Tuesday, October 20, 2015

COS Teaser Tuesday Graphic.jpg



12025463_10204925059908425_1921066318_n.jpgSome secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

Buy Links:


Excerpt:
     I raise the lantern high and hold my breath, and then I see it. Distorted in the dimming light, the bone juts out from the snow at an odd, twisted angle, its color resembling a pale animal hide, alabaster and cream now grayed and foreboding in the dark. I edge closer, the light bouncing off of it, accentuating the thin onion-like layers where the elements have chipped and picked it clean.
     Shadows are heavy and thick at my back. The stretch between the forest’s gloom and the comfort of the kitchen, an impossible length, yet I kneel beside the protruding appendage—curious, disgusted, cautious. I see why Niclaus had been so captivated, for I, too, am suddenly intrigued. Settling the basket beside me, I swipe at the snow, shifting it away from the bone to fully unearth it. I am careful not to touch it, but continue to clear away, until shoots of yellowed grass kiss my fingers. The length of the larger bone tapers to what appears to be the slender slope of a wrist. I follow it with my eye, and then, I pull back. Breathless and cold, I let my body grow numb as I stare at the ground. It is hauntingly beautiful, yet terrifying, and I take all of it in. The snow-covered bone. The color of what truly lies beneath our skin. The broken limb that elongates into the remains of a hand. With upmost care I pull one of Niclaus’s finds from the basket and hold it against the skeletal stump, matching the delicate finger to the eroded joint. It is a perfect fit. So slight are the digits. So simple are the knuckles. With rapt, studious attention, I compare it to my own hand, and then, I remember what I am holding and drop the thing to the ground, wiping my hands upon my snow-soaked skirt.


12047339_10204925037027853_275710381_n.jpgJennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, THE BLISS), to contemporary gut-punchers (BETWEEN THESE LINES). Her latest, FOREST OF WHISPERS, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. The sequel, CASTLE OF SIGHS, releases October 27, 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.
Literary Representation:
Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agency ~ amanda@macgregorlit.com
Connect with Jennifer:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

CASTLE OF SIGHS—Teaser Tuesday!

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12025463_10204925059908425_1921066318_n.jpgSome secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.

Buy Links:


Excerpt:

     “He is magnificent.” She whispers when we have finished.
     The child lies still upon the table. A composite of hair and skin and bones from the village boy—his heart now beats with magick. In time, the delicate stitches will heal and no one will question how, or why.
     It was almost too much to bear the moment we began, and so I created a tonic of herbs and incense to fill the room while we worked. The woman’s nerves have now settled, and by the look upon her face she seems pleased with my work.
     “Utterly magnificent,” she repeats, her finger tracing the delicate flesh of his arm, his collarbone, his jaw. She holds a lock of his hair between her finger and thumb, then reaches for her own, inches shorter in a place at the nape of her neck.  “He looks just like my son.”
     “He is your son,” I confirm.
     She nods, her eyes still disbelieving yet accepting, all at once.
     The boy yawns then wakes, as if he’d been asleep this whole time.
     “Will he know me?”
     “Your blood is his now.”
     She approaches the child with caution and the moment he sees her, he smiles and holds his arms out to her. Tears of joy spill down her cheeks.
     My heart clenches, for it too misses the love of a child.
     “But . . .”
     “You will tell your husband that you found the babe in the forest, crying and alone.” I hand her a small, muslin pouch. “Tonight, you will stir these herbs into his ale, and the rest into your tea. By dawn, it will be as if the boy has been born to you all along.”
     I wait patiently for her to nod and agree with what must be done. “Have you a name for the boy?”
     “After my father,” she tells me. “His name shall be Laurentz.”

12047339_10204925037027853_275710381_n.jpgJennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, THE BLISS), to contemporary gut-punchers (BETWEEN THESE LINES). Her latest, FOREST OF WHISPERS, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. The sequel, CASTLE OF SIGHS, releases October 27, 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.
 
Literary Representation:
Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agency ~ amanda@macgregorlit.com
 
 
Connect with Jennifer:
 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

I'm hosting a REVIEW FOR THE WIN giveaway--and a Recipe for Successful Revising.

This month I am celebrating the release of my latest book, the young adult urban fantasy/thriller UNTIL BETH. As you may or may not know I DESIGNED THIS COVER as well as many others for Spencer Hill Press and other clients. You can purchase UNTIL BETH here.



How would you like a Lisa Amowitz design for your indie-published book--or a banner design for your blog or website?

I will included up to five royalty-free images and you must agree to accept the cover/web banner as I envision it for you. If you wish a more complicated design, we'll need to negotiate new terms.

OR you can choose three web graphics to promote your book instead--like these:

Or you can choose one of my detailed and comprehensive five page critiques.

To give you a little taste of my style, I'm going to share my REVISION RECIPE (this segment originally appeared as part of a larger interview posted on the Istyria Book Blog by the wonderful Bieke and Rachel.

A RECIPE FOR REVISION


Writing a first draft is hard and takes a lot of time, but the actual hard work comes after that. How do you go about revising and editing that first draft?

Ah—I think I hinted at the hair-pulling aspect, but let me try to break this down into something useful for aspiring authors. I’m going to write it out like a mad-cap recipe for things you need to put on your checklist
.

Ingredients:
5 cups of character. Know your main character. Know his/her background, idiosyncrasies, loves, obsessions, fears. Know what they need to learn/find on their journey. Know this FIRST before you do anything else.

1 cup of setting. Where and when are they? Contemporary? Future? Past? Research, research, research. Is this fleshed out? Is it pertinent to the story? Create a sense of place and atmosphere.

A gallon of conflict. Character + conflict =plot. Yeah—not conflict, no story.

Take these ingredients and mix them in a bowl. Add the following advice that comes largely from a great book I read called Hooked, by Les Edgerton.

Stir in Make your you have a first sentence that grabs your reader immediately, tells them something about your character, and sets up what’s about to happen. Edgerton calls it the “surface problem”. I call it the catalyst. It’s the event that sets the story in motion. Your first chapter should create a situation that tells us something about our protagonist and puts events in play. It does not have to be the actual situation. That’s why Edgerton calls it the surface problem. It then leads the protagonist to the “story level problem—the issue they must solve to get to the conclusion of the book.”

Mix in action in every chapter. Something has to happen. You cannot just describe things and let your reader fall asleep…because they won’t fall asleep—they will throw your book across the room or delete it from their ereaders.

Chop any words, scenes, dialogue, description that does not move the story forward. ALL DIALOGUE and settings must add to your narrative. Use description as part of action.

Add a pinch of quirky details that bring your story and characters to life but don’t weigh down the narrative.

Cook on high heatkeep going! Don’t stop!

Allow to cool Always be ready to “kill your darlings.” That’s advice from Stephen King from On Writing. That means be merciless and cut whole chapters, sentences, even characters that bog your narrative down.

Writing Books I recommend:
Stephen King’s; On Writing, Anne Lamotte’s; Bird by Bird, Les Edgerton; Hooked.


And most important—write the story YOU want to tell—not what you think will sell.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Castle of Sighs by Jennifer Murgia

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly awaiting!


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Title: Castle of Sighs (Forest of Whispers #2)
Author: Jennifer Murgia
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Expected Publication Date: April 27, 2016

Blurb:
Some secrets cannot be kept—in life or in death. 
Months have passed since Rune has heard a single whisper from her long-dead mother, the great witch of Bavaria. But the absence of one evil has only made room for another. 
After rightfully inheriting her ancestral home, Pyrmont Castle, Rune settles into a quiet life taking care of two orphans left in the wake of the terrible witch hunt that claimed dozens of lives in the nearby village. As the days grow colder, the castle’s secrets beckon and Rune finds herself roaming where no one has set foot in a long time. In the bowels of the fortress is a locked room full of memories that hang like cobwebs—shelves stacked with jars, strange specimens, putrid liquids, and scrolls of spells. Rune is undeniably drawn to what she finds there, and she begins to dabble in the possibilities of magic, hoping to find a cure for the strangeness overwhelming the castle. 
As secrets unspool, the delicate thread of Rune’s world is threatened when she realizes the key may lie in the dark forest she once called home and the boy she thought she knew.


Goodreads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble

12047339_10204925037027853_275710381_n.jpgJennifer Murgia writes moody fiction for teens—from paranormal fantasy (ANGEL STAR, LEMNISCATE, THE BLISS), to contemporary gut-punchers (BETWEEN THESE LINES). Her latest, FOREST OF WHISPERS, a 17th century historical mystery (about witches!) was a School Library Journal Fall 2014 HOT TITLE, and a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Literature Award Winner. The sequel, CASTLE OF SIGHS, releases October 27, 2015 from Spencer Hill Press. She is the co-founder and coordinator of YA FEST and currently resides in Pennsylvania.

Literary Representation:
Amanda Luedeke of MacGregor Literary Agency ~ amanda@macgregorlit.com


Connect with Jennifer:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

ITS RELEASE DAY FOR UNTIL BETH!

Talented rock guitarist Beth Collins has been barely holding herself together for months, ever since her boyfriend and bandmate became the latest victim in a string of suspicious disappearances. When her brother is injured an accident and she sees something dark billowing around him as he hovers close to death, she’s convinced her sanity is collapsing for good. Then she's accepted by a boarding school for the musically gifted. All of her new friends are bursting withtalent, but they're also keeping secrets. Can she trust Vincent, who's so sweet that his very touch makes her fears melt away? Or Xavier, who's trying to tell her something but is hiding even more? And will anyone be safe when her true Talent comes out?

Buy it 

Read an Excerpt

Monday, August 3, 2015

Counting Down the Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Spy Fiction—Guest post by T.A. Maclagan



10. Setting

In spy fiction, cool international locales are the name of the game and each city has its own unique vibe, from the neon lights and pulsing throngs of people in Tokyo, to the oppressive drear of Moscow in winter, to the blossoming of spring in D.C. each May. After reading a spy novel I always feel like I’ve been traveling the world.




9. The Bad Guys
They’re so fun and spy fiction has some of the best bad guys around.




8. The Disguises
I love it when actors can successfully play multiple characters in a movie or show, like Val Kilmer in The Saint and more recently Tatiana Maslany in Orphan Black. It’s equally as cool when the characters on a page morph into someone new as they go undercover.

7. Twists & Turns
When I read a book, I don’t like to know what’s going to happen when I turn the page and spy fiction is great in that regard.

6. The Action

There’s never a dull moment in a good spy book.




5. The Tech
Gadgets galore!

4. The Secrets
Characters with secrets make for a good story. Make those characters spies where revealing their secrets could cost them their lives, and the tension bumps up a notch.


3. The Spycraft
The ‘how to’ of spying is inherently interesting. What are the techniques used to develop an asset? How do you avoid a tail? Use a dead drop? The list goes on!



2. The Dynamic Relationships

Life or death stakes, characters with secrets, the fates of nations in the balance…all make for some really interesting interpersonal dynamics. Who can you trust, when everyone has secrets and might be lying to you?

1. The SPY VIBE

Everything on this list from the dynamic relationships, to the tech, to the settings, all merge to create what I like to think of as the spy vibe. It’s a vibe distinct to spy novels. It’s a pulsing tension…a web of intrigue…a pull that keeps you reading…keeps you guessing.



THEY CALL ME ALEXANDRA GASTONE
When your life is a lie, how do you know what’s real?




Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation.

She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash.

Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing.

But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

Between her cover as a high school girl—juggling a homecoming dance, history reports, and an increasingly suspicious boyfriend—and her mission in this high-stakes spy game, the boundaries of her two lives are beginning to blur.

Will she stay true to the country she barely remembers, or has her loyalty shattered along with her identity?


T.A. Maclagan is a Kansas girl by birth but now lives in the bush-clad hills of Wellington, New Zealand with her Kiwi husband, son and four pampered cats. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing. They Call Me Alexandra Gastone is her first novel.




check out T.A. on social media and be in to win a $15 Amazon gift card!
Website: www.tamaclagan.com 





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