Cover Reveal: Darkest Worlds (A Dystopian Anthology)

For the past few months I’ve been working on a project with a few other dystopian authors, and now we’re ready to announce it to the world. Darkest Worlds, an anthology of dystopian stories, will be available on September 13th (yep, Friday the 13th), a little less than a month from now. The anthology will include a story set in the world of The Torturer’s Daughter, as well as five other stories from some fantastic authors. All proceeds from the anthology will go to Girls Write Now, a charity devoted to teaching writing skills to at-risk and underprivileged girls.

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Darkest Worlds: A Dystopian Anthology

An anthology that explores what humans are made of when society falls to its knees. Darkest Worlds includes six original novellas by award-winning authors and best sellers of Young Adult and New Adult Dystopia.

All proceeds go to Girls Write Now, a charity that promotes literacy of inner-city girls.

Nessa: A Breeders Story by Katie French, author of The Breeders: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it’s like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides he might be her meal ticket. What she doesn’t realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world.

MOON by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone: Loyalty. Obedience. Patriotism. Moon Stewart has no doubt that the New Amanian way of life is the right way. The only way. But was there ever a time when she felt differently? In this companion novella to the dystopian bestseller World of Shell and Bone, the secrets of Moon’s past are revealed, giving readers a glimpse into the mind of their favorite antagonist.

The First Unforgivable Thing by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer’s Daughter: When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator is ordered to torture a confession from the only girl he’s ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape—but she has an agenda of her own…

The Keeper by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge, a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award: Peree knows his duty as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel, is to make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects when the flesh-eating Scourge roam the forest. He will motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. He knows his duty is to his people and his people alone. What he doesn’t know is that he’s falling in love with her.

Survival Lessons by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost: A young Farther prisoner named Eva escapes into the monster-filled wilderness of the Frost with a band of fellow inmates, all of whom are harboring secrets…but little do they know that Eva has secrets of her own. Set in the world of The Frost Chronicles.

clean slate complex by Megan Thomason, author of the daynight series: Homeless Alexa Knight agrees to help the do-gooder non-profit The Second Chance Institute in return for medical care for her sick mother. The SCI is wooing the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes–where “everything is provided” from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a catch…

Darkest Worlds will be available on September 13, 2013!

After the Fire

When I first heard about the short-story contest and anthology that the moderators of Holly Lisle’s writing community were putting together, I almost decided not to submit anything. The theme just didn’t speak to me. “The Adventure of Creation” – it sounded much too light and fluffy for me, like I should be writing about somebody frolicking with the Muse. I have nothing against light and fluffy, but I can’t write it to save my life. The last time I tried to write, I ended up with a short story about some poor girl who was barred from the afterlife and didn’t know why. I shudder to think what Muse-frolicking would have turned into.

But it kept niggling at my mind. So I thought about it in the background, and tried to find some way to make it work, even though I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen.

And then I remembered something. I couldn’t remember the exact quote, or who had said it, but it was something along the lines of, “An adventure is someone a safe distance away from you having a miserable time.”

That was more like it. Yes. Maybe I could do this.

So I started thinking about creation. What was the opposite of creation? Destruction, obviously. So… what made the two different?

The answer to that made me realize that, just as with “adventure,” “creation” wasn’t so light and fluffy after all.

It also got me my story.

And that story not only made it into the anthology, it was a semifinalist in Holly Lisle’s contest. 😀

“After the Fire” is available now as part of the anthology The Adventure of Creation. It’s neither light nor fluffy, and there is no frolicking to be found, but it does explain what creation means to me – and adventure too.

Necessary Sacrifices is out!

Necessary Sacrifices – the newest book in the Internal Defense series and the sequel to The Torturer’s Daughter – is up for sale!

Necessary Sacrifices K

A year and a half ago, Becca Dalcourt joined the resistance. Three months ago, she started working undercover inside Internal Defense. A year from now, she’ll probably be dead. She knows the odds. She’s seen how the life of a double agent ends.

All she wants is a chance to do something with what little time she has left. Something big. Something meaningful. But the resistance doesn’t trust her, and her job transcribing torture sessions hasn’t given her anything but the names of dissidents whose lives, according to her resistance contact, aren’t worth saving.

So when she discovers a secret government program designed to brainwash dissidents into loyal citizens, she resolves to shut it down, no matter the cost. Even if her plan puts everyone she loves in danger. Even if the most experienced resistance fighters say it can’t be done. Even if it means betraying the only person who sees past the mask she wears every day.

Even if she has to do it alone.

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See the Beginning of The Torturer’s Daughter Through Raleigh Dalcourt’s Eyes

A quick link for you: If you want to get a peek inside Raleigh Dalcourt’s head, you can read a scene  I wrote from her perspective here. It’s from the first chapter of The Torturer’s Daughter, where you meet Raleigh for the first time and Becca confronts her about what happened to Heather’s parents. (Don’t worry, there’s no actual torture in this scene!)

The Adventure of Creation

Five years ago, I was one of the first students to join Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways course when it opened. Since then, Holly’s courses have had a huge influence on my writing. The Torturer’s Daughter, for instance, would never have taken its current form without the wonderfully comprehensive How to Revise Your Novel course (yes, I will continue to praise this course at every opportunity, because it’s just that good), and techniques from How to Think Sideways keep showing up in my writing process before I even remember where I got them from.

Back in February, I found out that the moderators of Holly’s forum were organizing an anthology with the theme “The Adventure of Creation.” I submitted a story (by the skin of my teeth – I found out about the anthology a month before the submission deadline, and was revising a novel and planning the project I’ve been dropping hints about on Facebook at the time), and found out a few weeks ago that it was accepted! “After the Fire,” a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy short, will be available in the anthology The Adventure of Creation at the end of July.

Here’s what the moderators have to say about the anthology:

In January, the moderators of Holly’s Forum (that’s us), approached her with the idea of an anthology. With the 5th anniversary of “How to Think Sideways” drawing nearer, it seemed a good idea to match the release date with the anniversary. Holly agreed to the idea and even added a monetary prize for the top stories. After a very, very difficult selection process, we settled on thirty-five stories. It’s a pity that we couldn’t take them all. The scores were so close, we had lengthy discussions and finally went five stories over the 30 story limit we had planned.

With the stories selected and in Holly’s hands to pick a winner, we are proudly presenting to you: 


The Adventure of Creation

35 marvelous short stories by gifted new writers

Follow a girl to the Below-World to slay the Sharkshadow, or help a timid girl to overcome the destructive criticism of her art teacher. Witness a solitary drone on Mars or a naive homunculus struggle to become human. Sew with a mother who lost her daughter in a quilt, defeat super-villains in a bank robbery with an unlikely superhero, or join a great mage in the fire.

In thirty-five imaginative stories, emerging authors present the diversity of their creativity. Each author found a different angle for the unifying theme: The Adventure of Creation. Witness the talent nurtured by writing teacher, Holly Lisle. For the 5th anniversary of her first big writing course, How to Think Sideways, this anthology features the best of her talented students in a great variety of genres.

The anthology will be available in ebook and print on July 24th. If it does well, there might be another one in the works for next year, so spread the word!

Cover Reveal: The Defiance (Brilliant Darkness #2) by A.G. Henley

If you read indie books and are a fan of YA, you’ve probably heard of A.G. Henley’s book The Scourge. The Scourge, a dystopian YA fantasy, has found hundreds of fans since its publication last year, and now I’m happy to share the cover of the upcoming sequel.


THE DEFIANCE (Brilliant Darkness, #2)

Cover design by (the fabulous, professional, efficient) Robin Ludwig Design Inc.,

Suspicion Trust. Fear Compassion. Hate Love.

Fennel and Peree learned the truth: the Scourge, and their world, is not what it seems. Now they need to convince their people that everything they believe is a lie.

An impossible task, especially when someone seems resolved to try anything—even arson and butchery—to destroy Fenn and Peree’s new bond and crush the frail truce between the Groundlings and the Lofties.

Unable to tell friend from foe and with the Scourge pushing both groups to the breaking point, Fenn must again decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the people of the forest’s future.

Only this time, the price of peace may be too high to bear.

DEFIANCE will be available on July 29, 2013.


A.G. Henley is the author of the BRILLIANT DARKNESS series. Her first book, THE SCOURGE, was a finalist for the 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award.

A.G. is also a clinical psychologist, which means people either tell her their life stories on airplanes, or avoid her at parties when they’ve had too much to drink. Neither of which she minds. When she’s not writing fiction or shrinking heads, she can be found herding her children and their scruffy dog, Guapo, to various activities while trying to remember whatever she’s inevitably forgotten to tell her husband. She lives in Denver, Colorado. Learn more at

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Interview With S.K. Falls, Author of Secret for a Song

I’ve known indie author S.K. Falls (aka Adriana Ryan) since before I started publishing, and I became a fan of her writing with her wonderfully poetic dystopian novel World of Shell and Bone. She’s recently released a contemporary new-adult novel, Secret for a Song, which you may remember from the cover reveal a couple of months ago, about a girl with Munchausen syndrome who falls in love with a boy with a terminal illness. Today I have her on my blog to talk about what’s behind the book, what it was like to write it, and which part of the story is her favorite.


What gave you the idea for Secret for a Song?

I’m a huge psychology buff; I majored in it in college. When the idea for a character with Munchausen syndrome popped into my head one day, I couldn’t get the idea to go away. I was enthralled with the idea of creating an unlikeable character. People with Munchausen struggle with a lot of different issues, a personality disorder being one of them. I did a lot of reading on the subject, past what I’d learned in college, and was even more fascinated with what I found. So I ended up writing down a loose plot outline, and the rest is history. 🙂

You’re best known for your dystopian novel World of Shell and Bone. Was it difficult to switch gears and write a contemporary story?

Not really. I tend to jump from story idea to story idea in my head a lot when I’m deciding what to write next. I like stories with a big psychological pull, no matter what genre they happen to be in. That’s pretty much how I view or think about stories—I ask myself how the current condition affects the main character’s psychological makeup.

So to me, it was a matter of switching from Vika’s (the protagonist in World of Shell and Bone) psychology to Saylor’s rather than switching genres, if that makes sense. In a way, Secret for a Song was a bit easier because I didn’t have to keep track of the world building aspects that I did in World of Shell and Bone.

With her illness and her issues, Saylor isn’t always easy to relate to. What was it like getting inside her head?

I’d had her in my head for so long that Saylor began to feel very, very real to me. She was my constant companion through the day’s chores and activities, and I had her “voice” going 24/7. So, in that way, it was easy—and a relief!—to get her reactions down on paper. It was simultaneously emotionally draining, though, because, like you said, Saylor has a lot of flaws and a lot of internal pain. I’d never quite written a character like her—one who is so obviously doing the wrong thing and is cognizant of the fact. That was an interesting line to toe.

Which part of Secret for a Song was your favorite to write?

My favorite had to be the end, which is funny because some readers have written to tell me the end made them cry. The end, to me, was like a big sigh of relief. I just felt like the story had come full circle, and Saylor (and therefore I) could move on.

Are you planning any more contemporary novels in the future?

Most definitely. I love writing contemporary fiction. Right now I have a contemporary series planned with (again) a heavy focus on psychology. 🙂

Thanks so much for having me, Zoe!











Buy Secret for a Song here:

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AdrianaRyan2A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, I enjoy alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where I live and imbibe coffee. My husband and two small children seem not to mind when I hastily scribble novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.

Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know I have one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures I never forget that my hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.

Visit S.K. Falls:

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Elle Casey’s Springtime Indie Book Giveaway

Back in January, I participated in one of Elle Casey’s massive indie book giveaways. Now she has another one running, and it’s even bigger, with 190 different books to give away! I’ve read some of the others, too, and they’re worth reading. If you’re not sure where to start, I recommend Treehugger by Kea Alwang (fun YA sci-fi that perfectly expresses that homesick feeling of wanting to find the place where you belong), Susan Kaye Quinn’s Debt Collector series (dark uncategorizable cyberpunk/urban-fantasy-ish serial that singlehandedly converted me from disliking the whole idea of serials to wanting to read more of them), and Contributor by Nicole Ciacchella (refreshingly different YA dystopia with superb worldbuilding).

From now until May 15th, enter to win a copy of The Torturer’s Daughter (ebook or signed paperback) and a ton of other books here:

Six Months

So I just realized something – yesterday marks six months since I first published The Torturer’s Daughter.

It’s been a good six months. The response to The Torturer’s Daughter has been a lot better than I ever thought it would be. Six months ago I went into this not knowing what to expect, excited and nervous at sending my book out into the world. Now I have fans I’ve never met, people I don’t know but who are connected to me through this creation of my imagination.

It’s a strange feeling.

Even though I was sure I was doing the right thing by self-publishing The Torturer’s Daughter, there was still that small part of me that wondered whether I would regret it. Now I can say for certain that I don’t. I don’t know where I would be right now if I had taken a different path, but I do know that I’m happy with the one I chose.

I don’t know what the next six months will hold, or the next year, or the next six years. But I’m looking forward to finding out.

Cover Reveal: Adriana Ryan – Secret for a Song

A few months ago, I helped share the cover of Adriana Ryan’s post-apocalyptic novel World of Shell and Bone. That book was even better than I had expected, which is why I’m so excited about her new book, a new-adult novel called Secret for a Song.

Check out this gorgeous cover:


The book will be coming out this June, and it sounds very intriguing:

Saylor Grayson makes herself sick. Literally.

She  ate her first needle when she was seven. Now, at nineteen, she’s been kicked out of college for poisoning herself with laxatives. The shrinks call it Munchausen Syndrome. All Saylor knows is that when she’s ill, her normally distant mother pays attention and the doctors and nurses make her feel special.

Then she meets Drew Dean, the leader of a local support group for those with terminal diseases. When he mistakes her for a new member, Saylor knows she should correct him. But she can’t bring herself to, not after she’s welcomed into a new circle of friends. Friends who, like Drew, all have illnesses ready to claim their independence or their lives

For the first time, Saylor finds out what it feels like to be in love, to have friends who genuinely care about her.  But secrets have a way of revealing themselves. What will happen when Saylor’s is out?


AdrianaRyan2A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, Adriana Ryan enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.