Book Review, Fantasy, Reading

Book Review: Hidden Realm

Hidden Realm (Legends of Lightning, Book One)

T.R. Slauf — October 6, 2020

(Goodreads) (Amazon)

Blurb:

“The next Realm Walker will bring with them a storm. Lightning must fight the Crimson shadow, or the lands will be cast into eternal darkness.”

When she was a child Esther was plagued with vivid nightmares, now they have returned to haunt her. Blood thirsty monsters chase her through a forest of dead trees while a mysterious hooded figure stalks her. After awaking with fresh wounds from her dreams Esther searches for the truth about who she is and the Hidden Realm she is destined to save.

Join Esther on her journey of self-discovery as she travels into a world long forgotten. Unsure if she can trust her hooded guide, she is hunted by unknown enemies and smothered by expectations of grandeur. Deciphering friend from foe as she travels the lands trying to unite kingdoms torn by pride.

My Impression:

Fam, this story was unbelievable. I won a contest and was able to read the book before it’s launch and I am so happy that I got to. The characters are realistic and nuanced. I love Esther and Oisin’s friendship, as many of the other characters grew on me as well.

Something I especially loved was the inclusion of the original Grimm’s tales in worldbuilding. I never would have thought to do something like that, and Slauf does it so well! I’ll be honest in that I’ve never actually read the original tales.. but my interest has been piqued by this and I may soon add them to my never-ending TBR!

Today is launch day.

Seriously, go check out Hidden Realms and T.R. Slauf’s website. This book is for you if you enjoy dark fantasy, twisted fairytale retellings, and gritty, realistic, tales. The book definitely has more than a few adult situations and is not for the faint of heart! Over all, I loved it and cannot wait for the next installment.

Fantasy, Order of the Hunt

Announcement: Next title release

Heeyyy fam! Thought all was quiet around here, eh?

Well, it was.

Anywho, I’ve been busy working on the next project. Without further ado…

Before Dana could join the Order, they had to find each other… and their own powers.

That’s right! The next novel is actually a prequel to The Wraith’s Bargain. It’s currently off with an alpha reader, but I’m planning on having it ready to release this coming April.

Some of you may have read some rough drafts of part of it on Wattpad… those have been taken down. But they’ll be back in this book, better than ever, with added content and a promising resolution. 😉

Now I really would love to know… which Order member are you most interested in learning about? The focus wasn’t on them quite so much in TWB, so I’m excited in sharing more about them!

Comment below or catch me on social media and let me know!

Fantasy, Order of the Hunt, The Wraith, Writing Process

The reasons behind the book

Everyone says, “I want to write a book.” They have different reasons behind it. Some want fortune, or fame. Some want to feel like their names will go down in history. Others write because they have something inside them–a story, a character, an emotion–and they have to get it out.

I’m in that last category.

As some of you may know, The Wraith’s Bargain has been rewritten many times over the years. My first draft in high school was actually named Queen’s Gambit. The second draft, and many after it, were simply called Order of the Hunt.

In each version of the book, I was working through a problem. I took comfort in familiar characters that I had based on real life friends. I shaped the plot for the characters to encounter different obstacles and to overcome them–from unhealthy relationships to financial struggles, from a struggle against evil to dipping their toes in. There was a whole section of the book that explored religious aspects of the series (which I ultimately dismissed) and the morality associated with recruiting to such a cause.

The current and final version of the book explores morality, the existence of absolute good and absolute evil, corruption, power, and control, and even a little bit of what makes a healthy or unhealthy relationship.

Mind you, not all of these are outright obvious in the first book. But as the series continues you’ll see more and the pieces will fit together.

So.. long story short. Why did I write this book?

I never really planned to publish. I wrote for my own enjoyment, for my own sort of therapy to work through different issues. And when I got to the end, I realized that it was a story I had to share with the world.

And I will be sharing it, June 28th. Hope to see you there.

Fantasy, freebie, Order of the Hunt, Writing Process

Cover Reveal! The Consequence

Hey Fam! How’s everything going? I’ve been a little quiet lately working behind the scenes. Here’s what I’ve accomplished in the last two weeks:

  • Almost finished formatting The Wraith’s Bargain for print
  • Commissioned and received a piece of art as a gift for those who pre-order
  • Sent off the last of the info to the cover artist so that can be completed
  • Began researching local author events for my area
  • Completed the third novella in the Order of the Hunt collection

So without further ado I give you the next free novella!

The Consequence

Some people know when things are too good to be true.

Annie was not one of those people, until now.

After joining an Order of demon hunters, things started going downhill fast. First, Will was attacked. Then Kat was kidnapped. Now things are starting to calm down, but Annie can’t help but to watch for the next pitfall. So when her brother begins spoiling for a fight, Annie takes things into her own hands.

It was a simple spell, with major consequences.

Now Annie has to face what she’s done to her friends and find a way out of the new mess they’re in–and fast. Before her brother pays for her mistake… with his life.


Posting schedule: One chapter posted each Wednesday and Sunday beginning 2/19/20.

Here’s a link to the title page, though the first chapter won’t be posted for a few days. Follow me on Wattpad to get email updates or notifications when chapters are posted!

Friendly reminder: if you enjoy my writing, press the below button to have the first three chapters of The Wraith’s Bargain emailed to you free!

Fantasy, Writing Process

When inspiration strikes at the wrong time

The funny thing about inspiration is that it can strike at the oddest times.

I wasn’t looking to start a new story in the midst of preparations for my first ever book launch. I was committed to focusing on only this series until completion. Those authors that work multiple books at once are ridiculous, I thought. They’re putting too much work on themselves.

And then… this happened.

I’ve been watching the movies and listening to the soundtrack for Disney’s Descendants. I know, I know. But I’m obsessed with it. I love musicals. I love villains. And I LOVE their style. It’s pretty much perfect for me.

(I do have issue with the incredibly cheesy portrayal of the adult villains. But that’s beside the point.)

Sunday, I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a combination of posts. They were far enough apart that my brain didn’t put them together immediately. And then I landed on a writing prompt. I thought, Why not? and began to type. And type. And type.

Side note: I suck at phone typing. So I rarely do long comments on things because I’m usually on my phone instead of a laptop. Phones are easier to hide from toddlers, who love nothing more than to press keys and try to play games on mommy’s “puter”. TL;DR: I usually do short-to-non-existent comments.

But I typed over a paragraph, and my brain started rushing ahead and into a new story. Fully blown, concept, characters, plot, even cover design. A line from a song from Descendants influences a decent part of the plot, honestly. Thinking back on it, I can pick out 2-3 Instagram posts that my brain pieced together with the song into a new idea.

This isn’t a good time to write a new story. But it never is. We all have so many obligations, both self-imposed and other. When the muse demands it, you must make time.. or else.

Or else you will lose the flame. The amazing story that could have come from this moment will be lost forever. And few things are worse than that, to a storyteller.

So now I’m taking a darker twist on one of my obsessions, and we’re going to see what happens. I’m still making The Wraith’s Bargain my priority of course. But I’m making time for this story, too. A little less idle time, a little more satisfaction.

Worth it.

Fantasy, The Wraith

Announcements for 2020

Hey fam! We’re knee deep in the holiday season.. Christmas is tomorrow! Whatever winter holiday you celebrate, if any, I hope you’re enjoying it.

I wanted to pop on here and dish out a few announcements that I am So Excited to share with you!

First off.. a mailing list!

I’ve finally got it figured out to do a mailing list of my own. I plan to use the newsletter to keep you all in the loop on writing progress and projects, blog updates, life updates, book recommendations… all sorts of stuff, really. I wouldn’t be raining down on your inbox all the time though.. probably just once or twice a month. Readers on my email list would also get access to behind the scenes info and first chance at freebies and other offers.


Which leads me to my bigger announcement…

That’s right, finally. That novel I’ve been talking about for ages? It’s legitimately happening. I don’t have an official release date yet, but it should be somewhere around June.

As for the cover art, I’ll be revealing that in early 2020. Email subscribers will get first looks at the cover, as well as inside info on the novel and my launching process.

The Wraith’s Bargain is for book lovers who enjoy fantasy, dark themes, and of course, demons and magic. I’m thinking Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets House of Night. (Just… without the vampires.)

Intrigued? Hit that subscribe button above and I’ll keep you in the loop! Plus, I’m cooking up a gift for subscribers here pretty soon… but it’s a surprise!

Fantasy, Order of the Hunt

Character Interview: Will Murphy

Hey, fam. In honor of The Strategist being posted this month, I thought I’d start doing some character interviews. I picked Will to go first, since he was the star of the first novella and it would be the least spoiler-y. I’d love to hear more questions that you’d be interested in asking the characters! I just came up with a few that might give a bit more insight into him as a person. I hope you enjoy!

What did you eat for breakfast today?

I don’t eat breakfast… I usually just get up and start my day, and have a snack if I get hungry before lunch.

Where do you live? Who with?

Depends when you’re asking about. In The First Stone, I lived in a rental house with Jeremy. His grandma owned the place and let us stay there for a little bit of our scholarship money. His sister Annie crashed there sometimes too, though she was still in high school. It’s kind of a crappy house to be honest, one story with three bedrooms and only a thousand square feet. Paint peeling on the outside, etc. But it was our own place and we liked it for that.

Later on, I ended up moving back into my parent’s house. They needed someone to watch it and do general upkeep while they moved to Florida. Really stereotypical if you ask me, but no one usually does…

How do you get around town?

Our town is blessed with public transportation, so we either walked or took the bus most places. In The Strategist, I ended up getting to use my dad’s old Chevy truck to cart us around town. I’m not a big fan of driving, but the freedom it gives you is worth it.

How would you describe yourself?

You mean physically? Or like, as a person. Cause those are different.

Well, I’m a tall guy. I’m actually even taller than Jeremy, but no one really notices because I slouch so much. I don’t know why I do it, but it feels more comfortable. I keep my hair short – it’s dark and kind of thick, and I have a goatee and mustache. I wear glasses and neutral colors most of the time.

As a person.. I’d say one word to describe me is ‘reserved’. And a bit of a nerd, I suppose. I had NASA bedsheets as a kid and I played Starcraft.

What’s the best gift you could receive?

Maybe a gift card, so I could download all of the games and music that I want.. the legal way. Or some really good earbuds.

How do you feel you changed from the events in The First Stone?

I grew a lot, obviously. Reaffirmed that I could count on Jeremy when it matters most, and actually experienced a battle.

…. I got a healthy dose of fear, too. It hasn’t quite gone away yet.

What’s something you wish people knew about you?

….That there’s a reason I’m the quiet, reserved guy. I’m not just some super-awkward mega nerd. I mean, I’m a nerd, don’t get me wrong. But years of hearing people’s true thoughts makes you want to interact less. You fade into the background, they don’t notice you, and you don’t have to hear anything you’d rather not. At least, not about yourself. It’s a form of self-defense.

Plus my best buddy loves the spotlight. So I let him have it. After witnessing how depressed he was when we were younger, I’d do anything to make him happy.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone?

Agh, this is a hard one. I don’t want you to think of me this way.. but shortly after we discovered our powers, we were learning to control them still. Jer and I were experimenting, and we felt like we had them figured out. And then the bullies picked up on our new sense of confidence, I guess. I knew Jer wanted revenge for the way we’d always been treated and I went along with it.

… I have no idea how we didn’t get caught or in trouble. But those boys never bothered us again. Anyone else, either.

What do you fear most?

What’s with all these deep questions? Can’t we go back to the breakfast one?

..No? Okay.

Used to be, it was being discovered. But after The First Stone… yeah, I have a new fear. It has wings and tentacles. Once you read it, you’ll know what I mean.

How do you view your powers?

They’ve always felt like a burden to me. I didn’t ask to be able to hear people’s thoughts. I couldn’t shut it out unless I had music playing. So music was my savior for 8 long years. Every sleeping and waking moment, if I wasn’t listening to music aloud I had it playing mentally. It’s very draining, and even now that I have another way to protect my mind I get uneasy in silence. Silence didn’t exist for me for so many years, I don’t know quite what to do with it.

Lately my powers have transformed from being a burden to more of a call to action. A duty. I have them for a reason, and I receive messages that help to keep others safe. Yeah, I like them now. Most of the time.

That’s a wrap! Anything else you’d like to say before we end this?

Uh.. don’t play at summoning demons, kids. They’re serious trouble.

Fantasy, Order of the Hunt, The Wraith, Writing Process

The First Stone- available on Wattpad!

Hey, fam. I’ve published my first story on Wattpad and I’d really appreciate you checking it out! It’s called The First Stone .

We aren’t alone in this world. It’s a lesson that Will learned the hard way on the night of his twelfth birthday. He and his best friend Jeremy were attacked by a demon only hours after discovering they had supernatural powers. This night was the first of many they dedicated to learning to control their powers and defeat that which goes bump in the night.

Fast forward eight years and they’ve learned all the tricks of the trade–or so they thought. A late night chance encounter with a demon hunter introduces them to an entire secret society and a wealth of knowledge. The only problem is that now Will has become a walking target for a species of demon that has a taste for his psychic energy.

Now the clock is ticking as Will and Jeremy race to seal the demons out of their world once and for all. Can they do it before Will becomes a demon’s dinner?

I’m really excited to bring this world to you all.. I’ve been working on this world and magic style for years and I feel like I know it inside and out.. but then I look at my unpublished novel and I know that people need more information. So I’m working on a collection of short story/novellas to make available, for free, so that people can get to know the world of my characters.

Will Murphy is the first character we get to know. The next story will focus on Kat Flores, and then probably Annie Harris. The last story (probably) will be Jeremy Harris. He’s the leader of their little group and that one will need a lot of build up.

Any feedback at all you can give me on The First Stone would be super appreciated. You can comment on Wattpad, or here, or hit me up on social media anywhere. I can’t wait to hear what you all think! 🖤

Book Review, Fantasy, Reading

Book Review: Lanterns in the Sky

Lanterns in the Sky (The Starlight Chronicles Book 1)

P.S. Malcolm – March 5, 2019

(Goodreads) (Amazon)

Blurb:

Everything was normal for Lucy Maisfer until the day a star fell from the sky and knocked her out. Upon waking, she comes face-to-face with Jason Woods, who also happens to be the mysterious new guy in her best friend, Valarie’s, life. 

Then the strange dreams begin, and she learns about the Starlight Princess— who must not under any circumstance be reawakened. Driven to uncover the meaning of it, she finds herself caught up in a strange twist of events that eventually lead to bigger danger than she ever anticipated. Before long, Lucy is forced to make a choice between saving the world, or saving her best friend; only to discover that Valarie cannot be saved… that she has an even darker secret, and that her supposed star-crossed romance with Jason might not be so destined after all…

My Impression:

This book is masterfully written. The prose is cinematic – you can see it playing out in your head and honestly this is just begging to be made into a movie. I’m astounded by Malcolm’s imagery and the level of detail and thought that went into every scene. The book is full of twists and original ideas that I haven’t seen elsewhere. I’m eagerly awaiting the next book!

Notes:

This book (series) is a must read for those who love magic, royalty, and surprises while they’re reading. There’s a budding romance too, but it’s definitely taken a back seat to the action–there’s no time for that with everything that’s going on in this book! If you love Princesses who are strong enough to save themselves, you have GOT to read this book.

Enjoy this? Check out the rest of my book reviews HERE.

Fantasy

The four coolest paranormal creatures, according to me

Hey, fam. It’s July already. You know what that means?
Yep! 3 months until Halloween. Yes.
If you’re like me, you probably obsess over this spooky holiday. It’s definitely my favorite by far, and has been since it surpassed Christmas sometime in middle school. I’ve already started trying to decide what my family will be dressing up as, what about you?

Anyway.

Thinking about all that made me think about my favorite paranormal creatures. You know, the creatures of the night that are generally the antagonists in either really scary or really sexy stories. What’s up with that dichotomy?

Vampires

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but if I did it would probably be vampires. They are what we’re exposed to the most in popular media. These fanged former humans sustain themselves by drinking blood. Depending on the mythology you’re sourcing it on, they may or may not have some of the following traits: sensitive to sunlight, allergic to garlic, unable to cross running water, sleeps in coffins or grave dirt, weakness to fire, weakness or repelled by Christian crosses, ability to hypnotize victims, ability to turn into a bat or other animal, telepathic abilities, and doesn’t age. I’m sure I’ve missed some, but that’s the list of the most popular traits I’ve come across.
Vampires are the subject of a whole genre of romance stories, which highlights people’s obsession with eternal youth and beauty. There’s also something to be said for the strangely sensual thrill people have at the idea of being pursued, and therefore desired, by something mysterious and powerful.

Werewolves

Werewolves are the subject of a simillar vein of love stories as vampires, but they have a bit of a different feel to them. While the vampire stories are often sold as being more elegant and high class, werewolves are seen as being baser, more instinctual creatures. These are typically portrayed as humans who change into wolves or wolf-like creatures by the light of the full moon. In some tales, they have full command of themselves as wolves. Others, they do not.

I’ve got to admit mixed feelings for werewolves. I’m going to blame the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992) because, let’s face it. WTF was with that werewolf scene? I was scarred when I saw this as a teenager. And a little turned on. And that really made me question a lot of things. After that I saw Ginger Snaps (2000) and… well.. you get the picture. Werewolves are interesting but honestly terrifying for me. Except the Twilight werewolves. Those Quileute can come over to chill any time.

Mermaid

I’ve always wanted to write a mermaid story, but I’m torn on which type to do. Beautiful, human-like ones like Ariel? Green, scaly, terrifying creatures like the original Little Mermaid story? Something similar to manatees, because that’s what they’d evolve into under ocean conditions? Or would I merge them with Sirens, with their hauntingly beautiful songs?

I tried to write a mermaid story, once. It had a love triangle, other worlds, time travel, and a magical desk. It was loosely inspired by an AFI song called Miss Murder. Needless to say, it was way too convoluted and never got off the ground. I think I got 6,000 words into it before calling it quits. (That’s why you plan out your stories, kids!)

Zombies

Who doesn’t love zombie movies? No one, that’s who. Everyone likes some kind of zombie. Slow shambling ones, undead monsters that will beat you in a race and then eat your face, zombies that can think, zombies that convert others, zombies that climb out of the ground, zombies that are just puppets controlled by an evil master. There are all types. People love the show The Walking Dead as it combines zombies, a post-apocalyptic world, survivalism, and of course meaningful storylines and connections between people. It’s a great show (and comic).

What are your favorites?

Of the people I’ve asked, overwhelmingly I hear that vampires are the favorite. Anyone have others they love? Ones I didn’t cover here? Let me know in the comments!