Ghosts & Ashes – reviews

Here are some nice things that have been said about Ghosts & Ashes thus far:

Five Stars. Ghosts & Ashes continues the adventures of the star host, Ren, as he comes to grips with his power and searches for his place in the cosmos. This is a rollicking adventure that blends elements from westerns, sci-fi, YA, and romance into a cohesive page-flipping thrill ride. – Foreword Reviews

This is a wonderfully creative, brilliantly written sci-fi YA series. I adore it to pieces and very much recommend you read it! – Meredith at Diverse Reader

Ghosts & Ashes is a worthy and exciting follow-up to The Star Host. Fans of Star Wars and Firefly will love the Broken Moon series for its space opera-style storyline and memorable characters.Carrie Pack, author of In the Present Tense & Grrrls on the Side

The novel is fraught with complexity and wonderful layers; both at once an adventure and a heart-wrenching chapter in Ren and Asher’s romance as they navigate trust and betrayal and how to best protect one another.CB Lee, author of Not Your Sidekick & Not Your Villain

Ghosts & Ashes is a wonderful sequel to The Star Host and the story is building to a climax that I am dying to read. This continues to be a wonderful series that will appeal to adults and young adults alike.D.E. Atwood, author of If We Shadows

 

Ghosts & Ashes LIVE!

The sequel to last year’s The Star Host is now out in the world. Ghosts & Ashes is the continuation of the story and is a little bit darker and with a little bit more angst. Here is the virtual book tour where you can find out tidbits about the writing process, characters, and read snippets of scenes.

virtual book tour

 

My Night as An Author

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I did a reading at my local independent book store – Malaprop’s in Asheville. And it was awesome.

I was super nervous, but the staff at Malaprops were inviting and treated me like a ‘real’ author. Okay, yes, I am a real author. I write. I have been published. That qualifies. But I don’t think I felt like an actual author until I walked into Malaprops and was offered a drink from the cafe before my event started. I was a little taken aback. Yes, it was only a drink, but it was a drink! One I didn’t have to pay for!

And then Ali let me know there was a bottle of water under the podium for me. Which was also awesome because I was so nervous my mouth was dry as dust.

Before I began speaking, Ali introduced me. It was the nicest introduction in the history of introductions. I blushed through the whole thing. And I totally snagged a copy.

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Now, I didn’t have a massive turnout. In fact, when I started, there were only three people there. My friend, my friend’s wife, and John from Geek Potpourri. But as it went on, a few more people showed up and the crowd grew to about ten.

Ten whole people sat and listened to me talk about my book, my writing process, my vision for the book, and heard me read two passages from the novel.

After I talked, I sat and signed books and handed out Y’all Means All pins. And THEN Aly asked me to sign my event poster for the store, and sign the entire stock of books they had left. Which was totally awesome. BUT the best thing… the absolute best thing… was signing the MALAPROP’S GUEST BOOK. Every author who has done a reading at Malaprops has signed that book. MY NAME IS NOW IN A BOOK THAT HAS SOME OF THE BIGGEST NAMES IN WRITING.

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Look! THAT IS MY SIGNATURE!

I may have swooned a little flipping through the book.

In conclusion, Malaprop’s is awesome. I’m totally going to do another reading. Support your independent book stores and your indie presses. And much love to everyone who came out and listened to me read and asked great questions.

Writing Playlist – The Star Host

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So I’ve been asked a few times to make a playlist to accompany The Star Host (TSH). And I’ve done that for two other blogs.

What I haven’t done is talk about the songs I listen to while actually writing. Yes, it is a subtle difference.

While writing – I have to listen to songs that are 1) familiar and 2) fairly up beat. If I try to listen to an unfamiliar song, I end up typing the lyrics b/c I’m concentrating on them. (Which is why I could not listen to the Hamilton soundtrack b/c I would get too engrossed). If I try to listen to something a little slower – then my pace matches the song and I don’t get as much done in my word sprints.

THAT SAID – I am now going to share with you my WRITING PLAYLIST as it was when I wrote TSH.

  1. Hey Soul Sister – Train
  2. Gone, Gone, Gone – Phillip Phillips
  3. Good Life – OneRepublic
  4. Take Me to Church – Hozier
  5. Heartbeat Song – Kelly Clarkson (this has the cutest video, FYI)
  6. Centuries – Fall Out Boy
  7. Immortals – FoB
  8. Pompeii – Bastille
  9. Things We Lost in the Fire – Bastille
  10. Poet – Bastille
  11. Bad Blood – Bastille (Yes, I went through a heavy Bastille phase)
  12. Hooked On A Feeling – Blue Suede (Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack)
  13. Radioactive – Imagine Dragons
  14. Bleeding Out – Imagine Dragons
  15. Smoke and Mirrors – Imagine Dragons (yes, another phase)
  16. I Will Wait – Mumford & Sons
  17. Counting Stars – OneRepublic
  18. Rabbit Heart – Florence and the Machine
  19. Blank Space – Taylor Swift
  20. You Found Me – The Fray

So there you have it! Feel free to drop a comment and criticize my music taste, give me some music recommendations, or talk to me about what you listen to when you’re writing.

Reminder that THE STAR HOST is available everywhere. Have some links:

Interlude, Amazon

What’s in a Name? – The Star Host, Character Names

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If you are as into the Broadway show Hamilton as I am, you know the next lyric is “Alexander Hamilton. My name is Alexander Hamilton.” And it’s the perfect intro for this amazing character and show. You can’t get more dramatic than that.

Of course, when Lin Manuel Miranda was creating and drafting the songs and the show, he already had all his character names.

If you ask any author, other than thinking of the title for their works, naming characters is up there on the list of both hardest things to do and favorite things to do. And one of my favorite questions I’ve received about THE STAR HOST is how I came up with character names. Well here are your answers. (Note: All answers eventually lead back to my college days which I find hilarious.)

Asher – This is probably my favorite story. One of my favorite movies of all time is Army of Darkness starring Bruce Campbell. When I was a freshmen in college and I had joined The Sci-Fi and Fantasy club (Skiffy from here on out) one of the first movies we watched as club that year was Army of Darkness. I had heard all the jokes about boomsticks, but I hadn’t seen the movie. And all I knew of Bruce Campbell was Brisco County Jr. (Seriously, great show. ahead of it’s time. go watch it.) So when the movie was voted in for viewing, I stayed to watch. IT WAS AMAZING. And the first line of the film is, “My name is Ash, and I am a slave.”

Fast forward to 2015 when I’m plotting and writing THE STAR HOST. I know that the second main character would be introduced in a dungeon and would basically be a political prisoner. And I thought of that line from Army of Darkness. And I immediately knew I had to name the character Ash. Instead of naming him Ashley, like from AoD, I went with Asher. And while Asher never says he is a slave, every time of think of that intro, I laugh.

Ren – Ren’s name came from a bunch of different places. I knew I wanted a short name and I was stuck on names that began with “R” for a while. There’s a terrific series from the UK called In The Flesh and there is a character named Kieren – but one of the other characters calls him Ren. And I loved it. It showed an intimacy to their relationship, so that name had been floating around in my mind for a while. But before I began writing, I was pregnant with my third baby – a boy. My husband and I had kicked around a few names and I kept returning to Ren, Renny, Emerson etc as potential names. My husband vetoed all of them and we ended up going with Remy. Which I love. But Ren was still kind of there in my head. So when I sat down to start writing, the name was there, and originally it was a placeholder name, but I grew to love it so much. To me – Ren could be a nickname from his brother, or a family name, or anything honestly. And I thought it fit his simple duster life.

Rowan – Again, a college name. I first encountered this name as the first name of one of my professors. And I loved it. I thought it was so unique. The first time I even thought of her as more than “Asher’s sister” was when I was already about halfway through writing the novel. I wanted to give her a strong name but also something unique and also would complement her brother’s name.

They have the last name of Morgan. Which is also something that makes me laugh when I refer to Rowan as Captain.

These are just three of several characters who appear in THE STAR HOST. If you’ve read the book, who is your favorite? Or which name would you like to know more about? If you are a writer, how do you come up with the names for your characters?

 

Advanced Review!

I have to thank Christin aka beenwandering so much for the animated cover she made for The Star Host. It’s beautiful!

animatedcover

Also, she gave the novel a lovely review which you can read here.

Here is an excerpt:

Absolutely the best part for me about scifi is getting to delve into a brand new world. Spacers, dusters, drifts; all of it creates a new setting that’s balanced with characters and circumstances that are relatable. Also? The pacing is perfect. I was interested and focused the whole time. I especially liked how it built the world and the plot together, rather than dumping information on and expecting me to remember it later.

Of course a great aspect of this book is the diverse cast. LGBTQ main characters, PoC, and women in power. The Star Host is a young adult book and I love that it’s written exactly like any other young adult book – without the heteronormativity. It’s just a kid trying to figure out himself, trying to figure out love, and trying to survive in a messed up world. In space.

You can pre-order The Star Host via Interlude Press or Amazon.