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!

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Burning Questions, Haunted Holloways, and Contest Winner

Contemporary romance writer and “professed book nerd” S.L. Marshall found me because my first novel shares a title with T.M. Frazier’s The Dark Light of Day (technically, Noon #1 lacks the the, but I digress…). We connected and she’s helpfully shared several of my posts. We’ve since swapped emails about writing and the writing life and then, a few weeks ago, Susan asked if I wanted to participate in her “5 Burning Questions” series of author interviews. She mentioned that paranormal romance writers weren’t her usual subjects, which sealed the deal for me. Of course I said yes!

Her first question was a question I’d never been asked before—

Kill, marry, or screw: Gideon Cross, Kellan Kyle or YOUR HERO?

Uh…

Susan was game enough to let me tweak the interview questions. Noon answers three questions (including that one, sort of) and I answer another three. I LOVED the interview. It’s been a while since I’ve done one and it was fun. It touches on my Anne Rice crush, her house in New Orleans, the type of stories I want to write and my writing process, as well as Noon’s favorite curse word and who she’d invite to a dinner party. Click here to read the interview. (Noon’s answer to the question I’ve never been asked is a small sneak peek at Pocket Full of Tinder).

Haunted Holloways

If you hop over to Susan’s place, you’ll see (as part of the discussion about The Rosegate House) a link to an Atlas Obscura post. This site/newsletter is my newest diversion. Many of you already know how I love reading and writing about places and buildings that change over time. Well, Atlas Obscura is right up my alley (pun intended)! In its own words:

Atlas Obscura is the definitive guide to the world’s wondrous and curious places.”

There’s a road near me that I’ve always wondered about. It’s a deep-set narrow lane lined with tall, dirt walls instead of a berm. You can’t tell from my photo, but the road has a relatively steep grade. Turns out, it’s a holloway and I have Atlas Obscura to thank for finally helping me figure out its mystery and history. Click here to read their article “Holloways: Roads Tunneled into the Earth by Time” (their pictures of similar sunken lanes from various spots in France and England are much more beautiful than mine from Baltimore County).

WALKER ROAD | BALTIMORE COUNTY HOLLOWAY
WALKER ROAD | BALTIMORE COUNTY HOLLOWAY

Dark Light of Day Pinterest Book Board Contest Winner

My Pinterest book board contest winner is MISTY GEE. Misty, if you follow this blog, let me know whether you want a print copy of DLOD (if you live in the U.S., I can send you a signed copy) or another fantasy book up to $10 from Book Depository (you’ll need to tell me which one and your mailing address). Send me an email at: archer at jillarcher dot com. I’ll also try to reach you on Pinterest.

Putting the Pinterest board together was fun so I’ll have to do another one for Fiery Edge of Steel + another contest soon! 🙂

That’s it for today. Happy reading and writing, all!

Five Photographs: Jill Archer (#writing: challenges, frustrations, joy, and hope!)

No post last week because I was on vacation. We went to wonderful Cape May, a place I’ve blogged about many times. Did some new things there too, which was nice: biked to the lighthouse and climbed to the top, biked to the brewery (a good way to work off the calories of a seasonal sampler! 😀 ), and tried a few new restaurants/bars (among them, The Blue Pig at Congress Hall and 410 Bank Street). But now it’s Monday and time to get back to work!! Today’s Five Photographs guest is ME! 🙂 I share one of the things that brings me joy that I can’t believe no other writer picked. I dish on some things that frustrate me and I tally up everyone’s “biggest challenge facing writers today” answers and add my own. This will be one of the last posts this summer, so please give me a shout out in the comments if you’ve enjoyed this series!

Something that represents something unique about you

Mother Sculpture

My older daughter made this awesome sculpture for me when she was in elementary school. It’s me! There are two kids poking up from my head and arm, a tree growing out of my middle because I love nature, and I’m holding a pencil because I’m a writer — and because my daughter’s art has a practical side. Is that the coolest pencil holder you’ve ever seen or what? 😀

Something that represents where you live

Fly Fishing

There were so many pictures I could have picked for this (see below), but I wanted to share a picture that I hadn’t posted yet so I went with this one. This was taken in the Gunpowder Falls State Park during a hike. The Gunpowder Falls offers world-class catch and release fly fishing. Even though I don’t fish, it’s neat to see the fishermen quietly going about their business in the river as you hike along its banks. It’s an amazingly beautiful park. Hard to believe when you’re in it how close you are to urban centers like Baltimore and York, PA.

And, because I love Maryland so much, here are some links to other posts I’ve done highlighting just some of what Maryland has to offer:

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

Panda Plant

I’ve shared lots of pictures over the years of all of my pets so I wanted to share something new. This is the Panda Plant that my daughter grew from a cutting in Ag Science class. It now keeps me company in my office. If you want to see pictures of all of my pets though, here are some links:

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

BUTTONS!!! Not the kind like “he really pushes my buttons” but the myriad, omnipresent buttons that you actually suspect do nothing. They’re smoke and mirrors. You press them and nothing happens (like the “Comfort” button in my car. Huh? What exactly does that thing do?! I notice zero difference when I press it.) And just look at all those buttons on my remote controls!!! (Yes, we actually use all of those. Yes, we probably need a universal remote. But that would just add MORE BUTTONS to my life.) Take my washing machine, for example. Fourteen settings. Fourteen!!! (Convenient that 14 can be divided by 2 so that each side of the dial has an equal number.) And, yep, I realize that my washing machine technically has only one button and the other settings are controlled by a knob. My old machine had half as many settings but they were all buttons. I’m not sure which is worse.

I saved the worst (best?) for last — my alarm clock!!! Retro is cool. This thing is like circa 1985 or something. It picks up weird signals when you leave your cell phone too close to it. And it’s called the “Dream Machine.” But. Really? As if! The thing lives to torture you with its hideous a.m. screech. The one good thing I can say about it is that there are only seven buttons and I know what each and every one of them does. See? They don’t make ’em like they used to. 😀

BTW — a quiz for writers — which buttons can we not live without?

[Hint: QWERTY 🙂 ]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Coffee

Of course my family brings me joy!! And my friends. And all sorts of other stuff in my life like books, movies, hiking, biking, day tripping, etc. But I had to pick the one thing that I couldn’t believe no one else picked — COFFEE!!! We’re writers for crying out loud! Where’s the COFFEE LOVE?! 😀 Pictured above are three of my favorite coffee mugs.

I also had a runner-up I debated picking:

Pac Man

Yep, PAC-MAN! This is the real deal, folks. Vintage Atari. (My husband still has his old console, as well as about fifty katrillion cartridges. He was much better about keeping all his old electronics than I was.) When I was getting this post together, I was telling him about all of my choices. And before I decided to pick coffee, I told him I picked Pac-Man as the thing that brought me joy. And he was like, “Why?”

Huh?

Why?!?

Because it’s Pac-Man!!!

(In his defense, his question wasn’t because he doesn’t understand the appeal of old video games, but because Adventure is his favorite, not Pac-Man.)

Like vintage gaming? Check out these posts:

Interview

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

Sometimes a reviewer can say it better than I can:

“A thrilling adventure that brings Noon and her Guardian Angel Rafe, literally to the gates of Hell…” The Qwillery

What are you working on next?

A YA duology and more stories set in Noon’s world.

What are you currently reading?

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Everything I usually watch (GoT, Outlander, Downton Abbey, and Mr. Selfridge) is on hiatus so I may go back to watching Vikings and/or Orphan Black.

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

Ah, so many choices! And, even though I’m the one who came up with this question, I’ll admit that “what’s your favorite” questions are always tough for me. My favorites constantly change depending on my mood, what I’ve recently read or watched, sentimentality, the season…

So here’s my answer to this question as of today:

Favorite fantasy creature: Temeraire from Naomi Novik’s HIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON

Favorite fantasy villain: Lasher from Anne Rice’s THE WITCHING HOUR

Favorite fantasy weapon: the sharing knife from its eponymous series by Lois McMaster Bujold

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I was curious about the final tally for this question so I went back through everyone’s answers. For the most part, there were six answers:

  • Discoverability (5)
  • Marketing (3)
  • Deciding whether to self-publish or traditionally publish (3)
  • Balancing writer demands like social media and marketing while writing the next book (2)
  • Pressure to write faster and produce more (2)
  • Digital disruption (1)

There’s no doubt these are all significant challenges facing writers today. But I’m going to pick something different yet familiar to all of you writers out there to talk about:

The challenge to KEEP ON KEEPIN’ ON. It’s not a new challenge. It’s a timeless one.

How can we meet that challenge?

Challenges will always be there in one iteration or another. Anyone who sets a meaningful goal for themselves will have obstacles to overcome. The key to success is perseverance. Is it hard? Yes!!! Writers suffer rejections, bad reviews, low pay, long hours, self-doubt, and countless other buzz and bliss kills. Some days, meeting the challenge of “keepin’ on” can feel like you’re hiking up Mt. Everest with an anvil on your back.

When it starts to feel like that, take a breather. Do something else. Not for too long, but for a little while. When you return to the mountain the anvil will be lighter. Why? Because it’s not real. Yes, the challenges that writers face are real. But once you step back from them they merge and meld and blend and mix into the rest of what comprises a writer’s life (imagination, creative expression, immersing yourself in stories with emotional resonance, spending time with characters that make you laugh, cry, and/or admire them, the wonderfully rich dynamic between writers and readers, your love of the written word, narrative, drama, etc.)

You will realize that climbing a mountain is difficult but doable. The anvil is no more real than a knot in your shoulder, a cramp in your calf. Rub it out, smudge it out, and keep going!

Have fun and be proud of the fact that YOU ARE HIKING A MOUNTAIN!!! 😀

Five Photographs: Laurel Wanrow (“Without the next book, we are sunk!”)

My last Five Photographs guest is Laurel Wanrow. She’s here with a picture of her blind rescue turtle, as well as more about her debut steampunk fantasy THE UNRAVELING. Welcome, Laurel!

Hi Jill–What a fun way to have an interview! Thanks for extending it through June!

My pleasure, Laurel. I’ve really enjoyed this series and will be sad to wrap it up. But all good things must come to an end. 😀 I’ll be sharing my five pictures soon!

Something that represents something unique about you

Laurel Wantow cabin porch

A cabin built by my dad—with help from his parents—while he was in college. I think it’s unusual these days to have an entirely handcrafted house made by a family member. I’ve visited my entire life and my husband and I have taken our kids just about every year. I also sneak off for writing retreats. 🙂

[Jill: definitely rare and unusual. Looks like the perfect writing retreat!]

Something that represents where you live

IMG_6886.JPG copy

 

I walk on a nearby golf course and frequently see wildlife: fox, deer, geese and even turtles cross through our neighborhood.

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

Laurel Wanrow Clady

While working at a nature center I did a lot of turtle rehab and was given an Eastern Box Turtle who crossed the road at the wrong time and lost her eyesight. My daughter was little when she came to live with us and named her Clady. We’ve hand fed Clady for twenty years. She’s between 50 to 80 years old. (It’s hard to tell the age once they’re full-grown.)

[Jill: that is really neat. No one has shared a picture of a pet turtle yet. Clady was lucky to find a home with you.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Laurel Wanrow door lock

Ohmygosh, our door lock! When we had a new door installed it was hard to work. My husband thought it would loosen up, and we had such a time getting the installer to caulk properly that I hesitated to call them back. Five years later I still hate the thing!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

IMG_0782.JPG

IMG_0783.JPG

Since my kids were really even too little to hunt fossils we have made family trips Westmoreland State Park along the Potomac River. At low tide we scour the beach for fossilized shark teeth, whale vertebrae and other oddities.

[Jill: hunting for fossils is more popular than I realized. Izzy Norse is also a fan of fossil hunting]

Interview

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

In The Unraveling, a steampunk fantasy romance, a proper Victorian artist must learn to use her bloodline’s wild magic to help the shapeshifter she loves, or become what she fears most: another cog in a magnate’s plan to control agriculture.

What are you working on next?

The Unraveling is the first volume of three in a serialized novel called The Luminated Threads. I’ve finished edits on the second volume and am starting them on the third.

What are you currently reading?

Penelope’s Song of Blood & Stone

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Big Bang Theory has been a favorite for years. Recently my daughter introduced me to Once Upon A Time, but I’m only in season one.

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

I love Dobby the house-elf and his rather perverse way of ‘helping’ Harry Potter.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Balancing the demands of social media and marketing with keeping your head together to keep writing the next book.

How can we meet that challenge?

I’m not sure I have the answer, since I’m a debut author and just putting into practice the next techniques I’ve heard for years at RWA workshops. The message resonating with me as I approached my first release was Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ oft repeated line “Protect the work.” She usually uses this line when advising writers to get over their review angst, but it applies to all of your writing time. Without the next book, we are sunk!

Laurel Wanrow
Laurel Wanrow

More About Laurel

Before kids, she studied and worked as a naturalist—someone who leads wildflower and other nature walks. When not living in her fantasy worlds, Laurel camps, hunts fossils and argues with her husband and two new adult kids over whose turn it is to clean house. The Unraveling debuted June 23rd.

Thank you for the interview, Laurel, and for sharing your pictures with us today. Good luck and best wishes with THE UNRAVELING!

Five Photographs: J.Kathleen Cheney, Author of the Upcoming THE SHORES OF SPAIN

J. Kathleen Cheney is my next “Five Photographs” guest. I chose her book, THE GOLDEN CITY, as one of my picks for a December 2013 Mind Meld I participated in. The third book in her series, THE SHORES OF SPAIN, is out next month. She’s here with a peek at her writing process, a pic of her pets, and sea monster art. Welcome, Kathleen! 🙂

Something that represents something unique about you

Cheney Writing System

This is a photo of my filing system where I keep magazine/catalog clippings, and you can see on the wall what I do with them. Although other people do this as well, what probably makes this special is that I’ve been saving clippings since college. I have some clippings in these files that are 30 years old or older.  If there was a fire in the house, I would grab these before trying to grab photographs.

Something that represents where you live

Cheney Storm Safe

Storm Safe, a dank rusty hole in the ground. This one’s set into our garage floor and the plastic is usually over it because we park a car atop it. Supposedly, this can hold 5 people, but we’ve had 2 in there, and it heats up terribly quickly. But if you live in Oklahoma, you might end up thanking your luck stars you’ve got one of these.

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

Cheney The Dogs

Alwyn and Penelope. My fluffy masters, to whom the lion’s share of all revenues go in the form of dog food, treats, boarding, and fixing chewed-up furniture, wood trim, and blinds.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cheney Frustration

See that? Right lane MUST TURN RIGHT. There are four signs before the intersection. 4! Do not cut into the right turn lane and try to zip around and cut off the people going straight. (This is at the large intersection nearest my house.)

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Cheney Lisbon Discoveries Monument

My husband really supports my writing, and that’s not the case for all writers. Not only did we use our first vacation in 5 years to visit the setting of my novels, he went as far as to get that sea monster tattooed onto his leg. If that’s not love, I don’t know what is ;o)

[Jill: Love the tattoo and its significance.]

Interview

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

I’ve got a new novel coming out in July, and I’d describe it as…In a world where the events of the epic poem, Os Lusiades, were real….wait, I’ve probably lost you there. When Spain and Portugal find themselves trapped in a conspiracy of magic, it will take a few honest men…no, women…no, wait, sirens!…to straighten things out.  

I stink at the elevator pitch.

[Jill: Sounds great! Elevator pitches are hard.]

What are you working on next?

I have a new series debuting next February (the Palace of Dreams Novels), and I’m actually working on the second book in that series (tentatively titled The Sins of the Fathers), although I expect to get edits to work on for the first book (Dreaming Death) any day now.

[Jill: Congrats! 🙂 ]

What are you currently reading?

Tex Thompson’s Medicine for the Dead, the second in her series set in a fantasy Old West with fishmen and a long-suffering fellow named Appaloosa Elim.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s summer hiatus, so my husband and I are watching TV series on the Roku instead of live TV. We’ve just finished up Season 2 of Orphan Black, and started Season 1 of Vikings. Also, we pretty much watch any Mystery series on PBS, which currently means Father Brown Mysteries and Doctor Blake Mysteries. And American Ninja Warrior, because it’s fun.

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

Bane.  Not the one from Batman, but the one from P.C. Hodgell’s books of the Kencyrath. Bane is SO bad that I really want him to be reformed. Unfortunately, he’s dead.  Well, mostly dead. His body is currently made of bugs. However, he does have the Book Bound in Pale Leather right now, so there’s no telling what he’ll learn from it.

(BTW, I haven’t read the most recent book yet, so don’t spoil it for me in comments!!!)

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Trying to decide which path to take with which works. I think it would benefit most to try for both traditional publication and indie publication, but it’s tough to choose which works belong in which group. And there’s so much advice flowing in from all camps, that it’s difficult for a writer to stick to their guns and choose the best path for them.

How can we meet that challenge?

I think that it would be beneficial for both sides on the traditional publishing/indie publishing argument to quit vilifying the other.  I’m very grateful to have the publisher that I do, and they can do things I can’t. But I also have self-published works, so I get to see both sides of this argument.

More about Kathleen

Kathleen Cheney is a former teacher and has taught mathematics ranging from 7th grade to Calculus, with a brief stint as a Gifted and Talented Specialist. Her short fiction has been published in Jim Baen’s Universe, Writers of the Future, and Fantasy Magazine, among others, and her novella “Iron Shoes” was a 2010 Nebula Award Finalist. Her novel, “The Golden City” was a Finalist for the 2014 Locus Awards (Best First Novel). The sequel, “The Seat of Magic” came out in 2014, and the final book in the series, “The Shores of Spain” will come out July 2015.

More about THE SHORES OF SPAIN

A brilliant new chapter in the Novels of the Golden City.

Even as the branches of peace are being offered, there are some who still believe those who are not human should be used as chattel. And they are willing to go to great lengths to retain their power.

Newlywed siren Oriana Paredes has been appointed Ambassador to her home islands now that communication between Northern Portugual and the magical races has been restored. But convincing her people that the new Portuguese Prince’s intentions are honorable after years of persecution is difficult. And her husband, Duilio, faces his own obstacles among the sirens where males are a rare and valuable commodity with few rights.

In addition to their diplomatic mission, the two hope to uncover the truth behind Oriana’s mother’s death. Evidence suggests that Spain—a country that has been known to enslave magical beings—may have infiltrated the siren authority. Unable to leave their post, Oriana and Duilio must call on Inspector Joaquim Tavares to root out the truth.

But even his seer’s gift cannot prepare him for what he will discover.

Thank you for the interview and for sharing your pictures with us today, Kathleen! Best wishes for THE SHORES OF SPAIN!

Five Photographs: Jami Gray, Urban Fantasy Author of the Kyn Kronicles

Today’s Five Photographs guest is urban fantasy author Jami Gray. Love fast cars, beautiful sunsets, and adorable labs? Then this post is a must! Since Jami watches Game of Thrones too, I also included my latest (and last) thoughts on GoT. *Spoiler alert* If you haven’t watched S5’s finale, skip the purple section below!]

Something that represents something unique about you

Jami Gray My Baby

I grew up loving classic cars, with my favorite being the 1968 Mustang. It only took forty plus years, but I finally got my own Mustang!

[Jill: love that it’s parked outside of Barnes & Noble. 😀 ]

Something that represents where you live

Jami Gray Sunset

I’m blessed to live in the Southwest, Arizona to be exact. While I’ve spent time in the Northwest, I found I missed the open skies, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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

Jami Gray The Girls

These are the two newest editions to our family, Lola (in a sexy black number) and Angel (in stunning white), affectionately known as the Fur Minxes.

[Jill: I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s pet pics. That’s at least HALF the fun of the internet, right? 😀 ]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Jami Gray Cooking

Growing up in a very large family, cooking was not a fun endeavor. In fact, I loathed it. Fast forward years and years and still don’t enjoy it. Thank goodness I have a hubby who does…

[Jill: I hear ya. Me too!]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jami Gray The Boys

Every writer needs a great support team, and I was blessed with these three. Not only will they forgive me for walking around in a daze in the midst of a project, but they have no problems combining family vacations with my need for writing research. In this case, we hit San Diego when I was working on my PSY-IV Team series.

Interview

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

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha—but can a demon queen allow Darius, a mysterious interloper, to uncover truth from lies before betrayal claims her life?

What are you working on next?

 I just finished my second PSY-IV book, TOUCHED BY FATE, so now I’m putting together a collection of short stories set in the Kyn world for a Fall 2015 release. After that, I have two projects: the next Kyn book and planning a new series.

What are you currently reading?

Oh man, as I write these answers, I’m finishing up Christine Feehan’s CAT’S LAIR, but up next is Megan Mitcham’s Base Branch Series and finishing Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. Plus, I have CONCRETE EVIDENCE by Rachel Grant I want to dive into, along with Joseph Nassise’s THE HERETIC. All before the summer titles hit shelves…

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I live with geeks, ergo we watch Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD religiously. I’m an avid fan of BITTEN (love Kelly Armstrong’s books), CSI CYBER, NCIS NEW ORLEANS, CRIMINAL MINDS, BONES, CASTLE, and my hubby insists I watch GAME OF THRONES. Not sure why, since everyone dies on that show, the outcome is pretty moot.

*SPOILERS!*

[Jill: GoT… my last thoughts on it… I thought the finale was somewhat disappointing. Not saying I won’t be watching the show when it returns. Just that I’m way less eager for its return than I have been in past seasons. Is it fatigue? Maybe. Instead of feeling outrage after the final shot, I almost felt relief that the season was over. As for the different story lines… I was disappointed in Sansa’s season ending, of course. I’d mentioned earlier that I was looking for her to get her revenge, which sounds very unforgiving and bloodthirsty. But let’s face it, it’s GoT. That’s the type of show it is. What I really wanted was for Sansa to take charge of her own destiny. And she did… but only in the tiniest way. She picked a lock and lit a candle. Not exactly the big bang I was hoping for. And, frankly, I’m super sick of Ramsay. I was hoping S5 would be it for him. The thought of having to watch him again next season, ugh.

I thought Stannis’ ending was just. That worked for me. He deserved his fate, which included everything that happened to him in the show up to the point of his death at Brienne’s hands. Arya? I really liked that we finally got to see how some of the magic of the Many-Faced God worked. I’m not sure how I feel about her killing Ser Meryn Trant and going blind because of it. I’m patiently waiting to see where the writers are going with that one. The Dorne/Jaime/Myrcella story? Dorne was kinda meh, start to finish. The sand snakes never fulfilled their promise of being bad asses. I was sad to see Myrcella die, of course, but she wasn’t a character I really knew. And even though I know Jaime a lot better than I did in S1, it’s hard for me to forget that he’s the one who pushed Bran out the window. Cersei? To be honest, I got up during that part for a snack break. I didn’t pause and it wasn’t bc I couldn’t watch. It’s bc it went on for way too long. Maybe it felt different in the book. And finally, Jon Snow… if that’s truly the end of him, it will be massively disappointing. Yes, partly bc he is a favorite character, but also bc his story seems unresolved. Lots of set ups this season for things that didn’t get paid off.

Jami, I think I read somewhere (couldn’t find a link to share though) that George RR Martin has said that Song of Ice and Fire is a tragedy. I gotta admit, I’m not a huge fan of tragedy. Tragic plot points, sure. But I’m too fond of happy endings and tidy resolutions to fully embrace tragedy as a favored art form. In any case, I think the best thing about GoT is that it’s brought fantasy into the mainstream. One can argue that other works did that before, but there’s no denying its tremendous effect on pop culture.]

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

Umm, again going back to the geek roots, I would hyperventilate to work with Wolverine. (Does that count for fantasy creature and weapon?) Villain would have to be Loki, because a man with a sense of humor is hard to walk away from.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

For me, marketing. While I mentally get the best way to market your books is to write the next one, there’s still pressure to keep your books out there. That’s not an easy feat considering today’s market.

How can we meet that challenge?

Perseverance. Do the best you can, try new options, find out what works, but don’t ever forget to get back behind the keyboard and write your next story. You owe that to your readers.

More About the Kyn Kronicles

Jami Gray Banner

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2

Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3

Even wild hearts can be broken…

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/ 

Jami Gray
Jami Gray

More About Jami

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Thank you, Jami, for the interview and for sharing your pictures. Good luck and best wishes for the Kyn Kronicles!

Five Photographs: Terry Spear (teddy bears, wolves, Game of Thrones, and Outlander)

[Brief update before Terry’s post: I’ve got a few more Five Photographs posts for June, including mine. 🙂 Then I’ll be wrapping up this guest blog series. I’m also gonna be taking a summer hiatus from blogging. More on that later. In the meantime, enjoy my remaining June posts!]

Terry Spear shares her Five Photographs today. This post is (per the usual type of post you see here) a real assortment of stuff: rainbow teddy bears, Texas bluebonnets, Havanese puppies, and my thoughts on this season’s Game of Thrones and Outlander. *spoiler alert* If you’re not caught up, skip the purple text below]. Welcome, Terry!

Something that represents something unique about you

Terry Spear Rainbow bear and baby reclining

I’m an award-winning teddy bear artist, Rainbow momma bear and baby bear www.celticbears.com

Something that represents where you live

Terry Spear bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush

Wild Bluebonnets of Texas naturalized by the airport

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

Terry Spear Max Tanner National Puppy Day

Max (7 mos old) and Tanner (4 mos old) Havanese puppies

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Terry Spear scorpion

Snakes and scorpions in the house

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Terry Spear daffodil dancing

Flowers and photography, picture of the daffodils in full bloom at my home

Interview

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

HOTTEST OF THE HOT ON THE NAVY SEAL WOLF TEAM

Paul Cunningham has eluded many traps in his long career as a Navy SEAL, but there’s no way out of this one. On a rare visit home, he gets “volunteered” for a local charity bachelor auction, and the community is counting on him. Then he discovers that the sexy she-wolf with the winning ticket is Lori Greypaw-the one woman he could never resist. And she has plans for Paul that go way beyond a simple date. For the first time in his bachelor life, this alpha wolf SEAL is going to have to prove his worth…

What are you working on next?

I just finished writing She-Wolf, the first book where the heroine runs her own pack alone and next up is A Wolf in Billionaire’s Clothing. Then a real change in the world with Jaguar Jingle Bells.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t had time to read in forever, except for the Rita entries. Too many deadlines, both books and teddy bears.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Outlander, Supernatural, Game of Thrones

[Jill: *SPOILERS*

I’ve stuck with GoT despite the awful rape scene between Sansa and Ramsay and the stomach turning Shireen sacrifice because, as difficult as scenes like those are to watch, I’m willing to give the storytellers a chance. I’m not saying I’m going to quit watching if the finale disappoints, but one of the things I’m really looking for in GoT’s last episode this season is “Dark Sansa’s” revenge. I haven’t read the books, but my understanding is that the show deviated from GRRM’s novels with Sansa’s story line up in Winterfell. At the end of last season and the beginning of this one, I was really excited to see a new, improved — STRONGER — Sansa emerging. To me, that wedding night scene risks reversing her character’s development. I didn’t like the scene (who would?!) but I’m willing to see if there was a reason for it. If it turns out to be hyperbolic gratuitous sex/violence, then I’ll be a lot less thrilled with the show next season. 

For those of you who watch Outlander, you know that the finale on that show was worse than the Sansa/Ramsay scene. I’m not ashamed to say that I fast forwarded through some of it. This is actually a compliment to Tobias Menzies’ acting. He certainly convincingly plays sick and depraved. In any case, it’s interesting to compare and contrast the two shows, which have each showed horrible rape scenes this season, and analyze from a storytelling perspective. In order to justify viewer trauma, there better be a good reason for the traumatic events. With GoT, I’m still waiting to see it…]

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Deciding whether to indie publish, or hold on and try to get traditionally published.

How can we meet that challenge?

Know what it is that you really want in life. By learning the pros and cons, we make the best informed decisions. For everyone, it will be different.

Now it’s YOUR TURN:

Are you a fan of teddy bears, puppies, daffodils, bluebonnets, and rainbows? 

Do you love books about werewolves and shifters?

Do you watch Game of Thrones or Outlander? What do you think of this season’s shows?

Thank you, Terry, for the interview and for sharing your pictures today.

Five Photographs: Charlotte Copper (Moms and Daughters; Digital Disruption)

Charlotte Copper shares her Five Photographs today: adorable near-twin calico cats, making maple syrup in Canada, and spending time with family. As a cancer survivor, Charlotte reminds us to get our priorities in order. Figure out what’s truly important to you and spend time on that. In her interview, Charlotte also touches on the decline of print books and I share my thoughts (including recent changes in my book buying habits). Welcome, Charlotte!

Something that represents something unique about you

Charlotte Copper and husband

This is a photo of my husband and me. What is unique is my husband and I got engaged in university, but between the engagement and our wedding we…broke up, married other people, started families, and got divorced….A span of more than twelve years.

Something that represents where you live

Charlotte Copper Winter Maple Syrup

Canada, eh! My friend and his family make maple syrup at his parents’ farm. These buckets are hanging to catch the raw material. It’s amazing how much is boiled away before you are left with the pure rich maple syrup. No wonder the real stuff is so expensive!

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

Charlotte Copper Rose and Angel

These calico sisters are Rose & Angel. Rescue kitties, who are now 13 years old, they are the friendliest cats and love to cuddle.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Charlotte Copper time

(This is not a photo for dead watch batteries, although it could be.) As a cancer survivor, I am grateful on a regular basis for the extra time that I’ve been granted with my friends and family. However, there is never enough of it. As a crafter, writer, reader, movie fanatic, wife and mother – who also holds down a full-time job and needs to find time to get to the gym – there is never enough time for everything I want to do.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Chalotte Copper daughter vball

Time with my family, especially The Daughter. Watching her play volleyball and grow into a beautiful (albeit stubborn) young lady, and knowing that I could have missed out on it.

Interview

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

HEART SHIFTER ….For widowed teacher Sarah, an invitation to spend the summer up north is the perfect opportunity for her sons to get to know their father’s estranged family better and for Sarah to learn more about why her deceased husband left his childhood home at such an early age. Her handsome host, Mitch Mingan, has remained a bachelor because he doesn’t want any wife or children to have to suffer his family’s destiny. Their fate? Mingan means wolf! Heart Shifter is the story of how Sarah and Mitch discover that the biggest surprise is their feelings towards each other.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on the edits for REAL LOVE. It’s a light sci-fi romance (beautiful alien crash-lands on the way to her new mate and master, and is rescued by a handsome space soldier) that will be part of The Candy Heart series releasing from The Wild Rose Press in time for Valentine’s 2016.

I’m also very happy to announce that I recently signed a contract with Boroughs Publishing Group for my short Young Adult story, STRAWBERRY SUMMER which is scheduled for release July 10th.

[Jill: Congratulations!!]

What are you currently reading?

I’m trying to read DRAGONFLY IN AMBER (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon. I loved the first book and I really love Jamie…I mean Sam Heughan…I mean the television show.

But you remember that “time” photo up above…? Well, like I said, I’m trying to read it.

[Jill: They are L-O-N-G but worth it.]

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

In addition to OUTLANDER, which I watch alone, I’ve got a few shows that I like to watch with The Daughter. For some reason we’re into medical dramas right now, and we enjoy watching REMEDY and THE NIGHT SHIFT. We also like to watch FACE OFF when it’s in season.

[Jill: This season wrapped, right? I still need to watch the finale. My daughters are younger than yours but we love to watch movies together. The only TV show we currently agree on is Modern Family. Everyone in my family loves that show!]

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

Vampire Bill from Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books. Love those old, southern manners.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’m one of those authors that is not affected by the decline of print books…mine are only in e-format…but some of the authors I know are absolutely horrified at the thought. (As a reader, I’ll miss them, yes, but I think I was more devastated by the closure of video stores.)

[Jill: I’m kind of the opposite. I do not miss the friday night video store runs. That place was packed and annoying. I was so in love with Netflix when they first intro’d DVD by mail. And now I love all the streaming services. I feel like my movie watching has really opened up in the last 10-15 years. 

As for the “decline of print” — ugh. well. hmm… 😀 I’d like to deny it, but that would be like denying climate change. I think the real question now is what happens next? Unlike Blockbuster, I still miss Borders. Barnes & Noble is too far for me to conveniently shop there. My #1 way to buy books is browsing in a bookstore. But I’ll admit it’s become harder and harder over the past few years and, for the first time ever, my most recent book buying binge happened online. I took a look at the list of recent releases that some of the blogs I follow had posted and made my choices that way. Doesn’t mean I won’t continue to support bookstores — of course, I will!!! And articles like this one BEA 2015: Resurgence of Indie Bookselling Continues are heartening.]

How can we meet that challenge?

I think authors need to accept that this is a digital world. Film cameras? DVDs? Authors need to prepare for and embrace the changing market. This doesn’t mean the end of books and authors. Electronic print is simply a new format that allows authors to reach out to readers that might otherwise never have had the opportunity to pick up their books.  And if you need a brighter side, think green and think of all the trees we’ll be saving.

[Jill: I don’t think I’m being unrealistic in saying I don’t think print will ever go away completely. But, yes, everyone (readers and writers alike) need to adapt to a digitally driven world. Maybe the better comparison with bookstores isn’t to video stores or record stores but to movie theaters. Hopefully, there will always be “physical showcase locations” where books, authors, and readers can meet, celebrate, browse, and buy.]

Charlotte Copper
Charlotte Copper

More about Charlotte

Charlotte Copper lives in Stouffville, Ontario – that is in Canada, eh – with her husband, daughter, and two part-time step-daughters. When she isn’t working at her full-time job or driving her daughter around for volleyball, Charlotte likes to craft, read, go to the movies, and, of course, write. Charlotte admittedly tries to juggle far too many balls at once, and hopes to have all of the stories published some day because, as a romance writer, she believes in happy endings!

Thank you for the interview, Charlotte, and for sharing your pictures with us!

Five Photographs: Nancy Gideon (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NANCY!)

Nancy Gideon shares her Five Photographs today. If you’re a fan of nutcrackers and groundhogs or want to gripe to a very willing audience about construction, commuting, or traffic OR IF YOU WANT TO WISH NANCY A HAPPY BIRTHDAY (it’s today) then this post is for you…

Something that represents something unique about you

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

I obsessively collect things I don’t have room for. I’m a Christmas-aholic with nutcrackers, music boxes and Santa Clauses of every shape and size. My desk is overrun with typewriters, tiny tea sets, shot glasses from places I’ve traveled, Tarot decks, favorite hero-inspiring actor of the moment’s video collections, lighthouses . . . and jewelry.  It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got great Bling!  Can you say OCD much?

Something that represents where you live

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERA

We have four Seasons in Michigan.  That’s the rumor. My favorites are spring and fall but unfortunately those only last a week before jumping right to humidity and mosquitoes or to ice scrapers and snow drifts. It’s either constant AC or blast furnace heat. There’s rarely middle ground.

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

Nommer 2014

The harbinger of spring is Nommer, my apartment complex’s groundhog who provides endlessly entertainment with a yearly crop of babies and no maintenance for me.  Here he is checking to see what I’m grilling on my balcony – three stories up. I’m addicted to all thing fur, fin and feather both inside and free range,  and have pampered everything from tropical fish and aquarium frogs (left over from a Scouting badge) to guinea pigs, an Australian cattle dog and the wild birds I coax to my 4th floor balcony to entertain my cats Scotch and Stubbs (sounds like an ‘80s cop show!).

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Cone Zones

The minute snow is off the ground, up come the detours and the Cone Zones making that 15 minute commute to work into 30-45 every summer.  Patch it, dig it up, surface it, tear it up again, patch it, resurface until you just can’t get there from here.  I am not a patient driver. Especially when listening to Rob Zombie.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jungle retreat

Making my 3rd floor patio into a pseudo-backyard oasis. No mowing, great for Vitamin D therapy while plotting that next chapter and just enough room for my new mini-grill. Now if we could just get rid of the freeze warnings so I could start planting!

Interview

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

For my Dana Ransom contemporary romance, FROM THIS DAY FORWARD (currently $1.99 (!) as an Amazon Big Deal): Feeling responsible for the tragedies that befell those they loved, two wounded souls don’t feel they have the right to happiness. Widowed on her honeymoon, Robyn Lee pours all her unfulfilled hopes into her wedding planner business, making priceless memories for others. The last thing she needs is for the irresponsible brother of her dream client to rock the boat . . . and her regimented life. A gritty news cameraman recovering from the loss of his coworker in the field, Kyle Travers doesn’t believe in the perfect world Robyn’s created to hide her own heartbreak, but he’s begun to think just maybe two fractured halves can make a stronger whole – if only he can convince her.

What are you working on next?

I’m about 400 pages into the next book in my “By Moonlight” dark paranormal shape-shifter series. I’m optimistic about a late summer release for UNLEASHED BY SHADOWS. Squee!

What are you currently reading?

Just finished Dean Koontz’s The City on the plane back from vacay in Arizona. He’s my go to guy for a good read. Reading copy edits and page proofs for the 9 books in my “Touch of Midnight” vampire romance series is currently consuming my life.  ImaJinn Books is reissuing a book per month starting in July beginning with the first three that have been out of print since the ‘90s!  Then I’ll be impatiently waiting for the 3rd book in Justin Cronin’s post-apocalyptic vampire series.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

My DVR runneth over with Penny Dreadful, House of Cards, Supernatural (I’m just starting Season 4 with 6 more to go!), Castle, and The Originals. All my other favorites – Blacklist, Secrets and Lies, Vikings, Gotham, American Horror Story, Ray Donovan, and The Strain are on hiatus – so now I have more writing time! I’m still mourning the end of Justified. Best-Writing-Ever.  And my law office co-workers and I just love watching Maury during our lunch hour (guilty pleasure!).

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

I’m loving the monsters from Showtime’s Penny Dreadful!  They’re creatures taken from classic horror tales like Dracula, Frankenstein and Portrait of Dorian Gray with a fresh twist or a unique interpretation.  I can’t wait to see what (or who) turns up next! Of course Josh Harnett’s tortured werewolf is my favorite.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Breaking out of the pack – which is now HUGE due to self-publishing – especially when so many books are free.

How can we meet that challenge?

Making personal connections with readers through Social Media.  Facebook author pages that host events, street teams, blog tours and chats, giveaway Hops (there are always a few not just looking for free stuff!), active blogs and Twitter sites that aren’t just screaming “Buy My Book”, and web sites that offer extra content i.e. deleted scenes, sneak previews, and character galleries are all great, but raise the question of when can you find time to write while doing all that promotion?  So do what you love and what works for you. I have a fabulous “Nancy Gideon by Moonlight” Goodreads group that hosts events, chats and Buddy Reads, and I host a unique Haunted Open House in October that brings in a lot of traffic.  It’s a slow, time-consuming effort to build a reader base but worth it when you get that excited feedback regarding your next project. Give more than you expect to get back. Word of mouth is priceless.

Nancy Gideon
Nancy Gideon

More About Nancy

Nancy Gideon is the award-winning author of over 58 romances ranging from historical, regency and series contemporary suspense to dark paranormal, with a couple of horror screenplays tossed into the mix.  She works full-time as a legal assistant, and when not at the keyboard, feeds a Netflix addiction along with all things fur, fin and fowl. She also has written under the pen names Dana Ransom, Rosalyn West and Lauren Giddings.

Thank you for the pictures and interview, Nancy! HAVE A WONDERFUL BIRTHDAY!!!

Five Photographs: Anna Durand (Christmas in May, Baltimore Orioles in Michigan, and… Thomas Edison)

Anna Durand shares her Five Photographs today. Among them, a hand-painted miniature village and a Baltimore Oriole (for bird lovers, not baseball fans 🙂 ). And for anyone who’s struggling with whatever goal they’re currently trying to achieve, she’s got some great advice: DON’T QUIT!

Something that represents something unique about you

Anna Durand Unique

I own my own village. The residents live by my whims; they never eat or drink or sleep, but are always cheerful and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Like Brigadoon, however, they come out for only a brief time, then sleep again until their next awakening.

This is my Christmas village, hand-painted by me, piece by piece, over the course of 18 years. I love the holidays, and my village not only provides added cheer, but it’s also a conversation starter. Anyone who visits my house in December is instantly drawn to the idyllic little town and can’t help asking questions about it. Naturally, my village has a bookstore and a library.

The town’s name? Well of course, it’s Noël!

[Jill: beautiful and charming!]

Something that represents where you live

Anna Durand Michigan

My home is Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where natural beauty is on display everywhere you look. We have a rich history of mining and lumbering, but my favorite part of the U.P. shows itself every autumn. The fall color here is spectacular — though often short-lived, thanks to our ever-present wind!

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

Anna Durand Cat

My cat is my little shadow. He follows me everywhere around the house, and out in the yard. When I’m writing, he sits nearby keeping an eye on me — mainly to make sure I don’t forget to feed him his treats. I often have to fight with him for custody of my desk chair!

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Anna Durand Winter

Winter can be incredibly frustrating, especially when it refuses to leave on time in the spring. I hate house guests who hang around too long! Even the snow gets tired and starts to droop, but the cold sticks around until everyone’s ready to run winter out of town. But we make the best of it, with snow sculptures and spicy Mexican food (U.P. style) to keep us warm.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Anna Durand Joy

I love photographing birds, and with my bird feeders, I get to see many different species — even through the winter. Last summer, I snapped this photo of a Baltimore Oriole. I don’t see many of these, which makes it a treat. Soon, the hummingbirds will arrive and demand their sugar-water. They deserve it, though, after their long journey up from the Gulf of Mexico.

Interview

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

Ultimate power comes at the ultimate price.

Torn apart by their haunted pasts, Grace and David struggle to reclaim their passionate bond and defeat an enemy who wields unspeakable psychic power. As events drive them toward a battle of epic proportions, they must risk everything — their hearts, their lives, and even their souls — to protect each other and the entire world.

Intuition is the award-winning second book in the Psychic Crossroads series.

What are you working on next?

I have several projects in the works. Reborn to Avenge, the third part in my Reborn series, will release in late May. The Mortal Falls is a paranormal romance with magic and plenty of heat, and it will be the first book in a new series. I’ve also started work on a hot contemporary romance (a standalone book).

What are you currently reading?

I’m listening to the audiobook of Jayne Castle’s The Lost Night. I love her Harmony series! I’m reading (with my eyes, not my ears) Lisa Kessler’s Hunter’s Moon.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

It’s that slow time of year when all the good stuff is on hiatus. Bummer! Some of my favorite shows are Haven, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.LD., and Jane the Virgin. Jane’s a romance writer, so of course, I have to watch that show.

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

I love the fae, because they can be naughty or nice, sometimes without meaning to be either. They might’ve struck a bad bargain and now must do someone else’s bidding, or maybe they’re cursed. You just never know — and that’s half the fun!

Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander series has two of my favorite types of characters — fae and sexy Highlanders. You can’t get much better than that.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

More than ever, writers must figure out how to market their own books. Even those traditionally published find their publishers expect them to shoulder the marketing burden.

How can we meet that challenge?

It’s a huge responsibility and a massive challenge. There’s no magic bullet, so you just have to keep trying different tactics until you find what works for you.

Don’t trust anyone who says they have the secret to becoming a bestseller. Those kinds of claims never pan out, and the person making them usually earns their living from selling nonfiction books about their magic method, not from selling their fiction. It’s easy to get discouraged when you hear miraculous tales of writers who dumped their first book on the market and sales exploded right off the bat, but these stories inevitably have a hidden backstory.

Be persistent. Don’t be afraid to try new tactics. Most of all — and this is the hardest lesson to accept — don’t be afraid to fail. Learn from it and move on.

Remember what Thomas Edison said: “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”

[Jill: Another reminder of that idea is the Japanese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” There is ONLY ONE guaranteed way to ensure you never succeed.]

Anna Durand
Anna Durand

More about Anna

Anna Durand is a multi-award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in sexy romances, both paranormal and contemporary, featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books.

Thank you for the interview and pictures, Anna!

Five Photographs: Anise Rae (and the pressure to write at the speed of light)

The next guest in my Five Photographs series is author and marathoner Anise Rae. As with all of these posts, she touches on all sorts of things, one of which is the pressure we writers face these days to publish faster and faster. Love golden retrievers, but hate to clean your house? Know what vampires and baby powder have to do with one another (or want to find out)? Then read on! 😀 Welcome, Anise!

Something that represents something unique about you:

Anise Rae Marathon

Years ago I ran two marathons. At the time, I was a fairly serious–yet very slow–runner. This is a photo of me crossing the finish line at 4 hours and 58 minutes. It’s far from the most flattering picture, but I’d just run 26.2 miles. I keep it out not to rest on my laurels or reminisce about past glories, but as a reminder to ask myself what other challenges I might be able to conquer…and then to go out and do it.

Something that represents where you live:

Anise Rae Georgia

My screened-in porch is my favorite place to write. It’s like sitting in a tree house. The most frequently seen neighbors are birds, squirrels, and deer. Despite the risk of visiting bugs, I always keep that door cracked open. I’d say it was so the big story ideas have room to come in…that they don’t have to filter through the screens that way…but really it’s so the dog can come and go as she pleases without me getting up.

[Jill: when I saw this, I guessed you were from Appalachia. LOVE that area of the U.S., although I’ve spent more time in the northern part of it.]

Your pet or thing you care for (besides your humans):

Anise Rae Gylfie

Gylfie is the fluffiest golden retriever I’ve ever seen. When we got her as a puppy, I thought her fur would settle down and become silky and fine, but she stayed teddy bear soft. She loves attention from every single human who has the good sense to come see her. As for the name Gylfie, my daughter named her after a character in the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series by Kathryn Lasky.

[Jill: Aww, what a happy face! You can tell what a friendly dog she is. 🙂]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you:

Anise Rae Frustrating

Cleaning! I like a clean house, but I’ve never enjoyed getting it that way. Right now, my house is up for sale, which means it has to stay as spotless as possible. That’s a challenge I really don’t appreciate living up to. The title of the book in the photo is a perfect representation of my thoughts on spotless houses: A Clean House is a Sign of a Misspent Life. For this photo, I’ve taken the book off my bookshelves and posed it in my front entryway. Maybe it’s best to give potential buyers an upfront view of the household’s current philosophy. Yeah…probably not.

[Jill: lol. I hear you. At the end of it all, do we really want to say, “but my house was always clean”? Though I admit to a deep-seated envy of those who have immaculate homes. 😀]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing):

Anise Rae Joy

I love swings. As a kid, I would pump my legs and get as high as possible. It was as close as I could get to flying through the air. These days, I still love to swing, even on playground swings, but I’m just as content sitting comfortably on the porch swing with my feet brushing the ground on every pass back and forth.

Interview

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

My latest book is Enchanter’s Echo.

Edmund Rallis, heir to Rallis Territory, will play every game he knows to win back the heart of enchantress Aurora Firenze. But he inadvertently puts her on the frontlines of a new game, one with an enemy who’s determined to destroy his land and drive the Republic toward war. If the new enemy isn’t stopped in time, Edmund will lose his enchantress again—and this time there won’t be another chance.

What are you working on next?

I’m working on the third book in the Mayflower Mages series, which is Gregor’s story. He’s one of the warrior mages in the first two books…a soldier with the heart of a poet.   (Enchanter’s Echo is book two, but each book stands alone.)

What are you currently reading?

I’m re-reading Courtney Milan’s Proof by Seduction. It’s a historical, which isn’t my typical genre, but I love how the hero and heroine are so at odds with each other in the beginning.

What are you currently watching?

I absolutely adore Sherlock. I also watch Outlander, though I’m a few weeks behind. Defiance is another of my favorites. It’s on the Syfy channel.

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

I love the romance plot lines in J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. I read them because I love how the men meet their matches. On the other hand, the lessers—the vampire killers who have no soul and smell like baby powder—freak me out. I can’t think of another villain that gives me the chills like those guys. The other day I was in a parking lot alone, and I smelled baby powder. I had to have a little talk with myself…the lessers are not real…the lessers are not real…. I hustled into the store anyway.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I think the biggest challenge is the pressure to publish faster and faster. I’ve seen a lot of writer friends who have to churn out story after story. Though I admire that ability a great deal, I’ve also seen a few of them burn out.

[Jill: I agree that there seems to be increasing pressure to produce more books with less time in between release dates, which is another interesting writer challenge to talk about.

Why is it happening? My guess is it’s a combination of these related factors:

the rise of self-publishing and digital books (which have a quicker to market time frame) so all writers, regardless of whether they are self-pub, trad, or hybrid, feel pressure to keep up;

an author’s best promo is their latest release;

the number of books released every year seems to be increasing exponentially and is at an all time high (other authors have mentioned that “discoverability” continues to be the greatest challenge facing writers today); and 

the nature of life (everything seems to get faster with each passing generation).]

How can we meet that challenge?

I believe there’s a well of artistic inspiration and creative ability inside everyone. As that juicy goodness is used up, that well needs to be replenished. It’s essential to find a balance between creating stories and keeping that well of creativity full. It’s easy to neglect that last part because it requires taking time for yourself. It requires time to play, whatever form “play” may take, even though it may use up precious time on the publishing calendar. I think any creative person neglects that well at their peril. For those who are familiar with Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way, this probably sounds very familiar. I’m a big fan of her work.

[Jill: It used to be authors could put out a book a year and that was ok. It doesn’t seem that way anymore, although, of course, genre expectations vary. I’m certainly not immune to the pressure we all feel to produce work faster but I’m also really leery of producing something that isn’t the best I can do just to get something out there.

You’re right, Anise, that anyone who is suffering burn out needs to refill their creative well. I like to hike, bike, and do day trips, but lots of authors like to make jewelry, crafts, and other art.]

Anise Rae
Anise Rae

More About Anise

A native of Ohio, Anise Rae long ago moved south, armed with boxes of romance novels, notebooks of her own stories, and degrees in chemistry and library science. Creating chemistry on the page between two lovers proved to be a lot more fun than working with test tubes in a lab or searching patent databases. She refocused on writing.

Her stories revolve around heroines who dare to stand up to society’s expectations and be true to themselves and heroes with plenty of savvy to fall in love with such brave women. And her stories always include magic. Lots of magic.

She lives in Atlanta with her two children and a fluffy dog that has an amazing ability to find dirty socks.

Anise can be found online here:

Thank you, Anise, for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us today!

Five Photographs: Rachel Leigh Smith (Crawfish & Cross-Stitch)

The next guest in my spring “Five Photographs” series is Rachel Leigh Smith. She’s here with another terrific collection of photos, a peek at her writing, and more reading and watching recommendations. She’s also giving away one signed copy of her first book, My Name is A’Yen. Details below. Welcome, Rachel!

Something that represents something unique about you

Rachel Smith Unique

This photo is me in a nutshell. My favorite flower, my favorite movie, my favorite country, and the blue postcard in the back says “Keep Calm, I’m The Doctor.” The book you can see under the Ariel music box is my crit partner’s first published novella. And I’m a cat person.

Something that represents where you live

Rachel Smith Crawfish

I live in Louisiana, home of some of the most unique food you’ll find in the US. Most people know these little babies as crayfish. If you call them that, it means you’re a Yankee. They’re crawfish, or even better, crawdads or mudbugs. We prefer them boiled. What you see is three pounds, and I ate every single one of them. My sister ate five pounds that night.

[Jill: Ha! I always open the photos first when I get these posts. I knew where you were from when I saw this. 🙂 ]

Your pet or plant or thing you care for

Rachel Smith Zoe

This is my Zoe. She’s gorgeous, so sweet, great around kids, my snuggle-bunny, and dumb as a rock. I’m constantly reminding my family I didn’t pick her because she was smart, I picked her because she was cute. How can you not love that face?

[Jill: I love cats with unique fur patterns on their face. She is adorable.]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Rachel Smith Frustrating

This is what I call the damn hedge. It surrounds our property. And I’m allergic to it. I get a few days break from the pine pollen madness before this stupid thing starts up.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Rachel Smith Cross-Stich

Counted cross-stitch! This pattern is White Nights in St. Petersburg from Chatelaine, and I’m almost done with it. It’s massive, my fabric is 32” square.

[Jill: Beautiful! I’m not sure I’d have the patience…]

Interview

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

A’yen is crowned king, but it isn’t stopping his enemies. Someone is after Ro, and the woman he’s falling in love with is caught in the middle. A’yen races to save Ro before he can act on his deepest desire: killing his tormentor. Happily ever after can’t happen if Ro is dead.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently writing #6 in A’yen’s Legacy, and trying to figure out how to finish my other series opener novel while still writing on Essence of Loyalty.

What are you currently reading?

Keir by Pippa Jay and The Darkest Craving by Gena Showalter. I’m very much in the Kane club now, though I didn’t care for him before.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Criminal Minds, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, Orphan Black, Arrow, The Flash, The Musketeers, Broadchurch, Wolf Hall, and Call The Midwife. And yes, there is a distinct preference there for BBC shows, whether on PBS or BBC America.

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

The Raksura, from The Books of The Raksura by Martha Wells. They’re fantasy with a strong romance sub-plot in the first three, centered on a race of shape-shifters called the Raksura. They have a human form and a winged form. I read the main trilogy about once a year and I’m anxiously awaiting the release of the second novella collection this summer.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Finding your readers. Everything is so saturated, and a lot of so-called promo opportunities don’t work. When you write in a niche genre like me, finding those readers is even harder.

How can we meet that challenge?

By writing the best damn book we’re capable of. Every writer should constantly be learning more about the craft of writing, how to structure and pace a novel, and strive to make each novel better than the last.

Rachel Leigh Smith
Rachel Leigh Smith

More about Rachel

Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…

She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at http://www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at http://twitter.com/rachelleighgeek. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

The Giveaway

Rachel is giving away one signed copy of My Name is A’Yen. Click here for the Rafflecopter form. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

ALSO: My Name Is A’yen is on sale for 99 cents through 5/10! Sale price available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks, Coffee Time Romance Bookstore, and All Romance Ebooks.

Thanks for the interview, pictures, and giveaway, Rachel! Best wishes and happy Monday, all!

Five Photographs: Veronica Scott (NASA, SoCal, and Legos)

Today’s “Five Photographs” guest is SF/PNR author Veronica Scott, who is also the “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog. (For those of you that didn’t see it yet, she wrote a great post last Thursday on the appeal of fantasy romance.) She’s here today to share a little bit about herself and her writing. Welcome, Veronica!

Something That Represents Something Unique About You

Veronica Scott JPL

I worked at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab (think Mars Rovers) in the Acquisition Division for a very long time. I was on the business side of the house, not a rocket scientist, but it was an incredible set of experiences! (I’m a fulltime author as of this past March.) This is a photo of the service award I recently received. There’s a tiny galaxy laser etched in the center!

[Jill: That is awesome! I think JPL would be an amazing place to work. I’m sure the business side of it was really interesting. Of course, it’s equally great that you’re now a full time writer. Congrats!]

Something That Represents Where You Live

Veronica Scott Garden

I live in drought stricken Southern California, so these nearby succulents and cacti represent our current state.

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

Veronica Scott Cats

Jake and Keanu, two very companionable and lively cats

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Veronica Scott Clock

Time! In three ways: I’m not a patient person at all, so I hate to wait for things. Second, there’s never enough time in a day for all the things I want to do, even writing fulltime now. And third, I spend too much time on social media (because I have so much fun there)!

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Veronica Scott Legos

Something that brings me joy is time spent with my grandson and we’re usually building Legos, so here’s one of our latest building projects.

Interview

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

My latest novel is Mission to Mahjundar, science fiction romance. “Special Forces soldier of the future falls in love with blind Princess of Shadows, places rescuing her above his mission objective.”

What are you working on next?

I have Ghost of the Nile coming out in late May, and I’m just finishing the first draft of my next SFR, tentatively entitled Star Cruise: Marooned.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve been on an epic romance fantasy binge and just finished Radiance by Grace Draven, which I LOVED and can’t recommend highly enough.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

“Dancing With The Stars”, “Twelve Monkeys, “The Walking Dead,” Say Yes to the Dress,” “Madam Secretary”.

[Jill: my older daughter loves “Say Yes to the Dress” 😀 ]

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

Anne McCaffrey’s dragons from the planet Pern. I so want to be the rider of a golden dragon!

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

With all the wonderful books pouring out from authors these days, I think discoverability is the key. Finding your own audience!

How can we meet that challenge?

By being proactive on social media – whatever channels work best for the individual – and I love the way authors are helping each other, as with this guest blog opportunity of yours, forums, Facebook groups (and events)…sharing information and shining a light on each other’s books that we’ve enjoyed goes a long way. And of course, writing the next book, and the book after that is critical. So, it’s a juggling act but the books are always the most important thing.

Thanks for having me as your guest with this fun photo blog!

Veronica Scott
Veronica Scott

More About Veronica

Best Selling Science Fiction & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happily Ever After blog,  Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Blog   @vscotttheauthor    Facebook

Thank you, Veronica, for the interview and for sharing your pictures with us! I enjoyed getting to know more about you. 🙂

Five Photographs: Suzanne Johnson (Boeuf Gras, Pirate’s Alley, and a Terrific #Giveaway)

Today’s guest is Suzanne Johnson, author of the recently released PIRATE’S ALLEY, the fourth book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series. She’s been a guest blogger here at least a few times (more if you count her alter ego Susannah Sandlin) so when I heard she was doing a BBT tour to promote Pirate’s Alley, I signed up. We discussed several fun topics, all of which I would have been happy to hear her thoughts on, but in the end she said she wanted to do a “Five Photographs” post. (For anyone new here today, I’m doing a photo themed guest blog series this spring. It features a bunch of writers who write romantic, otherworldly/supernatural tales. They submit five photos and answer seven questions.) As part of Suzanne’s tour, she’s giving away one $50 Amazon eGC and two $15 Amazon eGCs. Details below. Welcome, Suzanne!

Something that represents something unique about you

Suzanne Johnson ADD Collector

I will call this “The ADD Collector.” I get on obsessive collecting kicks and then, just as obsessively, grow tired of it. Represented here are some previous collecting frenzies: a piece of Early American Pattern Glass with animal motifs, some early 1960s glassware with Greek characters that was given out at Texaco stations with a fillup, a mask and, from my current collecting binges, a wooden cigar box, an alligator, and some Mardi Gras throws. You could also add dolls and Fenton colonial blue thumbprint glass to this list. And music. And…

Something about where you live

Suzanne Johnson boef gras

Meet two version of “Boeuf Gras,” the plush version thrown from the Mardi Gras float and the “special” version acquired for me by a friend from a member of the Krewe of Rex, the original oldest Mardi Gras krewe. Boeuf Gras is my favorite Mardi Gras float—it’s a huge white bull the size of an eighteen-wheeler that’s a signature float in the Rex parade. But it also represents my current home city of Auburn, Alabama, where there are a lot of cattle and, at the university, a big meat sciences program. Alabama fans who hate Auburn call it “the cow college.” Them’s fightin’ words ’round here.

Something or someone you care about

Suzanne Johnson Shane and Tanker

I debated whether or not to use this photo. It feels a little like cheating, but these are the loves of my life, Shane (the Irish terrier mix) and Tanker (part black chow-chow, part golden retriever). Both of them were rescues I adopted in 2000. I lost Shane at age 16 about six months ago and Tanker, also at age 16, three weeks ago. I will have another dog eventually, but it’s still too raw and hurts too much.

[Jill: That’s rough losing them so close together. I’m so sorry. When you’re ready, I hope you find another dog. He or she will be different — I’m sure neither Shane nor Tanker can be replaced — but I’m equally sure the new dog will bring you just as much joy.]

Something that frustrates you

Suzanne Johnson Fiji House

The FIJI House. I thought about taking a shot of pollen on my car, or my office building where I spend my day job. But, in the end, I chose the Auburn University Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, aka the FIJI house. I’m sure they’re lovely kids, but the house sits just outside my office window and they’re always yelling and playing annoying music at full blast and hammering on some secret project in their courtyard. I have to work with earbuds stuffed in my ears.

[Jill: Ah, this one made me laugh. 😀]

Something that brings you joy

Suzanne Johnson art stuff

Um…remember all those collections? This isn’t exactly a collection, but it’s one corner of my sprawling art space, where I dabble in paint and have copious amounts of art supplies. There’s also a 20-drawer cabinet, two multi-level rolling carts, and three bookcase shelves full. It’s a sickness…but it makes me happy. That’s my happy space.

Interview

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

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the preternatural world.” An unexpected interspecies pregnancy has the preternatural world on the brink of war, with DJ, New Orleans’ wizard sentinel, caught squarely in the middle—and who she sides with won’t be an easy decision.

What are you working on next?

WILD MAN’S BLUFF, the first book in a new suspense series (written as Susannah Sandlin) about a Louisiana game warden caught up in the case of a murdered voodoo priestess, a long-buried secret, and a woman who’s about to learned that you can take the Cajun girl out of Louisiana but the swamps stay deep within the heart.

What are you currently reading?

Better sit down, or the excitement might do you in: Game Warden: On Patrol in Louisiana, by Jerald Horst. LOL. Gotta do my research!

 What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Currently, I watch NCIS: New Orleans, The Amazing Race, Chicago Fire, and Cutthroat Kitchen, of which I’ve never missed an episode. I DVR the shows and watch them in 20-minute spurts. My attention span is the size of a gnat, which I blame on my iPhone and too many years of General Hospital.

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

I still wish I’d thought to animate a dinosaur. Jim Butcher did that in one of the Dresden books, and Harry Dresden rode the dinosaur skeleton from the Field Museum down the middle of Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. It was freaking brilliant.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Discoverability, without a doubt. The downside to authors having so many publishing options these days (which is great) is that it’s harder than ever for an author to find readers. The number of books released in the U.S. was about 300,000 in 2005; in 2009 it had grown to more than 1 million; in 2012, more than 2 million—including more than 500,000 self-published titles PER YEAR. That means a ton of authors and a lot of good books are getting lost in the noise while everyone (authors and publishers) are scrambling around, trying to figure out how to be “discovered” in that crowd. Meanwhile, the number of readers has not grown proportionately.

[Jill: that’s an insane number of books!]

 How can we meet that challenge?

I honestly don’t know. If I did, I’d be a very rich woman…or at least be able to give up my day job! 🙂 The same thing doesn’t work for every book or every author and technology is in constant flux. We’re all trying to figure it out.

[Jill: too true. The thing that keeps me from going batshit crazy is remembering that the majority of those 2 million+ books are not in my wheelhouse — either as a writer or as a reader.]

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's AlleyMore About Pirate’s Alley

From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.

Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back.

And that’s before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.

Available at   Amazon   BN   Book Depository

More About Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

More About the Giveaway

Suzanne is giving away one $50 Amazon eGift Certificate and two $15 Amazon eGift Certificates as part of her Bewitching Book Tour. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter link. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's Alley Banner

~

Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your pictures, thoughts, and great giveaway with us!

Five Photographs: Beth Caudill (Dogwoods, Spaniels, Chainmaille, and Backlist)

This spring, I’m hosting a guest blog series called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures and complete a brief interview. Today’s guest is Beth Caudill. In her interview, she talks about the importance of backlist and I share two interesting self-pub links. If you like King Charles Spaniels, dogwood trees, and/or chainmaille jewelry, you’ll love her pictures. Welcome, Beth!

Something that represents where you live

Caudill Pink Dogwood

The first house I lived in in West Virginia had several white dogwood trees. I always thought they were beautiful and a home isn’t a home without one in the yard. Fortunately for me, I moved to a state that named the dogwood blossom as its state flower. In springtime, you’ll find dogwoods blooming everywhere.  It took awhile, but I finally have my own tree in the yard, although it’s a pink variation instead of the bright white.

Something that represents something unique about you

Space Art

Growing up, I loved everything space. All I wanted was to be an astronaut.  While that didn’t work out, my love of space hasn’t gone away. I decorate my walls with space art of all colors. My favorite is this print titled Ladies of the Lake by Kim Poor.  It’s based off the Pleiades star cluster.

Your Pet or Plant or Thing You Care For

Caudill King Charles Spaniel

This is Megan and she’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. She acts as my shadow until my husband comes home from work, then the little traitor follows him around.  But don’t let those brown eyes fool you; she gets plenty of cuddles and treats.

Something that really frustrates you

Caudill Star Gazer Lilies

I love Stargazer Lilies but I can’t have cut blooms in the house.  The dark yellow pollen on the stamen gets everywhere and it stains. At least I can have them in the garden.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Caudill Flower Bracelet

A few years ago, I learned how to make chainmaille jewelry.  This flower chain bracelet is one I wear all the time.  I particularly love the feel of silver rings but also work with copper and stainless steel.  If you want to see my work, check out my website at Starlight Falls Designs.

Interview

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

Cursed at his birth by a dark elf, Rowe Calder avoids personal entanglements, especially his betrothal to Caliressa Bellehaven. Circumstances force them together and love won’t be denied. But the dark elf claims his vengeance and only the strongest enchantress can reclaim Rowe’s soul.  – Enchantress’ Destiny, Paranormals of Arilase – Novella 2

What are you working on next?

I’ve been waffling on this. ‘The Plan’ says I should be working on the Prequel to my Tales of Ellemarlene series but I haven’t been able to decide on the main character for that story.  I’m also having trouble determining the motivation for the female character in the 3rd Paranormals of Arilase novella.  So I’m revising a contemporary novella that didn’t go anywhere because it lacked conflict.  I’m turning it into a contemporary fantasy series.

What are you currently reading?

Right now I’m judging a few books for the PRISM contest sponsored by the FF&P chapter of RWA. I can’t name those stories but I did read Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey and Dropping Gloves by Catherine Gayle this week.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I caught up on my Arrow episodes and watched the finale of Face Off.

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

I love Elektra’s bladed sai.  I like to watch the scene in Daredevil where Jennifer Garner practices with sandbags before she goes after the man she thinks killed her dad.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Producing content quickly to keep your fans interested and finding new fans.  I first sold some short stories a few years ago and had decent sales.  Then I had a few slow years, completed stories didn’t quite work and then I started homeschooling my kids. My writing derailed and while I’ve released two novellas in the past year, I feel like my career has gone backwards.

[Jill: how can you say it’s gone backwards? You released two novellas! 🙂 Writing/publishing is a very tough business. I recently read two articles that seemed to realistically capture the challenges writers face while still being encouraging:

Rachelle Ayala’s What I Learned After Four Years of Self-Publishing (Thanks to Jami Gray for the link)

Forbes’ Amazon Pays $450,000 A Year To This Self-Published Writer (Thanks to Shamus W. for the link. The headline is clickbait, but the article itself seems fairly even-handed in its approach. I especially liked the one commenter who pointed out that self-pub doesn’t have to be an all or none experience.)]

How can we meet that challenge?

While I’m still struggling, the best thing is to develop a daily schedule and keep writing. A writer’s best asset is their backlist.

[Jill: “develop a daily schedule and keep writing” Agreed! 😀

I think both backlist and frontlist are equally important. Our best marketing tool is our next book!]

More about Beth

Beth grew up in West Virginia but now resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and previously worked as a quality assurance computer software tester. Reading has been her favorite activity for as long as she can remember and her home has more books than shelves to store them. While being a fulltime parent, she is pursuing a writing career. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter and her local chapter Heart of Carolina Romance Writers.

Thank you, Beth, for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us!

Kylie Chan, Author of DEMON CHILD, on Magic, Martial Arts, Romance, #Writing a Long Series, Living in Hong Kong, and More (#Giveaway)

The author interview I was supposed to have posted Tuesday is here! It was worth the wait. Kylie Chan, bestselling author of Demon Child, discusses her characters, their relationship, and what it’s like to write a long, successful book series. She also talks about the Sidhe, or Shining Folk, who are featured in her latest novel, what it was like to live in Hong Kong, and her four favorite things about her current abode: Brisbane, Australia. She’s giving away ten print copies of Demon Child (Rafflecopter form below). Welcome, Kylie!

Kylie Chan, Demon Child, fantasy, romance, magic, martial arts, demons,

Author Interview: Kylie Chan

Your first book, WHITE TIGER, came out in 2006. Since then you’ve released seven other novels in the series, including your latest, DEMON CHILD. You’ve also written a prequel graphic novel and a couple of shorts.

That’s a lot of stories! How do you keep the series fresh and exciting?

Yes it is! It’s been a tremendous journey for me – WHITE TIGER was the first novel I’d ever written. I keep it fresh by raising the stakes. I’m enjoying myself by making things seem a little better and then take it up a notch and make everything terrible again. My characters are suffering. It’s great fun.

Did you know you when you first started writing WHITE TIGER that it would turn into a nine book series? How did the structure of the series develop? Any advice for writers who want to write a long series?

I planned for a three book series – Xuan Wu’s departure, his return, and the big final battle in three volumes. When I was halfway through enough words for a second novel and still not up to the departure bit, I realized that I had more than three books – way more than three books, and started changing the plan to three sets of three.

For writers planning to write a long series I’d suggest that they make each novel readable by itself, but still fit together into something greater. I’d do that in future if I could, so that people aren’t forced to start at the beginning with – admittedly – my weakest work.

Can DEMON CHILD be read on its own? If not, do readers need to start with WHITE TIGER?

As I said, if you want to read the series it would absolutely be best to start from WHITE TIGER. DEMON CHILD is the eighth book in a complex saga and if you try to read it alone you will probably enjoy it, but not as much as if you started at the beginning.

Your stories feature magic, martial arts, and romance.

It’s all good stuff. It’s pure escapism. Sometimes when I’m told by a man in the supermarket to ‘smile, you’ll look prettier’ or the staff at the post office call me ‘darling’ and ‘sweetheart’ in a terribly condescending way I just want to kick heads. This is my way of channeling that aggression!

[Jill: Lol. Yeah, it’s been awhile but I can remember times in my life when I thought, “Is that a compliment or a cut? Do I want to bloody their nose or just say ‘thank you?’” I always opted for being polite, but I’ve also had a lot of dental work done on my back molars. 😀 ]

How would John describe Emma? How would Emma describe John?

Both of them would describe each other as infuriating. As one of the biggest gods in Chinese Heaven, John is accustomed to being immediately and unquestioningly obeyed by everybody around him, and Emma’s constant second-guessing and outright disagreements sometimes drive him nuts. Emma finds John’s expectation that everybody will immediately obey him similarly annoying, and sometimes disagrees with him just to see his face when he’s exasperated with her. It never descends into full-on arguments because he’s such a big softie, though.

How has their relationship changed over the course of eight novels?

It was absolutely love at first sight, but the balance of power between them has always been uneven and that’s led some serious relationship issues. It started out very inequitable – he was the employer and she was an employee. She was more willful and disobedient than he was used to, however, and he loved that. Through the books, she’s grown until they consider themselves equal in will and intelligence by the end of the second series. In this final trilogy, he’s regained his full ancient god powers and once again is much more than she is – but he turns to her when he needs a second opinion or someone to back him up when the Jade Emperor is bullying him. When they’re alone all of the ‘who’s more powerful’ business is ignored and they see themselves as equals, even if the rest of Heaven doesn’t. In the book I’m working on now, she throws him out of meetings more than once because people are so awestruck and terrified by him that it’s interfering with their ability to get things done.

How did Emma react when she found out she has demon blood?

It was a huge ‘I told you so’ for her. All along she’s suspected that she’s a demon, and that John’s been in denial about it. When the truth came out about her demon nature, she was completely unsurprised. She has something of a yell at him about it in ‘Demon Child’.

Tell us more about the Sidhe or Shining Folk.

It’s easy to do some light research into Celtic mythology and come back with a theme that’s full of nature-loving Druids, gallant fae and sparkly unicorns. I delved deeper into the original nature of the Druids as recounted by Julius Caesar when he fought the Celts and found a completely different type of theology. The real Druids were a bloodthirsty bunch who basically got off on torture and human sacrifice and collected their enemy’s heads as trophies. I really enjoyed including this into my own venture into the West. The Sidhe in my stories are noble, caring, and gone – they deserted the world just when they were most needed, in a passive-aggressive act of penitence that really helped nobody. I have to admit that I still managed to throw in a unicorn just because.

[Love it. Everyone could use more unicorns in their lives. 😀 ]

Without giving anything away, tell us about a scene from DEMON CHILD involving magic, martial arts, or both.

Both magic and martial arts are threaded through the book and an intrinsic part of it. The first chapter has a great deal of both – without either Emma or John being involved. Katie, Number Three Daughter of the White Tiger, goes into Russia to investigate a villa owned by a demon posing as a Russian gangster. She has to use her unique abilities to defend both herself and her squad, and finds prisoners used as lab rats and a new, disturbing type of demon.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

That’s a very long list. I started reading science fiction and fantasy in the 1970’s. My go-to comfort books are Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga, Nalini Singh’s angel series (I’m really enjoying the power plays and politics) and Kevin Hearne’s Iron Druid series. Jim Butcher gets a shout out, as well as Benedict Jacka’s Alex Verus series and Nora Jemisin’s remarkable fantasies. I adored Kim Harrison’s Rachel Morgan books.

If your books were made into movies, who would play Emma? John? Who would direct?

Goodness, I have no idea. I don’t generally look around for actors, that’s Hollywood’s business. It’s not really something I do – when Queenie Chan did the illustrations for Small Shen we designed the characters exactly as they were in my head, so any real-life actor or actress will never match the images I have already created.

What was your favorite thing about living in Hong Kong?

Having a full-time live-in domestic helper. Edwina was part of the family, and when she left us to get married in Australia she arranged for her sister Dahlia to come look after us, because she didn’t trust anyone else. Both lovely women are now married and have settled down to raise families of their own and I am so glad I had a chance to help them start out. Having a live-in helper meant that I could work full-time without having to worry about the kids being cared for at all. It was incredibly liberating and really helped my IT career.

Least favorite?

The crowds. If we went down to the mall on a Sunday it would be like the pre-Christmas sales anywhere else. There would be so many people at the mall that there’d be a queue to enter the car park and you’d have to wait at least two hours to find a seat at yum cha. Migraine-inducing.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Brisbane?

Two things: the wonderful mild subtropical weather, and the fantastic supportive literary community. I have made friends with a magnificent group of fellow writers who regularly go out of their way to help each other. Oh, three things: the great beaches close by as well. Four things: the city’s skyline next to the lovely river, and the South Bank parklands. Okay, I’ll stop there.

Least favorite?

The forty-degree-plus weeks in summer where it’s just way too hot to even go outside. A small price to pay for all the other benefits of living in this lovely city.

More About Demon Child

Australian bestseller Kylie Chan returns with a new, fast-paced adventure of magic, martial arts, and romance.

This trilogy follows the story of John Chen and Emma Donohoe. They have just found out that Emma has Demon blood. The Sidhe – or Shining folk, who defeated the Western Shen a thousand years ago – are prepared to do battle against the Western Shen to retain their dominance.

Emma’s allegiance is torn: to fight for her kind, the Western demons she is descended from, or to stand alongside her beloved Xuan Wu.

Available at HarperCollins

Add it to Your Goodreads Shelf

Kylie Chan
Kylie Chan

More About Kylie

Kylie Chan is the bestselling author of the Dark Heavens and Journey to Wudang trilogies. She married a Hong Kong national in a traditional Chinese wedding ceremony.

Kylie has studied Kung Fu and Tai Chi and is a senior belt in both forms. She has also made an intensive study of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy and has brought all of these interests together into her storytelling.

She lived in Hong Kong for many years and now lives in Brisbane, Australia.

The Giveaway

As part of her blog tour, Kylie is giving away ten print copies of Demon Child. (U.S. only). To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 or older. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thanks for the great Q&A, Kylie! I enjoyed reading your answers. Good luck with your tour and best wishes for Demon Child!

Kylie Chan, Demon Child, fantasy, romance, magic, martial arts, demons

Celia Breslin: Vampires, Love, Mayhem *and* The Best Ever Holiday Caramel Candy Recipe

Today’s post is an interview with urban fantasy/paranormal romance author Celia Breslin. She talks about her vampire series, writing habits, favorite books and authors, and she shares her favorite caramel recipe — perfect for eating while reading! 🙂

Celia Breslin, Destiny, vampires, urban fantasy, paranormal romance

CELIA’S TRANQUILLI BLOODLINE SERIES

Give us a 20-word summary for your latest release.

How about three words?  Vampires, love, mayhem.

Okay, just kidding.  Here are 20 words for DESTINY, book 2 in the Tranquilli Bloodline Series:  Carina must open her new club, repair her relationship, and save her friends from death by vampire. Sometimes destiny sucks.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why is he/she your favorite?

All my Tranquilli Bloodline characters hold a piece of my heart. But I hope Carina and crew will forgive me if I confess her mentor Jonas is my favorite. An ancient vampire originally from England, Jonas embodies extreme violence in a pretty package.  He’s a man of few words, dark and moody, fiercely loyal and violently protective of those few people he loves (such as Carina). I adore him so much that I gave him his own short story, VAMPIRE CODE.

WRITING HABITS

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you?

My Irish grandmother started it with her stories of the Fae, including one tale of her encounter with a Banshee in her root cellar. Imagination fueled, I wrote a lot of fairy tales as a kid.

Do you choose a title first or write the book then choose the title?

Title first, though the title is derived from the subject matter of the book, so that’s a little bit like asking, ‘What comes first, chicken or egg?’

Do you decide on character traits before writing the whole book or as you go along?

As my work is character driven, I develop character profiles prior to writing the whole story. I have detailed questionnaires on all major characters. Of course, they still manage to surprise me while I’m writing their stories.

Do you have another job in addition to writing?

Mom, cat wrangler, line and content editor, slush pile reader, Joss Whedon fan. Oh wait, that last one isn’t actually a job, ha.

FAVORITE BOOKS AND AUTHORS

What is your favorite book and why?

I have so many favorites in varying genres. In urban fantasy/paranormal romance, I adore these series:  J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood; Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark; Amber Belldene’s Blood Vine; and Larissa Ione’s Demonica and Lords of Deliverance.

Favorite author?

So many great authors in the world! In urban fantasy/paranormal romance: J.R. Ward, Kresley Cole, Amber Belldene, Tricia Skinner, Laura Kaye, Larissa Ione, and more!

OTHER FAVORITES

Favorite format: e-book, hardback, or paperback?

All of the above.  I read a lot of eBooks, but there’s something quite satisfying about holding your own print book, or a print book by another author you love.

Favorite color?

Black and red. (I’m not a vampire. Really, I’m not, LOL.)

Favorite singer/group?

Depends on my mood. When I’m writing vampires, I often gravitate toward industrial and techno/electro, so NIN, The Prodigy, Bass Kittens, Meat Beat Manifesto, etc.

Favorite food?

Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Japanese, Chinese…ok, now I’m hungry! 🙂

Favorite holiday treat?

Without question, my grandmother’s caramels. The recipe is below so you can make them too!  Warning: they’re sooooo good that you’ll want to make them year round.

WHAT’S NEXT

What’s in your writing future? More books in this genre or…?

Yes, more books in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres.  For urban fantasy, Carina’s adventures continue in ORIGINS, Book 3 in the Tranquilli Bloodline Series.  For paranormal romance, my wolf shifters in DIAMOND MOON will release in summer 2015 from Decadent Publishing. A second wolf shifter story is in progress.

 The Best Ever Holiday Caramel Candy, aka Grandma Eddie’s Caramels

  • 1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups white Karo Syrup
  • 1 stick of butter (1/4 lb.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Mix together the first three ingredients (milk, sugar, syrup) in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large heavy kettle, pour in the mixture and bring to a boil. Stir continuously while mixture boils until it reaches the temperature of 245 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (can take up to 25 minutes). Note: If mixture overcooks, candy gets too hard. Once the 245 degree temperature is reached, remove kettle from stove. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then pour mixture onto a large buttered cookie sheet or flat pan.

For more holiday treats, visit my blog today! (E-books and e-gift card up for grabs! Giveaway ends 12/23/14).

Happy holidays!

Celia

More About Destiny

In HAVEN, San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli survives a vicious attack by her vampire family’s longtime archenemies. Several weeks later, as she struggles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, supervillain Dixon resurfaces and kidnaps two of her best friends. To save them, Carina must comply with the evil bastard’s unusual demands. The kicker? She must tell no one what she is up to.

Meanwhile, she has a new dance club to open for the preternatural community, a fated soul mate acting secretive and distant, and a sexy, new, undead friend who’d love to take Alexander’s place in her heart and bed.

Blackmailed, betrayed, tempted…sometimes destiny has a wicked sense of humor.

Where to find it:

Celia Breslin, Haven, vampire romance, urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Celia Breslin

More About Celia

Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for vampires, werewolves, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find her exercising, reading a good book or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.

Thank you, Celia, for the interview and the caramel recipe!

… how’s everyone doing? How’s your December going? Mine has been busy, which is why I’ve been quiet lately. December is just one of those months when everything sneaks up on you, you know? 😀

I have one more guest blogger in my “Writers Who Create Other Things” series and then I’ll likely take time off from blogging until after the New Year. But I have some fun stuff planned for 2015 so stay tuned!

Book Series: How Many Books Is Enough?

To B4 or Not To B4, that is my question…

Yesterday Lynda from Books Direct posted her interview of me.  We talked about what my family thinks of my writing, my upcoming short story “Dream, Interrupted” (featuring new heroine Corelei Neverest; she was tons of fun to write), and how darn difficult it was to write the ending to White Heart of Justice.

Why was it so hard?

Well, because White Heart of Justice may be the last Noon Onyx book. As I mention in the interview, I felt an enormous amount of pressure to make sure the ending was emotionally satisfying for those who have followed the series so far – which was challenging considering where I’d left things at the end of Fiery Edge of Steel and the fact that, originally, I’d roughly plotted a total of seven books in the series. (Go ahead, you can say it, what sane writer plots that far ahead of her own career?!)

So, after a mild (dare I admit, significant) panic attack, I got down to business and wrote the ending to WHOJ. That ending changed countless times. I’m not sure what readers will think of it. Early feedback has been wonderful but no one (including me) has really addressed whether this is THE END.

The only thing I know for certain is that I’ll likely self-publish any future books in the series. And self-publishing a book the way I’d want to (with quality editing and a fantastic cover artist/designer) wouldn’t be cheap.

The final decision is mine. Creatively, I have to want to do it. And financially I’ll have to decide whether or not I’m comfortable with the risk and investment of moving forward with a Noon Onyx B4 instead of some other equally awesome but different project.

So I’m curious…

READERS: After you finish White Heart of Justice, let me know whether you’d be interested in reading another Noon novel. I feel the ending is satisfactory enough for us all to walk away happy… and yet… as I said during yesterday’s interview, it’s hard to say goodbye. Halja is a fascinating world and Noon is an interesting, strong character to write about.

WRITERS: Have any of you continued a traditionally published series on your own? How’d that work out for you?

Ok, enough already with the serious talk!!!

Today, I’m over at Magic and Mayhem with a really fun guest blog:

Top 5 Cool Things

You Can Do with a Sword

and

Why Heroes & Heroines Can’t Do Without Them

You gotta come check it out. I actually mention WHOJ only once (to point out its inclusion on the Goodreads “It’s All About The Swords!” list). If you love swords, the post is a MUST READ. 😀

In addition to my Super Serious questions above, I also want to know:

What’s your favorite book cover with a sword on it? Have any examples of cool things you can do with a sword?

Lemme know your answers over at Magic and Mayhem!

Thanks for following, everyone! I’m loving all the tweets!!!

6 #NewAdult Fantasy Authors, 5 Questions, 2 Possible Prizes, 1 Week Only!

A year ago, I hosted a guest blog series that featured New Adult authors. At the time, New Adult fiction was generating some provocative headlines. The category’s had time to mature. I’ve been following it with interest. So have others. I figured now might be a good time to do a follow-up series. But this year, my NA series is going to be a little bit different.

First, most of the posts will be in a Q&A format.

Second, I’ve added some new authors to the mix. This way we’ll continue to hear different perspectives on the topics that are discussed.

Third, as a thank you to all of the participants (both the authors and any commenters), I’m offering a free book (winner’s choice from among the books featured in the series; format and delivery method will vary depending on winner’s choice) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of winner’s choice.

The first post will be tomorrow and will feature two authors and two books. Similar posts will follow on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday, I’ll announce the winners.

I’d love to hear from as many of you as possible. I’m going to be drawing the winners randomly. Each day that you comment gives you a chance to win. (Commenting during all three days will give you three chances to win both prizes).

What are we going to be talking about?

Among other things, whether or not the term “New Adult” has become synonymous with “college romance.” (Participating authors had different answers to this and I want to hear yours!)

Another thing we’re going to be discussing is some specific advice for a writer who left a question for me here in the comments last month. (A big shout out and thank you to Fairytale Feminista, whose question served as partial inspiration for this Q&A series!)

Stay tuned… Until tomorrow… Take care and have a great Monday, everyone!

Susannah Scott, Author of Luck of the Dragon, on great covers, writing for Entangled, and living in the Ozarks

Paranormal romance author Susannah Scott is my guest today. She’s doing a one day blitz tour to introduce her book, Luck of the Dragon, to new readers. She’s giving away a $25 Amazon gift card as part of her tour (giveaway links are below). Of course, we hope the winner uses it to buy books. 😀 Welcome, Susannah!

Susannah Scott, Luck of the Dragon, paranormal romance, dragons, Vegas

Author Interview

Susannah Scott

Thank you so much Jill for having me on your site today! Your book, Fiery Edge of Steel, looks awesome! *just went to Amazon and bought it* I have to say, I am a fearful flyer, you go lady, flying around the countryside and ENJOYING it! My heroines are a lot braver than I am.

Many thanks, Susannah! That was really nice of you. As far as the flying goes, ya know, most of the time, it’s pretty tame. My kids and I have fallen asleep (like we do in the car) many times. Other times, I get to catch up on my reading. Which brings me to the good stuff! I’m really excited to have you here. Your cover caught my eye and the back cover copy sounded intriguing so I thought it would be fun to ask you about Luck of the Dragon… and more!

Jill: Dragon shape-shifter/casino owner Alec Gerald is the hero of LUCK OF THE DRAGON. Can you tell us more about him? How old is he? Has he always lived in Las Vegas?

Susannah: LUCK OF THE DRAGON is the first book in the Las Vegas Dragons series. Alec, my uber hot, Joe Manganiello-looking hero owns a ritzy Las Vegas casino, which provides a hidden-in-plain-sight sanctuary for his dragon-shifting people. Alec is in his late twenties to early thirties. He has been in Vegas for a few years, buying up casinos, and flipping them. The Crown Jewel is his “crowning” achievement because it secretly harbors his people. When Lucy comes along, trying to steal from him, she throws all his careful plans into disarray.

 Jill: Your heroine Luciana de Luca is an expert on gemstones. Does she have a favorite gemstone and if so, why?

Susannah: Lucy loves all gems. For her they represent portable wealth, something she values because of her impoverished childhood. Her brother’s gambling debts are the catalyst behind her trying to steal from Alec. Lucy was a joy to write, she is strong, and smart and sassy, but she is also conflicted because of her brother. Lucy and Alec’s conflicting goals, and powerful chemistry, create some great banter and a satisfying HEA.

Jill: What sort of research did you do before starting to write? I read on your website that this is the first of a “Las Vegas Dragons” series. Why did you choose Las Vegas as the setting for your stories?

Susannah: I did quite a bit of research on gemology and I went to Vegas baby! Two really fun activities that probably should not be considered “work.” Vegas is the perfect location for my dragons, because they can hide in plain sight. I also really like the imagery, the foil of the condensed opulence against the harsh desert. It gives the place a feel of being out-of-time, that reality is truly pushed away to the edge of the green-watered lawns, so that anything–even dragons–are possible.

Jill: I love that… “so that anything–even dragons–are possible.” I love your cover too. It’s very eye-catching. How much of a role did you play in cover design? Can you tell us about the cover process at Entangled?

Susannah: I love my cover too! I can’t take any credit for it, the artists at Entangled Publishing came up with the design. They hit it out of the park the first time.

Jill: Entangled’s Covet imprint publishes contemporary paranormal romances featuring alpha heroes. Can you tell us what factors influenced your decision to submit there and/or what it’s like to write for them?

Susannah: I love dragons and I love to write, but when first started writing I wasn’t very good, so I started taking a ton of classes. At the end of an intensive editing class with Liz Pelletier, (the grand Pooh-Bah of Entangled Publishing), she gently “passed” on acquiring my super-duper, epic, fantasy romance. I asked her what she would like in the dragon variety. She said, “something fun, and contemporary, and sexy.” Viola, Luck of the Dragon began to form in my head. I submitted the completed manuscript to her within a few months.

 Jill: A few months? Go you! Can you give us a short excerpt from Luck of the Dragon with a brief set-up?

Susannah: Alec and Lucy have some really great arguments. This one in Alec’s office is one of my favorites:

Alec opened the door to face 130 pounds of fury.

“I am a respected professional and you are manhandling me and treating me like a criminal!” Luciana yelled at him.

Alec handed her the drink and sat in a deep-seated leather chair. The chair sighed with ease when he leaned back. He crossed his ankle at his knee and took a sip. “Luciana—”

“Oh, please, all my captors call me Lucy.” She glared at him. “You sound like a priest hearing confession when you call me Luciana.”

“Well, we can’t have that.” Alec chuckled and sipped his own drink, the taste of mellow corn mash and oak barrels tingling over his tongue. Alcohol did not affect dragons in the way it affected the feeble humans. He drank the bourbon purely because he liked the taste.

“Does this have something in it?” Luciana held the drink to the light.

“I wouldn’t harm you.” Alec took a second sip of his drink, and it fired down his throat to his belly in a pleasing trail.

Lucy set her drink on his desk, untouched. “I’m not the trusting sort.”

Alec gave her what he hoped was a charming look. “You can trust me. I can help you.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Lucy said in a voice used to stopping cabs.

“Fine, don’t trust me, but I need you to start your appraisal tomorrow,” Alec said in a voice used to calling stretch limos.

Lucy’s face flushed. Her collarbones rose and fell under her pale skin in elegant lines.

He wanted to kiss her, to see if the zing of electricity was a fluke, or if the fates had gone mad and paired him with a human mate.

She might bite him.

He might like it.

Jill: Great excerpt. Love those last two lines. 😀 Okay, last question. Your bio says you live in the Ozarks. I’ve never been, but it seems like a fascinating area. What’s your favorite thing about living there?

Susannah Scott in the Ozarks
Susannah Scott in the Ozarks

Susannah: My absolute favorite thing is to go to one of the many spring fed rivers we have in this area. We have three young boys, and my very best days have been spent in a chair beside the water, watching them catch critters, while my husband fishes and I enjoy a good book and margarita. By the way, we perfected our margarita recipe this summer: 2 parts Patron Tequila to 1 part mix, with half a fresh lime squeezed in each serving. Yum. Really strong and a little pricey, but so worth it!

Jill: That is a great picture! Looks like you two were having fun. Get ’em out adventuring early, I say! I love margaritas too. Will have to try your recipe!

Susannah: Thank you again for having me and giving me a chance to connect with your readers!

More About Luck of the Dragon

Luciana de Luca has a PhD in sass and gemology—and a problem. Her twin brother’s gambling debts have gotten out of hand, and a mob enforcer is blackmailing her to rob the latest, greatest mega-casino on the Strip. Although Lucy has worked her whole life to get away from her family’s grifter past, to save her brother, she dons three-inch heels and a sluts-r-us dress and struts into Alec’s Gerald’s casino, determined to put her long-forgotten thieving ways to the test again.

Alec Gerald, a shape-shifting dragon, has built the Crown Jewel casino to provide sanctuary for his people amongst the flash and awe of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, the sexy little thief trying to rob his gem exhibit turns out to be his mate, and he must woo her before he loses his dragon form forever. With enemies in every corner, and the all-important mating ceremony looming, Alec and Lucy must learn to trust each other, before time runs out for Alec and the rest of the dragons.

Where to buy:

More About Susannah

Susannah Scott, Paranormal Romance, author
Susannah Scott

Susannah lives in the Missouri Ozarks and is the lone female in a very loud household of males ranging in age from 4 to 40. While she jokes that the extreme levels of testosterone inspired her to write romance, it is really the love of creating an excellent story, and the occasional dreams of twenty-foot dragons, that wake her and send her to the laptop before the chaos of daily life ensues. Susannah loves to hear from her readers at the following social media locations:

Links to Enter to Win $25 Amazon Gift Certificate

Luck of the Dragon Banner SEPT9

So how about you? Have you been to the Ozarks or Las Vegas? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done with your kids? Yourself? Do you like books about dragons? Do you think Susannah’s cover is as eye-catching as I do? Thanks for a great interview, Susannah!