Thursday, 19 January 2017

Ashen City by Sara Baysinger - Cover Reveal


 Why another post so soon after the last one? Well I'm glad you asked. This is an even more special announcement. There's a book coming out soon and it's going to have a cover.

Well that didn't sound that exciting. Let's try again. 

Ashen City, the sequel to Sara Baysinger's fabulous book, Black Tiger, will be released on April 6th! But you don't have to wait until then for everything. Today, you will see the cover of the book in all its glory.

But first I'm going to tell you about Black Tiger.

It's dystopian, set in a future where disease has eliminated most of the world's population. There is just one large city.

Ember Carter is a farmer's daughter and wants to be a farmer herself. That seems impossible as all farming careers are given to boys and for several years everyone has been recruited to the Line of Defenders, even though there isn't a hint of war around. 

Amazingly, she is assigned the career of farmer, but that hope quickly disappears when she tries to save her best friend from the Defenders.

She is sent off to the city, charged with murdering a defender and being a rebel. The sentence is death. A horrible death at the Rebels circle. Only petty criminals get a quick death by a Black Tiger.

But we all know she can't die. Not in this part of the story. She gets out, she's only an 'guest' now. A guest with a lot of power. But she's also suspected by the chief and she can't leave.


This is where things get fun. There's two young men in the city. And they're both rather contradictory. One is a nice person, the kind of person it's easy to trust. Yet, he's the chief's best friend and thinks they can work with him to fix the problems in Ky.


The other is a thoroughly despicable person, then a somewhat nice, and almost too friendly person. He keeps Ember entertained and even talks about the religion that is long gone from the city. I start to think he's a Christian of sorts ,but then he's urging her to rebel. One minute he's a hero, the next despicable again. I love having my emotions jerked around like that.

Any way I love this books. It has some amazing dilemmas, terrifying moments, great themes and an answer to why God gives us free will. Also there's the exploration of a society where religion is gone. It's  not entirely gone though, some traces will always remain and people will always have a heart to look for purpose and something bigger than them. Always. And there is also mind control. 


Now onto Ashen City.


Make your choice, Ember Carter. And make it count.

Ember Carter has escaped the flames of death. But will she ever be free from Chief Titus? When the orchard goes up in smoke and her family turns up missing, Ember returns to Frankfort hoping to find her brother and father, and to get Titus to drop the death wish he has against her.

But Titus is always one step ahead. When Ember faces him head-on, she’s captured, only to receive another death sentence. But on her way to her execution, plans go a little askew, and Ember finds herself traveling to the one place no one dares travel: Louisville. If the outskirts of Ky were a ghost town, the ashen city is the borderline of hell itself, but it’s the one place Ember can find refuge from the people who want her dead. 

In the ashen city, Ember must learn that being a hero is more than doing what is right because she can, but doing it for the good of the people. And when plans take a turn for the worst, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life to save her country.

It sounds good to me. More avoidance of death.

And now the cover!!!

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Isn't that lovely. In a rather haunting way.


And Black Tiger as well.

And if I convinced you to read Black tiger it's on Amazon.

And if you want to be part of the book launch blog tour in April, there's a sign up form here. I heard there will be prizes.

And be sure to check out Sara's website.

I just found out a cool fact about Sara today. She grew up in the Andes Mountains in Equador. How cool is that?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Story of a Name and an Announcement

I expected everyone reading this blog has realized that I don't use my real name. It's also probably not a surprise to find out my real name is Brianna.

In fact it's the name I'm most used to. I didn't have a nickname as a child unless you count my little brother mispronouncing it. It was always my full name. Quite a few years back now, a friend gave me the nickname Breeze, but forgot it again. I didn't forget and took it as an internet name. Later on, I replaced that with Bria Snow.

I didn't think that would be a good pen name though. It might not matter, but I'd heard that it's better to have a name in the first half of the alphabet. So I twisted my name around all backwards to come up with something that did work. Not long after that, I started my blog. That was the impulsive decision that got me semi-stuck with the name.
Yes, I do like brie cheese.

I always was reticent about sharing the existence of my blog with people I meant in real life. I was afraid they might find the pen name silly. I'm now realizing it was because I wasn't confident it was the right name. I felt it was a little silly. The few times my mother has sent me an email with a correction I needed to make and used my pen-name it seemed strange. Maybe because she never uses my real last name.

After a while, I started to get tired of being called Anna. It's a pretty common name, and I just didn't feel it fit me. Even though I use Brianna in everyday life, I've never minded being called Bri. I rather like it in fact. But if that was now my last name I couldn't be called by it without more awkwardness.

Even though I've tried my best to be honest and real in what I say on my blog, I still felt like I had split myself into two people. Both of them were me, but they had different friends. I wanted to integrate them more, but the names conflicted. I felt as if I would have to explain it too much.

So I started thinking of getting a new pen name. It was the end of September when I found one I liked. Something with Brie as my first name. Something with a rare, but easy to spell last name which felt right. I didn't want to pick just any random last name that belonged to someone else. So here it is: Brie Donning.

You might wonder while I took so long to make a change. There are a few reasons. One is that I didn't want to make the mistake of choosing a name hastily again. I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to start hating it. Another reason was that I didn't want to appear flaky. I'd had my blog for less than a year then, and wasn't ready to change. Third reason is that I have something else I wasn't ready to announce. (And there is the fact that I didn't want to build a new website/blog then. In fact I'd still rather not do it. Web design isn't really my thing.)

Since then I've started using Brie Donning in a couple of places and been connecting to more writers using Facebook (where I go by my real name). I've been detaching from my old pen name. It doesn't feel like my name any more. Just the name of my writing blog. I can't not change now.

My other announcement is that I'll be offering my services as an editor. Doing beta reading has let me see that I  would enjoy being an editor. Helping good books be better and get published is something I love doing and I'm brilliant at noticing typos. Unless they're my own that is.

Granted this isn't the only idea I've had to help people with their books. At one point I wanted to be an audio book narrator, but I hate fixing my recordings. If there was a job that involved promoting all my favourite books I'd love that too. But authors have street teams, not paid publicists and publishers have books I wouldn't be excited about, so it's not happening.

I started thinking about becoming an editor before I decided to change my pen name, but I always felt that I wouldn't do it under the name Anna S, Brie. Once again I'd subconsciously thought it sounded less professional.

The long and the short of it is that I'm going to have a new website opening up early next month under my new name and I'll be changing the names on all my social media. I don't know exactly how long things will take, but they'll happen. As you can all see I've done most of the work on having a new look.

I am Brie Donning, signing out. God bless you all.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Beautiful Books: Goals and Interruptions

Hello readers, writer, friends and- I don't think there are enemies reading my blog. If you are, please say hi.

I was starting to write about what writing I'd planned for this month and what was really happening when I remembered the Beautiful Books link-up was waiting for me. Since it is one on goals I'll try to make it fit together.



What were your writing achievements last year?

I finished the first draft of my first novel, mostly re wrote it, wrote most of a second one, and started brainstorming a sequel. Not entirely in that order. It was a good year.


What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

Finish Lady of Courage, get Girl of the Rumours reading to critique partners or maybe even beta readers. Probably write its sequel, though that depends on whether it is ready to be written when I have time.

As for this month, I had big goals: I was going to be writing 40,000 words, mostly on Lady of Courage. Anything else including blog post would be counted too. Otherwise my blog won't happen with a high word count goal. I thought I might do a little bit of outlining on A Brigand, No Longer, but nothing else was expected.
The Secret Story
Then two things happened. First I was given a shiny new idea that get's better the more I think about it. It's a secret project I can't talk about much, but I'm doing world building. And I'm not just mashing up bits from our world though there is a bit of that. I've finally veered off into what couldn't be in our world.

It's amazing how starting with nothing allows for more consideration of ideals. I'm not making a utopia, but I can put in more of my ideals for life, work education and government. I can actually make a clearer reflection of the truths of our world I believe to be important. I knew that stories allow one to do that before now, but I hadn't experienced it so fully.

So because of that I haven't gotten much work done on Lady of Courage. This week I'm forcing myself to get back to work on it.

The second interruption is one that actually has an impact of my word count. I'm going away for a week.  It's an intensive course on planning one's life to impact the world. I'll be writing, but it's not the stuff I count. So my goal has shrunk.

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

I think this means add more details. Girl of the Rumours is still in a fairly rough state, but the only big changes are content added to the middle and  the climax. The rest needs some continuity checking, some serious evaluation and a little polish.

I'm hoping doing that will help me sort out what happens in  A Brigand, No Longer. For it I've just got a bunch of ideas that  I'm not sure how they fit in. It's likely there will be a third book, but the ideas aren't clear enough.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017? 

I haven't gotten much feedback on my writing so far. I'm hoping the critique process will really help me figure out my weaknesses and strengths. From there I'll be in a much better place to write.

Describe your general editing process. 

I've hardly done enough editing to turn it into a process. For my first book the first edit was when I copied it from note book to computer. There were subtle changes I added as I copied. There were bigger things that happen though out it. When I actually begun that I'd just figured out the main line of the story and had to change the whole beginning to fit it. Then I go back over and tidy things up. I refine my characters.

For my other books it'll be a little different, because it is already on the computer. But I'll still be re writing things I've thought better of and making other big changes.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out? 

Well it's not quite finished yet. But I'll put it at 6 overall.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
The complex threads. A lot of them were dropped and the subtlety was lost. I'll need to add them in and tie it all together. Also the political scenes could really do with smoother intrigue.

What do you like the most about your draft? 

The themes of friendship and communication that are coming though. And the sacrificial themes. That's something I didn't fully realize until I wrote this.There's a lot of love and mostly not the romantic kind. I'm also loving the teenaged brother inventor. He's fun.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever? 

More editing. Then some critiquing will have to come, then more edits. Rise and repeat several times. Then I'll think about querying.

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
Let is sit for a month or two. Then read it over. Don't think about it too much in between. Work on something else. But do come back. It's worth it. Also write yourself an ridiculous. encouraging letter that will help you keep on when the editing seems hopeless.

And that's that. Except I haven't shared the new name I have for the larger country Girl of the Rumours takes place in. Verlis is the main setting, but it's just a province. The whole land is called NéaElefthéri. Ne-a el-ef-THAIR-ree. NéaElefthéri. There is a chance you can talk me into explaining it.

So do you have any excitng new writing developments? Or just a stubborn unmoving goal to move towards? Tell me about it.

Monday, 2 January 2017

I'm a [Insert a dozen identity labels here]

Happy New Year everyone! I'm hoping 2017 will be an even better year than 2016, which was a pretty good year for me. I've got a bunch of changes happening with my writing and blog which I'll tell you about over the next few weeks. And now on with some ramblings about my own thoughts.



Identity is a funny thing. There's so many ways we say who we are. Simple ones, such as our names, hometown, or ethnic background. Complications of half a dozen fandoms and obscure references.

We want to know who we are to feel that we are known and loved. Or at least loved. Sometimes we fear being known. We put up a facade, take on a whole identity. Or even if we try to be honest, with online communications it's so easy to accidentally hide parts of yourself, or simply behave differently.

For myself, I find my ultimate identity in being a child of God, a follower, one of the redeemed ones.
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— John 1:12
But I like to have more than that. I like to be able to introduce myself, by what I do, or what kind of person I am. But sometimes that doesn't seem enough. If I say I'm a writer people will ask me questions, I'm not ready to answer. I hedge or I pull out the latest interesting thing I've been involved in, even if it only takes a few hours occasionally.

And then there is the identity of labels. I used to think I hated labels, hated sticking people in boxes, but I've realized I do it still. I always have.

I don't like denominations, maybe because I don't really belong to one, and I don't like other theological differences. There's always so much nuance, and so many problems can be caused by assuming things about peoples beliefs. Yet I cling hard to the fact I was home-schooled, and that I live on the other side of the border to the city I'm often in.

Lately the label that I've noticed myself using is MBTI personality type. I'm always researching things about it, trying to figure myself out, and my friends, and the characters in my books. But I'm still not certain about myself. I'm wavering between two categories, and occasionally wonder if I've got it completely wrong.

But why do I worry? I used to think personality types were bunkum. I still believes there's a lot of variation between the types. And learning about it has helped me understand myself. I know much more about how I think, and due to other resources I'm a lot more certain about what I believe, what I'm afraid of and what I love. But still I want to know. Am I a slightly shy extrovert or actually and introvert? Do I fit into one of the boxes?

I'm not sure I ever will know. Maybe I'll never be able to say clearly what my occupation is. In fact I'm not sure I want that to be sure. I want to be doing lots of things. And I think I can live with this uncertainty now. I pray I'll be able to just let it go and be a person, not a jar. I'll just have to show who I am, instead of telling it.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9
Now this is the identity we can be firm in. It's not just who we are, it's what we do. So if you don't feel like you fit into any denomination, cultural group or personality, just remember there's a lot more to who you are than [Australian, home-schooled, creationist, re-constructionist, sabbath-keeping-baptist, writer, Ninja, Legendaire and Resistance member] or whatever labels you use. It' so many little things that make you a unique creation of God.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Smashing & Dashing Characters of 2016 Awards #BookTag


So Cait @ Paper Fury has a character award book tag and I thought I'd try to do it despite being bad at remembering half of what I've read.


1. Most Relatable Character

Renna Faythe in Dare and Deny by Tricia Mingerink. In fact most quiet caring characters who get stuck in dangerous situations. The ones that start falling for 'the guy who thinks he isn't worthy' without realizing it. Kyrin Altair also fits this.


2. Most Pure and Precious Animal Companion


I wouldn't call her pure and precious, but I'm going with Punzel from Song of the Sword by Hope Ann. She's a fen-hopper, which is a winged cat that lives in the Shadowfen. She's a bit feisty and prefers the name of Shadow-wing. Anyway she does a good job of keeping Roinette company.

In the same book, the hero Evrard has a Messenger Falcon for a side kick. So two animal companions for the price of one.




3. Fiercest Fighter


Trap Merodach from The Light of Eidon by Karen Hancock. He might not be the fiercest, but he's certainly skilled.


4. Most Amazing Sidekick

Solomon Hawke in A Time to Speak by Nadine Brades. Or Shad Alistaar in Deny. Or the other person I'll remember tomorrow.


5. One You're Surprised You Loved (Book or Character???)

A Star Curiously Singing
by Kerry Neitz. I don't read Sci-Fi. But I liked this. The main character Sandfly and the world were so far removed from what I know, that it was a little hard to get into, but once I did, it was fascinating. A~A2


6. Best Sassmaster
Knife, from Knife by R. J Andersen.

7. Best Anti-Hero
I'm not sure if he's technically an anti-hero but Rain Walker from Black Tiger by Sara Baysinger. I'm not quite sure what I think of him. At first he appears a total jerk and then he starts acting nicer, and just as I start o think he might be a good person he does something dreadful again. I like characters that jerk my emotions around like that.


8. Best Worst Villain to Hate

Pathetic villains usually mean pathetic heroes, which means forgettable books. That said there's a villain who isn't even worth hating in Safety Assured Leaving East of Medicetti by Trish Mercer. At one point I hoped he'd be redeemed, but he just got worse. He's miserable and has a terribly skewed worldview.


9. Truly Astounding Worst Ya Parents


I don't really read much YA and can't think of any.


10. Truly Astounding Best Ya Parents

Parvin's parents in a Time to Speak.


11. Toot Toot Best Ship of Them All

Best? There is no single best. But Amber and Granite in Lady Dragon, Tela Du by Kendra E. Ardnek. This is a very sad ship, because Amber has been the evil Lady Dragon for 3,000 years while Granite stayed good. He loves her, but hates what she does, and she pushed him away and won't listen to his advice. And they were so happy for the first 3,000 years. #Amberite (I almost choose the other main couple of this book #Reutra)


12. The Most in Need of Protection

Temperance, or Marie from the Virtues and Valor Series by Hallee Bridgeman. She gets tortured by Nazi's and almost dies of pneumonia. Also the series is fascinating. Eight overlapping novellas, each telling the story of a different person. And since they all go by code names and don't give personal details out, there's a lot to guess at through the books.

13. Most Boring As a Barnacle

Can't remember. I've come across a number of boring character, but they don't stick in my head. Why should they?


14. Best Little Royal

Not sure what this is supposed to mean, but Princess Lily in The Firethorn Crown by Lea Doue. A wonderful princess who does take her responsibilities seriously. And with 11 younger sisters there's a lot going on.


15. Very Surprised You're Still Alive

Aislyn from the 27th Protector series by Laura Campbell. This girl has many narrow escapes. Not that I actually thought she would die, but it's a miracle she hasn't. A very dangerous miracle in fact. A traitor. That's why she one of the few 27th protectors who's beaten the odds and lived.


16. Best at Horrible Decision Making (makes bad decisions)

Vrell in From Darkness Won by Jill Williamson. And Achan.

17. Cutest Dork 

Reuben Eaglechaser of Lady Dragon, Tela Du. He's the guy who alway checked in his wardrobe for Narnia, thinks he knows exactly what's going on when he ends up in a fantasy world, and rarely takes anything seriously. And the way he loves Petra is kind of dorky. 


18. Cleverest Little Hellion
Eva from The 27th Protector series. And  several other characters. They need to be clever. But Eva is younger, so 'little' fits her.


19. Most in Need of A Nap

I'm too tired to think of an answer.


20. Want to Read More About You

Most of the people I've just mentioned. Lady Firebird in Firebird by Kathy Tyers.


And that is that. I hope you all have a merry Christmas. God bless you.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

6 Non-Writing Things I did in November

Hello friends, This is going to be a short post because I've been busy lately and I'm out of practice. Besides you would all rather I wrote my stories than my blog posts anyway, right?

1. Work

Yes, boring and not even something that takes a lot of time, but I did make sure it happens. That's actually why I finished NaNo early. The last day of the month, or in this case the last two days are the busiest for me work wise.

2. Scripture in Schools

This is the reason two days at the end of the month were busy. On the 30th I helped with Christian Education in schools for the first time ever. It's a great thing to do. These kids have so many questions about God and the Bible and a surprising number of answers too. Here's an example of what kind of conversations I've been in:

Boy 1: How do you draw God?Me: God is really too big and complex to draw, etc.
Boy 1: Is he really that big?
Boy 2: Yes. He made the whole world in seven days.
Boy 1: Okay, that's big.
3. Sewing

This was only when I needed a break from writing but I started sewing a dress. finished it on the 2nd of December.

4. Baking

Mostly bread as usual. We did have to buy a few loaves, but that was mostly lack of planning, not lack of time. Sourdough takes time. And I helped with the shopping several times, another normal activity.

5. Building and Garden

I don't remember any details, but I certainly did some. We're renovating our bathrooms at the moment, so there's plenty to do. (and when they're done that'll be the end of about 13 years of renovations. Which means we can work on the roof, the carport and the extension.)

6. Celebrations

These are weekend things, so probably didn't have a lot of impact on my writing time, but they did happen, A dear friend got married and one of my brothers had a birthday. Just simple things. Except that the wedding was outdoors and I didn't use sunscreen.


And now I'll go onto talking about this month. I'm still working on Lady of Courage, doing a bit of outlining to figure out what else needs to be written. I also did another exciting thing I won't get to mention elsewhere. Another brother had a birthday and we went on an overnight hiking trip. Exhausting, but doable. I enjoy physically challenging myself occasionally and it was fun.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Beautiful Books: NaNoWriMo Update!!!


So I started writing this post in the first week of November. Now I've finally finished it. I also finished NaNoWriMo for the first time half an hour ago!!!

So I'm doing the Beautiful Books link up by Cait@Paper Fury and Skye@Further Up and Further In.



Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

My mental state is fine. (Read elated and hugging everyone now)I went into NaNo expecting to fail. On Day two I changed my mind. It hasn't changed back yet. I am almost there now and completely confident I can make it. Now I'm done!!! My novel on the other hand is a mess. The middle came together better than I expected at the start, but there are huge bits I haven't written and entire plot thread I've missed. It'll probably need to be rewritten in entirety. But I don't care. Keeping the story in my head is rather pointless.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

I didn't start at the beginning, and the beginning I do have I'm not happy with.(and I've already written two versions) Further more I'm not 100% sure what bit I wrote first this month. so I'll share both. 
This month: The ambassador bowed, showing a bald patch in his greasy black hair.


Very beginning: However nice it is to be surrounded by sycophants, sometimes a girl just needs the presence of a good strong man. Natalia rose to the tips of her shoes and scanned the milling crowd.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Early in the month, Natalia's half brother Alexos. he's kind of inspired by my brother and is very adventurous. there's also a couple of tertiary (I think. My secondary and tertiary characters like to get mixed up) characters, who are fun. A super enthusiastic, irrepressible maid and a mad sea captain.

Since then I've become rather fond of Luca and Lorenzo in particular, but all my character are working their way into my affections.

What do you love about your novel so far?

New ideas for what should happen keep coming. I never intended to have all my characters pretending to be someone else, but it happens. (a good number at least)

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Nataia, Natlai, Natali, Matali, Natatalai, Naltai, Nalatai; I can't type my main character's name, It's a bit of a nuisance. Natlai is the most common mistake. (When trying to type it wrong it came out right somehow.)

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I like it when things go really well and pull together in surprising ways, and that happens most in endings. but all of it can be fun.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Shelves new yesterday!
I often, but not always listen to music. Getting a good bit of writing down in the morning is a goal, but I do it later in the day as well, including quite late.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone?

I don't tend to share much because my work is full of typos, but being able to talk about the joys and trials is important. And sometimes I just need someone to help me focus. Kendra E. Ardnek has been great with that. She does share it, and that also keeps me from getting too stuck in my own head. And when I felt like procrastinating she was great with that too.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Determination and word sprints. Some with Kendra and Erika Mathews, a lot with the lovely people in the Realm Makers Consortium, and a couple with my little brother. I tried using Write or Die a bit, but if either my internet or computer is too slow it doesn't register my writing quick enough and dies instead.


What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1. Write something you're enthusiastic about

2. Study the craft

3. Don't put too much pressure on yourself.

And here's the graph of my monthly wordcount:




And that is that. What have you all gotten done this month. Tell me, even if it's small. There's plenty of achievements other than writing a horrendous 50,124 words.