You may have noticed that it’s been a little quiet around here lately, and that’s because I’ve been working on a new project.
It’s still in the early stages, but you can check it out at TheShadowJournals.com–especially if you’re an urban fantasy fan, as I plan to post short fiction, book news, and articles about the genre there.
Why a new website? You’ve heard me talk about my upcoming urban fantasy book series, The Shadow Journals, before. This new website is a form of content marketing for it. My personal blog here at KristenBrand.com is a bit scattered and random, and I’m planning a more targeted approach at TheShadowJournals.com for urban fantasy fans.
(It’s already got a slightly revised version of The Memory of Ghosts, which I serialized here last October. Thank you again to NeriSiren for the feedback on that story, which I’ve incorporated!)
Am I abandoning this blog? Absolutely not. You can still expect posts about comic book stuff, books I’m reading, and extras from my novels. But I’ll be moving to a biweekly rather than weekly schedule for the foreseeable future.
And that’s all for now. Keep an eye on The Shadow Journals for fun stuff coming soon!
A silly little post that’s exactly what the title says. Happy National Donut Day, everybody. 🥳🍩
David Del Toro: Old-Fashioned Donut
It’s not hip and new. With cracks on the surface, it may not look particularly impressive either. But the old-fashioned donut can compete with those trendy new desserts any day of the week. Underestimate it at your peril.
I saw this tag on Chonky Books and thought it looked fun. Who wants to share their own answers?
Read on the bed or the couch?
On the couch. I have the most comfortable couch, you guys. It’s huge, soft, and has the perfect corner to curl up in and read a good book.
Read at night or in the morning?
I read in the evenings on weekdays. I used to wind down after work by scrolling through social media but made the decision a while ago to cut that out and read more books instead. (Best decisions ever.)
On weekends, though, I’ll sometimes read in the morning.
This one’s funny but dark. Content warning for mentions of torture and attempted suicide.
I was thirteen when the wizard took me. Opened a portal right under my feet. I fell through the fabric of the universe, screaming my throat raw, and landed in an ice-cold lake. Thank God my parents had paid for swimming lessons when I was five. Once I dragged myself ashore, coughing, shivering, and scared out of my mind, the wizard was there.
You know what he looks like. Wild gray beard, pointy hat, billowing robe of patchwork colors—the whole shebang. He told me I was in another world, and that I’d been chosen to save it. I believed him, of course. The massive snowy mountains in the distance were about as far from rural Arkansas as I could imagine, and that was even without the glowing fairies darting around the lake.
And I desperately wanted to believe him. Chosen to save the world? Me? Any dweeby, lonely little boy would eat that shit up with a spoon, and I was no exception. I did everything the wizard asked, worked harder than I ever had in my life. And really, it wasn’t much of a chore when I was learning magic—real magic! I remember the first time I made a seed sprout and grow into a giant tree before my eyes, the first time I conjured flames in my bare hands. It was freaking incredible. Even now, I can still feel the wonder in my bitter, black heart.
But the wizard wasn’t teaching me for the sake of spreading the joy of magic. No, I was expected to put those skills to use to defeat the Deathly King—an evil son of a bitch no thirteen-year-old kid had any business fighting. I made trees grow through the walls of enemy fortresses, flung fireballs at trolls, and fought my way through dark caves of shrieking, many-armed creatures. I was a goddamn child soldier, and I had the stab wounds, head injuries, and emotional trauma to prove it.
All 5 episodes of Wardrobe have been released on Tales! If you like superhero stories or are looking for something fun to play on your phone, you can download the app Tales: Choose Your Own Story on iOS.
Clair is the protagonist, a fashion designer who makes costumes for the supervillain Death Diva on the side.
One challenge I had when writing interactive fiction was characterization. How do you offer the reader choices for the character’s actions but still give that character a consistent personality?
For me, the answer was to offer choices that are “in-character.” Clair has a big dilemma in the story, caught between her loyalty to her boss and her sense of right and wrong, and I can see her making several different choices in the heat of the moment. But none of those choices betray who she is as a character.
She doesn’t like superheroes, so even if you choose to help the heroes, she’s going to do so grudgingly and snark at them the whole time. She has lines she won’t cross, so if you take a more “villainous” path, there’s never going to be a choice that says “Kill him” or anything like that.
And she’ll never do anything that has even the slightest chance of hurting Eric.
Woohoo! I can check off one item from my 2021 to-do list. New covers for The White Knight & Black Valentine Series have arrived!
What was wrong with the old covers? you ask. Absolutely nothing. It’s just that Hero Status came out in 2014 and cover trends have changed. I feel the the genre of superhero fiction in particular has evolved so much since then.
I’m especially proud of these covers since I made them myself in Photoshop. So… uh… If you spot any glaring errors, please let me know in the comments. I’m still pretty new at this. 😅
Vampires and werewolves are thoroughly entrenched in horror movies and literature. The fae, though? Not so much.
Which is a shame, because they can be super creepy and dangerous.
The Wild Hunt
Lock your doors. Hide your kids. The Wild Hunt is coming.
What is the Wild Hunt? That’s actually up for debate. Sometimes a group of Norse gods make up the chase, and other times it’s a horde of ghosts. But often the hunters are fae.
A few things are always consistent: the Wild Hunt is a group of supernatural riders; they travel at night; and when you hear their howls on the wind, you’d better find cover. Cross their path, and you’ll become their prey.
I like this trope because, like werewolves, it taps into that primal fear of getting stalked by something higher up in the food chain.
Being a writer is weird. It’s April, and I haven’t put out any new books yet this year, which makes me feel unproductive. But I’ve been working so hard!
So I figured I’d post an author update to prove to myself that I’ve accomplished things.
First off, let’s talk about The Shadow Journals. This is my new urban fantasy project that I mentioned in my post of goals for 2021, and I’m happy to report that I’ve finished the first draft of four novella-length stories in the series.
The fifth story is turning out to be way longer than the others. I’m considering bundling the first four stories into one volume and putting it out for free as a reader magnet. Then the rest of the books would be novel-length.
Can you believe we’re already a fourth of the way through the year? It seems like just the other week I was writing how I planned to move to a quarterly schedule for my new superhero fiction posts in 2021.
2021 has been not so great in many ways, but it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to new superhero fiction. Check out a few that caught my eye below.
As usual, I haven’t read all of these books personally, so please read the descriptions and reviews before purchasing.
*This post contains affiliate links.
We Could Be Heroes
by Mike Chen
An extraordinary and emotional adventure about unlikely friends and the power of choosing who you want to be.
Jamie woke up in an empty apartment with no memory and only a few clues to his identity, but with the ability to read and erase other people’s memories—a power he uses to hold up banks to buy coffee, cat food and books.
Zoe is also searching for her past, and using her abilities of speed and strength…to deliver fast food. And she’ll occasionally put on a cool suit and beat up bad guys, if she feels like it.
When the archrivals meet in a memory-loss support group, they realize the only way to reveal their hidden pasts might be through each other. As they uncover an ongoing threat, suddenly much more is at stake than their fragile friendship. With countless people at risk, Zoe and Jamie will have to recognize that sometimes being a hero starts with trusting someone else—and yourself.