Pre-Publication Urban Fantasy Web Serials I’m Currently Following

I’m following along with the publication of two web serials by veteran urban fantasy authors, and I thought I’d share while they’re running:

Cursed Luck by Kelley Armstrong

Kelley Armstrong dozens of books across the fantasy and mystery/thriller genres, including a long history of urban fantasy. In Cursed Luck, she introduces us to a new setting, featuring the curse weaver Kennedy–who runs her own antiques shop in Boston, as she tries to ply the family trade on her own.

Kennedy’s minding her own business, until a whole slew of supernaturals turn up hunting an infamous cursed item–and turn to Kennedy’s family to uncurse it. By abducting her sisters. (Obviously, she’d not letting that stand.)

I’ve been enjoying how the protagonist draws lines for what she won’t tolerate. I’m not fully caught up–I tend to like getting a bit of a backlog so I can read several parts of these kinds of series in one go–but what I’ve read so far has been a fun story.

Ryder by Ilona Andrews (I think the title is temporary?)

This story is set in the same universe as the authors’ Kate Daniels series, following one of the side characters after she’d had time to grow up. In a post-apocalyptic Atlanta with alternating waves of magic and tech, Ryder’s returning home after a long absence.

She can’t actually contact most of her family for world-building reasons and she looks completely different, which leads to an interesting dynamic–she’s back in the city where she grew up, she’s meeting a lot of people that she knows already, but all of them think they’re strangers. That’s an intriguing dynamic to watch unfold.

The story has only started kicking off with her getting into her investigations, but it’s promising, and I’m really enjoying it so far. You might have to use the search bar to find all the parts, but they’re clearly labeled.

Musing About Finishing the Books Whose First Drafts Date Back Years Ago

With the release of Natural Sorcery, I have now officially published all of the long-form stories whose first drafts date, at least partially, from my undergraduate/early graduate lifetime or earlier. This is a huge relief.

It can be hard to realize how your writing changes and evolves until you go back to something that you’d written years before, and then suddenly you can see all the differences. And I’m still going to have the same problem with respect to drafts that I’ve started during my late graduate phase–which will inevitably have to wait their turn for publication until I complete at least one of the series I’m working on right now–but at least then I’ll be working with drafts that came from a time when I was a better writer.

And it’s not just the writing style on its own that makes me relieved to be working with things I wrote when I was older. The ideas I have for how I want to move these stories forward have changed. Terrestrial Magic as a series is always going to have its wild, chaotic world-building that can never be tamed. That’s what I’d seeded into the story when I started writing it forever ago. And I’ve accepted that in order to write that series–which I still think is very much worth writing, despite how hard I made the world-building and plotting on myself–I have to just let go and have fun with it.

But it’ll be nice to start some writing projects with world-building and plots and themes that’ll feel a little bit more like I can control them.

Unless, of course, I move on to my next projects and realize that much of this is wishful thinking. Because for all I know, my writing will always feel at least a bit like it’s gotten away from me.

One of the things I’ve had to accept, in order to start publishing, is that it’s next to impossible to have the perfect book. Projects are always going to be flawed and are probably never going to feel like exactly like what I intended. But finishing them and putting them out in the world still has value. Especially if these books find the readers that connect with them.

So really, I always have to be aware of that line between when the book really isn’t ready yet, and when it’s as ready as it’s going to be. But until then, I’m going to let myself dream just a little bit that maybe the perfect project does exist. Even if I know it doesn’t.

Free Digital Copies of Terrestrial Magic and Natural Sorcery is Released

Natural Sorcery is now out.

I’ve also been thinking about what to make available for free during the current upheaval–unfortunately, I don’t have a huge back catalog to choose from. So I decided to give away digital ebook copies of Terrestrial Magic (first in the series for Natural Sorcery, not including the bonus content in the retail version) alongside the hundred other books available at the Pages and Potions Giveaway. This giveaway will be active until May 6th.

The almost-final draft of Terrestrial Magic is also available as a web series here. Note that the ebook version has been lightly edited from the original web serial.

Natural Sorcery: First Chapter Preview and Pre-Order

cropped-natural-sorcery_paperback-3.jpg

Pre-orders for Natural Sorcery are now up. The book will release on April 23rd as an ebook.

Chapter One

The sun beat down over expansive, even fields that stretched out towards a background of rocky hills. Farmlands were not my thing, so I couldn’t identify the various crops that were laid out in rows before me. Not that I had any business doing so, or even being here. I should have been out in the uncultivated wilds, conducting my research far away from where the food production happened—the legendary animals (called legimals) that I was interested in weren’t exactly a welcome sight here.

Instead, I found myself in the passenger seat of a pick-up as Tony parked it past a gated entrance, in front of a couple of small buildings. The oppressively hot air greeted me when I climbed out of the car, a layer of sweat appearing over my skin almost instantaneously.

Ah, the joys of Mediterranean summers. Continue reading “Natural Sorcery: First Chapter Preview and Pre-Order”

Natural Sorcery is Coming: Blurb Reveal

A woman with water supernaturally rising around her. The text reads "Rome was supposed to be safe...That was before the local legends started using their magic."

Rome was supposed to be safe–or at least safer than 90% of the planet. That was before the local legends started using their magic to destroy the food supply. 

Considered one of Rome’s experts on legends, mostly because she keeps surviving their assassination attempts, Jordan finds herself racing to find the culprits before they strike again. But legends wield powers that aren’t documented, understood, or predictable. And Jordan isn’t even a soldier. She’s just some scientist unlucky enough to stumble over the local political mess. 

The chances of getting murdered by magic beyond her comprehension is disconcertingly high. But if this unknown legend goes unchecked, Rome won’t survive the next few years…and Jordan doesn’t have it in her to walk away from that.

Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics

Words read "Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo". A snake is entwined through the words.

You may have heard some of the discussion about this book, the heavy topics that it deals with. Trigger warnings that people have mentioned. So I will say upfront that, yes, this book tackles some uncomfortable topics. I’d advise anyone interested to look up those trigger warnings beforehand, just so you know what you’re getting into.

That said, I found this to be a powerful story about power dynamics. About how power is used and how it’s abused. And about an angry protagonist who’s been burned by the world reclaiming some of that power. Continue reading “Ninth House: An Unforgiving, Gritty Look at Power Dynamics”

Writing Updates 2019

The first half of 2019 went well with my fiction writing, while it ended up taking a backseat in the second half due to graduate thesis writing. Still, I’m almost done with the first draft for the sequel to Terrestrial Magic–half a chapter left to go. This is how my 2 current projects stand:

Terrestrial Magic 2: first draft ~98% complete

Chains Carried on Wings 2: first draft ~15% complete

This is slower than my target goals for the year, but I’m not too discouraged by it–writing a thesis is something of an anomaly.

First priority is Terrestrial Magic 2, and after that comes out I’ll switch over to trying to complete the second Chains Carried on Wings book.

I do have other projects in the works (which I started before deciding to do indie publishing), but I’ve committed to completing Chains Carried on Wings (which I’m currently thinking of as a trilogy) before publishing or working on any new series. Two series running at once is a good maximum at this point.

I don’t want to commit to any dates yet, but once I finish grad school, I’ll be trying to finish up Terrestrial Magic 2 as quickly as possible. My first drafts tend to be pretty clean these days, so I don’t expect many complications in the editing phase.

Other than that, I’ve got half a dozen short stories–a few set in the world of Terrestrial Magic–that I still don’t know what to do with, but will eventually make available somehow.

 

Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff

The background is a spades playing card. The text reads "New York Times Bestselling Author Stephanie Garber, Legendary, A Caraval novel."

I reviewed the first book, Caraval, here. 

Caraval is a magical carnival where participants compete to win a prize. At the previous Caraval, Scarlett competed to save her sister Tella and win their freedom. But Tella hasn’t shared all of her secrets, and those secrets will have her competing in the next Caraval–where she’ll have to choose who to save, and who to sacrifice.

In a way, Tella had been the hidden protagonist of Caraval. Scarlett might have been the narrator, but she was walking on a path that Tella laid out for her. Tella’s decisions drove the entire plot of the book. So it was super exciting to get the next book from her perspective, because though I like Scarlett, Tella has so much more agency.

And true to that promise, Legendary starts us off by revealing a whole heap of Tella’s secrets and motivations. She’d had access to way more information than we’d known (through the eyes of her sister) in the first book. And she’d tracked down that information because she’s been fighting fate for a long time now–and she’s not about to stop now. Continue reading “Legendary Gives Us a Heroine Who Knows the Value of a Good Bluff”

5 Character Traits I Love (And Want to See More Often)

This is an interesting Top Ten Tuesday prompt (by way of That Artsy Reader Girl), that I’m interpreting as characteristics I’d like to see in protagonists. And there are definitely personality traits I want to see more of in heroes (especially female heroes, who usually get a much more limited range of characteristics to work with). I’ll be ignoring the stuff I think is already pretty common, like various types of compassion or diplomacy.

Here’s five things I wish more protagonists would be:

Awkward

There’s a stereotypical notion of awkwardness, but the reality is way more varied than we usually get to see in fiction. As someone who’s pretty awkward myself, I want more representation of that range. And I want those kinds of characters to be mostly unapologetic about how they are.

Examples: Beka (Terrier), Keyleth (Critical Role)

An image of a pendent, with a creature's head on it, with the words "#1 New York Times Bestsellling Author Tamora Pierce, Beka Cooper, Terrier, 'Tamora Pierce is a pillar, an icon, and an inspiriation.' - Sarah J. Maas, #1 New York Times bestselling author" Continue reading “5 Character Traits I Love (And Want to See More Often)”

Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: Another Layer of Secrets Is Revealed, as Our Protagonists Recover from the Last Book’s Ordeal

A woman with a knife. The text reads "New York Times Bestselling Author Seanan McGuire, Night and Silence, An October Daye Novel"

If I needed any more evidence that grad school was driving me hard here it is: I didn’t even realize the latest October Daye novel had been out for a year. My ultimate auto-buy series, the one that’s reached a dozen novels now without my interest in the story dipping even a little.

Yeah, wasn’t expecting that. But now I’ve finally caught up with my favorite series…just in time for the next book to come out.

Centuries of Backstory Catching Up with Our Protagonists

The protagonist of these novels is Toby Daye, a part-fae detective whose heritage is so convoluted even she’s still figuring it all out. Daughter of a powerful but absent blood worker and a human man, Toby has had to carve a place for herself in a world that didn’t want her. She’s built her own circle of support, solved mysteries, been declared a hero of the realm…and made ridiculously powerful enemies. (Though to be fair, her greatest enemy had already been in place the moment she was born.) Continue reading “Night and Silence by Seanan McGuire: Another Layer of Secrets Is Revealed, as Our Protagonists Recover from the Last Book’s Ordeal”