Comes the Crimson Mist: Cover Reveal and Blurb

The sequel to my YA epic fantasy novel Chains Carried on Wings is now available for pre-order. It’ll release on February 21st. So–introducing Comes the Crimson Mist:

A girl stands surrounded by a red mist in a forest. Text reads "Comes the Crimson Mist, Marina Ermakova".

Magic and machinations collide as four teenagers race to stop an otherworldly threat…

It was the city of Halfice that had led the attack on Saig’s home of Running Water–so Halfice would be the target of Saig’s infiltration mission. Struggling to stay ahead of the subterfuge pervading the city, she must come into her own to unravel the enemies’ secrets. Meanwhile, Ande must manipulate the players into sabotaging themselves. Both of them are essential to the mission’s success–if they can figure out how to work together.

Trei embarks on an espionage mission of his own, joining the mysterious and dangerous Magsak. He’ll discover how they fit into the plots against Running Water…unless they shape him into a tool for their own use first.

Back home, Auris decides how to guide her city as the new headwoman. But Running Water’s foes won’t stay away just because one assault was repelled. Auris must safeguard her home until the others return with the knowledge they need to fight back.

All of them are running out of time, as their enemies’ well-established plans move towards completion. They can’t afford for a single one of them to fail. Because if they do…Running Water won’t stand a chance.

Available for preorder from all major retailers.

Writing Update July 2020 and Virology Podcast Recommendation

So I’m easing back into blogging, if only because so many of us need something else to focus on. Racial injustice and the global pandemic are still very much issues taking up a lot of my attention and I’m not committing to a schedule for this blog yet. Today, I’d like to do a quick update on my writing progress and share a link to a virology podcast.

Writing Updates

Chains Carried on Wings 2 – first draft ~76% complete

This is my main project at the moment. I envision this series as a trilogy and once book 2 is done I’ll be writing either Terrestrial Magic 3 or Chains Carried on Wings 3.

I also have approximately half a dozen short stories that I’m still deciding what to do with. Some of them need editing, but I’d rather work on my novels at the moment than make time for them. Maybe I’ll put out an anthology at some point?

Recommended Podcast

This Week in Virology – I recommend getting information on the pandemic from scientists. The hosts of this show are experienced virologists and microbiologists, as well as science communicators.

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.

 

Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles

I was super surprised to discover I’d never actually done a list for this topic before? And since That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday is having a free topic, now is a great time to remedy that. Including all of the covers would defeat the purpose of having the titles stand on their own, so this post will have to do without.

Titles can do a lot to pique our interest, but it is genuinely hard to pull off even when the author/marketing team wants to–because often it’s more important to have the title match the genre and brand. I find that very few titles stick out. These are the ones that really impressed me (please note that I haven’t read all of them yet):


Dead Witch Walking

Did I say that authors have to choose between cool titles and branding? Because here’s Kim Harrison, proving that’s not always the case. This is still the greatest urban fantasy title I’ve ever come across even over a decade post-publication. Continue reading “Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Book Titles”

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”

Chains Carried on Wings is a Semi-finalist in the YA Genre of the 2019 Kindle Book Awards

The shadowy figure of a girl stands against a backdrop of the moon. The text reads "Chains Carried on Wings, Living on the edge of acceptance."

The 2019 Kindle Book Awards are ongoing, and they’ve just announced their Category Semi-finalists today–with Chains Carried on Wings making the cut in the YA genre.

So that’s pretty cool.

This book was all about being non-standard, from the way that my protagonists fit into their world (or don’t) to the fantasy cultures populating my story. Whether I pulled that off or not is up each reader to decide, but the experience of writing it really meant something to me, and I’m glad it does something for other people as well.

3 Book Series that Rank as my Childhood Favorites (and One I Wish I’d Read)

In another prompt from Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl, I’ll be searching my memories for whatever I can recall about the most meaningful reads I had in my childhood. Those are from three series, one middle grade historical fiction and two young adult fantasies. Plus one bonus young adult fantasy author I wish I’d found while I was still a kid.

The Royal Diaries by various authors

A girl pets a cheetah in front of a river. The text reads "The Royal Diaries, Cleopatra VII, Daughter of the Nile, Egypt, 57 B.C."

I loved this series as a kid. Every time my elementary school had another book sale, I’d hunt though the shelves for another one of these books, and it was always so exciting to find one I hadn’t read yet.

Each one of these novels, written by different authors, features one historical female protagonist from a royal/political family during her teenage years. The first one I ever read, the one that started the habit, followed Cleopatra VII (the famous Cleopatra). I don’t remember much beyond that I loved it, and that it was set during the years she and her father visited Rome–before he died, and way before she became queen.

This series also introduced me to Nzinga Mbande, who was a total badass and deserves to be way better known as a historical figure. Continue reading “3 Book Series that Rank as my Childhood Favorites (and One I Wish I’d Read)”

First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)

This topic prompt was proposed over at Top Ten Tuesday from That Artsy Reader Girl.

Thankfully, my old blog serves as an online record of my first book reviews (from 2012!). Wow, was I nowhere near as good of a writer then as I am now. In chronological order, here are the first five books I’ve ever reviewed and a quote from my not-that-well-written thoughts on them. (Also some criticisms about my former self’s reviewing skills–but with full appreciation that using whatever words I had back then is what allowed me to get better.)

1. The Lies of Locke Lamora

Genre: Fantasy

The view of a city built over a canal. Text reads "National Bestseller, The Lies of Locke Lamora, 'Fresh, original, and engrossing...gorgeously realized.' - George R.R. Martin, Scott Lynch, Author of The Republic of Thieves."
Image: Spectra/Random House LLC

“This book, set in a city evocative of Venice, is about a group of conmen who unwittingly become dragged into the middle of a political power struggle…From gladiators fighting sharks to a religious cult obsessed with their own mortality, it’s the details of the world and how it works that pulls readers in.” – World Building in The Lies of Locke Lamora  Continue reading “First Five Books I Reviewed (Which Somehow Turned into a Critique of My Past Writing Ability?)”

Roundup: Books-to-TV, Critical Role’s Animated Series, and a Book Award

Grad school is pretty hectic at the moment, so I don’t have time to write a long post. But I figured I’d mention a few recent geeky news items, and a personal update.

1. Have you guys heard about the Lord of the Rings TV show coming to Amazon? I’ve just found out it will be set before all of the action in the original trilogy and The Hobbit–which is super exciting, because I really want to see new plotlines and characters in fantasy TV.

2) Speaking of book-to-movie adaptations, Leigh Bardugo’s stories are going to have a Netflix adaptation, though I’m still confused about exactly what is being adapted. There’s been talk about both of her first two series, which have different plotlines, different characters, and take place on different continents. So are there going to be two Netflix series? Once series combining both stories? What’s going on?

Either, anything that adapts Six of Crows’ amazing fantasy heist is worth keeping an eye on.

3. Critical Role will be making an animated series. They put up a Kickstarter last week that became fully funded within an hour of launching, blew through every stretch goal (forcing them to come up with new ones), and is currently somewhere around $6.7M. Because that’s the power of a dedicated fanbase. (I backed the project too, especially since some of their rewards will be available to everyone, not just backers.)

This is pretty cool, because the format for the regular show is esoteric enough to be a bit of a barrier towards viewers who aren’t already familiar with or interested in tabletop RPGs. But an animated series will create a new possible entry point.

4.  Chains Carried on Wings is a finalist for The Wishing Shelf Book Awards! It’s in category 4: Books for Teenagers. Maybe I should have led with that, instead of burying it at the bottom. But when it comes to this self-promoting nonsense, even mentioning it is already an improvement.

Caraval: By Far the Twistiest YA Fantasy I’ve Ever Read

This was one amazing ride. At first, the appeal of this story rested in the atmosphere of the setting, filled with wonder, and in trying to figure out what is going on. And then it broke my brain.

A pattern is visible over a night sky. The text reads "Remember it's only a game...Caraval, New York Times Bestseller, Stephanie Garber."
Image: Macmillan

Premise

Scarlett has dreamed of Caraval her entire life. She finally receives an invitation to the magical carnival, where participants compete to solve a mystery with a wish as the price, when it’s too late. Her abusive father is finally marrying her off, and she won’t jeopardize her chance to be free of him.

Her sister has other plans. Tella wants to escape their father as badly as Scarlett, but she wants to do it on her own terms. And she won’t allow Scarlett to give up on something she’s wanted so easily.

But Caraval is not the haven from their troubles that Scarlett wanted. Because the mystery that she and her competitors must solve? It’s the disappearance of her own sister.

Continue reading “Caraval: By Far the Twistiest YA Fantasy I’ve Ever Read”