With 9 days to go until Honor’s Lark is officially released via Amazon, I’m getting excited and sentimental. I feel like a parent about to release her baby into the real world. So, before I do that, I want to let the world know how I view my baby and it’s main characters.
There was a hashtag trending on twitter last week: #WeNeedDiverseBooks. I thought it was wonderful that people were calling attention to the fact that so many books (the good, the bad, and the in-between) are lacking in the diversity department. When I started writing Honor’s Lark last September (when it was still called simply Lark), I thought a lot about the world I was creating and how I wanted it to be as inclusive as possible. I am never much of a descriptive writer, though I usually give my characters a few physical traits. Not in HL. I wanted readers to be able to envision themselves in the characters, regardless of what they looked like, so I barely described the characters at all.
Having said that, I do have pictures in my head of what I think the characters look like. I imagine in this world that, due to the larks, people have traveled all over and if races did exist, they’ve been combined over time so that they aren’t really identifiable anymore. Basically, everyone has some color to their skin.
So, here’s what my main characters look like in my head. They may not look like this in your head when you read the book. In fact, I kinda hope they don’t! Picture them however you want and then let me know what you see 🙂
Diversity isn’t just about race, though. I also thought a lot about sexuality when creating these characters. The initial concept – that everyone is destined for another person – gave me the perfect opportunity to showcase that love is love, no matter a person’s gender. The terms heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual don’t exist in the world of the larks. I know it’s not a perfect representation of all members of society, but hopefully readers will appreciate the effort.
9 days to go. NINE DAYS!!!
Genre: Chick Lit / Romance
Overall: **** 4 out of 5 stars
Legal secretary and popular Chick Lit blogger Kimberly Long is seriously crushing on a junior associate at the law firm where she works. She’s also facing the challenge of reading and reviewing the debut novel of the girl who made her high school years miserable.
I did not receive a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. I’ve heard/read some buzz about it on Facebook and Twitter (which the heroine of the book would probably get a kick out of) and I paid my own money for it. Yesterday, needing something to read, I went to my trusty book box (where I have slips of paper listing all of the books I own but have not read yet) and pulled a title out. Blogger Girl! Yay! I was excited because I’ve been wanting to read it for a while. I started it last night and finished it about a half hour ago. It was an easy, breezy read (to take a phrase from the book itself).
The opening of the book introduces us to Kim and her crush on the very likeable, very cute Nicholas Strong. Up until a night of drinks with office pals, Nicholas has never seemed to know she existed, but once Kim’s boss tells N. about K.’s book review blog, suddenly N. is finding more and more opportunities to talk to her.
K’s best friend, Bridget, is always around for support, especially when N. asks K. to meet him for drinks after her big 10-year high school reunion. Unfortunately, the reunion also means a run-in with Hannah, who did her best to make high school a nightmare for K & B and who is now breathing down K’s back to get a favorable review of her to-be-released debut novel.
As Kim navigates her feelings/relationship with Nicholas and her jealousy and hatred for Hannah, she begins to realize that the thing she really wants most is to write a novel herself.
Character Development: ***** 5 out of 5 stars. Kim was insanely relatable and likeable. Nicholas is a dream, without being cliche. I love that Schorr made him a short, but still hot guy. Short guys are so underrated. His sudden interest in Kim at the beginning felt slightly forced, but once their banter was established, I was all in. They had the cutest conversations that always seemed realistic for where they were at in their relationship. The supporting characters were all well-developed as well. I feel like Schorr spent the most time on Hannah, but Erin (Kim’s sister) had a full personality despite only being used for phone call scenes, and Kim’s two best friends (Bridget and Caroline) were distinct from each other with their own backstories and subplots (Caroline didn’t really have a subplot, but it was shown that she had a life outside of the events of the book, which is not always easy to do).
I do wish that Schorr hadn’t gone the route of two mean girls as Kim’s adversaries. Hannah was needed and great, but Daneen seemed unnecessary. I get why she was included – to assist in sparking the fight between K. and N. in the middle of the book, but I feel her role could have just as easily been male. I don’t like that women always assume that other women are their enemies.
Plot: **** 4 out of 5 stars. The pacing is good and the character development has a lot to do with that. Schorr relies on some cliches – the big misunderstanding leading to a breakup, the mean girls mentioned above – but I enjoyed the ebb and flow of the story, so it didn’t bother me too much. After all, the entire book was a little meta and probably would have felt awkward if those cliches hadn’t been included.
Writing Style/ Voice of the Author: **** 3.5 out of 5 stars. This was really easy to read, but sometimes the meta-ness worked against the author instead of for her. The description of Hannah’s book, which Kim is reluctant to admit sounds interesting, did not sound interesting at all. The repetition of certain phrases and descriptions became distracting – I found myself wanting to tally how many times Kim and her friends giggled. Were they incapable of laughing? Did it have to be a giggle? But – the dialogue was solid and the author never went off on descriptive tangents that take a reader out of the scene, and her characters are so well done, it makes up for any defects.
He put his mouth to the harmonica, played a few notes, and started singing to the tune of the chorus of Penny Lane by The Beatles. ‘Kimmie Long was in my pants and it felt nice.‘
Nicholas rubbed his lips. “Isn’t it supposed to be first comes date, then comes sex? We had sex before the date.”
“I think the correct words to that ditty are ‘first comes love then comes marriage.’ But lots of people get that order wrong too.”
The last two lines – I’m not going to write them here, because I don’t want to deprive you of the humor when you read them for yourselves. They are just the perfect conclusion to a running joke throughout the book and you won’t find them funny on their own.
Genre: Steampunk Romance
Overall **** 4 out of 5 Stars. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
An arranged marriage between Prince Cole and Princess Samantha provides the alliance needed to defeat the Fate Army.
Prince Cole is your basic playboy-not-interested-in-being-King. Princess Samantha is anything but basic. When Cole’s brother is killed, Cole is forced to step into his place as next-in-line to the throne, but he doesn’t exactly go willingly. Sam wants to escape palace life, but before she can, her parents send her to a “finishing” school and wipe out her uniqueness and free will.
After being forced to wed and then consummate the marriage in front of a room full of strangers, Cole and Samantha get off to a bit of a rocky start. He wants to get to know her, but all she wants to do is please him, and the two wants don’t exactly compute. Eventually, Cole is able to coax out pieces of the true Samantha: she’s a fast reader who retains everything she’s read, she loves horses, dessert is her favorite part of a meal. But Samantha is constantly at war with herself, having been “taught” in the finishing school what a true lady is and Cole’s behavior won’t let her follow her what she’s “learned.”
When it is finally revealed that Samantha’s mother repressed her daughter’s genius in order to hide her paternity, Sam finally accepts herself for who she is and allows her true self to come to the surface. Cole gifts her a tinker shop and she shows aptitude for battle. When the Fate army begins closing in, she proves herself capable of of much more than building trinkets by leading the Alliance army to victory against the Fate.
This was my first foray into the steampunk genre and I quite liked it! Because the world is based on something I was already familiar with, Victorian England (with some medieval elements), the world-building didn’t throw me. It intrigued me. Havens does an excellent job of dropping in phrases and technologies unique to her world while giving the reader the context clues needed to figure out what those references mean.
The heat between Cole and Samantha was ABSOLUTELY FANFREAKINGTASTIC. Havens teases the characters and the readers and when things finally happen, it is well-worth the wait. It’s sweet, it’s sensual, it’s loving. And then, to top it off, the reader can tell the characters genuinely like and care for each other, beyond lust and love.
Character Development: **** 4.5 out of 5 stars. Samantha is one of the most complex characters I’ve ever read. Her constant internal battle is not only well-written and believable, it is also so unique. She merges the two stereotypical female characters we’ve come to expect in Princess stories: the weak, damsel-in-distress, needing her Prince to be her Savior, with the strong, bad-assed, take-no-crap-from-anyone warrior, and she does it in a way that is not stereotypical at all. I don’t think I’m explaining this correctly, but read it, and I think you’ll get what I’m saying. I loved Samantha, because to tell the truth, I’m a little sick of female characters who are strong only because it is un-PC to write a female character who isn’t strong. Samantha is weak AND strong. Insecure AND confidant. Subversive AND dominant. But she’s not all obnoxious about it.
The other characters were also really well-written. Cole started out a little cliche, but he grew on me, especially in his good intentions towards Samantha. Zeb was amazingly well-done, and he was only featured in a few scenes, so I imagine he’ll have a larger role in the next installment. Then there’s Jasper. Oh Jasper. For a character who appeared only once and who didn’t technically say anything, he was incredibly interesting. There’s mystery surrounding him – we don’t know if he’s good or evil, we don’t know why he joined the Fate army, we don’t know if he’s somehow controlling Samantha in her dark periods. So many questions, but good ones! I didn’t feel unsatisfied not knowing the answers to them, it just made me ready to read the next book.
Plot: **** 4 out of 5 stars. A lot happens in this book. We meet Cole and Samantha, they begin their married life, and Cole begins Samantha’s “re-education.” Then there is the discovery of Samantha’s true self. They fall in love. Samantha finally enables herself to trust Cole and become intimate with him. The Fate army draws near. Samantha proves she’s more than just a pretty face by leading their army. The progression of the plot is steady, the tension between Cole and Samantha perfect. There were a few scenes of conflict between Sam and Cole that felt a little forced/contrived to me, which caused me to remove one star, but for the most part, it was beautifully plotted.
Writing Style/ Voice of the Author: **** 4 out of 5 stars. Havens keeps it simple, which I really like. The story was easy to read, the dialogue flowed well and felt natural. The book is a breeze. There were a few awkward scene jumps, but for the most part, I liked the pacing. The author’s voice never intruded. I said it in my review of Gone Girl, and I’ll say it again: nothing ruins the flow of a book like the author’s voice intruding. Havens showed her story beautifully .
“Although he had managed to cooperate as little as possible over the years with his father, King Arnold, his duties as Prince could no longer be ignored. Duty. He just couldn’t understand how societies so technologically advanced, and continuing to advance, could hold on to such archaic and simply barbaric traditions.”
“Sam found it wasn’t just warmth that soaked into her body from his touch, strength seeped in, too.”
Purchase Fate War: Alliance
Who is E.M. Havens? I’m a lot of things. The word that seems to define me most at the moment is mom. It can be all consuming. Not only am I a mom of three (one of them is a teenager…pity me), but I also home-school (pity me more). I share this awesome responsibility with the love of my life, best friend, and soul-mate husband.
Add to that, the twenty-five chickens, twelve turkeys, ten guineas, nine pigs, three barn cats, two Great Pyrenees guardian dogs, a Chihuahua, a house cat, and a goose, it makes for one crazy, full, and certainly entertaining life.
Somewhere in there I find the time to write. I started out young writing poems, then moved on to songs. I actually have a Bachelor in Music with a secondary in Science because I can’t stand English. Yes, the writer hates English. I like to read the story for the experience of reading the story, not to nitpick each letter and comma. But I digress.
I eventually found blogging and really enjoyed sharing my life that way. When an unfortunate turn of events separated me from my music equipment, I decided to use my overactive imagination, my love of reading, and my new found hobby, prose writing, to release some of my creative energy. I wrote my first novel and loved the experience. Fate War: Alliance is actually the second novel I wrote and the first to be published. Now I’m working on my third and several sequels to Fate War!
So that’s pretty much me, sitting in the Arbuckle Mountains of Oklahoma, reading, writing, collecting eggs from the coop, and being a schoolmarm. It’s a pretty great life.
A couple of updates:
I’m now on Twitter and Facebook; Follow and Like me for current information on the progress of Twenty-Five and my works-in-progress:
I received the proof copy of Twenty-Five two days ago and it looks great!
I’ve finished looking it over and have uploaded all of the changes to CreateSpace, I’m just waiting for them to approve to I can finalize sales of the Paperback. I’ll post again when it is available for sale.
But the BIG news for today is that I’ve posted a Giveaway on Goodreads! I’m giving away 5 copies of the paperback. The promotion is running until August 8th, so if you are in the United States or Canada, head over to Goodreads and enter your name to win:
A Giveaway for the United Kingdom is starting next Monday, July 15th and will run until August 15th. One copy will be available.
Lastly, I have been receiving a lot of positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads. I can’t thank everyone enough for their support. I hope that new readers are attracted to the book due to your reviews!
The past couple of days have been amazing. When I started this blog four years ago, I said I wanted to chronicle my life as I tried to become a real writer. I thought at that time that to be a “real writer” I would have to be published by a big, traditional publishing house. I’d have to have my book in bookstores and do book signings and interviews on late night tv.
I could not have been more wrong.
When my book went live on the Kindle Store, I felt like a REAL Writer. A REAL Author. Because I am. Yes, I published myself. But that doesn’t change all of the hard work that went into writing and editing Twenty-Five. People have actually bought my book! Okay, so one was my mom and one was my best friend, but 8 other people who may or may not know me actually paid the $2.99 to purchase it! And over 100 people in the Unites States and over 100 people in the United Kingdom downloaded it for free on July 3rd. Hey, even a couple people in Germany and France downloaded it for free.
That means over 200 people have my book available to them at this exact moment in time. Some of those people will actually read it. And isn’t that what really matters to all writers? That someone out there is reading what they wrote?
Here’s a review I got on Amazon last night:
5.0 out of 5 stars Really liked this book! July 4, 2013Format:Kindle Edition
I read a lot – I average a book a day, but sometimes there are books that I immediately want to read again. This was one of them!
The characters seemed real, their actions made sense, and it was well written. Plus, the story was not one I had read many times before – great points of view and very believable from both characters. The biggest point I can make is that I cried. That’s how I know I really like the story. And I highly recommend this book!
The e-book is ready and on sale in the Kindle Store!
The e-book is listed FOR FREE today Wednesday July 3rd and Saturday, July 6th, so snatch it up! If you like it, leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads.
It will be another couple of weeks before the paperback is ready, but I’ll let you know when it is.