Monday, July 22, 2019

Interview with Rebecca Schaffer, author of Not Even Bones and the sequel, Only Ashes Remain, with US giveaway of an advanced copy of Only Ashes Remain!

Dear Readers:
Super excited to introduce this next author, Rebecca, who wrote one of my unexpected favorite reads in 2018, Not Even Bones, which is a YA gender bent Dexter. It's so much more than that too, but hopefully that's enough to get you running to grab a copy! HMH has generously agreed to give away a copy of the sequel, Only Ashes Remain, which just gives you a chance to binge read this worthy series.

Only Ashes Remain (Market of Monsters, #2) Goodreads description: After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she’s still a prime target on the black market.

There’s only one way to keep herself safe.

Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

Review: 4 couches. I very much enjoyed this new installment of the Not Even Bones series. We launch right back in where we left off and the pace doesn't let up. We see some old faces and my favorite characters (other than our feisty main character) made a very prominent showing, so I was ecstatic. The way the book ended made me clamor for more and it will be a long wait until I get to read the bloody end of this terrific trilogy.

A little more about our author:
Rebecca Schaeffer was born and raised in the Canadian prairies. Her itchy feet took her far from home. You can find her sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, writing about villains, antiheroes, and morally ambiguous characters. She is the author of Not Even Bones, the first in a dark YA fantasy trilogy.
Twitter: @rrschaeffer
Instagram: @rebecca_schaeffer

1. Now that you've written a sequel... which book did you enjoy writing more? Why? What was most difficult about writing a sequel?

Which did I enjoy writing more? Definitely the first one. Book one had no stress and no expectations attached to it. I was free to do what I wanted and no one cared. Once I sold it though, suddenly book two I had deadlines, and expectations, and the pressure definitely messed with me for a while. So book two was a lot more stressful, but I’m really happy with the finished book.

2. Nita and Fabricio with their game of cat and mouse are fascinating. Almost like Dexter's last season. I remember one of my fiction writing teachers telling us to throw two interesting characters in a closet and see what happens. Can you tell us your process of developing these characters and how they evolved over time?

I love cat and mouse stories, and I like forcing interesting characters to be at odds with each other. Whenever I’m developing two characters who are going to be at odds, I try and make them foils of each other. I give them one major personality trait that’s the same, and then one major one that’s the opposite, so that they can play off each other in interesting ways. There’s nothing quite as fascinating as seeing warped reflections of ourselves in others.

3. If the main characters could be sorted into houses at Hogwarts, which house would they go to? What is your Hogwarts house? (you can ignore this question if you haven't read Harry Potter)

I’m a Slytherin, through and through. My characters however, I think are in a variety of houses, but they’re all a little evil. I love to think of them as the dark side of each Hogwarts house. I think Nita is a Ravenclaw (or a Slytherclaw, if we can do hybrid houses), Kovit is a Hufflepuff (Hufflepuff can be evil too!), Fabricio and Adair are both Slytherin, and Diana is a Griffindor.

4. Are you excited about writing the last book? Sad? Why or why not?

It’s a strange feeling! I wrote the first chapter of Not Even Bones the summer of 2015, so by the time the third book comes out in 2020, I’ll have been working on and off on it for five years. It’s been a huge part of my life, and I’ll be sad to leave the characters behind, but I’m also excited to go in new directions and let other stories take the spotlight for a little bit.

5. Can you tell us about your writing process? Do you have a playlist? Do you write in a certain spot? Do you require certain items when you write? Do you schedule specific times of day?

Nope, no writing process! I move around a lot, and I’ve written everywhere from cafes, to airplanes, to hotel rooms, even on my phone while getting my hair done for a wedding. I always schedule time to write, but I leave myself flexible if things come up.

7. What is your favorite TV show? What media has inspired you?

This is a hard one! Honestly, I’m not sure. I don’t even know that I have a favourite TV show—recently I enjoyed Killing Eve and Russian Doll. There’s a lot of things in media that have inspired me—specific characters or world building or subplots. But there’s not a lot that as a whole I can point to and say ‘this is my one true inspiration.’ 

8. What do you have planned after you finish the trilogy?

It’s a secret ;)

And now, enter the giveaway! Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 19, 2019

Interview with Daniel Cohen, author of Coldmaker and INT giveaway!

Dear Readers:
I had the immense pleasure of interacting with the author, Daniel Cohen, on twitter when he very graciously gave away some of his ARCs by other authors. He also sent me a copy of his book, Coldmaker, and I really enjoyed it! I am excited to share it with you as well. To pay his generosity forward, I am giving away a mystery package of a few arcs (there will be a 2019 in it), so make sure to read everything and enter to win! If you are INT, I will send a few small swag items. And now, without further ado...

Coldmaker Goodreads description: Eight hundred years ago, the Jadans angered the Crier. In punishment, the Crier took their Cold away, condemning them to a life of enslavement in a world bathed in heat.

Or so the tale goes.

During the day, as the Sun blazes over his head, Micah leads the life of any Jadan slave, running errands through the city of Paphos at the mercy of the petty Nobles and ruthless taskmasters.

But after the evening bells have tolled and all other Jadans sleep, Micah escapes into the night in search of scraps and broken objects, which once back inside his barracks he tinkers into treasures.

However, when a mysterious masked Jadan publicly threatens Noble authority, a wave of rebellion ripples through the city.

With Paphos plunged into turmoil, Micah’s secret is at risk of being exposed. And another, which has been waiting hundreds of years to be found, is also on the verge of discovery…

The secret of Cold.

My review: 4 couches. I have not been impressed by many fantasies this year, and while I'm not positive which genre this book fits in, it drew me in like a proper fantasy. The world building was fascinating and the main character compelling. We learn secrets of his world as he does, and our outrage increases as he realizes everything that he's learned hasn't necessarily been the truth. The other characters are interesting, except one in particular, I'm not sure exactly if I trust him-- I don't really understand him to be quite honest. I feel like either there is a story there that hasn't been told yet, or something is missing. Despite that, the story comes together very nicely. It's interesting that the author writes in his acknowledgements some of the big names that inspired this book-- Patrick Rothfuss and Sanderson, because I felt their imprint on Cohen's work in a good way. I'm looking forward to the sequel!

More about our author: Having spent most of his life trapped in the frozen tundra of upstate New York, Daniel Cohen decided to dream himself somewhere new. It was from this quest for heat that the scorching world of COLDMAKER was born.

In addition to his writing career, Daniel is a semi-professional saxophonist in Austin, Texas, spending his days in front of the page and his nights in front of crowds. Sometimes the crowds cheer, and Daniel often wishes the page would do the same.

1. I absolutely love the world building in your book and about cold. Can you tell us first about your process of developing this world, any research you did/had to do, and what inspired cold as the starting point?

First and foremost, I wanted to explore a societal structure where the currency had a high inherent value, instead of just an assumed value.

Basically I wanted to explore the barter system on steroids.

I wanted the reader to feel the need for a particular currency, which in this world happens to be Cold itself, coming in five varying denominations (from least to most potent: Wisps, Drafts, Shivers, Chills, and the most holy of all, the Frost).
Even though the cold/hot trope has been widely explored, I’ve always found the idea of barren landscape to be simultaneously poetic and devastating. How do native peoples, desert travelers, and vagabonds survive in such harsh conditions? It takes a certain level of ingenuity (enter MICAH, the inventor protagonist of COLDMAKER) and a driving sense of survival in order to carry on. I figured a land as hot and barren as they come would give me the perfect set-up for this kind of desperate world, making Cold itself the currency, which automatically bestows that inherent value.

2. Micah was a great character as well as one of the main characters, Shilah. Can you tell us how you develop your characters and if plot or characters come first?

I’m one of the designated ‘pantser’ writers, who frantically find the story as they go along. On the first pass I find plot lifts the heaviest corner, and then on the second draft I begin to discover the characters and their motivations. Usually there’s a nice semblance of their deeper desires already on the page, and often I’m pleasantly surprised by how I’m not meeting my characters so much as they’ve already been their waiting.

3. If the main characters could be sorted into houses at Hogwarts, which house would they go to? What is your Hogwarts house? (you can ignore this question if you haven't read Harry Potter)

Well, both intuition and the official Pottermore test have told me that I’m a Ravenclaw. As for the main characters:

Micah= Ravenclaw

Abb= Gryffindor

Shilah = Gryffindor

Cam= Hufflepuff

4. What was the easiest part about writing this book? The hardest?

I’ve written nine novels, and some of them have come out as easy as an old breath, but I can’t say anything about COLDMAKER was easy. In fact, it’s conception and delivery were among the most painful bouts of my life. Front to back the process was five years of near agony. I think I put too much of myself into the book, which is great for the final product, but was terrible for my health, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

5. I have a lot of close friends that are authors. One thing they have always told me is to keep my day job, and have writing as a side job. Do you agree/disagree? Why or why not?

Considering I have two day jobs…. Strongly Agree.

6. Do you have beta readers? Why or why not?

I do, and I find beta readers invaluable. Mostly because writing is such a lonely art, and novels often take years before they’re ready to share with the world. It’s nice to have someone in the trenches with you while you're fighting and waiting. 

7. What has been your favorite read so far this year? What book inspired you the most to be an author and why?

Okay, so if anyone ends up following me on Twitter and scrolling through my history, they are likely to find an uncomfortable amount of reverential posts centered around a writer named ‘Theodore Sturgeon’. I discovered him last year, and I think he very well might be the greatest SFF short story writer of the twentieth century. His prose was consistently brilliant, tricky, inventive, as well as prolific, and I seriously can’t get enough. Fun Fact: he was the basis for Vonnegut’s famous Kilgore Trout.

“The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss made me want to write fantasy. I would be doing the book injustice if I said anything other than it’s a true MUST-read.

Other writers who consistently inspire me are:

Ted Chiang – IMO the greatest living SFF writer
Neil Gaiman
Ottessa Moshfegh
Philip K. Dick
William Goldman
Greg Egan
Brandon Sanderson 

8. What do you have on the horizon? Hopefully more in the Coldmaker series?

So the sequel to Coldmaker (Coldmarch) was actually released by HarperVoyager UK last November and I have the third and final book in the series (Coldmyth) scheduled to come out this upcoming January!

I loved his answers! And now, enter the giveaway!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, July 15, 2019

Revamped Blog! New design, new posts!

Dear Readers:
Look at the amazing new blog design that Alex (Blonde with Books) has put together! I'm totally in love. I feel like this signifies the new leaf that I'm turning over in general. My family and I have gone through a lot in the past year and I have a new chronic illness that I'm battling. But books have kept me going, and I am so grateful for that. I'd like to put more content on here, so that's one of my many goals. But because of life and physical/mental restrictions that I didn't have before, be patient with me as the posts will go up more slowly.

What you can expect:
1. A week of posts (may be spread out over several weeks depending on how I'm feeling) about Marie Lu, one of my all time favorite authors. I'll be reminiscing over her past series (Legend, Young Elites, Warcross), gushing over her new upcoming releases (Rebel and The Kingdom of Back!), chatting about our amazing get together at ALA a month ago, and doing a small giveaway!
2. More Writer's Cramp entries. I am now writing pretty regularly with a friend of mine. Our pen name will be Kimberly Kate (a combo of our middle names). I love the stuff we are coming up with and would love to share it with all of you!
3. Author interviews! I have two I've been sitting on because of health issues, but I hope to get them done soon.
4. Giveaways as I can! I am low on funds as of the moment, but I'll do what I can.

I hope you are all having a good year and managing to stay cool for the most part. I feel lucky to have this platform and have dedicated readers that have stayed with me over the years. You guys are the reason I keep doing what I do!