THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS Is a Finalist!

I am stoked to share that my new adult paranormal romance, THE TWENTY-EIGHTH KISS, finaled in San Francisco Area RWA’s Heart-to-Heart Contest!

excited sailor moon exciting fangirling hell yes

OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG

Here’s a micro blurb:

A gamer-girl geek puts every guy she kisses to sleep. Her former high school rival is the last guy she expects to try and break the curse.

This was a fun book to write not only because of the new freedom presented by the jump in genre (I usually write YA) but because the chemistry between the characters was so strong.

This is also my first dual POV book, and I absolutely loved being in the hero’s head! A closet artist with a searing intelligence and blunt nature, Serge pushes Bess to her limits. There’s a lot of fun banter between the two throughout the book, and Serge doesn’t pull any punches. He’s my favorite kind of hero–the kind I want to slap.

The heroine, Bess, is bright with tunnel-vision determination and more than her fair share of quirks. Bess and her best friends are retro-gamers which meant I got to write a some fun scenes that include them geeking about in a sweet arcade. Bess is also a medical scribe. This internship offered to college students was interesting to research and definitely helped me to amp up the tension in this book.

I am excited to pitch this new book at NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference coming up next weekend. Can’t wait to talk books, make connections, and get my craft on. 🙂

Michelle Joyce Bond

 

Books With Friends: SANDMAN SLIM

Time to chat about the #BooksWithFriends challenge! I recently finished SANDMAN SLIM, a gritty fantasy recommended to me by my critique partner and friend, Aryn Youngless.

sandman slimHere’s the blurb from Goodreads:

Supernatural fantasy has a new antihero in Sandman Slim, star of this gripping, gritty new series by Richard Kadrey.

Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth that is Los Angeles.

Now Stark’s back, and ready for revenge. And absolution, and maybe even love. But when his first stop saddles him with an abusive talking head, Stark discovers that the road to absolution and revenge is much longer than you’d expect, and both Heaven and Hell have their own ideas for his future.

Resurrection sucks. Saving the world is worse.

Darkly twisted, irreverent, and completely hilarious, Sandman Slim is the breakthrough novel by an acclaimed author.

One of the goals of the #BooksWithFriends challenge is to get readers out of their comfort zones, and lately, I’ve been reading a ton of–you guessed it–romance. I’m usually pretty good and will mix in literary works, but I don’t usually reach for books like SANDMAN SLIM unless I’m in the mood for a graphic novel. This book is packed with dark humor, magic, mayhem, and action, action, action.

There are several well-choreographed fight scenes punctuated by humorous dialogue. Stark’s temperament, history, and unique collection of artifacts make him a fun character to picture.

Stark is also prone to long interior monologues that perform noir-like deconstructions of LA…and I love them. These pockets are some of the best parts of the book.

Overall, I’m really pleased and am happy to have taken this challenge. It’s important for writers to read wide and read often. I’m thankful to have had this experience because Kadrey is an incredible author whose voice and tone is contagious.

Read more about Kadrey and his books by clicking here.

Michelle Joyce Bond

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

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

 

EMERGE by Tobie Easton: YA Fantasy with Humor and Heart

emerge

Image from Amazon.com

Imagine being a teenager who has to deal with the challenges of not one but two societies: human and Mer.

EMERGE is a fun, unexpected read that adds some major twists to the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale: “The Little Mermaid.” For someone who grew up with Disney’s The Little Mermaid (and obsessed over the thing to the point that my entire bedroom was mermaid themed), this book has an added charm. I could tell Easton had a lot of fun defining her story against popular culture’s idea of mermaids and their history.

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads.com:

Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia’s entire community at risk.

So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn’t the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn’t realize the danger he’s in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.

Easton takes time to lovingly build a story world around Lia from Mer including history, language, clothing, housing, cultural traditions and so much more. While reading, I not only felt like a part of Mer society, but I enjoyed all the little details Easton wove into her vivid descriptions of setting.

Humor is a huge part of EMERGE. Easton’s Mermaid puns had me laughing out loud, and her voice kept me turning pages. It’s fun to imagine being Lia (girl gets to live in a Malibu mansion and she’s a mermaid??), and I couldn’t wait for her to kiss hottie, Clay. 🙂

I hope you enjoy this book and check out Tobie Easton’s website!

What’s your favorite mermaid tale?

Michelle Joyce Bond

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. 🙂

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.

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.