Category Archives: Books

New Release: Gyre by Jessica Gunn + Interview

Hey everyone,

Long time, no see. I know, I know. It’s been a while since I’ve been around these parts. It’s been quite a crazy past few months, you see. Between secret projects and new manuscripts and a new business I launched in October, I’ve been a little out of sorts and definitely slacking on blog posts.

So, I’m back! And to kick off my return, I have an interview with an amazing New Adult Speculative Fiction author (and good friend of mine) named Jessica Gunn whose first novel Gyre has been published TODAY (AHHH!!!). Check it out:

  1. Hey Jessica! Congrats on your first novel being published! Having had my first one published last year, I know it is an awesome yet terrifying experience. How are you holding up? Any plans for release day?

Hah! I was doing okay until the book went up on Netgalley. But really, I’m excited. This is my dream! Regardless of what happens next—though I do hope readers enjoy the book—there’s self-satisfaction in this and I’m going to enjoy every bit of it. Especially because this is Gyre that’s being released into the world. Gyre and I have been through a lot!

  1. What was your journey to publication like?

Long and filled with many revisions! I started Gyre in November 2012 for NaNoWriMo, then spent many, many months revising the bookGyre Cover_2000.jpg. It was the first novel I really took seriously as far as publication went, so it was also the first manuscript that’s had critique partners look at it. Since 2012, I think Gyre went through 4 major overhauls and 2 querying rounds, including a Pitch Wars run, before it finally found a home at Curiosity Quills who, actually, was the first press I looked at in 2013 that I wanted to send it to if I went the small-press route.

  1. So, let’s be clear, Gyre is awesome (check out my review)! Where did you get the idea? What are the major inspirations for this novel?

I’ve always been in love with the idea of Atlantis and other ancient mysteries. I find the idea of Atlantis almost romantic and I really just wanted to explore it in a new way and without the various sea creatures usually attributed to it. The rest of it sort of just fit together.

  1. Without giving too much, Gyre focuses on the lost world of Atlantis. Have you always been interested in lost worlds? Why did you choose to write about Atlantis?

Yeah, pretty much. I’m not sure exactly when or how the fascination with lost worlds started but I’ve always been into ancient history and dinosaurs and fantasy, especially Atlantis. I’ve always wanted to use Atlantis in a story, so for Gyre it was an instant choice, but it also worked because I wanted to use a more atypical setting for new adult fantasy/sci-fi, and “underwater” fit. Besides, the story of Atlantis is so timeless! I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of Atlantis stories 🙂

  1. On your website, I saw that you have a degree in Anthropology. That’s so cool! How do you think that influences your writing and Gyre?

I think I approached the mythology and historical aspects a bit differently, in that my characters tend to try debunking things instead of just going with it. For instance, Chelsea doesn’t want to believe they’ve found evidence of Atlantis. In fact, she might be the last person on the whole station that accepted what they found. I’ve found anthropology, specifically the archaeology field, is as much about studying humans as it is debunking crazy claims until there’s nothing left but the truth.

  1. I was excited to find out the Gyre is the first book of a larger series called The Atlas Link Series. How many books will there be? What can readers expect from the rest of the series? Can you give us any tidbits to tide us over until book two?

Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed Gyre enough to want to read more 😉 There are five planned books! I so really shouldn’t give tidbits for risk of spoiling Gyre but I can say that as far as the time traveling and ancient history aspects go, what the characters discover in Gyre barely scratches the surface.

  1. Now that your first novel has been unleashed on the world, what advice do you have for prospective published authors? Is there anything you would have done differently?

There’s a fine line between writing for yourself and writing what the market wants. Sometimes it’s good to steer way away from that line and do what you love, and sometimes there’s a good reason to tread carefully. I wish I’d have known that, as well as knowing that everyone’s on this journey at a different pace. Your publication journey will never be identical to someone else’s, so there’s absolutely no use in comparing. Easier said than done, I know.

  1. Last question: in a sense, Gyre focuses on travel and uncovering the unknown. I myself am a huge travel nut. If you could travel anywhere, whether the place is in the real world or completely fantastical, where would you go? What would you bring with you?

I’m not sure if this is cheating, but I would 100% go to the Tardis and I would bring the Doctor. Then I could go anywhere, in any time. Even if the Tardis decided to be snarky like she sometimes is and drop us off wherever she wanted, at least I’d have gotten to the Tardis!

Not cheating answer: Stonehenge, right after it was built. That’s one mystery I want to see absolutely solved!

And Now… More About Gyre:

Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record.

While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not.

Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war.

With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.

Buy GYRE on Amazo

More About Jessica Gunn:

Jessica GunnJessica Gunn is a New Adult author and avid science fiction and fantasy fan. Her favorite stories are those that transport the reader to other, more exciting worlds. When not working or writing, she can be found binge-watching Firefly and Stargate, or feeding her fascination of the ancient world’s many mysteries. Jessica also holds a degree in Anthropology.

To catch up with Jessica, follow her on Twitter (@JessGunnAuthor) or on her website, www.jessicagunn.com.

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Interview with Katie Hamstead, Author of Deceptive Cadence and the Kiya Trilogy

Today I had the opportunity to interview Katie Hamstead, author of The Kiya Trilogy, about her newest release Deceptive Cadence and about being an author, mom, and time-traveler (okay, sort of time-traveler). Check it out!

510ij-ZBjQL._SX307_BO1,204,203,200_Briefly, describe what “Deceptive Cadence” is about.

Deceptive Cadence is about a young woman who loses everything, but is given a second chance to change it. It follows her reliving her teen years as she works to mend the broken relationships in her life. But when you change something, you can’t anticipate the results, including for her, James walking into her life and making everything very complicated.

Tell us the story of how you came up with this idea.

I think everyone has regrets and “what ifs” in their lives. I’ve thought about things like that on and off, and wondered where my life would be if things had gone differently. Cadence is an exploration of that, but she can remember the mistakes she made so she doesn’t do them again. I even threw in some scenes from my own life to spice it up! I wonder if anyone can pick them out.

I’ve also read that you were influenced by the ocean and by your upbringing in Australia as you wrote “Deceptive Cadence”. Is that true? What were the other main influences for this novel?

Mostly there are trips to the beach. Like many Aussie kids, I lived on the beach during summer, and if I wasn’t there, I wanted to be there. Cadence is the same, which gives a taste of Aussie culture to the book.

There is also a strong focus on family and true friendship. Cadence learns about these things in more depth with her second chance, and learns how love is more than just romance.

This novel to an extent focuses on a tragedy that makes Cadence re-evaluate her life and her choices. Without compromising your privacy, was there an event in your life that had a similar impact that you drew from while writing?

I haven’t lost my husband and daughter, but on occasion I wonder what I’d do if I did. It’s morbid, but it happens to some people. I do know if an angel came and said “go back and you could change this” I’d snatch it up. I’ve seen people around me lose a child or a spouse through sickness or accidents, and I can only imagine how devastating that would be.

Changing gears a little bit: throughout your career, you have written various genres spanning historical fiction, contemporary romance, and magic realism. What differences, if any, do you see in your own process when you write different genres?

I don’t know. Historical obviously needs some time to research to establish a timeline, period mentality, etc. first, while contemporary can just be drawn from things around me. But I always try to write from the heart, to give my characters a raw, real feeling to who they are.

downloadBefore I ask this next question, I wanted to congratulate you on a recent success: your novel “Kiya: Hope of the Pharaoh” has sold 10,000 copies worldwide! What do you think has made it so successful? Are there any writing or marketing secrets you can share?

You know, I don’t know! Ha, ha! I know the biggest jumps I’ve seen are through sales promoted by Bookbub. These sales give things a kick start that flows through for several months and to the rest of the trilogy.

Personally, I maintain a blog with a page showing my works and links to them, a Facebook page, and a twitter account. I also work to be supportive of those around me, and those working toward their own publication. It’s amazing what karma can do!

Mostly, I share what I do with people I meet. It can be hard to put myself out there, but in general, people get pretty excited when they find out I’m published. Word of mouth spreads. In fact, I heard recently of a group that are nuts about my trilogy clear on the other side of Phoenix, and I don’t know any of them! That had to happen due to word of mouth.

Being a writer myself, I am always in awe of people who are able to do it full-time. Take us through a typical day for you as a writer.

I don’t know if I’d say it’s full-time. I’m a mommy first, and that is close to a 24 hour gig. Luckily, my kid is very understanding that I need time during the day.

My day changes every day, but usually it starts with me being up first to check emails and work on anything that came through during the night. Then I get ready for the day while the kiddo eats breakfast at a snail’s pace. In the morning, I try to get her out to do something, whether it’s visiting Grandma, preschool, visiting the library, or just running errands, to run off her energy and fend off her boredom.

After lunch, we have “quiet time” where she plays quietly in her room (technically) while I try to get some work done.

Hubs comes home in the evening, and I try to get dinner done, but being pregnant makes that difficult most of the time, and we try to have family time before bed and if we don’t have other commitments. Once the kid is in bed, we try to spend some time as a couple, talking, watching a show or something he discovered on YouTube, before I go into my bubble to try to get some words on the page.

But my days are extremely flexible. I have to be with a kid. I’m just glad I can work from home to help support my husband while raising our kid.

Related to your typical writer lifestyle, how long does it take you to produce a novel, and what does that process look like?

It takes me a lot longer than I used to. With my daughter being older, and more interactive, I have a lot less free time than I did when she was a baby/toddler and still took naps. Back then, I remember pumping out a novel in a month. Now, with her combined with a lot more editing commitments, it takes me quite a while, I don’t know exactly how long.

My process is… a jumble. I get ideas in my head, write a scene here and there to add later, but in general I write from start to finish, adding those scenes in as I go. If my head was laid out on a piece of paper, it would probably look like a giant mess with pictures and images everywhere, but it sorts out eventually.

What advice would you give new authors or prospective authors who are trying to make a successful writing career?

Write it out, review it, then get out and involve with other writers. I had no idea how little I knew until I knew better. Other writers helped me grow and learn in leaps and bounds as long as I stayed open to the constructive criticism. Writing is a game of patience and refinement. You’ll get there eventually.

Fun question (and related to “Deceptive Cadence”): If you could travel back to your high school years, what would you change?

I’d probably smack a few people in the head! Ha, ha, ha! No, but I would be more assertive and way less afraid. Outside of school, I was a pretty fun kid, but the kids at my school were brutal to me. I wouldn’t put up with it if I could change it.

________

You can check out Deceptive Cadence and other stories by Katie on Goodreads. You can also check out Katie’s website for details on upcoming releases, promotions, and her blog!

Deceptive Cadence Release + PARTY!

Deceptive Cadence I

Hey everyone!

Today I have the honor of hosting a half hour of a Facebook Release Party for Katie Hamstead’s Deceptive Cadence. If you’re available from 3:00 to 3:30 pm EST, come join me at the party for fun games, a giveaway of The Black Oracle, and a celebration of Katie Hamstead’s latest release!

What is Deceptive Cadence and who is Katie Hamstead, you ask. Check it out!

Deceptive Cadence IICadence Anderson has the perfect definition of happily ever after…

Until she doesn’t. A freak earthquake shatters her life as surely as her home, taking away everything she holds dear. She wakes in a hospital to find that her beloved husband and infant daughter have been killed, crushed by the earthquake’s wrath. Disoriented, injured, and alone, Cadence refuses to accept the loss. So when a man claiming to be her guardian angel appears and offers her a chance to go back in time to save her family, she doesn’t need to give it a second thought. She accepts.

Thrust back eleven years, she now faces the ordeal of high school all over again. But this time, she’s armed with all the knowledge of her adult life and the determined to do everything better, from preventing the loss of her best friend to avoiding her original, drama-inducing boyfriends. She’s focused solely on Austin, her future husband, and is content to bide her time until she meets him again.

But then James Gordon crosses her path. Cadence wants to remain single, but James has his sights set. He is determined to win her over, and he’s very hard to resist. As Cadence starts to develop unwanted feelings for him, she realizes he threatens to disrupt everything, changing the future and distracting her from her original goal. Now, Cadence must choose: deny the unpredictable and exciting path James offers her, or stay true to the life she had and is trying desperately to resurrect. Second chances are more complicated than they seem.

Deceptive Cadence combines the soaring emotion of a heartfelt romance with the innovative storytelling of magical realism, crafting a uniquely moving, intricate tale about love and loss that asks: what would you do if given the chance to right all your wrongs?

You can buy Deceptive Cadence NOW from Amazon!

Katie-Teller-Author-PhotoAbout Katie Hamstead:

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.

After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dogs.

She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as an Acquisitions Editor to help support her family. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

Find Katie Hamstead on twitter, facebook, and her website.

You can enter to win a copy of Deceptive Cadence by entering here. Further, check out a trailer for the book here.

I hope you all will join me for the party! It’s my first time hosting so I’m a little nervous, but it should be a good time!

The Black Oracle OUT NOW!

Hey everyone!

I am happy to announce that today is the day that “The Black Oracle” is available worldwide! You can pick up an eBook copy here or a paperback copy here. If you do get a copy, please be sure to leave a review on Amazon or on Goodreads, good or not-so-good. Check out the description:

The_Black_Oracle_Cover“On a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans are not alone.

Joachim is a hunter. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.

And now they’ve taken Joachim’s wife.

To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.

In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included.”

So without further ado, I thought I’d post an excerpt to celebrate.

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“Darcie had been sitting in the doorway when he returned to the village not yet two evenings ago. The day had been hot, and Joachim was sweaty and dirty and tired. He lowered his rucksack, and she closed the book she had been reading, one from Baruch’s Old Earth library, like all the others.

“Welcome home.”

He’d spent the last six weeks in the arms of the jungle, the cold, dark, unforgiving wilderness that never truly felt right even on the most beautiful of days. Joachim had hunted in those trees all his life, but nothing compared to Darcie. In her eyes, he was home.

“How did the great hunters fare?” she teased. “Did you take down three alligators this time? How about an elephant? Will we have enough elephant meat to last us until next summer?”

“Not quite,” Joachim replied.

She stood with her hands on her waist. From the back, someone would think that she was upset if not for the expression on her face. She watched him from under her brow, her chin turned slightly downward. She smiled.

“I missed you,” he whispered as he snuck his hands onto her hips.

“No, you didn’t.” She smirked. “You and Ben and Trent are like children out there—like young boys. And the jungle is your little paradise.”

“What if I told you that you are my paradise?” He kissed her neck.

She snorted. “Oh, please. Think you can just walk in here and woo me with some flattery?”

“I know I can.”

Darcie’s arms snaked around him. Her lips were as intoxicating as barley sweetened in the sun, and soon, he lifted her off of her feet and pressed her against the wall.

“Joachim!” she exclaimed. “The neighbors.”

“There’s no one watching.”

She laughed and hit him lightly on the chest.

“How was everything while I was gone?” Joachim asked.

“Fine,” Darcie said. “Boring.”

They went inside the dwelling. There was simmering jackalope stew on the stove.

“Ophelia’s ceiling had a leak last week,” Darcie continued. “A big rainstorm pushed through here, and it ripped some of the roof off. Did you get a storm out there in the jungle too?”

“Yes,” Joachim said. “I’m not even sure my rucksack is dried all the way through yet.”

He dipped his finger into the stew. It tasted salty.

“And how are you?” he asked.

Darcie played with a lock of her dark hair and bit her bottom lip. She reminded him of the day they married. There had been no parent left to walk Darcie down the aisle, so she walked herself. The whole time she eyed him: shy yet eager. Almost childlike.

“I’m pregnant,” she said.

He almost dropped his hand back into the stew. A little boy, she had just called him, alluding to his exhilaration whenever he entered the jungle. And Darcie was right: he often became so energized that he did feel like a little boy—and he felt like one again now. He felt like laughing, like scooping Darcie up and twirling her around. He could feel life bursting through his chest: ravenous innocence and maddening excitement. They’d been yearning for a child for so long.

“You are?”

“I found out into the second week of the hunt.” She touched his face. “I skipped my cycle, and I told Jolyne. She ran a test and told me I was expecting.”

Joachim cried. The hunter was supposed to be brave, but being brave sometimes meant having courage to show his emotions. He wept for her, smiling and laughing through the tears, and she cried too.

She spent the night tight to his chest and coiled in his arms like a huntress in camouflaging paints, like a butterfly in a cocoon.

Like she was protected by a shield.

Joachim wished she were there for him to protect now. She hadn’t mentioned the creatures that evening, and he doubted she even knew that they had come while he was away. But now she was gone, and so he had to be too. If he waited too long, the creatures would keep her away from him forever.

If she wasn’t already.”

ender

Headshot.The.Black.Oracle

Michael Cristiano is a Canadian writer. His relentless obsession with writing began long before he could spell the words ‘relentless obsession’. Growing up in endless suburban sprawl, he spent most of his childhood pretending to be Harry Potter and attempting to get published by the age of thirteen.

When he isn’t writing or reading, he can be found planning his next backpacking trip around the world. He is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with studies in Foreign Language and Linguistics. Previously, he attended a Regional Arts high school where he majored in drama. He is fond of all things dramatic.

Michael currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area, and he is using his years as a twenty-something to establish what he hopes will be a long career in writing. He works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press, and his freelance work has appeared on websites such as Nexopia, FluentU, and BlushPost. The Black Oracle, his debut novel, is out now.

Like him on Facebook. Follow him on Twitter.

Cover Reveal for Undercover Empath by RaShelle Workman

The lovely international bestselling author RaShelle Workman, a fellow author of mine on Curiosity Quills Press, has a new book coming out, and the cover is pretty awesome!

And better yet, the novel itself sounds epic: Nineteen-year-old detective Rose Hansen has a secret. She can read a person’s intentions by touching their hands, and that’s the least strange thing about her.

Only one person knows, her partner Jack.

At least that’s what she believes until a handsome, shirtless stranger appears on her doorstep in small town Blush Valley, California. He leaves her an envelope, but not before articulating his disappointment in her for ignoring her powers. The contents send Rose on a path toward the supernatural, solving her parents’ murders, and possibly even saving the world.

Aside from that, Rose and her partner have two important cases they’re working on. The first involves a missing child. The other is the death of a stripper. Once it is ruled a serial killing, an FBI agent from L.A. shows up and is given lead. To make matters worse, he asks her to go undercover. As a stripper. And that is just the beginning of her troubles…

And now for the cover!

Sounds cool, right? The colors of the cover are dark and fantastic, and the contrast of the eyes remind me of that National Geographic photo of Sharbat Gula. Now, I’m not normally a fan a romance, but the cover alone would have me reading.

About RaShelle Workman: RaShelle Workman is a bestselling author, wannabe chef, and dog lover. She’s publishing a brand new series entitled UNDERCOVER EMPATH with her amazing publisher, Curiosity Quills. She’s also been self-publishing since 2011 and has no interest in stopping.

Her motto is: LOVE HURTS. LOVE HEALS. So LOVE HARD! And it shows in the different genres she writes.

You may know RaShelle from her popular series BLOOD AND SNOW, a re-imagining of Snow White with a vampire twist. There are several series within the Blood and Snow world, all inspired by different fairy tales, including THE CINDY CHRONICLES, THE BEASTLY SERIES, and THE EVER AFTER SERIES as well as several short stories. In 2016, she’s releasing a new adult series from the world entitled THE DARK MOTH SOCIETY. The Blood and Snow series has sold more than a million copies worldwide since release of the first book in 2012.

RaShelle is also the author of The Immortal Essence series (YA sci-fi romance), Sleeping Roses (contemporary romantic suspense), and Across the Ages (YA time travel romance). Her books “Sleeping Roses”, “Exiled”, “Beguiled”, and “Dovetailed” have foreign rights contracts with a Turkish publisher.

Currently, RaShelle lives in Utah with her husband, three children, and their three dogs. Visit her website to join RaShelle’s EXCLUSIVE mailing list and be entered to win a signed paperback copy of Blood and Snow volumes 1- 4 (Special Edition). And be sure to like her Facebook page for all the latest news.

Find RaShelle on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog

RaShelle is giving away $25 Paypal cash during the cover reveal! Be sure to help spread the word to win!

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Cover Reveal for The Black Oracle!

I’m happy to announce that today is the cover reveal for my novel The Black Oracle!

So, without further ado, check it out!

The_Black_Oracle_Cover

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Release Date: May 25, 2015
Cover Art: Alexandria N. Thompson

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans are not alone.

Joachim is a hunter. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.

And now they’ve taken Joachim’s wife.

To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.

In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included.

Add it to your to-read list on Goodreads!

——-

Bio_PictureMichael Cristiano is a Canadian writer. His relentless obsession with fiction began long before he could even spell the words ‘relentless obsession’. Growing up in endless suburban sprawl, he spent most of his childhood getting lost in fantastical masterpieces and attempting to be published by the age of thirteen.

When he isn’t writing or reading, he can be found planning his next backpacking trip around the world. He is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with studies in Foreign Language and Linguistics. Previously, he attended a Regional Arts high school where he majored in drama. He is fond of all things dramatic.

Michael currently resides in the Greater Toronto Area and he is using his years as a twenty-something to establish what he hopes will be a long career in writing. The Black Oracle, his debut novel, is due for publication on May 25, 2015.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

a6e224bbc4092e7222905bfdcd053ff1While I was on vacation in the Dominican Republic last month, I attempted to read two things. First, I relapsed and tried to struggle through A Clash of Kings after declaring that I didn’t want to read it anymore. I’m sad (happy?) to say that I’m still struggling through it today, and I actually don’t hate it. Second, I got through a book that I’ve wanted to read for a long time by an author I’ve heard amazing things about. I read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I have just one thing to say to sum up my experience:

I AM NOT WORTHY!

Needless to say, I loved it. I won’t lie, I didn’t understand it at first, especially with its quirky beginning and alien abduction scenes. But, *spoiler alert*, once I found out that the main character was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the second world war, something clicked, and I understood the piece for what it was — and I wholeheartedly enjoyed it! And on top of that, it was hilarious.

A lot of criticism for this novel comes from Vonnegut’s disjointed and confusing storytelling, and for the first hundred pages, I would agree with the critics. I was confused as all hell for the first third of the book, and I found myself thinking that I had picked up another 300 pages of overrated crud, but once I understood why this was happening, it became easier to read somehow, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Besides the obvious great storytelling and the layers of symbolism, one question does come to mind, and it is often debated between readers once they’ve finished reading: Is Slaughterhouse-Five an anti-war novel? Sure, the main character fought in world war two, has obvious mental duress, and believes he had been abducted by aliens to live on a foreign planet and mate with a huge movie star, but is this a criticism of war?

To be honest, I’m not sure why this question is being asked. The answer is clear: of course it’s an anti-war novel! Yes, the main character takes a rather neutral stance in regards to his time in world war two, replacing deep sentiments with the phrase “so it goes“, but that in itself is anti-war. This man is irreversibly damaged, numbing himself to great pain and living in delusions in order to escape his horrific past. Sure, nothing Vonnegut writes says “WAR SUCKS” in bold red letters, but he doesn’t need to. The fact that this man is so broken speaks for itself.

All in all, this was a great introduction to Vonnegut’s work, and I am excited to read more. He might even make it up there with some of my favorite greats: Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Margaret Atwood.

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts on the anti-war sentiment?

The Black Oracle is Now on Goodreads

Hey everyone!

Just a quick post before I give my review of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five within the next few days. I am happy to announce that my debut novel, The Black Oracle, is now up on Goodreads. Further, I am ecstatic to finally say that it will be released on May 11, 2015!

Stay tuned for my cover reveal later this month and for ordering details, but for now, check it out and add it to your to-read list on Goodreads! I’ve attached a description of the novel below.

THE BLACK ORACLE

On a post-apocalyptic Earth, humans are not alone.

Joachim is a hunter. Though generations have passed since the Great Death, something has evolved in the trees beyond the giant glowing mushrooms, mutants that want to see human entrails spread along the jungle floor.

And now they’ve taken Joachim’s wife.

To get her back, Joachim will have to give the leader of these demons something in return: immortality. A creature knows when he is going to die, after all. Plunged into a world of magic and darkness, Joachim must find the only woman in who knows where the ingredients are. She is a prophetess known as the Black Oracle living in the realm of Zalm, but she’s a little preoccupied at the moment. She leads a rebellion against the ruthless High Council, and when Joachim seeks her out, he too finds himself consumed by her struggle.

In a story of betrayal, prophecy, and bloodshed, Joachim has ten days to retrieve the ingredients and return to Earth all while evading the High Council’s army, one that wants the Black Oracle and her associates killed — Joachim included.

5 Reasons Why I Leave a Book Half-Read

It’s happened again. I’ve fallen out of love. Well, actually, I don’t think I was ever in love, but after 200 pages of George RR Martin’s A Clash of Kings, I’ve decided to take some space. I mean, I think it’s better for the both of us. I need to answer some very serious questions: Who am I? What do I want? More importantly, what don’t I want, and right now, that’s this.

It’s nothing personal against George RR Martin. I read A Game of Thrones two summers ago and I loved it. I will, however, say that it took me a long time to get into it. Say, 150 pages? But I just can’t do it this time. So, that led me to think about why. Why do I ditch books halfway through? It seldom happens. I honestly think I’ve only ever done it to about a dozen books, but is there a formula?

I strove to find out.

I Hate the Characters

I’m not going to lie, this doesn’t happen very often for me, but when it does, it’s a huge turn off. And I don’t mean the good hate. Think Joffrey from Game of Thrones. That’s good hate. It feels good to hate him. You watch the show or read the book just so you can see what he’s going to say or do next so that you can get angry and want to strangle the poor kid.

I’m talking about the other hate. In this circumstance, I can’t stand a character. It started happening with Harry Potter circa The Order of the Pheonix. Harry became whiny and annoying and acted like the whole wizardly world was against him and that made me want to reach into the pages and give him a smack across the face. Now, in that situation, I didn’t stop reading, but it definitely slowed my pace down. I was happy when he stopped being such a suck in the subsequent books.

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Where’s the Plot?

I understand the lack of plot for artistic reasons (think Catcher in the Rye), but unless you’re JD Salinger or F. Scott Fitzgerald, you best have a point. I can’t stand getting halfway through a story and realizing that it isn’t going anywhere. It’s like seeing a car crash happening in slow motion. You know what’s going to happen, but you trudge on thinking that you’re wrong, and then you get to the final scene and–

Nothing. There’s just a whole lot of nothing.

And the worst part is that I sometimes don’t even see this coming until it’s too late. I’m invested in the characters, and I just need to know. But if I had some foresight or if I had bothered to read reviews of the book on Amazon or Goodreads, I would put the book down.

Three Words: TOO MUCH DESCRIPTION!

This is the number one culprit. If I decide halfway through a book that I don’t want to read it anymore, ninety percent of the time it’s because there’s too much description and I’m bored: too much description of the setting, too much description of objects. And the worst: too much description of past events and back story.

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Too much description has sealed the fate of quite a few books that I’ve decided not to read: Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, Across the Face of the World by Russell Kirkpatrick, and most recently A Clash of Kings by George RR Martin. That’s not to say that I won’t return to these books. This happened to The Lord of the Rings Trilogy at first, and I ended up finishing all three eventually and loved them. This is just to say that I won’t read these kinds of books right now. I need time to engross myself, time that my life just doesn’t have right now. I’m too busy a person for a book to spend hundreds of pages describing trees and rocks and lineages.

Maybe I’ll make reading these books my retirement task.

The Writing is Full of Errors

This one is self-explanatory, and this often leaves a book unread before I even start reading. Most of the time, this doesn’t happen to big name authors, but a lot of indie authors that have piqued my interest have sealed their fate with spelling and grammar errors. Sure, they happen, even with a professional editor. But when it’s clear to me that there has been no editor, none at all, I’m out. I won’t buy.

The Writing is Just BAD

Thankfully, I have yet to read a book where the writing was so bad that I stopped reading. There have been cases where the writing isn’t my cup of tea, per se, but I normally trek through, especially if it promises to be an easy read.

However, bad writing has stopped me from buying a book outright. Think the Twilight Saga or the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy (Gray? What country is this?). I picked up the books in a bookstore just to see what the hype was about. At around five to ten pages in, I would decide the writing was crap and the books wouldn’t be for me. I know sometimes this is an unpopular opinion (sorry Twi-hards!), but as my mom always says: Life is too short to read a bad book.

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So, with that in mind, I extend my apologies to A Clash of Kings. This isn’t working out for me, and I’m thinking I should leave before one of us gets really hurt. Maybe we can try to make this happen some other time. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.

What makes you stop reading a book? Reply in the comments.