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(I do not own this image. Image property of Tamara Jones and Samhain Publishing.)

(I do not own this image. Image property of Tamara Jones and Samhain Publishing.)

Tamara Jones has written the Dubric Byerly Mysteries series, forensic murder mysteries in a fantasy setting, as Tamara Siler Jones. However, these dark and gripping novels are not hallmarks of her personality at all. In addition to writing gory murder scenes, Ms. Jones also likes quilting and cats. Her newest book, Spore, is a departure from the fantasy setting, but it keeps the mysterious and creepy vibe that Jones does so well.

When Sean Casey wakes up that morning, he has no idea the entire world is about to change. It’s a normal day, and he plans to spend it working at his normal job, artist for the comic Ghoulbane. Until the first naked person wanders into his back yard from the cemetery next door.

The ten people are naked, confused…and they used to be dead. Now they’ve regenerated and want to reclaim their old lives. One of them, Mindy, stays with Sean while they try to figure out what’s going on. Her ex-husband prefers that she stays dead, and will do anything to make that happen. And Sean’s nightmares, relic of childhood terror, grow worse, spilling over into his waking world. A world now inhabited by the spreading Spore People and all of the horrors from the past.

Spore is a fast-paced novel filled with action, a bit of gore, and haunting terror from bygone days. Sean falls headfirst into the new world created by the awakening of the Spore People. As he tries to help them, and others desperate to bring back the past, he becomes a target for the fear and anger of those surrounding him. Spore is tightly written, compelling, and will appeal to readers who love mysteries, a touch of horror, or even zombies (though this is not a zombie story). Definitely a must-read for anyone looking to liven up their reading list!

Side note: Tamara Jones was a member of the first crit group I was ever a part of, way back when I started writing, something like 15 years ago. I read part of her original version of the first Dubric book, and loved it. Fantasy and forensics? How cool is that? Spore is pretty different from the Dubric books, but the writing is definitely on par. Ms Jones is a writer you should definitely read.

I’ve started working on the revision for Witches.  Which means I’ve done two chapters so far.  It’s…interesting.  The first few chapters are pretty clean, actually. I’m altering my old voice to my new voice, but I usually write first-person these days, and this story is in third-person…which is a bit of a challenge for me.  If I didn’t need multiple viewpoint characters to tell this story, I would definitely be changing the POV as well.  But I don’t think a story written from the viewpoints of at least four characters would work that well in first-person.  (Plus, that’s pretty confusing.)

So.  Two chapters down, 67 to go.

I’m considering the idea of graduate school when I finish my bachelor’s degree next December.  My school offers an online master’s degree in journalism, which is intriguing to me.  I believe words have power.  And journalism, or at least this degree, can help me to use them.  So.  Mulling that over a lot.

I also got some writing done today on Siren Song.  Win!  I broke the inertia all the way around today.  It’s been a good day.

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Mulholland Books.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Mulholland Books.)

Stuart Prebble is a British TV producer and director. He has written thrillers and comedies, including the Grumpy Old…series, as well as the television shows. His new novel, The Insect Farm, is a murder mystery/family drama.

Jonathan and Roger were inseparable. Jonathan was the adventurous, outgoing younger brother. Roger was the mentally handicapped older brother who adored Jonathan and was happy to be at his side. But all that changed when the brothers got older. Jonathan discovered girls, Roger discovered insects, and the two boys slowly grew apart.

Jonathan is away at school with his girlfriend, Harriet, when he gets the call that his parents’ house has burned down, with them inside. The police are suspicious of Roger, who was furious over their father’s threat to destroy his beloved insect farm, but Jonathan believes Roger is innocent. He quits school and moves home to care for Roger, leaving the life he’d hoped for behind. But his new life isn’t all he expected. Soon he realizes there is more going on than he ever imagined, with Roger, with Harriet, and with Roger’s fantastical world filled with insects.

The Insect Farm is a fast-paced story that stretches from childhood to old age. The relationship between the two brothers is ever changing yet static, and Jonathan is not as aware of things as he thinks he is. Filled with unexpected twists, betrayals, and rage, The Insect Farm is a thrill ride down an unexpected road.

(Galley provided by Mulholland Books via NetGalley.)

Decision Made

I’ve decided that I can’t go through the rest of the HTRYN process with this version of Witches. The distant POV and voice are just too much for me to ignore comfortably, even while revising. And the little voice in my head–I think it’s the Muse’s other personality–is jumping up and down and screaming so loudly that I can’t think straight. I even gave up on reading through the last ten chapters or so. I don’t think I have a copy of the very first draft of Witches, which is probably a blessing, but my writing has changed so much since this version, that it is proving difficult to read. My voice is SO different now!

I know it’s not always possible to “fix” a first novel, but I think this one is salvageable. If not, at least two of the characters are going to be extremely angry with me…

Update:  I just found my original first draft of Witches. I’m not sure I’m brave enough to read it…

So, I’m almost finished with my first read-through of Witches (the third version). I’m not making many notes as I go, though. Nowhere as many as I thought I’d make. It’s not that the draft is clean. Far from it. It’s that the entire draft feels wrong.

What do I mean by that? I still love the characters and the story, but the POV and voice are far different from what I write now, and, as a result, this draft feels…I don’t know, clunky, distant, impersonal? Now I have to decide if I should continue on with the HTRYN process, or go back and update the voice and POV with what I know now.

This story was the first one I ever started to write, and even if it doesn’t ever see the light of day, I would like a version that I’m happy with. I am not happy with this version.

Thoughts?

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.)

Shanna Swendson has been making up stories for years; first as a little girl playing with her Barbie dolls, now as the author of the Enchanted, Inc. series and The Fairy Tale series. Her newest book, Rebel Mechanics: All is Fair in Love and Revolution, hits stores today.

In Verity Newton’s world, the British upper class possessed magic, so the American Revolution never happened. These magisters have always ruled the colonies, and magic runs most things. But an underground society wants to change all that, inventing machines that run on steam and water instead of magic.

When Verity arrives in New York and lands a job as a governess with one of the most influential families in town, she has no idea what’s in store for her. The guardian uncle isn’t what she expected at all: he seems sympathetic to the rebels, he often comes home bloody and bruised, and he’s much younger than a guardian uncle should be, close to Verity’s own age. Soon Verity finds herself involved with the rebellion, with her job giving her a unique position to spy for a handsome young inventor who fights for the rebellion. Verity wants to help the cause, but to do so, she’ll have to reveal her own dangerous secret, and put the family she cares for at risk.

Rebel Mechanics is an intriguing look at a historical what-if: what if there had never been an American Revolution because Britain possessed magic the colonies couldn’t fight? Verity is smart but scared, wanting more from her new life than she’d ever dared dream of, but her secret could be enough to end her life. Rebel Mechanics is fast-paced and filled with adventure, along with romance, intrigue, and fun.

(Galley provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux via NetGalley.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Diversion Books.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Diversion Books.)

Sara Orwig is a best-selling and award-winning author who has written over 75 books during her career. Many of her best-sellers are western romances, appealing to readers who love both. Her new release, San Antonio, is part of the Southwestern Saga.

When Luke Dabney was a teenager, his world was shattered when outlaws attacked the wagon train he and his mother were part of. Injured and left for dead, Luke watched his mother taken away by the outlaw leader, Domingo Pietra. Rescued by an outcast, Luke vowed revenge, no matter what it takes.

Years later, Luke is heading to San Antonio on his search for Domingo, when he comes across a fiery young woman who berates him for spying on her and the boy she loves. Luke is intrigued by Catalina, but his feelings for her are frustrated when he realizes she is the daughter of the man he searches for. How can he care for the daughter of the man who ruined his life? Catalina knows nothing of her father’s criminal activities. She just knows how he treats her and controls her life. When her father has the boy she loves killed, Catalina starts to realize how evil her father really is. Can Luke reveal the truth about Domingo Pietra without hurting Catalina?

San Antonio is an entertaining read set amidst the history of San Antonio’s origins. The characters are both driven and troubled, and there are several unexpected twists that will keep the reader guessing.

(Galley provided by Diversion books via NetGalley.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Alloy Entertainment and the author.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Alloy Entertainment and the author.)

A.N. Willis writes young adult fiction, preferably with a science fiction bent. This is probably a result of her obsession with sci-fi TV shows when she was growing up. Her first novel, The Corridor, just hit shelves.

The Corridor appeared out of nowhere 17 years ago, a link to a parallel world, Second Earth. The Mods—genetically modified human from Second Earth who built the Corridor—frighten First Earthers. Mods are more: more brains, more strength, and powers that can’t be predicted, so they are tagged and detained in research labs.

The Corridor has been a part of Stel Alaster’s life as long as she can remember. Everyone knows what it did. Everyone knows that the Mods, with their scary powers, caused its creation and the disasters that ensued. But Stel is the only one who knows that she has a power, too: she can open a portal to Second Earth, or any of the parallel worlds she soon discovers. If anyone finds out, she’ll be imprisoned just like the Mods.

Then the Corridor starts emitting terrifying bursts of energy, and Stel realizes she’ll have to act if she’s to save her family and the world she loves. With the help of an escaped Mod, and a boy she met in a third universe, she sets out to discover how to stabilize the Corridor before it’s too late.

The Corridor is a fast-paced, riveting read filled with adventure, mystery, and a little bit of romance. First Earth is a world like our own, yet changed by the Corridor. Twists and turns will keep the reader eager to find out what happens to characters that are realistic and relatable. The Corridor is a fantastic read for anyone desiring adventure mixed with mystery in an exciting new world.

(Galley provided by Alloy Entertainment via NetGalley.)

If one more person tries to get me to read or watch Fifty Shades of Grey, I may have a screaming fit. No. I will not read it. I will not watch it. I would actually rather watch a Twilight marathon than do either (Yes, I’ve actually read the Twilight series. I am not a fan.) Please stop trying to get me to waste my time on something that, for me, has absolutely no value.  I think all authors have the right to write what they please. I do not think writers have the right to profit from other people’s ideas. From everything I’ve seen–for yearsFifty Shades of Grey started out life as fan fiction based on Twilight. (Please do not ask me what I think of that particular concept.) So, E.L. James has profited handsomely from Stephenie Meyer’s initial idea. That is not okay with me. I also do not read or watch James Patterson because I’ve read, many times, that he uses a team of co-writers to produce his plethora of work. I am sure those writers are well-compensated. But their name is not generally on the covers of those books. This is my personal reason for not reading either of these two authors.

Writing is hard. Anyone who doesn’t think so has no idea what they’re talking about. If I am ever so fortunate as to be published–traditionally or indie–I will be thrilled with my hard work and my ideas being appreciated. So, it offends me on a personal level when I see other writers not getting the credit they deserve. It’s like plagiarism. Seriously. And I do not support it.

Writing fiction can be magic. Words have value. Fiction has value. Just because I do not like a piece of fiction does not mean it doesn’t have value, it just doesn’t have value to me. I’m only one person out of several billion on this planet. Write what makes you happy. But write your own stories, not someone else’s. Don’t criticize someone else’s just because they aren’t your cup of tea.

And if you don’t read fiction, don’t tell me that writing it is pointless and has no value. Your argument is invalid, because you are making a judgment about something of which you have no knowledge.

Notice I did not say that Fifty Shades of Grey is poorly written or has a crappy storyline. I have never read it. I have no knowledge of it. It could be a lyrical masterpiece. It has value for an awful lot of people out there. Just because I do not find value in it doesn’t mean others don’t.

But please don’t tell me that writing fiction is valueless. Especially if you watch bad reality TV or the news instead of reading. Because everything on the news is absolutely true and not made up at all….

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Kensington Books and Lyrical Press.)

(I do not own this image. Image belongs to Kensington Books and Lyrical Press.)

Laura Johnston loves music, reading, and running. She also loves to write stories with heart. Her newest book, Between Now and Never, is a contemporary young adult novel with shades of mystery and romance.

Cody Rush is the “good” kid: basketball star, stays out of trouble, has a loving family. Julianna Schultz is his complete opposite: she loves art, her brother has a troubled past, her home life is falling apart. Cody’s dad is an FBI agent. Julianna’s mom is in prison. To make things worse, Cody’s dad is the man who put her there. Cody has only spoken to Julianna once, but he knows that their parents’ history will always make them enemies. And Cody agrees.

Until he wakes up in the hospital, with no memory of the night before, and finds pictures of himself and Julianna. Laughing. Having fun. Kissing. What happened that night? Why can’t he remember anything? And what is going on between him and Julianna? As Cody searches for answers to the mystery, he and Julianna grow closer. But the secret hidden in Cody’s memory may drive them apart forever.

Between Now and Never is a contemporary romance with hints of old-fashioned sweetness. Cody and Julianna are perfect foils for one another, and their relationship grows throughout the trials they face while the two learn to judge things—and people—for themselves, despite their past and what other people say. Between Now and Never is a great read that will have the reader intrigued by the mystery of Cody’s memories while rooting for him and Julianna to work out the issues that stand between them.

(Galley provided by Kensington Books and Lyrical Press via NetGalley.)

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