Now Open for Guest Posting!

Exciting news, everyone: As of today, this blog is open to guest posting!

Thrice Welcome Hobbit

This is something I’ve been contemplating for a while, and for several reasons. It allows you to offer greater variety in content, helps you build relationships with other writers / bloggers, increases traffic… Basically, it’s a win-win situation for the host as well as the guest. And you bet I’m game for that!

So, what am I looking for from guest posts? How can you pitch your idea to me if you’re interested? Well, you can check out the Guest Posting Policy page, but let me go into a little more detail below.  Continue reading

Stacking The Shelves, Vol. 14: Writer’s Digest Conference Haul

Stacking The Shelves banner

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga’s Reviews that shares the books (both physical and virtual) that you recently purchased, borrowed from a fellow reader or the library, won from a giveaway, or received as gifts. Stacking The Shelves will post on Saturdays as new books are added to my shelves.

Round #1 of #WDC15 coverage begins today! In addition to my articles-in-progress for DIY MFA, I knew I was going to do a Stacking The Shelves piece here. I mean, how can a writer go to a literary conference and not come home with more books? That would have been shameful, wouldn’t it? *lol*

So, here’s my haul from the event:

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Recent Reads: “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” by Laini Taylor

Daughter Smoke Bone cover

Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, Book #1)
Laini Taylor
Fantasy / Young Adult
418 pages (paperback)


Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grow dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself? Continue reading

Interview with Angela B. Chrysler, Author of “Dolor and Shadow”


I’m always excited to meet other fantasy writers through blogging or social media. That’s how I found Angela B. Chrysler last fall, though I don’t quite remember how. I want to say it was on Twitter… But what I do recall is that when Angela shared the premise of her debut novel Dolor and Shadow with me, I knew the story would be up my alley. High fantasy combined with Norse mythology, a foreboding atmosphere, and a dynamic female protagonist – where are the checkboxes to tick off? Oh, and Angela’s a fellow Tolkienite. Yay!

Dolor and Shadow was released on Sunday, May 31st, and I’m honored to have Angela here today for our newest Author Interview. Learn more about her novel, why she chose to self-publish, and how many books she plans to release over the next year. (Holy cow, it’s staggering!)  Let’s dive in, shall we?

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New at DIY MFA: #5onFri – Five World-Building Tips for Writers of All Genres


Today I’m joining DIY MFA for their weekly series #5onFri (Five on Friday)! It’s where writers list five of something – writing tips, recommended novels, etc. – that fall under a specific theme and have something to do with reading or writing.

For my #5onFri, I decided to share five world-building tips for writers of all genres. If you really think about it, world-building isn’t just for speculative fiction writers. Historical fiction, contemporaries, even memoirs need to immerse their readers in settings and cultures that are vivid and believable. Also, the five tips range from details writer should keep in mind while writing or developing a story’s world, to organization and (*gulp*) sharing your ideas with others to ensure your world works.

Click here to read “#5onFri: Five World-Building Tips for Writers of All Genres.”

Do you have other world-building tips to share? Leave a comment below or on the article at DIY MFA, or Tweet your tip using the hashtag #5onFri.

Recent Reads: “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone cover

Shadow and Bone (Book #1 of the Grisha Trilogy)
Leigh Bardugo
Fantasy / Young Adult
356 pages


Alina Starkov doesn’t expect much from life. Orphaned by the Border Wars, she is sure of only one thing: her best friend, Mal – and her inconvenient crush on him. Until the day their army regiment enters the Fold, a swath of unnatural darkness crawling with monsters. When their convoy is attacked and Mal is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power not even she knew existed.

Ripped from everything she knows, Alina is taken to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling. With Alina’s extraordinary power in his arsenal, he believes they can finally destroy the Fold. Now Alina must find a way to master her untamed gift and somehow fit into her new life without Mal by her side. But nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. As the threat to the kingdom mounts and her dangerous attraction to the Darkling grows, Alina will uncover a secret that could tear her heart – and her country – in two.

Rating: 4.75 / 5

It’s been KILLING me that I finished Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone about three weeks ago and I’ve had zero time to write the review. In fact, when I started writing this, I was afraid I’d forgotten everything about the book! Luckily it’s coming back to me now – and that’s a good thing, because Shadow and Bone is an incredible start to what I hope is a fantastic trilogy.

Within a few chapters, I found reason after reason to love Shadow and Bone and blazed through the story faster than I’d expected. First of all, there’s Ravka, the richly developed world inspired by tsarist Russia. The rustic villages, bleak tundra, and ornate royal palace seemed so real in my imagination; and the names of characters and towns had that distinctive Russian feel to them. When I wasn’t reading the book and was outside wearing my new L.L. Bean winter parka, I often felt I had momentarily gone to Ravka. 🙂 The Grisha’s environment was amply fleshed out as well, from their elitist beliefs and color-coded attire to the conflicts within their ranks. And we can’t forget about the magic system, which draws from both elements and chemistry. Not everything is revealed in this book, but I have a feeling I’ll learn more as the series continues.

The characters of Shadow and Bone are wonderful, too. I connected quickly with Alina and admired her for her pragmatism, frankness, and compassion. She’s no “Mary Sue,” though; she has her flaws and weaknesses, and makes some bad decisions as a result. But how can you have a real story if the protagonist is always right? I also liked Mal for his duality, a charming young man who carries a ton of weight on his shoulders. And if I had to choose, my two favorite minor characters would be the servant Genya (a bit superficial, but she means well) and Alina’s instructor Baghra (talk about having a no-nonsense attitude!).

The Darkling needs his own paragraph, and for good reason. Some readers loathe him for his manipulative, slippery ways; others think he’s an awesome villain. Me? I think the Darkling is somewhat one-dimensional, but I still liked him a lot. There were points early on in Shadow and Bone that I actually sympathized with him, and I held onto a sliver of hope that he was being sincere – even though I suspected his true intentions (and I was right!).

By the way, don’t be alarmed of the implied “love triangle” with the three main characters. It’s more of a case of being lured to the dark side without truly knowing it. 😉

Shadow and Bone might also be one of the most well-written fantasy novels I’ve read recently, regardless of the target audience. Bardugo offers lush descriptions, visceral reactions, witty dialogue, and sharp action verbs. The setting and the execution of magic in particular leapt to life because of her fluid, vivid writing style. Like with Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See, I wrote in a journal any words and phrases that resonated with me. (Something tells me this “note-keeping” will become a reading ritual.) I love it when the quality of a book’s writing excites me as much as the story itself.

So, now you know why I not only tore through Shadow and Bone is a matter of days, but also why I adore it. An original fantasy world of darkness, color, and intrigue; well-rounded characters led by a relatable heroine; gorgeous writing that enhances the escapism this genre provides – they’re also factors that make Bardugo’s first installment to the Grisha Trilogy a must-read for fans of both YA and adult fantasy. The only critique I have is that I sometimes wished there was a glossary to help me fully understand or imagine the Russian-esque terms. Otherwise, I can’t wait to return to Ravka and see what happens next to Alina in Siege and Storm!

Have you read Shadow and Bone? What did you think of it? If you haven’t read it yet, do you think you might check it out based on what you’ve read above? Let me know by commenting below or visiting the same review at Amazon or Goodreads.

Chronicling The Craft: 100,000 Words

A Glance into the Faeries’ Magic System

Chapters Completed: 24

Chapters In Progress: 6

Chapters Not Started: 4

“Chronicling The Craft” is an article series where I share my experience with writing my current work-in-progress (WIP), which is a fantasy novel. Every 5,000 words, I let readers know what I’ve accomplished since the previous article and share advice, discoveries, techniques, etc. Besides the word count in each article title, a “chapter ticker” at the top also tracks my progress as I use the skip-around / “writercopter” method to write the novel. Today’s installment celebrates the book reaching 100,000 words in length.

YES! Actually, it’s more like, “WHEW! OK, am I almost done yet?” *lol* Seeing the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel has brought on a kind of “can’t-wait-to-finish-this-draft” itch. Unfortunately, with the upcoming December holidays on top of the usual commitments (if you have a day job, you know what I mean), I’m reminding myself more often to be patient. Thank goodness I’ve got some time off planned right after Christmas and around New Year’s. Guess how I plan to spend the bulk of that time? 😉

If you’ve been following this series, you may already know I’ve done “reveals” with every 25K-word milestone in the fantasy novel. Now that I’ve hit 100,000 words, it’s time for another! But first, here’s a quick update of what I’ve worked on since the Chronicle for 95,000 wordsContinue reading

Interview with Karina Sumner-Smith, Author of “Radiant”

Karina Sumner-Smith

You never know where a book is going to take you sometimes. That was the case with Karina Sumner-Smith’s debut novel Radiant. I guessed from the jacket copy that it would be a cross between urban fantasy and dystopian science fiction. But in the end, I couldn’t pigeon-hole Radiant because, well, I couldn’t. *lol* It’s imaginative, beautifully written, and too difficult to categorize – in a good way that’s equally hard to describe. Does that make sense? Anyway, if you’re looking for a futuristic fantasy that emphasizes world-building and focuses on friendship instead of romance as the primary relationship, Radiant may just sate your appetite.

Today I’m thrilled to have Karina Sumner-Smith here to talk about Radiant as well as her path to becoming a published author. What kind of writing did Karina explore before tackling novels? What YA fantasy novels does she recommend to fans of adult fantasy? And, what can readers expect from her forthcoming sequels to Radiant? Read on to find out the answers to these questions, and much more!

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Interview with Mary Weber, Author of “Storm Siren”

Mary Weber 2

You never know what you’ll discover – or who you’ll meet – thanks to magazines and social media. I first read about Mary Weber and her debut YA fantasy novel, Storm Siren, in Writer’s Digest, then got caught up in the Twitter buzz that followed over the summer. The hype was well-deserved, in my opinion. Storm Siren is a vivid, visceral, and inspiring tale of a young Elemental girl’s struggle to control her storm-wielding powers, save her homeland from impending war, and defeat her inner demons. It’s a brave and unique story that stands out in the crowded YA fantasy market, and one that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss!

Today’s I’m super-excited to have Mary here to talk about Storm Siren and her journey to becoming a published author. What advice does she have for yet-to-be-published writers? What would she do if she visited Faelen, the world she created for Storm Siren? Oh, and who would like a sneak peek into Storm Siren‘s sequel, Siren’s Fury? *raises her hand* Without further ado…   Continue reading