Waiting On Wednesday – 62

Hello gentle reader,

today I’m waiting on RISE OF ORION by my friend Rachel O’Laughlin. The book cover was revealed yesterday on the IceyBooks blog. It’s an Epic Fantasy and it’ll be the third book in the SERENGARD series, sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK and KNIGHTS OF RILCH (expected publication: 2d December 2014 by Dublin Mist Press). If you’ve been following this blog, you may remember I really enjoyed Books 1 & 2, which means I can’t wait for Book 3 and Mikel’s point of view!

RiseofOrionCover

From Goodreads:

After the border wars, Mikel Orion flees Serengard and seeks haven in the Desert of Aldad. Although he and his sister Kierstaz must become slaves in order to set foot inside its borders, the hot sands hold a bitter kind of peace—one he wants to keep. But he risks destroying the cover story that protects him and Kierstaz when he becomes entangled with an Aldadi girl. Aura has tragic secrets of her own, but she gives Mikel a purpose beyond his birthright…as well as scars that run deeper than skin.

Twelve years later, trouble brews among the Aldadi and the Drei alike. Trapped in a dungeon as the prize prisoner of Trzl—an orchestrator of the rebellion that killed his parents—Mikel is out of maneuvers. Even while Kierstaz gathers a force in the west to attempt his rescue, Trzl sharpens her daggers and begins to resemble the hypnotic ruler she claims to loathe…and Mikel becomes convinced that peace has never been within his reach at all.

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases we’re eagerly anticipating.

Have you heard about this book? Is it on your TBR list? What are you waiting on this week?

KNIGHTS OF RILCH Release Day: Interview with Rachel O’Laughlin

Hello gentle reader,

KNIGHTS OF RILCH, the sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK, and the second book in the SERENGARD Series, is out today!

KnightsOfRilch

Add it on Goodreads

Buy it on Amazon or on Barnes & Noble

Win it! Giveaway here

To celebrate this release, I’ve interviewed Rachel O’Laughlin about the process of writing a second book in a trilogy…

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Did you always know Serengard would be a trilogy or not?

Awesome question! I actually had no idea it would be a trilogy. When I drafted Coldness of Marek, I thought I was writing a standalone. Several months later, I felt like there was so much more to tell in order for the story to be understood. I went back to the drawing board and fleshed out a sequel. After drafting Knights of Rilch, I had so much more world building and character development that I wanted to incorporate into Coldness of Marek, so I went back and rewrote it from scratch. That’s when I knew the sequel wasn’t going to be enough and it needed to be a whole series. It’s quite a commitment, but I am thankful I made it. There’s so much more to Serengard than the short adventure I started with.

How did you go about writing this second book?

I made a rough outline via notebook and Scrivener in the month leading up to NaNoWriMo 2012, then I fast-drafted 70k that November. One of the unique things I did with this novel that I haven’t done before or since was having two non-writer friends read each chapter as I wrote. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, but it definitely gave me a lot of extra perspective. Early revisions were actually a joy with this book. I loved exploring how a scene could become deeper and darker, even if I had to cut some of it later. I had multiple writer friends and critique partners look at it after each revision — so many I can’t count — and they all had useful feedback for me. From first draft to final draft was exactly one year.

Is your final draft very different from your first one?

Very, very different. (As actually EM can attest! I think you read the second draft, didn’t you?) I had a major epiphany after my third or fourth revision — I chopped off the last half of the book and went an entirely different direction. It turned out to be the best decision ever. The villains are twice as strong, and the action builds up to a point at the end that I could never have envisioned with the first version. I did end up cutting several scenes and chapters from the first half. It was a lot of battle and build-up, and the detail was just bogging it down. My CPs and my editor helped me unsnarl some of the most complicated, touchy scenes, in addition to being total heroes on the line edits. I love how clean and snappy the finished novel turned out.

Would you say writing this second book was harder or easier than writing your first?

Harder. The story centers very much on the brother/sister bond, and that’s a relationship I’ve been driven to write ever since I was fourteen. The action is more complex and intense than the first book, the death toll higher by far. All of that contributed to me shredding scene after scene and reworking my timeline again and again whenever something just wasn’t working, but even more so, I felt this whole novel far deeper than the first. A couple of scenes always make me cry like nothing in Coldness of Marek has. Over all, Knights of Rilch was full of a lot of growing pains, and I think I pushed myself far harder than I have before.

As Knights of Rilch is coming out, is your state of mind different from when Coldness of Marek came out?

I am way less nervous about looking like an amateur, that’s for sure! Coldness of Marek was well received, and that’s made me pretty excited to see what everyone has to say about its sequel. But I’m still a little scared, to be honest. It’s hard to explain why, because having my work out there to be loved or hated is my ultimate dream. I guess it’s a good scared, because there’s really nothing awful that could happen. I appreciate “liked” reviews as much as “disliked”. I’m queasy and thrilled and desperate to hear how readers feel about my sophomore baby.

Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories in which heroines tend to get their hands dirty, bad guys sometimes win, and someone always gets kidnapped. Her passion for history morphed into a love for fantasy in her mid-teens, when she took a brief pause from reality for immersion in the arts and a hands-on education in sustainable living. She lives in New England with her husband and two boys, listens to The Fray, and drinks too many lattes. Two novels in her SERENGARD fantasy series have been released, and a third is scheduled for October 2014.

Author Website: http://rachelolaughlin.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/rachelolaughlin

Facebook: www.facebook.com/r.k.olaughlin

Knights of Rilch Swag – Trzl’s Trading Card Reveal and Giveaway!

Hello gente reader,

Remember when I revealed the cover of Knights of Rilch (Serengard: Book 2) by Rachel O’Laughlin?

KnightsOfRilch

Today, I’m delighted to share with you one of the trading cards that have been designed to accompany Knights of Rilch‘s upcoming release!

There are two sets of trading cards, each featuring 4 characters from the books:

– Set of COLDNESS OF MAREK Trading Cards (Trzl, Hodran, Gernan, Colstadt)

– Set of KNIGHTS OF RILCH Trading Cards (Kierstaz, Pier, Ric, Romianz)

Without further ado, here is Trzl’s trading card:

TrzlCard

Original Artwork Copyright Dan Tare 2014

Isn’t it beautiful?

There are 100 limited edition cards of each character (artwork on the front, stats on the back – stats contain spoilers!). All cards are available now to Rachel’s street team or with proof of book purchase while supplies last. You can check out the other cards here.

KNIGHTS OF RILCH will be released on 25th February 2014. You can pre-order it here.

And, last but not least, the giveaway! Enter here for a chance to win one or both sets of cards. Good luck!

 

Knights of Rilch Cover Reveal!

Hello gentle reader,

Today I’m revealing the cover for Rachel O’Laughlin’s second book, KNIGHTS OF RILCH (expected publication: 25th February 2014 by Dublin Mist Press). The cover reveal was supposed to happen over at IceyBooks but Hafsah is experiencing some technical difficulties, so I’m happy to step in!

Blurb:

Nearly a decade ago…

When Serengard rebelled and the Orion monarchy fell, former crown princess Kierstaz Orion’s love for her people became a burning desire to set things right. With a price on their heads, Kierstaz and her brother Mikel led a handful of Border Guard against the new army along the border of Dreibourge. But months of heavy bloodshed forced her small band of knights to abandon the border — and all of Serengard — to the rebels.

Nine years and a thousand betrayals later…

Kierstaz and Mikel again find themselves on the run, only this time, they’ve a boy in tow: Malcom, the son of two of the Seren rebellion’s strongest leaders. The new regime wants him dead, Mikel wants him alive, and it’s all Kierstaz can do to keep their tracks covered. Desperate to preserve the innocent life she’s sworn to protect, and afraid Mikel’s may be forfeit, Kierstaz must gamble the last thing in the world she owns — her identity. Secrets are a staple of the Orion family, and those Kierstaz keeps are as dangerous as the ones kept from her.

KNIGHTS OF RILCH is the sequel to COLDNESS OF MAREK, and the second in the SERENGARD fantasy series.

And now for the cover reveal…
KnightsOfRilch
Original Artwork Copyright 2013 by Dan Tare
RachelOLaughlinAuthor
Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories in which heroines tend to get their hands dirty, bad guys sometimes win, and someone always gets kidnapped. Her passion for all things history morphed into a love for fantasy in her late teens. Lattes and The Fray are daily dwellers in her home in New England, where she lives with her husband and children.

Book Links:

KNIGHTS OF RILCH on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18372007-knights-of-rilch

Pre-Order KNIGHTS OF RILCH: http://rachelolaughlin.com/novels/knights-of-rilch/

And here is the link to the giveaway!

So what do you think? Make sure to leave a comment for Rachel below!

Sunday Giveaway – Special Edition! (closed)

Hello gentle reader,

Summer is coming to an end, with the US Labor Day, a sunny weekend in the UK… and my last Sunday Giveaway.

Today I’m giving away a special prize: COLDNESS OF MAREK by Rachel O’Laughlin (paperback copy + swag)! It’s an Adult Epic Fantasy book that came out at the beginning of this month. I reviewed it here.

ColdnessOfMarek-Cover

Coldness of Marek

Here’s the book blurb:

Serengard has been under Orion rule for centuries. Centuries of insufferable adherence to laws and traditions that none of its people ever asked for or agreed to. Raised by her scholarly grandfather in the fiery southern city of Neroi, Trzl is out to turn the monarchy into a free society where knowledge is king and no one has to be subject to the whims of an Orion.

As the rebellion escalates, her choices have an eerie impact on the revolution at large, elevating her to a position of influence she has only dreamed of attaining. But there are downsides to her power: appearances and alliances that must be upheld. One of them is Hodran, a rich rebel who wants to aid her cause, and another is Mikel, a loyalist farmer who wants to destroy it… and who just might be winning her heart at the same time.

By the time Trzl realizes she is in too deep, she has an infant son and a dark mess of betrayal and lies. She runs, to the farthest corner of the kingdom, in hopes she will be left alone with her child. But she has a few too many demons. Someone she once trusted takes her captive among the chilling Cliffs of Marek. She is thrown back into the political mess she helped create… at the mercy of a man she never wanted for an enemy.

Giveaway information:

The giveaway is open until Monday 2d September 2013 at 9am (BST time).

To enter please fill in the contact form below with your name and email. If you follow my blog by email or WordPress, if you are a Twitter follower, if you like my page on Facebook, if you follow me on Pinterest or Tumblr, or if you tweet about the giveaway, this will grant you an extra entry. Mention it below.

Entrants must be at least 13 years of age.

This giveaway is open Internationally.

The winner will be chosen randomly, notified by email and will have 72 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.

I hold the right to end the giveaway before its original deadline without any prior notice.

I hold the right to disqualify any entry as I see fit.

Privacy information: no information given for this giveaway will be used for other purpose than this giveaway. All information provided (names, emails and mail addresses) will be deleted after the giveaway.

Good luck and feel free to leave me a comment below!

Book of the Week – 20

Hello gentle reader,

My choice for Book of the Week is Coldness of Marek by Rachel O’Laughlin. It’s an Adult Epic Fantasy book and the first book in the Serengard Series. It was released on 6th August 2013 and I received an ARC from the author for review.

ColdnessOfMarek-Cover

I’ll start by saying that I fully enjoyed this book. I love Epic Fantasy and this is a very well written and engrossing read.

The story is divided into two parts: the first part takes place before a political upheaval which is going to overthrow the reigning monarch and introduce a new regime. The second part takes place ten years later and deals with the aftermath of the rebellion.

I loved how effortless the world building was in this story: Serengard and its political, social and geographical features are introduced slowly and smoothly, making it very easy to get immersed  in this world.

The characters are rich and complex, with Trzl at the center of it all. She is a wonderfully multifaceted woman, clever yet passionate, cold yet loving. Around her, a web of men with their own agendas creates a great cast. I only wished there were more female characters.

The plot is well-paced and compelling, although I did enjoy Part II more, because the action and scheming really picked up then and I couldn’t put the book down after hitting the halfway mark.

Although this first book in this series has a satisfying ending, I finished the story longing to dive into Book 2 straight away. But Knights of Rilch will only be released in February 2014…

In the meantime, I recommend Coldness of Marek for lovers of Epic Fantasy!

What are you reading this week?

A Writer In The Spotlight – Rachel O’Laughlin

A Writer In The Spotlight Logo

Today I’m delighted to welcome Rachel O’Laughlin on my blog as a part of her Coldness of Marek Blog Tour!

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Coldness of Marek, an Adult Epic Fantasy, is the first book in the Serengard Series and it comes out today!

A Writer In The Spotlight – 15

Author : Rachel O’Laughlin
Genre : Epic Fantasy
Location: New England
Contact: Website Facebook Twitter Goodreads
Books : Coldness of Marek (2013)

Bio: Obsessed with all things history, Rachel O’Laughlin grew up writing adventure stories and only recently fell in love with fantasy as a genre. She lives in New England with her husband and children, grows roses and tweets often. She adores lattes, The Fray, long drives in the country, and any dark story with a good twist. Coldness of Marek is her first novel.

RachelOLaughlin-AuthorAvi13
My interview (29th July 2013)

On Writing

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Yes! I always knew. When I was a little kid I used to write picture books, and by the time I was six or seven I was writing chapter books. They were all pretty lame, I’m sure, but I had a lot of fun. One of my friends who has read a little bit of everything I wrote through the years claims my signature event is a kidnapping. “Someone always gets abducted in your stories,” she claims. Glancing through my various drafts, it’s pretty true. Why do I always have a kidnapping? I have no idea. I guess I’m morbid like that, ha.

When and where do you write?

I write for about a half hour in the early morning before my kids awaken, and then again for two hours in the afternoon while they nap. These days I tend to perch on the loveseat with my Netbook. I’ll occasionally go to a coffee shop when I have a babysitter, and a lot of words to catch up on. I’ll end up writing again after dinner if I’m on a deadline. Hubby is a sweetheart and watches the kids whenever he can. WIN!

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Quite a bit, actually. I always have emotions pouring through me, sketchy visions of what characters are feeling and saying to each other, but I often fail at plots. I can write pages and pages of dialogue that makes no sense whatsoever plot-wise — but it has ALL THE FEELS — and then writer’s block will hit when I’m trying to iron out those details. When NaNoWriMo comes around, I fortify myself with all the chocolate and coffee and push through every barrier, no matter how bad the writing I end up with may be. It’s totally worth it. I fast-draft in spurts throughout the year, and then revise when I can look at things with a cold, critical eye. It works for me.

What do you say to people who want to be writers?

Draft something. Anything. Get your words down, and finish a whole MS. It might not be the one you want to polish and take all the way, but simply writing words will keep your brain going and your craft improving. Someday you’ll write something amazing that you want to share with the world, and all that drafting will pay off.

Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?

I outlined my first two 100k manuscripts, then I completely went with the flow for COLDNESS OF MAREK. It took a lot a revision AND a full rewrite, but it was nice to just run with it while writing. The second book had a definite outline…but I just tossed half of that outline out the window, so we’ll see what happens. I do have a future novel that I’m outlining the heck out of and I have a feeling it will be the most epic of anything. Needless to say, my process seems to change with each project, and I’m cool with that.

Do you set goals for yourself as you write?

Always. Rewards for reaching 15k, 30k, 50k, 80k, for finishing a revision, for getting through edits, anything. Usually the reward is just a break and an episode of The Mentalist or something, but it keeps me pushing through instead of procrastinating. It’s cool when I have rewards from the outside, too. Like, my sister-in-law brought me a pound of homemade butter for finishing my rewrite. My husband is more of an endless dispenser of chocolate and delicious drinks whenever he sees me getting bogged down.

ColdnessOfMarek-Cover

On Coldness of Marek

To write this book, where did you get your inspiration from?

I wanted to try epic fantasy when I was about 13 but I was just terrible at it, and I swore off of fantasy.  Then, when NaNo 2011 rolled around, the cliffs and cliff men begging to be written, and I knew it had to be a fantasy. Really, the image was just THERE and I couldn’t shake it. Trzl was challenging. I felt like I knew her, because she reminded me of a tenacious girl I grew up with. Just, boom, she existed, everything about her crystal clear. Maintaining that consistency wasn’t easy, though. I was tempted to change her all the time. I had to force myself to come back to my muse and ask myself what she would REALLY do. Mikel, on the other hand, was this purely fantastical character that was hazily in the back of my mind for years and I couldn’t shake him. I tried to fit him into an apocalyptic mystery, but he didn’t really belong. He definitely belongs in the midst of swords and soothsayers.

What type of music did you listen to when you wrote this book?

I can’t listen to music while I’m actually writing, but I always have a playlist that I listen to in the off-time to give context to certain emotions I want to evoke in the story. When I drafted COLDNESS, I was listening to Norah Jones, Keith Urban, Colbie Callait, and Vanessa Carlton. But during the rewrite? Breaking Benjamin, Switchfoot, and Jewel. Oh, and of course, The Fray. Always The Fray. 😉

What are you working on now?

I’m deep in the sequel to COLDNESS, with a lot of revisions already done. It’s going well! This main character is so different from Trzl. Akkk, I want to tell you so much more, but I don’t want to spoil it, so all I will say is this: NINJA ASSASSINS. That is all.

Reading advice

Which authors inspire you now? Any books you would recommend?

Oh, my. For plots, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien and Rafael Sabatini. For writing style, L.M. Montgomery all the way. But those are all old books, haha. I just love classics. In modern lit, I’m definitely inspired by Leigh Bardugo, Geraldine Page, and Michael Crichton. I would recommend anything by Crichton to anyone, any day of the week, but especially his book TIMELINE. If you haven’t read it, you just…you have to. Also, GONE WITH THE WIND (Margaret Mitchell). That book floors me over and over again.

On self-publishing

Why did you choose to self-publish Coldness of Marek and would you recommend self-publishing to would-be-published writers out there?

I chose self-publishing because I decided I’m not interested in having an agent represent me at this point in my career. I want to slowly get to know my audience, what they like about my writing, and what they’d like to see more of. I want Serengard to evolve somewhat organically, and I don’t have that option with an uber-competitive market and a readership that already has certain expectations. That said, I would love to have an agent represent some of my other projects. I believe I can write something that could sell on a large scale — someday — and I might want a major book deal and a wider audience reach.

I only recommend self-publishing if a would-be-published writer is ready to be very dedicated and open. It’s just like being a street musician. You’re basically sitting there with your coffee can, asking for coins for your art, because there’s no way the crowd is going to know who you are at first. You want people to hear you, and you have to be willing to work extra hard for that. Willing to put out cash you might not earn back (pay for editing, invest in a nice cover and promo), and spend endless hours interacting with readers (on twitter, facebook, email, etc). It can be very rewarding, including having the ability to plan and act out every step of the process, but I especially just love the down-to-earth-ness of this process.

Everybody has different reasons for publishing different ways. If you have good reasons for self-publishing and you know you can do it, I’d say go for it.

Thanks for an awesome interview, Rachel!

Thank you so much for having me, Eve!

COLDNESS OF MAREK is available on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes and Noble. You can order it signed by the author here. And please note the book is also available on Amazon in Canada, Spain, Italy, Germany and France.