Monday, September 17, 2018

Kill The Queen tour - book review and giveaway

The thrilling first novel in the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series combines magic, murder, and adventure when an unlikely member of the royal family suddenly becomes a contender in a clash for the crown . . .

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of combat, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Release date: October 2nd, 2018

My review: Lady Everleigh Blair is a royal way down the line and is happy not to be in the spotlight. Her "mutt" magic is ridiculed and ignored. When Princess Vasilia viciously assassinates the queen and all others who could inherit the throne, Evie is thought to be dead. Evie's secret immunity to magic helps her survive and she joins a gladiator troupe. There she tries to become a warrior and harness her abilities. Yet while she would prefer to go back to her parents' land and live a quiet, comfortable life, Vasilia is terrorizing the country and prepping for war against an innocent nation. Evie cannot avoid the spotlight any longer. She must challenge Vasilia and kill the queen.

A spectacular start to the dark fantasy romance series, Crown of Shards. I was hooked right away with the first line. A massacre? I have to know what happens! I wasn't disappointed. The world building is phenomenal. We don't get overloaded with long chunks of history or explanations for how things work. The world is unveiled slowly as the story progresses, seeing everything through Evie's eyes. I was fascinated by the magic system and all the possibilities it could hold.

Evie is a strong protagonist. I sympathized with her immediately. Hurt and grief had her wanting to remain unnoticed in the shadows, but necessity brought her out. I loved how she grew, and what steeled her for the immense challenges she had to face. I also loved the great cast of characters, particularly the various powerful women. Gladiators, magiers, masters, and mutts. Paloma and Lady Xenia were my two favorites. As for Sullivan, I melted for him as much as Evie did. Yet I very much liked that the romance didn't overshadow anything.

I cannot wait for more in this series. I highly recommend it to all fantasy fans.

Preorder the book:
Amazon * B&N * Books-a-Million * Google Play * iBooks

Meet the author:

Jennifer Estep is a New York Times, USA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Crown of Shards epic fantasy series. Kill the Queen (book #1) will be released October 2nd.

Jennifer is also the author of the Elemental Assassin, Mythos Academy, Bigtime, and Black Blade fantasy series.

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit her website or follow her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Twitter. Get updates through her blog and her newsletter.

Enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, September 13, 2018

A great contest for writers and a free book!

The 2018 Annual IWSG Anthology Contest is now open for submissions! This is a fantastic opportunity for writers, and I think their theme for this year is so much fun. Good luck to everyone who submits a story.

Guidelines and rules: 

Word count: 3500-6000

Genre: Young Adult Romance

A Masquerade can be a false show or pretense, someone pretending to be someone they aren't. It can be a ball, a fancy dress party, it can be a mask. Open to interpretation. 

Submissions accepted: September 5 - November 4, 2018

How to enter: Send your polished, formatted (Double spaced, no page numbers), previously unpublished story to admin @ before the deadline passes. Please include your contact details, your social links, and if you are part of the Blogging, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter IWSG group.

* * * * *

Free for five days only!

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

#IWSG for September 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Toi Thomas, T. Powell Coltrin, M.J. Fifield, and Tara Tyler!

This month's optional question: What publishing path are you considering/did you take, and why?

Years ago, I submitted to agents and publishers. That was the way to do it. But after two bad experiences with publishers, I gathered my nerve and decided to self-publish. Best decision ever. I love the control I have over my own career and the fact it's flexible. With health issues and stuff popping up, the only person I have to answer to is myself. Sometimes I'm okay with not making a deadline, and sometimes it's frustrating. I'm learning to be a kinder boss. Sure I have to do all my own marketing which stresses me out, but I still get the choice of what I want to do and when.

My insecurities: I need a new body. It's been a rough year health-wise, and it has immensely affected my writing and how much I can do at the computer. I feel guilty for being so far behind and not keeping up with all of you. I realize I must make a much better effort to take care of this old body. No more sitting in this chair for long periods of time. I need to move more and eat wiser. I have to do more than just waggle my finger at myself.

As a writer, how do you keep healthy? Any advice?

Monday, August 20, 2018

On hiatus until September

I've been having a rough time of it health-wise lately, and so in an effort to be kinder to myself, I'm taking the rest of August off. I'm going to allow myself to binge watch some Netflix instead of stress out over marketing and being so far behind on everything.

I hope everything is well with you. Enjoy the rest of August and I'll see you in September for the IWSG.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Word Witch Wednesday - getting back into the writing groove

School's back in, and the house is quiet. Time to start writing!

... soon. After I finish painting the kitchen cupboards. Boy, that floor needs to be washed. Perhaps I should attend to my neglected garden. Oh, look! A new Deadpool musical on YouTube. I bet I don't need to tell you that's NSFW!

It's tough getting back into the writing groove. I had a busy summer away from the computer, and just putting my butt in the chair isn't working. So how do I reignite my fire?

After spending way too much time reading articles about this, here are five of my favorite suggestions:

1. Rid yourself of the guilt. I have so much I need to do, and I'm immensely behind schedule. But it is a schedule I set for myself. There is no deadline I have to meet except the now clearly unreasonable ones in my head. It's okay. Time to reset my goals. Time to be kinder to myself.

2. Clear out all the things that are drawing you away from writing. Do those chores, turn off the TV and internet, make sure you have a chunk of time when no one is interrupting you.

3. Read, read, and read some more. Stories inspire me. Reading always gets my juices flowing. Even if it isn't about my book particularly, I'll happily travel to other worlds and play with the possibilities there. Those can then help lead to story ideas for my own work.

4. If you can't get into the story via your word processor, get into it in another way. Look up inspirational images on Pinterest, research your protagonist's job, browse possible book covers, or do silly character interviews. Get that fire burning with other types of fuel.

5. Writing is a habit, and it will take some time to get back into it again. Last school year, I had a schedule. I was ready to write by the time the afternoon rolled around because my mind and body knew that's when it happened. Even if I don't write the new story, just sitting down at that particular time and working on old stories or writing blog posts about getting back into the groove *winkwink* will help.

How do you get back into the writing groove?

Friday, August 3, 2018

Three geeky freebies!

The first day of school is in five days. I'm super excited. I finally get back my writing time!

This weekend is also one of the biggest gaming conventions in the world, Gen Con. Have you ever been to a huge convention? It's a phenomenal experience. So much to do!

I won't get a chance to go this year, but at least I'll get to play with my gaming group next Friday. It's one of the highlights of my week to be creative, scheme, and laugh with friends.

In celebration of geeks everywhere, my hilarious and steamy trilogy, Dice & Debauchery is free for five days!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

#IWSG for August 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Erika Beebe, Sandra Hoover,Susan Gourley, and Lee Lowery!

This month's optional question: What pitfalls would you warn other writers to avoid on their publication journey?

Don't publish your story until it's ready. You'll want to get it out there as quick as you can and share it with the world. But don't. Make sure you have an editor, critique partners, and beta readers. Revise, revise, and revise again. I've seen too many authors put out their books before they've been polished, and readers do notice. Sometimes we feel the stories are never ready, but that is another lesson on learning to overcome the fear and letting go.

My insecurities: I blinked and summer break is gone. My son goes back to school next week. I'm eager to get back into my regular writing schedule, but I see everything I want to do looming before me. One thing at a time, I tell myself, but sometimes the shadows make everything look like too much.

Take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

We're insecure writers. We can do anything... right? Maybe?