5 PHOTOS with D.V. Stone: Snowball, Baby, and Beautiful New Jersey (#writerslife)

***** I’m scheduling “5 Photos” spots for early 2018. If you or your writer friends are interested in sharing some writer’s life photos, check out my new “Be My Guest” page and let me know!


Today’s guest is D.V. Stone, who is from New Jersey. Are you picturing the dense suburbs of New York or Philly? Or maybe the Jersey Shore? Her “where you’re from” photo shows us a gorgeous fall view of a different part of the state.

Welcome, Donna!

Something that represents something unique about you

I’m a Grandma with a Camaro! My husband surprised me at work with it. I named her Snowball.

Something that represents where you live

When people think of New Jersey they usually have no concept of where I live. My house backs up to the Appalachian Trail and the front is a beautiful lake.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

This is Baby. She’s wondering why he doesn’t love her back…

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Lack of time. As an author, wife and full-time employee my time usually runs out before I’m finished with whatever step I’m at. I’m thankful that I have an understanding husband who really stepped up in helping around the house and is supportive when I disappear for hours at a time.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

I have a knack for catching double rainbows. Being outside in the summer is the best especially when you find such a spectacular sight as a rainbow but then it gets even better when you get two.

Q&A

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

One foolish thought. One brutal act. Instead of a peaceful alliance––war

King Sahnan of Argatha, leader of a human realm, reaches out to Dar, King of the Darrian shifter nation. No longer able to remain disengaged from the world around them. It is time for an alliance between the two Houses. An old enemy has reemerged and seeks to take advantage of a divided Argatha. An argument on the road and an ensuing attack sink both Kingdoms into a desperate state. Felice is nearly killed, and in a bid to save her life, Abelard tells her he is Ayer, a simple soldier of King Sahnan. If she knows he is her sister’s intended, Felice will die before giving him her Shield.  In a moment of desperation they are bound, but what will it take to remain Shield-Mates?

What are you working on next?

Several things. Rock House Grill is a contemporary romance utilizing my experience as a former Emergency Medical Technician and owner of a restaurant. This manuscript is being considered by a publishing house and the editor and I are going back and forth with revisions. In between, I’m working on the book that started it all for me. Kingdom at a Crossroad. It’s a High Fantasy Epic in the LOTR style. I also have the second Shield-Mate book Kisa, Shield-Mates of Dar. I have Author ADD.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished Diana Duvall’s Blade of Darkness and started Roxanne St. Claire’s Secret on the Sand. I’m waiting anxiously for C.L. Wilson’s The Sea King.

Jill: C.L. Wilson guest blogged here when she was promoting The Winter King. Check out her post “Ten Things I’ve Learned Since I Started Writing”.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Anything about RV’s. Retirement is in the next couple of years and my husband and I plan to travel this great country of ours. Coast to coast and border to border. I hope to find a lot of inspiration along the way.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Maleficent. I love the fact that besides wanting to be big, bad and vengeful, she is filled with love and compassion.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

As a self-published author I find myself lost in the pile. Marketing is a mystery and there is no magic formula that works. Getting noticed on social media that translates into book reviews and sales. I can get lost for hours trying to figure it out when what I want to do is create.

Thank you, Donna, for sharing your pictures and thoughts! 

Donna can be found online here: Website | Twitter | Amazon

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5 PHOTOS: Libby Doyle (#amwriting from #Philly)

Libby Doyle is here with some fantastic writer’s life photos — one of a martial arts tournament in Japan; one of her cats, Mao and Neko; and a beautiful picture of the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho. 

But before we get to Libby’s photos, a quick note about my recent guest post for Natasha Lane. She invites authors to share writing tips and I picked How to Write a Terrific Book Blurb. Writing book blurbs (or back cover copy) is hard, so it’s hubris on my part to think I’ve mastered it. But I had to pick something! Writing the post got me thinking about best practices for blurb writing, which isn’t a bad thing. If you are a writer currently struggling with your WIP’s blurb, check out the post and vent your frustrations in the comments. 😀

And now… Welcome, Libby!


Something unique about me

I have a black belt in Shorinji Kempo. Here I am at a tournament in Japan. I was a brown belt at the time. Learning martial arts in Japan was a fantastic experience. One thing is certain. I will never, ever forget the Japanese word for pain: itai. We used it as the signal when our sparring partner had effectively applied a technique, which usually meant we were face down on the mat.

Shorinji Kempo is great for dealing with attackers who are bigger and stronger than you because it uses joint reverses, pressure points, and escapes, techniques based more on physics than strength.

Unfortunately, I’ve let my skills fade. You need to train all the time to be good. It really is a way of life. I’ve may have retained a bit of the attitude, though. 😉 Also, the knowledge helps with my action-packed books. My training helps me write vivid fight scenes.

Something that represents where I live

Philadelphia City Hall, from the courtyard. One day my husband posted a meme on Facebook that said: “People in Philly whisper ‘What the—?’ to themselves twenty times a day.” I laughed, because it’s true.

I set my books in Philadelphia because I know it so well, but also because it has a rich history and the kind of character that comes with age, diversity, and a powerful (and infamous) ornery streak. Plus, its people have a truly world-class sense of humor. For example, one morning while I’m riding my bike to work, a gang of us are stopped at a red light. When it changes, some random portly guy with a mustache yells, “And they’re off! Cabbage Cabbage takes the lead on the inside!”

Something I Care For

Our cats, Mao (foreground) and Neko. Mao is the Chinese word for cat. Neko is the Japanese word for cat. We got them because we had mice, and boy, have they been effective. If it’s small and moves in our house they will catch it. Of course, at this point it hardly matters. We’ve fallen in love with their fuzzy cuteness and hilarious antics. Most excellent cats.

Something that really frustrates me

My day job. This is the view from my office. Yes, a nice view, but I’m so busy I can hardly look up from the computer screen. And the hours! I want more time to write, dammit!

Something that brings me joy (besides writing)

I love mountains. I took this photo while hiking in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho, a range that inspired a character. The heroine of the Covalent Series, Zan O’Gara, hails from the Sawtooths. She has the toughness and self-sufficiency that comes from growing up poor in a harsh climate, and the reverence for Nature that comes from waking up every day soaked in that beauty.

The Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

My latest is The Pain Season: Book II of the Covalent Series. I like to describe the series as Highlander meets Paradise Lost meets The English Patient. It’s an epic love story between an emotionally damaged FBI agent and a superhuman alien warrior from another dimension.

What are you working on next?

The Vengeance Season: Book III of the Covalent Series, to be released this winter. Like all my books, this one is shaping up to be a real ripsnorter. Over the first two installments of the series, Barakiel (Bah-rack-ee-el), my hero, dealt with his father’s attempts to either kill or enslave him. His father is Lucifer, a mighty Covalent warrior who rebelled against the rulers of their world and was driven from their city. He fled to the Destructive Realm, where he learned to harness its power. The only thing that holds Lucifer’s attention as much as his desire to destroy everything is his dangerous obsession with his son.

Barakiel has also fallen in love with Zan O’Gara, my heroine. Their devotion makes them both stronger, but they’re put to the test when Barakiel’s love turns Zan into a target. At times this is a dark story, filled with political intrigue, violence, tragedy and war. But my heroes are equal to their challenges. And, I should mention, this story is high heat. Scorching hot.

What are you currently reading?

Feast of Fates by Christian A. Brown, Book One of the Four Feasts Till Darkness Series, a superior epic fantasy. Brown has created a rich world, so real I can taste and smell it. I’m in love with his characters.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Deuce on HBO

Outlander on Starz

Fear the Walking Dead on FX

Jill: How excited are you for Outlander S3, E6? I heard we have to wait until 10/22. NOOOOOO!!!

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Hands down, the dragons from Game of Thrones.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Getting your books noticed in the sea of offerings, many of them excellent.

I’m also concerned about Amazon’s power in the market. The company can do anything it likes to independent authors. We are completely at its mercy. I think it’s a shame when books become more about the delivery system than the stories.

Jill: I don’t think a reader buys a story because of its delivery system, but delivery systems that are too complicated or burdensome can have a dampening effect on sales.

How can we meet that challenge?

I have no idea. I’m not in KDP Select. I chose wide distribution, but I do sell the great majority of my books on Amazon. Sigh. I would love suggestions, about getting noticed and about handling Amazon.

Jill: I’m not in KDP Select either, although I don’t rule it out for future books. (It didn’t make sense for the book I self-published, which was a follow-up to three trad published books.) For each book, an author should carefully consider all their distribution options. Having an income stream from multiple sources for at least some products is a wise choice for any seller.

Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts!

Where to find Libby

Website | NewsletterAmazon Author PageFacebookTwitterGoodreads

#WritersLife: 5 PHOTOS with Claudia Blood (#dnd #Minnesota)

My guest today is Claudia Blood, who’s shares her five writer’s life photos. Welcome, Claudia!


Something that represents something unique about you

This is a picture of 3.5 D&D books, dice, and a dice mat.

I’ve been playing D&D for most of my life. I started in the third grade when my Dad was the DM. THAC0 is a great way to practice math. (THAC0 – To Hit AC 0)

All the good boyfriends (and husband) played. I didn’t have any female friends that played and, in fact, I was told once a female D&D player was a mythical beast (horn not included).

I brought up D&D on the first date with my husband. Shockingly enough, he thought admitting to still playing D&D was not chick magnet material. Little did he know who he was dealing with.

Twelve years later, we host D&D parties every four to six weeks at our place. My husband has been playing with some of the people for 30+ years. One of them travels six hours to attend. We start at about noon and end – well, we have gone to two or three o’clock in the morning. Okay, that was pre-kids.

Even without the super late nights, there is still so much food and laughter.  (Did I mention food?) And I finally have a couple other women that play. How cool is that?

Something that represents where you live

Minnesooota. (with accent) Land of 10,000 lakes and snowy winters. This was taken out of my back window in the middle of a storm that dropped a foot of snow. My daughter had school the next day.

It was that same winter that we hit -20 in the morning. I was on a conference call with my day job with a mix of people from Texas and Minnesota. Having a new kindergartener who had to be at the bus stop right after the call, I asked them if I should walk her to the bus stop or drive her to school. The Texans all asked why there was school. And the Minnesotans said to bundle her up and walk.

We walked.

That’s Minnesota for you.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

This is Daisy. There are organizations in Minnesota that go down to southern kill shelters and bring back animals. Daisy had been an owner surrender in Tennessee. I set up the appointment to see her, but the only time they could meet was when the kids and I were away. My hubby met her and liked her, but wanted to talk about it with me before we committed. The guy told my husband to take Daisy home for a trial.  Well, you know how that goes. Two years later we are glad we got her.

I am guessing that the previous owners gave her up because she was high energy. Which is not a problem in our household. What we did not expect was how good she is with the kids. This is a picture of when my daughter decided that Daisy needed to have a dress, a sweater, and a head scarf. Maybe for the cold Minnesota winters.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

My driveway combined with ice. Yes, I live in Minnesota, but we used to get more snow than ice. The last couple years we’ve gotten more ice than normal. I then have an-even-with-parking-brakes-on-slide-into-the-cable-box kind of driveway.

Fun fact, it is possible for a car to slide down a drive way in such a way to be parallel parked at the end when it is done. Who knew?

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Knickknacks. I love art dolls and paintings and books. This is a picture of one of my book shelves with some of my art dolls. It’s a good thing I don’t have any talent creating dolls, or I would be surrounded my a small army (or two) of art dolls.  Etsy is like crack. There are some crazy cool artist out there.

Interview

What are you working on now?

Book of Secrets

Three hundred years ago the human world and the world of Myth merged in a cataclysmic event. Head of the Human Protection Agency, Joshua Lighthouse, is obsessed with three things: ignoring his psychic powers, catching a supernatural serial killer, and a picture of the human he is meant to love. That is if he can find her.

Serene of the Pack is on the run. Framed for the arson of the HPA research labs, she will stop at nothing to get justice for her murdered Pack. Even seducing Joshua, the man in charge of the organization she blames.

When Joshua’s investigation uncovers a plot to UnMerge the worlds, he is betrayed and hunted and alone. His only possible allies are those creatures of Myth he used to hunt, and Serene, the woman from his picture.

Can two sworn enemies join together to defeat evil and not lose their hearts?

What are you currently reading?

The Writer’s Journey – Christopher Vogler. I have P.C Hodgell’s latest, The Gates of Tagmeth, sitting in queue next. My TBR is embarrassingly long with a busted queue system.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I have a four and six year old, so a “Pup named Scooby Doo”.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

The creatures in Fantastic Beasts were wonderful. I love monsters. I still like to peruse the D&D monster manual.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Writer’s ADD. I can somehow use three hours looking at writing stuff on the internet. I hop from writing blog posts, to writing Pinterest, to writing FaceBook groups, to writing emails, to articles about stuff I will someday add to a story. (You may see some Etsy, Kickstarter and … okay back to writing)

It is all a distraction from focusing on putting words on the page.

How can we meet that challenge?

Internet free writing time. I guess I could put parental controls on the internet and give my husband the password.


Thank you for sharing your pictures and thoughts, Claudia. I enjoyed hearing about your WIP and life in Minnesota. Best wishes!

#WritersLife: Ed Hoornaert (a.k.a. Mr. Valentine) shares his 5 PHOTOS (adorable animal pics, an update on my garden, and more!! :-D)

My guest today is Ed Hoornaert, a former principal oboist and current romance writer, who shares his Five “Writer’s Life” Photographs. I couldn’t resist adding a couple of mine. Loved this post and hope you do too!

Something that represents something unique about you

Two things about this pic. First, the beautiful lady is Judi, my high school sweetheart whom I married a week after graduation. We’re still living the HEA 48 years later. Lordy, I’m getting old.

Second, my first teaching job was a one-room school on isolated Gilford Island in British Columbia. Judi and I had to fly in on a floatplane; we had no television or radio reception; people lived on floathouses; and since there were no roads, the students came to school on a schoolboat.  A fisherman tamed the island’s deer and threatened to shoot anyone who hunted them—and people believed him. Judi is feeding a carrot to Sassy.

Jill: That is so neat! Gilford Island sounds beautiful, quaint, and charming (all except the man who threatened to shoot people 😉 ). The picture of Judi and Sassy reminded me of one my husband took of me a while ago in western Pennsylvania.

Something that represents where you live

Since I now live in Arizona, I considered a saguaro cactus or maybe the Grand Canyon—but no, too predictable. Instead, here’s a sunset pic taken from my front yard, with a mesquite tree in the foreground and palms in the background.  Sunset colors are caused by light filtered through particles in the air. Deserts have lots of dust, hence spectacular sunsets.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Behold my dog Twiggles, a tailless schnoodle whom we adopted from an animal rescue organization three years ago. Although she’s terrible at walking on a leash, she’s tempered, friendly, and loves my three-year-old grandson. We’ve had many dogs over the years, but Twiggles is one of the best.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Weeds! We have a corner lot with much space for errant plants, and I feel a modicum of pressure not to have the crummiest place in the neighborhood. You might think the southern Arizona desert wouldn’t support many weeds, but you’d be wrong. It’s a lush desert, with almost too much rain to be classified a desert. Weeds grow like, well, like weeds.

Jill: Weeding was a popular answer for this question this summer. (See Diane Burton’s and Renee Regent’s 5 Photos post.) I get it! Weeding drives everyone nuts!! In Diane’s post, I shard that the weeds in our back garden were so bad, we decided to just plant grass back there this year and take the summer off from growing our own vegetables. The grass is coming along. We planted morning glories along the fence (still growing) and there’s some mint left from the herb patch we had. Next summer, we’ll probably turn that area back into a vegetable garden, but some other ideas we toyed with were more bees, chickens, goats (I don’t think there’s enough room), and making the whole thing one big strawberry patch.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

This is a picture of a picture on my music room wall, my lone souvenir of the last time I performed a solo concerto. I’ve been a musician far longer than I’ve been a writer, serving as principal oboist of one orchestra or another for 40 years. As I said above, I’m getting old. These days I play for fun, not money. This weekend, we played Prokofiev’s Overture on Hebrew Themes and Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony—and I loved every minute of it.

Jill: Awesome!! That’s fantastic that you still enjoy performing. Have you seen Mozart in the Jungle? I started watching and enjoyed the episodes I saw, but I’m very behind. If you’ve seen it, wondering what you think…?

 

The Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

She was born to kill. Not love.

Jo Beaverpaw is born fully grown, well-armed, and impatient to tackle her destiny … which is to kill her alien nation’s most wanted fugitive. Her life is pre-programmed and straightforward – until she meets the sexy bodyguard of her intended target.

Wonder what would happen if Schwarzenegger’s robot assassin in the original Terminator had been a bad-assed (yet petite) female?  Find out in Newborn.

What are you working on next?

The fourth novel in my Alien Contact for Idiots series is tentatively titled Rescuing Prince Charming.  Although it follows Newborn, both books stand alone.  The manuscript has been a real problem child; this is my third attempt to salvage it.  Sigh.

Jill: I feel like all of my manuscripts were problem children. 😀

What are you currently reading?

Unsportsmanlike Conduct by Sophia Henry, a New Adult novel that blends two things I love: hockey and romance.  So far I’m extremely impressed.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I recently finished watching seasons one through nine of Murdoch Mysteries.  In general, though, I don’t watch much TV.  I’d rather spend the time writing.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Standing out from the hordes of books and authors to get an audience.

How can we meet that challenge?

When I figure that out, I’ll let you know.

You can find Ed online here: 

Thanks, Ed, for guest blogging today!

#WritersLife – 5 Photos: Renee Regent

Renee Regent shares her 5 Writer’s Life Photos below. Enjoy!


The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

People are usually surprised or fascinated by our pet box turtle, Myrtle. My husband has had her since he was a child, and she runs free in the house. Her favorite foods are eggs, strawberries and pizza! She tells us she is hungry by standing in front of the refrigerator, or in front of the bathroom sink when she wants a bath. She’s way smarter than I ever imagined, and the best pet ever.

Something that represents where you live

I love my house, which sits on 3 acres overlooking a small lake. It feels like we are in the country, but we’re only a few minutes from town (a northern suburb of Atlanta) and can hop on the freeway to go anywhere. Best of both worlds.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

In addition to Myrtle, we have three other aquarium turtles and two cats. Allie (top) and Marley (bottom) are total opposites but they get along pretty well. I was never a cat person but Hubby is, and now I can’t imagine not having them.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

I have a love/hate relationship with my garden! I love growing my own herbs and veggies to use in cooking, and fresh flowers are so pretty. But I absolutely hate weeding, and last year I battled so many bugs I gave up. But every year I start all over again, full of hope.

Jill: Weeding is definitely on everyone’s minds this time of year. Renee turned this post in before I posted Diane’s (Is Editing Like Weeding?), so she couldn’t have known Diane would pick weeding as the thing that really frustrates her too. Great minds think alike!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Writing is my first love, but I can’t live without music. I have eclectic tastes, so I listen to all kinds of music, but blues and classic rock are my favorites. My husband plays bass, and manages a music store, so I’m around live music often. If writing is the script of our lives, music is the soundtrack.

The Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Single mom Sarah’s secret is no longer safe when two men return from her past.

It’s book three of my Higher Elevation Series, Undeniable, which was released in January of 2017. It takes place in 1986, catching up seven years later with the characters from the first two books.

What are you working on next?

The first book in a contemporary romance series about a widow who is trying to put her life back together when she falls for a much younger man. Things get complicated when her construction company is threatened and a devastating secret is revealed. Will their love survive the odds?

What are you currently reading?

The Prince’s Game by Lexi C. Foss, which is a twist on the reality-show premise. It’s a romantic comedy with plenty of snark and style. It was a nice departure from some of the more serious books I’ve read lately.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

My husband I watch TV in the evenings. That’s our time together. We like sitcoms like Big Bang Theory and Fresh Off The Boat, but we also like dramas like Blindspot, Blacklist, and Designated Survivor.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Ha! I’d have to say my favorite creatures are the Minions.  I love those guys!  Wish I had a few at home.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Discoverability. Last summer, I wrote a blog post on it (The Holy Grail of Publishing) and it’s one of my most heavily viewed. There’s no silver bullet though because trends change so quickly. Despite the challenges, however, this is the best time in history to be a writer. We have so many options we’ve never had before.

How can we meet that challenge?

Stay informed. Research, social media, networking, groups, webinars…there are so many ways to find out what might work for you. Be persistent, but flexible, because what works today may not work tomorrow, once the crowd jumps on the latest strategy. It’s a lot of trial and error, but if educate yourself before you try a tactic, you’ll have a better chance of success.

More about Renee

A lifelong entrepreneur, Renee Regent spent most of her life writing for business. But she never lost her love of writing stories, especially romance.  She now writes stories about the power of love─how mismatched people overcome the odds to be together. After all, love can sometimes be found in unexpected places.

Renee lives in Atlanta with her husband, three cats and four turtles. When not working or writing, she can be found sitting on her deck enjoying nature. Wine may or may not be involved….

A member of Georgia Romance Writers and the Georgia Writer’s Association, Renee also loves blogging and sharing her ideas on the business side of being an author, trends in fiction, and tips she has learned in her writing journey.

Website | Newsletter | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Thank you for sharing your photos and thoughts, Renee. Happy reading and writing, all!

5 PHOTOS: Viola Carr, author of THE DASTARDLY MISS LIZZIE (#steampunk #giveaway #writerslife)

Steampunk author Viola Carr’s latest Electric Empire novel releases today! She’s here with her five writers life photos, more info about The Dastardly Miss Lizzie, and a chance to win the previous two books in the series. Welcome, Viola!

The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

Viola: Well, I’m not sure it’s exactly unique, but I love to play my oboe. It’s a quirky instrument that I think was invented by the same people who decided it would be fun to make that ancient Greek bloke push his rock up the same hill for eternity. You have to learn to play it over and over again. For some reason, this is fun…

Jill: Neat! I’ve been watching Mozart in the Jungle lately, which has given me a new appreciation for oboists.

Something that represents where you live

This is the park just out the back of my place. Yes, we really do have kangaroos in the suburbs! We live on the edge of a nature reserve where they rehabilitate endangered native species, which actually involves keeping these handsome creatures out. Kangaroos are a pest in this area. But it’s nice to see them when I go for a walk.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

I have 2 pics here – is that cheating? Here’s the cat, Leeloo, having a nice sleep on my lap. And this is the dog, Arnie, looking sour, interrupted while chowing down on his bone. Writing is often a solitary job, and these two drive me insane…. erm, keep me company when no one else is home.

Definitely not cheating. You can never have too many pet pics! 🙂

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

This is my book nook at home. Don’t get me wrong – I love love love books! What’s frustrating is all the books in there I haven’t yet read. Nasty, insidious things. They whisper to me, accusing, late at night…

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

I love to travel! Last year I returned to Venice, one of my favourite places. I spent a few days wandering the streets and soaking up the sights and sounds. It has a unique, piquant atmosphere. There is no place like it.

More about The Dastardly Miss Lizzie

In the third book in Viola Carr’s fantastically fun and wonderfully edgy Electric Empire novel, set in the gritty world of alternate Victorian London, Dr. Eliza Jekyll must team up with her secret other half, Miss Lizzie Hyde, as her world comes crashing to a halt when a madman begins targeting the city’s most important scientists, and sorcerers threaten all she holds dear.

Crime scene physician Eliza Jekyll is trying to share a life with her rebellious second self, Lizzie Hyde. But being two people in one body isn’t easy, not when Eliza has a professional reputation to protect and Lizzie is veering headfirst into a life of debauchery and crime with an increasingly demented Mr. Hyde. Not to mention the difficulty of making a respectable marriage with Remy Lafayette–Royal Society investigator and occasional lycanthrope–while Lizzie enjoys her own dubious romantic entanglements. And with England on the brink of war, Remy’s secretive mission in sorcery-riddled Paris grows ever more sinister. Has he been an enemy agent all along? Or is Eliza finally going mad?

Now, she’s confronted by her most baffling case yet: an evil genius with a penchant for theatrics is murdering eminent scientists in the most inexplicable ways. Her investigation uncovers a murky world of forbidden books, secret laboratories and bleeding-edge science punishable by death–and a shocking connection to her father’s infamous experiments. Desperate to learn the truth about her past, she must infiltrate a cabal of fanatical inventors bent on a discovery that will change the world–or destroy it.

With London under attack by sorcery-wielding terrorists, and the Royal Society’s enforcers determined to bury her evidence for good, Eliza needs all the friends she can get if she’s to thwart the killer and keep her head. But when Lizzie’s criminal shenanigans get Eliza fired from the Metropolitan Police, and Remy is implicated in an act of bloody vengeance he didn’t commit (or did he?), she’s on her own.

Except for wily, resourceful, mercurial Lizzie. But Lizzie’s got her own life now. And she’ll do anything to keep it. Even if it means attempting the unspeakable and finding her own body. Even if it means throwing Eliza to the wolves, and letting the world burn…

Amazon     BN     HarperVoyager     BD    Kobo     iBooks

More about Viola

Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist.

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

More about the Giveaway

At the end of her blog tour, Viola is giving away one set of the previous two books in the Electric Empire series — The Diabolical Miss Hyde and The Devious Dr. Jekyll (US only). Click here for the Rafflecopter link and here for Jill’s complete giveaway rules.

Thank you, Viola, for sharing your pictures with us! Have fun on your tour!

5 Photos: Marie Johnston (#writerslife)

Today’s guest is paranormal romance author, Marie Johnston, who is sharing her five photos, a little bit about her latest release, and who she’s currently reading. Welcome, Marie!

The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

I play hockey, which isn’t terribly unique, but I didn’t learn until my thirties and I’d only ice skated once or twice before I began. My stops need improving and I’m working on skating backwards, but each time I build my skills. And even better, falling with all that gear on is so much nicer! My league plays for fun and it’s an incredible environment to learn in.

Something that represents where you live

I’m not too far from the Canadian border where winter brings a lot of snow and cold. Most winters we get brutally cold, occasionally reaching -40°F. Then add in the wind, and a -60°F wind chill isn’t unheard of. Snow amounts vary, but this winter we got hit with four blizzards in 6 weeks, each packing anywhere from 8-18 inches of snow. And since we don’t own a snowblower, we gutted through it all with a shovel.

Jill: Meanwhile, in Maryland, it was the Winter That Wasn’t.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

I actually have two pets, an old kitty and a new puppy, but there’s no way the cat would agree to a photo-op together. My kitty is seventeen years young. We call her our little old lady who still goes out for bingo and happy hour. I think she’s good for a couple more years and that’s why we got the dog. The cat is the last of three we’d raised and we kept saying we wouldn’t get a dog until she passed. But year after year went by and she’s still with us, so we rescued a puppy. The dog thinks she fascinating. She thinks he needs to mind his own business.

She’s adorable! 🙂

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

I don’t know what I would’ve done if the mismatched socks craze never happened. I don’t know where they all go, but I can buy a brand-new pack and wash them before anyone uses them, and they’ll still come out of the laundry without mates. That’s just one of my irritations with socks. The other is finding dirty socks EVERYWHERE—shoved into the cushions, behind the couch, scattered all over the floor, stuffed in the corners of our vehicle. I cleaned out our vehicle a few weeks ago and found six or seven (none matched). In fact, going through the pictures, I noticed a sock wadded up behind my skates…

The other day I found a pair of socks in my car too. They were black and my car mat is black, so I didn’t see them the day before. I think my daughter changed her shoes in between track and running errands? Kids! I also thought about sharing a picture of the laundry basket I have that is ENTIRELY FULL of unmatched socks. I need to just throw them out, but I keep thinking I’ll find their matches. Laundry (and unmatched socks) are one of my greatest frustrations too!!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

I grew up out in the country and my husband grew up farming and ranching, but our kids are first generation city kids. For years, we wanted to move out in the country and last summer we finally sealed the deal on our little slice of paradise. There’s no house yet, but some days, we take the kids and dog out so they can run wild. My favorite memory of the land so far is when my parents and the kids’ great-grandpa came out with us and they were helping the kids identify wildflowers.

Beautiful!


The Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Kaitlyn Savoy’s shifter abilities came as a surprise and except for the pesky side effect of blacking out after shifting, she’s adapted well. If only her fellow Guardian, Chayton Eagle, would overlook her failing. When they’re ordered to work together, she suspects he uses derision to keep his distance—because while they may be destined mates, he reveals he’s promised to another. But no excuses, Kaitlyn deserves better.

What are you working on next?

Bishop is both the name of the book and the name of the character. It’s the third book in my vampire series and I hope readers still love vampires as much as I do. He’s the big teddy bear of his team until a demoness tricks him into a bond. Now she’s on the run from the underworld and he’s determined to reach her before anyone else. But his reasons for catching her change over the course of the book.

What are you currently reading?

Karen Marie Moning’s Feversong. I’ve had it on my Nook for a while, but hadn’t charged it because I had too much to get done. I still don’t have a binge-read opening, and it’s hard sticking to my routine when I want to ignore everything and read, but I’m almost done.

On my TBR list.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Way too much. Elementary, Lethal Weapon, Big Bang Theory, Alone, and my hubs and just finished Lucifer—and Pioneer Woman because that one totally fits in.

J: 😀

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I had a hard time figuring this out until I started Feversong and there he was. Jericho Barrons. I love how dark and mysterious he is and totally dedicated to the cause, almost to a fault. He’s definitely a fantasy creature. In a way, he’s a villain, depends on the character and the day. And most definitely he’s a weapon.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Finding readers. So many books to choose from, how are any readers ever going to find ours? It’s hard to express how much I appreciate each and reader who gave my work a  chance.

How can we meet that challenge?

Find ways to connect. Newsletters seem to be the most efficient, but learning how to express ourselves and sell ourselves is a tough balance to find.

www.mariejohnstonwriter.com


Thank you, Marie, for sharing your pictures, stories, and thoughts! 

5 Photos with Jasmine Silvera (#writerslife)

Five Photographs is back! 

Jasmine reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I was still doing my “Five Photographs” interviews. She told me a little bit about her book, Death’s Dancer — “Set in an alternate present in the city of Prague, it follows a woman who draws power from the gods when she dances as she must help a powerful necromancer solve a series of murders” — and then mentioned she started it during NaNoWriMo. I was intrigued.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my “5 Photos” interviews, I ask writers (both published and pre-published) to submit five of their own photos based on my prompts + a brief Q&A.


Jasmine Silvera’s 5 Photos:

Something that represents something unique about you

jasmine-silvera-unique

This is a view of the Prague Castle from nearby Petrin Tower.  We moved to the Czech Republic for work and lived there for almost two years.  It fulfilled my long-held dream to live abroad. Prague is an amazing city and it inspired the setting for my novel, Death’s Dancer. It has a grand tradition of being a haven for writers and artists, and I wrote the first draft in coffee shops close to places I was writing about. We also have the best “souvenir” from our time in Prague: our daughter was born there!

Something that represents where you live

jasmine-silvera-where-you-live

Seattle is my favorite city in the US. We moved back in the latter half of 2016 and I love calling the Pacific Northwest home. This fountain is at Seattle Center, and the water display is coordinated with music. In the summer, kids of all ages play in the base. The rest of the year, it’s a wonderful meeting spot for catching a show at one of the surrounding theaters, or a movie at the IMAX.

Your pet(s) or plant(s) or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

jasmine-silvera-thing-you-care-for

This is “baby Groot.” I have a slight addiction to starting avocado trees from pits. My husband jokes that if I’m not careful I’m going to have my own forest.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

jasmine-silvera-thing-that-frustrates-you

Reading music. I can play back things I’ve heard, but sheet music is my nemesis.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

jasmine-silvera-joy

I started playing the cello when I turned 30, after a lifetime of loving classical music but not feeling particularly musically inclined. [REDACTED 😉 ] years later, I still feel like a beginner. Though my progress has been impacted by moves and the kidlet (not to mention book publishing) I still enjoy breaking out the cello and playing simple pieces.


Q&A

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Death’s Dancer shakes up paranormal romance with a thriller set in an alternate present-day Prague: a world ruled by an allegiance of necromancers in which humans can draw on the power of gods through dance.

Forced to work together to solve a series of murders, a dancer nearing the end of her career and a formidable necromancer learn that someone “higher up” may not want them to succeed. Failure will cost more than their lives, success will threaten the world’s fragile peace…and the only thing more dangerous than the killer they seek is the attraction growing between them.

What are you working on next?

There are at least two more books set in the same world as Death’s Dancer, and I’m chipping away at them.

What are you currently reading?

Lately I’ve been enjoying the style and efficient storytelling of comics and graphic novels. Both Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, and Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk books are on my nightstand.

I’m also slowly reading “The Thing Around Your Neck,” a collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Finally Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird is a favorite I return to on a regular basis. I love Lamott’s essays. She’s one of the few writers that can make me laugh out loud.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

This Is Us, The Grand Tour, and Mozart in the Jungle. We don’t own an actual TV, so I tend to binge shows (yay for online streaming) and always be a half-season to a season behind.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Does Dr. Strange’s cape count as a creature? 🙂

In the vein of “every tool is a weapon if you hold it right,” Hermione’s Time Turner is at the top of my list.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

To paraphrase Peter Parker’s uncle Ben: With self-publishing comes great power, but also great responsibility. I believe everyone has a voice, and a story to tell, and I am so grateful that we live in an age where you can do that without the gatekeeper of a publisher if you so choose. I think writers also have a responsibility to readers to produce the highest quality work. (It’s also smart business.)

Maybe there are people who can write and self-edit a book until it’s spotless, and market and distribute that book to thousands of 5 star reviews, but they’re unicorns. Anyone else have trouble catching your own typos? Everyone I know who is doing it well creates a team around them: beta-readers, editors, proofers, cover design, etc. Of course, that creates the additional challenge of how to identify your team, and it may take additional resources ($$ and/or time) but in my mind, worth it.

How can we meet that challenge?

There are millions of configurations for creating a team, from hiring freelancers to creating a circle of fellow writers and trading assistance at various stages. I do a little bit of both. It does take letting go of ego and valuing feedback. If you want a good chuckle, ask me sometime to show you the cover I did for Death’s Dancer before I swallowed my pride and reached out to the excellent folks at Damonza. At the end of the day, I still have creative control, but I know what my strengths and weaknesses are and when to step back and let someone with more professional experience make me look good.


More about Death’s Dancer

deaths-dancer

Isela Vogel is dancing on borrowed time: a degenerative hip threatens her successful career, bringing the favor of the gods to her wealthy patrons. One final job – and a big one – could set Isela up for life. If it doesn’t get her killed. As the newest member of a powerful Allegiance of Necromancers, Azrael has a lot to prove to his fellow lords of death. Previously assumed to be immortal, necromancers are turning up dead and Azrael must find an extraordinary killer. He’ll need to channel the power of the gods to succeed. For that, he’ll need a dancer. Isela discovers all-too-fallible gods and scheming necromancers are the least of her worries. If she and Azrael fail, it will cost more than her life. If they succeed, she will lose everything she loves. And then there’s the danger of falling for a lord of death.

Jasmine is giving away 10 signed proofs on Goodreads. Click here to enter.

More about Jasmine

jasmine-silvera

Jasmine Silvera acquired a love of sci-fi, fantasy, and comic books from her dad, who thought The Hobbit was a perfectly acceptable bedtime story for a ten-year-old. She filled long hours as a volunteer at the church thrift store by reading boxes of donated Harlequins. She’s been mixing them all up in her writing ever since. Inspired by and written during her two years living in Prague, her first book Death’s Dancer, was released on December 27, 2016 by Kindle Press. It was selected as part of the Kindle Scout Program. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their small, opinionated human charge. She can be found online here:

Website | Facebook | Twitter


Thank you, Jasmine, for sharing your photos and telling us a little bit more about Death’s Dancer and your writing. Best wishes to you!