February Update a.k.a. Atlantis is my Kink

Hey Everyone! I’m back!

If you saw my social media posts (fyi I tend to only hang about Instagram these days) you would’ve seen I went on a much needed social media hiatus and went full Hermit mode. The constant bad news stream was messing with my word count and anxiety too much so I had a big break to get my head back on straight. While away I had a big ‘Atlantis’ binge. You would think I would’ve had enough after writing 300 k words of ‘The Magicians of Venice’ series, but no, Atlantis is still one of my fave kinks. Also, because I was writing so much of my own interpretations of Atlantis I kind of forced myself to steer clear of any other Atlantis media as much as possible. So here is a round up of my fave Atlantis stuff from the binge-fest.

Okay so it’s no secret that I love Disney’s ‘Atlantis’ movie…so much so I went to buy it on Blu Ray only to discover THERE IS A SECOND MOVIE. I was shook that I had no idea of it’s existence! And its so freaking good. It has relics, sass, a freaking Kraken, Odin and lost cities. I loved it and watched these back to back more than once. And will again because Milo is just so nerd hot and its got everything I love.

I finally started watching BBC’s ATLANTIS, which is a really cool take on famous Greek myths like Herakles, the Minotaur, Medusa etc. I am almost finished season 1 and have season 2 lined up because its so much fun, the same way MERLIN was so hilarious and full of really good looking dudes. I love Greek myth retellings so highly recommend.

I watched ‘Aquaman’ again and still really enjoyed it despite the ‘Atlantis still being under the ocean’ trope isn’t my fave in the Atlantis tropes. I love the DC universe and Jason Momoa is just perfection and brought something extra to the character of Arthur. I’m not fussed on Amber Heard but its still a fun movie and love the idea of lost Atlanteans colonies in other parts of the world.

Moving into books, my absolute fan Atlantean myth retelling is without a doubt, Stephen Lawhead’s Taliesin. It’s book one of his Pendragon Cycle (my fave Arthurian myth books) and the first half is about Charis, a princess of Atlantis, it’s destruction and her being a refugee to Britain. Stephen Lawhead is next level with his Celtic Historical fiction and his take on Atlantis will always be my favourite. I got onto this series when I was 14 and very angry at the world and it pretty much inspired me to stop fucking about and get serious about writing fantasy. I could literally talk about this series forever so I’m going to stop here, but you’ll never regret picking up a Lawhead book.

I’m a sucker for indie romance and I love Domino Taylor (loved ‘Daughter of Fortune Series’), so when Amazon threw ‘Return to Atlantis’ at me I had to give it a shot. It follows the ‘Underwater Kingdom of Atlantis’ trope but also tied in alot of cool fantasy stuff like mermaids and shark riding and underwater battles. It has romance streak in it but it isn’t dominant, it really follows the main female character Kai and her journey so its more a fantasy with romance as opposed to romance fantasy. There is another book out so mind the cliff if you decide to pick it up. You can check it out here.

The next book on my to read list has been on it FOREVER is ‘Atlantis’ by David Gibbins. For obvious reasons, I’ve held off on reading a book about an archaeologist who is looking for remnants of Atlantis. Now that I have a draft of ‘The King’s Seal’ that I’m really happy with, I finally feel comfortable giving this one a go. I’ve been a bit reluctant too because of the male archaeologist/ historian/adventurer and ladies man trope isn’t my favorite (apart from Indie because INDIE PUNCHES NAZIS) … I’m willing to give it a go though because I haven’t read David Gibbins, and maybe I’m in for a pleasant surprise and not a cringe fest on how the main character describes and treats smart women in the story.

So that’s my Atlantis media round up. 

In other news I am busy trying to get my head in gear and write something that’s not ‘The Magicians of Venice’ but I haven’t settled on a project as yet. I have a lot of fun ideas and a few that scare the shit out of me, which is pretty usual for me. Also, I know that I’ll start receiving final edits and galley proofs of ‘The Sea of the Dead’ book 2 of ‘The Magicians of Venice’ that I’ll need 110% brain power for. I can’t WAIT to share this book with you. It was such a next level book for me in all areas of research, plotting, character development etc. It tried to kill me and I love it because of it. I really love Atlantis and magic and Venice, and I’m so proud of how the series has come together. I’m still getting people messaging me about how much they enjoyed ‘The Immortal City’ and this sparks endless fucking joy for me because I know how much it ramps up from there. You can read more about ‘The Immortal City’ here, and if you are reading it and enjoying please leave a review, as they help other readers find my books.

Cheers

Ames x

 

 

The Immortal City is HERE

The time is now! ‘The Immortal City’ is out in the world at last! I’ve talked about it a lot in vague terms and descriptions the past few months to avoid spoilers but no more. Over the next few blogs I’m going to be talking about the main players in ‘The Immortal City’; and today I’m starting with the Big Two: Penelope and Alexis. Don’t worry I’m still going to make these as spoiler free as possible, while giving you a bit of insight into who they are and how they wandered into my brain and developed into the characters you’ll meet.

Penelope Bryne started as a panic attack.

I had been thinking about writing an Atlantis book for a while, and having a female archaeologist as my protagonist, and I’d been working for universities / academia and had an insight into the daily struggles, but didn’t have a feel for her just yet. Then life got in the way.

I’m not a sharer, but I’m comfortable enough to say I was not in a good place anxiety wise in early 2017. My work place wasn’t a healthy one so I knew that it needed to change, and I was locked into a contract until May and thought I could keep it together and wait it out. In April, I started having public panic attacks. In restaurants that were too crowded, on the train going home from work etc and then as I sat holding in tears in the bathroom of a strangers house, at a party I’d been convinced to go to…there was Penelope. Anxiety filled and in the darkest place, feeling like a failure and unable to even control her own mind and body.

I started writing her, and I felt like if I could write a character and how she dealt with her anxiety, maybe I could figure out my own. Pen was doing yoga and meditation, so I got back into it and man, has it helped on so many levels. I’m not saying Penelope is a reflection of me, or that her triggers are the same, but writing her struggles as I went through my own was therapeutic. It still is. I wanted a character who had the panic attacks and anxiety, but still got up and did what she had to and manage it as best as she could. I wasn’t thinking of an audience at the time I planned and wrote ‘The Immortal City,’ I was thinking how as a reader I don’t see people with anxiety being the heroes. Yeah, sure, there are some that I’ve found where the character has anxiety, but it tends to mysteriously get cured pretty early on when they find the right man/place they belong/  the ‘source’ of their anxiety like magical interference. I’m going to tell you right now – Penelope’s anxiety doesn’t go away through the whole series because you don’t get cured of that shit, you only learn to manage it.

Penelope has an impossible dream– to find the historical Atlantis. This dream has shaped her life in all aspects as a daughter, an academic and as a woman. It’s impacted her relationships and drives her waking moments. I wanted a character to get a glimpse of achieving that dream and having it taken away, her hard work and research panned and her grant money gone. I work in a creative industry so I know a little bit about having the impossible dream, especially when it gets trodden on. I was also working closely with academics and seeing firsthand how they spend so much of their professional life trying to get grants, publish articles and get recognition for the work that they do and have the means to continue it. I’ve seen people burst into tears when they’ve been denied grant funding because it means they have to leave their research and go back to teach in order to pay the bills. I’m not saying that there’s something wrong with teaching or it’s a lesser vocation because it’s not, but I wanted to share this side of academia because you never see Lara Croft or Robert Langdon being forced to say no to an adventure because they don’t have the cash or means of obtaining it.

Penelope is absolutely the kind of person obsessed with her dream enough to leave her holiday to go to Venice because something pertaining to her research has turned up at a crime scene. While I don’t like to inflict talk of ‘themes’ onto readers, obsession in all its forms plays a big part in the Magicians of Venice series, and nearly every single character in is obsessed with something.

Okay, I don’t think I can say tooooo much more about Pen without giving out spoilers apart from adding she’s an Aussie and an only child. For a bit of fun, I’ve created a yoga flow for her that you can find below. It’s not intensive, as she uses yoga to calm down, and I’ve enjoyed putting this one together for anyone who’s interested. FYI – I’m not a yoga teacher, this is for fun, please practice safely.

Penelope’s ‘Calm the Fk Down’ Yoga Flow

  • Childs Pose
  • Plank
  • Forward Fold
  • Sun salutation
  • Mountain Pose
  • Warrior 1
  • Down Dog
  • Childs Pose

(ten rounds, 3 breaths for each move)

Alexis Donato started as a dream.

Before I had Penelope, I had Alexis. Penelope made me work to see her character and her motivations clearly, Alexis was a god damn freight train of ‘Here I am. Try to understand me at your peril. No, I’m not changing because you want me gentler, or easier, or less complicated.’ Alexis turned up in a dream, in fact a bunch of dreams. And yes, I know how lame this sounds, and yes, just because I had a cool dream doesn’t mean it makes a cool story. Dreams can be pretty bullshit but bullshit fertilises (as the saying goes).

Dream 1, came about as all of the Atlantis and research primordial ooze was percolating in my brain. In the dream I knew I was someone else. I wasn’t *me* but I was in Venice at night and someone stepped from the shadows and stabbed me as I was admiring the view from a bridge. I toppled into a canal and when I came to I was in a stranger’s house and that stranger was Alexis, who told me he was a magician from Atlantis. For those who’ve read ‘The Immortal City’ this scene may seem familiar although not in this form. It’s because I couldn’t leave this moment out of it.  Alexis had arrived and I woke up thinking I really shouldn’t eat so much before bed, but this character refused to go away. The following week I had about three different dreams including having coffee with him in the San Marco piazza. The bastard wouldn’t leave me alone and I knew in my bones I had one of my main characters. The weird thing was, once I had Alexis, every bit of random research I had scattered through notebooks all clicked into place. He was the keystone, the spider in the web, and the plot connected in the most surprisingly creepy way. Writing this series has been like that from day 1 and even now I’m in my third book things keep connecting randomly.

Alexis is a great character and one of the most fun I’ve ever gotten to write. I love writing about magicians and magic in general, so building the myth of Atlantis up around Alexis and the other magicians was such a blast. His duty has been to protect the other magicians and prevent mankind from learning the truth about Atlantis, so you can imagine him butting heads with Penelope who’s determined to discover the truth. He’s a general, a big brother, a son and he does his best to keep the other magicians in line. I really loved being able to use him as my storyteller, and crafting mini stories and memories was a way I could go to Atlantis without losing the book completely to full fantasy territory. Alexis has lived a LONG time, and there’s so much room as a writer to play with and use to develop layers and motivations.

I recently saw a reviewer describe Alexis as ‘part romance, part violence’ and its pretty spot on. He’s a scholar and a warrior. He doesn’t always play well with others but he’s loyal and fierce and damn charming when he wants to be. I’m shamelessly in love with Alexis. I’ve also created him a yoga flow because the poor guy has a lot on his hands.

Alexis’s ‘I’m Trying not to Murder these Magicians’ Yoga Flow

  • Mountain
  • Forward Fold
  • Plank
  • Upward Dog
  • Downward Dog
  • Warrior 2
  • Reverse Warrior
  • Crescent pose
  • Mountain

(seven rounds, three breaths per pose)

Developing Penelope and Alexis was night and day by way of process, but I love them both like crazy. They’ve really pushed me as a writer and have helped me through the last few years of anxiety and growth.

For those of us who are visual people, I really encourage you to check out ‘The Magicians of Venice’ Pintrest Board, its massive and gives you a good vibe of the series. Also, if you really want to know, Jade Taylor is probably the closest I’ve come to imaging Penelope in my head, and the model Maximiliano Patane for Alexis 😉

I hope you love them as much as I do! Grab your copy here and don’t forget to leave me a review 🙂

Ames x

‘A’ is for August and Atlantis

 

It’s exactly 1 month and 8 days until the release of ‘The Immortal City’ and so I thought I’d change the usual blog format up to talk about Atlantis, in particular, two historical figures that are mentioned in the book; Plato and Helena Blavatsky.

Let’s start with Plato, the Greek Grand Daddy of all Atlantis theory and the closest primary source that we have on Atlantis. For those who don’t know, Plato was an Athenian philosopher that was born in Greece around 423 BC. He is considered one of the most important figures in Ancient Greek History and was the student of Socrates. Atlantis appears in Timaeus and Critias, two of Plato’s dialogues, recorded conversations of a group consisting of Socrates, Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates and himself. Plato writes about an ancient Athens as an Ideal State, and its conflict with Atlantis, an advanced, mighty island nation. The God Zeus decides to punish Atlantis for its hubris and in the process, ancient Athens is also destroyed (because Zeus is a jerk like that).

In the dialogues, Plato writes that this smackdown from Zeus destroyed ancient Athens and Atlantis 9000 years ago, and that its history was lost during the disaster. It’s not until Solon, a wise sage of Greece and friend of the grandfather Critias, traveled to Egypt, specifically to the learned priests at Sais, sometime between 590-580 BC, that the story of Atlantis is re-discovered.

It’s in Critias that the full story of Atlantis comes out; an island nation created and beloved by Poseidon, ruled by his ten sons. We get a lot of history about how it was constructed, the nature and intelligence of its people. They were well known throughout the Aegean and Egypt through trade and its military prowess. Long story short, the peace between Athens and Atlantis disintegrates and after the war, earthquakes and volcanos destroy Atlantis, pulling it into the sea in a single day and night. Athens is also destroyed in the earthquakes and flooding, which is why it’s only in Egypt that the story of the nation and its conflict survives.

Sorry guys, magical crystals aren’t featured at all in Plato 🙂

(FYI- if you want to know more about those, beyond Disney’s Atlantis flick, look up Edgar Cayce) 

So where does Thevetat and the conflict with the white priests/ magicians come into the story?? Well, that’s Helena Blavatsky’s area of expertise.

HPB, as she liked to style herself, is one of the most fascinatingly random figures involved with the Atlantis stories. Born in Russia in 1831, she was an occultist, philospher and co-founder of the Theosophical Society. She was a world traveller, who claimed she spent seven years studying in Tibet under Masters, she had a seance business in Cairo, lived in Paris and New York, and published multiple works including the 1885 book, The Secret Doctrine, The Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy. This work contains HPB’s version of Atlantis, one vastly different to Plato’s. Claiming that she recieved the history of Atlantis in trances, it goes alot into the first men or root races (theories that the Nazi’s would eventually latch onto) but I won’t bog you down in the complex theory of these, only to say that the Atlanteans were one of them.

The Secret Doctrine also talks about how the downfall of Atlantis came about when some of their peoples started using bad magic taught to them by a demon called Thevetat. This demon worship and practices were opposed by good magicians/ priests and a war broke out, and continued right up until the day Atlantis was destroyed. It also descibes how some of the good magicians managed to get to ships and flee before the final cataclysm.

It was this idea that I really latched onto during my research into Atlantis because there was so much a fantasy writer could play with. It didn’t hurt that it already aligned with a lot of the ideas I had about a group of magicians that managed to escape from Atlantis and who have been stuck in a magically long life ever since. History, my friends, is always so much stranger than you can ever believe.

If you want to know more about Atlantis and ALL of the stories, theories, science, history and believers I highly recommend the book in the photo, Stephen P. Kershaw’s ‘A Brief History of Atlantis.’ I have used this book as a quick reference guide so much in the past years and it’s an excellent starting point for anyone interested.

It’s probably important to reiterate here that I’m a fantasy writer, not a historian, who has always been endlessly fascinated by Atlantis, and ‘The Magicians of Venice’ is the series in which I’ve had the chance to really explore my nerdiness.

There will be more Atlantis and ‘The Immortal City’ specially themed blogs over the next few months that will give you an insight into history, the characters, locations from the book and all my other inspirations. As I said it’s still a month before ‘The Immortal City’ is out in the world but you can learn more about it and pre-order it here, or at your fave local bookstore.

Ames x

p.s. Please note that the cards of Plato and Helena Blavatsky in my photos are from ‘Saints and Mystics’ reading card deck by the amazing Andres Engracia. The black and white pic of Helena is from Wikipedia. 

 

July Update and Big Changes

Argh! 1 month and 26 days until ‘The Immortal City’ release! I thought I’d be less excited by now but the opposite is proving true – I AM PUMPED. I can’t wait until this baby is out in the world. It will be my first release with a traditional publishing house so I feel like everything is new and strange again – but in a really good way with supportive people around me. Speaking of support Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who has left reviews on NetGalley (omg you guys it’s hit 95 reviews) and any other blog/social media platform etc. I’m sharing the ones I see on Instagram and including them in my ‘Immortal City’ highlights because bookstagramers make the BEST pics. I can’t NOT share them. Seriously, I appreciate every single one. While ARCS are now closed don’t forget you can pre-order it here.

In other news I’m just about to hit 70k words of book 3 of ‘Magicians of Venice’ I’m trying not to freak out at how far I still have to go with it or rush through it to get that pesky draft 0 done. I have the time to go slower with this one and I’m really forcing myself to take the time to enjoy the ride. This series always takes so much more from me than any other books I’ve ever written but I’m already ridiculously in love with it and crazy proud how its coming together.

Here are some pictures of the street that my Magicians live on to celebrate. There will be location videos that I’ll also be sharing once the book is out as well. I hate the sound of my voice on camera but the places are far too pretty and awesome not to share.

While I was in Venice in November I really took the time to sit back, look at my plaftform and my writing process and I vowed to slow down in 2019, to take out the things that were stressing me out and not serving me. Some of the things was focusing on writing ONLY one book this year without killing myself to hit a dead line, cleaning up my brand, doing no university units, and in general taking out the things that stress me out.

On that note, you may have noticed a few changes around my site and Amazon etc. I have taken down ‘The Eagle Key’ and both of the ‘Western Wars’ books. Why? Mostly its because they aren’t really on brand. They are epic fantasy series experiments that I put up to see if they sold okay and if they did, I’d write more in those worlds. While I did have some enthusiastic fans, they never really sold, and I don’t really feel the need to keep writing in those worlds or growing / marketing them. I’d rather focus on The Firebird Fairytales Universe and other unannounced projects. I love writing contemporary fantasy / paranormal so they are the genres I’m going to write and focus on.

Another change is I’ve taken down my paperbacks from Createspace and Ingramspark. Why? Okay there are a bunch of reasons but mainly cost. Ingramspark are about to rise their prices again and because my books are large, and they charge per page, the cost of them were $18 USD as a base sales price, which means retailers were going to have to charge about $40 (for ‘Rise of the Firebird’ my biggest) to make any profit on them. That is insane. It comes down to me being an indie and not having the distribution discounts that other publishers have. Also there has been US Tax legislation and whole swag of other changes that have come in and to be honest? I literally can’t keep up with it all. Maybe in a few months if I’m swamped with requests for paperbacks, I’ll put them back up on Createspace so at least Amazon will have them, but I’m not planning on it. I’ve never really sold paperbacks, I’ve never promoted them either, so its going to be one less stress for me to worry about. This is not even mentioning the extra costs of covers and formatting that come with producing a paperback – money I could be using to get other books out digitally. Its a bummer but at the end of the day, I’m flexible to putting them back up again if there’s a need for it.

Enough boring bummed out stuff – I went to see The Cursed Child this month and it was INSANE. I’m one of the few people that didn’t read it and have managed to avoid most of the major spoilers because I really wanted to see the show. I was NOT disappointed. I was blown away. I go to a lot of musicals and theater and this was one of the best productions I’ve ever seen. The stage effects alone were fucking insane. I’m keen to keep the secrets but omg that shit was magical and I swear I almost peed a little when a frickin damn Dementor floated out of no where. I also got to go FULL Slytherin, I’m a 100% in love with old man Draco, I ship the hell out of Scorpious and Albus, and none of that should surprise anyone. It was the best day, and I really recommend anyone who has the opportunity to go to do it.

BECAUSE I watched Cursed Child and was in the mood for magic schools and fucked up chosen ones, I finally picked up ‘Carry On’ by Rainbow Rowell. I KNOW I’m the last person to reach this and fall in love but dudes…I AM SO IN LOVE. It was so much fun. I love the reluctant kind of crap chosen one trope and just ALL of it. Baz…do I need to say it? BAZ. I’m in love. I literally felt queasy when I was finished because I havent loved a book this hard in a really long time. I pre-ordered the hell out of ‘Wayward Son’ and counting down until November to get it in my hot little hands.

I haven’t had a huge amount of reading time this month because I’ve been wrecked (mid-winter darkness kicks my ass so hard) and also been using my spare time to focus on writing and researching (Gods Below so much research) but the other two books I’m keen as hell to finish off; ‘War’ by Laura Thalassa and ‘The King’ by Jennifer Armentrout. I have been waiting about a year for both of these so I’m trying not to go full crazy and read them all at once. There are a lot of mixed feelings out there by the Horseman series of Laura’s but I personally love them and the morally grey characters and fucked up situations they find themselves in. The world building and whole vibe of the books are insanely good – she has gone next level as a writer with them and I’m ecstatic and blown away. I really could rave about it for a good long while but I won’t because spoilers. But seriously…how hot is this cover? Probably my fave hot cover of the year so far. I rave about my love for Jennifer Armentrout a lot on this blog but I seriously LOVE her ‘Wicked Trilogy’ world – fae, hunters, New Orleans – how can I not be obsessed with it? ‘The King’ is a sequel to last years ‘The Prince’ and I nearly sobbed with happiness when I saw it arrive on my Kindle this morning. It’s like one novel split – just to warn you. I can’t wait to keep reading – Brighton is a great character and a lot of fun to read.

That about wraps me up, guys, this blog has gotten sooo much longer than I expected. Assassin’s Creed has released its final DLC and I’ve FINALLY got to Atlantis. I haven’t finished it yet so I’ll save my hard core fangirling until  next time.

Ames xx

 

 

June Update

June is almost gone, and I’ve been flat out as usual. The blog unfortunately is the first thing that suffers but if I can get to it before the month is out I count it as a win.

Okay first up… ‘The Immortal City’ got a good review in Publishers Weekly this month. It’s a big deal for an writer and I couldn’t be more stoked about it. The review tally on NetGalley has passed 70 this week which continues to blow me away. The book has good energy around it and it’s keeping me on point and excited with the release (2 months, 25 days and 13 hrs to go).

It feels like every week something is happening that’s  super exciting and I’m trying hard to create a steady routine around work and writing. Its been a real learning experience this year, focusing on only completing the one book and managing the different pace. I’m really glad that I cleared everything else because book 3 has been challenging to write around everything else thats happening. I’m nudging 60k words and its growing together but it really has taken me since March to find a rhythm with it. I’m hoping to get the draft done by September so I can focus on promoting ‘The Immortal City’ without worrying about a word count. I read a really great article by Erin Morgenstern about the challenges of writing ‘The Starless Sea’ and creating a bubble to create freely in without external distractions and pressures. I’ve been feeling that pretty hard lately and so I’m focused on getting book 3 finished by September so I can have that bubble to write as honestly and clearly as I can in it. I’m giving it my everything and even in draft form, I know its the best thing I’ve written.

This month I’ve also been to see the new exhibit at the NGV here in Melbourne: Terracotta Warriors: Guardians of Immortality and Cai Guo -Qiang. It was freaking AMAZING. I knew I’d nerd out over the warriors but I was surprised how much I loved Cai Guo-Qiang pieces (made with gundpowder on silk!) so much so I ended up buying a print for my office and a warrior for my desk. Here are some photos, including me all clean and out of the writing cave.

Saturday was also the Winter Solstice here in Melbourne and I ventured out to Her Royal Majesty’s theatre and watched a production of Sondheim’s “Sweeney Todd” and had a blast! It’s one of my fave musicals and seeing it on stage was just incredible.

 

Apart from all that excitement, I’ve been reading some great books lately including:

Margaret Rogersons ‘Sorcery of Thorns’…okay EVERYONE has been on my case to read Margaret Rogerson and I finally cleared my TBR to jump into this one…I mean, sorcerors and sentiant libraries? I couldn’t say no to that even if I wanted to. I’m so in love with Charlie Bowater that I couldn’t resist that cover either. I really enjoyed this one, it was the perfect feel good read for my scattered burned out writer brain. And yes..I DID go and download ‘Enchantment of Ravens’ onto my Kindle straight after. They are charming, warm fuzzy reads that I know I’ll return to for whenever I need a comfort read. I’m hopelessly in love with Thorn but I’m only human. 

I’m also consuming all of Jennifer Armentrouts ‘Dark Elements’ series. Despite it being more YA than I’m really into, there’s enough going on out side of the school yard to keep me interested. The world building alone is so freaking good and as a 90’s kid who was obsessed with the animated ‘Gargoyles’ series you can pretty much put anything with a gargoyle in front of me and I’ll read it. Armentrout is usually a sure bet for me and its been perfect for a somewhat overloaded brain.

In other reads I’ve also just started ‘Djinn City’ by Saad  Z. Hossain  and have been laughing my ass off. It’s hilarous but also so clever its blowing my mind. It has, quite possibly, the BEST explanation for djinn magic I’ve ever seen. The world building, djinn society, the structure of it all, is seamless and perfect. I get so excited when I read something so good that I slow my pace right down just to appreciate it from a writer perspective as well as a reader.  I’m not done and I already am recommending it to every fantasy lover I know.

In gaming news, I’m still obsessed with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey DLC’s that they’ve been releasing. GUYS I’M IN THE UNDERWORLD. The next series I want to write is basically Greek Myth retellings and so my brain is melting everytime I get to sass Hades.  I mean….LOOK.  How  can  I  not  be  in  love.

There’s nothing else to tell except I’m now on Instagram. Twitter has never been a platform I’ve enjoyed so I’ve gone on a permanent hiatus over there and am focusing on Facebook and Instagram. I’m really enjoying the Instagram platform and it will hopefully be compatible for the videos I want to share come September of all the locations in ‘The Immortal City.’

Enjoy your June!

Ames x

 

 

 

The Immortal City Cover Reveal!

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god,

sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.

The Da Vinci Code meets Discovery of Witches in this story of murder and magic…

Welcome to The Immortal City, book 1 in the Magicians of Venice series

 The Magicians of Venice is a fresh and exciting new treasure hunt series featuring magic, mystery, and romance in an exhilarating blend of history and dark magic. Set against the backdrop of the beautiful city of Venice, fans of Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon will find a new favorite in Dr. Penelope Bryne, an anxiety-riddled academic. She’s fascinated with the city of Atlantis, much to the chagrin of her father and the academic community, and has devoted her life’s study to unlocking its secrets.

In The Immortal City, book one in the series, an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site with possible clues to the lost city of Atlantis. Determined to learn more, she agrees to help the police before the killer strikes again, and she heads to Venice in search of answers.

There she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, who challenges everything she thought she ever knew about Atlantis. As Alexis draws her into a dark and seductive world of magic and murder, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head to find the answers she seeks. With Carnivale in full swing, and time running out, Alexis and Penelope must work together to stop the killer and prevent a dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Look how pretty it is I am dying!!! Also that’s not even the BEST news…DIGITAL ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) and the pre-order are also available! Whoop whoop!

Book reviewers and bloggers interested in reviewing the book may request a digital ARC of The Immortal City. ARCs are available through NetGalley and at the publisher’s website.

 

The Immortal City releases on September 19, 2019 in hardcover, trade softcover, and ebook. Preorder is currently available from select retailers.

 

 

 

Now I can finally talk about it let’s talk about the inspiration behind the Magicians of Venice Series (don’t worry there’s no spoilers):

The Magicians of Venice is a three-book series and is the culmination of many weird pieces of ancient history and personal passions finally coming together.

I’ve always loved characters like Indiana Jones and Robert Langdon, but I wanted to write a story that turned the adventurer archaeologist trope on its head. It was important to me to create a female character that is not an oversexualised, badass Lara Croft figure. My character, Penelope Bryne, is an anxiety-ridden academic refusing to give up on the impossible dream of discovering Atlantis and who continues to be brave despite her failings.

I’ve always loved the legends and theories behind Atlantis and continue to this day to follow any new discoveries that might pertain to it. I wanted to play with some of the legends and mash them up with my own ideas and love of magicians, creating a story about survivors who become close to immortal because of the powerful blast that destroyed the island kingdom.

If there was ever a place that is so impossible and beautiful and could make you believe it was founded by magicians, it’s Venice. Even though my Venice obviously has many fantasy aspects, I wanted to ensure current issues were correctly portrayed especially concerning global warming, the MOSE project, the problem with cruise ships, and the impact that tourism has on the city.

While The Immortal City (book one) is mainly a magical, murder mystery, Sea of the Dead (book two) and The King’s Seal (book three) have a treasure hunt feel. As a student of ancient history, I’ve studied the Dead Sea Scrolls, and I knew about the discovery of a new cave in 2017 and was determined to write it into my book. There is still a lot of mystery surrounding the scrolls, and I wanted to play into that while incorporating my own magical twist and theories of why the Essenes vanished.

I grew up on fairy tales and mythology, and wanted to not only write about a famous relic that I’ve always been fascinated with, but also one that mainstream entertainment hasn’t plundered, so Atlantis and other relics that pop up are going to be really unique.

Sounds amazing? Yes, it’s going to be a hell of a ride and one that I’m sure many of  you will get behind, and will fall in love with these new characters as much as I have! I’m so excited!

 

 

Don’t forget to use this pre-order link, it’s set up for you to just click on the link to your fave store so you don’t need to go searching for it.

Ames x

 

 

 

 

December Update and a 2018 Roundup

Hey Everyone

It’s December already… how did this happen?

I’m feeling a bit off track after having two weeks holidays and a digital fast in November but I am back and (mostly) refreshed and ready to go again.

KINGDOM is out! Hurray! Thank you to everyone who is buying and reading The Blood Lake Chronicles at the moment, it was such a fun series to write. Make sure you leave a review so I know how you liked it.  If you haven’t checked it out, and you love gothic fae stories with a dash of Arthurian myth you can grab book one for free right here.

 

As I mentioned above I’ve just come back from a holiday in Venice. I say holiday, but I was really there to put in some immersive research time for my next series The Magicians of Venice. I have to tell you, walking around the physical streets where I have spent so much time in my head was a surreal and special experience. I’ve taken a bunch of videos of key places in the story so that I can share them with you once the book is out. Venice is as incredible as people say, especially in Autumn when it wasn’t hot and there was next to no tourists. It was the perfect time for me to wander and write and chat to locals – and of course consume ridiculous amounts of delicious local cuisine, wine, espresso and pastry! If you haven’t already guessed I’m ridiculously obsessed with the new series. It has everything I love best; myth, magicians, murder and mystery.Here is the blurb for book one, The Immortal City :

In the heart of Venice, a woman is sacrificed to a forgotten god, sparking a mystery lost for thousands of years.

Dr. Penelope Bryne is ridiculed by the academic community for her quest to find the remnants of Atlantis, but when an ancient and mysterious script is found at a murder site, she flies to Venice determined to help the police before the killer strikes again.

Penelope has spent her entire life trying to ignore the unexplainable and magical history of Atlantis, but when she meets the enigmatic Alexis Donato, everything she believes will be challenged. Little does she know, Alexis has spent the last three years doing his best to sabotage Penelope’s career so doesn’t learn the truth—Atlantis had seven magicians who survived, and who he has a duty to protect.

As Alexis draws her into the darkly, seductive world of magic and history, Penelope will have to use her heart as well as her head if she is to find the answers she seeks. 

With the new MOSE system due to come online, and Carnivale exploding around them, Penelope and Alexis will have to work together to stop the killer and prevent dark magic from pulling Venice into the sea.

Eeeek! Can you see why I’m so pumped?? I’m currently polishing off my final edits to book two and getting it ready to send off to my editor, as well as finishing off my structural plan for book 3. I have seriously never micro planned a book series like I’ve planned this one. Every series and book is different but oh boy, has this one pushed my writing, planning and research to new and exciting levels. I really can’t wait to share it with you all.

While away in Venice I also went on a digital fast and tried to get some valued headspace to think about the ‘Big’ things surrounding my writing goals and career. It’s easy to get swarmed by all the THINGS  that you are meant to do as a writer that has nothing to do with the actual act of writing. As an Indie, I’m also a publisher and a marketer and have that business arm to deal with. Next year, BHC press will be taking some of that responsibility with my next series but I still have my business to grow and market and you can bet your ass I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure The Magicians of Venice is a success.

2019 is going to mean less deadlines for me, so I’m going to be focusing on completing marketing for authors courses and hopefully throwing some university units into the mix. I’ve got some other writing projects I’m also working on; I’ve almost finished the first draft of the Aramis and Soren spin off book and then I’ll be jumping into the third Magicians of Venice book. Then there is a fun fantasy based in Melbourne that’s kind of like a cross between Chocolat, Night Circus  and All the Crooked Saints, aswell as a new epic fantasy that’s growing in my brain ether that will hopefully be a bit like the love child of Game of Thrones and The Black List. They are exciting projects, but are big, ambitious ones that will require me to carve out a lot of space to work on so I’m going to try and implement some changes around time management and self care.

On that note…if you are on Twitter, you might have noticed my account has pretty much been in an admin mode for the past eight weeks. I’ve deleted my Twitter app and I’m only putting up the occasional update. This is because I’ve found Twitter to be a time suck that usually makes me feel shittier for going onto it. I’ve met some great people on there but for my own mental health state I’m letting it go and will keep it in its current admin mode. I always tell people to subscribe here on the blog for all the super important information but I am still very active on Facebook because I find the community more positive and I can do more with it as a platform, so if you really want to catch up with me on social media that’s the place to find me.

Okay, okay. Let’s talk about some other books, specifically what I’ve been reading since I was last here. 

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty has been on my TBR for a while and it rocked my fucking socks…this is probably the BEST epic fantasy I have read in a long time. I love, love, loved this story and world that it actually undersells it by saying its a reworking of an Arabian Nights stories. I’ve always loved djinn and King Solomon stories and this book delves into both, and recreating a fabulously rich take on them. Dara is by far my fave character but I can’t gush on the character and world building enough. I’m hanging out for book 2, Kingdom of Copper because the cliffhanger was an absolute kick in the ovaries. Check out The City of Brass here…but be warned you won’t be able to move until it’s done!

And because The City of Brass kick my ass so completely and left me with the worst of book hang overs ever, I went in search for more djinn / Middle Eastern mythology fantasy to try and soothe my RUINED heart and found these gems:

A Dead Djinn in Cairo is a the kind of novella that is so crazy good, rich and wonderful that you instantly want a six book series based in the same world. This is an insanely good story that’s a detective mystery based in a magically alternate and terrifying Cairo. Special Investigator Fatma el-Sha’arawi is such a BAD ASS of a character as she navigates bloody crimes and patriarchal bullshit with grace, wit and a well cut suit. P. Djeli Clark is a fucking amazing writer and I can’t wait to consume the rest of his catelogue. Grab a copy  and settle in for a glorious ride.

In honorable mentions, and because I’m still hellbent on my Middle Eastern fantasy love at the moment…I’ve just started The Wrath and the Dawn by Renée Ahdieh.  It’s a new take on the Shahrzad story from The Arabian Nights and and even though I’m only a few chapters in, I know I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it.

 

 

One of the few books I’ve read that has been a departure from the above obsessions, is Make Me No Grave by amazing writer and editor extraordinaire Hayley Stone. I was lucky enough to be given an ARC of this beauty of a weird west novel and this is what I wrote about it…

“Filled with morally grey characters this story has it all; mistaken identities, bank heists, mayhem and magic. Stone’s storytelling is in turn lean and lush, as this adventure of violence and revenge is played out through the eyes of Apostle, a marshal fighting his demons while trying to be the last decent man in the West. Tough as nails, flesh magic wielding,anti-heroine, Almena, gives Apostle a run for his money as the unlikely pair get thrown together in an attempt to enact their own ideas of justice. Apostle’s moral judgement is challenged every step of the way as he begins to realize that doing what’s right and obeying the law isn’t always the same thing.

Make Me No Grave is a rollicking Wild Weird West adventure perfect for fans of Red Dead Redemption, the Quick and the Dead and Wynonna Earp.” 

If it sounds like your jam, I can’t recommend it enough for a good Christmas read when the relatives are driving you crazy. Get a copy here!

This blog has gotten huge so I’m going to  get out of here and continue tinkering with my draft of Book  2 of Magicians of Venice and try and get over my post-holiday cold.

Have a great Holiday period, read lots of books and drink lots of nice wine,

Ames x

 

 

 

 

 

Late September and October Update

Hey Everyone!

I apologise for the update being so late this time around but I have been writing non-stop to keep myself on these deadlines that keep popping up to shout at me.

First of all, if you didn’t see my previous post, I have a new series out next with BHC Press! This is the Secret Project that I’ve been working away on in the background for the last year and a half, and the trilogy is called The Magicians of Venice. I worked really hard to find it a home, and guys, seriously, it’s in great hands with BHC and I couldn’t be happier. I’m so pumped about this project as they are the kind of books I’ve always dreamed about writing; archaeology, magic, Venice, ancient history, romance, creepy Hannibal field kabuki style murders…it really has it all. It’s also given me  a chance to play around with my fave archaeology mystery of all time…Atlantis. Yep, it’s going to great. I’m currently doing drafts and edits of book two so I’m not around on social media much…it’s all head down butt up to knock it into shape. I’ll be posting loads more about it soon but in the mean time, you can go here to the BHC Press website and read more about book one, The Immortal City.

In other news for Blood Lake Chronicles fans, I have just this morning, finished a final draft of Kingdom. It’s going to be sent off to my editors soon so expect a pre-order announcement by the end of the month. This book guys, it’s been crazy hard to get together and I had to delete 70% of the first draft I wrote back in April and rewrite it in the last month. I won’t go into spoilery details but it’s been a hell of job to work with three main character story lines and not have the whole thing dissolve into a mess of faerie you know what. In my mind I’ve kind of been calling it Rosa and Merlin’s Awesome Adventures in Faerie, but you will also see Bleddyn step up and play a big role in this one.

That being said…here is a cover and a blurb for you to oggle! HURRAY!

Bleddyn is a man with secrets, but he can’t outrun his past any longer. With Balthasar and Nimue in the clutches of his greatest enemy, he’ll have to reclaim his birthright as the King of the Unseelie to save them. First, he’ll have to recruit the formidable general Eirianwen to stand by his side, but his ex-fiancé isn’t going to be won over so easily.

Eirianwen never thought she would see Bleddyn again and the woman he remembers died centuries ago. Only he can unite the scattered Unseelie in a final battle against the Autumn Queen, and as much as she hates it, Eirianwen knows she can’t keep fighting alone. Bleddyn promises to get revenge for everything that was taken from her, but when the doors to the past are opened, neither one will be prepared for what comes out.  

Rosa will do anything to get Balthasar back, and when Merlin makes a plan to recruit the Wild Hunt to their cause, there’s nothing she won’t do to secure their alliance. Making a bargain with a god is never a good idea, and her deal with Gwyn ap Nudd might end up costing Rosa more than she’s willing to pay.

Oh yeah…this one has it all happening. I’ve been super excited about writing about Gwyn ap Nudd and the Wild Hunt as they have always been favourites of mine. There is also quite a lot of a good looking, sweet as hell guy called Arthur who tags along for some adventures. You will also get a sneak peak at the end of the Aramis and Soren book I’m drafting between other projects. Also, soooo much fun to be writing.

Speaking of books, I’ve read some great ones in the past month. I feel like I have a never ending battle with my To Be Read pile while I try and draft but these ones have crept through.

Stars of Fortune- Nora Roberts

Full Disclaimer: I only read Nora Roberts paranormal books and I’m always surprised how much her covers never  look like they are paranormal. In saying that I loved this book. A bunch of supernatural strangers thrown together to hunt stars hidden by Celtic Goddess? Yeah sign me up. It has a bevvy of paranormal goodies including a magician and a seer and I won’t tell you what else because I’ll spoil it. But seriously, if you love a good treasure hunt with a supernatural twist, check it out!

The next one I’m going to try not to gush all over you about is Grace Draven’s newest, Phoenix Unbound. Okay, you guys know how much I love Grace’s books but I’m absolutely loving this book. Fire magic? Hot take on fantasy Huns? Gladiators? Dragon myths? There is so much that is awesome about it. Grace writes the best fantasy romance because her world building is always so stunning and believable that the romance compliments the story, but it’s by no means the only thing going on. It’s a great epic fantasy and you can check it out here.

The final book I’m currently working my way through is The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev.

This is a non-fiction work about the Renaisance Bad Ass Lady, Caterina Sforza. You might recognise her as the woman who takes on the Borgias in the TV series but the truth is always more fascinating than fiction. Elizabeth Lev is a lively writer so it’s by no means a dull history book.  If you are after a read about a woman taking on the patriarchy of  the day, and beating them like a drum, look no further. Grab a copy here.  

Okay, this blog is huge so I’m going to get out of here. A final heads up…The Blood Lake Chronicles box set is going to be free this weekend here on Amazon so if you have been thinking about giving it a go, the time is now.

Ames x

August Update

Hey Everyone,

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update so I’ll try not to make it too long.

The reason I’ve been so quiet on the blog and social media is that I’m under the pump to get a book finished and edited by November. It’s a part of the Secret Project series that I can’t talk about just yet (announcement will be soon I swear), so I’m up to my eye balls in research and drafts and generally trying to pull it together. For those who are like WTF I thought you working on a Aramis and Soren/ Firebird Fairytales World spin off book… Yes, I am. I’m about 40k words into it but its had to take a back seat while I finalise the other book. I’ve been able to write two books at once before, but the new series is different. It requires more space in my brain and more research to get right so I’ve put other books and uni  on hiatus for a few months. It’ll be worth it I swear!

If you follow my Facebook you would have seen that I’m currently at the Cover Design phase of KINGDOM, the third Blood Lake Chronicles book, and if all goes to plan it should be out in October/November. I’ll make a more official announcement once I have a pre-order page up and passed the final edit/stressing stage. I’m really happy and excited how its come together!

What else?

I’ve managed to be dragged out of my writer cave and have been to two great exhibits in passed month; Wonderland at the ACMI and Vikings: Beyond the Legend. Both were fantastic and seeing how I’m obsessed with Alice (omg the costumes from Burton’s movies were there and I almost died) and Vikings I was in heaven.

 

Also, check my freaking awesome Loki statue I got from the Vikings Exhibit as well as Rune Swag!

I highly recommend both exhibits if you happen to be in the Melbourne area.

Apart from working on the book, I’ve been taking the time (ie forcing myself) to self care and refill the creative well. A looming deadline can really throw out my creative process, work my anxiety into a frenzy and generally stir me up to a point where I can’t focus on actual writing. This particular series is research heavy so I’ve spent some delightful hours on JSTOR, reading articles, following leads and making connections I never would have thought of without taking the time to immerse and enjoy myself.

In the reading department I finally finished my Sarah J Maas pile! I was actually really surprised how much I enjoyed Tower of Dawn. The world building was great and I really enjoyed the fantasy twist on the Huns that Maas created. Also yes, I AM in love Dothraki- Bae of the Skys a.k.a. Sartaq The Winged Prince.  Hell, I even stopped hating Chaol in this one which surprised me. Catwoman has just come out and I’m already about half way through and enjoying Maas’s take on Gotham.

The other series I’m obsessed with at the moment is Thea Harrison’s Moonshadow series. If you like my Blood Lake Chronicles, and you are after more Celtic paranormal with an Arthurian twist I really recommend you check them out. To be honest you could go for any series of Thea Harrison and it would be worth it. I’m working my way through her whole catelogue at the moment and have loved everything (though Moonshadow and Dragon Bound have been my favourite).

OH. And I feel like I should mention here that I demolished ‘Spinning Silver’ by Naomi Novik. I have FEELINGS about this book. Like any book of hers, she just slays me. Her new takes on Russian mythology with this book and ‘Uprooted’ continues to leave me in awe and with serious impostor syndrome. I am shamelessly in love with the Staryk King, but seriously, a Winter Elf King who can do magic…its like it was made just for me to obsess over. I could write essays about this book but I wont. Please read it, and ‘Uprooted’ if you haven’t already.

Okay guys that’s about all I’ve got for you. I’m all head in the books at the moment and very unexciting. Fingers crossed I can break some awesome writing news to you all soon and then you get full enthusisatic Amy about the new series I’m so obsessed over that I’m literally incapable of thinking about anything else at the moment.

Ames x

May Update

Hey Everyone,

Do you guys have months that are always out of control no matter how well you plan them? Every year it seems to my May. I had it all perfectly planned then it exploded and I’m running about like a head with its chicken cut off.

First things first…KINGDOM is DONE. Well, the first draft is anyway. Hurray! I’m currently reading through it, making lots of notes where I seem to have forgotten to write needed scenes and adding in descriptions that I left behind. Every book I write is different and KINGDOM has had its own set of challenges including an ending that wouldn’t stop changing. Its on track to still be released at some point this year but I’m not committing to any date until I have a draft I’m happy with.

Speaking of releases, Eastern Gods will be out on the 30th of May. I’m not doing heaps of promo around it because it is a re-launch but the date is set, pre-order pages are  up. The Golden Queen (book 2) is getting its final proofread completed and I should have a pre-order page up for it shortly. Ideally I’d like to release them both on the 30th but I’ll see how I’m tracking. Before I forget…the paperback is not being released for another little while but I’ll keep you updated on it. In their first draft format, these books were written before The Firebird Fairytales series (10+ years ago). This is why the discerning reader will pick up references to a particular magical wood mentioned in Rise of the Firebird that are the same trees in Eastern GodsIts taken me forever to get to a point that I’m comfortable sharing them but I feel like its time. It’s a BIG world with lots of characters and potential for more stories in the future. It wraps up neatly but I’ve purposely left space for more books because it’s such a fun world to play in. It is aimed at a young adult/ new adult audience but I’ve had lots of adult beta readers enjoy the series so check it out if you like adventurous, epic fantasy with a fun bit of romance thrown in.

I’ve tentatively started writing book 2 of SECRET PROJECT which hopefully won’t need to remain a secret much longer. I’m trying to clear my editing plate before I really sink my teeth into it because this particular series always takes longer to write due to the research involved. Expect announcements in this space soon. Trust me, as soon as I get the green light I seriously won’t be able to stop talking about it.

Stuff I’m Reading: 

If you follow my social media you would’ve seen that I’m FINALLY catching up on my Sarah J Maas TBR pile. I love both of her series and I’ve been about four books behind for a while now. I’ve smashed out the Court of Thorns and Roses series and now about to start the last two Throne of Glass. I’ve said it before but I really wish these books were around when I was a teenager. I got so sick of only reading fantasy books with male protagonists that I decided to write my own series…and The Western Wars series was born. I can’t wait to get stuck into Throne of Glass…Aelin is my fave!

My obsession with L.H.Cosway is continuing this month as I get stuck into this beauty. I’m not a huge contemporary romance fan but I seriously love her books. Not only are they hot (so hot) they are HILARIOUS and all of the characters seem like people you could hang out with that have relatable problems.  I’m a sucker for a man with a stringed instrument so I’m enjoying the hell out this one.

Thats all from me for the moment, but I’ll put up another update if I get any newsworthy news.

Ames xo