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Interview: Tenaya Jayne @TenyaJayne

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We haven’t had an interview in a while, but today I’m thrilled to welcome literary ninja Tenaya Jayne! I’m on her street team and I absolutely loved her debut novel, Forbidden Forest, which is free on Kindle Unlimited! You can read my review here and click on the book covers for the Amazon pages. Without further ado, Tenaya Jayne, everyone!

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Nationally Bestselling author Tenaya Jayne has always walked a shaky line between reality and fantasy. A nomad by nature, she’s lived all over the US, and now resides happily in the Midwest, with her husband and sons. She’s an advocate for Autism awareness and women trapped in abusive relationships, and feels everyone has too much pain to not enjoy an escape into a fictional fantasy world. Her passions include reading, independent and foreign films, cooking, and moody music.

forbforest-new-cover-smallFirst off, can you sum up the latest book, Blood Lock, in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Nope. *insert helpless laugh. I suck at twitter.

Ha! We all have our weaknesses. Where did the initial idea for Forest and Regia come from? What story/experience/event do you think inspired the series most?

forest-fire-number-coverfix1My muse was being petulant. I was supposed to be writing a sequel to Blue Aspen, when Forest and Syrus took over my brain. You’re an author, you know what I mean. I think I needed Forest. She came to me and gave me an outlet and voice for a number of things I’d been going through. The night she fell into my head, it all happened so fast. I built Regia from the ground up in a few, adrenaline filled, hours. I had no idea, at the time, Regia would be my whole writing life for the following six years.

darksoulcoversmallI do know what you mean. Characters really can help us work through tough times and I know many of mine have done that for me, too. What does your typical writing day look like?

I drop my son off at school, hit the gym for an hour, head home, shower and then write. I write a few hours and then my alarm goes off, letting me know I have 15 minutes before I have to leave and pick up my son from school.  I have to drive 20 minutes to the school, but that suits me fine because I always do my best brainstorming while I’m driving.

I find that driving, and being on the treadmill are the best things to get my head in the right place for when I actually get to sit and hit the keys. I don’t work on the weekends, and the summer is really hard as well.

bbcover1smallSounds like a pretty structured regimen! Do you have a go-to source for story inspiration? What is it?

Bottom line is music. Without music, inspiration is faint. Aside from that I’m inspired by other art forms: dance, paintings, and movies. Art evokes emotion. I’m an emotion junkie.

ebookblcover1Feelings are vital to creating art and we all have to find our muses! Throughout this series, you concentrate on different characters in different books. What is your biggest challenge in writing such an array of main characters?

I connect with some more than others. I love all of my characters, but they are like real people. You have best friends, friends, acquaintances and enemies. It’s like that for me with my characters.

Understandable. We all have our favorites. 😉 Do you use any tricks to get into the head of the character you’re writing that day?

Music is the key for this. I have extensive playlists for every book I write. Each character has their own playlist aside from the main list. Every character along with every couple has a “sound” So for example, in my current WIP, when I need to get into Tesla’s head, I listen to Halsey. That is her sound.

verdantnumberfixcoverHalsey? I can’t wait! Besides a laptop/notebook and pen, what is the one thing you couldn’t possibly write without?

My beloved jawbone speaker, a tall glass of iced tea, and long phone calls with my best friend, Amanda. She’s great to brainstorm with.

It’s awesome to have friends for support. How about your weapon of choice in the Hunger Games?

A backpack full of grenades.

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Coming Soon

I’m pretty sure that’s cheating, but okay. Werewolves or Vampires?

Both, unless they sparkle.

No, this is a sparkle-free zone, haha. Hogwarts house?

Gryffindor but I’d have a Slytherin boyfriend. J

Good choice of partner. (As a Slytherin, I say that in a purely objective and unbiased manner.) Thanks for stopping by!

Don’t forget to check out Tenaya and her books. You can find her conquering the internet in various places here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube | Pinterest | Amazon | BN.com

 

Girls that defy society for absolutely no reason

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Books helped me so much, I can’t begin to say.

I grew up in a strict religious circle. Girls didn’t wear tank tops or dresses above the knee, girls didn’t talk back, girls didn’t go to college, girls let their daddies pick their husbands, and girls certainly didn’t have their own professions.

I was something of a rebel, often getting the boys into trouble because I’d suggest “great ideas.” I would climb fences, wrestle goats, play in the mud, and hold my own in a water balloon fight. But did I challenge any of those rules shoved down my throat? You may be disappointed, but no, not really.

Ask any feminist bookworm their favorite heroine and they will probably tell you about a character who stood up to social norms. I’ll bet she went against the grain, proved herself independent, and didn’t listen when the world said “no.” Whether she ran away from marrying a man she’d never met or became a mage or assassin, she didn’t take her culture’s crap.

That’s great, but why’d she do it?

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First day of college.

As modern readers, we can see forced marriage, restrictive dress codes, and professional limitations on women are sexist. We forget that women and girls raised with these things don’t. In fact, I’ve seen misogynist ideas enforced by other women far more than men.

Most women who are victimized like this will get offended or laugh at you if you tell them—assuming they even listen. They don’t just spontaneously shed their shackles and start dancing to freedom. It takes more than one or two incidents to get them to that point, contrary to what many, especially newer writers seem to think.

And it hurts. Realizing that you’ve been manipulated by people you love and trust? Damn, it’s painful.

For me, it took years. When I was eight my family left that church, but I was still being molded into someone’s future “submissive wife.” Don’t get me wrong, marriage is a beautiful and  blessed institution, but it needs to be between two equal partners.

At fifteen, I wrote my first book and joined the online community which exposed me to a lot of new ideas—which I totally rebuffed at first. However, tank tops became a part of my wardrobe somewhere in there. Then my parents divorced which revealed a lot of hypocrisy about things I’d been taught and sort of pushed me over the edge.

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Fun fact: I have been excommunicated.

A few months later (yeah, even more time after that), I signed up for my first college class. I didn’t reject my faith, quite the opposite, but I do realize that the version I’d been presented was way off. It was being used to control me and everyone else in that organization.

So what does this have to do with literary heroines? Writers need to understand how people in this type of situation actually think. These things need patience, these things generally need hundreds of little incidents built up over time. Like someone in an abusive relationship, it can take a while.

Authors and other artists are in the unique position of being able to talk about this and they absolutely should. Reading was one of the main ways I realized that how I’d been raised wasn’t okay and I know that it has the power to do the same for others.

Girls don’t just up and flick the middle finger at oppression—no one does. There is a reason they decide what they’re living in is unacceptable. It takes a lot of time, a lot of work, and a lot of courage for a girl to stand up like that. It’s why the ones that do are so compelling.

P.S.

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Eat your heart out, Burnet Bible Church Cult

7 ways to identify a fantasy villain

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If you’ve just started a new fantasy series and aren’t sure who the villain is, there are some easy ways to find out. Watch for a few key traits and if more than four show up in a character, you’ve definitely found the series baddie.

1. Miserable childhood

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Morgana Pendragon, basically the cover girl for Daddy Issues Monthly.

Fantasy villains cannot have happy childhoods—EVER. In the slim chance one or both their parents weren’t awful, said parent(s) must die a gruesome death, preferably with the young villain watching.

2. Anger management difficulties

Even if the character displays a cold, controlled exterior most the time, they cannot be a villain without an eventual angry outburst, usually in which they do something horrible and violent. Most likely, this results in the death of a character you really liked.

3. Ugly pets/minions

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A face only a villainous taskmaster could love.

Anyone who hires deformed, aesthetically challenged creatures no one else would even look at must surely be a bad guy. However, there is a loophole, so long as the beautiful minions are used for seduction-based intelligence gathering.

4. Racism/Elitism/Sexism/Religious purism/Some other nasty “ism”

The villain will probably be the most prejudiced character in the book. Genocide and lines such as “she’s only a woman” and “it’s my birthright” are dead giveaways.

5. Dysfunctional love life

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Xena and Drago. Some whacked out stuff going on there.

The villain must either a) have lost their soulmate which spurs them on this hellish crusade and/or b) have a long string of serial relationships to put Henry VIII to shame and/or c) wants someone who wants them dead.

6. Is secretly the protagonist’s father/sibling/miscellaneous lost relative

Assuming the villain did not kill the protagonist’s father/mother, then this one of the spot-on ways to identify him/her. Families suck and that is the moral of the story.

7. Creepy obsession with protagonist/protagonist’s love interest

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WTH Rahl? Do you have any idea how bad this looks???

If the villain and protagonist are of the opposite sex, the villain probably has a thing for him/her. If the protagonist is a girl, there will be some rape-y comments in there at minimum, same for a male protagonist’s love interest. The “we could rule the galaxy” speech may also come into play.

Did this list miss your favorite typical fantasy villain trait? Let me know in the comments!

Reading Outside: Does it even happen?

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Summer is nearly over (sorry), school’s about to start up (so sorry), and that means less reading time for students, teachers, and pretty much everyone connected to education (so, so sorry).

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Here we have what appears to be the youngest Weasleys reading their family history on the potentially Nargle-infested lawn.

This summer, like others before, I have been baffled by aesthetic pictures of people reading happily on beaches, porches, hillsides, and in meadows. But something I’ve often wondered is if this phenomenon even occurs in nature.

To read outside where I live, you must brave not only the scorching Texas sun and varied array of violent insects, but also intermittent wind gusts. I’ve tried reading in hammocks, on porches, and under trees, but the only time it has worked is in the shelter of some non-picturesque wall over concrete. Even then, it wasn’t exactly comfortable. (My backside does not appreciate extended periods squished against cement.)

I know some people claim to do it, but do they really? I know it makes a good photo, but the subgenre of outdoor book photography is mostly false advertising.

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There would be a blinding glare on like half a page. She’s not fooling anyone.

Reading my Kindle outside has generally proven easier, just because of the light adjustment setting. But if I’m in bright sun, I’ve got bigger problems, like impending lobster face/neck/arms/shoulders/legs. Then, you’ve got birds and car fumes if you’re in the city and chiggers, snakes, and Lord knows what if you’re in the country. To be honest, I’m terrified of the wind blowing my book into the ocean at the beach. Not to mention sand gets into the spines and just…ick.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, I’ve just found it to be incredibly uncomfortable. Either way, I think this is definitely one of those “expectation vs. reality” things. I’ll stick to reading indoors with solid walls and air conditioning, thank you very much.

Review: Anomaly of Blaze (The Fireblade Array, #3) by H.O. Charles @HOCharles

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An Anomaly of Blaze is the cause of a great many troubles, but he may also offer a solution to the woes faced by our heroes.

In Calidell, The Fireblade must deal with her wars alone, and the battles she faces are nothing like those of the ten millennia before.

A new monster has taken up residence in her mind, and it seeks to control her power. She must do all she can to protect the ones she loves, but can she achieve this before her will to fight leaves her?

Volume 3 of The Fireblade Array

4 out of 5 stars

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Some spoilers for previous books in the series. Also, this book contains mature themes and  is not Young Adult.

I…have many emotions regarding this series. The books are huge, the timelines covered in each installment can span for decades, and the author most likely stays up late thinking “how can I hurt these characters next?”

The plot:

This book picks up just a few days after the end of the previous installment with a grieving Artemi and her children. Again, there is the same story style that takes on more of a chronicle/episodic format that your usual plot arch. There might be years lapsed between chapters, but in a world where old age doesn’t exist, the characters all stick around.

I admit I panicked a few times in reading this. I did not see the twist about who Morghiad’s reincarnated self thought Artemi was and once that was revealed…well, I can see how he would be upset over her trying to seduce him.

The characters:

There were a few times I wanted to upside Artemi with a good smack, but not for the reasons the other characters did. I suppose she’s entitled to make mistakes, but she should have taken a cue from how Morghiad dealt with her back when she didn’t remember him. Just give the dude some space!

I freaked out when Morghiad came back, especially when we started seeing things in his POV. I had no idea what the hell was wrong with him or where he got all these outlandish theories. To make matters worse, he never fully explains anything until BOOM we’re in big trouble and he’s about to make the biggest mistake of both his lives. Still…he’s my favorite character and darling little cabbage.

To be brutal, I do not like Silar. He started to redeem himself to me in book 2, but he’s pretty much fixated with Artemi and it only appears to be getting worse. At this rate, in two or three books he’ll be the new super villain/stalker that’s obsessed with her. Seriously, the poor slob needs to find a new girl or a new hobby or hard core therapy before this gets out of hand.

Morghiad and Artemi’s children, particularly the older two, can take all the ❤ ‘s. Medea and Tallyn’s relationship is precious and adorable and I could just hug them both to bits. The youngest, Kalad, is kind of the stereotypical rebellious teenager. Kalad and his father’s reincarnated version do not get along at all I am not looking forward to this blowing up down the road.

Wow, that review got long fast. There’s probably a whole other review I could write just about the secondary characters and assorted villains who make their appearance over the course of the book, but I’ll stop there.

To sum up, I am still hooked on this series, I have downloaded the next book. If you’re a fan of romance epics with monogamous, multi-lifetime stories, for the love of Earl Grey, pick this up.

Find Anomaly of Blaze on Goodreads

Find Anomaly of Blaze on Amazon

Find Anomaly of Blaze on BN.com

Geekshaming

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Geeks are the most passionate humans you’ll ever meet. They’re the ones who spend six hours in line for book signings, drop hundreds of dollars on memorabilia, and gush over (possibly fictional) people no one else has ever heard of. Anyone who has ever been to a RenFest or Comic Con knows that the air almost crackles with excitement.giphy8It is not easy being a geek. Every fangirl and fanboy knows the pain of hiatus, waiting between books/movies, and not to mention characters deaths/tragedies. To make things worse, less awesome people regard us as socially inept dweebs. They seem to think we resort to fiction to compensate for the perceived lack of a “real life.” These less awesome people furthermore enjoy making fun of us every chance they get.

But seriously, what is wrong with being a geek? Geeks and their passions are on the most part entirely harmless. Memorizing the genealogies of characters in The Lord of the Rings or spending 300 hours making a cosplay never wrecked the economy. Running Star Wars fan blogs or writing fan fictions is not going to kill anyone.giphy11What most outsiders don’t seem to understand is that geek subculture is a culture. We have social networks, gatherings at comic cons and other venues, fan art, fan literature, fan music, and even fan films. There are hierarchies with the creators of our obsessions at the top and reluctantly participating family members at the bottom. There are social rules for meetups and online etiquette. And the vast majority of us masquerade as regular people. We walk the balance beam between reality and fantasy so well most people never know it.giphy12If someone doesn’t have a life, giving up on being a geek won’t change that. There is such a richness and diversity within geek culture, it’s impossible to grow stagnant unless you want to. Most regular folk resent people that aren’t like them and so try to deride us into fitting in. It’s just the way human nature works, but people need to get over themselves. If it’s harmless, no one should have to compromise what they love to make other people happy.giphy10So make the fan art, scream your heart out at the signing line, collect your Pokémon without apology, and squeal all you want when that Amazon package comes in the mail. Like I said, geeks are the western world’s greatest source of passion. And what is life without passion?

 

That time I outgrew YA

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I started writing YA when I was well within the age range. But these past two years, I’ve been branching out into Game of Thrones and other not YA ilk. Outside reading, I’ve started involvement with human rights and the heavy issues that come with that.  As I creep ever further from the YA realm of 14-18, my perspective has changed a great deal.

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The storylines for my newer WIP’s started centering around different characters, darker themes. (But don’t worry, Haddie and Janir are safe.) I started toying with several ideas that cast young parents and widows in protagonist status—both generally considered no-no’s in YA. Truth be told, I feared I was growing out of my beloved genre.

Then not too long ago, I realized how much I missed certain things about YA. Young Adult characters, with scant exception, still believe the world can be changed for good, that there’s something worth fighting for. There’s a kind of innocence that’s rare in adult fiction and I had missed that so, so badly.

woman-1413054_960_720That was when I remembered the magic of YA, why it so successfully transcends age barriers. The thing is, we are all or have been young. We’ve all experienced or are experiencing some form of learning about the world, ourselves, and relationships. (Though people assure me that learning never really stops.) YA is so universal and successful for that very reason.

Loving and reading YA doesn’t mean you don’t dabble in other things. What’s more, YA itself covers a vast array of subgenres and issues. Whether you want to read something philosophical, sarcastic, humorous, contemporary, historical, speculative, surreal, or just about anything,  I guarantee the Young Adult section has it. There are very few limits on what it includes these days and the only consistent feature is protagonist age.

book-1149031_960_720Every so often, I want to read something about “grown-ups” screwing the world over, but I can still love YA. It stays there, like your high school best friend who still calls even after you both start grad school.

Truth is, I don’t think it’s possible to outgrow YA. That’s like saying you can outgrow ice cream.

Want to be a writer?

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“I’ve always wanted to write a book” or some derivative comes my way about once a month and my advice remains the same: Do it. And forget advice—yes, forget advice.

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There’s nothing wrong with seeking a community and people who can help you hone your craft. Even Stephen King needs editors and critiques. You will need feedback for the rest of your life, but you don’t have to rush in.

When I was first starting out, I was pretty much isolated from the writing community. That was a good thing. Once I joined, I met some amazing people, but if I hadn’t already been so committed, the other kind would have scared me off.

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For reasons beyond me, a lot of veteran writers (other artists, too) treat it as their personal responsibility to decide who “should” be in their field. There’s this unspoken loathing for the newcomers who “think it’s easy” (though I’m guessing you already know better). But who cares how many typos there are? If you get to those magical words—The End—you’ve already surpassed most the world and deserve a round of applause.

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Don’t waste your time with bridge trolls who attack newcomers. Find some helpful fairy who points you in the right direction. Or just become a hermit for a few years like I did.

Ultimately, you are an individual, original human being and no one else can tell the story in your heart. I’ve seen far too many people with genuine talent give up. This is a high investment, often low return business and it’s easy to get discouraged. So keep your chin up, work on that thick skin, and remember you are the only person in existence who can write that book.

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But above all else, keep writing, keep writing, KEEP WRITING.

Writing Update: July 2016

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Summer: when Texas gets hot as the guts of Mt. Doom and the mosquitoes are everywhere.  People become suddenly hard to get a hold of and the only good thing is it’s light out when I wake up. Regardless, the Muse has been hard at work.

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Behold!

You all might have noticed that The Secrets of the Vanmars has been polished and re-released with a new cover. It’s exclusive to Kindle right now, but come September will be returning to all platforms. Yay!

Otherwise, I’m trimming some body fat (aka profusive adjectives, unnecessary characters/subplots, and dialogue tags) from The Chalice of Malvron while the cover designers tweak the new face for it. Getting these damn covers made has been a saga unto itself and I’ve come to intimately understand the phrase “good help is hard to find.” But that’s a story for another time.

We did have some grand excitement last week when The Key of Amatahns hit #1 on the Amazon lists during a free promotion. Whoo-hoo! Happy reading to everyone who downloaded.

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Baby’s taking over the world, folks.

Fanged Princess will also be getting some new covers in time for the third novella’s release and when that happens greatly depends on when this mess with Janir’s books clears up. Regardless, I do plan to have something to show you around October. That would be fun, right? A Halloween cover reveal party? The possibilities are endless…

Daindreth’s Assassin has been out querying to agents and I’ve gotten a message from another Pinterest follower expressing eagerness for that story. There are one or two factual things that need correcting (e.g. Amira kind of walks off a severe head wound in chapter #2), but I’m excited to see what will be happening there.

In other news, I’m moving into the dorms of Concordia University Texas this fall. No, I have no clue who my roommates will be, but I’m looking forward to a fresh start. I’m getting together my hangers and lamps and other fun stuff and putting together some quotes for the corkboard over my desk.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some search and destroy—er—search and delete to do.