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THIS SAVAGE SONG by Victoria Schwab

this-savage-songTHIS SAVAGE SONG is so much more than an incredible title. Schwab’s question of what defines a monster is pushed to its limits in this inventive paranormal. Kate, a teenage girl, fights for acceptance from her criminal father while August–a monster who takes the form of a teenage boy–fights to control his hunger.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.

What immediately set this book apart from other YA paranormals I’ve read recently is that there is no romance plot. Though I love romance, it was refreshing to read a book in this genre that didn’t automatically go that route just because two teenage characters are thrown together into dire circumstances and had plenty of alone time for kissy scenes. Kate and August don’t need a romantic relationship to know each other at the deepest levels. Each holds a mirror up to the other, girl to monster and monster to girl.

August is, at first glance, the farthest thing one could imagine from a monster. He has a poet’s soul and a near painful level of empathy. Regardless, his basic nature makes him a dangerous–a hollow hunger that, if not satisfied, could lead to a catastrophic loss of control. August is a “Sunai,” a paranormal being that seems a blend of siren and demon.

There are other monstrous beings in the story as well. Malchai have traits that remind me of vampires, and Corsai seem sort of like shapeshifters.  I think what Schwab has done is really smart. Many readers are tired of the more classic paranormal creatures, but Schwab was able to take the basic elements of those ideas and spin them into something all her own.

That leads me to the next and probably best part of this book–the world building. Schwab’s world is essentially a dystopia plagued by monsters. The city our main characters are living in is a Berlin of sorts that may fall once again into territory wars. In the midst of this, we have two teenagers (well…one might dispute that fact about August) from opposite sides of the wall who click despite their differences. These two grow to rely on each other when those they trust turn against them…when nowhere in the city is safe.

I hope you pick up this incredible title and check out more on Victoria Schwab’s website.

Happy reading!

Michelle Joyce Bond

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Books With Friends Challenge

Fall is almost upon us, and though it’s a stressful time of year for many, it’s important to take the time to relax and read. And what better way to do that than picking up a book friend’s favorite read??

book friend library bottle section

The ladies at Live Love Read YA have put together a reading challenge for the September and October. All you need to do to join the challenge is grab a friend, recommend books, read, and repeat. Check it out by following the link here, and remember to tweet about it with the hashtag: #BooksWithFriends!

Back? Okay. So for this challenge, I’ve asked my incredible critique partner and friend Aryn Youngless to recommend some books of awesomitude. (She once recommended READY PLAYER ONE to me, guys–so I trust her taste completely.)

This will be a cross-continental exchange of recommendations as Aryn lives on the west coast, and I’m on the east coast. We’ve had a lot of fun conversations about regional differences. And weather. Her’s is better. 🙂

Check our Aryn’s blog here.

Though our taste in books differs, there’s a lot of intersection. And since part of this challenge is about getting out of our comfort zone, we are recommending any book that just stuck with us for one reason or another.

six of crows
My first pick for Aryn is hands down the best book I’ve read this year: SIX OF CROWS. I plan on doing a review of it soon, so for now, all I’ll say is: This baby reads like an RPG!

 

sandman slim

Aryn’s first pick for me is SANDMAN SLIM a gritty fantasy which sounds totally dark and completely  up my alley–can’t wait to start!

 

lets do this reactions liz lemon its on

Will you take up the challenge?

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

Resources for Writers · Uncategorized

Craft Books

Hey, fellow writers! The following is a list of my all-time favorite craft books with some of my thoughts on each and links to Goodreads for more information.

I’d love to hear from you about your favorites as well. Please feel free to share them in the comments section. 🙂

51INMIZnddLVERBALIZE by Damon Suede.

A fresh way of viewing and crafting fiction that will blow your mind and offer a blueprint to reassemble the pieces. Forget what you know about building a character. With humor, wisdom, and vivid examples from popular fiction, Damon offers a better way to go about building a book—from a character’s core outward and utilizing verbs. Helpful exercises make it easy to apply his craft advice whether you are a plotter, pantser, or an inbetweener. This book is a game-changer not only for the writers who pick it up but for genre-fiction as a whole.

on writing romanceON WRITING ROMANCE: HOW TO CRAFT A NOVEL THAT SELLS by Leigh Michaels

This is one of the first craft books I ever picked up. Once upon a time, I figured out that the romance plot was central to all my stories and began seeking sources to help me. This book was an incredible eye-opener. On Writing Romance begins with the history of the romance novel and moves to particulars about its craft including subgenres, character-building, and conflict.

Read more about this title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page MorrellTHANKS BUT

The full title of this book says it all: Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: The Compassionate Guide to Understanding What’s Wrong With Your Writing and Leaving the Rejection Pile for Good. Morrell is one of my all-time favorites. You’ll see two more titles by her on this list. In this book, she uses her unique sense of humor and relatable examples to share common errors newbie writers need to know. Also, the cover is adorable.

Read more about Morrell’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

GMCGMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT by Debra Dixon

This is an indispensable look at the very heart of any story. I’ve read blog and portions of craft books that cover this topic, but I enjoy the depth to which Dixon takes it. You can have all the beautiful prose in the world, but if your story lacks a strong foundation, you will lose your reader.

Read more about Dixon’s title on Goodreads by clicking here.

 

BULLIES, BASTARDS & BITCHES: HOW TO WRITE THE BAD GUYS IN FICTION by Jessica Page Morrellbullies bitches

Did you get a kick out of the title? I did. 🙂

In this book, Morrell goes deep into the antagonist–offering character types, pitfalls, and advice on strengthening your bad guys. Go deep into the dark side.

For more on Morrell’s book, click here.

 

on writingON WRITING: A MEMOIR OF THE CRAFT by Stephen King

An incredibly inspiring book by some writer of whom I’m sure you’ve never heard. 🙂 But in all seriousness, this is an incredible all-around book that is part life, part writing, part wisdom.

For more on King’s book, click here.

 

 

WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maassbreakout novel

This is an all-around great book that offers writing techniques to help your work stand out in the slush pile.

Read more about Maass’s book by clicking here.

 

 

between the linesBETWEEN THE LINES: MASTER THE SUBTLE ELEMENTS OF FICTION WRITING by Jessica Page Morrell

This is a fabulous book to read during the revision process. It’s a lot to take in, so I suggest reading a bit, applying, and going back for more. In this book, Morrell “shows you how to craft a unified and layered novel or short story by mastering subtle storytelling techniques” (Goodreads blurb).

Read more about Morrell’s title by clicking here.

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SHE LAUGHS IN PINK by Jessica Calla: Hot Read – Deep Characters

She Laughs in PinkLooking for a hot summer read with a cast of wild characters, a lot of fun, and just a touch of magic? You found it in SHE LAUGHS IN PINK!

Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:

Four years after her twin is murdered, Juliet Anderson still struggles with guilt, her parents, and her relationships. Two things keep her from falling into a deep, dark place—dancing and her best friend, Ben. So when Ben decides to play football for New Jersey University, Juliet doesn’t hesitate. She follows. Finally away from her past, there is nothing to stand in the way. Juliet will win Ben’s heart.

Then she meets Ben’s roommate, Chase.

On probation and hell-bent on adhering to a “new life plan,” aspiring artist Chase leaves his New York City home for New Jersey University and meets Juliet before even stepping foot on campus. For him, their connection is instant. She’s the most vibrant girl he’s ever seen. Her colors explode on his canvas, and he’s never been more inspired in his life.

Too bad she’s madly in love with his seemingly perfect, good guy roommate.

Calla has an exceptional ability to create deep characters with dark pasts who we root for all the way. I never felt like I was overloaded with backstory and was eager to hear about Juliet and Chase. They are each, in their own way, fighting to move on with their lives and in doing so, smack right into each other.

Sheridan Hall, the dorm where Juliet and Chase reside, is always active. It’s diverse cast of characters help to create an atmosphere that makes the college experience very believable!

To backtrack a bit–I picked up this title after reading Calla’s THE LOVE SQUARE because I enjoyed the spin she put on the love triangle trope and was looking forward to another cool, outside-the-box read. I wasn’t disappointed.

The air between Juliet and Chase sizzles despite Juliet’s chasing her best friend, Ben and Chase dealing with pressures from home. Chase is an artist and sees straight to Juliet’s essence–sees it in color, in fact. Chase has the ability to see auras. He begins to paint them–ballerina Juliet dancing and laughing. Laughing in pink.

But before Chase and Juliet can have their happily ever after, they need to reassess their own goals, decide what really matters, and face a tragic event that sweeps in at the end of Act II. I’m all about bittersweet endings, and–not giving this part away–I have to say, the ending of this book was perfect. 

I hope you check out SHE LAUGHS IN PINK and Calla’s incredible debut title THE LOVE SQUARE! To visit her webpage, click here.

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BENEATH US Took First Place in The Fool for Love Contest!

Fool for Love WinnerOh my gosh–I don’t know where to start! I took the drive down from Jersey to attend the Virginia Romance Writers’ 2016 Awards Luncheon because I was excited to meet members of VRW as well as other finalists. The event had a tea party theme, and it was fun to see individual writers’ personalities reflected in their outfits from tiny top hat to fireman’s helmet. The air was thick with good humor, creativity, and the smell of fragrant tea.

Jacqueline Bragaw was one of the first writers I met and the organizer of the event. She was so sweet, welcoming, and witty as were many members of VRW. Guest speakers Carolyn Greene and Cynthia Holt Johnson delivered a humorous and heartfelt presentation of the origins of the VRW, The Fool for Love Contest, the Holt, and their their own journey as writers.

As Jacqueline–with poise and panache–began to announce the results of the Fool for Love Contest, my hands started to shake. I had no clue what to expect and was honored just to be a finalist in a contest that helped so many writers get their start. When she announced that BENEATH US took first place, I couldn’t believe it!

Sadly, the Luncheon soon came to an end, but I got to keep my tea cup, my memories, and hope to see members from the VRW visit the New Jersey Romance Writers for our October Conference!

To find more information about The Fool for Love Contest and VRW’s published author contest, The Holt, click here.

Michelle Joyce Bond

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BENEATH US Is Now a Four-Time Finalist!

four time finalistRecently, I received call from a Contest Chair, Megan Randall, who was happy to share the news that I finaled in the YA category of Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool for Love Contest! They read it. They liked it. Watch me as I dance the Watusi!

So now what? Lately, I’ve been drawing inspiration from Jodi Thomas’s RWA workshop, Why Write One Book When You Could Write a Series? and putting together a detailed plan for another three books. Quirky characters, strange magic, dark worlds, and three girls who will sacrifice everything for one small town–one small world to anchor them all. Can’t wait to get started. 🙂

What projects have you been working on lately? #amwriting much?

Michelle Joyce Bond

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BENEATH US is now a Three-Time Finalist!

imageI was absolutely honored this week to learn that I am a finalist in the YA category of Chicago-North Romance Writers’ Fire & Ice Contest!

My YA paranormal BENEATH US also finaled in the North Texas Romance Writers’ Great Expectations Contest and the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers’ Golden Claddagh Contest.

Here’s a micro blurb: Reaper by birth–not by choice–Gail hasn’t dared visit the Netherworld since she accidentally killed her boyfriend. When a quirky, hot messenger from Death crashes into her life, she’s faced with a choice between her surface-world dreams and the crumbling cities below.

If you have a manuscript that you feel is ready but haven’t entered a contest yet–consider it. Even if you do not final, the feedback you receive from the judges is invaluable.

Michelle Joyce Bond

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Spring Update

imageBetween my day job, online classes with Margie Lawson, critiquing, and revision–the last two months have been as nuts as a can of Planters. I’ve loved every second.

After reading Margie’s packets on Empowering Characters’ Emotions and taking two of her classes–Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices and More as well as Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist–I have new, incredible lenses to use in revision. Also–no surprise–I have a lot of work to do. I cannot recommend Margie enough. Check out her courses here.

In the fall, I wrote my first New Adult paranormal (geeky, creepy, fun!) and am beginning to work on revisions with new momentum from these classes. Sooooo excited to get back to this MS!

Take any good classes lately? Read any good books?? 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond

Projects · Uncategorized

Projects

THE RAVINE: New Adult Paranormal Romance. This is my newest project.

Both can see ghosts after dark. Both struggle with silence. They’ll need to work together if they hope to defeat his malicious poltergeist and stop her ex-boyfriend’s blackmail by the end of the summer.

THE RAVINE finaled in the following contests (2018):

 

THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS: New Adult Paranormal Romance

A gamer geek puts all the guys she kisses to sleep. Her former high school enemy will try to break the curse.

This project has stand alone series potential and has finaled in the following contests (contest dates range from 2016-2017):

 

BENEATH US: Young Adult Paranormal Romance

A Reaper princess turned lifeguard and a skater boy, soldier of Death are our only chance to save the Netherworld’s most powerful city.

This project took first place in the YA/NA category of Virginia Romance Writers’ 2016 Fool for Love Contest! It also finaled in the Chicago-North Romance Writers’ Fire & Ice Contest, North Texas Romance Writers’ Great Expectations Contest, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers’ Golden Claddagh Contest, and New Jersey Romance Writers’ Put Your Heart in a Book Contest.

 

STARCHILD: Young Adult Time-Slip Romance

The concept behind STARCHILD is best described as THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE meets WUTHERING HEIGHTS. This project finaled in the 2015 Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers.

 

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THE GHOST CHRONICLES by Marlo Berliner – YA Love Beyond the Veil

The Ghost Chroncles
Image from Amazon.com

I just finished THE GHOST CHRONICLES by Marlo Berliner and had to give a shout out to my fellow Jerseyite for this incredible YA Paranormal! Berliner’s high-concept storytelling and sympathetic hero had me hooked on this title immediately.

Here’s the summary from Amazon.com:

Can Michael get to heaven before the devil gets him first, and if it means leaving Sarah is he sure he still wants to go?

Michael Andrews had everything – a loving family, a great girlfriend and a promising basketball career. That was before the accident that took his life. Now, he’s a ghost, wandering among the living, struggling to understand why he’s stuck. All he wants is to move on.

That is until he meets Sarah, an attractive young girl who died just as tragically as he did. The only trouble is falling in love and binding oneself to another soul is forbidden, for it may keep one or both of the souls bound to earth for longer than they should be.

To make matters worse, there’s also a danger in going too far with Sarah, because the “joining” of two souls in the afterlife is also strictly forbidden and they don’t know what will happen if they do go that far. Each time they touch they can feel the boundaries of their energies slipping perilously into one another.

Things get even more complicated as Michael learns he’s being pursued. Demons are after him because he’s a marked soul, a soul the devil wants very badly for some unknown reason.

So, maybe falling in love in the afterlife isn’t such a good idea.

I can’t help beginning with the setting because (holla!) a large part of it takes place in New Jersey. Michael, our ghostly hero, grew up in central Jersey. The description of this area is especially fun for local readers who can connect to the landmarks mentioned a la Evanovich.

The heart of the setting, however, is the Angel of the Sea, a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Cape May, NJ that’s rumored to harbor the ghost of a teenage girl, Sarah. Love crosses boundaries of time, space, and death as Michael falls for Sarah.

Berliner pulls out all the paranormal stops by rolling explanations of other paranormal creatures besides ghosts into her world-building. I don’t want to give these pieces away, but look forward to meeting incredible creatures as well as historical figures.

Michael himself had me hooked from the beginning–a teen character who looses his life, his girlfriend, his future in basketball, and his family. He begins the book alive, so this loss is more deeply felt, and his journey to move on from his ties to the mortal world has its own perils. Travel with Michael to several historic locations as he seeks the answers to the big questions of his afterlife and flees the demons that want his soul.

Be sure to check out Berliner’s webpage!

Michelle Joyce Bond