Reading · Writing

Current Reads & What I’m Listening To

Hi, everyone! So, it’s October! Which means warmer weather (or, if you’re on the other side of the world, then autumn leaves and frost), candy (!!! I. Love. Halloween.) … and the one-month countdown to NaNoWriMo. I told myself last month I’d participate and I plan on holding myself to that, and if I’m successful, it’ll mean I’ll most likely complete ALL my writing goals for ’17. So: keep an eye out for later this month when I’ll blog about NaNo prep—and how I plan for the event (which might help some of you if you’re competing!)

It’s been a little while since I’ve talked about what I’m reading, and although I’ve been so slow at it lately, here are a few of the books that I’ve read recently & some of the ones sitting on my desk to be read.

fromthebeasttotheblonde2From Beast to the Blonde by Marina Warner. This is a fantastic, fantastic look at women in fairy-tales and folklore, and consequently quite feminist (which I freaking love.) While most of the non-fiction serves a purpose for my writing, I picked this one up on the whim because the title caught my attention, and while not strictly related to my writing, I love crafting female characters who are strong, and vulnerable, and real. So—if you’re a fan of females and their role in fairy-tales and folklore, I highly recommend!

29939048Roar by Cora Carmack. I haven’t read any of Cora Carmack’s contemporary romances, but as she’s been compared with J. Lynn (who is one of my all-time favorite romance authors—I LOVE her Wait For Me series) I intend on doing so soon. First off: this book sounds AMAZING, and everything I like in fantasy…so fingers crossed I’ll love it. Secondly: that cover is so gorgeous, and the cover for the sequel, Rage, is equally as beautiful.

images1Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. I’ve mentioned this before, but I was a HUGE fan of Rosamund Hodge’s Cruel Beauty. It enchanted me from the beginning and held me captive until the end, and Crimson Bound (so far) is exactly the same. I admit I was surprised at first to see it’s written in third-person-POV (whereas Cruel Beauty used first person), but Rosamund Hodge handles it beautifully. Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to checking out the author’s other series, Bright Smoke, Cold Fire. Also: All of Rosamund Hodge’s titles are so beautiful.

BerenLuthienBeren and Lúthien by J. R.R. Tolkien. If you even remotely know me…then you’ll know I’m a massive Tolkien fan, and The Silmarillion is hands-down my favorite Tolkien book ever written. (I would pay good money to see this one adapted to screen, because oh my GOD, I think it has the potential to be breathtakingly amazing.) A tale similar to Arwen and Aragorn, Beren and Lúthien’s story was my favorite from The Silmarillion, so naturally, when I discovered Christopher Tolkien was releasing this? I was thrilled. (That—and there are totally gorgeous illustrations by Alan Lee, whose previous work with Tolkien’s books capture everything so perfectly.)

Music-wise, I’ve added a whole bunch of new songs to my writing playlists thanks to Two Steps from Hell and Audiomachine releasing new albums on the same day. It was like Christmas, and WOW. Both albums blew me away. They’re vastly different—whereas Unleashed (Two Steps from Hell) is badass and adventurous, Life (Audiomachine) is gloriously uplifting and beautiful. ❤ Music has always been an essential part of my plotting and writing process…and both these albums are just both so incredibly inspiring. I’ve talked a bit about how influential music is to me as a writer—and honestly just a person in general—and both these new albums were MORE than I could have hoped for. ❤

So if you guys love score/soundtrack music, then go check them out!

Additionally, I’ve been binge-listening to Lorde’s new album, which is FANTASTIC, and while I don’t usually listen to pop, or at the very least I’m super-selective about it, I love Melodrama and the new angle she’s taken on her music. And ‘Green Lights’ is such an uplifting, hopeful, new-beginnings sort of song… I just love it.

That’s it for this post, but later on this month I’ll have a new post on NaNoWriMo prep, and I’m even considering blogging weekly about my NaNo adventures…but we’ll see.

Readers and writers: Do you plan on doing NaNoWriMo ’17? What are you all currently reading? Any music you’re obsessed with right now?

Currently reading: CRIMSON BOUND by Rosamund Hodge.

Currently listening to: Basically just alternating between ‘Unleashed’ and ‘Life’ right now.

Reading · Writing

Fairy-Tales: Writing them, Reading them, & Why I Love Them

It’s been a little while since I’ve blogged… so, an update: Last blog post I shared a teaser from TEOS which I’ve then since finished (!!!). This draft finished up at 80k, and I plan to give myself a couple of months’ distance before looking at it again & editing. That way I can look at it with a clear mind, fresh eyes. Since finishing TEOS, I’ve been polishing THIS STORM RISING (which I’ve now done) and I know I’ve said it before—but I love this novel. I mean, I love all my novels, so it’s totally redundant saying that. I like to think of it as Star Wars meets White Collar, and although I don’t know if it’ll go anywhere (fingers crosssedddd) I seriously had a blast writing/editing it! (Even though my last round of edits was…painful. But going back to the characters and the world was seriously a joy.)

But today… fairy-tales. If you slap ‘retelling’ or ‘fairy-tale inspired’ on the back of a book, there’s a 100% chance I’ll read it. Hands down, retellings of myths and fairy-tales, are my favorite. No two stories are the same—ever. Every person is unique…and so are their stories. This rings true with fairy-tales and retellings, too, because while we all might read the same story, we all take away different things from it. Maybe you see Cinderella as weak—unable to stand up for herself. Or maybe you see her a kind, beautiful soul, even when she was treated like…cinders. Maybe you see Belle as foolhardy for loving the Beast…or maybe you see her as being brave for daring to love someone so seemingly monstrous.

(Also, as I’m writing this, I’m watching a livestream of the US total solar eclipse… and WOW. Total fairy-tale, mythic vibes.)

I confess: most of my books are inspired by fairy-tales. MIDNIGHT QUEEN, my YA fantasy, is a mash-up of “Beauty and the Beast”, “The Firebird”, and “Hades and Persephone” (as well as some Celtic and Norse myths.) THE EMPIRE OF STARS was inspired by “The Maiden with the Rose on her Forehead” (although since then has become more original than a retelling) with a few nods to “Cinderella” along the way. Even THIS STORM RISING, my epic sci-fi, has nods to myths and fairy-tales here and there.

I can’t pinpoint what it is I love so much about fairy-tales. I grew up on them. I sought them out in every book and movie I could. They’re are an endless, glorious source of inspiration for writers, and I love them for so many reasons. And they’re challenging to write, too: you might have an original source of inspiration…but it’s also your duty to find a way to make it unique. Write the same tale as the original, and people are going to notice (and complain.) Make it too different and it might not even be considered a retelling anymore. So it’s a fine line between creating something original and exciting—and telling the same tale again.

Research is crucial when writing retellings. Think of the unanswered questions, the What Ifs of the story, the fairy-tale’s origins. Blend it with other tales, fragments of mythology. Put it in a futuristic setting—a la Cinder by Marissa Meyer—make it different. Make the reader question what they thought of the tale, turn a beautiful world into a terrifying one, a terrifying one into a beautiful one.

DSC_0007One of my favorite retellings must be Splintered by A.G. Howard: it turned what I thought of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland on its head. It was no longer the carefree, pretty world Carroll made it out to be but a dark and terrifyingly seductive world that I LOVED and never wanted to leave. The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi takes “Hades and Persephone” and blends it with Indian mythology into a sumptuous, beautiful romance. Cruel Beauty uses “Beauty and the Beast” and twists it into a Greek-styled world with a curse. Even Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass began as a re-imagined Cinderella that turned into an epic fantasy.

There’s an infinite amount of possibilities out there—so many ways to tell the one tale. Make the villain the hero. Make the hero the villain. Fairy-tales represent humanity in the most beautiful and terrible and raw ways; they give us hope and show us the way authors see the world around them through fantastical, richly-imagined tales. So now I’m off to look through my MSS to decide which project I’ll work on next (…And yes, I can guarantee it WILL be fairy-tale/mythology inspired in some way.)

So how about YOU? Do you enjoy fairy-tale retellings?

Currently reading: FEVERSONG by Karen Marie Moning

Currently listening to: Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov

Reading · WIP · Writing

Recent Book Recommendations, What I’ve Been Up To, & A Teaser From My Current WIP

Happy July, everyone! You’re either freezing your butt off, or you’re sweltering hot, and here in Australia, I love the fact that it’s winter. A perfect excuse to read out in the gentle winter sunshine and curl up in a sweater/in front of the heater at night.

I’ve been in such a huggeee reading slump lately, but oh my gosh, have I read some simply BRILLIANT books in the past weeks that are beginning to tease me from my slump! So, without further ado, here are some of the books I’ve been reading…

imagesTHE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by Roshani Chokshi.

Simply amazing. I had to put this book down at several points so I could savor Chokshi’s lovely, heart-rendering prose. A blend of Indian mythology and the Greek tale of Hades & Persephone (which, as you know, is my favorite EVER), it had me enchanted from the beginning pages—literally. I read this book in one sitting; it was that good. Along with the gorgeous romance, I don’t have the words to describe the originality of this book. Read, read, read! I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of A CROWN OF WISHES (which has a stunning title and cover. I love it as much as the first.)

images (1)THE CHOSEN by J.R. Ward.

I’ve been a fan of this series from book one, and several books later, J.R. Ward has not lost her flair for exceptional romances (that are very steamy, readers beware.) I’ve been waiting for Layla’s story for a long, long time, because heck, she deserves the world. I loved the deeper exploration of the characters and story, and had me hooked from beginning to end, and let’s face it: those Brothers are amazing (except Qhuinn—he deserves a kick up the ass.) I’m so, so looking forward to seeing where J.R. Ward takes the characters next.


images (2)WINTERSONG by S. Jae-Jones.

Oh, wow. Everything about this book had me spellbound. The writing, the lush world, the romance… It’s a book that’s really, really worth reading. It’s also fitting that it’s the middle of winter, and there was nothing lovelier than sitting curled up by the heater and utterly devouring this book. But more than anything, I felt this book. Lisel was such an incredible, raw character, and I truly felt her in my heart. Her pain, her triumphs, her anger—it was all so fabulously and painstakingly written. I adored the emotion in this book, and I’m really looking forward to finding out where S. Jae-Jones takes the story in SHADOWSONG.

I have SEVERAL amazing-looking books on my TBR—Frostblood, This Savage Song, The Flame in the Mist just to name a few waiting for me—and I can’t wait to dive into them. (So. Many. Good. Books. This. Year.)

Moving on…

If you don’t already know, another one of my passions/hobbies is photography, so when I recently got a new lens (a 35mm), I thought I’d test it out and share some of my favorite shots. (Which I’m super nervous about, because I’m fairly certain I still suck. I’ve put them in a slideshow below, which I’ve never done before…so I’m not 100% sure it works.) And… I love this lens. It’s a lot easier to handle in manual mode than my other lenses, so NO regrets in buying it at all.

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(Aaaaaand, if you’re interested in more of my photography, check out my Instagram!)

As I mentioned in my last post (which you can read here), I told you guys I started working on, or, more accurately, reworking an old MS called THE EMPIRE OF STARS—also known as TEOS as the title can be a little too much to write. So I thought it would be fun to share a teaser. It’s only short, but this comes from the very beginning of the book…which is probably one of my favorite parts. The beginning of a journey that’s very close to my heart.


I’m incredibly excited about this novel for so many reasons…and I hope I get to share the rest of it with you guys one day. ❤

Currently reading: FROSTBLOOD by Elly Blake

Currently listening to: The Force Awakens OST by John Williams (Chills, guys, chills. Rey’s theme is so breathtaking.)