The Misadventures of Martin Hathaway

UnknownThe Misadventures of Martin Hathaway is a steampunk fantasy with wit to spare. Not only is Glen’s writing clever and fast-paced, her characters are unique and loveable. While Martin Hathaway is an endearingly brave but bumbling hero, Captain Daisy Fitzgerald McNamara is probably the most self-assured female protagonist I’ve ever encountered. And though it’s no surprise they end up together, their romance is anything but ordinary.  My favorite character, however, is Basil, Daisy’s pompous, bitingly sarcastic assistant.

Classic fantasy lovers will appreciate Glen’s nod to JRR Tolkien and Frank Baum, but her writing style and sense of humor remind me of one of my more recent favorites, Scott Meyer, the best-selling author of Off to Be the Wizard. Which means I now have another favorite author, Kathryn Clare Glen – and I can’t wait to read the second installment in her Misadventures Trilogy!

 

HOW DO YOU JUDGE A BOOK?

PoisonwoodBibleFront

I like the original cover much better

By its cover? Nix that. Now that I read most novels on my iPad, I rarely look at a book’s cover. And now that we’ve gotten that cliché out-of-the-way… I want to know, I really do want to know…

How do you judge a book?

I started thinking about this question last night/early this morning (3 a.m. to be precise). Propped up against my pillows, iPad perched in front of me, I couldn’t stop reading the chick lit novel I had downloaded based on a review in my Yoga Journal. (That’s right, Yoga Journal. Hey, I’ve even gotten some great literary tips from my car mechanic. In addition to oil change coupons, he includes a book review section in his monthly newsletter.) Anyway, I didn’t have one or two chapters left to read, I had more like six or seven. And I finished them. I couldn’t stop turning the pages…

Swiping the pages? The screen. Whatever!

undercover-reading

Pre-tablet late night reading

As I was saying, I finished the book. I closed my kindle app, clicked the home button and thought, that definitely wasn’t what I’d call a well-written book. Not even close. You name it… annoying characters, with lots of money and very little common sense. Oh, and everyone had a great body. Give me a break! Plus, there were typos. Yet, I couldn’t put it down. I just couldn’t unplug.

So, was it a success?

As a writer, I would love it if someone told me they’d been up reading my book at 3 a.m. Swipe, swipe… unable to turn off their screen. Yet, also as a writer, it bothers me how compelled I was to keep reading a book that was so far from stellar, so downright provincial, and frankly, tabloidish at best. (Tabloidish: literature that is in many ways comparable to a train wreck. i.e. you can’t look away.)

You might wonder why I bother worrying about this. It was just a book, right? Enjoy!

I worry because of all those other books. Those well-written books…books that have won major awards and high praise for literary critics…the ones that I haven’t been able to finish. The truth is, beautiful prose doesn’t always equal compelling story.

I’m not saying all stories that win awards are boring. Far from it. (Case in point, Neil 9780060530945_custom-02321c1f1acdeccf98eb4690139aac48afa02423-s6-c30Gaiman’s Newbury award-winning children’s novel, The Graveyard Book. An awesome read. Or, The Poisonwood Bible, written by Barbara Kingsolver and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Stellar in every way—except the ending, I didn’t care for that.) Nor am I suggesting that all tabloidish-type stories, such as the one that kept me up last night, should win awards.

Breathe, a novel

Yes, this might be the book I’m talking about.

What am I saying?

Right. Perhaps, all I’m saying is that a well-written story should be defined not simply by the words on the page, but by the intent of the author and how much that translates into the enjoyment or engagement it produces in the reader.

Given that definition, the book that kept me up last night was…good. Not great. But pretty darn good. And if the author’s intent was to entertain, then I’d have to say it was well-written.

Time to take a nap!

 

Eternal Night, by Jade Kerrion

Eternal Night ebook

“What makes Kerrion’s writing so compelling is the beautifully flawed characters that find themselves in unexpected relationships…these kind of character level conflicts make Kerrion’s writing so deliciously addictive.”—Noor A Jahangir, Author of The Changeling King

“Everything you want in a great story. Love, intrigue, action, betrayal, and understanding.”—Ch’kara Silverwolf, Author of Daughter of Light and Dark

Alone for a millennium, since a human murdered her beloved consort, Ashra, the immortal icrathari queen, rules over Aeternae Noctis, the domed city of eternal night. Her loneliness appears to be at an end when her consort’s soul is reborn in a human, Jaden Hunter, but their reunion will not be easy.

Icrathari are born, not made. If Ashra infuses Jaden with her immortal blood, he will be a vampire, a lesser creature of the night, a blood-drinker rather than a soul-drinker.

Furthermore, Jaden is sworn to protect his half-sister, five-year-old Khiarra. She is the child of prophecy, destined to end the eternal night and the dominion of the Night Terrors—the icrathari and the vampires.

As Ashra struggles to sustain her crumbling kingdom in the face of enemies without and treachery within, Jaden fights to defend his sister and unravel a greater mystery: what is the city of eternal night, and how did it come to be?

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

READ AN EXCERPT

With Tera beside her, Ashra strode forward. A wall of vampires parted to reveal the other two icrathari, Siri and Elsker. A dark-haired human slumped at Elsker’s feet, his wrists cuffed behind his back. Ashra stifled a chuckle. Surely Tera was overreacting; the human was by far the weakest creature in the chamber.

Tera knelt down, wrapped her fingers into the human’s hair, and pulled his head back. The human’s face was handsome enough—the slash of his cheekbones accentuated his perfectly proportioned, sculptured features—but taken as a whole, he was not compelling enough to justify the fuss.

Ashra shrugged. “You’re wasting my time, Tera.”

Apparently undeterred, the icrathari warlord shook the human hard. His eyes flashed open. They were brilliant green, the exact color of the emerald ring Ashra wore on the index finger of her right hand. His gaze was unfocused, and the reflexive narrowing of his eyes matched the clenching of his jaw, hinting of wrenching pain.

Tera looked up and met Ashra’s gaze. “Taste his soul.”

Ashra recoiled, her upper lip curling in disgust. She had no desire to taste a human’s soul. Over the centuries, humans had grown weak, their small lives consumed by superstition and fear. It was better to live on the edge of perpetual starvation than fill her hunger with the pitiful excuse humans called a soul.

“Go deep,” Tera said.

But why? Ashra’s brow furrowed. She glanced at Siri and Elsker, but the two icrathari shrugged, apparently no more clued in than she was. She looked back at Tera. The icrathari warlord known as Ashra’s Blade was the epitome of calm understatement. If she was so insistent, she must have had a reason.

Ashra knelt beside the human. Without flinching, she placed her hand against his muscled abdomen. It was bloody, his flesh ripped by a vampire’s talons.

The man tensed at her touch, and his eyes flared wide with agony when her soul-sucking powers leeched into him. His breath came hard and fast, his chest heaving with the effort as he twisted in Tera’s unyielding grip, trying to break free.

Ashra’s eyes narrowed. The human was weakened—tapped into his life source, she waded through his dazed thoughts and shivered from the echo of each spasm of pain that wracked his body—but still, he fought Tera on the physical plane and Ashra on the psychic dimension, denying her access to his memories and to his soul.

She frowned and slammed her will against his, tearing an anguished scream from his throat, but still, his will did not crumble.

Askance, Ashra looked at Tera. “Did you taste him?”

Tera nodded. “It wasn’t hard the first time; he didn’t know what to expect, but apparently, he does now and is doing a fine job of fighting back.”

Was that grudging respect she heard in Tera’s voice? “Does his soul really matter?”

The icrathari nodded again.

Ashra’s shoulders shifted with the motion of a silent sigh. His resistance left her with little choice. She leaned forward and glided her lips over his in a whisper of a kiss.

Human myths spoke of succubi and incubi—demons that, with a touch, could stir lust in their unwilling victims. All myths were based in reality. The maddening beauty and soul-sucking powers of the icrathari had spawned the legends of succubi and incubi. With a touch, the icrathari could lure their victims into a state of sexual ecstasy, bending the will and baring the soul.

The human tensed against Ashra, resisting the intimate contact. She almost recoiled. Had the centuries dulled her innate powers? Surely she had not forgotten how to lure a man.

She closed her eyes and remembered love.

As always, Rohkeus’s fine-featured face—those beautiful gold-flecked green eyes, so unusual for an icrathari, and teasing smile—came to the fore. With a dreamy half-smile, she deepened the kiss, driving the memory of love before her like a sharpened stake.

At last, the man relaxed, succumbing to the kiss. She leaned into him, heedless of his crimson blood staining her white gown. He was warm, feverish even. Just skimming over six feet, he had more than twelve inches on her, but his physical strength, compared to hers, was puny. She was well aged; over four millennia old, she was the oldest of the icrathari and the strongest. She could have broken his neck with as little effort as a human child snapping a twig.

Her hand trailed across his muscled torso. He made it easy for her to be gentle. His body trembled as if he longed for her. His mouth was hungry for her kiss. He arched up against her, as if craving more. His need was like a living creature, wild and aching for her touch.

Eyes closed, Ashra shivered. Only one other person had desired her as much.

And he was dead.

She forced her way through the memories of pale bodies tangled upon cool silk sheets. When her soul-sucking power leeched out, it found no opposition. Images of the human’s life rewound in a blaze of vivid sights, sounds, and sensations.

Ashra looked up at Tera, her smile little more than a barely perceptible curve of her lips. “He fancies himself the protector of the child of prophecy. Was she among those taken tonight?”

Tera nodded.

Ashra chuckled, the sound without humor. “It’s a pity her genetic heritage wasn’t sufficiently superior to prevent her from being culled.”

“There’s more. Go deep.”

She pushed past the blackness at the start of his memories, expecting deeper darkness. Instead, the colors shifted into shades of ochre and gray. Memories, older than his body, resided in his soul; memories of an Earth long since lost to them—a planet surrounded and nourished by water; images of tall buildings glistening beneath a benevolent sun, and of thriving cities filled with the bustle of humans; memories of quiet and intimate conversations beneath a silver moon, the same silver moon that now graced Malum Turris with its light, though a thousand years older and viewed only from beneath the protection of the dome.

She saw herself as he must have seen her, a much-younger icrathari, still hopeful for the future, never realizing that the Earth they had all known and loved was irretrievably lost. Had she ever looked that vulnerable? Had her smile ever been so beautiful, so filled with love as she looked upon—

Rohkeus?” Oh, blessed Creator, was that stricken whisper her voice?

~*~

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Connect with Jade Kerrion at: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Amazon

Ruth's flyer from THUMB

Dreamscapes At The End Of Time – Building The Universe Of Thumb

ThumbJohn Guy Collick’s novel, Thumb, takes place on what its characters literally consider the body of God. More specifically on, “A flat singularity (carrying) the unfinished body of God through an empty universe.” The inhabitants of Collick’s universe not only live on this colossal body of God, they are also its architects and builders. The title, Thumb, refers to God’s thumb and is a physical location much like a mountain or a river. For my part, I believe it is one of the most unusual worlds I’ve ever run across. Moreover, as November is Sci-fi month, I wrote to Mr Collick and asked if he’d be willing to write a guest post based on a couple of questions I posed.

Lucky me—lucky you—he graciously agreed. Here then, are his answers…

What inspired you to write your novel, Thumb; and what sources, if any, influenced your creation?

John Guy Collick: The idea for Thumb came to me in a dream many, many years ago. I saw a colossal mannequin lying on its back in the desert, and a man in blue robes standing in front. Millions of people had been making this giant puppet for hundreds of years, the plan was that it would come to life and save them from a dreadful catastrophe. As time went by they forgot the original purpose and ended up in-fighting amongst themselves – Head against Hand, Heart against Shoulder etc. Every time I revisited the idea the body got bigger until, in Thumb, it stretches half a million miles from head to toe, and floats on a flat singularity at the end of the universe, when all the suns and planets are dead.

The basic premise is that all the remaining sentient races in the cosmos are being carried to the next universe by their gods. For whatever reason humanity has no gods left, and is therefore frantically building their own immense Frankenstein’s monster from fragments brought out of the past. Once it’s complete it will come to life and carry the last few people into the new universe. There is a strong Gothic theme to the series. The Gothic novels of 18th century writers like Ann Radcliffe introduced the idea of an unknowable cosmos littered with immense fragments of the past. The wonderful Carceri (Prisons) of Giovanni Battista Piranesi capture this perfectly. When I’m describing the interior of the body of God in the sequel to Thumb, Ragged Claws, I draw heavily on his imagery.

Carceri d'invenzione by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1750)

Carceri d’invenzione by Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1750)

I’ve also always been a big fan of early 20th century absurdist and fantastical writing, particularly authors like Franz Kafka and Mervyn Peake (in fact the city of Metacarpi is based on Kafka’s Prague).The idea behind the universe is fundamentally surreal. Like the characters in Kafka’s books the people in Thumb live in a universe without logic marked by infinite landscapes and layers upon layers of mystery, but very few of them ever question the essential strangeness of their situation. Interestingly, a couple of readers initially assumed that I’d written a religious novel, which is not the case. None of the humans at the end of time worship the God or are in any way religious, it’s just a being they’ve been told they have to make in order to survive.

Ruth's flyer from Thumb

Ruth’s flyer from THUMB

Modernist writing can be difficult and obscure, especially when the author emphasises the surreal nature of their story through the language itself. I wanted to write about a Kafka-esque universe, but in the form of a straightforward high-octane adventure novel, I like to think of it as Kafka meets Indiana Jones. I’m also a huge fan of British New Wave Science Fiction, especially the baroque fantasies of Michael Moorcock and the urban wildernesses of J. G. Ballard. The universe of Thumb, with its infinite spaces of concrete, rusted machinery, iron and dust, owes a lot to Ballard’s disaster novels – especially The Drought (1964) and The Terminal Beach (1964). In the latter is a short story called ‘The Drowned Giant’ in which an immense corpse is washed up on a beach, and just treated as an interesting curio by the locals before it decays into nothing. No-one questions why it’s there or where it’s come from, its presence is accepted, in the same way that very few people actually wonder about the God they are building in Thumb. Ballard’s stories took their imagery from British urban landscapes in the 1960s and 1970s, where I grew up – post-boom concrete jungles littered with decay set between un-reconstructed bomb sites from the Second World War. I’ve tried to retain a Modernist/Expressionist vibe in the artwork I’m creating for the book.

The mysterious house from the first chapter of Thumb

The mysterious house from the first chapter of Thumb

As an avid science fiction reader, what science fiction or fantasy worlds stand out in your memory as exceptionally unique?

John Guy Collick: The two fantasy landscapes from novels that have stayed with me more than any others are the world of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy, and the future Earth of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land.

The Gormenghast Trilogy stands out as one of the most peculiar set of novels ever written in the UK. Mervyn Peake was a war artist who started writing the first book, Titus Groan, as therapy following a nervous breakdown. In the stories a set of outrageously grotesque characters live in the vast sprawling castle of Gormenghast, an infinite chaotic mass that combines just about every conceivable architectural style. The day to day routine of the inhabitants is bound by ancient and meaningless ritual which dictates their every waking moment. There’s very little plot in the first novel – by the end the eponymous hero, Titus, is still an infant – but the evocation of this insanely baroque world is stunning. Peake describes both architecture and people by layering description on description, exaggerating details to the point where they virtually take on a life of their own. It’s like reading Dickens on Acid. In typically grotesque fashion people are often described as if they were things, and objects take on the characteristics of people.

Mervyn Peake’s own illustrations for the manuscript of Titus Groan

Mervyn Peake’s own illustrations for the manuscript of Titus Groan

The second book, Gormenghast, is slightly more conventional (only just) in that it describes the rise of evil within the castle in the form of the renegade servant Steerpike. By the time Peake wrote the third book, Titus Alone, he was already suffering from the illness that would eventually claim his life. It’s very sketchy, really more of an outline than a book, but it still captures an utterly strange universe filled with exaggerated characters and meaningless landscapes. Peake was one of the first war artists to enter the concentration camps towards the end of World War Two and the overwhelming image in the book is of a world populated by dispossessed wanderers lost in the shadow of an impersonal factory of evil. Michael Moorcock was also immensely influenced by Peake, directly in his two novels The Golden Barge (1958) and Gloriana or the Unfulfill’d Queen (1978).

The Night Land illustrated by Peter A. Jones

The Night Land illustrated by Peter A. Jones

The bulk of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land is set in the distant future when the sun has died and the Earth is locked in perpetual night. The last remnants of humanity huddle in a pyramid fortress called the Great Redoubt, while all around them gather strange monsters and beings, most of whom seek to destroy man. The novel tells of the hero’s quest to rescue the lone survivor of the Lesser Redoubt which has been overwhelmed by the creatures of the wilderness, and so he has to journey through a landscape built straight out of a nightmare. Sadly the book is virtually unreadable because Hodgson chose to write it in the style of a 17th century religious tract, and so the language is very archaic, repetitive and overblown. If you stick with it, however, he builds up a wonderfully creepy world populated with sinister, incomprehensible entities. Most of these are merely hinted at – the Country of the Great Laughter, the Thing that Nods, giants glimpsed in clouds of light or engaged in unknown tasks by immense red pits and kilns. Surrounding the Great Redoubt are the Great Watchers, beings that have slowly approached the fortress over centuries and now sit and stare at it with an obviously malignant intent that is never fully explained. The Night Land stands out as a forgotten classic of Science Fantasy, and if you can wade through the turgid prose and glacial pace it leaves you with images that can haunt you for years.

A caravan makes its way over the skin of the colossus in Ragged Claws.

A caravan makes its way over the skin of the colossus in Ragged Claws.

Coming soon

Coming soon

I’ve just finished the first draft of the second book in the series, Ragged Claws, and I’m hoping to release it early next year. At the moment the plan is for four novels in total. The third is called Antihelix – the title for the fourth is, as yet, undecided.

I can hardly wait for the release of Ragged Claws.  If you haven’t read Thumb–do so! Also, if you enjoyed this post, you can read more by the author at: John Guy Collick, on and on I sped into futurity…

Purchase Thumb at the following links:

Amazon US       Amazon UK        Smashwords       Paperback

Check back next Tuesday when the topic will be: Talking Tribble—My Fascination With Alien Languages, Customs & Where The Heck Are The Bathrooms!

Happy Writing!

Perfection Challenged by Jade Kerrion

Author Interview with Jade Kerrion on her newest release, Perfection Challenged

Today’s author interview features Jade Kerrion who’s here to talk about how she got into writing and her latest novel, Perfection Challenged.

1. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

I started writing at the age of thirteen when my school essays were returned to me with a bunch of “A”s scrawled over the top. Teenagers are impressionable. Being much more impressionable than most, and believing that my teachers knew what they were doing, I figured I was destined to be a writer. It’s only taken me tens of thousands of hours of work since then to be halfway decent at writing (and I’m still learning each day), but one has to start somewhere.

2. When did you start taking writing seriously?

In November 2010, my husband challenged me to stop writing for fun and to start writing as a career. National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) 2010 was the trigger. I spent that month writing Perfection Unleashed, my debut novel.

3. How many books have you written?

I released Perfection Unleashed in June 2012. To date, I have published six books; I’ve just released Perfection Challenged, the conclusion of my seven-time award-winning Double Helix series. I have another novel, Eternal Night, a paranormal romance/fantasy set in the future (sounds odd, doesn’t it?), scheduled for release in 2013.

4. What was your journey to becoming an author like?

Rocky, as most journeys are. For a while, I explored traditional publishing, but then decided I was too much of a control freak to take to traditional publishing. I preferred having creative control over my writing, artistic control over my covers, and process control over my publishing schedules. In the end, self-publishing made the most sense for me. That said, I do have a foot in the door of traditional publishing. McSill Literary Agency represents Portuguese rights for my Double Helix series.

5. Is there anything specifically that helps you write better/inspires you?

I think I’m past the stage of needing inspiration; writing is more of a compulsion now. In general, I have a compulsive personality; people like me should never get exposed to alcohol, cigarettes, or recreational drugs—we’re easy prey. Years ago, computer gaming and writing used to go hand-in-hand for me. My characters from my computer games inspired my writing. Since then, however, my characters have taken on a life of their own and thus, I have been freed to happily obsess about them without needing the occasional computer gaming boost to sustain them.

6. What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The hardest part is stopping. After multiple rounds of self-editing, several weeks of working with my editor, and several rounds of proofreading, I have to put the manuscript away and say “done.” I think it is entirely possible to edit forever, but at some point, you have to stop and send the book out into the world.

7. Do you have a specific writing style?

Third person past tense? To be honest, I’m not sure I know the response to this question. Some people say my style is much like one author or another (which would be an interesting feat, considering I’ve never read some of those authors.) Broadly, I’d say that my style tends to resemble serials or movies. I grew up writing fan fiction, and got accustomed to writing sections of chapters that almost inevitably ended on a cliffhanger just because that’s the way fan fiction is usually consumed on online fan forums. In addition, I write the movie I see in my head, and not surprisingly, people have commented that reading my books is like watching a movie.

8. Who is your favorite author?

Neil Gaiman is pure genius in his storytelling ability. I’m a huge fan of his Sandman series.

9. What are your favorite books and what genres do you prefer?

Science fiction and fantasy are my favorite genres to read and write. I’ve especially enjoyed the Belgariad and Mallorean series by David Eddings. To unwind, I settle down with a sweet and satisfying romance, preferably Nora Roberts. I also enjoy thrillers, especially some of Robert Ludlum’s novels.

10. What is some good advice/tips for young writers/aspiring unpublished authors?

Success in any new career takes time. Be patient. Invest in yourself—understand your strengths and weaknesses as a writer and be committed to continual learning and constant growth. It is said that it takes 10,000 hours of work to become an expert in a field. That’s approximately 5 years of full time 8-to-5 work, and you need to be prepared to make the investment of your time and resources for the long haul.

11. Advice for getting rid of writer’s block?

I think writer’s block is just an excuse. Writing is a discipline, like going to school or work each day, like exercising and eating healthy. It’s just something to have to do because it’s an expectation for achieving your career goals as a writer. Maybe that particular scene isn’t working out the way you want, well, work on another, but work on something. Thomas Edison said it best, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” Today, you may not have the 1%, but you sure can muster up the 99% because that is under your control.

12. A favorite quote of yours you’d like to share?

Neil Gaiman’s character, Death, from the Sandman series, utters my favorite quote, “It always ends. That’s what gives it value.” That quote reminds me that what makes any experience, even life as a whole, valuable, is the fact that it ends. Because it ends, every moment is that much more precious and beautiful. Savor it.

13. What would you be if you didn’t become an author?

Well, I’m already several things. In addition to author, wife, and mother, I work full time in an education company in the area of business and learning strategy. I enjoy my job very much and don’t have any intention of quitting. People often ask how I find time to do everything I do. My response is always the same, “You’ll always manage to find time for the things that matter. Oh, and I don’t sleep much.”

14. Can you share some info about your current work with us?

Danyael Sabre’s hard-won normal life shattered the day Zara Itani freed the genetically engineered perfect human being, Galahad, from his laboratory prison. Three years have since passed. Danyael has survived months of brutal torture and the grind of quiet despite without losing the core of compassion that makes him the most compelling and infuriating man Zara has ever known.

Danyael’s greatest challenge, nevertheless, lies ahead of him. In Perfection Challenged, Danyael is forced to confront his own mortality and Galahad’s hate. At the end of his road, will he remain true to his convictions or sacrifice all to protect the woman he loves from the man who hates him?

15. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Only that I’m thrilled you’ve enjoyed my novels. To every one of you, thank you for sharing this journey with me. Your enthusiasm, support, and love for my characters are the reasons I keep writing. I hope you keep hanging around. The best is yet to come.

“The best of the four books…the perfect ending to an amazing series.”

Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to the multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, is finally here. Grab your copy today.

If you’ve never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep reading for a special offer on the six-time award-winning novel, Perfection Unleashed.

perfection-challenged-600x800PERFECTION CHALLENGED

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him.

Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad?

In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him.

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple iTunes / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK

PERFECTION UNLEASHED Perfection Unleashed

“Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men.”

Recipient of six literary awards, including First place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards 2012 and Gold medal winner, Science Fiction, Readers Favorites 2013.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99)

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Perfection Challenged by Jade Kerrion

Perfection Challenged!

Perfection Challenged, the thrilling conclusion to Jade Kerrion’s multiple award-winning, bestselling DOUBLE HELIX series, will be released on September 17th and will be available in paperback and all electronic formats. Beta readers have declared Perfection Challenged “the best of the four books…the perfect ending to an amazing series.”

If you’ve never picked up the DOUBLE HELIX series, keep on reading for a special offer on Perfection Unleashed, the book that launched the DOUBLE HELIX series.

PERFECTION CHALLENGED

An alpha empath, Danyael Sabre has survived abominations and super soldiers, terrorists and assassins, but he cannot survive his failing body. He wants only to live out his final days in peace, but life and the woman he loves, the assassin Zara Itani, have other plans for him.

Galahad, the perfect human being created by Pioneer Labs, is branded an international threat, and Danyael is appointed his jury, judge, and executioner. Danyael alone believes that Galahad can be the salvation that the world needs, but is the empath blinded by the fact that Galahad shares his genes, and the hope that there is something of him in Galahad?

In a desperate race against time and his own dying body, Danyael struggles to find fragments of good in the perfect human being, and comes to the wrenching realization that his greatest battle will be a battle for the heart of the man who hates him.

Perfection Challenged by Jade Kerrion

PERFECTION UNLEASHED

Recipient of six literary awards, including first place in Science Fiction, Reader Views Literary Awards.

“Higher octane than Heroes. More heart than X-Men.”

Danyael Sabre spent sixteen years clawing out of the ruins of his childhood and finally has everything he wanted—a career, a home, and a trusted friend. To hold on to them, he keeps his head down and plays by the rules. An alpha empath, he is powerful in a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution, yet his experience has taught him to avoid attention.

When the perfect human being, Galahad, escapes from Pioneer Laboratories, the illusory peace between humans and their derivatives—the in vitros, clones, and mutants—collapses into social upheaval. The abominations, deformed and distorted mirrors of humanity, created unintentionally in Pioneer Lab’s search for perfection, descend upon Washington D.C. The first era of the Genetic Revolution was peaceful. The second is headed for open war.

Although the genetic future of the human race pivots on Galahad, Danyael does not feel compelled to get involved and risk his cover of anonymity, until he finds out that the perfect human being looks just like him.

FOR A LIMITED TIME, E-BOOKS AVAILABLE FOR JUST $0.99 (Discounted from $2.99)

E-books available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Apple / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / Smashwords

Paperbacks available at Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

To be the first to receive news of Jade Kerrion’s latest book releases, sign up for her New Release Mailing List. If Perfection Challenge makes it to the bookstores before September 17th, you’ll be among the first to know.

Connect with Jade Kerrion: Website / Facebook / Twitter

daughter of smoke and bone and Days of Blood and Starlight

What’s on my bookshelf? You asked for it!

Sit me down, talk to me face to face and I’ll tell you exactly what I think about a book. But I don’t enjoy writing reviews. The thought of writing something negative about a book and posting it for all the world to see—it terrifies me. Which is why you haven’t seen many book reviews from me lately. But now it’s time to catch up (in a small way), because I have been reading. Of course, I’ve been reading. I’m a writer. Writers read…it’s as simple as that!

Below are a few of the books that have recently nourished my writer’s soul.

John Saturnall's FeastI only gave John Saturnall’s Feast, by Lawrence Norfolk, three stars on Goodreads. The writing was beautiful. The description of food, smells, textures and colors, no less than luscious—but, the plot was wanting. It just goes to show that someone can be a good writer, but not a good storyteller. I still recommend it. There’s a lot to be learned (as a writer) from Norfolk’s descriptions.

 

GroundedI read Grounded, by G.P. Ching, a while ago. I believe Ching created a new genre with Grounded: Amish Scifi (Don’t you love it!) As with G.P. Ching’s other books, I highly recommend Grounded for upper middle grade and young YA readers who like science fiction, adventure and a little romance. 

 

daughter of smoke and bone and Days of Blood and StarlightI started reading the second book in Laini Taylor’s trilogy, Days of Blood and Starlight, and realized I couldn’t remember some key elements from the first book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. However, I did remember loving it when I read it…so, I read again. It was even better the second time. Then I read Days of Blood and Starlight. All I can say is that I love, love, love Laini Taylor’s trilogy about star-crossed lovers. It’s Angels and Demons as you’ve never seen them before. I can’t wait for the third book in the trilogy.

Going ClearI listened to Going Clear on my audible app. Narrated by Morton Sellers, it is a slightly scary and intriguing look into the world of Scientology, researched and written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright. Let’s just say, I will never look at another Tom Cruise movie the same way again.

 

The_Fault_in_Our_StarsI kept hearing about The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, and finally had to read it. I don’t normally read books that I know are going to make me cry. I’m very glad I read this one. The Fault in Our Stars is emotional…to say the least. It will make you cry, but it’s also funny and touching and an awesome romance. Read it!

 

Check out what I’m currently reading (I’m enjoying both of them.) I bought the hardcover edition of The One and Only Ivan because I suspect, somedayin the far, far futureI will read it aloud to my grandchildren. (No, I don’t have grandchildren!) I’m listening to The Diviners on my audible app.
 The One and Only Ivan The Diviners by Libba Bray

What’s on your bookshelf?

 

 

 

The War of Art

The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield

Or: How To Overcome Resistance and Write Your Novel!

“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” ― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

I’ve never attended boot camp, but listening to George Guidall narrate Steven Pressfield’s book: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles, it feels like I have. The War of ArtPressfield doesn’t hold back, nor does he try to be nice, when he explains why many writers, including myself, often choose to do just about anything other than write. Actually, he doesn’t only target writers, he targets artists, actors, musicians, entrepreneurs…anyone attempting to accomplish something that takes time, effort, and most likely, doesn’t come with the immediate gratification of a paycheck. Those things our heart call us to do. Things like:

  • Writing a novel
  • Painting a masterpiece
  • Opening that restaurant
  • Learning a new language
  • Learning how to play the piano

How many adults have you heard bemoan the fact they gave up taking piano lessons? “There just wasn’t time!” or “Sports got in the way.” Yet in their hearts they know (as do you and I) the true answer: there was plenty of time, but they chose to do other things.

For me, the timing of reading Pressfield’s book (or rather listening, via my audible.com account) was perfect. I’m at the beginning of writing a new novel. Looming ahead of me is the knowledge that it could take me six months or six years to complete—I won’t know until I write it. Because it’s fiction, I can’t submit it until it’s completed and then there’s no guarantee a publishing house will pick it up. Or, if I self-publish, that it will be successful.

Why am I crazy enough to attempt such a feat? Because I have this story and these characters in my head, and I want to write about them—even if I’m the only one who ever reads what I write. Now that’s love. However, just like a good love story, there are plenty of bumps in the road, plenty of misdirection, plenty of activities (I call them my “To do’s”) that keep me from finding true love (i.e. writing my novel). Those “To do’s” are what Pressfield calls, resistance. Moreover, every day, he says, no matter how long we’ve been writing, we must overcome resistance anew!

What are my resistances?

  • Paying bills
  • Cleaning house
  • Calling an old friend
  • Cooking, reading, exercising, organizing…
  • Making sure everyone’s needs are fulfilled before I sit down and write!

How do I know these things are resistance? Because as I do them, in the back of my mind I’m telling myself, “As soon as I finish this, I’m going to write.” However, in my gut, I know I’m lying. I know I’ll find other “To do’s”, other things that “need” to be done (because they won’t take much time, and besides, they’re important and this novel is going to take years to write anyway, so I should do the quick things first—right?) and by the end of the day I’ll be so tired I’ll start telling myself, “Tomorrow, I’ll write. I won’t have any more chores to do or reasons not to write. I’ll wake up, I’ll get my coffee, and I’ll sit down at my computer and write. Right? All I’ll do is write.”

We writers make very good liars.

It’s not that I don’t want to write. It’s that I fear it. I fear I may get halfway through writing my novel and discover it sucks! I fear no one will ever read it. I fear I will spend my life writing, but never make a good living at it. I fear, I fear… Oh yes, I have so many fears. As do most artists. But listen up—here’s what Pressfield has to say about fear:

“Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do.”

“Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”

“Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.” 

CompassPressfield also talks about fear being like an arrow on a compass that always points north. Whatever that arrow is pointing at, is what we need to be doing—prioritizing—in order to make ourselves happy. For me, north on my compass is writing. Specifically, writing my novel.

More importantly, it’s clear to me that I can write every day and still have time to pay the bills, send a care package to my college kid, call my mom, organize my desk, etc. All I have to do is wake up every morning and overcome resistance! Say no to the cleaning, the organizing, the to do list full of chores, the email, the twitter—you name it—until I’ve put in three to four hours working on my novel. It’s not the word count, it’s doing the time! Which, come to think of it, leaves me plenty of time to write a new blog post. (Yes, I worked on my novel before I started writing this post.)

Having trouble finding time to work on your novel? Read “The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles” by Steven Pressfield.

 

Jade Kerrion

Interview with Jade Kerrion, author of Perfection Unleashed

Today I’m welcoming Jade Kerrion, award-winning author of Perfection Unleashed, to my blog. Jade is on tour to promote the next two books in her Double Helix series: Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon. On November 2, I posted a book discussion (go ahead and call it a review if it makes you feel better) on Perfection Unleashed. Today, Jade will try to answer a couple of the more burning questions I had while reading her perfectly wonderful novel. Namely…

DoubleHelixCovers

Why would she cast Orlando Bloom in the role of Galahad/Danyael Sabre when clearly Daniel Craig is perfect for the part? (Jade and I are having just a bit of a difference of opinion on this topic.)

Daniel Craig

Orlando Bloom

ME: Hi, Jade. Welcome to my website. I’m curious about your thoughts on perfection. As I read Perfection Unleashed, it occurred to me that there are probably vast differences in your definition of the perfect human versus my definition (versus just about anyone else who cares to chime in on the subject). Let’s face it…we can’t even agree on the same actor to play the roles of Danyael/Galahad in the movie. (Though clearly, the correct answer is Daniel Craig.) Given that, when choosing to write a series in which one of the characters has been created to be the Perfect Human—and assuming you, too, were aware that not everyone would define perfection the same way—how did you deal with this issue?

JADE: Before we even get to the Daniel Craig/Orlando Bloom debate, we need to tackle the issue of gender. A beta reader, upon finding out that the perfect human being was male, immediately laughed and said, of course he’s not perfect; he’s male! Being females, you and I understand perfectly the sentiment behind that comment.

Perfection Unleashed and the Double Helix series explores, among other philosophical concepts, the notion of perfection. Galahad is a magnificent physical specimen; his mind is incisive and mirrors the greatest intellect on earth (who happens to be female…) His genes are a patchwork of excellence drawn from every possible facet of humanity. And yet, he will find, to his frustration, that people who can’t agree on the definition of humanity and equality will certainly not be able to agree on the definition of perfection. The debate is not just an intellectual one; it becomes highly personal later in the series when people appear to prefer the company of Danyael Sabre, the alpha empath and Galahad’s physical template, who is deeply imperfect in many ways. Danyael is the protagonist of the Double Helix series, but the story is as much about Galahad coming to terms with who he is as the “perfect” human being.

ME: Speaking of perfect females…my favorite character in your series is Xin, a computer genius and the clone of a twelve hundred BC queen, military general, and high priestess from ancient China. Tell us a bit about how the idea for Xin came into being. Also, I’m curious as to if you based her on a real character from history.

JADE: As much as possible, I anchored my novel in fact. The science in the Double Helix series is not just possible, it’s much more advanced than many of us believe it to be. Where I could, I also anchored my characters in fact. Xin’s the best example of it. The original Xin is real. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mu_Xin) She was known as Fu Hao and was one of the many wives of King Wu Ding of the Shang Dynasty. She was also, unusually for those times, a military general and high priestess. Best of all, her tomb was unearthed intact, which of course, promised all sorts of interesting DNA and cloning possibilities.

History is full of remarkable women who had multi-tasking down to an art form, and Fu Hao/Mu Xin was one of them. I placed Xin into the story in part to stoke my own curiosity. How would an ambitious and capable woman from ancient China fare in modern society? How much of her instincts and skills are innate versus taught? Would turning a clone of Xin’s caliber loose on society today be akin to releasing a deadly virus we can’t control? Xin’s one of my favorite characters too, and she’s embodies issues and questions that neither Danyael nor Galahad can address. My plan, in the distant future, is to write a novel that focuses on Xin. (I guess that means I can’t kill her off, yet…)

ME: Finally, Jade, I have to ask: Why Orlando Bloom? What qualities make him the perfect actor to portray Danyael Sabre/Galahad? (And I just have to point out, were you casting the role of the perfect elf, I would have no quibbles with your selection.)Legolas

JADE: Let’s see…three reasons why Orlando Bloom. 1) He’s cute. 2) He’s cute. 3) He’s cute. Any other questions?

But seriously, there were a couple of reasons, and at least one of them has to do with the “perfect elf” you referenced. Danyael and Galahad have pale blond hair and sculptured good looks. I don’t know about you, but when I think “pale blond hair and good looks,” I automatically think “Legolas…” That got Orlando Bloom through the first round (even though in real life, he’s dark-haired.)

After that, it was just a matter of justifying the decision. Orlando’s 35 years old; Danyael is 28 and Galahad is 25. I figured Orlando could probably swing the age difference. Then it was star appeal. If Perfection Unleashed ever got made into a movie, he’ll pull in the women in droves. Now, admittedly, Daniel Craig would do the same (pull in women, that is) though, at 44, Daniel would have a harder time playing a twenty-something. Finally, I though Orlando might be able to pull off the polar opposite depictions of Galahad’s passion for the limitless potential of the world he had been previously denied (think Pirates of the Caribbean) and for Danyael’s weary watchfulness (Legolas’s “been-there-done-that-what-are-these-crazy-humans-doing?” attitude.)

Plus, he’s cute. I think that about sums it up. I’d love to hear why you’d nominate Daniel Craig instead (besides the fact that he’s cute, has a great body, and is an awesome actor…)

ME: Got it! Now, in answer to your question… In addition to the many physically appealing attributes Daniel Craig possesses (smile), it’s his overall demeanor that, in my opinion, makes him a good fit. Though young, both Danyael and Galahad have suffered a lot. It’s difficult to imagine them smiling.  Now try to imagine Daniel Craig with smile on his face. That’s right! Craig’s calling card to fame is his pained, pouty expression, atop a perfectly chiseled body. Too bad he’s not 10 years younger. Ah well, I bow to your superior knowledge of your own characters–Orlando Bloom it is!

Thanks Jade! I had a perfectly wonderful time interviewing you. Best of luck with all your writing.

JADE: And thank you, Lorijo. It’s really been a pleasure coming here to talk about the really important things, like cute men. (No sarcasm intended.) I wouldn’t have written the Double Helix series if the people in them were not worth dreaming about, one way or another.

As I noted above, Jade is on tour to promote her Double Helix Trilogy. She’s visited several other blogs http://www.jadekerrion.com, which you can also visit to find out more about Jade Kerrion, her Double Helix series, and what’s up next for the award-winning author!

Note from Jade: Perfection Unleashed will be on sale for the duration of the tour (through March 1st) for $0.99 on all e-book retailers, if that’s something you want to let your readers know.

Author Bio:

Jade KerrionJade Kerrion unites cutting-edge science and bioethics with fast-paced action in her award-winning Double Helix series. Drawing rave reviews for its originality and vision, and described as “a breakout piece of science fiction,” Perfection Unleashed, and its sequels, Perfect Betrayal and Perfect Weapon, are available in print and e-book through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iTunes, and other major retailers.

About The Double Helix series: 

His genetic code sourced from the best that humanity offers, Galahad embodies the pinnacle of perfection. When Zara Itani, a mercenary whose abrasive arrogance exceeds her beauty, frees him from his laboratory prison, she offers him the chance to claim everything that had ever been denied him, beginning with his humanity.

Perfection cannot be unleashed without repercussions, and Galahad’s freedom shatters Danyael Sabre’s life.

An alpha empath, Danyael is rare and coveted, even among the alpha mutants who dominate the Genetic Revolution. He wields the power to heal or kill with a touch, but craves only privacy and solitude—both impossible dreams for the man who was used as Galahad’s physical template.

Galahad and Danyael, two men, one face. One man seeks to embrace destiny, and the other to escape it.

The award-winning Double Helix series, consisting of Perfection Unleashed, Perfect Betrayal, and Perfect Weapon, will challenge your notions of perfection and humanity, and lead you in a celebration of courage and compassion. Science fiction, urban fantasy, and action-adventure readers will enjoy this thrilling roller-coaster ride as it twists and turns through a world transformed by the Genetic Revolution.

Connect with Jade Kerrion: Blog / Facebook / Twitter

Perfection Unleashed: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Perfect Betrayal: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Perfect Weapon: Amazon / Amazon UK / Smashwords

 

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Three Great YA Books to read over the holidays

Let’s be honest, during the holidays, I am too easily distracted by turkeys, big balloons, holiday lights, and snowmen to be much of an effective writer. One thing I am good at is making myself a cup of hot cocoa and curling up with a good book to read. Thus, today I am bringing you three great book recommendations if you’re looking for a holiday read.

Wool, by Hugh Howey#1: Wool, by Hugh Howey. Actually, Wool is a story that’s been broken down into a series of smaller books, each published separately. If you want to read them as one, buy the Omnibus Edition.

Wool was another one of those free kindle books I’d downloaded and forgotten about. Then, one day, I started reading it and couldn’t put it down. I’m currently reading the fourth book in the series. Each book is short, so reading the Omnibus edition is like reading one normal length book.

What makes Wool so special is the writing. It’s a dystopian, sci-fi, which reads like a literary novel. Howey’s characters, no matter how short of time they inhabit his story, are distinct and fully developed. They feel like real people.

In addition, the plot keeps you on edge wondering how all these people came to be living where they are. I won’t say more because I don’t want to give away any of the plot. (Plus I’m only on book 4) Just read it!

Mindjack Trilogy by Susan Kaye Quinn#2: Open Minds, by Susan Kaye Quinn. In her Mindjack Trilogy, Susan Kaye Quinn has imagined a world where most people have evolved (or mutated…I not sure which) into communicating by reading each other’s minds. She takes it a step further, though, and makes life infinitely more complicated by having some people evolve into mindjackers, or people who can control other people’s minds.

What I really liked about Open Minds is that the teenage heroine, while gifted, behaves like a real teenager. She makes decisions that don’t always please my adult mindset, and I could easily imagine her as the neighborhood babysitter. (Maybe that’s because the setting for Open Minds is Gurnee, IL—the town I live in!)

Open Minds is a fun, YA read, which will definitely leaving you wanting to read the rest of the books in the series.

Divergent by Veronica Roth#3 Divergent, by Veronica Roth. (I saved my favorite for last!) I was on a road trip with my husband and had already listened to eighteen chapters of Divergent, when I decided to start the book over so he could listen along with me. It was a great decision. My husband loves Divergent as much as I do and is now listening to Insurgent, book two, on his iPhone.

The tension in Divergent is absolutely heart pounding. Honestly, Veronica Roth should give master class on writing tension. I am in awe of the main character, Tris, and sick with jealously over how Veronica Roth could create such a complicated, intriguing character. Tris’ love interest, Four, is pretty spectacular too. And before I forget, the world they live in—a not so pleasant Chicago, IL of the future, where everyone is divided into factions based on the virtues of honesty, selflessness, peacefulness, intelligence, and bravery—is not only interesting, but leaves you thinking about just what faction you’d fall into. By the way, if you’ve read the book, my husband says I’m definitely Candor. He’s right!

If you’re going to read Divergent, I highly recommend the audio version read by Emma Galvin. She’s so talented a reader, I almost wonder if I’d be as gaga over the book without her.

So there you are, three great books for you holiday reading pleasure. Enjoy!