Leela Lou Dahlin: Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets (and Mockingjay!)

Today’s guest blogger is Leela Lou Dahlin, who makes pen bouquets. This post is part of a guest blog series I’m hosting featuring writers who create other things besides worlds and characters. Welcome, Leela Lou!

Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets

Rosy Writer 3

 

A marriage of beauty and function. Does it seem odd that I would have this as a hobby when my first love is writing? Not to me. It’s very relaxing. Molding the clay, plotting my story line and creating something beautiful—the flower and the plot.

I love thick smooth paper and a pen that writes well. I’d rather send a hand-made card with a note of thanks than a text. There are so many ways to go digital today but sometimes it’s nice to feel a pen between your fingers as it glides along the page expressing your gratitude or your rage…depending on the mood.

Even though I love pens and I have way more than my fair share I don’t like the way they look sitting in a cup or holder. This is now how Rosy Writers got started though. My children and I moved to a wonderful school district when Christmas came my 5 children wanted a gift to take to their teachers. That was going to prove costly. Since I knew that teachers were another group of people who love pens so I took my love of making roses and found a way to make the pen look like a rose on a stem that would be a bouquet of flowers they could have throughout the year. The idea was a hit and soon I started getting orders for hostess gifts, thank you gifts, mother’s day, wedding and baby showers…practically any other time someone wanted a flower bouquet. Added bonus – no one can walk away with your pen and not realize it.

Making them helps me relax and gets my creative thoughts going, and thank goodness because sometimes they are quite in demand. I’m not sure what I like most…making them or hearing how happy the recipients are with the product.

More about Leela

Leela Lou Dahlin works undercover as an outgoing RN Case Manager by day, but at night her time is filled with kids, clay and computers…and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She can be found online here:

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fun. We have a new kitten. 99.9% sure her name is going to be Nutmeg. (My kids have named both of my cats. We adopted a stray last springGinger). So a big part of the weekend was spent hanging w the new kitty and trying to gracefully intro her to Ginger. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t exactly thrilled about her arrival, but I’m still hopeful they will become friends eventually.

Took my older daughter and a group of her friends to see Mockingjay Part 1 on Friday. It was opening night and I expected the theater to be PACKED, and it was, but it wasn’t nearly the mad house that opening night for Hunger Games was. [this next bit is slightly SPOILERY] Put me firmly in the camp of those who do not think the third book needed two movies to tell its story. I’m not saying the movie wasn’t good (it was and is well worth seeing in the theater) but the pacing/tension was definitely slower/reduced for this one. There was action and emotion but not as much as I would have liked. I also missed the juxtaposition of Effie’s wildly colorful dresses and all the gag-inducing excess of the capital against the bleakness of life in the districts. This movie takes place mostly in District 13, which is all gray, all the time. Don’t get me wrong though — I’m a huge fan of this series. The characters, world, and writing are so well done and the filmmaker’s version of the story has captured my interest while remaining true to its source. Only one of the girls I took had read the book. Which made Part 1’s ending more dramatic and surprising for them than it was for series readers. (If you’ve read it, you can guess exactly where Part 1 ends). Overall, despite Mockingjay Part 1 being the deepest, darkest movie yet, it felt less immediate to me. But it’s a solid film that ably sets up next year’s final installment. 

Saturday night my husband and I went to a hippie-themed birthday party for a friend of ours. Initially, I had misread the invite and thought the theme was 70s. Got this vintage disco dress and some boots to wear and then, last minute, saw that entertainment would include clips from Woodstock and songs by Janis Joplin, The Who, CSN, the Dead, Jimi Hendrix…. So I ditched the dress.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE... and a beard. Craig's growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/
ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE…
and a beard. Craig’s growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/

Finally, if you missed Friday’s post… I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. International. Three ways to enter: comment here, contact me here, or tweet.

So… how about you? What did you do this weekend? Have you seen Mockingjay? What did you think? Which Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquet do you like best? I’ve given stationery as a thank you gift lots of times but haven’t yet given a bouquet of pens. It’s a neat idea, right?

Thank you to Leela Lou for guest blogging today! Happy Monday, all!

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Sandra Hill on Book Series

My next guest is New York Times bestselling author and fellow Penn Stater, Sandra Hill. She’s touring to promote her latest Deadly Angels release, VAMPIRE IN PARADISE, which comes out November 25th. She’s giving away 5 print copies of the book (U.S./Canada) and 5 e-copies (worldwide). Rafflecopter link is below. Welcome, Sandra!

Sandra Hill, vampires, angels, paranormal romanceSeries, series, series!  Everywhere you look in publishing today, there are series.  You can’t escape them.

There are popular series in contemporary romance, like Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, Lori Wilde’s cookie clubs, Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles, Kristin Higgins Blue Heron, Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ football heroes.  Series also flourish in historical romance, like Mary Balogh’s Suvivors Club, Jo Beverley’s rogues, Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses, or Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons.  And paranormals, like Nalini Singh’s archangels, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, J.R. Ward’s Black Daggers, Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, Lynsay Sands’ Argeneaus, and shamelssly I mention, my Deadly Angels series (Viking vampire angels), with its most recent release of VAMPIRE IN PARADISE.

And that’s only the tip of the series iceberg.

So, what is it about series books that attracts us so?  I can tell you how I feel, both as a reader and a writer.  When you read a good book, you just don’t want it to end.  It’s as simple as that.  Oh, it’s not that we want a repetition of the same story, and maybe not even the same characters, but we want to return to the wonderful world we’ve been introduced to, whether it be a vampire world, a Regency family, a Trenton bounty hunter shop, or a small town named Transylvania, Pennsylvania.  The same is true of television, by the way.  Think about it.  Seinfeld.  Friends.  Happy Days.  Big Bang Theory.  Every week, there was, or is, a chance to return to a world, or community, or family we enjoy.  We belong.

If authors succeed in captivating readers with characters or settings we love…if they give us books we can’t put down until the wee hours when we sigh and wish they didn’t have to end…well, then, why should they be any different than popular television…dare I day…series?  I remember even as a child, when my mother would read those abridged novels, I would wonder why anyone would want a good book to be short.

And sometimes it takes a writer multiple books to tell a complete story.  Take George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, for example.  Can you imagine that complicated plot and all those dynasties in one book?

Yes, there are times when a series goes on too long.  And, yes, I get as irritated as the next reader when an author writes a series in such a way that you have to have read the previous books to understand what is going on.  But overall, they are a joy to this avid reader, and there’s nothing better than finding a new-to-me author and being able to go back and glom an entire series in one gulp.

In my own Deadly Angels series, I have set up a world in which Viking vampire angels (vangels) have been sent to this world by St. Michael the Archangel to fight demon vampires known as Lucipires.  It all starts with the seven Sigurdsson brothers, guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  In each book, a brother is commanded to serve in some role that conflicts with his particular weakness.  Vikar (pride) must live in a run-down, bat-ridden castle in Transylvania, Pennsylvania.  Trond (sloth) becomes a Viking Navy SEAL who must run six miles before breakfast and do other energy-draining exercises, like jump out of airplanes.  Ivak (lust) is a chaplain in Angola Prison.  Mordr (wrath) whose two children were murdered in a most brutal manner and thereafter cannot stand to be around children, must protect five mischievous orphans in Las Vegas.  And, of course, find their own destined lifemates.

In my current book, VAMPIRE IN PARADISE, Dr. Sigurd Sigurdsson, is transferred from his prestigious job at Johns Hopkins to serve as a doctor on a tropical island where a porno convention is being held.  Talk about a step down!  There, Sig meets a beautiful woman who is desperate for money to save her dying child.  What does she expect from him?  A miracle? Laughter guaranteed!

Not to be overlooked, I hope, is the recently released novella, CHRISTMAS IN TRANSYLVANIA, in which the whole gang of vangels is back at the castle in Pennsylvania where they have been talked into a modern Christmas celebration.   I mean, Santas with fangs.  Fake-O blood in the egg nog.  Mistletoe hanging from the cobwebs.  And a local waitress who needs a hero to rescue her from her abusive boyfriend.  There’s a lot more than jingle belling going on in the old castle this year!

So, what do you look for when buying books these days?  Do you deliberately seek out series like I do?  Do you google “…books in the vein of…” to find new authors?  I recently discovered Patrick Taylor’s Irish County Doctors series after having depleted an entire stock of Maeve Binchy’s.  Who have you discovered lately?

I can always be reached on my website at www.sandrahill.net or on my Facebook page at Sandra Hill Author.  Look for some special giveaways at the end of the month.

Wishing you smiles in your reading, as always, especially your series reading.  <g>

Sandra Hill

More About Vampire in Paradise

It’s been centuries since the Norseman Sigurd Sigurdsson was turned into a Vangel-a Viking Vampire Angel-as punishment for his sin of envy, but he’s still getting the hang of having fangs that get in the way when seducing women. Slaying demon vampires known as Lucipires and using his healing gifts as a cancer research doctor, Sigurd is sent to Florida’s Grand Keys Island as a resident physician where he encounters the most sinfully beautiful woman.

The only hope Marisa Lopez has of curing her five-year-old daughter of is a pricey experimental procedure. When she meets the good-looking doctor, Marisa is speechless. Then Sigurd tells her he believes he can help her daughter. Could this too-hot-to resist Viking doctor be an angel of some sort sent to bring a miracle for her daughter? Or is he just a vampire bent on breaking Marisa’s heart?

Available at Amazon  BN  Avon Romance

Add it to Your Goodreads List

More About Sandra

Sandra Hill
Sandra Hill

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.

Sandra can be found online here:

The Giveaway

Sandra is giving away 5 print copies of the book (U.S./Canada) an 5 e-copies (worldwide).

Click here for the Rafflecopter link.

Click here for my official rules for website giveaways.

Sandra Hill, vampires, angels, paranormal romance

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I took my older daughter to Penn State to see the campus and watch the football game. Cold but fun!

Penn State v. Temple November 15, 2014
Penn State v. Temple
November 15, 2014

Penn State 2

Thank you, Sandra, for guest blogging today!

Beth Caudill: Chainmail Jewelry

My next guest blogger is Beth Caudill, who makes chainmail jewelry. Pretty cool, huh? (After hosting this season’s “Writers Who Create Other Things” guest blog series, I’m thinking that jewelry is the most popular “other” thing that writers create — or at least the most popular other thing that writers who contacted me create. I can understand the appeal and have to admit, I’ve thought about it. But, for now, I’m happy just listening to other writers’ stories of how they started making jewelry.) Welcome, Beth!

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

 “The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product.”

Thank you Jill for having me here today.

Growing up, jewelry wasn’t something I had an interest in. My father would give my mother necklaces or earrings for Christmas but I didn’t really want any of my own.  I bought a class ring when I graduated high school and I had a few special necklaces from vacations but nothing spectacular.

Fast forward several years and I’m a stay-at-home-mom with two small kids. I began writing as a way to stay sane.  I’m extremely introverted and being at home with two small people all the time can be very trying. You can’t even escape to the bathroom—any mother knows little hands and cries of “Mooommmm” follow you everywhere.

My escape was into the fantastical worlds I created with my romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. But I needed to do research, particularly for my magical stories. Usually magicians cast or draw power through items such as stones, wands, amulets or crystals. Suddenly I had a bunch of resources on making jewelry and the history of gems and crystals.

In my Paranormals of Arilase series, there are two elements which will be present in each story. Each heroine will have a jasper pendant to channel their power and a wedding. In Healer’s Fate, Corliss, a werewolf healer, used a red jasper pendant.  In Enchantress’ Destiny, my current work-in-progress, Clairessa, an elf, uses green jasper to channel energy for her spellcasting.

At one of my local romance writers workshops, another author’s husband was selling chainmaille jewelry. The silver rings were so pretty connected together in different weaves or patterns. I did some research and ordered a beginner set to try for myself.  The design I wear the most is this flower chain bracelet.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

After making a few pieces, I gave my mother and mother-in-law gifts of silver chainmaille. They loved it and talked me into trying to sell my items.  I’ve had an Etsy account for two years but it hasn’t been very productive.  This year, I’m focused on attending craft fairs to showcase my work.

The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product. While I love creating both my stories and jewelry, the hardest part for both businesses is connecting with the ideal customer.   I’ve found it’s easier to concentrate on creating stories and not worry about sales with the writing business.  But with the jewelry, I have a bunch of inventory and no one is buying. It’s disheartening.

I’ve had a lot of people say they like my designs but no one buys. One great thing has been the other sellers I’ve met. Like with the writing community, there have been wonderful people who’ve given me suggestions on things I can do to improve the chances someone will buy my jewelry – such as shortening the length of my earrings.  It’s wonderful that I’ve found two communities where people are willing to share their experiences and help each other.

Right now my biggest hurdle is time. I’m homeschooling my two sons and that has to be my number 1 priority. Both writing and jewelry making occur during my free time and some days I’m too exhausted to attempt either. Generally I try to do my writing in the morning or early afternoon and my jewelry making at night. But sometimes I have to devote all my time to one business or the other for a week.

I have lists of goals for both businesses and ideas to try in the New Year. It’s a bit like a juggling act and I don’t always succeed. But I enjoy both writing stories and making jewelry so I’m still trucking along.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

More About Beth

Beth loves everything fantasy and grew up a lover of fairy tales. Her favorite TV shows are Once Upon a Time and Leverage because both combine a bit of good with a hint of wickedness. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and homeschools her two sons and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In her free time, Beth creates fantastical distant worlds for her romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. And for a bit of bling, she weaves metals rings and crystals into beautiful chainmaille jewelry.

Did everyone have a good weekend? I took my younger daughter and a friend to see Big Hero 6 Saturday night. It was great! Baymax was adorably huggable. 🙂 Also loved the animated short, Feast, that played before it began.

Have you seen Big Hero 6? Do you want to? What did you do this weekend? Do you think Beth’s chainmail jewelry is as cool as I do?

Thank you, Beth, for guest blogging today. Best wishes for lots of holiday sales!

Sabina Bundgaard: Denmark Postwoman Who Loves Baubles, Beads, and Books

My next guest in my “Writers Who Create Other Things” guest blog series is Sabina Bundgaard. She’s a book blogger/reviewer, writer, and jewelry maker. I first connected with Sabina around the time of Dark Light of Day‘s release. At the time, she was reviewing books for a romance website but soon after she started her own blog. We’ve stayed in touch through Facebook. When I saw that (in addition to her bookish adventures) she also makes jewelry, I asked if she wanted to come blog about it. Happily, she agreed. Welcome, Sabina!

jewelry making, bracelets, writers, creativity

“It all started with me looking for something ‘blingy’ to pep up my daughter’s Fastelavn costume.”

Hi! *waves*

My name is Sabina Bundgaard, I live in Denmark, and I’m an author, postwoman, wife, mother to two wonderful kids, I’m a blogger and I make jewelry. My day is full. *grins*

I don’t make book related jewelry though. Oh, don’t get me wrong, they certainly can be used for giveaways. In fact they frequently are, but I make it to be used for everyday use.

So how did I get started? Well…. as an outlet to tell you the truth. See, I used to be a vet student, and as much as I loved it, it really didn’t give me the time to do what I loved to. Books have always been a huge part of my life, so not being able to sit down anymore to read for fun was actually killing me. Trouble is… I can’t stop with just one chapter. It’s the same when I start writing. Once I get into a funk, I just keep going. Let me tell you it’s a baaaad combination when you have finals coming up – which we had every second month. Making my jewelry fit better into my schedule and it was something I could easy finish up before getting back to my studying.

jewelry making, earrings, writers, creativity

For fun, I started kumihimo braiding – making key chains. It was fun, relaxing and took virtually no time at all to make a few. I started donating them for giveaways, release parties, and such, especially for my fellow authors in Crushing Heart and Black Butterfly Publishing. People seemed to like them and it gave me the boost to try something else – bracelets.

It all started with me looking for something “blingy” to pep up my daughter’s Fastelavn costume. I found a bracelet, shambala style, but was a bit floored about the price. When we got home, I started to investigate and finally found out how to make them. My first true victim was my very good friend (and pub sis from CHBB) Sarah J Carr. I made some neon colored shambala inspired bracelet, braided bookmarks and key chains for her release – Starring Evans. It all went downhill (or uphill, depending on your view) from there.

Sabina Multi-Color Bracelets

Today I have my own page on Facebook. It’s called Sabina’s Baubles and Beads and I am making everything from a variety of bracelets, necklaces and earrings. My inspiration? Everywhere. Sometimes it’s seeing a bracelet made in a specific way. I think, “If I change that, or use this… Hmmm”. Sometimes I see something online, but don’t have the same materials on hand. Instead, I try using what I have and wing it from there. More often than not, I browse different websites (because heavens know we could use more physical stores that sell bulk in Denmark), and see something that I like and try to cooperate it into something that will work. Do I fail? Hell yes. I’ve made stuff that just isn’t working. AT ALL. I’ve made stuff that literally falls apart shortly after because I didn’t tie the knot properly, or used a wrong thread. *shrugs* It happens to us all. I learn from it and do it better next time.

Ultimately, I love wearing all my creativity hats, and making jewelry is just one of them, but an important one for me. It is a part of me, just like being an author, blogger, and mother is.

Before leaving, I would like to give Jill an enormous hug for inviting me as a guest blogger. Thank you!!

Sabina Bundgaard
Sabina Bundgaard

More about Sabina

Sabina Bundgaard lives in Denmark with her husband and their two children. By day she races around the countryside, delivering mail and packages to people. By night…. Well, that’s a different story.

While drinking one of her many flavors of tea, she delves into the mysterious realms of her imagination. Writing about everything from Elves and Dragons to Romance and Erotica, she tries her wings to see where they will take her.

Her favorite past time when not writing is reading, making jewelry and speaking to her friends all over the world, celebrating their victories and happy times.

You can find Sabina online here:

Hugs to you too, Sabina! Thank you for guest blogging today. I enjoyed hearing more about how you started making jewelry. Good luck and best wishes with all of your creative endeavors!

Hope everyone had a great weekend and a fun Halloween. Ours was terrific! Loved that it was on a Friday this year. Spent Sunday at a field hockey tournament. Winds were so gusty we were nearly swept off the field and into the sky (if only I’d had an umbrella I could have blown home a la Mary Poppins).

Then I had a couple of monstrous tech glitches. Dropped my cell phone in my garage. Done for. But the iCloud and the fact that I was overdue for an upgrade saved me. Now have a new phone and a pink Lifeproof case (my kids love it). 48 hours later my laptop was under attack. Thankfully, one of the guys from Norton helped me purge my system of ickiness. Fingers crossed that Tech Glitches do not occur in threes!

Kids are back in school after an almost five-day weekend (a weird effect of Halloween, Election Day, and end of quarter occurring at the same time) so (now that my laptop has been given clean bill of health) it’s back to full productivity.

Anyone doing NaNo? I’m not, but good luck to those of you who are. I love all the NaNo news/posts/tips in November bc it reminds all writers how much we can accomplish when we hunker down and WRITE!

Did you have a nice Halloween? What did YOU do this weekend? Anyone else dealing with dropped phones, computer viruses, or other tech glitches?

What’s your favorite type of jewelry? Earrings? Bracelets? Necklaces?

Wishing all of you high word counts and/or lots of time to read today!

Julie and Sandy Moffett: Why does America have a fascination with Salem witchcraft?

My next guests are Julie and Sandy Moffett, authors of The MacInness Legacy Trilogy. This month, they released a boxed set that also includes a bonus novella. They’re here to share a bit about the books and discuss our fascination with the Salem witch trials. They’re giving away three box sets at the end of the tour. To enter to win, use the Rafflecopter link below. Welcome, Julie and Sandy!

When my sister and I decided to write a paranormal series together, our brother challenged us to write about Salem witches. Although we believed the topic a well-used one, we accepted the challenge and set out to add a twist to the story. The twist…set the series a hundred years later in 1792. By then, the town had shifted it sights to the world sea trade, which brought wealth to many of its prominent citizens. Still, Salem had yet to live down its infamous reputation, even though reparations and apologies had been made.

As we talked about what to write for this blog, Sandy’s husband pointed out an article called An Unholy Mess in the recent American History magazine (December 2014) written by a descendant of executed witch Rebecca Nurse. The witch trials to this day still draw in the curious and raise the question of how and why did they happen. Sandy has vivid memories of her school drama class enacting Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. She found it a reminder that mass hysteria can often lead to deadly results.

Why did Salem go through this tumultuous period, when other nations around the world had pulled away from death penalty punishment over fears of mysticism? Why did the fear of witchcraft still linger in Salem? The author suggested several possibilities. One concerned the pocket of Puritans living in Salem with strong beliefs in evil spirits and Satan. Another addressed a disgruntled minister who hadn’t been paid in a year. His two daughters were the first affected by strange afflictions (supposedly caused by the witches in Salem) and they began pointing accusing fingers––some at the family members of the church committee who hadn’t paid their father.

Cold reality put an end to the trials after twenty executions, when the governor’s wife and the mother-in-law of Salem’s magistrate were accused of being witches. It’s no surprise the learned men saw the fallacy of the trials when their own relatives became targets. Imprisoned witches were released and executions permanently postponed. It took another fourteen years for the last of the young accusers to apologize for her instrumental role in causing the death of twenty innocent people. Not a welcome legacy to live with.

Could this type of hysteria happen again today? Maybe not over witchcraft, but what other beliefs could drive people to point fingers of guilt at one another?

Julie and Sandy released a box set of their popular Salem paranormal series this month. This award-winning trilogy, plus a FREE novella, was written by sisters about sisters.

Three sisters. Three witches. One hundred years after the Salem witch trials. Time is running out to stop a deadly curse…
Three sisters. Three witches. One hundred years after the Salem witch trials.
Time is running out to stop a deadly curse…

The MacInness Legacy Trilogy

In 1692, an innocent man accused of witchcraft hangs in Salem, Massachusetts. His death reignites a deadly feud between the descendants of two ancient Scottish clans—MacGow and MacInness, which leaves the MacInness clan descendants cursed. Any man who weds a MacInness is destined to an early death. The MacInnesses have one century to lift the curse and reflect it back upon Clan MacGow. Nearly one hundred years later, triplet sisters separated in childhood, are being drawn back to Salem. The have three months to refine their unearthly talents of fire, sight, and healing, and break the deadly curse…or lose the men they love forever.

The Series Includes:
The Fireweaver by Julie Moffett
The Seer by Sandy Moffett
The Healer by Julie Moffett
And a BONUS novella Bewitching by Sandy Moffett, introducing Salem’s Academy for Ladies

Moffett Banner

More about Julie and Sandy

Moffett Bio PicsJulie and Sandy are sisters who grew up military brats. They love to travel, explore new places and different cultures, and share those adventures with their families. Julie also writes a popular geek mystery series for Carina Press, THE LEXI CARMICHAEL MYSTERY SERIES. You can see more details about her December 1 upcoming release NO TEST FOR THE WICKED and sign up for her newsletter at http://www.juliemoffett.com. Sandy has a new action-adventure series with a lady pilot who steals airplanes for a living. Her first book REPOSSESSED won a 2013 Daphne du Maurier and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie award. Her second book, OUTFOXED, is releasing next month. For more information and to get on her mailing list, check out http://www.sandymoffett.net.

The Giveaway

Julie and Sandy are giving away three box sets at the end of their tour. To enter to win one, click here.

For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

So what about you? Are you fascinated by the Salem witch trials? Could something similar happen today?

I’d like to think witch trials are behind us but, unfortunately, it’s all too easy to imagine hysteria trumping rational decision making in certain situations even today. (Consider what happened to Kaci Hickox, the asymptomatic nurse who recently returned from helping Ebola patients in West Africa). This post is a timely reminder not to let fear displace common sense, scientific reason, and human decency.

Thank you to Julie and Sandy for guest blogging today!

Cecilia Dominic: Psychologist’s Analysis of A Classic Werewolf Character

My next guest is Cecilia Dominic, who is both a writer and a psychologist. Her latest urban fantasy, Blood’s Shadow, deals with lycanthropy so she’s spent a lot of time reading werewolf novels and analyzing shape shifter characters. As an interesting alternative to reviewing a novel in full, she’s here with a brief analysis of one of the characters from a classic werewolf tale: Michael Gallatin from Robert R. McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour. Welcome, Cecilia!

Thank you so much for hosting me, Jill! It’s great to be back on your blog.

Robert R. McCammon has the dubious honor of having written one of the few summer reading books I actually enjoyed, Boy’s Life, which was published in 1991. He has an amazing way with description, and the book sucked me in and made me forget I was doing something I didn’t want to do. To clarify, I have always loved to read, but I have a rebellious streak and having someone tell me to do it makes me not want to. I admit I didn’t immediately read more of his books because the horror designation stopped me.

Since I write about lycanthropes and it’s close to Halloween, I thought it would be fun to do a Character on the Couch analysis of Allied spy Michael Gallatin, aka Mikhail Gallatinov, the main character from McCammon’s The Wolf’s Hour. The book switches time periods from the present, which for the purposes of the book is during World War II, and Gallatin’s past, when he was a boy in Russia whose family is killed by the Communists and who is adopted by a band of lycanthropes living in an old abandoned castle in the deep, dark woods. Unlike my previous experience with McCammon, I approached this book with eagerness since my main character’s father was also a spy during World War II.

  1. If your character were to go to a psychologist – willingly or unwillingly – what would bring them in? Yes, a court order is a valid answer.

Due to the time period, which was while psychology was still in the grip of the psychoanalysts, I can see Gallatin being suggested for therapy due to difficulty forming intimate relationships within the context of a crisis of identity brought on by early trauma. At the beginning of the book, he interacts well with others but is still a literal lone wolf who has holed himself up in an abandoned church-turned-house on the Welsh coast. His relationships are business-like and always have a purpose. Even when he has an intimate night with a woman, he pushes her away after because of the danger to her and, I suspect, his own emotional state due to how many losses he’s had.

  1. Is the presenting problem one of the main internal or external conflicts in the book? If so, how does it present itself?

The theme of identity runs through the book and makes for an interesting sense of internal conflict. Of course in the later time settings, Gallatin has a very, “If I tell (or show) you, I’ll have to kill you” philosophy about his wolf side, and that’s how it usually works out. Even his original pack-mates, who of course make a big impression on eight-year-old Mikhail, have differing views on it. His pack leader Wiktor finds lycanthropy to be a noble condition and would spend his life as a wolf if it wouldn’t age him seven times as fast. But another pack mate Franco clings to his identity as a man and curses the day he was turned. Several times either Michael/Mikhail or someone around him asks what God thinks of lycanthropes, and he thinks about humans and wolves as having their own gods.

  1. It’s always interesting to see how people act when they first enter my office. Do they immediately go for my chair, hesitate before sitting anywhere, flop on the couch, etc.? What would the character do?

He would immediately go for the spot on the couch where he could see the door and look relaxed but be ready to jump up at a moment’s notice. He would also have the exit routes mapped out automatically in his mind.

  1. Does the character talk to the therapist? How open/revealing will your character be?

If Michael were to present to therapy, he would likely be direct about the identity conflict but keep the discussion about it at a philosophical and intellectual level. He’d probably discuss his two sides in a hypothetical sense and not reveal his secret. If he were in the present, he would likely have read all about post traumatic stress disorder and try to present with that angle to throw me off from the primary problem.

  1. Your character walks into the bar down the street after his/her first therapy session. What does he/she order? What happens next?

Michael drinks alcohol in the 1940’s time period, and it’s usually very strong stuff. I’m thinking he goes for whiskey, and he’d probably be amused by the proliferation of cocktail bars. Why do you need to mix so much stuff into good alcohol when guys like him can handle it straight? I suspect he would perhaps feel satisfied he’d kept his secret but maybe a little wistful he can’t feel safe telling anyone about it. Of course I’m focusing more on the character as he is at the beginning of the book.

Once again, I really enjoyed reading McCammon’s gorgeous descriptions and great characters, but this time I’m so glad I don’t have to be tested on it. It is a must-read for anyone who’s into werewolf and/or spy literature. Hats off to him, and happy Howl-oween to you!

What is your favorite werewolf book or movie?

Blood's Shadow

More About Blood’s Shadow

Encountering werewolves can be deadly. Trying to cure them? Murder.

As the Investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, Gabriel McCord encountered his share of sticky situations in order to keep werewolf kind under the radar of discovery. Now, as the Council’s liaison to the Institute for Lycanthropic Reversal, he advocates for those who were turned werewolf against their will.

Everyone seems to be on board with the Institute’s controversial experimental process—until one of its geneticists is found lying on his desk in a pool of blood.

Gabriel races to single out a killer from a long list of suspects. Purists, who believe lycanthropy is a gift that shouldn’t be returned. Young Bloods, who want the cure for born lycanthropes as well as made. The Institute’s own very attractive psychologist, whose most precious possession has fallen into the hands of an ancient secret society bent on the destruction of werewolves.

Failure means he’ll lose his place on the Council and endanger the tenuous truce between wizard and lycanthrope. Even if he wins, he could lose his heart to a woman with deadly secrets of her own.

Available at Amazon  BN  Google Books

Also Available

The Mountain’s Shadow, Lycanthropy Files Book One

Long Shadows, Lycanthropy Files Book Two

 Happy Howloween Sale

Oct 25 – Nov 25

The Mountain’s Shadow on sale for .99

Long Shadows on sale for $1.99

More About Cecilia

Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction.

The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style.

She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.

So how about you? Do you have a favorite werewolf book or movie?

1981’s The Howling with Dee Wallace is the first werewolf movie I remember watching. I haven’t had the heart to re-watch it because I’m afraid it won’t live up to my memory of it. Werewolf characters I’ve loved are Lucien from Underworld: Rise of the Lycans and Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville, although I admit I’m very behind on that series.

Thank you, Cecilia, for guest blogging today!

Blood Shadow Banner

Writers Who Create Other Things: Danielle Ackley-McPhail’s Horns (a must for October… and year-round!)

My next guest is Danielle Ackley-McPhail, who writes fantasy and also creates custom-made costume horns. How cool is that? We met last month at the Baltimore Book Fest (we were on the Dark Fantasy panel together). I mentioned that I was hosting a guest blog series featuring writers who also make crafts, jewelry, and other art in order to show how creative authors can be in other ways and she told me she makes one-of-a-kind horns. When I heard that, I told her I really wanted her to come blog and tell us about them and share some pictures. Her wonderful post is below. Welcome, Danielle!

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns 2

How I Became The Hornie Lady

Hi, my name is Danielle Ackley-McPhail and most times I’m an author….but occasionally I’m also the Hornie Lady!

Why am I called the Hornie Lady? Funny you should ask. Several years ago a friend and fellow author came up to me and said… “I have to tell you something….when my son was younger and we would come into the dealers room, the moment he saw your display of horns he would say ‘Mom! It’s the hornie lady!’ Embarrassed, I told him, ‘No! Don’t call her that!’ but now that he’s grown I had to share that with you.”

Well, soon after she told me this story I had a chance to meet one of my literary heroes, Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of the Dark Hunter series. In that series she has a baby-goth demon named Simi who calls horns ‘hornies’. Because of that event I ended up making horns for Ms. Kenyon wholesale. Naturally, when I went pro, I had to be The Hornie Lady.

Why did I start making horns to begin with, you ask? Well…as a small-press author I learned early on the importance of diversifying. When I first started out it was very hard going only having one book, so I branched out into anthologies and grew my list. After that I made sure I had several books coming out every year just to keep new things on the table. That is important when you do the same shows over and over. If you don’t have new material the fans you’ve already made won’t have anything to buy next time. And as for what you hope will be new fans…you want to give them as many options to choose from to increase your chances that you’ll have something they will like.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, custom-made costume horns, fantasy, cosplay, stage, Halloween

That still doesn’t explain the horns, though, does it?

When I started doing conventions I wanted to have fun as well and I always loved costuming so my first efforts with clay were masks and they were strictly for myself and whatever costume I wanted to make. One of the first costumes I made was a One-Eyed, One Horned Flying Purple People Eater. Soon after that I went to a renaissance festival and saw the costume horns they sold….I was not impressed, but I was intrigued. The first thought to go through my head was “I can do better than that!”

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns 3

The Too Cute puppies called. They want some horns!
The Too Cute puppies called. They want some horns!

So I tried. My first foray as a seller of horns was the very first East Coast Faeriecon. In that weekend I sold 53 set of horns and I was hooked. People loved them. My prices were reasonable, the designs were unique and original, and my method of attachment was simple. From that point on horns became a staple of my vending efforts. I had fun making them and trying new things, and from a production standpoint costs were quite reasonable.

This wasn’t just good business, but an excellent complement to my marketing as I am a fantasy author. The horns are a point of interest that often causes people to stop at the table. Once I get them to stop and start to chat with them I can then direct their attention to the books. Also they are a good conversation piece and a hawker’s hook….imagine, is there any better way to draw someone’s attention than to ask “Can I make you hornie?” If nothing else, it makes people laugh and if you can do that then you make a connection, an impression, and even if they don’t stop that time, they will remember you and eventually their curiosity will get the better of them.

At worse I sell a set of horns and nothing else, at best I can get them to buy a book as well, and I might just have made a fan, literary or otherwise! Even today I can recognize people wearing horns I sold them years ago, and repeat customers are a common occurrence. In fact, some people make a point of coming to buy a set each time they see me at a show, and not because anything happened to the ones they bought before.

One of my greatest (and most guilty) triumphs is when I discover someone trying to copy one of my designs…and not being able to pull it off 😉

In the end it comes down to one thing for me: I love to create, no matter what the medium. Words…clay…cooking…It’s all good!

Hornie Lady Contact Info

Danielle Ackley-McPhail Custom-Made Horns

More About Danielle

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. Currently, she is a project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books.

Her published works include five urban fantasy novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court: and The Redcaps’ Queen: A Bad-Ass Faerie Tale, and a young adult Steampunk novel, Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the solo science fiction collection, A Legacy of Stars, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Dragon’s Lure, and In an Iron Cage. Her work is included in numerous other anthologies and collections.

She is a member of the Garden State Speculative Fiction Writers, the New Jersey Authors Network, and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres.

In addition to her literary acclaim, Danielle crafts and sells original costume horns under the moniker The Hornie Lady, at literary conventions, on commission, and wholesale.

Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail, mother-in-law Teresa, and three extremely spoiled cats. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail or badassfaeries), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com, or http://www.badassfaeries.com.  

"Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet. I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined..."
“Come, Best Beloved, and sit you by my feet.
I shall tell you a tale such as sister Scheherazade could have scarce imagined…”
My older daughter bought Danielle's steampunk faerie tale at the Baltimore Book Fest
My older daughter bought Danielle’s steampunk faerie tale at the Baltimore Book Fest

To find Danielle’s horns online, click here

To find Danielle’s books online, click here

If you are a writer who makes and sells art, jewelry, or some other type of craft, and you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me for more details. I have a few guest spots left.

Hope everyone had a nice weekend. Ours can be summed up in three words: planes, trains, and automobiles. Or movies, music, and books. We flew down to Cape May for the New Jersey State Film Fest on Saturday then took the train up to NYC for Gary Wright’s concert/book signing event Sunday night at the City Winery. (Gary is my husband’s cousin. He is a musician, memoirist, and all around great guy. The concert was fun. Hadn’t heard him sing Dream Weaver live since his impromptu performance at our wedding. I have a great picture, which I might post if I can find it…)

How about you? Did you do anything fun last weekend? Do you think Danielle’s horns are as neat as I do?

Thank you, Danielle, for guest blogging today!

Karen Greco: First Rule of Fight Club

My next guest is Karen Greco, author of Tainted Blood, the second urban fantasy novel in her Hell’s Belle series. She’s here to talk about one of the things I find challenging: writing fight scenes. She’s also giving away ten e-copies of her latest release as well as some custom-made vampire stakes like the one Nina uses in Tainted Blood (U.S. only). The Rafflecopter link and other details are below. Welcome, Karen!

urban fantasy

Hell’s Belle readers know how much I love my fight scenes. They are my favorite moments to write. Some people are lovers, some are fighters. My characters are a whole lot of both.

When I started working on Hell’s Belle and found my fight writer calling, I knew I had to learn how to fight. I needed to feel my fist hit something (in my case, a heavy bag), to check the angle of my hip while I swooped in a round house kick, to know that the impact felt like when it connected.

Now, when I sit down to write the fight scenes, I often find myself jumping up out of my chair and marking out the scene’s progression. Nina flips a baddie over her back, I simulate it in my kitchen! Nina drops out of the way of a punch, to the floor I go! My puppies think I am either insane or the Best. Dog. Mom. Ever.

Sometimes the moves are damn near impossible for my all-to-human body to execute without one or two (or many) Three Stooges moments. But honestly, I really should not be able to do the moves. I am not a vampire, after all. I don’t have the speed, strength or agility of Nina. But I am able to execute it enough to get the basic feel, and I can share it with my readers. (And yeah, I know, “that’s not realistic!” Of course it’s not! I’m writing about VAMPIRES!)

And you know what? It feels damn good to get off my butt and move around a little.

So, when your reading Hell’s Belle or Tainted Blood, and you come to a fight scene, you can be assured that the moves were road tested before ending up on the page.

More About Tainted Blood

After surviving a vampire assassin (not to mention an awkward affair with a hot FBI agent that ended worse than she could have imagined), witch/vampire hybrid Nina Martinez is reunited with the full Blood Ops team in Providence, Rhode Island. Her Aunt Babe is tutoring her in all things witchcraft, and her vampire partner Frankie is enjoying the benefits of daywalking, courtesy of a demon spell.

When a segment of the Rhode Island vampire population is marked for death by a tainted blood supply, Nina and her team race to find Patient Zero before the local vampire population is wiped out. But when a demon infestation threatens to take control of the city, Nina must join forces with newly elected mayor—and closet demon— Ami Bertrand before the city falls into ruin.

Filled with fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat action, Nina and her group of supernatural misfits battle a surprising new enemy that threatens their very existence.

No wonder she still can’t get a date.

Karen Greco
Karen Greco

More About Karen

Karen Greco has spent close to twenty years in New York City, working in publicity and marketing for the entertainment industry. Originally from Rhode Island (she loves hot wieners from New York System, but can’t stand coffee milk), she studied playwriting in college (and won an award or two).

After not writing plays for a long time, a life-long obsession with exorcists and Dracula drew her to urban fantasy, where she can decapitate characters with impunity.

Her first novel, Hell’s Belle, was released in 2013. Tainted Blood is the second book in the best-selling Hell’s Belle urban fantasy series.

Karen can be found online here:

The Giveaway

At the end of her tour, Karen is giving away ten e-copies of Tainted Blood. Winners will also receive a custom-made vampire stake similar to the one used by Nina from Tainted Blood. U.S. only.

To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter link.

Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Free Short Story Prequel

River Vamp

River Vamp: A Hell’s Belle Prequel Short Story

Frankie and Nina head to New York City for an early Blood Ops mission. Guess what they fish out of the Gowanus Canal?

Free at Smashwords

Tainted Blood Banner

So, writers, how about you? Are fight scenes easy or tough for you to write? Do you act them out in your head or in your kitchen?

Readers, do you have a favorite fight scene? Have you seen Fight Club? (How bad is it that I haven’t?)

Thank you for guest blogging today, Karen!

Jocelynn Drake: Writing from a Man’s POV (BONUS: great giveaway; fun cover contest)

Today’s guest blogger is New York Times bestselling urban fantasy author Jocelynn Drake. She is releasing three new Asylum Tales novellas: Demon’s Fury (today!); Demon’s Vow (Oct. 21), and Inner Demon (Oct. 28). Instead of writing them from her Dark Days heroine Mira’s point of view, they are written from Gage’s point of view. She’s here to discuss what writing from the guy’s POV was like. She’s also giving away a complete set of the e-novellas. Because I am Rafflecopter challenged, however, there are only two ways to enter: comment below or vote for your favorite Asylum Tales novella cover via tweet. The tweets and other giveaway details are below. Welcome, Jocelynn!

Stepping into Gage’s Shoes:

Understanding a Man’s Point of View

When I started writing novels from the first person point of view, there had been no question in my mind that my main character would be female. As a woman, this was instantly the safest and wisest course of action.  I know that men and women see the world differently.  There’s a mountain of books that have been written on how the men and women view their environment differently.  I didn’t want to worry about sounding male when my main concern at first was sounding like a 600-year-old vampire (that’s hard enough!).

But as I worked on the Dark Days series, I decided to stick a toe in the water in the fourth book (PRAY FOR DAWN) by telling the story from the vampire hunter Danaus’s point of view.  Not the easiest of tasks, but it was definitely fun and interesting.

When the Dark Days series came to an end a couple of years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to try something completely different. The doors were thrown open to my imagination and the sky was the limit.  It was thrilling and exciting!  I was back to playing god and the cosmos was spread before me, waiting for my unique brand of insanity.

One of the first things I decided was that I wanted to step away from the female point of view. I loved working with my vampire Mira.  I loved her temper, her intense concern for her close friends, and the internal struggles that waged within her on nearly every page.  I loved her because she was so damaged and because she had to be the potential to become the villain as easily as she had the potential to be the heroine.

But with the Asylum Tales, I needed to stretch my skills and tackle some new terrain. Gage was the perfect chance.  As the idea for the series started to form in my mind, the realization that my narrator was going to be male was one of my first decisions and I have never wavered from that.  I wanted to try to see the world through a guy’s point of view.

With Gage, my first thought was that I had to watch the emotional baggage and turmoil. Mira walked around unable to completely shed the demons from her past.  Gage has his own dark shadows, but he keeps them largely buried in the past.  The other thing that I’ve tried to keep in mind with Gage is that I’ve tried to rein in his emotional impulses.  When things go wrong, his first desire is to jump in and act, but unlike Mira, he’s been a little more careful, planning ahead in hopes of saving his own skin.

I think one of my favorite things is that I’ve turned off the little censor man when I’m writing as Gage. Most people are gifted with a little man in their brain who is able to stop most of the stupid things that we think from coming out their mouths.  Gage’s censor man takes a lot of vacations and I’ve enjoyed just letting the first things that come to him exit his mouth.

Gage has been fun to work with because I think he represents all the male friends I’ve had during my life as well as both of my brothers. While Mira tapped into my own personal dark side, Gage has been a great chance to stroll through some wonderful memories with old friends and family.   And like Mira, Gage has become a part of my private writing family along with Mira, Danaus, Tristan, Valerio, and Jabari from the Dark Days series.

More About Demon’s Fury

Jocelynn Drake continues her successful urban fantasy series, Asylum Tales, with Demon’s Fury, set in a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires walk free among humanity.

Powerful warlock and tattoo artist Gage has managed to escape the magical Ivory Towers who terrorize the rest of humans and monsters – but at a price.

Now he must join forces with his nemesis Gideon to stop an unknown entity who is using old magic to commit gruesome murders. And if that’s not keeping him busy enough, an investigator recruits Gage to help her track a killer … who might be targeting tattoo artists.

Available at Amazon

More About Demon’s Vow

Tattoo artist and warlock Gage is having a rough week. He’s trying to track down a mysterious murderer in Low Town while also chasing a powerful entity using forbidden Death Magic across the nation.

When Gage discovers the two forces may be trying to unite, the stakes get even higher. With Gideon’s help, Gage is determined to stop the murderers before anyone else gets hurt – including his girlfriend, Trixie.

Available at Amazon

More About Inner Demon

Gage is a powerful warlock in Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, goblins, and vampires walk free among humanity. But there are two dangerous entities murdering families and children, and Gage needs to stop them before anybody else gets hurt.

When Gage discovers a demon locked away it offers him access to dark magic in exchange for its freedom – a dangerous opportunity, but one that could save his loved ones. Gage must choose between what is right and what is easy … except he’s running out of time.

Available at Amazon

Jocelynn Drake
Jocelynn Drake

More About Jocelynn

By day, Jocelynn Drake is a clean-cut financial editor, picking apart stories about Wall Street and the global markets. But in her free time, she writes about a dark underworld where vampires and warlocks rule.

The author of Dark Days and Asylum Tales series, she lives in Florida with her husband, dog, and cat. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s usually hiding from the sun by playing video games.

She can be found online here:

The Giveaway

Jocelyn is giving away one e-book set of all three novellas:

  • Demon’s Fury
  • Demon’s Vow
  • Inner Demon

To enter to win, comment below by answering one of my questions, asking one of your own, or just saying you’re interested in reading the books. You can ALSO enter to win by voting for your favorite cover via tweet with one of these tweets:

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s DEMON’S FURY. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s DEMON’S VOW. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s INNER DEMON. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

Giveaway ends at midnight EDT on 10/31/14. I’ll announce the winner here by 11/7/14.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over.

One tweet/entry per person.

See my Giveaways page for official rules.

AsylumTales Series Banner

Questions:

Readers — Do you like stories written from a woman’s POV, man’s POV, multiple POVs, or don’t care so long as it’s a good story?

Writers — Do you find it hard to switch character POV?

Most of my followers know that my Noon Onyx series is written from Noon’s POV, although there’s a brief scene in the middle of Fiery Edge of Steel from Rafe’s POV and White Heart of Justice‘s prologue is written from Ari’s POV. Those scenes were both fun and challenging to write because they weren’t written from Noon’s perspective. Plus, the scene with Rafe was written from his perspective as a six-year-old boy and Ari’s was written from… well, let’s just say a perspective that was new to readers for reasons other than it being written from a man’s POV. 😀

Good luck and best wishes, everyone!

Thank you, Jocelynn, for guest blogging today!

Terry Spear: The Fantastical World of Wilde & Woolly Bears

My next guest is prolific, bestselling author Terry Spear. Terry writes paranormal romance (she is well known for her werewolf romances) and she makes award-winning teddy bears. They’re cute and cool and she tells us more below about how she makes them for herself, readers, and other writers. (I’m tempted to ask her if she can do a barghest or a tiger. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a little stuffed Nova or Virtus? 😀 ) Links for finding Terry, her books, and her bears are below. Welcome, Terry!

Terry Spear, paranormal, author, crafts, teddy bear, Halloween

Like with books, creating original bear “characters” are lots of fun. But they’re also great companions for books. Years ago, my parents asked me to create an old-fashioned teddy bear to sit on the doll carriages they created that they took to doll and bear shows. I began winning awards for my bears and sold to stores all over, was featured in several magazines including Texas Monthly, Teddy Bear Review, The MacNeill Galley, Texas Co-op Monthly and several newspapers. They were even included in the Spectral Visions film: The International Teddy Bear Connection.

I realized, though I had created dolls, quilts, embroidered, cross-stitched, made rugs, you name it, bears were my perfect contribution to the world. As soon as the Internet came into existence, I wanted to tap into the market of the world! I was so excited to do so because I knew it would be a way to really showcase them and not just at craft or bear shows. Wilde & Woolly Bears have found homes all over the states, and across the world: Canada, Australia, Wales, Kazakhstan, Russia, France, and South Africa.

But how do I make the bear and book connection? Earlier on, I began to get requests for bears that would be given as prizes for authors’ new releases. The bears are really popular and I help spread the word to my fans that an author is giving away one of my bears as a prize. Cross promotion can really help.

Here are some of the bears I’ve recently made for authors as giveaways for their book promotions:

Matheson Clan Bears from Vonnie Davis for her Highland bear shifter books:

Matheson Bears
Matheson Bears

 Linda Warren has given away Texas Belle and a Texas Ranger bear:

Texas Belles Bear
Texas Belles Bear

A vampire author, Rick Tibauld, gave a vampire bear with his book. And actually created a coffin for it!

Vampire Bear
Vampire Bear

And many more!

Steampunk Bear
Steampunk Bear

The other thing I’ve been doing is that when I sell a bear or multiple bears to a bear buyer, I’ll ask if she wants one of my autographed books. I’ve had new readers excited about receiving a free autographed book with their bear order! A South African reader couldn’t get my first wolf book as it was out of print until they made up more, and she had ordered a wizard bear, so when I sent her the bear, I sent her and a friend a copy of the first book. They are loyal fans and spread the word to everyone else who worked at their firm.

A bear buyer in Wales had never read any of my books, and so I sent her the first one of my wolf series also, and she was delighted! And now is reading them all.

I’ve had several new readers who have gotten hooked on my bears, and now are reading my books. And some that have gotten hooked on my books, and now are buying my bears.

So if you have a creative talent and can cross-promote between authors and between selling what you make and your books, it’s a win-win promotional effort.

Even if you just give it away as some fun swag—like I’ve done with my bears at FB parties, and really seen a ton of response, that can help!

And also, I’ve given bears to critique partners and beta readers. So another way to share the love. Oh, and I create fun pictures with them—like a Halloween setting with two of my bears in attendance. And a wizard bear picture with a wizard girl. Just all kinds of fun.

my_favorite_bear_by_shapeshifter_goddess

Like with writing, it’s important to love creating a craft! And have fun in the promotion of it!

Wilde & Woolly Bears: http://www.celticbears.com

More about Terry:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and four medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly‘s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance, continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars, loving to share her hot Highlanders, and having fun with her young adult novels. For more information, please visit www.terryspear.com, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook and on WordPress at Terry Spear’s Shifters.

The Senator Theater Baltimore, Maryland
The Senator Theater
Baltimore, Maryland

Hope everyone had a terrific weekend! Yesterday, my family went to a screening of several films that were made by middle and high school students last summer during a three-week summer camp (Steve Yeager’s Young Filmmakers Workshop). They were terrific!

View from Projection Booth
View from Projection Booth

The shows were followed by a brief, behind-the-scenes tour of The Senator, a 75-year-old historic art deco theater. My kids loved seeing the projection booth and I loved seeing the results of a recent $3.5 million dollar renovation. Afterward, we had an impromptu brunch at Shoo-Fly Diner (they have a fun menu that changes seasonally, but the neatest thing about the place is that it used to be an old shoe store). Most of the rest of the weekend was spent doing very unexciting things around my house.  

How about you? Did you do anything fun this weekend? Do you think Terry’s bears are as adorable as I do? If you could have her make a bear character from any book, who would it be?

Thank you, Terry, for guest blogging today!

Rose Shababy: What is the best Halloween costume you already have?

Today’s guest blogger, Rose Shababy, is the author of THE BLUE EFFECT, an adult urban sf/fantasy that was released this fall. She’s here with a confession…

“I’ve never been much for dressing up during the Halloween season.”

Sure, as a kid I looked forward to it every year, but as an adult I’ve been a little apathetic about the idea. I’ve only dressed up a couple of times in the last twenty years.

Once, in my twenties, I went to a bar party as a baby in a onesie with full freckles and binky and proceeded to consume large quantities of upside down margaritas. I will admit that I stumbled home with all the adroitness of a real baby.

One year I worked at an Italian specialty grocery and the girls I worked with convinced me we should all dress up. I went along with it, figured out a simple costume I could wear over a dress of my own, and showed up that day with a tiara and sash that read “Miss Diagnosed.” I chuckled over my own cleverness, but the laughs abated after a while, somewhere around the tenth customer that said “I don’t get it.”

I haven’t tried dressing up since. Oh, I talk about it. Sometimes I tell my husband, “We should have a giant costume party this year!” And we never do.

I’ve often thought I’m just a big ol’ stick-in-the-mud for not dressing up. Until recently.

I’m an avid reader. I love the whole fantasy/science fiction/paranormal genre, but I’m not picky. I’ll read just about anything if it looks interesting.

Writing a book is even better.

Reading someone else’s work means I’m limited by the confines of their story. When I sit down to write, I can build my own world and take it anywhere I want to go.

The people in my stories can be anything I want them to be.

I had so much fun writing my debut novel, The Blue Effect. Each character is a piece of me, albeit exaggerated. Not to mention they all have really cool super powers.

My main character, Blue Brennan, is larger than life. She’s sassy and mouthy, jaded yet vulnerable, ordinary and extraordinary.

Kasey is mysterious, honorable and kind.

Avery is grouchy and gorgeous and tortured.

The beautiful twins, Val and Esme, are opposites. Esme is gentle and brilliant, while Val is wild and hilariously snarky.

Ash is thoughtful and earthy.

When I sit down to write, everything I wish I could be, or the things I wish I could say or do come pouring out onto the pages.

None of my characters wear costumes, so no amount of dressing up could make me feel like I’m walking in their shoes.

Turns out, they’re unnecessary, because the best costume available is my own imagination.

I can close my eyes and suddenly I’m armed to the hilt, fighting evil vampires.

Or I’m waving my wand in an epic witch and wizard battle.

Sometimes I’m wandering Bourbon Street in New Orleans searching for ghosts and ghouls.

Other times I’m dressed in petticoats and lace, trying to escape Atlanta before Sherman’s men set it on fire.

Once in a while, I’m fighting for survival in prehistoric times, hunting mammoths and gathering food for winter.

And sometimes, I’m Blue Brennan, telling people off, freezing time and jumping through space to wherever it is I want to be.

When I read or write a book, I can be anyone I want, no costume necessary.

And as it turns out, my imagination is the best costume I could ever wear.

The Blue Effect

More About The Blue Effect

Blue Brennan is jaded and bitter despite her pin-up girl looks and quick wit. Night after night, she scours the Seattle club scene looking for someone or something to fill the emptiness inside.

When she meets the mysterious Kasey, her world stops… literally. He claims she has the ability to control time and stuns her even further when he reveals his own gifts.

Blue is inexplicably drawn to Kasey and reluctantly enters his world filled with a new breed of humanity. They’re misfits like her, blessed or cursed with powerful abilities, struggling to hide their differences from the rest of society.

Then the group discovers a nameless, faceless sociopath with nightmarish powers; and he’s coming for Blue. She’s left reeling when they discover her gifts are the key to defeating his terrible evil and saving them all.

Now she must race against the clock to harness her own powers and save her new friends. Can she be more than a renegade? Can she be a hero too?

Available at Amazon  BN  iTunes  

Rose Shababy
Rose Shababy

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.

Rose can be found online here:

The Blue Effect Banner

So, what about you? What are you dressing up as for Halloween this year? Rose is the only one who gets a pass. Kidding. I actually haven’t dressed up in a while. But Halloween’s on a Friday this year, which means a little extra celebrating might be in order. 

Both of my kids want me to go as one of the Downton Abbey characters. I’m honestly not sure why. Maybe because they know I like that show. Maybe because the dresses are pretty cool. But I can’t do Downton Abbey without zombifying it. [and p.s. to WordPress “zombifying” is in Merriam-Webster: please update spellcheck.]

Thanks, Rose, for guest blogging today!

Writers Who Create Other Things: Delilah Devlin’s The Emerald Casket

Last month a jewelry designer/artist contacted me about possibly doing a guest blog here. It gave me the idea to do a whole guest blog series featuring writers who create other things besides characters and the worlds they live in. So, over the next few months, I’m going to be posting a handful of guest blogs from writers who make jewelry, art, and crafts. I think it’s neat to see the different ways that writers use their creativity. My first guest is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Delilah Devlin who creates “erotically-charged paranormal worlds” and “richly descriptive westerns that ring with authenticity.” She also makes and sells jewelry with her daughter from their Etsy page, The Emerald Casket. She’s here today to talk about that and her other creative endeavors. Welcome, Delilah!

The Emerald Casket 2

“When I’m stuck in a story and need to move away from my desk to think,

it’s the perfect time to pull out beads or paint.”

Hi there! First, I’d like to thank Jill for inviting me to be here to talk about something other than books! How fun!

If you don’t follow me on Facebook or read my blog, you probably don’t know that I try my hand at other artful pursuits.

I dabble in watercolor, Zentangle, fused glass, but the thing I enjoy doing most, other than writing books, is making jewelry. In fact, I have a little online business I began with my daughter, Kelly a couple of years ago. We don’t make a ton of items to sell there, therefore, we haven’t made a lot money selling our jewelry, but it gives us this little hobby we share.

Kelly and I both have busy lives. We’d thought about making jewelry, for fun and for profit, for a long time before we started. We kept waiting for the right time… When things slowed down… When the kids were a little older… Finally, we realized there would never be a perfect time to open the store. We just had to do it and see what happened.

The Emerald Casket 1

I’m a full-time writer, and like most folks who are passionate about their work, it’s much more than a full-time job. My daughter owns a frame shop and is a full-time mother of three, so her hands are full, too.

Where do we find the time to create? It’s not easy. We both have to use little windows of downtime. When I’m stuck in a story and need to move away from my desk to think, it’s the perfect time to pull out beads or paint. I can let my mind wander to whatever problem I’m having with the current story, while I let the other part of my mind enjoy something really relaxing—almost like meditation, but so much more productive.  Kelly has the added obstacle of trying to escape her house and family to come here to work, since everything is set up in our little crowded workroom.

 

We make time, because we love doing this. And if we manage to sell enough to pay for the supplies, we’ll be able to keep our doors open. Bead-therapy is expensive!

This past weekend we did something fun. A rural church held a “Pumpkin Days” event—think hay rides, pony rides, bouncy house, barbecued meat and hot dogs… They also had a little space for vendors. We took bracelets and dominoes and thought it would be a nice way to meet people in our area and maybe make a little money. We were very successful! Surprisingly so. We even got an invitation to participate in an A.M.E. church bazaar. Whew. If ever either of the event organizer knew what I did for a living… 🙂

Anyway, if you’d like to see what I do besides write, you can check out these sites:

The Emerald Casket: Etsy Store | Facebook Page | Website | Pinterest Page

If you are a writer who makes and sells art, jewelry, or some other type of craft, and you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me for more details. I have a few guest spots left. Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was SUPER BUSY! (I haven’t forgotten about doing a post on the Baltimore Book Fest. Will do later this week!) Thank you, Delilah, for guest blogging today!

Jeffe Kennedy: The Future of Fantasy Romance

Jeffe Kennedy’s third book in her Covenant of Thorns trilogy releases today. She’s here to chat about the fantasy romance genre and share a bit about her new book, Rogue’s Paradise. Welcome, Jeffe!

“It’s not easy for writers to know what genre to put their stories in”

Thanks to Jill for hosting me today, on the release day of Rogue’s Paradise!

Jill and I are both members of RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal special interest chapter (FFP). We’ve been having a lively discussion on our chapter loop lately about genre and how to categorize our own books.

This kind of question comes up fairly frequently, particularly from newer writers wondering how to describe their books in query letters or in choosing genre categories in self-publishing. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not easy for writers to know what genre to put their stories in. We generally write the stories and THEN figure out what to call it. Jill also writes what she calls “genre-bending fantasy.”

That said, it’s interesting to me to have this trilogy culminate at a time when the genre, Fantasy Romance, is considered “hot.” At the risk of sounding like I’m groaning out an old, sad tale about walking to school in hip-deep snow, uphill, both ways , when I wrote the first book, Rogue’s Pawn, Fantasy Romance wasn’t really a genre. Certainly not one I was aware of.

I know this because for a long time, I shopped that book as Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. And it was politely explained to me (sometimes less so, as one agent sent me away in tears) that it was neither. When Carina Press bought the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, they called it Fantasy Romance. I swear that was the first time I was aware of the genre, though I had been reading other books classified that way. Rogue’s Pawn was only the tenth book at Carina to be published in that genre, in July of 2012, just over two years after Carina launched their first books.

Now, with Rogue’s Possession, the second book in the trilogy, finaling in FFP’s PRISM contest (though as Fantasy – even WE don’t recognize Fantasy Romance as a separate category yet!), and Rogue’s Paradise coming out today, I often hear my Covenant of Thorns trilogy cited as “classic” fantasy romance. Or, at least, as a solid example of the genre.

In our discussions on the FFP loop, I described myself as an interdimensional being who straddles genres, (we get to talk that way in FFP) especially since my other current trilogy is called Fantasy. One of our other members suggested the term “interstitial genres” – which, if you know biology, is a great choice. It would be interesting to trace the history of which books were first dubbed “Fantasy Romance.” Amusingly the Wikipedia link for Fantasy Romance redirects to Romantic Fantasy (last updated August 2014) – not the same thing at all.

At any rate, it’s so fun to have this trilogy culminate at this time, with so many wonderful writers doing great things with fantasy stories in all types of settings and romantic flavors.

It feels like a big party.

~throws confetti~

~twirls~

Jill’s Thoughts:

Every time these discussions come up about subgenre definition, I think of the last scene from Back to the Future when Doc says, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” lol.

Ah, if only it were that simple.

 I’m always tempted to call the Noon Onyx books “Fantasy” (which is what the spine says they are) and be done with it, but I also know it’s important to give readers information to help them decide if they want to read a book. And the fewer words a writer uses to do that, the better. So labels and genre definitions can be helpful. But they can also be limiting and misleading.

My books are genre mutts, full of fantasy (they’re set in an imaginary world), urban fantasy (the focus of the stories is the main character, a magic-wielding woman), and romance elements (there are several suitors and lots of emotion and inner conflict regarding Noon’s relationships). And, because the stories are written in the youthful, first person voice of a twenty-something postgrad, I even played around with the New Adult label. Plus each book in the series has drawn from the well of these other genres: mystery, adventure/quest, and legal thriller. Gah! See why I want to call up Doc and borrow his DeLorean?

Jeffe mentioned these discussions regarding subgenre definition come up fairly frequently among writers. Yep, too true. But, even though I joke about calling up Doc, I love discussing this stuff. In fact, just last week I was swapping emails with some of the writers who will be doing the Dark Fantasy Panel with me at the upcoming Baltimore Book Fest. Betcha can guess what one of the things we were discussing was. Yep, the future of dark fantasy and what the heck that label is supposed to mean. 😀

More About Rogue’s Paradise

Rogue's ParadisePregnant, possessed, and in love with a man I don’t dare to trust-those are the consequences of the risks I took to save my life. But Faerie, the land of blood and magic, is filled with bitter ironies, and the bargains I made now threaten me and my unborn child.

The darkly sensual fae noble Rogue still tempts me to danger and desire. As we await the birth of our child, I’ve been forced to question whether our offspring is part of a bargain Rogue once made to save himself. He can’t tell me the truth due to a spell the vicious Queen Titania has him under. Would he betray our family against his will? Could I ever forgive him if he does?

Rogue insists on an eternal commitment from me, even as Titania’s forces close in on us. I don’t know if Rogue and I can withstand her onslaught, or that of the beast within me. But I will not stop looking for answers-even if it brings the walls of Faerie crashing down.

 More About Jeffe

Jeffe KennedyJeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her 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, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

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, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

What sort of stories do you think of when you hear the term “fantasy romance”? Have you read any books that would fit that description? In addition to Jeffe’s Covenant of Thorns trilogy, two authors to try might be C.L. Wilson and Amy Raby.

Congratulations and best wishes, Jeffe. Thank you for guest blogging today!

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