Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Blog by Carrie Patel, author of The Buried Life - July 31, 2014

Please welcome Carrie Patel to The Qwillery. The Buried Life will be published in Spring 2015. You may read an interview with Carrie here.

Fiction is about transformation. Blurred snapshots become cities and worlds, half-remembered dreams become characters, and the glances and whispers exchanged between them become a story. And nearly every story is about changes large and small.

Writing a story is often about fleshing out a metamorphosis. Part of the thrill for a reader is seeing a world under a bell jar and watching what happens when the pressure changes. As the heat rises, the setting melts and reforms. Characters slough off one skin after the next, and the landscape of the story is transformed by these gradual or violent changes. We the readers wait to see what’s on the inside.

A good transformation is carefully paced and painstakingly illustrated; you can see a seemingly incongruent beginning and end that nevertheless fit together perfectly once all of the stages are assembled. A shoddy transformation becomes melodramatic at best and unbelievable at worst. If a writer’s job is the suspension of disbelief, then the most important trick of all is the alchemy of characters and settings.

The Buried Life takes place in Recoletta, a city that is the product of one momentous change that has settled into an entirely new shape over hundreds of years. An underground city built from the ruins of one civilization has become a tiny empire of its own. By the time of events in the novel, Recoletta is due for another tectonic shift. The factions that have controlled the city find their power base eroding. As it crumbles, it exposes a sordid and long-hidden history that they fight desperately to cover up.

The characters who get caught in the middle of this shift find themselves transforming, too, dodging the warring factions and trying to anticipate the emerging shape of their new world. They must adapt to survive the changes around them, which means stripping away the trappings of their classes, backgrounds, and professions to find the hidden strengths and vulnerabilities that will drive them.

The most interesting mysteries aren’t just about what lies at the heart of a plot, but rather about what makes up the characters caught in the thick of it.

Anticipating a character’s reaction can be one of the hardest parts of writing for me. Sometimes, characters’ responses will be clear and unambiguous; I know exactly what they’re going to do. But at other times, they can feel as maddeningly unpredictable as real people. Ask them the same question at five different parts of the story, and you’re likely to get as many different answers.

Part of the fun and mystery of writing is plotting those trajectories, for characters and stories alike, with known reference points. You start with the data points you know and puzzle out how to get from one to the other. The blank spots on the map—the ones that come alive with monsters—can then be illustrated in full color. In that way, discovering the story and the characters can be as much of a mystery for the writer as it is for the readers.

The Buried Life
Angry Robot Books, Spring 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages
Cover by John Coulthart

The gaslight and shadows of the underground city of Recoletta hide secrets and lies. When Inspector Liesl Malone investigates the murder of a renowned historian, she finds herself stonewalled by the all-powerful Directorate of Preservation – Recoletta’s top-secret historical research facility.

When a second high-profile murder threatens the very fabric of city society, Malone and her rookie partner Rafe Sundar must tread carefully, lest they fall victim to not only the criminals they seek, but the government which purports to protect them. Knowledge is power, and power must be preserved at all costs…

File Under: Science Fantasy [ Thriller | Society in Ruins | Fully Booked | New and Weird ]

About Carrie

Carrie Patel was born and raised in Houston, Texas. An avid traveller, she studied abroad in Granada, Spain and Buenos Aires, Argentina.
She completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas A&M University and worked in transfer pricing at Ernst & Young for two years.

She now works as a narrative designer at Obsidian Entertainment in Irvine, California, where the only season is Always Perfect.

You can find Carrie online at and @Carrie_Patel on Twitter.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Interview with J.C. Nelson, author of Free Agent, and Giveaway - July 30, 2014

Please welcome J.C. Nelson to The Qwillery as part of the 2014 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Free Agent was published on July 29th by Ace.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing fiction?

JC:  I started writing when I was 18, a series of epic fantasy novels. Those novels were burned, their ashes locked in a lead-lined box, and the box buried at midnight in an unmarked grave. I began writing for the same reason I still do – I wanted to tell a story that would make the reader laugh, cry, and cheer.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JC:  Plo-ntser? I start out with the opening dialogue and scene. From there I develop and write the ending. I make a rough outline detailing where I think it will go, but when my gut says to derail, then off I head in whatever direction that is. It’s like a road trip – I know where I’m starting, where I’ll end up, and have a good idea of the route, but detours are some of the most fun.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

JC:  I have a family and a job. For me it’s moderation – finding the balance between all the people and activities I love.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

JC:  Stephen King and Ray Bradbury for my earliest ones. Terry Pratchett much later.

TQ:  Describe Free Agent in 140 characters or less.

JC:  In modern day New York, where wishes are bought and sold, a young woman enslaved to the Fairy Godfather fights for her happily ever after.

TQ:  Tell us something about Free Agent that is not in the book description.

JC:  I use humor to offset the darker story elements. Marissa’s been through so much, lived through so many disasters that her view of the world is…skewed. It’s great fun to switch hit between serious and funny in the same scene.

TQFree Agent is the first novel in the Grimm Agency series, which is fairy tale themed. What attracted you to fairy tales and do you have any favorites? If you worked at the Grimm Agency what would you do?

JC:  I’d be a contractor, no doubt. You can apply to work at and see what your position would be. I like being a contract because would work normal hours, for decent pay, and most of the awful things which happen at the Agency wouldn’t involve me.

The thing I love about fairy tales is how ridiculous some of them are. If a rational human being were to look at the problems in them, you’d say “You don’t need a frog to fetch that golden ball, you need a pool net. And kissing amphibians can lead to salmonella, or worse yet, marriage.

My favorite in the weird flavor are Hans-My-Hedgehog, which is about a half hedgehog, half man who rides a rooster around. Second up would be the goose girl, which I secretly believe is about a mentally disturbed princess and the poor handmaiden cursed to help her.

TQ:  What sorts of research did you do for Free Agent?

JC:  I bought an entire book of every fairy tale known and read through not only the popular ones, but the variants and weird ones you’d never see in a Disney movie. Then I made notes about recurring themes, and realized that while I’d thought the weird ones would be the most fun, it’s the most common ones that speak to everyday life.

Blended families are hard.
Mothers and daughters don’t always get along.
Don’t drink a lake with a duck in it.
You know, the truths that are still true to this day.

TQ:  In Free Agent, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

JC:  Marissa is hands down the easiest, because I understand her motivations so well. She’s smart. She’s sarcastic as a defense. She’s out of her league and not backing down. I sit down and begin writing in her voice and it just comes naturally.

Hardest character, hands down, is Prince Mihail. He’s so oily it made it hard for me to see things from his point of view and write him as a real person with real desires.

TQ:  Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery lines from Free Agent.


“My wishes are weapons, child, and I can destroy you with your own desires. Indeed, it is the only way.” – Fairy GodMother

“She comes for you soon, our half-sister. The Black Queen.” – The Fae Mother.

TQ:  What's next?

JC:  Next up in the Grimm Agency series is Armageddon Rules. Marissa’s about ready for some happily ever after, but in this world choices have consequences. Marissa will face off against an enemy who isn’t afraid to fight dirty, and does her homework to make sure vengeance really is served up for Marissa and the Agency gang.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Free Agent
A Grimm Agency Novel 1
Ace, July 29, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 Pages

When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

About JC

JC Nelson is the author of the Grimm Agency series. The first book in that series, “Free Agent,” is available from Penguin/Ace. A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC works for a large software company building things you’ll never know about if they are working. JC can be found by day drinking espresso and writing code, and by night writing books and playing online games badly. With his family and a flock of chickens, life is never dull.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @AuthorJCNelson  ~  Pinterest  ~  Goodreads

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of Free Agent by J.C. Nelson from The Qwillery.

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59PM US Eastern Time on August 9, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Press Release - Barnes & Noble’s Get Pop-Cultured Celebrations Continue at Stores Nationwide - Week of July 28 Events and Offers


Barnes & Noble’s Get Pop-Cultured Celebrations Continue at Stores Nationwide The Week of July 28 Events and Offers Include: August 1 Frozen Friday: Cool Off with Olaf!, August 2 Marvel® Day and August 3 James Patterson Day

Enter the Get Pop-Cultured Sweepstakes from NOOK® for a Chance to Win a $1,000 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, a Deluxe Warner Bros. Studio VIP Tour, Plus Other Great Prizes

Interview with Cheryl Brooks and Giveaway of Rebel (Cat Star Chronicles 10) - July 29, 2014

Please welcome Cheryl Brooks to The Qwillery. Rebel, the 10th novel in the Cat Star Chronicles, was published on July 1, 2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Cheryl:  Thanks so much for having me here at The Qwillery!
Self promotion is the hardest thing for me. I can write books all day long, but trying to sell other people on them is tough, which is why I recently established a street team to help me get the word out. I just wish I’d done it before book ten!

TQ:  You've written 10 Cat Star Chronicles novels including the recently published Rebel. Are you a plotter or a pantser? How do you keep track of all the events in the series?

Cheryl:  I’m a little of both. I don’t often outline a book, but like most self-described pantsers, I do the plotting in my head rather than on paper. Some of my best ideas have come to me while behind the wheel of my car or when I’m just waking up or falling asleep. If I write a synopsis or outline prior to writing the book, I only include major plot points, leaving plenty of leeway for the story and the characters to take me wherever the book needs to go. I’ve written a couple of books from a detailed synopsis, and while this method helps keep me on track, it diminishes the number of “aha” moments during the writing process.

To keep track of events, I often have to go back to the previous books and read parts of them to refresh my memory on various details. I also use a timeline to keep everything in chronological order and establish the ages of the characters in any given book. For example, the first draft of Rebel had Onca being thirty-six years old while Kim was only twenty. The editorial staff wanted them to be closer in age, and they asked me to make Kim two years older and Onca two years younger. Since part of the conflict between them stems from the age difference, I didn’t want to change their ages at all. Also, because of the time this story was set in relation to other events, Onca’s age couldn’t change. I could only make Kim two years older.

TQ:  Describe Rebel in 140 characters or less.

Cheryl:  A retired male prostitute rescues a homeless woman and becomes enmeshed in her crusade to liberate her kidnapped friends from sex slavery.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Rebel?

Cheryl:  I have several favorites, but the one that stands out the most is the first kiss. Onca’s fate is sealed at that moment, and he spends several chapters fighting the attraction, while at the same time falling hopelessly in love with Kim.

TQ:  In Rebel, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?

Cheryl:  Because most of my heroines are older and have some experiences that are similar to my own, Kim was probably the hardest to write. I’m not as young as I used to be, nor have I ever had to fend for myself without familial support. I had to work at putting myself in Kim’s place and understanding her motivations.

Onca was the easiest to write. I already knew him from previous books, and his personality was such that he practically wrote his point of view all by himself. ;-)

TQ:  Who is your favorite character in the Cat Star Chronicles? I promise that I won't tell the other characters.

Cheryl:  My favorite heroine is Jack, the heroine of Slave. My favorite hero is Onca. He’s sexy, likeable, heroic even without trying to be, and I adore the way he makes me laugh!

TQ:  In your opinion, does a romance always have to have an HEA?

Cheryl:  I think it does, or it isn’t truly a romance—at least, not by the strict definition of the genre. A story can be filled with romance, but if it doesn’t have a HEA, it isn’t nearly as satisfying. A romance should make you cry happy tears, not sad ones. ☺

TQ:  What's next?

Cheryl:  I’m currently writing an erotic contemporary series for Sourcebooks called Cowboy Heaven. A related novella will be published in January 2015, followed by two full-length novels. The first book is slated to be released in Spring 2015, the second sometime in the fall 2015 season. After that, I’m planning a spinoff series to the Cat Star books about a group of Avian clones. I’m also working on a paranormal romantic suspense trilogy that I had to drop when I got the contract to write the cowboys!

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Cheryl:  Thanks again for having me here! I enjoyed writing the interview very much. Great questions!

Cat Star Chronicles 10
Sourcebooks Casablanca, July 1, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 416 pages

He's Had a Galaxy of Women
A refugee of the annihilated planet Zetith, Onca has no family and no surname—only the fortune accrued by selling his prime services in a high-class brothel. When he comes to the rescue of a homeless Zetithian woman, passion flares, but he dares not touch someone who seems so young and innocent...

But None Has Touched His Heart
Kimcasha has lived by her wits on the streets since the age of ten. When her friends start to go missing, Kim uses herself as bait to find them, but her plans goes awry when Onca intervenes. As they are led into a dangerous underworld, Onca offers to join her crusade to liberate her friends, and Kim cannot refuse...

Previously in the Cat Star Chronicles

About Cheryl

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse who resides in rural Indiana with her husband, two sons, two horses, four cats, and one dog. Her Cat Star Chronicles series was first published by Sourcebooks Casablanca in 2008, and includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, Wildcat, and the current release, Rebel.

Self-published works include Sex, Love, and a Purple Bikini, Midnight in Reno, and the Unlikely Lovers series: Unbridled, Uninhibited, Undeniable, and Unrivaled. She has also published If You Could Read My Mind writing as Samantha R. Michaels. As a member of The Sextet, she has written eight erotic novellas published by Siren/Bookstrand.

Her other interests include cooking, gardening, singing, and guitar playing. Cheryl is a member of RWA and IRWA. You can visit her online at

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @CherylCatMaster  ~  Pinterest

The Giveaway

What:  One entrant will win a copy of Rebel (Cat Star Chronicles 10) by Cheryl Brooks from Sourcebooks Casablanca. US/CANADA  ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on August 7, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway