Reven Archer Black: Author of Fantasy & Speculative Fiction

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Monthly Archives: March 2015

New Release: “Out of the Shadows” Flash Fiction Anthology

OOTS-sm

 

Experience three chilling tales of darkness and hidden secrets.

 

Burden by Regine Allison Claire

Fifteen-year-old Keldie has a terrible secret—her cousin is locked up in her parents’ house.

She’s never seen him but she hears him, frightening her almost as much as the visions of the yellow-eyed bear that haunt her.

After another boy is rescued from a similar situation nearby, Keldie is at the crossroads of truth. Is she a monster for hiding her parents’ secret? Will confession set her guilty heart free?

 

Everyone Knows My Name by Andrew P. Weston

Tony Roberts was a man who, for years, had been forced to suffer the ignominy of ridicule and ostracism because of his outlandish scientific theories.

Shunned by his contemporaries, he sought to justify his methods by any means possible, just so his name would end up on everyone’s lips, where he felt it belonged.

One day, he got his wish. Little did he realize it would be for all the wrong reasons.

 

An Act of Faith by Ed “CC” Emerson

Imagine the fear.

Fear of being discovered.  Fear of being caught.  Fear that any one of your neighbors might turn you in.  Fear that, at any time, the Secret Police might break down your door and drag you off into the night—never to be seen again.

All simply because of An Act of Faith.

 

Available as an eBook from the following retailers:

Buy now from Amazon (US)
Buy now from Amazon (Canada)
Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Buy now from Smashwords

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Review: “Born of Night” by Sherrilyn Kenyon

The League, Book 1: Born of Night,
by Sherrilyn Kenyon

 

I read this twice in a few days – that’s how much I love this book.

I purchased this because I was intrigued to see what Kenyon would do with assassins, seeing as I have an odd, twisted soft spot for them. And before I read it (several months after purchasing it), I kept sneaking peeks at random passages. Every time, I’d catch something new that made me want to read it all the more. Bits of the dialogue and narrative were incredibly interesting and surprising at times.

When I finally sat down to read it, I fell in love. It was a curious blend of what I was expecting and not at all what I expected. Those little glimpses reeled me in, but they certainly didn’t ruin any of the story. It turned out rather different – and that’s great. At the time I purchased it, I didn’t realize it was a romance. But as luck would have it, I think I love romances this way. It makes Harlequins look like they’re YA.

First off: I absolutely love the darkness entangled in the entire story, through the characters and the plot. It’s what drew me to the series to begin with.

Second: I was empathetic from the start. The relationship between Nykyrian and Syn is brilliant, and their individual stories and personalities kept me glued to the page. Their banter is hilarious.

But there’s more. I found it engaging and intense with awesome images I could hold onto. Some of the dialogue was an absolute joy and at certain points, I couldn’t help but laugh rather loudly. It was a roller coaster of emotions: sometimes I felt really sad for the characters; other times, I could’ve slapped the heck out of them. I’m a sucker for raw emotions and characters working through their pains, and this offered all of that.

 

Why this is a 4 out of 5: There were several points where I thought the editing wasn’t at the level it could’ve been. Too much repetition, not just of the same words, but descriptions, over and over. The head hopping also threw me at several points, especially when things would change every couple paragraphs. I also found it frustrating how Kiara would seem to “get it” and start to understand how things were, but then she’d turn around and revert back to “I don’t get it” the next time, even though things were similar.

Then there was the last third of the book, which was a bit lacking. The first half of the book was amazing and I couldn’t stop reading. But once Syn showed his more snarly, aggressive side, it kind of started moving in a funny direction. The last third seemed rushed relative to the rest of the story; a bit chaotic, like cramming a lot of things into a small space, and making a couple situations a little too neat and/or underplayed. I didn’t get to savour them like I’d hoped.

However, it didn’t stop me from reading it over again just as soon as I’d finished. I enjoyed the world-building, creating a more science fiction/fantasy blend that I got into really easily. And I fell in love with the male characters. Nykyrian’s a keeper. I loved Syn in the first half, and then Darling upstaged him (I’m *dying* to know more about Darling). Hauk was hilarious and Jayne sounded fun, just underutilized.

Favourite scene: the exercise room. I seriously can’t get the scene out of my head and the “prissy” comment. Kiara gets brownie points galore for her part in that situation.

Overall, it was a brilliant read. I’m so, so, so happy I bought it and I’m wondering how I never came across it before. But I’m buying more of the series ASAP. Must. Know. More.

(I also have to wonder if Drowning Pool realizes their song “Bodies” makes a fantastic anthem for assassins?)

 

 

Born of Night on Goodreads

Born of Night on Amazon (available as eBook and in print)

 

Sherrilyn Kenyon on Goodreads

Sherrilyn’s website: sherrilynkenyon.com
* One of my ultimate favourite author websites. Totally to-die-for. Character pages, playlists, book trailers, and so much info, including personal messages from SK. AWESOME.

Sherrilyn on Twitter

Sherrilyn  on Facebook

Sherrilyn’s Amazon Author Page

Poem: Hide

Hide

Reminded of the knife
safe under the worn case
of tear-stained cotton
I huddle in darkness
wishing his rage
was not so terrifying

 

Inspired by the #HeartSoup prompt #280, “Safe”, and originally published on my Twitter.

Review: “Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU” by Carmen Maria Machado

Especially Heinous: 272 Views of Law & Order SVU,
a novella by Carmen Maria Machado

 

I saw the title for this and just had to take a peek because it sounded different – okay, that and I know enough of SVU to appreciate where the author *could* be going with it. I have to admit that at first it sounded like an essay about the show, which was interesting enough. Wasn’t sure what to expect.

I’m absolutely thrilled I followed through.

This is an interesting read, rather creepy (in pretty much all ways) with a crisp, fresh style that kept my attention. Certainly I raise my glass to the author over the imagery. There are some very potent, clear images contained in the very small spaces. Very tight writing with deliberately chosen words, many of which I could tell the author was careful to choose to leave just the right impression. This gets an automatic thumbs up from me: if I can see it, hear it, feel it, the author has done their job.

Though I forewarn potential readers: this, like the show, is not furry rabbits and rainbows or dancing babies. It’s also NOT for kids. While it doesn’t require an iron stomach, just beware the “adult/18+” content and darkness within. Machado doesn’t back down from the grotesque, strange, or the turn-your-stomach thoughts. Placed upon the backdrop of sexual crimes, it’s not a light read. Quite sinister. Disturbing. And, in my opinion, in-line with the skin-crawling emotions those crimes make most of us feel.

Going back to the word choices: at least once I found myself groaning and saying “Oh, God, that’s so wrong”. Many times, I found myself laughing at the dark humour, like this gem: ‘The serial killer sends a note to Benson and Stabler. All it says is “Oops.'” Other times, I was chuckling in that way one does at cleverness, especially at the parts that seemed like Jack Handy could’ve rolled with them (one particular favourite: “Stabler never told Benson about his little brother. But he also never told her about his older brother, which was more acceptable, because he didn’t know about him, either.”)

As a while, this was an enjoyable read that’s one part SVU, one part Ghost Whisperer, and the rest of the pie speculative fiction. There are many things here that hit the literary nail on the head, with several quote-worthy moments.

But the imagery, the imagery. Did I mention the imagery? And extra points to Machado for “Make it so”. I’d say that she did.

 

The story is available to read for free at the American Reader.

 

The novella’s listing on Goodreads

Carmen Maria Machado on Goodreads

Carmen’s website: http://carmenmariamachado.com/

Carmen on Twitter

For Neglected Characters and Plot Holes, Call OUTLINE and Press 1

“I can’t do this.” Menníenn toyed with the dagger, tempted to slice open his hand as a distraction. Most of the pain from punching the wall had already had worn off.

He growled as Krístoff sat next to him.

“No, I think you’re trying to convince yourself you can’t,” Krístoff argued, resting his arms on his raised knees. “Otherwise you’d have chosen the door that actually goes somewhere. Unless you’re planning on jumping, then we’re going to have a whole new problem. That and I’d wonder what took you so long.”

“Is this really your idea of helping?”

Krístoff shrugged. “You’re the one who almost punched me in the gut. I’d say brutal honesty and sarcasm are all you’re getting right now. And it’s about all I’m willing to give since the more you stall, the more I think you actually like being miserable.”

“Maybe I do.”

“And maybe you still haven’t actually mastered lying to yourself yet. You just like to think you have.”

 

– from Blood & Heritage, book 2: Descent

 

 

It’s official: I started rewriting Descent. Finally, after saying for months that I needed to get it done, I sat down and tapped out a whole new scene. That in itself is a slight literary miracle, considering I did it while in the middle of a nasty bout of insomnia, upon which I am blaming this ridiculous weather.

In any event, there’s a whole chapter done.

*throws confetti and blows party horn*

Chapter 24, to be more precise. And I think I might be in love with it. Maybe. Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s a scene between two of my precious boys in the series. Both are tortured souls in their own way.

But the fact that this chapter exists now is where outlines are worth their weight in gold.

 

Yeah, Yeah. Habits and All That.

I’m certain other authors would kill me over what they’d label as “bad habits” or just really bad ideas. That whole “don’t edit while you write” thing? Yeah, no. I break that rule all the time. It works for me and keeps me from stressing out. And the concept of always outlining before writing? That one often gets thrown out, too. I’m more 50% pantser and 50% outliner, give or take depending on the project.

To tell the truth, both Ascension and Descent have been written with that 50/50. I know the characters, their circumstances, and the major plot points inside out, so I can work blindly on those things. The outlining comes in handy when I’m working out the plot events to highlight in the actual manuscript, considering the books span years (decades, even) and it’s not feasible or logical to go into every single day. Though my outlines for the series have been incredibly generalized before I write the first draft.

Rewrites, on the other hand, is where the serious business happens and the anal organizer comes out.

 

OMG. So That’s Where You Where Hiding!

I sat down recently and pounded out the hardcore outline for book 2.

Mission 1: Wrap my head around everything that needed to be rewritten and added so I’m not going in circles and crying over the amount of work.

Mission 2: Find plot holes and kill them ’til they’re dead.

 

Surprise. I found more than just plot holes. I found a whole neglected character, which is really sad considering he’s one part comic relief and all heart.

Well those monkeys won’t do.

I knew I wanted to get into more of the antagonists’ side of things considering how sneaky they are, and I’ve thrown them plenty of bones to gnaw on to tell their side of the story.

I also knew I needed to work out a better ending, especially since the original plan for the book didn’t end there. There needed to be more oomph. The stakes needed to be higher. And as sad as this is, I actually have a file called “Question for Book 2” in my notes for this book. In it, it says:

 

WHERE is the CLIMAX? The change in the story?

FIND. IT.

MAKE IT GOOD.

 

… because that’s what happens when you cut one book into two. Nothing says “outline it NOW” like not being able to pinpoint where the heck the climax has gone.

/cue facepalm

Those I expected. But I then discovered one of the main members of the family got the shaft somewhere along the way. So I’ve thrown the man a lifeline and actual scenes where readers can find out more about who he is. I’ve given him a few more scenes to round out his place in the family and tell more of what he’s seeing, things that the two MCs are missing.

And the outline saves the day again, not to mention my sanity.

 

Moving Onwards but Not Necessarily Upwards

One chapter down; thirty-two left. Or so the current outline says. I have a few chapters I’m dying to work on this week, though they’re throughout the manuscript. Thank the literary gods that we don’t have to write chronologically. This rewrite is going to involve a lot of bouncing around. But that works for me. I love organized chaos. Or chaotic organization. Or whatever this is.

Truth be told, I wasn’t planning on getting to the second draft this early in the year. I’d pegged it more for May/June, after I worked on a couple of other projects. But this series is very “Me! Me! Me!”, like that super eager kid in class who really wants to answer a question and keeps thrusting their hand higher and higher to the point where they’re falling out of their chair. Although with the one chapter down, I’m hoping maybe I can knock out a few more before moving onto a new project. I’m determined to get rewrites done well before the end of 2015. If I’m lucky.

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