Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday Snippets #9-- Anthony Maxwell

Yay, for another Tuesday Snippet! This one is actually one of my favorites so far, personally. I'd also like to report good progress on the editing stage on A Case of Poisons, I am very nearly ready to start formatting and that means I am almost ready to send off for my proof copy! I just have a little more fixing to do. Apart from that, I am DEFINITELY getting my Kickstarter up by this weekend. I made my video and figured out the prizes and all that, so it will not be long now! Also, I'm hoping to have the cover reveal up sometime within the next couple weeks or so, so keep an eye out for that!

And now onto the snippet! This one comes from Chapter Eight and  takes place when Anthony, Scamp and Tobias go out searching for clues in the slums at night and come across some really nasty guys who, oddly, don't feel pain.

         As I skidded to a halt, ready to make my stand, I spun around, expecting the man to be right on top of me, but he was nowhere to be seen. The single lamp did little to assure me, but there was enough light to tell that there was no other human beside myself back there, nor did I hear the pounding footsteps that had pursued me. I took a moment to catch my breath as I searched for a sign of where my rather large ne’er-do-well could possible have gotten.
         ‘’Ello, Guv,’ came a voice from right behind me and I spun to see the man. How he ended up at my front had me flummoxed, but I turned around to meet him, wary, and ready to pull out my shortsticks should the need arise.
         ‘Hello yourself,’ I replied cheerily. ‘It’s a bad night to be out.’
         ‘‘Specially for yuh, Guv,’ (intentional bad grammar/spelling--for accent) the man said. His breath was heavy and rasped strangely in his chest, but not in the way mine was from the run. It was wolfish, and the too-bright gleam in his eyes made him look a predator. Despite his hard breathing, he didn’t seem spent at all. I stopped thinking about his resilience and concentrated on his right hand. He curled his last two fingers over and pressed into the palm of his glove. There was a short click and something flashed out of his hand. I realized that he was wearing an eagle’s claw—a device that could be buckled onto a glove and had a curved, flip-out blade activated by a spring mechanism—and also that I needed to act fast if I didn’t want to have it stuck into me.
         I know I mentioned my custom-made boots before, but I would like to remind the Reader of them as I don’t think I revealed all their secrets yet. You see, they were crafted by a very canny Scotsman, and I believe I already said that they held hidden sheathes where I kept my shortsticks. But there was also another secret to the sheathes, and that was in a mechanism attached to the heels. If I clicked them together, it would pop and cause the sticks to spring up so that I could grab them on a moment’s notice. Tonight, however, was the first time they failed me, for the mechanism must have been clogged with the mud and I looked a proper fool clicking my heels when nothing happened. The huge man, who was to be my opponent, laughed at me.
         ‘Those h’are some fancy gallies (boots, in Victorian slang) yuh ‘ave there, (intentional bad grammar)’ he said with a wolfish grin on his face. ‘h’I might take those once I kill yuh.’
            ‘Shame they’re not really your size,’ I replied and clicked again, this time hearing the satisfying whirr of the gears before the sticks popped up and I grabbed them with lightning quickness. It was a good thing I did too, for, at just that moment, the man charged me and took a huge swipe with the small, curved blade of his eagle’s claw. 

Hope you liked the snippet and the picture! As you have probably noticed, I draw people better than inanimate objects and scenery, so I hope you can tell it's an alleyway in the picture. Also, this was one of those that looked much better before I scanned it into the computer. It's actually the first nighttime picture I have drawn so the shading is iffy but in real life, I was actually able to make it look like there was mist floating around--not so after I scanned it, but oh well. Likewise the baddie didn't look so flat either.

I'm hoping to write some more posts soon, later this week we'll be having a tour stop with another steampunk author, Daniel Ottalini about his new book, so check back for that!

Slainte, Hazel

Monday, April 29, 2013

Books of Note: April Reads

This month had a few ups and downs as far as reading went, but I did read some very good books, so I was thankfully able to pick some for my favorites of the month. If you want to read the bad ones, check out these:

The Bughouse Mystery
Legacy of the Clockwork Key

And now on to the good ones:

Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to keep things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was a wonderful re-telling of the Twelve Dancing Princesses and actually one of the best fairy tale re-tellings I have ever read. Wonderful cast, beautiful visionary, and to top it all off a lovely family story as well, of which I am very partial.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes! It's so pretty, I love her dress and the silver ivy around the edges. One of the prettiest covers I have seen.

Characters: The cast was wonderful in this story. I really liked Azalea, she was smart, and easy to sympathize with. There were only a couple minor parts where I got a little annoyed with her but in the way of a friend you just want to help do what's best. I loved the sisters too, and how you actually got to know them all even though there were so many of them and how they all had their own personalities. The menfolk of the story too were just as well crafted. I grew to like the king very much, and also ended up liking Fairweller too even though I wasn't sure if I would in the beginning, or if he was even a good character. I adored Lord Teddie, he was just so sweet and a bit silly but so kind-hearted. And I loved Mr Bradford from the beginning. I wish he were in the story more, but I still felt I got to know him sufficiently. As for Keeper, he was throughly creepy, but in the subtle way that makes him even more so. He's my favorite kind of villain and I literally had shivers down my spine reading about him.

The Romance: Since this is a fairy tale re-telling, it was obvious there was a romantic plot line, and I had no objections, in fact, I supported all the pairings in this and felt the characters truly deserved them. My only complaint was that I was always really sad when Bramble was so mean to poor Lord Teddie, but as that was all resolved, I am okay with that now.

Writing Style: Heather Dixon has a lovely writing style. It's very fairy-taleish. I loved the way she described everything to where it felt so magical and yet the parts that were real, felt real, and likewise the scary parts and action scenes were vivid and gripping. As I said before, the characterization was wonderful, and I think what made Keeper even creepier was that the she never really goes into a whole lot of detail about him and his powers. There's just enough to make you really scared of him, and that's another ploy I love in writing.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have any problems with this story.

Conclusion: 5 stars. I really enjoyed this book, and I hope the author has more of this calibre.

Recommended Audience: Fans of re-tellings should check this out if you haven't already, and those who don't mind a bit of a darker fairy-tale. Girl read 14 and up.

Break the curse or howl forever.

Etienne, son of a lord in the kingdom of Armorique, goes to train as a knight with Geraint of Lucanne. Geraint is brave and kind, a good teacher and master - but he has a secret that he has kept from his family. He is bisclavret, a born werewolf. When Geraint is betrayed, Etienne must ally with the local wise-woman and her daughter, themselves bisclavret, to save his lord. But time is running out. If Geraint's enemies have their way, Geraint will soon be trapped in his wolf form.

And Etienne has his own secret. The decisions he makes will change his life forever . . .

Inspired by a medieval romance, this engaging novel forces us to question everything we thought we knew about werewolves.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: I'm not usually a frequenter of paranormal, but this one caught my eye and I'm really glad I gave it a go, because it's just the kind of paranormal novel I love to read. When I do read paranormal it's usually ghosts, faeries and occasionally werewolves, and this one had faeries and werewolves, so that made it all the more awesome. And the fact that it was taken from a medieval story and Celtic myth made it all the more intriguing.

Cover--Yea or Nay: Yes, it's very simple and pretty and I love the wolf on it.

Characters: Etienne (a name I love by the way) is a great protagonist and narrator. He's an honest, good-hearted and brave young man and a character the reader is able to connect with easily. I also liked how he could have been worried all the time because of his bisclavret (werewolf) family history, making it possible he could turn into one at his age, but he didn't let it bother him or get in the way. I really loved Armand too, he was a great comrade in arms character, and I wish we had gotten to see more of him. Geraint was also a good character even though he was quite a victim of circumstance. A lot of times characters like that can get washed out or annoying, but Geraint didn't. I also liked Jeanne and Sylvie, in fact, all the women in this story (apart from Eglantine, of course) were strong characters without attitudes which I liked. The villain Dupre, wasn't in the story a lot physically, but you still got to know him and also know he really was evil and scary too.

The Romance: There is a romance between Etienne and Jeanne, but it doesn't interrupt the plot and is in the easy way of two people who know they love each other. There's a little bit of drama concerning them at the end, but nothing horrible. In short, I really liked them as a couple.

Writing Style: I don't know if Sue Bursztynski has read any of Rosemary Sutcliff's books, but her writing style reminds me of Rosemary's. It's not quite as beautiful, but it's still good writing, and the way she crafted the story line as well as portrayed the relationships between the characters, especially Etienne and Armand and Etienne and Jeanne was really reminiscent of Rosemary's. I loved how she took the idea for this story from an old medieval tale, making this almost a re-telling. I really want to read the original now. I also loved the addition of Celtic folklore in this story. This is historical fantasy, so it's not necessarily "our world" but she paints a picture that is quite like Saxon Britain with even mentions of the "Rom" (Romans in our wolrd) having occupied their country centuries before. It gave her place an easy history for readers to follow. She changed some things around with the Celtic folklore too, with mentions of feasts like Beltane and Samhain. There was also a part where Etienne and Armand end up in the "Otherworld" with is the realm of the Fae, and there's several times where the Wold Hunt appears as well as "Kernun" who is supposed to be Cernunnos--though the portrayal of him in this book is not nearly as frightening as some I've read. Overall, it made the read all that more intriguing, and I liked this take on werewolf legends.

Problems/What bothered me: I didn't have any problems, but I can see where some readers might run into issues with this book, so I'll address that here. If a reader is not acquainted with the actual Celtic legends that this is based on, it might be a little confusing, because the author doesn't go into a lot of detail about any of it. You can google all this stuff though, and it will be fine. For readers who do know all the Celtic legends, this will only make the read more interesting as it did for me.

Conclusion: 4 stars, I really enjoyed this, and I hoped the author will write more books like this because there are so few paranormal authors that I actually enjoy reading.

Recommended Audience: Guy and girl read, 15 and up. There's a lot of violence mentioned, but nothing is ever shown in any detail. Fans of Rosemary Sutcliff who don't mind reading something different would like this, I think. Also those who enjoyed Katy Moran's "Bloodline" books would like this too. I thought it kind of had the same feel to those as well.

Imagine a place where the dead rest on shelves like books.

Each body has a story to tell, a life seen in pictures that only Librarians can read. The dead are called Histories, and the vast realm in which they rest is the Archive.

Da first brought Mackenzie Bishop here four years ago, when she was twelve years old, frightened but determined to prove herself. Now Da is dead, and Mac has grown into what he once was, a ruthless Keeper, tasked with stopping often—violent Histories from waking up and getting out. Because of her job, she lies to the people she loves, and she knows fear for what it is: a useful tool for staying alive.

Being a Keeper isn’t just dangerous—it’s a constant reminder of those Mac has lost. Da’s death was hard enough, but now her little brother is gone too. Mac starts to wonder about the boundary between living and dying, sleeping and waking. In the Archive, the dead must never be disturbed. And yet, someone is deliberately altering Histories, erasing essential chapters. Unless Mac can piece together what remains, the Archive itself might crumble and fall.

In this haunting, richly imagined novel, Victoria Schwab reveals the thin lines between past and present, love and pain, trust and deceit, unbearable loss and hard-won redemption.


Thoughts on the Overall Book: This was such a unique story, with a wonderful cast of characters and twists that kept me guessing to the end. I really enjoyed it all the way.

Cover--Yea or Nay: It's kind of weird and eerie, but I like it. It almost has the peaceful quality the Narrows were described with. I think it really goes along with the story well.

Characters: I loved Mackenzie, she's just the kind of female heroine I love to read about. I loved that despite the fact she could have been emotionally messed up from her brother's death (and she was, it just wasn't in the unstable way most female characters are) she was strong enough to get through it, yet, still human enough to feel the pain of the loss. She's a character I was able to sympathize with. As a Keeper, I also really loved her personality. She was not one of those kick-butt heroines, but she was simply sensible, and she didn't always win. I also liked her appreciation of a good knife. I hate all these heroines who can do hand to hand and despise weapons because they think they're too good for that. Okay, and can I just say how much I loved Wesley? He's definitely a new character crush. I rarely like goth-like characters, but it's obvious Wesley is not goth, and that he only uses it as a facade. He's just such an awesome guy. He's a little bit cocky, but in an endearing way and not annoying, but he's also a gentleman. He's just the kind of friend everyone would like to have. I also really did like Owen, you just felt so bad for him, and I wanted to give him a hug.

The Romance: Well, I'm not really sure whether I would call the relationship between Mackenzie and Owen 'romance' because it wasn't really. And I'm not exactly sure how I felt about it either.

Writing Style: Beautiful. Victoria Schwab has a lovely writing style, even though "The Archived" in in present tense, which I usually hate, this was just so lovely. Present tense actually worked really good for this story, and the way she writes it makes it easy to forget that its present tense at all. I kind of forgot after the first couple chapters. I really loved the world she created with the Archive and the Narrows and all that. It was so eerie, and yet I could totally understand Mackenzie's love of it's quiet and peacefulness at the same time, because I think I would feel the same. The setting of an old hotel turned apartment building was awesome too. All the descriptions in the book were so well done and vivid that I got a perfect picture of everything and everyone in my head. It's what I like to call "effortless description" where the author never belabors the description but the reader can see it like a movie in their head. There were a lot of other things that I liked in the story too. I really appreciated the fight scenes, because they did not portray Mackenzie being able to do anything she shouldn't have been able to do in real life. I liked how she got bruised and cut because it showed that she wasn't the best, and she knew it too. But she was also not a rubbish fighter like those heroines who play the "well I'm a girl so how was I supposed to do that?" card. In short, the right balance in between.

Problems/What bothered me: See review on Goodreads for spoiler: 

Conclusion: 4 stars, I really liked this book, and I am excited to read the next one, and Victoria Schwab's other books too.

Recommended Audience: It's kind of hard to compare this book to anything else, but readers wanting something really different and an awesome YA contemporary story without love triangles, would enjoy it. Girl and guy read both, 15 and up.

Read Mara's review here

Thursday, April 25, 2013

It's the Little Things-- Writing Convincing Villains

Okay, so I know I've written several different posts about villains and how to craft convincing ones, but I wanted to go into a little more detail in this post because I have read several books lately (not to name names) that have had unconvincing villains in them. Whether it was that they just didn't come across to the reader as evil as the characters in the book seemed to think them, or they lacked a purpose. It comes down to two things really: Number One-- Show, don't Tell. And Number Two-- It's the Little Things.

We'll start off with purpose.

A villain doesn't always need a reason to be evil, but he does need a reason to be doing what he's doing. Even psychopaths usually had something in their past make them do what they do. Sometimes that's not the case, but we're not talking about psychological thrillers here, we're talking about normal villains. The villain's reason for what he's doing needs to be made clear to both the reader and the author. I know how hard it can be sometimes to get an answer from our baddies on why the devil they're doing what they're doing, but you cannot expect to finish a book until you know what that is. Whether it's that he has an old vendetta with the hero, i. e. the hero got the girl way back when and the villain is holding a grudge, or perhaps the villain he power hungry like Napoleon and wants to take over the world (though that is a very overdone story line, it can still work in some ways, or on smaller scales. These are just examples.) The villain is put in the story to cause conflict for the hero, so he has to have a reason to do so, before you can figure out the plot and what your hero is going to do about it. Let me say again, as I know I have before, the most important character in any story is, in fact, the villain.

Now we'll move on to how you can create a convincingly evil villain.

I've already talked about how to make villains that might not be all bad, so today I'm just going to focus on making really nasty ones. This is where the "show, don't tell" and "little things" come into play. So often I have seen authors (again not to name names) rely on huge displays of evilness to display the fact that their villain is "so evil". Or make him so cartoony that you can't take him seriously. I love a cliche villain, but there's a place for them, and even then, they can really just come across as silly if not written right. You have to establish a villain that the readers knows is capable of all he says. Someone who will make you shudder when the hero has been captured because you know your favorite guy or gal is actually in danger.

I have read books where characters are always going on about how evil the villain is, but readers never see it.  I don't want to HEAR how evil this guy is, I want to SEE him demonstrate something. It might not always be pretty, but you want to have a convincing villain you might have to do something nasty, even something so horrible as kill off an innocent, or a child if this fits your villain's modus operandi. This will let the reader know this is one serious bad guy, and will make them cheer all the more when he meets his demise. Another thing I personally like to do even though it's a little cliche, is have a scene where the villain tortures one of his men or another minor character. This shows what could possibly happen if the villain gets a hold of the hero, and builds anticipation in the reader, especially if your main characters are captured.

Of course, it doesn't always have to be something so drastic, remember the little things. It could be a nervous twitch or a creepy smile, but you shouldn't always rely on appearance either. Small actions such as a villain invading a character's personal space, playing with a blade, that sort of thing. And who isn't creeped out when the villain sets his sights on the heroine? Or, even creepier in my opinion, when the female villain sets her sights on the hero *shudder*. And instead of having your villain monologue (unless of course, that's just his character) Just have him use suggestions of what he will do. We all know that when the imagination is left to it's own devices, things are so much worse.

The subtle villains are always the creepiest in my opinion, the ones you never know where they will pop up next, or what exactly they are capable of. Never put all a villain's cards on the table at once, otherwise, the reader will be bored with him after the first half of the book. Always save something for the climax in the end. Something the reader won't expect, and maybe you won't either.

I hope this post might help new or even old writers create a more convincing villain. What do you think are the scariest aspects of a good villain?

Slainte, Hazel

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday Snippets #8-- Anthony Maxwell

Another snippet! And it's only a little more than a month until A Case of Poisons will be out on June 3rd! I've very excited, but I've got lots more to do before the release as well. Most of which is getting my blasted Kickstarter started (they should have a kickstarter for that too, I usually use coffee.) HOPEFULLY I will actually be able to do that this week, but I have run into several sticky spots, but hopefully they will all be resolved.

Here's a little sneak peak as to what you have to look forward to next month in reagards to Anthony's first book being release:

-My Kickstarter where you get to pleadge money to the production on A Case of Poisons and possibly later books and get awesome thank you presents for that.

-I'm going to be putting up a video for my Kickstarter where I read the first chapter of the book.

-A cover reveal

-And hopefully the launch of my author's website!

All in all, very fun stuff, but now for the snippet!

We left the crime scene before the Inspector and his troupe did and I took several back streets to get back into town faster. We had only been driving a few minutes when Scamp leaned over the back seat to speak into my ear.
         ‘We’re being followed.’
         I took a quick glance into the mirror on my door but didn’t see anyone. I didn’t doubt it was true, though. ‘Where and how many?’
         ‘Two streets back; looked like two men on foot, though maybe more behind them,’ she said.
         ‘I thought I felt someone watching earlier,’ I told her.
         ‘Do you think it could just be street toughs, Tony?’ Tobias asked, though I could tell even he didn’t believe it.
         ‘No,’ I replied simply and took another turn down a back street before I pulled out onto one that had several other drivers on it. I cut across the intersection and we were finally into the more respectable part of town again. I cast a quick glance back and just caught sight of a coattail disappearing around a corner. I didn’t like the idea of being followed, especially when I suspected it was by men who were in cahoots with the murderer.
         ‘Whoever they were, we lost them,’ I told my companions.
         ‘I don’t think they wanted to stop us,’ Scamp said. ‘I think they just wanted to see where we were going or what we were doing.’
         ‘Shame,’ I said with a grin. ‘We could have invited them to lunch. Come now, let us find some sustenance before we must think again.’

This is the new picture for Anthony's Facebook page. I'll let you all know when the coloured one is up!

Until next week!
Slainte, Hazel

Thursday, April 18, 2013

What's New

Well, as you have all probably noticed, my blog has had a serious makeover! And I am very happy with how it all turned out now. I've also added some new features that you can see on the bar at the top of the page. I now have an easy link to find purchase links for all my books, and if you click on "Reviews" you can find a list of reviews people have written for my books. I'm also working on a list of books that are like mine so if you liked my novels, you can find other like them.

I've also added a new review policy, which is for indie authors or those who publish through small presses (or even just debut authors) so that if they are interested, they can ask me to review their book. As long as they read the criteria and their story goes along with that, anyway.

I'm also working on setting up an actual website too, so hopefully it won't be too long before I get that going. And as for my Kickstarter campaign to herald the publication of Anthony Maxwell: A Case of Poisons I will hopefully have that set up within a week. I'm kind of in limbo right now waiting to get quotes back from people for my book marks and other fun things that will be given as incentives to pledge money! If you don't know what a Kickstarter is, find out here!

I really hope to get another actual blog post up soon, but I've been so busy lately, and I hope you are all still enjoying the Tuesday Snippets and all that. I'm really excited for the release of Anthony's first book and I hope you are too!

Slainte, Hazel

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tuesday Snippets (on Wednesday) #7-- Anthony Maxwell

Here's this week's snippet appearing on Wednesday due to my hosting a tour stop yesterday! This is another snippet from Chapter Six since it's also a very cool snippet, and a picture to go along with it.

In other news, I am hoping to get my Kickstarter campaign up within a week. If you don't know what that is, I'll be explaining more later, but I really hope it will go well =)

Here's the snippet for today. In this one, Anthony is looking at the poisons the victims were killed with with Scotland Yard's coroner, Dr Reynolds.

Reynolds fished through some papers and came up with one, which he showed me. ‘The one is the same as the first, but the other two seem to have been poisoned with the venom of black widow spiders and some species of rock fish. There are several variations of the species, but I doubt it will make much difference. I wonder where this villain obtained such exotic venoms?’
         ‘I have no idea,’ I replied, and I was truly baffled at that time. This was the strangest case I had worked so far in my career both as a private detective and as a consultant for the Yard. Surely it was a very far cry from finding jewellery for upper class Londoners.
         ‘How about the new body?’ I asked.
         ‘I was about to look at the blood under the microscope before you arrived,’ Reynolds said.
         ‘Very well then, let us have a look.’
         He fixed the slide and put it under the lens. He looked for several moments, then frowned, adjusted the focus, and looked again. I began to feel impatient, and tried not to lean too far over his shoulder for I knew there was nothing to see.
         ‘Doctor Reynolds, is something the matter?’ I asked after a while.
         ‘Well, nothing really,’ he replied, puzzled. ‘Only that this one seems different. The make-up of the cells seem…bound. Molecularly. As if they were formed together. Whereas in the other bodies, though the poisons were both obviously in the blood stream, they were each there independently as if given at different times, as they most likely were. This one seems more…well…sophisticated somehow; as if it were manufactured. Do you see what I mean?’
         I bent over to have a look for myself and saw that he was right. Even to my amateur eye, I could detect something different about this mixture than the others.
         ‘What would you say?’ I asked, stepping back again. ‘Recluse and widow?’
         Reynolds nodded. ‘Yes, some hybrid mixture of both, to be sure. I think, Anthony, that we are not simply dealing with a sadistic murderer. Sadistic, sure enough, but also a man with a great knowledge of the sciences; frighteningly so. Even I do not know how this was accomplished, and did not even know this knowledge existed; not out of theory, at least.’
         ‘I have feared it so,’ I told him grimly. ‘There is much about this case I do not yet understand, but I swear that I shall before the end.’

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tour Stop and Interview with Debut Author Haley Fisher

I'm happy to invite YA Author Haley Fisher to my blog today to talk about her debut novel Rising Calm. She's been kind enough to do an interview with me to share about her book and being a writer.

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Silver Tongue Press
Release Date: February 14, 2013

Book Description:

On Cara Weaver’s first day at her new high school—merely the next in a long line of new schools—she meets two senior boys: James Sable and Crispin Calaway. They’re new too; they’ve been at the school just longer than she has, and they’ve never made an effort to reach out to anyone. Until she comes. When her friends find out, they’re awed. But Cara can't shake the feeling that there’s more to James and Crispin than the two are telling.

As the days go on, everything at her new home seems to be going better than it has in any of the previous cities she’s lived in. She loves her friends, gets a job at a bookstore, and even starts to spend more time with Crispin and James. She’s happy. But all that begins to change when she comes to realize that the two boys she’s becoming close to are hiding something. It’s then that she knows her unexplainable wariness of them has been justified all along. But she keeps it a secret.

Days later, when a stranger accosts her outside a small shopping center, Crispin and James arrive just in time to help her. But they seem know the attacker. And instead of running him off, Crispin and James take Cara away, for her own protection.

With little explanation, Cara is told that she’s important and that she can’t go home until the boys have sorted some things out. In the meantime, Cara’s world is being turned upside down as she finds out that there is more to her life than she possibly imagined.

Interview with Haley Fisher

First off, tell us how it all started. When did you know you were a writer?

I still hardly know that I’m a writer! I’ve known I was a reader since I was a little kid who settled into the couch with my parents and a Dr. Seuss book, but writing…? That took longer to establish. The first time I really remember someone acknowledging my reading and writing was in fifth grade. I always had a book with me, and my fifth grade teacher actually did a lot in supporting that. He recommended books that were above the fifth-grade reading level that he thought I could really understand and enjoy. He gave me small writing tips that he wasn’t necessarily teaching to the rest of the class. He just knew I needed them. And when we had to write a short story and mine took on a life of its own, he didn’t mind. My “short” story evolved into a handwritten chapter book, to the point where I didn’t even write the required final draft, and he gave me an “A”. I still have it. That’s the moment I remember knowing I loved writing, but I didn’t do much about it until high school and Rising Calm.

Tell us a little bit about Rising Calm.

Rising Calm is young adult fantasy about a sixteen-year-old girl. Her parents are distant around she and her younger sister, like they don’t quite know how to raise children now that they had them, so Cara Weaver, my protagonist, spends a lot of her time taking care of her sister. She just moved for the eighth time to a new state, and when she starts school she meets two boys who have just moved in as well.

(This is the part where, as a reader, I get excited. Finally, the good-looking guys!)

Crispin Calaway and James Sable are fairly kept to themselves, but they are willing to branch out to get to know Cara. And she does her best to accept it, even while she doesn’t understand it. But their interest in her starts to make more and more sense while her life starts to make less and less, until suddenly she is thrust into a completely new world. One that’s been waiting for centuries to meet her.

How did you come up with the idea for Rising Calm?

The million-dollar question. The honest answer is that I don’t know exactly. But that’s not what readers want to hear… Unfortunately I didn’t have a Stephanie Meyer moment where everything came to me in a dream. Actually, Rising Calm changed so often that I’m sure even the characters were confused sometimes. The basic idea was one that I had scribbled down once upon a time because I thought it could be intriguing. But it grew so much farther out of that. I had a dozen story ideas written down that I thought could be fun, and when I decided I want to spend some time trying to write “girl saves the world”, I had no idea that I could pull from so many of those story ideas and characters. Crispin and Cara weren’t originally in the same story. James and Crispin weren’t even originally in the same story. But I tried sticking them together and doing some tweaking with their personalities and backgrounds, and suddenly the trio was born! Sophie was another late addition, as was David. The Kansas setting was extra-late to the game. In truth, all I had was a general idea that I had come up with and had the foresight to write down when I was in middle school. From there and other ideas, it grew on its own.

Are you the kind of writer who follows a certain schedule or do you just scribble things down whenever you get the chance?

I don’t even have something that resembles a schedule. The closest I get is: “I have nothing to do on Saturday. I should think about writing then.” My life right now doesn’t really allow for a schedule. I have classes at college, and I have work, and I have volunteering, and I have friends and books and hobbies. So I have to squeeze in the time to write. I scribble down scenes in class and during my breaks at work, and I usually have my laptop out and open to my story when I’m at home. But I never have any set plans on how much to write every day. I don’t have time set aside for it. I write when I get inspired—that’s the closest thing to a schedule I have.

Did you plan out the whole book before you started writing or did you just write and see what came?

Both. Originally, I thought it would be necessary to outline everything. I needed to know exactly where I was going to end up, right? That didn’t work out so well. There were big chunks in the outline where I didn’t know what would go on the book at that point. And I’m not the type who can come up with things like that on cue. So after multiple attempts at what I thought needed to be a professional, authory outline, I threw it in the trash. The idea came to me out of nowhere; the scenes and dialogue were doing the same. I figured that I’d make it work. And that actually worked better for me. Letting the story move and the characters do what they wanted both surprised and pleased me, because they knew better than I did. I’d often be halfway through a scene, and the inspiration for the following two chapters would strike because everything was falling into place. Not a fool-proof method, but it keeps it interesting.

What do you do when you’re not writing? Have any other hobbies?

Besides reading? Reading some more. I really love movies and TV shows, so I spend more time than I maybe should catching up on all of those. I’m a big fan of KU basketball, so when the Jayhawks are on in the winter, that becomes something to work my schedule around. I love music and hanging out with friends and family. But, honestly, reading and writing are my hobbies. They’re what I do in my free time when I don’t have school or work or homework.

What is your favorite book and movie?

My favorite book is Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I’ve had it since fifth grade, I’ve probably read it a dozen times, and I always get new things out of it as well as remembering why it’s the best book I’ve ever read. The relationship I have with that book is one I can’t even describe. It’s simply amazing, and I recommend it to everyone even if in the end I can’t tell them why I love it as much as I do.

My favorite movie is a toss up between twenty different films. I know most readers have trouble picking a favorite novel; that’s me with movies. I love The Count of Monte Cristo, Shakespeare in Love, Good Will Hunting, Moulin Rouge and anything Disney. How To Train Your Dragon is pretty high up there. I guess Penelope might be the top pick. It only wins by a little, though.

Admit it, all writers are quirky! Do you have any quirks when you write, like favorite music or treats?

I listen to music most of the time that I write, but the only thing quirky about that it the type of song I have to have playing. I can’t listen to just anything, but it can also be any artist in any genre within other restrictions. It can’t be music that’s brand new to me, because I can’t focus on liking new songs and trying to write a good scene at the same time. But they also can’t be songs that make me need to sing along, because I can’t write and sing at the same time. Not successfully, anyway. So they need to be songs that I love, that evoke some kind of feeling I can draw from, and that I at most hum along to.

As for treats… There isn’t anything that I have to have in order to write. Usually I like to have something to snack on while I think, but I don’t search anything out specifically. Although cookie dough does seem to make the entire process a little better!

What inspires you most when it comes to writing?

Reading. More than anything, I think my love of reading has influenced my writing. If I didn’t love stories and books and reading as much as I do, I don’t think it would have ever been a dream of mine to become a writer. Other people’s stories, all of them, are what made me want to write my own. So the books I read and the scenes I see and the characters I fall in love with make me more excited than anything to keep writing.

I know we try not to choose favorites, but who was your favorite character in Rising Calm?

Surprisingly, I found that Crispin became my favorite. He was just so different than how I started out believing he’d be. Cara and James and Max and Jade and David, while all wonderful, stuck the way I expected them to be. And I love their personalities and how they all turned out, but Crispin became so much fun, because he became the epitome of the idea of a character writing themselves.

So what comes next for you? Tell us a little about your works in progress.

Well, I can’t give away too much about my works in progress. Writer’s secrets and all that. The sequels to Rising Calm are all in the works, however, the next of which is Gathering Clouds, and I have a stand-alone book I’m excited about as well as a dystopian trilogy. They aren’t far enough along to give the plots away just yet, though!

In your opinion, what is the most important thing in a good book?

The characters. There is nothing more annoying to me than when a book sounds absolutely wonderful and I end up tired of the main character three chapters in. If the protagonist isn’t relatable or lacks any kind of common sense or is too boy-or-girl-obsessed, then it takes away from the quality of the book. The characters have to be great. They have to be real.

What is the best advice you could give to young or aspiring writers?

Take your time! The hardest thing for me was—and still is—being patient with my own story. It takes a long time to write a book, to put together a plot, to develop characters, and to turn your idea into something other people will want to read, and trying to rush it is going to do more to hurt you than it is going to help. I know how eager you can be to just be done, to have everything finished and in its place, but your story will get there when it’s ready. Listen to your characters. They know what they’re doing, and if they don’t want to go any faster than don’t make them.

About The Author:

I'm Haley Fisher, a college student in Kansas, and I've just signed a contract with a company called Silver Tongue Press to publish my first book!

For as long as I can remember I've been an avid reader and an aspiring writer, but the step toward actually getting a book published is an enormous one for me. This is a big deal. And, as I've been told, the next step to being successful is getting the word out that my book exists.

Rising Calm is the first in a series of books about a young girl who finds out her life and her fate are far bigger than she ever realized. At the risk of giving too much away, the most I can tell you for now is that there is magic, prophecy, new worlds, and a cast of characters who I love to write.

Haley will be giving away 5 Copies of Rising Calm – US/Canada have choice of ebook or paperback, International Winners will receive an ebook. So don't forget to put you name in!
(Find the giveaway in the sidebar to the right of the blog -->)

Follow the rest of the tour here