Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Mortality

Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

Synopsis (From Goodreads): After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death. 

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore. 

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

Kellie Sheridan has written an interesting piece of zombie fiction that combines two very different story lines. When I first picked up Mortality I didn't know much about the story besides it was a zombie novel, and lately I have read several very different takes on the zombie novel, this one definitely took the old theme and threw in a new twist which was pleasant to see.

The story follows two very different girls, Savannah and Zarah. Savannah is a very take charge character who lives in her old high school, helping to defend her new family, while out gathering medical supplies something goes wrong and Savannah finds herself alone with her friends as they try to make their way to the new location where the rest of the compound is heading.

Zarah is the complete opposite, a quiet character who is trying to survive at the start of the zombie apocalypse. I did enjoy the two story lines, but it did get a bit frustrating moving from past to present following the two girls when all I wanted was for Zarah to catch up to Savannah's timeline.

For a zombie novel, this novel is action-packed and thrilling as Savannah and Zarah try to stay alive and make it to their final destinations. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves a good zombie book or movie.

Source: NetGalley

Monday, October 28, 2013

Getting out of my comfort zone (& off my butt)

Sometimes I find that just sitting in front of a screen (staring at a blank screen) can be a cause of some serious writer's block and cause frustration that ends up with me (wanting to throw the computer) shelving a novel or ending up with a lot of unfinished WiPs that I keep telling myself that I'll get back to.

There are some simple tips for breaking writer's block:

  • taking a little walk out in fresh air (my dogs love that little suggestion).
  • go see a movie... as long as the ideas that come afterwards do not include a scene by scene recount of the movie's plot.
  • do something wild and outlandish
Okay, I love going for a little walk around the block... when this happens I can't get away without taking my two dogs, who love me when I need to go for a walk, but sometimes just the little walk doesn't help.

I love going to places and doing things a bit out of the ordinary, and this usually helps to churn ideas within my little head. Even if it's just a drive up the mountain, or taking a 3 kilometre hike down the mountain in search of waterfalls in the rain... yes, I've done that (didn't find the waterfalls, found the camping ground, the waterfalls were an extra 3km walk).

Today my sister and I decided to go and explore some caves. Yep, a totally unprepared, out of the blue trip to the caves. With the trust light from our mobile phones we ventured into unknown territory, climbing up rocks and hoping that I didn't head butt the low hanging ceiling and give myself a concussion (glad to say I'm still in one piece). 

Being fully prepared, I had my trusty camera and decided to play with the only light sources we had in the cave (no flash from the camera here :D). What I can say about my little excursion is that by getting out of the house it does allow me to get a clearer head to help me think of my stories without the stress of deadlines, word counts or blank pages.

p.s. When I eventually got home I was able to finish the first draft of my WiP, Dark Sight... YAY!!!

So, what do you do to clear your head when you come up against writer's block?

Monday, October 21, 2013

For a limited time: Shadow Embraced $0.99

As a celebration of the new life I've been exploring lately, as well as NanoWriMo coming up in just a few weeks (scary), I have decided to reduce the price of Shadow Embraced to $0.99. So, up until the start of Nano - which I see as a fitting time - Shadow Embraced will remain at this special price.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: When the World was Flat

When the World was Flat by Ingrid Jonach

Synopsis (From Goodreads): Looking back, I wonder if I had an inkling that my life was about to go from ordinary to extraordinary.

When sixteen-year-old Lillie Hart meets the gorgeous and mysterious Tom Windsor-Smith for the first time, it’s like fireworks — for her, anyway. Tom looks as if he would be more interested in watching paint dry; as if he is bored by her and by her small Nebraskan town in general.

But as Lillie begins to break down the walls of his seemingly impenetrable exterior, she starts to suspect that he holds the answers to her reoccurring nightmares and to the impossible memories which keep bubbling to the surface of her mind — memories of the two of them, together and in love.

When she at last learns the truth about their connection, Lillie discovers that Tom has been hiding an earth-shattering secret; a secret that is bigger — and much more terrifying and beautiful — than the both of them. She also discovers that once you finally understand that the world is round, there is no way to make it flat again.

I was first drawn to this book because it's a Strange Chemistry title and they haven't let me down yet, and this definitely stood up to their standards. Ingrid Jonach introduces an intriguing sci-fi/romance about a girl who is plagued by dreams of her death and a boy who is always around to save her. Lillie would like to say it was love at first sight, but for Tom, she doesn't think he feels the same way, especially when he acts so cold towards her when he's around other people. There's a mystery that surrounds by Lillie and Tom and Lillie is determined to find out why she feels this way about Tom and what secret Tom has been hiding from her, but does she really want to know the truth?

For me, the start of the novel was a bit slow and I was stuck thinking 'is this even science fiction?', yeah, there was plenty of signs that it was romance, but absolutely no signs of any of the out of the ordinary stuff happening, unless you call an insomniac teenager who dreams of her own death out of the ordinary. I'm glad I didn't give up on the story, because once it jumps over that hurdle, Jonach plunges the reader into a world of mystery and suspense as Lillie tries to discover what secret Tom is keeping from her, as well as why she feels so strongly for a boy that doesn't reciprocates her affection.

The characters are strong and well-rounded, with an interesting background cast that makes the story interesting to read. The only other issue I did have with this story was the little bit of insta-love that happened, as well as the infatuation for the boy, but when the secret is revealed it actually makes sense as why their love has been written this way.

This novel was an interesting take on the sci-fi genre, one with a definite unique twist, and I look forward to reading more stories from Ingrid Jonach and Strange Chemistry in the future. I would recommend this to anyone who loves a good teenage romance story with a unique twist or slice or sci-fi.

Source: NetGalley
2013 Debut Author Challenge: #9 of 12

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Just a Nano Post...

It's getting close to that time of the year again, and yes, I will be participating in NanoWriMo once again. For those that don't know what NanoWriMo is, 1: have you been living under a rock, and 2: it's national novel writing month where the goal is to write 50k in one month. I absolutely love Nano because it helps me get motivated and push myself to achieve my deadlines.

This year was definitely hard with deciding what novel to write (I have so many that really need to be written), but since I need to start a novel from scratch, and most of my other novels I've gotten a little bit complete, I've decided to go with a YA superhero story about a world full of 'adult' heroes and villains and one teenager who decides to challenge authority by giving teenagers powers. It will be told from dual perspectives of twins, Jett and Jace who end up with powers and it will technically be their origin story.

As I sat down to plot it yesterday I realised that a superhero story definitely is going to take a lot of work. There's the entire world I need to create and all the rules for the super powers and backstories for all the characters... oh well, I still have 15 days left until Nano officially begins. I'm really hoping I can achieve it because I already have a cool theme park/rollercoaster battle sequence in mind for one of the hero/villain fights and I'm looking forward to writing it.

Are you doing Nano? If yes, have you decided what you're writing?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Cover Reveal: Vision

I am pleased to be a part of the cover reveal for Vision by Lisa Amowitz

Vision by Lisa Amowitz

The light is darker than you think…

When seventeen-year-old Bobby Pendell begins to have blinding migraines followed by frightening hallucinations, he fears there’s something wrong with him. Then murder rocks his sleepy town and the visions that put him on trail of a killer—also make him the prime suspect.

Author Bio

Lisa Amowitz was born in Queens and raised in the wilds of Long Island, New York where she climbed trees, thought small creatures lived under rocks and studied ant hills. And drew. A lot. She is a professor of Graphic Design at her beloved Bronx Community College where she has been tormenting and cajoling students for nearly seventeen years. She started writing eight years ago because she wanted something to illustrate, but somehow, instead ended up writing YA. Probably because her mind is too dark and twisted for small children. Lisa is represented by Shannon Hassan of Marsal-Lyon Literary Agency.


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Push return for new life!

My life has been hectic lately, but now it has finally settle down. Due to some personal and health reasons I've been forced to leave my job and make me reconsider what I'm going to be doing with my life.

I've already set some things in motion, mainly looking to get back into university next year, but until then - especially since I have been told it would be best not to look for a job until the end of the year - I really need to keep myself busy, and that's exactly what I'm planning to do.

Besides finishing an editing course I started last year, I've also started a very intensive photography course in the hopes of being able to venture into the world of commercial photography.

But, don't worry, besides my photography I'm also planning to complete more of my novels - especially since I wasn't able to do much writing throughout the year with my work and health issues to contend with.

I have plenty of novels in mind to write, with the motivation of NanoWriMo just around the corner to kick off the anticipation as well (stay tuned to learn more about the experimental novel I'm going to be attempting during the month of November).

That's all my update for now. I'll be more active and around to let you all know what's happening around my blog and website.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Review: Data Runner

Data Runner by Sam A. Patel

Synopsis (From Goodreads): In the not-too-distant future, in what was once the old City of New York, megacorporations have taken over everything. Now even the internet is owned, and the only way to transmit sensitive information is by a network of highly skilled couriers called “data runners” who run it over the sneakernet. It is a dangerous gig in a dirty world, but Jack Nill doesn’t have much choice in the matter. A brilliant young math whiz and champion of parkour, Jack must become one of these data runners in order to get his father out of a major gambling debt. But when a mysterious stranger loads Jack’s chip with a cryptic cargo that everybody wants, he soon becomes the key figure in a conspiracy that could affect the entire North American Alliance. Now it’s all up to Jack. With the help of his best friend, Dexter, and a girl who runs under the name Red Tail, Jack will have to use all his skills to outrun the retrievers and uncover the truth before they catch him and clip him for good.

This is definitely a unique book with an interesting concept and that's what drew me to it. Jack is a free runner, an expert in parkour, in a not-too-distant future where megacorporations rule and even the internet is owned by someone. The only way to transmit data is through the use of data runners, which is a dangerous job in itself. Jack is pulled into the world of data running to get his father out of a serious gambling debt and is recruited by one of the top and most secretive data running companies. When Jack's chip is uploaded with a cryptic cargo that everyone wants to get their hands on, or destroy, he soon becomes a part of a key conspiracy that could change the shape of the world order.

I have to admit I haven't read too many hardcore sci-fi novels before and one thing that threw me when I started reading Data Runner was that Patel threw the reader into the action and the world without much explanation to the different meanings and jargon that was being used, but overlooking that what Data Runner provides is a thrilling read with lots of twists and turns as the reader is thrown into the chase through the city with Jack and all of the dangers and pitfalls that lay ahead for him. 

One of the things I loved with Data Runner was the in-depth explanation of parkour, it really showed that Patel had experience with the sport and it helped to paint the details of what Jack was really doing. The characters all had different personalities and that was great to see, Jack was a fantastic character to follow through the story with an interesting backstory and a tough life that it made it easy to cheer him on as he's being chased.

There were a couple of parts that I felt lagged a bit and I just wanted Patel to get back to the action scenes, which he writes so well, but overall this was an interesting story with a unique take on the sic-fi novel. I recommend this to anyone who loves hardcore sci-fi's or just a thrilling cyber novel.

Source: NetGalley
2013 Debut Author Challenge: #8 of 12

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group

It's that time of the month again, time for another Insecure Writers Support Group. Thanks to Alex J. Cavanaugh for hosting this fantastic group.

Okay, this is an insecurity that usually pops up when I reach the middle of the novel (although I've been feeling it lately at the beginning when I'm staring into the vast unknown), what if this idea doesn't go anywhere? What if I'm excited about the beginning but then I realise that's the only part of the story that I'm actually excited about? All the time I've spent writing, working on the characters, on the backstory, on trying to put in some twists and turns and just come to the middle lag and realise the idea is a 'meh'. If I think it's 'meh', then certainly the people who take the time to pick it up and attempt to read it will also come to that conclusion.

Okay, so I could just give it up, toss it out, start a new. Yeah, like all those family dinners missed and missed housework (like that's a problem) will be all for nothing because I can't even be bothered to stick with the story. But here's also my problem. I can't give up my babies so easily. Yep, I'm persistent if anything else, and I usually spend so long staring at blank pages and then rewriting until the beginning chapters doesn't look anything like what I started with.

Today I actually found out a little solution to help keep motivated with the story, and it will also help provide characters with little twists that you didn't even think about beforehand. I'm writing a story based around a family of monster hunters and a girl with the ability to see (and feel) anyone's death with just a single touch. I don't know how many times I've rewritten the start just to find the right starting point, but today I thought I'd go and create a hunters journal from the perspective of my main character's older brother. I had only intended to write a short description of each monster with how to kill and a bit of character perspective, but instead I ended up writing an entire short story that takes place twelve years prior to the story's beginning, and this not only helped motivate me with providing me with possible storylines, but I've also got an interesting backstory for the brother being developed that I hadn't thought about before. Now I'm all stoked to jump into this story, and hopefully more short stories will also come out of it (I've still got lots of creatures to write about).

So, that's my big insecurity. What's yours?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

What to do when life's a blur...

It's been a hectic few weeks. I've been in the middle of moving as my a part of my life comes to an end and a new part just begins (well, my life is heading in a new direction so it's technically a new beginning). I've also been venturing around to the big city of Sydney (and getting lost) as my sister and I decided to be cultured and attend Art Galleries and an exhibition at the design school I'm going to be starting in October.

During my trip to Sydney I felt very cultured, yep. Walking through the galleries and admiring all of the art, talking about my exciting photography course with the tutors and admiring the graduates work, and finishing the day with McDonalds sitting right on Circular Quay overlooking the Opera House (okay, that part doesn't sound very cultured, but hey, we were hungry).

The next day we got very well acquainted with the streets of Sydney as I kept reading my stupid iPhone map upside down and instead of going to the train station we made it to the big markets in the opposite direction. Seriously those map apps should have a compass that tells you which way you're facing so you don't end up walking a block in the wrong direction before you realise it.

When I haven't been moving or getting more cultured I've been falling in love with my dslr, and what better way to start learning all the ins and outs of photography than jumping into redesigning a neglected website. Yeah, with this new part of my life I'm also going to have the commitment to focus more on my blog, website and social networks which have all been quite lonely while I've been extremely busy.

I've always wanted to shoot my own images for my website, and even lead that up to shooting my own images for future covers, and I really got that chance this week. My lovely sister has been the willing model who dressed up in a white dress and wig (even had sticky, bloody syrup covering her at one stage) to help with the pictures. I'm going to owe her for the rest of my life since today's shoot was a less than fine day with the little spit of rain starting up.

Then we decided to take a random drive to try and find some waterfalls I was told about. Somehow we ended up at the top of the mountain instead of the falls (if you can't guess by now, my sense of direction isn't that great, but at least it makes everyday an adventure). With the thick fog and random drizzle of rain my sister suggested to walk down the bush path towards the falls (yeah, not a bright idea with the rain, but the pictures made it worth it).

Stay tuned for the new and improved website and a blog that is actually going to be updated regularly :D

I'm definitely looking forward to my the start of the new direction my life is heading in, and I've got plans for a few things that I'm looking forward to being able to share with everyone, both of the writing capacity and with photography.

I guess I haven't actually answered what to do when life's a blur. The only answer to this is to enjoy every moment of it and to always look forward. There's no point in wishing you could undo the past when there's always something to learn and grow from any experience and looking forward is so much better.

So, how's your life going? Got any goals that you're aiming to complete? Are things getting out of control or becoming too much? 

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