Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Sneak Peek: The Seventh Clan

 I'm working on The Spectra Crown Tales. Here's the beginning of the first book, The Seventh Clan:

Perrin picked up a loose bayonet from the wreckage of a burnt-out farmhouse. The Vangtons had destroyed yet another family. He wiped the ash from the metal with shaking hands. One day, his people would drive the intruders across the sea. He only hoped he’d contribute to the cause. 


The barking command made him jump. His messenger’s bag flew around him in an ungainly arc. General Niles himself stood behind him, stern and stiff, and only someone who knew him well would see the pity under the lines of his face. He held out a tightly folded message. “Deliver these orders for Captain Prentis, on guard duty at the beach.” 

Perrin set down the bayonet and forced his hands to stop shaking as he accepted the paper. “Yes, sir.” 

He couldn’t contribute until he became a soldier instead of a glorified errand boy. The inability to act left a taste in his mouth worse than the smoke-filled air. 

“Stay safe!” General Niles called after him. 

Perrin rolled his eyes and pretended he hadn’t heard. The general never gave ordinary soldiers a command like that.  


This story is now on Kindle vella, which means you can read the first three chapters completely free. 

Writing is for Weirdos--Connections

 I always thought I was weird for writing. No one else I knew went from class to class clutching a notebook to their chest, scribbling away every spare minute. 

But one year in middle school, my best friends and I wrote Pokemon fan fiction together. We shared our stories with one another, invented love triangles, and occasionally even wrote a line or two in each others' stories.

This picture appears in my 8th grade yearbook. It's supposed to make me look studious. Nope, I'm writing pokemon fanfic.

Writing can seem a lonely thing, but it makes the times when I really connect with people all the more worthwhile. These days, I have a great writing group, where two friends and I submit a chapter every week, check upon weekly goals, and have our characters converse with one another. I have online writing friends in various social media groups (and I would love for you to be one of them! Look for TheSpectraBooks on most social media). I've enjoyed reading some good reviews of my books (Please add to them!). And, just this month, I attended and even taught at my favorite writing conference, ANWA, on using personality systems such as Meyrs-Brigg and enneagram for developing characters.

Writing may happen in solitude, but it's a form of communication. I love knowing that we're not weird--or at least, that there are plenty of other weirdos out there!

Stay weird, friends!
Christie Valentine Powell

Book Recommendations, October 2021

 Here's a few books that I've read, enjoyed, and reviewed this month:

I took some time this month to reread a couple of favorites:

Wild Magic by Tamora Pierce feels like the quintessential fantasy. From nature magic to mythical creatures, characters that feel real, and action that grabs me from every page, this one is well worth a read!

High Sierra by Adrienne Quintana has a cute contemporary romance, an inspirational message, and exciting survival action. 

And I also tried a few new books:
Trial by Sorcery by Richard Fierce is a dragon rider (academy) type book. It appeals to readers of Eragon and Pern, and has a lot in common with other dragon rider academy books like two I've referenced on here before: Dragon School and The Brindle Dragon. If you enjoy the genre, you'll enjoy this one.

Limitless by Jaclyn Weist is a fairytale retelling that combines Aladdin with Beauty and the Beast.

The Perfect Spy by Amy Martinsen is a romantic suspense with a great premise: middle-aged moms have excellent spy skills! 

If you'd like my recommendations spread over the month, you can follow my reviews on twitter under the hastag #CVPReviews.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Old Blog Posts

 Hello, everyone! I'm starting a blog that is specifically related to reading and writing. 

I have a lot of material spread over many different websites, and this blog will help to keep and organize the information in one place.

I've transfered several articles from other sites onto this blog. They come from three major places:

Atypically Ordinary: This is a personal blog that I've kept on and off for many years. I've moved the articles that have to do with writing, poetry, and stories in general onto this blog. They're all on here under the tag "from atypicallyordinary blog".

The Spectra Books bonus material: This is a collection of short stories, background information, and sneak peeks.They were originally published on the spectra books website, but will now appear here instead, with the tag "from spectrabook's bonus material".

The Spectra Books monthly newsletter: These include book recommendations, personal stories and explinations, and more. If you'd like to receive these, including announcments and deals not found on this blog, you can find a sign up on my website, www.TheSpectraBooks.com

Moving forward, this blog will continue to include writing articles, short stories, and everything else represented by the original sources, as well as some original content.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Book Recommendations, September 2021

 I was sick this month, which meant... lots of reading time!

Here's a few books that I've read, enjoyed, and reviewed this month:

Retold of Old series by G. Lawrence: Basically a feminist take on fairy tales, sprinkled with wisdom. Though there is exciting action, these are books to be savored instead of binged.

Gingerbread Hag Mystery by KA Miltimore: I enjoyed the quirky characters in this cozy mystery with a bit of paranormal and a girl-girl romance. It has a good message for everyone no matter your idealogy. The main character was an older woman with lots of sense.

The Marquess Meets His Match by Julie Coulter Bellon:
I loved the mix of regency romance and mystery. It has the feel-good romance, as well as an exciting mystery.

A Timeless Romance Anthology: California Dreamin': 
I have to admit, as a California girl from a small desert town, I was hoping for a little more representation. My state is not all beaches and big cities. But that doesn't take away from the stories. I was looking for a light, feel-good story, and this collection delivered

Manor for Sale, Baron Included by Esther Hatch:
This book had me laughing so much that my husband thought I was having a coughing fit. I tried to read them out loud and couldn't get the words out through my laughter (they involved an inept flirter gifting a girl a dead squirrel). Jonathan certainly needed to grow up in the beginning, but that added to the hilarity and made his arc that much better

Fathom by LL Standage: An excellent urban fantasy with mermaids. Exciting action, relatable characters, fantastic worldbuilding. The information comes out little by little, waiting just long enough for me to want it before revealing. What's not to love?

If you'd like my recommendations spread over the month, you can follow my reviews on twitter under the hastag #CVPReviews.

Manny's art

 Here is a journal entry from Norma (one of the main characters of DreamRovers) about an artist who really knew what he was doing:


April 16, Year of Freedom 491 

My friend Manny and I solved the problem with the traitor, Natt. 

Oh, not the problem about how to punish him, because he got away. We don’t really have good jail places that would keep a dreamrover in. He disappeared one of the very first nights. But not fast enough, because I brought my friends to look at him before he escaped, including my friend Manny. 

See, Manny’s a dreamrover, but not strong enough to tread. He’s got a different ability instead. Like my brother can speak with animals. Manny is super good at drawing. Not just that his drawings look good, although they do, but if he sees something, he can draw it perfectly from memory. It’s not that uncommon an ability—I met quite a few artist-types when we lived in Shelby. Still cool, though. And in this case, it came in handy. See, there are so many people here now that not everyone recognizes Natt on sight, so he can sneak around and spy on them without anyone knowing who he is. But not now that we have a really good picture of him! We can show everyone. 

All About Covers


I've always been interested in art. As I was writing my first book in 2015, I drew some basic pictures of my characters...

(That's Sienna, Keita, Carli and Zuri from Keita's Wings, by the way). 

So I decided to try designing my own cover when I began looking at publishing my first book.

Cringe with me, please.

Thankfully my publishing people insisted on going to a professional. The cover I paid for was much better looking than my attempts. However, I'm not sure that their professional was up on his YA fantasy. It's a beautiful cover, but doesn't quite reflect the genre.

One of the great things about being an indie author, though, is that I can expiriment and change things over time. I used this cover as a rough template for the others in the series. Later I figured out how to add things to make it look more fantastic. Luckily I had all the rights to this cover, so I could legally play with it as needed. Here's what I have now:
Conventional wisdom says that you should never design your own covers unless you are a professional graphic designer.

But I'm a stubborn independant author for a reason. I've been making all of my own covers ever since, and learning as I went.

Until now.

Recently, I bit the bullet and hired an expert to redo the DreamRovers trilogy covers. I have to admit that the new ones are beautiful. Here's the before and after. Reply to this email or contact me on social media (TheSpectraBooks on most sites) and let me know what you think!

The Spectra World master maps!

  Summer is here! It's the perfect time to explore somewhere new! Sure, that might include a physical location, but I for one hope to ex...