Winter: The Stuff of Nightmares by Laura Bickle, Author of NINE OF STARS

Laura Bickle’s NINE OF STARS releases next week. Library Journal says it “mixes alchemy, folklore, and Native American traditions with a wintry Western landscape” while Booklist says, “Readers who like no-nonsense characters, the occult, Native American myths, and the modern Wild West will enjoy.” Laura’s here today with a post about winter, an excerpt featuring the wraith Skinflint Jack, and a chance to win a signed copy of her new book. Details below. Welcome, Laura!


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Winter: The Stuff of Nightmares

by Laura Bickle

Winter has always inspired a bit of dread in me. Maybe it’s the lack of light, the cold, the ice on slippery roads. There’s something about the snow that blankets and obscures everything – it muffles sound. The landscape is reduced to black sky and white earth. Everything is dormant, and it seems as if life has withered out of the world.

In developing NINE OF STARS, I wanted to deal with a bit of this atavistic dread of winter.

It’s an age-old conflict ripe for a story: the protagonist versus nature. And winter has not been good to the wolves of Yellowstone. The Nine Stars pack is making a dangerous migration in the backcountry, seeking more fertile hunting grounds. Under normal circumstances, winter is a bountiful time for wolves. But the wolves of NINE OF STARS weren’t always wolves. Once upon a time, they were human, but they forgot the magic needed to turn back.

The wolves are hunted by a man-shaped creature in a black cloak with the skull of a stag, the ghost of Skinflint Jack. In the nineteenth century, he harbored a grudge against wolves. He’s kept that anger alive for many years, stalking and killing wolves in the park. To me, Jack is the very symbol of Winter. His hooves skim over the snow, and he brings death where he travels.

Winter is not only a hazard to wolves, but to the people who have decided to protect them. Petra Dee is a geologist. Though she’s surrounded by magic as the daughter of an alchemist, Petra is stubbornly ordinary. She has no magic – she can be easily hurt or killed by a creature like Skinflint Jack. She must depend on her wits and her coyote sidekick, Sig, to catch Skinflint Jack before he kills more wolves.

Sig might be more immune to winter than he lets on. Petra believes that he’s hanging about out of love of lunchmeat and blankets, that he’s submitted to domestication out of pure self-interest. But Sig may be more than he seems. He may have a bit of the Coyote with a capital “C” in him, a god walking around earth in a fur-suit for his own purposes.

Petra’s partner, Gabe, was once immune to the chilling effects of winter. Long ago, he was hanged by the Alchemical Tree of Life. He became one of the Hanged Men, undead cowboys who worked at the behest of a family of ranchers. Now, the Tree of Life and the rest of the Hanged Men are gone and buried in the frozen ground. Gabe is an ordinary man, for the first time in a hundred and fifteen years. Bullets, trauma, and cold can kill him just as surely as any other man.

Petra, Sig, and Gabe will enter the backcountry of Yellowstone to hunt the hunter, to try to dismantle his magic on the winter solstice. It is the longest night of the year, when winter holds sway over all things at the peak of Sepulcher Mountain, when all is snow and silence and death.

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Excerpt from

NINE OF STARS

The surface of the water churned. At first Gabe thought it was the wind, swirling around loose chunks of slush. But bubbles seethed from the interior, pushing through the gold algae.

He reached for his rifle and pressed it to his shoulder. He aimed it at the water, sighting down to see a black mass rushing upward, breaking the surface in a hail of spattered slush. Crowned in antlers, the creature glittered with ice, launching itself up into the daylight like a whale breaching the surface of the ocean.

Jack.

Instinctively, Gabe blew out his breath and pulled the trigger. He fired once, twice, intending to put the creature back down in the water. His rifle jolted his shoulder with each shot, and he knew he’d hit the creature dead in its center of mass.

But the shadow leapt up onto the bank, dripping, crouching. It was the shape of a man, with antlers crowning its head. It looked upon Gabe through the skull of a stag, pale and ferocious . . . and it stood up. In one hand, it gripped the golden coin Gabe had cast into the water. A fistful of bone-pale knives dripped from the other.

Gabe ratcheted back the slide on his rifle and fired again. The creature didn’t flinch. It was as if the soaking pelts of its cloak simply sucked them in.

Petra was shooting at it, too, with no better results. She was shouting at Sig to get behind her.

Gabe kept firing, backing away to the snowmobiles. He had known that Skinflint Jack was a fearsome creature, but he suspected that Jack could be hurt. He’d guessed wrong.

Jack lowered his head and made a run at Gabe. Gabe dove away, but not before the darkness of Jack’s cloak slapped him in the side of the face. It was like being slapped by the abyss—cold, stunning hell. An antler caught Gabe in the shoulder and he tumbled, ass over teakettle, into a snowdrift.

He rolled over in the snow, the shadow looming over him.

“Hey, you! Cthulhu wannabe! Look what I got.”

Jack turned. Petra was holding two glittering gold coins in her hand. She made sure that he’d seen her. He took two steps away from Gabe, toward her . . .

. . . and she pitched the coins as far as she could, into the snowy waste. The pair of them shone like falling stars on the way down.

Jack paused, seeming torn.

But he growled and scuttled after the coins.

Gabe climbed onto his snowmobile and cranked the engine. Petra and Sig had already climbed aboard theirs and gotten the engine going. He followed Petra to a hasty retreat up the valley. Behind him, he watched the dark figure in the snowfield sifting through the snow with his hands.

That had been a disaster.

But they sure as hell had managed to get Skinflint Jack’s attention, for good or ill.


alchemy, magic, wild west, Native American, Nine of Stars, Wildlands, Laura Bickle

More about Nine of Stars

Following on the heels of her critically acclaimed prequel novels Dark Alchemy and Mercury Retrograde comes the first installment in Laura Bickle’s dark contemporary fantasy series, Nine of Stars, a Wildlands Novel

Winter has always been a deadly season in Temperance, but this time, there’s more to fear than just the cold…

As the daughter of an alchemist, Petra Dee has faced all manner of occult horrors—especially since her arrival in the small town of Temperance, Wyoming. But she can’t explain the creature now stalking the backcountry of Yellowstone, butchering wolves and leaving only their skins behind in the snow. Rumors surface of the return of Skinflint Jack, a nineteenth-century wraith that kills in fulfillment of an ancient bargain.

The new sheriff in town, Owen Rutherford, isn’t helping matters. He’s a dangerously haunted man on the trail of both an unsolved case and a fresh kill—a bizarre murder leading him right to Petra’s partner Gabriel. And while Gabe once had little to fear from the mortal world, he’s all too human now. This time, when violence hits close to home, there are no magical solutions.

It’s up to Petra and her coyote sidekick Sig to get ahead of both Owen and the unnatural being hunting them all—before the trail turns deathly cold.

Amazon | HarperCollins | Kobo | GooglePlay | BN


More about Laura

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology-Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs. Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016.

Website | Twitter | Facebook


More about the Giveaway

Laura is giving away one signed print copy (US only). Click here for the Rafflecopter form and here for my complete giveaway rules.


Winter is on everyone’s mind these days. For anyone who missed it, I was over at Book Crazy Scrapbook Mama’s place the other day with my list of 7 Icy Winter Movies and an excerpt & giveaway to celebrate my latest, Pocket Full of Tinder.

Best wishes and thank you to Laura for guest blogging today!

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Suzanne Johnson: Building New Worlds, Book by Book (#writing #fantasy)

Please welcome Suzanne Johnson, author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series, who’s here to talk about worldbuilding. Her newest book released yesterday — Belle Chasse. She’s also giving away one $50 Amazon eGiftCard and five $10 Amazon eGift Cards. The Rafflecopter link is below. Welcome, Suzanne!


The Sentinels of New Orleans series takes place in a big multiverse….a really big multiverse.

If you’ve been around the series from the beginning, you know that I’ve built the world slowly and deliberately.

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In ROYAL STREET, we met the wizards and historical undead and shifters—particularly our heroine wizard DJ and major characters Alex Warin and the undead French pirate Jean Lafitte. We also visited Old Orleans, the “wild west” border town between modern New Orleans and the great preternatural world, the Beyond.

suzanne-johnson-river-roadNext, in RIVER ROAD, we met the water species, particularly the merfolk and merman Rene Delachaise. We also got a brief introduction to elves and were introduced to visiting historical versions of the Beyond.

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ELYSIAN FIELDS took us to Elfheim, the ancestral home of the elves, for a brief period, and we learned a lot more about these sneaky devils. Oh, they’re pretty, but don’t let those pretty faces fool you. And we met a subclass of our wizards, the necromancers, as well as the mercenary race of vampires. Yeah, they’re pretty too. And loyal until the money runs out or they get a better offer.

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PIRATE’S ALLEY introduced the largest species of preternaturals other than the wizards: the fae, specifically the queen of Faerie, Sabine, and the two princes who are rivals to succeed her to the throne, Christof, prince of Winter, and Florian, prince of Summer. Faeries are, uh, well, a wee bit crazy. We also got a brief trip into the Realm of Vampyre, the ancestral home of the vamps.

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And now—yesterday, in fact—we have BELLE CHASSE, the penultimate book in the series. What’s new this time out?

Well, much of the book takes place in the Beyond. We spend some time in circa 1814 South Louisiana. We visit the capital city of Faerie and learn a little more about their magic. And we get to go inside the walls of the Winter Palace. All of the species are at play in this book…and do I need to say that they don’t play well together?

The fae have been a fun species to create. Their magic of Arch and Academy pits science and technology against nature, with only royals possessing both types of magic eligible to take the throne. There is also a population of hybrids where fae possessing one type of magic have played science experiment to try and acquire the other type, with disastrous results.

(You’ll meet Mick, a giant black talking bear with humanoid hands and feet. He owns a bar, of course.)

Civil war is brewing on the charming streets of the Faerie capital, and its outcome will have major implications on the preternatural world war brewing in modern New Orleans. Buckle your seat belts, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

In the wide world of paranormal creatures, what are your favorites?


More about Belle Chasse

Suzanne Johnson’s “strong and intriguing” (Publishers Weekly) urban fantasy series continues with Belle Chasse. The Sentinels of New Orleans series has earned starred reviews from Library Journal (“a resourceful heroine who relies on her magical ingenuity”) and PW (“vivid…a lively tale jam-packed with action, magic, and intriguing plot twists”).

With the wizard-elven treaty on the verge of collapse, the preternatural world stands on the brink of war. Unless former wizard sentinel DJ Jaco manages to keep the elven leader, Quince Randolph, focused on peace and not personal matters.

With no one on the throne, Faerie is in chaos, with rival princes battling for power. The still-undead pirate, Jean Lafitte, is building his own army of misfits, and DJ stripped of her job and hiding in the Beyond to avoid the death sentence handed down by the wizard Council of Elders can’t get anywhere near her beloved New Orleans or her significant something-or-other, Alex.

It’s time to choose sides. Friends will become enemies, enemies will become allies, and not everyone will survive. DJ and her friends will learn a hard lesson: sometimes, even the ultimate sacrifice isn’t enough.

Amazon     BN     Book Depository     Books-a-Million     Indie Bound

More about Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series but perhaps is best known for her romantic suspense and paranormal romance books written as Susannah Sandlin, including the Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, the Wilds of the Bayou suspense series, and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Her awards include two Holt Medallions in 2013 and 2015, a 2015 Booksellers Best Award in romantic suspense, and nominations in 2014 and 2015 for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Suzanne loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

The Giveaway

Suzanne is giving away one $50 Amazon eGiftCard and five $10 Amazon eGift Cards. Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for Jill’s complete giveaway rules.

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Thank you for guest blogging today, Suzanne!

Quick reminder: Jill’s giving away ten advance copies of Pocket Full of Tinder on Goodreads. To enter, click here.

Susannah Sandlin on Instalove: How Soon is Too Soon? #Writing #Romance

Brief, final reminders about upcoming events this week: I’m hosting from 2:00-3:00 p.m. ET at Bewitching Book Tour’s Halloween Spooktacular Facebook Party. I probably have enough material for 2+ hours so we’ll see how much we have time for. There will be some super easy games/contests with giveaways from either Etsy or Book Depository and, hopefully, some fun discussions about books and movies, as well as lots of talk about All Hallows Eve. More details here. This Saturday, I’m at HallowRead in Have de Grace, Maryland. More details here

Today’s guest is Susannah Sandlin, author of the romantic suspense BLACK DIAMOND, which releases tomorrow. She’s also Suzanne Johnson’s alter ego and has guested here many times. Suzanne’s a terrific blogger and prolific writer with a wonderful voice. If you haven’t already checked out her work and/or her blog, do so now! 🙂 Er, rather, do so after you read her post. Details on where to find her are below, along with info on her tour-wide giveaway — Amazon gift cards. Welcome, Susannah!

How do you feel about instalove?

Do you love an immediate bond or enjoy the slow build?

Most readers, if asked, will say they dislike “instalove”—that moment when, a half-second after a couple’s first meeting in a novel, each knows that the other is “the one and only.”

Seriously? Not in this world.

Which leads those of us who like writing fast-paced stories into a quandary. How soon is too soon?

At what point does the heroine ignore the dude threatening her with a knife and think longingly about having a night of passion with the hero?

At what point during his daring escape from saliva-dripping zombies does the hero think, “I need a mate”?

Exactly.

This has always been an issue for me. In my Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, the “bond” is supernatural so even if the characters fight that lovin’ feeling, it can happen early without stretching the flexible bonds of paranormal plausibility. But my stories move fast. Penton’s four books (so far) span about seven months total…and four couples find their HEAs (or at least Happily For Nows). In my Sentinels of New Orleans series (written as Suzanne Johnson), books two through five cover only three months. Each book covers only about two or three weeks. They’re urban fantasy, however, so my main couple can have more realistic ups and downs (mostly downs…and I think there was a saliva-dripping zombie in book three).

Which brings us to my new Wilds of the Bayou series, which is about a team of wildlife enforcement agents working deep in the heart of Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. These books are romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense, which means the gators aren’t the only things that move fast.

Book one, WILD MAN’S CURSE, covered about three weeks, but I was able to get the hero and heroine to at least a happily for now with a foxhole romance that I’m sure will last. Hero Gentry and heroine Celestine have a lot in common (well, once you get past her independent streak and his utter need to Control Everything), so the reader knows they’re going to make it.

Then there’s BLACK DIAMOND, book two in the series, which comes out tomorrow (Oct. 18—pauses to throw confetti). The heroine, Louisiana Wildlife Enforcement Agent Jena Sinclair, has some serious emotional baggage. She’s kickass on the outside; she has to be in order to make it in the man’s world of what used to be known as “game wardens”—they’re basically paramilitary-trained law-enforcement officers who can fine you for fishing without a license—or bust you for drugs or speeding…in the middle of a swamp. Inwardly, though, Jena is very, very fragile. She’s questioning herself, second-guessing her choices, feeling guilty over some of those choices.

And yet Jena makes our hero, Cole Ryan, look like the soul of emotional stability. Cole has been living off the grid in an isolated cabin on the edge of a desolate bayou for five years like some blond-haired, blue-eyed Unabomber. The first time Jena comes to his door about a nuisance alligator, he slams the door in her face.

Face it: instalove was NOT going to happen between these two.

Attraction? Sure. They find each other intriguing, even attractive (although Cole hasn’t cut his hair in five years, he does have a hippie braid thing going and is totally hot). But neither of them are in any emotional condition to act on that attraction, at least not for a good long time.

Plus, you know, there are rampaging hallucinogenic alligators to capture and crazed drug dealers to track down and skeevy suspects to interrogate—not to mention someone’s tossing Molotov cocktails like they’re going out of style and shooting at them. The moments for stolen kisses are stolen moments.

But I fell in love with Jena and Cole, separately and together. Sometimes it takes a really damaged soul to recognize another soul in danger, and together they can lift each other out of their respective dark places.

They just need to take their time.

So in BLACK DIAMOND, Cole and Jena are on a slow burn toward an HEA by the time the book ends, but it took some maneuvering.

How do you feel about instalove? There’s a lot of it in contemporaries these days—do you love an immediate bond or enjoy the slow build?

Jill: It’s hard for me to buy instalove in any romance subgenre besides paranormal because the only basis for it is physical attraction, which is a fantastic start but I always want couples in a romance to develop deep connections and have more grounded, complex reasons for loving each other. Initial, intense infatuation is fine — even fun — but I always hope the characters will evolve beyond it.

romantic suspense, Susannah SandlinMore about Black Diamond

For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.

The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.

Amazon     BN    Book Depository    Books-a-Million    Indie Bound

Book 1, Wild Man’s Curse, is now on sale for 1.99 for the Kindle

More about Susannah

Suzanne Johnson writing as Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also wrote The Collectors romantic suspense duology, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new suspense series Wilds of the Bayou started in 2016 with the release of Wild Man’s Curse and continues with Black Diamond. Johnson is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

More about the Giveaway

Susannah is giving away one $50 Amazon gift card and five $10 Amazon gift cards. Click here for the Rafflecopter form. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Susannah. Black Diamond sounds great. Love the cover. Best wishes with the tour!

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Spotlight: Rhodi’s Light by Megan Linski

Quick note for new visitors — Yesterday, I revealed the cover for my fourth Noon Onyx novel, POCKET FULL OF TINDER. To celebrate, I’m offering two giveaways: a $25 eGC to a bookstore (winner’s choice) and a $10 fantasy book from Book Depository. To see the cover, read my thoughts, and enter the giveaways, click here, but only AFTER reading about Megan’s Rhodi Saga! 🙂

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Rhodi’s Light

Flight. Hyperspeed. Clairvoyance. These are some of the powers gifted to the Rhodi, an ancient sect of assassins who defend Crescentia, a dystopian world with a dying hope.

Dyliana Fairsson is one of them. After losing her parents to a suspicious accident, she and her twin brother, Devin, join the Rhodi to avoid starvation. Under the direction of her master, Dylan struggles to learn the strength of her magic …as well as hide the growing scars on her wrists.

Can Dylan become the warrior, the hero, she’s destined to be? Or is she fated to fall from the light into the darkness?

Rhodi Rising

Forced into hiding.
Desperate to find their masters.

In the past few months since the attack on their home, twin assassins Dylan and Devin have grown restless. With the Rhodi facing extinction, they search for their masters Talidin and Tavana, only to discover they’ve gone missing. With nowhere to turn, the twins seek help from a pair of mysterious spies, only to find the trail gone cold, marked by hints of torture and destruction.

Dylan and Devin piece together the events that led to the disappearance of their fellow Rhodi. As their enemies close in for the kill, Dylan discovers that some things are impossible for a Rhodi…but not for a tigress.

Rhodi’s Lullaby

Cities burn.
Governments fall.
Lives are lost in a desperate war…one the Rhodi are losing.

The world has been devastated by the tyranny of the Red Huntress. To save Crescentia, Dylan and Devin attempt to decipher the mystery of the ancient letter their ancestors left behind, the only hope of salvation for their kind. Dylan continues to fight foes both on the battlefield and within her own mind, all while wrestling with the confused feelings she has for Enfys, the alluring spy who has become devoted to her cause.

In the epic conclusion to the thrilling Rhodi Saga, one brave warrior will stand in the way of corruption, to take place before her destiny…or her death.

More about Megan

Megan Linski is the owner of Gryfyn Publishing and has had a passion for writing ever since she completed her first (short) novel at the age of 6. Her specializations are romance, fantasy, and contemporary fiction for people aged 14-24. When not writing she enjoys ice skating, horse riding, theatre, archery, fishing, and being outdoors. She is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, and is an active fighter against common variable immune deficiency disorder. She lives in Michigan.

Megan Linski also writes under the pen name of Natalie Erin for the Creatures of the Lands Series, co-authored with Krisen Lison.

 

“I Can Kill You With My Brain”

Today’s guest is Kelly Meding. She shares a little bit about her inspiration for two of the characters from Oracle, her latest release. She’s giving away one signed copy of the book. Details below. Welcome, Kelly!


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Thank you, Jill, for having me on your blog to talk about my novel Oracle. Oracle is the first in a two-part duology called “The Project Files”, which centers around two super-powered fugitives, an android prototype, a nervous robotics engineer, and a teenage girl with no past, plus the private research corporation that’s hunting them all.

When I first set out to write the story that became this novel, I was definitely influenced by the release of the first “X-Men” film in 2000 (yes, that’s how long I’ve been fiddling with this series). I didn’t know a lot about the X-Men, beyond the FOX animated series, I loved the idea of mutants—that they were born with their powers, rather than getting them through a radiated spider, or being an alien from another planet. I wanted my own super-powered characters to also have organic powers, but in their own way. In superhero films, the heroes always seem to have never-ending powers that never take their toll.

My characters’ powers were going to be organic and heavily tied into their physical functions—as in, using their powers weakens their bodies, and eventually wears them out. Think of their abilities like a pair of shoes: the more you use them, the more they wear out, and eventually, you can’t use them any longer. Their powers were all also going to be mental in origin.

Olivia Gellar is a telemagnetic. She can manipulate most metals by using her mind, but each time she flings a screwdriver across the room, it takes its toll in headaches, nose bleeds, and physical exhaustion. Same with her partner Nick Patterson, who is a telepath. Manipulating your thoughts isn’t as easy as poking into your brain—too much for too long can end in a seizure.

Nick and Olivia are only two of my powered characters in the “Project Files” duology, and I hope their journeys are as fascinating for you to read as they were for me to create.

What’s your favorite sort of super power?


More about

Oracle

Dr. Dean Frey is a man of science. His lifelong desire to create a better future for mankind has led him to the prestigious, and highly mysterious, Wilderness Institute of Scientific Research & Technology, as the head of their Robotics Engineering department. Building on the research and designs of others before him, Dean’s own genius culminates in the successful creation of Anthony—the first fully automated, free-thinking android prototype. And now Wilderness wants to sell Anthony to the military.

Unwilling to allow his achievement to become weaponized, Dean reaches out to a former Wilderness employee with the resources to help him steal Anthony and relocate them both to safety. He’s put into contact with the very secretive Nick and Olivia, who ask for one simple thing in return: trust us, no matter what you see or hear. Blind trust isn’t in Dean’s cautious nature, but he has no other choice.

For telekinetic Olivia, rescuing a fellow Psion from a life of imprisonment and experimentation is one of her favorite things. Being paid is nice, but she’ll do the job for free, if it means giving Wilderness the finger. When Olivia’s reclusive mentor solicits her and her telepathic partner Nick’s help in smuggling a very special Project out of Wilderness, they jump at the chance to infiltrate their former home and do some internal damage to the institute that created them.

With their combined knowledge of the facility, breaking Anthony out of Wilderness should have been easy—but Olivia learned a long time ago to never underestimate her enemies, or the lengths they’ll go to retrieve what’s theirs. And this time, the price for stealing the Project may be more than she’s willing to pay.

Amazon Paperback      Amazon Kindle


More about Kelly

Born and raised in Southern Delaware, Kelly Meding survived five years in the hustle and bustle of Northern Virginia, only to retreat back to the peace and sanity of the Eastern Shore.  An avid reader and film buff, she discovered Freddy Krueger at a very young age, and has since had a lifelong obsession with horror, science fiction, and fantasy, on which she blames her interest in vampires, psychic powers, superheroes, and all things paranormal.

Three Days to Dead, the first book in her Dreg City urban fantasy series, follows Evangeline Stone, a paranormal hunter who is resurrected into the body of a stranger and has only three days to solve her own murder and stop a war between the city’s goblins and vampires.  Additional books in the series, As Lie the Dead, Another Kind of Dead, and Wrong Side of Dead, are available in both digital format and mass market paperback from Bantam. Books five and six, Requiem for the Dead and The Night Before Dead, are published in digital and paperback by Smedge Press.

Beginning with Trance, Kelly’s MetaWars series tells the story of the grown-up children of the world’s slaughtered superheroes who receive their superpowers back after a mysterious fifteen-year absence, and who now face not only a fearful public, but also a vengeful villain who wants all of them dead.  Trance and Changeling are available now in both digital format and mass market paperback from Pocket Books. Tempest and Chimera are available in digital format only via Pocket Star. All four books can also be purchased as a digital bundle.

Writing as Kelly Meade, her paranormal romance trilogy with Berkley Intermix features three shifter brothers and the women they come to love, starting with Black Rook, and continuing with Gray Bishop and White Knight.

More about the Giveaway

Kelly is giving away one signed copy of Oracle. Unless Kelly says otherwise in the comments, it’s U.S. only due to mailing costs. Click here for the Rafflecopter and click here for my complete giveaway rules.

When I was a kid, I used to love the Wonder Twins. I don’t know if it was that they were twins or that they were shapeshifters, but I loved seeing all the different things they would turn into. Thanks for quest blogging today, Kelly!

 

Rekindling the Joy of #Writing by Michelle Miles

I met Michelle years ago at FF&P’s Gathering — I think the one in New York? She’s here to share a little bit about Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways class and how it helped her to find her writing bliss again, as well as tell us some details about the book that came out of it, In the Tower of the Wizard King. She’s giving away one digital download, any format. Details below. Welcome, Michelle!

An old steamer trunk, a portal, and a wizard

First, I just want to say a huge thank you to Jill for letting me take over her blog today. I’m excited to be here! I’m also excited to talk about my newest release, In the Tower of the Wizard King. It’s an epic fantasy with lots of fun stuff like time travel, Faeries, action, adventure, romance, wizards and magic!

Writing this book was definitely a labor of love. It was born from a need to rekindle the joy of writing because at the time I started it, I was almost ready to completely give up. I had hit a really low point. I had five books with a publisher that wasn’t paying me—five GOOD books that deserved a heck of a lot better. I was really disappointed in my sales and I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore. I felt like it wasn’t worth my time because no one was reading what I was putting out. It seemed like a wasted effort.

So I took time off. Four months to be exact. I read lots of craft books. I started writing short stories again. I am also a big supporter of Holly Lisle’s writing classes, so in early 2015 when the email came out she was offering her How to Think Sideways class, I decided that was going to be my last-ditch effort to salvage my writing. I’d heard lots of good things about her class. She only offers it once a year, so I knew if I didn’t jump at it, I would have to wait.

The course is self-paced. One of my favorite lessons was where she has you do what she calls a “Sweet Spot Map”—it’s basically mind-mapping. She gives you six different words to start with and then you build off those. It’s a very personal, thought-provoking exercise designed to let your mind work without constraints and discover all the things you like and dislike. Out of that, she shows you how to leverage those repeater words across the six starters to reveal the things that are most intriguing to you and your writer mind.

I loved it.

It was an eye-opening experience for me and really pinpointed the things I loved and not just about writing.

All this to say that out of that one exercise I discovered most of the elements in Wizard King. An old steamer trunk, a portal, a wizard. I wrote the first scene of the book and built off that. The more story I wrote, the more I discovered about who the characters really were deep down and what motivated them and the bigger the story got. I built a huge world with endless possibilities for these four main characters. And every day I stepped into that world was a day the real world faded to black. I was there in the story with them.

It was great fun.

Wizard King gave me back my joy of writing. I’m so grateful to Holly Lisle and her writing course for that. I hope you’ll check it out!


More about

In the Tower of the Wizard King

In the Tower of the Wizard King

In the Age of Wizards, Time is a commodity more valuable than gold. When Aoife (EE-fa) stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic, it calls to her with an ancient magic. Inside she finds a stairway leading into darkness and cannot resist stepping onto that first stair. It leads her to dark truths her mother never wanted her to uncover and love so powerful she walks through time to save it.

Her magic is dormant.

When Aoife Burke rushes home after the unexpected death of her father, she discovers her mother has vanished amidst inexplicable circumstances. She returns to her childhood home to search for clues of her mother’s whereabouts but another shock awaits her. Sean O’Connell, the object of her girlhood crush, has purchased the family home. She senses Sean is hiding something from her, refuses to let her inside and does everything he can to keep her out. A determined Aoife breaks inside and stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic. When she opens it, instead of the normal musty clothes and ancient letters, she finds a stairway leading into darkness. It calls to her and she cannot resist stepping into the trunk and onto that first stair where it leads her to magical truths her mother never wanted her to discover.

His magic is dangerous.

Sean O’Connell has been assigned by the Inter-dimensional Portal Protection Agency to keep Aoife and her mother out of Faery. But when she breaks into the house and disappears through the portal in the trunk—like her mother—he has no choice but to follow her, even though stepping into Faery will force him to face his past. Keeping her safe and out of the hands of the Wizard King also becomes a fight to save Aoife’s life from her own mother, who has discovered a time portal in Faery leading her back in time to alter her past mistakes, putting Aoife’s life in peril. Sean is willing to do anything to make sure she’s safe. Even if it means he has to tap into his dangerous magic to do it.

iBooks     Amazon     BN      Kobo     Smashwords


More about Michelle

Michelle Miles grew up in North Central Texas in a rodeo town but was far more interested in nerdy things like Star Trek and Star Wars. She started writing fan fiction in high school. When being an archeologist like Indiana Jones or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader didn’t work out, she decided writing was her gig and has wanted to write her own stories ever since.

Her love of romance started when she picked up Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier and was immediately smitten with the genre. But she also found another love in the fantasies of Patricia A. McKillip and Anne McCaffrey. Since she couldn’t decide which genre to pick—and because she’s a true Gemini—she decided it would be super fun to write contemporary and fantasy romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has served on the board of several chapters as president and treasurer.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, cross-stitching and watching movies. A Native Texan, she loves castles, dragons, fairies and elves and is an avid Game of Thrones fan.

Giveaway

Michelle is giving away one digital download, in any format, of In the Tower of the Wizard King. Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Longtime followers know I’ve had my ups and downs. I think all writers do. I really enjoyed hearing about your journey back to the joy of writing. Holly’s class sounds great. You/she have me wondering what my writing “sweet spots” are and what those six words were. Thank you for guest blogging today, Michelle! Wishing you much joy and success!

Wizard King

Author Interview: Juliette Cross on Dogs, Dragons, Romance, and Writing

My guest today is Juliette Cross, author of the paranormal/fantasy romance DRAGON IN THE BLOOD. Since Juliette and I both have labs, there are DOG PICTURES!!! I also ask her about some other fun topics: Gothic romance, worldbuilding, the biggest challenge of writing characters that are human-dragon hybrids, and the hero and heroine from her novel. She’s offering the chance to win a $25 Amazon eGC. Details below. Welcome, Juliette!


Jill: I read that you have a black lab, Kona. I have a chocolate lab puppy, Tug. Labs are known for their loyalty and their chewing tendencies, at least during the first year or two. Has Kona ever chewed anything she shouldn’t have? Feel free to share any Kona stories and a picture!

Juliette: OMG! Kona chews EVERYTHING! We’ve bought her several chew toys of her own, but she’s so playful, she loses them under furniture then steals stuffed animals and toys from my five-year-old’s room. We recently went on a family vacation and Jackson came back with a stuffed otter. The first day we were home, Kona was hiding in the corner with it. Jackson said, “Kona ate Bodie (the otter’s name) and now he can’t see anymore.” Kona chewed off the eyes first as she always does. Good thing we love her!

You’re a fan of Gothic romance. Me too! Have you written any Gothic romance stories? Any favorite Gothic romance authors or titles you can share?

Ooooo, my favorite topic. Actually, a good bit of my writing has dark elements, settings, and emotional threads, similar to Gothic literature. I’d say my historical paranormal THE DEEPEST WELL is the most Gothic of my romances that I’ve written thus far. Demons and darkness abound in that one. As for my own favorites, most of my friends already know that JANE EYRE is my favorite book ever written, and it’s also considered Gothic lit. The misty moors, the brooding hero, the unlikely heroine, the mystery in the attic—all of it appeals to my love of the Gothic romance.

I love to hear about how authors build their worlds. Are there any behind-the-scenes details you can tell us about Gladium Province, the Morgon Guard, Nightwing Security, or the Wastelands of Aria?

I think it’s important to know that while Gladium Province prides itself on its desegregation laws and mixture of the populations of humans and Morgons, just like in the real world, there are people who hate for no reason. And no law can change that. As for the Morgon Guard, I’d like readers to know this is the global police force for all Morgon provinces. However, it’s also their military. It is expected for all Morgon males to do service time in the Morgon Guard, but of course there are always rebels who don’t. Nightwing Security is a private security team started by the Nightwing family living in Gladium to protect the interests of Morgons living and working in the city. But they are now more than guns-for-hire. They work with the Gladium Precinct as well as the Morgon Guard to help maintain law and order.

As for Aria, I can tell readers that my inspiration for this frozen wasteland was the “Wild West” of America. Outlaws flee there to escape punishment and to live on the fringes of society. And just like in the old west, all those passing through must beware of dangerous predators and hostile natives.

What was one of the biggest challenges of writing characters who are Morgons—human-dragon hybrids?

The only thing I find difficult is during technical scenes where I must remember they have wings and so they move, sit, stand, even have sex differently than humans. And because of their wings, they even think differently, especially during travel. This inspired some interesting scenes, such as their conversation with the Morgon priest they meet on their first stop in Aria.

Sounds like your hero and heroine have some great chemistry! Can you tell us something about them that you haven’t yet shared?

Hmmm, I’d probably share that Valla wants nothing more than to give in to her desires for Conn, but she often resists because she’s afraid this will make her weak. She doesn’t think like most women because she never had a woman’s or a mother’s influence growing up. What she doesn’t realize (which Conn does), and it takes her a while to do so, is that Conn’s love will only make her stronger. Luckily, my heroines and heroes always learn from their mistakes.


Dragon In The Blood

More about Dragon in the Blood

When desire bites, there’s no patience for a slow burn.

While all seems quiet in Gladium Province, the Morgon Guard—the global justice force for the dragon hybrid race—knows their enemy is rebuilding its forces in the underground.

Valla Moonring, an assassin for the Order of the Morgon Guard, is ordered on a mission into the Wastelands of Aria—a formidable, icy wilderness fraught with all manner of dangers, including outlaws, deadly weather, and big-game predators.

To her great distaste, she’s partnered with a Nightwing Security operative, Conn Rowanflame, a Morgon with the aggravating ability to get under her skin. While she takes her mission seriously, Conn’s confident charm throws her off balance, a dangerous place to be in conditions like these. Especially when cold nights require close contact.

Sensual attraction binds them ever closer, igniting a passion of unexpected force—the soulfire. But when the hunters become the hunted, their bond could prove perilous. Even fatal…

DragonInTheBlood_Teaser2

Available at Amazon


More about Juliette

Juliette lives in lush, moss-laden Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. Multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance, she loves reading and writing brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

You can discover more of Juliette and her books on her website.

More about the Giveaway

Juliette is giving away one tour-wide $25 Amazon eGift Certificate. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thanks for a great interview, Juliette!

Jeffe Kennedy, Author of LONEN’S WAR: Has fantasy become a catch-all category?

Today’s guest is Jeffe Kennedy, whose new book LONEN’S WAR just released two days ago. She’s here to discuss the Saturn Awards, the RITAs, and our favorite topic — FANTASY!!


If a show has any kind of “woo woo” … it’s getting called Fantasy

Several things have happened lately to make me question how the fantasy genre is being labeled and represented in the larger world. Specifically, I triggered at the announcement that OUTLANDER won the 2016 Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Television Series. (The link is here: http://www.saturnawards.org/, but as they have the winners on the current home page and not at a specific link, I grabbed a screenshot, too.)

2016 Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Television Series

Now let me be clear: I *love* OUTLANDER. I’m a huge fan of both the books and the television show. I think the show deserves all the awards.

Except… maybe not the Fantasy award.

Because it’s not Fantasy.

I mean, sure, there’s time travel. But the time travel events occur at widely spaced moments. One per season, at this rate. Otherwise there are no fantastical elements. (Okay – Sam Heughan is fantastic, but I’m talking about the *other* meaning, as in relating to fantasy. And not that kind of fantasy, people.) Aside from the time travel that forms the premise, the story is really historical.

For comparison, let’s look at the other nominees. (Link here: http://www.saturnawards.org/The-Saturn-Awards-Annual-Nominations.php)

Game of Thrones
Haven
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
The Magicians
The Muppets
Outlander
The Shannara Chronicles

Of these, four – Game of Thrones (George R.R. Martin), Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Susanna Clarke), The Magicians (Lev Grossman) and The Shannara Chronicles (Terry Brooks) – are taken from novels or series firmly planted in the fantasy genre. They have solidly magical themes and alternate fantasy worlds.

I haven’t seen Haven, but it looks to be more paranormal. Kind of like Supernatural? Maybe someone who’s seen it can weigh in here.

I can’t even with The Muppets being included in the nominees.

BUT – that inclusion goes to a theme. If a show has any kind of “woo woo,” not solid reality elements, it’s getting called Fantasy by this group.

Let’s take a look at the Science Fiction category for contrast. (I’ll stick with the television series nominations, in an attempt to keep this apples to apples.) The nominees were:

The 100
Colony
Continuum
Doctor Who
The Expanse
Wayward Pines
The X-Files

I had to look up Colony, Expanse and Wayward Pines but, with the possible exception of the last, they all seem solidly Science Fiction. I dunno on Wayward Pines – maybe it’s really different from Haven in the fantasy nominees, but I’m not sure where the line is being drawn there.

ANYWAY, my point is that the Fantasy category tends to be a catch-all for “weird shit.” Which kind of bothers me. I’m seeing books out that are marketed as Fantasy Romance that read solidly to me as Historical Romance. It’s not enough to me for a story to take place in a non-tech world, especially one very recognizable as from our past. There needs to be more for it to be actual *fantasy*. Just as one time-travel even is not enough to make Outlander into a true fantasy, then a few magical elements in a historical don’t quite lever it into fantasy for me.

Another area that makes this problematic for me is RWA’s RITA awards. For the 2016 awards there were twelve categories. Some, like Contemporary Romance, are broken into subgroups of Long, Mid-length, and Short. Historical is broken into Long and Short. So, five of the twelve were for contemporary and historical romances.

How many for Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction Romance and Fantasy Romance? One. All under Paranormal.

Now, I understand some of the category breakdowns are fueled by number of entries. Maybe there aren’t enough entries in Paranormal to break down into more granular categories. But lumping all of these under the equivalent of the “weird shit” category seems unfair to the breadth of these genres.

Let’s look at the Paranormal finalists. (I added my take on their genres – feel free to argue!)

Midnight’s Kiss by Thea Harrison – PNR, splash of UF
Must Love Chainmail by Angela Quarles   – Time Travel
Possessed by a Wolf by Sharon Ashwood – PNR
The Shattered Court by M. J. Scott – Fantasy
Soulbound by Kristen Callihan – PNR/Steampunk
Stars of Fortune by Nora Roberts – PNR
Viking Warrior Rising by Asa Maria Bradley – Historical with a dash of magic? (Haven’t read this one and hard to tell from the descriptions)

The book that won, Angela Quarles’ Must Love Chainmail is a pretty solid time-travel, much like Outlander. No shade on her or her book – big congrats to her on what I understand is a well-deserved award! – but is this like comparing Outlander to Game of Thrones to, well, The Muppets? To me these books aren’t all the same genre. Is it really fair to lump them all under one umbrella for our industry’s highest award?

Maybe I’m wrong here. Help me out, people!!


More about Jeffe

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular SFF Seven blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.


Lonen's War, Sorcerous Moons, Jeffe Kennedy, fantasy

Lonen’s War

Sorcerous Moons – Book 1

An Unquiet Heart

Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…

A Fight Without Hope

When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.

A Savage Bargain

Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

Available now at Amazon, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords. For buy links, click here.


Jill’s take:

I think the fantasy label often serves as a catch-all, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. I agree that defining Outlander as “fantasy” isn’t entirely accurate. It’s kind of like calling Game of Thrones a romance because of Sam and Gilly. I always refer to Outlander as historical fiction with lots of romance and a bit of time travel.

Focusing on the Saturn Awards, I guess I’m wondering what other category it could have been nominated in. Best Television Presentation? Even if it had been, it would have been competing against even more apples-to-oranges shows though.

Similar to your point above — I’ll share a pet peeve of mine: When people use the term “science fiction” as a catch-all label for ALL books with ANY type of speculative element. Drives me absolutely nuts.

Terrific post, Jeffe. And great cover for LONEN’S WAR! Thanks for guest blogging today!!

EVERYONE– WEIGH IN! WHAT DO YOU THINK? HAS “FANTASY” BECOME A CATCH-ALL CATEGORY? IS THAT BAD? OR ARE YOU OKAY WITH IT?

To Be or Not To Be: The Inner Struggle of the Superhero by Rose Shababy

Yeah, I know after saying I wasn’t going on hiatus… I kinda went on hiatus — with respect to blogging anyway. It’s because my editor gave me her notes and a marked-up manuscript of Pocket Full of Tinder shortly after Asteroid Day. Since then, I’ve either been working, revising, or driving my kids around to their various summer commitments. My house could use a good cleaning, but I’m ignoring it. At least Tug hasn’t chewed anything else up lately! The garden looks good, although the bees are struggling. Because I’ve neglected this blog in favor of my novel, I pressed Penny and her younger sister into service. Expect some review posts from them, an interesting author interview, another awesome guest blogger, and a more detailed update on my self-publishing journey later this summer. In the meantime, enjoy Rose’s wonderful post…

Rose Shababy’s new book, The After Effect, releases today. To celebrate she’s doing a release day blitz with guest blogs, interviews, and spotlights. She’s also hosting a Facebook party with other authors, games, and prizes. The books are on sale during her blog tour for $0.99 each AND she’s offering a chance to win some great prizes TODAY. Details below. Welcome, Rose!


Rose Shababy, The After Effect, superheroes

“We’ve all watched as the day of the superhero exploded into a pop culture phenomenon”

I never really had a thing for superheroes when I was young. Sure, I watched all the Superman movies with Christopher Reeve, but those films never really drew me in because he always seemed too good, too perfect, and in the end, too unrelatable.

Fast forward a few years to the first time I watched an X-Men cartoon. I was hooked immediately. Here were real people, characters with flaws and fears who struggled with the moral ambiguity that comes with choosing to be a hero. After all, if you have great power, shouldn’t you use it for the betterment of man?

The implication being something that always bothered me: that somehow, you owe your life to society if you have any kind of ability at all. Great scientists must sacrifice their lives in the pursuit of advancement in their fields even if what they really want is to be a dancer on Broadway. Doctors who have a subconscious understanding of the human body must spend their days in painstaking surgery rather than building houses. And so on.

It all stems from the idea that ‘the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one.’ What a noble concept, at least for everyone else but the person being asked to sacrifice themselves for the greater good.

Therein lays the moral ambiguity. After all, if you could save someone from drowning, why wouldn’t you? What kind of person stands by and does nothing?

Flash forward another twenty years and we’ve all watched as the day of the superhero exploded into a pop culture phenomenon. No longer belonging to the geeks of the world, suddenly nerd becomes the new cool.

For those of us who were in on it long before it became hip to wear thick glasses and t-shirts sporting superhero logos, it’s a sort of mixed blessing. Sure it’s mainstream now, and suddenly those of us mocked for our hobbies and interests twenty years ago are now trendsetters. But we pay a price. We watch as our personal icons get swallowed up into billion dollar industries, cross marketing everything from soda to fast food to cosmetics.

And the cynicism I felt toward Superman as a young child grows ever stronger as I look for a hero that doesn’t disappoint or sell out.

Until the day I decided to create my own. I mean, it’s a brand new world, right? There’s enough room for a few more heroes, isn’t there? Heroes who are, first and foremost, real people with real problems and real lives.

Like Blue Brennan, the heroine of The Blue Effect. She’s sassy and mouthy with a bit of a drinking problem, not to mention a huge man problem. She’s a torn paper doll who doesn’t give a shit about helping other people. At least, not at first.

Then there’s Kasey Korsak, the wiser than his years leader of the group who maintains a façade of calm and diplomacy. At least, that’s what we’re led to believe until his past catches up with him and everything begins to unravel in The After Effect.

Or Avery Anderson. He’s Channing Tatum swoon-worthy, but his attitude sucks. The only reason he hangs on is because of his decade long connection to Kasey, although his loyalty is pushed to its limits throughout both books. And spoiler alert: he’ll face the greatest test of his devotion to his friends in the yet to be released third book.

Sure, you’ll find heroes in the pages of these books. People with amazing, fantastical powers. Some of them use their abilities for good, and some use them for bad. But you’ll also find people just like you. People who struggle to pay their rent, who get angry at the rotten hand they’ve been dealt, people who can’t even begin to view themselves as anyone’s savior and aren’t afraid to complain a little when they go out and save someone’s ass.

And in the end, I think those are the best kind of heroes.


More about The After Effect

Maximum Ride meets Sin City in the Renegade Heroes series!

Kasey and his friends are fringe heroes. They use their abilities to protect society, until their last battle leaves Kasey almost dead. Disillusioned, they leave the city in search of peace. But peace is the last thing they’ll find. Ever since Kasey escaped the cold fingers of death, his powers have been running wild. It doesn’t take long for his girlfriend, Blue, and the others to notice. In the lush forests of northern Idaho they meet a brand new hero whose shocking revelation sheds new light on Kasey’s strange behavior. And with her revelation comes a terrible solution none of them can accept. Worse still, Kasey soon comes face to face with the nightmares of his past. Will the heroes find the strength to face the consequences of their mistakes? Or will Kasey be forced to make the ultimate sacrifice?

Amazon    BN     Smashwords      Kobo     iTunes

More about Rose

Rose Shababy and her family reside in eastern Washington State. Rose grew up in the Northwest but swears she’s going to move to warmer climates someday. She’s claimed this for over 20 years, however, and has yet to move more than 75 miles away from her mother.

Rose has a deep love of all things Star Trek and yearns to travel the heavens, as well as an intense desire to be bitten by a radioactive spider. Unfortunately she sucks at science and math so she hasn’t been able bring her dreams to life, instead living vicariously through books, comics, television and film. She hopes to someday make a million dollars so she can afford to buy her way to the international space station, but she’d settle for being able to fly around the world and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Rose also loves to cook and worked for years in a gourmet Italian grocery and deli where she learned to hone her skills. She prepares culinary masterpieces for her family, but fervently wishes the dishes would wash themselves. Especially now that her dishwashers/children are nearly grown and only one still lives at home.

Rose likes to use her free time wisely. For instance, she likes to daydream, will often read for hours until she falls asleep on the couch with an electric blanket and a warm tabby cat curled up on her hip, as well as spending cozy weekend days watching Syfy movies like Sharknado and Mega Piranha with her husband.

If Rose were a cartoon animal, she’d prefer to be a wise old owl or a sleek and sexy jaguar, but in reality she’d probably be a myopic mole with coke-bottle glasses.

More about the Giveaway

Rose is giving away:

5 –  ebooks of The Blue Effect AND The After Effect

1 – $10 gift card (Amazon or B&N, winner’s choice)

1 – Signed hard copy of The Blue Effect and The After Effect

To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you, Rose, for guest blogging today! Good luck and best wishes for THE AFTER EFFECT!

After Effect Banner

young adult, urban fantasy, Rachel Marks

5 Powerful Sources of Inspiration for #Writers by Rachel Marks

Taking a break from my Top Ten SF/F TV Shows Countdown to host Rachel Marks, author of The Dark Cycle YA UF series, which includes DARKNESS BRUTAL, DARKNESS FAIR, and the upcoming DARKNESS SAVAGE. Rachel’s list of creative inspirations includes sources that are fun, interesting, beautiful, bittersweet, and heart-wrenching. At the end of her tour (which ends today!), she’s giving away one $20 eGC and winner’s choice of one print or audio book in her series. Details below. Welcome, Rachel!

What Sparks the Flame?

Many things inspire a writer or an artist, and while most of the answers to the question of What inspires you? are similar, the reasoning behind the “why” are different. So, what inspires me? Well, here’s a few answers.

Books, Books, Books: I can’t read enough books. I love Classics, Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, and Romance. I read YA, NA, and AA. I didn’t really start reading until I was in high school and I pretty much only fell into it because I wanted the world to disappear. Being a teenager is tough, and those pages of worlds and loves kept me sane. Today they keep me inspired.

Movies/TV: I am in love with all things BBC, addicted to the cheese of CW (Go, Smallville!), and infatuated with Jon Snow. The thing about movies and TV that spark the inner muse, are the characters mixed with the intense emotions. I suppose it’s the same reason I love books so much, the same reason I love writing, creating. It’s the core of the stories. Watching the torment, the angst, and the falling in love. It inspires me to push further in my own work and attempt to reach that level of emotion. To impact. To tug and pull at the heartstrings. To captivate.

“I want to understand, to get to the heart of things, to search out what it means to be human.”

– Rachel Marks

Humans: There is nothing like humanity to draw in the reader. Because we all know what it feels like to be one. I think this goes to the core of why I write. I want to understand, to get to the heart of things, to search out what it means to be human (or Kryptonian). I don’t want to seem like a weirdo (people can’t know the truth!) but I really do enjoy people watching. Listening to people’s conversations may seem the crazy-lady activity, but it’s great food for fiction fodder a well.

Nature: The ocean feels like home. The forest smells like hope. The mountains remind me how small we are. There’s nothing like nature to ground me and send my imagination soaring at the same time. The colors, the sounds . . . it’s so soothing. When I’m stressed I always make my way to the sea; I watch the waves and feel the salt on my skin. The woods are magical, the trees giving me peace in the turmoil. I love nature. There’s really nothing like it for soul food, and that’s vital to keeping the muse happy.

Pain: Life will hit us. It’s a given. No matter how rich or poor, no matter our creed, we’re all guaranteed to feel life kick us sideways. I don’t want pain. But it is unavoidable. I have felt far too much of it in my life, from victimhood to cancer to the death of my amazing father. But as an artist I process it in the healthiest way I know. First I pray. Then I pour it out in images and stories. I recalled the pain of being a cutter when I wrote the teen girl struggling with self-worth in Darkness Brutal. I dug for the emotion of childbirth when I wrote the scene of Rose’s sister struggling to bring life into the world in my novella, Winter Rose. But the one thing I’ve learned about pain is that it becomes almost beautiful when counteracted with joy. Or love. Like the torment of childbirth, bringing forth a new life. Without heartache, how else could we truly understand peace?

So, these are the things that inspire me. What inspires you?

More about

The Dark Cycle Series

young adult, urban fantasy, Rachel Marks,

Darkness Brutal

Aidan O’Linn’s childhood ended the night he saw a demon kill his mother and mark his sister, Ava, with Darkness. Since then, every three years the demons have returned to try to claim her. Living in the gritty, forgotten corners of Los Angeles, Aidan has managed to protect his sister, but he knows that even his powers to fight demons and speak dead languages won’t keep her safe for much longer.

In desperation, Aidan seeks out the help of Sid, the enigmatic leader of a group of teens who run LA Paranormal, an Internet reality show that fights demons and ghosts. In their company, Aidan believes he’s finally found a haven for Ava. But when he meets Kara, a broken girl who can spin a hypnotic web of passionate energy, he awakens powers he didn’t know he had―and unleashes a new era of war between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness.

With the fate of humanity in his hands, can Aidan keep the Darkness at bay and accept his brilliant, terrifying destiny?

Amazon   |   Listen to an Audio Sample

young adult, urban fantasy, Rachel Marks

Darkness Fair

Against the backdrop of an ancient battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness, Aidan struggles to control the newly awakened powers that seem to be his only hope for rescuing Ava, his little sister, trapped somewhere beyond the Veil. As he gravitates to Kara, the beguiling and dangerously unstable girl who helped him realize his abilities, a terrible mistake of fate is revealed that points him back toward Rebecca, whose role is becoming more critical to the battle. And no matter what his heart wants, it might be too late to stop the pieces already in motion.

Without knowing the sacrifices that will be required of them, Aidan and his motley crew of friends—each with their own role to play—must face the demon threat head-on. They’re the only ones keeping the growing army of Darkness at bay, and if they fail, the future of humanity could be lost.

Amazon  |  Listen to an Audio Sample

And the upcoming Darkness Savage

young adult, urban fantasy, Rachel Marks

More about Rachel

Rachel A. Marks is an award-winning author and professional artist, a SoCal girl, cancer survivor, a surfer and dirt-bike rider, chocolate lover and keeper of faerie secrets. She was voted: Most Likely to Survive the Zombie Apocalypse, but hopes she’ll never have to test the theory. Her debut series The Dark Cycle, described as Dickens’ Oliver Twist meets TV’s Supernatural, is now out through Skyscape, beginning with DARKNESS BRUTAL.

More about the Giveaway

$20 Amazon gift card and chosen paperback or audio in the series. Click here to enter. Click here for Jill’s complete giveaway rules.

Rachel A Marks Tour Banner

Thank you, Rachel, for guest blogging today! For anyone who missed my previous posts counting down the TEN BEST SFF TV SHOWS, here are the links to the first six. Tomorrow, the countdown resumes!

10. Witches of East End

9. Shannara

8. Bitten

7. The 100

6. The Magicians

5. Blindspot

urban fantasy, fairy tale, Grimm and White, Emily Ann Hansen

Emily Hansen: The Bizarre and Fantastic – How Fairy Tales Transformed my Novel

Today’s guest blogger is fellow Marylander, Emily Hansen, author of GRIMM & WHITE, the first book in the urban fantasy series “Heartless.” She’s here with a post on one of my favorite topics — fairy tales. She’s also giving away three print copies of her book. Details below. Welcome, Emily!

“Would you rip out your own heart if it meant saving the person who was responsible for its erratic beats in the first place?”

There was a grotesque eloquence in which the Grimm Brothers carried out their stories. I vividly remember hearing about how bloody the original Cinderella was compared to the happy-go-lucky Disney version. There were still talking animals in the original. They weren’t friends with Cinderella but rather just tattled on the Step Sisters whose desperation for status led them to chop at their own feet.

“The girl cut a piece off of her heel, forced her foot into the shoe, and swallowed the pain.”

Reading that now, makes my stomach churn. Such simple text but the beauty comes in their message.

The bizarre and fantastic can be a vehicle to open a dialogue to discuss the greater themes in literature. Choice and the overarching idea of selflessness have always been topics that intrigued me. Each of the Grimm Brother’s stories had a lesson of morality. They are meant to teach, but before that can be digested, the reader is led through a maze of the strange.

I loved the fairy tale format. However, when I started writing about people with no hearts, being forced to rip out the ventricles of the ones they loved, I had no clue I was going to borrow archetypes from the Grimm Brothers. The story line, characters, and backstory came together sort of like two people fall into consuming love, all at once, in a single startling breath.

They fit perfectly together. I knew I had stumbled on an idea people would appreciate.

You don’t choose the one you love. I’ve been there. I’ve lived through a time where I would have clawed out my heart to make the pain of being away from him lessen. Love, real – tantalizing – breathtaking love … hurts. It can bring you high and just as fast it can hurtle you screaming towards the ground.

That control made me wonder, how many people would choose their own life over their true love.

Would you rip out your own heart if it meant saving the person who was responsible for its erratic beats in the first place?

At first, I didn’t know if the idea I had would translate well on the page. However, when I started bringing in elements from my main men, the Grimm Brothers — it worked.

The good thing, actually the amazing thing  is that in fairy tales there is an absence of logic and yet there is still the blunt presence of truth. Some stories share similarities and they still are truly different.

The hero/oine should face some kind of challenge. There are often magical elements. Most have princes and princesses. Most have repeating objects in sets of threes.

Notice I used the word most. Modern day fairy tales break standard conventions and I’m in love with these rebel writers.

My favorite college professor got through with telling us what we absolutely had to do to finish writing a story that he was assigning. Then he laughed to himself and said, “Unless that doesn’t work for you.” Essentially the rules that work for some writers won’t work for others.

It’s the same idea with fairy tales. The originals are beautiful and lovely but transforming the style into my own has been an adventure I would gladly take again.

Grimm White Banner

More about

Grimm and White

How far would you go to save your own life? Would you kill the one you love?

I want you to put your hand over your heart. Press down against the skin, meld your fingers into the flesh, and listen to the beats. Can you hear how that one organ is keeping you alive? One pump. Two pumps. Three.

Alice White Cabot would consider you lucky. She can press down in that same exact spot and she would feel … nothing. She is under the curse of the Heartless, and on her nineteenth birthday she will have to rip out the heart of the one she loves or she herself will die.

Kallin Grimm is a regular nineteen-year-old guy from the Chicago suburbs. He’s completely normal, except for the strength he can’t explain. Not to mention, Kallin is in love with a girl that he has never met. The only means of communication between the two of them is through an enchanted journal. Whatever is written in one can be seen in the other. For the past year Allie and Kallin have shared their secrets and their souls, which is why Allie knows they can never be together. It is the only way to keep his heart safe.

Enter the dark world of curses, secrets, and a history as old as time. The novel opens on Allie’s eighteenth birthday. With one year left, she, along with her best friend Miles set off from California to find out more about the curse, her past, and to stay as far away from Kallin Grimm as she can. Their first lead is in Chicago. Maybe this curse is stronger than she thinks. Tick-Tick-Tick.

Who would you choose?

Available on Amazon

Emily Hansen
Emily Hansen

More about Emily

Emily Hansen is a writer currently living in Baltimore City. She grew up in Illinois and will always call Chicago home. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BA in Fiction. She is a 9th grade English teacher. She became a writer because she thinks that people should not have to look far to find magic in their lives. Her obsessions range from depressing poetry to one or ten cups of coffee a day. Grimm and White is her first novel.

Emily QnA

More about the Giveaway

Emily is giving away three print copies of Grimm & White (U.S. only). Click here for the Rafflecopter link (it’s at the bottom of the BBT page). Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

“In fairy tales there is an absence of logic and yet there is still the blunt presence of truth” — An interesting point. I wonder, though, if our feeling that fairy tales hold “truths” is simply because our culture is so steeped in them it’s impossible to separate their significance from their existence. Not sure that makes sense… I guess I’m saying fairy tales are so much a part of our cultural DNA that it’s hard to be objective about them. Many are probably illogical lies, but we’ve grown up on them, so they feel truthful. In any case, I love fairy tales, as well as discussing them and their effect on us. Great post, Emily. Thanks for guest blogging and best wishes with Grimm & White!

Nerd Quilts! Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Disney Villains, and more… made by Author/Quilter Susan Marshall

Today’s guest is author/quilter Susan Marshall. She makes one-of-a-kind quilts with novelty fabrics. Basically, if your favorite thing has an associated fabric, she can make a quilt for it. For those of us that love to burrow on our couches under blankets while we marathon movies and shows, this post is a MUST READ! Welcome, Susan!!

Doctor Who Quilt by My Nerd Quilt, Susan Marshall
Susan’s MyNerdQuilt Shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyNerdQuilt

I accidentally stumbled upon Jill’s blog because I thought she’d written a book that I loved but it was actually someone else.  Despite the fact we had a missed connection after checking out her blog I immediately subscribed.  At the time I’d just started writing and loved her blog because it helped me not feel alone in my struggle to write everyday. Like my own blog, Jill likes to promote her books but also talks to other authors about their own books.  There’s so many books out there I love when other authors support each other by shining a light on their hard work.  She makes a point to write interesting posts about the craft of writing and fun stuff about her life.  Over the last two years her blog has helped me on more than one occasion when I was blocked or feeling down.  She’s an inspiration to us all to spread positivity and it will come back to you.  Thank you, Jill!!*

At the ripe age of 48 I published my first book Instant Connection which is now almost two years since it was first published.  Over the last two years I suffered some writers block and some financial issues that kept me from writing as quickly as I would have wanted.  Luckily with the support of my friends and fellow writers I’ve pushed through.  My goal is to publish two books this year and with one at the editors now, it might just happen.  If you’d like to learn more about my writing and me, check me out on social media (links below).

Other than being an indie romance writer, my crafting focus is quilting. My love of sewing started when I was 9 years old and my mother forced me to take sewing lessons.  When I say forced, she only had to force me to go to the first time and after that I loved it.  I won blue ribbons on my sewing projects in 4-H and got great satisfaction out of making pretty things for others.  As I got older and busier as a teenager I stopped sewing and crafting.  Boys became more important.

Disney Villain Quilt, My Nerd QuiltNow that I am older, I have started to sew again making quilts for friends and family for special occasions or just for fun when I was inspired.  My day job allows me to work from home as an events consultant in the video game industry so I am able to work it into my day.  Late last year I found myself in need of a new revenue stream as I lost a valued client, so I started to think about what I could do to earn extra cash.

I started selling vintage jewelry on Etsy and I really enjoyed my experience so I found myself wandering the isles of Jo-Anne Fabrics looking for inspiration on a new project and saw all of this Star Wars fabric.  As a self-professed nerd who attends Comic Con almost ever year, I was inspired like I’d been hit with a light saber.  My store is called My Nerd Quilt, which was inspired by my love of all things Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and more.   When I started to do research about available fabrics I got more excited because there were loads of cool fabrics. When I looked further I found there wasn’t anyone turning them into bespoke quilts.  I’ve settled into my niche and work hard every week coming up with new quilt inspirations.  I use faux fur, satins, fleece and flannels to make them soft and perfect for cuddling on your sofa to binge watch Netflix.  All the blankets are all machine washable. Check out my customer have to say about my quilts on my Etsy reviews.

Over the Christmas period I sold out of stock because I got a mention on the Nerdist podcast.  One mention on that podcast has given me great sales and some pretty cool special orders.  I love making special orders for quilts that you might not see on my site.  Recently I finished two king-sized Star Wars inspired quilts for two young girls’ birthdays in England.  Over the holidays I made special order Sherlock, Doctor Who and a limited edition vintage Star Wars fabric quilts.

This week I added a new type of quilt, a nerd quilt for your dog.  These quilts are for small to medium-sized dogs so you can put it on their beds for added warmth or your sofa to protect your furniture. 

Star Wars, quilt, dog blanket
Your Dog Deserves a Nerd Quilt Too!!!

My artistic gene is something I gladly inherited from my mother, as she was a painter, jewelry maker, and interior decorator.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t inherit her skinny legs or exceptional metabolism.   Every day I am making these quilts as it feeds my artistic nature when I am unable to write, both of these bring me joy and help me to honor her memory.

Check out my quilts and feel free to contact me if you’d like to special order a quilt.



Where to Find Susan & Her Jewelry, Quilts, and Books

My Nerd Quilt on Etsy | My Nerd Quilt on Facebook | My Nerd Quilt on Instagram | @MyNerdQuilts on Twitter | My Antique Jewelry Shop on Etsy

Susan’s Website | Susan on Facebook | Twitter: @marshall_sl | Instagram: marshall_sl

Instant Connection: Amazon | Nook | iTunes

*I was so surprised and grateful when Susan first reached out to me to say how much she appreciated some of the writing posts I’ve shared here. Sometimes I worry, because I’m still relatively new at this writing/publishing gig, that I don’t have any super useful or awesomely valuable tips for fellow writers. But then I remind myself how much I’ve enjoyed reading other writers’ posts about all sorts of stuff. Writing tips, sure. But also just stuff about the day to day. Successes and challenges, both big and small. Lots of headwinds in our industry — but better to be in the midst of a maelstrom with friends than alone on a calm sea, right? 😀 🙂

I saw on Facebook that Susan just finished a Frozen and Game of Thrones quilt. Lots of awesome possibilities for Nerd Quilts!! Please go check out her Etsy shop.

Susan, thank you for the wonderful guest post!

p.s. To those of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, have a happy one!

p.p.s. I bought my husband and older daughter MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING for Christmas. She’s taking French and they both love to cook WAY MORE THAN I DO. Told them all I want for Mother’s Day is for them to make me something from it. No Julie & Julia year-long project. One day. One meal. Will report back. If the weather’s nice, we may just go for a bike ride. Because I’m starting to feel like we Northeasterners are actually living on Venus in Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.” Double-triple-quadruple aside, you know they are STILL assigning that story in middle school and asking kids to write a short story about what happened to Margot next? Can you believe I got a “C” on mine when I was a kid?!!! >:-(

fantasy romance, Jeffe Kennedy, Twelve Kingdowns, The Crown of the Queen

Jeffe Kennedy: “Grateful I couldn’t selfpub easily” (#amrevising #writerslife)

The speed at which one can self-publish is often mentioned as one of its biggest advantages. A writer can get a book to market via self-pub MUCH faster than via traditional publication. But fast isn’t always best. If the mantra of real estate is location, location, location then the mantra of writers should be revision, revision, revision. Both rising star and hard-working author (those two adjectives are hardly a coincidence; they go hand in hand), Jeffe Kennedy, is here to share her thoughts on drafting versus revision and why all of us should take the time to get it right. Welcome, Jeffe!


One of the best parts of being a writer, I often say, is getting to have in-depth conversations with writers I admire. At the RT Booklovers Convention in Las Vegas, I had lunch with amazing SFF author Kate Elliott. Not only is she a brilliant author of some of my favorite fantasy series, she’s been in the business for over twenty years and generously shares her accumulated wisdom.

At any rate, during lunch, as we talked about our current projects, she asked me if I love or hate revising. This is one of those litmus test questions writers often ask each other, because most of us fall into one of two camps on it. I always say I hate it. For me, revising has always given me the sense of fixing the things I got wrong the first time I wrote it. In contrast, one of my good writer friends calls revision “God’s work.” Which I find amusing because, biblically speaking, God didn’t do much revising at all. Unless you count Lilith as the first draft of woman and Eve as the revision.

Kate falls into the revision camp. She hates drafting and feels she really shines when revising. What she hates are the ups and downs of drafting, the going from exaltation to utter despondency. As we discussed the ins and outs of both phases of writing, it occurred to me that maybe I’ve changed.

Because I really don’t hate revision as much as I used to. Largely because that feeling of fixing mistakes has diminished considerably.

I wouldn’t go so far as saying that it feels like God’s work, but revising gives me the opportunity to make the story better. Learning to relish the revision process has also taken the pressure off of drafting for me. I don’t have to get everything right on the first draft, because I can retool it later.

Finally, I think I’ve changed my feelings on this for two more reasons: I’ve grown as a writer and I’ve grown as a human being.

Seriously, I think I’m a better writer than I used to be (which is a huge relief), and because of that, I’m stretching more. I’m taking on bigger story challenges, which means that revising gives me sometimes much-needed opportunities to dig in.

Also, and this was the big revelation: I think I’ve matured into this place. A lot of that “revision is just fixing mistakes” feeling comes from me being a perfectionist and from me being impatient – two of my greatest flaws. I’ve never liked having to labor over a task. I want it to be perfect, yes, but I also want it to be perfect right out of the gate. Because I’m rational enough to know that nothing is ever perfect, I’ve managed to disengage a lot of that particular expectation, but it’s always seemed that the price I pay is still wanting it to be wonderful the moment I finish.

But not so much anymore. I still want the book to be as wonderful as it can be, but I have much more patience these days for working and reworking until it is. I don’t feel the same pressure of vanishing time that I used to.

Maybe that comes from being older, or from being farther along in my career. Regardless, it’s a better place to be.

I often reflect on how grateful I am that self-publishing was not so easy, acceptable and readily available when I was shopping my first novel. I revised that sucker numerous times because I felt forced to. If I wanted to sell that book to a publisher, I had to find ways to make it better. If I’d been able to publish it myself, I would not have put myself through that pain. And it is a much better book. Though not as good as I’d make it now, if I could go back and revise. I cringe a little when someone says they’re reading that first novel, but nothing like I would if they read that first version I hugged and cuddled like a precious baby – and lacked the perspective to recognize just how bad it was.

Perspective that also now allows me to value the revision process in a way I never could before.

So, though I’ll still answer the question that I love drafting more, I also don’t hate revision the way I used to. Which is kind of a cool place to be.

What about you all – Team Drafting or Team Revision?


This was such a great post and so timely for me! Here are a few of my thoughts:

  1. I’m Team Drafting: While I definitely understand the value of revision (I think its presence/absence can make or break a book), I much prefer drafting. The story feels immediate and real. Yes, the “exultation to utter despondency” can be emotionally draining, but I prefer riding the roller coaster to reviewing its engineering plans. Revision, for me, always requires bird’s- eye view to microscopic… big picture to itty, bitty and back again… It’s enough to give me a migraine.
  2. I probably feel that way because I’m currently revising Pocket Full of Tinder. 😀
  3. I’ve talked before about the pressure writers feel to produce more work faster so I’m not going to belabor that point again, but I think it’s related to Jeffe’s post. I absolutely agree with her — revision is ESSENTIAL. Don’t rush to publish. And yet I understand why some writers would want to. You hear a lot about FOMO these days (“fear of missing out”). Whenever I read those articles or posts, my gut reaction is to scoff. “Yeah, right,” I think. “Like I’d ever feel like I’m missing out. I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.” … … … But I realized the other day that I *do* experience FOMO. Maybe not with respect to social events or life experiences or keeping up with every little bit of online info but with respect to PUBLISHING. So, yeah, ye writers in the starting gate who are kicking at the door — I get you.
  4. I envy writers like Jeffe who seem to grow more and more confident with each book. For me, I feel like each one is as tough as the last, just in different ways.
  5. But you know what they say: if it was easy, everyone would do it. ANYONE can click a “publish” button these days. But not everyone can write a quality novel. Don’t be the person that just clicks a button. Take the hard road. You’ll be in great company! 🙂

fantasy romance, Jeffe Kennedy, Twelve Kingdowns, The Crown of the Queen

The Crown of the Queen

A Twelve Kingdoms Novella

Dafne Mailloux, librarian and temporary babysitter to the heirs to the High Throne of the Twelve – now Thirteen – Kingdoms, finds it difficult to leave the paradise of Annfwn behind. Particularly that trove of rare books in temptingly unfamiliar languages. But duty calls, and hers is to the crown. It’s not like her heart belongs elsewhere. But how can she crown a queen who hesitates to take the throne?

This novella will be part of a duology called For Crown and Kingdom, which will also contain a novella by Grace Draven called The Undying King

For Crown and Kingdom (The Crown of the Queen) will release on May 31, 2016 and will be available in digital format and print.

Buy links will be added to the bookpage once available: http://www.jeffekennedy.com/for-crown-and-kingdom/

More on Jeffe

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review was nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2014 and the third book, The Talon of the Hawk, won the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Fantasy Romance of 2015. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind May 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, and was followed by Under His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

* Jeffe also gets the award for Most Links In A Bio. 😀 😀 😀

Writers, what about you? Which is your favorite — drafting or revision? Do you regret mistakes in earlier works? Wish you could go back and change them? Thank you, Jeffe, for guest blogging today. Best wishes for The Crown of the Queen!

Cape Cod, beaches, selkies, fantasy, books, Marissa Doyle, Skin Deep

Marissa Doyle, Author of SKIN DEEP, on the Magic of Cape Cod (#selkie #fantasy #GoodreadsGiveaway)

My guest blogger today is Marissa Doyle, author of the YA paranormal historical series the Leland Sisters. She writes “stories with heroines finding out who they are, their strengths and purposes, and where they belong in the world.” Her latest release is SKIN DEEP, a fantasy for adults. She’s here to share more about the book and its setting, beautiful Cape Cod. Welcome, Marissa!

Thank you for letting me be a guest on your blog, Jill—it’s a pleasure to be here!

I grew up reading books where the setting was almost a character in its own right. Books like The Secret Garden and A Little Princess are probably what turned me into an Anglophile at age 9, because they painted such vivid pictures in my mind of what it was like to see a garden come alive in Yorkshire, or to live in London as both a privileged and then a poor child. So of course, now as I write my own stories, setting remains extremely important to me: I want readers to experience that same “you are there” feeling that I once had when I opened those books. Which is why I set my newest book, Skin Deep, in a place I know and love deeply: Cape Cod.

Cape Cod, beaches, selkies, fantasy, books, Marissa Doyle, Skin Deep
Cape Cod – Ostervile Wianno Regatta

Skin Deep is a paranormal romance featuring a selkie (seal shape-shifter) hero and a heroine who discovers that she somehow imbues the quilts she sews with magic…and an evil entity bent on destroying the selkies and claiming my heroine’s abilities—and her very identity. Obviously with a selkie hero my story needed a sea-side setting, but it also needed a setting where magic would somehow be more believable, more real.

So what’s so magical about Cape Cod?

For one thing, it’s very much a place between worlds–a long, slender, curving peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic, a land that is constantly shaped and changed by the sea. In geological terms it is a “terminal moraine”– more or less just a very large pile of sand and gravel marking the southernmost edge of the last glacier to scrape down from the north—which means that it is, geologically, ephemeral—it came to be just 16-20,000 years ago, and in a few thousand years, it will no longer exist.  In terms of written history, though, it’s old. Some enthusiasts like to claim it was first settled by Vikings and was Leif Ericsson’s Vinland (probably not); but it was visited by many explorers before the Pilgrims made their first landfall in America here before choosing to move on to Plymouth. It was a fishing and whaling center for centuries before it became what it is today—a summer resort area whose population swells dramatically in the summer months with visitors from all over the world.

But what I think creates Cape Cod’s magic are its contrasts.

Think of beautiful white sand beaches that can be lapped by gentle wavelets in the morning and pounded by furious storm waves that night. Or clear golden sunlight (there’s a very distinctive soft golden tinge to Cape sunlight—it was a popular place for late 19th century American Impressionist artists to visit) that can be drowned within minutes by the thickest, grayest, wettest fog you can possibly imagine. Think of acre upon acre of salt marsh that looks dead and brown until you walk across it and see the hundreds of birds, the strange plants like sea lavender and horsetails, and the fish and crustaceans lurking in the threaded channels cutting through the marsh that ebb and flow with the tide. Think of enormous dunes looming above endless tidal flats, towns that teem with people in July and are nearly deserted in January, quaint 17th century saltbox houses one street away from modern palaces of glass and steel. Contrasts all…

and what is contrast but a subtle form of conflict, the engine that drives all stories?

I tried to make use of these contrasts when creating my semi-fictional Cape Cod setting for Skin Deep and use them to highlight my characters’ struggles, both internal and external…and had a lot of fun in the process. Cape Cod can be a magical place indeed…but magic can be light and dark.

Cape Cod, beaches, selkies, fantasy, books, Marissa Doyle, Skin Deep

More about Skin Deep

After a painful divorce, Garland Durrell looks forward to settling into her home on Cape Cod to make the quilts that are her passion. On the first morning of her new life she finds a man and a small boy washed up on the beach, both badly wounded. Since the town chief of police is strangely reluctant to help, Garland takes on the care of the mysterious pair who don’t seem to remember what happened to them–and feels her own heart begin to heal.

Alasdair does remember. He and his son Conn are the last of the ruling family of selkies from the waters around the Cape, locked in a decades-long struggle with an evil that threatens all, selkie and human. He’s not sure if he can trust the lovely, blue-eyed woman who takes them in until he touches one of her quilts and feels the magic she’s sewn into it…and the emotions that he never thought he’d feel again.

But the evil entity that stole Alasdair’s sealskin and left him for dead quickly senses both his presence and Garland’s magic, and is determined to destroy one and possess the other. Only Garland and her quilts, made with a power she barely believes she has, can save them all from destruction—if she can avoid being destroyed first.

More about Marissa

Marissa Doyle graduated from Bryn Mawr College and went on to graduate school intending to be an archaeologist but somehow got distracted.  Eventually she figured out what it was she was really supposed to be doing and started writing.  She’s channeled her inner history geekiness into young adult fiction: her award-winning books Bewitching Season, Betraying Season, and Courtship and Curses (all from Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Macmillan) blend history with magic and romance. She also writes contemporary and historical fantasy for grownups, including By Jove (Entangled Publishing) and now Skin Deep. She lives in her native Massachusetts with her family, including a pair of bossy but adorable litterbox-trained pet rabbits, and loves quilting, gardening, and collecting antique fashion prints. Oh, and coffee.

Goodreads Giveaway

Marissa is currently giving away ten copies of SKIN DEEP through Goodreads. For more details and to enter, click here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Marissa!

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

Susannah Sandlin: In Praise of the “Possum Cop” (WILD MAN’S CURSE)

My guest today is Susannah Sandlin, a.k.a. Suzanne Johnson, whose romantic suspense WILD MAN’S CURSE releases TODAY!!! Suzanne is one of my online author pals. She has a great blog and her book series always sound intriguing, including this latest one, which is set in the Louisiana bayous. She’s here with more info on her game warden hero, an excerpt from Chapter 1, and a chance to win some amazing tour-wide prizes (5 $10 Amazon eGCs and 1 $50 Amazon eGC). (The winner of my March newsletter is also listed below). Welcome, Suzanne!

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

“Dangerous jobs call for a special kind of alpha”

Okay, let’s get this out of the way early. Wildlife agents are the stuff of great romantic heroes. People might want to call them “possum cops” or the old-fashioned “game wardens,” but I’m here to tell you that they have dangerous jobs that call for a special kind of alpha. And it’s pretty damned sexy.

Don’t believe me? Talk to the hero of my new novel WILD MAN’S CURSE, Gentry Broussard. It’s the first in a new series, Wilds of the Bayou, that follows a team of wildlife agents as they work and find love in the far corners of rural Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana. Terrebonne is the second-largest parish (county) in the state, and is more than 50 percent water, with an inhospitable climate and a big-hearted, but stubborn, people, most of whom are well acquainted with a shotgun.

How did I settle on wildlife agents for my new romantic suspense series? It’s been brewing for quite a while.

Not being a fishing or hunting (or even hiking or nature-trail) type myself, I didn’t even have the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries on my radar until about ten years ago, when Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and I fled at the last second to what turned into an unplanned 62-day exile.

I watched TV coverage of my decimated hometown with millions of others, reacting in sorrow and disbelief and eventually anger over the squabbling between the state and federal officials over whose jurisdiction it was to do what and when. Meanwhile, people were dying.

Except those who were saved by the real first-responders. Some were other Louisianans who didn’t ask permission; they just rode in on their boats and started plucking people out of harm’s way. Joining them were Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries agents. I don’t know how they got in so fast and managed to bypass the red tape, but they arrived in an army of boats, got things organized, and got to work while the governor and feds were still finger-pointing.

At that time, I’d never even thought of writing novels. But fast-forward a decade and last summer, as I watched the Katrina 10th-anniversary coverage, I thought again about Louisiana’s “game wardens,” as they used to be called. I started to do a little research on them and realized these were men and women of hero status. They needed a series.

Here are a few things I’ve learned in the course of writing WILD MAN’S CURSE:

Wildlife agents in Louisiana receive paramilitary-style training that’s among the toughest to be found anywhere, and quite a few agents come from military backgrounds. They’re fully-empowered law enforcement officers (yes, they can even arrest you for speeding). And if they’re part of the enforcement division, like the team in my series, they have additional rounds of training to be able to work in harsh environments (in snake-infested water in a hundred-degree swamp, for example), enforce state laws, and take part in homeland security missions. Probably because of their extensive training, they prefer to be called “wildlife agents” to “game wardens.” Their most dangerous encounters are with two-legged wildlife.

Since Katrina, LDWF enforcement agents have become Louisiana’s official first-responders in water search and rescue. Because agents came under gunfire while helping evacuate stranded citizens after Katrina (something that brings shame to this New Orleanian, at least), officers are now equipped with high-powered, long-range rifles in addition to their standard Sig Sauer .45s. (I have been most sternly informed that they do not use the term “assault rifles” because they don’t assault anyone. LOL.)

Agents rarely (and I suspect this is true of other law enforcement agencies as well) use their official radios other than for the most brief and banal communication. They use cell phones. On the part of wildlife agents, poachers and other illegal hunters had taken to monitoring the radios and making sure that wherever the agents were, the wrongdoers were somewhere else. Wily poachers.

Because of the type of terrain they have to cover and the conditions in which they have to work, agents are equipped with all kinds of “big-boy toys.” They drive black extended-cab AWD pickups, but also have different types of boats and all-terrain vehicles. They’re also heavily armed—because most of the hunters, fishermen, and rural dwellers with which they deal are also heavily armed. Plus, in a large rural parish, they’re the ones most likely to be chasing a poacher and stumble across somebody doing something much, much more dangerous.

Finally, sadly for my hero Gentry, male agents (well, I guess female agents too) aren’t allowed to have facial hair. I’m not sure what the rationale is, but Gentry sure did grumble when I made him shave off that sexy stubble!

So that’s the scoop on Wildlife-Agents-as-Romantic-Heroes. Don’t you want one of your very own? What’s your theory on the no facial hair? Clean shaven=more professional? Safety issue?

Excerpt from WILD MAN’S CURSE, Chapter 1

The bones said death was comin’, and the bones never lied.

Eva Savoie leaned back in the rocking chair and pushed it into motion on the uneven wide-plank floor of the one-room cabin. Her grandpere Julien had built the place more than a century ago, pulling heavy cypress logs from the bayou and sawing them, one by one, into the thick planks she still walked across every day.

She had never known Julien Savoie, but she knew of him. The curse that had stalked her family for three generations had started with her grandfather and what he’d done all those years ago.

What he’d brought with him to Whiskey Bayou with blood on his hands.

What had driven her daddy to shoot her mama, and then himself, before either turned forty-five.

What had led Eva’s brother Antoine to drown in the bayou only a half-mile from this cabin, leaving a wife and infant son behind.

What stalked Eva now.

The bones said death was coming and, once Eva was gone, the curse should go with her. No one else knew the secrets of Julien Savoie and this cabin and that box full of sin he’d dug out of the bayou mud back in Isle de Jean Charles.

Might take a while, but sin catches up with you. Always had. Always would. And the curse had driven Eva to sin. Oh yes, she had sinned.

She’d known her reckoning would catch up with her, although it had taken a good long time. She’d turned seventy-eight yesterday, or was it eighty? She couldn’t remember for sure, and the bones said it didn’t matter now.

On the scarred wooden table before Eva sat three burning candles that filled the room with the soft, soothing glow of melting tallow. She’d made them herself, infusing them with the oil of the fragrant lilies that every spring spread a bright green carpet over the lazy, brown water of the bayou. The tools of her ritual sat on an ancient square of tanned hide passed down through generations of holy ones, of those blessed by the gods with the ability to throw the bones.

A small mound of delicate chicken bones, yellowed and fragile from age, lay inside the circle of light cast by the candles. Daylight would come in an hour or so, but Eva didn’t expect to last that long. Death was even now making his way toward her.

She leaned forward, wincing at the stab of pain in her lower back. Since the first throw of the bones had whispered her fate two days ago, she’d been cleaning. Scrubbed the floor, worn smooth by decades of bare feet. Washed the linens, folding them in neat piles in a drawer at the bottom of the old pie safe. Discarded most of the food in the little refrigerator that sat in the corner. Dragged the bag of trash down the long, overgrown drive past LeRoy’s old 1970 Chevy pickup that she still drove up to Houma for groceries and such once a month. Left the white bag at the side of the parish road for the weekly trash collection.

She’d spit on LeRoy’s truck as she passed it because she couldn’t spit on the man who bought it. He was long gone.

Now the cleaning had been finished. Whoever discovered her raggedy old body wouldn’t find a mess, not in Eva Savoie’s house.

A few minutes ago, with the old cabin as clean as she was capable of making it, she’d thrown the bones one last time. Part of her hoped they’d read different, hoped she’d be granted a few more days of grace.

But the bones still whispered death. Eva accepted it, and she sat, and she waited. At least the girl, Celestine, would inherit a cleaned-up house. The girl, Antoine’s granddaughter, knew nothing of the secrets, nothing of the curse. Eva had made sure of that….

Eva waited for her heart to fail—that seemed to be her most likely way to go. As she rocked she noted each steady beat, biding her time for the instant when the thump-thump-thump would falter and her breath would catch, then stop. She reckoned it would hurt a little, but what if it did? The curse had doled out worse ends to those who came before her.

She’d doled out worse herself.

The buzz of a boat’s motor sounded from outside the cabin, faint but growing louder. Wardens on patrol already, most likely.

The boat’s engine grew louder, finally coming to an abrupt stop so near, it had to be right outside her door. Silence filled the room once again, until through her bones she felt the thud of someone jumping onto the porch that wrapped around the cabin. The porch formed the platform on which the house sat, linking it to the spit of land behind it when the water was normal. When storms blew through, it provided an island on which the cabin could sit or, if need be, float.

As heavy footfalls crossed the porch, Eva struggled to her feet. Every pop and crackle of her joints knifed streaks of pain through her limbs as they protested the cleaning they’d done, followed by the sitting.

Prob’ly a game warden, checkin’ on her. Too bad he hadn’t stopped a little later, after she was gone. She didn’t like to think of her body having to bake in the hot cabin for days before anyone found her.

But the curse was what it was, and the bones said what they said.

The knock, when it came, was soft, and Eva reached the door with the help of a sturdy cane she’d carved herself. Opening the door, she squinted into the glare of a flashlight that seemed almost blinding after the soft light of the candles. She peered up at a young man with eyes that gleamed from beneath the hood of a jacket. He was not a game warden, and it was too hot for a jacket.

“Who are you?” Her voice cracked. She knew who he was. He was Death.

“The devil come to pay you a visit, Eva.” The man’s voice was smooth as silk, smooth as a lie, smooth as death itself. “And you know what the devil wants.”

She knew what he wanted, and she knew the only way to end the curse was to deny him.

She’d been granted no easy passing by the Savoie curse after all, but she would die today.

The bones never lied.

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana
Copyright Sellingpix c/o DepositPhotos.com

More about WILD MAN’S CURSE

While on an early morning patrol in the swamps of Whiskey Bayou, Louisiana wildlife agent Gentry Broussard spots a man leaving the home of voodoo priestess Eva Savoie—a man who bears a startling resemblance to his brother, whom Gentry thought he had killed during a drug raid three years earlier. Shaken, the agent enters Eva’s cabin and makes a bloody discovery: the old woman has been brutally murdered.

With no jurisdiction over the case, he’s forced to leave the investigation to the local sheriff, until Eva’s beautiful heir, Celestine, receives a series of gruesome threats. As Gentry’s involvement deepens and more victims turn up, can he untangle the secrets behind Eva’s murder and protect Celestine from the same fate?

Or will an old family curse finally have its way?

Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Book Depository     IndieBound

Susanna Sandlin, Suzanne Johnson, Wild Man's Curse, romantic suspense, Louisiana

More about Susannah

Susannah Sandlin is the author of the award-winning Penton Vampire Legacy paranormal romance series, including the 2013 Holt Medallion Award-winning Absolution and Omega and Allegiance, which were nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewers Choice Award in 2014 and 2015, respectively. She also writers The Collectors romantic suspense series, including Lovely, Dark, and Deep, 2015 Holt Medallion winner and 2015 Booksellers Best Award winner. Her new series Wilds of the Bayou starts in 2016 with the April 5 release of Wild Man’s Curse. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, Susannah is the author of the award-winning Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. A displaced New Orleanian, she currently lives in Auburn, Alabama. Susannah loves SEC football, fried gator on a stick, all things Cajun, and redneck reality TV.

Website | Blog | Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

More about Susannah’s Giveaway

Susannah is giving away one $50 Amazon eGC and 5 $10 Amazon eGCs. To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For Jill’s complete giveaway rules, click here. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited.

Jill’s Quarterly Newsletter Winner

MARTINA R. won my March giveaway (Fireball Laser Cut Wood Earrings or a $10 eGC to Book Depository). Martina, I’ll be in touch! Everyone else, THANK YOU for subscribing! The next newsletter will likely be a bonus one with some background info on the cover for POCKET FULL OF TINDER. Interested in subscribing? Sign up here.

Congrats, Suzanne, on the release of WILD MAN’S CURSE! Thank you for guest blogging today!

Rachel Rawlings: HallowRead 2016 and her Maurin Kincaide #UF Series

Today’s guest is UF author Rachel Rawlings. Rachel is from Baltimore and, for the past four years, she’s organized HallowRead, a book festival and mini-con for fans of paranormal, UF, steampunk, and horror. She’s here to tell us a little bit about HallowRead 2016 (it’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween!) and her Maurin Kincaide series. Do any of you live near Baltimore? Interested in going? I know I am! 🙂

Welcome, Rachel!

First let me start out by thanking Jill for having me on the blog! I’m thrilled to be here talking about my other passion besides writing – HallowRead Book Convention.

HallowRead is a mini-con for fans of Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk and Horror themed around Halloween. In fact, as you already may have guessed, it’s name is a mash-up between my favorite holiday and my favorite pastime. This is our fourth annual event and man, have we come a long way. Lightning struck in January of 2013 while driving through the Fort McHenry tunnel and I knew I had to find away to make this event happen. That fall we had our first con.  From running from one banquet room to another setting up tables our first year in Ellicott City, Maryland to attracting talent like Darynda Jones and last year’s keynote speaker Kami Garcia, HallowRead and I have been very fortunate indeed.

This year we’re taking HallowRead on the road, moving from our former host town of Ellicott City to another haunted and historic town – Havre de Grace, Maryland. Situated on the Susquehanna River just at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, this quaint waterfront town is steeped in history from being raised to the ground by the British in the War of 1812, to losing the vote to become the capital of the United States by one ballot, a film set for the Netflix series House of Cards, to being the last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen alive before his mysterious death in Baltimore. Sounds perfect, right? With bed and breakfasts, restaurants and shopping all within walking distances, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, the town will be an active participant, in a throw back to our first year we are going to hold activities in different venues throughout the town.

From engaging author panels where book lovers can listen to their favorite authors talk about their books and writing process, to writing workshops, a book signing, ghost tours, awesome swag bags filled with goodies and more, we certainly have something for everyone to enjoy. HallowRead is a nonprofit event (5013c), focusing all our fundraising efforts on the arts. This year we will be donating our funds to organizations like LASOS who help children whose first language is not English learn to read and prepare for school, the Harford Library System, and the Opera House restoration in Havre de Grace, which will provide a much needed mix use presentation house for the Arts and Entertainment District of Havre de Grace.

We’re excited about HallowRead 2016 and can’t wait to see you there!

More about HallowRead

Multi author event with various activities throughout the weekend including Writing Workshops, Ghost Tour, SteamPunk Author Tea, Author Panels, Book Signing, Paranormal Investigation and so much more. Hang out with your favorite authors in our new host city, the haunted and historic town of Havre de Grace, Maryland!

Local Maryland author of dark urban fantasy, Rachel Rawlings, had a crazy idea. Create a book convention for genre fiction and hold it the weekend before Halloween. Haunted and historic Ellicott City held a special place in her heart so there was no other place to take her first ever convention. The town welcomed her and HallowRead with open arms. Each ticket sold helped raise money for the Ellicott City Partnership- a coalition of residents and business owners for the betterment of the town. HallowRead raised money for projects like rain barrels which help reduce the sediment and contaminants running into the Patapsco River and fund grants for projects like Paint Main Street which helped small business owners get a much needed fresh coat of paint improving the moral and overall appearance of the town.

Rachel is excited to take the convention on the road for 2016 and raise funds for Harford County literacy programs and the local library system! One ticket, whether it’s a $10 paranormal investigation or the full monty ticket makes a difference for the town and the wonderful people who call it home, something Rachel is extremely proud of.

http://www.HallowRead.com

More about Rachel’s

Maurin Kincaide Series

The Morrigna
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book One

Free  at    Amazon    Audible    BN

I’m Maurin Kincaide, a psychometric, and until a few days ago I was working for Salem’s Preternatural Task Force as an interrogator. I cracked more cold cases and got more confessions than anyone else in the department. Of course that was before I traded in my badge for an ancient Celtic sword. Now, I’m the Special Liaison for the Council, the governing body of the Others, and I take my orders from witches, werewolves and vampires.

I didn’t just make a career change though. I’m not the same person I was before. I’m stronger, I can heal from wounds that would kill a normal person. I’m developing latent psychic skills at a breakneck speed. Oh yeah, and it would seem that a Pagan goddess has taken permanent residence in my body and mind. Crazy thing is, I’m starting to feel normal, like this is who I’m supposed to be.

Of course, there are those who don’t agree. Morrigan and her sisters for example. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’d like nothing more than to see me dead. And if I can’t stop them and the demons they’ve raised, they just might get their wish.

Witch Hunt
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Two

Available at Amazon    BN   Audible

Maurin Kincaide is back in this action packed follow up novel to The Morrigna. No longer a member of Salem’s Preternatural Task Force, Maurin is the new liaison for The Council, governing body of Others. During what should have been a routine meeting with her former Captain, Maurin is brought in on a murder investigation.

Three dead witches, three cryptic clues, no sign of the killers and the Salem coven is losing allies within the Council. If Maurin and her unlikely partner Captain Matthison can’t stop the killers, the Witch City might be without its namesake.

Wolfsbane
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Three

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Given the choice between her sister’s wedding and witnessing the challenge for Alpha of the Salem pack, Maurin knows exactly where she’d rather be. Smack dead center in a pack of snarling werewolves wearing eau de filet mignon.

Until Francesca takes off the morning of her wedding. Being her sister’s keeper will not excuse her from her job as the Council Liaison. Torn between obligations to a family she’s avoided for almost a decade and the Council of Others, Maurin has less than twenty-four hours to set things right.

Bloodbath
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Four

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Bodies are piling up and all signs point in one direction. Rogue vampire. Except things aren’t always what they seem, especially in a murder investigation.

With her current relationship on the rocks, her father playing match-maker and her neighbor tossing his hat in the ring, the body count isn’t the only thing on the rise. Maurin is neck deep in magic, mayhem and murder.

Can she catch the killer before the killer catches her? One things for certain, when hunting vampires there will be blood.

Ill Fated
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Five

Available at BN

Some things are destined to end in death. After the first attempt on her life Maurin wasn’t scared. Hell, she was almost flattered. But someone put a price on her head and things are getting complicated. Trouble is brewing in the fae courts and it’s spilling over into Salem. The UnSeelie Dark Guard have answered the call for her head on a platter and people closest to her are disappearing.

Can Maurin master court politics and find her missing men before someone claims the bounty on her head?

More about Rachel

Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.

When she isn’t writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.

More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com  and www.facebook.com/Hallowread.

She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

It looks like HallowRead 2016 will be on October 21-23. If you will be anywhere close, put it on your calendar! Thank you to Rachel for guest blogging today!

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours: Interview with Roxanne Rhoads (#BookMarketing)

Today, my guest is the fantastic Roxanne Rhoads. As many of you know, Roxanne helped me to organize blog tours for all of my Noon Onyx books, as well as cover reveals for my second and third books. She was wonderful to work with. Her book, SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS is currently on sale at Amazon for $0.99. It’s a great overview — perfect for new writers considering their promo options.

After reading it, I asked Roxanne a handful of questions about virtual book tours, teasers, graphic designers, review copies, multi-author events, and how authors can support their local booksellers while promoting their books online. Her answers are below, along with an excerpt and TWO giveaway chances: one through Goodreads and one via Rafflecopter. Questions? Feel free to ask in the comments. Welcome, Roxanne!

Roxanne Rhoads Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

Do you have any specific advice for authors who have already toured with you?

Stay visible, continue to network, and keep your social media up to date. I spoke with one author who has tried it all, ads, promotions, sales…she said the thing that worked best was to stay present. Remain visible online, keep interacting on social media whether you have a new book or not.

Author interviews, excerpts, and contests are a mainstay of virtual book tours. Your book points out that the most successful blog tours also include guest posts with engaging content and visuals. You mention “teasers” in particular. Can you share a few examples from past tours?

I am working on a Pinterest board featuring teasers, here’s the link:

Can you recommend a few graphic designers and/or programs or applications that authors can use to create these?

Canva is a good one for teasers, they have some fun templates to work with. If you want to make a collage Pixlr Express has a nice collage feature I use for putting together scene images.

Eva Talia is a Bewitching partner who offers discount graphics services for Bewitching clients.

You advise authors to provide a review copy. Is piracy a legitimate concern for those authors who share digital copies of their book with potential reviewers?

It seems like many people don’t see the value in digital content. They don’t even think it is stealing to share eBooks, music, movies…if it is not a physical object it’s not “real” and they don’t want to pay for it.

For authors, I think piracy can be an issue no matter how safe they try to keep their eBooks. There is always a risk. The sad thing is that some pirating seems to stem from the bookstore sales sites. If someone buys your eBook and returns it, that’s when you need to start checking pirate sites. Pirates will find a way no matter what.  I had a book end up on a pirate site and the only place I had posted it so far was Amazon. I hadn’t even sent any copies to reviewers yet. There’s no way it could have been leaked through an outside source.

Authors need the book reviewed, which means they need to get it into the hands of reviewers. Stick with trusted bloggers and reviewers to minimize risk. You can also add water marks and password protects to pdf review copies.

The sad fact is that digital content gets pirated and no matter how diligent we are it still happens.

I love that your book ended with a reminder that in-person events aren’t a thing of the past. What are some of the things authors might do to support local booksellers while they’re touring?

Always talk to local bookstores about live events. Many local stores are happy to support area authors. Authors can also work with local bookstores for author meetings and multi-author events. Some stores will even partner with authors to sell signed copies of books.

Kim Harrison is a great example of an author supporting a local book store. She partners with Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor, MI and signs a bunch of her books that the book store sells both in store and online. If readers and fans can’t attend one of her live signings she points them to Nicola’s to order a signed copy.

Speaking of in-person events, I think the ones that are the most fun are those where authors join forces with other authors. Is there a blog tour equivalent? What sort of events do you and/or other blog companies offer that bring authors and readers together online in one place at one time?

Multi-author Facebook events are a great way for authors to join together and do a live online event. Each author gets a block of time to chat, do giveaways, play games, etc. Multi-author blog tours that coincide with Facebook parties can offer the best of both worlds. Online convenience and real-time event interaction. Bewitching offers custom packages for groups of authors wishing to set up this type of event.

Can you tell us more about Fang-tastic Books?

Fang-tastic Books started out as my vampire book review blog, though it now focuses on all types of books including paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, and cozy mysteries with paranormal elements. It is where I really started focusing on book blogging, reviewing, and paranormal book promotions. I started the blog in 2008 and have been running it ever since. My review quotes (often listed as Fang-tastic Books) are on covers and in the front of many books including those by Juliet Blackwell, Chloe Neill, and Annette Blair.

BBT has been in business since 2010. Do you occasionally add new services? Is there anything new you’re considering adding to your menu of services for 2016?

Bewitching is always trying new things to see what works, what draws in readers. Twitter parties, Facebook events, live video chats, chatrooms, our magazine, book swag creations and the radio show… some things we keep, others don’t seem to work so we move on to something new.

For 2016 I have some ideas I am tossing around but nothing solid that I have firmly decided on yet. I will say one option I am considering, is adding is the creation of Thunderclap campaigns.

I am always open to discussing options for custom tour packages or ongoing PR services.

SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL

VIRTUAL BOOK TOURS

Excerpt

The world of publishing is continuously evolving thanks to technology and the Internet. It is now easier than ever to publish a book. But with the growing number of new books being released every day it is also harder than ever to get your book noticed in the crowd.

If your line of thinking includes “If I publish it, people will buy it,” think again.

Indie publishing requires a dedication to self-promotion. Gone are the days an author hermits them self away to write, then hands the book to the publisher who does all the leg work for promotion. Even NYT Bestselling authors and those with contracts through the big publishers still have to do a certain amount of self-promotion.

There are many ways to promote:  social media, advertising on popular websites and blogs, print advertising in trade magazines, attending reader oriented conventions and events…but one of the best ways to get your book out there and build name recognition as an author is through a virtual book tour.

In this Quick Tips for Authors Guide, you will learn why a virtual book tour can be an author’s most effective marketing tool.

Roxanne Rhoads Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours Amazon Sale

More about Roxanne

Roxanne Rhoads has been working in the world of online book promotion since 2005. She has worked as a freelance writer, author, book reviewer, book blogger, editor, self-publisher and book publicist. She has a unique advantage of knowing how multiple sides of book publishing and promotion operate.

Roxanne understands how book bloggers work and what they want to make their jobs easier while also understanding that authors need promotion to be streamlined, easy, and less time consuming.

Roxanne shares some of her knowledge in her latest release, Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours.

More about Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

Are you considering a virtual book tour?

Not sure where to start or exactly what an online tour will entail?

Roxanne Rhoads, book publicist and owner of Bewitching Book Tours, shares her virtual tour expertise in this Quick Tips for Authors Guide.

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours will guide you in utilizing the best marketing tool available a virtual book tour, which can create online exposure for your book, jumpstart your book sales, help build your author brand, and expand your network.

In this guide you’ll learn:

  • what you should do before a tour
  • the components of a great author website
  • the best social media outlets for authors to utilize
  • tips for building your author brand
  • how to write great guest blogs
  • what to expect from an online book tour
  • the secrets of successful book tours
  • how to schedule your own virtual book tour

And you’ll receive in-depth details about what to do during a virtual book tour to guarantee success.

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Giveaways

Roxanne is giving away a Bewitching Book Tours Release Day Blitz or Cover Reveal (winner’s choice) and an ecopy of her book Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours at the end of her tour. For the Rafflecopter form, click here.

She’s also running a Goodreads giveaway. See the widget below to enter that giveaway. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours by Roxanne Rhoads

Secrets of Successful Virtual Book Tours

by Roxanne Rhoads

Giveaway ends March 28, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Thanks for the interview, Roxanne! Wishing you and BBT the best!!

Ann Gimpel: How do you manage your time online?

Paranormal romance author, Ann Gimpel, is guest blogging today about online time management. Her Rx? Read this blog, of course!! 😀 Start with this post: Ann has some good tips for dealing with internet distractions and maintaining balance in your life. (You can do something else after you’ve told us what it is in the comments 🙂 ) Ann is also here to let everyone know about her recently released box set featuring shifters, UNDERGROUND HEAT. More on that below. Welcome back, Ann!

Underground Heat Banner

“No matter how much you do, you never really feel done.”

Thanks so much for inviting me to visit your blog.

Today I’ll write about the Internet and time management. Maybe a good starting point would be that the Internet can be the biggest time hog imaginable. You know how it is. You log on to look for one thing. Two hours later, you’re sifting through a bunch of other stuff and never did get to the original thing you’d set out to do. In the meantime, there went two hours a writer could have been, well, writing. Or at least editing, or plotting out their next story. Or marketing…

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is probably one of the most creative and powerful inventions of modern life. I’ve watched it evolve from its infancy when only those who could code could use it. It was painfully slow then, so an even bigger time-pig.

How to marshal the power of the Internet so it can work for you and not against you? All I can tell you is what’s worked for me. I usually write in one of two places. I make certain my iPhone is nowhere near either of them when I’m working. There’s something about its dings, vibrations, and other assorted sounds that gets me going, sort of like Pavlov’s dogs. Even if I make a decision not to peek and see who wanted me, it still breaks into my flow enough to disturb my writing process. Sure, I could activate its Do Not Disturb feature, but why have it close to me if I’m going to do that? Temptation is always less tempting if you have to get up to get to it.

I also make sure to have things like Outlook fully closed. It’s not helpful when the latest e-mail materializes on the top right quadrant of my screen. The problem got worse when I switched to Windows 8 and their “seamless” Internet interface. If I didn’t have it turned off, it would alert me to texts, PMs, e-mails, and every other time anyone does something with my name anywhere in it.

When I’m done with my writing day, which means either I’ve finished edits an editor sent me, or I’ve gotten at least 3000 words written, then (and only then) do I let myself wander around the Internet. I’m as guilty of brain-drift as the next person, and I can waste a whole lot of time if I don’t rein in my tendency to “just look up one more thing.”

That tendency to get snapped up in cyberspace is doubly seductive when I’m marketing. I’ll just do one more thing, I promise myself. An hour later, I’m posting a comment somewhere. More than anything, I think the marketing aspect of writing is what can truly eat you up alive—and drain you. No matter how much you do, you never really feel done. I try very hard to limit myself to an hour most days for marketing; two if I have to write a guest post or an interview. I make that goal maybe 50% of the time. The other days, I do more.

Lastly, there’s an addictive quality to being settled in front of a screen, which is why it’s important to have several hours a day you do something else. The screen life can start to feel more “real” than the rest of your life, and that can be the beginning of a fairly large disconnect that doesn’t bode well for flesh-and-blood relationships. This last paragraph could segue into another thousand words or more, but this seems like a good place to stop, so I’ll rein in the psychologist part of me.

How do you manage your Internet time, or do you? For those of you who write, does your life feel balanced? Why or why not?

Ann Gimpel Shifters Box Set

More about Underground Heat

Underground Heat is an action adventure, paranormal romance boxed set containing three full-length books. It’s the entire Underground Heat Series:

Roman’s Gold

Once respected members of society, shifters are running for their lives. Devon’s been a cop for a long time. He has shifter blood, but not enough to change into anything. His latest assignment is Kate. From the moment he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. But she’s the enemy he’s sworn to eradicate. As he tracks her, the line between hunter and hunted explodes into fiery attraction. If their passion doesn’t save them, it’ll doom them forever.

Wolf Born

Max leads a dangerous double life in a futuristic California that’s almost out of resources. If Audrey could finesse it, she’d go to work helping the shifter underground. The only sticking point is Max. She’s been in love with him forever. If she joins the underground, she believes she’ll never see him again—but that’s because she has no idea he’s the head of it. After a second attempt on his life, Max faces critical choices. He can’t believe Audrey’s behind the assassination attempts, but everything points her way. Will he follow his head or his heart?

Blood Bond

Head of the shifter underground’s security force, Johannes has his hands full. He’s the most compelling man Daria’s ever met, but he’s also stubborn and arrogant. Her cat thinks he’s their mate, but if Daria had her way, she’d run hard the other way. Just her bad luck, a series of lethal attacks keep her square in his gunsights. Johannes is desperately attracted to Daria, but anything beyond sex isn’t part of his life plan. He has his reasons. They’ve served him well, and he’s not changing them now.

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More about Ann

I’m basically a mountaineer at heart. I remember many hours at my desk where my body may have been stuck inside four walls, but my soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry.

Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), I finagled a move to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. Stories always ran around in my head on backcountry trips, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made me fear for my life, sometimes for company.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. I returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. It wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. I learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel, and I’ve been writing ever since.

In addition to turning out books, I enjoy wilderness photography. A standing joke is that over ten percent of my pack weight is camera gear, which means my very tolerant husband has to carry the food — and everything else too.

How do I manage my internet time? I’m sure it surprises no one to know I don’t have a set plan. A lot depends on how the writing is going. If it’s going really well or really horrible, I tend to interact less online. That’s because I’m either writing or AFK. But I’m not actively promoting anything right now and that changes everything. You know what is the biggest “time hog” for me? Research. Without a doubt. I waste more time burrowing into the Black Holes of Internet Minutia than anyone else in the universe.

Thanks for a great post, Ann!

The Spirit Chaser’s Playlist: 13 Songs

Kat Mayor is a “full-time reader, part-time writer” from Texas. Her paranormal romance THE SPIRIT CHASER features a paranormal investigator, psychics, ghosts, demons, and dangerous places. Do you have a song that reminds you of your favorite book? Kat has thirteen songs that remind her of various scenes from her book. She’s here with her playlist and a chance to win some awesome prizes: a $50 Amazon eGC, a $25 Amazon eGC, a signed copy of The Spirit Chaser, and an e-copy. Details are below. Welcome, Kat!

Spirit Chaser

Playlist for The Spirit Chaser

I love to listen to music while I write. These songs either played in my head during certain parts of the book, or the lyrics remind me of the story in some way.  After the song title I wrote a short description of the part of the book it reminds me of.

  1. Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield: Casey’s ringtone.
  2. The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniel’s Band: The bar scene with Casey and her friend Tina.
  3. Love Bites by Def Leppard: Austin and Casey slow dance.
  4. Talking Body by Tove Lo: Austin and Casey’s first night together.
  5. So High by Ghost Loft: Austin brings Casey to his high-rise apartment.
  6. Crave by Tove Lo: Austin comes to visit Casey in Shadowcreek over Christmas.
  7. Devil Woman by Cliff Richard: Wild party at Austin’s loft.
  8. Prayer in C by Lilly Wood and The Prick and Robin Schulz: Casey separates from Austin.
  9. Take Me to Church by Hozier: She-demon visits Austin in her human form.
  10. The Moon Is Falling Down by Cry Wolf: The Spirit Chaser crew arrives at Enchanted Hill Manor.
  11. Ghost Town by Adam Lambert: Casey returns to Shadowcreek.
  12. The Home We Made, Pt II by Cry Wolf: Casey reflects on everything that has happened.
  13. When the Love Falls by Yiruma: The final pages of the book.

Do you have a song that reminds you of your favorite book?  What is it about the song that makes you think of it?

More About The Spirit Chaser

Some places are too evil. Some places should be left alone.

Austin Cole has it made. Star of the hit television show Spirit Chaser Investigations, he has become the world’s most famous paranormal investigator. Although hard work, a talented investigation team, and favorable genetics have something to do with it, it’s his lack of fear and willingness to take risks no one else will that make Spirit Chaser Investigations cable’s number-one show.

When a ghost-hunt-gone-wrong seriously injures his best friend and lead psychic, Austin is forced to find a replacement for a team member he considers irreplaceable.

Casey Lawson can’t catch a break. She’s been on her own since she turned eighteen and is scraping by as a part-time psychic and cashier at a New Age store. When a desperate Austin Cole calls her up and offers her a position on his team, has her fortune finally changed?

He’s a control freak; she’s stubborn and opinionated. It takes time, but when they finally realize they’re working on the same side, everything clicks, both on and off screen.

Just when things are looking up, a new threat emerges. Over the years, Austin has angered plenty of demons, and one of them has set her sights on him. Now he’s the one in danger, and it’s up to the team to rescue him from the riskiest investigation of their lives.

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More About Kat

Kat Mayor is a native Texan, wife, and mom. In addition to The Spirit Chaser, she has written a young adult series, The Circle. She’s a full-time reader, part-time writer, and when she’s not kicking a story around in her head, she loves to read and review books on Goodreads.

More about the Giveaway

Kat is giving away the following prizes at the end of her blog tour:

  • First Prize: $50 Amazon gift card and signed Paperback of The Spirit Chaser
  • Second Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and e-book of The Spirit Chaser in Mobi, EPUB, or PDF.

Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

The Spirit Chaser Banner

I don’t have a song that reminds me of a favorite book, but I do have ten songs that served as partial inspiration for my gothic romance novelette “Dream, Interrupted.” Long-time followers have already seen the playlist, as well as read about how the songs served as transitions in the story itself, but anyone new who’s interested can click here for the playlist and here for the transition post. Basically, I introduced each section in the story by having the main character discuss those songs. I loved how, for anyone familiar with the songs, the references and discussion added a deeper layer of meaning to the story.

Also, gotta add, that I’ve been inspired by the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia too. The working titles of all of my novels were originally riffs on common sayings involving the devil, the third one being The Demon Went Down to Jorja (cue the groan 😀 ). Interested in hearing more about the how the devil became associated with the violin? Click here for a post I did over at SF Signal a while back.

And, while we’re not on the subject, Valentine’s Day?! Did everyone have a happy one? I hope so! My Valentine’s Days always seem to be a bit un-traditional, which I like. Last year, I had lunch with a friend and then played poker with my family. This year, I spent an hour+ browsing in a New Jersey Barnes & Noble with one of my daughters and then played an intense game of UNO, the Frozen version. Best new card? Olaf’s summertime card. I could use a little summertime… we’re under yet another winter storm warning, this one with sleet and freezing rain.

Thank you, Kat, for guest blogging today. Wishing you and everyone a dry, warm, and not-too-scary Tuesday!

Pat Esden interviews the hero from her new “Dark Heart” series (#gothic #PNR)

Book one of Pat Esden’s new Dark Heart gothic paranormal romance series, A Hold on Me, releases later this month from Kensington. She’s here with a teaser character interview and a chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card. Details on her giveaway are at the end of the post. (Bonus giveaway: I’m giving away a print copy of Dark Light of Day or another fantasy book up to $10 from Book Depository, winner’s choice. The winner will be randomly picked by me from all of the people following my DLOD Pinterest book board as of midnight EST on Valentine’s Day. Click here for the board. Click here for other details.) Welcome Pat!

A Hold On Me Banner

Hi, my name is Pat Esden. I’m the author of A HOLD ON ME (book 1, Dark Heart series). Today I’m going to be interviewing Chase Savoy Abrams.

Annie, the main character in A HOLD ON ME, is very attracted to Chase. But she’s also a bit leery and certain he is hiding secrets. I’ll let you judge for yourself if he’s a mystery she should try to solve, or if she’s better off to stay as far away from him as possible.

Chase, how about you describe yourself for us?

I’m a guy—twenty-two. I keep pretty fit. All right. I’m more than a little fit. It’s a necessity. Besides, working out is relaxing.  I’m more comfortable in a sleeveless-T and jeans than anything else. For years my hair was long, but I keep it short now as a matter of principle. I’m a pretty unpretentious when it comes to what I need, and to what I want for that matter.  A few goods friends and a safe place to sleep, that’s enough.

What’s your profession?

I’m one of Moonhill’s groundskeepers. I mow lawns, tend the sheep, and basically do the outdoor work. I like that. I also protect the family, especially Selena. I don’t know how many nights I’ve watched over her when she’s snuck out to parties. But I’d do it, even if it weren’t part of my job.

Do you have a special skill?

Knife throwing. Any knife. Any target.

What is your biggest dream/wish/desire?

To protect people, especially women. I don’t want anyone to have to live through hell like I did.

What’s your darkest secret?

I’m embarrassed by my lack of education. Freemonts are giving me a chance to make up for my past, but I’m not sure I’ll ever measure up.

What’s your favorite pastime/hobby?

I knit. Keeps my finger nimble. It’s relaxing and helps me remember my mother. She used to knit all the time. Make things and give them away to charities.

Describe the craziest thing you have done.

I don’t do crazy. It’s important to keep your wits at all times.

Briefs or boxers?

Briefs.

Chunky peanut butter or smooth?

Either. It’s food. Peanut butter toast is one of my favorite things. When I first came to Moonhill I ate a whole loaf of bread that way. I puked and felt really stupid afterwards. But it tasted so good. I was hungry.

Favorite fictional character?

I was looking at Galland’s eighteenth-century translations of Voyages of Sinbad in Moonhill’s library the other day. So right now, I’d say Sinbad.

Thank you so much to Chase for joining us!

So readers, what do you think? Thumbs up or down? Should Annie try to find out more about Chase—or stay away?

A Hold on Me

More about A Hold on Me

She never wanted to return.

He wants nothing more than for her to leave.

But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.

Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.

Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self.

Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support — Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…

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More about Pat

Pat Esden would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.

Pat can be found online here:

More about the Giveaway

Pat is giving away one $20 Amazon gift card at the end of her tour. To enter, use the Rafflecopter form here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you for guest blogging today, Pat. Good luck and best wishes for the Dark Heart series!