Sunday, 3 December 2017

Evernight Readers' Choice Awards!


Listen up, folks! It's that one time of year I put aside my shame of self-promotion and ask you to get out and vote! On the condition that you only vote if you actually read one of my books and enjoyed it. Don't just vote because I told you to. I feel like that would undermine the process.

Anyway! It's time for the fifth annual Evernight Readers' Choice Awards! Get out there and show your favourite authors and books some love (and get yourself in the running for a prize!). Five of my books are eligible for awards this year, should you be so inclined:

THROWN TO THE WOLVES - best lesbian, best paranormal, and best Romance on The Go


IN COLD BLOOD - best paranormal, best suspense, and best lesbian


LICH QUEEN - best paranormal and best suspense


ON A DARK TIDE - Best paranormal, best contemporary, best suspense, and best lesbian


And IMPERIAL DEMONS - best paranormal, best contemporary, best suspense, best lesbian


And you can vote for any of these titles for best cover and book of the year, as well as voting for Blood Canticles as best series and me as author of the year! Phew. It's been a busy a year, I realise, when I line them all up like that.

I've been honoured and humbled to be a winner or runner-up in several categories over the past four years. I never expect it and I'm always thrilled, and I would be grateful for your votes again this year! 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Housekeeping

Hello, folks. *blows dust off blog* It's been a bit quiet round here since the release of IMPERIAL DEMONS, I know. I've been a bit quiet. Normally I would have sent out promo packs to fellow authors who generously offer blog space, and I generally try to be "present" online without constantly screaming HEY I HAVE A NEW BOOK OUT PLEASE LIKE IT!!!

But I'm not feeling very normal at the moment. I'm going through what I think of as a quiet patch of depression. That is to say, I'm standing at the edge of a stormy sea, aware I could be sucked in by the tide, rather than being out in that storm, helpless while the water closes over my head. I've suffered from depression on and off for...most of my life, I guess? I was undiagnosed as a teenager, but once I got diagnosed at university, I could look back and say "oh, that's what that was." Sometimes I need counselling and medication, and sometimes I get by without either of those things and just ride the storm out.

This time, it crept up on me slowly. I knew I was getting more anxious and irrational in my thoughts throughout September and October, but I blamed that on the approaching anniversary of my dad's death. But the feeling didn't pass once October did, and suddenly I found myself in the toilets at work, the day after IMPERIAL DEMONS came out, sobbing over nothing, and thought, "yeah, you probably need to talk to someone."

So I talked to my doctor and I'm taking medication, and I'm now at that nice point where I recognise that my thoughts aren't facts, and I can observe them rather than let them consume me. The storm is still out there, but I'm safe on the beach.

The downside is I really, really cannot write. Forget the romantic notion that suffering is good for art. For me, that's never been true. My writing started to lag in September, was almost nonexistent in October, and despite my resolution to write every day in November to finish an Amber Morgan book, I've done...virtually nothing again. It frustrates and panics me, and it takes away one of my coping mechanisms for when I feel low. So that's kind of a vicious circle. I want to write because I feel sad, but I feel too sad to write. My brain is...blank. Simple tasks feel beyond my strength, and writing isn't a simple task no matter how much I enjoy it. It takes time and care and love, and I don't have the energy or motivation for those things right now.

So in short, I'm not doing very much at the moment and I'm saving my energy for stuff I can't avoid, like going to work and remembering to put my clothes on the right way round (I did forget one day, but luckily I realised my top was on back to front before anyone else got to the office).

Nevertheless, there is stuff happening that I want to talk about. People who follow me on Facebook and Twitter may already know, but for those who don't, Ragnarok Publications recently announced they will be closing their doors temporarily. I don't know what will happen long-term (though I wish the team all the best), but short-term, UNDERTOW is one of the books that will be pulled from sale in December. All the rights will revert to me then.


I won't lie. I'm gutted. I'd just started to think there was still a chance to keep the Shoregrave/Ethan Banning dream alive. I'd had some positive talks with the new Ragnarok team when they took over, and felt like Ethan, at least, had a shot.

Now...now I don't know. In a way, the depression is helping me decide, because when I weigh up whether I have the energy right now to either self-publish AFTERLIFE, DEMONIZED, and UNDERTOW, or try to find new homes for them, the answer is hell no. I've been trying to keep the series afloat for a long time now, and honestly, whilst I love Ethan Banning to death, I'm basically flogging a dead horse at this point. Part of my heart will always tell me I need to go back and write more stories in this world, with these characters, but after years of telling myself "maybe," I think it's time to tell myself "no."

So that's that. As from December 1st, UNDERTOW will no longer be available. I will leave the Ethan Banning Files short stories available on Amazon and Smashwords, but AFTERLIFE and DEMONIZED will not be republished and I don't intend to write anymore books in this series.

Phew.

Okay. That's it, really. I'm hoping to ease back into writing a bit at a time, and in my ideal world, I'll finish that Amber Morgan book before we take off to Japan at the end of December. Realistically, that probably isn't going to happen, but let's call it a soft goal. In the meantime, I'm off to check my jumper is on the right way round.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Imperial Demons is in the wild!



Today's the day, folks! IMPERIAL DEMONS is unleashed! And I am SUPER EXCITED. I feel like DARK DAYS may as well have been released a lifetime ago, and I've been raring to get Lola and Tristesse's next adventure out in the world. And now, here we are!

There is nothing I don't love about this book. World-building Gehenna was so much fun. Writing a truly inhuman villain was a great challenge. Forcing Lola and Tristesse to grow in ways I absolutely hadn't planned way back in BLOOD WITCH was fantastic! I know I've said it before, but I never intended BLOOD WITCH to be anything more than a one-off novella. To now be at book four in the series, with books five, six, and maybe seven in the pipeline makes me incredibly proud and excited.

Parts of IMPERIAL DEMONS were wrenching to write, but I think I've given you an awesome story, and I have plenty of fun, madness, and magic coming up for Lola and Tris still. We just have to go through some hard times to get there...


Magic can make you mad. Love can make you dangerous.

Tristesse is gone, taken between worlds to be the bride of a sadistic demon prince. And Lola will do anything to get her back. Crossing into Gehenna is only the start. Hunted by monsters and accompanied by allies she can’t trust, Lola must endure the horrors of the demon world, and embrace the darkness of demon magic. If it doesn’t consume her, it might just save both her and Tristesse.

But in Gehenna nothing is guaranteed. Nothing except pain.

Pick up your copy (for a discount!) right now at Evernight. Or grab it from Amazon US, Amazon UK, and probably wherever else you get your ebooks!

And you can read on right now for a glimpse at the first chapter!

Snickt!

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Author Interview - Aletta Thorne and her ghostly romance

I know, I know, I should have got this up yesterday. It would have made a perfect Halloween post! In my defense, I've had a headache since Sunday and I'm having a bout of seasonal affective disorder that's been kicking my ass, so I've basically been shirking...everything except the basics, I guess. You know, the day job, tea, cheesecake.

Anyway! It's the first of November and Aletta Thorne is here to talk about her new release, The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins, which is just a fantastic title. So, no more excuses from me - let's find out what it's all about!


Hi, Aletta! Tell us a little bit about your newest release.

My new book, The Chef and the Ghost of Bartholomew Addison Jenkins answers a question you probably haven’t asked, although I can’t imagine why not!  What happens if you have a one-nighter with a ghost?  The story is set in a little Hudson River town in upstate New York, in the autumn of 1982. The main character is a woman chef trying to recover from a nasty divorce.  The restaurant world was a pretty crazy place in the early 80’s.  So: Revolutionary war era ghosts--and cooks.  And believe it or not, a happy ending, but it’s a pretty wild ride.

So we've got the 80s, food, and a ghost. This sounds perfect! Was there any part of this story you found particularly tough to write? If so, why?

I’ve written YA books.  This is my first adult romance.  At first it felt weird NOT to cut away during the love scenes.  But after I got used to it, I was able to cope quite nicely by fanning myself a little and having a Diet Coke, thank you very much.  My life has been…enriched!  Funny how something that seems challenging at first can end up being liberating.  And wonderful.

So leading on from that, is there any part of this story you absolutely love, and why?

I love my characters.  The lead ghost is pretty complex: confident, needy, and quite sexy.  His side-kick Geoff is very funny, too.  He’s a trickster.  I love the setting.  I was a chef for a while in the 80’s and those were wild days.  It was fun being about to write about that pirate ship world. Anthony Bourdain doesn’t lie about how nuts it was.  Professional cooks are interesting people: smart, tough, and practical. Risk-takers.  A tribe, for certain.

I'm always fascinated by behind-the-scenes accounts from the restaurant world! Do you have a favourite genre to write in?

I’m a paranormal author if I’m writing fiction, whether it’s for grownups or for teens. I just like magic--stuff that can’t possibly happen, but does.  And I almost always write in the past.  I guess it’s the “once upon a time” beginning that hooks me in creatively.  My YA books are time travelers.  

I feel the same way about magic :) If you could have dinner with any three writers, living or dead, who would they be?  

Hmm...Madeleine L’Engle (who wrote A Wrinkle in Time)  is a huge hero of mine, and informs my writing for young people.  I guess I’d also invite the contemporary British author of historical fiction Sarah Waters, who blows me away every time I open one of her books.  And the American poet Anne Sexton, who kept me sane during college years, and I think would have been wonderful to have a few glasses of wine with.  I’m sorry I never got to at least thank her.  That would be a good party!

Good choices! Anne Sexton would be a great person to sit down for a drink with. Are there any books you can just read over and over again and never get sick of?

I used to teach high school English,  so I’ve probably read The Scarlet Letter twenty times. Although Hawthorne was a gloomy gus and I don’t think I’d want to dine with him, that is pretty much a perfect novel.  (He was, however, really cute.  Google him and see!)

I felt obliged to add a picture of Nathaniel Hawthorne for you all.

If you could recommend any book (beside your own) to everyone reading this, what would it be?

Lincoln in the Bardo totally deserves the Man Booker Prize, and I’m not just saying that ‘cause I’m from the States.  Mind blown!

Now the hardball question. Tea or coffee?

Coffee, preferably latte.  Two cups in the morning, while I write.

I'm starting to feel like the only tea-drinker in the world! Apart from writing, what are your great passions in life?

I love music.  I sing choral music regularly, and play guitar and dulcimer.  I used to ring tower chimes in a church in New York City.  I DJ rock and roll at a little internet radio station, and I listen to absolutely everything.  I’m currently obsessed with a group called Offa Rex.

Awesome! My fiance used to DJ regularly, and still breaks out the decks every now and then. What else are you working on right now? What's up next from you?

I’m going to bang through something during National Novel Writing Month in November.  I’m actually toying with going way outside my comfort zone and writing a romance about a woman trying to live in one of the tiny houses that seem to be on TV so much lately.  

My all-purpose writer’s website is still under my real name, Christine Potter, (although posts about the romance are starting to appear there, too).  Because I will continue to write YA, I’ll probably split off a site for Aletta, but for now:


Aletta Thorne on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alettasghosts/

Instagram (all my writing here, too): https://www.instagram.com/chrispygal/

Thanks, Aletta! So, now you know a bit more about the author and her book, how about a teaser from it? But first - don't forget to pick up your copy!



Excerpt

“You’ll turn over the record. Oh, because you…”

“I do like to keep up. Who poured you wine from the … refrigerator? Although, I don’t understand why people of your age prefer it so icy.”

Alma followed Bart into the living room, still wondering why things didn’t seem odder than they were. She remembered the Casper the Friendly Ghost cartoons she’d seen as a little girl. This ghost was acting—well, perhaps a bit more flirty than friendly. He only glowed a bit as they walked through the dim hallway that connected her rooms. You can hardly even tell he’s translucent. What had he seen of her, though? She was glad her frustrating night with Sid had been at his place.

As Bart bent over the turntable and flipped the record, the reading lamp by her couch highlighted the silver buttons of his coat. She curled up on the couch and put her wine glass on the glass-covered orange crate she’d turned into a coffee table. 

Bart sat beside her, suspiciously close. He put an arm over the back of the couch, and Alma shook her head again. That’s the old sneaky-arm trick—like a high school kid. It’s kind of cute. She pulled her legs up under herself, and they quietly listened to the music.

“You’re right,” she said after a few minutes. “‘Fountains’ is really good, too. I almost never listen to that side.”

Bart made a quiet harrumphing noise. 

Do ghosts clear their throats? Apparently so.

“Dear lady,” he said. “Although I do try not to snoop, as you would say, I have indeed observed your solitude. Let me assure you, your life will soon be happier.” He slid even closer to her.

Okay. Now the ghost is absolutely coming on to me. This is really happening. Oh, hell—why not? He’s not bad—for a dead guy.

“Um, Bart?” she said. His eyes really were a startling color—almost bronze… “You can’t actually be…”

Bart set his fingertips on her cheeks, looked into her eyes, and sighed. Then he smiled. “You think this is a ridiculous situation. It’s not ridiculous,” he said. “Not at all. Allow me to demonstrate … with your permission, m’lady.”

Somehow, that was funny, and Alma giggled. “Granted.”

Bart’s hands were impossibly soft and gentle—and his touch had some of the same fire-and-ice buzz that she’d felt before in the kitchen when he’d tried to get her attention. He guided her lips to his, and gave her what would have been a tiny peck—from anyone else. It shot a bolt of fire straight through her. 

“Oh,” she said. It took a minute to get her breath.



Saturday, 28 October 2017

Retro Reading - Spoopy Edition the Second

I read a lot of RL Stine's Point Horror books, and because I knew he also wrote Goosebumps and Fear Street (even though I never read them), I had this impression of him as A Big Fucking Deal. Like it was probably really cool of him to come and write for Point Horror because, you know, he was RL Stine. Books like The Boyfriend and The Girlfriend, and the Babysitter trilogy (which I also never read) seemed...important to the Point Horror catalogue to me for some reason. I didn't know why at the time and after reading Halloween Night, I'm not the wiser because this book is a shit show.


Let's begin by meeting our heroine,  Brenda. She's your typical American teen, I guess. Just living her best life, dating a guy called Ted, hanging out with her friends and having to share her house temporarily with her cousin Halley, who's living with Brenda's family while her parents work out their horrendous divorce. Brenda is really sympathetic to her cousin during this difficult, traumatic time.


Wait, that's not a great example. Brenda is our heroine, after all. I know the book opens with her picking on Halley, but we're going to follow Brenda through this whole book, so surely Stine is going to show her more empathetic side, right? So we can relate to her when the horror starts. Right?


Right. Okay, well, sure. I mean, it's tough having to give up your room to family in need. I'd probably be angry too, but it's not like this is Halley's fault. She didn't ask her parents to get divorced and pack her off to live with her cousin. She didn't make Brenda's parents give her Brenda's room. This is a rough time for Halley, her life uprooted, her parents in a vicious custody battle, her entire world turned upside down! Surely, even if Brenda is resentful at losing her own space (temporarily), Brenda's friends will try to make her see reason?


Okay, well, never mind.

In any case, Halley is kind of a bitch, managing to steal both Brenda and Traci's boyfriends from them. I personally wouldn't count this as much of a loss, especially in the case of Ted, who's dull at best:


And a downright fucking moron at worst, which is all the rest of the time, to be honest.


Anyway, the crux of the plot is that Brenda, driven mad by Halley inconsiderately being the child of a broken home right under Brenda's goddamn nose, decides to write Halley into a murder mystery story which she and her friends Dina and Traci have to write for a school assignment (what?). Traci is all for it. Dina is more reluctant since, as the child of a broken home herself, she has actual empathy for Halley.

As the story unfolds, strange, threatening things begin happening to Brenda. Someone writes in actual blood on her bedroom wall. She finds a dead bird in her room. She finds maggots in her fucking bed omg. All these warnings seem to point to one thing - someone is coming for Brenda. On Halloween night. Brenda thinks Halley is the one behind it all. Brenda's parents don't really give a shit either way.


"Hey baby girl, sorry someone crept into your room and painted a threat on the wall in actual blood. I couldn't figure out how to fix it myself, so I hired someone, but they no-showed, so...eh. The couch is free, though."

Okay, I kind of understand Brenda a little better now.

Anyway! As tensions come to a head between Brenda and Halley, and Brenda's Halloween night costume party approaches, Brenda figures out who's really behind all the dead birds and whatnot and formulates a convoluted plan to out the creep.

Okay. Spoilers now. It was Dina. It was Dina, you guys, and you may not be surprised to learn it's because Brenda is an empathy vacuum who can't fathom other people being in pain and needing support in difficult times.


Ugh. So fucking inconsiderate of Dina to make Brenda feel uncomfortable with her traumatic experiences, amirite? Fuck Dina.

So yes, Dina stalks Brenda because she sees Brenda being a dick to Halley just the same way she was a dick to Dina, and she wants Brenda to finally understand what it's like to suffer so much. Which...you know, fair enough.



But here's the thing, and the reason why I'm giving away the plot of this twenty-four year old book. The resolution to the plot is so fucking overbooked it's ridiculous. Here's what happens:

1. Brenda figures out Dina is behind the threatening messages, etc.
2. Brenda and Traci agree between them to pretend they still think it's Halley and that they're going to actually murder Halley at their Halloween party like in their story.
3. They think this will force Dina to confess.
4. She doesn't confess.
5. So Brenda and Traci actually proceed as if they're actually going to murder Halley and set up a ludicrous plot involving costume swaps so that (in theory), they can stab Halley at the party and then have the "culprit" apparently disappear because everyone's in costume and therefore nobody can know who really stabbed Halley.
6. On the night of the party, Brenda convinces Halley to switch costumes with her.
7. Dina gets wind of this and stabs Brenda, but doesn't kill her because Brenda sewed extra fucking foam into the costume she borrowed from Halley at some point.
8. Everyone pulls off their masks and shouts AHA! And Dina confesses in a scene I imagine to be like this:


Now, here are the things that didn't happen on page during this sequence of events:

1. Brenda and Traci agreeing to set up Dina.
2. Brenda telling Halley about Dina.
3. Brenda convincing Halley to swap costumes with her.
4. Dina overhearing this conversation and thus knowing who to stab.

And here are some extra things that happened for no fucking reason whatsoever:

1. Brenda convinced Ted to come to her party in a Frankenstein costume because her plan (as she relates it to Dina) is to stab Halley whilst wearing a Frankenstein costume, then get changed to provide herself an alibi. So now anyone who sees the stabbing think Ted did it.
2. Brenda comes up with this side-plot and enacts it without telling anyone else she's manipulated Ted to getting involved, because obviously she isn't really going to stab anyone but she still decides it would be fun if her ex-boyfriend potentially got framed for murder, even a fake murder, even her own fake murder because she's planning to swap costumes with Halley, even a fake murder she can't actually guarantee is going to go down because she has no way of knowing that Dina knows she's planning to swap costumes with Halley and she has no reason to believe Dina would actually stab either her or Halley in the first fucking place.

I can't. I can't even, you guys. Brenda's entire plan is contingent on...what? WHAT? WHAT WAS THE PLAN? Dina refuses to A) go along with "murdering" Halley and B) confess to being Brenda's stalker, so Brenda and Traci are just like, "well, shall we go along with the fake murder anyway? Cool!" AND THEN Brenda decides to costume-swap with Halley even though she has no way of knowing Dina would know about the swap. So what's her thinking here? That Dina, who refused to get involved with the fake murder would decide at the last minute to stab Halley anyway even though Dina has been specifically doing all this shit to Brenda because SHE FEELS SORRY FOR HALLEY?

WHAT?

WHAT?

I just want to spell this out again because it makes no fucking sense whatsoever. Brenda does not know that Dina knows they switched costumes. It's revealed AFTER the stabbing that Dina overheard them agree to swap. As far as Brenda knows, Dina thinks she's stabbing Halley. Brenda, for some reason, knew Dina would stab whoever was in Halley's costume even though Dina has been on Halley's side throughout this whole fucking mess.


THIS MAKES NO FUCKING SENSE.

Does Brenda just hate Halley so much she assumes everyone else does too, and that Dina just won't be able to pass up the opportunity to stab her once it's presented? One of the reasons it's taken me a week to write up this post is that I keep hoping I'll suddenly understand Brenda's plan, and I can't because there is no fucking plan. It's just everyone hoping the right person will get fake-stabbed. I don't even know if there's that much thought behind it, to be honest.

And even if everything else did make sense, why the fuck did Brenda get Ted involved? Like, I know he cheated on her and I'm not condoning that, BUT BRENDA WAS PREPARED TO FRAME HIM FOR A FAKE MURDER IN REVENGE AND THAT IS NOT A PROPORTIONATE RESPONSE OKAY.

Even Vince McMahon might have refused to book this story line.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Imperial Demons cover reveal!

GUYS. IMPERIAL DEMONS has a cover and it's SPECTACULAR.



I have been swooning over this baby for days now, and I'm thrilled to share it! Once again, Evernight and Jay Aheer have done me proud. I just don't have words for how perfect this is!

Magic can make you mad. Love can make you dangerous.

Tristesse is gone, taken between worlds to be the bride of a sadistic demon prince. And Lola will do anything to get her back. Crossing into Gehenna is only the start. Hunted by monsters and accompanied by allies she can’t trust, Lola must endure the horrors of the demon world, and embrace the darkness of demon magic. If it doesn’t consume her, it might just save both her and Tristesse.

But in Gehenna nothing is guaranteed. Nothing except pain.

I'm still waiting on the release date, but all the edits are wrapped up so stay tuned!

And look how good they all look together too:


I'm kinda mind-blown that this series is at book four already. When I started BLOOD WITCH back in the day, it was meant to be a quick, short, one-shot novella. Now it's looking likely to be a seven-book series in total, and with every book I just fall more and more in love with the world and characters. I really cannot wait to share IMPERIAL DEMONS with you all <3

Monday, 16 October 2017

"I hate mornings, and Mondays. And working. But other than that I am entirely happy."

I've been in a real writing slump since September. I've been working on an Amber Morgan project ("working" in the loosest sense of the word, because not much work is getting done), which I really should have finished by now, but my motivation levels have been pretty much non-existent. I've been feeling low as a result - when I'm not writing, I'm not happy. It's taken me a while to figure out the problem, and it's a combination of things really, but yesterday I deleted the last 2500 words I wrote on that wip and felt much better.

They weren't bad words. They just weren't the right words. I'm confident that when I go back to the project, I'll be in a better place and frame of mind to tackle and finish it.

That didn't happen yesterday because I had the first round edits for IMPERIAL DEMONS to work on! YAY! This time last year, I was just starting work on this book. I took a break on it to finish LICH QUEEN, so it feels like a lifetime ago that I started it now. I loved getting back to Lola and Tristesse and re-reading the almighty tome that was never going to end that is IMPERIAL DEMONS. I can't wait to share it with you all, and now the first round edits are in the bag, hopefully it won't be too long before I can! I know some people were disappointed with LICH QUEEN and the switch to Dawn, but it was important for me to tell that story and wrap up that story arc in the series. IMPERIAL DEMONS and the next two or three books (haven't decided how many I'll need yet!) will focus on Lola and Tristesse, and the fallout of their time in Gehenna, and I wanted to clear the slate, as it were, before digging into that arc.

So stay tuned - release dates and cover art are surely not far away!

Meanwhile, are we following each other on Instagram? No? Maybe we should! You can find me there as naomi_jay_clark. Evernight's seventh birthday is coming up and part of the celebration is a Loop Giveaway on Instagram!



Myself and 31 other fantastic authors will be taking part on October 23rd.  Each author will have a prize to giveaway and Evernight is offering a few GRAND PRIZES, including gift certificates and prize packs. If you complete the loop, you’ll have the chance to #win at least 35 different prizes.
I’m giving away a collectible THROWN TO THE WOLVES mug, like so:
So hit me up and look out for the giveaway later this month! Following me also has the benefits of seeing silly pictures of Yuki, and you know that's the real prize.