Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Word Witch Wednesday - want vs. need

I still haven't gotten my writing groove back. I've been good with not sitting in front of the computer so much. I get up, move around, and do other things around the house. While my back has appreciated it, my muse is pouting.

I think she's spoiled.

So I'm trying to think of getting her what she needs in other ways.

I've been painting the interior of the house since the beginning of the summer. I finished the kitchen walls and the cupboards. I've started on the hall and did one of the walls in the living room. Scraping off old wallpaper is rough on the back, so I've just been taking it easy when it comes to that.

While I enjoy painting, it isn't totally fulfilling for my muse. She needs words.

Recently, I've taken up the mantle of Dungeon Master with my gaming group. We've started The Rise of Tiamat. This is proving to be the creative outlet I need in many ways. I've made puppets for the first council session since I had to play ten characters for it, and I've created personal quests with each of the player characters' backgrounds. I beefed up the very basic story in the book and created loot cards for randomly picking treasure when it's found. My muse is squealing with delight!

I don't do any of this sitting at the computer. That has helped a lot. But it has made my productivity with novel writing slow down greatly. This frustrates me as a writer even if my muse is happy just to lose herself in the D&D world.

Being a writer is my job. I must find the balance between my other creative outlets, my health, and doing work. I want to push myself to be the author I dream of being.

I've read a ton of articles. Every one of them repeats: set boundaries, create a schedule, turn off social media, etc. I'm sure many of you have heard the same things. None of that helps me when my body makes every day different.

I ran across one quote that struck a cord. 

I've said it before, I am my own worst boss. I push myself hard. I've gotten a little better, a little kinder. But my inner boss demands more than is reasonable. I want to be a highly productive writer, but I need to loosen the fierce grip I have on that dream. I need to take care of myself and my family, and while that includes nurturing my dream, I need to be kinder yet. That doesn't mean to give up. It just means finding other ways as I did with my creative outlets.

I'm working on it. It's no easy thing for me. Perhaps one day, what I want and what I need will merge together as one.

How do you balance what you want and what you need?

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?