Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 December Reading List

The Patience of the Spider by Andrea Camilleri – Montalbano is getting old, and softer, and there’s a bit of metaphysics involved. What annoyed me was the lingering feeling that the story felt familiar despite knowing for sure I hadn’t read the book before. Then I figured out it must have been one of the episodes from the Italian TV series I watched a couple of years ago. I look forward to the next book in the series. 4/5 stars

Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare – Simon isn’t one of my favorite characters, though he is fun. The stories kept wandering and only occasionally remembered they were supposed to be about him. I enjoyed the last one the least and the one featuring Magnus and Alec the most. 3/5 stars

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz – Infodump galore. The plot did make sense in the weird, twisted way this series does, but the way it was delivered didn’t work for me. Not as good as the original trilogy. 3/5 stars

The Serpent by Claire North – Most books play like a movie inside my head while reading. This one played like a theater play, which I found distracting. There’s constant distance between the heroine and the reader, and it’s hard to keep track of all of the secondary characters. The intelligent plot might have saved the book if it hadn’t fizzled towards the end. Language alone can’t save it. 3/5 stars

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine – Not a subject I would normally be interested to read about, but the lady writes so well it completely captivates the reader. 4/5 stars

Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace – The story takes too long to get going, we spend too much time inside the MC’s head, which keeps us away from the outside world and makes the worldbuilding make little sense, and there are too many dream/flashback sequences that also don’t help understand things. As a whole, the story feels like a badly constructed puzzle with several important pieces missing. We never get to know the characters or care for them. The writing isn’t very engaging either so I had a hard time finishing it. A disappointing read. 2/5 stars

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho – It’s playful, but the story drags and some things come out of nowhere. The hero is supposed to be the sorcerer, but the real hero is the girl, and she’s one of those strong headed persons who would drive you mad in less than a day because of her well intended but less thought out initiatives. 3/5 stars

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 Recap

Looking back, 2015 might not have been the best year, but it was a pretty good one.


- in Romanian

5 short (longish) stories
I also translated the entire The Nightingale Circus short story collection.

- in English

4 short stories (3 of them translated from Romanian)
2 novels, one of which will be finished soon.


- in Romanian

2 short stories (reprints) included in Romanian anthologies:
·   "Dincolo de orizont. Povestiri science fiction, vol.1",
editor Michael Haulică, Millennium, November, 2015
·  "Argos Doi. Proză Science-Fiction & Fantasy",
editor Michael Haulică, MediaTech & TexaRom, May, 2015

I submitted 4 short stories to Romanian anthologies, 3 short stories to printed magazines (one of the magazines got canceled before receiving an answer), 1 short story to an online magazine. None of them are out yet, but they will be hopefully soon.

I also submitted the Romanian version of The Nightingale Circus to a publisher. I haven’t heard back from them yet. Shrug.

And I’m working on putting together a new short story collection with all the stories included in anthologies so far.

- in English

2 novels, 1 short story, and 3 other short stories/novellas in a series:
Bonds of Steel (Law and Crucible Saga #3), December, 2015
Point of Origin (Law and Crucible Saga #2), December, 2015
No Port to Land (Law and Crucible Saga #1), December, 2015
Broken Hearts (Broken People #2), September, 2015 
Breaking the Chains (The Devil You Know #1), June, 2015
The Weight of a Wing (The Stolen Wings #1), April, 2015

I have submitted 3 stories to magazines, and one of them has been already accepted.
Europa SF anthology is still in the works, but the project has advanced so it looks promising.


There was one time when I thought I really made my breakthrough when The Weight of the Wing was selling like crazy in June and July, but then the sales dropped back to normal in August so I guess I’m not there yet. It’s a little frustrating because the feedback is good. They’re just not selling as well as they could.


According to Goodreads, I read 103 books this year. Only 7 were in Romanian, and the rest were read on Kindle. I’m still longing to get a new one, but so far no luck. Best reads were Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkossigan saga, V. E. Schwab’s Vicious, and Genevieve Valentine’s The Girls at the Kingfisher Club.
You can check my year in books here.


After the health issues in the spring, I cut back on work and formatting got the burn of it, but feeling less stressed is more important than money.


We still have three cats left after our neighbor’s dog killed Foxy over the summer. :(( Mamma cat is acting weird as usual, now that it got cold she's staying at home, but all summer was out and pretended she didn’t know us. Monsy put on weight because he’s missing little brother who is away. And Moti, our visually impaired cat who no one thought would live this long, is doing just fine.


We spent a nice week in Vienna. Unfortunately, it was the only cold week the entire summer.


One week spent with IVs in the spring, but less colds than usual, and less reflux episodes in the fall, yay. The insomnia is starting to become a problem, though.

So 2015 wasn’t bad. What I want for next year, aside from the usual health, happiness, joy and luck for me and my own, is a 10-day vacation somewhere hot with no stairs, and 4 book launches. It’s not a lot to ask, is it? I’ll keep you updated with the progress. See you next year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

$0.99 Holiday Book Sale!

Holiday Book Sale

10 titles, novels, novellas, and short stories

Apocalypse - Human Instincts

Shapeshifters - Blue Moon Cafe Series: Where Shifters Meet for Drinks

Vampires - The Impaler's Revenge

Circus - The Nightingale Circus

Prosthetics - Broken People

Angels - Breaking the Chains

Fairies - The Weight of a Wing

Plague - No Port to Land

Spaceships - Point of Origin

Robots - Bonds of Steel

$0.99 each

(December 26 - January 3) 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
Best Wishes for 2016! 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Self-Publishing in 2015

I started my 2014 post saying it was my third year, but 2012 doesn’t really count because it was only half and I had no idea what I was doing. So let’s say 2015 was actually my third full year in the business. I had 4 book releases this year. Each went somewhat differently so we’ll discuss them separately to see what I learned.

First, there was The Weight of a Wing, the first book in a new urban fantasy series, The Stolen Wings, released in April. I had a virtual book tour shortly after the release. I’m still on the fence on the matter of how much these tours help or are worth the effort. I guess it depends on whether you find the right audience, and it’s often hard to tell if you did. Anyway, the sales slowly peaked up. The book is also included in the Kindle Unlimited program, and the borrows really took off in June and July. Those were my best months so far. 

It’s funny because I had this book for about four years and the time never felt right to publish it. Then I tossed out into the world just to have a new release that spring, and technically, it became my best selling title. The KU borrows dropped to close to nothing in the fall, so I’m not impressed with KU at the moment, but I’ll keep this series enrolled until the whole trilogy is out. This was my second book that also had a printed edition, and when I did that, I released printed editions for all my other available titles as well.

The second release was Breaking the Chains, the first short story in The Devil You Know paranormal series. This story was initially written in English and published on my blog then the Romanian version was included in my debut short story collection “Efectul de nautil” in 2013. So it was sort of ‘tested’ before being published in English. I can’t say it did well, but I wasn’t expecting that. People tend to find $0.99 short stories too expensive. The plan was to write the second story in the series this year, if not also publish it, but I didn’t have time to do it. I could have, there’s always dead time while writing, but I lacked the enticement mostly because these are only prequels and only the third book in the series, a longer novella, will be the real story.

Third came Broken Hearts, the second novel in the Broken People series, in September. This story is close to my heart as it happens to be my favorite series. Just because the first book was enrolled in KU, I also enrolled Broken Hearts for the first three months. A big waste of time for both books, I won’t make the same mistake with the third. I did, however, run the Kindle Countdown Deals for it, and since I also had the other two titles in the series discounted to $0.99, I did make a few full series sales during that time. I can’t wait for the third novel to be released, but I have to write it first. Until then, there will be a connecting story out. More on this another time. For now, I’m serializing Broken People on Wattpad, and you can get The Nightingale Circus for free from NoiseTrade.

The fourth release was Law and Crucible Saga, all first three installments in the space opera series, No Port to Land, Point of Origin, and Bonds of Steel. I’ve been waiting for a long time to start writing it, and it finally happened. There will be more stories in this series coming next year. I’m having so much fun writing them. They’ve barely been released last week so it’s too soon to tell, but for now they’re selling and there’s also some activity on KU, which is nice to see for a change.

This is all as far as new releases go. Next stop, marketing. I used paid advertising with The Fussy Librarian twice. Once was for The Nightingale Circus, and while it did bring more sales than usual, it didn’t cover the expenses. The other time, Amazon was late with dropping the price for The Weight of a Wing so it was a bust. Bottom of line, I don’t feel like I’m ready to invest in paid advertising at this point.

Which leaves us with free advertising, including several options:
- Thunderclap and Headtalker campaigns – good for spreading the word about new releases and other big events; the trick is to start them several weeks in advance to gather the necessary number of supporters.
- same goes for Goodreads events; not so sure about Facebook events as I never had much luck with them, but I guess you need to be more active on FB to make them work.
- ebook giveaways on BookLikes and Librarything – in hope some of the winners will review the books.
- printed copy giveaways on Goodreads, which also allows people to add the books to their to read shelf – I used it for my Romanian books and it worked fine; I can’t really use it for English books because the shipping costs too much.
- Twitter – you’ll get retweets, sometimes a lot, but I still have to see proof that they lead to sales.
- Facebook book groups – good for free books, big discounts, and possibly Kindle Unlimited books, but not so useful for full price books; FB has changed the rules for posting in groups so if you post the same ad in several groups at once you risk getting banned from posting for a while; it needs to be done with great care, but it’s doable.
- excerpts posted on popular sited like Wattpad and Readwave – my Readwave account has reached over 90,000 views with the site being down way too often; no idea how that happened.
- Animoto for book trailers – the theme selection is limited, but maybe you can find one that fits your book; still not a big fan of book trailers.
- pre-orders on Amazon, Smashwords, etc. – the only advantage I see is getting the links to the books early; if you don’t have a big following, people will think twice before buying something they don’t get right away.
- Amazon KDP Select – good for the free days if it’s the first book in a series or a standalone, but only done once; for the rest, use Kindle Countdown Deals.
- Kindle Unlimited – it kind of comes as a package deal with KDP Select; you might have the surprise to get more money from KU than from actual sales, but I guess it depends on the book and possibly genre.
- free review copies –  Smashwords coupons work nicely; careful with that, people might accept the book because it’s free and then complain if the story isn’t what they expected or they’re not comfortable with the genre.
- newsletter – the trick is to convince people to sign up; I’m still working on that.

Other things worth mentioning, The Impaler Legacy Omnibus participated in Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. Unfortunately, the blogger it was assigned to didn’t care for vampires so the book didn’t make it to round two. On the bright side, Mark Lawrence critiqued the first page of one of my future novels, yay!

In conclusion, I should probably write erotica or at least romance to make a nice living. The problem  is writing in both genres bores me to death, been there done that, so you’re stuck with sci fi and fantasy, I’m afraid. I should also probably stick to one genre alone instead of writing all over the place, but again, I get bored if I do that, so no. The good news is the sales and income tripled compared to last year as opposed to only doubling in 2014. The even better news is the reviews, while still scarce, are mostly positive. So I guess I’m getting somewhere, or at least closer to that point.

The slightly concerning part is I’m developing a hoarding problem when it  comes to cover art for books I won’t have time to write for 2 or 3 years. I already have 10 covers all done and paid for. *facepalm* Those are books I definitely have to write!

For next year, the plan is to release the second book in The Stolen Wings series, a scifi standalone novel, the third book in Broken People series plus a short story, and 3 or 4 new Law and Crucible Saga installments. I don’t know if there is time for anything else, but we’ll see.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Release: Law and Crucible Saga

I had been toying with the idea of writing an old-fashion space opera for a couple of years, but other projects kept getting in the way. So when The Romanian Science Fiction and Fantasy Society opened the submissions for a space opera anthology, I was torn. I wanted to write for it, but my initial idea would never fit the length requirements.

After spending my summer vacation thinking about various ideas, by fall, I had a clear plot in my mind, ready to write. I was in the middle of the story when I realized I could tie it in with my Law and Crucible saga, and those rescued people weren’t just any space crew, but they were Law’s crew. And this is how the saga began with a prequel, No Port to Land

I’ve been living with this story in my head since the beginning of my self-publishing journey back in 2012. The plan was to release a post-apocalyptic novella, a shapeshifter short story collection, a vampire novella, and then the piece of resistance, a space opera series. Meanwhile, the vampire novella turned into a series that is completed now (The Impaler Legacy), and two other series, a sci-fi one (Broken People) and a fantasy one (The Stolen Wings), were started.

Finally, it was time for the space opera saga to begin. Point of Origin was the initial idea with Law and his asteroid, and I must confess after waiting for so long, writing it was uneventful because I already knew everything that was going to happen in the story.

Bonds of Steel is another story that wasn’t initially included in the main Law and Crucible story arc. If you check my writer resume, you’ll see I often write for Romanian sci-fi and fantasy anthologies, and it just happened one of this year’s themes involved robots. I groaned a little when I first saw the announcement because I was already juggling three series at the time and I had no time for something completely different. Then it came to me. I already had two robots, Del and Vee. Why not write a story from their point of view, showing their allegiances and the way their minds work? Sienna’s rescue would have to wait a little longer, but even that worked for the main plot just fine.

So, yes, there will be more novellas and short stories in this series. I already have the cover art for the next three installments so no worries, more is coming next year. Until then, the first three installments are available on Amazon for $0.99 and free with Kindle Unlimited, so get the books here, add them to your to read list on Goodreads here, and don't forget to leave a review once you read them.

I hope you'll have just as much fun reading this series as I did while writing it!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Law and Crucible Saga Book Trailer

The first three installments in Law and Crucible Saga, No Port to Land, Point of Origin, and Bonds of Steel, are available for pre-order on Amazon for only $0.99 each.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Teaser Tuesday: Point of Origin Excerpt

As usual, the excerpt is also available on ReadWave and Wattpad, but just in case the links don't work for some reason, I'll post it here as well.

You had an excerpt of No Port to Land, the first installment in the Law and Crucible Saga here, and now it's time for a taste of the second installment, Point of Origin. The rest is available on Amazon, for pre-order until December 15 and to buy after that. Enjoy!


Point of Origin


The nurse helped Thea settle in bed for the night. The sheets scratched her skin like sand paper and the saggy mattress did no favors to her spine, but at least she could breathe easier. Sitting up in this gravity took all the strength she had left, sometimes up to the point of making it hard to think. With most distractions gone and her mind left to wander, it was worse in some ways.

She thought about the dead end her life had become, how close she’d come to solving one of the biggest mystery in the known universe, and how naïve she’d been thinking people would have liked to know the truth. Mostly she resented not knowing if she was right. She’d tried solving the equation in her head during the many sleepless nights, but without writing down the steps, she lost track of the calculations after a couple of hours. And she couldn’t write any of it down or talk to anyone. It was too dangerous.

Thea sighed and shifted in bed, wincing when one of the bedsores split on her back. She was fed up with feeling weak, and she hated feeling sorry for herself. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much she could do other than wait. She’d sent the coded message in hopes someone would pick it up and track her down. Six months had passed since they had extracted her from the emergency shuttle, found her body damaged and brought her to the asylum. If it took much longer, she’d be past the recovery point. Everything would be lost. It would be such a shame as she was still young and should have had a full life ahead of her.

If only she could sleep. But if she did, the nightmare would come, the same nightmare she’d had for the past six months. It started with her on board the ship and her colleagues dying. In reality, things had happened at a much slower speed, she’d left before she saw it happen, but they always seemed to skip paces in her dreams, making the deaths more horrifying. Then came the crawling on the endless corridors, struggling to find a way out while her limbs became weaker and weaker. The solution was a no brainer. The ship was compromised and she needed to leave it if she wanted to have the slightest chance of survival. Finding the emergency shuttle and figuring out how to use it had nearly killed her, but slipping into the stasis capsule while not knowing when someone would come for her, if they ever did, had been worse.

Still, against all odds, she had made it this far. How much longer?

Dawn caught Thea staring at the ceiling. There was nothing else to see outside the window other than the gray sky. Little by little, the asylum came to life. She had made it through another night. She should have been relieved, but the various aches made it difficult to care.

And then the nurse came into her room with the dreaded announcement:

“You have a visitor.”


Law ignored the benches and chairs that bordered the asylum yard. All that concrete failed to feel welcoming. Not a spot of green in sight. No wonder the patients didn’t get any better. He could barely breathe in the tight confinement of the high fences, and he was healthy as far as he knew.

A male nurse pushed a wheelchair out through the terrace door. He set the wheelchair by the table and put on the brakes. “Here you go, sweetheart. The fresh air will do you good.” He looked up at Law. “Don’t get mad at her if she doesn’t answer. She’s nearly catatonic.”

“This will be fine, thank you,” Law said, his voice cold and dismissive. She deserved better treatment. Anyone deserved better treatment than that.

The male nurse retreated, leaving him alone with the patient. He’d asked for privacy and he got it. The terrace door remained open though, and the shadows in the hallway told him someone was watching.

The woman in the wheelchair didn’t move. With her elbows propped on the armrests, all her focus seemed to go into keeping herself upright. Her records claimed she was a few years younger than him, but with the dark shadows under her eyes and the gaunt cheeks, it was hard to tell. Black hair fell limply down both sides of her face, probably pretty when washed and styled as it still held some waves where it settled on her chest.

“I’m Captain Law. My ship is waiting in the spaceport,” Law said. “I have a business proposal for you.”

From the pale face, black eyes peered at him.

“My crew and I are planning to haul a whole bunch of ore from an asteroid two systems away. We need a specialist on our team to get the gig. Old regulations and such, but they’re not going to change them for just one trip.”

She arched an eyebrow. Good. She was interested. They were making progress.

“Yes, a geologist would be better, but an astrophysicist will do, too.”

A gleam of irony flashed in her eyes. He’d had to say it to see if she were a good fit for his crew. They were going to be stuck together for a long time.

“I basically only need your accreditations,” he said. “We’ll do all the heavy lifting so you won’t have to move a finger, but the local authorities insist you be physically present so…” Law shrugged. He hadn’t lied so far.

She moved one finger. Such a tiny gesture but so full of meaning. He liked that about her. She was supposed to be smart given her line of work, but it pleased him to discover her brain hadn’t succumbed to the affliction plaguing her. He’d been counting on that.

“Right. Well, I’m afraid we don’t have a doctor on board at the moment, but our medbay is well stocked to keep you comfortable. And…” He paused for effect as if he was really trying to sell her the job. “I’m willing to fly at zero g all the way there. The crew won’t like it, but it’s cheaper than hiring a nurse.” Another shrug.

Something like a chuckle left her lips, and Law allowed himself a little smile.

“It will be like heaven after the gravity crushing you here.” He was tempting her and felt no shame for it. He needed her on the ship, and this wasn’t an offer she could refuse. It was her only ticket out of this damned system. “If there are any problems, our communication officer, who is also a woman, can help.” Mia would strangle him for volunteering her services without asking her first, but he had a feeling the woman sitting in front of him was less weak than she appeared and it wouldn’t come to that.

Come to think of it, he’d been an ass for delivering his pitch standing up and forcing her to crane her neck to look at him. Law pulled a chair and sat down, which brought him closer to her eye level. The arch of her neck changed accordingly. Wonderful.

“So, what do you think?” he asked. “Interested?”

She didn’t answer right away, and when she did, her voice came out raspy as if she hadn’t used it in a while. “What’s in it for me?”

“Half a share of the profit after we restock the fuel.” Law raised a hand. “Only the permanent personnel gets a full share.”

Since she still didn’t answer, he added, “You can use it for nerve replacement therapy.”

A low blow to remind her what was at stake, her survival. Law wasn’t a cruel man, but sometimes a statement needed to be made. She needed to know who was in charge. “I’ll need an answer soon. We’re taking off at noon.”

He stared at her, armed with all the patience in the world, and just when he was thinking she might have exhausted her word quota for the day, the whisper came.


Law leaned over the table and reached for her hand. He held it with the same patience until her cold, stiff fingers closed around his. “There. We have a deal.” He smiled and released her hand. “We’ll come to pick you up in the morning. We’ll deal with the formalities tomorrow.”

He got up, nodded and was on his way. It was only when he reached the metal gate he made the mistake of looking back over his shoulder. Her intense stare cut him to the bone and all the way back to the ship, he had the acute feeling he’d been had.


Thea ran her fingers through her short hair. It had taken her only forty minutes to cut it, and the hair had dried before she finished so she hadn’t had time to style it other than comb it back, but it was done. She would have finished sooner if she hadn’t already been exhausted after washing up and slipping into the standard-issued overalls the crew wore. Despite the fatigue that made her limbs heavy and clumsy, she felt better and was happy to discover she hadn’t completely lost her fine motric skills. Still, cutting her hair at zero g had been more than a little challenging.

Law and a big, blond guy called Eradiez had come to pick her up from the asylum in the morning, wheelchair and all. After signing triple release forms, they had taken her to the ship where it became clear it hadn’t been built with the use of disabled passengers in mind. Her wheelchair became useless as soon as they entered the hatch. So they picked her up and carried her to her designated cabin, strapped her to the couch then they forgot about her, which she was grateful for because they didn’t get to hear her groans and whimpers during the brutal take off. Their pilot was a murderer.

Once enough time had passed for the various new aches to decrease and the nausea to settle down, the pangs of hunger drew Thea out of her cabin. She hadn’t eaten anything all day, and it became more apparent no one was going to play room service for her. Figuring out how to float from handle to handle took a little more coordination than she had at the moment, but it wasn’t impossible. She could do this, though she didn’t see why they wouldn’t put her in a stasis capsule for the duration of the flight. It would certainly be easier for everyone, and they wouldn’t have to worry about her. Assuming they did.

The deserted corridors suggested at least part of the crew had to be in stasis, which wasn’t unusual for the long hauls. Perfect. No one to laugh at her feeble attempts to move without bumping into walls. Finding a rhythm was the key, so she focused on that while looking for a way to the mess hall. At least there were no steps to climb.

Down the third corridor, a woman walked out of a door. Dark brown, short curls floated gently around her tanned face as she turned. “Good. You’re up.” The cold greeting was accompanied by a not entirely dismissive up and down look. “I’m Mia Torres, communication officer. Come in.” She nodded back to the door she’d come out of. “Law wants you in the medbay.”

Without another word, she stalked back, leaving Thea to follow at her own pace.

Thea looked mournfully at the woman’s straight posture and the traction boots that kept her feet connected to the floor. She’d tried the pair found in her room, but the magnetic field was too strong for her to use them successfully and she’d failed to find a way to adjust the field. Maybe one of them could help her with that.

“Sit over there.” Mia pointed at the consultation table. “I’ll do a brief evaluation. It won’t take long.” She pressed a series of buttons on a screen.

With some maneuvering, Thea managed to set herself down on the table and strap her waist in. Several sensors surrounded her and moved around her, beeping faintly. One dared to prick her skin, and Thea winced, taken by surprise.

“I’m not a doctor, but it doesn’t require a degree to check the readings,” Mia said, her hazel eyes glued to the screens. “We have a pretty good medbay here.”

Law had said they did. Thea nodded as the equipment in the room was more advanced than anything she’d seen at the asylum. But then again, one couldn’t compare a private ship to an institution funded by the state that admitted only people who had nowhere else to go. “Do you get to use it often?”

“You have no idea.” A smile threatened to crack Mia’s lips, but a frown quickly replaced it as the results came in. “Your nervous system degeneration is up to 35%. That’s not too bad after six months. It was only 25% at the first evaluation mentioned in your file. It means it’s not aggressive so there’s still time.” Meaning you can do the job here and then get the proper treatment.

Thea forced her jaw to unclench at the time mention. Both Mia and Law talked so carelessly about nerve replacement therapy when that was one thing she couldn’t do even if she were in a system that did such things and she had the funds for it. Luckily, there were other alternative treatments, less invasive, that could keep the degeneration under control. They wouldn’t fix her, but they would slow down the process and perhaps even stop it for a while. It would have to do.

“Your muscle mass is in a much worse state,” Mia said, “but six months in bed would do that to you. We can help with that.” She pursed her lips. “I don’t see anything else that requires immediate attention.” She almost smiled again, probably at the thought she wouldn’t have to babysit her charge too long.

Thea didn’t understand what she’d done to make Mia resent her already, but life was too short to worry about such trivial issues. It wasn’t like they were friends.

“Now, I need your permission to give you these.” Mia came by her side, holding a tray with three syringes lying on it. “This—” she picked up the biggest one, “—is a standard immunization cocktail that should protect you against most things we might come upon out there. Your last immunization was done over a year ago and it didn’t cover everything so it was just about time to do it again. It also includes immunization against a nasty plague part of the crew came in contact with a while back. They’ve all been cleared since, but we don’t want to take any chances.”

Thea nodded, wary of the mention of “things they might come upon.” She’d thought she wouldn’t have to leave the ship for this job, but they could just as well bring something in…

“This one—” Mia held up the medium-size syringe, “—contains steroids for the muscles, and something that might or might not work on your nervous system, but it can’t hurt to try.” She paused and didn’t touch the smallest syringe. “This is a long term contraceptive. Its action can be reversed at any time and there are no lasting effects. Law is adamant for all of us to take it. He claims the ship is too small for kids and the drama that comes with them.” Her voice turned wistful then she shook her head. “Anyway, it’s safer than anything else I’m giving you, but if your religion forbids it or whatever other reasons you might have, you should talk it up with Law. Fair warning though, it won’t be a nice chat.”

She didn’t want a confrontation with the captain so soon into the trip. “No, that’s fine.” She rolled up her sleeve and held out her arm.

“In case you’re wondering, relations aren’t prohibited between the crew members.” Mia swabbed her skin. “But Merrick is mine. And you better talk to Sienna first before approaching Eradiez if you want to keep any of your hair. As for Law … good luck with that!” Her laughter carried a hint of malice.

Sex was the last thing on Thea’s mind despite the boredom of the past few months, but the last remark intrigued her. “You don’t like Law?”

“Of course, I like him. I wouldn’t work with him otherwise.” With him, not for him. “He’s … different. He asks a lot and gives everything in return. Such dedication is compelling, and people usually deliver. It’s why we work so well as a team. But getting involved with him? I can’t imagine doing it without getting consumed in the process.” She picked up the first syringe, shaking her head.

Each shot stung worse than the last, but they were nothing compared to the pins and needles shooting up and down her limbs when she maintained one position for too long.

“All done.” Mia swabbed her arm until no blood came out. “I’ll take you to Law, and then you’re free of me.” This time, she did smile.

So she hated her. Oh, well. Thea released the straps and jumped off the table. Or at least, she tried. The zero g pushed her up, she lost her balance, and she hit her shin against the corner of the table. Cursing under her breath, she flapped her arms and followed Mia out of the medbay. Her legs might be useless, but she was getting a good workout for her upper body.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Broken People Series Cyber Monday Sale & Kindle Countdown Deals

Broken People series is on sale!

On Monday, November 30, you can get all three books in Broken People series,

The Nightingale Circus

Broken People

Broken Hearts

for only $0.99 each on Amazon.

Wait, there's more! After Monday is over,

The Nightingale Circus will stay $0.99 until Sunday

Broken People will stay $0.99 until December 20

Broken Hearts is in the Kindle Countdown Deals program so check it out to see what the price is all through the week until Sunday when the price goes back to $3.99. It's also available for free with Kindle Unlimited until December 20.

Don't miss this rare occasion to get the three books in the Broken People series for only $0.99 each!

And please help spread the word.


2015 November Reading List

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – This book capitalizes on negative emotions like constant fear and pain. Think The Hunger Games with a little more class, except the heroine is a frightened little girl who never heard of “Girl Power”. I felt no connection to the characters, and the world building while complicated didn’t necessarily make sense. If you’re into violent stuff, better read Red Rising instead. Violence, when written by a guy, hurts less. Further more, the present tense grated on my nerves, too many questions are left unanswered and the books stops in the middle of the action. I checked my copy and there’s no mention of it being part of a series so that was quite a disappointment.  2/5 stars

A Thousand Nights by E. K. Johnston – I got fooled by the cover again. The narrator’s voice didn’t work for me, the story dragged, and the flashbacks and dreams were distracting. But at least it was short. 2/5 stars

Winter by Merissa Meyer – I was prepared to complain about the book being too big when I first opened it, but as there are 4 couples and the main war plot to be solved, it didn’t seem too big in the end. While I still found the combat scenes utterly boring, everything else was wrapped nicely and we got a well-deserved HEA. 4/5 stars

Soundless by Richelle Mead – Rather slow with a lot of telling and it failed to engage my interest, which I found surprising as none of the other of Mead’s books had that effect on me before. And what’s with this YA trend to portray all adults as idiots? 3/5 start

The Clockwork Dagger by Beth Cato – I don’t feel compelled to continue with this series. The romance is mushy, and I didn’t particularly like the heroine and her obsession with the Lady. Whatever god asks for your blood in exchange of favors doesn’t deserve praying to. 3/5 start

Valor’s Choice by Tanya Huff – I’m not much into military sci fi, but I quite enjoyed this one. I especially liked to find intelligent characters in it. And the aliens’ hair rocked, hehe! 4/5 stars

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Breaking the Chains is Free on Amazon

Breaking the Chains is FREE on Nov 25-29 on Amazon.

Angels, demons, and doom. Get it now!

If you read it, please leave a review. It's a short story. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

In which my writing gets critiqued by none other than Mark Lawrence

I don't make a habit out of searching for my name on Facebook, but something made me do it this time, and it's a good thing I did. I would have missed it for another day or so otherwise.

In case you don't know it, in the beginning of November, Mark Lawrence, the author of The Broken Empire and The Red Queen's War trilogies, offered to critique the first page of fantasy novels on his blog, provided writers were brave enough to send them to him.

Now, I do happen to have a fantasy book in the works, but it's the second book in the series, and he specifically said no to that. It wouldn't have worked, not to mention it's an urban fantasy with fairies, so not what he writes. I flirted with the idea of sending him something, but I didn't have anything else written since I tend to work on one project at a time. I told myself I didn't have time for this and chances were slim for him to pick exactly my page to critique out of the +100 pages received. Then last week, before starting on the daily word quota, I opened a blank document and started typing because, you see, on my upcoming work list, there is an epic fantasy novel idea I'm very fond of (not only an idea, about 60% of the plot is already sketched in my plot files) and that will get written hopefully soon.

Since I knew how the novel would start as I usually do, writing 500 words was easy. The difficult part was cutting the excess words and cramming in all the info I wanted to transmit. In the final draft, this opening will be slightly changed and extended to add a few introspective thoughts and set the context, but no more than 100 words or so. I had someone proofread the text (more on this later lol) since Mark's following is way bigger than mine and the text had the potential to be read by plenty of strangers, and then I sent it, not holding my breath for an answer.

I only discovered the critique now, after a random FB search. It started off well, with me laughing out loud at a comment made by Mark regarding a typo that both I and my proofreader missed. This is the best way to start reading a critique. After this, nothing could ruin my mood.

As far as the critique goes, he does have several good points, some things I missed, some I had a feeling they didn't sound right but left them the way they were anyway as I would have needed a longer break and then look at the text with fresh eyes to fix them. It's a well-rounded critique, milder than a lot of the stuff I received on Critique Circle when I had two novels critiqued there, and I found every single line useful. I'm sure his comments will be helpful when I get to write the next draft. 

Plus, I'm not at all against being compared to Diana Wynne Jones. :) I was a little surprised to see his readers express their willingness to read more since the story starts on the light side, so different from Mark's works, but their instincts weren't wrong. While the story starts light, it will get serious soon and even dark in places. My writing is lighter in general, but despite me not being a big horror fan, my readers know I slip into gore a couple of scenes per book more often than not.

The first page of The Hollow Mage and the critique can be read on Mark's blog. I don't know when I'll get to write this novel. First, I need to finish The Strength of a Heart (urban fantasy, so if you came here from Mark's blog, it's probably not for you :P). Next year, I also have to write the last book in Broken People series (do give it a try even if it's not your favorite genre, I'm awfully proud of it :) ), but in between these two, I can squeeze something else. The Hollow Mage, a sci-fi (short) novel, and a YA/NA fantasy novel are in the running for that spot. They're all three on the upcoming writing list, only the order isn't decided yet. Oh, and the cover art for The Hollow Mage is my favorite so far. :)

Thank you, Mark, for taking the time to critique my page! Not only you helped improve my story, but you also made my day. And I promise you there are no vampires in this book. One vampire series was enough for me. :)