A Book Review: “Masters And Beginners”

I’ve followed Daley Downing’s blog “The Invisible Moth” for a long time. So I anticipated the release of her new book, “Masters And Beginners”. I was thrilled when she asked me to be an early reader.

You may recall my post from last week, where I explained that I was having a rough day and was delightfully surprised to receive a (bookish) package. Inside Daley thoughtfully sent some treasures and the most precious of them all: her new novel.

Here is the synopsis of Daley’s first book “Masters And Beginners” in her series “The Order Of The Twelve Tribes”:

“When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong…

You had me at magical artifacts, faeries, and talking cats.

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But, what I really admire about “Masters And Beginners” is the world that Daley has created. She makes you believe that your neighbor’s barn/shed/garage could house magical cats and fairy documentation. I love when stories combine our world with a magical twist.

I enjoyed reading a YA story where the protagonists came from a solid, loving family and get this, both parents were alive!

(What…the parents are still alive AND wonderful people?)

I know, it was shocking and thoroughly refreshing. As an adult and a mother, I felt a special pull towards the Driscoll parents. I’m glad Daley included them as much as she did in the series. Often in YA writing we never meet the parents or we are repulsed by their behavior.

The main protagonist (Sophie Driscoll) is an admirable, likeable  teen. I adore the close relationship she has with her two brothers, especially her older brother Flynn. There is a story-line of romance between a few of the teens in “The Order” (humans (mostly) who protect the fay’s existence and magical artifacts), but romance doesn’t run the story. Mostly these kids are smart, adjusting “Order” kids, who are trying to do their best.

The excitement and mystery moves quickly. Daley has really mastered the art of pacing her story. (I read the book in less than a week. I was hooked.)

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series. I want to learn more about the many intriguing side characters like: Sophie’s love interest, her mysterious neighbor, Alex. Her cousin Madison. Flynn’s love-interest Emma. Really I just want MORE. (I’m a greedy book dragon.)

I’m honestly just so impressed with the quality of this one-woman writing/editing/marketing team. I know Daley has worked incredibly hard to release her novel and I can’t tell you how inspired I am after reading “Masters And Beginners”.

If you would like to experience the magic yourself, you may purchase a copy of “Masters And Beginners” here.

Happy Reading,

Rachel

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Selective Editing

I thought I would give everyone an update on my novel-writing progress.

Just a recap, here is my (work-in-progress) synopses for Not By Blood:

Brian Colt is seventeen years old and alone. After losing his family in an automobile accident he is forced to leave Alaska and is sent to live with his uncle in Washington State. What’s super awkward is that Brian has never met this side of his family because there was a major fallout that no one ever talks about it. What’s even more awkward is when Brian meets his cousin Rebecca Colt (step-cousin, thank God) he is reluctantly attracted to her. Brian plans to go back to Alaska and take over his family’s logging operation as soon as he turns eighteen, but first he must survive senior year and live with an unforeseen, violent opponent.

Rebecca Colt dreams of becoming a marine biologist. She knows that the odds are stacked against her and nobody believes she will amount to anything. Her nickname at school is “Hot Garbage” because her family is trash. The trailer she lives in is less sanitary than some of the dumpsters in town. Her step-father tells her exactly what he thinks of her with his fists, and her mother is lost in her pill addiction. Rebecca’s one-saving-grace is her best friend.. That is until her cousin… (eh hem) …step cousin comes to town…

I’ve almost completed my first edit, and to tell you the truth, it was overwhelming. There are so many things that I want to change. I realized that I needed to break the editing down into toddler-sized chunks. This first edit I simply looked at the story aspect of my manuscript. I asked myself: Do you like the story? Does the timeline work? Is it believable? Do you want to keep reading?

I’m happy to report that I do indeed still love the story. I’m going to go in and cut some scenes and add a few more for clarity, but overall I’m happy with it.

This is the plan-of-focus for future edits:

Second Edit-Character development.

Third Edit-Scene building.

Fourth Edit-Add more poetic language/descriptive detail.

Fifth Edit-Remove clichés.

Sixth Edit-Grammar.

Seventh Edit-Formatting.

I’d love to hear other writer’s editing process. If you would like to share, please comment below.

-Rachel McKee

40,000 Words Deep

I finally made it to my next 10k word milestone. I finished my first draft and powered through beginning to end. I created the skeleton of a novel. Going through the first edit I cut thousands of words, but then added thousands more. Now my story has the bones and a few ligaments. And most important, it has heart.

I hope my skeleton/book analogy made sense. I’m running on caffeine right now. With Miles working over time, that means I work overtime.

Back to writing/reading/entertaining/playing/tucking in/tucking in again.

Have a great night you guys.♥

-Rachel McKee

Title Reveal

I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I have been lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”.

So today I am excited to tell you that my manuscript is called, “Not By Blood”.

I shared with you in my 100 followers video, that my two protagonists are cousins, well, step cousins who fall in love. Throughout the story they are quick to point out that they are cousins but not by blood. My female protagonist is also quick to point out that her abusive adoptive father is not her biological dad. There is a theme of distancing oneself from relations. Family ties get cut and re-strung throughout the novel. Brian (my male protagonist) obviously wants to clarify that Emma (the female protagonist) is not his biological cousin because he is attracted to her. His denial is more than the “ick” factor of incest. His prominent upbringing clashes with the impoverished way his uncle (Emma’s adoptive father) and her family lives. He goes from living in a timber frame mansion in Alaska to a dilapidated shack in Washington State. He experiences social class shock from the first chapter. He really doesn’t want to claim any of these poor relations as his own.

Emma also wants to clarify that she is not blood related to Brian because she is strongly attracted to him. As I mentioned before, she also wants to remember that her abusive father is not a blood relation, this helps her to mentally cope with the abuse. Emma loves her biological mother, but also abhors her. She is condescending to her mother and is angry with her for marrying such a terrible man and for running and hiding from the domestic abuse by overusing prescription medication. Her strongest sense of family is with her best friend’s family who have supported her dreams and taken an interest in her well-being.

While writing this novel and my characters I realize that by dissecting this family, I am trying to discover what family relationships mean. Is blood thicker than water in only the tangible sense? How are the relationships we form by freewill different from the relationships we are born into?

-Rachel McKee

COVER IMAGE PROVIDED BY MILESMCKEEPHOTOGRAPHY

 

Saturday Vibes

Today my husband gave me the precious gift of writing time. I can hear my boys playing outside and having a blast. I’m glad they are having fun, and I’m also ecstatic to get uninterrupted time with the computer.

I’m sipping on a tea called “Breakfast in Paris”. (A city I have never seen but long to visit.) Apparently “la Ville Lumière” tastes like Earl Grey and lavender. It’s quite pleasant. I’m stuffing my face nibbling lemon cream-filled cookies and editing my first draft.

I’ve been hovering around 35k thousand words on my YA manuscript. I’ve deleted thousands of words,  but I’ve also added quite a bit of dialogue. I love re-writing. I see things more clearly the second go around.

I’m excited to say that I finally have a working title for my manuscript. Up to this point, I’ve lovingly calling my second child “A Book Has No Name” or “The Book Who Shall Not Be Named”. I’ll share the title and why I chose it on Monday.

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, I started a #bookstagram account on Instagram. The username is Illuminated_Literation. I took a few picture for that this morning. I haven’t posted them to the #bookstagram account yet. Here is a sneak peak. Contain yourself.

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Keke says, “Hi Illuminated Literation friends.”

Do you remember my review for the YA novel Black Ice by Becca Fitspatrick? If not, you can find it here. Seriously, it was such a page-turner.

Back to novel writing.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Cheers,

Rachel McKee

 

Author Cecily Wolfe Responds To “Why Young-Adult Fiction Is A Dangerous Fantasy”

I was going though my reader feed when I noticed a new post by the fabulous blog SugarQuills. In the post, author Cecily Wolfe gives her opinion on the article “Why Young-Adult Fiction Is A Dangerous Fantasy” written by Joe Nutt.

I’m sharing it with you because it was so good. I must say I am team Wolfe.

Click on the image below to read the full article on SugarQuills.

Have a wonderful Saturday.

Love & Cheers,

Rachel McKee

30,000 Words Deep

I reached 30k words on my YA story last night. Every time I hit another 10k word milestone, I think to myself, there’s no way I can write another 10k words, then, somehow, I do.

Fun/Frustrating Fact: My poor book still does not have a name, (a book has no name, the book who shall remain nameless).

You guys, writing a book is hard. It is the most mentally challenging thing I have ever done. Every day I call myself crazy for even trying. I get overwhelmed by plot details, and maintaining realistic dialogue. Every day I give up. But after my son is tucked in for the night, and I pass the office next to his room, my computer glows and beckons me to write and I answer its call. I turn off my inner dialogue and I write.

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I write exactly how I see each scene unfolding. I picture the characters and how they look, their gestures, mannerisms. I’m constantly asking myself, how do they feel, and what do they want right now? I worry about the “what ifs” when I finally lay my head down to sleep, I worry about them when I clean the sink, or when I cook dinner. I don’t allow the overwhelming fear of failure to creep in when I’m writing.

You guys play a crucial role in my motivation. Your kind words of encouragement and motivation give me the kick that I need to keep going. The beautiful stories you share on your blogs inspire me, and chatting with you in the comments section gives me community. For that, I am forever grateful.

I’ve talked this darn book up so much, I don’t want to be the chump that doesn’t finish.

Love and Cheers,

-Rachel McKee

COVER IMAGE FOUND HERE.

#AmWriting

I have been focusing on my YA novel and the characters are starting to feel authentic, so that’s very encouraging. I’m trying to get the first draft written without beating it up too much with my grammar hammer.

I have been using Twitter more and I’m having fun meeting other writers there (hence the hashtag name for this post). I have also been learning Photoshop (see cover image above).

The cover image is a quote from my YA novel. I’ve been wanting to create images with text for a long time so for the last few weeks I have been experimenting with Photoshop and I’m learning a lot. I have experienced a lot of trial and error, but that’s all part of it right?

So if you are wondering what little ol’ me has been up to, well that’s about it. Other than throwing first birthdays, chasing a one year old, wrangling a dog, appeasing a cat, and attending a wedding.

Have a fantastic week!

♥R♥

 

A Book Review: Midwinterblood

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Seven stories of passion and love separated by centuries but mysteriously intertwined—this is a tale of horror and beauty, tenderness and sacrifice.
An archaeologist who unearths a mysterious artifact, an airman who finds himself far from home, a painter, a ghost, a vampire, and a Viking: the seven stories in this compelling novel all take place on the remote Scandinavian island of Blessed where a curiously powerful plant that resembles a dragon grows. What binds these stories together? What secrets lurk beneath the surface of this idyllic countryside? And what might be powerful enough to break the cycle of midwinterblood? From award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick comes a book about passion and preservation and ultimately an exploration of the bounds of love.

Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick is a novel that will haunt your thoughts long after you finish it. I keep thinking of all of the different connections within the seven stories. Sedgwick did a superb job combining love, horror, mystery, and suspense.

Midwinterblood is reminiscent of The Giver in the sense that Sedgwick gives you these wonderful little clues to follow and feeds you information until you start to see the entire picture. I enjoy each separate story on it’s own (One still gives me the shivers when I think about it.) but as a whole this novel weaves an incredible pattern that you are anxious to understand.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK. (All caps so you know I’m serious.)

Again, how cool is it when authors respond to their fans?

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On a personal note, I’m completely in love with this passage (my son’s name is Leif). I think I may have to  frame it for his bedroom wall.

There was Leif, walking into the center of the longhouse, to stand by the firelight, to give us his words.

He was a beautiful man, tall and thin, not one for fighting though he fought with the others when in was needed so. But his tools were words; those mysterious gifts from the gods, and while most men merely learned how to use them, Leif was one of the wizards who had learned the secret of how to make magic with them.

Have you read Midwinterblood yet? If so, please respond in the comments, I would love to have a discussion about this novel.

Happy Reading.

♥R♥

20,000 Words Deep

I just reached 20,000 words on my YA novel. So I’m over here like…

Ahh The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, love that show.

 

The little one is still asleep, so I’m going to keep writing.

I Hope you are having a great weekend!

♥R♥