RELEASE DAY!!!!

Borrowed Magic is now available to buy!

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For links to where you can purchase it, go here.

And if you want a chance to win a signed copy, go to my Facebook Page for information on how you can enter!

Thanks!

Shari

Borrowed Magic Giveaway!

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So, Siege has been out fora week now, and I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who helped make it a success. It’s still in the top 20 on two of Amazon’s free lists and in the top 100 on three others!  If you still haven’t downloaded it, click on the “Where to Buy” tab at the top of the page and it will link you to all the places it’s available.  And it’s FREE (except for Amazon international, which still hasn’t price matched it yet.  But it’s only $.99 or the international equivalent)! And remember Borrowed Magic comes out a week from today!!!!

Also, I wanted to announced two things.

First, as soon as Siege gets 20 honest (yes, be honest) reviews on Amazon, I’ll post the entire first chapter of Borrowed Magic on my website (right now it’s just the first 3 pages). Because I know you all want to see Philip! (If you cross post the review on Goodreads, then I will love you!)

Second, I’m doing a Goodreads giveaway of 3 paperback copies of Borrowed Magic! It’s open for entries until January 31, 2016. Here’s a link to my website where the Goodreads widget right at the top of the page will take you right where you need to go to enter: http://www.sharilamertbooks.com.

Thanks again!!!

Siege is available to download TODAY for FREE!

Have you ever wanted to know what happened before?  The story before the story?

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Siege, the prequel novella to Borrowed Magic, is available for FREE download today from your favorite online retailer!

Here’s a link to all the places you can order it!

Borrowed Magic comes out two weeks from today and reading Siege is a great way to pass the time.

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As an Indie Author, I need your help to spread the word about my books!  Here are just a few ways you can help…Thanks in advance!

  • Tell your friends!  Even if they might not be interested, they might know someone who is!
  • Add Siege and Borrowed Magic to your Goodreads shelf!  Your friends see when you add a book.  And then after you read it, rate it!  Your friends see that too!
  • Post a rating on Amazon or other online retailer (you can post a review on Amazon even if you didn’t purchase the book through them).  Then the public sees it.
  • If you’re a Facebook user, don’t just like my posts, but share them.  That way all your friends (who aren’t the same as my friends) also see it.  Even better, add a comment about why you’re sharing.  i.e.  “If you like a good romantic fantasy…” or “If you’re looking for a clean fantasy for your kids…”
  • Encourage others to spread the news!

Book Recommendation: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

So, I’ve been gone a long time.  Too long.  In my defense, I have been working on my book.  The draft I finished is now beta read, revised, and completed.  I’ve even queried it.  I’ve had a fantastic response but no agent or publisher yet.  I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll hear something good soon.

But my writing career is not why most of you come to this blog.  It’s really for book recommendations.  Since I may have a bunch of new traffic, let me explain what I do.  I don’t really review books.  I feel like it’s so subjective, and often I can’t exactly put my finger on why I did or didn’t like a book.  I can only tell you which ones I did like and would recommend.

I’ve read A LOT of books over the past year.  Some of them I’ve already posted about.  But one I haven’t (and that really deserves it) is Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.  LIke a lot of the books I read, it’s a fantasy.  But this one truly is different.  Not so much magic.  A lot of beauty in the world and the culture and society created.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince.  Prince Dorian offers her freedom on one condition:  she muust act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assasins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council.  If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating.  But she’s bored stiff by court life.  Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her…but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her the best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead…quickly followed by another.  Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim?  As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Great, huh?  Well, it gets even better.  Maas wrote four novella prequels to Throne of Glass.  They are:  The Assassin and the Pirate Lord, The  Assassin and the Desert, The Assassin and the Underworld, and The Assassin and the Empire.  And I have to say, I almost enjoyed the novellas more than the actual novel.  Now, you could read the novel completely separate from the novellas, but I think if you read the novellas first, you’ll get a much better understanding of Celaena.  (Plus, they’re awesome!)

Throne of Glass is one of my favorite books of the year.  If you like fantasy, and a bit of a love triangle, I think you’ll really enjoy this one.

Inheritance by Christopher Paolini

I’m not sure what to say here.  I bought the book.  I finished.  And… I don’t know.  I really enjoyed the first two books in this series.  The third one I liked, except that I thought it was too long (yea, I’d cut at least a third).  Still, I loved the story and the characters and the world.  I felt this book had the same problem with wordiness (yes, I skimmed large sections), but like before, I was all into the story.  And then it ended and I was like “what??????”  Maybe it’s just me because I know why he did what he did and I understand it even.  I just didn’t like it.  Especially after investing so much time into such a huge book.  *shrugs*  I don’t know.  If you love fantasy, especially complex world building type fantasy, read it.  You’ll like it.  Just be prepared for a lot of words and an ending that might not be as you expected.

Book Recommendation: The Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima

So, yes, I’ve been gone for a while, but it’s for a good reason.  I’ve been reading, and reading, and reading…oh and writing.  I’m going to try to catch upon all the books I’ve read, but I wanted to start with a series that I really loved.  It’s called The Seven Realms by Cinda Williams Chima.  There are three books so far:  The Demon King, The Exiled Queen, and the Gray Wolf Throne.  A fourth book comes out in Fall 2012.

Here’s a blurb for The Demon King:  Times are hard in the mountain city of Fellsmarch. Reformed thief Han Alister will do almost anything to eke out a living for himself, his mother, and his sister Mari.  Ironically, the only thing of value he has is something he can’t sell.  For as long as Han can remember, he’s worn thick silver cuffs engraved with runes.  They’re clearly magicked—as he grows, they grow, and he’s never been able to get them off.  

While out hunting one day, Han and his Clan friend, Dancer catch three young wizards setting fire to the sacred mountain of Hanalea.   After a confrontation, Han takes an amulet from Micah Bayar, son of the High Wizard, to ensure the boy won’t use it against them.  Han soon learns that the amulet has an evil history—it once belonged to the Demon King, the wizard who nearly destroyed the world a millennium ago.  With a magical piece that powerful at stake, Han knows that the Bayars will stop at nothing to get it back.  

Meanwhile, Raisa ana’Marianna, Princess Heir of the Fells, has her own battles to fight.  She’s just returned to court after three years of relative freedom with her father’s family at Demonai camp – riding, hunting, and working the famous Clan markets.  Although Raisa will become eligible for marriage after her sixteenth name-day, she isn’t looking forward to trading in her common sense and new skills for etiquette tutors and stuffy parties.  

Raisa wants to be more than an ornament in a glittering cage. She aspires to be like Hanalea—the legendary warrior queen who killed the Demon King and saved the world. But it seems like her mother has other plans for her–plans that include a suitor who goes against everything the Queendom stands for.

The Seven Realms will tremble when the lives of Han and Raisa collide in this stunning new page-turner from bestselling author Cinda Williams Chima.

Now, I will admit that the first book took me almost half of the way through to decide I really loved it and wanted to keep reading.  And yes, I am one who will persevere even though it may be a bit slow.  I’m not sure why I didn’t connect immediately.  I just didn’t.  That being said as a warning for anyone who feels like putting the book down early on…DON’T.  It’s well worth it to keep going.

The two main characters are interesting and unique, neither being a carbon copy of something that’s been done before.  Han, especially, is a fascinating character — even more so as the books progress.  Chima also paints a detailed world that is clear but not overly descriptive to the point where I started to skim.  (Another of my bad habits when I’m not invested.)

And most of all, I LOVED the story.  I love good characters, but I’m not a character drive book lover most of the time.  I want a plot driven book that has great characters.  And I got all of that here.  I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy.  If you aren’t a huge fantasy reader but love a good story and are willing to read until you’re hooked, it would be a good fit for you, too.

Oh, I almost forgot…I love these covers.  That alone makes me want to put them up on my bookshelf.

So….I finished!!!

Late Saturday night I finished the first draft of a new novel.  Yes, it’s YA.  And yes, it’s fantasy (with a lot of romance).  I’m super excited for this one.  I’ve written a draft of a query letter that’s gotten great feedback on various writing forums.  I’ve had a few early readers who have really loved it.  And I even posted the first 250 words at on online writers conference and an agent bothered to comment, telling me it was a good start.

And I personally, LOVE it!  Even though I’m just starting the revision process and I KNOW there are some needed changes.

Anyway, I thought I’d share my first 250 and get any feedback from all of you….

 

BLIND MAGIC

The siege had ended.  Lord Kern, the dark mage, was dead.

Maren pushed her forehead against the warm glass, straining for a better view of the commotion below.  A cheer went up from the crowd and Maren searched for any sign of the man making his way to the castle.  The man who’d saved the city — and the kingdom.

All she could see was a mass of bodies, crowding the way leading up from the city gates to the castle.

It wasn’t uncommon to see people in the streets.  They’d come every day for the past two and a half years, standing in subdued silence as they waited for the daily rations that grew more and more meager as the weeks went by.  But today the crowd wasn’t silent.  Today was different.

Maren raised her eyes.  The tent cities beyond the wall, once teeming with the soldiers draining the city of life, were now abandoned, destroyed, thin plumes of smoke the only movement.  Against that backdrop, the charred, barren fields look even more desolate.

“Anything?”

Maren jumped back from the window and felt the color rise to her cheeks.

“It’s all right, Maren,” Queen Adare said, trying to get her own view of the street below.  “We’re all curious.  And you have more right than the rest of us.  You knew him better than anyone.”

The dull, familiar ache in her chest forced Maren to hesitate until she was sure she could speak without her voice breaking.  Even then, she couldn’t meet the queen’s eyes.  “I’m not sure I knew him at all.”

Self-publishing is actually getting some legitimacy…sort of.

So there’s been a lot of talk lately about whether to self publish or not.  I even attended a writers conference where an agent actually said there are two legitimate ways of getting published:  the traditional method with an agent, etc. and self-publishing.  It was the first time I’d actually heard self-publishing referred to as legitimate.  In the past everyone’s kind of steered clear.  It was only the desperate ones who couldn’t find an agent that went this route.  Things have changed.

With the big publishers accepting fewer books, and consequently agents signing fewer clients (at least that’s what I’ve heard), there are some legitimately good books that are being self published.  And some of the authors have made in the millions of dollars.  Sounds great, right?

The problem is that there is still a lot of terrible stuff out there in the self publishing world.  Often it’s never been seen by an editor.  And the bigger problem:  no publicity.  How do you get your book name out there?  How do you advertise?  How do you attract the right audience?

So it may all boil down to a few simple things.  Hire a freelance editor.  Hire a publicist (or at least have some idea of what you’re doing and come up with a plan).  OR still go with an agent.  Not surprisingly, with the change to digital media (and all the monetary issues writers and publishers have been fighting about) and the ease of self publishing, there are agencies who are starting to guide their clients through the self publishing arena instead of just submitting to big traditional publishers.   But then again, you have to attract an agent first.  Are you starting to get as confused as I am????

Who knows where the future of books is going.  Even Toys R Us is going to start selling the Kindle.  Books at the push of a button?  Sounds good.  I’ve even done it.  Maybe that should be my next post.

Book Recommendation…”Anna and the French Kiss” by Stephanie Perkins

So, “Anna and the French Kiss.”  This is a book I’d heard a lot about from a group of ladies on a forum I belong to.  Some of them loved it some thought it was just good.  I don’t read a lot of YA contemporary, so I didn’t quite know what I’d think.  However, from the very first page I was hooked.  Here’s a blurb from Amazon before I go any further.

Anna is not happy about spending senior year at a Paris boarding school, away from her Atlanta home, best friend Bridgette, and crush Toph. Adapting isn’t easy, but she soon finds friends and starts enjoying French life, especially its many cinemas; she is an aspiring film critic. Complications arise, though, when she develops feelings for cute—and taken—classmate Etienne, even though she remains interested in Toph. Her return home for the holidays brings both surprises, betrayals, unexpected support, and a new perspective on what matters in life—and love. 

Ok, so girl goes to boarding school, likes guy with girlfriend…in Paris.  Not the most unique premise ever.  BUT, it’s’ hilarious.  The first paragraph of the book talks about all the things she knows about Paris, which is really very little and revolves around pop culture.  It just gets better from there because  Anna’s voice and her outlook is just so enjoyable to read.  I found myself laughing out loud more than once — and one time in particular I was laughing so hard I was crying and my husband was looking at me like I’d lost it.  :).  But the humor isn’t the only thing about the book I enjoyed.  The characters felt real, the intricacies of teenage romance believable, and the misunderstandings relatable.  All in all, one of my few ventures into YA contemporary was very enjoyable.  Maybe I’ll even try again.  🙂

One note:  I know there are some of my blog readers who are more conservative than others.  There is a tiny bit of strong language and sexual reference that might be offensive to some.

 

Strong Female Characters

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about strong female characters.  One comment was about six months ago from a beta reader who mentioned that a particular scene in my book made the female character (who had previously been so strong) seem weak.  My first reaction was:  “But, but, but…”  And then I looked at a few things.  There were some word choices in that scene that I obviously hadn’t realized were creating the wrong impression.  I changed those and it made a huge difference.

However, the actual events that played out in that scene weren’t things I wanted to change.  AND I felt they were exactly true to the character.  Yes, she’s a strong character.  Yes, she is independent and capable.  That doesn’t mean circumstances couldn’t be out of her control.  Which is exactly what is happening in that particular scene.

Which led to a few questions…  Aren’t there times when even strong characters are in over their heads?  Isn’t that when they show the most strength?  Does being strong mean you are always sure, confident, and under control?

My answer to all of those is that strength may not be just in the moment, but how you deal with that moment, what you learn from it, and how it influences future decisions.

And strength is different for different situations.  For example, in “Pride and Prejudice” Elizabeth’s strength was not going to come in fighting armed bandits.  She was confined by the world she lived in.  She had to be strong in her own circumstances.  On the other hand, a modern heroin might not have Elizabeth’s strength to make decisions even in the face of social disapproval and family concerns in a world where those were paramount.

I guess the point of all this is that your character has to be strong in their own way, in their own world, and in their own time.  As long as they’re true to who they are and act in a way that doesn’t make the reader say something like “well, she was a believable character until…”