Author Archives: nancyotoole

About nancyotoole

Hello! My name is Nancy. I am a librarian currently living in Maine with big dreams to become a published author as well. When it comes to stories, my first love is fantasy, but I also love science fiction, the paranormal, and historical fiction as well. Some of my favorite writers are Tamora Pierce, Jane Austen, NK Jemisin, Margaret Atwood, Jim Butcher, James SA Corey, YS Lee, Kelley Armstrong, Jacqueline Carey and Mira Grant.

Red and Black Chapter 2

Red and Black‘s publication date (August 13th!) is inching closer, so it seemed like a good time to share another sample chapter. Follow this link to read chapter one first. Chapter two features rooftop jumping, a trip to the comic book store, and an awkward meet cute (my favorite kind!).

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Bookburners: Season Four (2017) Written by: Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Francis Slattery, Andrea Phillips, Mur Lafferty Genre: Urban Fantasy Pages: 463 pages (ARC) Series: Bookburners Publisher: Serial Box Disclaimer: I received a copy of season four of Bookburners from the publisher, Serial Box. The fact that I received it for free will not impact my opinion/rating of the book.…

via Big Changes, Big Magic: A Review of Bookburners Season 4 — Speculative Chic

If you’re considering seeing Ant-Man and the Wasp, please check out this post on Speculative Chic for three different perspectives

Welcome back to Sound Off!, a semi-regular column where members of Speculative Chic gather together to chat about the latest BIG THING in entertainment. This time, shrink down with us to discuss Ant-Man and the Wasp, which premiered in the United States on Friday, July 6, 2018. Sound Off! is meant to be a reaction, but not necessarily…

via Sound Off! Ant-Man and the Wasp — Speculative Chic

Red and Black Chapter 1

As previously mentioned, my new superhero book Red and Black is scheduled to come out on August 13th. In preparation for said release, I’d thought I’s share the first chapter here on the blog. Please read on for masked vigilantes, a rather mobile fight scene, and IT guys in distress!

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Renegade Supervillians, Demon Summoners, and Y2K: My Best Books of Spring 2018

If the several 90+ degree days we had last week are any indication, summer has arrived! But before we completely close the door on spring, I’d thought I’d list into my favorite books for April, May and June. Just like my Best of Winter selections, these are not necessarily books that came out during those months, but books that I happened to read in said time period. The list isn’t quite as long as last season, because I found myself falling into MULTIPLE reading slumps, but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get to some really great books.

And here are the cream of the crop.

A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers (Science Fiction)– I’ve been hearing good things about this once since it was just a kickstarter project.  And now that I’ve read it, I can totally see where all the praise comes from. A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet tells the story of the ship Wayfarer, it’s crew, and the adventures they experience after a job sends them into deep space. What worked the best about this book was just how lovable and varied the cast of characters are. I especially love how Chambers is able to create individuals that are truly alien, yet incredibly sympathetic. I already have the second book downloaded to my kindle, and look forward to diving in.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer (Superheroes/Science Fiction/Young Adult)– I really liked Meyer’s sci-fi series, The Lunar Chronicles, but felt that my enjoyment dropped off a bit in the final volume as things got more epic, and less character focused. This is probably why I put off reading Renegades until now. And wile it may have taken me some time to get to it, I’m so glad that I did. By having Renegades take place in a post apocalyptic sci-fi world, Meyer ends up doing a wonderful job of putting her own unique spin on the superhero genre. The book is centered around a romance between a hero and a villain (a trope very close to my heart), and I felt like she did a good job exploring both of their perspectives. The book also plays some fun tricks with secret identities that goes beyond your typical superhero fare. It’s clear that I won’t be waiting quite as long to pick up the sequel (especially after that cliffhanger!), which is set to come out this November.

Secrets of the Demon by Diana Rowland (Urban Fantasy)– Remember how I mentioned multiple reading slump in my intro? This is the book that broke me out of the first one. Secrets of the Demon is the third book to focus on Kara Gillian, a homicide detective who moonlights as a demon summoner. I really enjoy urban fantasy books that mix crime and supernatural elements, and this book was no exception. The part I liked the most about Secrets was the romance, which is kind of surprising given that it hasn’t always been my favorite aspect of this series. There’s defiantly a love triangle going on here, where both sides of the triangle have their fair share secrets, including some that the series has yet to fully explore. I’m certainly planning on reading further.

Head on by John Scalzi (Science Fiction) Head on is the sequel to Lock In, a near future novel where a portion of the population is infected with a condition called Haden’s Syndrome, that paralyzes them inside their own bodies. To allow them to interact with the world, their consciousness is transferred to a robotic body. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that their problems are over, as they frequently find themselves facing prejudice in their daily lives. What I really like about Head On (or any Scalzi book I’ve read) is how he’s able to take really interesting ethical/technological concepts and combine them with a total crowd pleaser of the story. The main character, Chris, is a detective, and Head On features them (Chris is never explicitly gendered) investigating a murder involving a bloodthirsty Hayden sport. Head on is an exciting page turner that was over too fast. I hope to see more books in this series soon.

My Brother’s Husband, vol 1 by Gengoroh Tagame (Contemporary)– You didn’t think I’d get through this list without a graphic novel or two, did you? My Brother’s Husband is a moving slice of life manga about Yaichi, a Japanese stay-at-home-father who’s twin brother, Ryoji, has died. When Ryoji’s husband comes to visit, Yaichi is forced to confront his own biases. My Brother’s Husband is incredibly charming, handing the topics of homophobia in Japan with a light touch. I found myself quickly getting attached to the cast of characters, especially Ryoji’s burly Canadian husband, Mike, and Yaichi’s sweet daughter, Kana. My Brother’s Husband is not only enjoyable to read, but also a really good selection for anyone who is struggling to come to terms with the reality that one of their loved ones happens to be gay. The series is set to conclude with a final volume, coming out this fall.

Paper Girls, vol 4 by Brian K Vaughan (Science Fiction)Paper Girls is about a gaggle of 1980s paper deliver girls who come across an intergalactic, inter-generational war. If they are to survive, they will need to grow up fast, and come to terms with some tough truths about themselves. Oh! And there’s time travel! Volume four is where this time travel aspect worked the best for me, as it takes place around the Y2K scare, which I remember incredibly well. Only in Paper Girls the new millennium is actually worth being scared about. From what way things ended, I can’t help but feel as if this series is on the verge of wrapping up in the next volume or so. I am very curious to see how things end.

Honorable Mentions: Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron and Travis Bach, Attack on Titan, vol 24 by Hajime Isayama, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 7: I’ve Been Waiting for a Squirrel Like You by Ryan North, My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon, We Are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor

Would you like to be my hero? Consider reviewing my superhero novel Red and Black!

Earlier this week, I posted the cover and synopsis to my upcoming novel Red and Black. It was both a relief and a nerve-wracking experience. I say a relief because I’m thrilled with how the cover came out, and I’m quite pleased with the book over all. The nerve-wracking part comes when I consider the next step: getting reviews.

To some of you, this might sound a little strange. Shouldn’t I be aiming for sales, after all? And while I’d wouldn’t turn those away, when most people look at a book by an untested author and see that it has no reviews, they’re first reaction is skepticism. This is why reviews are so important. Because I can spam “BUY MY BOOK” over and over again, and yammer on about how excited I am, but that doesn’t hold as much credibility as an impartial third party who has read the book and is expressing their unbiased opinion.

This is why I’m looking for a few pioneering souls to read and review an ARC (or Advanced Readers Copy) of Red and Black. The way it works is simple. Either shoot me an email (my address is or leave a comment here with your email address to let me know that you’d like to be considered for an ARC. If I think you’re a good fit, I’ll shoot you over a free ebook of Red and Black. Then it’s up to you to read it and provide an HONEST review. And I am serious about that last part. Please do not feel pressured in any way to post a positive review if the book isn’t for you. The best place to post said review would be either on amazon, or goodreads, although as a former book blogger, I also have a soft spot for personal blogs.

Because the book is coming out on August 13th, I’d love the have the reviews go before September. With amazon, you must wait until the date of publication to post your review. When it comes to goodreads or blogs, feel free to post it sooner if you’d like. It IS necessary to put some sort of disclaimer in the review, advising people that you received a free copy of the book in return an unbiased review. Check out my review of Bookburners for an example of what that might look like.

In addition, if you’re a book blogger who’d like to help with the launch of Red and Black, but don’t review ARCs, I am looking to do a short blog tour in August, and would be happy to provide a guest post/interview/or something similar. Also, thank you for wanting to help out! You’re amazing!

Did that make sense? Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I need to clear up. And if you’re new here and not familiar with Red and Black yet, check out the synopsis below to see if it might be to your liking:

Dawn Takahashi knows a thing or two about superheroes, from the fictional ones that populate her favorite comic books, to the real-life vigilantes who keep people safe. When she’s granted an impressive set of powers of her own, she dives right in, eager to prove herself as Bailey City’s first legitimate superhero. Dressed in red and black, Dawn spends her nights jumping from rooftop to rooftop, apprehending criminals with a smile. But by day, she finds her interactions marred by crippling social awkwardness.

Alex Gage is used to life giving him the short end of the stick, from his working-class upbringing, to the recent death of his mother. He works hard to support his younger sisters, hiding his anger and frustration behind laid back charm. It’s this charm that first draws Alex and Dawn together, but their secrets may tear them apart. Because while Dawn protects the city against threats, Alex unknowingly undermines her efforts by working as a henchman for Calypso, a mysterious woman who can make anyone loyal to her with a single touch of her hand.

It’s the classic story of boy meets girl. And hero versus villain. Where only one side can win.

Red and Black Gets Covered

Presenting, the cover of my first novel, Red and Black!

Now things really feel official!

While Speculative Chic was kind enough to host my official reveal, I also wanted to share the cover on my blog and talk a little more about the process. Because it ended up being a little more stressful than I expected.

I am not a visual person. It was one of the things that held me back from fully enjoying comic books for a while. I would just read the text and never take time to appreciate the artwork. So, when it came time to think about the cover for Red and Black, this lack of visual skill totally stressed me out. I found myself plagued with questions. Red and Black is a superhero story, so shouldn’t it show Dawn in her superhero costume? Should I go for a more comic book style of artwork? Or would looking too much like an actual comic book just confuse readers? Red and Black can read like urban fantasy, so maybe I should try targeting that audience instead? There are certainly more urban fantasy readers than superhero readers out there, after all. But would targeting them too heavily with a more traditional urban fantasy cover misrepresent the book? And how much was this going to cost me?

I found myself dragging my feet when it came to researching cover artists. Which, in retrospect, is bananas. Seeing your character come to life in a piece of artwork for the first time is one of the best parts of the publishing process. And as an indie author, I would actually have a say in my cover. And given that I wanted to feature a person of color, having a say was even more important than normal. I didn’t want to find myself in a situation with a whitewashed cover, Nor did I want a blurry raceless shadow of a figure to represent Dawn.

Eventually, I bit the bullet and started researching cover artists. In the end, I ended up going through Reedsy (affiliate link), since I had such a good experience with the editors I found there. Once I had picked out my favorite artist, I nervously filled out the application, and waited for the response.

Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. My artist, Hampton Lamoureux, was able to efficiently put together a concept that worked really well for Red and Black. The artwork manages to embrace both the superhero and urban fantasy aspects of the book, and accurately reflects the race of the book’s central character. The process was mostly painless (except for when I provided the wrong spine width for the paperback, d’oh!), and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Now that all the pieces have been assembled. I can happily announce that the ebook for Red and Black is up for preorderer on amazon with a release date of August 13th. The print book will also go up around that time. If you think you may be interested in checking out the book, you can add it to your to-read pile on goodreads. If you’re interested in reviewing an ARC, feel free to send me an email at I’ll have a more detailed post about ARCs going up in a few days.

I am so happy with how the cover art came out. Now, the real challenge arrives: actually selling some of these books!