Catch the devil

Devil's OwnHuzzah! After an uncanny number of personal setbacks over the past few months, I have finally published the last Devilborn book. Commence drinking! No? Just me? I’ll have one for you, then.

DEVIL’S OWN will be 99¢ through Monday 5/29. For those who may have been holding off because they prefer not to start a series until it’s finished, I’ve discounted book 1 for the same period.

This site will be undergoing some exciting design changes in the coming months, in advance of my next fantasy trilogy. If things go as they should, I expect to start releasing those in the fall. I’ll be getting the covers for them soon, and they will be spectacular! (The covers, not the books. Although one hopes those will be spectacular, too.)

Right. Off to the drinking, then.

No resolve

Happy new year, everyone! I do not have resolutions, as such. Usually I have a whole spreadsheet full of them all color-coded and broken into actionable steps with deadlines and status boxes and secret magical words of power. (I’m lying about the words of power.) Half of them still fall by the wayside by March. The spreadsheet only works if you open it up.

Anyway, I’m still motivated and ready to work hard in 2017. I’ll be finishing up my current urban fantasy series, and this last book is a really fun one to write. Later in the year, I’ll be launching a new epic/sword & sorcery fantasy trilogy under a slightly different pen name. (Stay tuned for cool things I might do to my website.) Epic fantasy was my first love, an affair that has continued unbroken since I was six years old. And this is a story I’ve had floating around in my head in one form or another for… I want to say about 20 years, which makes me feel old, so let’s not count. The point is, it’s a project I’m very excited to break ground on. Looking forward to a productive year.

For those who are kindly waiting for the last Devilborn book, spring seems the likely timeframe. As my NaNo posts show, my schedule was pushed around and bullied by some health issues that took its lunch money and then threatened to beat it up out by the dumpster after school. That bully is still being dealt with, but tossing it in juvie is another thing I’m hopeful for in 2017.

Come to think of it, I do have one resolution, in the category of slacking off: the new season of The Magicians starts this month. OBSESSED. It’s important to have good TV to watch when you’re sick a lot.

Also, I got this for Christmas. There will be a themed dinner. The movie will be shown. Themed clothing may be a factor.

Got any resolutions to share?

Eleven Questions for: Rebecca Chastain

Magic of the GargoylesWell folks, we are in for a treat today, because not only is Rebecca Chastain awesome, but she tells us how to make “healthy” chocolate turtles! This enables you to make a whole tray of them and eat them all at once at your desk, because they’re not bad for you. Naturally I tried this as I was putting together this post, in the name of research.

Rebecca’s got two great urban fantasy series going right now, Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles and Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer. Here’s the description of Magic of the Gargoyles, to whet your appetite:

To help a baby gargoyle, Mika will risk everything.
Mika Stillwater is a mid-level earth elemental with ambitions of becoming a quartz artisan, and her hard work is starting to get noticed. But when a panicked baby gargoyle bursts into her studio, insisting Mika is the only person she’ll trust with her desperate mission, Mika’s carefully constructed five-year plan is shattered.
Swept into the gritty criminal underworld of Terra Haven, Mika must jeopardize everything she’s worked so hard for to save the baby gargoyle from the machinations of a monster—and to stay alive…

 
Now on to the questions!
 
Q:
You’ve recently released the third Gargoyle Guardian book, and a new Madison Fox book is coming this fall. Do you have trouble changing gears between series, or do you find the variety energizes you?
A:
Six months ago, I would have told you that bouncing between series was energizing, but then I wrote Curse of the Gargoyles and Secret of the Gargoyles back-to-back, and it was heady stuff! A whole bunch of ideas for other adventures in that world started filling my notebook, but I have an obligation (and desire) to get back to the Madison Fox series and couldn’t pursue them (at least not yet). I think I’m better off sticking with one series until it’s done, or at least a major arc is wrapped up.

Q:
I’m a plotter like you, and I could not write without an outline. What can’t you write without?
A:
I definitely couldn’t write without my main outline. I also need my scene outlines, which are short, jotted notes to keep me on track hour by hour. I suppose if I were trapped on a desert island but could still publish books, I might be able to get by without Scrivener or my ergonomic keyboard, but I wouldn’t want to.

Q:
You get to pull one literary character through the fabric of reality to stay with you for a week. Who do you choose, and why?
A:
Any dragon from Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. I would love to pick the brain of a telepathic dragon, and if he or she were so inclined, go for a ride. I can’t think of a more thrilling experience than being dragonback in flight! I imagine it would cause hysteria among the people (and dogs) in my neighborhood, but it’d be worth it.

Q:
You’re a gamer. Madison Fox is not a fan. What game would you introduce her to to win her over?
A:
You know when you eat MSG-filled food, and when you start thinking about it later, you drool? If my brain could drool, it would at every mention of Portal. It’s a super-fun first-person puzzle game that I find absolutely addictive. Madison would enjoy the fact that the game isn’t sexist and doesn’t involve complicated button sequences. After she was hooked, I’d introduce her to Chariot, a great one- or two-person side-scroller that involves way more timed jumping than I’m qualified for but is so much fun.

Q:
In a sea of vampires and shifters, elementals and gargoyles stand out. What drew you to these characters?
A:
Before I wrote Magic of the Gargoyles, I had never read a book where the magic system was based solely on the elements. The idea actually came to me when I was trying to feng shui my house. Balancing the elements in each room was a frustrating task, and I thought it would be so much easier if I could distill the elements into their essences—and the magic system was born. I don’t remember what made me consider gargoyles as a main fantastical creature, but the moment I pictured a baby gargoyle, I knew I had a story to write. Gargoyles ended up being so much fun, too. I could make them any shape I wanted, and once I decided on quartz for their body types, I could make them almost any variation of color. The possibilities were endless!

Q:
Best dessert of all time?
A:
Chocolate turtles! They’re very easy to make: take half a medjool date, stuff it with walnuts, drizzle it with melted dark chocolate, sprinkle it with sea salt, and then put it in the refrigerator until the chocolate hardens. It’s snack-sized and almost healthy.

Q:
What books most influenced you to want to become a writer yourself?
A:
Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books (no surprise, since I want her dragons to come to life), Piers Anthony’s silly Xanth books, and Robert Jordan’s epic fantasies. I loved getting to experience their magical worlds, and it seemed almost a foregone conclusion that I’d write down my extensive daydreams. I got serious about writing in the seventh grade, and since then my school and career decisions were all geared toward becoming a full-time author. (I didn’t achieve my dream for another two decades, which shows how powerful my desire was…or how persistent I can be.)

Q:
For fantasy writers, the old adage “write what you know” isn’t always something you can take literally. What do you have in common with Mika and Madison?
A:
When I wrote Magic of the Gargoyles, I was in Mika’s position: trying to leave a dead-end job (in the corporate world, not a quarry) to pursue my dream job (being an author), and I was doing a lot of freelance editing to make the transition. I intimately understood Mika’s dream of freedom, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how readers have empathized with her plight, too, especially when she has to put all her hard work and her dreams on the line.

Madison and I have a lot more specific life details in common. I wrote the first draft in a month for NaNo WriMo, with only the sketchiest of outlines, so I didn’t have time to do world building. Which is why Madison lives not only in my hometown, but also in my old apartment. She works in the same building I used to, and her cat’s vet is my cat’s vet. However, that’s where the similarities end. She’s got that whole “I can use my soul as a weapon” thing going for her, and I’ve got “I can hide really well from the UPS guy” thing going for me.

Q:
Is there a genre you don’t write in, but have considered trying?
A:
I don’t know that I could write a book that didn’t have magic in it. The closest I came was Tiny Glitches, and that still is heavy with magical realism. I have a tentative idea for a paranormal romance, but I feel like the line between urban fantasy and paranormal romance is blurring, so I don’t know if that counts.

Q:
Music while writing, or silence?
A:
Music, but only songs I know.

Q:
After the third Madison Fox book, what comes next? How far ahead do you plan?
A:
I plan to write through book 5 in the Madison Fox series before turning to something else. However, while I plot individual novels with a manic obsession, I plan series like a pantser, so I have no idea where that’ll leave the series right now. If it feels like a natural pause point, I’ll turn to one of three other series ideas I have. If not, I’ll keep going with Madison Fox.

 

RebeccaChastainRebecca Chastain is the internationally bestselling author of the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, among others works. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband and three bossy cats.

Website: http://www.rebeccachastain.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccachastainnovels
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Author_Rebecca
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5660379.Rebecca_Chastain
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Rebecca-Chastain/e/B00MW89XB0/

Gathering wool

Gathering Black 250x375How are my peeps? I’ve been underground again, finishing a book. Working so much I’ve been a social hermit didn’t stop me from seeing Warcraft twice while it was still in theaters, though, so you can see where my priorities are. What’s that? You hated it? I bet you’re Horde.

For those who are following the Devilborn series, book 2 is now live! You can get GATHERING BLACK for just 99¢ until July 21. The paperback edition is also live, although it’ll be a few days before Amazon links them up.

But for those who haven’t read book 1 yet, here’s an insider tip: GRIM HAVEN will be FREE July 25-27.

In other news, I’ve got an Eleven Questions interview with Rebecca Chastain coming on Tuesday, so be sure to drop back for that!

Grimness

I’m not reposting the cover because it’s huge in the post right below this, but I wanted to let everyone know that the Kindle edition of GRIM HAVEN is now live at Amazon. (I expect to release the paperback edition by May 10.)

If you’re not on my mailing list, you’ve missed your chance to show off your awesome trivia skills for a free copy, but you can still get it for 99¢ through the weekend.

Five for bingeing

First of all, can we talk about how weird the word bingeing looks? I had to look it up and make sure it was right. Apparently both bingeing and binging are correct, although spellcheck doesn’t like either, and I can’t say I blame it.

Anyway. Sometime last fall, I began to realize that I had, not to put too fine a point on it, lost my shit. The problem with being self-employed is, you’re always at work. And since you could always be working, you feel guilty whenever you’re not. I’m also still a stay-at-home-mom, a job I value and that I’m not about to let slide (I mean, except for the laundry and the vacuuming, obviously). But apart from that and forcing myself to take time to read when I could manage it, I was doing nothing but working all the time.

Which is ridiculous and, frankly, self-important. Because while it’s important for an indie author to publish regularly and frequently (and I’m still not fast enough, more’s the pity), I’m not curing cancer, you know? There’s no reason to get burned out and strung out and all snappy with people and refusing to have lunch. Just saying.

But I was snappy and refusing to have lunch. I was also not spending time with friends, not gaming (gasp!), and one of the first things to go? TV and movies. This is where the I-never-watch-TV crowd will sniff, noses high, and say good riddance to bad rubbish. But, you know, I’ve kind of dedicated myself to storytelling. I value stories.

So one of the things I did this winter to add more balance back to my life was start carving out an hour at bedtime to acquaint myself with the delights of Netflix and Prime TV. Even if bedtime was 2 AM, I’d make the time for one episode, because it’s hard for me to go straight from work to sleep anyway. Here are five of my favorite discoveries.

Once Upon A Time. Wow, this show is bananas, in the best possible way. Just a big goofy mashup of every Disney movie ever made, every fairy tale trope ever invented, and every small town cliché ever to appear in a Frank Capra film. I was completely obsessed with it, often letting that one episode thing slide until it was, um, more like six. Now I’m caught up to the present season, and I can only get it once a week, which is a shame.

Of course, the problem with watching fantasy when you also write fantasy is, you get all mad when you see them using an idea that you also happen to be using at the time. But that’s okay, because trust me, if you’re seeing it on this show, it’s old news anyway. Their whole gimmick is that they’re not doing anything for the first time. They’re presenting you with familiar things in new contexts, and that juxtaposition is exactly why it works.

OUAT Protip: The first season is by far the strongest.

 

Dead Like Me. This show seems to be really old, so I guess I’m the only one who didn’t know about it? Looks like it came out when I had a newborn, so that probably explains that. Anyway, it’s like Office Space meets Dead Bridget Jones, and it’s hilarious. The performances really help make this one shine, and the writing is clever and spot-on, deeply irreverent yet always managing to reel it in and smack you over the head with something lovely just as you think they might go too far.

DLM Protip: Watch out for those moments when, right when you’re laughing and having a good time, George’s family makes you cry.

 

Reign. Netflix recommended this to me based on Once Upon a Time, which was weird because they are nothing alike, but I checked it out because I love history. Um, except there is no history here. It claims to be about Mary Queen of Scots, and there is actually a character named Mary. And a dauphin. Other than that, you’ve got a teenage love triangle and modern music and strapless gowns, and then along comes some sort of vampire in the woods and I don’t think the historical drama crowd is really the demographic they’re going for. But hey! The costumes are spectacular, and it’s not every day you get to see Anne of Green Gables playing a de Medici! Megan Follows, you are fantastic as always, and I will always love you.

Reign Protip: Watch this only when you are fully prepared to eat ice cream and take nothing seriously.

 

Grimm. This one wasn’t a late night indulgence, but an evening and weekend one with my daughter, who was equally into it. We love us some Captain Renard. A fun show about fighting monsters, with lots of possibly made-up German words and the occasional bit of trivia about clock-making. What’s not to love?

Grimm Protip: The episodes James Frain guest stars in are the best, because James Frain is awesome at everything.

 

Supernatural. My daughter and I moved on to this after we caught up with Grimm, and I can see we’ll be at it for a while, because holy crap there are a lot of seasons. I know it’s a cultural phenomenon, and it’s in my genre wheelhouse to boot, so it’s kind of a crime I haven’t seen it before. I predict it will become a household favorite.

Supernatural Protip: I don’t have one, because we’ve only seen maybe half a dozen episodes so far. I’m hoping one of you will tell me that Sam will cut his hair at some point, though, because I find myself distracted by how much it needs to get out of his face.

Crook and candy

Crook of the Dead
Look at that spooky cover, just in time for Halloween!

Lydia Trinket is all adventured out for the time being. CROOK OF THE DEAD is now available in both Kindle and paperback editions, completing the trilogy. I’ve got mixed emotions about finishing, because Lydia has been so fun to write. And I’m so appreciative of the emails from folks who’ve also found her fun to read!

As is often the case with new releases, my mailing list subscribers have been enjoying a 99¢ sale on the Kindle edition of Crook. Now that there are less than 24 hours remaining on that special price, I’m letting you fine folks in on it as well. It goes up to $3.99 on Tuesday 10/20, so don’t wait!

GHOST IN THE CANTEEN and PEAK OF THE DEVIL are celebrating Lydia’s sunset ride with Kindle Countdown deals, and are priced at 99¢ all week. It’s a great time of year to get into the series, if you haven’t already.

Speaking of a great time of year, who’s doing NaNo? I sort of am, but I’m cheating. I’m drafting a project right now and can’t sit on it until November 1, so it’ll be partly done by the time NaNo arrives, and the draft will be finished somewhere around mid-month. I may or may not use the latter half of NaNo to play around with something else, depending on how rigorous my revision looks to be.

Either way, I’ve already broken into the Halloween candy. Obviously. I’m kind of into the Three Musketeers this year, which is unusual for me. What’s your position on the best fun-sized candy bar?

Release news

UPDATE: Rising Fury is now live!

An update from the Den of Iniquity and Tea that is my office:

I’m very excited to kick off my new series, Hexing House, with Rising Fury in September. Details are below, and you can read the first chapter here.

I’ll be giving a very special deal on Rising Fury to my newsletter subscribers, so be sure to sign up in the sidebar to the right, if you haven’t already. As a reminder, my mailing list is only used for new release announcements, your email address will never be shared, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For all the Trinket fans out there, thank you so much for your emails! Lydia’s final adventure (for now, at least) is called Crook of the Dead, and will be available in October. I’ll have that cover and first chapter to show you in September.

Thank you, as always, for reading!

Rising Fury

Thea Gideon is stunned to find a winged creature in her aunt’s barn. She’s downright flabbergasted when he offers her a job as a fury of Hexing House, delivering punishment for a price. Once a red carpet darling, now a panic-stricken recluse, Thea is the last person qualified to become an agent of vengeance.

But Thea’s cousin has vanished, apparently at the hands of the furies, and Thea has promised to do whatever it takes to find her. Even if that means becoming one of them to gain their trust.

Now Thea has a month to grow wings, sprout claws, and rid herself of all weakness. And that’s the easy part. The transformation will be dangerous, but uncovering the conspiracy behind her cousin’s disappearance, and her own recruitment, may be deadly.

 

The battle at Hardhome was good though, right?

MANY MAJOR SPOILERS for Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire!

It was the not-best of seasons, it was the arguably-worst of seasons. But there were a few bright moments, no? Okay, the one bright moment. Hardhome was, IMO, the best set piece Game of Thrones has ever done.The rest, though. Damn, you guys.

Here are my thoughts on the most controversial bits.

Sansa plugged into the Winterfell storyline
I would’ve done the same thing. Sansa is one of the show’s stars, and at this point in the book she’s babysitting the most annoying character George R. R. Martin has ever written. Meanwhile you’ve got a major storyline featuring a minor character the audience doesn’t know or care about. The swap was a no-brainer. That doesn’t mean it was executed well, though. So onward to…

Sansa’s rape
Well, once you’ve put her together with Ramsey, this sort of thing is pretty much inevitable, isn’t it? I don’t object to where the story went. I do object to some sloppy characterization. A great deal of screen time, going back to last season, was spent trying to convince us that we’ve got a new, badass Sansa, one who is going to be a player now. But in That Scene, and in fact most of the scenes leading up to it, she does nothing but tearfully submit to it all. I’m not victim-blaming, I’m writer-blaming. Imagine Margaery Tyrell in Sansa’s position and you’ll see what I mean. Tell me Margaery doesn’t immediately, expertly assess those psychos and begin trying to manipulate circumstances in her favor. (Whether she’d be successful or not is beside the point.) Because she has game. That’s what game looks like.

Shireen
The producers strongly implied that George told them this happens. So… Book-Stannis does this? “No more burnings” Stannis? “If I die, put my daughter on the iron throne” Stannis? Ok, but if that Stannis burns his only heir and brings the House of Baratheon to extinction, it’ll be because he’s sure beyond doubt that it’s the only way to save the realm he’s responsible for from immediate and certain destruction. That is the only way it fits his character, and if he does it for any other reason, I’ll happily call bullshit on George, too. Meanwhile, the show utterly failed to establish those sorts of stakes. The destruction of the realm is hundreds of miles away, neither certain nor immediate as yet. He’s not facing white walkers; he’s facing a few icicles and twenty of Ramsey Bolton’s undersecretaries. He’s not fighting for the realm; he’s fighting for Winterfell. This is a subtask of a subtask on the Save The Realm Gantt chart. Even in the kind of twisted mind where there’s a good reason to murder your daughter in an incredibly painful way, this is not that reason.

The Dorne plot line
Much as I appreciate the screen time for the always-hilarious Jerome Flynn, seriously, why is this here? It was a slowly moving story in an already way too slowly moving season, that accomplished almost nothing in the end. If the whole point was to kill Myrcella, just have a single, five minute scene in which Darkstar leaps out of the shadows, kills her with flair (but limited accuracy), and leaps back off screen again. No need to explain who he is or why he’s done it. He is of the night! That’s all people need to know.

For the watch
Kit Harington says he’s really dead. The producers say he’s really dead. He sure looked really dead. Eh. I still don’t think he’s dead. Certainly not before some big reveal about his mother. Jon Snow is endgame. Maybe not in the show, and maybe Show-Jon really is dead. If that’s the case, I’ll be okay, because at least he died without the whole pink letter and him behaving completely out of character leading up to it.

The scene in the fighting pit
While others are raging over poor Sansa and even poorer Shireen, this is the scene that really convinced me that Game of Thrones has lost it, possibly irretrievably. I’ve seldom seen anything so stupid on television, and I’m including reality TV in that. So you’ve got these horrible terrorists, right? So horrible they killed Ser Barristan! They butcher people randomly all over the arena. Just blood everywhere, no mercy for anyone. They close in on their prey. They’ve got her surrounded! There are dozens and dozens of them! They’re vicious! So they… come at her two at a time. Then when she flies off to reenact The Neverending Story, leaving the people who’ve just been defending her with their lives completely vulnerable, these fearsome, bloodthirsty terrorists… disperse. I just can’t even with this. And thanks, by the way, for ensuring that Limahl song was in my head for three days after. Seriously, I have to end the post here, because there are no words for this badness.