Tag Archives: fantasy

Multi-Author Giveaway!

Happy October, everyone!

To kick off the spookiest and most magical month of the year, we — myself and four other fantasy authors — are bringing you an awesome giveaway!

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Just by entering the Rafflecopter below, you can be entered for a chance to win not one, not two, but FIVE SIGNED books. And who doesn’t need five new books??

Hurry hurry! The giveaway will end on October 7th. 🙂

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Guest Post: 10 Empowering Movies Every Girl Should See

Hello, everyone! Today I have a very special surprise for you: my very first guest post, by speculative fiction author and blogger, Christina “DZA” Marie. She can be found here, blogging about books, writing, and diversity and representation in the different kinds of media we consume.

Without further ado, I’ll let Christina take it from here!


First I want to thank Jessica for letting me post on her blog. Awesome writing buddies are awesome.

We found each other on Facebook while fangirling over one of our mutual fandoms. We both realized it’s tough trying to find empowering role models for your daughter, or finding a movie where you can root for the woman lead instead of rolling your eyes. This is especially tricky if you’re into speculative fiction: superheroes, fantasy, science fiction…It gets even harder if you want a good movie, one that isn’t over-the-top sappy, one where the director and producers actually tried.

Luckily there are geeks like me who watch a lot of movies who can help you narrow it down, and since I like everything from Disney to gore-filled horror movies there’s something here for all ages and tastes. The following movies are my top ten in regard to quality and amazing girl power. Go forth and conquer your television!

Brave

Can we just take a minute to appreciate the beauty of a Disney/Pixar film that centers on a girl and has absolutely no romance? These happen once every blue moon, and have started to become more frequent: Zootopia, Inside Out, Finding DoryBrave was the first. And it did a remarkable job of addressing gender roles and turning them on their head. And it’s hilarious. And you will cry, because it’s Pixar.

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merida from brave

 

Zootopia   

Also a platonic Disney film, Zootopia goes a step further than Brave and addresses several different layers of prejudice and privilege. Prey animals are the majority and therefore have more political power than predators. But predators are usually larger animals, and larger animals have access to better jobs and are taken more seriously than smaller animals. Rabbits and other small animals are heavily discouraged from jobs such as law enforcement. Foxes are hated by everyone.

It’s also a great buddy-cop movie. Judy and Nick are the best.

Maleficent

Can we just acknowledge the fact that Angelina Jolie’s favorite Disney character growing up was Maleficent? It explains a lot.

Disney gets props for having a grey character as the focus rather than a traditional hero. It’s made even better by the fact that it’s a woman who’s so morally ambiguous. Normally girls and women in movies are on one end of extremes, either all good and pure (and boring) or twisted and evil.

But more than that, they managed to make one of the most important scenes in the movie a metaphor for rape. In a kids’ movie. And they handled it beautifully. Maleficent doesn’t let her trauma destroy her. She owns it and refuses to let it stop her. Although the best part was how the curse was broken by “true love’s kiss” without involving the bumbling prince.

Monsters vs. Aliens

Classic monster reboots are always fun, but Dreamworks’ Monsters vs. Aliens is probably my favorite. Susan is hit by an alien meteor on the day of her wedding, grows to the size of a skyscraper, and becomes Ginormica. She and a team of other monsters have to fight aliens who want said meteor back.

Susan’s story is an oldy but a goodie: she has to go from scared, meek girl to a confident, capable woman. While that in and of itself is a great message to send to young girls, I love the way they handled her love life. Normally, when a female protagonist realizes the guy she’s dating is a total jerk, the movie ends with her replacing him with a much nicer, cuter guy. Susan doesn’t replace her ex. She breaks up with him and goes to Paris with her new friends to save the world again. But the message isn’t “Confident women can’t get a man.” It’s “Confident women won’t tolerate scumbags.” We know that Susan’s probably going to fall in love again but that’s not the focus of her story, and she’s not going to think about that right now when she has more important things to worry about. Like aliens.

Coraline

Based on Neil Gaiman’s children’s book, Coraline is a creepy kids’ movie about a girl who discovers a doorway to a mirror universe in her new home. It has better versions of everything in the crappy apartment her family has moved into: an “Other” Mother, “Other” Father, “Other” neighbors, delicious food, a beautiful garden, etc. But it’s a trap, and Coraline has to rescue herself, her friends, and her parents from the Other Mother.

I could rave about the beautiful cinematography, haunting soundtrack, and genius of Gaiman for days. But I’ll keep it simple: Coraline as a character is a bit of a brat, but she’s a lovable brat. The story is incredible, the Other Mother is terrifying, and it’s a terrific family film.

The Craft

What happens when four teenagers become powerful witches? Nothing good. One, Sarah, manages to remain a good guy who recognizes her mistakes and tries to fix them, but the other three turn rotten to the core. Sarah has to battle not only her ex-coven, but also her own inner demons (she’s a suicide survivor).

This is one of the oldest movies on this list (1996, right after I was born), but it’s a classic. There’s also supposed to be a sequel in the works, but there’s been no word of that for over a year. Fingers crossed, though!

Any Star Wars movie with Leia, including Rogue One

So, everything but Episodes I-III.

Leia is just awesome overall in the classic trilogy: smart, charismatic, and courageous. Although it’s disappointing that the script writers tried to reduce her to little more than a love interest after Episode IV. Think about it: Darth Vader is her dad, too, but her narrative is centered around getting Han Solo’s attention rather than trying to reconcile the revelation of her family, like Luke. Still, she’s an excellent character in a great franchise.

While not the best Star Wars film, Rogue One was a good movie. Given the topic of this post, I should probably praise Jyn and how cool it was to see her plan trigger the classic trilogy, but honestly the best parts of the movie were Darth Vader’s fight scene at the end; and K-2SO, the smartass robot.

The Force Awakens was awesome. Yes, it was very similar to A New Hope, but that’s the point. It was basically washing the bad taste of Jar-Jar and Episodes I-III out of our mouths by rewriting a classic story starring Rey and Finn. I have high hopes for The Last Jedi, even though I’m 99% sure that Luke Skywalker’s going to die.

Mad Max: Fury Road

If someone had told me the phrase “feminist action movie” could ever be uttered in a non-sarcastic manner, I would’ve laughed in their face. Then they rebooted Mad Max.

While it certainly has a race problem (come to think of it, most of these movies are pretty darn white…) it has excellent gender representation. I don’t know what I like about it more: Charlize Theron’s Furiosa or the motorcycle-riding grannies. Nux’s narrative arc is probably my favorite. The guy goes from brainwashed minion to total BAMF. It’s supposed to show how young men are conditioned to believe sexist rhetoric but are fully capable of redeeming themselves, but the only thing I could think of in the theater was Flamethrower guitar? Cool!

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furiosa from mad max: fury road

The Shallows

You’re going to think this is a Jaws rip-off. You would be correct. BUT, it’s a very good rip-off. The only major characters are the shark, a seagull, and Nancy the med student (played by the surprisingly talented Blake Lively). Nancy’s a surfer who gets chomped on by a shark and trapped on a rock island in the ocean. Unlike other blondes who star in horror films, she’s smart. After her leg gets nommed on by the shark, she stitches herself back together with her jewelry. Her jewelry!!! And then later, she swims through a field of jellyfish. Neither the med student or shark mess around in this film.

Don’t Breathe

Created by the same horror geniuses behind Evil Dead (both versions), Don’t Breathe is about a trio of thieves who break into an old blind veteran’s house to steal the hundreds of thousands of dollars he has in cash. The problem is he is a sociopath with several skeletons in his closet, and starts killing the would-be thieves one by one.

The star is Rocky, the only woman in the trio. She has a young daughter and lives with her extremely unpleasant mother in a Detroit ghetto. So while she’s certainly no angel, you do root for her, especially when you realize just how evil the blind man is. She doesn’t have a degree like Nancy in The Shallows, but she is smart, relentless, and an overall fantastic heroine.

Honorable Mentions:

Mulan

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the show, too!)

Gravity

Practical Magic

Divergent

The Hunger Games

Olive, the Other Reindeer

Moana

Wonder Woman

The Harry Potter Series

Serenity

Frozen

Aladdin

Evil Dead (2013 remake)

The Cabin in the Woods

Matilda

Tangled

The Princess and the Frog

Westworld (TV show)

Stranger Things (another TV show)


Thanks, Christina!

Here’s where you can find more from her on the web:

Website

Twitter

Google+

Facebook

Christina is a great voice and advocate in the fiction community, so I highly recommend you check out her other work!

I hope to be bringing you more insights from other writers and creators this year, so if you’re ready for the ride and don’t want to miss a post, click the “Follow Me” button at the very bottom of this page or go like me on any social media outlet that floats your boat. 🙂

Until next time,

JM

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Cover Reveal: Communion of the Damned

It’s time for a new cover reveal! Weeeeeeee!

Unfortunately, it’s not the cover for Stones and Finger Bones book dos (sorry if anyone is terribly disappointed!) but it is set in the same universe and follows one of the minor characters on a brief adventure. Also — and this is very exciting — includes a sneak peak into book 2, tentatively titled As White As Bone.

I am working on it, I promise! 🙂

Now, without further ado, here is the cover for my short story, Communion of the Damned:

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Blurb: Vivaine Arany Barone was once the toast of a city; the beloved of a king; a shining jewel in the crown of Myrinthia. Now, she’s nothing more than a fallen star.

How far will one woman go to get everything she’s even wanted? Everything she thinks she deserves.

Release Date: November 26, 2015

CotD will eventually be available exclusively for Kindle — for only .99! — but if you’d like to get it for free when it comes out, sign up for my newsletter right hurr. I’m a terrible newsletter-sender-outer, so don’t be afraid that I’m going to spam you with emails. You’ll be lucky to get one every six months. LOL.

JMizzle out!

Credit for this pretty thing goes to Rebecca Berto at Berto Designs.

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A Very Merry Bookiversary!

*peaks out from under rock*

Oh, hai.

Well, I’m not dead! Just been busy working, writing, worry about working, worrying about writing, struggling to make ends meet, making big life decisions – you know, all that adult-related nonsense we have to put up with. So I just stopped by to check in with y’all and bring you a giveaway! That’s right folks. To celebrate the 6 month-ish bookiversary of Stones and Finger Bones, I’m giving away two signed copies over on Goodreads! Sincerest apologies to all my out-of-country peeps, but this author is on a budget so I could only open the giveaway to the US.

*hides in shame*

Anyway, if you’re currently residing in the states and want to get in on the action, head on over to the giveaway now!

Since we’re about half-way done with the year (how’d did that happen?!?) I thought this would be a good post to do a goal check-in and see where I’m at. In the spirit of brevity and clarity, I’m just going to copy/paste my 2015 goals and make notations about where I’m at. This was actually a good refresher for me, because I actually forgot about some of these – especially the writing ones. Oops.

Overall Heath & Wellness:

  • Continue making better food choices (Successful and ongoing! I’m actually doing a good job at tracking what I eat and making conscious better choices.)
  • Choose and start taking a vitamin D supplement (Sporadic. I forgot this was a goal.)
  • Stop tolerating sucky people (Doing pretty well here! I don’t voluntarily hang out with toxic people anymore and my social life drama is very minimal.)
  • Stop vehemently loathing work (yes, it takes away valuable time that could be used for writing or trolling the internet, but I have a mortgage to pay) (Still working on this one…)

Home Improvements:

  • Paint master bedroom and bath (Done and done!)
  • Find a bookshelf for room (Does pinning ideas count?)
  • Bring all books from home to new home (Not done, not started.)

Reading, Writing, & Publishing:

  • Finish 25 books. I know this might seem like a low number to some, but I’ve been really slacking on my reading habits. I don’t think I even finished 10 this year, which is terrible! (Very much on track to complete this goal!)
  • Do a better job of tracking these books, probably utilizing Goodreads (Success!)
  • Choose these books from the collection I already own and make list (Eh, not so much. A lot of the books I’ve read this year have been on my Kindle.)
  • Write at least 5,000 new words per month. I think this goal will complement my writing style better than daily or weekly goals, since I tend to write in fits and starts, and some days are more productive than others. (Nope…)
  • Outline book 2 of the Black Towers sequence (I think I need to be more diligent with outlining this one to make sure threads are being resolved, tangled, or cut as appropriate) (Double nope…)
  • Draft a Black Towers novella (Triple nope…)
  • Participate in bloggy activities. Blog more in general. Let’s aim for at least twice a month! (Hahahahahaha, nope.)

Well, I apparently still have some work to do before the year ends!

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The Key of Amatahns — Debut Novel Blog Hop

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To celebrate the re-release of The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley, Inkspelled Faery is hosting ten days of visiting your favorite authors as they talk about their very first novels, topped off by an all-day Facebook party with fun, games, and giveaways. Check out the full line up of authors and don’t forget to join the Facebook party on the 25th!

Cover Design by Ravven

Aurelia Barone, Jewel of Starry Stone, harbors no illusions about the purpose of her life as heir to the throne. But after two failed betrothals, she starts to feel like nothing more than a pawn being moved aimlessly about a game board.

Until the night she loses everything.

Kidnapped by a wise-cracking mercenary with more than one identity, Aurelia embarks on a mission across land and sea to avenge her father’s death.

But an evil is rising from the ashes of memory. Insidious magic is stirring. The dregs of a once-powerful nation are thirsty for blood and revenge.

They seek to harness Aurelia. To tempt her. To manipulate her.

And if necessary, to destroy her.

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

To start us off, can you sum up your first novel in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Magic! Mayhem! Kissing! Handsome rogues! Narcissistic sociopaths!

What are you most proud of in this title?

I’m going to have to go with my characters. I worked very very very hard to make sure that no one was wholly good or wholly evil…that everyone was capable of performing “evil” deeds. Making sacrifices. There is no black and white morality here!

Do you think your writing has changed since your debut? In what way?

Hmm…this is an interesting one, because I just made my debut a few months ago. I know my writing has changed and evolved since I first started writing the story. And now that I’ve been through the editing meat grinder, I know where my weak spots are and how to fix them so hopefully book 2 is stronger from the get-go.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were writing your first book, what would it be?

Write a shitty first draft! I spent a lot of valuable time agonizing over whether the scenes were perfect or the words were right, when I could have been using that time to polish a written draft. You can’t edit a blank page!

Worst piece of writing advice anyone’s given you?

Write every day. Yes, I know this is very popular writing advice, but it was horrible for me. I also spent a lot of time during the writing of Stones thinking that I wasn’t a “real” writer because I didn’t write every day or meet daily word count goals. That’s just not how my creative brain works. Giving myself permission to write my way, and coming to the realization that every person’s writing process is different, was a huge relief! I don’t think I would have ever reached The End if I didn’t have this epiphany along the way.


If you thought this was fun, drop by the Facebook party going down on the 25th for more interviews with your favorite fantasy authors as well as games and goodies galore!

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#bookpartytime

This past Wednesday, we (me and my madre) threw a little shindig to celebrate the release of Stones. We danced, we kissed, we schmoozed, we carried on, we went home happy!

Just kidding…unfortunately there was no dancing or kissing, but there was schmoozing and eating. And I went home pretty happy because my friends brought me gifts of wine and cupcakes. They know the way to a girl’s heart! 🙂

Without further ado, here are some pictures!

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the beautiful venue. such a pretty day for a party!

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the room before guests arrived

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me, being all author-y

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signing pics of my face for a high school library

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signing books!

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being slightly less author-y

 

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EBOOK RELEASE DAY

It’s aliiiiivvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Well, the digital version is anyway.

pretty paperback. y i no hav u

pretty paperback. y i no hav u

Long story short, I am having technical difficulties with CreateSpace, who keeps rejecting my interior file. I was able to order one proof copy, found a pretty big formatting issue, and haven’t been able to pass the updated file through the CS review system since. I’ve been trying for almost a week. Frustrated is understatement, let me tell ya!

Anywho, the formatters are working on it (they’re as baffled as I am) and we’re going to outsmart the technology! I just don’t know when. Eventually! ASAP! 😥

Instead of pushing the release date back indefinitely, I decided to proceed with releasing the eBook! Huzzah!

Here are the buy links I have so far:

Apple iBooks, Page Foundry, and Scribd will be coming shortly, as soon as they approve the uploads!

I don’t know about you guys, but I am totally exhausted. This book baby birthing process is not for the faint of heart, and sometimes it still doesn’t feel real. Like, this has actually happened. I have released my creation out into the big wide world for public consumption. Ack. Eee.

I think I need a stiff drink. Or a really long nap.

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WIPpet Wednesday: I’ve Got Nothin’

wippetwednesdayI think the title of this post is pretty self-explanatory. I have nothing new for WIPpet Wednesday because I have written nothing new on any of my WIPs.

Haha.

I’m so productive.

Anywho, in keeping with the spirit of one of my 2015 goals (be more bloggy) I figured I’d use this space for some updating.

I spent the weekend in editing hell.

What do I mean by editing hell, you ask?

Editing hell is agonizing over sentences and word choices and comma placement and action beats. Editing hell is searching the document for repeated phrases. Editing hell is searching the document for dashes, so you can make sure your spacing is consistent for all dashes (that was fun). Editing hell is running a spell check and finding no less than 5 misspelled words! One of them was sovereignty, so I guess I can forgive that, since we’re only human, after all. 😉

Revision Tip: FOR THE LOVE OF FLUFFY UNICORNS RUN A FINAL SPELL CHECK.

You see, that was the last time I could touch it before I sent it away to be formatted. And then I freaked out. And then I saw the Kindle preview and got excited again. Shew. It’s been an emotional whirlwind of a week.

So that’s where things stand, presently. Tonight, I approved the final e-book versions, with all the fun graphics added, and so now we’re on to the print version! And there was much rejoicing! Huzzah.

I’m still freaking out, by the way…just doing a better job of hiding my emotions!

Oh, before I forget, you can now add Stones on Goodreads. Almost 30 people — and I don’t personally know all of them! — have already added it to their To Read shelf. I’m having mini-panic attacks over this as well, because that means these people might actually read it, and then what if it suuuuuuuuccccckkkkkkkkkkkssssss.

I could probably ramble on and on about my nerves and over-excitable emotions and bore y’all to death…but instead I’m going to take deep breaths, eat chocolate, and remember this: “Trust your dreams. Trust your heart, and trust your story.”

*fingers crossed*

Alright, enough about me; let’s get on to the good stuff! You should definitely check out the other contributors to WIPpet Wednesday because I hear there’s a sexy pillow fight involved. Get on it! 😀

As always, a big thanks to K.L.Schwengel for babysitting us!

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Goal Setting (Or, Stuff Jessica Fails Miserably At)

I’m not ready for today to be the last day of 2014; honestly, I don’t know how the year disappeared so fast. But, since tomorrow will begin a new year, I figured a little introspection was in order.

I don’t normally like to make a big hubbub about New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I don’t make them. I’m more of a short-term and long-term goals kind of girl. Sometimes they get written down, sometimes they don’t. IMG_45412206201343

That being said, I can’t tell you what I was thinking about this time last year (two years ago, I was suffering through the aftereffects of mutant strep throat, so I wasn’t thinking about much). But I can tell you what I managed to accomplish.

In February, I founded a YA critique group. We’re still going strong!

In April, I made the decision to indie publish my first novel. My goal was to get it out into the world in December, but I underestimated how long the process would take. So I guess I get to carry this goal over into 2015…huzzah!

In August, I found a new job, which has its ups and downs.

In September, I dumped the guy I always (not literally always, but you get the idea) thought I wanted to be with. Best. Decision. Eva. (And yes, I’m counting this as an accomplishment, and if you knew all the details of this, you would as well).

In October, I closed on my condo. MY FIRST PLACE. YAY ADULTHOOD.

In December, I was able to unveil the cover of Stones, which was some very exciting stuff. I was also able to turn 26 with minimal fuss and no quarter-life crisis breakdowns.

Those are the highlights of 2014…now we can proceed to goals for 2015!

Here’s the most obvious one: publish Stones and Finger Bones. This will be happening in February! I am thinking it will be ready to go by Valentine’s Day weekend, but I’m not releasing a specific date until I get the bugger formatted.

The rest of my goals are going to be broken down in categories for easy reference and so I can make lists. I love lists.

Overall Heath & Wellness:

  • Continue making better food choices
  • Choose and start taking a vitamin D supplement
  • Stop tolerating sucky people
  • Stop vehemently loathing work (yes, it takes away valuable time that could be used for writing or trolling the internet, but I have a mortgage to pay)

Home Improvements:

  • Paint master bedroom and bath
  • Find a bookshelf for room
  • Bring all books from home to new home

Reading, Writing, & Publishing:

  • Finish 25 books. I know this might seem like a low number to some, but I’ve been really slacking on my reading habits. I don’t think I even finished 10 this year, which is terrible!
  • Do a better job of tracking these books, probably utilizing Goodreads
  • Choose these books from the collection I already own and make list
  • Write at least 5,000 new words per month. I think this goal will complement my writing style better than daily or weekly goals, since I tend to write in fits and starts, and some days are more productive than others.
  • Outline book 2 of the Black Towers sequence (I think I need to be more diligent with outlining this one to make sure threads are being resolved, tangled, or cut as appropriate)
  • Draft a Black Towers novella
  • Participate in bloggy activities. Blog more in general. Let’s aim for at least twice a month!

And there be my goals! Mostly manageable, I think. I probably won’t be officially publishing anything else in 2015…but never say never! This, of course, depends on how fast I get things drafted, polished, edited, and all that jazz. If anything, I can aim for publishing the novella at the end of the year, but I’m not going to make than an official goal…yet. 😉

Happy New Year, minions!

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