Time for me to share another book I've personally read and can recommend. (These are not book reviews, just personal recommendations with why I recommend them. I don't do book reviews and I don't take book review requests!)
This time I'm featuring No Man Can Tame (Book 1 of Dark-Elves of Nightbloom), fantasy romance by Miranda Honfleur. Normally, I'm not into elves. Not sure why; partly it's the pointy ears. I just don't do pointy ears. But on occasion I'll make an exception, and I made one for No Man Can Tame because it's an offshoot of Miranda Honfleur's Blade and Rose romantic fantasy series, which I really enjoy.
And I was really glad I gave it a try. Though I got a little frustrated with Aless at the beginning because she clearly had a lot of growing up to do, she really came into her own later in the book. And I thought Veron was awesome from the first moment I read him. He was forced into a political marriage with Aless, but he's willing to do his duty and do what's best for his people (a real hero does what's right even when it's hard), and he recognized that Aless was in his same position and had sympathy for her.
That was one of the things I especially liked about this book, was that the hero and heorine didn't resent each other for being forced into the marriage but quickly accepted that this was their lot in life so they would go forward together and make the best of it.
Another thing I liked about No Man Can Tame is that the "beast" doesn't change his appearance. My sister said about the Disney Beauty and the Beast, when Belle kisses the beast, "And then he turns into a handsome young rock star." 🤣 And I guess in the original versions, he changes back into a handsome human prince. But in No Man Can Tame, he doesn't change his appearance; what changes is the heroine's perception of him. Because, of course, beauty is what's on the inside, not on the outside.
No Man Can Tame is available on Amazon for $4.99 (or the international equivalent), though if you're in the US or UK (I think) you can get it for 99 cents through 31 August 2021. The second book in the series, Bright of the Moon, is also out now.
I'm part of a giant indie fantasy book fair going on right now, in connection with the Indie Fantasy Addicts Facebook group summer reading challenge. The challenge and the book fair go through the middle of September, so there's still time to join the group, join a team, and start reading. Discover more books, make new reading friends, play games, and maybe even win prizes! Or you can just browse the book fair and discover books by a whole bunch of indie fantasy authors.
My personal recs from the books in the book fair are the Witch of the Lake trilogy/Feast of the Mother (Witch of the Lake Book 1) by Miranda Honfleur and Nicolette Andrews, Blade and Rose by Miranda Honfleur, and No Man Can Tame also by Miranda Honfleur. But there are also a slew of books I haven't read yet that I want to! There's something for almost every fantasy taste, from epic fantasy to fantasy romance to urban fantasy, dragons, Asian-influence, GameLit, and more.
A lot of the books are Amazon-only, but if you're looking for books available at other ebook stores, here's a list I made (not 100% guaranteed; sometimes authors move books in and out of Amazon exclusivity): Gatebreaker - Michelle Wilson; Gisela's Passion - Astrid V.J.; Prophecy Tested - Shannon Pemrick; Finding Fae Artifacts - Isa Medina; Rogue Legacy - Jeffrey L. Kohanek; The Priestess and the Dragon - Nicolette Andrews; The Ancient Realms Collection - A.J. Flowers; Prophecy of Convergence - Shannon Pemrick; Dawn Rising - Lisa M. Green; Celestial Downfall boxed set - A.J. Flowers; Diviner's Prophecy - Nicolette Andrews; Dragon Lake by R.L. Davenor; Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell; Dorelle's Journey - Hannah Steenbock; Divinity's Twilight - Christopher Russell; Kitsune - Nicolette Andrews; Og-Grim-Dog by Jamie Edmundson; Destiny by Shannon Pemrick.
What new book or author will you discover?
I used to do a lot of book reviews. But I stopped several years ago because for various reasons I got more and more uncomfortable with publicly reviewing fellow authors' books. Now, I don't even mark them as "currently reading" on Goodreads any more.
But, I still want to share books I'm excited about and enjoyed, so that's what this feature is going to be about. This will be books I've read and enjoyed and personally recommend, not reviews but just a few words about why I recommend them. (And, btw, I do not take book review requests! This is strictly my own organic reading for fun.) I'll be sticking to my main genres of epic/high romantic fantasy (fantasy with strong romantic subplots) with some fantasy romance (romance with fantasy elements), standard epic/high fantasy, and some weird western mixed in. Mostly indie authors, but also some traditionally-published authors as well.
So, with that intro, my first Reading Rec is the Coilhunter Chronicles by Dean F. Wilson. Weird western in a low-tech steampunk science fiction setting with some elements almost verging on magic.
The Coilhunter Chronicles starts with Coilhunter, and I fell in love with the series right away. Nox the Coilhunter is everything a bounty hunter should be, and more. Tragic past, thirst for justice, quick on the draw, follows a strong code of honor. Plus he's quite a tinkerer and inventor, with lots of awesome gadgets. He has some sidekicks, Mr. Quacky (I don't remember if that's the official name, but that's what fans of the series call it) the mechanical duck, and Porridge, the pilot and scavenger. He's flamboyant, to say the least, but he's also clever and heroic. Lots of great action, suspenseful stories, laugh-out-loud moments, and moments that get me all up in the feels or rip my heart out and stomp on it.
I just finished the latest book, Sixshooter (book 5), and I've loved every book in the series and can't wait for the next book. Each book is its own story, but for optimal enjoyment, I recommend reading them in order. There's a related series, The Great Iron War, that's concurrent with the Coilhunter series and events in it are referred to more often as the Coilhunter books go on, and it's also on my reading list.
Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide—if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.
Meet Nox, the Coilhunter. A mechanic and toymaker by trade, a bounty hunter by circumstance. He isn't in it for the money. He's in it for justice, and there's a lot of justice that needs to be paid.
Between each kill, he's looking for someone who has kept out of his crosshairs for quite a while—the person who murdered his wife and children. The trail has long gone cold, but there are changes happening, the kind of changes that uncover footprints and spent bullet casings.
Plagued by nightmares, he's made himself into a living one, the kind the criminals and conmen fear.
So, welcome, fair folk, to the Wild North. If the land doesn't get you, the Coilhunter will.
Last year I got new covers for Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting, the first two books of Daughter of the Wildings. I still love the old art, but I have a better understanding now of what makes an effective book cover image, and I really needed to get those two books more on-genre for epic fantasy and epic romantic fantasy, to communicate better exactly what kind of books they are to readers who are looking for that genre. I love what my artist, Yuriko Matsuoka, came up with, and especially her fresh envisioning of Silas and Lainie. She nailed the characters perfectly.
Finally the time has come to do the rest of the series covers to match. We just did The Rancher's Daughter and To the Gap, books 3 and 4, and hopefully Yuriko will have room in her schedule in July to do books 5 and 6. These covers have just gone live; check them out! (And yes, that's Silas without his duster coat on book 4!)
So while I've been working hard on revisions on the Mage of Sea and Sky series, I've also been updating the covers on some of my older books, that I thought needed a cover refresh. Two of them, Sarya's Song and Heir of Tanaris, already had custom cover art, and there were things about it I loved and things that weren't working. The third book, The Lost Book of Anggird, has never had custom art. So I put my artist, Yuriko Matsuoka, on the job, and I love what she's done! Check these beauties out:
And while I'm at it, adding the new covers, I've also been refreshing the formatting on these books and the rest of my catalog, and re-doing the lettering on the other covers (except for the Wildings books, which got this treatment last year), to get a nice consistent look all across my catalog. And I did a re-edit on Heir of Tanaris, to polish up a few things with the writing. The project isn't quite done yet, I still need to update Urdaisunia and my short story collections A Cure for Nel and Mistress of the Mirror.
And I'm not done yet! I'm also getting new cover art for The Rancher's Daughter and To the Gap, as part of updating the Daughter of the Wildings series's look. And once I've finalized the titles for the Mage of Sea and Sky books, I'll start revealing those covers. (Hint: the art, also by Yuriko Matsuoka, is gorgeous!) (Also, subscribers to my newsletter get to see most of these goodies first! Except the Lost Book cover; we just finalized that and I couldn't wait until after my next newsletter to upload it and show it off!)
Finally, Sarya's Song, Heir of Tanaris, and Mages' Home (Defenders of the Wildings Book 1) are all 99 cents through June 30. Don't miss this great deal for some summer/winter reading! Click the titles to go to the book pages and find links to buy at your favorite ebook store.
I'm in this great group on Facebook called Romantic Fantasy Shelf, where readers who love romance in their fantasy books, or fantasy in their romance books, get together to talk about all our favorite magic & kissing stuff. Last month we had a great discussion on the enemies-to-lovers romantic trope, and the Romantic Fantasy Shelf blog posted a list of recommended books featuring enemies who fall in love.
Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite romantic storylines. It brings in so much potential for conflict, angst, and character growth. When well done, it really addresses the main characters' core values and leads them to expand their world view, and to understanding and respect for each other.
In my preferred version of enemies to lovers, the enemy isn't evil, they just have opposing goals which aren't evil in and of themselves. In other words, just because the characters are enemies doesn't mean one of them is the bad guy. I differentiate between enemies to lovers, where the characters have opposing goals, and villain romance, where one of the characters is actually a villain. Note, there's also a difference between a true villain and one who everyone thinks is a villian but really isn't (I do love this take on villains!).
Anyway, I do have to be able to respect the "enemy." If I have no respect for him/her, I lose all respect for the other character for falling for him/her. Though, of course, there's also something to be said for a good redemption arc.
I also don't like when the "enemy" aspect brings in an unhealthy, abusive situation. If one character is inflicting a situation like that on the other character, I lose all respect for the abusive character and don't like to see the other character falling for the abuser.
A great example of a well-done enemies-to-lovers romance is Beneath Black Sails, by Clare Sager. The hero and heroine are enemies in that they have opposing goals, she's a pirate and he's a pirate hunter, but they both have good reasons for doing what they do and values and standards that I can respect. So I like both characters and respect them, and I enjoy seeing the process by which they come to understand, respect, and eventually love each other.
Another great example is the first book of the Emperor's Edge series by Lindsay Buroker. I love how Amaranthe and Sicarius start out as enemies then come to understand each other and agree to work for the same cause. The romance is extremely slow burn and continues to build slowly through the other 6(?) books of the series, but I especially loved the part at the beginning where they move from enemies to allies.
Among my own books, I think Urdaisunia is the best example of enemies-to-lovers. Eruz is the crown prince of the Sazar people, who conquered Urdaisunia and are subjecting it to a brutal rule. Rashali is an Urdai peasant, whose family has suffered greatly because of the Sazars. So, unquestionably, they're enemies. Eruz doesn't approve of his father's tyrannical rule, but he understands why the Sazars needed to find a new home and he wants to find a better way for the Sazars and the Urdai to co-exist. Rashali wants to drive the Sazars out and restore Urdaisunia's freedom. They both have worthy though opposing goals, and have to find a way to do what's best for Urdaisunia and all the people who live there - while falling in love in the meantime!
Want more enemies-to-lovers recs? Check out this post on the Romantic Fantasy Shelf blog, listing 20 enemies-to-lovers fantasy books (it's part 1; there'll be more to come sometime!)
My own picks from the list:
Beneath Black Sails, by Clare Sager (#7 on the list)
Master of Crows, by Grace Draven (#9)
Identity Revealed, by J.M. Butler (#10) (very villain-y)
Heiress of Healing, by Sonya Lano (#19)
For more book recs, book discussions, and to meet other readers and authors, come join us at Romantic Fantasy Shelf on Facebook! (Or follow the blog if you aren't on Facebook.) Right now, the Blizzard of Book Boyfriends read-and-review challenge is going on. Read books, share your reviews with the group, and enter to win prizes!
I'm in a whole slew of book promotions this month. Rather than posting about each one one at a time on the different social media places, where no one sees them anyway, here they all are in one place! A great way to discover new authors and genres. Some of these end soon, so don't delay!
Feb. 1-28: A small but exquisite selection of romantic fantasy and fantasy romance books.
Feb. 1-28: A huge selection of free fantasy books, from epic fantasy to urban fantasy to paranormal romance to space fantasy. Some downloads may require you to sign up for the author's newsletter.
Feb. 1-28: Science fiction and fantasy visions of alternative worlds and alternative versions of our world.
Feb. 1-28: A wide selection of fantasy, from epic to space fantasy, much of it featuring love and romance.
Feb. 15-Mar. 15: Binge on fantasy and science fiction ebook box sets. Discover a new favorite series!
Feb. 15-Mar. 15: A wide selection of fantasy and science fiction, free to download. Some of the downloads might require you to sign up for the authors' newsletters.
Feb. 15-April 15: Find a new series to binge on with these fantasy, urban fantasy, and paranormal romance ebook box sets.
Seven years ago, I was very excited to commission my first custom illustrated cover art, for the Daughter of the Wildings series. My artist, Mominur Rahman, did a fantastic job and I still love those covers even though at the time I hadn't learned very much about what makes a really effective, genre-appropriate cover image for romantic high/epic fantasy.
Now, seven years later, Daughter of the Wildings is the foundation of my growing career as an indie author, and I've decided it's time to refresh the covers, to bring them more into line with the growing romantic high/epic fantasy genre. I was so excited to get Yuriko Matsuoka, who did the art for the Defenders of the Wildings and Mage of Sea and Storm covers, to do the new Daughter covers, and even more thrilled with what she came up with for the covers of Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting!
I'm starting with new covers for those two books, then, as finances permit, I'll get new art for the rest of the books. The wonderful Colleen at Ampersand Book Interiors did the same cover treatments as on the old covers for these first two books. Then, when I get the rest of the series done, I'll re-do all the design treatments on the Daughter series and the Defenders series so they match.
I'm in the process of uploading the new covers. It may take up to a week or so for them to go live on all the stores. If you've already purchased Beneath the Canyons and Bad Hunting and want the versions with the new covers, sign up for my email list and watch for a future newsletter on how to get your hands on them!
Oh, and my newsletter subscribers already got sneak peeks at the Mage of Sea and Storm cover art! (It's amazing!) Sign up to see the cover reveals first, or watch this blog.
Welp. It's been an eventful *counts on fingers* six months since I last posted. Pandemic and quarantine - hope you're all well, we're fine so far - plus we moved. We downsized to a house more than 1/3 smaller than our old house, the house where we lived for 27 years and raised our kids. So much stuff to get rid of! And all the places where we would normally sell or donate things were closed, and even if having a yard sale wasn't a really bad idea during a pandemic, we just don't have the energy or interest in doing that kind of thing. In general, moving during a quarantine is not recommended. I hate moving anyway, but we had the perfect opportunity to get the perfect house for us in the area where we wanted to be - rare new construction in our established neighborhood - so we went for it.
In other news, I'm now on revisions of book 1 of the Mage of Sea and Sky series. This is actually the second of 4 books; I've already done the big revision on the prequel. I wrote the entire series, beginning to end, in draft before starting the revision process, which is good because yes the whole thing exists, and so many things changed from beginning to end (for example, what was originally the major impetus for book 3 is now just a side note if it still exists at all, and my understanding of the hero has changed drastically since I first started writing) that this way I can make the major changes and get everything consistent before I start publishing.
I'm also working with my wonderful cover artist, Yuriko Matsuoko, on the covers! Subscribers to my newsletter are the first to get sneak peeks at the cover art and excerpts from the book. Sign up to get the scoop before I post it on my blog! Also, subscribers will get Red Jade, the prequell novella of Mage of Sea and Sky, free!
Okay, so it's been three months since my last post and the release of Mages' Uprising. I figured maybe it's time for a progress report (though if you're subscribed to my newsletter, you've been getting progress reports all along, hint hint). So what have I been up to since October? Basically, this:
This is the complete first draft printout of my next series, tentatively titled Mage of Sea and Sky. I finished writing the draft on November 15. Four books (prequel and books 1, 2, and 3), 289,000 words (which will increase as I revise), 949 printout pages. That's book 3 sitting on top of the binder; it wouldn't all fit in my jumbo binder, so book 3 needed its own binder. Now I'm taking the series through my revision triage process, based on what I learned in Holly Lisle's How to Revise Your Novel class. This is where I read the whole thing through, making extensive notes on what needs to be fixed, getting the characters and worldbuilding consistent, checking for plot holes and subplots that go nowhere, and all that kind of stuff. I have a specific protocol I go through with each scene to make sure I hit all the different possible problem areas. So far I've done 366 out of 949 pages. It's kind of a grueling, tedious, time-consuming process, but when it comes time to actually start making changes to the books, I'll know I've identified the major and minor problems and figured out in advance how to fix them, and I can get everything consistent throughout all the books.
I'm really excited about this series. The idea and the main characters have been in my head for a long time, decades, and now I've finally found the right setting for them. This series takes place in the Mardavian Islands of the Wildings world, where Silas's Island mage ancestors came from, and the end of the series leads into the beginning of the mage migration to Granadaia. Some Venedias ancestors may be among the characters; I haven't identified them yet. So, although this takes place in a different time and place in that world, I hope readers who've enjoyed the Wildings books will also enjoy Mage of Sea and Sky.
Just as a teaser, here's a character list from the prequel, which takes place 12 years before the main series:
Esavas Daruvias (the hero), age 19, youngest son of a highborn mage family; an awkward, bookish, misfit young man.
Master Kahusun, a Master of the Higher Order of Magecraft and Scholarship (aka the Tower).
Amavas Daruvias, a highborn mage, Esavas's demanding, hard-to-please father.
Rayaluna Daruvias, Esavas's lovely, flighty older sister.
Pirazina Uyadias, age 17, a highborn mage, a beautiful young woman whom Esavas has adored since childhood.
Valazan Buradias, a highborn mage, the best student in Esavas's training cadre.
Orpajin Valentias, a highborn mage, the second-best student in Esavas's training cadre, a bully.
Master Arbasy, instructor in magical and martial arts for Esavas's training cadre.
Master Lanijan, weather-master for Esavas's hometown.
Mahuras Lamodias, a highborn mage, an acquaintance of Esavas's from school, an enterprising young man who is not especially concerned about the legality of his business ventures.
Watch for more info about Mage of Sea and Sky as I make progress! This series is quite a long way from being ready for release, but I can tell you that new and existing subscribers to my newsletter will get early access to a free download of the prequel.
As for other projects, for those who are sad that there are no more books in the Wildings series, never fear! A new Wildings series, Children of the Wildings, is next in the book pipeline. Right now I'm just gathering ideas (dragons! and what are the Vendine kids up to 15-20 years later? Despite their best efforts to avoid it, will trouble find Silas and Lainie yet again?) and I'm a long way from starting to write it; for the time being, I want to concentrate my energy and brain power on Mage of Sea and Sky. We also have a house move coming up the first part of March (only half a mile away, but we're reducing our living space by 1/3, so lots of decluttering to do before then) and my husband and I are also planning another trip to Germany this fall. But life and health permitting, I'll continue making steady progress and be able to begin Children of the Wildings once I start publishing Mage of Sea and Sky. Hopefully before the end of this year, but I really can't say. Stay tuned for updates (which will hopefully come more often than every three months)!
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