2013 Year In Review

Oh my goodness how time flies. I say this at the end of every year when I sit down to write up a blog post on the past year’s accomplishments. Which kind of feels like bragging and makes me uncomfortable, but I also think it’s good to keep track of what’s happened in my life, to remember the ups more than the downs and provide hope for the coming year.

I started 2013 with a list of goals…none of which I really remember at this point. I made some “business” goals in terms of book sales for the year because I’d been watching other authors do so back in January. I pretty much abandoned them, however, when they didn’t get much traction. I went through a period of serious soul-searching regarding my writing/publishing career and finally came to terms with what I want and need, and not what I’m “supposed to do.” It’s still a struggle sometimes navigating social media, branding, and marketing, but I’m doing the best I can. Most of all, I continue to write because I love stories and have many to tell.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900dream assassin 1000x1600Speaking of stories, I wrote and published way more this past year than I thought I was capable of. Part of that probably had to do with a season of the best health I’ve seen since I was…well, 14 and first got an insulin pump.

Dreamstealer, the second book in the Dreamwalker saga, came out in April, and I’d already started writing book three, which turned into books three and four. In between those I wrote a novella for one of the secondary characters: Dirk. Dream Assassin came out in June, Dreamsnatcher in November, and Dreamweaver just three weeks ago. WOW. I spent all of 2013 in the Dreamwalker world and it was a beautiful, heartwarming journey. I will miss it.

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750Dreamweaver-AngelaWallace-500x750

AW-SSleuth-432x648This past summer I also tried my hand at my very first Vote Your Adventure type story, and you guys helped me write a short tale featuring Paige from the Elemental Magic world. That stretched my writing–and pantsing–abilities to new heights.

ET cover with awardIn other news, I passed the national certification exam for sign language interpreting, and Earth Tones won the 2013 Best Indie Book Award for Fantasy. You could’ve knocked me over with a feather on both. I am so grateful for all the people who helped me achieve these things, from friends who helped me study for the exam and gave me pep talks when I was doubting myself, to those who critiqued and read Earth Tones.

I can’t claim sole credit for any of my accomplishments, for I wouldn’t be here without the support and guidance of dear friends and the Lord’s hand. These are the things I need to hold onto moving forward into 2014, for while 2013 held an abundance of blessings, that season of great health in the spring didn’t last past summer and this fall has been a struggle. But that’s part of the purpose behind this post: I did all this once; I can do it again.

So what’s ahead for 2014? Well, I’ve already made good progress writing Elemental Magic 4 with a tentative publication date in Spring. Now that the Dreamwalker series is complete, I can hopefully get out a few more Elemental Magic books before I start a new fantasy series that’s been simmering on the back burner. :-D

AND, speaking of the Elemental Magic series, I also spent the past few months rebranding the series’ image. That was a little exhausting, but I’m so thrilled with how the new covers turned out and the cohesiveness they now have. Don’t they look great? Covers by Shelley at Spittyfish Designs.

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So how did you all do this past year, and what are your big plans for 2014?

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss December

It is time for our last Heroine feature! Wow, a whole year gone by. Don’t worry, I plan on continuing the monthly series in 2014 with a different fantasy focus. But for our finale, I’m bringing you my all-time favorite heroine (yes, with a little shameless self promotion). Since the series is coming to an end, I’m giving Lexa a grand farewell. I will miss writing about her.

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750Lexa from the Dreamwalker Saga

Lexa has lived the life of a soldier, being one of the elite warriors for Artasia. In addition, she has the rare ability to dreamwalk, to enter sleep and transcend from her mind into an otherworldly realm known as the dreamscape. There she fights monsters born of people’s darkest dreams.

Lexa started out being fully devoted to duty and loyalty to her country, believing that was all that mattered in life. Throughout the series, she meets people that challenge her convictions and teach her that there is more to live for, though some find it challenging to get past her gruff exterior. No one can accuse her of being delicate; in fact, her tongue can be almost as sharp as her sword. And when words fail, a good punch to the head always works.

Tough and independent, there is nothing Lexa won’t do to protect those she cares about. Even if it means pushing herself to the breaking point.

Dreamsnatcher

Lexa has spent the past five years training the princess of Teltania in dreamwalking, a mission that’s coming to a close. But raiders hounding Teltania’s coast are leaving victims in comas, and Lexa discovers they’ve been snatched out of their dreams into the dreamscape. What soon becomes a potential plague sends her on a desperate search for answers before she loses everything she cares about.

Dreamsnatcher is now on Amazon and B&N. And watch for the epic conclusion to the series, Dreamweaver, coming this month!

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*DW 3D*Dreamstealer 3D*DA 3D

Get caught up on the series with DreamwalkerDreamstealer, and Dream Assassin.

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NEW RELEASE! ~ Dreamsnatcher

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750I’m so thrilled to finally announce the release of this book! Dreamsnatcher and its soon to follow second half, Dreamweaver, are very dear to me. From the moment the story idea popped into my head, I had an inexplicable urge to write it, and nothing could distract me from these characters and their world. I hope you enjoy their journey as much as I have.

And now to give you a sneak peek, here’s an excerpt:

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Lexa cleared her throat.

Olivia twisted around and heaved a sigh. “There you are.”

“Were you looking for me?”

“Yes.” The old woman grunted as she stood. “And Captain Duram. Did you two sneak off somewhere?”

Lexa rolled her eyes. “I was with Taryn for her dress fitting.” Of course, no one would think to look for her there.

“And your ship captain?”

“He was going down to the Navarro to pick up some things. Don’t worry, we both drank the tonic you made.”

The healer grumbled under her breath. “That tonic won’t ward against poison.”

Lexa stiffened. “Excuse me?”

Olivia crossed her arms. “Three men slipped into comas last night. They each suffered blade wounds in the raider attack. None of the injuries were serious enough to cause a coma naturally—one didn’t even require stitches—so I’m left with the conclusion of poison.”

Alarm tightened Lexa’s chest, and she swept her gaze over the unconscious patients. Who was it? Her frantic eyes latched onto the three men who appeared to be sleeping peacefully, so calm in fact, that were it not for the breath rising in their chests, they would look dead.

She shook her head. “That’s too slow to be poison though, isn’t it? Wouldn’t they have fallen into comas sooner?”

“There are poisons that work slowly.” Olivia ground her teeth together. “And in the rush of triage yesterday, symptoms might have been overlooked.”

Lexa noted the firm crease in the woman’s brow. “That wouldn’t have been your fault.”

Olivia huffed. “Well, now I know about it and am doing my best to determine what poison may have been used and find an antidote.”

Lexa’s brow furrowed. Poison was new. At least, she hadn’t read about any cases in the previous attacks. Why did the raiders want to poison some of their victims? Only three were in comas, but many more had suffered battle wounds, so did not all raiders coat their blades? If they’d wanted an advantage in battle, they would’ve chosen a fast-acting poison, something to incapacitate their victims immediately. A slower toxin suggested the raiders wanted to inflict lasting harm, that they took pleasure perpetuating fear and death long after they’d gone.

“Anyway,” Olivia continued. “I was looking for Sir Duram earlier because I remember he had a wound on his arm. You patched him up, right? And he was fine this morning?”

Lexa’s spine went rigid. How had Neil gotten that gash? She wracked her brain, but couldn’t remember him telling her. He’d felled two raiders though. Could one of them have delivered a parting blow?

“I have to go.” Lexa pivoted and sprinted out of the room.

~~~

Get your copy of Dreamsnatcher on Amazon and B&N.

Lexa has spent the past five years training the princess of Teltania in dreamwalking, a mission that’s coming to a close. But raiders hounding Teltania’s coast are leaving victims in comas, and Lexa discovers they’ve been snatched out of their dreams into the dreamscape. What soon becomes a potential plague sends her on a desperate search for answers before she loses everything she cares about.

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Book Cover Jail—The Importance of Branding

I have a very exciting cover reveal for you today. Not for a new release, but for an older book that needs a pick-me-up. But first, here’s what led to the cover change.

The concept of “branding” has always been elusive for me. Those of you who’ve stuck with me from the beginning have seen this blog undergo three major transformations in design alone. Then there have been my attempts to find blogging content suited to my brand. It’s hard.

Another area of branding I’ve been sorely inept at is image, particularly for my book covers. Until recently, I bounced around various cover artists (for multiple reasons). For my earlier books, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of branding; my only focus was I needed a cover. Recently I’ve started getting a better understanding on the importance of image recognition, especially in a series. The three main Dreamwalker novels have been done by the same graphic designer (I know you haven’t seen the last cover yet, muaha). Composition style and typeface give those books an immediate visual connection. (Yeah, the two novellas don’t match, but I said I’m still learning.)

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900 Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750

We do judge books by their cover. I’ve been guilty of this with even my own books. Though I know the story of Elemental Magic, the poor cover choice lowered my opinion of the book so much that the past few months I wanted to sweep it under the rug as if I never wrote it. Which is sad because new readers are discovering and enjoying the story (despite its lousy image). So what I decided to do was change the cover. And in the spirit of branding, I contacted the artist who did Earth Tones. I have to say, Fantasia Frog Designs has reignited my excitement for this book just with image alone! I’ll need to redo Dry Spell at some point, but one step at a time.

So here is the wickedly awesome new cover!

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Though in the case of these two books, typeface is not identical, each book has similar elements that connect them, such as the placement of the models and secondary creature images. Plus, it’s just plain gorgeous.

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Branding is more important than I’d ever realized before. That isn’t to say I have it down yet, but I’m learning, and that’s all I can do.

Pick up a copy of Elemental Magic at AmazonB&N, and Kobo.

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COVER REVEAL ~ Dreamsnatcher

The time has come! I get so excited every time I get to reveal a new cover. Not to mention it means the release is that much closer. Cover design by the amazing Amber Shah at BookBeautiful.com. Now, without further ado:

Dreamwalker Book Three

Falling asleep has never been so dangerous…

Dreamsnatcher-AngelaWallace-500x750

Lexa has spent the past five years training the princess of Teltania in dreamwalking, but with Taryn’s eighteenth birthday approaching, the girl has increasing royal duties and Lexa is getting ready to retire yet again. This time she’s looking forward to settling down and sailing with Sir Neil Duram—until his ship barely survives a raider attack.

The raiders have been hounding Teltania’s coast and their victims are falling into comas. With Neil’s crew at risk, Lexa sets out to find a cure. But things aren’t what they seem. She discovers that the comatose have been snatched from their dreams and stolen into the dreamscape.

The scattered cases soon become a potential plague, and Lexa has to find the connection between the waking world raiders and the dream snatchers. Is there a third dreamwalker out there, or something much more sinister? Lexa’s desperate search for answers will drive her to the edge in order to save everything she cares about.

COMING NOVEMBER 13 2013

Add the book on Goodreads

Sign up for the newsletter so you don’t miss the release! Also, subscribers will be getting an exclusive surprise you don’t want to miss.

Big thanks to those bloggers helping me spread the cover reveal this week. If anyone else wants to sign up their blog to post the release the week of Nov. 13, let me know in the comments (leave a valid email). I have Dreamstealer (Book Two) bookmarks to send to those who participate.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss October

Wow, how the year is going by. It’s Fall! For this month’s fantasy feature, I’ve chosen one of my own characters, Nita Young, in honor of Earth Tones being a winner in the 2013 Best Indie Book Awards! I am incredibly honored and blessed by all your support.

ET cover with award Nita Young

Nita is an earth elemental. She lives in Yakutat, Alaska where she works as the town’s veterinarian. Her job is to take care of the animals and land, but she also enjoys helping human patients at the health clinic. She has two Husky dogs, Puck and Lakota, and enjoys pottery in her spare time. She could use her earth wielding to make sculptures, but prefers to use the wheel and tools. As she would say, “otherwise it’s just elemental magic, not art.”

While her powers are primarily used for stewardship, Nita’s got some kick-ass fight moves. Since she can wield any form of earth to her bidding, she can make vines coil and slither like snakes, and pull a wall of dirt into the air as a shield. And she can talk to earth animals. Who doesn’t want a pack of wolves running in as backup?

And Nita needs it too. In Earth Tones she’s faced with a mythological creature summoned up to attack residents of her town. Murder by mauling. Not only that, but throw in a newly-made werewolf and a deadly pathogen, and our heroine’s got her hands full.

Lastly, as a Finalist I got to write up my dream interview for Venture Galleries’s blog. And I chose to be interviewed by Iron Man. Check it out. I had a ball writing it, lol.

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Dreamwalker for #PonyFest13

Fall brings so many things to look forward to—warm sweaters, pumpkin spice coffee, rain. And one of my favorites: PonyFest! Rebecca Enzor hosts an annual contest where authors design a custom My Little Pony based on their novel. If you didn’t already know, I LOVE drawing My Little Pony, and I especially enjoy making up customs to go with books. This year I made a Dreamwalker pony.

Dreamwalker pony

Copyright 2013 Angela Wallace

This pony represents one of the main themes/settings in the Dreamwalker books: the dreamscape. It’s an otherworldly realm that continuously changes shape, blending reality and possibility. There is no sun or moon, just a canopy of blue mist. In the first book, the main character Lexa learns how to transcend the dream world and touch the stars, thus the symbol on this pony. This is the first one I’ve made combining hand-drawn technique with digital enhancement, but I think it turned out neat.

AW-Dreamwalker-432x648 Two dreamwalkers: one a devout soldier, the other a rogue assassin. Last one standing wins.

Be sure to check out Rebecca’s post and visit the other participating blogs! The creativity is so much fun to see. Voting will start October 5th and the winner will receive an actual custom based on their design.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss August

Welcome to our monthly feature of kick-ass fantasy heroines. This month, in honor of the movie release, we’ll be taking a look at Clary Fray from Cassandra Clare’s bestselling YA series, The Mortal Instruments. The movie adaptation of the first book, City of Bones, releases August 21. (Anyone excited?)

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Entertainment

Clary Fray

Clary is a fifteen-year-old girl who witnesses a murder at a night club. Yet she’s the only one who can see the victim and the teenage perpetrators. Clary has the Sight, which means she can see the supernatural hiding among us. She also happens to be the child of two Shadowhunters, a race of humans who fight demons. When her mother is attacked by a demon, Clary finds herself thrown into a world she was born into, but that her mother hid her from all these years. She meets Jace Wayland, a Shadowhunter boy and the two fall in love. (Bad news when they both find out they share the same absent father. Oops.)

Clary is a tough girl, driven to confront the strange and terrifying world of the Shadowhunters in order to save her mom from a magical coma. She’s an artist with a talent for drawing, an ability that manifests itself supernaturally when she is able to invent magical runes by drawing them. She battles her growing love for Jace as the two also fight their biological father, Valentine, a traitor to the Shadowhunters and bent on destruction. No high school drama here, just bloody fights to the death against demons risen from hell.

The Mortal Instruments and the spin-off, The Infernal Devices, are stupendous series I recommend to everyone.

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Quick note to those following the Supernatural Sleuth series. I apologize for having two weeks between postings, but last week I was writing the conclusion after the votes, and this week was the first Monday of August, which demanded a Heroine of Fantasy post. Fret not, I will be posting the conclusion to Paige’s adventure next week.

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Dreamwalkers, Debuts, and Detours

dream assassin 1000x1600Wow, June is half over. Which means we’re that much closer to 2013 being half over. This week we’re between the Supernatural Sleuth entries, so I thought I’d take this time to talk a bit about what I’m currently working on. Some of you may have noticed Dream Assassin is now on Amazon (woot). I started that just wanting to write a short story for Dirk fans, but then it became a novella. Oops. Still, the final product was a pleasant surprise, one I hope you all will enjoy.

Behind the scenes, I’m working on the next Dreamwalker novel with Lexa, have been since February. That was another unplanned project—honestly, I fully intended to get back to the Elemental Magic series! But I AW-Dreamwalker-432x648was watching Season 3 of The Voice and Amanda Brown’s rendition of “Stars” blew the top off my muse and it hasn’t simmered down since.

The third book in the Dreamwalker series was to complete the trilogy. But then something else unexpected happened (shouldn’t there be a limit to how many surprises per book?)—the story kept getting longer and longer…and now it’s two books. Yay, right? But boy do I have my work cut out for me.

Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900I can’t give too much away, but I will say it takes place five years after Dreamstealer. I know, a bit of a time jump, but a big part of the story is Taryn (now 18) growing into her own dreamwalker warrior. Some signature elements of the series have also found their way in—Lexa will have another dress fiasco. And the great thing about the dreamscape is it’s always evolving…and so are the Nightmares. <insert manic giggle>

No, really, I’m very excited. I can’t give an estimate on a publishing date, as I promised my editor I wouldn’t give her a coronary by doing so, plus she hasn’t even seen it yet. In the meantime, you can snuggle up with our favorite rogue assassin, and catch up on the series if you need to. And Elemental Magic 4 is next in line on the queue! As long as inspiration doesn’t strike me like lightning and refuse to let go.

Speaking of which, here’s that song I mentioned. If you’re a fan of Elemental Magic, this is what you can blame for having to wait a little longer for the next book. ;-)

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Cover Reveal: Darkness Taunts

It’s a celebration of cover reveals on the blog this week! Darkness Taunts is the sequel to Darkness Haunts, a kick-ass urban fantasy featuring a heroine who is in most ways, plain human. Except for the fact she’s a sensor, able to detect magic and neutralize it. Melena isn’t a damsel in distress, however. This ex-military chick knows enough moves to give you a good beating…or just shoot you. Anyway, on to the cover, which is GORGEOUS, and a sneak peek excerpt.

Darkness Taunts by Susan Illene

Book two of The Sensor Series

Cover Design: Phat Puppy Art w/typography by Bookish Brunette

Expected Release Date: June 30th, 2013

Add the book to your To-Read list on Goodreads.

 Darkness Taunts - final copy

BLURB:

Melena Sanders has managed to avoid all things inhuman for most of her life, but after coming to Fairbanks, Alaska to rescue her best friend from supernaturals she hasn’t been allowed to leave. That is, until her long-time nemesis comes to collect a favor she owes him. Lucas might be half angel, but he’s all bad as far as she’s concerned.

Paying him back might get her out of town for a while, but her new destination will be anything but enjoyable. Mel’s got to help the nephilim take care of a demon possession outbreak in Juneau. Although something like this hasn’t happened for thousands of years, Lucas is certain Melena’s rare abilities are the key to solving the problem.

With violence in the capital city growing, she’s going to have to figure out how to stop it fast before the trouble spreads to other places. Not only that, but working closely with Lucas is changing the dynamics of their hate-hate relationship—worrying her even more than the demons. Getting back to her captivity in Fairbanks never looked so good.

EXCERPT:

Lucas climbed into the passenger seat. Though his large frame took up a lot of space, he still looked comfortable, in control. There were no delays leaving the airport. The whole thing had been arranged for a quick and smooth pick-up. I wasn’t used to Lucas being so accommodating.

“Did you eat?” he asked.

“Yeah, Emily and I went out to a restaurant earlier.”

He glanced over at me. “You didn’t feel like poisoning her with your cooking before you left?”

I fiddled with his navigation system—might as well get the lay of the land. “That joke got old a long time ago.”

“I wasn’t joking,” he said. “Leave the GPS alone.”

I switched to scanning the radio stations. “Where are we going?”

He nudged my hand away from the controls and shut it off. “To my cabin. We made some progress during your absence. I want you rested and ready to help interrogate a demon first thing in the morning.”

A thrill went through me. My job in the military had been as an interrogator and I was damned good at it with my lie detecting abilities. Plus I’d gained a lot of experience during my combat tours. “You got one?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ve worked on him already, but he hasn’t revealed anything of value…yet.”

I shot him a disgruntled look. “You should have waited for me.”

“Time was of the essence, sensor. You’ll get your chance.”

“Then why not go talk to him tonight?” I asked.

“Demons are at their strongest during the hours of darkness. You’ll have better luck after dawn.”

“Fine.” I sat back and tried to admire the snow covered mountains. They would be easier to see during the day, but the moon lit them up enough for me to catch brief glimpses as we drove.

“Sensor,” Lucas broke the silence. “The next time I call…pick up the damned phone. Do not make me come in person to speak with you.”

“That’ll give me incentive,” I said. The pompous ass. He wouldn’t threaten me and get away with it. I let a couple of minutes go by.

“Do you know why I’m glad you never call me by my real name?” I asked.

We were stopped at a traffic light. I’d waited for that. He turned to look at me and raised a blond brow. “I suppose you’re going to tell me.”

I studied my fingernails. “Yesterday, when I heard you say Melena for the first time it gave me chills. It was like the devil himself had walked over my grave and spit on it. I’d rather you not say it again.”

The light turned to green. He jerked his attention back to the road. Lucas was a master at keeping his emotions in check, but he still gripped the wheel a little tighter than before.

 

 Pick up the first book in the series, Darkness Haunts, at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

photo of SusanABOUT SUSAN:

Instead of making the traditional post high school move and attending college, Susan joined the U.S. Army. She spent her eighteenth birthday in the gas chamber…an experience she is sure is best left for criminals. For eleven years she served first as a human resources specialist and later as an Arabic linguist (mostly in Airborne units). Though all her duty assignments were stateside, she did make two deployments to Iraq where her language skills were put to regular use.

After leaving the service in 2009, Susan returned to school to study history with a focus on the Middle East. She no longer finds many opportunities to test her fighting abilities in real life, unless her husband is demanding she cook him a real meal, but she’s found a new outlet in writing urban fantasy heroines who can.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN ONLINE:

Website- www.darknesshaunts.com

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/SusanIllene1

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/Susan_Illene

Twitter- https://twitter.com/@susan_illene