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

Flash Christmas Sale!

 

‘The Immortal City’ is currently in Barnes and Nobles 50% off Bestseller Sale from today until the 31st of December so the Nook version is only $2.99! Bargain! Also, if you are after a paperback or hardback you can get them 15% off at BHC’s online store.

Nook: https://bit.ly/2PsRB9g
Paperback: https://bit.ly/2EkIgtV
Hardback: https://bit.ly/36LbXQL

(Note: if you are a hardcore Kindle junkie don’t forget Amazon will price match if you request it 😉)

 

Description:

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.

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

Psst -Free Box Set Promo this weekend!

A quick heads up that both The Firebird Fairytales Boxset and The Western Wars Boxset will be Free on Amazon this weekend so its a perfect time to check them out and leave a review! They are also on Kindle Unlimited if you are a part of the program…Check out descriptions below x

The Firebird Fairytales is a fresh Nordic Paranormal Fantasy series that breathes new life into Ancient myth

Cry of the Firebird
Born on the crossroads between worlds Anya’s Gate Keeper magic is buried under grief and rage until one fateful night a firebird hatches on her farm who is sharing its body with the fabled Prince Yvan. With Yvan’s dark magician brother Vasilli and other powerful enemies closing in around them, Anya has no choice but to sober up, follow Yvan into Skazki and hope that she can learn how to control her awakening magic before it destroys her and any hope of keeping the gates to both world’s safe.

Ashes of the Firebird
Branded as Rogues and hunted by the supernatural world Anya and her companions flee to Budapest, a place of new allies where they will be safe. They begin the search for Yanka, Anya’s ancestor and the only person in history with enough power to change the tide of the brewing war. Her relationship with the Thanatos Trajan is made complicated when he accidently feeds off her and trouble finds them when Aleksandra saves mysterious demon hunter Mychal from an attack, bringing new monsters and threats to Anya’s door.

Rise of the Firebird
Travelling from the battlefields of Skazki to the Underworld of Tuonela, Anya and her companions encounter the vicious dark goddess Louhi and gain two magician’s, the mad hero Kullervo and Eldon Blaise – apprentice of Merlin himself. As devastating secrets of history and the heart are revealed, Anya must fight the darkness within her and rise up to be a symbol for the Neutral rebel army that rallies under the banner of the firebird. Ready to restore the balance at any price, the final battle of the three armies will shape the worlds forever.

Free Here 

 The Western Wars is an epic fantasy series with loads of adventure, magic and romance

Eastern Gods – Book One

‘Come to me and I’ll whisper secrets that will shake the worlds. ‘

When a spy from the mysterious Eastlands is caught in his kingdom, Haldirian is sent to the only reliable scholar of the East left on the continent of Elindor. With her help, he’s determined to stop the fear of war spreading, but as the first female heir in history, highly intelligent and carrying a warrior swagger Aláenor isn’t what Haldirian has learned to expect from royal princesses. But Aláenor isn’t as confident as she appears as she’s haunted by the memory of her dead mother and plagued by a man whispering in her nightmares.

The spy claims that Mordecai, dark magician and Emperor of the East sent him to scout their kingdoms for an invasion, but it’s the threat of unknown magic that forces them to act. The West turned their back on magic hundreds of years ago, and they will have no way to stand against it if the mysterious Emperor decides to make war.

Together, Aláenor and Haldirian will journey to the other side of the world to learn the truth, but nothing is as it seems, and the East will reveal secrets to Aláenor that will shatter her world, question her loyalties, and forge her into the queen she must become.

The Golden Queen – Book Two

Scholar. Warrior. Lover. Queen.

Still recovering from her imprisonment in the Red Fortress, Aláenor travels to the northern city of Anan in search of new allies in her war against the Emperor Mordecai.

Anan has more than one surprise for Aláenor, and as she comes to terms with the magic awakening inside of her she will need Haldirian’s support to make it back to the West.

Aláenor has been raised to believe that Mordecai’s family line were traitors, but history is written by the winners and she will discover she has more in common with the enemy than she thinks.

Free Here

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…

View original post 1,308 more words

I am a Writer right?

Chuck Wendig, the bearded writer guru and gnarly writer, published a great blog over on his kick ass blog Terrible Minds called ‘A Reminder Of What Makes A Real Writer’.  In it he makes this very true point:

‘There exists no one way to write any one thing, and as long as your writing has a starting point and an ending point, I think whatever shenanigans go on in the middle serve you fine as a process as long as it gets you a finished book heavy with at least some small sense of satisfaction. If you’re not finishing your books, you need to re-examine your process. If you’re not at all satisfied with your work, then again: re-examine that process.

And that’s it.’

And it is..so why the hell writers struggle so much to own it? Why do we look to others to give it definition?

There’s a bit of heated conversation going on about whether having a degree gives you that tick of approval from society and peers, a magical That’ll do, little writer, that’ll do moment where you will suddenly be seen as the artist you are.

Yeah, sorry guys it’s not gonna happen.

A degree is great but when you graduate you still have to get a job and if you are lucky enough to get a job in say, publishing, (and these are few and far between, especially in Australia) you’re still going to be put on the same wage as someone working in retail. I recently saw a job for a publishing assistant where they wanted someone with a degree and minimum 2 years experience… for a wage I used to get in customer service. A degree might help you get a job but its not going to necessarily help give you writer validation.

My point is no one is ever going to give you the “I AM NOW A WRITER” moment and a degree, job in publishing, or a book out won’t always help either. I know this from experience. I’ve been writing full time for fifteen years and have written twelve books and it has only been in the past two months that I’ve been able to say ‘I am a writer’ when people ask what I do, not ‘I work as a contractor for the government…and I also write a bit.’ I had this moment not when any of my books came out, when I saw them on a shelf in a bookshop, not when people have been repeating it to me over and over again over the years. This moment came when I rang a recruiting company about a contract for content writing and the consultant I talked to said, “Your resume looks like an Administrator resume. You need to write it again and put all that experience you just told me about at the beginning.” And I had to sit down and really go through the process of spelling out all the experience I do have in black and white. At the end of it I was like, “Fuck me, I AM a writer.” I had been doing the job thing all wrong over the years believing I was an administrator and not a writer. I don’t think I am the only one out that does this to themselves.

I recently read a great book by indie powerhouse Joanna Penn called The Successful Author Mindset. In it she talks about having to use “I am a writer” as a kind of mantra until she believed it. She even starts the book straight up with self doubt and imposter syndrome because every author on earth feels it:

‘Embrace self doubt as part of the creative process. Be encouraged by the fact that virtually all other creatives, including your writing heroes, feel it too with every book they write.’

I personally don’t read a lot of self help for writers type books but I have huge respect for Joanna Penn and this book really helped me out to realign my brain in a time I needed it (Derek Murphy also gives really good advice for writers and his courses are fantastic and have helped me alot).

I still need to go back and read these chapters regularly because I’ve started writing a new book that scares the shit out of me. I’ve tackled some big ones before but this is next level for me. There is a lot of research involved and has the tingly potential to end up being the best thing I’ve ever written or a heaving pile of crap. Its terrifying and intimidating and its helping me grow and write in new ways. DO I think I have the talent to do it justice? Hell no. Am I going to do it anyway? Hell yes.  Because that’s what makes us writers right? We give up our social lives and our rec time and we work unsatisfying jobs to pay bills while we hustle words and try and write the ones that scare us and helps us grow and maybe makes us money.

So what if were are anxious and insecure and feel like we are walking down the street naked every time we release words into the world that will judge us..we are writers its how we operate.

I am not going to be around too much in the next few weeks, I am going crazy full editor mode to get Eastern Gods, my new YA Fantasy book, all ready to pitch to Kindle Scout. The thought of releasing this one soon is pretty exciting as it was the first book I ever wrote that I was really proud of. It’s taken a lot of work to get it up to scratch and I’m stoked how it has come together. I’ll tell you guys more about it when I get closer to knowing dates and have a cover to share.

In other Amy book world news, Wylt is going well so check it out if you dig gothic romance, and Cry of the Firebird is on a price drop for those who want grittier, urban fantasy with lots of Gods and monsters.

Also, if you want something short, steampunky and based in an alternative Australia check out my new short story a Women in Men’s Waistcoats.  It’s a lot of random fun.

Keep writing you crazy beautiful writers,

A xo

 

 

 

Rise of the Firebird – The Last One

FirebirdFinal-FJM_Mid_Res_1000x1500You would have seen every where that Rise of the Firebird is the last book in The Firebird Fairytales. I want to reassure you, this isn’t one of those random ‘I’m tired of writing the series’ things. It’s a ‘I had finished the writing the whole trilogy two years ago’ thing. It’s always been one complete story with each book starting directly after the last. It’s why Book 1 feels a bit like a prologue, Book 2 a Middling and now Book 3 be prepared for an Ending.

To give you a bit of history the third book was a bitch to write. I originally had a whole different book planned out, I had nearly 40k words written. Then I rewrote book 1 &2 and scrapped 35k of book 3. It didn’t want to work. At the end of 2012 I was a wreck. I had gone through a really bad break up, was made redundant, moved states and was in a job I couldn’t make work for love or money.

Mentally, physically and spiritually I hit the wall so fucking hard I had to spend the subsequent 6 months scraping my shit back together to make an Amy shaped person again.

For the first time in my life I couldn’t write.

Not to put a too fine a point on it but have you met a writer when they can’t write? It’s frustration and madness personified. It’s a wailing shit bag chaos incarnate monster face.

In other words, I didn’t ever think Book 3 was going to be finished…like ever.

In June 2013 things started to change. I changed jobs, met my Future Partner (Hi honey) and met Anna (yeah, that Anna). She was really great at harassing me until I started writing again. We brainstormed a lot at the local Swedish café over huge coffees, waffles and Karelia Pirrika. Asgeirr released an album and he and Sibelius provided the soundtrack to finish writing Rise of the Firebird. For those that wonder, no – my character Asgeirr was already written by the time the musician arrived in my life although I took it as a sign that I was on the right track.

I finished writing The End on a plane somewhere between Cairns and Melbourne the following June. When I landed Future Partner had a bottle of Finlandia waiting – can you see why I fell in love with him?

I went to Finland in late August and gathered mountainous notes to add an extra layer of awesome to Rise and ended up with enough for a completely other story (I’m about 30k words into that one). Yep. I want to go back to Finland.

Back to the actual story. People who’ve read the second book know that things have not been left well for our fearless warriors and many have been cross (sorry Fox) about the casualties’ of war.

Rise is a big book (100 pages more on the others) and there is much that goes down. You will hopefully get all the answers you have been scratching your head over and muttering ‘why have you created a massive plot hole here woman!’ (spoilers-plot device, not plot hole)  and little pieces will suddenly start falling into place. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway. You will meet some new and mythological faces, a pack of volk krovi, two gods, two wizards…and the list continues. I’ve added an updated character list in the back but be careful not to give yourself spoilers. I’ve tried to make sure you all get a bit of clarity and closure by the end (DON’T EVEN THINK OF READING THE LAST PAGE *squints*), there are a lot of character arcs so I’ve done my best. Some I’ve left intentionally hazy as yes, I do have spin off books planned even though they will not be Firebird Fairytales.

There is going to be a digital box set :

FIREBIRDFAIRYTALES

(Damn…Don’t they look so pretty together? you can order it here)

The good news is I’ve also transferred the paperbacks to new publishers so they can be printed in a lot more countries (they have a house in Melbourne Aussie Readers) which means that shipping won’t cost more than the book due to exchange rates.

I’ve also got a thing going on with Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan’s BentoNet site that I will give you an update on when things are up and running. Keep your eye out, it’s going to be awesome.

Once Rise has been out for a month and people have read it I’ll put a blog up about some of the mythologies and folk tales I refer to in it. There’s a lot more Finnish shenanigans going on so I need to nerd out about that.

It’s going to be out this weekend to coincide with my 30th birthday. 3 is my lucky number and being book 3 I couldn’t help myself. Also it’s like a present to me (it makes sense in writer logic).

As always, I hope you enjoy it and feel free to ask me questions on Twitter or Facebook about it.

 

Ashes of the Firebird

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00014]One more sleep til my Book Birthday!

Okay now that I got that out of my system I can tell you a little bit about the next instalment of The Firebird Fairytales. 

Second books are strange beasts. You know you’re in the middle of something but don’t quite know what and foreshadowing for the next book can be vital. In saying that I tried to have it as a separate sort of story where things happen. Some stuff gets resolved and other stuff becomes worse. There is new cities, new faces, new secrets and all sorts of monsters and good stuff.

When I was writing this beast of a book I had so many plans and ideas for how it was going to turn out…by the end of the second rewrite none of these things eventuated or were even left in which is pretty typical.  Trust me they weren’t needed. I was pretty close to setting it on fire more than once. I’m pretty sure it would have died in a blaze if it wasn’t for my partners in crime Fox and Anna hiding the vodka and matches and sharp objects.

Also this book and all of its subsequent drafts were written to Amanda Fucking Palmer’s albums. Who Killed Amanda Palmer was the soundtrack to my life at the time of the first draft, a spooky coincidence that I fed into my art and dealing with the shit going down at the time. Thank you Fox for giving me the gloriously inspirational Amanda. She’s an incredible artist who will speak wild things into your dark and dreaming heart…you can find her work here where you can download her albums for as little as a dollar. Better yet, go support her Patreon.

If Ashes had a theme song it would be this song, ‘Runs in the Family.’ 

AFP

This book, and series, deals a lot with family and with what’s inside our blood and dealing and fighting the inherited monsters and problems. It’s a theme that’s pretty prevalent in my own life. Anya’s ability to pick up strays (and in turn be adopted) is inspired by own. I never had much family around growing up so I was adopted my a whole manner of people. The concept of  “Family” has very little to do with blood at all and its reinforced in the rag tag tribe of misfits that gather about Anya and Yvan.

To keep track of the ever growing cast I have put a character list in the back of the book and kept it as spoiler free as possible. I’ve had some pretty mixed reactions from my ARC readers about this one, but don’t worry there is definitely a third book where all shall be revealed. I hope you enjoy it, I hope you listen to it with Amanda Fucking Palmer on full volume.