Musings of Heather W. Petty

eternaldreamers

Twisting Tropes
by Heather W. Petty

I am a huge fan of the Korean Drama. It’s possible some of you haven’t experienced the wonder that is South Korean television, and you definitely should. Kdramas are this amazing mix of cheesy oddness, cultural inside jokes we white folks don’t fully get, and gorgeous, cliffhanger-laden storytelling that makes you come back for more again and again. Trust me when I say that it is an addiction you will never regret.

My favorite writers in Kdrama Land are known as the Hong Sisters (because they are sisters, and their names are Hong Jung Eun and Hong Mi Ran), and I think the reason why I love them so much is that they are masters at twisting common romance story tropes.

So, what is a Trope? In storytelling, a trope is an overused theme or device—a narrative cliché. It’s the White Knight and Damsel in Distress, the Bad Boy and the Goody-Two-Shoes Girl who loves him. It’s the “Just kidding! It was all a dream!” ending. It’s a wise, older character who points our protagonist toward the right path (such as Yoda or Dumbledore). It’s the tragic hero, the star-crossed lovers, the Butler Did It; a trope is that character or storyline you’ve come to expect that can make the stories we read a little predictable and safe.

And like clichés, tropes are tropes for a reason. We are used to them. We understand how they are supposed to work. Tropes make watching or reading or listening to stories more comfortable, because we know what to expect. That is obviously why, for the writer, our #1 motto should always be:

Tropes were made to be twisted.

The familiarity of a trope is the perfect way to lure your reader into a false sense of security. Then, if you can twist that trope on its head, you can make your reader stay up until the wee hours of the morning to find out what happens. Twisting your tropes is a great way to create a tension in your work that will keep the reader guessing.

An example of this comes from my most favorite Korean Drama, The Master’s Sun. Kdramas are filled with tropes of their very own, such as the Cold Rich Mean Boy who falls for the Spunky Poor Girl, or the bitter, cold angst that is the Second Male Lead—the man who treats her so well, and loves her so much, but will never, ever get the girl (alas). The Master’s Sun has both of those and more (AMNESIA!!), but it’s the subtle way that the Hong Sisters twist the Knight and Damsel trope that amazed me.

When we start, there is a super wealthy retail conglomerate owner who only cares about money. By some accident, he ends up picking up a hitchhiker one night who is a woman who can see ghosts. Seeing ghosts has basically ruined this woman’s life of promise. She can’t hold down a job, she’s afraid of night and water and sleeping, and at any given moment, a ghost will pop out and scare her, making her a general weirdo that people avoid on the streets. But when a ghost comes at her in the car, she hangs onto our Rich Man and the ghost disappears! He’s her literal savior, in that when she’s touching him she has a moment of freedom from her horrible curse.

He could care less whether she can sleep through the night or not, but when she sees a literal ghost from his past, he decides to use her to retrieve part of his family’s fortune that went missing during a botched ransom attempt when he was kidnapped as a child.

The story goes on from there with her putting up with his ridiculously mean treatment of her because she’s so desperate for the short respite he can give her and him putting up with her eccentricities because he wants his money back. But over time we start to see her confront her curse. She starts to use her ability to talk to ghosts to help people, and that makes her start to accept who she is and what she can see. She starts to need her Male Savior less and less and trust herself more and more. And by this time we start to realize that he’s the one who needs her. That maybe she’s the one who has saved him from who he might have become without her.

I tried to do something similar with my book LOCK & MORI, though on a different scale. When I first came up with the idea of writing a book about a Sherlock and Moriarty who knew each other in high school, they were going to be best friends and rivals. But the minute I started to think about a Female Moriarty, I got super excited. It gave me the opportunity to flip the Bad Boy/Good Girl trope on its head, presenting a Bad Girl with a Good Boy instead. It was also an opportunity to have a female villain who used her intellect and not her sexuality to create her evil empire, and to make the point that not all advisers who seem wise can be trusted.

There’s honestly nothing wrong with a nice trope-laden adventure story or romance. I really do love them all. But the next time you see a trope pop up in your writing, I’d encourage you to think about how you can twist it. That just might take your story in a direction you never expected.


About Heather

Heather Petty has been obsessed with mysteries since she was twelve, which is when she decided that stories about murders in London drawing rooms and English seaside villages were far superior to all other stories. She is the author of the Lock & Mori series. She lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband, daughter, and four hopelessly devious cats. You can visit her online at HeatherWPetty.com.

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Lock & Mori

In modern-day London, two brilliant high school students—one Sherlock Holmes and a Miss James “Mori” Moriarty—meet. A murder will bring them together. The truth very well might drive them apart.

Before they were mortal enemies, they were much more…

FACT: Someone has been murdered in London’s Regent’s Park. The police have no leads.
FACT: Miss James “Mori” Moriarty and Sherlock “Lock” Holmes should be hitting the books on a school night. Instead, they are out crashing a crime scene.
FACT: Lock has challenged Mori to solve the case before he does. Challenge accepted.
FACT: Despite agreeing to Lock’s one rule—they must share every clue with each other—Mori is keeping secrets.
OBSERVATION: Sometimes you can’t trust the people closest to you with matters of the heart. And after this case, Mori may never trust Lock again.

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Lock & Mori: Mind Games

Sherlock Holmes and Miss James “Mori” Moriarty may have closed their first case, but the mystery is far from over in the thrilling sequel to Lock & Mori, perfect for fans of Maureen Johnson and Sherlock.

You know their names. Now discover their beginnings.

Mori’s abusive father is behind bars . . . and she has never felt less safe. Threatening letters have started appearing on her doorstep, and the police are receiving anonymous tips suggesting that Mori—not her father—is the Regent’s Park killer. To make matters worse, the police are beginning to believe them.

Through it all, Lock—frustrating, brilliant, gorgeous Lock—is by her side. The two of them set out to discover who is framing her, but in a city full of suspects, the task is easier said than done. With the clock ticking, Mori will discover just how far she is willing to go to make sure that justice is served, and no one—not even Lock—will be able to stop her.

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Thank you so much Heather for contributing to our ever growing collection of writing advice! There are so many books people would consider “too tropey” or “too cliché” and that can scare writers away. So thank you for reminding us that twisting tropes is a great way to keep a story compelling!

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who has and/or will participate in this feature. You’re helping so many writers and authors succeed and follow their dreams. We appreciate it more than you know.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Spare and Found Parts

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As always, Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine!

 

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Title: Spare and Found Parts
Author: Sarah Maria Griffin
Genre: YA, Science Fiction
Page Count: 384
Release Date: October 4th, 2016

Summary:

Nell Crane has always been an outsider. In a city devastated by an epidemic, where survivors are all missing parts—an arm, a leg, an eye—her father is the famed scientist who created the biomechanical limbs everyone now uses. But Nell is the only one whose mechanical piece is on the inside: her heart. Since the childhood operation, she has ticked. Like a clock, like a bomb. As her community rebuilds, everyone is expected to contribute to the society’s good . . . but how can Nell live up to her father’s revolutionary idea when she has none of her own?

Then she finds a mannequin hand while salvaging on the beach—the first boy’s hand she’s ever held—and inspiration strikes. Can Nell build her own companion in a world that fears advanced technology? The deeper she sinks into this plan, the more she learns about her city—and her father, who is hiding secret experiments of his own.

 

ei4ijcmnAbout Sarah

Sarah Maria Griffin lives in Dublin, Ireland, in a small red brick house by the sea, with her husband and cat. She writes about monsters, growing up, and everything those two things have in common. Spare and Found Parts is her first novel.

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Have you guys added this one to your TBR? Let us know!

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TTT: Favorite Songs

toptentuesday

For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday it’s all about Audio! Since we rarely listen to audiobooks we decided to each pick our 5 favorite songs. Well our current 5 favorite songs and they’re constantly changing.

 

Lauren’s Picks

Any song by Imagine Dragons
Quite a few songs by Lindsey Stirling
Peter Pan by Kelsea Ballerini
Castle by Halsey
Angel by Theory of a Deadman

Kelly’s Picks

I Found by Amber Run
Slip by Elliot Moss
Sweet Dreams by Emily Browning
Scars by Boy Epic
21 Summer by Brothers Osbourne
Heathens from Twenty One Pilots

Melissa’s Picks

All of Me by John Legend (especially the version with Lindsey Stirling)
Lost Boy by Ruth B.We Don’t Talk Anymore by Charlie Puth and Selena Gomez
Tennessee Whiskey by Chris Stapleton
Stitches by Shawn Mendes
*bonus* Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake (Niece & I love dancing to this one!)

What are some of your favorite songs currently? Let us know!!

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Musings of Darcy Woods

eternaldreamers

The Measure of a Good Book
by Darcy Woods

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The word “important” gets tossed around like a comma in many conversations about young adult lit. And rightly so. We are living in a Golden Age of YA! Never before has this genre had the freedom to explore topics of gender, sexuality, race, religion, and social issues, with the raw honesty it does today.

But what makes a book “important”? Is it the timeliness of the issue tackled? Or the sensitivity with which it’s handled? Maybe it’s that few authors have dared to go there. Fact is, we could sit here making a list of qualifiers that would easily rival the length of Rapunzel’s hair.

Personally, I think there is only ONE right answer to this question.

Before we get to that, I’d like you to consider some of your favorite books—current or past. For me, as a pre and early teen, I deeeeevoured the Nancy Drew books! Rat-holed every cent of my allowance just so I could buy a new book every other week. Because nothing compared to sinking into a story where clever girls reigned supreme, and the only true mystery was why Nancy and Ned didn’t kiss more. Little wonder how I ended up writing young adult books with strong romantic elements.

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Flash forward *cough cough* number of years, and my passion for YA was reignited with blockbuster hits like Harry Potter and Twilight. This was then followed up by what I affectionately refer to as my Fairy Phase. My fingers couldn’t flip the pages of Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely series and Maggie Stiefvater’s Lament duology fast enough! I later segued into contemporary authors such as Jandy Nelson, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins. Which is when I discovered straight contemporary stories could feel every bit as magical as any fantasy.

Okay. I haven’t even come close to scratching the surface of the teeming bookshelf that is all the novels I’ve adored. But I suspect a good chunk of them would be considered the F-word. The other F-word! That’s right, I’m talking about FLUFF. Books that might not have won esteemed literary awards. They didn’t necessarily take on a difficult issue. And probably envelopes weren’t pushed . . .

And yet, I loved them. Deeply. Unconditionally. It didn’t matter that some of these novels had the literary nutritional value of a doughnut. They were exactly the stories I needed when my world was rocked by a life-changing health diagnosis. Or when both my grandparents went into hospice care and I wondered each visit if this would be the goodbye that stuck. Or when I had that offer of publication withdrawn and watched my dreams turn to dust. These stories offered the solace I was desperately seeking. Quite simply, these books were my everything.

So what makes a book “important”?

The READER does.

Only a reader can determine the true worth of a book. And whether you measure that importance by the tears you’ve cried, the laughs you’ve had, or the number of breaths stolen—ALL of these are correct. All are valid reasons to cherish a book.

So this, my fellow writers, is my love letter to you. To thank you for having the courage to write that story, whatever it may be, that was screaming to be told. To remind you that no matter how insurmountable that publishing mountain can seem, your words matter. Keep writing them.

Because every story is important. Especially to the reader who needs to hear it most.

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About Darcy

Young adult author Darcy Woods had three big loves in grade school: reading, writing, and pizza day. Some things never change. She lives in Michigan with her madly supportive husband, two tuxedo cats (who overdress for everything) and a closet full of neatly organized shoes. Once upon a time, she served in a US Army aviation unit and threw live grenades. Now she throws words. SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS is her Golden Heart®-winning debut novel, translated in over five languages.

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Summer of Supernovas

Fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Jenny Han will fall in love with this heartfelt and humor-laced debut following one girl’s race to find the guy of her cosmic dreams.

When zodiac-obsessed teen Wilamena Carlisle discovers a planetary alignment that won’t repeat for a decade, she’s forced to tackle her greatest astrological fear: The Fifth House—relationships and love.

But when Wil falls for a sensitive guitar player hailing from the wrong side of the astrology chart, she must decide whether a cosmically doomed love is worth rejecting her dead mother’s legacy and the very system she’s faithfully followed through a lifetime of unfailing belief.

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I think writers need all the positive motivation they can get, so thank you so much Darcy for reminding them their words matter and for providing us with such an intimate and loving post.

Also, a huge thank you to everyone who has or will be participating in this feature. It means the world to so many writers to know that they’re not alone in their struggles.

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Waiting on Wednesday: Vassa in the Night

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine

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Title: Vassa in the Night

Author: Sarah Porter

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Page Count: 304

Release date: September 20th, 2016

Summary:

In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.

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About the Author:

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I write stories that seem to me to be quite true enough for all practical purposes. Among them are VASSA IN THE NIGHT, THE LOST VOICES TRILOGY, and the forthcoming WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW and TENTACLE AND WING. Realism makes little sense to me and I experience more truth in the fantastic. I always have new novels underway, both Young Adult and Grownup/ Literary/ Speculative. When not writing my own weird stuff, I can often be found leading creative writing workshops with amazing young NYC public-school writers via Teachers & Writers Collaborative. Or I might be drawing, or gardening, or wandering wraithlike through the streets. I live in Brooklyn, land of mystery, with my awesome husband Todd and our two cats, Jub Jub and Delphine.

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TTT: All Time Favorite Contemporaries

toptentuesday
hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

It’s that time again folks! For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday we’ve been asked to pick our Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Books Of X Genre. As if picking All Time favorites wasn’t hard enough! We’re constantly promoting fantasy novels over here, so we decided to shake things up and pick our favorite Contemporaries!

Melissa’s Picks

The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand

If I  Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

The Year We Fell Apart by Emily Martin

 

Lauren’s Picks

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Devoted by Jennifer Mathieu

 Kelly’s Picks

The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Unbreak My Heart by Nicole Jacquelyn

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Let us know what your favorite contemporary novels in the comments!

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Musings of Brianna Shrum

eternaldreamers

In Defense of Love Triangles
BUM BUM BUMMMMMMMM

by Brianna Shrum

Trigonometry, and I will say this in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS, is the worst. Just. The worst. Why? Because it’s the study of triangles. The only reason I passed that classed in high school was because I sat next to a vaguely intelligent human who ALSO sucked at trig but happened not to suck at the stuff I was worst at. And vice versa. It was a painful, C- for both of us-earning, symbiotic relationship.  I was an algebra kind of person. TRIANGLES CAN DIE. Which would lead one to believe, perhaps, that my feelings extend to triangles of all kinds.

But not so, friend. Not so. When it comes triangles, my feelings are very hot or cold. And when it comes to love triangles in books, that’s no exception. I’ve come across triangles I hated, but usually “love triangle” is like a tractor beam to my drama-loving heart. I think they add major drama, and they devastate me and thrill me when they’re done right. And mostly I adore them because when they’re done well? MAN, do they feel real to me.

When you’re a teen, hardly anything is black and white, separated into neat little boxes. Things are COMPLICATED. He likes her, and she kind of likes him but is also into this girl in her AP chem class, and THAT girl likes the girl in U.S. history and on and on and on it goes. Life is messy, and when love and crushes get involved, it just gets messier. I remember more than once in school being involved in love triangles, on both sides of them. They are NOT FUN. They are common. They are real.

NOW, don’t hear me saying, “You’re wrong if you hate this plot device!” If you don’t like them, hey, who am I to question? Everyone has different tastes. But I love ‘em. I read them and I write them. And more often than not, the reasons I hear for people hating them (which are reasonable…er…reasons) come down to craft

So behold:

BRI’S RULES FOR WRITING GOOD LOVE TRIANGLES.

(These rules are like the pirate code, and should be taken as eh, more guidelines, reallllly.)

Thou shalt not make one character completely baffling and impossible as a romantic choice.
Was Bella EVER going to go for someone other than Edward? (I love me some Twilight. I LOVE IT. But come on.)

Thou shalt make an honest attempt to make it unclear from the beginning who will be chosen.
The love triangles that are FAB are the ones that have me split between them—leaning toward one, but maybe sometimes back toward the other.  Not the kind where one is a complete jerk from second 1, and you KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’d picking the dude behind door number 2.

Thou shalt give thine hero/heroine a CHOICE.
The BIGGEST issues people have here tend to be with the hero/ine waffling, then the choice is made for them because one member of the triangle dies. Or is like, banished into space. Or murders their sister, or whatever. Naw man. MAKE IT HURT. Make the MAIN CHARACTER CHOOSE, not the world. And let everyone wallow painfully in the consequences

Thou shalt have good reasons for the MC to want both of ‘em (Or all 7,893,489 of them if you are Sarah J. Maas).
Ultimately, the best love triangles, in my mind, come down to a character wanting two things, and having to choose between them.  Alina Starkov in the Grisha series wants power AND she wants safety.  Juliette in the Shatter Me series wants comfort AND she wants to be unleashed.  Celaena Sardothien changes so much over the course of the Throne of Glass series that what she wants shifts as well, which means PEOPLE.  Ultimately I think the most well done triangles/squares/dodecahedrons give someone two or more entirely conflicting desires, and let them choose WHICH they want most as people apart from their love interest, THEN the romantic choice they make naturally follows (which may be picking one, or it may be choosing to be alone!)

Thou shalt be willing to let it change.
Romance, like anything else, springs from character.  Let your character be dynamic and passionate and special and WANT something first, and then let them like a couple people and love people, and if you let THEM choose based on their own journey that is all their own, whatever they choose will be right.


About Brianna

Brianna Shrum lives in Colorado with her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband and two uber-hyper, superhero-obsessed little boys. She thinks chai tea is proof of magic in the world, and loves all things kissy, magical, and strange. She’d totally love to connect with you!

 

Website | Goodreads | Twitter


Never Never

James Hook is a child who only wants to grow up. When he meets Peter Pan, a boy who loves to pretend and is intent on never becoming a man, James decides he could try being a child – at least briefly. James joins Peter Pan on a holiday to Neverland, a place of adventure created by children’s dreams, but Neverland is not for the faint of heart. Soon James finds himself longing for home, determined that he is destined to be a man. But Peter refuses to take him back, leaving James trapped in a world just beyond the one he loves. A world where children are to never grow up. But grow up he does. And thus begins the epic adventure of a Lost Boy and a Pirate. This story isn’t about Peter Pan; it’s about the boy whose life he stole. It’s about a man in a world that hates men. It’s about the feared Captain James Hook and his passionate quest to kill the Pan, an impossible feat in a magical land where everyone loves Peter Pan. Except one.

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How to Make Out

Sixteen-year-old Renley needs three thousand dollars for the math club’s trip to New York City, and she knows exactly how to get it: she’s going to start a how-to blog where people pay for answers to all of life’s questions from a “certified expert.” The only problems: 1) She doesn’t know how to do anything but long division and calculus. 2) She’s totally invisible to people at school. And not in a cool Gossip Girl kind of way.

So, she decides to learn to do . . . well . . . everything. When her anonymous blog shifts in a more scandalous direction and the questions (and money) start rolling in, she has to learn not just how to do waterfall braids and cat-eye makeup, but a few other things, like how to cure a hangover, how to flirt, and how to make out (something her very experienced, and very in-love-with-her neighbor, Drew, is more than willing to help with).

As her blog’s reputation skyrockets, so does “new and improved” Renley’s popularity. She’s not only nabbed the attention of the entire school, but also the eye of Seth Levine, the hot culinary wizard she’s admired from across the home-ec classroom all year.

Soon, caught up in the thrill of popularity both in and out of cyberspace, her secrets start to spiral, and she finds that she’s forgotten the most important how-to: how to be herself. When her online and real lives converge, Renley will have to make a choice: lose everything she loves in her new life, or everyone she loves in the life she left behind.

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Many thanks to Brianna for sharing her insight on love triangles! We value the time you took to write for us even with all other guest posts you had to do and the recent release of How to Make Out! Also thank you for indulging me in a long DM chat about disappointing and favorite love triangles! I can’t wait for  the next time we get to discuss them again!

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who has and/or will participate in this feature. You’re helping so many writers and authors succeed and follow their dreams. We appreciate it more than you know!

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Waiting on Wednesday: Windwitch

waitingonwednesday

Hosted by the lovely Breaking the Spine!

*This book is a sequel! If you have not read Truthwitch and don’t want to be spoiled in anyway please don’t read the summary!*

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Title: Windwitch (The Watchbands #2)

Author: Susan Dennard

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Page Count: 400

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Summary:

The follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, next in a breathtaking YA fantasy series hailed by Alexandra Bracken as “a world you will want to inhabit forever.”

On a continent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery,” a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In this follow-up to New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, a shadow man haunts the Nubrevnan streets, leaving corpses in his wake—and then raising those corpses from the dead. Windwitch continues the tale of Merik—cunning privateer, prince, and windwitch.

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About the Author:

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Susan Dennard has come a long way from small-town Georgia. With a masters degree in marine biology, she got to travel the world—six out of seven continents, to be exact (she’ll get to Asia one of these days!)—before she settled down as a full-time novelist and writing instructor.

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series (from HarperTeen) as well as the forthcoming Witchlands Series (Tor, 2015). When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dogs, exploring tidal pools, or earning bruises at the dojo.

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TTT: Shows We Wish Weren’t Canceled

toptentuesday

The topic for this week was to choose something in honor of Fall TV!! We decided to talk about the shows we wish were never canceled!

Melissa’s Picks




 

Kelly’s Picks




 

Lauren’s Picks


 

Have you guys seen any of the shows we listed? Were there any you guys were upset about being cancelled? Let us know in the comments below!

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SST: A Shadow Bright & Burning (Interview)

Sunday Street Team

Hello!

We’re kicking off this month’s Sunday Street Team featuring an interview with Jessica Cluess author of A Shadow Bright and Burning! Be sure to check out the other blogs putting up their posts today!

 

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1. It seems like Henrietta will have to do a lot to prove herself as the first female sorcerer, can you talk a little bit about the stereotypes surrounding her and why you decided to make her such a powerful young woman?

Henrietta joins the sorcerers as a young, unmarried girl, which will naturally give her some problems. I thought about certain similarities between her and the young Queen Victoria. Both were young women with little experience, both had to find their way in a man’s world, both had to grow into their roles. I wanted Henrietta to be strong, but also vulnerable. She’s strong-minded, brave, and dedicated to those she loves, yes. But she’s also afraid of the Ancients, she’s never been in a physical battle and she doesn’t know how she’ll handle it, she doesn’t trust easily and she knows that working in this sorcerers’ world means some people will actively try to sabotage her. She feels like an impostor—because she is one—and she makes some very foolish decisions as a result, as well as some brave ones. In essence, I wanted her to be complex, sympathetic, and also a bit exasperating. She’s only sixteen, after all, and she makes her share of mistakes. In my opinion, creating female characters who are flawed as well as sympathetic is how you create well-rounded people we can all relate to.

2. Writing about actual sorcerers isn’t as common in today’s YA. What brought the idea for this book to you, and what made you choose to write about sorcerers?

I wanted a word everyone already knew. Wizards were out, obviously, and so were witches. I originally thought of calling them magicians, but the word sorcerer sounds majestic and a bit intimidating. So I thought that’d be appropriate. The idea of the story all came from a single image of a girl in Victorian dress shooting fire out of her hands, so I knew there’d be magic at play. I just didn’t know what everything would be called, and had to decide as I went along.

3. Can you tell us how your story of “The Chosen One” is different than others out there?

I’ve been pretty blatant in stating that Henrietta isn’t the Chosen One. It’s a case of mistaken identity. While that maybe spoils one of the surprises, I think it’s important to state up front. For one thing, if we just said everyone thinks she’s the chosen one, it doesn’t make the story stand out. For another, Henrietta not being the chosen one isn’t the primary focus of the book. It’s how does she react to that news, and what does she do when she isn’t the one. Also, can a person who isn’t anointed or chosen still be important?

4. Can you give us three characteristics that best describe Henrietta? How about your two male main characters as well?

Henrietta is intelligent, definitely, though it’s more book intelligence than life intelligence. She’s courageous, and she doesn’t trust easily.

As for the boys, well, there’re really three main boys, so I’ll mention them all. Rook, her childhood friend, is patient, loving, but also a bit quick to jump to conclusions. Magnus is charming, extroverted, and impulsive. Blackwood is withdrawn, deeply responsible, and a bit cold.

5. If you could be any character from your book, who would it be and why?

I don’t know, everyone in my book gets kind of a raw deal! I feel most like Hargrove, the sarcastic magician, but I’d prefer to be Magnus, at least for a short while. He’s easy going and always ready to laugh.

6. As a huge fan of Tamora Pierce, how did you feel when you found out she would blurb A Shadow Bright and Burning? It’s a huge honor!

When my editor sent me the blurb, I remember my entire body went numb. I just sat there, blinking at the screen, trying to breathe. She’s the queen of young adult fantasy in many ways, so it was stunning.

7. Writing Fantasy is a whole other ball field of creativity, writing, and selling. Do you have any advice on writing or publishing for other Fantasy writers?

Try to be emotionally invested in what you write. I’d give that advice to any writer, but especially for fantasy authors. Fantasy can be such an odd genre, full of talking swords, hobgoblins, assassins, you name it. If you can’t root all the weirdness in emotions and characters that resonate, it’s going to fall flat for the reader.


About Jessica

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A Shadow Bright and Burning

I am Henrietta Howel. The first female sorcerer. The prophesied one. Or am I?

Henrietta Howel can burst into flames. When she’s brought to London to train with Her Majesty’s sorcerers, she meets her fellow sorcerer trainees, young men eager to test her powers and her heart. One will challenge her. One will fight for her. One will betray her. As Henrietta discovers the secrets hiding behind the glamour of sorcerer life, she begins to doubt that she’s the true prophesied one. With battle looming, how much will she risk to save the city—and the one she loves?

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Praise for A Shadow Bright and Burning

“Cluess gamely turns the chosen-one trope upside down in this smashing dark fantasy.”Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“Unputdownable. I loved the monsters, the magic, and the teen warriors who are their world’s best hope! Jessica Cluess is an awesome storyteller!”
—Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author

“A fun, inventive fantasy. I totally have a book crush on Rook.”
—Sarah Rees Brennan, New York Times bestselling author

“Pure enchantment. I love how Cluess turned the ‘chosen one’ archetype on its head. With the emotional intensity of my favorite fantasy books, this is the kind of story that makes you
forget yourself.”

—Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of The Star-Touched Queen

“A glorious, fast-paced romp of an adventure. Jessica Cluess has built her story out of my favorite ingredients: sorcery, demons, romance, and danger.”
—Kelly Link, author of Pretty Monsters


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