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Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic by Meghan Ciana Doidge

 

Meghan Ciana Doidge is a writer from Vancouver, Canada. She writes about magic and the supernatural, fantasy with a tint of romance. The newest book in her Dowser series, Cupcakes, Trinkets, and other Deadly Magic, is out now, and mixes werewolves, vampires, and cupcakes for a sweet twist on the urban fantasy genre.

Jade’s life was normal: bake cupcakes for her boutique bakery every morning, get in the occasional bit of trouble with her sister, Sienna, create art out of the magical items that seemed to find their way to her. Well, maybe not normal, but when you’re a dowser, half-witch and half…something else, “normal” is relative. Right up until the moment the vampire showed up on her doorstep.

Someone has been murdering werewolves in Vancouver. Someone with a lot of power at their disposal. Someone whose magic smells a whole lot like Jade’s.

She manages to convince the vampire investigator of her innocence, but is swept up into the search for the black magic murderer. Jade discovers that everything she has always thought she’s known is not the truth. Her family has been hiding things from her, things that will affect her life, her abilities, and her future…if she manages to stay alive at all when her barely-tested powers battle black magic for high stakes. And chocolate.

Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic is a light-hearted urban fantasy with darker shadings. The characters are unique and well-realized, and the setting does not have the traditional feel of most urban fantasies. Instead, the author offers up appealing glimpses into the quirky setting of Vancouver that will have the reader eager for more. The tasty cupcake descriptions aren’t bad, either.

 

How Do I Fill in My Setting?

Here’s the problem with picking up writing a new story after a long (like, a year) break and having a different vision for the story when you come back to it: it’s scary. And I’m afraid I’m going to miss putting in some crucial background details that will make the whole world come alive. I only have about 25 pages written, so it’s not earth-shattering right now, but I need to fill in some of the details to make the setting sing.

On one hand, I’m terrified that my setting is going to fall flat. On the other, I don’t want to get bogged down in the minutiae and not write. Catch-22. Danged if I don’t, danged if I do. So, what do I do?

I do need some advice. Should I stop the actual writing to go back and fill in all the holes I can sense in my setting? Or should I keep writing the draft, and keep a separate file for all the setting details/problems/ideas that come to me, so I can put them in later? Has anyone else ever had this problem? What was your solution? Or how do you avoid holes in your setting to start with?

Feelings of Inadequacy

When I’m writing, I have this wonderful, magical story in my head. The characters are fantastic. The conflict is intense. The world is beautiful (or at least beautifully realized). When I sit down and put my thoughts on paper, though…it’s just not.

Yes, I know it’s just first draft, and that revisions are for making it pretty and shiny. But I still want to capture the essence of that vision I can see in my head. This failure to adequately portray the true beauty of the story makes me feel inadequate, and induces what I can only call writer’s block. If I don’t write it, I’m not failing my vision of the story. Therefore, it’s safer not to write. Obviously

Except, you can’t edit a blank page. You also can’t read it, but that’s another thing. No one can appreciate the beauty—or the humor or the wonder—of a story that hasn’t been written, a character that hasn’t spoken, or a world that hasn’t been explored. So not-writing kills the story entirely, takes away the character’s breath, poisons the world.

Do you want to be responsible for that? No? Then write.

Time Flies

So, I just wrote four pages—my page goals for the past two weeks—in one sitting! Not that four pages is astonishing or anything, but it’s writing, and my characters and their world are starting to come to life for me. Which is a good thing, obviously, since what’s the point of writing about dead characters? (Unless they’re zombies or vampires. Then, maybe.)

The story is starting to burn in the back of my mind now, and I love it. I wish I had more time to spend writing, but…I don’t. it’s not that I waste a lot of time on TV or anything like that, I just don’t have time to get everything done I need and want to do. There are several non-negotiables in my life:

1) God. I give my time to Him in various forms, and that won’t stop.
2) School. Do I even need to say that this is a huge priority?
3) Work. Obviously, not working isn’t an option for me.
4) Training. Have I mentioned that I’m doing a half-marathon in December, and hiking the Grand Canyon next May? This will require some time.
5) Writing. Beyond school stuff, and the fiction, I have three blogs. (Well, four, but the fourth has lapsed for now.)

So you see my problem here? If my days had like 28 hours in them, I would be golden. Sadly, I don’t have Hermione’s Time-Turner, so that option is out for me. I’m sure I could better use my time, but I’m at a loss as to how. If anyone has any suggestions, tips, tricks, apps, ideas…I would love to hear them. I need help with this! My Muse wants to write, and I want her to be able to.

fits and starts

I actually sat down and wrote a couple of pages the week before last. Not an astonishing amount, I know, but actual writing, so I’m good with it. Then school started last week, and my “free time” dwindled to “none”. I didn’t work on The Fall at all last week. However….

Did I mention I’m taking Creative Writing this session? I’m less than thrilled about it, as I knew it would involve writing short stories and poetry—a.k.a Things I Hate to Write—but it’s required, so what are you going to do? So I actually did two writing assignments last week, of a couple of pages each, plus discussion board postings. So I wrote. It just wasn’t fiction.

This week, I totally intend to remedy that Lack of Fiction Writing in my life…starting today.

Is This “Working”?

So, I may not have instant Internet access (and probably won’t for several more months—UGH), but I do occasionally get the chance for perusal of blogs and writers’ sites. I’ve noticed something a few times lately, and it’s made me wonder: a Donation Button (i.e. a “please give me money” link).

I don’t recall having seen these before the past couple of months. It caught my eye, along with the number of people who seem to be making a living from blogging, which is intriguing to me. I’m not sure how I feel about asking for monetary support, even though saying “buy my book” is more or less the same thing, albeit you get something in return with that transaction.

I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, it’s not easy to make a living as a writer (or to make any kind of money at all). Writing is hard, and in the era of self-publishing, the market is crowded with everything from utter rubbish to absolute gems, with no way to sort through the dross. E-books are generally cheaper than “real” books, so a high price means just that many more cheaper books to take away the earning potential of your book. The phrase “starving writer” is probably just as true now—if not more so—than it ever has been. And writers need to eat. Just because we’re artists doesn’t mean we get to ignore the mundane in favor of the magic.

On the other hand, well…seriously? Asking people to give you money and get nothing in return? It seems like asking for a handout, and with the number of people undeservedly on government support (the ones who are totally capable of working but who are LAZY!), do we really need to encourage people to ask for handouts? We’re already fostering an attitude of entitlement. If people need help, we should give it to them. But if they’re merely asking for help in the interest of not working…I’m not a supporter of that. (and I’m not saying writing isn’t working, because it definitely is.)

What are your thoughts on this? Give, don’t give, do away with the “donate” button entirely?

 

 

The Girl with the Windup Heart, by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)

The Girl with the Windup Heart, by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)

Kady Cross is the best-selling author of the Steampunk Chronicles, a series set in London in the late 1890s. She combines magic and technology with the urban English culture to produce an intriguing and well-detailed world. The Girl with the Windup Heart is the final installment in the series.

Mila was a childlike part-automaton girl when she first came to live at Jack Dandy’s house. Now she’s developed a fierce personality and desires and interests of her own. When Jack refuses to see her as she is—a woman in love with him–her heart is broken and she runs away to create a life for herself. She ends up in the West End, amidst the flamboyant characters of a dazzling circus. But danger straight out of Jack Dandy’s past haunts her even there, and she will need Jack’s help if she is to survive.

Griffin King is hot on the trail of London’s latest serial killer, but he never expected his search for the murderer to lead him where it does: to the Aether, and the lair of his nemesis, The Machinist. Soon Griffin is trapped and being tortured for control of the Aether itself. If he breaks, everyone will suffer, especially Finley Jane and their ragtag group of friends.

The world of the Steampunk Chronicles is the most fascinating aspect of this series, filled with magic and technology that has never existed in our world, but set in the English culture that is ruled by manners and class-consciousness. Ms Cross’s characters are distinctive and intriguing, without being unbelievable or unrealistic, despite their unique backgrounds and abilities. The camaraderie between the group offers a solid support against the dangers of their world and the powers of their enemies, both human and other. The Girl with the Windup Heart is well-written and flows between wildly different settings with ease and grace.

(Galley provided by Harlequin Teen via NetGalley)

Out of curiosity, I always check out Goodreads to see what other people think of a book. I may not agree with their opinions, but they have a right to them. However, this time….I found one of the first reviews was overwhelmingly negative, with the reviewer not liking the world, the writing, the relationships, the characters, basically everything about this series. Nothing positive to say whatsoever. Now, this is the ONLY book of this series I’ve read. I enjoyed it. But you can bet that if I had disliked the first book in a series as much as the reviewer claims to, I would not have read farther. So tell me why, at the end of this scathing review, does the reviewer make it clear that he/she has read EVERY SINGLE BOOK in the series? Just a question: if you hated something this much, why did you continue reading it?

The Girl with the Windup Heart, by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)

The Girl with the Windup Heart, by Kady Cross (Harlequin Teen)

secondsbeforesunrise-2-copy

Seconds Before Sunrise, by Shannon A. Thompson, is the second book in the A Timely Death series. Ms Thompson is the talented Indie author of several other novels including Minutes Before Sunset and Take Me Tomorrow. She is also the recipient of a Goodreads award, and blogs frequently about writing and life.

Eric knows that his duty to the Dark—his people—is far more important that his own desires. That’s the only reason he went along with the plan to make Jessica forget everything she knew about their people, and their love. But he had no idea how hard it would be to be forgotten, to have to watch Jessica go about her life as if they’d never met, never loved each other. It is enough to drive him crazy, and he cannot afford distractions now, so close to his 18th birthday, the day the fate of the war between the Dark and the Light will be decided.   So he withdraws from everyone, even himself.

But a horrible accident serves as a frightening wake-up call, and he realizes he cannot do this alone. He must turn to those around him, those he loves, if he is to survive and not surrender.

Jessica knows something is changed; she just doesn’t know what. Her memory is gone. Her desire to find her parents is gone. And her self-confidence is gone. She feels like she’s lost a piece of herself. The only thing she has is the boy from her nightmares, and she wants to find him, even if it drives her crazy.

Seconds Before Sunrise keeps up the fast-pace of Minutes Before Sunset, with twists and turns that will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. The characters are even more compelling, fighting their dual natures as they strive to remain true to themselves. The action takes several unexpected paths, leaving the reader guessing. Ms Thompson has done a superb job of bringing both of her worlds to life, both the magical, and the mundane. Seconds Before Sunrise is an engaging read sure to appeal to fans of both fantasy and young adult, with a twist that makes it different from other novels in these genres.

I haven’t talked about writing in a while. I haven’t written in something like 15 months. To be honest, I’ve barely managed to do anything besides work the day job, do school stuff, and try to rest and recuperate from both those things. Writing…has more than fallen by the wayside. It’s dropped completely off the radar.

I had started to wonder if the Muse inhabited that part of my brain that was damaged by my stroke. I’m happy to report that it doesn’t! Yesterday, I was at work, and walked by my boss’s office. He had Enya playing, and I felt the Muse sit up, take a deep breath, and stretch. It was like she’d been resting for a long time. (Apparently, she moonlights as Rip Van Winkle.) Now she’s awake, and ready to play. And all it took was some Enya to shake her up and get her moving again (I’ve written to Enya a lot in the past.)

Now I can feel her in there, tinkering with the edges of The Fall, teasing it with her tiny, ever-moving hands as she searches out the bits that no longer fit, so she can rip them to shreds and build something new and shiny. She likes shiny, and at this point, The Fall is pretty much new and pristine, so it counts. Plus, she knows we have a lot of work to do to get it into shape for our new vision of it. It’s no longer going to be the same old dystopian zombie tale. It will still have zombies and be dystopian. But now it will be more.

I’m glad the Muse is back. I’ve missed her.

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The Devil’s Hour

I was supposed to read The Devil’s Hour, by Raymond Esposito, months ago and post a review, however….well, having no Internet since the end of April has put a cramp in my style (whatever that is). My limited Internet time went for school. Now that my summer classes are over, I’m hoping to get caught up on a lot of things. My apologies to Raymond for the delay.

The Devil's Hour, by Raymond Esposito

The Devil’s Hour, by Raymond Esposito

Raymond Esposito writes stories tinted with edge-of-your-seat horror, and that also explore the darker, hidden side of people. He is the author of the Creepers Saga, which currently consists of You and Me Against the World and All Our Foolish Schemes. His newest work is The Devil’s Hour, a book certain to keep the reader up at night.

Sam Drake has a pretty good life…if you consider being divorced and supported by your ex wife while you write about thing that go bump in the night good. He has a big house in a nice neighborhood, neighbors that he likes, and a few he doesn’t. Life, so far as Sam is concerned, is good, now that the divorce is behind him and he’s finally moved on with his life. But “good” vanishes in moments when a car crashes in Sam’s neighborhood, and a wall of black smoke wipes out the outside world.

The car crash is bad enough. The things inside the wall of black smoke are worse. Suddenly, being outside in this crazy new world is more than Sam and his neighbors can handle. But not everyone makes it back inside. And those that do must face creatures from their worst nightmares. Sam’s neighborhood is no longer a sanctuary from the world. Now it’s a demented funhouse filled with terrifying things that used to be familiar and ordinary. And not all of the nightmares came from the cloud of black smoke. Some of them were hidden in the neighborhood all along….

The Devil’s Hour is not for the faint of heart. Creatures straight out of nightmares haunt these pages, stalking both the characters and the reader. Fear comes alive on the page, as the reader becomes comfortable with Sam, a man haunted by fears like any other person. Except his fears live and breathe, instead of merely keeping him awake at night. The pages fly by, racing from one crisis to the next, leaving the reader breathless with adrenaline… and fear.

###

Raymond….I know I told you I don’t do horror very often, being something of a chicken (More accurately, I have an overactive imagination and a lot of things scare me that shouldn’t. Chickens, for example….) But seriously? This book creeped me out a lot. I found myself staying up way too late reading it…and flinching every time the air conditioner clicked on. You took some of my worst fears and brought them to life. (Clowns AND dolls? Are you kidding me? Are you a mind-reader? Maybe I need one of those tinfoil hats…) In all seriousness, this book scared the crap out of me, but I couldn’t put it down. Well done, sir. Well done.

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