MEET CHERYL LOW @_BookMistress
Cheryl Low might be an Evil Queen, sipping tea and peeping on everyone from high up in her posh tower—a job she got only after being fired from her gig as Wicked Witch for eating half the gingerbread house.
…Or she might be a relatively mundane human with a love for all things sugary and soap opera slaps.
Find out by following her on social media @cherylwlow or check her webpage, cheryllow.com. The answer might surprise you! But it probably won’t.
Social Media Links: Twitter& Instagram: @cherylwlow Website: cheryllow.com
In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.
Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. From the tea to the pastries, everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm.
From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves.
“A deliciously decadent debut that will make you reconsider the world within which we live – because how different are we than Low’s drugged-up citizens of the upper crust?” — Sara Dobie Bauer, author of the Bite Somebody series
A Typical Writing Day
I start early. I think that’s key for me because if I sleep in, I pretty much meander through the rest of the day or find ways of distracting myself rather than getting anything done. I also avoid television and movies on writing days. It’s been my experience that as soon as I turn the Netflix on, all writing comes to a stop. I know that might sound like a given but I used to write with movies on in the background. Somewhere along the way that stopped.
I’m a plotter, so I have an outline when I write. I fell into this a while back and it really suits me. I obsess over a story for a while and keep notes on it, writing down scenes and ideas, and then when I’m ready I flesh that out into a full outline. It can be as detailed as paragraphs and dialogue or as vague as “put something here”.
I pick out a month when I have the least work on my schedule, usually July or August, and then I give myself a word-count-a-day goal. I set it at five-thousand a day, Monday through Friday, and leave the weekend for resting and catching up if I fall behind. It’s been my experience that the first week is the strongest because I’m so eager to get writing—usually coming out over my goal—while the rest of the month is closer to the mark. By the end of the month I have a first draft. It’s rough, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a completed draft and that really works wonders for my motivation.
I use some tricks to keep going, because if you’re writing with a word-count goal then you can’t afford to get stuck. The outline is key. No down time deciding what to do next and inevitably getting distracted by Twitter or Instagram. If I write something I already know isn’t going to work or I don’t like the sound of it but can’t right at that moment come up with something better, I highlight it and move on. Same thing with names or terms I haven’t yet come up with, I leave a gap of underline and move on. Those are all things I can fix later.
I also keep a notebook handy to jot down all those things I realize I need to add or fix or change while writing. Oh, and I write my first draft in Scrivener. It has a little word-count goal meter that I love and I like being able to keep the cue cards of characters or places in the sidebar. But I do all my editing in Word.
And when things get really dire and I’m banging my head on the desk, I put on my business tie. I keep it on my cork board and wear it whenever I need to “get down to business”. I know it sounds silly, but it works! I know that when I wear it, it means things are serious and I need to get my writing done. I’m also in the market for a thinking hat, but I haven’t come across one that calls to me yet.
“Vaun took another deep drag off the cigarette one of his new friends, Gabby, had offered him. She and the man sitting beside her pretended quite comically to be from the High. The prince did not ruin the show by telling them that he knew everyone in the High, to some degree. The quality of their vanity charms indicated they were not, not to mention the state of their clothing. Being rude was only fashionable if one’s victim was up to the challenge and could strike back. Besides, Vaun never discouraged people who tried so hard to amuse him.
The prince exhaled black smoke. It was thick and dramatic, but his skin didn’t hum the way it usually did after a deep breath of dust. In fact, the tingle was more of an agitation, making him shift in his seat and flick his cigarette more angrily than usual. Ash fluttered through the air. How much tea did he have to drink for a decent buzz? He all but dropped his cup back on its chipped saucer in disgust. “I shouldn’t have come,” he muttered.
“You’re leaving?” Gabby’s smile faltered. Her fingers clenched around her teacup. She wore fingerless, black lace gloves like his sister did on occasion and Vaun noticed that her skirts and bodice were also in dark colors with hints of lace sewn in wherever possible, some obviously added as an afterthought and not even matching the lace elsewhere. It would have been easier to try to imitate the High fashion of Belholn but Gabby had aimed even higher, for the princess herself.
“Yes. I’m sure I have a date somewhere.” Some part of him enjoyed the distress of the people around him at the possibility of his departure. It made him want to leave even more.
“Wait!” Gabby grabbed at the man beside her, whose name Vaun had forgotten a while ago, and tugged at the sleeve of his obviously repaired jacket. “Show him,” she whispered urgently.
Vaun took another draw of his disappointing cigarette. The best part about going to a teahouse or club in the thick of the Main was how the people tried so desperately to impress him. The people in the High knew him too well to try so hard. They feared his mockery even more than they desired his attention. But this group had spent the better part of the last hour trying to wow him with their trinkets and knowledge of the High. It was all nonsense read from the paper and mostly outdated. “I truly doubt you have anything to show me that I have not seen.”
The man reached into his jacket a little uncomfortably and took out a small mason jar. Others giggled, recognizing it, but Vaun only blinked at first. Its glass belly was full but not with anything liquid or solid. Light, captured and pulsing, swirled inside the jar. Vaun felt it as much as he saw it. He heard it like a whisper against his senses and found himself leaning forward to see it more clearly: a soul. Vaun had seen them before, but they weren’t common. So uncommon, in fact, that he was surprised they hadn’t led with this in their attempt to impress him. He supposed they might have been afraid he’d take it. Soul capturing was an old craft that most considered barbaric now.
His gaze turned up from the jar to the man holding it. “Who is it?” The soul was a beautiful captive, but the person walking around without it was the real prize—the puppet, someone that could be made to do anything.
“I couldn’t say.” The man smiled. “He wouldn’t be much of a spy if I did.”