Anne’s Book Club 14 – HARROWED Cover Reveal!

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Harrowed (The Woodsview Murders #1) by Brian Letendre & Jolene Haley (blurb):

Journalism Rule #1: Always report the story. Never become the story.

Avery Blair has accepted the fact that nothing exciting ever happens in her small town of Woodsview, Massachusetts. As the editor of the high school blog, she prays for something—anything—to come along that would make for a great headline.

When Beatrice Thompson’s body is found in the girls’ bathroom, Avery has her biggest story ever. The rumors circulating the school say that Beatrice took her own life, but Avery doesn’t believe it for a second. Her instincts prove true when the next day brings another body bag.

The tiny community of Woodsview has become the hunting ground for a killer known as the Harvester. The killer targets Avery and her classmates, stalking their every move and terrorizing them with morbid messages.

With the help of her boyfriend Jason, her best friend Quinn, and an aging detective who can’t keep her off the case, Avery dives head-first into her own investigation. She discovers that the secret of the Woodsview Harvester is buried in the town’s history and its annual Harvest Festival celebration. With every clue she uncovers, Avery grows closer to unmasking the killer—and becoming the next victim.

Avery Blair has finally found a story to die for…if she can stay alive long enough to write it.

More Info on Harrowed (The Woodsview Murders #1):

Releases: 09/22/15 by Horror Twins Press
Goodreads

About the Authors:

Brian LeTendre is the writer of the Parted Veil horror series, which includes Courting the King in Yellow, Lovecraft’s Curse, and Lovecraft’s Pupil.

A gaming, comics and horror lover, Brian has co-hosted and produced a podcast about geek culture called Secret Identity since 2006, producing well over 1000 hours of programming. He also hosts and produces three other podcasts about writing (See Brian Write), design and small business (Kitbash Radio) and gaming (Co-Op Critics).

In addition to podcasting, Brian has worked as a freelance games journalist, and currently writes a webcomic called Mo Stache, which can be read for free online and will be collected in print in 2016.

Brian lives and works in Massachusetts.

Twitter | Blog | Amazon | Podcasts

Jolene Haley is the author of the Woodsview Murders series, Harrowed (out 9/22/15) and Haunted, coming fall 2016. She’s also the curator of the best-selling horror anthology The Dark Carnival through Pen & Muse Press.

She runs a YA horror blog The Midnight Society, the author resource site Pen & Muse, and Hocus Pocus & Co., a small horror press. She writes every genre under the sun, but prefers horror.

When she’s not writing she can be found cuddling her two dogs and enjoying the beach, where she lives.

Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Facebook

Anne’s No Rules Friday 13

ILoveMusicAround the world, students are headed back to school. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share ten (and I totally cheated) of my favorite lyric-free, orchestra-heavy soundtracks. Some of these were better for studying STEM subjects and some were better for studying non-STEM subjects (like art, history, and english).

Back-to-School Music Recommendations:

  1. Braveheart;  Legends of the Fall; and Troy composed by James Horner
  2. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon composed by Tan Dun and Yo-Yo Ma
  3. Dracula composed by Wojciech Kilar
  4. Gladiator and The Last Samurai composed by Hans Zimmer
  5. The Living Sea composed by Sting
  6. The Lord of the Rings: the Fellowship of the Ring; the Two Towers; and the Return of the King composed by Howard Shore
  7. Othello composed by Charlie Mole
  8. The Red Violin composed by John Corigliano
  9. A River Runs Through It composed by Mark Isham
  10. Snow White and the Huntsman composed by James Newton Howard

Because I like singing, I have a hard time studying to music with lyrics. However, thanks to Cimmerian Tales, I’ve gotten much better at writing to music with lyrics. I edit to classical composers like Brahms, Ravel, Schubert, Chopin, and Debussy (there’s a pattern there). And I rilly like house/techno/trance/dubstep for writing and editing. On loop.

What are some of your favorite CDs to listen to while studying or writing? Do you study or write to music or must it be absolutely silent?

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Stay tuned for Julie’s No Rules Friday next week.

Anne’s Book Club 13

NearlyGonecover

NEARLY GONE by Elle Cosimano (summary from Amazon.com):

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother’s job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone’s skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn’t trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance . . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn’t figure it all out soon—she’ll be next.

My Thoughts on NEARLY GONE by Elle Cosimano:

Nearly “Leigh” Boswell has one shot to leave her single mom and the trailer park behind her: a chemistry scholarship. To increase her odds, she tutors classmates. That is, until they start turning up dead with numbers painted, carved, or burned into their flesh. If that weren’t enough, Nearly also has the uncanny ability to know what a person’s feeling just by touching them. An ability she recoils from every time it happens.

Emotion is energy, and if energy is strong enough, it can travel between two points.

The mystery of whodunit holds out until nearly (pun intended) the last page with red herrings and surprises along the way. Nearly doesn’t know who she can trust, as her friends, enemies, and fellow classmates are all suspects—until they die—so like any good detective, I had to rely on my knowledge of “motive, opportunity, and means” to solve the mystery. The clues add up for the police and point them in Nearly’s direction. She overhears one officer telling one of her classmates to spy on her in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Reece Wheelen’s the perfect suspect: trouble with the law, a dark past, and involvement with the local drug dealer.

Throughout the book I tried to figure out why the cover title has a “43” in it. The reason is awesome and ties into both Nearly as a character and the book’s plot. I don’t want to say too much more, or I risk spoiling you. If you like mysteries, fast-paced books, a touch of magical realism, and a smart heroine, this book’s for you!

“Howl” by Florence + the Machine Inspires Anne

Perigee

 We dart through nighttime waters, close to the sand ridges along the bottom. I clutch Hvrēssē’s[1] hand in mine.

In our wake, alluvium swirls up, and then drifts down to the ocean floor. A pattern will form and be washed away, form and be washed away with each wave or tail flick.

The vial of blood in my other hand flashes silver in the moonlight. The pull of land sings like a tsunami from the palm of my hand all the way to my beating heart. Hvrēssē grins at me, sharp teeth and delight. We swim faster until we feel the water around us change. It grows lighter and freer of brine. The river current ripples through our hair and over our fins.

“Almost there,” Hvrēssē says. She gulps the last of the true seawater past her gills. “Hurry.”

I admire her sense of urgency. Admire the way her pale flesh melds into the gray of her tail. The dark stripes that almost go all the way around but leave her underside gray like the stormy skies far out to sea. Like home.

My muscles burn as I try to match her powerful strokes when she dives into the fresh water. It’s warm and light. Sweet and deadly.

“Get out your knife,” I shout above the sound of the river fighting against the open sea.
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Anne’s No Rules Friday 12

I discovered a website (wordle.net) where you paste in your WIP and it spits out a cloud of the most used words. I love this idea! It’s such an easy visual cue to help edit, or find which characters are important, or write a synopsis (maybe a stretch on that one). Here’s the word cloud for my 76k novel, The Serpent’s Covenant:

TSCwordcloud

So fancy! I could almost write some slam poetry to it. Like it so much, I’m adding both In Repair:

InRepairAnd Back to You:

BacktoYou

Do you have any tips or tricks you use while editing large projects?

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Stay tuned for Audrey’s No Rules Friday next week.

Anne’s Book Club 12

THE LAST UNICORN directed by Arthur Rankin Jr & Jules Bass (summary from IMDb.com):

TLUopeninglinesFrom a riddle-speaking butterfly, a unicorn learns that she is supposedly the last of her kind, all the others having been herded away by the Red Bull. The unicorn sets out to discover the truth behind the butterfly’s words. She is eventually joined on her quest by Schmendrick, a second-rate magician, and Molly Grue, a now middle-aged woman who dreamed all her life of seeing a unicorn. Their journey leads them far from home, all the way to the castle of King Haggard.

My thoughts on THE LAST UNICORN (1982 film):

I loved this story when I was wee, and I love it now that I’m grown. There’s something about a hero’s journey, rich characters, and the unicorn that get me every time. Plus, did I mention unicorns?

It’s no surprise that I’ve loved mythological creatures for a long time. Unicorns, flying horses, and mermaids were there in my elementary years. Werewolves absolutely terrified and delighted me in middle school. Mostly, terrified. Vampires and faeries caught my eye in high school. But unicorns and mermaids have been there since the start. (In fact, one of my published stories, La Dame à la Licorne, may have something to do with a unicorn. Just saying’.)

“There are no happy endings, because nothing ends.”
~ Schmendrick

One of the reasons I think this story translated so well from novel to screen is that the screenwriter was Peter S. Beagle, the same man who wrote the original novel. All the parts I loved in the book are represented here. Much of the dialogue is translated exactly from book to script. It runs at a little over an hour and 30 mins, which might be too long for toddlers to sit through. There’s also some violence and a swear word slips in (not in the subtitles, however. Clever!), despite the G rating. I think I was 7 or 8 the first time I watched it. Then I pretty much ruined the tape due to multiple viewings. Fortunately, the 25th anniversary DVD was released in 2007.

The movie stands up to the test of time rather well. Mostly because the story takes place in a medieval-esque world where fashions and hairstyles aren’t reflective of the year the movie was created. There’s something pure and magical about the hand-painted scenery and cell-by-cell animation. I would love to have one of the cells from this film, something we lose when the film is created with CGI. (I do own one from THE SECRET OF NIMH, which is also a childhood favorite.) The unicorn is especially well-done. She’s otherworldly, yet familiar. Her mane and tail move as she prances on spindly legs. Her eyes remain lilac, like her wood, even when she’s turned into a human. The attention to detail from the animators is amazing.

After watching the movie again last night, I’ll be singing the songs for the rest of the week.

🎶I’m alive! I’m alive!🎶

Anne’s No Rules Friday 11

Poem inspired by Jen’s The Flight.

Take-off

We race into the wind
It twists my loose hair into raven knots.
My sciathán‘s hooves beat a rhythm
Against the packed earth.
Thump-thump
Thump-thump
Freedom is a heartbeat.

My mount’s warm and sturdy
Her muscles bunch under my thighs.
Heather and clover dance
Through the air.
Snap-snap
Snap-snap
Kyanite’s feathers unfurl.

We leap into the sky
I twine fingers through her ivory mane.
Mist cools my face in a caress
As we rise higher.
Thump-thump
Thump-thump
Our hearts beat as one.

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Stay tuned for Julie’s No Rules Friday in two weeks.

Anne’s Book Club 11

TheStrangeMaidcover

The Strange Maid by Tessa Gratton (summary from Goodreads.com):

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

My Thoughts on THE STRANGE MAID and an interview with author Tessa Gratton:

Full disclosure: I’ve been reading Tessa’s prose since 2008. I’m a huge fan. I had the pleasure of listening to her recite a few pages from Beowulf in Old English. The memory still gives me elf-kisses. As an English Literature major, Beowulf was one of my favorite projects. Grendel by the late great John Gardner is one of my favorite books. Both play a part in this sweeping tale. Norse mythology, monsters, love, and layers abound in THE STRANGE MAID, the second book in the United States of Asgard series.

What is truth? Is truth the words we write or say, or is it the meaning behind those words? Is it both? Is it neither? Signy Valborn can see a rune in another’s eye and know their truth. But these runes change, just as our truths change given the situation we find ourselves in. Signy’s given a riddle from Odin: The Valkyrie of the Tree will prove herself with a stone heart. After years of trying to figure out what it means, she meets Ned ‘the Spiritless’ Unferth who tells her he knows the answer. In his eye she reads Truth, while in her own she reads several different runes.

Ned is key to helping Signy both figure out the riddle, but also all the meanings of the runes. Even the one given to her in the form of a scar on her palm has layered meanings. The fact that Signy not only needs the help of others but asks for it, makes her a very realistic character. Her thirst for battle and madness in a world that’s tamped down those ideals into politics and order seemed perfectly logical. (Maybe I’m more than a little mad myself.) The relationship between Signy and Ned was a slow, believable burn. And the riddle is resolved in a beautiful and unique way that left me very satisfied. Although, I’d love to see another trilogy set in this world.

“… the troll mother’s marble skin captures all the dying light, and her shifting muscles are a kaleidoscope of color, like the northern lights dancing against her stone flesh.”

Though the entire story stands-alone from THE LOST SUN, several characters visit the pages of both. As a reader, I’m always fascinated to see how characters we loved in one book are perceived by other characters in a new book (or point-of-view). It plays on the theme of truth. Your truth is not mine. Your perception is not mine. So, what is truth?

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a destiny to follow, no matter how difficult it was to tease out the riddle of it? Maybe that’s exactly what we’re doing.

What was the seed idea/scene that set this story in motion for you as the author?

I was in grad school and took a class in Old English. As I fell farther into the poetry of the Anglo-Saxons and their neighbors the Vikings, I realized how much modern US culture still shares with them. War and religion and politics are still intertwined just like in Viking and A-S literature. So for this series, it was a thematic spark, it was a desire to create an alternate world where I could play with my thoughts and feelings about American Warrior Culture in particular.

You studied Beowulf—and even translated your own version— at university, but outside of required reading for study, how much research did you do to create the United States of Asgard?

Oh, for another guest post I counted 43 books I bought specifically for USAsgard research over the past 5 years. I’ve read at least parts of all of those books, and most of most of them. I did some traveling around the USA, too, though most of my location inspiration came from family road trips when I was a kid.

If you lived in the United States of Asgard, which god/goddess would you belong to and why?

Odin, unfortunately. 😉 He’s the god of poetry and sacrifice, in addition to having a fluid sexuality and a violent streak. It’s not a coincidence most of the USAsgard stories I’ve told revolve in some way around Odinists. I’m writing about those themes because I have so many questions about them myself. As a writer, the link between creation and violence really fascinates me.

THE STRANGE MAID is the both the prequel and the sequel to THE LOST SUN (2013) with a completely new main character, Signy Valborn. Why did you choose to structure your trilogy this way?

I never intended for this to be a trilogy. Originally I was writing short stories in this world for my story blog (www.merryfates.com), then the story that became THE LOST SUN was born, and it truly functions as a stand alone novel because I didn’t know if I’d write more. When I decided to expand, I imagined a 5 book arc. For a lot of reasons that didn’t happen. THE STRANGE MAID was always book 2, and what will be Book 3 used to be pieces of book 5. I took my ideas for the middle books and am writing novellas using those ideas and characters.

Basically: I am a messy writer. I go where the story leads me, and in the case of THE STRANGE MAID, that was a sprawling timeline that forced the book to be both prequel and sequel.

One of my favorite Songs of New Asgard short stories is Date with a Dragon-Slayer.

“This infinitely exciting tale’s twist and turns highlight the characters’ missions as they decide which identity to choose: hero, martyr, or villain.” (School Library Journal) What are you working on now?

I love that SLJ review! Thanks for quoting it. 😀

Right now I’m working on a bunch of things. I’ve drafted what I hope will be my next novel (a stand alone dark fantasy), so I’m writing some novellas in the USAsgard world, and two other secret novels. ONWARD AND UPWARD!

Thank you so much, Tessa, for letting me take a peek at your process! Tessa is also the author of BLOOD MAGIC, the novella CROW MAGIC, and THE BLOOD KEEPER. If you enjoy love, family, and fate, then you should definitely check them out!

* I received an eARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Tessa Author Pic Fall 2011 2MBAbout the author: Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. She was too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in gender studies, and then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog.

Author Links: WebsiteTwitter | Tumblr | Goodreads

Buy THE STRANGE MAID (Book 2) Today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Buy THE LOST SUN (Book 1) Today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

“The Song of Wandering Aengus” by WB Yeats Inspires Anne

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

The Song of Wandering Aengus © Copyright William Butler Yeats, 1899. All rights reserved. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License.

Paper Goblins

Japanese tradition says when you finish folding one thousand paper cranes your wish comes true.

I’m only half-Japanese. I plan on folding two thousand cranes to be double sure my wish will come true: that Colten will fall madly in love with me. It’s not because we’ve been thrown against each other since he moved here in second grade. Sure, alphabetically Colten Adams always sat next to me, Piper Allen, in class, but that’s not the reason. It’s because he’s stormy-eyed and swollen-lipped. Sharp-cheeked and soft-spoken. He’s the most beautiful boy in all of Portland. No! In the entire world.

I want him to notice me before he falls for someone else, and I’m tired of waiting around for him.

When Bachan bought me dozens of packets of beautiful, colored rice paper at the Cherry Blossom Festival. She told me she’d folded a thousand cranes back in Miyako, met Ojichan, and the rest is history.

It’s time I folded myself a little history.

* * *

336 cranes are tucked into a shoebox under my bed when I find out through the gossip chain that Colten asked Harlow Rivers to homecoming.

“She’s not even that pretty,” I complain, folding over my math quiz diagonally.

As my friends poke lettuce and cucumbers around on their plates or sip at diet drinks, I crease the bottom strip and wet it with my tongue, tearing away the rectangle shape to give me a nice square to work with.

Veronica Wiseman — best friend and enemy since pre-school —nudges my shoulder. “Harlow’s really nice, Pipe. She let me copy her history notes this week.”

“I love Harlow,” says Molly. Molly Larkin loves everyone, bless her. She comes from a family of thirteen, and they all get along. It’s how cults get started, I’m sure of it. “I don’t even care. She’s super nice and super smart.”

I ignore them both to fold and crease, fold and crease. If I finish these cranes faster, maybe Colten will forget about Harlow by winter break. Maybe he’ll notice me.

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Anne’s No Rules Friday 10

This is a companion piece for In Repair. You don’t have to have read that one to read this one. 😀

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

Back to You

Five months ago, I tricked Rosa into kissing me. I’ve been lying to her ever since. That’s not entirely true. They’re not lies. They’re omissions. I omit pieces of the truth because she hunts creatures like me. So far she doesn’t know what I am, so well rehearsed are my stories. I kill hunters like her, but none of them ever caused my pulse to thrum at the base of my wrists. None of them had salted caramel taffy skin, sun-warmed, and soft. Soft in the way only a fawn’s coat should be soft.

“C’mere.”

We sit shoulder to shoulder at the edge of a neighbor’s pool, water laps against our knees, passing a cigarette back and forth. Sunlight glints off the water, off the drops running down her bare arms. Over the sharp chlorine and cloves, she smells like a field of sunflowers and coconut sunscreen. Rose kicks a leg and water sparkles in an arc. The splash silences the hum of cicadas for a split second.

It’s taken five months to convince her to break into backyards with me. The danger didn’t keep her away, no. She stayed out because she respected the people that live here. She hid her Scout motorcycle along the side of the house. Rosa relaxes against me. Like she’s home.

“Ever been skinny-dipping?”

Rosa laughs in that deep throaty way that’s only for me. I kiss her neck, drag a canine along the tender skin at her throat. Her laughter catches between my teeth.

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