Today we have a special treat for ya’ll! The sweet and charming Empress Susan Dennard agreed to let us pick her brain about her Windwitch, author life, and writing advice.

Only 36 more days until the release of Windwitch guys!




1. We know Windwitch has been one the hardest books for you to write. Can you talk about that experience and the obstacles you had to overcome?

Not to dodge the question, but since it’s such a LONG answer, it might be best to just shoot y’all over to this video:

It was a hard book on many levels. On the one hand, I bit off more than I could chew in the year-long turnaround time that’s expected in YA. I also just set way too many challenges for my own writing (like having no villain – why did I think no villain was a good idea again?). And while other authors can handle complicated fantasy just fine, I’m not one of them. I’m a slow writer, and that’s just kind of the way of it (This used to bother me so much! Only recently have I started to accept there’s no shame in being a slower writer.)

Second books, especially, have always been incredibly hard for me. All those cool things I set up in book 1 must now be dealt with, and a clear path forward for the next books must be established. It’s a lot! That said, here’s to hoping book 3 is an easier journey!😉


2. Which character was the most fun to write? Who gave you the most difficulty?

 Merik was hands down the hardest character for me to write. He was hard in Truthwitch, and he was extra hard in Windwitch. He’s just one of those people that seems very cut and dry on the surface – loyalty! martyr! good vs bad! – but a character like that can get dull so quickly. So I knew there was a lot more going on beneath his surface. A lot of preconceived prejudices about people and his own role in the world. Tapping into what those WERE, though, was where I really struggled.

My easiest character is (and was in Truthwitch too) Aeduan. The great thing about him is that he’s very “say one thing but do another,” yet he has no idea that he’s that way. He really doesn’t see that his actions never align with his thoughts/words. So that’s always fun to play with.


3. What was your favorite scene to write in Windwitch? (Without giving away spoilers, of course!)

 Oh gosh. Well, there’s one scene that involves a really violent river. Two characters fall into it and have to get out – that was fun to write.

Then there’s a scene that involves…fireflies. And a stream. That is all I’ll say.

What’s crazy (and awesome!) is that I actually love most of this book! HA. After alllll the struggles, I really did find a story that made my heart sing.


4. Out of all of the characters in your Truthwitch series, which character do you feel most reflects you, and why?

So, there is a new point of view character in book 2, and she’s so much like me. I didn’t intend for her to be so similar to me, but her story ended up hitting on a lot of my own personal life experiences – like specifically in her sibling relations, in how she handles a manipulative person in her life, in how she faces the mental health issues in herself and her family, and in how she feels this intense pressure to perform.


5. Can you talk about how your relationship with your agent has grown over the years, and how she has supported you as an agent?

 My agent (Joanna Volpe) is fantastic. Our relationship hasn’t really changed since I signed with her in 2011…except, I suppose, in that I’m more familiar/comfortable with how the industry works. So she can leave me to my own devices.

I’m not a particularly communicative author, so we only talk if there’s actually something that needs addressing. (I know other clients of hers prefer regular updates/check-ins, and I know she provides that for them. I’m just not that person.)

What I think I appreciate most about Jo is that we’re both super “try every idea, see what sticks” kind of people, specifically when it comes to promo tactics or new forms of media. It’s nice to know that pretty much any idea I throw at her, she’ll be on board with – and more often than not, she’s already thought of the idea herself!


6. What’s the biggest difference you find between writing your SSAD series, and your Truthwitch series?

Scale! HA! And travel.

On the scale front, the Witchlands is just so much more massive in terms of character cast (5 POVs and counting, plus tens of other important characters) as well as plot complexity. For better or worse, I introduced a LOT of moving parts in Truthwitch – some obviously stated, and others far more subtle – and I need to deal with those before the series’ end.

Also, the amount of travel that I, as an author, now do has quadrupled. I went from having like 10 sales and 5 fans to…well, more. Which is AMAZING because for once, I’m not worried about my series being cancelled or if I’ll be able to sell another book without having to change my name. But it also means there are so many more demands on my time, including touring (which I love) and other cross-country events. I love meeting readers, but I still haven’t adjusted to this new “jetsetter” lifestyle.


7. What’s your favorite part about being an author?

Meeting readers. Hands down. It might seem like a cliché that all authors say, but it’s so TRUE. We spend so much time crafting our stories, and then to finally meet the people who read them – gah, it’s a dream come true! I literally write my books FOR my readers. Not for me, but for YOU. So to meet you, to get to know you, to maybe even get to call you my friend… Oh, it’s just an incredible source of joy for me.


8. Is there any advice you could give to young and future writers?

There’s no rush.

Seriously. I think a lot of aspiring authors feel pressure to finish their book and sell it as soon as possible. But there’s no right or wrong age at which to get published, and (having done this myself) it’s far more important and fulfilling to LIVE YOUR LIFE. To explore/travel/meet people/learn. That stuff will inform your writing far more than any workshop or book on craft.

So try not to stress about how LONG it takes you to write a book or sell it. Try to, instead, enjoy the journey and know that even if it doesn’t happen right away, it will happen one day.

About Susan

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

She is the author of the Something Strange and Deadly series as well as the New York Times bestselling Truthwitch, and when not writing, she’s usually slaying darkspawn (on her Xbox) or earning bruises at the dojo.

She lives in the Midwestern US with her French husband, two spoiled dogs, and two grouchy cats. Learn more about her crazy thoughts and crippling cookie-addiction on her blog or newsletter.

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Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…

When an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.


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1 – personalized HC of Windwitch + swag

* Open to the U.S Only
* Winners will have 48 hours to respond until a new winner is chosen
* We reserve the right to disqualify anyone we deem to be untruthful


Musings of Hannah West


How Do You Draft Your Novels?
by Hannah West

When the premise for KINGDOM OF ASH AND BRIARS first struck me, I was sitting in an advanced grammar class in France, staring at the Disney princess pencils my parents had sent me in a care package. I’d already written several opening pages about a kidnapped girl getting dragged through the snowy woods toward her probable death, but the distinct moment of inspiration that occurred in Monsieur Brunot’s grammar class allowed me to connect the mysterious kidnapped girl to a sweeping story arc of politics, war, and fairytale princesses.

As soon as I returned from my semester abroad, I jotted down ideas. Not a rigid outline per se, just a list of chronological checkpoints. I steeped myself in fantasy stories, listened to atmospheric music, and jumped ahead to write the scenes I was most excited about because I simply couldn’t wait. My spirit bubbled with enthusiasm. After all these years of writing unfinished stories with magic and romance and danger, I finally had a commercial premise, a plan, and the will to finish a novel.

But two years passed before I typed “the end” on a first draft.

So how does the middle of the story go? What does the actual day-to-day process of drafting look like?

For me, it looks like typing a few paragraphs, then editing and analyzing them until they’re as clean as I can make them. It looks like lying on my bed and staring at the ceiling while I mentally overcome plot snags, not daring to touch my keyboard until I’ve ironed out every wrinkle. It looks like being an obsessive, unapologetic diamond polisher.

Diamond Polishing vs Mud Slinging

Authors tend to fall into two groups when it comes to drafting: mud slingers and diamond polishers. A mud slinger knows the first draft will be a mess, but it doesn’t matter as long as they splat words onto the page and revise later. Diamond polishers draft carefully, editing as they progress. They can’t stand noticeable errors or plot holes while they work, and they tend to draft for a long time. You probably won’t see many diamond polishers signing up for NaNoWriMo.

I’ve noticed subsets of these two types: discipline-based versus inspiration-based. A discipline-based writer may wake up at the same time every day to write for the same number of hours and meet the same word count goal, regardless of whether inspiration strikes. Bullet journals, accountability groups, and rewards systems may be involved. Some people need to be organized to unlock their creativity.

Inspiration-based writers, on the other hand, find it difficult to follow a schedule. They can’t clack away for hours unless they’ve experienced a light bulb moment or worked through a difficult plot snag. For these writers, inspiration is the key to unlocking discipline.

I’m an inspiration-based diamond polisher. I don’t write unless the ideas are brewing and bubbling. Then I may write just a single paragraph and polish that foggy little diamond ‘til the cows come home.

Most new writers are advised to write and write no matter what comes out, to cultivate the discipline to work each day and worry about perfection later. But when I tried to follow this popular advice, it led me to set unrealistic timelines for my drafting process. I would feel disappointed in myself for falling short of lofty word count goals. I would look at the pages I’d slapped down in a hurry and lose faith in the merits of my story.

Thankfully, through trial and error, I’ve learned to tune out advice that doesn’t apply to me. I learned the difference between being receptive to wise counsel and flat out defying your writerly instincts. Throwing caution to the wind isn’t the only “right” way to draft, at least not for everyone. I write thoughtfully and assess and reassess until I believe in every word because that’s the only way I know how to write.

My methods are still flawed. I’m about to be on my first ever official publisher-mandated deadline, so I’ll have ample opportunity to improve my self-discipline. I’ll need to learn a thing or two from authors who organize their time but don’t mind a little messiness on the page – while giving myself grace for being a slow and painstaking drafter.

By way of advice: just write. You don’t have to write and write and write each day. You can write a little and ponder and write a little more. As long as you love what you’re doing, you will reach that final, glorious page sooner or later.


About Hannah

Hannah West has swooned over fantasy and fairy tales since before she wrote her first story about a runaway princess living on top of a flagpole with two loaves of bread. Kingdom of Ash and Briars is her first novel, which she began as a college junior while studying abroad in Orléans, France. She freelance writes for about home renovation and sustainable living. She lives in Rockwall, Texas, with her husband, Vince, and Robb, their rambunctious blue heeler.

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Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Kingdom of Ash and Briars

Bristal, an orphaned kitchen maid, lands in a gritty fairy tale gone wrong when she discovers she is an elicromancer with a knack for shape-shifting. An ancient breed of immortal magic beings, elicromancers have been winnowed down to merely two – now three – after centuries of bloody conflict in the realm. Their gifts are fraught with responsibility, and sixteen-year-old Bristal is torn between two paths. Should she vow to seek the good of the world, to protect and serve mortals? Or should she follow the strength of her power, even if it leads to unknown terrors? She draws on her ability to disguise herself as a man to infiltrate a prince’s band of soldiers, and masquerades as a fairy godmother to shield a cursed princess, but time is running out. As an army of dark creatures grows closer, Bristal faces a supernatural war. To save the kingdoms, Bristal must find the courage to show her true form.

Building on homages to Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Jane Austen’s Emma and the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan, Hannah West makes a spectacular debut.

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Thank you so much to Hannah for taking the time to write this wonderful piece of advice! Everyone drafts and writes differently, and it’s so important that you find the way that works for you and your book. =)

A huge thank you to all who have participated in this feature. Your words of wisdom are appreciated more than you know!

Have a wonderful rest of your week!



Waiting on Wednesday: Black Moon


There is nothing much like the feeling of waiting on a book! For this week’s pick we decided on:

***** SPOILER WARNING AHEAD! This is the third book in a series. If you have not read the other two books the summary may contain spoilers for you****


Title: Black Moon (Zodiac, #3)

Author: Romina Russell

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Page Count: 320

Release Date: December 6th, 2016


Book 3 in the breathtaking sci-fi space saga inspired by astrology that will stun fans of the Illuminae Files and Starbound series.

One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?

Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared.

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth–but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.


About the Author:


Romina Russell (aka Romina Garber) is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on ZODIAC, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.


TTT: Bookish Christmas Guide


hosted by the Broke and the Bookish

We can’t believe it’s almost December!! This means it’s almost time for Christmas!  Don’t know what to get you’re bookish friends?  We came up with a list of bookish items you could get this year!

1. Candles: Book related candles have blown up in the past couple years! There are so many great shops on Etsy nowadays, you could probably find a candle for most of your friend’s favorites!

2. Bookmarks: Another item you can never have too many of! Most popular ones are quote bookmarks, magnetic bookmarks, and handmade watercolor bookmarks.

3. Art prints: Not going to lie, so jealous of anyone who has artistic talent that could draw characters! You could also get book quotes ones.

4. Socks: You can never have too many comfy socks too keep you warm in the winter time.

5.  Mugs: For the tea/coffee/hot choclate loving bookworm!

6. Clothing: shirts! sweaters! scarves! leggings! Anything really. Society 6 & Red Bubble have the best options for book related clothing

7. Bookish Jewelry: Another thing that’s taking over Etsy. Book quotes, charm bracelets, earrings, necklaces all inspired by that person’s favorite book(s).

8. Tote Bags: So your favorite bookworm can carry their too many books!

9. Book Inspired Tea: YES TEA! Have you guys ever heard of Adagio Tea? People can make their own blends of tea for sale. Most popular I’ve seen are the many blends of Harry Potter

10. Knick Knacks: If you’re feeling creative you could decapitate Funko Pops then mix & match and paint them to look like book characters! Or you can buy book ends, journals, pillows, stickers, buttons, etc.

What are some of your favorite bookish items?



The Thanks U Give with Shaila Patel


We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday shopping! Today we have a very special post from debut author Shaila Patel.

In 1937 my dad was born in a small village in India. He survived smallpox (!) when he was about six or seven years old, and came to the United States in 1962 for an engineering degree. Then he decided to stay. It’s the reason I was born and raised in America, the reason I’m giving my thanks to him this year … the reason he’s my hero.

Lots of people lately have turned “immigrant” into a negative word, but for me, it will always represent the courage and fortitude it takes for someone to travel to another country, speak an unfamiliar language (most likely), and follow your dreams in a culture different from your own. If the immigrant experience isn’t something you can empathize with, maybe you can imagine moving to another planet in some distant future and living among aliens.

Whatever took you there, you’d somehow have to make the most of it. That’s what my dad did. And that’s what he passed on to us: adapt, work hard, make your dreams come true.

My #ownvoices debut novel is my dream. It’ll be published this coming January, and no matter how I slice up my life, I just can’t see how I would’ve had the courage to start a new career decades after my nine-year-old self wrote her first short story. Thank you, Daddy, for teaching me that nothing is impossible!




shaila_patel_3x4-5About Shaila

As an unabashed lover of all things happily ever after, Shaila’s younger self would finish reading Cinderella and fling her copy across the room because it didn’t mention what happened next. Now she writes from her home in the Carolinas and dreams up all sorts of stories with epilogues.

Soulmated, her debut novel releasing in January 2017, won first place in the Young Adult category of the 2015 Chanticleer Book Reviews Paranormal Awards. A member of the Romance Writers of America, Shaila is a pharmacist by training, a medical office manager by day, and a writer by night. She enjoys traveling, craft beer, tea, and loves reading books—especially in cozy window seats. You might find her sneaking in a few paragraphs at a red light or connecting with other readers online at:

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Two souls. One Fate.

Eighteen-year-old Liam Whelan, an Irish royal empath, has been searching for his elusive soulmate. The rare union will cement his family’s standing in empath politics and afford the couple legendary powers, while also making them targets of those seeking to oust them.

Laxshmi Kapadia, an Indian-American high school student from a traditional family, faces her mother’s ultimatum: Graduate early and go to medical school, or commit to an arranged marriage.

When Liam moves next door to Laxshmi, he’s immediately and inexplicably drawn to her. In Liam, Laxshmi envisions a future with the freedom to follow her heart.

Liam’s father isn’t convinced Laxshmi is “The One” and Laxshmi’s mother won’t even let her talk to their handsome new neighbor. Will Liam and Laxshmi defy expectations and embrace a shared destiny? Or is the risk of choosing one’s own fate too great a price for the soulmated?

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Thank you Shaila for sharing your story and thank you so much Mishma & Hazel for hosting The Thanks U Give! We hope everyone is out supporting Small Business Saturday!


The Thanks U Give


When I first heard about Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales & Hazel @ Stay Bookish idea for The Thanks U Give project, I thought it was a wonderful idea and I knew I had to participate. I had been thinking about writing a Thanksgiving post about what I was thankful for all month, but this gave me the extra boost to actually commit to writing one.

So my first order of thanks is to both Mishma and Hazel for putting together this project!

I’ll be honest and say making friends can be difficult sometimes. I’m sure everyone has gone through their ups and downs with friendships; losing old ones and gaining new ones and I’m no different. I am truly grateful to the ones I’ve made in the recent years and I don’t think I share my appreciation of their friendships enough. So here I go…. I will not get super emotional…. I will not cry.

What can I say about Molly?? Everyone’s dog is named Molly… HA just kidding!! She is smart, sassy, honest, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She’s been a very good friend to me the past 2 years I’ve known her. Which is crazy to think about because it feels like we’ve been friends for way longer than that. If you haven’t met us in person, which most of you probably haven’t, we’re like two peas in a pod. Majority of the time you don’t see us without the other at events, and if you invite one of us to a thing expect the other one to be there also.  Sometimes I wonder where Molly’s been half my life (HA HA get it Momo?) She’s been a constant supporter and I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s definitely a go to person for advice and she keeps me sane through my chaotic life. So Molly, Thank you for your amazing friendship the past couple years and I look forward to when we get super old and can still talk about books we love and snark about the ones we don’t like.

Mackenzi Lee was a friend first before I ever thought of her as a too cool for school author. Though in actuality, I won her first ARC of This Monstrous Thing via Twitter giveaway and that’s how our friendship blossomed! Discovering how close in proximity we lived, made it easy for us to see each other and hang out.  Mackenzi is also how I met Molly and thus was born the triple M hangouts. (I totally just made this up) I love the way Mackenzi is high-spirited, snarky, smart, funny, and ambitious. She’s spoiled me with her kindness and generosity by feeding Molly and I pie and other treats, making sure we’re entertained with coloring books and awesome conversations.  Mackenzi, I am so grateful for your friendship and support! Here’s to many more awesome bookish adventures and “babysitting” shenanigans!

Susan Dennard… I just have the hardest time putting into words how much I appreciate this amazing woman. We’ve come so far since January and I’m eternally grateful for that. She is the most humble, sincere, compassionate, generous, and loving person I know. The timing of our friendship was just perfect; it arrived during a time when we both needed it the most. I’m also surprised in how much we have in common. Everyday I think about how lucky I am to have someone like Susan who is so understanding, supportive, and a great motivator. I know I’m always telling you this, but I am SO grateful to call you a friend and to have you in my life. I know you’ll always be there for me when I need advice or someone to vent to. Thank you for everything you’ve done!! And know I’ll always be here for you in anyway I can.

MC may be quiet, but she is also crazy talented, caring, and just simply the best. I’m so glad I met her at ALA Mid Winter at the beginning of the year. Who knew that we’d become close friends who aren’t too old to have slumber parties? Thank you for being there for me even though you’re just a few states away. I can’t wait until you come visit next!

Ellie is a wonderfully hysterical and lively human being and I appreciate our ever growing friendship.  I am so glad we got to know each other more this year and I look forward to more fun times together.

The Quartet: Kelly, Lauren and Nori. I don’t even know where to begin. I am so glad that I’ve become such great friends with these ladies. Though our lives have been crazy all year, I know I can still count on them to be around when I need them.

Kelly T, I love this girl so much! Seriously she’s just the sweetest person ever and I wish she wasn’t on the opposite coast because I know we’d be inseparable if she lived near by. I love that we got to know each other more this year and it’s all thanks to the Witchlander Street Team. I hope you know Kelly how thankful I am to have you in my life and I’ll always be there when you need it.

Jen & Karina you both have been SO SO SO wonderful! I’m grateful that the street team brought us together and that you both tolerate me. HAHA! Getting to know you guys the past two years have been loads of fun. I hope one day I can fly out to Illinois and meet you both and hug the stuffing out of you!

Erin Bowman thank you for letting me come to you for advice and gush over baby B! I totally got spoiled by all your events in Boston this year. I’m so glad I got to know you more and I look forward to what awaits us in the upcoming years.

Also I have to thank all the wonderful authors who have added to my book hoarding problems and giving me amazing characters who I love, hate, cry over, and wish were real. Especially a giant thank you all the authors who have participated in our Musings for Eternal Dreamers feature! There’s like 50+ which is too many to list.

I must also give thanks to all of our followers and readers! Without you our blog wouldn’t have survived for the past 2 years.



Well I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I certainly over ate and had a great time with family.  Thanks for taking the time to read my long post and I hope you check out the other blogs who participated in #TheThanksUGive!!


Musings of Lisa Maxwell


Working Under a Deadline and Dealing with Stress

I’m no stranger to working under stress. I am a full-time professor, mom of two, and I have book contracts set from now until 2019. It’s a lot to balance and manage, and if I’m not careful, it can get too overwhelming to be creative. Especially when deadlines hit.

So how do I—how does anyone—work under a deadline and deal with the stress without letting it get in the way of creativity?  After all, how can you get any writing done if you’re all stopped up from stress?

I’ll tell you this: You have to know what kind of stress works for you. Stress can be a great motivator, but not all stress works the same. For instance, having seven things to do at one can be really invigorating for me, but the stress of not having a job (or the financial security that comes with one) a few years back was about enough to stop all of my writing. For me, balancing writing with my other career works better because of the financial security it gives me. I can handle being short on time. Because I know that, it’s easier to deal with it.

The other thing is to decide what’s important and make sure you give yourself time for that. I’m a mom of two boys who don’t seem to want to stop growing, so I’m not willing to give up all of my time with them for either of my other jobs. I make it a point to keep family time as family time, and work time as work time. I have days that I write, and I have days that I teach. I have days that I just spend with my family.

Of course, working under a deadline means that these lines can get blurred. What do you do then? How do you make it through?

The most important thing, for me at least, is to make sure the people in my life understand what’s coming and what I’ll need. There’s no way I could do everything I have to do without a supportive partner, but I know that not everyone has a partner—or a partner who is supportive. So find support where you can. Having that one friend you can text and complain to when things are darkest, or the coworker who’s willing to commiserate and cover for you until things get done, can be your lifeline to sanity when things get tough.

Surround yourself with good people. Guard the time and the things that mean the most to you. Most of all, remember that deadlines are temporary stress. Get through them, and they disappear.  And if all else fails, be sure to have a supply of chocolate.

Lisa   Maxwell

About Lisa

Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked. Her next book, The Last Magician, will be out in July of 2017. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, bookseller, editor, and writer. When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She now lives near Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons.

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The Last Magician

The Last Magician

Stop the Magician.
Steal the book.
Save the future.

In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives.

Esta is a talented thief, and she’s been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1901 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future.

But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

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For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.

But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.

The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.

With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?

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Sweet Unrest

Sweet Unrest

Lucy Aimes has always been practical. But try as she might, she can’t come up with a logical explanation for the recurring dreams that have always haunted her. Dark dreams. Dreams of a long-ago place filled with people she shouldn’t know…but does.

When her family moves to a New Orleans plantation, Lucy’s dreams become more intense, and her search for answers draws her reluctantly into the old city’s world of Voodoo and mysticism. There, Lucy finds Alex, a mysterious boy who behaves as if they’ve known each other forever. Lucy knows Alex is hiding something, and her rational side doesn’t want to be drawn to him. But she is.

As she tries to uncover Alex’s secrets, a killer strikes close to home, and Lucy finds herself ensnared in a century-old vendetta. With the lives of everyone she loves in danger, Lucy will have to unravel the mystery of her dreams before it all comes to a deadly finish.

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Thank you so much, Lisa, for all of your hard work and wonderful writing! Dealing with stress and working under deadlines is something that affects so many writers, especially as they start to work with editors and agents. Your insight is so appreciated!

As always, thank you to everyone who participates in this feature. Your words of advice never go unheard. You’re helping more writers than you know!

Have a wonderful weekend, and a great Thanksgiving if you’re in the U.S.! =)



Welcome to the next stop on the Fate of Flames tour hosted by Irish Banana Tours! We have a special post from Sarah Raughley discussing the inspiration behind her debut novel!




What inspired me to write Fate of Flames? Well, to be honest, I think Fate of Flames has been in the making for a couple of decades now. See, since I was a kid, I’ve always been creating “magical girl group” storylines, I guess because I wanted to be in one! Whenever my brothers would buy a Final Fantasy game I’d pretend to be the dark mage, like Rydia from Final Fantasy IV or Terra from Final Fantasy VI. I think every major story idea I’ve ever had starts out like, “there were these four/five girls and they each had different powers.” I’m not sure why. I think there’s something very empowering about these kinds of narratives. And considering how male-centric speculative fiction can be, I’ve always appreciated the idea of girls who have the power of the cosmos at their fingertips!



So when they announced Sailor Moon Crystal in 2012, I just had to go ahead with it and finally write a novel. I re-watched the anime and re-read the manga. And I started to imagine a whole world in which girls like the Sailor Scouts had to fight but without the comfort of secrecy. Stories like Sailor Moon were really formative for me as a young storyteller. That, Buffy, Avatar: The Last Airbender, are all stories that the book can be compared to and with good reason. Fate of Flames is basically my answer to the question: what if the Sailor Scouts had to fight evil in the public eye in an era of social media? I started to create the world around that very simple pitch. What would they fight against? Monsters of course. But if you’re going to go with monsters, you might as well go all out. That’s where the Pacific Rim part of the pitch comes in. Pacific Rim is like a lot of kaiju narratives out there. It’s got huge monsters and people have to band together to fight them off. So really, Fate of Flames is: four girls with magical powers come together to fight giant monsters. I couldn’t resist writing it!

It was difficult at first to get everything together, because the more I thought about the world, the bigger it got. I made sure to outline and plot everything out, always leaving room for surprises because that’s often where the magic happens. Flexibility is a big thing for me, but I couldn’t write this series without a bible that I could keep referring back to. There’s so much backstory and character stuff there’s no way I’d be able to keep it all in my head! From then on its writing. Writing, writing, editing, fixing, and more writing. But the one thing I had to keep in mind while writing was that no matter how hard the writing process got, I didn’t want to lose the spirit of that initial imaginative spark that created the idea in the first place. After all, we write because it’s fun. And magical girls kicking ass? Well, that’s always fun!



fate-of-flames-9781481466776_hr.jpgFate of Flames

Four girls with the power to control the elements and save the world from a terrible evil must come together in the first epic novel in a brand-new series.

When Phantoms—massive beasts made from nightmares and darkness—suddenly appeared and began terrorizing the world, four girls, the Effigies, each gained a unique power to control one of the classical elements: earth, air, fire, and water. Since then, four girls across the world have continually fought against the Phantoms, fulfilling their cosmic duty. And when one Effigy dies, another girl gains her power as a replacement.

But now, with technologies in place to protect the world’s major cities from Phantom attacks, the Effigies have stopped defending humanity and, instead, have become international celebrities, with their heroic feats ranked, televised, and talked about in online fandoms.

Until the day that New York City’s protection against the Phantoms fails, a man seems to be able to control them by sheer force of will, and Maia, a high school student, unexpectedly becomes the Fire Effigy.

Now Maia has been thrown into battle with three girls who want nothing to do with one another. But with the first human villain that the girls have ever faced, and an army of Phantoms preparing for attack, there isn’t much time for the Effigies to learn how to work together.

Can the girls take control of their destinies before the world is destroyed forever?

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S.Raughley_credit Photo melaniegillis [dot] com .jpgAbout Sarah Raughley

Sarah Raughley grew up in Southern Ontario writing stories about freakish little girls with powers because she secretly wanted to be one. She is a huge fangirl of anything from manga to SF/F TV to Japanese Role Playing Games, but she will swear up and down that she was inspired by ~Jane Austin~ at book signings. On top of being a YA Writer, she is currently completing a PhD in English, because the sight of blood makes her queasy (which crossed Medical School off the list).

She is represented by The Bradford Literary Agency.

So far, you can also find her on Twitter, where work ethic goes to die.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Tour Schedule:

Week 1:
11/14: Such A Novel Idea – Review
11/15: The Irish Banana Review – Fast 5
11/16: Bookiemoji – Review
11/17: Swoony Boys Podcast – Dream Casting
11/18: Mundie Moms – Review

Week 2:
11/21: Alexa Loves Books – Bookish Style Files
11/22: The Story Sanctuary – Review
11/23: Live Love Read – Guest Post
11/24: Fiction Fare – Review
11/25: The Plot Bunny – Review



3 Finished Copies of FATE OF FLAMES (US Only)



Thank you Sarah for the lovely guest post! I am so excited to read this book inspired by my favorite Anime of all time! Also thank you Hannah for allowing me to participate in this blog tour


Musings of Eric Smith


Do you have advice for writers who are looking for an agent?
By Eric Smith


The first bit, and maybe the most important when you’re starting your search, is to do your research. This is assuming your manuscript has been polished to perfection and reviewed by colleagues and friends. If you haven’t done that yet, do that before beginning your search.

Now, there are a lot of amazing websites that make this process infinitely easier. Manuscript Wishlist is one of my favorites. Writer’s Digest is a great resource as well, often showcasing new agents and publishing roundups of agents looking for specific genres.

And of course, Google certainly helps. Every agency has a website, which details agent bios, what they are looking for, and the like.

If you’re feeling a little more analog, you can spend some time in your local bookstore, checking out the books that you feel are solid comparative titles for yours. Are you writing Young Adult contemporary? Look at those reads, flip to the back, and see who agented that particular book. Just like that, you know that agent has an eye for that genre.

What are you looking for though? Well, you want to make sure the agent you are pitching is interested in the sort of books you want to write. Do they even represent books in your genre? Are they open for submissions?

Don’t just go pitching everyone and anyone. Take your time. This is someone you want to have a long, working relationship with. You’ll become friends.

Now, say your research is done. You’ve found a handful of agents you think you’d have a good working relationship with, your manuscript is polished up, and you’re getting ready to pitch.

How do you do that?

At a conference not too long ago, one of my favorite agents (yes, agents can be fans of other agents), Gordon Warnock, mentioned how someone once told him the best query letter is “the hook, the book, the cook.” So, a hook to get the agent interested, a bit about the actual book, and then of course, who YOU are.

Curious about how to write a query letter and make it shine? Here are a few solid posts that might help you out.

And last, one of my favorite ways to tell people to look for agents, is to utilize social media.

There are so many excellent online pitch events for authors to connect with agents and editors, that it feels almost impossible to list them all, but keep an eye out for Pitch Madness, DV Pitch, AD Pitch… all of which encourage authors to tweet out quick details about their books for agents to potentially favorite and pick up.

Me, I found Samira Ahmed via one of those contests. I signed her a few days after requesting her book, and her debut, Swimming Lessons, sold to Soho Teen quickly after.

Spend some time looking into those. Can’t hurt. Though be aware and be careful of who is requesting and checking out your work. Remember the research portion? Make sure the person requesting your book is an actual agent or editor!

Though, I do understand social media isn’t for everyone. Don’t feel like you HAVE to do this. There are scores of agents who don’t even use Twitter. That said, don’t let an agent’s social media presence sway you career wise. Yes, some of us are charming and funny on there… but that doesn’t mean you’ll gel businesswise. Personality is important, sure. But so is having that professional relationship.

Now, good luck out there writers. Remember:

  • Do your research.
  • Master your query letter.
  • Play on social media, if that’s for you.

You got this!


About Eric

Eric Smith is an author, blogger, and literary agent living in Richmond, Virginia. His debut humor book, The Geek’s Guide to Dating, came out with Quirk Books in 2013. His YA series, Inked (2015), is available now with Bloomsbury’s digital imprint, Bloomsbury Spark, with a sequel, Branded (2017), coming soon.

To submit to Eric:
P.S. Literary
| Submission GuidelinesMSWL

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Inked (Inked #1)


Tattoos once were an act of rebellion.

Now they decide your destiny the moment the magical Ink settles under your skin.

And in a world where Ink controls your fate, Caenum can’t escape soon enough. He is ready to run from his family, and his best friend Dreya, and the home he has known, just to have a chance at a choice.

But when he upsets the very Scribe scheduled to give him his Ink on his eighteenth birthday, he unwittingly sets in motion a series of events that sends the corrupt, magic-fearing government, The Citadel, after him and those he loves.

Now Caenum, Dreya, and their reluctant companion Kenzi must find their way to the Sanctuary, a secret town where those with the gift of magic are safe. Along the way, they learn the truth behind Ink, its dark origins, and why they are the only ones who can stop the Citadel.

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The Geek's Guide to Dating

The Geek’s Guide to Dating

You keep your action figures in their original packaging. Your bedsheets are officially licensed Star Wars merchandise. You’re hooked on Elder Scrolls and Metal Gear but now you’ve discovered an even bigger obsession: the new girl who just moved in down the hall. What’s a geek to do? Take some tips from Eric Smith in The Geek’s Guide to Dating. This hilarious primer leads geeks of all ages through the perils and pitfalls of meeting women, going on dates, getting serious, breaking up, and establishing a successful lifelong relationship (hint: it’s time to invest in new bedsheets). Full of whimsical 8-bit illustrations, The Geek’s Guide to Dating will teach fanboys everywhere to love long and prosper.

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A huge thanks to Eric for taking the time to write out this awesome guide to landing an agent! I highly recommend all of the above suggestions and resources. Check them out, and if you have any other questions about querying, I’m sure Eric and Kelly are more than happy to answer. Also, keep an eye out for Eric’s new book called Welcome Home, a short story anthology about the “emotional complexities of adoption”, coming out in 2017!

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who participates in this feature. Your words of wisdom and stories never go unappreciated by tomorrow’s writers.

Have a wonderful weekend!


ARC REVIEW: Windwitch

Author: Susan Dennard
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 400
Release Date: January 10 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: An Uncorrected Proof from author

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Sometimes our enemies are also our only allies…When an explosion destroys his ship, the world believes Prince Merik, Windwitch, is dead. Scarred yet alive, Merik is determined to prove his sister’s treachery. Upon reaching the royal capital, crowded with refugees, he haunts the streets, fighting for the weak—which leads to whispers of a disfigured demigod, the Fury, who brings justice to the oppressed.

When the Bloodwitch Aeduan discovers a bounty on Iseult, he makes sure to be the first to find her—yet in a surprise twist, Iseult offers him a deal. She will return money stolen from him, if he locates Safi. Now they must work together to cross the Witchlands, while constantly wondering, who will betray whom first?

After a surprise attack and shipwreck, Safi and the Empress of Marstok barely escape with their lives. Alone in a land of pirates, every moment balances on a knife’s edge—especially when the pirates’ next move could unleash war upon the Witchlands.

Keep Reading!