Today, I’m excited to finally share the cover for THE BOOK OF KINDLY DEATHS by another of my wonderful authors, Eldritch Black. The elevator pitch for this novel was Coraline meets Tales of Beedle the Bard, which hooked me right away. But it got better: This book totally returned on its pitch promise many-fold times! Not only is it a compelling story with a great lead character, but the prose is both poetic and accessible to all ages. You’re in for a treat with this book.
In dressing such an amazing read, the awesome Lisa Amowitz outdid herself on this one!
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF THE MONSTERS IN A BOOK BECAME REAL?
When twelve-year old Eliza Winter finds a secret room in her missing grandfather’s sprawling, Gothic house, her safe, sheltered life is blown apart. Inside, below a stained glass window where moonlight shines no matter the time of day, sits The Book of Kindly Deaths.
In defiance of her controlling mother, who has always forbidden her to read anything strange or imaginary, Eliza takes the book. As night sets in, Eliza reads one haunting story after another. And the further she journeys inside the book, the more the boundaries between our world and a shadowy land of monsters and forbidden places begin to blur.
When the strange, crooked man from the book arrives on the doorstep claiming to be a rare book collector and demanding entry into the house, Eliza’s world is turned upside down. To escape him she must dive all the way into the spine-tingling world of The Book of Kindly Deaths to save her grandfather—and write an end to the nightmare she’s caught inside.
Finn (not bleedin’ Finnegan) MacCullen is eager to begin his apprenticeship. He soon discovers the ups and downs of hunting monsters in a suburban neighborhood under the demanding tutelage of the Knight, Gideon Lir. Both master and apprentice are descendents of the Tuatha De Danaan, a magical race of warriors from Ireland. Scattered long ago to the four corners of the world, the De Danaan wage a two thousand year old clandestine battle with their ancient enemy, the Amandán, a breed of goblin-like creatures.
Now with the beasts concentrating their attacks on Finn, he and his master must race to locate the lost Spear of the Tuatha De Danaan, the only weapon that can destroy the Amandán, all the while hiding his true identity from his new friends, Rafe and Savannah, twins whose South African roots may hold a key to Finn’s survival.
Armed with a bronze dagger, some ancient Celtic magic, and a hair-trigger temper, Finn is about to show his enemies the true meaning of “fighting Irish.”
Vikki and I were going through the slush pile when we both fell in love with this manuscript. Irish mythology! Adventure! In the suburbs!
Only… it was skewed a bit young for what, at that time, we were familiar with as the type of book SHP went for.
At first, unbeknownst to each other, we each still individually jumped on Kate to expand the SHP vision to include mid-grade.
Kate, in her usual awesome-Kate-ness, said something to the effect of, “Sure, I think we can do that!” and then informed us we each had asked for it, and wouldn’t it be nice for us to co-edit the manuscript.
Lots of fun ensued.
Including Vikki snickering at me searching through tissues for this one particular scene I was editing at her kitchen table. Because snark and teasing so don’t fit with the things we adore about Darby’s characters. Noo… not at all! Finn is such an angel… no, wait, that’s Darby’s other books (also awesome.)
So, with the ups being the immediate emotional ties we had to the characters, our love of the humor and dialogue, our appreciation of the story… what was there left for us to edit, you ask?
Well, there was a big chunk of “No, you need to write even more about this, this… and definitely more Gideon!” (Seriously, wait till you meet the knight!)
Since this is also written in third person, mostly through Finn and Gideon’s eyes, we also played around with the point of view, which is a lot of fun to play with because it can both offer some excellent insight to the characters, but get confusing if it gets away from you… as writing often does in its journey.
Also, for my part, my roommate-at-the-time and I experimented with my collection of daggers, dirks, and knives to ensure the plausibility of using one’s jeans to hold a blade (notsomuch, boy/girl-butt shape regardless). Vikki picked up on the specifics of knife sharpening (whetstone needs oil) and set me to work helping her sharpen some kitchen knives for missing something I should’ve caught. ;). Of course, in my geek world, any excuse to (safely) play with blades and talk about them makes me a happy camper.
As I said, much fun ensued.
Furthermore, because having so much fun editing wasn’t enough, I managed to hook Darby up with one of my favorite Celtic bands, Emerald Rose, who let us license their music for the wicked cool trailer! Darby loved them so much, she also asked about licensing to quote their lyrics to “Fire in the Head” in the novel. Way cool!
While I have not had the chance to hug Darby in person for this release, I’m happy to direct you to her page where, if you’re out west-ish, you might get to do that for me. She’s got an excellent tour planned with her boys (Finn and Gideon… and possibly Griffin and Basil might make a showing), that, if at all possible, you must check out.
At the very least, you have to get yourself your own copy of Finn Finnegan to love and hug.
And be tortured by as you wait for its sequel, Gideon’s Spear, coming out next year.
Touch of Death, by Kelly Hashway, is released this week! With an awesome A-Prom-Calypse Zombie Prom at Arisia this Sunday!
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendents of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
November 2011, Kate Kaynak, head of Spencer Hill Press, sent me an email with a manuscript she thought would be something I’d love. It was my first manuscript since working with Kate on UnCONventional. I’d done about six other novels/non-fiction books on a freelance basis with the authors; this was the first novel for SHP, the first novel a publishing house was contracting me to work on.
So, I was a little nervous, I have to admit.
But I loved the manuscript. Kate had – and still has – a good eye for my taste in books. I grew up reading all the Goosebumps and Fear Street books; I loved YA horror in a contemporary setting. High school sucks, so I enjoy reading about how much worse it could be.
And I know going into a manuscript that I’m going to have to read and re-read it dozens and dozens of times. For freelance work, I’ve done books I just like, because, well, it was income. With the way Kate was organizing her editing team for SHP, we had our choice from the submissions and slush pile. We had the choice to choose something we could thoroughly enjoy reading dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times over. Touch of Death definitely fit that bill for me.
In any case, Kelly served me a zombie deer in the first five pages, an icon I adored right from the start. I still have the plush one she sent me “guarding” my desk! He’s going to travel with me to Arisia this week, too, because he totally deserves to be at the A-Prom-Calypse Release Party. There was also a zombie squirrel. Yay undead critters! (Yes, I’m weird like that.) Even moreso, I connected with her main character, Jodi, and I absolutely appreciated where she was taking Greek mythology, particularly the Medusa story… because, as far as I’m concerned, the original myth of Medusa seriously screwed the poor woman… and plenty of modern myths are still just dealing with the “monster” aspect as opposed to the “person” aspect of her.
Besides how much I loved the novel, itself, here’s what I loved the editing process. First of all, there wasn’t a lot of changes that needed to be made. (Well, in my editing experience, it wasn’t a lot for me, anyway. Kelly is free to disagree. 😉 ) We went over a few of my usual suspects – things that surprise me if I don’t play with – like some car physics (Thank you Hollywood vs. Mythbusters), battle/fistfight physics and psychology, hospital/medical protocol (Thank you TV hospital dramas vs. actual medical persons), and then the two of us had a good time keeping an eye on Jodi’s fluids and their resulting body/resurrection count (Kelly actually caught one biggie that I missed in regard to this!) All of which were easy-peasy and a lot of fun.
Now, Kelly has the superpower of speedy turnaround – definitely the fastest author turnaround that I’ve ever worked with for a novel length, while addressing everything I noted. When I say “address,” I mean it with a liberal definition – but an entirely positive one. Nothing got ignored or forgotten. She may have not have followed all of my suggestions, but she answered all of my questions… and then did her own thing which, in all cases, was way better than what I suggested anyway.
Even now after having seen it from submission to publication, I still have opened up my editor’s ARC it to look up something for marketing or such… and still gotten lost in the pages.
And as of this week – it’s available for anyone to purchase and love! I can’t wait to see this turn into something very awesome for Kelly.
(Especially since I know what happens in the sequel, Stalked by Death! Mwahahaha!)
“So, Katie, I’m leaving Taiwan on Monday, April 2nd, so pick me up at Logan on Tuesday, at 6PM. Ok?”
“Ok! See you on Tuesday!”
Text to Katie in Detroit: “I’m back in the USA. Plane leaving Detroit on time – c u at 6. Still on 4 Hunger Games?” [Ok, so I can’t italicize in texts, really. Not the point…]
Text to Katie in Boston at about 5:35 PM : “Plane just landed! C U soon!”
6:10 PM: “Got luggage. Am outside @ end of the Active Pickup lane.”
6:45 PM, call to Katie – goes right to voicemail: “Um, did you forget me? I’m at Logan, waiting for you.”
Haven’t actually gotten any text responses, and right to voicemail? Uh-oh! After several more texts and more straight-to-voicemail messages, I call her mom, my old chiropractor. After some conversation, Dr. Patty says:
“Doesn’t Katie work on Mondays? She said she was picking you up on Tuesday at 6:00 PM.”
I reply: “Yeah, Tuesday 6PM. I know she works on Mondays. I’m here.”
Dr. Patty: “Trish… today is Monday.”
Me: “What do you mean? I left Taiwan on Monday; it’s Tuesday.”
Dr. Patty, very patiently: “No, Trish, it’s Monday…”
So, Trish learns you actually GAIN a day when you fly back to the U.S. from Asia over the International Date Line. Who’d a thunk? Ok… maybe everyone but me.
And clearly, my jet lag… because Katie and I managed to finish a project she’d planned on having done for my return on Tuesday… on Tuesday. And go see the Hunger Games (Yes, it was awesome!) Then, I crashed and managed to sleep until after 3PM on Wednesday… where I missed one of my weight meetings because it moved, and I received no notice. And then proceeded to do some grocery shopping and finish another project that Needed To Be Done for me to function in the house… and then I managed to get online and go through my HUGE PILE OF EMAIL from midnight to about 1:30AM.
All y’all will start getting your responses from me in the next few days.
And I need to finish editing Touch of Death and my editing read of Triangles. Oh – and there’s my tutoring work, and some short stories that are due…
Vacation? Yeah, it was fabulous… and I’ll talk about it in dribbles and spurts between all the deadlines that got pushed back three weeks. 😉