Review: Armored Hearts

Armored Hearts

It is the story of an orphaned boy who cannot walk, but discovers he can fly, and a whole new world is opened up before his eyes complete with a love he never thought possible and a danger he never saw coming.

Gareth Smyth is a cripple living with his grandfather in a world on the verge of steam powered automatons but many still cling to their traditions, superstitions, and prejudices, thus they look down upon someone like Gareth, so to protect himself, he despises everything but his little aunt who sees past his wheelchair and loves him for who he is. Then he discovers he can fly by saving a girl’s life.

The story world felt like it was set in an alternative history flavored with steampunk and fairies who sound a bit Scottish. The slight use of the Scottish dialect was done well enough to flavor the language, but not make it difficult to understand what is being said.

Gareth’s sour attitude could be somewhat off putting but I was so intrigued with the story that I had to find out what happens and how he would change. If you’ve read Winter Fae, a short story about his mom and him when he was two years old, it really helps to set the stage of the possibilities to come. Which, I loved Winter Fae so much and wanted to know more about his mother’s story, so I wasn’t sure how I would like his story, but I was not disappointed.

But I have two complaints. One, the story felt rushed and in that some things felt too easy to me, but that’s coming from someone who loves long, epic stories, ha! The second complaint, it was too short! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story will unfold.

By the way, for those of you who are waiting for the paperback book, its coming soon! The ebook is on sale at Amazon for $.99 for the month of May. It’s also available for Nook for $2.99 at Barnes and Noble. Check it out and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card at AltWit Press.

Advertisements

Interview: Creeden & Lee

Armored Hearts

What do you get when you cross a paranormal romance author with horror? Armored Hearts. Melissa Turner Lee, author of Difference Between Night and Day, The Earth Painter, & The Man Painter, teamed up with Pauline Creeden, whose short stories have been called creepy, mysterious, and suspenseful, labeled as horror, gothic, steampunk, just to name a few.

Well, I invited them here today to share a little bit about themselves, their writing process, and their new release, Armored Hearts.

Welcome Melissa and Pauline! Please tell us a little about yourselves. What makes you tick? Favorite hobbies, T.V. shows, foods, drinks? Do you have any pets? Kids?

Pauline: Thanks for bringing us on, Jennette. I think that our combination keeps us both in balance. She’s the yin, and I’m the yang. Together, we have a better chance of keeping things moderated. In life we’re quite opposite, too. My house is quieter as far as kids are concerned, since I have only one 12 year old son, but we also have a menagerie – 16 horses, 4 cats, 2 dogs, 2 chickens, 3 goldfish, and a lizard, so I guess the pets are my hobby. And TV wise, I don’t watch much, but I Netflix shows that I like – Doctor Who, Downton Abbey, and the Walking Dead, for example.

Melissa: Yes, we are different. She’s a dog person. I would be a cat person if I wanted to have a pet. But there is no room at my house for one more living thing with 3 boys and a husband and a tiny house. I think more fairy tale and Pauline thinks more creepy horror and somehow it works. I watch a little TV. Doctor Who, Beauty and the Beast, Orphan Black. That’s about it for spare time here.

Who are your favorite authors, books, style, genre?

M: I’m a fan of Paranormal Romance. Stephenie Meyer got me started but I don’t think I write like her. She’s a lot more wordy. I really enjoyed Cassandra Clare’s Infernal Devices and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth.

P: I read a lot of fantasy/suspense/thrillers – I love CS Lewis, and anyone who visits my fan page on Facebook will know my favorite modern author is Neil Gaiman.

How did the two of you get together and decide to write a steampunk fantasy?

P: I’ll let Melissa answer this one as it was her idea.

M: I had a character come to visit me in my head. He was in a wheelchair and was from Edwardian England. Then I got to know the woman in his life. She was American and gadgety. It was steampunk so I knew I needed help and Pauline happens to be a very talented steampunk writer. I asked her and she agreed.

So, who had the idea? Where did Armored Hearts come from? Tell us a bit about this story.

M: My stories always start with characters. They show up uninvited and I ask them who they are and what is going on. I’m nosy when it comes to people taking up residence in my head. There was this Englishman in a wheelchair who had abilities that could not be explained and a girl who made gadgets and an assassin.

Can you share with us a little bit about the writing process and how the two of you worked together?

P: We had a lot of brainstorming sessions, and then Melissa wrote the first draft. Then we brainstormed some more, and then I took it and added a bit. Then we discussed what needed fixing, and Melissa did the third draft. We went back and forth on this project. But Melissa did the most work, as it was her idea. I have a Contemporary Romantic/Suspense novel I’ll be taking the reins on that we’ve done some brainstorming sessions with and will be working on it later this year as well as AH2.

M: We also made a board on Pinterest so we had the same faces, places and such in mind as we wrote.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Armored Hearts? What was the best part of writing it?

M: Opening up to new ideas is hard but Pauline came up with great stuff. Places we needed to go back and add action or a death that I would never think of doing on my own. I think it made it stronger and not too frilly nor too dark.

P: The challenge of collaboration is that there is compromise. Sometimes I had an idea that Melissa would shoot down, and I’m sure that I shot down one or two of hers as well. But I think the end result was better than either of us would have had happen on our own and with only our own ideas involved. The best part was the research. I started watching Downton Abbey in order to immerse myself in the sort of culture that surrounds Armored Hearts (at Melissa’s suggestion). And the period is beautiful and romantic.

Who is your favorite character and why?

P: Jessamine – she’s so strong, confident, and clever. I wanna be her when I grow up.

M: Tabitha—I wish I were sweet like her and liked math.

What do you hope people walk away with after they finish reading the book?

M: This may not fit the tastes of those who are already into steampunk, but I think it will answer the question, ‘”What is steampunk?” for those who read more mainstream.

P: So much of steampunk is all about the mechanizations and political atmosphere. I know that our goal in this book is to introduce the ultra cool world to the romance and fantasy crowd in a way that is much more palatable than I’ve ever seen it done.  

And just for fun, if you could go back to experience any place in history, where and when would it be, and why?

P: Much of my writing is to my former self. If I could go back in time and smack the 18 year old me and tell her to grow up and get serious, I think I would. Just like horseback riding for me is not “for fun” but I want to get something done in the process, I’d choose to visit myself and see if I could get her more serious about God…and seeing my Daddy again would just be a bonus.

M: Maybe the 90s. It’s when I grew up, fell in love, got married. It was a time of lots of firsts. Life wasn’t so foreign to me then. Maybe that’s why I’m writing a book set in the 90s called Forever Layla. It will be for those more into romance than who read for adventure. Fans of The Time Traveler’s Wife might like it. Nicholas Sparks meets Sci-Fi minus the depressing ending.

Thank you Melissa and Pauline for joining us today!  

Would you like to connect?

Melissa Turner Lee

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Pinterest

Goodreads

Website/Blog

Pauline Creeden

Like her on Facebook

Follow her on Twitter

Follow her on Pinterest

Goodreads

Website/blog 

Have a great week everyone!

Release: Armored Hearts

Today, we’re celebrating the release of Armored Hearts by Melissa Turner Lee and Pauline Creeden. AltWit Press is celebrating with a giveaway, check it out for some cool prizes like a $100 gift card to Amazon!

Armored Hearts

When a crippled young lord rescues a girl falling from a tree, it reveals a secret about himself and his mother’s side of the family that could put him at the center of a war with beings he thought only existed in fairytales.

Tristan Gareth Smyth lived his entire life stuck at home at Waverly Park, left behind while his Grandfather makes trips to London, all because of his blasted wheelchair.

Then an American heiress falls in his lap, literally, and he must find a way to keep her at a distance to protect not only his secret, but everyone around him from an assassin sent to kill him.

Cover art by Marcy Rachel Designs

Model Photographer: WinterWolf Studios

Giveaways & More

Hey, how’s y’all’s week been? Lots of cool things to share with you today, but I’m thinking we need a cool name for our link gathering of bookish newsy things and giveaways. Any suggestions?

This week Morgan L. Busse shared with us about Bad Boy Characters, and I thought you might like to know that she is running a giveaway on Goodreads for Son of Truth, book two in Follower of The Word series. Giveaway ends on May 17, 2013.

Pauline Creeden did a cover reveal of her novel coming this fall called Sanctuary. The apocalyptic, alien story has me intrigued. Can’t wait to read it.

The other day I stumbled upon a blog that had this really cool idea, and I was like why didn’t I think of that?! Author Alex Laybourne started Story Cube Monday on his blog, where he rolls the story cubes and everyone tries to come up with a story using all those items. Check it out, write for fun, and submit your story.

Some exciting things coming up! Mark your calendars for July 1st. Three fantasy authors are teaming up to celebrate their books’ release day with a party on Facebook. Check it out and RSVP.

Heros and Kings FB party invite

And why, you ask me, am I letting you all know so early? To give y’all a chance to read the previous books in the series. 🙂

R. J. Larson: Prophet, Judge, & now King

Patrick W. Carr: A Cast of Stones & now A Hero’s Lot

Anne Elisabeth Stengl: Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, & now Dragonwitch

Now isn’t that an awesome line-up?

What about you? What must-read book are you waiting on? Post a link in the comments below!

Have a great weekend!

Pruning Back

* Disclaimer: as coincidental as this may seem, this post has nothing to do with Friday’s Thankful Tree post. 🙂

My life has spun out of control. I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, but I think I can take on more. What is my deal? Ah, yes, I’m a people pleaser. Dang, I thought I had learned how to say no by now. Well, for sanity’s sake, it’s time to get out the pruning shears and decide what needs to go. See, I’ve always heard about gardeners pruning trees and roses, but I had no idea why. I’ve read scriptures that talk about pruning as well. I sort of got it, only if to motivate me to keep on keeping on. It wasn’t until I read Found Adrift: 40 Days of Recovering Grace that it hit me. Author Pauline Creeden has a chapter that discusses pruning and why gardeners prune. I had an aha moment.

Found Adrift: 40 Days of Recovering Grace

There’s only so much nutrients in the soil. Only so much sun the plant can absorb. If our tree has nice leafy branches but no fruit, it isn’t going to draw more nutrients and begin producing fruit. All those leaves are soaking up what’s available. It must be pruned. Then the tree will have the opportunity to feed a new branch with the possibility of producing fruit. Okay, so Creeden explained it way better than  I could.

So I’ve been pondering this for awhile. We only have so much time in a day. Most of my day is spent doing duties of a stay-at-home mom: taking care of the kiddos, working on their ABCs and 123s, cooking, cleaning. Plus I’ve got outside commitments x5, only one related to writing. If I’m not careful, the extra commitments invade my time to write and work on other career related goals. I’m not so dim-witted to think I’m alone in this. We’re all running in circles like hamsters in wheels.

This brings me to the tree. What kind of fruit am I producing? Are these branches sucking my time and energy, but leaving me with nothing but pretty green leaves? Some of these branches have to go, but which ones? These are the questions I’m asking as I look at the coming new year.

That said, I am saying goodbye to Yo Ho A Writer’s Life For Me, for now. I’ll be changing my blogging schedule to twice a week instead of three times a week. I might post from time to time on writing, but blah, who wants to read about that, right? Or write it. Ha!

So what say you? Do you feel like a hamster in cage? Do you have some branches that need pruning? Please share, I love hearing from y’all. Besides, talking about it might help put things into perspective or at least give us some accountability, right?

Surprise! Duh.

Months ago, a writerly friend of mine put out a request for short stories for an anthology, and I thought, what the heck, why not? How hard could it be to write a short story? It’s like trying to hold a slippery fish verses wrestling with a one ton cow who is content on chewing her smelly cud.

Well, I wrote a story, submitted it, but then I forgot all about it until a week or so ago when she revealed the cover. Do you think reality sank in then? No. Sometimes this momma fog is so dense my brain cells quit knocking together. Then the other day one of the other authors contributing to the anthology shared the cover, so I looked at it again. What??? My name is on the cover? Reality check. My name is on a book cover! Crazy. I’ve been breaking out in smiles, maybe tears, don’t mind me. I’m a momma, with momma fog, crawling after my dream. 🙂

Here she is: Isn’t she beautiful?

Designed by Marcy Rachel Designs.

More details to come!