The Angel of Elydria has been released!

Today my debut novel “The Angel of Elydria” is finally out!

This journey began over six years ago when I began writing “The Dawn Mirror Chronicles” my steampunk-fantasy adventure series.

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Have you ever wondered what it would be like to control dreams? To pillage memories and see into the past? This is exactly the power that my protagonist Penny unlocks in the first book.

Behind the gaslights and glittering façade of Earth’s sister world, a crisis is at hand. The Angel who created Elydria has vanished, and with him went the magic that powered their world. Without their primary source of energy and their god, the days grow ever darker. And somewhere out there in the growing turmoil, Penelope Fairfax is lost. This is a world where dragons wear frock coats and goblins hold raucous carnival. A world where magic is a substance and the gifted few can mold it to their whim.

Penny is a stranger in this world. Just days ago she was attending class at her Oregon college. Everything changed when she discovered the truth about her English teacher. Not only is he the sole-survivor of a race of enchanters, but when his spell backfires, he lands them trapped in Elydria. While navigating this new land in search of a way home, a past full of dark memories and death catches up with Penny.

She is revived from the edge of peril, only to find that she has gained the power to manipulate the dreams of others. This enables her to unlock hidden secrets from the past, as well as create vivid illusions.

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However, this new gift comes with a cost. Her dreams are haunted by a malicious specter with an iron funeral mask for a face. Now Penny must escape its wicked intentions for her, solve the mystery that is bringing havoc to the world of Elydria, and get home without meeting death for a second time.

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Please take a look at this labor of love I’ve been working on for more than half a decade. It’s available in ebook and trade softcover today!

 

I hope this tale enchants you and sweeps you away!

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Santa Clarita Local Author Event – Katie Jennings and A. R. Meyering

Attention all Santa Clarita and L.A. book lovers! Join A.R. Meyering and I for a book event on Saturday, September 13th at The Open Book in the Valencia Town Center! We will be celebrating the re-release of Meyering’s steampunk fantasy The Angel of Elydria and my romantic family saga When Empires Fall.

There will a book signing, free cheesecake and tea for guests, and a raffle for a gift basket of prizes like a Kindle, books, tea, and more!

The event runs from 6pm-8pm and is located inside The Open Book bookstore, located at 24250 Town Center Dr Suite 190, Valencia, California 91355.

Everyone is welcome! Can’t wait to see you all there! 🙂

Five Relationships Every Writer has with Their Characters

As a writer, your characters are everything to you. They are the key ingredients in any tale and they are the ones who bring your story to the world on your behalf. You spend countless hours developing their personalities, giving them complex histories, and breathing life into them.

Because of this, it’s only natural that you grow attached to your characters. Goodness knows you’ve spent enough time with them! When you send them out into the world to be published, you can’t help but feel like a parent saying goodbye to your child on the first day of kindergarten. Will they do well out there? What if they need you for something? What if the other kids are mean to them??

 

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Stranger than Fiction

 

It’s plain to see that our characters are more than just words on a page to us. We form bonds with them. Unique, complicated, unbreakable bonds. And while there are innumerable ways you can be affected by your imaginary friends, here are five relationships every writer is certain to have with their characters…

1. You think of them as your friends
Wherever you go, they’re with you. You have long, silent conversations with them, they keep you company while you have coffee alone, or accompany you on afternoon walks. When you start to write, suddenly you feel as if you’re surrounded by familiar faces. They’re sitting right there beside you. Or maybe even begging you not to do that terrible thing you have planned for chapter 23.

You laugh to think how they would react to things. You know them on the same level of intimacy as you do close friends. There are no secrets between you. They are sources of joy, amusement, and conversation. And sometimes, they can even bring you comfort and inspiration in difficult times. At any rate, you’ve grown to rely on these invisible people and to regard them as companions.

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Art by Cartoongirl17

 

2. You think of yourself as their god
Inside every writer is a control freak. It could be buried deep or brashly running the show, but it is part of what makes us write. It is connected with that need to arrange every single detail and action in the world around you. Your characters are subject to this tendency more than anyone, as they are forced to act upon your every whim. From time to time, it’s hard not to think of yourself as the god of your inner world while you move your characters toward their predetermined destinies. You did create them, after all.

You could be a cruel deity, putting them through innumerable torments for the purpose of ‘character development.’ Or you might be a loving motherly one who adores your creations like children. Or you might fall somewhere in between.

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Art by Koloromuj

 

3. You live vicariously through them
A large part of many stories rise from the desire to see our wishes and fantasies fulfilled. Daring adventures, passionate romances, and amazing abilities are all things we yearn for, but they may be impossible to experience in real life. However, with only a blank sheet of paper, you can live out every last one of your desires through your character’s eyes. They become an important link between you and everything you’ve always wanted to do, see, or accomplish.

That guy you’ve always wanted to chew out in real life for being such a jerk? You can’t explode at him without some backlash. However, your characters can verbally tear the literary version of him to pieces with no consequences. Becoming an astronaut and blasting into space is an extremely difficult thing to do, but writing about being an astronaut is a lot easier. Superpowers, unimaginable wealth, and and journeys to fantastical realms are all possible for them, and it can satisfy your longing to write about them living your dreams. Through your characters, you can accomplish and experience anything. You are only limited by your imagination.

 

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Art by Raiyneofgailin

 

4. You kinda maybe sorta have a crush on them
Okay, nobody’s proud of it. But you can’t deny it, either. You most likely created your romantic lead with your dream lover in mind, or at least with some very alluring aspects. As you continue to write and the character becomes even more real, the plot of their love story thickens, and before you know it you begin to develop feelings for them. Your heart aches when they go through pain, they’re always on your mind, and you catch yourself thinking “why can’t my dates be more like them?” But it’s not your fault! You wrote them to be attractive!

Suddenly, it’s too late to stop it. You’ve got a crush on them! But, you know, that’s actually a good thing. Your romance scenes will be even more powerfully charged, because you’re not only invested as a writer, you’re invested on a deep emotional level as well.

 

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5. You let go of your pain through their stories

Into every life a little rain must fall. Perhaps you’ve had a drizzle. Or maybe you’ve suffered a torrential downpour. At any rate, you’ve probably collected a number of emotional scars just by virtue of being a person this long. Since writers are often very sensitive, emotional people, these wounds can run deep. Sometimes it can feel like you’ll carry this pain forever. But this is where your characters can come in to lend a hand again.

Channel your anger into your villain’s hatred to make it real. Use the anxiety and frustration of going through a difficult financial time to fuel your hero’s struggle. That heartbreak you can’t seem to forget can become a beautiful story, and guiding your protagonist through the storm and seeing them come out a better person will make you stronger too. They will carry this weight for you. That’s part of their job. Observing your personal hurts through your character’s story and seeing them come out of it alive is one of the most powerful forms of therapy I can think of.

 

No matter what way you look at it or how you try to avoid it, characters are an extension of our personalities and personal experiences, distilled into a whole new entity. They are fragments of ourselves, shaped and sculpted into life-like personas we and our readers come to know and love. And as they come to life on the page, it’s inevitable that they will do the same thing inside your heart.

So rejoice, writer! Cherish these friendships. The love you put into them is as real as anything else.

 

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Art by Abraham Cruz

 

 

All About Revenants

So as I mentioned briefly before, I finished writing “The Resurrectionist,” my novel set in late 19th century Edinburgh about a surgeon who gets cursed by the son of murderer William Hare.

I feel an enormous weight off my shoulders being able to lay this book down for now and I’m very excited that I’ll be getting to share some stuff about it before it’s publication…which I’m hoping will happen in early 2016 if the publication of all other 5 novels goes as quickly as I anticipate it will.

But anyway, I wanted to talk a little bit about the particular type of monster that is one of this focuses of this novel: revenants. As you might not know, I’m a folklore and monster nut. I even took a college course at UCSB that was entirely about monsters in literature, so getting to write about something as creepy as revenants, and also putting my own spin on them was extremely pleasurable for me!

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So what in the world is a revenant?

A revenant is a particularly interesting type of specter, one that is often ignored in popular culture, but is quite a terrifying concept! In very short terms, they are kind of a hybrid between a zombie and a ghost that has returned from death, generally to seek some sort of vengeance. But there’s a lot more to unpack surrounding their history.

The name itself comes from latin, reveniens, meaning ‘to return.’ This creature is Britannic in its origin, but shares many, many similarities with zombies, ghosts, ghouls, vampires, and other undead monsters that spread internationally.

“The Encyclopedia of Things that Never Were” describes the revenant as “restless ghosts who return eternally to the scenes of deadly crimes, of which they were either the victims or the perpetrators. The victims return to constantly bewail their untimely fates; the perpetrators because their bloody deeds deny them eternal rest.”

They differ from the zombie, however, in that stories involving revenants are of a much more personal nature. They’ve risen not in a blind state of rage or hunger, attacking anyone at will, but they come back to exact revenge, often times on people who they know–mostly people who have wronged them. They also differ from the vampire in many ways: they are not known to feed on the living, but rather exist to terrorize or harm someone.

In Anne Rice’s, “Interview with the Vampire,” revenants are mentioned as a type of creature that is more like a zombie, though likewise vampiric in nature. They are of similar origins to the race of vampires in her universe, but they lack the ability to communicate and use their minds in ways that Louis, Claudia, and Lestat clearly do.

However, drawing from other sources (mainly folklore,) I consider this monster to be of an even more emotionally charged state than the traditional vampire, which makes them even more fascinating, in my opinion.

Revenants, as I have read of them, are not quite corporeal beings, but also not quite as intangible as a ghost either. They exist in this halfway state between life and death, not quite reborn with a body, but not resting in death. It is this peculiar, undefined liminal state that truly draws me to these beings. They haven’t returned simply to feed or to wander. The passion of rage and vengeance consumes them, causing them to remember little else about their previous life and the world around them. To them, nothing matters but their desire to destroy the one that harmed them.

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Why did I choose to write about them?
First of all, I sensed an extremely underused and fascinating potential in this monster. I hadn’t seen or read much popular culture involving them where they weren’t a simple background monster. However, they had such a rich history and countless possibilities to play with, that I couldn’t ignore them.

Secondly, “Resurrectionist” is about vengeance and victims, and this is really what sets revenants apart from traditional ghosts, vampires, and zombies.

The whole point of the book is how people can’t truly live if they are so caught up in lamenting the horrors of the past. The revenant was perfect for this.

How do revenants come into my novel and what form do they take?

The revenants in my book are the risen victims of the Burke and Hare crimes, summoned by witchcraft to punish William Hare and his descendents–to trap them in an eternal ‘half-life’ of guilt, never dying, but never truly living, just as they are. This, again, came into play with the Arthur’s Seat coffins that I wrote about previously. Remember how the figurines were carved and buried with their eyes still open?

I wanted to put a creative twist on this already interesting specter, too. In the book, they are more than just ghosts who torment Hare. Not to give away too much, but they eventually break free and haunt different places of Edinburgh. I thought that it would be just fantastic to imagine that these spirits would nest in places that they found familiar and build up surreal, frightening, disjointed little worlds constructed around their particular emotional trauma.

Each of the revenants is based off an actual victim of Burke and Hare, and I did my best to maintain accuracy as well as keep their stories interesting, and certainly to show respect to the people that lost their lives in this horrific spree of murders. They are not just evil spirits that I wanted to set up and tear down for the entertainment of the reader. Their stories, or what I imagined them to be, are each tragic and horrific in their own right. Revenants want their vengeance on those who’ve wronged them. They want justice.

And most of all, Revenants want to be remembered.

Series review for “The Dryad Quartet” by Katie Jennings

So, I finished writing my book, which I’ll post in-depth about later, but that has left me with time to READ again! Ah, how wonderful! So I burned through the last two books of the series I’ve been reading for a while, by author Katie Jennings.

Overall I thought this series of four novels called ‘The Dryad Quartet‘ was an uplifting, exciting, and enchanting tale that is sure to warm your heart.

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If you, like me, have been knee-deep in bleak dystopian novels and whiny vampire romances and, like me, have grown utterly tired of that, then I promise you that ‘The Dryad Quartet’ is just the remedy you’ve been looking for. That was the first thing that struck me about the series: I was so relieved and excited to be reading something that was just plain old fun and sweet. I had grown so bored with protagonists who are tough, edgy, and brooding that when I started reading about Capri, the heroine and Air Dryad from book 1, ‘Breath of Air,’ my heart skipped a beat.
I was instantly hooked by this, feeling so completely refreshed to be reading about a character I would actually like to know and be friends with, for a change. Soon I was drawn into the magical floating island of Euphora, home of the Dryads, Furies, Muses, Fates, and Mother Earth herself. Each has their own duty to fulfil in order to keep the world turning. Jennings reveals that she has put her own twist on Greek Mythology in this world she has created. It is one that instantly envelopes the reader and gives a feeling of comfort and luxury. With the elaborate, yet compact, descriptions of the castle, island, and the society that inhabits it, you will begin to feel as if Euphora is your home too, and that these characters, who are so well fleshed-out, are your friends.
But not all is well in paradise! Being a small group, of course many a family drama has developed between the various groups of people. Are there messy romantic entanglements, age-old grudges, long-kept secrets, and bitter enemies? You betcha. Are they all extremely satisfying to read about? Oh, yeah! Jennings has executed these intricate dramas with perfect precision. Each story targets your heart in a different place, and all will hit the mark. What I was so pleased to see, too, is that most of the time, there are no clear “Bad Guys” or “Good Guys” within these dramas. The characters all have reasons for acting the way they do, and the wonderful part about it is that you can see everyone’s side in the disagreements. This also becomes more and more apparent with the shift of protagonists from book to book, especially in the case of Rhiannon, the Earth Dryad. You can easily mistake her for a cold, aloof snoot in books 1 and 2, but once you see things through her eyes, you find the deep heartbreak that causes her actions.
The overarching plot of the antagonist is a fascinating one, too. Dante is not your run-of-the-mill mustache twisting villain, though you could be fooled into thinking that at first. However, starting in “Firefight in Darkness” you begin to see what a deep and twisted character he really is, and when his true motivations are at last unearthed in the final book, your heart will twinge.
The two most obvious drawing points of these books are the romance and the depth of the characters. If you are a reader who enjoys either of these two things, you definitely will want to read these books. The characters are simply unforgettable. I am not generally a person who reads books for romantic plots, but each of the main couples in this series hooked me and wouldn’t let go. I was so enthralled with the couples, who are pleasantly atypical from your mundane romantic pairs. There are REASONS they are together, not just ‘cause they both think the other one is hot. These characters are teams, they complement one another, and as a reader I wanted them all to have happy endings so, so, so badly. They have good dynamics, good rapport, and strengths and weaknesses that make their relationships real. The scenes range from heartwarming to heartrending, and after the rollercoaster of emotions that Jennings takes the reader through, there is a thoroughly satisfying ending.
The characters and how developed they are will appeal greatly to those who love character pieces. It is fascinating to see inside the heads of all these varied characters. You truly get to know them like a family through these four books, which are all perfectly sized and perfectly paced.
Though this is a fantasy series and the elements of the world are unique and interesting, readers searching for a more traditional, setting-focused fantasy may not find what they are looking for, but I’m still confident that it will appeal to most who enjoy the genre. This series is really about the lives of these very interesting cast of characters.

 

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So, if you are hungry for a respite from all the doom and gloom of the recent literary world, I will recommend ‘The Dryad Quartet’ to you a hundred times over. Get to know Liam, Rhiannon, Blythe, and Capri and you will have made four life-long friends that you will never, ever forget.

About a week away from finishing ‘The Resurrectionist’

So, the novel I began last year in November is finally coming to its close. I have about a week left and this book will finally be done. Already at just under 100k words in the rough draft, so I’m hoping to keep it under 117k. This story has been a tough one on me–the theme that runs through the entire novel is breaking away from victim mentality. It’s been an emotional journey, and I’m excited to see it come to its end.

For those of you who haven’t heard me talk about it before, this is the story of a surgeon, Edgar Price, from 1895 who gets cursed by the son of the famous murderer, William Hare. This tale was largely inspired from my time studying abroad in Edinburgh with UC Davis. This was where I first discovered the story of the West Port Murders. While at the Museum of Edinburgh, I was lucky enough to view the set of 17 wooden coffins found atop Arthur’s Seat.

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These were thought to be the product of witchcraft, and a memorial for the 17 victims of the murder spree. When I first laid eyes on these mysterious items was when ‘The Resurrectionist’ was instantly conceived, though it took years to develop.  I knew then that this mystery would stay with me, and those tiny coffins haunted my imagination for many years after. I had to know the story behind them, and since there never was a clear answer as to their origin, I was compelled to make one up. I stayed right near Grassmarket, where many of the murders took place. Many of the locations in the novel were places I knew well and grew to love during my time in Edinburgh. While much of it is a love song to the city and to Scotland, it is still a horror novel so much of it is angry, dark, and vicious. These were a truly horrific set of murders.


Burke and Hare strangling a victim (From ‘Bloody Scottish History: Edinburgh’, Cate Ludlow)

I’ll update soon of the progress of the novel and maybe add a little information about the characters!