Brace yourself—NaNo WriMo is coming

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareCome Sunday, it will be that time of year again. The time of writing meet-ups, all-nighters, and frantic pounding at keyboards to meet last minute word quotas. There is something exciting and addictively nerve wracking about joining people across the country and even the globe in getting to that 50k word mark. No pressure, right?

I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month for two or three years now with pretty good success overall (if I do say so myself). Due to my (clearly vast and indisputable) experience, I thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned from participating this glorious tradition.

1. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

The whole point of NaNo WriMo is to write a draft—a draft. Drafts just need to be done. It’s okay to focus on word count for the next 30 days. Those plot holes, halfway character development, and inconsistencies can wait for now.

2. Actually, it does have to be perfect.

While you should not stress about editing during this phase, you do have to be sure and do it later. The months following NaNo WriMo mark a veritable deluge of questionable submissions flooding the inboxes of literary agents (almost all of which are deleted without a second glance). If you’re looking to publish traditionally, take a few months to polish up your work before submitting. If you’re looking to self publish, definitely take all the time you need. You’ll have a better finished manuscript and your characters will thank you for it.

3. Hang in there.

You may not write the requisite 1,667 words everyday and it’s alright. Slow progress is still progress and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself.


Yes, I totally stole that post title from a meme.

4. It’s supposed to be fun.

Forget about Little Mr./Miss Goody-Two-Shoes over there who’s done halfway through the month. I promise you, most people will be struggling with their word count just like you and I. Chat with other writers. Make friends. Relax and enjoy yourself a little. Kick the green-eyed monster to the curb.

5. FUN, I tell you!

Even if you don’t make it to 50k, that doesn’t mean you aren’t on your way to a great story or becoming a fantastic writer. Remember that the whole point of this is to express your creativity and self—to have fun.

If you’re participating this year, I’d love to be writing buddies! Friend InkspelledFaery here.

Blog Tour Review: Eclipse (The Priestess Trilogy, #3) by @MelissaSasina

Priestess Trilogy Tour

P3 Eclipse 750Tensions escalate between two clans, threatening their fragile peace. On one side stand the Túath, on the other the Milidh. The prize: control of the land of Éire. Yet amidst this brewing conflict, another more dangerous threat looms. The village of Tara is ripped apart, not by war, but by the seed of betrayal as the priestess’ own kinswoman, Gráinne, conspires to seize control. Enemies shall become allies and Shiovra is faced with a difficult choice, one that will ultimately engulf her world in an irreversible eclipse.

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4 out of 5 stars

This is the last book. The conclusion. The END. It’s hard to believe that this series is finally complete, but one could certainly do worse by way of endings.

I’ve been following this series since I downloaded the first, Defiance, during a free promo over a year ago. One of my favorite things about this book has been the world building and the historical tidbits Sasina tosses in with her mythological references and there was definitely more of that!

The plot:

I admit I was a little intimidated at that word count, but the scenes are broken up into bite sized pieces and this reads very quickly. Like its predecessors, this book has a plot that moves along at a grueling pace and you’d better be ready to keep up!

Something important happens in nearly every scene, so there’s very little “drag.” This is the kind of writing style I like best—the kind that makes you lose track of time.

The characters:

There’s a great deal of what I call “head hopping” in this book, which is to say we get inside the heads of quite a few characters. On one hand, I think I would have preferred a greater degree of exclusivity in order to give us more insight into the main cast. On the other hand, we did have a glimpse into everyone—villains, heroes, and everything in between.

There is one point I wish I could ignore, but it influenced my opinion of the book too much not to mention. There’s this thing where the leader of one of the villages tells his wife to sleep with this other guy in order to secure said other guy as an ally. The result is this love triangle with a mutual understanding and consent between three partners.

The thing that bothers me about that is…well, I didn’t feel there was enough explanation. I get that the husband was okay with the whole arrangement, but why?

Was it supposed to be a cultural thing like in ancient Sparta (where wives could take any lover they wanted so long as their husband approved)? In the second book, it was kind of implied that women were supposed to remain chaste before matrimony, is that only before? Was it a personal thing where the one character just really wanted Other Guy as an ally? I just feel like there wasn’t enough set up for the modern western way of thinking and I would have liked a little more of that.

Otherwise, I truly did enjoy this book. This author excels at world building and making the setting feel authentic. She truly brings myths to life and I would definitely recommend this series to anyone interested in a different kind of fantasy novel.

The Priestess Trilogy # 1
By – Melissa Sasina
Genre –  Fantasy/Romance
Shiovra has been named High Priestess of the village Tara, but she quickly finds herself hunted by the Milidh, a clan born of war and vengeance. With the safety of Tara at stake, it is decided that she is to seek aid from her betrothed, one she considers the enemy. At her side is Odhrán, a Milidh warrior sworn to protect her and determined to gain her trust. But their journey is fraught with peril and Shiovra learns that darkness lurks in the hearts of her own kin. Steeped in ancient Irish myth, this tale is spun of love, war, and DEFIANCE.

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Conflicted Loyalties: Villains vs. Heroes

A soft spot for villains.

All too often, I find myself watching a movie or a series for the sake of the villain, because I care more about him/her than the “good guys.”  If you go on Tumblr or any other fan site, you’ll see that villains in pretty much every genre and media garner massive followings, sometimes even larger than those of their heroic counterparts.

This led me to the inevitable question—why? Are the heroes just too boring? Are the good guys too good? Is it that the villains are a means of expressing our frustrations and resentments by proxy? I’m sure there’s a psychology dissertation in that somewhere.

The double standard.

Firstly, I notice that villains get away with a lot more by virtue of being villains. If a hero abducted and poisoned children or slaughtered entire armies defending their homes, he would be condemned by the readership rather quickly. Yet the villain gets away with it because we expect that. After all, he/she is a villain and villains by their nature do villainous things, but if a hero has so much as one selfish moment and yells at the wrong character, suddenly we’re all over him/her with pitchforks and torches. (But if the protagonist is too perfect, we’re still not happy.)

When a hero monologues about traumatic events in their lives, they too quickly come off as whiny complainers. When a villain discusses past trauma, however,  people are generally more sympathetic. Villains also tend to talk about past traumas less often and I wonder if that has something to do with it as well—we don’t have to listen to many sympathy-garnering speeches.

The perspective factor.

Interestingly, there seems to be more villain-centric fans in films and television series. Personally, I find heroes more relatable and easier to empathize with in books and I believe other people do too. It probably has something to do with being thrown into the hero’s psyche, sometimes exclusively, leading us to develop more attachment to him/her.

Even in multi-POV books, the hero has the most “screen time” and the villains are usually secondary or tertiary if their perspective is there at all. This means a certain amount of distance from the villain and a buffer zone of attachment, if you will.

In the end, this subject could probably span a few more blog posts plus that dissertation I mentioned. I’m just trying to tap into what makes all characters—villains, heroes, and everything in between—lovable.

But in the end, it’s still an art, not a science.

Christian Fiction vs. Fiction Written by Christians

I am a devout Christian writer, but I do not write Christian fiction.

Christ isn’t something in my life, He’s everything. This has been central to me for a long time, though I have undergone a kind of spiritual rediscovery lately, seeking to explore God and godliness in a deeper, more meaningful way.


My Bible occupies the same shelf as some really bad@$$ fantasy because where else would it be?

Second only to Christianity and my immediate clan is—you guessed it—books. I take in words like air, each story another breath. Fantasy literature just fits something in me like nothing else (cheesy as it sounds) and I can’t imagine being without it. Whether reading or writing, epic fantasy in particular is almost as much a part of me as my faith.

If you’re looking for it, one can spot Christian themes in Janir and Haddie’s stories. The religious system in the Argetallam Saga is not-so subtly based off Christianity and it’s implied that Janir is fairly devout. Over in Fanged Princess, Haddie plainly wears a cross as her quintessential accessory while it’s hinted her late boyfriend introduced her to the church. Then there’s the briefly mentioned “wall of crosses” in the Falkner house, but it’s still not Christian fiction.

Christian fiction involves far more open discussion, directly addressing God or His incarnation in the story as well as His ways. My books don’t do that. I write about faith in a lightly infused versus readily visible manner. As the title says, fiction written by a Christian, but still not Christian fiction.

IMG_7758My reasons for not writing Christian fiction are at once simple and complicated. For one thing, I don’t want my stories to be stuffed into the subgenre avoided by so many, even by the likes of my cousin who grew up a missionary. While I still incorporate religion as subtext, making it central would offer a whole new set of challenges—getting the teachings of Scripture straight whilst not being heavy handed, for one thing.

In truth, I started writing because it was fun and that’s still why I do it. All the same, before sitting down to work on a story, I pray and ask that what I write will be pleasing in God’s eyes, but most of all that His will be done. I believe it is possible to write godly fiction without it being Christian Fiction and in the end that is what I strive for.

The Key of Amatahns is on sale with a fantastic giveaway to match!

TKOA sale banner01For the first time ever, you can grab The Key of Amatahns for your Kindle at just $0.99, that’s 75% off the sticker price. To celebrate, I’m sponsoring a giveaway for a signed copy along with a $25 Amazon giftcard! So enter for a shot at the prize and don’t forget to download your eBook. Come Saturday, this baby goes back to regular price, so hurry and snag it while you can!

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Release Day Review: Wildwood (Moonlit, #3) by Jadie Jones @JadieJones1


In Wildwood, the third book of the Moonlit Trilogy, Tanzy’s journey races toward a final battle within the Unseen world.

Tanzy Hightower has crossed the veil and entered the Unseen world to fulfill the destiny she has at last embraced, to either seal or destroy the veil between the Seen and Unseen. She is the only mortal in a land teeming with creatures who want her dead. To stay alive long enough to stop Asher, the most powerful of the Unseen, Tanzy accepts his marriage proposal and seeks refuge inside his palace.

On the Seen side of the veil, Tanzy’s allies are fragmented and lost, without leadership. They must gather forces and train an army of candidates to defend their world against unfathomable predators poised to strike should the veil holding them at bay dissolve.

While Tanzy has accepted her own inevitable death in fulfilling her destiny, her closest friends refuse to stop searching for the impossible: a way to save Tanzy’s life.

Blurb and cover from Goodreads

5 out of 5 stars

ASDFGHJKL—that pretty much sums up my feelings. I was freaking out for most of the book because, to quote Samwise Gamgee, how could it turn out happy? Well, it wasn’t all sunshine and roses, but I found this to be a most satisfactory and awesome ending to a fantastic series. I am sad to bid Lucas and Tanzy and Jayce and Moonlit farewell, but I am not so cruel as to wish more trouble upon them. No, not that cruel at all.

The plot:

Twisty. The plot was twisty. I kept getting hit by first this shock then that shock. I could never quite predict what was happening and I loved it. This was plotting on the level of Brandon Sanderson and I cannot get over the complexity and planning that must have gone into this—just plain awesome.

The characters:

I’m not sure I can talk about Tanzy without talking about Lucas and I can’t talk about the two of them without rampant fangirling. You should not make the mistake that assuming this story is a romance, it is far more about the adventure, I think. However, my little fangirl heart wants what it wants. I will ship them to the day I die.

For the first time ever, we see into the minds and thoughts of characters besides Tanzy. We get a peek into Jayce, Hope, Lucas, even Vanessa.

There were many twists, as I said, but perhaps the greatest one of all was when I found myself sympathizing with Vanessa. Yes, VANESSA. That was probably the last thing I ever saw coming, seconded only to love-hating Asher by the end. The twist about those two was the last thing I expected and I can do nothing but laud the author for how well she set that up.

A fabulous conclusion to a masterfully written trilogy and when our dear Ms. Jones comes out with her next book, I will fight anyone and everyone for the first spot in line.

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