Podcast

Back in the summer, I was asked if I would like to be interviewed for a Podcast for Blondie and the Brit. Through Facebook I’d already become friends with ‘Blondie’ aka KJ Waters – you might remember the posts on her book, Stealing Time – and we were working on my book cover together (along with Jody Smyers), so I was looking forward to chatting with her again. Also, I’d done one before so it didn’t faze me. The time was set for the recording and after a couple of minor technical hitches, it went ahead.

'Blondie' aka KJ Waters

‘Blondie’ aka KJ Waters

I have to say I had a brilliant time. It was lovely to get to know Suzanne Kelman, ‘the Brit’, and between the three of us there were plenty of laughs. We obviously did some serious stuff as well though. I can’t believe how many subjects we covered in ninety minutes: editing; jewellery making; book reviews; Of Ice & Air; my publishing group, Myrddin; the writing group I lead, Writebulb; inspiration; and, of course, writing.

'the Brit' aka Suzanne Kelman

‘the Brit’ aka Suzanne Kelman

Anyway, the great thing is that the interview went live yesterday. The timing could not have been more perfect with the launch of my new book today!

Here’s the MP3 link so you can listen to it:  <a href=”http://blondieandbrit.podbean.com/mf/play/8z67fg/Carliecullenfinal1118.mp3“>Download this episode (right click and save)</a>

I hope you enjoy it and if podcasts are your thing, check out Blondie and the Brit. They have some great ones already on their backlist and plenty of talented people still lined up.

Click to go directly there

Click to go directly there

 

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Pre-Launch Teaser #2

With one day to go to the book launch, here’s another little teaser from Of Ice & Air for you. Enjoy!

Also my podcast interview with Blondie and the Brit is airing today. Check it out here http://blondieandbrit.podbean.com/e/carlie-cullen-episode-…/  I had so much fun doing it and the ladies were great hosts!

Letter T-Maa

Change of Direction

When I finished writing Heart Search, I had an idea in my head for a fantasy novel. I knew it was going to be different from writing Paranormal Romance, but I’m not sure I was prepared for how different it was.

First I had to start with world building and this is far from simple. As well as deciding what type of structures people inhabit, you’ve also got to take into account the laws of the land, money, terrain, how people make a living, how their food is grown, if there are various social classes and how each related to the other. You have to decide what type of era to set it in, for example, do the people live in mud huts or buildings made from wood, stone, bricks etc. This will also help determine what clothing is worn and how people speak. In short, you need to know almost as much about your new world as you do your current one.

The next important step was the magic system people would be using and who would have access to magic. I wanted to try and come up with something unique, something no one else had used before. This was pretty hard considering how many fantasy books are out there and eventually I came up with an idea I thought might be unique.

I also decided to create creatures which were different to the normal ones seen in fantasy. This part was quite fun and I enjoyed it immensely.

Once all this preparation had been carried out and carefully documented, I was then able to begin writing. There were many times I had to refer back to my notes so I was glad I’d got them available.

As much as I enjoyed writing it, I must admit to being a tad nervous as to whether the novel came across as believable and sent it off to my editor, Connie J Jasperson, who also writes fantasy (check out Tower of Bones, Forbidden Road, and Huw the Bard). She loved the story and the main criticism was that I’d invented my own system for time and measurement which she felt the readers would get frustrated with, so I had to abandon it. However, the fact she liked the story made me feel really good about it and it’s given me the confidence to attempt another fantasy novel, which I’ve already started the background work on, like the world building.

So what’s this new novel? It’s called Of Ice & Air and here’s the blurb:

On her 21st birthday, Princess Kailani’s father tells her that when she was a baby, her mother was abducted. She also learns she has family in another world.

Defying her father, she travels from her Cloud Castle home to the ice kingdom of Idenvarlis where Kailani’s instincts drive her to find the mother she doesn’t remember.

Gifted with the magic of two worlds, and skilled in the use of weapons, she journeys into unknown and dangerous territory. Despite her determination to rescue her mother, she’s forced to overcome new fears and find a way to cope with all she encounters.

However, a person of authority will stop at nothing to prevent either of them returning.

Kailani faces isolation, wild beasts, rogue soldiers, and more as she battles to return to the Ice Palace. With the stakes so high, can she make it back alive?

And here is the cover:

OIAA cover

So, what do you think of it?

I’m hoping to release the book before the end of this month so keep your eyes peeled on here for the details and an exclusive excerpt.

Penny Dreadful

I’ve just returned from a family reunion in Belfast and Dublin and everywhere I went there were reminders of how many great authors and poets have come from the green isles. You could be walking down a street and find a quote from work by Yeats or Oscar Wilde, to name but two, and I found it extremely inspirational.

Some of the places I visited gave me loads of ideas for my next series of books and it goes to show that you can get inspiration from almost anywhere, if only you take the time to look.

Dublin Castle was one such place. I didn’t go inside, it was the events unfolding in the courtyard that caught my attention. There were roped-off areas with old fashioned market stalls; some were the type that were on wheeled carts and others were static. As I looked around at the ‘wares’ it felt like I’d stepped back in time and it was a strange sensation. Suddenly I was in Victorian London and all around me were people dressed from that era. As I stared, drinking in the sights, I could picture certain scenes for my Seven Doors series and I couldn’t wait to write it down.

But what was happening there? Was it an exhibition the castle had staged? No. The reason certain areas were roped off was because an episode of the TV series, Penny Dreadful, was being filmed (although I didn’t realise that until I saw actress Billie Piper dressed in Victorian finery and boom mikes and camera equipment being wheeled or carried into the courtyard).

Rehearsal before filming

Rehearsal before filming

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Actresses on the Swing Boats

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Billie Piper waiting for rehearsals to start

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

Part of the market scenery which sparked my imagination

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard. This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it's all part of the memory.

One of the cars used to ferry people to the set had this on their dashboard.
This might seem like a stupid photo to take but it’s all part of the memory.

I took a few photos (as you do) and on the bus back to the hotel I took out my little pad and scribbled notes about the objects and scenes which had most inspired me. I know at least some of it will appear in one of the books in my upcoming Seven Doors series, but it certainly won’t be in the first one.

It certainly proves the point about inspiration. You never know what’s around to ignite that spark which sends your imagination into overdrive. So open your eyes, take the time to look around you, and make sure you have a pad and pen handy!

Book Review – Stealing Time by K J Waters

At the beginning of June, I featured K J Waters on here when she was celebrating the launch of her debut novel. If you missed the exclusive excerpt on launch day, interview, and guest post, just click on them to play catch-up.

Well, now I’ve had time to actually read the novel and want to share my thoughts with you. So here’s they are:

Book Review – Stealing Time by K J Waters

KJWaters-Front Cover for blog

I was intrigued by the blurb on this book, especially as it mentioned Hurricane Charley which I experienced in 2004, so although it’s not the sort of book I would normally read, I was interested enough to give it a go and I’m glad I did.

The concept of the plot was very original and I liked the way Waters constructed the method for the time travel to take place. She weaved the plot well and it certainly kept me turning the pages. KJ had certainly done her research about London and the time period. Factually it was very accurate, especially when it came to how women were treated more as chattels to be sold into a loveless marriage to advance the standing or financial position of the family. She’d also done her homework on what happened to women who were accused of witchcraft. The detail she included gave the reader an accurate picture, but I’m glad to say there wasn’t an info dump. The author intertwined it with the plot so it read as a natural progression within the story.

The detail included in the hurricane scenes was scarily realistic. Trees crashing through roofs, bringing down power lines, loss of power and water – these were all things I remembered only too well!

The main character, Ronnie, was well crafted. She had depth, was realistic, and relatable. When Ronnie became Regina, after the time travel incident, the confusion and desperation she felt was palpable – something which isn’t easy to achieve without over-emphasising. However, the author accomplished it with ease. I enjoyed the blossoming love between Ronnie/Regina and Matthias and I hope they meet again in the future. Matthias was the perfect gentleman, perhaps a little too perfect, but I liked him just the same. Jack, Regina’s brother, on the other hand, was a monster and I had a hard time believing parts of his story. I couldn’t understand how a man could treat his sister in such a horrendous way and then denounce her as a witch and all because she didn’t encourage the suitor of an arranged marriage. It seemed to me that his behaviour was way too extreme for the circumstances, which made his character less realistic.

The supporting cast were well thought out and, for the most part, likeable. Jeffery wasn’t a character I warmed to, probably because he used Ronnie for his own ends and was cheating on her too. Those directly involved in the Hurricane Charley part of the story showed myriad emotions and reacted as most people would under the same circumstances; this was very well done. I particularly liked the two main characters in this section.

The writing flowed nicely, the story lines were easy to follow, and the descriptions of places and events were extremely well written, without going over-the-top.

My only real criticism was that the proof reader didn’t do the greatest of jobs. However, this didn’t spoil my enjoyment too much. Overall, this was a page turner for me; I found myself invested in the story and characters to the extent that I really want to get my hands on book two. For a debut novel, I would have to say this is one of the best I’ve read in a while and would definitely recommend it.

Book Review: Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Yesterday my blog was hijacked, but I really didn’t mind. I thought the character interview was great. But moving on to today and it’s LAUNCH DAY for Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin. I have to say, I love this cover!

Vera's Song cover

I received an ARC (Advance Review Copy) of the book in exchange for an honest review and this is what I thought of it:

Book Review – Vera’s Song by Natalie Erin

Having read the first book in this series and enjoyed it, I was interested to see what the author would do with this one. Was it going to be the dreaded second book in a series which didn’t live up to the promise of the first? Actually, no. In fact it was quite the opposite.

Erin introduces some new characters in this story and ties them in nicely with those from book one. Vera’s Song takes us forward about four years from where the previous tale leaves off. Kiatana has grown in confidence and taken the mantle of queen of the forest to the next level. Her son is typical for his age: curious, fearless, and a bundle of energy.

Wyntier, a new character, is deliciously evil. He’s hatching a plot and needs Kiatana’s son and his changer to make it work. Wyntier is cruel to the nth degree. He beats his changer, Vera, for the slightest thing and yet she loves him and does whatever he wants, even if she knows it’s wrong. There are no redeeming features in this character. He shows no remorse for anything he does, or the pain he causes. Driven by his need to be powerful and to control everything around him, he will stop at nothing to achieve it. I had to wonder why he was so brutal and driven and this was never addressed. It would have been interesting to know his background a little more, but even the flashbacks to his childhood showed a nasty boy who bullied weaker kids.

Vera’s a conflicted character who has been in love with Ionan, Keota’s changer, since they were young. She yearns to be reunited with him, but despite the harsh treatment she endures, she still won’t leave Wyntier. Vera’s character is well crafted. You feel her frustration, pain, love, and basically she has a good heart. She wants to do the right thing and tries in her own way to make life more comfortable for Wyntier’s victims. I found myself really sympathising with her plight and she’s the one who has stayed with me the most.

The other new characters all added something meaningful to the story. Some of them were written in a stronger voice though. Those from book one had all grown into their skins or pelts. However, I found Keota to be less effective in places and would have liked to see him as formidable as his wife, Kiatana.

The plot itself was exciting and dramatic. There were lulls, but they didn’t diminish the story; there needed to be some less intense moments so the reader could draw breath and take in what had happened in the previous few pages. There were no plot holes and the only part of it which felt contrived was an altercation with some elves. Later in the story, the elves return and the complete 180 didn’t quite sit right with me. However, the rest of the story was so engaging that this small irritation didn’t spoil it for me.

The world Erin built in book one was equally as strong in this one. From forests to icy mountains and beaches, her description was detailed without being overwhelming. She brought each part of the world seamlessly into the story giving good reasons why the characters were there.

For me, the definition of a good, enjoyable book is one you can remember several weeks later, and that’s exactly what’s happened here. I finished reading Vera’s Song about three weeks prior to writing this review and yet I find myself transported back into the pages as if I’d finished it only yesterday. There were enough errors which made me want to shoot the editor or proof reader for missing them, but they didn’t detract from my pleasure in reading it.

In conclusion, this book was better than expected, a good and memorable story with characters that stayed in my heart long after I finished it. If you’re looking for a fairy fantasy read with something a little different, I would certainly recommend Vera’s Song.

My Rating 4/5 stars