August Update


Twenty-Seven days to go everyone! I’m so excited that this is almost out in the world. It was a hell of a book to write and I can’t wait for you to go on this next adventure of Penelope and Alexis. If you are into pre-ordering, don’t forget you can grab it from where ever they sell books. The hardcopies are going to be especially beautiful, I saw the proofs and I got all giddy over them – and I’m not someone who collects hard covers.

This past month has been crazy with the epic re-write/ structural edit of ‘The Cry of the Firebird’ (the above is some old and new inspiration for this series). If you are on my Insta, you would have seen me having a few moments of freak out over it. I tell you, trying to edit and restructure a book that you first wrote 12 years ago is quite the task…as in kind of a nightmare. It was good in a way because I saw how far I’ve come as a writer and could use all of that knowledge to bang it into a satisfying story shape. I was surprised how much I still love this weird story – and guys, it really is a weird one. Monsters and gods and mythological creatures galore.

A few of my older readers have messaged me having a bit of a stress moment on how I could be changing this book/series after it had already been indie released – I want to assure you that nothing of the original story is changing, I’m just ensuring that its executed in a better way. All your fave characters and monsters will be there. It’s just cleaned up. As a writer, I am hyper aware of releasing something like Magicians, which is my newest and the BEST of me, and then releasing older catalogue after it. The main purpose of these rewrites isn’t to ‘change’ the story but to pull it up to a standard I am personally happy with. It’s nothing like Magicians, but I am intent on producing the BEST possible version of these books. Also, I’m taking into consideration that the spin off books 4 & 5 have been written in the past two years and I want the tone of the books to be consistent and at their current state they aren’t. They will be though. The first new draft of ‘Cry’ has already gone back to my structural editing team to get their feedback and see what they think, and I’m really happy with how it came together. SO much of the changes is to deepen the characters and their backstory, to add some personal scenes back in that had been cut…and so there will be something new for older readers to enjoy too.

In other ‘Amy’ news, I have quit my day job. If the above editing job has taught me anything, it’s that I’m getting to the point that working a full time day job and trying to build a full time writing career is no longer viable. It turns out, even I have limits. I hate to admit it, but it’s true. I will look at taking some short work contracts in the future if I feel like I need to, but I’m going to try and find a way to work smarter and not harder, to ensure cash flow and not lose my mind by working myself to burn out. COVID has fucked me a bit this year, like everyone, and being locked up since March has used what is left of my emotional storage bank. Something had to go – the day job was it.

What have you guys been reading? I am hanging out for ‘Piranesi’ by Susanna Clarke, that’s due to launch in September as well. She’s a fave author of mine, and it’s been a long time since ‘ Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell’ so I can’t wait to see what her magical mind creates this time around.

ALSO, because you know I love my indie romance, Nikki Kardnov is gearing up to release her next sexy Blackwell Djinn novel ‘That Forbidden Life’ is due to come out TOMORROW. I have been dying for Mads Blackwell’s book and I’m trying to clear my writing schedule a bit so I dive head first into it. I really can’t recommend this series enough, it’s such a cool take on Djinn and they are sexy as hell.

Nikki is also doing this really fun Greek Myth series at the moment, called’Games of the Gods‘ that I also recommend, if you are like me and NEED Greek myth retellings in their life.

Speaking of Greek Myth, another series I’m recommending is Alessa Thorn’s ‘The Court of the Underworld‘ series.This is a paranormal romance series that follows Hades (my boyfriend), as he and his Court run a new city called Styx in modern day Greece. It’s not just romance, it has loads of action and kick ass female characters and is all about the ‘villains’ getting their HEA (bonus – its in Kindle Unlimited). What’s not to love about that? ASTERION is book one, and you guessed it, is a re-telling of the Minotaur myth, AND it’s on sale at the moment for only $0.99…so TRY it here.

This blog is getting a bit out of control, but I want to update people wanting to know what’s happening with my new series ‘Tarot Kings.’ I submitted a short story of about 5k words to a 1001 Dark Nights comp recently, and while they didn’t ultimately pick it up I’m still thinking of releasing it later in the year. I’m going to make it a bit longer, because I can, and it would be a great way to have a teaser into this new, sexy, complex world. It would be like a 0.5 King of Swords, as the events in it happen a year before the events of book 1 and have the main characters having an encounter. What do you think? Would you be into that? I’m still mulling over it, because I would want to ensure that you wouldn’t have tooooo long to wait before the release of ‘King of Swords.’ Watch this space!

I hope you are all keeping well and safe and reading lots of good things that make you happy,

Ames x

 

Maas Destruction: What to read after Crescent City

Hey everyone,

I am seeing a heap of recommendation lists circling around about what to read after Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, and I decided to throw in my 2 cents worth. Why? Because a lot of the recs are really random and YA. CC is absolutely not YA and while I get that SJM’s fan base started in YA, I’d be really reluctant to rec anything YA and call it similar (especially the same 10 trad YA books that everyone recommends for everything, all the time). Also, I’m not seeing many indie recs in these lists which annoys me a bit, because paranormal and urban fantasy indie is fucking awesome, to the point that its super rare for me  to actually buy trad in these genres. So here is my list of trad first:

  1. Dark Fever by Karen Marie Moning
  2. Dragonbound by Thea Harrison
  3. Angel’s Blood by Nalini Singh

These three are book 1’s of series that SJM has previously claimed have been huge inspirations and favorites of hers….and believe me, after reading CC, you can really tell. I also really love them (especially Dragon Bound), and highly recommend them to everyone who wants to venture into this genre. Thea is hybrid and I love her indie series a lot (oh my god, Moonshadow is everything) so can’t recommend her enough.

Okay, onto indies:

  1. Sin and Chocolate by KF Breene
  2. Pestilence by Laura Thalassa
  3. The Scribe by Elizabeth Hunter
  4. Fury Rising by Yasmine Galenorn
  5. A Hidden Fire by Elizabeth Hunter

These are also book 1’s of some of my fave indie series. Elizabeth Hunter gets mentioned twice because one series deals with angels, the other vampires. I could on forever about my indie list because they are writers who have not only inspired my writing but my love of indie publishing. These guys absolutely kill it in every way and I won’t stop recommending them ever.

Hope this list helps you find some series you’ve never tried before, and they they help with the CC hangover/ Maas Destruction, which is still killing me too.

 

Ames x

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

 

 

 

Early May Update

Holy crap it’s May already – HOW did this happen?

There hasn’t been a proper update on this blog for a while so here I am to give you all the news. Firstly, thank you thank you thank you to everyone who blogged, liked, re-tweet or requested an ARC for ‘The Immortal City.’ The response to the cover and the book itself has been amazing and over whelming and I’m so happy and excited for my book baby. It really was a passion project from the start which goes to show you should always write the shit that sets your heart on fire because that love and enthusiasm will shine through.

I’ve kind of been underground the past few months, except to make noise about ‘The Immortal City’, because I’ve been neck deep into writing the third book in the series. Seriously its the biggest book research wise I’ve ever attempted and it’s taking me a while to write because even though I researched everything to plan it..niggling things keep coming up that’s forcing me to go back and double check or dig deeper. I love the process and I have to remember not to freak out if the word count isn’t as high as it normally would be because its going to be big and I don’t want to rush it. It’s taken me two months to write part one which was only 32k words, and I feel like I’m only just getting into my groove.

Some cool stuff thats happened in the past month not Magicians of Venice related? I went and had an afternoon with Sarah J Maas and Lynette Noni as apart of the ‘Kingdom of Ash Tour’ here in Melbourne and yes I did freak out with excitement.

Guys you know how much I love Queen Maas, and afterwards she went to the top of my ‘Writers I Most Want to Have Drinks With’ list. She was rad and funny as hell, and it was one of the best writer events I’ve ever been to. I have photos but look…they are a bit shit because of lighting. I was there as a reader but also as an author because the idea of one day being on a stage really freaks me out so I’m always interested it seeing it done well.

I’m dying to read her new Urban Fantasy that comes out in Jan 2020 ‘Crescent  City.’ I mean, LOOK at that teaser. How pretty is that? I want. Also it will be cool to see her step over from epic fantasy into urban and give it her particular touch. 

OKAY. Fangirling Over.

Well, not quite over because I’ve read some freaking AMAZING books since I last did an update and I need to share.

First of all I got a copy of ‘The Immortal’ by Krishna Udayasankar. I have huge complicated feelings about this book. Here is a short description :

Professor Bharadvaj is more than just another whisky-loving, gun-toting historian-for-hire. Behind the assumed identity of the cynical academic is a man who has walked the earth for scores of years. He is Asvatthama – the cursed immortal, the man who cannot die. When Professor Bharadvaj is approached by the enigmatic Maya Jervois to search for a historical artefact unlike any other, he is reluctant to pursue it. The object in question, the Vajra, is rumoured to possess incredible alchemical powers, but the Professor does not believe it exists. After all, he has spent many lifetimes – and identities – searching for it, in a bid to unearth the secret to his unending life.

This book has the most amazing research I’ve come across in ages. As someone who has spent the past four years reading about magicians and alchemists and history for a book series, I was really excited to 1: be getting all the references and 2: being blown away how Krishna weaves them into plot. Throughout the book the protagonist keeps reiterating that he’s not a hero and he’s really not. It’s one of the rare times I’ve read a book where a character says that and doesn’t turn around and BE a hero. Its well worth the read but it will leave you thinking and processing it for ages afterwards. I still think I need to do another re-read to fully appreciate just how good and tricksey the plot and writing was.

The next book to blow me away in the passed month is ‘Wicked Saints’ by Emily A. Duncan.

A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself.

A prince in danger must decide who to trust.

A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. 

Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.

In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.

I cannot express fully in wordage how much I love this book. A goth Slavic fantasy full of saints, monsters and magic. Holy shit. This book has everything I love. It’s about villains and anti-heroes and complicated beautiful monsters. I know its book one of a series and I can’t wait for the next installment. It’s no surprise it hit the NYT Best Sellers list because unlike my complicated love/hate relationship with Holly Black’s ‘The Folk of Air’ series (which is also about villains), Wicked Saints I connected to all of the characters and their motivations and fell in love with them and their world. 

Now this last one is not a book but Assassin’s Creed Odyssey launched their Fate of Atlantis DLC last week and I’m blown away by it. Usually I will rave for hours about AC as it is (especially Odyssey) but to give me Atlantis and the Underworld ON TOP of it all? I cannot deal. The story telling is so good I’m freaking out every time I play it. AND ITS ONLY PART ONE. Just look at how pretty it is!! Its so cool to have the Greek Gods come into play and I swear if I don’t a chance to make out with Hades when I reach the Underworld I will riot. It makes my nerdy heart so happy to see Atlantis popping up right in time for ‘The Immortal City’ because yay Atlantis is the BEST.

Okay so thats all I got for. My life is all about writing ‘The King’s Seal’ and not much else. It’s awesome.

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

 

 

 

 

 

March Update

I’m running a bit late this month with the update but I am here! Finally!

Last month was HUGE both professionally and personally. I spent time as no #1 in respective Amazon categories for both Wylt and Cry of the Firebird which has brought many more readers into the Firebird Fairy tales world – Welcome! As always, I’m crazy grateful for everyone who buys, reads and reviews my books. I wouldn’t be doing this without you!

Okay, to the stuff:

  • Work on KINGDOM is progressing at a fast pace. Now that I’m on a uni break and have locked away other projects and distractions (social media has been cut WAY back), I’m really hitting the word count hard. I’m about to hit the half way mark which is exciting and nerve wracking as I tie up a bunch of story arcs. It’s been fun refreshing myself in Celtic myths and experimenting with different gods and characters. I’ve always found writing the Blood Lake Chronicles to be so therapeutic to my writer brain and this one is shaping up to be no different.
  • While I cant say anything too much, my SUPER SECRET UNNAMED PROJECT that I spent most of last year working on is almost ready to announce. SO much exciting stuff happening that I cant wait to tell you all about. I can say that it is based in a different ‘world’ to the Firebird / Blood Lake books which is exciting and nerve wracking but omg guys, I am so in love with it and I hope you will be too. At this stage its got three books planned (yeah I seem to move in threes, I know) and once KINGDOM is wrapped up I can really throw myself into it. Eek.

What I’ve been reading:

  • L.H. Cosway!! Guys. Why didn’t you tell me the HEART series existed?? I mean illusionists and fire eaters? Hot romance? Engaging plots? GUYS WITH TATS. I read the first one Six of Hearts in a single sitting and consumed book two Hearts of Fire straight afterward. They were AMAZING and highly recommend if you are after a romance.

Check them out HERE.

I had to ‘rest’ the series because I seriously wasn’t getting anything done. Definitely an author I’ll binge read as soon as KINGDOM is sorted.

 

  • The Cruel Prince by Holly Black – Okay. I will be the first to admit I’m not on a YA fantasy bender at the moment (I tend to go through stages) but I’ve waited ages to get my hands on this one. Holly writes incredible dark fairy worlds and this reverse changelings of humans raised in Faerie is no exception. There were things I really loved about it (the Court, general world building) and things that I felt a bit meh over, namely the many bullying scenes and highschool vibe in some sections. I fully understand its target market is YA but as someone who hated school and was bullied a lot it got old for me quick. The main story arc and character development is really great and you can tell that the series is gearing up for something BIG which will ultimately keep me reading. Definitely in the ‘introduction to a bigger story arc’ book category for me because I was only really getting into it before it was over.

Next on the reading list is Elizabeth Hunter’s new one INK, which might have to wait til next weekend because she is a writer I DON’T STOP READING once I start. A book store and tattoos in one book? Yeah I’m so not going to put it down. Also, this is clearly a sign I need another tattoo…Right? In all seriousness, give her a shot if you are after solid storylines with awesome world building. Her Irin Chronicles? Seriously don’t even get me started on how much I love them.

Check her out HERE

Okay so that’s all for me for the moment, go watch Black Panther if you haven’t already, it was fantastic. Also, expect me talking about Tomb Raider next update because I CAN’T WAIT for the new film to be released….Amy x

An Update and Sexy Second Editions

It’s been a while guys…I know. I always feel a bit guilty about leaving it so long between drinks but when you’re working, doing uni, writing books and publishing, shit is bound to get a bit hectic.

Right. I’ve been underground finishing off a great Ancient History unit on the Later Roman Empire, getting inspired and fuelled for a future book I’m researching, and trying to keep my head above water. If you follow my social media you’ll know Cry of the Firebird was a no 1 best seller in September in the Amazon store – holy shit guys what a moment. Which brings me to my next topic.

In September, the reason why I managed to sell as many books as I did was my exclusivity period with Amazon finished and I launched Cry of the Firebird across all e-book platforms. I’ve been getting messages from a whole swathe new readers about the other books and I can safely say, at the beginning of December Ashes of the Firebird and Rise of the Firebird will be universally released. At the moment they are still under exclusivity so sorry, we have to wait.  I’m not sure if I am going to do a pre-order for them as there is some behind the scenes tweaking that needs to be sorted before that can happen. Also, I have just (literally in the last 30 minutes) finished sexy second editions of all of the Firebirds and damn, that’s a shit tonne of words to edit and format. I’m waiting on proofs of the new paperbacks to arrive but the digitals are up and looking gorgeous. I wanted to do second editions for a whole bunch of reasons. Mainly, because no matter how many editors you use, and eyes go over your work to check and re-check, pesky mistakes still seem to get through. Also, I am an Aussie and I wanted US spelling and Grammar editions as most of my readers are currently in the US. It was a huge undertaking (I’m so dead all I want is vodka and Lord of the Rings movies) but I am really happy with the results and I hope you are too. I’m super blessed as an indie publisher that I can make these changes and be so much happier with the end product.

In Blood Lake Chronicles news, WYLT has also been released universally and I’ve had HEAPS of messages about WHERE THE FUCK IS BLAISE. I can tell you finally that it’s currently with my kick-ass cover designer, Fiona, who is making something truly fucking amazing. This series, this character, is super important to me so I want the cover and story right. It’s a tricky time of year for freelance editors and designers which is why I haven’t announced a pre-order for it. As soon as I have all the pieces in my hot hands you guys will be the first to know. I am aiming for mid-December but I won’t make promises without all those pieces. It is coming soon. Writing on book three, KINGDOM, has started slowly due to the mad fucking rush to get second editions of the Firebird Fairytales completed but it HAS started and damn is it gonna be a ride. Now that most of my publisher’s workload is sorted I can put my Writer Hat back on and get stuck into it. It’s a lot more Celtic Myth and I’m loving how the beginning is shaping up.

What else?

I have been reading some holy shit amazing books lately. I won’t leave reviews for them because there isn’t enough time but the ones that have really blown my shit out of the water (and made me get FULL Imposter Syndrome) are as follows:

All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness. Vampires, Witches, Daemons, Alchemy, Oxford…This series hit EVERYONE of my weaknesses and damn, like if you need your faith restored in incredible vampire books, seriously look no further. It’s not a snack though, these books are MEALS. The writing is rich and incredible and you can tell Harkness seriously knows her shit. They are currently making the TV series with a whole cast of power house actors (Matthew Goode holy shit!) and I seriously can’t wait.

 

The Sarah Weston Novels by Magnus Flyte.Prague, Beethoven, Alchemy, Prodigies and Princes. After suffering from a massive book hangover from the All Souls Trilogy, this duology City of Dark Magic and City of Lost Dreams, was the perfect soloution. It’s still keeping with alchemy and magic themes but tying in history and music aswell. It’s not as heavy as the Harkness books but they were still a great series. The magic in it is awesome.

 

 

 

   The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson. Mysticism, Art, lost loves, reincarnations, historical romance, medieval scriptoriums… this book has it all. You know how you have those books that you think ‘that looks great I really want to read that’ but it takes you forever to get to them? This was such a book. It’s been on my radar for years but like most books that fall into this category, it found me when I needed it most. I was suffering from a massive creative burn out and it was EXACTLY what I needed. It is an incredible book that ripped my heart clean out while re-building it at the same time. It’s structured like a modern-day Dante’s Inferno, that I am ridiculously obsessed with, and it just…no words. Still. It’s a hard one to explain but worth the time.

 

Okay so that’s all from me, for now. I will keep everyone posted on the BLAISE front and make lots of noise when all of the Firebirds are available universally. If you are doing NaNoWriMo, you are my hero and keep your chin up.

Amy x                                                  

 

Soup Of The Day: With Mythpunk Author Amy Kuivalainen

Blake And Wight . com

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and I’m always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

Helping me this morning is author Amy Kuivalainen! Good morning Amy, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitchen today! Can I take your parasol?

Absolutely, but do be careful…it bites. Lovely to be here with you today.

Oh! My goodness, what a disturbingly sentient promenadial accessory – although I imagine it comes in extremely useful! How was your journey here from your own dimension? I hope you were not waylaid by any skywaymen…

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Guide to the classics: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

Original article from the Conversation by Joy McEntree, a look at Hunter S Thompson and his Gonzo work. He’s a favourite writer of mine and I can’t help but wonder what he would be writing about at the moment with the current political climate… 

American journalist Hunter S Thompson is a mythical figure, partly by his own design, and partly, perversely, against his wishes. Norman Mailer called him “a legend in successful self-abuse.” Biographer E. Jean Carroll reported Thompson’s daily working regime, which allegedly started at 3pm.

While writing he consumed: Chivas Regal, Dunhills, cocaine, orange juice, marijuana, Heineken, huge helpings of food, LSD, Chartreuse, clove cigarettes, gin and pornographic movies. He then spent some time in the hot tub with champagne and Dove Bars.

Compare this with the drug collection of Raoul Duke, the first person narrator of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971):

We had two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers … and also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw either and two dozen amyls … The only thing that really worried me was the ether.

The parallels between the Duke persona and Thompson’s own life have led to a conflation of the two. This arises in part from the approach which Thompson made famous: Gonzo journalism.

Hunter S Thompson in 1997. REUTERS/Christian Thompson

Gonzo journalism

Far from being an objective observer of the action, the Gonzo journalist becomes a participant in it and reports on it subjectively. Thompson went further: he was often a provocateur. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas was a fictionalised account of two trips Thompson made with his friend Oscar Zeta Acosta from LA to Las Vegas.

It was published by Rolling Stone magazine in 1971 under the byline of Raoul Duke, but Thompson’s name does appear. Presented with a photo of himself, Duke identifies it as Thompson: a “vicious, crazy kind of person”.

Rather than effacing himself as a chronicler of the scene, Thompson injects himself, via his Duke persona, as a character. Acquaintance Peter Flanders observed:

Hunter was a theatre. He was a roving kind of theatre. He was not just a writer … he was an actor. He was creating his own subject matter.

The aim of Gonzo journalism and other kinds of New Journalism was to write factual reporting that read like fiction. In Thompson’s case, the truth was outrageous, and then it was outrageously embellished by means of fantasy and hallucination.

What is the book about?

“It was time,” says Duke, “for an Agonizing Reappraisal of the whole scene.” The novel confronts “the brutish realities of this foul Year of Our Lord, 1971,” when the “whole scene” consisted of the state of America as a nation, the squandered promise of the 1960s counter-culture, and the inadequacies of traditional journalism to cope with the chaos that confronted it.

Cover of the 1998 edition of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Vintage Books

As a reading experience, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a wild torpedo ride through some of the strangest scenes in American fact, or American fiction. Or whatever bizarre hybrid of fact and fiction this book represents.

In terms of its plot, the book falls into two halves. In the first, Duke, a journalist, and Doctor Gonzo, his attorney, travel at high speed in a red convertible from LA to Las Vegas so Duke can cover the Mint 400 motorcycle race. He fails conspicuously to do so, and they wander in a drug-addled state among the various sensory intensities of Vegas. They behave despicably, “burning the locals, abusing the tourists and terrifying the help.”

They thoroughly trash the hotel room and run up a stupendous room service tab. They destroy the car. They flee before there is a reckoning. Duke, however, encounters a highway patrol officer who interferes with his plans, so he turns back to cover the National District Attorney’s Conference on Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. He feels it is his obligation to represent the drug culture.

The conference only serves to demonstrate how out of touch law enforcement is. The second half of the book follows much the same trajectory as the first, with the pair compounding their felonies of (statutory) rape, fraud and larceny.

Duke and Doctor Gonzo must be admired for their sheer bravado, if condemned for the political unsoundness of their behaviour. The novel alternates hilarious scenes of madcap knavery with elegiac essays on the lost promise of the 1960s, but it does not become bogged down. This is because of its gleeful, manic energy.

Tom Robbins says:

It lifts you out of your seat when you’re reading it. It’s out of control … in an exhilarating, hallucinatory way.

Anthony Bourdain has said:

Thomson’s wild, hyperbolic prose … showed me not only a whole new way to see and think about things … a whole new way to live. I embraced the doctor wholeheartedly, developing a lifelong love for melodrama, overstatement, lurid imagery and damaged romanticism.

Christopher Lehman-Haupt described the novel’s “mad, corrosive poetry.”

The setting of Las Vegas is exploited for the surreal images it offers, and because the protagonists’ enormities are accepted. As Raoul Duke says: “the mentality of Las Vegas is so grossly atavistic that a really massive crime often slips by unrecognized.”

Raoul Duke chases the American Dream in a red convertible. Chad Horwedel/Flickr

This might not be as disturbing as it is if the trip to Vegas were not also a quest for the American Dream.

The American Dream

Duke and Doctor Gonzo’s trip is “a gross, physical salute to the fantastic possibilities of life in this country.” Their ostensible mission is covering the Mint 400, but their actual goal is ill defined:

What was the story? Nobody had bothered to say. So we would have to drum it up on our own. Free Enterprise. The American Dream. Horatio Alger gone mad on drugs in Las Vegas. Do it now: pure Gonzo journalism.

Alger was a 19th-century author who typically wrote rags to riches stories; in Vegas, his relevance is about greed as a distinctively American quality. In fact, Duke eventually finds the “main nerve” of the American Dream in the Circus-Circus casino. The owner, who dreamt of running away to join the circus as a child, now has his own circus, and a licence to steal. He, it is said, is the model for the American Dream. If this seems cynical, so it should.

Other references to the contemporary condition of America include discussions of Nixon’s perfidy about the Vietnam War. Of Thompson, the anti-war Democrat Senator George McGovern once said:

Hunter was a patriot… [but] he was not a jingoist. He hated that war in Vietnam with a passion. He hated the hypocrisy of the establishment. Basically, I think he wanted to see this country live up to his ideals. And he wanted us to do better.

The Kent State University protests against the Vietnam War, in which four students were killed when the National Guard opened fire, occurred a year before Thompson published Fear and Loathing. May 4 Collection/Kent State University Libraries/Special Collections and Archives/Handout via REUTERS

The 1960s

One of the things Thompson wanted America to do better was fulfil the promise of the 1960s. Some of the novel’s most trenchant criticisms are levelled at counter-cultural gurus like Timothy Leary who, it seems to Duke, set up new regimes of authoritarianism to replace the old. One of the novel’s most famous passages reveals its bitter nostalgia:

San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. … It seems entirely reasonable to think that every now and then the energy of a whole generation comes to a head in a long fine flash, for reasons that nobody really understands at the time … There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. … that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. …. Our energy would simply prevail. … We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. … So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.

Journalism

Finally, the novel addresses a contemporary crisis in journalism. Duke starts out full of his professional obligation to “cover the story,” but quickly abandons all pretence. Throughout the narrative, there are traumatic encounters with traditional news coverage, from mendacious TV broadcasts about the war in Laos and Vietnam to newspaper reports on police killing anti-war protesters, to grotesque stories about the consequences of drug taking. “Against this heinous background,” says Duke, “my crimes were pale and meaningless.”

This culminates in a cynical statement at the end:

Why bother with newspapers, if this is all they offer? …The press is a gang of cruel faggots. Journalism is not a profession or a trade. It is a cheap catch-all for fuckoffs and misfits.

Thompson might proudly have self-identified as a misfit, but he was also a journalist, so this seems a strangely self-castigating statement, until you consider what it was that he did for journalism, which was to redefine it. This is his contribution to the American canon.

Contemporary resonance

Pondering all this in the age of Donald Trump, another of Thompson’s books comes to mind: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72, in which he covered the campaign of the Democratic Party’s nominee McGovern (the Presidential race was eventually won by Richard Nixon). Profoundly critical of the relationship between political processes and the media, this collection of articles again attacks both America and journalism at the same time.

Perhaps it is now, more than ever, that we need Gonzo journalism to help us understand the bizarre nature of US national politics today.