Guest Post & Giveaway: Deleted ‘Power Inversion’ Scene by Sara Codair

Check out a deleted scene from Power Inversion as well as an excerpt from the published version!

Beauty in Ruins

Erin’s boyfriend, José, is being held captive by demons and Erin finally has a way to track him. Erin is preparing for a journey through a place between worlds that exists outside of time that will take them to where José is being held. In this scene, Erin and their grandmother stop to get supplies. I loved how this scene showed the relationship developing between Erin and their grandmother. However, it was stalling the narrative and distracting from the rescue mission Erin was on. Therefore, it had to go.

On the way back to Grandpa’s house, Niben insisted on a quick detour to get some durable clothing for the trip through the Between. For some reason I pictured this as something we’d get in Faerie, but we stopped at a sporting goods store. The firearms department was packed. We steered clear of that heading over the men’s clothing section.

“This…

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The Long Road to Power Inversion’s Publication

Once upon a time, I posted on this site at least once or twice a month, whether it was a book review, craft post, recipe, or something about teaching. Alas, it has been about six months since I posted any original content.  A lot has happened since then.

The most exciting of all the things that have happened was that I had a book published. A year and a half after Power Surge was released, its sequel, Power Inversion, is finally out in the world. It happened months later than I expected, but after setbacks, tears, and hard work, it’s finally here.

Writing this book was a blast, but editing it was not. The story was so clear in my head while I was drafting that I just flew through it, but shaping it into something readers could enjoy proved more challenging.

When I thought the book had shaped up well, I sent it off to my publisher. After waiting for months, my publisher finally offered to contract for it. I thought that meant my revisions had been a success. However, after another six months passed, I got the book back from my editor, and realized that was not the case at all.

No. I had to do another major rewrite.

I usually have somewhat thick skin when it comes to feedback, but I hadn’t been expecting it this late in the process. It really blindsided me and shook my confidence.

And the timing was the worst. The edits came the day before I left for a convention. My students were turning in drafts of their essays, which I needed to turn around quick. The weekend after the convention, I went to New York City for a launch party for an anthology I had a story in.

Weeks passed before I had time to really process the amount of work the book needed, let alone get started.

Then COVID-19 exploded in my area and I found myself scrambling to switch my face-to-face classes to remote learning. I liked working from home, but switching the method of instruction mid semester was extremely time consuming.

Getting through that rewrite felt like it took forever, but eventually, I finished. I let it rest. I read through it again and sent it back. The second round, the copy edits, and the proof read all had very quick turn-around times.

Just when I thought the book was finally ready to come out, I learned that it wouldn’t be coming out in early June like I’d been told. The release had been pushed up to the end of the month.

Finally, on June 22, 2020, Power Inversion was published.

I’ve ordered my copies, but they haven’t come in, so it still doesn’t quite feel real. It probably won’t until I finally get to hold the paper in my hand.

Erin is just settling into
 their new life as a Demon 
hunter when José is 
literally snatched away by
 humongous Demon’s 
tentacles. 

On their journey to save 
him, Erin strengthens their
 relationship with their 
family while also finding 
out what lines they are 
willing to cross to save 
someone they love.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Power Inversion by Sara Codair

Check out the cover for Power Inversion, the next book in the Evanstar Chronicles!

LGBTQ Reads

Today on the site, I’m thrilled to have Sara Codair to reveal the cover of their upcoming young adult urban fantasy, Power Inversion, releasing June 1st from NineStar Press! Here’s what it’s about:

Do you have to be a monster to fight one?

Erin Evanstar is a demon hunter, a protector of humanity from nightmarish predators that feed on people’s fears and flesh. They are settling into their dual life of being a teen and hunting demons.

When a tentacled horror abducts Erin’s partner, José, Erin and their family go on the hunt to get him back. But Erin gets an ultimatum: help the Fallen Angels bring on the apocalypse or watch José die. Erin will do anything to save José, but fighting monsters comes with a grim price–becoming one themselves.

And here’s the electrifying cover, designed by Natasha Snow!

***

Sara Codair is an author of short stories…

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Book Review: Elysium Girls

If you like weird west stories and chosen one narratives, then read Elysium Girls. The setting and the world are something of a twist on classic western with a vibe that isn’t quite steampunk but something similar. There is even a magic showdown.

While I did enjoy the book, I didn’t find myself as immersed in it as I would have liked, and I’m wondering if it is because I knew a little too much too early on. 

The blurb summarizes a lot of  the story, so I think instead of just engaging with the narrative, I was waiting for the described things to happen. For example, I kept wondering where the scrap metal horses were and when they were going to come into play, and was waiting for them so long that when the finally came, it was anticlimactic. However, that was because of the blurb, not the book. Had they not been mentioned in the blurb, I would’ve had a different reaction. 

I enjoyed the world the author created. I appreciated how small of a role romance played in the story. I was happy to see the lesbian rep, which was subtle, but visible. I liked that it wasn’t a story about being gay, but there were still gay girls being badass outlaw heroes. 

Another thing I liked was how thought provoking the concept was in examining how just trying to flip the power in a society doesn’t always make things equal. A leader can’t just force people to stop being racists and sexist. 

The end was good, but to avoid spoilers, I won’t say why. 

I’d read more from this author.

Book Review: To the Flame

To the FlameTo the Flame by A.E. Ross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review: To the Flame

 

When I first heard about To the Flame and realized one of the main characters was nonbinary, I had to read it. I preordered it right away, but then when the author was looking for people to review ARCs, I requested one and read it within a few hours of receiving it. I was so excited to not only read something with #ownvoices nonbinary rep, but one that also had a contemporary setting and a paranormal element.

To the Flame lived up to my hopes and expectations. There are so many things I liked about it .

The prose were beautiful but not to purple. There were some fantastically vivid descriptions that really brought me into the moment without overwhelming me.

The college setting was perfect for the romance between a human and a moth person, and put the characters at just the right age to be navigating the kind of feelings they have for each other.

As far as the plot goes, I didn’t get bored thinking I knew how they were going to get from A to Z, and felt satisfied both when something surprised me and when I felt I had figured it out right. I also really enjoyed Morrie’s emotional arc, and how the narrative wove back and forth between their past and present.

There was a range of queer rep in the story in the “everyone is gay” kind of way. But of course, my favorite was the nonbinary character, and reading something written in third person from the point of view of someone using they/them pronouns.

The characters were easy to like and root for. When the story was over, I wasn’t ready to be done with them. I’d happily read more, longer stories about Emmerson and Morrie.

View all my reviews

Book Review: A Dream So Dark

I received a copy of A Dream So Dark from NetGalley. 

I enjoyed the world, the characters, and the voice in A Dream So Dark as much as I did the first book, A Blade So Black. It wasn’t too hard to fall back into this world, and by the time I was about 30% of the way through, I had to just finish the book. Had there not been so much time between me reading this and me reading the first book, I think this would’ve been a read the whole thing in one sitting type story. 

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the queer rep.

 Alice still has feelings for Hatta, but she also is crushing on a  another dreamwalker, a girl named Haruka. We learn that Hatta was in love with a guy (won’t say his name to avoid spoilers) who has resurfaced after being missing for a long time. 

The  Hatta/Alice relationship definitely got way more interesting in this book. 

All the relationship drama seemed perfectly balanced with plot, which actually surprised me a couple times. I admit, there were a couple places I got a little lost, but it was never so bad that it hurt my ability to enjoy the story. Overall, it was a great romp, dark yet funny, through McKinney’s version of Wonderland. 

My biggest complaint was that at times, Alice’s mom felt more like an obstacle than a fully developed character. 

I liked how the story ended, but there were a lot of loose ends left. At first, I was mad about this because I thought this was the last book in the series. Then I did a little research and realized that it was not the last one, that the author is writing a third book. The end works a lot better for me knowing there is going to be another book. I can’t wait to read it! 

Book Review: Eclipse the Skies

 I received a copy of Eclipse the Skies from NetGalley. I was excited to read this sequel, but it took me a little longer than I expected to really get into it. I was about half way through before I reached a point where I really did not want to put it down. 

What I liked most was the character arcs. Eclipse the Skies seamlessly picked up where Ignite the Stars left off, and I really enjoyed seeing how characters grew and changed as the story continued.  

I got a little annoyed at one point because I thought some kind of a love triangle was forming. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with love triangles, I’m just not a big fan of them. Thankfully, this didn’t really turn into a love triangle, and it did add some depth to the characters. 

Another thing I liked about this novel was how the narrative explored some moral and philosophical questions through plot and character decisions. If I were to ever use this in a class, I would be able to get some interesting discussion prompts out of it. 

The worst thing about this book was the way it ended. I won’t go into detail so I won’t spoil it. I’ll just say this: I kind of understand the author’s choice, but as a reader, it was not what I wanted. 

I like happy endings. I want to know for certain that all the main characters to survived. The end of Eclipse the Skies was hopeful and well executed, but it was not exactly the happy ever after or happy for now type ending I personally enjoy most.

Book Review: Anya and the Dragon

I took a big hiatus from reviewing books here, really from reading in general, but I’m back!

Anya and the Dragon had been sitting in my NetGalley queue for a long time. It is the first novel I have read since August, and it was like getting a nice cold drink of water after being really thirsty on a long hike. I missed reading, and this was a great story to sit down with after a very  stressful semester. 

Anya and the Dragon was a story about a girl, her goat, a new friend, a dragon, and tough choices. I loved most of it, but there was one little thing that bothered me.

I’ll start by telling you what I loved about this book.

I love novels with Slavic folklore, and this one was filled with it. I loved how the Domovoi’s personality.

Speaking of personality, Zvezda the goat was my favorite. He was adorable. He was brave, stubborn, loyal, and always chewing on something. 

I loved how the plot seemed to meander for a little while, letting the readers really get a full taste of the characters and the world before the plot really picked up the pace. Shortly after I reached the half-way mark, the story flew by and I couldn’t put the book down. 

The voice, imagery, and the friendships that developed were beautiful. 

The story felt very grounded in historical context and how in spite of that context, I didn’t feel completely smothered by some of the social issues and prejudices of that time. 

Anya seemed certain she didn’t want to get married, not even when she was older. While adult characters may have seemed a little skeptical when it was mentioned once, no one was telling her she had to get married when she was older. No one was every telling she could or couldn’t do something because she was a girl. I loved that the adults in town didn’t treat her any different than the treat the boy characters her age. Sometimes historical fantasy gets bogged down in alleged period sexism. This story didn’t. 

Sexism may not have been an issue in this story, but it didn’t completely ignore other prejudices of the time. The narrative discussed the antisemitism of the time. One of the antagonists was very anti semitic, but then he  got what deserved in the end…or maybe a kinder fate than he deserved. 

I feel like with historical fiction, addressing some of the prejudices of a time period is necessary, to an extent,  and when done right, it can drive home how bad that kind of hate was. 

The problem comes when it becomes gratuitous and/or the narrative doesn’t criticize the hate.

Which leads me to the one little tiny problem I had with this book. 

There was one scene in Chapter 6  where the narrative hinted that Ivan, the second most prominent human character, isn’t straight, but it came up in the context of his brothers making fun of him for having water-magic, like his mother, and for thinking a boy was cute once. 

Nothing about the narrative voice seemed critical of these bothers. There are much kinder ways to hint that a character is possibly gay or bi. 

I was excited to learn Ivan once thought a boy was cute. I’m always excited to see LGBTQ+ rep in books, especially middle grade books. I just wish the author could’ve found a better way to work it into the narrative. Using this casual homophobia as a way to say “this character isn’t straight” is not cool. 

That is the reason this book has 4 stars and not 5, because honestly, I loved just about everything else about it.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Life Minus Me by Sara Codair

Thank you LGBTQReads for hosting the cover reveal of my novella, Life Minus Me.

LGBTQ Reads

Today on the site, we’re happy to welcome back Sara Codair to reveal the cover for their upcoming new adult contemporary fantasy, Life Minus Me, releasing from NineStar Press on December 23rd, 2019! Here’s a little more about the book:

Mel is half-angel, but despite her ability to heal and read minds, she feels powerless to help anyone. When a prophecy shows a local pet supply store owner driving their car off a bridge, Mel sets out to stop it.

Baily, owner of Barks and Bits, is barely holding it together. Things keep going wrong, and their depression spirals out of control. Just as they start wondering if they’d be better off dead, a new friend provides a glimmer of hope. But is that enough to keep living?

Mel never thought saving Baily would be easy, but she can’t figure out when, where, or why Baily’s suicide will happen…

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2019 Publications Round-Up

I’m sorry for my silence this fall. It’s been busy with a full course load, conventions, edits, and writing. Actually, this whole year has been super busy, and my list of publications is so much smaller than last years.

My first publication of 2019 was a poem called “Is Listening Visiting.” It was published in Vulture Bones, which is an online publication.

The rest of my publications were reprints.

“The Suitor Sorter” was reprinted in Echoes of the PastThis was Fantasia Divinity’s Best of 2018 anthology.

This story was about a young lady trying to fool a steampunk dating machine and the automaton that ran it.

Content Warning: Homophobia

 

One of my favorite short stories, “Red Tide Rising,” was originally published as a serial in Helios Quarterly. was reprinted in a anthology of weird westerns, Gunsmoke and DragonfireThis anthology was released on March 15, 2019.

“Red Tide Rising” is an outlaws vs sheriffs  western set on Mars, but it is also about an estranged couple finding their way back together.

Content Warning: Violence

 

“Ink and Ash” was originally released as a stand alone ebook in the Society of Misfit Stories series. Now, it is included in their print edition of The Society of Misfit Stories Volume Three.

This story is about two siblings, one who is a magician, and one who isn’t, grappling with whether or not their society should ban the use of wands as weapons for civilians.

Content Warning: Violence, Death