Review of “The Black Swan Company” by Luna DeMasi

25442483I’m not an automatic sucker for any vampire book, but this one won me over quickly.  I loved the focus on investigative journalism as a way to dig deeper into the conspiracies and injustices committed by the authorities in this dystopian, semi-post-apocalyptic setting.  There are also elements of paranormal romance for readers who are drawn to that kind of thing, and this was a good way for the author to draw all sorts of emotional turmoil out of the characters.  Melody, as a “strong female lead,” is great because she’s good at her job but also personally flawed in believable ways that make her easy to relate to.

The writing devices the author uses keep the plot flowing while also giving great backstory.  There are journal entries and letters, back-flashes, and occasional dips into POVs other than the main character’s.  The story often reads like a suspense/crime drama.  A lot of time is spent with Melody and Bastian in isolation, but then there are bursts of action to remind you that the world outside is really, really different from the one we know and the one Melody lost.  And the dialogue is great, livening up the story with colorful side characters whom you grow attached to quickly.

I don’t want to give anything away, but what’s really going on with the Black Swan Company is both terrifying and oddly believable.  I also like that these “vampires” aren’t like your typical paranormal monsters, and the gray areas involved are interesting from a moral and sort-of-political standpoint.

If I have any complaint about this book, it’s that the action at the end happens really fast as things come to a climax, and everything gets wrapped up super quickly.  But it also works this way, since everything has been building to what happens in the end and you kind of know what to expect.

Definitely check out this book if you like your vampire stories a little more on the dystopian/crime side.

5 Stars

See it on Amazon!

Alterni Book Release Day!

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Yay, it’s finally book launch day!  This also means my blog/Twitter/Instagram giveaways have ended, and I moments ago sent “Congrats!” notices to the winners via Twitter and Instagram.

Here are the correct answers to the giveaway questions and fill-in-the-blanks:

Twitter week 1:
FILL IN THE BLANK:
“Ooh, I like that one.”
“We’re not picking a puppy, Hakim. Take this seriously.”

Twitter week 2:
FILL IN THE BLANK:
Oh, that burns, she thought as she lowered the finished glass. Nope, this is definitely not a dream. 
Twitter week 3:
FILL IN THE BLANK:
I have enough to focus on without getting a crush on an emo, underwear model monarch.
Twitter week 4:
FILL IN THE BLANK:
“There are alt-worlds where a vampire is the norm? Where werewolves or fairies or whatever else are the norm?”
Twitter week 5: 
FILL IN THE BLANK:
It’s like the start of a bad jokeTwo elves, a nymph, and a fairy walk into a bar…or barbecue joint, in this case.
Instagram week 1: 
Not all alternate reality versions of Esme are human.  Two alt-Esmes were from paranormal races.  What do you think these paranormals were? Vampire and Fairy
Instagram week 2:
FILL IN THE BLANK:
It’s like an average day. Oh, sure, vampires are real here. And I’ll be fighting monsters, learning magic, and working with an ancient Order ruled by Kansas City’s chief of police. But first, don’t forget to put baking soda in the fridge!
Instagram week 3:
Who does Owen say this to?  Esme
Instagram week 4:
“Must you be insulting? You know full well my alt-world ancestor was jinn, not fairy.”
Instagram week 5: 
Which monster would you least like to fight? Any monster was an option!

 

Thanks to everyone who played!


 

Alterni is now available on

Amazon Kindle Unlimited

and in

paperback!

 

Click the picture for the blurb, a sneak peek, and more!

Alterni Cover FRONT

 

Paperback Giveaways – ALTERNI

We’re within the final week to enter the paperback giveaways for my soon-to-be-released Urban Fantasy book, Alterni!  If you’ve missed out on entering these contests so far, I’ve compiled ALL of them below.  Just click the below posts, comment with your answer (they don’t even have to be the right answers!), and you’re entered to win 1 of 10 paperbacks that I’ll give away on 12/12/2017. 

Twitter Contests: 

Instagram Contests:

 

Enter as many contests as you want to increase your chances to win!  

ALTERNI Cover Reveal

I’m having so much fun writing this new series with new characters, a new world, and new monsters!  Here’s the brand new cover for The Alt-World Chronicles Book 1, ALTERNI. 

Description: 

Ever have a nightmare where you’re naked in public? What if everyone else in the room was also naked…and also a version of yourself? That’s the reality Esme Kuchis finds herself in, and soon things get even weirder. 

She’s not in her Kansas City anymore. This alternate world is home to an ancient, secret Order with a king, conjuri magicians, cavali fighters, and dozens of paranormal races. And the purpose of this magical Order? They protect an unsuspecting public from malevolenci, demonic beasts from otherworldly rifts. 

As an alterni summoned to this world, Esme must partner with the king and fight using magic only an alterni can wield. Unfortunately, the model-perfect King Owen is broken by grief and guilt, the Order has little faith in her, and the malevolenci are worse than ever.

Eight alt-Esmes preceded her. Eight lost their lives. Can Esme use her unique gifts to master this world’s magic? If she can’t, the consequences might be more devastating than Owen is willing to say.
Stay tuned for some cool stuff ahead until the book release on 12/12/17. 

Preorder HERE

#AuThorsday with LE Fitzpatrick

5233596Today I’d like to welcome LE Fitzpatrick, dystopian author of  The Running Game.

Can you give us your quickest description of your books?

Fast paced, paranormal/dystopian thriller.  Blade Runner meets Guy Richie.

Interesting!  Do you picture that kind of movie-like direction while you’re writing scenes?

I get told a lot that my books read like films, although I never set out to write them that way.  Mainly I get ideas and inspiration from films I love and they end up somehow being incorporated in my stories.  I like a lot of slick dialogue and action in my books rather than internal monologues, so maybe I use my characters a bit like you would actors and instead of delving into their inner workings, I put a gun in their hands and let them interpret a scene themselves.

What are you working on currently?

Currently I’m working on the rest of the Reacher series, there’s about 6 books planned so far, along with a few shorts to expand on too.  Book 2 is with the publishers at the moment and fingers and toes are crossed for a 2016 release.

I’ve just started writing shorts myself and find it really enjoyable.  Do you plan to use your shorts to tell backstory for your existing characters or to introduce something new into the story?

The history surrounding the backstory of the characters is quite extensive.  The Running Game, the first book in the series, starts when my four main characters come together for the first time, but each of them has come from some sort of dark and traumatic backstory.  When I start mapping out the main story arc of the series I find it really useful to write little snippets of history, etc., and after publishing The Running Game I realized that a lot of the snippets came together to form a little short in its own right.  For me the short stories are a bit like the extra bits you get on a DVD boxset – the deleted scenes, or documentaries – which aren’t part of the main story arc but are great for people wanting more.  Most of the stories concentrate on the additional secondary characters in the book who don’t get as much attention as they perhaps deserve.

What is your favorite scene you’ve written?  Can you give us a peek?

They met at the edge of the docks, where the smell of fish and sea collided with the sulphuric fumes of the neighbouring factories.  John stood like a tall mast protruding out of the harbour. When he made himself visible he was impossible to miss. Wrapped up in his thick black trench coat he was an immovable figure against the harsh breath of the ocean. He was immaculate, despite a night in the lockup, which was more than could be said for Charlie.
The elder brother hobbled forward like some kind of decrepit swamp creature. He stank of sweat and vomit and grime. There were stains down his coat, dirt clogged to the thick layer of stubble against his face. And he felt worse than he looked. He nodded at John, marking the start and end of their apologies.
“You armed?” Charlie asked.
“The usual.” He had one pistol in his holster that they would find. One snub in his boot which was lazily concealed and a knife they would have to autopsy him to uncover. “Is there a plan?”
“Leave alive.” The best laid plans, Charlie thought to himself.
“Sounds good.”
They walked towards the warehouse as a united front.

So much great description in just a small chunk!  Do you prefer setting the tone of a scene with dialogue or description, or a combo of both?

If I want to slow the tone of the story down I will usually rely on my own narrative and descriptive scenes to lay some history or imagery into the plot.  Like above, brothers John and Charlie are meeting for the first time after a huge fight, they are very different in appearance but very similar when it comes to dealing with their relationship.  I wanted the reader to see this scene from a distance, because it’s a private moment between them.  But as the scene progresses and the move towards an action scene I like to use snappy dialogue to change the pace and suddenly grab the reader and involve them in the danger.

When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?

I find that the process of writing is the easiest thing in the world, it comes more naturally to me that breathing.  For me getting stuck in is very rarely a problem, but getting out again… well let’s just say very few chores happen at home.

Haha.  Do you have to force yourself to stop when you’re on a roll?  Most people indeed have the opposite problem – having enough in their head to get on paper all at once.

Sometimes you have to just stop.  If it’s the wee hours of the morning anything I’m putting down is probably gibberish and you just have to stop for the greater good. But if I’m working through a difficult scene or plot issue I’ll often push to get through it.  I tend to write most days and nights but I’d say at least 80% of those words get deleted.  I sometimes think you have to write 100 pages of nonsense to get to 10 pages of perfection (or at least satisfaction).  My trial and error method could be very frustrating for a lot of people, but I’ve done it this way all my life.

Same here.  Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?

I tend to write fantasy or sci-fi so a lot of my books are very much from my imagination, but I like to inject a lot of humanity into my characters and I tend to put a lot of myself.

So you try to make your characters relatable even when they’re in unfamiliar worlds?  Do you find that comes naturally as a storyteller, or are there times when you feel like you need to infuse your characters with more humanity? 

Everything about my books is character driven.  The settings and unfamiliar worlds fall around the characters and often they reject ideas that are just incredulous or absurd.  I’ve never struggled with making my characters more human per se, but I often struggle with them accepting my plots.  If the story arc isn’t natural and believable the characters reject it and I just can’t get anywhere.  Sometimes it feels like they’ve got more control of the story than me.

Thanks, LE, for sharing!

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WHERE TO FIND: LE Fitzpatrick 
Website:  www.lefitzpatrick.com
Goodreads:  LE Fitzpatrick
Amazon Page:  LE Fitzpatrick
Facebook:  LE Fitzpatrick
Twitter:  @L_E_Fitzpatrick

#AuThorsday with Lisa Veldkamp

628519Today I’d like to welcome Lisa Veldkamp, author of the soon-to-be released paranormal novel, The Elemental – Part 1 of The Fire Trilogy

Can you give us your quickest description of The Elemental?

Sex and the City, set in London, with a supernatural twist.  And not as much sex, sorry 😉

Haha.  That’s a great description.  It says immediately what the feel of the story is.  What type of supernatural elements do you use?

I use the elements, obviously, as it’s called The Elemental.  The main protagonist can control earth, air, fire and water.  I also use healing powers, the ability to see the future, to see and sometimes stop death, empathic abilities, mind-readers.  Actually, I use quite a lot of them, hahaha!  I’m trying to describe them as normal, though.  That’s part of my hidden agenda.  Making the paranormal – normal, but don’t tell anyone I said that.

Your secret is safe with…uh… What are you working on currently? 🙂

I’m working on part II of The Fire Trilogy, The Empath.  It’s the same timeline as The Elemental, only seen from Tristan’s point of view.  We learn a lot more about his world, and his motives.  It means a lot more research for me, because every conversation they have with each other, has to match.  Also, the timeline has to match, so I keep going back and forth.  There are moments when I want to throw my laptop out the window.

I also recently finished my first short-story for teenagers, The Bridge Between Yesterday and Tomorrow.  I loved writing it so much, I think there’s more to come.  I’m not quite done with the world of trolls and Sweden.  Yes, there’s a bigger story in there.

You can’t see me, but I’m nodding in sympathy about the the “timeline has to match” dilemma.   That’s really interesting.  So is it the EXACT same story, just from a fresh perspective? 

Yes, it is the exact same timeline – it is a completely different story, though.  In The Elemental you see Catherine and Tristan interact, yes, but not that much.  So it’s only the moments they interact that are the same.  Tristan leads a very different life and The Empath focusses on that life.  It was rather interesting, however, to write the same scenes from his point of view.

I know other authors have done this.  Stephanie Meyer did with Midnight Sun – Twilight from Edward’s point of view.  I loved it, but it’s not really a new book as Edward and Bella have a lot of interaction in the original.  So only the stuff away from Bella shows you something more.  I wanted to avoid that.  It is a trilogy, after all, not two books from a different perspective and one follow-up.  At least, I hope I’ve been able to do that.  Write three different books.  Time will tell.

That is a really cool idea.  So who inspires you to write?

Well, my family and friends of course, but my main source of inspiration is the band Placebo.  If I never listened to their music, The Fire Trilogy would never have been written.  I’ve said this many times, but when I was seeing them play at Pinkpop festival in 2009, something special happened.  I had a vision of Catherine’s world and later I dreamed the outlines of the entire trilogy.  I took it as a sign to give writing a go.  I love their music, but Brian – the singer – has been my muse ever since.  Let’s just hope they won’t stop until I’m done with this trilogy.  I have the complete outline, but some of the details are still fuzzy.  I need him for that.  He inspires me.

I don’t know that I’ve ever heard that from another author  – an entire trilogy of books inspired by hearing a band.  What was it exactly that first gave you the vision of your fictional world?  And can you think of other authors who’ve been similarly inspired?

The lyrics of Come Undone must have touched my brain on an unconscious level.  I created a world of people with hidden talents.  Talents which have to remain hidden.  People with secrets.  People who tell lies for a living, trying desperately not to lose themselves in the process.  They balance their lives by doing very mundane things, which makes it easy to identity with the main characters.  Don’t we all create some form of escapism?

As for other authors, I’m sure there are many more out there, but nobody famous comes to mind.  I know of musicians who write and books that have inspired bands or artists to write music.  Just think of Kate Bush with Wuthering Heights and The Cure’s Killing of an Arab, which was inspired by Albert Camus’ disturbing novel The Stranger.

The interaction between art forms is always interesting to me.  In that vein… In a perfect world where you could cast The Elemental for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?

In London, where the book is set.  Preferably directed by Joss Whedon or JJ Abrams, if we’re talking perfect world.  I devour both their movies and tv series 😉

The main characters, wow, that’s difficult.

For Catherine it would have to be a small actress and, if possible, British or in possession of a British accent.  I loved Ophelia Lovibond in Elementary.  (Mmm, close to my title, isn’t it.)  And I also liked her in Guardians of the Galaxy.  I think she has it in her to play the main protagonist.  I absolutely adore Sarah Michelle Gellar, but I’m not sure she could be convincing as a British woman.

Tristan is also very difficult.  He’s of Italian descent, so he has to have a southern vibe to him.  He’s quite strong, both physically and mentally, but he doesn’t rub your face in it.  Some of my personal favourite actors like Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp or Tom Cruise are what I call ‘canon-fire’.  They take over the entire screen and I can’t have that with a character like Tristan.  He knows how to blend in, to walk in the shadows.  Maybe someone like Christian Bale or Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.  Danish is not very southern, but I just love him in Game of Thrones, I think dark hair would suit him.

Alan’s a bit easier, to me, at least.  Someone strong, but mysterious, with a hint of both good and bad guy.  Paul Bettany could pull it off or Benedict Cumberbatch.  Yes, someone along those lines.

I love that you put so much thought into the type of presence the character needs to project.  Sidetracking a little bit, why do you think that’s so important in an effective actor – portraying the internal persona rather than just an outward “look” of a character? 

I think that’s what sets aside the good actors from the really great actors.  If you can let go of your ego and truly become someone else, that’s its own form of magic, I think.  For example, Heath Ledger’s performance of The Joker really gave me goose bumps.  He transformed into someone else.  It can be dangerous too.  Vivien Leigh from Gone with the Wind stated more than once she lost herself in her roles and Tom Hanks went to extremes in Cast Away with a whopping weight loss and spending weeks in water, causing a nasty infection which almost led to blood poisoning.  He even required surgery.  It does leave me with a feeling of awe, to be able to show such kind of dedication.

Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?

Yes.  It’s one of the first lessons I learned as a writer.  Stay close to home.  Just to be clear, my gifts are nowhere near Catherine’s or her friends, this is fiction, after all.  Or is it?  Lol.  No, that’s not fair.  However, I do think there’s a lot of wisdom in the saying “hide the truth well – tell everyone.”

The rituals and meditations described in the book are based on real experiences.  I adapted the Healing Flame meditation to the specific needs for one person, but anybody could use it.  As long as you take it seriously and take you time.  Rome wasn’t built in one day, you know.

Do you think it takes guts as a writer to use one’s own experiences?  Or do you think there’s an easy shield to hide behind in that “it’s just fiction”?

I think it’s a bit of both.  If things get too personal, I can always hide behind “It’s just fiction, you know.”  On the other hand, I’m proud of who I am and if people choose to put me in the ‘weird’ or ‘fringe’ box, then so be it.  So yes, it does take a certain amount of courage to write about your own experiences, because I base my stories around real-life events.  I’m not Catherine, nor any of her friends, but The Elemental does contain aspects of my life.  So in a way, it’ll be out there for all to see.  That’s kind of scary.

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing! 

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Where to find Lisa Veldkamp and her books:
Website: www.the-elemental.co.uk
Goodreads:  Lisa Veldkamp
Amazon Page: Lisa Veldkamp
Facebook: Lisa (Author)
Twitter: @Lisa_Elemental

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