Posted in News

Calling All YA Bloggers!

Chapter by Chapter is hosting a blog tour to celebrate the release of Nobody’s Goddess next month and we want you! (Well, anyone with a blog, preferably a YA reading/writing-related or teen blog.) They’re looking for blog hosts, who will have the opportunity to interview me (or my characters), review an early copy, or host a guest post or spotlight on the book. Thanks so much for your interest–and I hope you get picked! I can’t wait to see the blog tour in action.

Sign up by clicking the image below:


Posted in News

NOBODY’S GODDESS Is Up for Pre-Order!

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the chance to direct those of you who asked to the pre-order links for NOBODY’S GODDESS, and it looks like they’re starting to come in! So far, I’ve only spotted the e-book, but there will be a paperback, so keep an eye out for news about that being available to pre-order as well.

(It will definitely be on Barnes & Noble in time, too, but it’s not there yet. Of course, you can also ask your local bookstore to order it for you!)

Thanks again for all of your interest! Readers rock!

Pre-order Kindle e-book on Amazon

Pre-order e-book on Kobo

Pre-order via Month9Books

Nobody's Goddess Cover Smaller

Posted in Writing

WIPMarathon #13

I just realized we’ve been doing the monthly check-ins for over a year now!

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count:  88,514 words and 36 chapters in NEVER VEIL 3 (first draft finished in November but first edits needed)

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 88,294 words and 36 chapters in NEVER VEIL 3 (doesn’t seem like much of a difference, but I added a few thousand words for an entire new scene and have also subtracted a few thousand words while reading it)

WIP Issues This Month: Ever since I went through the editorial wringer with my Month9 book, I’ve gotten better at editing–a good thing, naturally. But that means I’m applying lessons learned at this stage, my very first read-through of my draft, and it’s significantly slowed my pace. My biggest issue is I talk about where characters are looking or where their eyes are, in addition to having a few extra words like “I noticed…” I had to decrease those in NOBODY’S GODDESS and this time I’m trying to save my editor some work by addressing the bulk of them from the get-go right now. But man, I feel like I have to edit every other sentence!

Four things I learned this month in writing: 1. I find I have a lot of the same types of sentences if I’m looking for them.

2. It can be hard to balance the time you spend on your writing with all the work and other stuff you need to do–even when you’re really trying to fit it all in.

3. While writing and editing, you go through phases when you love your work and phases when you hate it. That’s normal, I assume!

4. Reviews coming in for your book are scary but exciting–and a great review can really make me happy!

What distracted me this month while writing: This was the end of January, but to update from last month, we really did enjoy ALA Midwinter and came back with so many books. (Have I read any yet? Nope! I had too many others I wanted to get to first.) I had work for a few new clients and it didn’t seem like I had time to edit as much as I’d like–and my “cheat” for squeezing editing in anywhere (doing it on my Kindle and jotting down notes on what to change) doesn’t work so well when you want to change every other sentence. 😛

We revealed the prologue for NOBODY’S GODDESS this month! If you missed it, check it out here.

Goal for next month: I have to finish these initial edits for NEVER VEIL 3 and send it off to my beta–which I honestly think I’ll be able to do this weekend, yay. Ideally, I’d even make her suggested changes to the draft by the end of March so I can turn it in to my publisher in April, but that’s just the earliest I can turn it in–I have until June if neither of us can get the work done fast enough. 😉 (I should have edited much sooner if I wanted to turn it in sooner!) I also have some proofreading to do for her on a project I betaed a few years ago, so there will be NO time or desire for writing this month.

Posted in News

NOBODY’S GODDESS Prologue Reveal


It’s time for another Month9Books Friday reveal, and NOBODY’S GODDESS once again takes the spotlight. We’re sharing the prologue to the first book in my series, which is set about four years before the start of the rest of the book. I wanted you to get a feel for Noll and the rules of this world, and to understand how close she feels to Jurij, her best friend. Please enjoy, and enter for a chance to win a one of THREE digital copies of the book, thanks to Month9Books!

Nobody's Goddess

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn’t in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

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Title: Nobody’s Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Amy McNulty



When I had real friends, I was the long-lost queen of the elves.
A warrior queen who hitched up her skirt and wielded a blade. Who held her retainers in thrall. Until they left me for their goddesses.
Love. A curse that snatches friends away.
One day, when only two of my retainers remained, the old crone who lived on the northern outskirts of the village was our prey. It was twenty points if you spotted her. Fifty points if you got her to look at you. A hundred points if she started screaming at you.
You won for life if you got close enough to touch her.
“Noll, please don’t do this,” whispered Jurij from behind the wooden kitten mask covering his face. Really, his mother still put him in kitten masks, even though eleven was too old for a boy to be wearing kittens and bunnies. Especially ones that looked likely to get eaten for breakfast by as much as a weasel.
“Shut up, I want to see this!” cried Darwyn. Never a kitten, Darwyn always wore a wolf mask. Yet behind the nasty tooth-bearing wolf grin—one of my father’s better masks—he was very much a fraidycat.
Darwyn shoved Jurij aside so he could crouch behind the bush that was our threadbare cover. Jurij nearly toppled over, but I caught him and set him gently upright. Sometimes I didn’t know if Jurij realized who was supposed to be serving whom. Queens shouldn’t have to keep retainers from falling.
“Quiet, both of you.” I scanned the horizon. Nothing. All was still against the northern mountains save for the old crone’s musty shack with its weakly smoking chimney. The edges of my skirt had grazed the dusty road behind us, and I hitched it up some more so my mother wouldn’t notice later. If she didn’t want me to get the blasted thing dirty, she should have let me wear Jurij’s trousers, like I had been that morning. That got me a rap on the back of the head with a wooden spoon, a common occurrence when I was queen. It made me look too much like a boy, she scolded, and that would cause a panic.
“Are you going or not?” Darwyn was not one for patience.
“If you’re so eager, why don’t you go?” I snapped back.
Darwyn shook his wolf-head. “Oh, no, not me.”
I grinned. “That’s because you’re scared.”
Darwyn’s muffled voice grew louder. He stood beside me and puffed out his chest. “I am not! I’ve been in the commune.”
I poked toward his chest with Elgar, my trusty elf-blade. “Liar! You have not.”
Darwyn jumped back, evading my blow. “I have too! My uncle lives there!” He swatted his hand at Elgar. “Get that stick away from me.”
“It’s not a stick!” Darwyn never believed me when I said that Elgar was the blade of a warrior. It just happened to resemble a tree branch.
Jurij’s quiet voice entered the fray. “Your uncle lives there? That’s awful.” I was afraid he might cry and the tears would get caught up in the black material that covered his eyes. I didn’t want him to drown behind the wooden kitty face. He’d vanish into thin air like everyone else did when they died, and then we’d be staring down at Jurij’s clothes and the little kitten mask on the ground, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from giggling. Some death for a warrior.
Darwyn shrugged and ran a hand over his elbow. “He moved in there before I was born. I think a weaver lady was his goddess. It’s not so strange. Didn’t your aunt send her man there, Jurij?”
Jurij was sniffling. Sniffling. He tried to rub at his nose, but every time he moved the back of his hand up to his face, it just clunked against the button that represented the kitten’s nose.
I sighed and patted Jurij on the back. “A queen’s retainer must never cry, Jurij.”
Darwyn laughed. “Are you still playing that? You’re no queen, Noll!”
I stopped patting Jurij and balled my hands into fists. “Be quiet, Darwyn! You used to play it, too!”
Darwyn put two fingers over his wolf-mask mouth, a gesture we had long ago decided would stand for the boys sticking out their tongues. Although Darwyn was the only one who ever did it as of late. “Like I’d want to do what some girl tells me! Girls aren’t even blessed by love!”
“Of course they are!” It was my turn to put the two fingers over my mouth. I had a tongue, but a traitorous retainer like Darwyn wasn’t worthy of the effort it took to stick it out. “Just wait until you find your goddess, and then we’ll see! If she turns out to be me, I’ll make sure you rot away in the commune with the rest of the unloved men.”
Darwyn lunged forward and tackled me. My head dragged against the bush before it hit the ground, but it still hurt; I could feel the swelling underneath the tangled knots in my hair. Elgar snapped as I tried to get a grip on my attacker. I kicked and shoved him, and for a moment, I won the upper hand and rolled on top of him, almost punching him in the face. Remembering the mask, I settled for giving him a good smack in the side, but then he kicked upward and caught me in the chest, sending me backward.
“Stop!” pleaded Jurij. He was standing between us now, the little timid kitten watching first one friend and then the other, like we were a dangling string in motion.
“Stay out of this!” Darwyn jumped to his feet and pointed at me. “She thinks she’s so high and mighty, and she’s not even someone’s goddess yet!”
“I’m only twelve, idiot! How many goddesses are younger than thirteen?” A few, but not many. I scrambled to my feet and sent my tongue out at him. It felt good knowing he couldn’t do the same to me, after all. My head ached. I didn’t want him to see the tears forming in my eyes, though, so I ground my teeth once I drew my tongue inward.
“Yeah, well, it’ll be horrible for whoever finds the goddess in you!” Darwyn made to lunge at me again, but this time Jurij shoved both his hands at Darwyn’s chest to stop him.
“Just stop,” commanded Jurij. Finally. That was a good retainer.
My eyes wandered to the old crone’s cottage. No sign of her. How could she fail to hear the epic struggle outside her door? Maybe she wasn’t real. Maybe just seeing her was worth twenty points after all.
“Get out of my way, you baby!” shouted Darwyn. “So what happens if I pull off your mask when your queen is looking, huh? Will you die?”
His greedy fingers reached toward Jurij’s wooden animal face. Even from behind, I could see the mask tip dangerously to one side, the strap holding it tightly against Jurij’s dark curls shifting. The strap broke free, flying up over his head.
My mouth opened to scream. My hands reached up to cover my eyes. My eyelids strained to close, but it felt as if the moment had slowed and I could never save him in time. Such simple things. Close your eyes. Cover your eyes. Scream.
A dark, dirty shawl went flying onto the bush that we had ruined during our fight.
I came back to life. My head and Darwyn’s wolf mask spun toward the source of the sound. As my head turned, I saw—even though I knew better than to look—Jurij crumple to the ground, clinging both arms across his face desperately because his life depended on it.
“Your eyes better be closed, girl!” The old crone bellowed. Her own eyes were squeezed together.
I jumped and shut my eyes tightly.
“Hold that shawl tightly over your face, boy, until you can wear your mask properly!” screamed the old crone. “Off with you both, boys! Now! Off with you!”
I heard Jurij and Darwyn scrambling, the rustle of the bush and the stomps of their boots as they fled, panting. I thought I heard a scream—not from Jurij, but from Darwyn. He was the real fraidycat. An old crone was no match for the elf queen’s retainers. But the queen herself was far braver. So I told myself over and over in my head.
When the last of their footsteps faded away, and I was sure that Jurij was safe from my stare, I looked.
Eyes. Huge, bulbous, dark brown eyes. Staring directly into mine.
The crone’s face was so close I could smell the shriveled decay from her mouth. She grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me. “What were you thinking? You held that boy’s life in your hands! Yet you stood there like a fool, just starin’ as his mask came off.”
My heart beat faster, and I gasped for more air, but I wanted to avoid inhaling her stench. “I’m sorry, Ingrith,” I mumbled. I thought if I used her real name, if I let her lecture me like all the other adults, it would help me break free from her grasp. I twisted and pulled, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch her. I had this notion that if I touched her, my fingers would decay.
“Sorry is just a word. Sorry changes nothing.”
“Let me go.” I could still feel her dirty nails on my skin.
“You watch yourself, girl.”
“Let me go!”
The crone’s lips grew tight and puckered. Her fingers relaxed ever so slightly. “You children don’t realize. The lord is watching. Always watching—”
I knew what she was going to say, the words so familiar to me that I knew them as well as if they were my own. “And he will not abide villagers who forget the first goddess’s teachings.” The sentence seemed to loosen the crone’s fingers. She opened her mouth to speak, but I broke free and ran.
My eyes fell to the grass below my feet as I cut across the fields to get away from the monster. On the borders of the eastern woods was a lone cottage, home of Gideon the woodcarver, a warm and comfortable place so much fuller of life than the shack I left behind me. When I was near the woods, I could look up freely since the trees blocked the eastern mountains from view. But until I got closer …
“Noll! Wait up!”
My eyes snapped upward on instinct. I saw the upper boughs of the trees and almost screamed, my gaze falling back to the grass beneath my feet. I stopped running and let the gentle rustlings of footsteps behind me catch up.
“Jurij, please.” I sighed and turned around to face him, my eyes still on the grass and the pair of small dark boots that covered his feet. Somehow he managed to step delicately through the grass, not disturbing a single one of the lilies that covered the hilltops. “Don’t scare me like that. I almost looked at the castle.”
The toe of Jurij’s boot dug a little into the dirt. “Oh. Sorry.”
“Is your mask on?”
The boot stopped moving, and the tip of a black shawl dropped into my view. “Oh. Yeah.”
I shook my head and raised my eyes. There was no need to fear looking up to the west. In the distance, the mountains that encircled our village soared far beyond the western fields of crops. I liked the mountains. From the north, the south, and the west, they embraced our village with their jagged peaks. In the south, they watched over our fields of livestock. In the north, they towered above a quarry for copper and stone. And in the east, they led home and to the woods. But no girl or woman could ever look up when facing the east. Like the faces of men and boys before their Returnings, just a glance at the castle that lay beyond the woods against the eastern mountains spelled doom. The earth would shake and threaten to consume whoever broke the commandment not to look.
It made walking home a bit of a pain, to say the least.
“Tell me something important like that before you sneak up on me.”
Jurij’s kitten mask was once again tight against his face, if askew. The strap was a bit tangled in his dark curls and the pointed tip of one of his ears. “Right. Sorry.”
He held out the broken pieces of Elgar wrapped in the dirty black shawl. He seemed very retainer-like. I liked that. “I went to give this back to the—the lady. She wasn’t there, but you left Elgar.”
I snatched the pieces from Jurij’s hands. “You went back to the shack? What were you going to say? ‘Sorry we were spying on you pretending you were a monster, thanks for the dirty old rag?’”
“No.” Jurij crumpled up the shawl and tucked it under his belt. A long trail of black cloth tumbled out immediately, making Jurij look like he had on half a skirt.
I laughed. “Where’s Darwyn?”
Of course. I found out later that Darwyn had whined straight to his mother that “nasty old Noll” almost knocked his mask off. It was a great way to get noticed when you had countless brothers and a smitten mother and father standing between you and any form of attention. But it didn’t have the intended effect on me. I was used to lectures, and besides, there was something more important bothering me by then.
I picked up my feet to carry me back home.
Jurij skipped forward to join me. One of his boots stumbled as we left the grasses behind and hit the dirt path. “What happened with you and the crone?”
I gripped the pieces of Elgar tighter in my fist. “Nothing.” I stopped, relieved that we’d finally gotten close enough to the woods that I could face forward. I put an arm on Jurij’s shoulder to stop him. “But I touched her.” Or she touched me. “That means I win forever.”
The kitten face cocked a little sideways. “You always win.”
“Of course. I’m the queen.” I tucked the broken pieces of Elgar into my apron sash. Elgar was more of a title, bestowed on an endless number of worthy sticks, but in those days I wouldn’t have admitted that to Jurij. “Come on. I’ll give you a head start. Race you to the cavern!”
“The cavern? But it’s—”
“Too late! Your head start’s over!” I kicked my feet up and ran as if that was all my legs knew how to do. The cool breeze slapping across my face felt lovely as it flew inside my nostrils and mouth. I rushed past my home, not bothering to look inside the open door.
“Stop! Stop! Noll, you stop this instant!”
The words were something that could easily come out of a mother’s mouth, but Mother had a little more patience than that. And her voice didn’t sound like a fragile little bird chirping at the sun’s rising. “Noll!”
I was just an arm’s length from the start of the trees, but I stopped, clutching the sharp pain that kicked me in the side.
“Oh dear!” Elfriede walked out of our house, the needle and thread she was no doubt using to embroider some useless pattern on one of the aprons still pinched between two fingers. My sister was a little less than a year older than me, but to my parents’ delight (and disappointment with me), she was a hundred times more responsible.
“Boy, your mask!” Elfriede never did learn any of my friends’ names. Not that I could tell her Roslyn from her Marden, either. One giggling, delicate bird was much like another.
She walked up to Jurij, who had just caught up behind me. She covered her eyes with her needle-less hand, but I could see her peeking between her fingers. I didn’t think that would actually protect him if the situation were as dire as she seemed to think.
“It’s crooked.” Elfriede’s voice was hoarse, almost trembling. I rolled my eyes.
Jurij patted his head with both hands until he found the bit of the strap stuck on one of his ears. He pulled it down and twisted the mask until it lined up evenly.
I could hear Elfriede’s sigh of relief from where I was standing. She let her fingers fall from her face. “Thank the goddess.” She considered Jurij for a moment. “There’s a little tear in your strap.”
Without asking, she closed the distance between them and began sewing the small tear even as the mask sat on his head. From how tall she stood above him, she might have been ten years older instead of only two.
I walked back toward them, letting my hands fall. “Don’t you think that’s a little stupid? What if the mask slips while you’re doing that?”
Elfriede’s cheeks darkened and she yanked the needle up, pulling her instrument free of the thread and tucking the extra bit into the mask strap. She stood back and glared at me. “Don’t you talk to me about being stupid, Noll. All that running isn’t safe when you’re with boys. Look how his mask was moving.”
His mask had moved for even more dangerous reasons than a little run, but I knew better than to tell tattletale Elfriede that. “How would you know what’s safe when you’re with boys? You’re already thirteen, and no one has found the goddess in you!” Darwyn’s taunt was worth reusing, especially since I knew my sister would be more upset about it than I ever was.
Elfriede bit her lip. “Go ahead and kill your friends, then, for all I care!” The bird wasn’t so beautiful and fragile where I was concerned.
She retreated into the house and slammed the door behind her. I wrapped my hand around Jurij’s arm, pulling him eastward. “Come on. Let’s go. There’re bound to be more monsters in the cavern.”
Jurij didn’t give beneath my pull. He wouldn’t move.
I knew right then, somewhere in my mind, what had happened. But I was twelve. And Jurij was my last real friend. I knew he’d leave me one day like the others, but on some level, I didn’t really believe it yet.
Jurij stood stock still, even as I wrenched my arm harder and harder to get him to move.
“Oh for—Jurij!” I yelled, dropping my hands from his arm in frustration. “Ugh. I wish I was your goddess just so I could get you to obey me. Even if that means I’d have to put up with all that—yuck—smooching.” I shivered at the thought.
At last Jurij moved, if only to lift his other arm, to run his fingers across the strap that Elfriede had mended. She was gone from my sight, but Jurij would never see another.
It struck them all. Sometime around Jurij’s age, the boys’ voices cracked, shifting from high to deep and back again in a matter of a few words. They went from little wooden-faced animals always shorter than you to young men on their way to towering over you. And one day, at one moment, at some age, earlier for some and later for others, they looked at a girl they’d probably seen thousands of times before and simply ceased to be. At least, they weren’t who I knew them to be ever again.
And as with so many of my friends before Jurij, in that moment all other girls ceased to matter. I was nothing to him now, an afterthought, a shadow, a memory.
Not him.
My dearest, my most special friend of all, now doomed to live or die by the choice of the fragile little bird who’d stopped to mend his strap.


Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing about anime and business topics and crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings. Nobody’s Goddess, the first book in The Never Veil Series, is her debut YA romantic fantasy.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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Posted in Writing

WIPMarathon #11

Happy (almost) 2015, fellow WIP Marathoners! 🙂 I love checking in with you each month. Even when I don’t get much done, it helps to remind me to get back on track. Congrats to all of you on your writing and editing this year, and good luck next year!

Things I’m Glad I Did In 2014:

  1. I finished 3 manuscripts, including both books 2 and 3 of NEVER VEIL. (Well, the drafts are finished, anyway!) 2/3 of the manuscripts I’d done some work on in previous years, but it was still nice to get to “The End.”
  2. I got to announce my book deal! (I kept it secret in late 2013 waiting for the go-ahead to announce.) It’s been fun getting to know readers who are looking forward to the book and willing to give a new author a chance.

In 2015, I’ll love to:

  1. Celebrate the release of NOBODY’S GODDESS! (Hopefully in April. And I’m hoping the cover reveal will be much sooner than that. I’ve seen the mockups and can’t wait to share!)
  2. Sign at BookCon (I hope it works out) and/or do signings locally or visit schools.
  3. Complete another manuscript and try for an agent again.
  4. Direct submit my agent-rejected manuscript to smaller publishers because I still believe in it. (I’m still waiting on a few responses, but I doubt I’ll get an agent with it after all.)

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count:  1. 88,426 words and 36 chapters in NEVER VEIL 3–first draft done

2. 82,790 words and 26 chapters in NOBODY’S GODDESS (NEVER VEIL 1), in the process of revising

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 1. 88,514 words and 36 chapters in NEVER VEIL 3 (I spent very little time on it)

2. 85,589 words and 26 chapters in NOBODY’S GODDESS, latest round of revisions done and sent back to publisher

WIP Issues This Month: Oops. After that first week, when I was finishing up the latest NOBODY’S GODDESS edits for my deadline, I really barely did any writing or editing at all. So… Finding the time and motivation to get back into it.

Four things I learned this month in writing: 1. December is not a good time for me to write.

2. You can resurrect scenes you liked you long ago cut out when an editor suggests something and you think you have the perfect thing to address that in your reject folder. (Yay!)

3. You wind up reading a manuscript MANY times before publication. Many. Good thing I love my characters!

4. Juggling writing, work and so much else can be hard.

What distracted me this month while writing: The holidays! Not just the actual celebrations (I’ve had two so far :)), but preparing for them took up a lot of my free time, and I don’t even consider myself someone who goes overboard. Also, work picked up a little (yay) and multiple people in my life, including me, got sick, so that sucked. (I seemed to have it easiest with a head cold, though.) I saw The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, but it was my least favorite of all six LotR films. (Yet I want to see it again.) I also got distracted by Super Smash Bros. throughout the month.

I don’t usually mention my reads here, but My True Love Gave to Me was the PERFECT December read for me and gave me many warm fuzzies.

Goal for next month: My editor tells me I may get the final round of revisions to do and approve in January for NOBODY’S GODDESS–that’s right, the FINAL round. It’s off to the printers after that! So that will come first, of course. I do want to add a new scene to NEVER VEIL 3 and fix a few things and then start the whole beginning-to-end read-through before passing it along to my beta, but I have time before it’s due and may not get to it. (My goal last month was to start it and I barely did, so…) I hope to, though. I have no plans to draft anything new or work on any of the other projects on hiatus this month, though.

Posted in Writing

WIPMarathon Report #7

Last report wordcount + chapter count/scene count: 1. 69,577 words and 28 chapters (NEVER VEIL 2)–working on post-beta edits

2. 3287 words and 1 1/2 chapters (New WIP)

Current report WC + CC/ SC: 1. 70,052 words and 28 chapters (NEVER VEIL 2)–first draft done and sent to publisher

2. 3287 words and 1 1/2 chapters (New WIP)–no progress made on this or even on the outline, *sigh*

WIP Issues This Month: I didn’t work on my WIPs at all on any day in August. (That last bit of editing on NEVER VEIL 2 was done in late July.) So my issues were… finding the time and motivation to do that. And I failed. Except I was busy with other things, too.

Four things I learned this month in writing: 1. A month off from fiction writing hopefully doesn’t make me a failure as a writer.

2. Editing other writers’ works can help me step back from my own writing and get some perspective.

3. The longer I go without working on fiction writing, the harder it is to get back into the groove.

4. There is such a thing as too many story ideas.

What distracted me this month while writing: I spent a lot of time this month beta reading the last book in the Silver Moon Saga (it was over 110,000 words ^^), and it was bittersweet to say goodbye to the characters (until the next time I read it, which should be soon!) I’ve grown to love for years now. There were some periods in which I had more freelance work than others, and I did some editing for potential clients I’m excited (and nervous) about hopefully having a chance of working with. And… I got one of my dream freelancing opportunities! For at least the next month, if not longer, I’ll be a Daily Streaming Anime Reviewer for Anime News Network for three shows. My boyfriend and I also visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens for the first time earlier in the month, and it was a lot more fun than I even expected it to be.

Goal for next month: I did finish NEVER VEIL 2, but I didn’t get any work done on the outline for the new WIP. This month I already know I’ll be really busy for a week at least, so I don’t imagine I’ll get a lot of writing done. I still haven’t decided if I should dive into NEVER VEIL 3 yet or not–I’ve had enough of a break from the series to justify going back now–but I would like to finish the new WIP’s outline at minimum first. And if I start it beforehand, I’ll be breaking the NaNoWriMo rules if I work on it in November. Not that that’s important!

Posted in Uncategorized

Sassy Summer Book Party!

A few days ago I was a guest on the Dragon Blog, which is hosted by the Sassy Sisters Melissa A. Petreshock (author of NA fantasy romance Fire of Stars and Dragons) and writer Jennifer Streck. Today I can tell you about their:

Sassy Summer Book Party!

The Cosmic Cloud Called Orion Nebula

I’m one of SIXTY-ONE authors who’s partying in the digital realm and donating a book. Whether you love YA, NA or adult/erotica, there’s a prize pack (or two or four) for you!

Since NOBODY’S GODDESS isn’t out yet, I donated (what else? ^^) THE SIGHT SEER, book one in the Silver Moon Saga, by Melissa Giorgio.

Win that and seven other books in this pack.

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Throwback Thursday: Labyrinth

 “Where Everything Seems Possible and Nothing Is What it Seems”: Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and a YA Fantasy Author


“I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.”

I was only a toddler when Jim Henson’s Labyrinth first hit theaters, so I know I wasn’t anywhere near the first person to become enamored with the movie. Based on its box-office-failure-turned-cult-hit status, I don’t think a lot of people who call themselves fans were. I know my sister liked it and showed it to me on VHS, and I was definitely a fan by 6th grade because I remember goofing off with a friend before and after a class (okay, and maybe just a bit during…), whispering quotes from the film—“‘Ello! Come inside and have a cup of tea!”—to one another while drawing doodles of the characters from the film. (No, the drawings below are not from that time. My art skills have not at all improved.)

I remember my sister and I liked blasting the soundtrack on a boom box on hot summer days while playing outside—the (mostly David Bowie) music is part of the appeal, and I (seriously) try to listen to the soundtrack at least once a day even now.

So why the obsession with a decades-old movie, one that even those involved with the production admit wound up a bit of a mishmash of several different visions for the project, never quite pinpointing its theme between “an adolescent girl grows up,” “life’s not fair” and “let’s watch goblin Muppets get funky”? The answer to that would be this guy:


(From when I had way too much on my hands time a few years ago.)

Or more accurately, this guy:


Jareth the Goblin King (played by David Bowie in a rad ‘80s wig very few could pull off). The antagonist of Labyrinth. Or the love interest. Or something… It was hard on a pre-pubescent girl to really figure him out.  After maybe Aladdin and Michelangelo from TMNT (don’t ask), Jareth was my first fictional crush. And if you’ve seen the movie, you might feel the same—or know that’s not necessarily a good thing.

My Film Recap for Those Unfamiliar with the Movie

Sarah Williams (Jennifer Connelly), a gorgeous 15-year-old girl, is having difficulty coming to grips with growing up. She adores the fantastical and has an incredible imagination. And like her absent professional actress mother, she lives for the theater. Sarah’s “stage” is just a park, her “audience” her dog, but that doesn’t matter. Sarah’s lost in her own world, a fact that her stepmother is only too anxious to point out when she implies that Sarah has no friends and no interest in boys.

One evening, Sarah has an especially childish meltdown when her father and stepmother force her to babysit her baby half-brother, Toby. Her irritation is magnified when the crying baby won’t shut up. (Sarah did just steal a teddy bear from his crib, but her excuse was that it was hers and he didn’t have permission to play with it… Even if he’s only one year old.) Quoting what we presume is lines from her favorite play (*wink wink, it’s called Labyrinth*), she makes a grand speech asking for a “goblin king” to take her brother away so she can have some peace. She doesn’t seem to notice that actual Muppet goblins show up and listen closely, ready to snatch the baby if only they hear “the right words.” Well, much to their disappointment, they don’t. At least not when Sarah’s quoting play lines. When she does accidentally utter, “I wish the Goblin King would come and take you away. Right now,” the spell is cast and with a flourish, an owl enters the nursery and transforms into a handsome man named Jareth.

From then on, the film is a competition between Jareth and Sarah for possession of Toby. (Because, duh, Sarah regrets her words as soon as she says them.) Sarah must beat the clock and make her way to Jareth’s castle at the center of an elaborate labyrinth. Oh, and Jareth cheats and the other creatures living in his kingdom don’t seem to know the meaning of the word “fair.” Of course, it doesn’t help that stubborn Sarah taunts Jareth at every turn, making him even more eager to play dirty. (Uh, that’s not intended as a double entendre, but it’s not that far off the mark even so.) Jareth’s interest in Toby—he does intend to adopt him as an heir at first and seems to think he’s a cute little kid, but maybe he just plans to turn him into an ugly goblin for all we know—is secondary to his strange obsession with Sarah. As the movie progresses, he lets out more and more of his true intention, an odd juxtaposition of the desire to rule over Sarah’s heart and to break free of the enslavement he feels she has over him.


She was like 14 and he was in his 30s when they filmed this, by the way…

Jareth’s Byronic Nature

Let me take a time out here to say that my best friend is absolutely tired of me mentioning the term “Byronic hero.” But I’m a little obsessed with that fictional trope. (Although if I knew a guy who acted like that in real life, I’d want to slug him. So score 1 for my real life taste in men being healthier than my fictional taste at least.) And it’s all thanks to Jareth.

Seriously. I did an informal poll among my friends and every single one who gravitates toward the three-dimensional villain as her favorite character loved Labyrinth growing up. And my other friends who think we’re all bizarre for our taste in fictional men didn’t even see the movie. So who are some of my favorite characters from other franchises? Magneto. Snape. Darth Vader. Loki. All bad guys/jerks who whine and have maybe a little *smidgen* of good in them. Oh, Jim Henson, did you know you were going to form some strangely unhealthy habits in young women? (He wasn’t the first. “Byronic” heroes get that name from Lord Byron, and I’d go on to love Darcy, Mr. Rochester and a whole score of classic fictional figures with the same personality. But I wasn’t reading those stories when I was in elementary school.)

So back to the quote at the beginning: “I ask for so little. Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” Wow. That makes no sense. Yet somehow it’s incredibly sexy. When Jareth claims that he’s been generous to Sarah and she asks him how on earth he’s been generous (remember she just fought her way through a crazy unfair labyrinth to get there), he replies:

“Everything that you wanted I have done. You asked that child be taken, I took him. You cowered before me and I was frightening. I have reordered time, I have turned the world upside down, and I have done it all for you! I am exhausted from living up to your expectations of me. Isn’t that generous?”

That actually… kind of makes sense. But only because Jareth has a very twisted “I’m doing the right thing in my eyes” point of view, like any good villain.


I think Sarah liked him more in these images than she did in the movie…

It’s no surprise that Sarah doesn’t take Jareth up on his offer to stay with him and be his ruler/slave, much to the disappointment of many fans who insist that they would never be so stupid as to turn down Jareth themselves. But the movie’s supposed to be about Sarah learning to balance creativity and child-like imagination with growing up and responsibility. In fact, there’s a lot of evidence, particularly if you read the recently-back-in-print official novel adaptation of the movie, that Jareth and all the world of the labyrinth is entirely Sarah’s fantasy. Consider the lyrics of “Within You.” Or the fact that the novel explains that Sarah’s mother ran off with a fellow actor named Jeremy. And look at Sarah’s room in the beginning of the movie. There are pictures of Sarah’s mother with a handsome, clean-cut… David Bowie. That’s Jeremy, explains the book. Perhaps Sarah had a bit of a crush on her mother’s lover and created Jareth based on him. So Sarah can’t really hook up with her imagination, can she? But the line between Sarah’s fantasy and the power of that fantasy to break through to the real world is nevertheless blurred.

If the film were about a 15-year-old throwing herself at a hunky immortal (?) despot just because he loves her so, so much—and let’s not forget Jareth doesn’t quite understand that love isn’t about ruling one another, but co-existing—I have a feeling the parents who took their kids to see the dancing Muppets in the movie would leave the theater with their mouths gaping open.

Even stick-figure Jareth needs a stick-figure Sarah

These days, the film has reached cult status and is more popular with adults than children, mostly because of Jareth (and perhaps the infamous “bulge”), so “what the parents think” is largely moot. But still, even in the sequel, Sarah is her own person and not just the throw-yourself-at-Jareth-already Mary Sue fans want her to be. But I love her for that. I admit I liked Twilight, but I love the ladies who fight back against their Byronic heroes (à la Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice or more recently in YA, Alina vs. the Darkling in the Grisha series) and can function well even when apart from their lovers much more than the ones who immediately become as obsessed with their Byronic men as they are with them.


She’s just not that into you…
A Few Words About the Sequel:

There’s a sequel in which Sarah still pushes Jareth away? Yes, now-defunct American manga publisher TokyoPop published a four-volume OEL (original English language) manga called Return to Labyrinth from 2006 to 2010. The series was supposed to be three volumes, but high demand and good sales extended the series to four, much to the fans’ delight. Luckily, the entire tale was told before TokyoPop went under. Volumes are out-of-print, though.

The covers, which feature artwork from Japanese mangaka Shurei Kouyu, are gorgeous. The inside artwork, by otherwise talented North American (?) artist Chris Lie… Not so much. At least at first. (An over-the-top screentone job by another artist in the beginning doesn’t help either.) Lie actually always demonstrates a remarkable talent for drawing the Henson goblin creations and the world of the labyrinth. But his jarring take on the “manga style” for human characters leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, Lie listened to feedback and his manga style improves over subsequent volumes. It seems he becomes less boxed in by “manga style” (complete with blocky mouths and sweatdrops) and just draws people with slightly larger eyes than the typical art style requires—and it works, for the most part. (I still wish they could have afforded to have Shurei draw the art inside, though!)

Writer Jake T. Forbes originally intended his series to focus largely on now-teenage Toby’s literal return to the labyrinth—and that shows in the first volume. Perhaps because Labyrinth has a different sort of appeal to a (straight) man, I imagine it didn’t really occur to him what the majority of Labyrinth fans would be looking for in the sequel. But those fans let him know after reading the first Toby-centric volume: More Jareth! Way more Jareth! Way, way, way more Jareth, please! And focus on his relationship with me, er, I mean, Sarah!

So Forbes delivered and somehow merged his intentions with Toby and his original additions to the story into a series with a heavier focus on Jareth and Sarah as well quite admirably. As far as THE ONLY EXTRA LABYRINTH we fans seem poised to get, it works. (Archaia Entertainment has the rights now to all Labyrinth comics and releases short issues featuring only the Henson puppet characters most Free Comic Book Days, but they’ve yet to produce a promised Jareth-centric graphic novel—possibly due to likeness licensing issues. They re-released the novelization, though.)

What’s the Point of All This Again?

So why did I just write a dissertation (*slight* exaggeration) about a movie from 1986? Why did I embarrassingly let my (bad) taste in fictional men come to the forefront? Because it influenced so much about me, especially my writing career.

When I sat down to write Nobody’s Goddess (Patchwork Press), I wanted to write my own Byronic hero—and a heroine who could stand toe-to-toe with him. I wanted to show the strange sexiness of obsession and juxtapose it with the very “ick” feeling that kind of obsession should give a smart, free-thinking young woman. Jareth’s influence shines through in many subtle ways when it comes to the village lord in my novel. But even when I stop focusing so much on romance in my writing, I’m still fascinated by villainy, and villains who aren’t boring stereotypes.

So here’s to the Goblin King, my first ever Byronic hero!