Title: Shadows on Snow
Author: Starla Huchton
Series: Stand Alone
Genre: Fantasy /YA
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: Nov 3 2014
Edition/Formats: eBook & Print
Once upon a time, a dark evil crept into my kingdom, stealing my loved ones and the happy life I knew. The world turned against me, and I swore to become stronger, to keep myself safe.
Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince, hair dark as ebony, skin as pure as the freshly driven snow, and I became the only one who stood between him and death.
Once upon a time, our stories intertwined, and now, healing my heart may be the only way to save us all from the evil that threatens to destroy what little we have left.
I slept so soundly, so thoroughly warm, that it took a cacophony of birds to wake me. But as conscious thought returned, immediate panic overtook me.
“Good morning,” his voice rumbled in his chest, vibrating against my cheek.
A surge of fear gripped my heart, and I jerked, attempting to pull away, but his arm wrapped around me, his strength pinning me to his side.
“I believe there are a few more details you’ve neglected to share with me.”
I swallowed, attempting to control my trembling. How the devil I ended up snuggled in beside him left me baffled. Was I so tired that I had no recollection of moving into this position? “Sire?”
“For example, how it is that your hair brushes my face when I can see plainly that it rests against your head, undisturbed. Or perhaps how it is that what my eyes tell me your shape is, my other senses find quite the opposite.”
I squirmed, attempting to pull away again, but he held me fast.
“Who are you, Rae?” he asked, his voice low and edgy.
In a last effort, I relaxed my entire body before pushing myself down and away from him. I was nearly to my feet before he grabbed my arm and jerked me back to the ground, pinning me by the shoulders as he hovered over me.
“I will not be lied to. What trickery is this? Show me who you are or I’ll not release you.”
I pinched my eyes shut, willing past events to stay buried, to not invade this moment, but the more I struggled against them, the more terrified I became. That horrible night, every second of the assault on my body, exploded in my head, overlaying the present with its ghost. I needed a new face to give him, but my mind was jumbled. Images flashed by me faster than I could grab hold of them, and my grip on my magic crumbled. When his breath caught, I knew my glamour was gone.
“You…” he whispered.
The prince’s iron hold loosened a little, and I took the advantage. Displacing his center of balance, I kicked him from me and rolled away, snatching up my bow. I nocked an arrow and aimed it directly at him.
Slowly, he raised his hands, palms facing me in surrender. “I won’t hurt you.”
My chest heaved as I tried to take in enough air to calm myself. “Do not touch me again.”
“I would not think to,” he said, “but I prefer to know the truth about whom I travel with. It’s a matter of trust.”
“I saved your life, Highness,” I said, my words laced with anger. “I hardly see how my face, true or otherwise, factors into your opinion of me.”
“I would’ve better understood your hesitation over our sleeping arrangements, for starters.”
“I don’t ask for special consideration because of my gender.”
“But I would give it all the same.”
I gritted my teeth. “Precisely why I chose another form.”
We stared at each other in silence for a moment, him calm against the force of my glare. As the rush of defending myself ebbed away, my hands trembled, and I lowered my weapon. In a hurry to be away from him, hopefully to rein in my terror from reliving past tortures, I turned.
“Build a fire,” I said over my shoulder as I walked away.
“Where are you going?”
Not giving him an answer, I slipped out of our shelter.
With half a mile between us, I sank to the ground behind a large tree. My shoulders shook with silent sobs. This enduring feeling of helplessness, of revulsion at my own weaknesses and failures, consumed me for a good quarter hour before I could catch my breath. I was exhausted after living with this so long. Was there no respite? Was there no way to keep from reliving that night every time someone came too close? Would it ever fade to match the pale scar that man left on my side with his blade, or would the memory remain, raw and angry as a festering wound?
Shaky, I got to my feet once more. The road ahead was a long one, and we needed breakfast to keep us moving.
Places to find: Shadows on Snow
Tell us about the first story you ever wrote and how old you were.
Hmm. This is hard. I dabbled in a lot of various writing things as a kid- plays, poetry, etc.- but the first full story I remember writing (and finishing) was one I wrote my freshman year of high school, so I was probably 14 or 15 at the time. It was a short story called “They” and was about a boy suddenly locked away in a mental institution but not knowing why. He befriends a girl there, and soon discovers she possesses a power to command lightning. There was something to do with electric shock treatments in there, and the girl ultimately saves them and set them all free by destroying the asylum. Now I sort of wish I still had it so I could remember all the details!
When it comes to writing- what are your strong points? What are your weaknesses?
This is pretty subjective, but I like to think I do snarky dialogue pretty well. I’m also told I have a gift for being able to explain complicated science things in terms anyone can understand. That one especially pleases me, because I love to share knowledge with others!
As for my weaknesses… Well, I think every writer is in a constant state of learning and improving. I’m no different. I’ve been working on separating myself from my characters so it’s not a “if it was me, I would…” but a “this character would…” instead. I abhor characters that are Too Stupid To Live, but I realize that TSTL people actually exist in the world so they need to in books as well. And, like anyone, I’m constantly learning about words I repeat or grammar mistakes I make, so that’s on the technical side of writing. I think everyone could use strengthening in that department, so I’m not alone there.
What do you think of this term- Writer's Block? How do you overcome it?
I think different writers have different things that block them during their lives. Sometimes, there’s an obvious cause for what’s preventing the words from flowing (life circumstances might be really tough or stressful, etc.), but it’s not always so easy to pin down. My creativity tends to be cyclical, where I have long periods of super-high productivity and word count, and then a big, long drought where I just can’t make words happen. I’ve tried all sorts of things to snap myself out of these funks, but I’ve come to realize that there’s not much I can do about it. I ride the waves when they come, and store up ideas during down times when I can’t do anything but stare at the last sentence I wrote a week ago. That’s probably not overly helpful to others struggling with Writers’ Block, but that’s the best I got.
What's the hardest part of the writing process for you?
There’s not much about the writing process itself that I find overly challenging. Research can be time-consuming, but I enjoy it. Titles and names can often be a total pain, but they come eventually. I actually really enjoy editing, which, from what I can tell, is pretty unique for writers. Many of them find that part excruciating, but, to me, it means the story is fixable and it will be better for it. For me, the harder part is everything that comes after the book is done: getting beta readers that give critical, necessary feedback, finding reviewers, marketing… Those are the things I like least. I’m much happier just making up stories all day.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It varies from project to project. Evolution: ANGEL took me a whopping 23 days to knock out the first draft, but Master of Myth took me a year. It’s dependent on my creativity flow and my life circumstances. Sometimes I sit down and write on a single project from start to finish with no breaks, and other times I get 20,000 words in and jump over to another work in progress for a while. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, really.
Do you manage to write every day?
Usually, yes, unless I’m sick or other extenuating circumstances.
What is a typical working/writing day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?
LOL. There’s nothing “typical” about where or when I write. I have 3 kids and a military husband that deploys, so everything has to stay fluid to accommodate real life. When I write varies, but it’s split between after the kids go to bed, and the minutes I can steal by locking myself in the bathroom and writing on my phone for a while. I don’t set daily goals, but if I get a few hundred words in a day, I’m satisfied with that.
Marketing: Facebook Events or Blog Tours what do you prefer?
Both have their place. Facebook Events are really good for interacting with readers who are new to me. They give me the chance to personally connect with an audience. Generally, I see a small boost in sales immediately following the event, so I know they work. They’re also extremely fun for me! Blog tours are great too. With them, I’m generally connecting more with bloggers, but that’s super important. With every tour I’ve done I’ve made a few more connections than I had before, and that’s really, really important for an indie author. So far, the bloggers I’ve connected with have been incredible and amazing people to work with, so I hope they know how important and appreciated they are!
Have you written a book you love that you have not published yet?
I have. Two, actually. One of them I’ve put on hold with releasing, as it’s the first of a series and I already have 3 balls in the air regarding series. I need to finish those up before I can think about diving into another one. The other book was a strange, unexpected story I finished earlier this year. It’s more literary than anything I’ve written before (or since), and really pushes the envelope on my personal comfort zone for content. That aside, Lex Talionis, a contemporary story with a revenge theme, will be releasing in January 2015 and I’m very nervous about how it will be received.
How do you keep your story flowing?
I keep people on hand that are in the know about whatever story I’m working on, so that when I hit a snag, I can talk through the plot with them. From these brain storming sessions, I’m able to flush out the best ideas for going forward with the story, and sometimes come up with all new twists and turns when these folks ask a question or make a suggestion. They always tell me they didn’t do anything when I flail and thank them profusely, but I can’t overstate how crucial these people are to my process.
What is one piece of advice you received that you carry with you in your writing?
Write what you love, not what the market dictates.
When I wrote my NA superhero romance series, I got a lot of “we don’t think we can sell that” from editors and agents. There weren’t a ton of superhero stories out there at the time (that’s definitely changed in the last few months!), but I pushed forward anyway. I’m extremely glad I did, because the Evolution series is by far my best selling. Trends come and go, but if you love a project, your passion for it will carry forward and infect others with excitement, too. I couldn’t put my full weight behind a book I wasn’t absolutely proud of, and I certainly couldn’t finish one I didn’t have my heart in.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Take time to learn your craft. Don’t brush off corrections to grammar and punctuations claiming it’s a “personal style” or “creative voice.” That makes you sound like a pretentious jerk, and the errors make your work difficult to read. To tell your best story, it has to be done as smoothly and error-free as you can make it. Learn grammar rules before you go around breaking them, and then, only do it sparingly.
A geek of all trades, Starla Huchton has been crafting stories in various genres since 2007. Her first novel, The Dreamer’s Thread, was released as a full cast audiobook podcast, becoming a double-nominee and finalist for the 2010 Parsec Awards. After releasing short fiction of steampunk, noir fantasy, and other varieties, she released the first three books of the Sci-Fi Romance Endure series in 2013. All three books of the Evolution series, a New Adult Superhero Romance series, were released in 2014, as well as a Steampunk Fantasy novel, Master of Myth (the Antigone’s Wrath series, book 1), which was the first place winner of the Crested Butte Writers’ contest, The Sandy, in 2012. Shadows on Snow, a gender-flipped retelling of Snow White, releases in November 2014.
When not writing, Starla trains three Minions, a black lab, and a military husband whilst designing book covers for independent authors and publishers at DesignedByStarla.com.
Places to find: Starla Huchton
Other Books by: Starla Huchton
The Endure Series
Paradigm #4 (WIP)
The Antigone’s Wrath Series
Master of Machines #2 (WIP)
Shadows on Snow (Coming this Fall)