Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bringing the Real World into Fantasy YA

A wise old friend once told me: In order to be successful in anything in life, you mus surround yourself with like-minded people. Learn from each other and grow. 

Taking that advice, I'd like to splatter Young Adult Fantasy Author Vicki Weavil with a round of applause and gratitude. She's here to share wisdom from her writing arsenal about giving tangible breath to tales of fantasy. And lets all congratulate her on the release of her YA fantasy novel CROWN OF ICE.  

CROWN OF ICE by Vicki L. Weavil
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 
Chapters Indigo! | TBD | iBooks | Goodreads

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Release Date: September 9, 2014

Description: Thyra Winther’s seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith.

Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact. Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal.

A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts — to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast. Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s desire, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.

CROWN OF ICE is a YA Fantasy that reinvents Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” from the perspective of a young woman who discovers that the greatest threat to her survival may be her own humanity.

Bringing the Real World into Fantasy – Human Emotions in CROWN OF ICE
by Vicki Weavil

Although CROWN OF ICE is a fantasy, its characters are very human. Well, except for the talking reindeer and a wolf pup, of course!

But the main characters, despite a few of them possessing magical powers, are still human beings. Even the sorcerer, Mael Voss, is mortal, although he’s used his abilities to significantly lengthen his life.

With this in mind, I wrote the characters in CROWN to reflect real human emotions, including hate, jealousy, fear, selfishness … and love. Especially love, because at its core, the true theme of CROWN OF ICE is love. Not just romantic love, although that’s part of the story, but also the love of friends and family, and the love animals give us, as well as the love we hold for them.

The main character in CROWN is Thyra Winther, a young woman whose life has been bleak and cruel. Orphaned at a young age, she’s raised in an abusive foster home until an evil mage takes her away and transforms her into the Snow Queen. Thyra is smart and a fighter, so she’s survived, but at a price. She’s had to freeze her emotions in order to endure her lonely life.

I wanted to write about a survivor because I’ve known, and admired, so many people who have overcome impossible odds to create a life for themselves. They may have suffered physical or emotional abuse, or had to live with a disability or illness, but they managed to survive. However, often the very coping mechanism that allows them to function in difficult environments becomes a burden later in life. They survive, but may lack skill in establishing and maintaining relationships. They become highly functional, but find they need to rid themselves of the habits and practices that got them through their most painful times in order to live a fulfilling life.

So, for me (and I hope its readers) CROWN OF ICE is not just a tale about the travels of a girl searching for her lost friend, or even the quest of a young Snow Queen to save her mind and body from the agony of spending eternity as a wraith. It’s also the journey Thyra makes from an icy-hearted survivor toward an understanding of love. It’s a story that asks the question—can someone who has frozen their heart ever learn to feel again?

Vicki Lemp Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. Since obtaining her undergraduate degree in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she’s gone on to acquire two masters degrees, living in places as diverse as New York City and rural North Carolina. She’s currently the library director for a performing an visual arts university.  Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats. 

Author Links:  Website | Twitter Facebook Goodreads | Tumbler

Readers, Writers: What's your take on fantasy? 

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Monday, September 15, 2014

INTO THE FIRE ~ a YA Read & Giveaway!

Wistful YA is my reoccurring spotlight, giving young adult literature center stage.

It's always a great feeling to celebrate the release of an author's book, even more so when that writer is a wonderful blogging bud - and I've known this author just about as long as I've been blogging. She's grown leaps and bounds since then. Today is no exception.

INTO THE FIRE by Ashelyn Drake
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Month9Books
Released: September 9, 2014
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Chapters Indigo! | TBD | iBooks

I'd like to thank the publisher for supplying me with an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Favorite Line/Passage: I think about it for a second, and something Mom told me finally makes sense. "I asked Mom once why she always gave in to what Dad wanted and if she ever regretted any of those decisions. She said everything we do contributes to the person we become. I always thought it was a copout answer, but I understand now. So, no. I can't say I regret dating those girls." (Logan's POV; page 155)

Description: Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s life is a perfectly normal one until Logan Schmidt moves to Ashlan Falls. Cara is inexplicably drawn to him, but she’s not exactly complaining. Logan’s like no boy she’s ever met, and he brings out a side of Cara that she isn’t used to. As the two get closer, everything is nearly perfect, and Cara looks forward to the future.

But Cara isn’t a normal girl. She’s a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical phoenix bird, and her time is running out. Rebirth is nearing, which means she’ll forget her life up to this point—she’ll forget Logan and everything they mean to one another.. But that may be the least of Cara’s problems.

A phoenix hunter is on the loose, and he’s determined to put an end to the lives of people like Cara and her family, once and for all.


There's plenty to like about this story. The opening chapters effectively pull the reader into both lead character's worlds - one that has sadness clinging to it, while the other is just a bit different. That last part is an understatement. Picture frying to death every-so-often to undergo your rebirth. Actually, it isn't as horrific as it sounds. There's no pain at all. Of course, waking back up at the same age of your rebirth, looking the same, but with absolutely no memory of anything kind of stinks. But hey, you're alive again, right?

That concept is my favorite part of this story. The author explained it with lots of fluency, showing not telling the reader. The story's plausible twist complicates matters when Cara meets Logan and believes she accidentally imprinted on him. Meaning her Phoenix-self claimed him as her own, impressing a romantic relationship between the two. This pull is very teen, that lost desperate emotion where one can't live without the other.

New to town Logan has an authentic male voice slash testosterone filled teen edge. He's tough and knows he has looks, but a sensibility and sensitivity that softens his persona. 

Tension mingles as Cara nears her rebirth, unable to resist Logan. He, in turn, reciprocates her attraction, scaring Cara's mother who knows this innocent and sweet tug between the teens will only end badly because Cara's assured memory loss once reborn. But is Logan's attraction due to the imprint or to true emotions? Haha! Wouldn't you like to know...

Then there's the complication of another Phoenix being murdered and the remaining Phoenixes suspect Logan and his dad because they're new to town. The desperation this causes Cara and Logan, thinking they'll be kept apart ups the ante and turns this tale into a page turner.

My only misgiving is that I would have like a little more information about Phoenix powers earlier on. I kept wondering why a Phoenix was so important and why someone would be after them. I wasn't invested enough yet to care. But I kept reading, and I'm glad I did.

Tell me readers: Have you ever heard of a human/Phoenix?

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Wistful YA ~ CALL ME GRIM & Giveaway!

Wistful YA is my reoccurring spotlight, giving young adult literature center stage.


Before we meet the mastermind behind my next YA spotlight, can I just say what an awesome title CALL ME GRIM is? I just love it. And the book blurb totally rocks, too. Check it out: 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo 
Chapters Indigo! | TBD | iBooks | Goodreads
CALL ME GRIM by Elizabeth Holloway

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Publisher: Month9books
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Pages: 250

Description: The truck should have turned Libbi Piper into a Libbi Pancake -- and it would have, too, if Aaron hadn't shown up and saved her life. The problem? Aaron's the local Grim Reaper... and he only saved Libbi's life because he needs someone to take over his job. Now, Libbi has two days to choose between dying like she was supposed to, or living a lonely life as Death Incarnate. Talk about a rock and a hard place.

And the choice goes from hard to sucktastic when her best friend shows up marked: condemned as a future murderer. Libbi could have an extra week to stop the murder and fix the mark... but only if she accepts Aaron's job as Reaper, trapping herself in her crappy town forever, invisible and inaudible to everyone except the newly dead. But, if she refuses? Her best friend is headed straight for Hell.

Ooh, so much conflict! And a BFF in danger.... Well, Elizabeth, sounds like you've created an intriguing and horrific-sort of read. Welcome to the Alleyway. Were you a reader as a child? 
As a young child, I wasn't much of a reader. My mom always had her nose stuck in a horror novel, but the covers were too scary for me, and kid's books didn't appeal to me. Then, around the tender age of twelve, I sucked up my fear and read one of my mother's books, Watchers by Dean Koontz, and I was hooked. Throughout middle and high school, I spent way more time than I care to admit reading books under my desk instead of paying attention in class.

What sparked your creative juices to write CALL ME GRIM?
The idea for CALL ME GRIM actually spawned from a novel I had already written. In that story there's a character who steals souls. This character lead me to think of Grim Reapers, who not so much steal souls, but remove them after death and escort them to the afterlife.
I started thinking about how crappy that job would be and Aaron was born. Aaron is a Grim Reaper who wants to quit his job and tries to recruit the protagonist, Libbi, to take over for him.

Gosh, I just love that. ((Hugs Aaron...)) Describe yourself using five fruits or vegetables, movies or TV shows, or a combination of both.
Nurse Jackie
From Dusk Till Dawn
The Walking Dead
Coffee and Cigarettes (minus the cigarettes)

O - kay, more verification where the GRIM idea came from. #snort You and I would so be able to watch movies together. 

Finally, what's your writing process like? 
When I first start developing a story, I put together a rough outline, usually consisting of at least the first half of the book and the ending. Then I sit down, with lots of chocolate (KitKat bars, for anyone interested ...) and coffee, and I write.

I write in order, starting from the beginning of the story and pushing through to the end. This style is sort of difficult when I hit a road block, but I can't seem to just skip a chapter or a scene, like some writers do. For some reason I feel it's necessary to pound my head against a wall for a few days to get over the block before I can continue. What can I say? I'm a glutton for punishment.

Once the story is out of my brain, I go back and revise. When it's as good as I can make it on my own, I send it off to my betas, agent, and editor. Then I sweat bullets waiting for their opinions. :-)

I can't thank you enough for joining us today, Elizabeth. It's been a pleasure. 

Elizabeth Holloway is a registered nurse living in Southern Pennsylvania with her two teen children, Bam-bam the dog, and Tinkerbell the cat. CALL ME GRIM is her first novel. She can be found 
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Alleywalkers, what's the last hellish, creepy, or scary read you've digested? None? Then share one you might want to read. I'd love to hear! 
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