Interview: Tenaya Jayne @TenayaJayne

We haven’t had an interview in a while, but today I’m thrilled to welcome literary ninja Tenaya Jayne! I’m on her street team and I absolutely loved her debut novel, Forbidden Forest, which is free on Kindle Unlimited! You can read my review here and click on the book covers for the Amazon pages. Without further ado, Tenaya Jayne, everyone!

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Nationally Bestselling author Tenaya Jayne has always walked a shaky line between reality and fantasy. A nomad by nature, she’s lived all over the US, and now resides happily in the Midwest, with her husband and sons. She’s an advocate for Autism awareness and women trapped in abusive relationships, and feels everyone has too much pain to not enjoy an escape into a fictional fantasy world. Her passions include reading, independent and foreign films, cooking, and moody music.

forbforest-new-cover-smallFirst off, can you sum up the latest book, Blood Lock, in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

Nope. *insert helpless laugh. I suck at twitter.

Ha! We all have our weaknesses. Where did the initial idea for Forest and Regia come from? What story/experience/event do you think inspired the series most?

forest-fire-number-coverfix1My muse was being petulant. I was supposed to be writing a sequel to Blue Aspen, when Forest and Syrus took over my brain. You’re an author, you know what I mean. I think I needed Forest. She came to me and gave me an outlet and voice for a number of things I’d been going through. The night she fell into my head, it all happened so fast. I built Regia from the ground up in a few, adrenaline filled, hours. I had no idea, at the time, Regia would be my whole writing life for the following six years.

darksoulcoversmallI do know what you mean. Characters really can help us work through tough times and I know many of mine have done that for me, too. What does your typical writing day look like?

I drop my son off at school, hit the gym for an hour, head home, shower and then write. I write a few hours and then my alarm goes off, letting me know I have 15 minutes before I have to leave and pick up my son from school.  I have to drive 20 minutes to the school, but that suits me fine because I always do my best brainstorming while I’m driving.

I find that driving, and being on the treadmill are the best things to get my head in the right place for when I actually get to sit and hit the keys. I don’t work on the weekends, and the summer is really hard as well.

bbcover1smallSounds like a pretty structured regimen! Do you have a go-to source for story inspiration? What is it?

Bottom line is music. Without music, inspiration is faint. Aside from that I’m inspired by other art forms: dance, paintings, and movies. Art evokes emotion. I’m an emotion junkie.

ebookblcover1Feelings are vital to creating art and we all have to find our muses! Throughout this series, you concentrate on different characters in different books. What is your biggest challenge in writing such an array of main characters?

I connect with some more than others. I love all of my characters, but they are like real people. You have best friends, friends, acquaintances and enemies. It’s like that for me with my characters.

Understandable. We all have our favorites. 😉 Do you use any tricks to get into the head of the character you’re writing that day?

Music is the key for this. I have extensive playlists for every book I write. Each character has their own playlist aside from the main list. Every character along with every couple has a “sound” So for example, in my current WIP, when I need to get into Tesla’s head, I listen to Halsey. That is her sound.

verdantnumberfixcoverHalsey? I can’t wait! Besides a laptop/notebook and pen, what is the one thing you couldn’t possibly write without?

My beloved jawbone speaker, a tall glass of iced tea, and long phone calls with my best friend, Amanda. She’s great to brainstorm with.

It’s awesome to have friends for support. How about your weapon of choice in the Hunger Games?

A backpack full of grenades.

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Coming Soon

I’m pretty sure that’s cheating, but okay. Werewolves or Vampires?

Both, unless they sparkle.

No, this is a sparkle-free zone, haha. Hogwarts house?

Gryffindor but I’d have a Slytherin boyfriend. J

Good choice of partner. (As a Slytherin, I say that in a purely objective and unbiased manner.) Thanks for stopping by!

Don’t forget to check out Tenaya and her books. You can find her conquering the internet in various places here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube | Pinterest | Amazon | BN.com

 

Review: Anomaly of Blaze (The Fireblade Array, #3) by H.O. Charles @HOCharles

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An Anomaly of Blaze is the cause of a great many troubles, but he may also offer a solution to the woes faced by our heroes.

In Calidell, The Fireblade must deal with her wars alone, and the battles she faces are nothing like those of the ten millennia before.

A new monster has taken up residence in her mind, and it seeks to control her power. She must do all she can to protect the ones she loves, but can she achieve this before her will to fight leaves her?

Volume 3 of The Fireblade Array

4 out of 5 stars

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: Some spoilers for previous books in the series. Also, this book contains mature themes and  is not Young Adult.

I…have many emotions regarding this series. The books are huge, the timelines covered in each installment can span for decades, and the author most likely stays up late thinking “how can I hurt these characters next?”

The plot:

This book picks up just a few days after the end of the previous installment with a grieving Artemi and her children. Again, there is the same story style that takes on more of a chronicle/episodic format that your usual plot arch. There might be years lapsed between chapters, but in a world where old age doesn’t exist, the characters all stick around.

I admit I panicked a few times in reading this. I did not see the twist about who Morghiad’s reincarnated self thought Artemi was and once that was revealed…well, I can see how he would be upset over her trying to seduce him.

The characters:

There were a few times I wanted to upside Artemi with a good smack, but not for the reasons the other characters did. I suppose she’s entitled to make mistakes, but she should have taken a cue from how Morghiad dealt with her back when she didn’t remember him. Just give the dude some space!

I freaked out when Morghiad came back, especially when we started seeing things in his POV. I had no idea what the hell was wrong with him or where he got all these outlandish theories. To make matters worse, he never fully explains anything until BOOM we’re in big trouble and he’s about to make the biggest mistake of both his lives. Still…he’s my favorite character and darling little cabbage.

To be brutal, I do not like Silar. He started to redeem himself to me in book 2, but he’s pretty much fixated with Artemi and it only appears to be getting worse. At this rate, in two or three books he’ll be the new super villain/stalker that’s obsessed with her. Seriously, the poor slob needs to find a new girl or a new hobby or hard core therapy before this gets out of hand.

Morghiad and Artemi’s children, particularly the older two, can take all the <3 ‘s. Medea and Tallyn’s relationship is precious and adorable and I could just hug them both to bits. The youngest, Kalad, is kind of the stereotypical rebellious teenager. Kalad and his father’s reincarnated version do not get along at all I am not looking forward to this blowing up down the road.

Wow, that review got long fast. There’s probably a whole other review I could write just about the secondary characters and assorted villains who make their appearance over the course of the book, but I’ll stop there.

To sum up, I am still hooked on this series, I have downloaded the next book. If you’re a fan of romance epics with monogamous, multi-lifetime stories, for the love of Earl Grey, pick this up.

Find Anomaly of Blaze on Goodreads

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Sex in YA books is ruining my generation: Part III

I’ve been called narrow minded for this series, but that’s what happens when you suggest *gasp* sex isn’t always a good idea. In truth, my saying we need less sex in YA has about as much to do with slut shaming as Starbucks’ treeless holiday cups have to do with persecuting Christians.

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So here we go…

I wasn’t going to write this third installment, but I feel like some things need clarification before we move on. For starters, I’m not big on telling people what to do with their lives. I’m really not. However, there is a big difference between saying the world doesn’t end if a young person decides to cross that line and blatantly enforcing the idea that teens need to undergo sexual discovery.

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For about 200-300 years, Western culture has embraced the idea of sexually repressing people, particularly women. This led to a lot of “you’re going to hell” and “good girls don’t want sex” crap. It resulted in a lot of puritanical ideals, especially in religious circles, because people really suck at this whole moderation thing.

Over the past century, we’ve started along the sexual/women’s liberation road, but it is just that—a road—and you can veer off either side. (Remember what I said about people sucking at moderation?) When I’m reading a NYT bestseller in the lower Young Adult genre with two 14-year-olds getting it on, I start to get worried.

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The dose makes the poison.

There’s a time and a place for everything. We’ve all heard that too much of anything is bad, but the thought bears repeating. As someone who read YA through high school, I can tell you that those books (with scant exception) definitely show that only weirdos and basement dwellers aren’t going all the way by the end of the book/series. YA is full of protagonists getting mocked for their sexual ignorance and the solution to this is inevitably sexual activity. Sex is no longer something people are just shown to want, it is something they had better want.

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In (hopefully) tidy conclusion:

I have known too many wonderful people who felt inferior for not being in relationships or stayed in bad ones and due to the idea of the quintessential significant other and sex life that our Western culture encourages. Yes, books make up a small part (unfortunately) of the media we young people are exposed to, but they remain a part of it nonetheless.

(Also, this is a book blog and it would be kind of dumb for me to start wailing at the music industry.)

Whatever the case, your sex life does not determine your self worth either way. But going back to the points I brought up in Part II, I have never met an adult who told me they wished they’d dated more in high school/college. Not one.

Part I

Part II

Sex in YA books is ruining my generation: Part II

Last week we talked about all the sex in YA and how I think it’s horrible and all that. Now let’s talk about why.

Nobody seems to bring this up…

Regardless of whether or not high school students should be having sex, whether or not people should embrace/explore their sexuality or what have you, no Young Adult book I’ve read accurately portrays how much young people give up for these early relationships. Boys and girls both.

Even when there wasn’t sex involved, I cannot tell you how many people I have watched sacrifice and compromise their own dreams for the sake of a boy/girlfriend. So many times, I have wanted to scream “he/she’s not worth it!” when people I cared about quit the sport they loved, ended friendships, turned down the chance to get paid to travel, or changed their college plans for the sake of the (invariably ungrateful) person they were dating. 

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It has never once turned out well and those I’ve talked to have always ended up regretting those lost opportunities. Not even sex in the cases where it applied, just what it caused them to miss.

The unpopular opinion that might get me strung up.

We need better story lines in YA than this “cure the virgins” fad. Yes, yes, it’s true that sex is considered a part of the “coming of age” story that YA often follows and I know sex sells, but it wouldn’t kill anyone to write with more restraint, for lack of a better word. The target audience of YA are mostly still forming our opinions and beliefs about the world. We often don’t even know who we are until college or later and the things we read, watch, and hear influence us sometimes more than we realize.

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Books, like any other form of art, shape tour perspective and too many YA books today are shaping my generation’s perspective on sex into something ugly. It’s not about shaming those who have had sex or choose to write about it, let me make that clear. The point is that publishing, like Hollywood and the music industry, are telling us that sex is free of consequences and fun and everyone should be doing it. Also, everyone wants to do it and if you don’t you are either lying or haven’t found the right partner.

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But it’s okay to not have sex and there’s a hell of a lot more to it than I’ve seen in the media. YA authors need to stop and do a bit more research. Screwing around, especially during that phase, can quite easily ruin your life, especially if you let it divert you from what you should be focused on. People in the YA age range have a lot of things to learn and discover and romance is just one tiny piece of that huge puzzle. There’s your morality, what is important to you, what work makes you passionate, figuring out what you want to pursue in college, if you even want to go to college…LOTS OF THINGS BESIDES SEX, OKAY?

And then there are the stories about how the protagonist realizes that relationships aren’t all that necessary at his/her lifestage and moves on. But seriously, I can think of a grand total of ONE book where they didn’t have to have sex before the protagonist figured it out.

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Apparently, writers and publishers think young adults just aren’t smart enough to recognize trouble before screwing it.

To be continued in Part III.

Part I

Sex in YA books is ruining my generation: Part I

Okay, okay, so that’s a melodramatic title, but hear me out.

The genre of Young Adult is divided into two subgroups with lower YA falling in the 13-15 age range and upper YA aiming for the 16-18 zone. Many sources may have slightly different parameters or definitions, but that is the gist.

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It’s not that we can’t handle sex talk.

Before we go any further, I want to say yes, it’s true young people are capable of handling a lot more than their parents and teachers generally give them credit for. Even in my  early teens, I could follow and carry on conversations with my father’s friends which ranged from local politics to international business.My brother was no different and I have many friends who have handled huge levels of responsibility and maturity from a young age.

That being said, I do not think people in the 14-18 age range are incapable of making mature and responsible decisions. However, I frequently find the attitude toward sex in YA novels disturbing. Lately, I’ve started to wonder if most YA authors are just YA authors because they wanted to write about girls losing their virginity.

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There’s the first trope from Satan…

Girl has perfect sex with the school’s conveniently hot bad boy who has always been a jerk to every girl before her, but totally changes because she “silences his demons” and blah, blah, blah. 

Scenario No. 1 has a laundry list of things wrong with it. There’s the unrealistic expectations and the idea that you should go into a relationship hoping to change someone (and said idea should die a slow, painful death). Not to mention I’ve yet to encounter a bad boy love interest who wasn’t borderline or outright abusive.

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Abuse in all it’s forms has been normalized by the Romance genre for so long (remember when Romance heroines would be raped by the heroes so that it would be socially acceptable for them to have sex?) and we certainly don’t need that scum in the YA section.

…and the second trope from Satan.

Girl has awkward, disillusioning sex with a guy who turns out to be an ass, but on the rebound discovers that casual sex is awesome so long as they use protection and her partner is hot.

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First of all, I don’t really understand how casual sex can be healthy (go read a medical textbook) or safe (go watch Criminal Minds) for anyone, but we’re focusing on the YA genre here. Scenario No. 2 is most disgusting because it encourages the idea that everyone is having sex and if you don’t, you’re weird, sheltered, immature, prudish, puritanical, or whatever the enlightened (aka sexually active) people are calling it these days.

But clearly this is all acceptable because it’s completely realistic. I mean, who gets to college age without having sex? In this century? No, everyone has definitely done “the do” before they’re old enough to vote and it’s imperative that we cure all the virgins as quickly as possible because society might crumble and anarchy ensue if we don’t.

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To be continued.

 

Objectification is not the answer. Who knew?

The media has objectified women since there has been media. Whether it’s Greek statuary, books, movies, video games, music, or just about anything else, you can find examples of women portrayed as idealized embodiments of erotic fantasy, treated like commodities to be valued on their physical appeal.

emancipation-156066_960_720Thanks to feminism, there has been a shift away from this. Audiences have started to demand more for female characters and publishers and production companies have responded (thank you, capitalism). It still happens and I could rattle off a list of modern franchises I gave up on mainly for this reason, but there has been some improvement. If nothing else, people are at least conscious of it now. There is enough awareness that when objectifying material comes along, it gets called what it is. There’s room for improvement, but I definitely believe we’re on the upward curve.

We’re starting to have complex female characters who aren’t “drop-dead gorgeous,” female characters who don’t have that lingering close up of their bikini thong, actually have a storyline, serve a purpose beyond a love interest, lean toward more realistic body standards, and sexual objectification of men instead—wait, what?

(Disclaimer: If you read Romance/Erotica, you will hate me by the time you get to the end of this post.)

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(Was going to put the Magic Mike poster here, but, I just can’t pollute this blog like that. Google it if you must know.)

This is one of the worst methods of attempted feminism I have seen. We can all (at least I certainly hope we can) agree that women shouldn’t be objectified, but…men should??? Consider films such as the Magic Mike franchise *tries not to vomit* or just take a look at the covers in the romance aisle at your local bookstore *vomits*, both of which are tailored to a female audience. It’s basically an exposition of abs and biceps. It is also a direct defiance of feminism. *bashes head against desk*

Feminism is the radical ideology that men and women are equally valuable human beings who should be regarded as human beings. (Crazy, I know.) How are we supposed to treat a human being? The short answer—with respect. That’s a person, not a sex toy or living fantasy. Whether that person—male or female—is willingly being objectified or not (some of them get paid very well to look like that), they still deserve to be treated and viewed like a person. 

(And if you want to talk about the whole sexual empowerment thing…that’s a whole other blog post.)

For some reason, a lot of women get upset (and rightfully so) at blatantly sexualized female characters (do I need to list examples?), but then drool over Chris Hemsworth’s latest photoshoot. That’s pretty much a textbook example of hypocrisy. This is one of the main reasons I generally disregard the entire Romance genre with very few exceptions—it’s hollow wish fulfillment and basically porn marketed to women.

tumblr_mbfgjxIRG01qg8gy8o7_r1_250Saying it’s alright to have certain expectations/treatment of one gender, but not the other is discrimination, period. The solution to female objectification is not male objectification, that is just redistributed sexism. Sadly, many people seem to take the slew of female-oriented erotic content as progress, but it’s just presenting misandry as the solution to misogyny. Basically, we’re trading smallpox for anthrax.

Objectification is wrong no matter who it is being objectified and it solves nothing.

Review: Nation of Blaze (The Fireblade Array, #2) by H.O. Charles @HOCharles

24834993The country is leaderless. The queen is gone and hope is failing. Morghiad must find The Fireblade again if he is to secure his home and his heart, but the path will not be an easy one to tread. New enemies will rise to battle him as he battles with himself, and the most fearsome woman in history will continue to produce her army of blood-hungry eisiels. Will The Fireblade be the same as before? Will she aid him? Danger looms from all corners of this Nation of Blaze.

Volume 2 of The Fireblade Array

 Blurb and cover from Goodreads.

4 out of 5 stars

This was not so much an emotional rollercoaster as an emotional sucker punch. The portion of the story that is contained within this book spans close to fifty years and has more twists, turns, and little loop-de-loops than the average tangle of yarn. I read and read and read and found myself becoming more and more invested and this investment led me to skipping off to buy the third book right after I finished this one.

The plot:

This series reads more like a chronicle, talking about a series of adventures, tragedies, and happenings and how they are all linked together. Normally, I despise books like this, but it seems Charles has managed to pull it off. I am definitely a fan of this series (love the new covers, don’t you?) and I’m trying to figure out why I haven’t heard about it before. It takes a certain mindset going into these books, one must do away with the modern dogma of how a story is supposed to be structured and just enjoy the ride.

The characters:

I had a fondness for Artemi in the last book, but it became an all-out “my dear sweet little girl who must be protected from all evil” complex in this one. Artemi with her memories was a bit humbler than Artemi without and I found her much more empathetic and likeable and just plain adorable.

Morghiad is still an honorable, endearing, masochistic bastard. Really, there are parts were it was impossible not to want to beat some sense into him. I mean, yes, man, you screwed up. Now move on! That aside, his and Artemi’s relationship is adorable. I seem to be a sucker for multi-lifetime monogamous romances.

Artemi’s ages-old rival makes her first formal appearance. Someone really needs to lock Mirel in a lead box and chuck her in the ocean or something permanent because her existence is not okay. It really sucks when you have a bad guy who will just be reincarnated over and over. It sucks so bad.

I actually started to like Silar in this one and there was a whole new cast of characters who where introduced. Artemi’s father is undeniably huggable and her half-brother kind of disappears by the third book, but I’m fond of him, too. There’s also a cropping up of more woman warriors in this one, some of which I liked and some of which I did not.

To give fair warning, this book ended with another cliffhanger. I refused to believe that what had happened had happened and I was right, which is a good thing, or else it would be a repeat of The Assassin and the Empire. I’m about halfway through the third book and probably about to go grab the fourth once I finish and I certainly recommend this series to anyone with a taste for hardcore, original adult fantasy.

Find Nation of Blaze on Goodreads

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