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2019 Wasn’t What I Expected

2019 was not what I expected (1)

I had so many ideas for 2019.

I wanted to read loads of classics, I wanted to fill my time with reading. I wanted to finish my book, edit it, query it, get an agent. I wanted to travel to places, meet author friends, explore more corners of the country.

Most of that didn’t happen, and that’s okay.

I didn’t waste the year. I learned many new things. I read books that thrilled me, and made me imrpove as a writer. I worked hard on getting the 70k words I wrote, I got a health diagnosis to hopefully make 2020 even better. Towards the end of the year, I grieved a loss.

But most of all, I grew.

2019 shaped my view of what I want 2020 to be, and what I can do when I put my mind to it. It shouldn’t matter how many books I read, only that I’ve read books. It shouldn’t matter that I haven’t travelled the entire world, only that I’ve made time to learn about it and maybe, even, discover things closer to home. It shouldn’t matter that I didn’t suddenly explode into publishing, only that I kept writing even when my heart was broken.

I’m a big dreamer, and I dream big. So if I falter at hurdles when nearing those dreams, I berate myself. “I didn’t get such and such because I wasn’t realistic enough.” What the hell IS realistic? There are billionaires with 500 or more houses, THAT’S not realistic. And “If only…” is the worst beginning to a sentence. As people give power to words said aloud, there’s also power in the unspoken words you think to yourself, too.

“If only I was taller.” “If only I’d been able to finish that draft by March.” “If only I was able to go there.”

Well you’re not, and you aren’t, and you didn’t, so what is this helping?

It’s a big lesson for me to actually brush that “if only” aside and focus on what I *am* and what I *did* do, or what I *can*.  Everything else doesn’t matter. It’s the belief within myself, the intention I put behind actions, and not beating myself up that I only read 40 books instead of 45.

It’s almost important to let go of things – and people – that don’t align with my highest good. If I feel anxious around friends when I should feel at ease, if I feel uncomfortable doing something other people seemingly have no problem with, that’s a sign to reassess and sometimes even walk away. 2019 taught me to listen to my gut instincts, and trust that I have the power to bring in better things that raise me up rather than bum me out.

Similarly, this post didn’t go the way I figured it would go — I think this is possibly my first journaling attempt by the sounds of it XD — but I’m thankful for the lessons I learned this year and hope to put them into practice in 2020.

Saying it now, 2020: Clear vision, clear heart, and a lot of hope.

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WICKED SAINTS: Q&A and Excerpt!

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Emily A. Duncan’s debut novel, WICKED SAINTS (Wednesday Books; April 2, 2019), is one of the most highly anticipated YA fantasy novels of 2019.

Seriously, I’ve been hearing about it EVERYWHERE.

Set in an Eastern European inspired world, this Joan-of-Arc-esque debut finds Nadya, a peasant girl who can speak to the gods, working with a deadly adversary to end the centuries-long war and assassinate the mad king. Nadya must save her people without destroying herself in a brutal realm of blood magic and sinister players. When she finds herself intertwined in a forbidden romance, it threatens to destroy everything she’s worked towards and tip the scales between dark and light.

I was lucky enough to have three questions ready for Emily about the book!

This feels like a story yeeeears in the making. What was the first spark or seed of story that came to you, and how did it become Wicked Saints?
It was years in the making! I got the first little nudge of a story when I was halfway through college, procrastinating on a paper by playing Skyrim. There was something about the atmosphere that really got under my skin. I didn’t manage to write a full draft of the book until I was in grad school, years later.

Which type of scene is, or which in Wicked Saints was, your favourite to write?
Literally any scene where Nadya and Malachiasz are fighting is my favorite to write. Their dialogue is so much fun, they’re so much fun to write together. I especially like when they’re arguing about theology because they have such wildly opposite beliefs.

As a debut author, what’s your favourite part of the whole writing and publishing process so far?
Seeing the book go from an idea, to hundreds of scattered word documents, to a completed, physical object, is so wild to me. It’s amazing. It’s a real book now! I also love getting messages from readers, and seeing which of the three main characters people latch onto.

Thank you so much to Emily for taking the time to answer not only my questions, but all the other bloggers who offered their Q’s! 

I have an Excerpt here, which somehow won’t play by pasting — so you might have to you know, download it and read it 70 times?

Wicked Saints_Excerpt

If you’re going to pick up Wicked Saints, you want a handy hint as to how to pronounce the characters’ names. There’s a Pronunciation Guide – yes it’s amazing – ready for you to download below.

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Annnnd I guess I should show you where to buy the book, right?

Buy from:
Macmillan Direct
Amazon UK 
Book Depository

Read more about Emily:

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EMILY A. DUNCAN works as a youth services librarian. She received a Master’s degree in library science
from Kent State University, which mostly taught her how to find obscure Slavic folklore texts through
interlibrary loan systems. When not reading or writing, she enjoys playing copious amounts of video
games and dungeons and dragons. Wicked Saints is her first book. She lives in Ohio.

 

 

SOCIAL LINKS:
Website: https://eaduncan.com/
Twitter: @glitzandshadows
Instagram: @glitzandshadows
Tumblr: http://glitzandshadows.tumblr.com/

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T5W – Spring Reads!

Since it’s the first day of spring (in this hemisphere!), discuss books that remind you of spring, or genres you reach for in the spring, or books you plan on reading this spring!

Like Sam, T5W organiser, I also consider March – May as Spring. I know it’s not technically correct, but that’s how it feels in England.

I don’t really have “spring” books or books that make me feel springy, simply because I mostly delve into Fantasy which never seems to have seasons other than winter or summer.

Today I wanted to focus on my physical TBR pile, however there is one book on here that I can’t help but wanna devour immediately:

AURORA RISING

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The only new release I’m putting on this list. I have it pre-ordered and I’m so excited!

TRAIL OF LIGHTNING

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I started to read this, then trailed off because I was too cold / ill / had to read Leviathan Wakes so I could watch the Expanse. But it’s definitely an atmospheric start and I can’t wait to continue.

ABADDON’S GATE

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This one’s apparently a slow starter, and not as fast paced as the first two, but it’s definitely a series I want to continue reading if only for Bobbie and Avasarala alone.

PASSENGER

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I got this from the library and it’s due back on the 6th April so…. quick??

WICKED DEEP

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I’ve had this since Christmas, and I really wanted to read it when it was warm cause I get the feeling it’s gonna creep me out

 

Reviews · Uncategorized

King of Scars – Review (spoilers!)

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3.5*

No wait, 4*

No wait….

This is such a hard book to rate!!

I loved it… but I was also disappointed by it

Let me explain.

When we were told we were going to get a Nikolai book I figured this was going to be a Nikolai book which centered on him battling with the demon inside and trying to rule his kingdom, with his sass, wit, and genuine charm coming to the fore. It ended up being a Zoya, Nik, Isaak, Saints, Nina, Fjerda, Leoni, Hanne book with everything and its children happening and veeeeery little Nikolai.

The standout star here was Zoya. Let’s be real. I didn’t like her in the Grisha trilogy, as I suppose we weren’t meant to, not until the last book because of her tryst with Mal (remember him?). But in this duology I have a feeling she’s going to shine.

I love Zoya and Nikolai as separate characters and as their friendship. But it feels like there’s no natural sexual chemistry between them, I didn’t get any “zing!” vibes from them at all. So when it was thrown in that they started feeling flashes of *something* about each other, it felt just like that – flashes of it thrown in, for a romance subplot that we don’t need.

Having two strong characters in their own, both of the opposite sex, doesn’t mean they HAVE to get together. I adore them both as friends cause we hardly ever see a leading man and a leading woman as just great friends in fiction. And yeah, to be honest, I can see Zoya’s jealousy of Nikolai’s impending marriage being rooted in the friendship changing. Not in the “but I want you instead!” jealousy.

Zoya was definitely the stronger character and while I understood why Isaak’s chapters were there I just… didn’t care. We didn’t have enough time to see this impending war intrigue because we switched to a scene in Fjerda then we were in the Saints place, then we were over here, and then Nina was being flirty, and then we went back to Zoya…. It never felt like we had time enough to sit down, settled in, and absorb the feel of the place.

Nina… the thing with Nina’s chapters are like they belong in a different book. I don’t see any correlation between her and the story which centers on Nikolai. Also – CHEATED. I wanted good, honest to god interactions between by girl Nina and my boy Nik. Nikolina? Ninolai? Whatever, I wanted to see them hopelessly flirt with each other.

I will read the second book – of COURSE I will, the Darkling has literally returned for some reason – but while there was a lot to love (Zoya! Nikolai’s lines! Tolya and Tamar! Ravka!…. omg that’s it!) I was deflated.

What are your thoughts?! Have you read it?!

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Hyped 2019 Releases You Don’t Care About – Top 5 Wednesday

SHADY

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Okay well I’m gonna keep this honest. Because I’m like that. Also it might not even be shady, but prepare yourselves!

I went to THIS LIST and read the first page or two, looking at the synopsis in order to make my decisions, cause I only really know most of what I want to read, not what’s universally hyped.

For example, I went on some top SFF lists of 2019 and I wanted to read all of them. So I went to Goodreads instead!

And I found….

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I haven’t read the first one. So how can I be hyped for the second? LOGIC no shade here

Nothing against this AT ALL but the way the description is supposed to tell me to read it, I just don’t feel that pull. It sounds very run-of-the-mill YA. While I’ll pick it up I’m not hype.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Read it already. It wasn’t the book, it was me. I just didn’t like it. The pace was way too fast for me to drink in the atmosphere of what should have been a gloriously creepy Beauty and the Beast retelling.

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I read Margaret Rogerson’s Enchantment of Ravens, and while it was nice it was just… fine. I didn’t see anything amazing there. And while this is another standalone of hers, and different story wise, I’m not particularly interested in it.

Blood Heir (Blood Heir, #1)

Ok so trying not to be shady but the synopsis of this was SO LONG. I was like “I already don’t care.” Blood heir, and something else I’ve already forgotten. I seriously think some books are done a disservice by the people who write their synopsis / blurbs.

What do you think?! What books are you hyped for, what don’t you wanna read?

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Have a book? Need it proofreading or editing? I’ve got 2 slots available this month for full proofreading and editing services. All info here: Cover to Cover Edits

 

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Most Anticipated 2019 Releases – Top 5 Wednesday

— Pretty explanatory. If you can’t narrow it down, give your selections for only the first half of the year or even just for winter 2019

IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

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this is seriously a no-brainer, because Leigh Bardugo could write something about the phone book featuring Nikolai and I would buy it.

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I er, already read an earlier version of this (squee!). Perks of being in PitchWars with talented author friends! A powerful book that will have you shipping and fangirling and generally absorbed into the twisty world of Carolinia.

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I am so excited that I’m going to be part of the blog tour for this book! AND I got an ARC! Look out for my review early next year ^_^

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I NEED. TO KNOW. HOW THIS ENDS.

I NEED IT. YOU CAN’T LEAVE ME ON THAT ENDING, KRISTOFF.

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REINCARNATED KING ARTHUR BUT SCI FI. QUEER AUTHORS. CAN I GET A HELL YES PLEASE. I am trash for everything King Arthur and I’m hype for this.


 

In need of critique? Proofreading? Editing? I offer various packages over at Cover to Cover. Simply email for more info, and to reserve your place 🙂 

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On Writing: Heart vs Soul Books

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I had a discussion the other day with a darling CP of mine, all about the concept of Heart and Soul projects.

Dividing books into categories isn’t exactly new, I know. Even Neil Gaiman has said he feels his books have genders. But my stories seem to stem from one of two places: Heart or Soul.

The first book I ever wrote was a Soul book — it had to be, since I spent 10 years of my life writing it — but the one after was a Heart book. I didn’t love it any less, but it didn’t take a piece of me. It was almost MUCH quicker to write! It didn’t require me to bleed into the pages, or encompass my every bit of being. It took me half an hour to outline it, and then about 12 months to write it, on and off.

Soul books drag me into their depths and refuse to let me out til I’ve written them. Even when I get the idea they haunt me, giving me slivers of information at random moments. I could be eating my dinner, suddenly be gripped by a plot solution, and have to find some paper to write it down (this happened recently).

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy writing or reading the Heart Books any less! Heart books tend to be an important story, one I want to read as much as I want to write. I knew that particular Heart books could live happily on shelves and in reader’s hands. It’s just different in feeling as I’m writing them.

Soul books, of which I am currently writing two, require a bit more from me. I usually dwell over their concept for 6-12 months. They require deeper concentration, twistier plots, settings and characters and dialogue which, if you held it up to anyone to view, would be an accurate preview of what I’m made of. Yes it might be dark, and twisty, but it can also be bright, humorous, alluring.

Not that I’m saying I’m the most alluring person when I’m nibbling my 20th jaffa cake and sobbing over edits, but you get the idea.

I find it easier to put the ideas I have into these two camps because then I know what to reserve more of: time or energy. Heart books require more time than energy, as I can force myself to sit down and write them even if I feel a bit tired.

With Soul Books, they require a lot of both.

It can also prepare me for the content–am I about to write a dashing adventure with themes and emotions that mean a lot to me? Or am I about to write something seeped in atmosphere and character that I simply can’t stop thinking about?

I’ve had Heart books which made me cry. The ending of the last one still gets me. It means so much to be able to read the end of the MC’s journey.

I’ve had Soul books which I laugh at and absolutely enjoy writing. The current WIP brings me joy with one character and the absolute one liners he delivers, and the friendships thrill me.

But they will always be different. One side will always be that touch more personal, and scoop out a slice of my soul to bare to the world.

In short: my Heart books tend to be lighter – my Soul books tend to be deeper.

Do you have any way of categorising your stories? I’d love to know!


 

In need of critique? Proofreading? Editing? I offer various packages over at Cover to Cover. Simply email for more info, and to reserve your place 🙂