Happy Cover Reveal, Stolen!

Stolen has been a book that I’ve been working on since April 2014. When Parliament House Press offered a contract, I was at work and had to keep from squeeing aloud with joy!

I’m so happy to now be able to reveal the cover for my debut novel, Stolen, Book I of the Stolen Series. Coming January 22, 2019 from Parliament House Press.

 

Look at how gorgeous it turned out! I absolutely love the colors, the menace of it, the little touches of fairies and the font. I also love that there’s a person of cover on this book, something that is so rare to find. I love the trees reaching out to her, but the way she walks with determination. There’s just so much here that makes me so very happy! The more you zoom in, the more you see all the careful details that have been added in.

Here’s the synopsis:

It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.

In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…

Make sure you add it to your To-Read list on Goodreads!

PS: You might notice some color changes around here! I thought I’d update things a bit to match more with Stolen’s color theme. 🙂

 

Tough Times

Dang, sometimes the words flow, and sometimes you want them to flow but they just refuse and life doesn’t help by throwing wrenches into your plans.

It’s been a rough few weeks, folks, I’ll admit it. Maybe I’ll elaborate more on this at some point here, but for now just know it’s been difficult. It’s been tough at times finding the motivation and the time to work on my latest WIP with all the stuff that’s been going on, so please forgive me if my updates or communication has been sporadic. Life has been a bit crazy lately, but I’m slowly finding the groove for this piece again.

It’s interesting to me, as kind of the chef here, that this book has such a very different taste than Stolen does, but all the elements are the same. It’s like putting the same ingredients for a recipe in, just in a different order. The place I’m at is also going to be the calmest part of the entire book, and I’m gearing up for all the rough times these characters are going to be dealing with down the road.

ALSO I’ve got the cover reveal for Stolen coming up on August 28! If you check out my Instagram page, you can view a preview for it in my Stolen story highlights. If you’re not following me already on Instagram, why not? Each week or so, I’m currently posting a little peek at the world behind Stolen which also will be the world behind Broken.

Check out all the posts at #WorldOfStolen

 

Project: Broken

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
8/12 – 1,840

Current Word Count: 12,651

Progress:
Finally finished stitching everything together and able to move forward at a good pace. I also figured out how I want to link this in with later scenes. My only big concern is that I’m already 12k into this story and I haven’t even written the other POV scenes yet… so, if that’s any indication, this may be longer than my predicted 80k!

Next Up:
A beautiful but deadly tour of some fascinating specimens. Also an urgent message and some sudden changes.

Commentary:
Finally these two folks are on the same page and moving toward the same goal! I have a lot of pieces to hit before I move on to the next big plot arc and really start hitting on the spooky sections.

Also you may notice that my added words don’t match with my overall wordcount updates. Basically there was a lot of fleshing out of locations and people today, so even though the overall wordcount didn’t budge as much as I wanted, some motivations for characters became far more concrete. Which is good, I’ll need that when I revisit this area later.

Stitching Scenes Together

Spent some more time this evening hammering out words for Broken! I’m rewriting this section to fit in with the rewrite I’ve done with the introduction, so it takes a bit of time to stitch everything together properly. I’m sure I’m going to be cutting things later too when I do edits, but for now the goal is just to get the words flowing!

Project: Broken

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
8/12 – 1,320

Current Word Count: 11,698

Progress:
Not as much written today as I hoped, but I had to slow down once I reached the areas I had to stitch together. It’s part of being a writer, but it’s definitely more common when you’re a pantser like I am.

Next Up:
Getting past that pride and being given an order.

Commentary:
I’m really loving digging into the environments and the sensations in this world. That’s one of my favorite parts right now, that and untangling all the emotional turmoil these characters are in. Oops, sorry guys.

Starting the Sequel to Stolen

It takes a while for me announce a new WIP, especially when it’s a novel. I like to make sure that I’ve figured out the opening and gotten a good feel for the characters. Working on the sequel for Stolen is no different. It was actually harder to start because I wanted to keep the same style and characterization that I left off with in the previous book. There are whole articles that talk about how difficult it is to get that middle book down in a series, and this was no different. It took me forever to get Shaleigh’s voice in the first book finalized, and it’s taken me a while to grasp how everything in Stolen has changed these characters. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Over the last couple of months, my writing for this book came in fits and spurts. Mostly the flow of creativity got interrupted by responsibilities that I couldn’t ignore, and when I read over the story I had so far, I wasn’t pleased with it.

As an author, I know that if I’m not digging it, my readers won’t either. So I keep revising and revising and revising until I get that introduction and opening as good as I can get it. For me, it’s important to start with a solid ground before I build up. Even though the ground is pretty solid from all that happened in Stolen, there’s still a lot that needed to be sorted out.

I write in a way that’s known as a “Planster”. Yes, I will plan and use an outline, but it’s more of a guide for me. Mostly I’m a “pantser”, letting the story and characters lead me along, making sure I hit those plot markers as I go. Those I already have figured out. Those I figured out back while I was writing on Book 1. I have found that when I get near the ending though, that’s when it’s really important for me to have an outline. Sometimes I’ll drop everything to pinpoint the steps and stages for those final scenes. (And you’ll probably see why when you read Stolen when it comes out in January!) When I was working on The Seeking earlier this year, I was very glad to be using Scrivener too, that way I could easily reorganize scenes if I needed to.

Here’s the start of my next book: Broken. It’s book 2 of the YA Fantasy Stolen series. So far it’s already pretty dark, pretty intense, and pretty darn scary. Did I mention this book will take a dark turn?

Project: Broken

Book 2 of the Shaleigh series

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
6/18 – 4,243
6/19 – 807
6/20 – 482
6/21 – 3611
7/29 – 740
8/7 – 708
8/10 – 2,226

Current Word Count: 10,609

Progress:
Oh my gosh, so much has already happened and I’m only 10k words in! An illness, a revelation, a confession, and even angry outbursts. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Next Up:
Realizing that they need to work together in order to correct this and that they need to keep moving. These two have so much to work through, not just externally but internally as well.

Commentary:
Of course, starting a new novel means putting together a new playlist! Once I get it a bit farther along, I’m looking forward to sharing it. 

My Favorite Kind of Strange

When you mention fantasy to anyone, they typically think of sweeping epics like the Lord of the Rings trilogy or Game of Thrones. Just like when you mention horror, they think of a million Stephen King titles or gory films like Saw or Hostel. Now I do love a good fantasy epics and I can enjoy a splatterfest too, but those aren’t the areas I love about fantasy and horror. My tastes run into the surreal, the inexplicable, the creepiness that lingers with you for a long time afterwards.

I thought I would describe some of my favorite scenes that have lingered with me over the years. All of these I believe are from fantasy films/books, but they’re such dark scenes that it’s easy to see the subtle terror in them.

1. Witches

When people think of this 1990 film, they typically get caught up in the amazing effects for the transformation of the witches, or the way they transform the boys into mice. These were some of Jim Henson’s last pieces that had his personal input on them, so it’s entirely understandable that they’re what most people think of when they recall this film. However the section I loved was at the very beginning. Years ago I struggled to figure out where this scene came from because it felt so very different from the rest of the movie.

You can’t tell me that isn’t terrifying! I remember being shocked that it was from such an amusing film like Witches of all things. In doing research, they ended up changing the plot of the film around quite a bit because Roald Dahl thought it would be too frightening for children. I’m so glad they kept this scene in!

2. Return to Oz

This fabulous film from 1985 doesn’t get enough credit. It’s a mishmash of multiple books in the Wizard of Oz series, but it has several scenes that are far more intense than the famous 1920s film with Judy Garland. In addition to having scenes from a bizarre, unfriendly madhouse and giving the implication that Dorothy has been having hallucinations, the fantasy world is both strange and quite dangerous.

Princess Mombi is a sorceress who not only turned the citizens of Emerald City to stone, but she then went through and chopped off the heads of all the pretty young women to use for herself. Some of the creepiest scenes are with Mombi in her hall of heads.

Dorothy is far braver than I would be as a child, but I suppose this is hardly her first visit to Oz.

3. Pan’s Labyrinth

I remember sitting in the movie theater when this film came on. When people saw that it was going to have subtitles many started to leave. Then came a violent scene that involved a glass bottle and some poor guy’s head, and suddenly all those people came trickling back into the theater. Guillermo del Toro has a fabulous taste for my favorite kind of fantasy, and this film really epitomizes it. It’s a blend that isn’t entirely fantasy and isn’t your typical horror variety either. You love the monsters he creates even though they creep you out all the same.

Intense enough? I love how it’s not quite a fairy tale even though it uses all of the typical tropes, and I love how he takes it to such a dark level.

4. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

I haven’t had a chance to watch all of the BBC series they put out about this yet, only the first episode. The book however is quite a behemoth, but so worth it! If you can get past all the scenes with Mr. Norrell and reach Jonathan Strange’s sections where he shines, you will be rewarded. One of my favorite characters in this book is the gentleman with the thistle-down hair. He’s a trickster faerie who has been quite bored and finds a way to steal away part of someone’s life. He’s a little too serious for my tastes so far in the BBC version. I imagined him far more amused all the time, but maybe that’s just me. I also love the Raven King! He’s more legend than person, which makes him all the more fascinating.

Okay, enough gushing about this book. The part that made me really fall in love with it was toward the end when the realm of the faerie world begins overlapping with the human world. Roads begin appearing all over England leading into this other land, and some people are silly enough to follow it. There’s a short scene where a knight, who proclaims himself to be the Champion of the Castle, says he will kill anyone who tries to harm the Lady of the Castle. I won’t say much more, but in the faerie tale traditions, you can figure out where that goes. Oh, and there’s also a wonderfully weird scene with a crazy cat lady. This book is chock full with weirdness in fact, which is why I just couldn’t leave it off of this list.

 

That’s all for now at least. I’m sure I’ll be adding more to this list later. I’m always finding new blends of strange, surreal worlds that appeal to me, or creating my own. If you know of any books or films that you think would suit my tastes, please let me know! It’s a very niche interest, but I would love to find more stuff like it!