From the Start…

From my own experience and from what I often hear from other writers, there’s a tete-a-tete that happens between what we want/think our stories should be, and what the story itself has in mind. Right away, when writing KILLING GAME, that became my truth. Daniel was meant to die from the outset–this much necessary point to show Desiree the severity of her situation, and the even more daunting idea of consequence–but continued to live. Dimitri came to life to force that point when the first character refused to stick to his script. So much of that happens in so many stories I hear about. These tales have a life of their own, and any good creator allows them their necessary space.

Sometimes, an idea just isn’t that great. Sometimes, the market knows best.

I purposefully wrote Rishi’s Wish sans a real love interest. Sure, it’s one of the main points that makes Urban Fantasy what it is, but I decided I didn’t want to use it. At least not right away. I wanted this clueless girl to stumble and fall and pick herself up on her own. I wanted her to figure out that playing meek and quiet wasn’t a sure path to the right thing just falling into her lap. Does she receive help along the way? Sure. Are there those who wish they were in a relationship with her? Yes, but it’s not the main focus of the story. Not even the third focus.

Even so, reader feedback showed me these love connections are so important. While I’d wanted the romance to stay periphery, comments suggest this is an impossibility. I have team-Hamal and team-Daniel conversations frequently. Readers want Dee to fall in love.

There is a quick almost-togetherness in book 1. Hamal does pine. Daniel has doubts. Pollux shows interest. Maybe I did lay the groundwork more than I meant to…

This quote from book 1 sums up what I was trying to say. Ironically, this scene got cut:

“Careful your solitude doesn’t create emotional ties that wouldn’t exist if given other circumstances.”

-Daniel to Dee, cut scene from KILLING GAME

That’s ultimately why I never tie these characters together. I was pointing out how not real, or if you don’t like that, how situational their feelings are. Hamal is the only person Dee has ever met with who she can discuss the strange things happening to her. He’s the only person she knows that can truly help her. He’s the only one who’s ever given her any information.

When Dee is further isolated, Daniel is the only one to talk to. While she never sees him as more than a friend, her uniqueness pulls Daniel towards her. Just as that same oddity pulls everyone near her close. Is she some amazing personality people can’t help but love? Gods, no. She rarely shows her personality, so busy toeing the line, hiding, afraid someone will decide to kill her. That no one knows what to make of her, that no one knows how to interpret what they think of her, these feelings are mistaken for like, lust, and in some cases, love.

Not forever though

There is a love story intertwined here, but it doesn’t start to show its face until Born To Die. Hopefully, readers won’t be too mad at me for this, after having their hopes pegged on one or another character. Dee still has a ways to go. She still has to decide which path to walk. Not until then will she be ready to sit with someone as her partner.

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Book Review: The Space Between Worlds

Book Review

The Space Between Worlds

By: Micaiah Johnson
4.5 Stars

Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.

On this dystopian Earth, however, Cara has survived. Identified as an outlier and therefore a perfect candidate for multiverse travel, Cara is plucked from the dirt of the wastelands. Now what once made her marginalized has finally become an unexpected source of power. She has a nice apartment on the lower levels of the wealthy and walled-off Wiley City. She works—and shamelessly flirts—with her enticing yet aloof handler, Dell, as the two women collect off-world data for the Eldridge Institute. She even occasionally leaves the city to visit her family in the wastes, though she struggles to feel at home in either place. So long as she can keep her head down and avoid trouble, Cara is on a sure path to citizenship and security.

But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world but the entire multiverse.

You had me at Multiverse.

This book really did have fabulous characters and a smart world. Cara was fun to follow, and even more fun to cheer on. After finishing this book, I wanted to go back in and see all I’d missed the first time through (it’s back on my TBR).

A great journey into what we think we’ll do for personal gain, then what we decide when family and our self-respect are on the line. Cara faces this, must decide to stay the course to earn her climb up the ladder, or risk it all to do what’s right.

And, multiverse… I know for me, there was nothing else to say.

Happy Reading 🙂
~CMM

Book Review: Empire of Dragons

Book Review

Empire of Dragons, Cursed Empire: Book 1

By Rachel Schade

YA fantasy, royal/guard, enemies to…, betrayed, morally grey
5 Stars

One empire. An age-old hatred. Two girls risk everything—even their souls—for their people.

Revenge failed her…

After slaying the former empress, Lo vowed to never kill again. But when her path crosses with a mysterious thief, she begins to work as a vigilante—and to develop forbidden feelings—leaving her with an impossible choice.

Revenge fuels her…

Since her mother’s death, Jalie has been a hopeless prisoner in her own palace. Until a goddess grants her a brutal gift that could be the key to her freedom…if she can get past the soldier tasked with guarding her. As tension brews between them, he challenges everything she’s ever believed about her enemies.

There are two ways to get me to read a book. Say time-travel or say dragons. I dropped my entire TBR to read this dragon book, and I was not disappointed.

There is no “good” guy in Empire of Dragons, and I love it for that. The slow burn, forbidden royal/guard subplot was perfectly crafted, and the other–well, I had all the feels for the poor sod who just couldn’t undo past decisions. At least, that’s how I looked at it. While I didn’t necessarily like Lo, I appreciated her story, and her twitchy thief was the perfect compliment to her.

Excellent world-building, with just the right amount of magic to make it fun. I appreciated the direct god-sourced power and the tease of a possible conflict between said gods that may or may not be influencing events (this is just my reading too far between lines I have no business peering at. We’ll see if I’m even close or over-examing).

The conflict is real. It’s complicated. Each character is both right, and wrong, in their view of events, and the world. Each of them is stuck in the worldview of their own personal trauma. And isn’t that true of all of us? The only way I see this working out without everyone dying is for them to swallow their pride and look at everyone with the same compassion they expect for themselves. This is why I love fantasy. Looking at real issues–real, everyday events–just with dragons.

The next book in the series is one I’m genuinely looking forward to. Luckily, I only have a few more weeks to wait. If you love fierce female characters with angsty-forbidden love undertones, dragons, and systemic conflict, pick up Rachel Schade‘s Cursed Empire series.

Happy Reading 🙂

Book Review: Prophecy, book 1 of The Canellian Eye

Book Review

Prophecy: The Canellian Eye, book 1

By: Caroline Noe
4 Stars

Destiny can be savage.

The towering monolith of Erulia’s Prophecy stood for millenia in the watery paradise of Canellia, its warning unheeded.

That time is long past.

In the wake of dying twin suns, this generation faces extinction under the onslaught of an Ice Age.

Then, in the depths of despair, a child is born, bearing a singular birthmark: the symbol of their foretold saviour, Jehul’s Eye.

In a bid to find New Canellia, the Chosen youth launch into space, following their Prophet, Quaylan.

But where is he leading them?

“Long ago, when the stars were young and everything was possible…”
This second line of the book caught me, and while I’m not sure the author meant for me to take so much out of it, I did. It encompasses both the heart-swelling hope and nostalgia we often think when looking back, but infuses the sentiment with the reality of how ridiculous that can be.

“…when everything was possible…” It’s kind of a silly idea, yes? Was the universe different, fundamentally, when it was young that made things possible then that aren’t now? An entire philosophical discourse is reflected in that half sentence. At least for me.

I feel the main characters are tasked thus so. An impossible task blended perfectly with blind faith and pure grit. A wonderful grand scheme that is as fun to read as it is real and clever.

I was especially taken with the world and people of Canellia. The perfect use and creation of, what I imagined as, an elvish origin tied into a sci-fi world that was simply fantastic. The insane travels, the hardship of the first phase of their mission that is as exciting as it is heartwrenching. All followed by the reality of frustration that blending into a new world and culture would bring, multiplied by the questions of if their god and prophet can really come through.

Science Fiction fans who want a touch of something new, read this. People who love stories that revolve around social issues, read this. Love watching the convoluted way prophecy unfolds? Read it for that too.

Also, this book is why you should have more faith in indie authors 🙂

Happy Reading 🙂
~CMM

Our Favorite Kind of Day is Here

It’s Release day! Book 4 is here. I am truly excited to have a brand new book out for you 🙂

Born To Die was a stressful task, mostly because I tasked myself too–undisciplined. I set a deadline, didn’t do any work, then insisted I keep that deadline. I very much never want to do that to myself again. While I managed it… let’s just say I’m still a little nervous that there’s something that’s lingering about the final product I’m waiting to bite me in the ass.

Without further ado, I give you:

Born To Die

Free. That’s all Dee’s wanted since the first. That, and to know.
The knowing came with a cost, but she’s paid it. Her eyes are open. She’s conquered her demons. It’s time to start a life.

Arlo’s unexpected help sets her up for just that. Out from under the influence of the Council, who’ve manipulated and managed her since the beginning, Dee thinks nothing else can stand in her way. But it’s impossible to guess all she still doesn’t know. She hasn’t thought far enough ahead. She doesn’t know she hasn’t even begun to pay.

Leaving Hamal and the others behind puts them in a scramble, forcing them to walk straight into a trap designed for Dee. A trap set by old and new enemies working together to ensure Dee is finally taken care of. These won’t stop until their goal is reached, and they’re not afraid to take the rest down while they do it.

Frantic, Dee is forced to make decisions that leave too many in danger. Every step is a step towards death. Despite her great power, she wonders if maybe she wasn’t Born To Die.

Happy Reading 🙂
~CMM