Taming Demons for Beginners (The Guild Codex: Demonized #1) by Annette Marie

Summary

Robin doesn’t want to live with her unfriendly uncle and his even more unfriendly family. But after her parents’ death, she wants just one thing: her mother’s grimoire. And she’s sure her uncle is hiding it from her. So, she goes looking.

And finds a demon. A demon trapped by her uncle.

She’s not supposed to talk to it. But she does. She’s not supposed to help it. But she does. And when her uncle’s client comes for his demon, that’s when the real danger begins.                                                                     

Review

Marvelous fun and full of action, Robin and the demon, Zylas, are opposites who manage to fit perfectly together. Robin, a shy, passive, bookworm, is incredibly sweet as she tries to find a way to navigate conflict with her uncle in peaceful, assertive ways…and fails. But she keeps trying to improve, and between that and her determination to get what her mother intended her to have, Robin is a fantastic heroine.

Zylas is the exact opposite. Fiercely intelligent, willing to do anything to survive, and more than willing to fight to the death if necessary, Zylas is also wonderfully protective of Robin with a unique, consistently logical, worldview. The two of them make for a great couple, with each learning, not only about the other’s world, but also how to navigate different relationships while still staying themselves. Lots of action while they do it, too, because it turns out Robin isn’t the only one looking for her mother’s grimoire. A great read!

Android Alternatives to Scrivener’s Notecards

Writing notes on paper
Photo by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

I love Scrivener. Love it. But I don’t use it. Why? Two reasons. First, Literature & Latte the company behind Scrivener, don’t have a Linux version. Second, a lot of my writing these days, at least in draft form, happens on my phone. And it’s an Android, which does not yet have a Scrivener version.

So, I found alternatives. Especially for Scrivener’s beautiful notecard outline.

Hard to do, but possible. Here’s what I’ve found so far, starting with the most recent.

Hello Trello?

This is the most recent approach I’ve found and it works surprisingly well.

Trello is actually a project management site/app. You create a board, which then has lists on it, and cards inside the lists. Cards can have descriptions, checklists, etc. I signed up some time ago, hoping it would help me manage my publishing schedule.

And then found a different system and forgot about Trello.

But I started using it again due to this writer’s wonderful article on using it to outline her novel.

How one woman does it

From what I can see, the article’s author, Anna-Maria Ninnas, creates a board for the chapter of her novel, then creates lists of various sorts on the board. Some of them are for brainstorming plot. Some of them are for threading plots together. All of them involve Trello’s ability to move cards around, even between lists.

After trying it out, I found the trick is to make sure you use the headlines as if you were writing on a notecard. Detailed information you don’t need up front can go in the description, but you won’t be able to see it.

Quick, simple, to the point. Nice.

Other possibilities

If that doesn’t work for you, or you want something extremely close to Scrivener, but don’t care how the outline actually looks, I recommend Novelist.

Novelist is the closest thing I’ve found to Scrivener for Android. It’s extremely flexible, with a way to back up via Google Drive, and sync using Write on Web.

It also has a scene outline feature that allows you to move scenes you’re writing from one place to another.

That’s how I created the outline for my most recent projects, including Puck’s Call (which is still being revised, more later).

If you want to download the app, you can find it here:

Link to Novelist at the Play Store

There is, of course, the old-fashioned way: just use index cards. It’s the most flexible of all. Not quite as portable, though. YMMV.

The important thing, though, is to know if you need an outline, and then find something that allows you to at least have an idea where you’re heading. Even if you scrap it, your mind will say, “Ah, this is important,” and start working out all the issues as you write. That’s been my experience.

What about you? If you write, how do you outline? Let me know in the comments below!

Heir to the Shadows (The Black Jewels #2) by Anne Bishop

Summary

Jaenelle, still healing from her devastating experience, must learn how to form a court she’s doesn’t even want. Backed by Saetan, who treats her as his own daughter, and her new servant/friend, Lucivar, she faces down evil Queens, corrupt courts, and herself. All while waiting for her consort Daemon, who, unbeknownst to her, is healing from his own awful wounds.

Review

Heir to the Shadows, though less about the romance than the first book, is a wonderful exploration of magic and power in a corrupt world needing redemption. Daemon is temporarily moved out of the plot early on, and in a way that should cause some wonderful conflict later. In his place, Jaenelle becomes friends with Lucivar who pledges himself to her as her servant. He’s absolutely wonderful in his devotion and is able to help Jaenelle navigate the threats around her better than anyone else currently near her. Fantastic.

Those who are looking for a continuation of the romance between Daemon and Jaenelle won’t find it here. They’re both very much in need of growth and healing. Not to mention, their separation allows Jaenelle to come into her own, both as queen and an adult.

This is a wonderful look at a powerful woman who has to figure out how to get others to accept that power while forming alliances that make sense and are for the good of all without abusing the power she was given.

That, plus an astounding plot twist, make for a very satisfying book. Though it’s still very dark, I highly recommend it.

Have you read this book, or just think it sounds interesting? Let me know in the comments!

Medieval Hair Taping, Without Elastic! #elasticless (Plus Small Writing Update)

I don’t usually post videos, but this was so fascinating from a historical standpoint and a practical standpoint. I have been trying to figure out a way to avoid hairbands for the sake of my hair, and this looks like a really good (and pretty!) alternative.

(Also, sorry if this just shows up as a link. Not something I can control right now. Soon, though. Soon.)

https://youtu.be/dpT86z93Ec8

Just a general update this week. I’ve started the revision of Puck’s Call. And I’m back to writing short stories and flash fiction. In fact, I’m sending one out to a market tonight.

That’s it for now. See you next week!

What about you? What are your thoughts on how women wore their hair without elastics? Also, do you prefer hair up or down (doesn’t have to apply to your own)?

Blade & Rose by Miranda Honfleur (#SelfPubFantasyMonth)

Cover for Blade and Rose by Miranda Honfleur with female battle mage using fire magic in a forest

Description

“A kingdom in turmoil or the love of her life. Which one will she save?

“Elementalist Rielle hasn’t heard from her best friend in far too long. Yet no one at the Tower of Magic seems to care about Olivia’s silence, or the curtain of secrecy surrounding the distant capital. Before Rielle can investigate, she’s assigned a strange new mission: escort a paladin named Jon across the kingdom.

“When whispers reveal mercenaries have killed the king, taken the capital, and that no one is coming to help, Rielle can’t leave Olivia in peril. But as infamous mages and deadly assassins hunt Jon, she can’t leave him unprotected either—especially as she finds herself falling for his strength, his passion, and his uncompromising goodness. Her past returns to haunt her, a werewolf stalks their steps, and an ancient evil is gathering, yet the restraints forbidding their love strain and snap one by one.

“Saving Olivia and the kingdom means defying orders and sacrificing her every ambition, and could mean losing the man who’s become so much more to her than a mission. Which will she choose: her best friend and the kingdom, or the love of her life?

“Dive into a medieval world sensual and dark, full of magic and greed, love and blades, where factions vie for influence and there are no easy choices.”

Review

Blade and Rose is an epic fantasy romance that can’t be read in one sitting, but I wanted to.

I confess, I got about a quarter of the way through it and had to stop from sheer exhaustion. Honfleur packs a lot into the first quarter of this book, lots of action, lots of romance. I’m used to shorter books and thought for sure I’d already reached the midpoint of the romance way before the actual midpoint.

I’m glad I took a break and came back to this book. It has to be this long to give the characters and plot the depth they need.

Rielle looks like the typical spunky heroine at first. The book opens with her sneaking off into the night to find out why her best friend isn’t responding to her letters. It was nice to see her reasons for her spontaneous actions and the complicated web that is her past. I found myself liking her more and more as the book progressed, with one scene in particular cementing my good opinion of her. Everything she does is with others in mind and she really does try to think through the consequences of her actions. I respected that, and wanted the best for her by the end of the book.

Jon is a rarity in the books I read: a truly good paladin who does his best to keep his oaths in a way that helps others. Sometimes an author will write a character like that with a snide undertone, or make him a bit pompous or arrogant, or constantly point out the silliness of the oath.

Not here. The oaths Jon has sworn are treated as sacred, the men who make them are human but good at heart, and that makes the conflict in his heart all the more real when he finds his oath in conflict with the world around him.

I loved watching him work out his feelings regarding his oaths and duty. And the respectful resolution of that arc caught me by surprise and made me very pleased.

I have to add here that I completely want Rielle and Jon to end up together. They work well together, respect each other, and are willing to sacrifice greatly for the other.

Brennan was a pleasant surprise. Cast as The Bad Guy in the romance part of this book, he had reasons for his horrible actions, and the reasons actually captured my sympathy. Raised to think himself better than others, he’s arrogant and a more typical sexy than Jon. But this book, though it explains his behavior, never excuses it. However, in spite of all the awful things he did, I still hope he’ll redeem himself by the end of the series. I like him.

The plot is epic, complex, magical, and wonderful. Can’t say anything more without risking spoiling it.

For those looking for sweet romance, there are sex scenes, but the focus is on the emotions and the relationship.

If you liked the politics and realism of Game of Thrones but wished there was more magic and a romance that would get your heart thumping, this is that book. Highly recommended!

Goodreads | Amazon

Puck’s Call draft almost finished; #SelfPubFantasyMonth

Two things. First, I’m almost done with Puck’s Call’s rough draft. If I focus, I think I can finish by the end of this week.

Focus, in this case, means getting out my timer and doing sprints whenever I can. And doing occasional Pomodoros if I think it’ll work within my crazy schedule.

Second, it’s #SelfPubFantasyMonth on Twitter and Instagram. I’m going to try the challenge on Twitter. It’s my first time doing something like this, especially while I’m also trying to write. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but I’m having fun and learning about a lot more indie authors who write fantasy! I recommend taking a look if you get a chance.

Kick-off Post with info about this year’s offerings: https://www.selfpublishedfantasymonth.com/self-published-fantasy-month-kick-off/

Official website: http://www.selfpublishedfantasymonth.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SelfPubFanMonth

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/SelfPubFanMonth

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/1104550-self-published-fantasy-month

Any projects coming to a close? Any self-published fantasy books you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below?

Sweep in Peace by Ilona Andrews

Summary

Dina Demille agrees to host a peace conference between three warring factions, hoping it will help her find her parents. It isn’t long before she realizes she’s in way over her head. From trying to create rooms that make sure none of the guests murder each other to finding a highly-skilled chef who’s willing to cook fine cuisine with next to no money, she’s exhausted and the peace talks haven’t even started yet!

As the effects of the war that’s brought these factions here become clear, her reasons for helping turn from professional to personal. But is peace even possible after so much pain? And what is she willing to do to ensure it?

Review

I love Dina’s focus. Her determination in this sequel is wonderful to see. Not only does she do everything she knows to keep her guests happy and relaxed, her creativity in solving the more mindane details inspired me. And when she finds peace must jappen, we get to see a side of being an innkeeper that I had no idea existed.

Caldenia returns, and ups her game (didn’t think that was possible). Beast has less chance to shine but is still Dina’s faithful, adorable companion. The melodramatic chef Dina hires for the conference made me smile each time he showed up. I loved just about every line he uttered. And I loved how he was just as dedicated to his craft as Dina is to her guests.

Arland makes another appearance, as does a minor character from the previous book, Nuan Cee.

Arland shows more depth in this book, having spent time in the war that’s brought everyone here. And he has some great moments in this. The scene where he gives another vampire coffee was just great. And his explanation of why this particular war is hell moved me.

Nuan Cee was both adorable and ruthless. And the reason he had, both to fight and to look for peace, broke my heart. I love his family now and look forward to seeing them more in future books.

The otrokars were a surprise, in many ways. I cried. I can’t say much more than that.

I loved every twist and turn in this twisty plot. But if I say mich more, I’m going to write spoilers, so I’ll just say that if you liked Clean Sweep, Sweep in Peace is not only worth your time but a must-read! Highly recommended! Gah!

Quick Update: The Lord’s Tale (working title?), Puck’s Call

fantasy butterflies forest
From Pixabay

It’s been a very busy time for our family. However, I have some time to post an update on my works-in-progress, so I will.

First, I switched projects. Pre-COVID I was working on Puck’s Call. After COVID, I decided to go back to the world of Trial of the Ornic and finish the third part of the second volume.

I finally finished the third part of what I’ve been calling The Lord’s Tale last month. I’m fairly pleased with the general shape of the story. There are issues that need to be fixed, and I need to make sure this third part flows well with the parts that came before it, but I think it’s good. And I’m glad the whole second volume of Trial of the Ornic is now written.

I’m thinking of changing the title, though. Thoughts?

While that cools off, I’m back to working on Puck’s Call. It’s flowing a lot better than it was before COVID showed up and I switched projects. Setting is clearer and I got down a really great scene the other day involving the land of Faerie itself. I think it’s absolutely beautiful and wondrous. Makes me happy just thinking about it. It’s one of those scenes that I’m pretty secure in saying will make the final cut.

It’s also a scene that’s helped me define the rest of the story, including the point of the series. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the story ends now!

That’s about it. What about you? Any projects you changed this year? New plans? New direction? Let me know in the comments!