, as the methods of reading change, libraries are starting to adapt, loaning out ebook copies in addition to hardcopy books. I’m not sure about the fate of brick and mortar libraries, but I hope they stick around.

 

Thank you to those who asked questions. I’ll be sure to do posts like this more often. If you have a specific question you’d like to ask, find me on my facebook page http://www.facebook.com/thediachronicles, and I’ll add your question to the next blog.

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for Valentina Cano’s THE ROSE MASTER!

Hello friends. I’ve got a cover reveal for you today that has me really excited. For my non-writer friends, you may wonder why we do these things? Well, first, it’s a VERY exciting day when an author finally gets to showcase their cover, and usually other writers help spread the word–we’re a very supportive bunch, us writers. Second, it gives the book more exposure. I am not a “book blogger” per se, but I do like to feature books that I think are amazing and books I’m excited to read.

This particular novel was pitched to me as Jane Eyre meets Beauty and the Beast, and if you know me at all, you’ll know that I’ve read Jane Eyre probably 1000 times, and watched every single film adaptation known to man. And Beauty and the Beast…come on, that’s just a given, right?

So needless to say, I am VERY excited for this book and I think the cover is simply gorgeous.

The Rose Master Cover Reveal

The day Anne Tinning turns seventeen, birds fall from the sky. But that’s hardly the most upsetting news. She’s being dismissed from the home she’s served at since she was a child, and shipped off to become the newly hired parlor maid for a place she’s never heard of. And when she sees the run-down, isolated house, she instantly knows why:
There’s something wrong with Rosewood Manor.
Staffed with only three other servants, all gripped by icy silence and inexplicable bruises, and inhabited by a young master who is as cold as the place itself, the house is shrouded in neglect and thick with fear. Her questions are met with hushed whispers, and she soon finds herself alone in the empty halls, left to tidy and clean rooms no one visits.
As the feeling of being watched grows, she begins to realize there is something else in the house with them–some creature that stalks the frozen halls and claws at her door. A creature that seems intent on harming her.
When a fire leaves Anne trapped in the manor with its Master, she finally demands to know why. But as she forces the truth about what haunts the grounds from Lord Grey, she learns secrets she isn’t prepared for. The creature is very real, and she’s the only one who can help him stop it. 
Now, Anne must either risk her life for the young man she’s grown to admire, or abandon her post while she still can.

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21566652-the-rose-master?ac=1

Valentina Cano pic

Valentina Cano is a student of classical singing who spends whatever free time she has either reading or writing. She also watches over a veritable army of pets, including her five, very spoiled, snakes. Her works have appeared in numerous publications and her poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Web. She lives in Miami, Florida.
Valentina on Twitter: @valca85

 

 

 

YA Author Kat Ellis Talks About Her Debut Novel, Getting Published, And The Rules of Writing.

I promised that when I was finished Blackfin Sky I’d have a review for you, and guess what? Kat Ellis was kind enough to answer a few questions for me too. She’s such a sweetheart and answers all my crazy Welsh questions without calling me crazy. If you’re a writer or an eager reader, I suggest you add her to twitter @el_kat. As for the book, I didn’t hesitate to give it 5 stars. It’s an amazing read, but before we get to the review, here’s what Kat had to say about her novel, getting it published, and her thoughts on the dreaded rules of writing.

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1) Tell us a bit about how you got published. How did you go from aspiring author to a publishing deal in the UK and the US?

I’ve been writing semi-seriously for about four years. A couple of trunked manuscripts down the line, I wrote one that turned out to be Blackfin Sky. When my agent, Molly Ker Hawn, first took it out to publishers to look at, I had no idea what the response would be. But one day in June last year I got the news I’d been hoping for: Firefly Press absolutely loved my novel, and had contacted Molly to talk about the possibility of publishing it.

“Oh my god, someone wants to publish my novel!” (Me, with eyes so huge and round they nearly fell out. FACT.)

Running Press Teen in the US got in touch soon after. Molly worked out the details with both publishers so Blackfin Sky would be published in the UK by Firefly, and in the US by Running Press Teen. I’ve loved working with both publishers, getting to make Blackfin Sky an American and UK novel. It showed me that Blackfin is just as weird on either side of the Atlantic!

2) What has been the most exciting moment for you on the road to publishing?

There are quite a few landmark moments, really – all the firsts. Signing with Molly was one, as well as getting those first offers from Firefly and Running Press Teen. Seeing both covers for the first time – now that was definitely something! And of course, holding my book in my hands for the first time.

3) Is there anything you would do differently next time?

Easier said than done, but try to concentrate on writing the next book when things slow down on the publishing side. There are always going to be ‘rush hour’ periods as well as lulls in getting a book published, so it makes sense to use those less frantic moments to focus on the next project.

4) In your debut novel Blackfin Sky, the town of Blackfin is so mysterious and distinctive that it almost becomes a character. The setting is perfect for Sky’s journey. What inspired you to create Blackfin? Is it based on a real place?

Thank you! I love the idea of Blackfin, though I’d never actually want to go there. A lot of the elements – the pier, the woods, the circus – have a basis in my local area, but Blackfin could really exist in any coastal area. And for Sky’s story to work, it really needed to be set somewhere super-creepy and cut off from the rest of the world, where anything and everything could happen.

5) Why did you choose the circus as the alternate setting in the novel?

It was at a travelling circus that I figured out some key parts of the story. I was sitting in the stands, watching these amazing people doing tricks and stunts that shouldn’t have been possible, and I knew then what would happen to Sky. The circus was the perfect setting for her bizarre story.

6) What was the inspiration behind the Blood House?

In a town where weird things like haunted weathervanes and wishing wells that steal the coins from your pocket are accepted as the norm, all that needed to be mirrored in the place where Sky felt safest. Her home had to embody everything that makes the town of Blackfin so special, and when I started to think about what kind of place that would be, the Blood House was it.

7) The very first chapter of Blackfin Sky had me hooked. I absolutely LOVE how you had Silas as the observer. What made you decide to start the book that way instead of just staying with Sky’s pov the whole way through?

I rewrote the beginning quite a few times before I settled on it. Having Silas’ POV really sets the tone, and I think (hope!) draws the reader straight into the heart of the place, the atmosphere, and Sky’s story.

8) What are you working on now? What can we expect from you in the future?

My writing groove tends towards sci-fi and fantasy, but I like to try new things, so at the moment I’m working on a couple of things – a sinister story set in a Welsh valley, and one about psychopaths in a boarding school. I have a wicked idea for what I want to write next, but my writer’s heart is as fickle as the wind, so we’ll see!

9) Let’s talk about some of the Rules of Writing. It’s a chant us writers hear over and over, and yet, we see the rules broken all the time. What are your thoughts on:

Adverbs – I’m not a stickler for stylistic rules, or an adverb-hater. If adverbs add to your story and don’t affect the pacing, knock yourself out.

Prologues – I don’t love-LOVE prologues, because I want to be drawn into a story good and hard before an author starts throwing me around their timeline. If there’s a prologue, I’m only not going to be very invested before I’m thrown around, so it can feel like an obstacle. That said, if it’s the best way to start a story, go for it. Seeing the word ‘Prologue’ as the chapter header isn’t going to make me roll my eyes and stop reading.

Detailed descriptions of characters – This really depends on what it adds to the story, and where it happens. If I find out at the end of a book that a character I’ve been picturing one way actually looks completely different, it kicks me out of the story. The character will feel less real to me then. But if it’s relevant – say, a character is picked on for being tiny – then of course I need to know that.

Using anything other than “Said” to carry dialog – I think it’s generally better to convey tone/emotion through what is said, so in “I can’t believe you did that!” you can tell the speaker is upset, and the tag ‘he shouted angrily’ should be redundant. But there are always exceptions, of course.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some questions. J

Thank you for having me!

 

Review ~ 5 Stars!

Atmospheric and Captivating.

Blackfin Sky is an amazing debut. Kat Ellis weaves together a spine tingling mystery set in Blackfin, a shadowy little town cut off from the world and filled with secrets just waiting to be unearthed. The story will make you shiver. The cloudy skies, dark forest, Blood House (‘cause all creepy houses should have names), a veiled circus, and the spectral observer watching the mystery unfold give this novel a very Gothic feel. But while the setting fascinates, the mystery surrounding Sky’s apparent death (and return), drive the story forward. And just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the author adds another twist to keep you turning the page because in Blackfin, nothing is as it seems.

Kat Ellis is very talented writer and an incredible storyteller. It truly is a tale of magic, mystery and emotion.

Blackfin18952405When Sky falls from Blackfin Pier and drowns on her sixteenth birthday, the whole town goes into mourning – until she shows up three months later like nothing happened.

Unravelling the mystery of those missing months takes Sky to the burned-out circus in the woods, where whispers of murder and kidnapping begin to reveal the town’s secrets. But Sky’s not the only one digging up the past – the old mime from the circus knows what happened to her, and he has more than one reason for keeping quiet about it.

Add it to Goodreads

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon UK

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COVER REVEAL FOR THE EMBERS OF LIGHT!

We have a release day! On November 11th, 2014, The Embers of Light, the 2nd installment in The Dia Chronicles will be available.

Make sure to add it to Goodreads – (The Embers of Light)

Check back for ARC giveaways in the coming months.

Now, without further ado, I give you the gorgeous cover designed by the amazing dark artist, Nathalia Suellen.

jacket2

The descendants of the ancient gods think they’ve found peace, but the time has come when new magic and ancient powers will collide…

Stripped of his Dia powers and left to rot, Malcolm is a prisoner of Valenia—a sentence he finds worse than death. His thoughts of revenge are the only thing keeping him sane, but when he finally manages to escape, Malcolm discovers that living as a mortal is more dangerous than he ever imagined. After stealing from the wrong man, Malcolm becomes a captive once more, only this time his punishment is one that he won’t soon forget. His only hope of survival is Seren, an enigmatic young girl with golden eyes and a malevolence to match his own.

When he’s led to Mara and Corbin, the two responsible for his fall from grace, their new faction of Dia is in chaos, infiltrated by an ancient power thought to have been banished forever. This only fuels Malcolm’s ruthless ambitions, but he soon realizes that he too is under attack, a pawn in a centuries old game of power and greed. As new battle lines are drawn, Malcolm finds himself in uncharted waters, forced to choose between helping those he’s vowed to destroy or give in to his lingering desire to settle the score.

Debts will be paid, lives will be lost, and no Dia will ever be the same.

It takes 21 days to form a habit.

Back in my early 20s, when I was starting a career as a life insurance and mutual funds salesperson (I know, sounds boring. It was), I attended many, many, many motivational conferences. While I’m no longer selling insurance, much of the wisdom I gathered at these conferences sticks with me today.

One piece of advice I heard was that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Last year I read a Forbes article insisting that the 21 day rule is a myth. But here’s the thing, I don’t want to be a money mogul. I don’t care to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company. All I want is to get my shit together, and if I manage to stick with something for 21 days, I’m gonna call it a habit.

22 days ago, my HSN impulse buy (an elliptical/bike hybrid) showed up at my door. My husband put it together and the very next day I woke up and decided that was the day I was going to work out. My first day on this thing was hard. I had it on the easiest setting and at 15 minutes in I was ready to collapse. But I kept the 21 day rule in my head. After all, I only had to commit to 21 days, and if I didn’t like it, I could abandon ship, right?

Today was officially day 21 of my workout routine. I woke up this morning and didn’t feel like exercising. But unlike day one, two, or three of this routine, that thought quickly vanished and was replaced by “But you’ll feel so much better. It’s so much easier now. You’ve already put in so much work.”

I got dressed and got on the elliptical. On day one I was doing level 1 for 15-20 minutes. Today, on day 21, I worked out for 40 minutes on level 10. And the best part is, I enjoyed it. It’s not something I dread, it’s not something I avoid doing. 21 days later, this work out routine has become a habit.

The same principle can be applied to your writing. If you have trouble finding the time, or you find you go days without working on your manuscript, try committing to a 21 day plan for 15 minutes a day.

21 days is not a long amount of time in the grand scheme of our lives. It’s not even a full month. If you try something for 21 days and find that it makes you unhappy, then it’s not the length of time you do it, but the action itself that isn’t working for you.

If 21 days isn’t enough time to form a habit, at least it’s enough time to know for certain whether you like something or not.

So give it a try. Commit to your writing for 21 days. Commit to your workout, your walk, your plan to eat better, your plan to read more for 21 days. Hopefully by the end you’ll have a habit that no longer feels like a chore. :)