January 2017 Giveaway: Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

January 2017 Giveaway: Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

I’m super excited to bring you something new for 2017:

TWELVE MONTHS OF GIVEAWAYS!

Each month of 2017, I am going to give away a copy of my MOST ANTICIPATED Young Adult book releasing that month! With one quick entry you’ll have a chance to win that month’s HOTTEST new release! (Bonus for me, I get to read these fabulous books and decide which ones live up to the hype!)

JANUARY 2017’S GIVEAWAY

CARAVAL, by STEPHANIE GARBER!

Blurb: Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . . 

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

Read my review of Caraval HERE.

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo

BOOK REVIEW: Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo

Crooked Kingdom is the much anticipated sequel to Six of Crows. Six of Crows was one of my favorite books of 2016 (check out my review here) and so I was giddy with anticipation for the sequel! For the most part, I was not disappointed!


Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are both heist novels, focused on the devious and dangerous Kaz Brekker and his crew. The story picks up right where Six of Crows leaves off, with the crew reeling from being double-crossed by Jan Van Eck, who has captured Inej. It is up to Kaz and the gang to rescue Inej, and double cross Van Eck right back to get the million he owes them. All without running afoul of the other gangs of Ketterdam, or the powerful nations who are descending on their city, in order to locate Kuwei, who is the only one who knows how to create jurda pardem, the dangerous new drug that dramatically heightens Grisha power.

As with Six of Crows, this is such a fun read. The plots upon plots keep coming fast and furious throughout the book. You think the crew is backed into a corner, only to find out it was all part of Katz’s plan after all. There are fights, break-ins, and double-crosses galore. But, there are some legitimate twists and turns that the crew have to navigate in order to get their money, defeat their foes, and come out alive. The characters deepen their relationships in this book, as you learn more about each of them, especially Jesper and Wylan. Despite each of their flaws, the crew is so tight-knit a family that you can’t help but want to hang out with them. The romantic relationships deepen as well, and Bardugo does an excellent job of showing Kaz struggle with his feelings for Inej, and try to overcome his aversion to closeness so he can be with her.

This was a fabulous book, but I didn’t like it as much as Six of Crows. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there is a major event towards the end of the book that I think was unnecessary to the plot and really pissed me off as a reader. It seemed thrown in there and out of place for the rest of the book. I’ll leave you to judge for yourself. Even with that complaint, it was still fabulous, and I highly recommend this duology!

2016 Year End Rundown and 2017 Goals

2016 Year End Rundown and 2017 Goals

A lot has happened in 2016! I published Moonburner and Burning Fate, edited Sunburner, and finished the first draft of a new book, The Confectioner’s Guild! I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time, produced an audiobook, teamed up with some amazing YA authors to publish That Moment When Anthology of short stories, and brought you some great giveaways too. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing books.

Sometimes I get a little envious of authors who write for their day job, marveling at how many books they publish each year. But when I think of what I’ve managed to do while working as a lawyer, I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come (and realize why I was felt stressed for a lot of the year)!

I’m looking forward to 2017 being even better. Overall, I want to keep learning, keep enjoying the process of writing and editing, while connecting with more authors and fans, and selling more books. Oh is that all? It’s important for me to find balance–making forward progress while still not driving myself insane with ALL the things I could be doing, because there is basically an endless amount of work that could be done.

Some specific goals for next year (because if you write them down AND share them, they’ll be much harder to ignore!)

  • Consistently get up early to do my author work before I head to work
  • Finish revising Sunburner and publish it, with a goal of a June 2017 launch
  • Start a street team to help with the Sunburner launch
  • Finish editing The Confectioner’s Guild and submit to literary agents (and hopefully get an agent!)
  • Write the first draft of the sequel to The Confectioner’s Guild in November and December
  • Work on connecting with local schools and bookstores to do some in person events
  • Connect with more writers and authors in person, though attending the PNWA Conference and PNWA and SCWBI events
  • Grow my email list to 10,000, my Facebook following to 2,000 and my Twitter following to 5,000
  • Lastly: keep learning & keep reading!

I think that will be plenty to keep me busy throughout next year.

Thanks for following and reading!

DONE! First draft of my third book is complete!

DONE! First draft of my third book is complete!

Whelp, The Confectioner’s Guild is done. It wasn’t pretty there towards the end. This book was definitely the equivalent of a marathon where I went out way too fast.

I raced right along to get my 50,000 words done for NaNoWriMo during November, and then…I just REALLY didn’t want to finish it. But, I eventually dragged myself back to the keyboard and finished! Remember, if you want to get a taste of The Confectioner’s Guild, you can read the first three chapters for free in the That Moment When Anthology!

Ya short story anthology

Last year, when I wrote Sunburner in two months, I told myself I would never do that again. And I remember why I said that now! It’s really hard to put out 1600-2000 words a day consistently, especially when works get busy (which it did as soon as November hit, thanks Murphy’s Law)! But, the afterglow is so nice, because you just wrote a book in two months and can take your time editing and making it the most perfect it can be. So, perhaps it all evens out in the end.

Next for me is 10 days off for the holidays, and I will be starting my final edits of Sunburner first thing come January to incorporate feedback from my beta readers. That should be off to the publisher by January 31, if I stick to my schedule, and I will be able to begin my edits to The Confectioner’s Guild with a fresh set of eyes.

But now, a glass of bubbly to celebrate. Happy Holidays!

BOOK REVIEW: Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

BOOK REVIEW: Caraval, by Stephanie Garber

Check out my review on The YA Shelf, reprinted below!


This book whisks you on a magical adventure full of deliciousness for all of your senses. Caraval is about two sisters, Scarlett and Donatella (Tella for short), who live under the iron thumb of their cruel father. Scarlett, the practical older sister, has agreed to marry a stranger to try to ensure a better life for her and her sister. Her only flight of fancy is the letters she has written since she was a child to Legend, the mysterious proprietor of the famous Caraval, an exclusive yearly exploit that is part game, part performance. When Legend sends them three tickets to Caraval, Tella, the flighty younger sister, heads to the game with the help of a dashing young sailor, Julian, and Scarlett is forced to follow. Before long, they find themselves swept up in the madness of the game.

Scarlett is thrown headfirst into the mystery of Caraval as Tella is kidnapped, and she must compete with hundreds of other players to rescue Tella before it’s too late. The game winds Scarlett and Julian, who grow closer as the game progresses, through an enchanting island full of strange locales and even stranger people. As Scarlett and Julian struggle to determine what’s real and what’s part of the game, the reader starts to wonder as well!

The good: Garber’s writing is so delicious you want to eat it up. The imagery is rich and colorful, and you are quickly pulled into the gorgeous tapestry of Caravel. The characters and players have a Wonderland-esque quality about them, and you never get bored. Scarlett is a likeable protagonist, smart but innocent enough to be overwhelmed by the madness of it all. Her romance with Julian is sweet but sultry, and definitely pulls you in! The plot lines are interesting and myriad, the clues and riddles intriguing to try to unravel. This is definitely a book that takes you for a beautiful ride.

The not-my-favorite: Tella is a fairly annoying character. Luckily, she’s only in a few scenes, but every scene shes in she manages to screw things up. The sisterly bond between Scarlett and Tella doesn’t come through very strong (perhaps because they’re not together for much of the book), so I find myself wondering why Scarlett is so protective of Tella when Tella is so obviously self-destructive. The lack of rules in the world of Caravel felt a little too convenient for the author, as well, and there were several events that were not explained well within the framework of the world. It’s a pet peeve of mine when magic conveniently solves something (especially if it’s not being used consistently within the rules of the world) and this book was definitely guilty of that. But, for those who aren’t as particular about their magic systems, this might not be an issue!

This book launches January 31, 2017, and I received an ARC from Flatiron books. This is definitely one you don’t want to miss!

That Moment When…Anthology Has Launched!

That Moment When…Anthology Has Launched!

A few months ago I submitted the first 5,000 words of my new book, The Confectioner’s Guild, to an anthology put together by the Alliance of Young Adult Authors. My story was selected to be one of 40 featured in the anthology! The anthology launched last week, and is available on Amazon for free!

Download it HERE to check out my story and stories by some other amazing YA authors! You might just find your new favorite author…(besides yours truly)!

That moment when anthology
That Moment When is an anthology of young adult writing featuring some of today’s hottest new talent in young adult fiction. Find your next favorite author as you read through 40 thrilling short stories.

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Get it on Kindle / Get it on iBooks / Get it on Kobo

We’ve gathered a handful of thrilling stories from all of your favorite genres and put them together into an epic anthology of young adult fiction. Some of them are just the beginning of a unique adventure, while others are complete stories that will spark your imagination.

With over 200,000 words (about three full-length novels) That Moment When will provide weeks of reading pleasure.

6x9-boxset-covervaultOUR THEME
Have you ever reached a moment in your life when everything changed? A crossroads of sorts–a point of no return. An event or realization so enormous you knew it would impact you forever in ways you couldnít begin to understand? Discoveries so momentous they changed everything you thought you knew about the world, and yourself?

That Moment When is filled with exactly these kinds of moments.

If you read the stories in this anthology, I guarantee you’ll find at least a few that thrill and excite you. Make sure to follow the authors if you want to read more – most of us have at least one free book on our sites.

All your favorite YA genres!

PARANORMAL & URBAN FANTASY

SCIENCE FICTION

DYSTOPIAN & POST-APOCALYPTIC

FANTASY

THRILLER & HORROR

AND MORE (UNIQUELY SPECULATIVE FICTION)

 

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Get it on Kindle / Get it on iBooks / Get it on Kobo

The Alliance of YA Authors is a community of over 1000 young adult writers. Many of us are award-winning, bestselling authors; others are brilliant debut authors just starting out. We team up to make it easier for you to find your new favorite reads, with book giveaways, contests and joint book promotions.

 

Epic YA Book Giveaway!

Epic YA Book Giveaway!

ya-giveaway-blitz
 I’m collaborating with some other amazing YA authors to bring you a FANTASTIC holiday book giveaway! Enter to win one of several MASSIVE prize packs, and go into the draw for weekly $25 Amazon gift card prizes.

Just for entering you get access to a lucky-dip of 8 FREE Young Adult e-books from New York Times, USA Today, International, Award-Winning, and Amazon Bestselling Authors – not to mention some of the BEST YA authors from around the globe!

YA Reader Giveaway Blitz!

The contest is open to residents of the UNITED STATES.
NaNoWriMo 2016, Here I Come

NaNoWriMo 2016, Here I Come

Guys, I’m gonna do it. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Where writers all over the world get together for the singularly insane challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month. Sunburner is going off to beta readers next week, and so it is the perfect time for me to turn to a fresh new task–writing a new book!
I’ve had an idea for a new book in a new world for months now. Like a shiny new toy, I’ve been so excited to write it, but I’ve forced myself to finish editing Sunburner first. It’s called The Confectioner’s Guild, and it’s about an apprentice chocolate-maker who makes magical confections. Her life is turned upside down when the head of her guild is murdered, and she finds herself as the chief suspect! It’s mystery meets fantasy meets YA and did I mention chocolate? I’m excited to research this one. Yum!
YA Fantasy Confectioners guild Luana
I’m aiming for 90,000 words with this novel, and I’ve already written the first 5,000. The first 5,000 will be part of an Anthology put out by the Alliance of Young Adult Authors, which should come out in January, so you’ll be able to get a taste of the book very soon…no pun intended! My goal is to write the next 85,000 words in 45 days, from November 1-December 15. Roughly. That’s 2,000 words a day, approximately, which is even more than I would have to do to qualify as a NaNoWriMo victor! It’s ambitious, but I accomplished a similar feat last year when I wrote Sunburner (which wasn’t officially through NaNoWriMo).
But, I am giving myself permission to let all the other author biz stuff slide while I’m focusing on this. So, I won’t be blogging or on social media much. I WILL be on Twitter, as I’ll be tweeting my word count and progress each day, so if you are curious about the book or the process, follow along. My username is @clairedeluana. #amwriting!
BOOK REVIEW: The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater

BOOK REVIEW: The Raven Cycle, by Maggie Stiefvater

Can I share about my newest girl crush? It’s on Maggie Stiefvater, the author of the Shiver books, The Scorpio Races, and *squeal* the Raven Cycle. I tend towards fantasy in stand-alone worlds, and so I wasn’t sure what I would think of the Raven Boys, the first book in the four-part series. It’s about a psychic’s daughter named Blue, who has always been told that if she kissed her true love, she would kill him, and Gansey, a golden-haired all-American golden boy rich kid who is obsessed with discovering a sleeping Welsh King. Unusual premise, but I’m interested.
The Cycle:

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue never sees them–until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks to her. His name is Gansey, a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul whose emotions range from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher who notices many things but says very little.

 If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take? Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself. One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams. And sometimes he’s not the only one who wants those things.

 Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs. The trick with found things, though, is how easily they can be lost.

All her life, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love’s death. She doesn’t believe in true love and never thought this would be a problem, but as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


A few chapters in, I was hooked. I flew through all four books in about two weeks, reading book 2 and 3 in less than 24 hours. Three things make these books.
  1. Stiefvater’s writing style. Now that I’m a writer, I tend to notice a beautiful turn of phrase. They stand out to me, and I think about the writing process that probably went into that gorgeous snippet of prose, the satisfaction the writer felt when they got the wording just right. Uh, these are peppered throughout the book. The writing is really gorgeous, and funny, and poignant, and frankly I’m jealous. But in a good way.
  2. The characters. The Raven Boys. Blue befriends Gansey and his three close friends, Adam, Ronan, and Noah. Each of these boys has incredibly deep, unique, magical stories that you don’t see coming. By the end, you know them each inside and out. She peels the onions of each of these boys over the course of the books and wow, you just love them, and the messy dynamics between them. Blue is a wonderful protagonist but for me she was almost a foil for the boys, this was their story as much as hers. Then there are the secondary characters, which are also colorful and lively. Blue lives in a wild house full of loopy psychics and you can just imagine the smell of patchouli and candles… but it feels so homey you want to visit.
  3. The magic. You think this series is about one thing, and in each book it deepens and grows more complex. After the first book, I was excited to keep reading, but I wondered where she could go with the story for three more books. Things changed dramatically, weaving in whole new magical elements that were unique and thought provoking. The story is dark and spooky at times, but lovingly rendered, and you just want to eat it up!

Is the series perfect? No. especially the last book left me wanting a bit more. The ending is satisfying, but could have been stronger. There were some tangents that felt unnecessary, loose ends left untied. But, that’s ok, because overall, I loved it. I highly recommend this series!

The Chick’s Guide to Writing Dudes

The Chick’s Guide to Writing Dudes

My WIP Sunburner is my second novel, but it’s the first where I’m writing from a male point of view. In my first novel, Moonburner, the entire book was from the protagonist Kai’s POV. Now, about 2/3rds of the story is from Kai’s POV, while the rest is from the perspective of Hiro, heir to the sunburner throne and Kai’s love interest. I have doubted myself throughout the writing and editing process, wondering if Hiro’s chapters fall flat.

In my case, Hiro is what I think of as a pretty typical dude in fantasy literature: strong, handsome, chivalrous, skilled in combat, smart but not overly intellectual, concerned with maintaining his honor and status. That’s all well and good, but what does that look like on the page? Inside his head?

So, I took some time to think about and research a few differences between men and women, and how they might impact portrayal of a male versus female protagonist. Full disclosure: stereotypes ahead!


Alright, here we go.

  • Women tend to absorb more information through their senses and store more of it in the brain for other uses than men do. Meaning, women are more detail-oriented, while men are more prone to be big-picture thinkers.
  • Psychologically, men are more visually oriented than women. I.e., a male character might spend more time seeing and observing his setting visually.
  • Women talk a lot more than men. Each day, women speak up to 8,000 words and use as many as 10,000 gestures. Men use fewer daily words (up to 4,000) and gestures (up to 3,000). This will definitely impact characterization, though just because a guy isn’t saying something, doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking it.
  • But…when a man says something, it’s often exactly what he’s thinking. There’s less hidden meaning and innuendo.
  • Women are more emotional than men. Seriously. Their brains have a larger hippocampus and deeper limbic system, which means they can feel a larger range of emotions. But that doesn’t mean guys don’t have feelings!
  • Because men often aren’t as comfortable with the full range of emotions, a typically male approach to a stressful (especially emotional) situation may be to withdraw, rather than engage or open up.
  • Men are more pragmatic–looking for solutions immediately, rather than sympathizing or empathizing. I don’t have a scientific study for this one, but seriously, I feel like every dude I’ve ever complained to has immediately tried to solve my problem. Sometimes I just want to vent!
  • Men tend to have a higher libido and have more daily thoughts about sex. Especially if you’re writing romance, this is an important point!
  • Men are more ego driven, which can influence behavior. This can manifest in needing to feel like a provider, defend their honor or the honor of their partner if insulted, proving they aren’t afraid, etc. They also have weaker impulse control, which could account for higher levels of aggression and violence in men.

So that’s all well and good, and provides a nice framework for writing a stereotypical dude character. But one of the most important parts of creating compelling characters is making them multi-faceted and interesting. Thus, you don’t necessarily want a male character who perfectly conforms to all the stereotypes of male behavior…he will likely be far more interesting to the reader if he has unique attributes, perhaps even some attributes that would be considered  typically female. Just be cautious about going too far, as part of the author’s job is to meet reader’s expectations, not confound them.


If you want to dig deeper into this, check out some of the sources I relied on for this post:

13 Real Differences between Male and Female Brains

Different Brains, Different Behaviors: Why Women Lead Differently than Men

How Often to Men Think About Sex

Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus

How to Write from a Guy’s POV