Cover Love: ‘Court of Savages’

Cover Love: ‘Court of Savages’


Every so often I’ve decided I’m going to do a post on a particular book cover I love during that moment. I can’t promise to commit entirely to it, which is why I’m not pinning down how often I’m going to do these. After all, I start physical therapy school next month, and I don’t know how demanding it’s going to be for me personally. So I may only be able to blog once a month.

In any case, as is obvious I’m going to be talking about Court of Savages(I recommend reading the blurb before reading the rest of this.) I thought of doing a book review, but I neither really read book reviews and am not that interested in writing them because it involves having to take notes to keep track of major plot points, and that’s not something I want to do when I’m reading a book. It’d kill the enjoyment for me.

But I will say I enjoyed Christy Sloat’s novel because it’s the sort of dark novel I enjoy where the main character definitely doesn’t get what she wants, and some might argue gets what she deserves.

In any case, let me pick apart what I love about this cover.

What initially drew me to this book was a blurb Crushing Hearts Black Butterfly Publishing posted on their Twitter page. And then that drew me to the book on Twitter, and the cover sucked me in from there.

What I love about this cover is its air of mystery. Just like the Gahana Royal Hotel, everything is kept a secret from London. It’s all hush-hush and essentially under wraps, and the cover portrays that perfectly. And the woman on the cover, I like to imagine, could be any of the female monsters that are in the book. She may even be snotty London  Stiles because London is no less monstrous than the beings inhabiting the hotel. The fact that you can’t even see her eyes indicates that the true intentions of everyone are meant to be hidden, including London’s. And even as you read the book, even right near the end, you aren’t sure of what London’s fate is going to be.

I love the placement of the woman. When I took a drawing class in college, I learned that subjects placed a little to the side create the most interesting portraits because the eye is used to latching on to an object and centering it. When a subject is not placed in the center, naturally it’s more interesting because the eye is forced to look at the rest of the piece while picking the subject apart.

And let’s talk about that color red. You can argue it’s sexy and alluring, but when you read the blurb, it takes on a more dangerous tone. Of course, there is plenty of sex to go around in this book, so yes, I think the color red is also supposed to be alluring, but deceptively so. London is obsessed with her looks. She’s obsessed with attractive men and getting them to find her attractive. But that red color is a warning, and paired with the woman’s hushing gesture, what readers are about to embark on is definitely not a tale for the faint of heart.

As for the flowers that tie this cover off so nicely, they can represent a variety of things. It’s hard for me to tell what types of flowers these are (maybe a rose or two?), but I think by this point I can safely say that these lovely flowers are meant to be beautifully deceptive since not all flowers are safe to be around. Every rose has its thorn and all that. And London’s character is definitely one you’d want to approach with caution.

(In case you can’t tell, I recommend the book itself.)

Reading Habits of The Dancing Writer

Reading Habits of The Dancing Writer

Zach Chop nominated me to discuss my reading habits, which I am more than happy to do, especially because this blog has been rather empty lately in my sad attempt to find some sort of balance in my life.


The Rules:

The rules are simple, answer a bunch of questions about your reading habits and then nominate a bunch of people to do the same. Don’t forget to tag the person who nominated you! 

OK! And now for the questions:

  1. You have 20,000 books on your TBR. How in the world do you decide what to read next? That’s a super good question, because I’m not the most organized person in the world. In fact, organization isn’t even in my language. Honestly, the only way I would decide is to go with whatever book I’m feeling at that time. If I want an edgy YA book, I’ll read that first. If I’m in the mood for some fantasy, I’ll go toward that. I always get in these weird reading kicks where I only want to read a certain type of book, and I’m not interested in anything else. Right now I haven’t *gasp!* been reading for fun since I started my senior thesis class, have been tortured by work, and I’m now studying to be a fitness trainer, which is loads of reading in itself–one manual in exercise science and one manual in ACE’s IFT model, for a whopping total of over 1,000 pages! But I do have a HUGE TBR list waiting on my Kindle from all the free book deals I’ve snatched off Amazon. I need someone to hand me a whopping dose of time. I haven’t even been a good author lately!
  2. You’re halfway through a book and you’re just not loving it. Do you quit or commit?
    I oftentimes commit, especially because I did buy the book. But there are rare cases where the book is just too boring that I simply can’t continue. I am THE WORST when it comes to coping with boredom. And it’s not even that I made a conscious decision to stop reading it. I just put it down when I feel like taking a break from reading–and I don’t ever return to the book and don’t really care to.
  3. The end of the year is coming and you’re so close yet so far away on your GoodReads challenge. Do you quit or commit? I’ve never done the GoodReads challenge. I’m just not interested. I don’t want to read books for the sake of meeting some intangible goal of reading ‘x’ amount of books in ‘x’ amount of time. I’d rather read books at my own pace and enjoy the experience of reading as well as the book. Heck, I’ve never even tried any writing challenges, like NaNo.
  4. The covers of a series you love DO. NOT. MATCH. How do you cope? I don’t know if I’ve ever come across a series of books with covers that don’t have a pattern, so I honestly can’t say how I’d feel. I might be bothered, just because patterned book covers can make it easy to determine the order of a series, but, otherwise, I can’t really know how I’d react unless I actually come across it one of these days.
  5. Everyone and their mother loves a book you really don’t like. Who do you bond with over shared feelings? My best author/buddy/friend/whatever from Canada. Her and I have VERY similar dislikes when it comes to books, so I rant to her when I come across a blatantly poor book and wonder why, even among authors, it’s being hailed as some remarkable piece of literature. I’ve learned over my short time as an author that it’s just best to rant in private about a book you strongly dislike, instead of blogging about why you hate a particular book.
  6. A sequel of a book you loved just came out, but you’ve forgotten a lot from the prior novel. Will you re-read the book? Skip the sequel? Try to find a summary on GoodReads? Cry in frustration?
    Uh…I don’t re-read. I just continue the next book in the series. If I truly loved the first book, then it’s almost impossible for me to forget what happened. In fact, there are several sequels I need to read that came out a few years ago! But I can still recall some major events from their predecessors.
  7. You don’t want ANYONE borrowing your books. How do you politely tell people “nope” when they ask? I primarily read on my Kindle, so I don’t have this problem. But I have let people borrow my books in the past, so there really is no straight answer for this. I really don’t know how I’d politely tell someone no since I don’t have an inclination to not let people borrow my books.
  8. You’ve picked up and put down five different books in the past month. How do you get over the reading slump? I don’t have reading slumps. I have periods where I don’t read, but that’s often because I have to prioritize other types of reading over pleasure reading.
  9. There are so many new books coming out that you are dying to read! How many do you actually buy?
    Depends on how much money I have. Since I’m using a great deal of my money to pay off my ACE certification course, I’ve been having to trawl through the free books on Amazon, so I’ve been swiping those up in copious amounts. Otherwise, I might buy two at a time. Usually I just try to buy one at a time so as to not have a huge TBR list, which I am failing miserably with right now.
  10. After you’ve bought a new book you want to get to, how long do they sit on your shelf until you actually read them? I try to get to it immediately after I’ve bought it so it won’t sit ten million years on my bookshelf or Kindle. I don’t like to keep books waiting for too long, unless I have no choice, like right now.

All righty. Here are my nominees:

Mariah E. Wilson

S.A. Starcevic

Ryan Attard

(I have been so inactive in the blogosphere lately, so I really can’t fairly choose any more people.)

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My Writing Sin: Parents

My Writing Sin: Parents

A thread on AbsoluteWrite’s Young Adult forum actually inspired me to write this topic.

We’ve all got writing sins, something we either do a lot because we don’t like it or don’t know how to write around it–or it just might be a common trope. In the case for me,  I just don’t like writing parents, and I realize absent parents are a trope. At the same time, my characters aren’t without adult figures, but these adults figures also don’t try to act as replacement parents.

In fantasy and paranormal books, parents can do a lot to slow down the protagonist, especially if said protagonist has powers the parents don’t have, or the protagonist is required to go on some dangerous journey the parents won’t approve of. So I try to axe the parent element altogether, mostly tumblr_moqg8rkRn41r348tgo1_400because I don’t want to write about them. I can read them in other books just fine, but having to write them myself–no. But I don’t fall into the trap of making my protagonist an orphan either, because that really is a tired and cheap way of getting rid of parents.

  • When Stars Die (AEC Stellar Publishing): In this novel, I have Amelia and her brother run away from home because her little brother is a witch and Amelia is terrified that the sins her parents committed to birth a witch are going to eventually unearth themselves and destroy their family. So Amelia takes her brother to a place she has learned and read about (Cathedral Reims), and hopes that by becoming a nun, she can cleanse her familial blood of this taint. So her parents are very much alive; they just have no idea where their children are at.

But Amelia does have parental figures–mostly the nuns at the cathedral, especially Mother Aurelia. At the same time, these nuns are also authority figures and teachers, and they are just plain busy, so they don’t hover around the girls like parents often would, and they don’t demand conversation or constant insight into the thoughts of their pupils. They are there when they can be, but they don’t force themselves into the individual lives of the girls. This allows these girls room to strengthen their friendships with one another so that they learn how to help and get long with one another, as they do spend enough time around each other.

Amelia probably wouldn’t be the independent person she is with her parents around–and her brother would remain naïve of the world instead of learning at an early age that the world isn’t always a kind place.

  • When Stars Rise (WIP): Alice Sheraton is the new protagonist of this book, and while her parents are present in the beginning, I quickly axe them by sending Alice off to a safe house for witches where parents obviously cannot be present (since her parents aren’t witches anyway). By now Alice’s world has a system in place for dealing with witches–often through executions–but her parents love her enough to want to prevent that, so they did whatever they could to protect Alice and found her a safe house hidden in a forest several miles from Malva, where Cathedral Reims is.

Of course, she, too, isn’t without adult figures. Pastor Brandon is the constant adult figure in her life at the safe house, but he is more of an ally than a parent, offering advice without the expectation that Alice will follow any of it.

  • Stolentime (WIP): Gene’s mom is in the first chapter, but his parents are quickly gone after that when I shove him through a bought of psychosis that causes him to run away from home into unfamiliar territory his parents likely won’t find him. Claude, a puppeteer, saves Gene from himself and acts very much like a parent, but he doesn’t demand constant insight into the goings on of Gene’s mind. He only interferes if he feels like Gene is harming himself or is about to be harmed. Otherwise, Gene is a free agent, able to develop as a character on his own terms.

So, if you’re a writer, what are your writing sins? As a reader, what writing sins have you noticed in other books?


Stay tuned for Sunday’s post, where I do a cover reveal of an awesome book from an even more awesome author.

Updates and Teaser

Updates and Teaser

Blogging everyday has been smooth sailing for me, but now it’s time for me to start evolving this blog so that every post I do is geared toward you guys as readers. This means that instead of blogging several times a day or even once everyday, I’m going to start blogging every other day in order to concentrate my efforts elsewhere–which I’m sure you guys obviously understand. I’m going to keep you updated too on what my posts are going to be about. For example, Friday’s post, which will be released in the afternoon, is going to be about My Writing Sin: Parents. While I love my own parents, I’m not wild about writing parents in general, so I usually find clever ways to ax parents from the picture.

When Stars Die is still in the works, so there isn’t a whole lot to update on this. But I will say with much excitement that it is getting a new cover makeover from the lovely Sarah at Sprinkles On Top Studios. I desperately wish I could give you guys even a smidgen of the design of this new cover, but I can say it will feature Amelia on the front. So that is in the works, and it will be wonderful and awesome and I am super, super excited for the finished product.

Also, I am working on something super cool that I will be giving away during a cover release party I plan to have whenever I get the okay from the publisher to release the cover of the book. It will actually be a mix between Stolentime and When Stars Die, but it’ll make perfect sense once you see what I’m giving away.

Last, here is a teaser from Stolentime. A little bit of background: This is from chapter one and Gene is undergoing some pretty severe psychosis, as well as struggling with suicidal ideation. shadow13

“Are you going to kill me? You should. I can’t hold on anymore.” I grab the deadbolt, trying to turn it with shaking hands while keeping my other hand against the door to muffle the sound. “I don’t know if I should be let out of here, you know? There’s no telling what I’ll do.” The deadbolt comes free. “But I don’t really care.”

The shadow doesn’t waver, and I laugh on the inside. “Of course you have nothing to say to this. You’re not real anyway.”

I undo the chain. My hands won’t stop shaking, even as one grips the knob, ready to turn. I look at the shadow one last time. His dagger is still by his side. He doesn’t intend to use it. He never intends to use it. No matter how much I wish he would, I can never wish hard enough for him to become so real that he can take me from my own mind.

No one can save me from this rotting brain.

As I open the door, the shadow vanishes into the darkness of the living room. The street stands wide and open for me, the summer night coaxing me outside. I put one foot outside and realize that I don’t have to turn back. I take another step. Both feet are outside.

I look behind me, into the house. Mom and Dad will miss me, I know. They’ll miss me a lot, but this isn’t about them. This is about me coming undone and knowing I can’t be fixed and tired of knowing I can’t be fixed but still being forced to get fixed anyway. You can’t glue a knickknack back together and expect it to be whole again when pieces are still missing.

I turn back to the street, and I see something, a tiny golden light that floats in the air at the end of the block. I’ll follow that, and wherever it takes me, I don’t care. I only care about getting out of my own mind.



Self-Publishing and the Willingness to Spend Money

Self-Publishing and the Willingness to Spend Money

I hope the author has learned from this catastrophe.

Self-publishing is not for those who have nothing to spend. If you can’t spend money on editing, cover design, and book formatting, self-publishing is not for you–unless you can design and format on your own. Instead the best route for you would be the traditional route because the traditional route often costs nothing.

I mention this because books are heavily judged on cover, editing, and interior design. Self-publishing nowadays is cheaper because you can go right to e-book instead of having to do print. But it costs publishers to produce a book, and so it should cost you money to produce a book as well.

There are some really horrible self-published covers out there. The one to my left is one such example. It makes me think the book is violent and that all Christians need chainsaws to prove a point. I can’t even tell if the cover is trying to be symbolic or what the author was even thinking when choosing this cover. And the colors are too bold. Bold colors paired with bold colors are often tacky. It’s not Kindergarten anymore. Primary colors worked then but they don’t work now because there are so many shades and tones and hues of colors that there is an entire class devoted to color theory at some universities. So if you want to design your own cover art, take some sort of design class or book production class.

As for editing, you can only edit so much before you need someone else to look at it. If you can’t afford an editor, please don’t self-publish. Use beta readers and go the traditional route because if you don’t even have money for a proofreader, what makes you think your book is going to be able to make it without some sort of paid marketing, like giveaways and what not? Even though my book is technically going traditional, I have some money I’m going to use for giveaways once the book is published. But it is impossible to fully edit on your own because you are the writer, not the reader, your audience. You NEED another pair of eyes, professional eyes, preferably, to whip your book into shape.

The interior design of a book can be just as important as the exterior design of a book. I’ve seen so many self-published books whose interior design has been brutally destroyed because the author did not hire a book designer. Said author likely formatted a .pdf file and put it through the Kindle converter, expecting the book to come out with publishable quality, when more often than not the paragraphs are wonky, not indented, words are missing, pages are missing, and so on and so forth. Also, a lot of readers don’t like to read .pdf. If all you can manage is a .pdf file and nothing more, don’t publish because your book is going to suffer without pre-release marketing and some reviews. You might be able to find some who will read .pdf, but if you want really good reviewers, they might end up requesting various formats, and there are just some reviewers you don’t want to pass up because you only have .pdf.

Self-publishing takes money. Don’t kid yourself into thinking that just because everything is digital now that it’s not going to take a lot because it is. If you want your book to compete with traditionally published books, you’re going to have to spend some money to make some money. Otherwise, don’t go this route and go the traditional route, be it large or small presses.