Fiction Blog, The Desertera Series, Writing Updates

What You Need to Know About the Third Desertera Novel

If you’re signed up for my Reader List, then you know I’m hard at work on the third Desertera novel. (Those clever readers have also previewed exclusive samples of my first draft!) To help me finish the manuscript, I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (essentially a self-driven writing challenge) during the month of April, and I’m already excited to share it with you! So, what do you need to know about the third Desertera novel?

King Lionel takes the reins

As with the other Desertera novels, this one features a new protagonist. We’ll follow King Lionel as he tries to navigate the political waters (or sand dunes, rather) of Desertera. The poor guy has a lot on his plate: learning how to govern, satisfying the demands of the council and the people, pressure to marry an appropriate queen, and trouble from our favorite farmer-prophet …

It’s time to explore Desertera

That’s right – we’re out of the brothel and the hovels! As king, Lionel can take us to places within Desertera that Aya and Dellwyn couldn’t access … at least not without trespassing. We’ll finally check out the royal library (ah, the smell of dusty old books!), venture deep into the belly of the ship, and head to the outskirts of Bowtown.

There will be more Aya (and other friends, too!)

One of the most frequent criticisms of The Courtesan’s Avenger (Desertera #2) is that Aya didn’t hang around enough. Well, don’t worry! I’ve always intended for her to feature more prominently in future books. (I mean, the woman needed time to get her shop in order. Give her a break!) All our other friends will make appearances, too.

I can’t wait for you to read it!

Although I struggled to get started with this novel, now that I’m in the thick of it, I’m having a blast. Like the other books, it continues the story from a fresh perspective and allows a new view of Desertera. I’m also finally able to give you all some answers and steer the ship (pun intended) more towards the final destination … though it’s still a few books away.

Currently, I expect to publish Desertera #3 in late July. But to do that, I’ve got to get this draft wrapped up and sent to my editor. I’ll give you another update when that happens (and more still as I choose a title, cover, and official publication date) but for now, I need to get back to writing!

Fiction Blog, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, & Geeky Things

New Book Release: Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) by Ashley Capes

imperial-towers-book-release

It’s a great week to be a bookwormdragon! I’m excited to announce that another author and friend has a new book out. Ashley Capes writes epic fantasy, genre-blending fantasy thrillers and gorgeous poetry. He’s just released the fifth novel in his Book of Never series, Imperial Towers.

View the cover and short blurb below, then be sure to check out the whole series at your favorite online retailer!

never5-6by9Only one thing stands between Never and answers – his brother.

Driven toward the enemy-occupied Imperial City, Never’s doubts grow. Even with new knowledge about his powers, can he truly keep his friends safe in a warzone? Or, like too many times before, will he end up responsible for the deaths of those he should have protected?

Check out Imperial Towers (Book of Never: 5) on your favorite online retailer.

Fiction Blog, Guest Posts

New Book Release: Curiosity and the Sentient’s Oblation by Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Gabrielle #3 Book ReleaseI’m thrilled to announce that my friend and fellow independent author, Zachary Paul Chopchinski, has just released the third novel in his Gabrielle series. If you haven’t read any of the books, they follow Gabrielle as she travels through different time periods and journeys through the lives (and deaths) of other individuals. The books are charming, fun reads – perfect for fans of young adult fiction, time travel, and historical fantasy.

Learn about Curiosity and the Sentient’s Oblation (Gabrielle #3) below, then go pick up your copy on Amazon or grab a signed paperback from Zach’s website!

Synopsis

Curiosity and the Sentient's OblationThe widowed wife of a North Carolina plantation owner, Gabrielle awakens in this life with a broken heart and a sharpened spirit. Living in one of the darkest times in American history, she finds herself running a safe house for the underground railroad during the American Civil War. In order to save a life, Gabrielle must make a sacrifice that could damn her host for eternity.

Everything’s different this time. The rules have changed, Morrigan has changed, and Arawn is more dangerous than ever. He has sent a hunter after Gabrielle and she has to use every ounce of her new powers if she is going to survive.

Book Trailer

About Zach

Zachary Paul ChopchinskiZach is a bow tie wearing, formal vest rocking, pocket watch using, sarcastic monster of a writer. Currently residing in Orlando, Florida, he spends his days working, writing and procrastinating.

Zach is the author of the Gabrielle series, a young adult fantasy with a paranormal-historical-time traveling twist (try saying that five times fast).

Zach has multiple college degrees, in the fields of criminal justice and criminology…because he wanted to catch ALL the bad guys. Now, coupled with being an author of young adult fiction he spends his days yelling at people for breaking regulatory laws.

Connect With Zach

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Zachary-Paul-Chopchinski-772308849490741/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Website: http://zachchop.com

Tumblr: http://an-author-and-his-books.tumblr.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ZachChop

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9853623.Zachary_Paul_Chopchinski

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/zachary-paul-chopchinski

Buy the Book

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lCL5yk

Website: https://zachchop.com/store/checkout-book-3/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33539522-curiosity-and-the-sentient-s-oblation

Book Reviews, Fiction Blog

Indie Book Review: Winter of the Wolf by Christina Ochs

Winter of the Wolf CoverWinter of the Wolf by Christina Ochs
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Winter of the Wolf is the fourth book in Christina Ochs’ Desolate Empire series. To be blunt, I have a lot of wonderful things to say about this book — only I can’t say any of them, for risk of spoiling the novel (and the entire series) for you.

What I can reveal is that it falls beautifully in line with the rest of the series. Winter of the Wolf is full of action, political drama, and jaw-dropping twists that literally made me shriek (and sometimes cry). Despite being a long novel (595 pages), it read incredibly quickly and left me wanting more.

And that’s all I will risk telling you.

That being said, I’m going to break from my usual, detailed review style and simply list the top five reasons you should be reading the entire Desolate Empire series.

  1. It’s “clean” Game of Thrones. An epic fantasy world, inspired by a real-world war. Multiple kingdoms fighting for control of one empire. Political intrigue, bloody battles, dark magic, and a little romance. All in a family friendly, no cursing, fade-to-black package.
  2. There’s a character for everyone. From the beautiful and savvy Princess Gwynneth to the brooding warrior Braedon Terris to the evil and manipulative Empress Teodora, you’ll find characters to love and love-to-hate. (Psst — sound familiar?)
  3. You won’t be able to breathe. Between the tense political situations and the life-or-death action, the Desolate Empire series will leave you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think you can breathe again, Ochs will give you another unexpected twist or a gripping cliffhanger. (For that reason, you’ll love to hate her, too. But mostly love!)
  4. Each book gets better. Thus far, this is not one of those series with a weak link or two hiding in the middle. Every single book has been better than the last.
  5. You can’t tell it’s self-published. As an independent author myself, I loathe to even make this point because it shouldn’t matter. However, for some readers it does. So, trust me — the writing is great, the plots are solid, and it far surpasses many traditionally published books I’ve read.

If this all sounds too good to be true, it isn’t. Do yourself a favor and buy these books today.


Winter of the Wolf CoverAs always, the links throughout this review are Amazon Associate links. This means, if you buy the book, I receive a small percentage of the sale. However, you pay no more and the author receives no less. The author has not paid or incentivized me for this review — I do so purely to spread the word about a book I love.

Author Interviews, Fiction Blog

An Interview with Author Margarita Morris

Today, I’m thrilled to bring you an interview with historical fiction, mystery and thriller author Margarita Morris. We talk about the inspiration behind her novels, her unique approach of mixing historical and present-day timelines in her narratives, and her plans for 2017. If you like the sound of her novels, be sure to check out Scarborough Fair and its sequel, Scarborough Ball (which releases today!). At the time of writing, both are on sale for $0.99 and £0.99!

margarita-morris1. Tell us a little about yourself and your fiction!

I grew up in the Victorian spa town of Harrogate, and then went to Oxford to study Modern Languages. For years I was a voracious reader whilst secretly harbouring a desire to write my own books, finally making a start in 2008. Many unfinished manuscripts later, I published Oranges for Christmas, a novel about a family escaping from East Berlin, in 2013. I have now published four novels and the main thing they have in common is that I write about what interests me whether that’s Berlin, Highgate Cemetery, Victorian fairs etc. I also try to make my books page turners because I don’t want to be bored writing them and I don’t want my readers to be bored reading them. My books are suitable for a young adult audience, but adults seem to really enjoy them too.

When I’m not writing I enjoy singing in a chamber choir in Oxford, swimming and yoga. I’m married with two teenage boys.

2. Your new novel, Scarborough Ball, releases today. What can you share about it and the Scarborough Fair series?

The inspiration for the first novel in the series, Scarborough Fair, grew from the idea that Scarborough (a seaside town on the north east coast of England) is a place where layers of history are all visible. You can stand on the beach and see the medieval castle, the Victorian hotels and esplanade, the old fishing village and the 20th-century amusement arcades. So it seemed like the perfect setting for a split-time novel encompassing the Victorian period and the present day.

Scarborough Fair is a mystery-thriller with characters from the town’s Victorian heyday and contemporary characters who find themselves caught up in the town’s grittier modern world. There’s a family connection between Rose in the contemporary setting and her great-great-grandmother, Mary, in the Victorian setting.

Moving on to Scarborough Ball, I decided to stick with the same contemporary characters, introducing a few new ones, but move the historical setting forward a generation. So the historical story in Scarborough Ball is set in 1923 to 1924 and the protagonist is Rose’s great-grandmother, Lilian.

scarborough-fair-300-width3. What inspired you to mix historical and present-day action in your fiction?

I like the way the historical and contemporary time settings play off each other. The contemporary setting stops the novel from becoming pure pastiche and the historical setting hopefully provides more depth and resonance than would be possible with a straight contemporary setting. History is all around us, particularly in the UK. The Victorians left us a huge legacy in their buildings and railways and cemeteries, but we also have many older buildings, some dating back to medieval times. It’s fun to imagine characters from different time periods exploring the same locations. The locations themselves might have fallen into disrepair or changed in other ways. Scarborough Fair and Scarborough Ball both feature Scarborough’s Grand Hotel. In the Victorian period it was a posh hotel, and it was easy to imagine it as the venue for a ball in the 1920s. Nowadays it targets the mass market, the management have installed slot machines in the elegant lounge, and Bingo sessions are held in the ballroom.

4. What other themes feature in your novels?

The central theme of Scarborough Fair is fortune or luck. I liked the way it tied in with the idea of going to a fair and Dan’s family runs an amusement arcade on the sea-front. The conclusion from the novel is that you have to make your own luck in this world. Scarborough Ball explores ideas of justice, revenge and redemption.

In The Sleeping Angel I wanted to look at Victorian ideas of death, burial and spiritualism, hence the Highgate Cemetery setting. Highgate Cemetery is an inspirational place, with its Gothic and Egyptian-influenced architecture and hundreds of Pre-Raphaelite-inspired angels, set amongst a forest of trees and overgrown ivy. Highgate Cemetery was the scene of the exhumation of Lizzie Siddal (wife of Dante Gabriel Rossetti) and also the scene, in 1970, of a vampire hunt (seriously!) so I found a way of weaving those particular gems into the novel.

Oranges for Christmas is, quite simply, a story about the dangers in a communist dictatorship and the quest for freedom from oppression. In 1961 Berlin was a real-life dystopia. The communists built a wall around West Berlin, effectively cutting off the route that so many East Germans had been using to escape to the West. They then implemented a shoot-to-kill policy on anyone attempting to escape from East Berlin. This was perfect material for a novel.

scarborough-ball-300-width5. Do you take most of your inspiration from history and travel? What else inspires you?

Yes, a lot of my inspiration comes from history and travel. I’ve visited Berlin quite a few times, initially when the Berlin Wall was still standing. I also made a point of taking a tour of Highgate Cemetery in the early stages of writing The Sleeping Angel. Scarborough is a place that I know very well from family holidays.

I find research is a good way to get ideas. I had to do a lot of research about Berlin to get my facts right, but it also gave me concrete ideas for the story. The same was true of my reading about Victorian cemeteries and spiritualism when researching for The Sleeping Angel.

My other main source of inspiration is the literary world itself. Books inspire books. I’ve been greatly influenced by Dickens, the historical novels of Sarah Waters and the split-time novels of Kate Mosse. I also love Helen Grant’s young adult thrillers which feature contemporary characters but are also full of historical resonance.

6. Of your four novels, which is your personal favorite and why?

Scarborough Fair and Scarborough Ball were probably the most fun to write and I hope that there’s a joy in reading them.

The Sleeping Angel was definitely the most complicated because of having to intertwine the present day, the Victorian period and the 1970s, but I love its dark, haunting atmosphere.

Oranges for Christmas is the one that came from my own experience of visiting Berlin in 1987 and seeing the wall for myself. I also went to East Berlin for one day and saw the stark contrast in living standards between the East and the West. I feel very strongly that the story of the Berlin wall is one that should not be forgotten.

the-sleeping-angel-300-width7. On your author website, you mention that you spent 11 years in computer programming and project management. How did that experience influence your writing?

It was during those years that I learned project management and time management, two skills that are invaluable for an indie author. Writing and publishing a novel is a long-haul process, akin to developing and installing a large computer project. You have to manage your time and plan your tasks. Progress on a day-to-day basis can seem agonisingly slow but you have to keep plodding onwards, even if it’s only a few hundred words a day. It soon starts to add up.

8. Do you have any particular writing habits or special rituals?

I don’t have any special rituals, but I’m disciplined about my time. I have two boys, now aged 17 and 13, so my working day revolves around the school day. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I drive the boys to school, go swimming and then go home and start work at ten o’clock. On Tuesdays and Thursdays my husband takes the boys to school so on those days I can be at my desk by nine. I work till twelve thirty when we stop for lunch (my husband works from home too.) Then I continue working in the afternoon, either till three o’clock if it’s my turn to collect the boys, or until about four or five. Evenings are for reading and watching good drama on television. During the school holidays I try to make sure I get my work done in the mornings.

I divide my time between writing (which can mean researching, planning, writing or editing) and other tasks, such as writing blog posts, running The Good Writer website and marketing activities.

I find it very helpful to record my progress at the end of each week in a writing diary – just an excel spreadsheet where I fill in my word count and make a note of how things have gone that week. When I’m stuck with a project, it’s very useful to look back and see that I was having similar problems around the same time on a previous book.

oranges-for-christmas-300-width9. On your business website, thegoodwriter.com, you share writing and self-publishing advice. What are your three top tips for aspiring independent authors?

Hah, this is a good question for me! After three years of writing unusual, standalone novels aimed mainly at young adults I am now going to attempt something slightly different. So this advice is for me as much as anyone else. These are my new goals for 2017 (you heard it here first folks):

1) Write for adults.
Most indie sales come from ebooks. This means the buyer needs to be shopping online. This means the buyer needs to have a credit card. Teenagers do not have credit cards, therefore it’s very difficult to sell to them as an indie author.

2) Write in a popular genre.
Genre is key when it comes to marketing. You have to be able to position your book comfortably inside one of Amazon’s categories. If you can’t do that then you’re hampering your marketing efforts from the get go. It might also help with getting reviews from bloggers because you can be specific about what sort of book you’re offering them.

3) Write a series.
Standalone novels are a tough sell. I’ve had most success with Oranges for Christmas which is arguably the easiest of my novels to define. Nevertheless, series seem to work well. And making the first in series free is a popular marketing strategy.

In addition to the above, I would add that you should put in a lot of time learning about the business. I do household chores listening to podcasts like The Creative Penn and the Self-Publishing Podcast. Also, make sure you get a professional cover, editing and have a budget, no matter how small, for some advertising and promotion.

10. What do you hope readers take away from your books?

Most importantly, I want people to enjoy reading them. I try to explore themes of freedom, fortune, revenge etc. but that makes the books sound rather philosophical. I think literary fiction greatly underrates the value of a good plot – something that will keep the readers turning the pages. I hope my readers will always want to keep turning the pages.


Read the books

Oranges for Christmas

The Sleeping Angel – one of Kate’s favorite indie novels! (read review, featuring the original cover)

Scarborough Fair – currently on sale for $0.99 and £0.99!

Scarborough Ball – currently on sale for $0.99 and £0.99!