Category Archives: What I read

Release of JC Nelson’s Wish Bound

I’m pleases to celebrate the release of the newest urban fantasy in the Grimm Agency Series by my critique partner, JC Nelson: Wish Bound!

JC Nelson

As a partner at Grimm’s magical Agency, Marissa Locks is used to working odd jobs. But when an evil queen reappears in Kingdom, life becomes too strange to handle…

Even when she’s not starting it, trouble follows Marissa everywhere. First there was the incident with the homicidal Fairy Godmother. Then there was the time she accidentally started Armageddon. But the problems that always seem to arise on Marissa’s birthday take the cake.

This year, her annual bad-luck presents include an army of invading goblins, the resurrection of two vengeful enemies from hell, and the return of the Black Queen, the evil sorceress whose reign of terror still haunts Kingdom and who happens to have claimed Marissa as her servant.

As Marissa’s friends try to save her from the Black Queen’s clutches, Marissa fights to end a bitter war that started before her birth. But her quest for peace is about to bring up some inconvenient truths about her own past—ones that might cost her the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of…


Wish Bound on GoodReads

Buy Wish Bound Now:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Other books in the Grimm Agency Series:

Grimm Agency #1 – Free Agent

Grimm Agency #1.5 – Soul Ink

Grimm Agency #2 – Armageddon Rules


A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.

Twitter | Facebook | GoodReadsPinterest


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Going to UtopYA?

We’re less than 24 hours from the start of UtopYA, an author-fan con a fellow steampunk author has raved about.


It’s four days of fun in Nashville, Tenn, an easy drive for me (who likes driving across country–really!) and the focus is on young adult and new adult supernatural and contemporary fiction–right up my alley! But sadly I’d already booked my summer with self-publishing and trying to squeeze in a bit of writing. LOL.

Instead, I’m going in spirit with my friend Nooce Miller. Nooce has spent weeks, not just getting her print book formatted to perfection for the Saturday night author signing, but creating an exciting raffle basket, giveaways and running down the best deal in the midwest for a beautiful banner.

Nooce Miller at UtopYADoesn’t Theo look lovely fullsize, wielding her geared shotgun to protect her airship! It’s Nooce’s first signing as a published author–I’m so excited for her! If you’re traveling to Nashville, pop into the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel and look for Theo’s magenta airship on Saturday, June 20th.

Have fun, Nooce! *waves* Totally enjoy your first signing. 🙂

What is ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’?

I’m using the tag ‘A Steampunk Fantasy Romance’ to describe The Unraveling, but my novel isn’t all about gears and steam.

gears on steam engine

Steampunk falls within the science fiction genre. Libraries and bookstores will categorize my novel as: Fiction/science fiction/steampunk

But that still doesn’t explain it. So, think Jules Verne. He lived and wrote in the 1800s, and is considered the founder of science fiction. Steampunk is a kind of revival of his style of stories: A Victorian setting–or at least Victorian sensibilities–with fantastical machinery, powered by steam, or aether, or…something! That’s the fun part, the part I made up, the ‘fantasy’ part. And just to make it even more fun, I tossed in shapeshifters. And a romance, or two…I cannot imagine a story without a happily ever after.

Best Fantasy Books has the best explanation of steampunk fantasy I’ve seen, complete with a reading list. I’ve read a number of their selections, but not all. Jules Verne’s 20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine were two of my favorites as a teenager.

Here’s a list of my more recent favorites…heavily weighted in young adult, because I really do read YA.

Leviathan, plus 2 sequels, by Scott Westerfeld

Clockwork Angel, plus 2 sequels, by Cassandra Clare

Souless, numerous sequels, by Gail Carriger

The Golden Compass, plus 2 sequels, by Phillip Pullman

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories, edited by Kelly Link

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

And a new release I mentioned a few weeks ago by one of my writing partners: The Rooftop Inventor by Nooce Miller

In case you’re still wondering, gears and steam do play a part in my novel…and they will be right there on the cover to assure you they’re in the story, too! Join me for my cover reveal in three days!

Shout out!

Congratulations to my friend Donna S. Frelick on the release of her debut novel Unchained Memory!

D Frelick_ Book Launch Party 2

Donna and I met at RWA Nationals during a get-together of science fiction romance writers, but discovered we live fairly close, so I was able to attend her Book Launch Party.

D Frelick_reading 1


D Frelick_signing 1


D Frelick_signing 5_w: L Wanrow

and of course, photo ops! Fun, fun, fun, and so well-deserved. Donna was an RWA® Golden Heart® Double Finalist in 2012 in the Paranormal category for the first two novels in her SFR Interstellar Rescue series.

Find Donna at; blogging at; and on Facebook at Unchained Memory is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.


Am I the only one who loved The Clockwork Princess Epilogue?

Yes, I loved the epilogue. LOVED IT! I wrote my thoughts on my GoodReads review a week ago(or so…NaNo, you know?) and THEN read others’ reviews. No one I ran across shared my view. My feelings—yes, this epilogue left me with the feels in a strong way—were not there to be shared and I had to wonder why.

Epilogue page The Clockwork Princess

Caveats here: I have only read the trilogy once. I read it spread out, because I have other IRL things going on (including writing a super—hopefully—Victorian-set trilogy of my own). And, perhaps the most applicable, I am old(er) than the average teen Infernal Devices fan. Yep, adults reading YA fantasy. I fit that description.

And maybe that’s why I liked the epilogue. I’m married. I have kids. No grandkids, but I’m old enough that losing someone special, as Tessa lost Will, has happened to my peers.

From the start of The Infernal Devices series, we learned Tessa is immortal. The Shadowhunters are not. Tessa loved both Will and Jem. She intended to…this is full of SPOILERS, if you haven’t figured that out yet!—marry Jem, but he died. Or so they thought. Any-who, Jem went somewhere else, became someone else. Not available. Tessa and Will acted on their love for each other, and they got together…got married…loved each other…had kids…loved each other…had adventures…had grandkids…loved each other…grew old together—


Back up. Only Will grew old. Tessa is immortal. And what does that mean? (I get this. If you are young(er) do you get this?) She is going to miss him when he dies. This is what Tessa takes on when she allows herself to fall in love.

Cassandra Clare got this. She portrayed it beautifully, IMHO.

Tessa cries her heart out—as did many readers, me included—when Will dies. She leaves her home and family so she doesn’t have to watch her children and grandchildren grow old and die. I get this in a huge way. This would be horrible. Stand by, Tess, there is nothing you can do to help those you love… Er, no, Tessa was smart. She sought out her other immortal friend, and Magnus tells her: “The first one is always the hardest.”

Tessa lived. She traveled. She experienced. She grew.

Then, when Jem appears on Blackfriars Bridge as JEM—out of the blue returned to the boy she loved, not the emotionless being he had to become to go on—Tessa realizes she is now ready to love again.

Excerpt The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

THAT is what is so SPECIAL about this epilogue! (I’m crying all over again reading and writing this.)

Jem has not been out in the world, sequestered as he was in the Silent Brother life. He has been suspended, in effect. And Tessa is still Tessa. Immortal.

But she has grown. She can go after what she wants—Jem—when Jem is uncertain what to go, still playing by the 1800s rules, and also having witnessed the great love Will and Tessa shared. Tessa still loves Jem.

“Come with me,” she said. “Stay with me. Be with me.”

That Tessa gets another chance to love, and that it is Jem, who has loved her as she loved him, is so incredibly special. I love seeing my favorite people(characters) love and be loved. For me, this was a delicately done and perfectly sensible next step in Tessa’s story. For me, it’s as if her life is beginning anew.

Stars to you, Cassandra Clare, romance writer extraordinaire!

And please, if you have a similar feels you shared in a review, or even a different review, of The Clockwork Princess, please share! Ping me on my GR page so I can read it!

The Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

Rogue Spy releases today!

I’m over-the-top-excited Rogue Spy is out! Joanna Bourne is a friend, once conference roommate, fellow Virginian, and superb writer. Don’t start one of her novels without time to finish!

Rogue Spy Cover


​​For years he’d lived a lie. It was time to tell the truth . . . even if it cost him the woman he loves …

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever…


Joanna Bourne is the author of The Black Hawk, The Forbidden Rose, and the Spymaster series including My Lord and Spymaster and The Spymaster’s Lady. She has always loved reading and writing romance. She’s drawn to Revolutionary and Napoleonic France and Regency England because, as she puts it, “It was a time of love and sacrifice, daring deeds, clashing ideals, and really cool clothing.” She’s lived in seven different countries, including England and France, the settings of the Spymaster series. Joanna lives on a mountaintop in the Appalachians with her family, a peculiar cat, and an old brown country dog.

Visit Joanna at her website.

Rogue Spy is available from Amazon in print, kindle and audiobook.
From Joanna’s local Indie bookstore, Fountain Books.
At your local Barnes&Noble or online at B&N as book and nookbook.

Congratulations, Jo!



Fangirl Moment and Cover Study

I’ll admit it. I didn’t get much writing done this weekend–only about 800 words on the WIP. I did get some studying in, a fangirl hour, and more studying as a result of being a fangirl. Always a good thing!

First the fangirl: I went to the start of Maggie Stiefvater’s book tour for Blue Lily, Lily Blue at One More Page, an independent book store in Arlington, VA.

Maggie Stiefvater Book signing 1

I got signatures.

Maggie Stiefvater book signing 2

She drew a horse in teen-neighbor-girl’s Scorpio Races.

Maggie Stiefvater book signing 3

I happily bought the book and the first because I had borrowed it and these booksellers had thought to order some in hardback. (Support them, they were not only smart, but very nice!) That prompted a study, because before the signing, I had attended a self-pub class on uploading a novel and the conversation had turned to covers.

I will have a series and if a planning-to-be-published author is researching covers, this credit becomes very important.

cover creditIf you are unknown, the cover is the first way to attract readers. Covers should be similar, but different. Maggie’s series covers do this.

The Raven Cycle

Same font, same location for the  elements, but different colors.

The Raven Cycle

Even the spines. (They look very nice on my bookshelf!) And if you didn’t pick up on the look, there is a symbol of intersecting lines as a background behind the titles which are now identified as being in The Raven Cycle.

The Raven Cycle

This cohesiveness was true of the original Shiver series covers, which I have always liked. (And that spot of creepy blood? Poignant, after you’ve read them.)

The Wolves of Mercy Falls

It even follows through to the back of the books where the back cover copy is blocked with short bold descriptors the same way on each.

Shiver series

An important note popped out when I realized this wording was at the top of The Raven Cycle books.

Maggie Stiefvater

Bestselling author of ‘Shiver‘. Hmm, how many readers remember this series was called the ‘Wolves of Mercy Falls’? Did that not stick? I know this, but I think of them and talk about them as the Shiver books. The first book of The Raven Cycle is called The Raven Boys. Ah, now readers won’t forget the name of the series.

I may have some more thinking to do. I’ve been playing with naming my series ‘Threads of Magic’. But because I know there will be more books set in the same world, I also want that world name to appear: The Blighted Basin Books. Searching the internet for these terms, I find Threads of Magic and Magic Threads all over due to video game elements. But Blighted Basin? Uh, no. My crit partners all commented on the name in some way, so I know it’s unusual. Because I started using it blogging with my WIPs, the search engines go to me and this blog. Yay! OK, that means it’s a good name to keep. But the titles all have something to do with threads…of magic…yeah, don’t want to give that away.

Does this matter? Is it easier for readers to remember the first title as the name of the series?

Clearly, more thinking must be done, but not now…got a book to write! And perhaps a signature to perfect; Maggie’s is quite nice.

Maggie Stiefvater signature

Talent To Burn

Today’s the day my friend and writing chapter mate releases her debut novel!


Please welcome Laura Welling to the ranks of published authors with Talent To Burn, the first in her Urban Fantasy series Hidden Talents. It’s my favorite kind of hero, a con man who’s now on the right side – but aren’t little slips into the past inevitable? He’s determined to help the heroine, they both have paranormal gifts, and best of all, the characters return in book two! I hate letting go of people I’ve come to love. Laura has ingnited a winner of a book!



Passion burns. Betrayal scars.

Cat Wilson grew up a misfit among misfits. She couldn’t read minds, see the future, or start fires like the other Talented kids inside the shadowy Grey Institute. Finally she ran, leaving her beloved brother, Eric, behind. She’s been running ever since.

When she learns that Eric has escaped, leaving deadly fires in his wake, Cat is torn between fear for her brother, and unwanted attraction to the messenger, a charming, Talented ex-con who lives for the next adrenaline rush.

Jamie Murphy is sure his group of outcast Talents can help Eric—if they can get to him before the cops or the Institute, and before he kills again. Cat’s aversion to Talented bad boys is like a wall of ice, but to his surprise, he doesn’t have to use an ounce of his own unique gift to find a way through it.

Yet locating Eric is only the beginning. In the battle to pull him back from the brink, Cat must find the courage to unlock a fearsome Talent of her own. And pray the psychic backdraft doesn’t destroy everyone she loves.


When’s she’s not writing, Laura Welling wears a lot of other hats: mother, farmer, and software engineer. She’s Australian but lives in the United States on a horse farm, which she shares with her family, an over-sized dog, and various horses, cats and chickens. She is a compulsive reader of all genre fiction, who started reading before the age of two, and never stopped. She wrote her first “book” when she was five—a spy story, which has since been joined in a bottom drawer by various other early attempts.

Talent To Burn was inspired by some of her favorite stories: Anne McCaffrey’s science fiction novels, Marvel’s X-Men comics, and The X-Files television series.

Laura can be found at her blog, Twitter and Facebook! And Talent To Burn is available pretty much wherever you like to download:

Samhain | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Google Play


Back in March I attended the NOVA Teen Book Festival. Ellen Oh was one of the speakers on the identity panel and today I stumbled across the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign she is spearheading. Please check it out on twitter or facebook. What an exciting thing to happen for literature, for people of all ages!

More information on the campaign is covered in this Publishers Weekly article.

Middle Grade Book List

Back on August 7th NPR announced the results of their summer’s poll seeking the Top 100 Teen Books. When I used this list for a YA panel I participated in, I noted a number of these titles are commonly shelved as Middle Grade books. Several people at that talk and since (especially with the holidays upon us) have asked me for recommendations for the younger crowd, specifically for kids who have read the Hunger Games at the ripe old age of say, eleven, and think they should now shop in the teen section for their next read.

Uh, no.

Every library and bookstore section has a range of reading and maturity levels. Of course every reader varies, but it’s fair to say at the younger ages, it helps if the parent/adult knows the book, reads a review or asks for help to know what you’re getting into. Of course, this takes time!

There are so many books, I can’t cover them all, but for starters I took the NPR list (original on website here) and have broken it down to which of those books are shelved in the juvenile fiction section – grades 3 to 6. Per my daughter’s suggestion, I left off literary fiction titles that might be read in 6 to 8th grades. Few kids want to be gifted a ‘school book’.

I have made some notations, if I know something of the book. Please note the numbering is from the original list, in case you’d like to go back and mark up a printout.

1. Harry Potter (series), by J.K. Rowling

5. The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

11. The Giver (series), by Lois Lowry

14. Anne of Green Gables (series), by Lucy Maud Montgomery (younger MG)

15. His Dark Materials (series), by Philip Pullman (older MG)

30. Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt

31. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie

36. Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones

40. Abhorsen Trilogy / Old Kingdom Trilogy (series), by Garth Nix (in teen, but I’ve read them and they fit the older MG reader)

42. Discworld / Tiffany Aching (series, by Terry Pratchett (Discworld is adult fantasy, but suitable for older MG – a favorite series of mine. Tiffany Aching is a series for younger shelved in teen, but good for MG)

44. The Dark is Rising (series), by Susan Cooper (loved this series)

51. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson (shelved multiple places)

60. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury (Gr 6+ fantasy novel)

65. The Bartimaeus Trilogy (series), by Jonathan Stroud

73. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle (Gr 6+ – fantasy novel)

76. The Blue Sword, by Robin McKinley

80. The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale

81. Daughter of the Lioness / Tricksters (series), by Tamora Pierce (in teen, but good for older MG)

83. The Immortals (series), by Tamora Pierce (in teen, but good for older MG)

84. The Enchanted Forest Chronicles (series), by Patricia C. Wrede (younger MG)

86. Circle of Magic (series), by Tamora Pierce

92. Leviathan (series), by Scott Westerfeld (in teen, but good for older MG)

94. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci (series), by Diana Wynne Jones

98. The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley

100. Betsy-Tacy Books (series), by Maud Hart Lovelace (younger MG)

Sorry, I found I couldn’t stick to where the books are shelved. Perhaps I need to cull out an overlap list, for that awkward 11 to 14 age group. More on my to do list!

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