Cornelia Grey Sharing Pinspiration and More About ‘The Empty Hourglass’ by Cornelia Grey (giveaway and guest blog)

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The Empty Hourglass

The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey
R
iptide Publishing
Cover Art by Jay Aheer

 

 

Hello! I’m Cornelia Grey—welcome to the Empty Hourglass blog tour! At various tour stops, I’ll be sharing some secrets about my writing process, sources of inspiration and future projects!

Comment on each stop to be entered in a drawing for a $15 Riptide Publishing gift card and the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series— Devil at the Crossroads and The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice. Thank you for joining me on the tour!

Pin-spiration!

Authors are often asked where they find inspiration. Among various sources, I find what works best for me is visual inspiration… I studied fine arts and history of arts for several years, so I’m very fond of paintings, incisions, photography, digital art and comics—and I find they do wonders to fire up ideas and storylines in my brain!

On some occasions, seeing a single image has been enough to spark a chain reaction that ended up in an entire plot somehow pouring out of my brain. Other times, a picture of a potential character intrigues me enough that I start wondering who they might be, what their story could be like, and end up with a protagonist on my hands in need of an adventure.

One of my current favorite sources of visual inspiration is Pinterest—I used to scour the internet and save tons of pictures on my hard drive, neatly divided in settings, characters, props, various historical eras… but, unfortunately, they ended up getting lost in the mix when the folders became too big and it was time-consuming to keep them all properly organized.

With Pinterest, I find the feature allowing to mimic a corkboard ‘pinning’ the pictures and having them all available at a glance much more convenient. So when I started working on The Empty Hourglass, I spent some time browsing through the website looking for inspiration for the characters, the setting and the general atmosphere of the story (Just a word of caution… gotta be careful that a bit of browsing for inspiration doesn’t accidentally turn in hours of procrastination 😉 )

So, allow me to introduce you to a few of The Empty Hourglass’s characters!

If you have read the previous installments in the Deal with a Devil series, you might have noticed that our resident devil, Farfarello, looks different in each one. Discovering what he’s going to look like in the current story is always one of my favorite aspects when working on this series. And usually, I come across a particular image that just strikes me—you know, the ‘there! That’s him!’ feeling! And this is what he looks like in The Empty Hourglass:

Pinspiration1

As for our protagonist, toymaker Thomas Escott, who grew up on the streets of the capital, I was rather charmed by this fellow:

Pinspiration2

Our reclusive inventor, Jethro Hastings, was instead inspired by Algerian actor Tahar Rahim—please notice the curly inventor hair!

Pinspiration3

This lovely lady and her spiders were the inspiration for Dragana, the blind inventress, although my character ended up looking fairly different, with dark hair and skin:

Pinspiration4

And as for Mina, the little ghost girl inhabiting Jethro’s garden, I found this picture absolutely lovely for her:

Pinspiration5

I hope you enjoyed this little introduction to The Empty Hourglass’s characters! If you’d like to see more pictures—of Jethro’s mansion and laboratory, for example, or of his prosthetics and, of course, the devil’s hourglass, please feel free to have a look at the Pinterest board for this novel!
https://it.pinterest.com/corneliagrey1/the-empty-hourglass/

About  The Empty Hourglass

Thomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

About Cornelia Grey

Cornelia Grey is a creative writing student fresh out of university, with a penchant for fine arts and the blues. Born and raised in the hills of Northern Italy, where she collected her share of poetry and narrative prizes, Cornelia moved to London to pursue her studies.

After graduating with top grades, she is now busy with internships: literary agencies, publishing houses, and creative departments handling book series, among others. She also works as a freelance translator.

She likes cats, knitting, performing in theatre, going to museums, collecting mugs, and hanging out with her grandma. When writing, she favors curious, surreal stories, steampunk, and mixed-genre fiction. Her heroes are always underdogs, and she loves them for it.

Connect with Cornelia:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Empty Hourglass, Cornelia is giving away the two previous titles in the Deal with a Devil series—  Devil at the Crossroads and  The Circus of the Damned—in an e-book format of your choice, plus $15 in Riptide credit. Leave a comment to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 16, 2016. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following  the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A Free Dreamer Review: The Circus of the Damned (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

TheCircusoftheDamned_500x750Magician Gilbert Blake has spent his entire life conning drunkards in the seediest pubs in the darkest towns, careful to hide the true depths of his power. But when he spends a little too much time in Shadowsea and the infamous slumlord Count Reuben gets wind of his abilities, hiding within the Circus of the Damned may be Gilbert’s only chance at survival.

But there’s more to the Circus than meets the eye. Every time a performer dies, a new one must take his place, or the entire circus suffers the consequences. And while the handsome ringmaster Jesse isn’t one to coerce unwilling performers into giving up their souls to the devil, a recent death in their ranks makes Gilbert exactly what they need.

Yet the longer Gilbert stays with the Circus, the more danger he seems to bring them. Being with Jesse is more than Gilbert could have hoped for, but as Count Reuben’s men continue to search for Gilbert and the Circus loses another performer, they all face running out of time long before the Devil claims his due.

First of all, I had very high expectations of this book, since I absolutely loved   “Devil at the Crossroads by Cornelia Grey. Unfortunately, this book didn’t quite manage to live up to my expectations.

But let’s talk about the things I liked first. Once again, Cornelia Grey gave the trope of the “deal with the devil” an interesting and unique twist. The descriptions of the circus were full of loving details that made the whole setting come alive. I could practically breathe the circus air and see myself talking to all those unusual and strange circus performers.

I could easily relate to the protagonists and found myself head over heels for Gilbert within a few words. Gilbert is a real man – he drinks, he gambles (and cheats), he’s got a foul mouth and doesn’t mind the occasional brawl and he’s absolutely unapologetic about it. He openly admits that his pet mouse is probably a lot more intelligent than him and saved his ass on more than one occasion. I loved how Miss Grey gave even Gilbert’s mouse her own distinct characteristics.

The plot was fascinating from the very beginning. There’s tons of actions and the love story between Gilbert and Jesse develops as more of a side product, which is a huge bonus for me because I love stories with lots of plot and little romance. Once the sex did happen, it wasn’t simply hot. It was sensual and very erotic, even if the action itself was mostly vanilla. The UST up to that point alone had me drooling. Miss Grey definitely knows how to write sex! I loved that there were no sappy declarations of love. Gilbert is a man of action, so he acted and didn’t talk.

Unfortunately, the minor characters didn’t get quite as much love as the protagonists did. Sure, there are lots of weird and unique people, but overall I would have loved to find out more about them. A few more conversations between Gilbert and the other circus performers would have been nice.

The world building was a little disappointing as well. There were some very interesting concepts there, but the bigger picture kind of fell flat. I couldn’t tell if this was a completely different world or if it was a kind of historical AU. That was a real shame.

To sum it up, “The Circus of the Damned” was a very enjoyable read. I’m hoping for a sequel so we get to find out more about the world and the side characters.

Cover  by Kanaxa is one of the best I’ve ever seen. I’d love to have this book as a paperback, simply because it would look so amazing in my real bookshelf. It’s definitely the best of the series.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 347 pages
Published November 3rd 2014 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleCircus of the Damned (A Deal with a Devil Story)
ISBN139781626491656
Edition LanguageEnglish

A Free Dreamer Review: Devil at the Crossroads (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5            ★★★★★

Devil at the CrossroadsThe devil covets more than his soul …

Six years ago, Logan Hart sold his soul to the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time—and now the devil has come to collect.

The irony is that Logan squandered his gift. High on fame, money, and drugs, he ignored his muse and neglected his music. And despite managing to escape showbiz in a moment of clarity, it’s too late to redeem himself. All that’s left is to try to go out with some dignity. Alas, the prospect of an eternity in Hell isn’t helping much with that goal.

But Farfarello, the devil who bought Logan’s soul, isn’t ready to drag him down to Hell quite yet. He’s just spent six years working his ass off to whip a bluesman into shape, and he refuses to let that—or the opportunity for more sinful pleasures with Logan—go to waste.

A blues guitarist selling his soul to the devil. Well, been there, done that, right? That’s what I thought when I first read the summary. But “Devil at the Corssroads” is a really interesting take on that trope.

The sex scenes were sizzling hot and made me drool. But even before they got at it, there was this sexual tension that made the butterflies in my belly go crazy. Cornelia Grey definitely knows how to write sensual and erotic characters. “Devil at the Crossroads” pretty much oozes sexiness and passion from the beginning right through the end.

But what made me give this novella five stars wasn’t the hottest sex I’ve read in ages. There’s more to this than simple pornography. I often find novellas lacking something. Usually I feel like it’s incomplete or the plot is not detailed enough or a million other little things that I missed. But “Devil at the Crossroads” is different.

The characters were very well developed and unique. Farfarello really isn’t what you think of when you hear the word “devil”. I loved the way Miss Grey described his looks. Definitely a unique character.

I really liked Logan as well. The shame he felt at ruining his chance at fame was very compelling. I felt really bad for him.

The balance between plot and porn was perfect. The storytelling is utterly compelling. I felt like I was right there with the characters, living their experiences through them. It all felt very realistic. Even though we only got to see short snapshots from those six years, I felt like I knew everything there was to know. And I most definitely liked the ending.

I also loved the references to other famous blues musicians. Talking about Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and the like made me really enjoy the whole setting. I’ve always had a thing for blues, and when Logan mentioned a song title, I immediately felt the urge to look it up. Thanks to this book and a dear online reading buddy, I’ve also discovered my favourite singer: some of Hozier’s songs fit the mood perfectly.


To sum it up, “Devil at the Crossroads” is an incredibly hot novella with unique characters and a very realistic setting. A must read!


The cover by Jared Rackler is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so simple and yet it fits the mood perfectly.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 75 pages
Published September 23rd 2013 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 21st 2013)
ISBN139781626490581
Edition LanguageEnglish

SeriesDeal with a Devil

Note: While this is technically part one of the “Deal with a Devil” universe, each story can be read as a stand-alone.

A Free Dreamer Review: The Empty Hourglass (Deal with a Devil) by Cornelia Grey

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

The Empty HourglassThomas Escott has always wanted to be a toymaker, yet just as he achieves his dream, an accident claims his right hand. He’s certain his life is over—until he hears about groundbreaking prosthetics being made by a reclusive inventor.

Jethro Hastings is perfectly content to live alone up in the mountains working on a secret masterpiece: a humanoid automaton that will change the scientific community forever. He’s behind schedule, and the date of the unveiling is fast approaching, so when Thomas shows up on his doorstep offering help in exchange for a mechanical hand, Jethro agrees. Time, after all, is running out on another deal he’s made: one with the devil.

The devil gives Jethro’s inventions life, but he can just as quickly take life away—Jethro’s, to be exact. As the sand in the devil’s hourglass falls, marking the time until the end of the deal, inventions go haywire, people get hurt, and Thomas realizes he needs Jethro just as much as his prosthetic. Now he must find a way to save Jethro’s soul, but negotiating with a devil is just as difficult as it sounds.

Review: First of all, while this is part of a series, “The Empty Hourglass” is a stand alone. Every book set in the “Deal with a Devil” universe can be read independently. They only have one minor character in common.

I was really looking forward to this book. I absolutely loved the first short story of this universe, “Devil at the Crossroads”, and “The Circus of the Damned” was pretty good too. And when there was a promise of a freaky, steampunky prosthetic, I was ecstatic. Apparently I have a real thing for that. Anyway, my expectations were very high and unfortunately the book couldn’t quite live up to them.

I liked that Thomas was a bit of an underdog. I would’ve liked to read more about his background, though. It’s not every day you meet somebody who grew up on the streets and then turned into a toy maker of all things in your M/M books. That could have made for a really interesting story, but unfortunately the author didn’t really use that potential.

Jethro is your typical eccentric inventor: Kind of grumpy and a bit of a weird loner, but with a good heart and a tragic past to boot. His characterization was a little shallow, leaving him with little depth and a lot of stereotypes.

One of the reasons why I loved the other two books in this universe is the sex. Cornelia Grey can write incredibly sensual, delightfully different sex scenes. Unfortunately, this time she chose to leave the sex non-explicit, which is a real shame. I usually don’t mind fade-to-black scenes, but I was really looking forward to how and if the author would incorporate the prosthetic. That unfortunately didn’t happen here and I was a little disappointed, to be honest.

I loved that Cornelia Grey actually decided to have a real ghost show up. I’ve never seen a similar take on ghosts and mysticism. That was really well done. But again, a little more detail would have been really nice.

The world building was unfortunately rather lacking. There’s talk about a big war that happened a few years back. Thomas was even recruited as an engineer and the experience seems to have left some deep impressions. There are also a lot of veterans who were injured during said war. However, we never do find out any details about the war. Who fought against whom? And why? For how long? And so on. I really expected more details since it played such an important role in the story.

The ending felt a little forced, as if the author realized she had to write a happy end of some sort and hastily came up with a magical solution for it all.

Overall, this was the weakest book of the series so far. It lacked in details and didn’t even have any of Grey’s usually sizzling hot sex scenes. It seems like the series gets weaker with every new book the author writes. A shame, because “Devil at the Crossroads” was simply amazing. But now I finally want a book solely about Farfarello, the devil everybody’s making deals with.

Cover: I don’t particularly like the cover by Jay Asher. It doesn’t really fit with the other two books, which have absolutely gorgeous covers. There’s just too much brown for my liking and the picture looks kind of blurry.

Sales Links:   Riptide Publishing | ARe | Amazon  other links to  come

Book details:

ebook, 264 pages
Expected publication: April 9th 2016 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleThe Empty Hourglass
ISBN139781626493933
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDeal with a Devil