Sunday, 26 May 2013

The writing-bug is coming for me!

Hi everyone!
It’s been a pretty hectic month on my end! Ever since I got back from my field trip to Anglesey in April, I’ve been busy with my last taught assignment of this academic year. Let’s just say I wish I found 3000 words of report as easy as 3000 words of novel!
Around all that for university though, I’ve managed to complete the detailed-synopsis-walkthrough-thing for my new novel: The Tale of Jane Doe. It’s very exciting to see the bare bones all laid out at last! I divided it up into the chapter breaks last night, and now it’s ready to start fleshing out as soon as stuff with more pressing deadlines are behind me! I’ll be so much more relaxed when this report is turned in and I can let the writing-bug loose!
I’m very excited about this new project. It will be the first time I’ve done some proper writing for about a year – this time last summer, I was sitting my final exams, and then I threw myself into a three-book and 80-chapter marathon! I know that sounds like a lot but I really missed not having anything to work on in the meantime. Every single story is a different experience, but this one is going to take me onto some more unexplored ground. I’m not quite sure what genre it even fits into – offhand I’d call it a paranormal fairy-tale, if you can throw those two together! But I honestly don’t know; I don’t write stuff with a specific genre or age in mind. What will be, will be! I can’t wait to get started!
I’ve also nearly completed the book trailer for my upcoming second release, Tragic Silence! Yes, the title has changed slightly, with one word being booted off it, but everything else is intact and due out in November this year! There’s not much more that needs doing now with the video, so I really can’t wait to share the teaser with you – or the book itself, for that matter! For those of you who don’t know much about Tragic Silence, it’s set in Budapest, Hungary, and London, England, between 2005 and 2009. I’d roughly call it a vampire paranormal thriller – but like I said, I’m rubbish with labelling my own stories! I suppose the most important basic detail is that it’s a vampire story, but it’s less of a romance and more a psychological thriller. There’s not much that I have to show in advance for Tragic Silence at the moment, but I should hopefully have the cover artwork to reveal soon, so stay tuned!

The Empath Trilogy - new covers

HK Savage's Empath Trilogy has been revamped with some amazing new covers!
All she wanted was to disappear…

Claire Martin is an empath. She’s lived her entire life as a slave to a constant barrage of emotions that weren't hers. Off to college she hopes simply to blend with the crowd where she can best hide her curse. Within her first few weeks at school Claire meets Stephen Andrews, a small, fragile looking boy who changes her life forever. 

 Stephen, a boy with a secret of his own, instantly recognizes Claire for what she is. It is through Stephen's aid that Claire meets James, a vampire with a talent of his own. As soon as they touch, their abilities connect in a way that has not occurred in over three hundred years forming a bond that cannot be broken.
 
The bad guys are licking their wounds leaving Claire and James to enjoy what promises to be a merry Christmas. Only a traitor among them sends Stephen and Claire into enemy hands.

Past lovers, obligations and rivalries compete, all the while the bond between Claire and James grows and Claire is pulled further toward the vampire side. James is growing dependent upon her to feed his humanity until the boundary that separates them is no longer clear.

A potential husband and a job working for the Court threaten to take Claire's newfound control over her life from her and stick her firmly under someone else's thumb. She must try to keep her wits about herself enough to figure out what she wants before the ability to decide is gone forever, and try not to get any of her loved ones killed in the process.
Paris, everyone is together and forgets for one night about the looming threat of war between the races for a wedding. But no sooner are their vows exchanged than the newlyweds are called upon to serve the Court.

Stateside, an old photograph turns up with a member of the vampire's Court and several other men linked to an organization called Nightshade Holdings, LLC. More digging reveals how deep Nightshade's influence extends and just how deeply the Court itself is involved in the plot to start an interspecies war.

Love is found, old friends die and a greater enemy than any thought possible is revealed. It will take everything for the clan and the vampires to stop the war before it is too late.
HK Savage's Links:


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


HK Savage has been a voracious reader of anything she could get her hands on going back to the second grade when she would set her alarm two hours early to read before school. Her passion for the written word has continued and flowed into writing going back nearly as far. Her books have fans in twenty countries on six continents with hopes of attracting attention on Antarctica if for no other reason than to check a box. Currently, HK is a mother, wife and black belt in Karate as well as an avid dressage rider. Her three dogs: a Doberman she uses for therapy dog work and two ancient Doxies keep her busy when she is not writing or working or whatever else. In addition to editing for the past ten years in advertising, HK has been an editor for several newsletters over the years; her favorite being for Heifer International where her ideas were put into effect and complimented by those on high. Currently her skills are being focused on clients in the writing world. Paranormal is her favorite genre and science fiction because both address the possibilities we have not yet realized and the darker things we have.

Her favorite premise: “what if?”



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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

When in doubt, simplify

I don’t really know what’s made me want to write this post but it’s something I’d like to share. Sometimes I feel caught in the middle of the two main sides of my life – that is, my stories and my uni studies. The whole idea of science vs imagination is something I’ve thought about since I was in my early teens; how the two have often contradicted each other, and led to quite a lot of confusion for me. How is it possible to make sense of one or the other, or even both together?
Even though I have a BSc degree, science doesn’t come very naturally to me. A lot of it, I mainly understand because I made myself understand it. I used to think when I was younger, where was the room for daydreaming and magic in a path of logic and facts? When I saw a tree, my first thought wasn’t on photosynthesis and nutrient uptake – it was imagining I could see gnomes using the bark markings as camouflage!
Stories – another thing I’ve been doing since childhood – are a different matter. I grasp them a lot easier. I was the kid who the teachers told to “get your head out of the clouds.” But It can be very easy to give up if a story doesn’t go your way. Stories are strange and definitely have a mind of their own. You have to keep a leash on them to a point; otherwise they’ll run away with you. Demand the characters to do stuff because you ‘know what happens to them’, rather than ask them politely... they’ll just spring something unexpected on you! Cue the writer’s block!
Just like I’ve learned how to adapt for science, I’ve also learned how to combat the same spanner which writing sometimes throws in the works. It’s different for everyone so I only have my own personal experience to go on. But for me it all comes down to a basic rule: When in doubt, simplify.
Stories have grey areas. They are three-dimensional. They’re a weird sort of extra state of matter that’s solid as a rock, but which will slip through your fingers like water if you try to hold onto them too hard. They are real and breathing because you, the author, have them as your reality. If I don’t feel as though I am completely consumed, I know something’s not right. I treat my characters as real people because they are real to me – I spend time getting to know them and their world, before I know they’ll trust me with what they have to say. There is research; planning; more research; mental conversations with cake on the side! And this is all before a single word is written.
When in doubt, simplify.
A layered story – a believable story – will try to run away from you. When I feel that starting to happen, I take a step back and think, “Okay, what is the basic principle here? What is hidden underneath all this white noise, trying to get out through what I will write?” If I forget all the problems I’m trying to figure out, even if it’s just for an hour or so, then the answer might fall straight into my lap.
Many authors don’t actually become novelists until later life; they may have experience in their own fields or their own personal lives which they can then bring into their fiction. Deborah Harkness, author of A Discovery of Witches, got inspiration from her background in history. Stephen King found a muse for The Shining from a real hotel. And although it’s dipped in fiction, Joanne Greenberg’s I Never Promised You a Rose Garden stems from her own mental battles. These are all brilliant stories, all enriched by subtle weavings of reality which play off what readers can find familiar. That’s why they work.
I’m very lucky in that I’ve managed to achieve my writing dreams at a young age; but even though I’m still a student, I have my own fair share of experience that I can draw on. To go back to the science stuff I mentioned before; if it wasn’t for focusing on that for eight years of education, my stories would probably be much shallower. It helped me plant my feet on the ground while my head was in the clouds. It gave me an understanding of the real world, but yet fuelled my stories in a way I probably never would have gone otherwise. Geography taught me the lay of a glaciated landscape, which I used for the Elitland in Blindsighted Wanderer; biology showed me how gills work, which I applied to the Asrae. Rather than just slapping these ideas into my stories simply for effect, I understood them, and believed in them even more because of it.
And now I’m older, I can see how they’re not as far apart as I once thought. Because both studying science and writing a novel rely on asking questions. If you don’t wonder how a tree survives, or how a gnome might hide in them, you’ll never know, and you’ll never get to share it.
Anything can inspire; anyone can be inspired. It doesn’t matter if you decide to change course, or take two paths at once. They don’t need to be separate because it seems like that’s where they belong. Exploration is one of the keys to writing, so why not break the mould? But if everything starts to run away and try to take you on a wild ride, just strip it away; then you’ve got no excuse but to look at it with a fresh eye. Who knows what you might see? Simplicity is an amazing thing.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Review: Emotionally Charged (The Empath Chronicles #1) by Selina Fenech

Emotionally Charged (Empath Chronicles, #1)

5 / 5

Livvy always dreamed of the day when a rich, handsome hero would appear and whisk her away from her mundane life. She never thought she would be the one doing the saving.

Reading the emotions of people around her is easy for Livvy. When an earthquake strikes her city, a supernaturally attractive group of rescuers show her that her power goes beyond that. She’s now one of them. Special. But the dream life she’s been swept into seems too easy, and soon turns into a nightmare.

Emotionally Charged is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy for Young Adults by Selina Fenech. The story is a Novella (shorter than a full length novel, but longer than a short story).



First of all, I just want to say a huge thank you to Selina for sending me my copy of Emotionally Charged!

I can pretty much sum up this book with one word: WOW.

Emotionally Charged has an interesting concept, intriguing characters, and a twist in the tail that works so well. I think it can be very easy to get lost in some paranormal stories where a swoony girl ends up falling for a boy with a secret, but not many of them manage to link in to reality beneath the fantastical elements. This story, on the other hand, has a strong moral thread running through it, about the dangers of ego, and how the desire to fit in can sometimes blind you to falling in with the wrong crowd. It’s also empowering to see how Livvy – naive and somewhat unsure at the beginning – grows and matures as we follow her into the world of Empaths.

I really wish the book had been longer because I was enjoying it so much, I didn’t want it to end as soon as it did! But I knew this was a novella, rather than a full-size novel, from the start. I can’t really think of anything to say about Emotionally Charged that would make it any less than five stars for me. I thoroughly enjoyed it and can’t wait to delve deeper into the series for more!

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Review: Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)

4 / 5

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another.

Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.



I really enjoyed this book. I’ve been looking for a new fantasy to get stuck in with, and this one appealed to me as soon as I picked it up. It’s got a great setting with some pretty breathtaking locations, as well as a well-rounded cast of characters, and a heroine who knows how to kick some butt and play a dangerous game of trust! I’d heard that Maas was inspired by Cinderella fairytale, which drew me in the first place – when I was reading it, I could see little nods to that story throughout the book. Saying that, it stands alone well by itself, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially fans of the Hunger Games and Sabriel. There are also some nice blends of other genres in there too; romance, as well as a bit of a whodunit.

The character development is brilliantly done, and Maas has achieved the task of moving between their viewpoints and keeping the narrative flowing smoothly. The majority is told from the POV of our butt-kicking heroine, Celaena, and the journey she takes into unfamiliar territory of both surroundings and mind, is mesmerising to watch unfold. Throughout the book, I was wondering about her mysterious past, and how it shaped her to become a notorious assassin. Her sharp tongue brought some real sarcastic humour to the story, and from the opening I was chuckling at her dry way of approaching a situation. She isn’t the only great character though; so many of them feel living and breathing, so you can really love them, or love to hate them.

The only low points for the story for me was that I felt it slowed in pace a little towards the middle; and I was hoping for a little more magic in general. But, saying that, having finished reading, I can understand why it didn’t play a larger role and hope it will be expanded on in further books. I won’t reveal any more about that so there are no spoilers, but persevere! It’s worth it! This is probably one of my favourite books of 2013 so far, and I can’t wait to read more!

I really enjoyed this book. I’ve been looking for a new fantasy to get stuck in with, and this one appealed to me as soon as I picked it up. It’s got a great setting with some pretty breathtaking locations, as well as a well-rounded cast of characters, and a heroine who knows how to kick some butt and play a dangerous game of trust! I’d heard that Maas was inspired by Cinderella fairytale, which drew me in the first place – when I was reading it, I could see little nods to that story throughout the book. Saying that, it stands alone well by itself, and I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy, especially fans of the Hunger Games and Sabriel. There are also some nice blends of other genres in there too; romance, as well as a bit of a whodunit.

The character development is brilliantly done, and Maas has achieved the task of moving between their viewpoints and keeping the narrative flowing smoothly. The majority is told from the POV of our butt-kicking heroine, Celaena, and the journey she takes into unfamiliar territory of both surroundings and mind, is mesmerising to watch unfold. Throughout the book, I was wondering about her mysterious past, and how it shaped her to become a notorious assassin. Her sharp tongue brought some real sarcastic humour to the story, and from the opening I was chuckling at her dry way of approaching a situation. She isn’t the only great character though; so many of them feel living and breathing, so you can really love them, or love to hate them.

The only low points for the story for me was that I felt it slowed in pace a little towards the middle; and I was hoping for a little more magic in general. But, saying that, having finished reading, I can understand why it didn’t play a larger role and hope it will be expanded on in further books. I won’t reveal any more about that so there are no spoilers, but persevere! It’s worth it! This is probably one of my favourite books of 2013 so far, and I can’t wait to read more!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Review: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende

The Neverending Story
4 / 5
This epic work of the imagination has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide since it was first published more than a decade ago. Its special story within a story is an irresistible invitation for readers to become part of the book itself. And now this modern classic and bibliophile's dream is available in hardcover again.

The story begins with a lonely boy named Bastian and the strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place - by giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic - and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return. As he is drawn deeper into Fantastica, he must find the mysteries of his own heart.

Readers, too, can travel to the wonderous, unforgettable world of Fantastica if they will just turn the page...

I love the film version of the Neverending Story and I’ve wanted to read the book for ages, so when I finally managed to find it, I couldn’t wait to get started. And I was not disappointed.
I had often wondered, having seen the film, how the book originally approached the idea of a story within a story. I can only marvel at how Michael Ende has managed to achieve this feat and not lose the flow of the story or overwhelm the reader with confusion. The way the book’s chapters are the chapters of the Neverending Story itself, complete with beautiful old-fashioned illustrations, really made me feel as though I was sitting next to Bastian in the dusty school attic, reading every single word as he did.
The way Bastian and Atreyu interact through the story is beautifully handled. Their separate journeys entwine and dance on two sides of the page, before finally uniting in Fantastica. I loved the way their story expanded beyond the story shown in the film, which is essentially only the first half of the book. I particularly liked the way the Southern Oracle was described, and the way it could only speak in rhyming verse. I also liked the way the Nothing was described; not as the rampaging black storm cloud which was embedded in my memory, but as a creeping force that seemed all the more menacing.
I’d highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy books, especially the traditional quest-types, with smart and interesting twists. I can definitely see myself reading it again!

Review: Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

Long Lankin

3 / 5

Beware of Long Lankin, that lives in the moss. . . .When Cora and her younger sister, Mimi, are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Byers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome. Auntie Ida is eccentric and rigid, and the girls are desperate to go back to London. But what they don't know is that their aunt's life was devastated the last time two young sisters were at Guerdon Hall, and she is determined to protect her nieces from an evil that has lain hidden for years. Along with Roger and Peter, two village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries -- before it's too late for little Mimi. Riveting and intensely atmospheric, this stunning debut will hold readers in its spell long after the last page is turned.


The cover and chilling legend of Long Lankin is what drew me to this book and I started reading it in earnest. I was instantly captured by the idea of a period of history that is perhaps a little overlooked; very shortly after the end of World War 2 when England was suffering in poverty from the aftermath of the conflict. Throw that in with a ghost story and it makes for quite an interesting mix!

I have to say, though, I was a bit underwhelmed by the story as it unfolded. Its pace is annoyingly slow, and seemed full of odd details that didn’t really serve to add anything except length. When a story has a period setting, I completely appreciate the amount of research and effort that has to go into transporting the reader to a specific pocket in time, and making it believable. But there’s a fine line that can be crossed which means too much detail, and that’s what trap I think this book fell into. I found that in many places, I only needed to read the first sentence or two of a paragraph to get an idea for what was happening. I hate skim-reading and skipping sections of any book, but I admit I did do that a little with this one.

Another thing that I found frustrating was the way the narrative tense kept randomly changing from past to present. It was like going over a pothole and seemed to completely jolt me out of the story. Also confusing was the jumps between characters. The book is told from several viewpoints, namely Cora, Roger, and Ida, and although doing this usually offers depth and meat to a story, with this one it didn’t have the seamlessness which I would have liked.
Saying all this, however, the descriptions of the surroundings were well handled, as were the way Barraclough brings in nods to Cockney and London through Cora’s remarks. The book manages to paint an intriguing picture of post-war England, which although oversaturated in parts, is a joy to see nonetheless. In regards to the titular character, I really liked how Long Lankin was given his own back-story that tied in with the other characters and gave some depth to the supernatural elements of the book.

I’m unsure about whether I’ll read the sequel, but although I’m a little on the hedge with how I feel about Long Lankin, I’d suggest giving it a try if you can persevere with the slow parts.