Top 10 List: Sandy Williams Favorite Authors & win THE SHATTERED DARK

October 26, 2012 Giveaways, Guests 49

We are excited to have Sandy Williams here talking about the ten authors that make her a better writer as part of her tour for THE SHATTERED DARK, the second book in the Shadow Reader  urban fantasy series (published on October 30, 2012 from Ace). In her review, Abigail said, “be prepared for non-stop action, intrigue, and a few bombshells that will leave you dying for book three.”  Want to win a copy?  Enter via the widget below.

Sandy Williams’s Top 10 Favorite Authors That Make Me a Better Writer

I’m often asked how I became an author. People want to know if I majored in creative writing or if I’ve taken any classes on storytelling. I took one writing oriented class in college, mostly because I needed a fine arts credit. I enjoyed the class. Each week, we turned in a certain number of pages and let other students in the class read them and give us feedback. Because I’d been writing off and on my entire life, I simply submitted chapters of a book I already had half written. I totally felt like a cheater! The only “work” I had to do was read the other student’s pages.

Unfortunately, my pages never received much constructive feedback. My writing was good, easy to read and follow, and the story was interesting. No one criticized my work, which is always frustrating in my opinion. I wanted to improve! I wanted to learn how to be a better writer. I’m sure there are better classes out there than the one I took – Texas A&M isn’t known for it’s writing or liberal arts programs – but I didn’t get much out of that course, and I haven’t sat down with a “How to Write” book and studied it (though maybe I need to!). No, everything I’ve learned about writing, I’ve learned from my favorite authors.

I sometimes reread my favorite books when I’m feeling stuck or like my writing is turning to crap. They rejuvenate me. Plus, they tell damn good stories. Below are my top ten favorite authors (not in order) and how they influence my writing.


Jack Campbell (science fiction)

This is an author I haven’t mentioned much before. I’m actually behind on his series. I read the first few books a couple of years ago, and I can still remember the way they made me feel: tense and breathless and ZOMG-everyone’s-going-to-die all at once! His books are military science fiction, and since I plan to write some light military science fiction romance some day (how’s that for genre blending), I hope I absorb some of his ability to make the battles feel tense and realistic.

Dauntless (The Lost Fleet, #1)


Scott Lynch – (fantasy)

I’m anxiously awaiting the third book in his Gentleman’s Bastards series. Mr. Lynch is an expert at plot twists and getting his characters into and out of impossible situations. From him, I’ve learned that it’s not always the scenes you put on the page that matter, but the ones that you leave out as well. There’s a certain character in his books who is extremely important to the main character, but we’ve never met her. Part of the reason I’m so into these books is that I can’t wait to meet her. I’m completely intrigued, and I’m dying to read the stories about who she is, how the main character met her, and just what the heck happened between them. Scott Lynch is a pro at creating anticipation.

The Lies of Locke Lamora (Gentleman Bastard, #1)


Ann Aguirre – (urban fantasy, science fiction)

Her books have grit. There’s no other way for me to describe them. There’s just something raw and excruciating about her stories. Her men are always strong and sexy and delicious, and her women are independent and capable. I love that! Plus, I’m totally envious of Ms. Aguirre’s career: she’s able to write whatever she wants. Science fiction, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, young adult. Every book she writes is great, and I hope I’m able to write in multiple genres as successfully as she does.

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1)


Patricia Briggs (urban fantasy)

What urban fantasy fan doesn’t love a Patricia Briggs’ novel? She’s one of the best authors in the genre. I’m not entirely sure what makes her books so fantastic. It could be her writing. It could be that she creates intriguing and relatable characters. Or maybe it’s her worldbuilding skills. Whatever it is, I want it! I always devour her books.

Moon Called (Mercedes Thompson, #1)


Meredith Duran (historical romance)

I hate to draw attention to one of my writing weaknesses, but description is by far the thing I feel like I’m the worst at. I’m not a visual person, so it’s difficult to describe what my characters look like and what they see as they move through the story. Not so for Meredith Duran. She excels at description. Plus, her writing is freaking beautiful. Usually, I like the words to disappear on the page, but oftentimes as I’m reading a Meredith Duran novel, I stop and admire just how damn good she is at putting words on the page. I need more of her books because I need to improve my description-ing skills.

The Duke of Shadows


Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy)

Rothfuss is one of the best world builders out there. Not only are his books funny (and his blog!), but he’s created an elaborate and intriguing magic system, one that I envy. His main character, Kvothe, is well developed and likable – and he gets into the worse situations! Every time I read chapters of Rothfuss’s books, I hope I’m absorbing ways of getting my characters into trouble.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)


Julia Quinn (historical romance)

I love me some JQ! Her historical romances always make me smile. They’re fun, light, and often comical, and she writes the best dialogue – especially banter between her heroes and heroines – of anyone I’ve read. If I can infuse my dialogue with just a tiny bit of that humor, it’ll be a happy day.

The Duke And I (Bridgertons, #1)


Linnea Sinclair (science fiction romance)

If you haven’t read any science fiction romance, you probably haven’t heard of her, but she’s one of my top three favorite authors. She puts you right into the POV of her main characters and combines exactly the right amount of action packed plot with fantastic, edge-of-your-seat romances. Plus, her writing is tight and accessible, meaning the words disappear on the page. I hope my words disappear like hers do and that my books are at least half as awesome as hers are!

Gabriel's Ghost (Dock Five Universe, #1)


Joanna Bourne (historical romance)

Joanna Bourne is one of my favorite writers. Not only does she tell a damn good story, but she writes it so well. I adore her writing style and her voice, and in my opinion, she’s one of the best storytellers out there. She knows exactly how to make her readers fall in love with both her heroes and her strong, independent heroines. I’d love to meet Ms. Bourne some day!

The Spymaster's Lady (The Spymaster's Lady, #1)


Brent Weeks (fantasy)

Brent Weeks teaches me how to torture characters. Seriously. No one – not even George R. R. Martin – tortures characters as thoroughly as he does. It was tough to get through the second book of his Night Angel trilogy because I hurt so much for the characters he made me fall in love with. I haven’t tortured my characters nearly as much as he has, but the influence is there. So, if something bad happens to anyone in my books, blame Brent Weeks. 😉

Shadow's Edge (Night Angel, #2)

I think it’s virtually impossible for writers not to be influenced by the books they read. You pick up something from every author you try. The only reason I’m able to tell entertaining stories is because I’ve been a reader my entire life, and I’ve absorbed the ways of sliding in dialogue, description, and action into my books. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important for writers to read – it helps us constantly improve our craft.

And I love discovering new authors to love! That’s one of the greatest things about this job, in my opinion. Reading counts as studying!

Sandy WilliamsSandy graduated from Texas A&M University with a double major in political science and history. She thought about attending law school. Fortunately, before handing over her life’s savings, she realized case studies weren’t nearly as interesting as novels and decided to get an MA in Library Science instead. She worked as a librarian until her husband whisked her off to London on an extended business trip. She’s now back home in Texas, writing full-time, raising newborn twin boys, and squeezing in time to play geeky board and card games like Settlers of CatanDominion, and Runebound.



Giveaway provided by Ace
One copy of THE SHATTERED DARK by Sandy Williams

The Shattered Dark (McKenzie Lewis, #2)


Available on October 30, 2012 from Ace


McKenzie Lewis has a gift. It allows her access to a world few have seen, and even fewer can comprehend. It’s her secret. And it exists in the shadows…

McKenzie was a normal college student, save for one little twist: she’s a shadow reader, someone who can both see the fae and track their movements between our world and the Realm. It’s a gift for which she has been called insane, one for which she has risked family and friends—and one that has now plunged her into a brutal civil war between the fae.

With the reign of the king and his vicious general at an end, McKenzie hoped to live a more normal life while exploring her new relationship with Aren, the rebel fae who has captured her heart. But when her best friend, Paige, disappears McKenzie knows her wish is, for now, just a dream. McKenzie is the only one who can rescue her friend, but if she’s not careful, her decisions could cost the lives of everyone she’s tried so hard to save.

Read an excerpt | Read our review

Enter the giveaway via the widget below – US only

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interested in being a guest on All Things Urban Fantasy? Fill out our Guest Request Form

49 Responses to “Top 10 List: Sandy Williams Favorite Authors & win THE SHATTERED DARK”

  1. Céline G.

    I would really love to read these books. They seem so cool and they’ve been on my wishlist for a while…

    • Céline G.

      And by the way (I forgot the question), I would rather be a human (number makes power…)

  2. LadyVampire

    I loved The Shadow Reader! Congratulations on the upcoming release of The Shattered Dark! And in answer to the question, even though I saw how annoying it can be from the beginnning of book 1, I would still pick to be a human who can see the Fae. I would much rather see whats going on around me, even though knowing can be dangerous. Rather then to have technology as my weakness.

  3. Corrie

    I would rather be a human who can see the fae, though this may be because I dislike change and that isn’t as far a change and being completely fae…who knows, being fae might be an interesting life change;)

    • Sandy Williams

      heh It could be an interesting change. I kind of like the whole idea of being able to fissure from one place to another. It would make my trips back home to Houston SO much easier/quicker!

  4. JenM

    I think it would be really interesting to be Fae, even if it meant that I couldn’t use iron or technology.

  5. Linda

    Love your list, a lot of my fav´s =) Have to mention Vicky Pettersson, Kim Harrison, Meljean Brook, Lisa Kleypas and Karen Marie Moning, all great heroines in different genres.
    I´m not participating since i´m international, but Happy Release anywho =)

    • Sandy Williams

      Love Kim Harrison! I’m way far behind on her series, though. I need to fix that!

      I have to confess I haven’t yet read Vicky Pettersson, Meljean Brook, or Karen Marie Moning (I *think* I’ve read Lisa Kleypas). Once I’m finished writing the Shadow Reader series, I plan to read Moning. I’ve heard such awesome things about her books! But since people have mentioned mine in comparison to hers, I’m afraid to read them right now (though I’ve been told they’re very different, too?).

      • Keslynn

        You definitely must check out Meljean Brook. I just finished the audiobook of Riveted and loved it. Now I’m going to read all her stuff.

        I’m also a huge fan of Kim Harrison!

        Vicky Pettersson is good but definitely a slower build to get into things.

  6. Chinyere Ezinwanyi

    I would rather be a human who can see Fae.

    I really want to read this book!

  7. erinf1

    thanks for a great post and giveaway! There are some authors on this list I’m definitely going to have to check out 🙂 Congrats to Sandy on the newest release! I loved The Shadow Reader and I can’t wait to read the next book 🙂 Ummm.. in Sandy’s stories, the fae have a lot of power but I think it would be better to be a human who saw the fae and could still live in this world.

    • Sandy Williams

      Hope you enjoy the other authors! And glad you liked The Shadow Reader!

      I’m so surprised no one has yet said they would rather be a fae. Looks like we all love being human. 🙂

      Good luck in the contest!

  8. Katy L

    I’d rather be a human who can see fae. Looking forward to reading your book, whether I win or not.
    Another recommendation for character torture in the fantasy genre is Anne Bishop, especially her Dark Jewels series. Oddly enough, I had a librarian friend back in Texas who also advocated character torture as a motivator. She pushed Dorothy Dunnett as the ultimate example. I came to agree with her after I thought about my favorite books. Maybe it’s something about Texas (I won’t say Texan, because I’m not) librarians?

  9. Jae Lee

    If the choice is magic-having or magic-seeing, I’d rather be fae, even with the vulnerability. Plus, I’d be taller.

  10. Carl

    I’m sticking with humanity on this one. Thanks for the offer though.

  11. Karin Anderson

    I’ll go with human. It might be dangerous, but at least I could live in this world.

  12. Barbara Elness

    I think I’d go with being a human who could see the Fae, I think I’d be better off.

  13. Bonnie

    I would rather be a human who could see the fae. I think that would be totally amazing!

  14. Natalia J

    I would be human I really wouldn’t know how to live without technology. 😀

  15. Josephine

    I think I would rather be a human who could see fairies.

    jochibi AT yahoo DOT com

  16. Cara

    Human who could see fae… I loved The Shadow Reader and cant wait to read The Shattered Dark.

  17. Cheryl

    I’m going to go with human able to see fae. Also, I haven’t heard of some of the authors mentioned, but some of the books look interesting. I’ve had my eye on Weeks’ books, but haven’t picked any up. I may have to change that because I don’t necessarily like when my favorite characters are damaged beyond repair, but I do like it when authors don’t always let them off the hook and don’t take it easy on them.

    I loved The Shadow Reader and can’t wait to read The Shattered Dark.

  18. Kristin

    Tough one, but I think human. I love music, movies and TV too much!

    Really looking forward to reading the sequel!

  19. Shelli

    Hmm… I’ve read all of those authors except Weeks. We should rectify that situation. I would like to be human with the same powers as McKenzie. It’s like having a super power!

  20. Keslynn

    To answer the contest question, I’d like to be fae. Having technology as a weakness is uncool but the fae have such interesting magics. Definitely cooler than my smartphone.

  21. Breana M.

    I’d rather be a human who could see the Fae, because not being able to touch technology would suck.

  22. Candice

    I would like to be human who could see the fae. Wow a lot of new authors listed for me to try out.