Friday, May 31, 2013

The Weekly Extract: none of that Pixie Dust & Evanescence…She's Going Under

Last week's excerpt featured Tuck, a tree elf (think Orlando Bloom's Legolas in The Lord of the Rings). Tatou was furious because he was blind to the danger surrounding everyone else. All he could see was Plantine, Melia's younger sister and his true love. But maybe he had a point, and Plantine is in more trouble than anyone realizes….

From Half Faerie ...

“Did you hear Plantine? The stronghold’s throne is not enough for her. She wants the one at the Cathedral Palace, too.” Tatou whispered, although Plantine was so engrossed with Flora’s grief, she wouldn’t have heard the pixie if she yelled. “She wants to be the Queen of the Realm of Faerie.”

“She’ll be a tyrant,” Melia said.

“Tuck may be the only one who can reach her.”

“She’ll never agree to see him.”

“We have to convince her that seeing him is the right thing for her and everyone else.”

“May I enter?” Chloe stood in the doorframe.

Plantine ignored her. She helped Flora into her enormous bed.

“She’s not feeling well,” Melia said.

Chloe nodded. “Yrrick has announced a dinner party. Lord Goring would like to welcome his bride’s sister and her friends to the stronghold.”

Dread echoed in the hollow of Melia’s chest.

Plantine rushed from Flora’s side. “You brought more friends?”

“A priest from Idonne, a m—” Melia caught herself. They’d left Sinjiin in the Welcoming Hall in his tiger form. If he wanted Chloe—or anyone else at the Calashai—to know he was a mage, he could tell them himself. “—his pet tiger, and a tree elf.”

Plantine’s eyes glinted with dark temper. “A tree elf?”

“Yes,” Melia said.

Plantine turned away from the servant. She pressed her palms together and closed her eyes. “Thank you, Chloe. You may leave us now.”

The muannaye curtseyed and departed.

“I told you not to bring him here,” Plantine said.

Tatou darted towards her.

“If you throw anymore of that pixie dust on me, I’ll have you locked up,” Plantine warned.

The pixie hovered in front of Plantine’s face with her hand in her pocket. Melia held her breath. It was the last dark moon night in the moon cycle, and it looked like it was going to be a long one.

This week when you listen to the awesome Amy Lee singing Going Under, think of Plantine going under Umbra's influence—Umbra is the mortal ash accumulating in the Void that wants to use her as a vessel of incarnation.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Weekend Extract: Tatou's hot temper plus Imagine Dragons

I have two treats for you today. How about we start off with an extract from Half Faerie? One featuring Tatou and her hot pixie temper…
From Half Faerie, "Chapter 36: A Field of Lilies"

“You couldn’t have stopped last night’s attack,” Tatou said. “There were too many of them.”
“There were only two,” Melia whispered.
“No,” Tatou said. “You’re forgetting about the archers. When Clover took me to the stream, the woods were thick with them. If you’d arrived earlier, they would’ve killed you.”
“They’ll do worse with Plantine if we don’t reach her in time,” Tuck said.
“Lord Goring needs her,” the pixie said. “He won’t let anything happen to her.”
Melia raised her eyebrows at her friend.
“What? He thinks Plantine is the only one in danger?” Tatou asked.
Tuck pushed away from the table. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean?” The pixie walked across the table to stand in front of him. “Those wolves would have swallowed me whole last night if Clover hadn’t had the good sense to hide me. Did you see the wounds on Flora’s back? Or notice the burns on her face? We’re all getting hurt trying to help Plantine.”
Tuck raised his hands. “I’m sorry, you’re right. I’m thinking only of Melia’s sister because I know how vulnerable she is from her mother’s curse.”
Tatou’s pixie temper soared. “Not too vulnerable to get the basin’s location and send—”
Gumf slammed the table with the palms of his hand. “Both of you, stop it.”
The tree elf and the pixie stared daggers at one another.
“You’re all on edge,” the Veil’s proprietor said. As if on cue, three dwarves appeared by his side. “Let them take you to your rooms. Bathe and get some rest tonight. You can continue your journey in the morning.”
No one moved.

Number two is special. Rachmi Febrianty created a brilliant playlist for the Daughter of Light trilogy. I've been listening to the songs over and over. And while I'm figuring out how to share them all with you, let me leave you with her suggestion for a song from Tuck to Plantine…it's perfect.

Please enjoy Bleeding Out by Imagine Dragons…

Monday, May 20, 2013

Flora is in the spotlight at Digital Book Today

Flora gets the spotlight in a Guest Post at Digital Book Today.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Weekend Extract: Melia & Her Father

In this week's extract, Melia, a half-faerie who lives in the Realm of Faerie, travels to visit her father, a druid, in the Mortal World. Although they haven't seen each other in years, they've had some telepathic communications that have disturbed Melia. In this scene she prepares to confront him about his plans to incarnate Umbra, the psychic mass of mortal ash accumulating in the Void.

From Half Faerie, "Chapter 8: Achill Island"

Three days later, Melia stood before a small stone building. She raised her fist to knock on its door; her hand stilled midair. More than one shopkeeper in the village had told her she would find the Great Mortal Druid Elynus here. She dropped her fist and stepped back down the steps. Her body trembled.
Elynus’ simple stone abode stood like a solitary sentinel on the sweep of an elevated promontory—Achill Head, the shopkeeper had called it. A thin trail of grey smoke blew from the chimney, dissolving into the grey clouds overhead. Melia heard seagulls clacking in the bay to the south.
She paced in the short grass, staring at the three steps that led up to the cottage. The locals held her father in high esteem. Did she dare confront him? After all, he was a great druid. Who was she to question his work?
Melia felt weak and confused. She hadn’t realized, when she’d arrived on the beach, she’d have to roam the countryside to find her father. For some reason, she’d expected to arrive closer to where he lived. Maybe she should have swallowed her pride and asked Melusine to help her. But that was her hunger talking. Although it had taken a generous fisherman and a benevolent grocer to keep her from starving, and every single muscle in her legs and feet ached, she told herself she was fine.
She touched her hand to her forehead. She couldn’t feel Nandana’s mark, but knowing it was there gave her a sense of purpose. She saw things her father couldn’t bear to witness. Didn’t that mean some part of her was stronger than some part of him?
The wood door swung open. Melia faced a young lady in clean, but well-worn clothes. She carried a wicker basket on her hip. Their eyes met.
“He’s busy, he is,” the young lady said, closing the door behind her. “Best to come back later,” she whispered.
Melia tilted her head. “I can’t.”
“Suit yourself.” The young lady pushed by. “His mood’s dark; it’s all I'm sayin’.”
Melia watched the young lady retreat into the distance. When she was a black stick on the horizon, Melia raised her fist to the door. This time she knocked.
“Go away!”
She recognized her father’s voice. “It’s M...m...melia.” Her body trembled again.
The door swung open. Her father stood before her, a sour look on his face.
He backed away from the door. “You shouldn’t have come.”
Melia followed him inside. “I need to talk to you.”
They stood in a bright room, a massive desk overwhelmed its center. A fire popped and crackled in the hearth to the right; two large oil lamps provided additional light. Bookshelves lined three of the walls. A leather-bound book, an ink pot, several quill pens, and a stack of parchment covered the desk’s surface. A single shadowy doorway stood to the far left of the fireplace.
A stew of emotions simmered in Melia’s stomach. They bubbled up into her ribcage and made her throat feel hot. Over the past three days, wandering around Achill island, she’d wondered what it would be like to see her father for the first time in more than fifteen years. Although she’d never welcomed his intrusions in her mind, there had been a time she’d loved him deeply.
Any lingering affection scattered in his presence. He was as stiff as a fence post and made her feel about as welcome as a horsefly.
He pointed to a chair in front of his desk as he settled himself into a larger one behind it. He steepled his fingers, glared, and penetrated her mind.
Traveling to the Mortal World had strengthened Melia’s confidence.
She pushed him away, but not before she felt his resentment that she was freer than he was, banned as he was from the Enchanted World and Faerie. The look in his eyes told her he was surprised by the force with which she’d closed her mind.
His eyes took her in. “Perhaps Little Bird is not as small as she once was,” he mused.  “Yes, you’ve grown up. Into quite a lovely young lady, I daresay.”
His compliment caught Melia off guard. He opened one of the desk drawers and pulled out a bit of cloth. He handed it to her.
“You’ve got some dirt—” Elynus brushed his fingers between his eyebrows. “—there.”
Melia twisted the rag in her hand. “It’s not dirt. Nandana—”
“Say no more,” her father said. “I usually recognize the Illustrator’s work. It’s usually more—”
“Delicate,” Melia finished his sentence.
He smiled. “Yes, that’s the word I was looking for. But young people do like to have their own styles, don’t they? It’s quite unusual, gives you an exotic look. Does it serve some purpose? Awaken your third eye, perhaps?”
Melia didn’t know what he was talking about. Nandana hadn’t mentioned anything about her eyes, let alone a third one.
“Did you know Nandana’s Hindi?” her father asked.
“No,” Melia said.
“Her husband died; he was young. So was she. Her culture dictated a faithful wife go with him. They were going to burn her alive on his funeral pyre. She was frantic, then she found the way to the Realm of Faerie. I don’t think she’s ever come back to join us mortals. No reason she should. Illialei’s much safer for her these days.”
“She didn’t tell me,” Melia said.
Would Nandana have told her, if Melia had ever gone back to visit her? How many times had she wanted to return to the Illustrator’s shop and talked herself out of it? A pang of sadness settled in her chest. She’d have to fix that when she returned to Illialei.
Once again her father had turned the conversation away from himself. On the shores of the Nyssalei he’d talked about Queen Luisa, now he talked about Nandana. Melia shifted her gaze to the fire; its heat stifled. She recalled the horrible vision of the Illustrator dying with her grey cat beside her.
“You can’t incarnate Umbra. You must think about others beside yourself.” The clarity of her speech felt like a small—yet important—victory.
Her father’s eyes hardened, but he said nothing. His silence unnerved Melia more than any outrage she’d anticipated. Although her heart raced, she was determined to match his quiet. In those still moments, Melia recognized her father’s strength within her. She’d always dwelled on her faerie-blood, the gifts it had bestowed and denied. Not once had she considered what traits might have come to her by way of her father’s blood. By matching his resolve that afternoon, it became clear strength of will was one of them.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Soul Needs to Eat

I'm reading What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson. You must understand I saw the movie starring Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra fifteen years ago on the cusp of my own recovery from a suicide in my family. I couldn't explain sitting in the theater what each moment of this movie meant to me. EVERYTHING. It was truth and hope and promise and validation. It was F*@King Fantastic
Fast forward fifteen years and I pick up the book because it's on sale on my kindle. The reviews say it's better than the movie. For me that's quite a promise. But I'm finding it a very cerebral read. So far. I must say I'm a bit surprised. Okay, disappointed. The ideas are good, but the emotional context feels flat. I actually find myself thinking: The Celestine Prophecy. Ugh.

But the movie exploded with color. Emotion was in your face. Jumping from the screen. Sitting in the seat beside you. Trying to sit on top of you. Book and film are two very different media. I think Richard Matheson came up with an incredible story. And I think Vincent Ward and the cast and crew of the movie brought it to life.

Maybe I'll feel differently when I finish the book.
Maybe I won't.
But I will never forget how watching the movie What Dreams May Come was part of my re-entry into a world that I felt very ambivalent about re-entering for a very long time.

I read. I write. I watch movies and t.v. shows. I listen to music.
To feed my inner life.
Because in the end, all we have is what we imagine and my soul needs to eat.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Weekend Extract: Ryder

Here we meet Ryder. He's going to make a big decision. One that's going to change the course of his life. F-O-R-E-V-E-R. No, he hasn't met Melia, yet, but he's going to follow his heart wherever it takes him! Gotta love a guy like that!
From Half Faerie"Chapter 5: The Renegade Priest From Idonne"

Ryder stared at the sword enshrined in the glass case. The blue shimmer of its blade lit the room. Named Koldis, a single ruby crowned its hilt.

It was well past midnight. The halls of the library—famous throughout the Enchanted World and the purpose of the Order of the Idonnai’s existence—stood silent.

The young priest’s ragged breathing filled the room.

The first time Anton had brought him here as a seven-year-old boy, Ryder had wanted the sword. When he’d asked if he could have it, his mentor had boxed his ears and said, ‘Idonnic priests do not fight.’

It had been the first and last time he’d kicked Anton in the shin. His pious mentor hadn’t administered the whipping that had left three thin white lines across his back, but he’d watched until the young boy had stopped calling out for Garrick.

Ryder had been abandoned at the priesthood’s gates as an infant. Garrick, the baker who supplied the order with loaves of bread every morning before the sun rose, had been the one to find him. In the emotionally remote world of the priesthood, Garrick, and his wife, Shilda, were Ryder’s only source of affection.

Now, Anton was the head of the order. He’d never forbidden his protege’s visits to Garrick and Shilda’s home, but he’d made it clear he didn’t approve of Ryder’s fondness for them. He’d also contracted with another baker for his services, as soon as it had been in his power to do so.

Ryder tightened his grip around the large rock in his hand. He’d scoured Idonne’s rocky seashore for months searching for the perfect stone. The first rock he’d brought back to his austere quarters had had a single sharp plane. He’d traded it out with four more before he’d settled on the one he held tonight. One of the rock’s edges sharpened into a jagged point. For weeks, night after night, lying awake on his pallet, he’d practiced shifting it into the right position. He didn’t need to look down now to know the stone’s point was centered.

Garrick and Shilda would be disappointed with his decision to become a common thief. As far as he could see, that was the only flaw in his plan. But there was no way around it.

For twelve long years, Ryder, now nineteen, had been trained in the rigors of Idonnic research and documentation. Despite his lack of passion for the work, he had a talent. As Anton’s favorite, he’d been assigned to a closely guarded branch of Idonnic knowledge: The study of Umbra.

He'd read and reread every scrap of information the priests had collected about the mass of psychic ash accumulating in the Void. A product of mortal impotence, frustration, and failure, Umbra had formed a discrete identity and become self-aware over the eons. He intended to enter the realm of the material plane. He had discovered a means to do so. He meant to destroy the Whole.

The priesthood was wrong to do nothing, and the Oath of Non-Interference Anton had tricked Ryder into taking a year ago—to the day—choked him. Vowing to chronicle and observe, never to act, violated every fiber of his being.

There was also the ill-defined thing the young priest could not name that called him. It radiated from deep within his heart, and of late, it left him sleepless most nights. As the summons grew more insistent, the need to leave Idonne dominated his thoughts. But he couldn’t leave without the sword.

He understood the consequences. If he took one step closer to the case, if he raised his left arm to shatter the glass with the rock, if he took the sword and fled Idonne, he’d be a fugitive throughout the Enchanted World for the rest of his life.

He looked around the room. There were no guards, no spells of enchanted protection. Only the library’s labyrinth of marble halls hid Koldis from the rest of the Enchanted World. The sword wasn’t safe. Rumors had already reached his ears. Sorcerers and witches from Kyrakkos sought the blade and its counterpart, the bejeweled basin Ormrun.

The magical sword and basin opened a portal in the veils between the worlds. Plunged into Ormrun, Koldis became the key to unlock the ancient door. Umbra could leave the Void and travel through the Parallel of Shadows. He could incarnate his consciousness into a vessel of his choosing.

Last week a war captain from Huros had dined with Anton. He’d asked about Koldis. His tone had been casual, but Ryder was convinced the pretense for the visit had been a charade. The captain sought the sword.

He raised his left arm. No one who wanted Umbra’s power for themselves was going to get it.

He would sail to Faerie with Koldis.

Although there had been no sightings of Ormrun in more than a hundred years, there was no evidence the bowl had ever left the Realm of Faerie’s shores. The dwarves, Haff and Gweff, had forged the sword and the basin in the bowels of the Ruadain Mountains for the water elemental, Isolt. But Umbra had appropriated the basin’s power.

Ryder believed he could find Ormrun and take it, with Koldis, to the Grey Council on the Isle of Minnanon. The grey faeries who sat on the council were the only creatures in the Whole immune to the siren call of Umbra’s power. They were the ones to safeguard the sword and the basin.

Yes, his heart said, sailing to Faerie is the right thing to do.

He brought his arm down with all the force he could summon.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

thoughts by j. a book blogger interview

I met Joy through Goodreads. If I had to describe her blog, thoughts by j, in one word, it would be elegant. Swing by her place and you'll see what I mean.
1. Please, Introduce yourself.
I'm Joy, and I'm a 20 year old book blogger from Sydney, Australia! I'm currently studying media in university, and hopefully will be able to work for Bloomsbury one day. Fingers crossed! 

2. Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Looseleaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater?
I love tea and coffee. I usually go for Earl Grey in the mornings and never fail to drink at least one cup of tea a day. When I'm out and about, I usually grab coffee. There's a great coffee cart at my uni where the best caramel lattes I've ever tasted are sold. I am a sucker for their coffees. Fun fact: My first job was at a cafe, where I was able to drink as many coffees as I wanted. I'm not sure if it's because I've had too many coffees in my short life-time, but instead of waking me up, drinking coffee puts me to sleep!

3. Why do you blog about books?
I love reading, simple as that. I never did blog, but as a media student I needed a platform to fine-tune my writing. Starting a book blog sounded like the perfect way to incorporate these two hobbies! 

4.What inspired the design of your site?
I wanted a more sophisticated feel to my website - something similar to how a digital magazine website would look like. I like really neat designs, as it gives off a hint of professionalism (ha!). I'm always a little weary of websites that are too cluttered, so I tried to keep that in mind when choosing my themes. 

5. What is your favorite thing about book blogging?
Meeting all the wonderful people in the industry! I've definitely met some wonderful bloggers, authors and aspiring writers during my short time blogging. It's wonderful to share your thoughts, ideas and opinions with like-minded people all over the world!

6. How do you decide which books to read?
When I'm really busy, I usually pick books that are shorter in length. I hate reading sporadically, starting a book and not finishing it for ages. Unfortunately, this happens much too often. When I get book review requests, I usually bump these up to the front of my TBR list. I am always grateful to any authors that take the time out to contact me, so I'm always more than willingly to choose to read their books first.

7. How much time do you invest reading and blogging?
Unfortunately not enough ever since uni resumed. I just came out of a four months holiday, where I had plenty to time to read and blog every week. Now I am swamped with course work, a part-time job, extra-curriculars and sports on the weekends. I can barely find the time to sit down a enjoy some quality reading time. This is really disappointing, but I'm trying my best to rectify this.

8. Care to comment on the Alice Hoffman quote: Books may well be the only magic?
I wouldn't say the ONLY magic. Magic is whatever you make of it - there are magicians worldwide that can perform amazing feats and I definitely consider them magical. Books are in a completely different realm altogether though. What I believe Alice Hoffman meant is that books are the only form of magic that is able to transport you to a different place, metaphorically speaking. Reading is the only way that you can really shut out your own life and follow the wonderful adventures of the characters that you're reading about. It may not be the only magic, but it is definitely magical.

9. On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you? 10 being VERY…
Haha, I would love to say I am wild and eccentric, but I probably only sit at around a 2 on the scale. :P

10. Is there anything else we need to know about you?
I love rabbits and own one named Mia. (:

Thank you, Joy!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Zombies (using an ice pick)

I just finished Zombie by Joyce Carol Oates. From the first to the last page this is horror. Q_ P_ and all of his appointments with Mr. T_, Dr. E_, and Dr. B_. H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E stuff. The serial killer hides in plain sight. And everyone fawning over him and all his unrealized P-O-T-E-N-T-I-A-L. Cause you can't be NICE ENOUGH or ACCOMMODATING ENOUGH to someone who wants to make ZOMBIES (using an ice pick). Cause probably, you know, there was some trauma in his past. That's NOT CLEAR. But if everyone's NICE ENOUGH to him and TREATS HIM WITH ENOUGH RESPECT, you know, he won't kill anyone else.
Right? Maybe? Hope so.

This book unearths all those THEORIES, like it gets a trowel out and drags it through the dirt leaving gouges…and you're kind of like, yeah, aren't we the STUPID ONES?

Joyce Carol Oates is an incisive psychological writer. Again. And again. And again. She brings something fearless to the pages and even when it's such C-H-I-L-L-I-N-G HORROR that you ask yourself: Why am I reading this? you have to acknowledge she's one PHINE WRITER.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


It's a desperate search. The one for my next read. I'm sifting though all of my books in the Cloud.
It seems like I'm downloading and opening every last one of them. I start reading one and get hung up on the fact that a truly frantic writer would stab pages with inkless indentations rather than ever consider rationing ink. But when I try to imagine balling up a notebook…it's on to the next one. It's pretty well-written, but honestly, I'm just not that into vampires so…another teenager in the snarky first person who's passed over for…the smell of bread…for two whole pages…the first ones...maybe a computer game…Wait. Is he being tortured? Did you watch Scandal last night? Nope. Not interested in reading about torture. At all...a birthday party with dad's girl friend, ticking off her flaws…first one up: that lead-in discussion of lip gloss…okay, maybe the hard-core fantasy with dragons…Oh. The prerequisite bar scene and brawl…onto the sci-fi sex club. Have degenerate sex clubs become a sci-fi trope? I mean this isn't the first one I've come across…in less than a month. SIGH.

Finally. I settle on Until Tuesday. A dog. A golden lab. With sad eyes, a big goofy smile, and a regal bearing. Yes. This was the book I was trying to find.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom

Today I'd like welcome Shona Lawrence the creator of the wonderful book blog Bookie Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom.

  1. Please tell us something about yourself. Hi my name is Shona, I am a full time mom to 4 beautiful girls aged 9 and under. I read to relax, I read for fun, I read... I am a book addict.
  2. Coffee or Tea or Water? Espresso, Drip, Instant, or French Press? Bag or Loose leaf? Bottled, Filtered, Tap or Rainwater? Definitely Tea. Though I quite like water throughout the day.
  3. Why do you blog about books? I initially started my blog as a personal one for me, but books are such a big part of who i am that the blog became mostly book reviews, so i decided to change the name a little and open myself up to reviewing more and helping out with blog tours etc.
  4. What inspired the design of your site? I really just like the clean look. With 4 children aged under 9 its nice to have one area of my life at least that is clean and organised.
  5. What is your favourite thing about book blogging? The wonderful authors I have met.
  6. How do you decide which books to read? My read to review books I generally do on a first come first served basis. My read for fun books i choose whichever one takes my fancy, though I tend to squeeze in long awaited books.
  7. How much time do you invest in reading and blogging? I read most days, where other people would be watching TV or gardening I read. I am one of those awful people who rush home to do the housework, but its only so i have more time to read. Blogging i fit in and around my books. I always write a review immediately after reading it, so having the schedule button on the blog is really useful. The amount of time varies from day to day. 
  8. Care to comment on the Alice Hoffman quote: Books may well be the only magic? Books are definitely Magic, but i think movies can be just as magical.
  9. On a scale of 1-10, how eccentric are you? 10 being VERY... I would say probably a 3, Though  my kids and husband might say it was considerably higher than that.
  10. Is there anything else we need to know about you? Need to know? Probably not. BUT... I have a huge crush on Chris Hemsworth and Hugh Jackman.
Thank you :-) 

Shona. x