Blog

Laini Taylor – “We can do more than we think.”

It was very surreal to see someone I admire so much and revere as sort of a rockstar in the fantasy industry a mere twenty-feet from me.

Hey there!

I woke up this morning bright-eyed (Well, kind, it’s allergy season so they were red. I should say bright-eyed in my mind, if that makes any sense.) and bushy-tailed and ready to start my writing day! Usually, I’m slow to wake up and huddle on my couch reading as my mind begins to work. What changed, you ask?

Only that I got to see Laini Taylor, author of the fabulous and bestselling The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and Strange the Dreamer (among other works which I have not read) speak in person last night (really a week ago as you read this)!

It was very surreal to see someone I admire so much and revere as sort of a rockstar in the fantasy industry a mere twenty-feet from me. Laini with her bright pink hair and quick smile stuck out amidst the star-struck fans sitting in The Old Church in Portland, OR.

Listening to Laini, I realized that while we were in the same Hogwarts house (Gryffindor! In case there was any question) our processes for writing were pretty different. She claimed to spend months writing the first act of a novel, often crafting it a dozen times before moving on (she’s a discovery writer who uses very vague outlines). For me, the start of the novel is the easiest. I think because I’ve generally pre-thought things out fairly well, but it could also be that Laini’s plots are simply more complex than mine so I don’t need as many re-writes. She’s not a best-selling author for no reason, after all. While Laini may be slow to begin her novel, she’s quick to finish it, one time writing 26K in a week to sprint to the end! She says procrastination (not wanting to crash the publishing machine by being late) is a huge part of this but also, she gains momentum as the story unravels. Sometimes, I feel like I could not be more different! I’m a very regimented writer and rarely procrastinate. However, near the climax of the story, I usually slow down, sometimes freeze. All that action! All that sensory input. It’s overwhelming to write and that’s the part I’ll put off if I can. You could say (and you wouldn’t be wrong) that I’m writing this blog post to do that exact thing . . .

Laini also talked about something I’ve been considering a ton lately, which is building resiliency in my writing. I’ve told many people that I simply can’t write in public. Of course, that’s really not true. If I had to, I could. It may be difficult to concentrate, and I may not get many words in, but I could do it. It’s simply a limiting belief I tell myself to protect my happy little writing bubble. Laini admitted to feeling the same. She couldn’t write in public until her child was born and she had to get out of the house. Now, she writes at home again, but there was totally a period in her life where she wrote in public because otherwise, the story wouldn’t happen. She changed her limiting belief and made shit happen. Just like when she wrote 26-freaking-K in one week. She built her resiliency (my words, not hers) and now, she can write many places. As a writer this is huge. You can work anywhere, not just your comfortable, quiet office, or the single coffee shop you love. Hearing her speak of her journey made me think I need to build my resiliency too. As a matter of fact, I think this is something most writers can work on. Resiliency is a skill that can transfer across aspects of our lives and it will only serve to make us tougher. So, what do you need to work on or confront in your craft? Now, go do it!

One last tidbit I came away with was Laini’s willingness to claim less “literary” words as her inspiration for writing. She cited Harry Potter, which is something I would claim as well, along with other authors I don’t know but I’m sure are great. In short, though her writing is gorgeous, poetic, and prosey she wasn’t a literary snob, which to be honest, I just found so refreshing. She was just herself and what inspired her inspired her.

There were many more moments of compare and contrasting myself to Laini last night (in a good way, not a ‘woe is me, I suck way’ 🙂 )but if I had to say I came away with a cohesive message, it would be this.

We can do more than we think. 

All those hard things about writing? Writing the first act to get it done perfectly. Writing in public. Sharing our work. Telling others what really sets us on fire and not what they want to hear. They can all be done. Usually, it’s simply a matter of changing your mindset, building your resiliency, and being willing to be yourself.

And now that I’ve gotten all that out, I’m off to write this climax scene I’ve been putting off! Happy writing!

Rising of Three Cover Reveal!

Cover reveal for Rising of Three, Book Three of The Starseed Trilogy, the final book in series. Did I just say that?

Hello!

You guys, I cannot tell you how happy I am to show you this cover. There were a few hitches trying to get it designed and it took much longer than I expected. What is it they say? Always expect the unexpected? Well, I sure learned this when trying to get this cover made! But enough living in the past!

Scroll down to see the cover of Rising of Three, Book Three of The Starseed Trilogy! OMG, yes, I just said the final book in series! Eek!

*

*

*

*

previewactualcover

Do you like it? Isn’t Sara so badass looking!? I can’t wait to share her journey with you.

If you want to be the first to know when Rising of Three hits retailers on August 28, 2018 make sure to sign up for my exclusive newsletter The Coven (link in sidebar). If you’re not into email, consider liking my Facebook Author Page to keep in touch.

All the magic,

Ashley

Siren Falling, A Starseed Universe Novella Excerpt

Hello!

Today I just wanted to pop in and share a quick excerpt from my soon to be published novella, Siren Falling. Siren Falling is a Starseed Universe Prequel Novella, telling the story of Selma de Avila a siren descended from the sirens mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey and her big move from Menorca to New York City. New York proves a huge change for Selma and her siren powers begin to run amok causing chaos in the city. I won’t say more because spoilers(!) but here’s a teensy excerpt to give you a taste of Selma’s voice.

Excerpt:

Beeping horns and the bitter stench of exhaust clouding the early fall air assaulted Selma as she stepped out of the cab. She gripped her suitcases tight and her mouth dropped as she stared up at the buildings reaching for the sky. The movement of people around lit up her every sense and she shivered. It was exhilarating just standing in one spot.

At home, I had an ocean of water before me. Here it is an ocean of people. So far, I prefer the latter.

Selma dove into the crowd eyeing the hostel sign five city blocks away. Her cab driver had pointed it out when Selma changed her mind about her accommodations. Originally, she’d planned to stay in a hotel but once the driver mentioned the high rates on Manhattan, she’d asked if he knew of a cheaper alternative. The answer was as it was in Spain, a youth hostel. Selma disliked the idea of sleeping in a bunk-filled dorm but skimping on the hostel was acceptable to save money for the marble countertops, sprawling city views, and doorman her dream apartment would boast.

The alluring scent of pine and soap filled Selma’s nostrils stopping her dead in her tracks.

“Hey lady! What the hell?” A man, well over six feet tall, yelled and swerved to avoid a collision.

Selma pursed her lips, barely registering the agitated New Yorker as she searched for the source of the delightful spell. Warm brown eyes roamed and she sucked in a breath. Selma had been so in her own head she hadn’t even noticed the dozen attractive men milling about. Tall men, short men, burly and skinny men, clean-shaven men, and men with neat beards; all with glowing smiles, groomed hair, and suits that would make her mamá sigh. Best of all, none of them were the men she’d known her whole life in her tiny island town.

Selma caught the brilliant blue eyes of a man with dark, rich skin and cheekbones that could cut glass.

The man winked and blew her a roguish kiss before glancing away.

Oh, you want to play that game?

A smirk grew on her face and a thrill ran through her. Reflexively, Selma released a thin stream of estrogen and testosterone into her blood. The hormones dosed into the deepest layers of her skin and moved up through her pores, ready for release. She moved closer to the blue-eyed Adonis and swept her arms in his direction. Hormones leapt off her golden skin, heading straight for the man.

The result was instantaneous. The man whirled about, his blue eyes sharp just moments before had grown hazy and his nostrils flared. Catching sight of her, he shot towards Selma.

“Hello, Miss. Sorry to intrude, but you looked lost. I’m Jared. I wondered if I may be of service to you?” The man asked in a posh British accent.

The change was drastic. He looked like a puppy standing there, and Selma felt a twinge of guilt at her use of magic. Even if the guy had been a little cocky she knew it wasn’t ethical. And she’d never have done it back home, under her family’s watchful eyes. Selma glanced guiltily down at the sidewalk.

“Miss? Excuse me, but are you OK? May I assist you with your bags?” Jared’s brows furrowed with concern.

Selma grabbed at one of her two suitcases. Her muscles strained against its weight and she sighed.

I suppose he’s already a teensy bit enchanted and drastic needs call for drastic measures.

“I’d love that,” Selma answered. She met Jared’s eyes and beamed, hoping he’d register her appreciation despite the hormone and mind-altering influence of her enchantment. “I’m staying at the youth hostel down the street.”

Jared frowned. “The youth hostel? Are you visiting?”

“I just moved to town but don’t have a place to live yet.”

“Buying or renting?”

“Renting.”

“I know just the person to help you. Let me show you to his office. He’s a realtor and always knows where the best apartments are for any budget.”

“Sure, that would be wonderful.”

Jared turned and walked down the sidewalk, both of Selma’s suitcases clenched in his hands.

Selma shrugged. May as well go with it and admire the view while I can, she thought following Jared down the street.

End ~

Selma is already starting trouble and she’s barely stepped foot in New York!

Though Siren Falling will not be available until late June you can add it to your Goodreads TBR list now! Use this link. As always, if you would like to know the moment Siren Falling is out, join my exclusive mailing list The Coven (link in sidebar)! They receive sneak peeks of all my work before anyone else, snapshots into my author life, and are the first ones I inform when my books go on special at retailers.

Until next time!

All the magic,

Ashley

Siren Falling

Hawk Witch, The Bonegates Series and update on Rising of Three!

Imagine this: The Throne of Glass series but set in Faerie, with a VERY different, witchy protagonist, Lana Shea and her hawk familiar, Naela. I say very different because Lana is not only a loner, but she’s an illuminator, a rare type of light witch and not a very good one at that! Here’s hoping she grows into her power, because Faerie sure has a lot riding on her talents. 😉

Hello!

Today, I’m introducing my newest series, The Bonegates Series! It’s a secret The Coven (my exclusive mailing list) has known about for some time but now I’m ready to spread the news far and wide!

Imagine this: The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas but set in Faerie, with a VERY different, witchy protagonist, Lana Shea and her hawk familiar, Naela. I say very different because Lana is not only a loner, but she’s an illuminator, a rare type of light witch capable of using the entire electromagnetic spectrum. At least in theory. Lana’s not quite there yet. Here’s hoping she grows into her power, because Faerie sure has a lot riding on her talents. 😉

And if that isn’t enough to entice you, here’s the full blurb for the first book in series, Hawk Witch.

Soar, Surrender, or Die. 

Lana Shea is a mediocre witch, lackluster student, and loner with no direction in life. However, when a messenger delivers a scroll bearing strange clues to her father’s whereabouts, one thing becomes clear. She must search for the father she’s never known. 

 Lana races across Dublin, Ireland solving the obscure clues until finally, she is transported into a bleak kingdom in Faerie. A kingdom her father rules.

 When asked to participate in Faerie’s violent royal tournament known as the Successional, Lana accepts, as do thirteen of her new siblings. To earn her father’s attention, she must win.

 Under the tutelage of her handsome guard Garret, Lana learns Faerie is darker than she ever imagined and as a competitor, there is more than just her father’s love at stake. 

 Can she master her magic in time to survive? Is Lana willing to spill the blood of her newfound siblings to find her purpose?

 

Sounds sweet, right!? Well, I think so, and hope you do too! Now, for a quick update on Rising of Three, Book Three in The Starseed Trilogy. I’m currently frantically editing it to get it to my editor by next month and am hoping for an August release! That’s right, only a couple months away! Between then and now, make sure you’re up to speed on the series and I’ll let you know when Rising of Three has it’s own page on Goodreads so you can add it to your TBR list! I’ll also be sharing the covers for Rising of Three and Hawk Witch very soon so stay tuned my witchy peeps.

As always, if you are interested in becoming a member of my Street Team let me know! Members of the Street Team read and review my books before they are even available to the public. We even have a private Facebook group full of wonderful fantasy readers to chat with. Let me know if you want in!

That’s it for now!

All the magic,

Ashley

Rising of Three Excerpt

Hey all!

I have great news! Rising of Three, Book Three in The Starseed Trilogy is officially off to beta readers which means a July release is in the works! Can you say BEACH READ (I know that feels impossible right now, but summer is coming-said in Game of Thrones voice)! That being said, I wanted to share a bit of the book with you here. 🙂 A teensy teaser if you will. So without further adieu —>

Excerpt from Rising of Three:

Sara padded softly along the creaky wood floor in an effort not to wake those still asleep. Stopping before the stone fireplace she fingered the stocking stitched with her name before extending her fingers to the wood laying in the hearth.

“Flampila,” she whispered and a bright orange ball of fire rolled from her palms to catch on the wood. Heat caressed her face. Sara sighed and pulled her fuzzy robe closer. She’d enjoy the chilly winter morning while she could, bundled up, a fire roaring at her back, with a cup of hot tea in her hands.

A toppling stack of papers on the dining table caught Sara’s eye as she rounded the corner of the hearth separating Fern Cottage’s living room from the kitchen-diner. Mary seriously came through, she thought picking up the plastic sheath encompassing The Guardian as her eyes roved over the dozens of other publications.

She spun on her heel, not ready to dig into current events and set about making a cup of cinnamon spice tea.

***

Two hours later the table was covered in papers from all around the world and Sara’s hands were black and sticky with ink.

This isn’t looking good. She chose a journal of questionable quality to skim next. An article on the second page jumped out at her and Sara stifled a laugh at the title.

Aliens Brand Woman for Spaceship Cleaner in Her Sleep

Sara’s copper eyes ran down the words, widening as she took in the subtext of the article shaming a woman brave enough to tell her story, no matter how ludicrous it may sound.

Mrs. Leslie Leeteral from Hackney claims to have received an early Christmas present. One she isn’t at all sure she wants though like all tattoos we acquire once we’ve had a few too many drinks, this one is sure to stick.

The London native claims to have had a couple gins to celebrate her husband’s Christmas bonus and gone to bed early the night of the nineteenth of December. She had big plans to finish her Christmas shopping the next day and take herself out for a solo lunch and pint while her husband watched their three children. It isn’t often you get alone time as a mum so this part of her story, at least, we understand.

Unfortunately for Mrs. Leeteral, her night of rest did not go as planned.

She awoke with a start in the wee hours to find a ghostly figure leaning over her.

“He was massive he was. And bright yellow, like the sun. I thought he actually was the sun at first. Still asleep you know. But then I saw how close he was and figured I’d be dead if the sun came in me room. Well, he saw he’d woken me and he came—he flew—closer, which had me in a right state as you can imagine. Me husband was working the night shift, and I was all alone, defenseless with the kids in the next rooms! I scrambled up as fast as I could and grabbed the lamp to fend him off. Bit stupid really. How do you fight a ghost with a lamp? Like I said I didn’t have me head on straight. He was inches from me when I realized I couldn’t see through him and I thought to meself this can’t be a ghost. When did anyone ever talk about a colored ghost? They’re always white ain’t they? He had to be an alien.”

*At this point in the interview Mrs. Leeteral looks up at the sky and shivers.*

“The alien came right up and looked at me. He had huge black eyes and a round, black mouth. At least I think that’s what they were. He stared at me for what musta been ten minutes and then . . . He touched me.”

*Mrs. Leeteral pulls up her shirt sleeves to reveal cut deltoids and a small, yellow tattoo that looks a bit like the moon.*

“He marked me with this! Looks like the moon doesn’t it? I suppose that’s where he musta been from. No idea why he marked me though . . . Perhaps he was looking for a good cleaner? I’ve been in the business twenty years and you never hear of cleaners on spaceships. Musta gotten tired of living in all that filth.”

And there you have it, folks. The aliens are coming and they need help cleaning up. Or perhaps Mrs. Leeteral should check her bank cards as one may contain a charge to her local tattoo parlor. Gin is a hell of a drink.

A small, nondescript photo of Mrs. Leeteral’s mark was at the bottom of the page. Sara’s chest fluttered wildly as she studied it. Shhhh, calm down. It’s a photo, she thought and her pneuma, the bit of fata soul she’d recently learned had been living inside her since birth, stilled.

It did look like the moon. And she could see the drunken tattoo as well. But Sara knew better than to believe the mark was either. If that reporter only knew how close Mrs. Leeteral was to guessing the truth they’d be peeing their pants.

“How long have you been up?”

Sara jumped in her seat and directed her hands at the door.

Evelyn held up her palms. “Sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you. But really, do you believe anyone is getting past Mom’s wards?” She quirked an eyebrow and headed for the pot of coffee Sara had taken the liberty of making for whoever was up next

Sinking down into her seat Sara let out a long exhale. Of course, I didn’t hear Evelyn. She still doesn’t weigh enough to make noise. “No, I’m sorry. I’ve been jumpy lately. Even meditation has been hard. And no, I don’t think anyone could get past Mom’s wards, but what I think isn’t always right.”

“Touché,” Evelyn filled her cup with coffee. “What’s all this?” She gestured to the pile of papers on the table.

Sara pulled a handful of newspapers closer to make room for Evelyn. “Papers. I asked Mary to drop them off a few days ago. It looks like she may have enlisted Morgane’s help too. They don’t carry all of these in the village shop. They’re so we can keep in the loop.”

“In the loop? Don’t you think we’re a little beyond what the average person knows?” Evelyn pulled out the heavy wooden chair across from Sara with a visible effort.

She’s not getting stronger as fast as Fiona hoped she would. Sara eyed her sister’s lank blonde hair, skeletal arms, and visible ribs. At least her magic has returned a little though. It’s the first step, Sara sighed. “There’s no doubt we have more information on what’s happening, but we’re clueless to what the fata are doing now that they’re on Earth.”

Evelyn scowled and looked into her cup.

“But these papers can help. Most of them are the typical drivel but read this.” Sara handed the page to Evelyn who scoffed.

“You can’t be serious. You know what this is right? Or does this kind of crap not make it onto military bases?”

Sara rolled her eyes and pushed the paper into Evelyn’s hand. “It does. Read it.”

Evelyn opened it and her sapphire eyes skipped over the page, fast at first, then slower as she took in what it meant. “Well, shit. They’ve begun claiming people as their own.” Evelyn set down the paper.

Claiming people. Sara shivered. “It appears that way. These papers are filled with all sorts of wild things. Natural disasters which I’m sure are in no way natural, an increase in missing people all over the world, wild accidents or man-made structures failing. An entire highway in L.A. cracked the other day. The fissure was ten feet wide. They’re blaming it on the San Andreas Fault line but . . .”

“It’s not that.”

“Nope. This journal had the most obvious article. And if this woman was claimed she can’t be the only one. She’s probably just the only one willing to step forward, and this journal is the only one crazy enough to print it.”

Evelyn smirked. “My dad would die if he heard you call this rag a journal. You’d no longer be ‘my level-headed, smart sister’. Too bad you’re not interested in business. He’d hire you in a second. But you’re right, none of these things are normal and that mark is definitely a fata brand. Even worse, it’s not Dimia or Noro’s which means regular fata have started claiming.” She sipped her coffee and looked around. “Where’s Lily? She’s usually up before me.”

“She was up late last night texting. One guess who.” A lopsided grin spread on Sara’s face lifting her freckle spattered cheekbones.

A low whistle ran through Evelyn’s red lips. “That girl has got it bad.”

 

End Excerpt

Hope you enjoyed that! The cover reveal will be soon, I hope within the next two weeks!

I’ll let you know when the preorder is up and remember . . . if you want to be on the Advanced Reader Team email me at ashleymcleo(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thank you! ❤

Want free books? Join the Street Team!

Hey there!

 

My Advanced Reader Team has been growing into a wonderful community lately. In fact, I just started a private Facebook group where members can talk amongst themselves and discuss books! It’s been a great time and I love seeing readers get to know one another. Still, I wanted to put the word out that I’m always actively recruiting Advanced Reader Team members! So, if you love The Starseed Trilogy and are interested in receiving my e-books for free, reviewing them, spreading the word, and getting a chance to get to interact with like-minded readers let me know (ashleymcleo@gmail(dot)com)!

We’d love to have you. 🙂

All the magic,

Ashley

 

A Witchy Halloween to you!

As a fantasy author, I adore Halloween. So much so that I am one of those people that dresses up my dog and would love nothing more than to attend a fabulous costume party or gala dressed to the nines as a fairy queen or Cleopatra.

IMG_2770
Flicka as a pumpkin two seconds before the hat got tossed off. ❤

I suppose it makes sense, I have always had an affinity for the magical, mystical, and unexplainable.That I started writing about witches and other supernatural creatures was a natural progression. However, these last few years my interest in the holiday has shifted a bit. I’ve gotten more into the academic history of Halloween and how it has evolved over hundreds of years. Curious about that too? Read on. 🙂

 

I suppose it makes sense, I have always had an affinity for the magical, mystical, and unexplainable.That I started writing about witches and other supernatural creatures was a natural progression. However, these last few years my interest in the holiday has shifted a bit. I’ve gotten more into the academic history of Halloween and how it has evolved over hundreds of years. Curious about that too? Read on. 🙂

Halloween, traditionally called Samhain, an ancient harvest festival in the Celtic world, began it’s metamorphosis to what we know it as today as a night when people believed that faeries, witches, and demons roamed the earth. They set out food and drink to placate the creatures of the night. Throughout history other groups of peoples have felt that same need to honor the ‘other’ by gathering together to hold space for the dead, dancing around bonfires, carving pumpkins (or giant turnips as was often done in Ireland), playing divination games, and bobbing for apples. Much later on, people began dressing up as the very magical beings they laid out food for and began claiming the goodies for themselves, sometimes performing antics or tricks in exchange for food and drink. As you can imagine this evolved into trick or treating, which is enjoyed the world over by millions of children and adults. However, the magically inclined have always tended to think differently from the masses. Even today witches and wizards relate much more to the traditional Samhain celebration where one honors the change of the season rather than trick or treating. Modern witches sometimes consider Halloween or Samhain (depending on which vernacular they use) the ‘witches New Year’ and many still see it as a day to honor the deceased with scrying rituals or burning candles.

I’ll be real. I love witches, historically, fictionally, and presently but I am no witch. Still, I like nothing more than dressing up in my witches hat, grabbing a wand (I’m still patiently waiting to purchase my own in Diagon Alley) and hitting the town for some Halloween *FUN*! However, this year is different. I’ll be on a plane, returning from a writing research trip in England and Ireland for my next witchy series. And I’ll also be releasing my second novel! That’s right Souls of Three is officially out Halloween 2017! Because really, when you write about witches is there a better release day? It’s on pre-order now but you can also sign up for my mailing list, The Coven, and I’ll send you an email Halloween day reminding you that your favorite witchy read is available for purchase.

Thanks for reading (and as my witches would say) “Happy Samhain to ye!”

Link to order Souls of Three: http://bit.ly/2g9Hk32SOT

Ebook_cover_1600x2560px