Dark Fantasy Book Review: Soul Dark: Chosen


Dark Fantasy

Review:


Dark Soul: Chosen


The story builds just as the power does in Lucas--a slow burn building into an eruption of action, soul searching, and sacrifice.

Lukas is your everyday teen living on a farm with friends and a loving family, but he also can practice druid magic. Not a big deal, until his world is targeted by evil of apocalyptic proportions starting with taking away almost everyone he loves. While his townspeople go missing, he expands his skills under a brutal master preparing for a war for the world. He and his friends, along with his mysteriously ancient master, suit up against a demon army that spews forth from the farm where he had been raised. According to his goddess of light, he is the protector and perhaps the only one who can close the portal and banish the darkness. But can Lukas overcome his confused feelings for Sabine and the weakness she creates in him? Can he conquer the rage he has for everything being taken from him and his goddess asking too much of him? Or can that love and rage, the light and shadow, save the world?


First off, Reedy and Wade have a unique writing style that people who like popular literature--aka page turners with minimal description or depth--might not get into right away. Having read a few quick reads lately, it did take me a moment to get into the storyteller narration--someone is telling the story of what happened in the past to Lukas, and we are privy to teaspoon snippets of the present. As soon as I got used to it, about 10% on my Kindle, I became hooked. There is nothing wrong with page-turning books, but this surpasses that with such lovely detailed world building and characterization. It slowly builds and that was a must because so much emotion is involved, pulling you in as much as they pull on your heartstrings. Despite the concepts of a goddess, druid magic, and demons, this fantasy novel is imbued with real teenage life including a love interest, best friends, and people coming together to fight against evil in that classic theme I absolutely adore of good versus evil. Only Reedy and Wade are clever in making it no so clear cut. Who is this Dr. Teo guy? Is Lukas truly light? Or does his rage lead him towards the shadows?

You can check it out for yourself here.


Writing Tip: How I Pants (part II)



Writing Tip: 

How I Pants 
part II

So, if you missed part one, go here.

I outlined how I pantsed the first draft, letting my imagination form the story and the blocks build as I went without any planning aside from a concept. Now, I will discuss what happens after and show plotters where we most likely reconvene. Here's my revision process:

Step must be done: Marinating
I put the manuscript aside for a month or so working on another book in the meantime. The steps during the drafting process takes me anywhere from one to three months. She marinates for a couple, and then usually I'll get through these next steps below around the sixth month marker. I'm averaging two novels a year.

Fyr marinated for roughly one month. I was eager to get back on it, because my novel Apidae was getting published, and was going to have to switch to that for edits; I was determined to finish Fyr before then.

Step dunno: She's not perfect, revise
I read through my manuscript, looking at it critically. I'm not too bad at this because I grade (and teach) for a living, so I simply slip on that professorial thinking cap and butcher it. Miraculously as always, there's a solid plot if I now try to graph it, my characters arc and change, and there are deeper meanings with rich symbolism. But there are a few hiccups that come with the pantsing territory. I might realize I repeated a similar situation in the beginning and end or my characters got together too fast (they are so impatient). I make these fixes, let's call them patch ups. Character got together too soon? Well, I'll patch that up with a few chapters that builds the conflict better, enhances characters and world, and has smaller stake occurrences to keep readers entertained. This is not as consciously done as it sounds, again, more organic with the only the thought of "stall them." If I repeat something, I delete the less effective part. I go through it twice making notes of any issues that crop up. "The chapter before said she left at night, so why is she getting there in the late afternoon if the journey was only to take a couple hours?" or "the character couldn't see any of this out in the middle if the ocean at night" type of notes. I also add more description in since I'm a minimalist at times--it's hard to get every detail of a scene your mind is playing in real time and you are trying to record it with your fingers. In this stage, I tend to add about 10,000 or more words.


I believe with Fyr, roughly 2,000 was cut and 8,000 added at this stage. Sometimes, like with Apidae (which I had written the first draft in 3 weeks), I had to add a lot more--20,000. This usually happens in round one, then round two is me making more notes of things to fix as I read through and edit.

Step back to organized people land: Edit
So if you are a plotter, we have split paths and rejoin here most likely. I read through my manuscript fixing all my notes while also editing for wording and grammar. I do this twice, the second time looking for my Achilles heel grammar and word choice issues, like those blasted dialogue tags!

I edited Fyr once and entered a pitch party on Twitter, snagged a publisher "like," so I had to race through the second round of editing. I was not confident it was my best, but the publishers thought highly enough of my writing to offer a contract. Before Fyr came out, the publishers and I did find some things in three more rounds of editing. 

And that is how I pants and revise! I might not be perfect, but pantsing works for me; that's why editors or publishers are a necessity. If you are interested in reading a novel (that you would never imagine or recognize as being born of chaos), see Fyr here.

Writing Tip: How I Pants (part I)



Writing Tip

How I Pants 
(part I)


A gauntlet has been thrown (it was a friendly one). I have been tasked with the impossible. This will be an attempt explain the methodology of this pantser's "plotting style" into an--dare I say--organized model for those who aren't sure how it can possibly be done. I'm going to use my novel Fyr as an example. Spoiler: I probably will fail because there is no real organization when you write by the seat of your pants.

Step 1: Learn the fundamentals
Through a vigorous and absurd amount of reading from the age of 3 (early reader), I learned a lot about plot, characterization, world building, etc. I have the fundamentals. I also went to school for them, snagging degrees in English and Dramatic Arts, then went on for graduate English. I teach composition, including grammar. Basically, my brain is like a database of books and writing knowledge. To pants well, I think you have to to have all the basics ingrained in the brain or become a master at making major revisions and edits. Because of this wealth of knowledge, I never consciously think about plot points like crises and climax or rising and falling actions, nor where my character is on a character arc. These things just show up; the same goes for symbolism, theme, etc. Everything appears like magic--or osmosis, you pick.

Step 2: Be inspired
There are many ways I come up with ideas for manuscripts. It really is just an idea, and I sit and write the first scene that comes to me. In the past, stories have been triggered by walking through my first castle, a term I saw in a book once, wanting to reinvent a myth, a dream I had, something in the media, a world problem, etc. ANYTHING can trigger my imagination at any time.


For my novel Fyr, I went in with the concept of "celestial spheres" which is an archaic model of the solar system when they believed there were elemental planets. I decided the setting was the Fyr planet. That was all I had, no rendering of what that planet was like and magic came later. No characters in mind, except I knew--because I write YA romance--I'd have a teen girl and guy. Other than that, I had nothing planned out about them.

Step 3: Start typing 
Exactly that. I just keep that concept in my mind, and if I am able to write at that moment, I form a scene like in a movie and just write down what my imagination creates. If I don't have the time to write, my imagination plays it over and over again, rendering detail until I do have time to write. My characters were faceless, and now they have eyes, noses, body types, styles, personalities, etc. Where do I start? It varies. Sometimes I start with the inciting incident where my hero and heroine cross paths, sometimes my MC's first crises, sometimes setting up the conflict. Usually I have no exposition, as I don't know my world or plot yet. Sometimes, I don't even know my sub genre. I just write and find out who my characters are, who and what I'm dealing with.

If you read my Celestial Spheres: Fyr, the ogling in the dress shop chapters were the first two written. Toury calls Alex out for staring, and I decided on the spot he was a prince so her offense would be bad. The staring had to be a big deal, so the setting would be like our past and propriety important. Not knowing who he was meant Toury had to be new, so previous chapters were later written to make her from Earth reinforcing a fantasy sub genre. Again, this was not conscious, but came out, my imagination filtering it toward reason. I always work this way, allowing the first few chapters determine the sub genre. I now have dystopian, fantasy, and paranormal romance novels out.



Step 4: Assess
After a few scenes/chapters, usually by five, I pause for a few minutes to asses what I have written thus far. I have established my characters by now and their conflicts and motivations. They were hatched somehow by the muse in my brain that shows me prophecies--I mean scenes--that I record down. I ask myself, What sub genre is this? Where is the setting? When? Do I write this down? No. I go back and weave these in by writing the exposition which ends up being anywhere from two to five chapters (depending on how much must be established before my characters meet or the conflict begins). My exposition includes answering one simple question: What does the reader need to know to get to the part I've already written? Magically, my brain pumps out scenes that subtly work in the necessities, world building, character introductions, etc. in very interesting and entertaining ways. When I catch up to what is already written prior, I fully fly into pantser-hood.

In the beginning of Fyr, someone had to connect Alex and Toury and be responsible to force Toury to a new world, so enter his cousin Ruby. Also, to leave Earth and not be homesick for it constantly, I had to make Toury's life not worth going back to. This helped in her character arc too. I had to put a ton of pressure on Alex's shoulder in order for him to make some terrible choices later and not appear to be so bad my readers would hate him. I also had to introduce a villain, so she was born. Again, I'm analyzing my work in hindsight now. These were not conscious decisions: as I typed, they came out.

Step all the time: Go places
Not literally. What I mean by go places is I skip around to wherever I feel the urge to write. Did my mind pick a perfect ending? Write it! Now the first crises came to me? Go there. Climax chapters are building up in the brain? Let them flow. No rhyme, no reason, just untamed imagination flowing onto the page.

I explained I went from inciting incident to exposition. Then I went all sorts a places in Fyr. Of course, my couple got together too soon, so I had to insert some complications and give her some education about the world and time to acclimate, push them apart, and things happen to push them together. These were all written in a random order, so I can't remember exactly the pattern. I do remember the climax and resolution was finished around the halfway point. 

Step now and then: Mental checks
How do I keep track? My brain has the entire book (and other WIPs) in it. I can pull up any scene and review it. I can evaluate the plot without seeing the written words. I amend where I will go by mentally logging into what is already there. I day dream about it. I dream at night about it at times, getting leads to what should happen next.

Step lost: I have no more words.
At some point the words stop. I look down and realize I'm somewhere between 60,000-80,000 words. I look back through quickly and create a few transitional chapters for lack of a better word to gel the whole puppy together. Then I realize there are no more words because the story is all told. This is the end of the pantsing drafting stage, where it creeps into revision.

This became way more detailed than I thought it would be so next week, I'll continue to describe the revision process as I'm curious where plotters and pantsers will meet up in the end. Join me next week when I finish up, and if you want to check out Fyr, click here.


YA Review Time: KORRIGAN




YA Review Time: 
KORRIGAN


Korrigan is a page-turning blast that brings Irish mythology to life.

Aislinn is a Korrigan--girl by night, monster by day, and forced to steal years from human beings or be forced to never see daylight. Finally turning old enough to steal life and see daylight, she instantly meets falls for the adorable, wholesome Zane. But this love story is far from simple. The rest of the Korrigan are fiercely determined to control her, so "freedom" isn't all it's cracked up to be. Enter the trickster Dar Farrig and his bloodthirsty, creepy leprechauns. This trickster has conflicting and unhealthy plans for Aislinn and plays into her desire for power and autonomy, a way out of the restricting life designed for her. Will the alluring Dar Farrig urge Aislinn to go so far that she loses it all?

I always like to start of with the cons to get them out of the way. Korrigan doesn't have many, but I wasn't a fan of the protagonist, Aislinn. Some readers will love her dual personality as she is a monster yet a teenager, so she's not wholly a good person. I do like that complexity about her. What I didn't like was how she has strong moral fiber about taking life in the beginning, and yet those morals don't transfer. She's willing to hurt others for power with very little regret, refuses to admit responsibility or learn from her mistakes, and then blames the trickster for it. The Dar Farrig is partly to blame, but her lust for power seems limitlessness and unforgivable. Most likely, my main issue is that I've never been a fan of the antihero unless there is some redeemable quality. The hero can be morally gray, but I need to see he/she as superior to the villain and here I did not. However, I have a feeling Aislinn is heading for a positive turn in the later books, so I think this is a don't-judge-until-you-finish-the-series situation.


Not liking the main character might seem like a big hangup, but this book has so many positives it is worth a read. As for the other characters, the trickster's dual personality is fitting. It is great to see a hero-villain combo and still root for him, and yet know Zane is better for her. Zane is wholly good, so I almost feel bad for him falling for a girl who is monstrous in form and personality. I loved Zane's character; it was probably the best developed of the novel and although the Far Darrig is appealing, you're on team Zane because he is so sweet, honest, and accepting.

As for the plot, Korrigan starts off by sucking the reader in with an engrossing moral dilemma, but the main conflict shifts into many others, keeping readers on their toes. The plot is quick and engrossing, leaving you wanting more. The mythology is key. The fantastical is tastefully and uniquely weaved into the real world with a sinister darkness that celtic myths are prone to. A lover of mythology, I was drawn in by the premise and that is what makes the book fantastic. The myths don't quite line up with what I remember about Irish mythology, but I truly love re-imaginings or re-inventions of myths. To master old texts and reinvent them is a great talent. The dual point-of-view with Zane craftily balances normal teen life among monster myths, making the book interesting and relatable to teens.

Overall, this integration of Irish myth to real teenage life was unique, engrossing, and page-turning. I hope to continue the series to see Aislinn grow into a character that I can love.

Come embark on this reading journey with me and let me know what you think: buy here. 

Author Feature: Rachel Homard




Author Feature: 

Rachel Homard


The debut novel:

Opposites attract at LA’s largest soup kitchen when a businesswoman falls in love with one of her patrons.

Savannah Carrington is too busy for romance. She has a soup kitchen to operate which, thankfully, helps her avoid her socialite mother’s attempts to marry her off to some L.A. millionaire. When a patron is attacked, she runs fearlessly down a dark alley to help. Saved by a man who emerges from the shadows, she wants to thank him but he’s disappeared.

Yosef “Joe” MacArthur, a Green Beret, has gone into hiding. Admiring Savannah from afar, he’ll never admit to his growing feelings for her and will stop at nothing to keep her safe. But the White House is making it hard, tearing apart L.A. to award him the highest military honor any soldier could receive. Joe has no time for that with Savannah still in danger. Hunted by the leader of a notorious drug ring Joe is faced with an impossible choice: save a city full of innocent civilians or save Savannah.

A most unlikely pairing, love shows no limits in this emotional, action-packed, heartfelt story.

Romance and danger ensue in Rachel Homard’s debut novel.                    

Buy here


The Author:
Rachel's vivid imagination and creativity made her six years of teaching elementary school even more fun. But when she and her husband had their awesome son, she decided to stay home and save her hugs for him. Between playing trains and being chased by a three-year-old T-Rex and his furry, four-legged sidekick, Rachel picked up a pen and began writing stories like she did when she was younger. Even at four, when she couldn't write by herself, she recruited her mom to transcribe them for her.

Rachel pairs relatable characters to storylines of romance and suspense, and she loves adding in military characters. She had a great appreciation for all the brave men and women fighting for our country and wants to acknowledge them, like her father, a retired US Army Green Beret. Rachel's first book, The Green Triangle, will be published in 2020, and she is already working on a sequel.


A triangle of questions:

What inspired you to write this story?
I wrote this story to honor our men and women in the armed forces, like my dad, a retired Green Beret. I wanted to shine a light on PTSD and the struggles our soldiers can face coming back home, but show that even in hard times, even when danger follows you home, no matter the circumstances, heroes are heroes. They step up. They protect. They sacrifice.

What made you become a writer?
I always loved to tell stories. Even before I could write them myself, I’d have my mom do it. I took a break for a while, but eventually, I had a story I just wanted to tell and had to try even though it was scary to put myself out there.

How has the querying process gone for you? 
Querying was unbelievable this first time around. I finished my book and days later went to a conference to pitch it. There, I hit it off with my agent and signed with her a week or so later. I know meeting her in person made all the difference in getting out of the “slush pile.” My agent just quit the business though, so things are starting back at square one. I’m currently preparing to query new agents. It’s scary!

*update! since this post Rachel has signed on with her new agent Stephanie Hansen with Metamorphosis Literary. Congratulations! 

Bonus question: Are you a plotter or pantser? 
Generally, I’m a pantser. When I try to plot, I just get in my head and can’t seem to get anything on paper. And, honestly, with my three-year-old running around all the time, there is no time to plot anyway!


Where to find Rachel:
Twitter 
Facebook 
Instagram
 Amazon 


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