Friday, 23 June 2017

Blog Tour // "The Sorceress and the Squid" by Emily Mundell // Ft. Author Interview

I realized I missed posting on Monday. *nervous laughter* I hope that won't happen again. But today is the day I've been waiting for for a couple of weeks - it's the blog tour for Emily Mundell's book, The Sorceress and the Squid!

images all from Emily's Pinterest collage


In the magical land of Perth, divisions between the Old Kingdom and the New have waged for centuries. The humans have long harbored a mistrust of the spell-casting Fae and vice versa. In the midst of this conflict, Estrella the Sorceress lays waste to the Training Academy for Human Warriors, making an enemy in the soldier, Jalen. During their standoff, Jalen is turned into a squid and Estrella, unable to restore him to his original form, takes pity on him and travels west across the Sea to bring him to the Wizard in hope he can be saved. But is there more to the unrest in Perth than meets the eye?

Author Bio:

P1130191.jpgEmily Mundell is a 19 year old author, artist, horsewoman and lover of the wonders of the wide world. She hails from the Great White North of Canada and has spent her life growing up in the heart of rural Alberta in a close-knit farming community - though she has often entertained fantasies of inhabiting the Shire.

Writing is her true passion – though horses and art take a close second. With fantasy as her primary genre, Emily has been writing stories since the tender age of eight when she finished her first “book.” She is currently working to complete her Creative Writing Certificate through the University of Calgary. An avid bookworm, true country-mouse, and unconventional tree-climber, Emily can usually be found on a horse, working on one of her half-dozen projects, chasing a loose cow, or being swept off her feet by the man she calls her own personal “hobbit.”

So go follow Emily on her social media:

And this is where you buy the book (or add it to your tbr):

Now for the interview! I asked fourteen questions, and at first I didn't intend to post them all, but the answers all turned out so interesting, I decided to give them all to you anyway!

(Also, this being my first blog tour, I completely forgot I am supposed to say to Emily, thank you for being here. Thanks for the interview... and things like that, so just saying now, THANKS EMILY. It was fun and fascinating!)


LISA: How was the idea for this tale born?

EMILY: The story came about through a late night Facebook conversation between myself and Jonathan (my then-not-yet-boyfriend-now-fiance). We were avidly discussing his secret identity as a ninja squid training an army of squidlings. Later on, after he had asked me to be his girlfriend and I agreed, we decided that I was a sorceress who had turned him into a squid, and the rest is history.

LISA: How long did the idea grow in your mind before you began writing?

EMILY: About a year actually. I came up with the idea right away but it seemed really silly in my mind initially so I didn’t actually start writing it til nearly a year after we had been dating (in late 2015). It took me into February of 2016 to finish. Originally it was going to be sweet, short and silly but it morphed into something quite a bit more - which I am quite content with.

LISA: How long has this journey been?

EMILY: From idea to publication it was September of 2014 to June of 2017. So about three years I guess? It has been long, though these last three years have been among the fastest and funnest of my life.

LISA: What was your writing process like?

EMILY: I started writing with the intent to finish it for Jonathan as a gift for our October 2015 first anniversary - but since I’m a procrastinator that didn’t happen. :P I did manage to get it done by Valentine’s Day the following spring though, which worked as well. My writing process is a bit messy. If I’m in the middle of a project I have two methods: write at least 300 words every day or finish one chapter a week. I employed a bit of both for this story.

LISA: What were your writing habits like (e.g. time of day, computer or paper, drinks, music, number of hours, special place, etc.)

EMILY: I’m a morning writer, once it gets beyond lunchtime my creative writing juices generally dry up. Sometimes I can make myself go back to it at night - if I have to. I enjoy being outside or doing something more during the day though and just being on the internet at night, so morning is my best writing space. Other than that, I don’t really have too many habits. I definitely use a food or drinks special defined amount of time. I’m a pretty laid-back writer.

a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor..png
LISA: What real life experiences/people/places did you draw on when creating this world and story?

EMILY: Hehe, well I did not really take any real life experiences or places, but I DID draw from real life people (very loosely). Every character aside from the Wizard, Morana, Arian, King Hubrik, Estrella’s father, Jalen’s mother, and Commander Han are based off of friends/family of mine. Perhaps if you know me personally you have your guesses? ;)

LISA: How did you name your characters?

EMILY: Since the majority of them were based on my friends and family, I took the first letter of their name and made a name from that. There wasn’t really a method otherwise. Jonathan named Estrella, I named Jalen. I named the others. XD I come up with character names usually quickly and easily so that wasn’t much of a process.

LISA: What was the hardest struggle?

EMILY: I think the hardest struggle for me as a writer anytime is sitting down and making myself write the first draft. There is so much going on in my life that it can be very easy for me to procrastinate and put things off far longer than necessary. I am also not super knowledgable when it comes to social media marketing, so trying to figure all of that out has been a bit difficult. I have had some very good help from some very good friends/examples though, which I am incredibly thankful for.

LISA: What was the most fun part?

EMILY: Having the story grow into something much bigger than I previously anticipated was really fun and cool. Originally it was going to be short and silly, then it suddenly became more serious and more like an actual book. I had planned a novella - it turned into a 60,000 word novel. Basically, it exploded. But I really enjoyed that process, and seeing how it grew and just kind of forming it as it went, like working with clay. Also, I love Estrella and Jalen to bits now and they have become some of my favorite characters ever.

tsatsgraphic.pngLISA: What was it like to write about a squid? How much did you research for it?

EMILY: Literally no research was done. XD Since Jalen was magicked into a somewhat magical squid, I figured I didn’t have to be entirely scientifically accurate. I mean, he can talk, that’s not really typical of a normal squid. I basically just went off of the basics I know concerning squids and that was it. Should I have done some research? Probably. :P

Writing about a squid presented a few challenges. Particularly how to travel with him needing to be in water. As I wrote about Estrella and Jalen’s adventure I kept running into little problems with that and having to solve them. I think it was good for me though, learning to write myself out of corners. I did enjoy the squid aspect quite a bit, it was ridiculous, but I had a lot of fun with the ridiculousness.

LISA: Which authors do you consider your "mentors"/inspiration/teachers?

EMILY: Definitely CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien. I have admired their work through my whole life and draw from their masterpieces, particularly in writing fantasy. JRR Tolkien is my world-building inspiration and CS Lewis is my other-world inspiration. Between the two of them I have learned so much about writing and grown so much. I absolutely love all their work. If you have not yet read their stuff or have only read Lord of the Rings and Narnia, go and READ MORE.

LISA: Who was the first to read your book?

EMILY: Since I was writing for Jonathan, he got to read first/read as I went. He was also among the first to read the final draft. I had some other readers in between, beta reader friends including Abigayle, Stacey, Billie-Gean, and Lisa. They were all wonderful and very helpful and pointed out some big stuff that I had missed.

LISA: What was the harshest criticism and best compliment you received from your readers/editors/alphas/betas?

EMILY: Hmm, a tricky question. I didn’t get very harsh criticism about the story as a whole. There was criticism for parts of it, my gaping plot hole with the Academy that Abi pointed out. :P I can’t think of anything worse than that - I have very nice reader friends. The best compliment? Well, I was so happy that Jonathan really liked it, that he said he could see little bits of us in the characters and that it was super cool. Also, Lisa, when you sent me your informal review and said that you had read it in a day, that was super cool to me. :)

LISA: Do you ever think beyond what you wrote about the stories of the secondary characters, or the world's past/future?

EMILY: I definitely do, great question! I had a lot more background in mind for both Estrella and Jalen but cut it out in order to make it less complicated. However, I will gladly indulge anyone who is interested in hearing about it. I tend to think more about the world’s past than it’s future, however, I have had a few images of Estrella and Jalen flitting through my mind from beyond the closing scene. So who knows, maybe I will be able to come up with something substantial to write about someday?

Thank you so so much for hosting me on your blog, Lisa! I had a great time answering these questions - they were great.

Blog Tour Schedule graphic.jpg

So now go and read the rest of the blog tour posts from the previous blogs (I read them all and they were great!) and go stalk the blogs with the upcoming interviews! I also wrote a review of the book here on Goodreads!

Thanks for joining us today, everyone! Trust me, friends, you have to read this thing!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Link-up // #CampNaNoCountdown // What will you be writing?

So I'm doing this unofficial link-up of Jonathan Trout's in countdown for Camp NaNoWriMo. For your info, I didn't know what Camp NaNo was until last March when everyone was talking about it. And this is my very first time joining so I thought I should do this to get myself ready. And of course you'll have fun reading about it.

Yes I am using Jonathan's graphic because I'm too lazy to make my own :P

Now, down to business:
What will I be writing?

My story is fantasy. I think it will end up being in the lower YA upper MG age group.

My very spontaneously written synopsis goes like this:

In is the 95th year of Queen Ria, and as is custom, a new heir must be chosen. Every girl aspiring for this position must compete in the Tournament. After those games, only four will be left. Of those four, the queen will choose the most worthy one herself after they have completed a mission for her. 

But this year, the quest the queen devised is far more complicated than anyone anticipated.

This tale began growing in my head early this year and now it's so big it demands to be written down. Who knows, it may end up needing to be split into two or more books? Depending on how much details I pack in, and what craziness the villains decide to come up with. It's basically a game for the throne that turns out to be much more than a game. And there are teens of different ages involved and there's traveling and questing and forests and competitions and some wizardry and maybe saving the world.

Snippet? Okay. I wrote this scene in my head first, then by hand and now I have to type it; hope it isn't too confusing. I don't actually know if it'll be in the finished work!

     Rhine narrowed her eyes. The person in the tree below was so green that it had to be a Broccoli in camouflage. And the Broccoli was very intently watching and following her friends.
     Rhine didn't stop to think; she grabbed a vine and swung at the person.
     He was facing the other way, and by the time he heard her and turned, Rhine's feet connected solidly with his back and shoulders and she knocked him clean off the branch.
     He yelped and flopped down the tree - from branch, to branch, to branch, to branch - grunting every time he hit something. Finally, he landed square on his back on a large and wide bough. Before he could recover, Rhine had dropped in front of him.
     As he began to rise, she flew at him, fist swinging, and punched him hard in his jaw. He fell back, more from surprise, it seemed. He winced, and she also felt like wincing from the pain in her knuckles.
     "Who are you?" she demanded, fist still raised. "Why are you -"
     But before she could finish, someone snatched her back from behind.
     Rhine found herself being held in a tight grip, arms pinned to her sides. She twisted and struggles, but to no avail. Then she raised her foot and drove her heel into her assailants leg with all the power she had.
     There was an, "Ouch!" and for one instant the grip loosened enough for Rhine to break free, and she spun around fist ready to strike once more. In that moment she saw that the person who had grabbed her was an older girl with surprisingly short hair, but before she could think or do anything else, the guy she had punched grabbed her other arm and yanked her around. She hit him instead.
     He let go. Before she could decide how to act, a body slammed into her from behind, and two seconds later she found herself successfully pinned between two people.
     She heard the guy's muffled voice say to the girl, "Got a feisty one, didn't you?"

This is just a tiny part, there's more but you may have noticed two things. First, these people are called Broccolis, and second, this whole scene happened in the branches of a tree. So yes, they are called Broccolis because they live in the land of Broccoli, and they are rather small in size. Or the trees are just bigger there, maybe?

That was that, frens. What about you? Link me to your projects if you have the synopses anywhere - on your NaNo accounts or your blogs!

Also since it's my first time doing NaNo, I have no experience with cabins and I have been told the best thing is to start one, which I will, if nothing else pops up (like, if no one invites me before I get to it). But I have in mind only two people to invite so if any of you don't have a cabin yet or know someone who doesn't, you are more than welcome to give me a shout!

- Lisa

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

TheShelf // Meet My Summer TBR

Meet My Summer TBR

(I know I'm one day late but you'll understand that when you read this post.)

Summer is here, and I'm sure you've seen these kinds of posts floating around quite a bit. I hope you aren't tired of them (of course you aren't - a true book dragon never tires of hearing about books) because you're about to meet my arch-nemesis: my TBR. (Why do I call it my arch-nemesis? Because it's trying to kill me. It tries to bury me, drown me, and so forth, but I am working very hard to conquer it. At the same time, I couldn't live without it, which is kind of odd...)

The Ones I'm Currently Reading:

Image result for the death cure  Image result for carve the mark  Image result for the girl of fire and thorns  Image result for walk on eartha stranger 

             Image result for on the edge of the dark sea of darkness  Image result for the lost girl of astor street  Image result for navigating early  

    Image result for the healers apprentice  Image result for hangman's curse

And you're wondering how I can read nine books at the same time. Believe me, I can. I am a book dragon after all.

The Death Cure // by James Dashner
I have this sitting on my desk (*coughcough* floor actually) and it's probably going to sit there another three weeks before I actually pick it up. Just like with the previous two books. But it's probably going to be awesome, and WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN? SO MANY PUZZLES STILL NEED TO BE SOLVED!

Carve the Mark // by Veronica Roth
I've heard mixed reviews, but I don't care, I'm still going in with hopes high because Veronica Roth's books are special to me (contrary to what some people think). Divergent basically introduced me to sci-fi, dystopia, and YA. In any case, I told Emily Mundell I'd tell her what I think after I read it for her. ;)

The Girl of Fire and Thorns // by Rae Carson
Thank you for this Nadine Brandes! And I just finished it (it's still on the list because it's summer, and I began writing this post before I finished the book). It was good, but let me point out, the title just doesn't fit. The book has a "girl" but I don't get "fire" or "thorns". It should be called The Girl of Sand and Stones, if you ask me.

Walk on Earth a Stranger // by Rae Carson
This is even better than Girl of Fire and Thorns so far. I'm like half-way through, and I mean, it's the gold rush, and girl-disguised-as-a-boy, and a confident heroine... 

The Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness // by Andrew Peterson
I told a friend who is a fan of this that it'd be one of the first to go and I'm like 1% through so I guess I'm doing okay? (Also this series was on Jonathan's and Savannah's "what you should read this summer" posts, so I should listen to good advice, right?)

The Lost Girl of Astor Street // by Stephanie Morrill
Finished this recently too and it was a great book :D Just a bit... slow?

Navigating Early // by Clare Vanderpool
Recommended by a few people, this is waiting for me and I love the cover, by the way. I hear it's amazing. I am looking forward to it.

The Healer's Apprentice // by Melanie Dickerson
I read her Cinderella retelling and it wasn't really my type? But Goodreads friends told me this is one of the best and so I'm going to give it a try!

Hangman's Curse // by Frank E. Peretti
I hear this is epic, and so far (I'm 10% through the audiobook) it's delightfully creepy and I love it. Also, I would never let a Frank E. Peretti book go. Because he's an awesome author.

The Ones That Were Recommended By Others:

Image result for the outsiders book    Image result for hope was here book   Image result for storming book

Image result for treasure island book   Image result for the wrath and the dawn  Image result for dune book  Image result for the host book

The Outsiders // by S. E. Hinton
This sounds interesting. I've seen different reviews but I know better than to reach conclusions without having tried it out myself.

Hope Was Here // by Joan Bauer
I've heard good stuff about this? Even though I know zero about what it's about? So?

Storming // by K. M. Weiland
Some of you might notice a lot of these recommendations are from Jonathan Trout's blog. You're correct there.

Treasure Island // by Robert Louis Stevenson
I haven't read any of his books other than his poetry. Though I did read an adaption of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Scariest book I ever read - because of the illustrations.

The Wrath and the Dawn // by Ahdieh Renee
A lot of these books were also recommended by Nadine Brandes to read in the summer. And I've had this one on my list for ages. But never got around to it. Even though it's been sitting on my library's shelf every time I go there. I really need to check it out - I know nothing about Arabian Nights except it sounds cool?

Dune // by Frank Herbert
A stranger in the grocery store once saw me carrying The Return of the King and commented how she had discovered it around my age. She also said she like Dune, and that she was an avid reader. I looked up Dune right away, but never had the chance to read it. Maybe this summer?

The Host // by Stephanie Meyer
I know some people hate Twilight, but it was okay for me. I read the whole book over numerous visits to the thrift store (there ate tons of Twilight Saga books in every thrift store I've been to, believe me). And I've read the end half of Breaking Dawn. And snippets of the two other books. Someday I have to sit down and read it all. But I didn't begin this in the store because IT'S SO THICK.

Books I Will Read if it's Possible to Get My Hands On Them:

Image result for a cast of stones book  Image result for breakwater book  Image result for the word changers  Image result for unblemished book  

Image result for the bloodheart book  Image result for chasing jupiter  Image result for les miserables

A Cast of Stones // by Patrick W. Carr
I know zero about this book. Just trusting Nadine here?

Breakwater // by Catherine Jones Payne
Same as above. But I've never read a mermaid book (other than Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, which was very different from Disney's version, which I haven't watched).

The Word Changers // by Ashlee Willis
*shrugs* *points to above comments*

Unblemished // by Sara Ella
I've seen this around, and I'm going to try to get it... I don't think my library is going to have it though?

The Bloodheart // by Steve Rzasa

Chasing Jupiter // by Rachel Coker
I badly need to read this asap.

Les Miserables // by Victor Hugo
It's very, very, very long... but some people (Aimee Meester an Hannah Rodriguez) love it so much  I want to try it too...

Just Other Books I Want to Try:

Image result for a wrinkle in time  Image result for this savage song  Image result for passenger book  Image result for roseblood  

Image result for queen of shadows  Image result for by darkness hid  Image result for the silmarillion  Image result for the hobbit  Image result for the valley of fear  Image result for crooked kingdom

A Wrinkle in Time // by Madeleine L'engle
It's a classic.

This Savage Song // by V. E. Schwab
Blaming the Paper Fury here...

Passenger // Alexandra Bracken
Because why not?

Roseblood // by A. G. Howard
It's printed in red font.

Queen of Shadows // by Sarah J. Maas
No, I'm not looking forward to this, just want to get the series over with so I can review it and maybe complain? I mean I admire the complexity and the world building, but I understand the magic exactly 0%. Sorry.

By Darkness Hid // by Jill Williamson
I've been wanting to read a Jill Williamson book for a looooong time.

The Silmarillion // by J. R. R. Tolkien
So my cousin and me can discuss it for no end.

The Hobbit // by J. R. R. Tolkien.
It's Middle Earth. Enough said.

The Valley of Fear // by Arthur Conan Doyle
Some friends say this is awesome and I really need to get reacquainted with Sherlock.

Crooked Kingdom // by Leigh Bardugo
I hope this lives up to its predecessor but I don't know...

And that is 33 books (not to mention sequels and such). Do you think I can do it? Can I read 33 books this summer + school + NaNo + outdoors? We'll see. I have a 140 book challenge this year, so I'd better do this. You'll hear about my success (or failure but let's not think about that) at the end of summer!