Baltimore Book Festival: I’m going; are you?

Baltimore Book Festival, fantasy author, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Fest this weekend. Details on my scheduled events are below. The rest of the time, I’ll likely be wandering around, checking out everyone else’s events. If you’re going, it would be great to meet you! Stop by my Friday night panel and/or Saturday’s Meet & Greet. Tell me whether you’re a writer, reader, or both. Let me know if you’re a Noon Onyx fan. Or wish me and my husband (who will be there too) a Happy Anniversary (it’s our 17th!). There will be a limited number of all three Noon Onyx books for sale at the festival — and I’m offering special pricing! If you haven’t yet purchased a Noon Onyx novel, now’s your chance to buy one at a discount and have me sign it. 😀 Come on, don’t make me lug my books home from the festival! If you live in the Baltimore/Washington area, help me sell out! (I’m also happy to sign books you’ve previously purchased if you want to bring them.) Hope to see you there!

Friday 9/26/14 6:00-7:00

Writing Dark Fantasy

So you’d like to write dark fantasy, horror fiction, or paranormals, or demons, angels, post-apocalyptic, and genre-bending fiction that puts you on the edge of your seat. Meet with writers of these genres to talk about what’s trending, what publishers are doing, and what tips our panel of authors has to offer.

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jill Archer, Em Garner, John Maclay, Sunny Moraine

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.

Saturday 9/27/14 5:30 -7:00

Reception and Meet & Greet

(Authors, Music, and Food!)

Join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at our reception, autographing session, and Meet and Greet with our program participants at the Baltimore Book Festival.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Jill Archer, Catherine Asaro, Jack Clemons, Brenda Clough, Scott Edelman, Charles Gannon, Ronald Garner, Em Garner, Herb Gilliland, Anne K Gray, Elektra Hammond, Justina Ireland, Jim Johnson, Alma Katsu, Cheryl Klam, L. Jagi Lamplighter, John Maclay, Marrisa Meyer, Sunny Moraine, Christine Norris, Ellen Oh, Sarah Pinsker, Caroline Richmond, Don Sakers, Karen Sandler, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Rori Shay, Alex Shvartsman, Dawnyell Snyder, Bud Sparhawk, John Tilden, Mike Underwood, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde, Ilene Wong, Karlo Yeager

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.

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Ten Things from Summer 2014 (#movies #books)

My thoughts on ten things I watched or read this summer:

  1. The Lunch Box
  2. Outlander
  3. Snowpiercer
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. The Giver
  7. Noah
  8. The Firebird
  9. Lucy
  10. Me Before You

The Lunch Box

This mixed-up lunch box story involves India’s dabbawallas, the men who pick up hot lunch from home and deliver them to office workers. I was nearly as fascinated by the dabbawallas as I was infatuated with the movie. And I’m not the only one. Apparently, others have been interested in the process by which the dabbawallas deliver hundreds of thousands of lunchboxes daily with very few mistakes or delays. But don’t watch the movie just to see the dabbawallas! Watch it for the wonderful characters: a lonely, unappreciated housewife who cooks amazing food, a cantankerous, soon-to-retire office worker, and his genial replacement.

Outlander

Who else is watching this series on Starz? I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was worried it might be too much Lifetime and not enough HBO, but I was pleasantly surprised by Episode 1 and now, after six episodes, I’m firmly entrenched. I read the books years ago so it’s been fun returning to the story and seeing how it’s being told on screen. Tobias Menzies as Frank/Jack Randall (remember him from Rome and GoT?) and Graham McTavish as Dougal (in truth, I did not remember him from The Hobbit) have been doing a terrific job. And Claire and Jamie (Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan), if not looking exactly as I imagined them, are skilled actors with great chemistry. And I loved the author’s cameo in Episode 4!

Snowpiercer

I loved this movie. Yes, it’s gory and violent and bloody. And, yes, it strains credulity (there’s steak up front; where are the cows?!) and, yes, there are a few things not to like about the MC (well, one thing in particular). But it sticks with you. It’s unique and memorable, as much for the story – admirable these days since post-apocalyptic stories seem to be everywhere 😉 – as for the juxtaposition of scenes and characters (gruesomely dark and wet ax fights; kids singing over-the-top propaganda songs inside a surreally calm and disturbingly charming classroom car; Tilda Swinton as a vile, deranged second-in-command; Octavia Spencer as a vengeful mother on a search and rescue mission; and Chris Evans as oh-so-conflicted Curtis).

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I wanted to love it. I really enjoyed the first one, despite the fact that I didn’t think the franchise needed a reboot. But 2 didn’t wow me. It wasn’t the ending, it was the fact that the relationship between Gwen and Spidey before the end didn’t seem as fun as it did in the first movie and the villains were kind of meh. I’m still planning on seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 3, but only because Spidey is one of my favorite superheroes and I like Andrew Garfield. I think if everything around him comes together it could be great fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy

All the fun that was missing from Spidey 2. Word seems to be that this was everyone’s favorite summer ’14 film. Yeah. What they said. And for good reason. Mostly, the cast. I was largely unfamiliar with Chris Pratt before the film. I don’t watch Parks and Rec, I didn’t see Her, and, even though I saw Moneyball, I don’t remember his character. But he was terrific in Guardians! I read an Entertainment Weekly article before the movie that detailed his career to date. He sounded genuine and grounded. His portrayal of Peter Quill made the movie for me. And, of course, I loved Zoe Saldana as Gamora and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket too. My kids loved Groot.

The Giver

I didn’t read the book. My older daughter did though and it was interesting hearing her take on how the book and the movie were different – namely, and among other things, that the movie’s characters were older and its ending less ambiguous. I found myself wondering if the novel’s vague ending was a subtle message and, if so, what that message might be. Ambiguous endings can be more powerful and achieve a more lasting impact because readers love to argue about them. Regardless of her original intent with respect to The Giver’s ending though, Lowry’s now written three other books that provide definitive closure.

Noah

I put this off for a while even though the trailer looked great and reviews were positive because I worried that it might be The Fountain meets Evan Almighty. But it wasn’t. If you are on the fence about this movie, rent it. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly had already proved they worked well together in A Beautiful Mind and adding Emma Watson to the mix definitely cinched it. They all delivered emotional, compelling performances. The special effects and visuals were fantastic and the filmmakers’ take on one of our oldest stories (especially the watchers, a fanciful bit of storytelling) was interesting.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The story of modern-day Nicola who has the gift of psychometry (she can sense an object’s history by touching it) interwoven with the story of Anna, a young Scottish woman living in Russia during the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising. I love parallel timeline plots when they are done well (Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth and Katherine Neville’s The Eight come to mind) so I very much enjoyed this. Two romances, historical detail, and a bit of ESP = an irresistible combination. I will definitely be searching for other Kearsley titles in the future!

Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

Last month, I promised to talk more about this. At the time, I wanted to see the movie so that I could compare and contrast it with the book, even though they are two entirely different stories. But I never made it to the theater. (I see very few R rated movies in the theater because I can’t bring my kids). In any case, my theory, which I’ll have to test later, is that the book and the movie share a similar title because each is about an evolutionarily advanced girl/woman and Lucy is a reference to “Lucy” our oldest human ancestor, the first Australopithecus afarensis skeleton ever found. [Incidentally – and as a wonderful example of how art can impact science deeply and directly – the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton was named after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”]

So what about the book? If you like social science fiction, read it. It’s the story of a girl who is half-human, half-bonobo, which to someone like me (who spends lots of time in a fictional world inhabited by all sorts of shapeshifters and human hybrids) doesn’t sound too outlandish. But the story initially appealed to me because it wasn’t fantasy. It’s billed as a Crichton-esque “biotechnical thriller.” And the book jacket copy describing the fifteen year old “adorable, lovely, magical Lucy” made me curious. I was worried about what would happen to her before I even started reading her story.

The two best parts of the book for me were the character’s relationships (more time is spent on these than on the scientific aspects, which suited me fine but may disappoint others) and the author’s idea of The Stream (his term for the whole ecosystem of living things and their observable and imperceptible, though real, effects on that ecosystem and other living things within it).

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I saved this one for last because it was the toughest one for me to gather my thoughts on. Initially, I downloaded this book because I was simply looking for a nice, warm emotional romance – one I could read in 24 hours and would, by and large, likely forget about 48 hours later. [As an aside, this is not a criticism of stories that can be consumed quickly or are forgotten easily; there’s an art to crafting them too – just because a story’s easy to read doesn’t mean it’s easy to write]. But Me Before You *isn’t* that kind of story. Parts of it are nice, warm, emotional, and romantic. But the book is a lot more than that and it’s not easily forgotten. Nor should it be.

It’s the story of a 26-year-old woman (Lou) who’s a little lost. At the start of the book, she’s living with her parents, she’s in a so-so relationship, and she’s lost her job. It wasn’t a glamorous or high paying job but it was one she enjoyed and its loss propels her in search of another. She finds one caring for a 35-year-old quadriplegic (Will) who’s not lost (he knows all too well what he wants). He’s rich and handsome… a former business tycoon and lady charmer who is now at times angry, withdrawn, or resigned.

SPOILERS… don’t read ahead if you want to read it and don’t like spoilers…

Before reading Me Before You I’d never heard of DIGNITAS, the Swiss right-to-die organization. And then, the day after I finished it, CNN ran this article. And then, the next week, a very close friend of mine had a family member take her own life. She wasn’t quadriplegic, but she was dealing with issues that were just as serious as Will’s. So I’ve been thinking, on and off nearly every day since I read Me Before You not just about the dignity of life, but the dignity of death. Is it a happy topic? No, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s a huge, meaningful topic. A blog post can’t do it justice. So, for now, I’ll simply say that Jojo Moyes’ book should be read – as much for the author’s thoughtful portrayal of Will and his struggles as for the author’s down-to-earth and at times truly humorous take on Lou and Lou’s life.

UPDATE 6/2/16: I’ve thought about this book on and off since I read it, and with increasing frequency lately since the movie is being released tomorrow. I can’t say my thoughts have gelled any further. Perhaps because the issues raised by the book are too complicated for a simple reaction.

Stephen Spohn, COO of AbleGamers, offers an interesting, thoughtful response to Me Before You over at Chuck Wendig’s blog. As someone who values both life and an individual’s right to direct their own destiny, the ending to Me Before You would have been excruciating for me to write. Everyone reading/watching the story will likely identify with Will in different ways. It’s impossible for an author to satisfy everyone’s desires with respect to that character.

‘Me Before You’ was an opportunity to create a commercially successful, Nicholas-Sparks-level, true genre-defining romantic movie starring someone who is severely physically handicapped conquering his demons, winning the girl and riding off into the sunset like we see in so many other Hollywood romances. – Stephen Spohn

Ironically, I picked up Me Before You looking for a fairly typical romance featuring a handicapped hero who conquered his demons, won the girl, and rode off into the sunset. Which isn’t what I got, obviously. But I can’t in good conscience say what I got wasn’t worthwhile or valuable. In hindsight, Moyes probably wishes she’d done her research differently. But I still admire her for writing a difficult story about a sympathetic character readers loved and wanted to champion. Do I wish the story would have ended differently? Sure. But I think that about lots of books. If Moyes had chosen a different ending, my guess is she’d have just as many critics, they’d just be saying different things.

Writers should think carefully about the effect of their work upon the world. But they also deserve the right to write the endings for their characters that they feel are appropriate for those individual characters.

Have any of you watched or read any of the above? If so, what did you think? If not, are you watching or reading anything worth sharing? Let me know in the comments! I hope everyone’s September is off to a great start.

Fictional “Feast Masters,” Maleficent and Miscellaneous

Hi all– the White Heart of Justice blog tour continues! I’m over at Suzanne Johnson/Susannah Sandlin’s blog Preternatura today discussing how I used Saturnalia and the Lord of Misrule as inspiration for one of the opening scenes in White Heart of Justice. There’s a cute picture of a snow demon — the only one I could find. Why a snow demon? Because that’s what the students carve out of snow at the Festival of Frivolity. Come on… I know you want to read more about it! Click here. 😀

Last Friday, CBY Book Club posted their interview of me. I share what my very first favorite book was and I discuss my TBR pile — past, present, and future. Since the start of the tour on May 20th there have been other spotlights and reviews. Check out my blog tour page for the complete list of bloggers/reviewers who are participating. Each link gives you an extra chance to win the fun prizes I’m giving away at the end of the tour:

  • $50 Amazon eGift Certificate (or bookseller of winner’s choice) (international)
  • 5 copies of White Heart of Justice (or an earlier book in the series, winner’s choice) (international so long as Book Depository ships to your address)
  • Dark Light of Day themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • Fiery Edge of Steel themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)
  • White Heart of Justice themed SWAG pack (includes signed copy of book and other awesome goodies; see below) (US only)

RELEASE DAY PARTY WRAP UP

The Release Day Party at Bitten by Books was fantastic. So many terrific questions, including:

Do I have a favorite classic novel with a winter setting?

Is there an inspirational playlist for the Noon Onyx series?

How do I come up with the names for things in my series?

Have I used historical people, places, or things as inspiration?

What country would I love to visit?

Which actress would play me if my life were made into a movie?

If I could visit any place in Halja, which would it be and why?

What books would I recommend to a young reader?

and…perhaps my favorite:

If I could do a crossover with any book, film, or TV series, what would it be and why?

Bonus: Lanie left a DIY snow globe link, which I may use to make White Heart of Justice themed snow globes. Fun, right?

See all of the comments, questions, and answers here.

EMMA D. won the $50 Amazon eGift Certificate I was giving away there. I loved that (urged on by me) she made a “completely wild” wish that would require great miracles and supernatural happenings. It was a really nice wish. In fact, so many of readers’ wishes were heartfelt, selfless, and inspiring. (One of my reader questions was: What would you wish for at the fountain outside Kalisto’s Crystal Palace?)

LAST DAY TO TWEET 

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

SNEAK PEEK TWEETS!

Anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (so long as Book Depository ships to your address, up to $10.00). Ends at midnight EDT on 6/3/14.

One tweet/entry per person.

If you aren’t on Twitter, or don’t want to tweet the above, you can still enter to win the book. Just tell me what’s the last fantasy book you read, or the one you’re most looking forward to reading, in the comments below. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over. Complete rules here.

Lucem in tenebras ferimus. Into the darkness, we bring light.” @archer_jill #DARKLIGHTOFDAY

“When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…” @archer_jill #FIERYEDGEOFSTEEL

“One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return.” @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Finally! I’m looking forward to seeing Noon embrace her fiery magic. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Ari Carmine is smokin’ hot. I wanna see if Noon can forgive him for that nasty surprise at the end of B2. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I heard a rumor that Rafe Sinclair makes a wish and I wanna know if it’s granted. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Nocturo. Tall dark handsome. Heard his scalpel’s put to good use. Is he gonna threaten Brunus w it again? @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I love the characters, but I’m really just in it for the monsters and magic. Bring on the ice demons! @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Armageddon is over. The demons won. But it’s not as dark as all that. Parts of it are romantic and sweet. @archer_jill #NOONONYXSERIES

WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

This past weekend I saw The Machine (a Blade Runner-esque science fiction movie: Caity Lotz was terrific; the noir feeling felt a little forced at times, but overall, I enjoyed it) and Maleficent, in which Angelina Jolie was magnificent. There’s an interesting discussion over at io9 today. I was going to comment but then got frustrated at having to create yet another social media app account to manage my comments there, especially when the pop up box blocked the terms & conditions so that I couldn’t even read them. In any case, the post and my thoughts are worth a read IF:

1. You’ve seen the movie (massive spoilers)

2. You don’t mind rants (it’s filed under “rants”)

For what it’s worth, my take:

I can’t help but think that Disney was damned if it did, damned if it didn’t. To me, the most significant scene storywise wasn’t the dragon transformation (although that could have been much more impressive regardless of who was doing the shifting) but the kiss. I don’t want to spoil it further for anyone who hasn’t seen it so I’ll just say: Bravo, Disney!

As for the wing cutting scene… horrible. Just horrible. But I have to admit I enjoyed watching Maleficent’s dark transformation into a character capable of exacting revenge. Just as I equally enjoyed her other, lengthier, but perhaps more meaningful, transformation into something else. Not a dragon, but something potentially more powerful.

Also visited Baltimore’s National Aquarium and the Inner Harbor. Because you all know how much I love my photo galleries, here’s one from the weekend:

Beautiful, Deadly, Cute, Helpful:

But which is which?

That’s it for now, but I’ll be back tomorrow with a fun guest post from Auralee Wallace, author of Sidekick, and a link to my guest post at Addicted 2 Heroines. Have a great night!

One to Grow On: Noon’s Mom + Cover Lovers Chat

My blog tour resumes today with some fun posts: I’m discussing vintage gardening tools, Clash of the Titans, and Noon’s mom’s growing gifts over at Night Owl Reviews and I’m at The Reading Café discussing my covers. I know I’ve discussed them before, but I share more about the process, covers in general, and give each of my covers a “stat report.” If fantasy covers were baseball cards, click here for what would be on the back of mine. Finally, I’m wrapping up my Release Day Party at Bitten by Books. If you haven’t had a chance to stop by, there’s still time! Readers have asked TONS of terrific questions — and I’ve answered them, in great detail. Skim through for more background on just about everything or leave a question of your own!

Local Lending Libraries

And because I like to include pics w my posts… here are two for all of the book, coffee, and pizza lovers out there => Starbuck’s and Bertucci’s versions of the local lending library. I like it!

Bookshelf at my local Starbuck's -- what's missing? ;-)
Bookshelf at my local Starbuck’s — what’s missing? 😉
Bookshelf at my local Bertucci's. Mostly children's books... so they get a pass. :-D
Bookshelf at my local Bertucci’s. Mostly children’s books… so they get a pass. 😀

Hope to see you over at Night Owl Reviews, The Reading Café, and/or Bitten by Books!

Noon Onyx Series: Fun Tweets and Fantasy Book Giveaway

Katy Perry has 50M+ followers and I have…. Well, not nearly that many. Still, I’m determined to pretend that I too have mastered the Twitterverse (ahem, I think we all know that my heart belongs to WordPress – even if I don’t even use it properly… my posts are inconsistent in terms of timing, length, and content, not to mention I include rambling little bits like this from time to time, but I do like Twitter) so…

Below are some fun, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, sneak peek tweets about White Heart of Justice (say that five times fast!)

Peeps, feel free to tweet. And, just to show it’s not all about me, anyone who tweets one of these will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (up to $10.00). Details below. See my Giveaways page for official rules.

Lucem in tenebras ferimus. Into the darkness, we bring light.” @archer_jill #DARKLIGHTOFDAY

“When traveling into the unknown, sometimes the biggest danger is the one you bring with you…” @archer_jill #FIERYEDGEOFSTEEL

“One out of every two hunters who follow the Old Trail will not return.” @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Finally! I’m looking forward to seeing Noon embrace her fiery magic. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Ari Carmine is smokin’ hot. I wanna see if Noon can forgive him for that nasty surprise at the end of B2. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I heard a rumor that Rafe Sinclair makes a wish and I wanna know if it’s granted. @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Nocturo. Tall dark handsome. Heard his scalpel’s put to good use. Is he gonna threaten Brunus w it again? @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

I love the characters, but I’m really just in it for the monsters and magic. Bring on the ice demons! @archer_jill #WHITEHEARTOFJUSTICE

Armageddon is over. The demons won. But it’s not as dark as all that. Parts of it are romantic and sweet. @archer_jill #NOONONYXSERIES

Anyone who tweets one of the above tweets will be entered to win ANY fantasy book of their choice from Book Depository (so long as Book Depository ships to your address, up to $10.00). Ends at midnight EDT on 6/3/14.

One tweet/entry per person.

If you aren’t on Twitter, or don’t want to tweet the above, you can still enter to win the book. Just tell me what’s the last fantasy book you read, or the one you’re most looking forward to reading, in the comments below. Good luck, everyone! I’ll tweet and post the winner’s name in the comments below (first name, last initial) by 6/10/14. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over.

Don’t forget to stop back tomorrow for my first Disney World post!

Goodreads #Giveaway for DARK LIGHT OF DAY #UF #SFF #Fantasy

Jill Archer's Dark Light of Day

To kick off the upcoming release of the third Noon Onyx novel, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, my publisher is doing a Goodreads giveaway for the first book in the series, DARK LIGHT OF DAY. If you haven’t yet read a Noon Onyx novel, this is the place to start! Check it out here and feel free to help me spread the word about the giveaway (US only; 15 copies; ends 4/23/14).

 

Also, just saw the RT Book Reviews review for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, which is terrific:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover artArcher’s Noon Onyx series continues to be an original and compelling tale of what happens after Lucifer’s army triumphs at Armageddon and a new demon-based society is formed. Already an oddity because she has waning magic rather than the usual feminine waxing magic, Noon Onyx is determined to control her own future – but the cost could be higher than she suspects. Kudos to Archer for creating such a compelling heroine and mythos! (4 Stars)

RT Book Reviews, June 2014

Archer w Mouse EarsYou may have noticed how quiet I was last week. We went away for the first part of Spring Break. These pictures give you a hint about where we went. 😀 We had an amazing time. I hope to load up more pictures and do a post about our trip later this week. Fiery Dragon

I’ve also got some other neat things planned for the upcoming week: a guest blogger on Tuesday; a one day promo blitz for my first two novels (including a giveaway) on Wednesday; and some information about a fun Twitter contest I’m doing to help get the word out about the Noon Onyx series on Thursday. So stay tuned…

I hope everyone is having a wonderful spring. If you celebrate Easter, have a happy one!

Winners and Wrap Up

 

This week I interviewed six new adult SFF authors. (Tuesday: Sarah Harian and Summer Lane; Wednesday: Juliana Haygert and Karen Duvall; Thursday: Rebecca Hamilton and Carrie Butler). We discussed some great topics and showcased some of their novels. To thank participants, I offered one free book (chosen by the winner from among the featured books) and a $10 eGift Certificate to the bookstore of the winner’s choice.

My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners...
My incredibly high tech method of drawing winners…
My elder daughter picked the winners. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.
(Enlist elder daughter’s help).
THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO COMMENTED.

FREE BOOK WINNER => Ruth
$10 EGC WINNER = > bn100

I’ll be in touch about prizes by Monday!

I hope everyone found the interviews and posts as interesting and informative as I did. Surprisingly, my opinion is not much different than it was last year at this time: New Adult is a category that, like its characters, is full of potential. Whether it ever reaches that potential will be up to NA writers and their readers.

I’ll admit that, sometimes, I wonder if we shouldn’t be going in the other direction. If we shouldn’t just jettison the sub-genres and kick the category labels to the curb. There’s so much genre blending these days, maybe those of us who write stories set in imaginary worlds should just label all of our work “speculative” and call it a day.

But I only consider that for a moment. Because today’s publishing world is abuzz with words like “discoverability” and “metadata” and labels matter. Why? Because they help readers find books that are similar to other books they’ve liked.

A few other thoughts

Just to be clear, for anyone who’s been following this who may be new to my work, I think DARK LIGHT OF DAY qualifies as a “new adult” novel, although it’s not a contemporary college romance. It’s got a boarding school setting, a significant romance plot, and a youthful tone. DARK LIGHT OF DAY is also an urban fantasy with deep worldbuilding. In fact, that’s how it was marketed, which is fine. It shares as many characteristics with UF as it does with NA.

FIERY EDGE OF STEEL is neither NA nor UF, although lots of people consider it urban fantasy. I think that speaks to UF’s inclusiveness more than anything else, which is nice but less helpful to readers. It’s a river adventure with romance and mystery elements. That’s why I started calling my work “genre-bending fantasy.” Ha. A cop-out for not coming up with a better label? Maybe.

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is a similar adventure story to FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, but this time Noon’s adventure is on land… in a colder, lonelier, harsher environment. It’s more of a quest than a mystery. And, even though Noon’s still a student and one of her biggest motivations in the book is that she wants the right to forge her own career path, I don’t think it’s NA. The character has moved past her earlier NA struggles.

So I continue to label my Noon Onyx series as “genre-bending fantasy.” 🙂

And I continue to follow the development of NA literature with interest. 😀

If you enjoyed this Q&A series, please consider supporting my work by pre-ordering WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE:

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

And finally…

This week’s series started with one writer’s question, left as a comment on one of my random blog posts. If you have a question about books or writing, lemme know! Who knows? I may do another series of posts in the future to try to answer it. 😀

Thank you to everyone who participated, both authors and commenters. You are all awesome! Best wishes for the weekend, everyone!

The Business of #Writing: Books and Writer’s Groups

This is day #4 of my week-long “mini-series” of posts where I mull over my 2013 writing expenses and share my thoughts. New writers, feel free to ask questions! Seasoned writers, your take on these topics is always appreciated. Readers, these posts give you a peek at what many authors do behind the scenes to support their work. There are questions for everyone at the end.

BOOKS!

Our favorite topic! In 2013, I bought about 25 books (this doesn’t include my books; this expense category represents the amount of money I spent on other people’s books – about 6% of my total expenses).

What kinds of books did I buy? Fantasy, romance, historical, mystery, new adult, young adult, general literature, anthologies, and some non-fiction. I bought hardbacks, trade paperback, mass market paperback, and electronic versions. I paid $0.99 for some to over $25.00 for others (not many). I bought them from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and my local independent bookstore.

Did I read them all? I wish! I’ve mentioned before that one of the downsides of becoming a published author was a decrease in personal reading. That hasn’t really changed for me since I first groaned about it, although I have been able to binge read from time to time and I’m trying to get better about carving out more consistent reading time into my schedule.

fantasy, Dark Light of Day, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

LESSONS? This is the first year I’ve tracked this as a business expense. (To be clear, I’m not saying that this is a deductible expense – or that any of these expenses are. That’s for you and your tax adviser to figure out.) Could I cut back? Absolutely. Will I? Ha! I doubt it. I like supporting other authors, booksellers, and books in general by buying books. Sometimes, I feel guilty I don’t buy MORE. It’s wise for authors to read as widely as they can, to keep up with the market, to know what’s being published, and to know the quality of work that your peers are putting out. And all writers started as pure unadulterated readers. Books => bliss!

So instead of finding a way to cut this expense, I’d settle for finding a faster way to get through my TBR pile. 🙂

WRITER’S GROUPS

There are all sorts of writer’s groups out there: big ones, little ones, informal kitchen table-type ones, and ones with bylaws, elections, national conventions, etc. Some writers will say you don’t need a writer’s group – and, of course, you don’t – but I think they’re worth the investment. For the record, the amount I paid for writer’s group membership fees came in at #9 out of #10 on my list of Top Ten Writing Expenses, which represents about 4%. Too high? Maybe. And, truth be told, this is an expense I carefully consider every year.

I belong to two main writer’s groups: Romance Writers of America (RWA) and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). They are both nationally organized, well-funded, and have vast caches of institutional knowledge.

RWA was founded in 1980 and has more than 10,000 members and almost 150 chapters. They allow both published and unpublished members to join. They host a national convention every year where their highest award, the Rita, is presented to winners in various categories.

SFWA was founded in 1965. To become an active member, you must be published, but unpublished authors can benefit from their Writer Beware site. They host the Nebula Awards and have about 1,800 members.

Both RWA and SFWA have had “controversial moments.” (I leave you to your internet searches. I don’t want to rehash; I only want to acknowledge that the groups aren’t perfect). Each has caused me, from time to time, to question whether I still want to be a member. And yet, year after year, I re-up. Why?

Because the writers I interact with – many of whom I’ve met through these groups – are, for the most part, wonderful. Writing is a lonely business. I used to work in an office. I had colleagues, an assistant, and clients. I talked to people all the time. I was on the phone, in meetings, chatting in hallways and other people’s offices. I was having lunch. And then I became a writer, which I love. But I’m no longer talking to people all the time. It’s a quieter business, ya know? 😀 So I like having a group I can turn to if I have a question, need advice, or simply want to say hi.

There are other benefits to being in a large writer’s group, such as advocacy (both on a group and individual level) and early access to industry news. But each writer has to decide for themselves if the cost of membership in these groups is a good trade for the benefits they might receive. My hope is that big, institutional writers groups like RWA and SFWA will evolve in positive directions as the publishing climate continues to change and the myriad ways in which writers can connect and receive information continues to grow.

LESSONS? MANY. But no change here.

So those are my thoughts on books and writer’s groups. Now, I’d love to hear from you! Answer any! Answer all!

Books:

Do you try to diversify your book buying habits so that you purchase books from a variety of different sellers or do you prefer to do your shopping in one main place?

Do you like a variety of formats (hard cover, trade paperback, mass market, digital) or do you prefer one over all others?

Do you buy more books than you read? Does that make you happy or sad?

Have any fun or quirky advice on how to plough through a TBR pile and/or add more reading time to an already packed schedule?

Writer’s groups:

Writers, which groups do you belong to? Which groups would you belong to if cost or membership eligibility weren’t an issue? What are some of the benefits you expect from a writer’s group in return for your membership dues?

Readers, had you ever heard of RWA or SFWA before this post? How about the Rita or the Nebula? Does the fact that a book won a major award make it more likely that you’ll buy it?

Thanks, everyone! I’ve really enjoyed reading commenters’ contributions so far.

Tomorrow I discuss… Everything Else! 😀

The Best Offer, Mr. Selfridge, and a Peek at My TBR Pile #movies #books

The Best Offer, movie

The Best Offer

I recently rented The Best Offer and, despite its lackluster reviews (52% on Rotten Tomatoes), I liked it and think it’s well worth watching and discussing. First off, who doesn’t love Geoffrey Rush? Anyone who can play Barbossa, the Marquis de Sade, and the man who had the gall to give a king elocution lessons will always be a favorite of mine. For anyone unfamiliar with the movie, it’s about an art auctioneer who is both obsessed and terrified by female beauty. Needless to say, he’s a bit of a loner and eccentric. (Let’s face it, he has mild OCD, although he is a master at his craft, allowing him to live a life full of luxury, opulence, and two-dimensional relationships).

In any case, he gets involved with a hermit heiress and begins the process of inventorying and valuing all of the art and furniture in her family’s crumbling, rambling villa. Soon, other story elements come into play: rusty gears and broken pieces from an antique automaton, a portrait of a ballerina, a young Romeo who also happens to be a machinist, a brilliant female mathematician, and a middling painter cum art thief accomplice – all set against the backdrop of the old villa, which give parts of the movie a gothic tone.

But the real reason I liked this movie was simply for the storytelling. Yes, there were scenes that strained credulity. And there were scenes that were simply unpleasant. But they were few. I loved watching how all of the elements coalesced around the movie’s themes of love, trust, deceit, art, and beauty. More of my thoughts on the ending are below… but be warned, they spoil the whole movie. So if you want to watch without knowing anything about the ending, don’t read the last part of this post…

Mr. Selfridge

The other thing I’ve been watching recently is Mr. Selfridge. (Have I mentioned how much I love PBS Masterpiece?) Set in 1909 London, the show is about the titular character, an American huckster who is on a mission to “teach Londoners how to shop.” To me, the show is P.T. Barnum meets Macy’s. Episodes revolve around the lives of Harry Gordon Selfridge, played by Jeremy Piven of Entourage fame, Harry’s wife, a French window designer, and a shop girl with an alcoholic father and a weak, naïve, but good-hearted brother. I just finished episode 4 and am looking forward to the rest!

fantasy, fiction, folk tale, young adult, Throne of the Crescent Moon, Saladin Ahmed, Fade to Black, Francis Knight, The Spirit Keeper, The Crane Wife, Hollow City, Ransom Riggs

My February TBR Pile

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about books in this post so here’s a peek at my latest, ambitious TBR pile:

1. Hollow City by Ransom Riggs: I adore stories that are told in unique ways, especially ones that use more than one type of medium to do it. So, from the beginning, I was enchanted with Riggs’ books which combine bizarre vintage photographs with creative storytelling. Click here to read my review of his first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (which, interestingly, was my first post!).

2. Surfmen by C.T. Marshall: This book gives us a peek inside the early days of the United States Lifesaving Service, which became the U.S. Coast Guard. There is a seven page afterward “The Facts Behind the Fiction” that gives readers more information on the chronology, characters, conflicts, Carolina coast, wrecks, racism, and Croatan Indians found in the story. Chip, the author, is a friend of mine, and, after my recent trip to Key West’s Shipwreck Museum and doing a bit of pirate research for a short story I completed recently, I’m in the mood for some nautical fiction!

3. The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness: There were two reasons I picked up this book – The Indie Next List said it was based on a Japanese folk tale and the book jacket description was compelling. (A print shop owner removes an arrow from a bird’s wing, saving its life. The next morning a beautiful, mysterious woman enters his shop. Thus begins a story of passion, sacrifice, dream, and myth… “A novel that celebrates the creative imagination and the disruptive power of love.”)

4. The Spirit Keeper by K.B. Laugheed: Set in 1747, the premise (a miserable, neglected Irish girl is abducted by American Indians who believe she is the subject of their holy man’s visions) intrigued me. I loved the Author’s Note too, which warns readers up front that the book contains variations in spelling, grammar, and syntax and, “Therefore, if you have any hope of understanding this story as the author wrote it, read quickly—before it all changes.”

5. Fade to Black by Francis Knight: The cover! I thought it looked pretty cool. And, of course, I love the idea of a story set in a city built upward, not across, and I want to see how Knight built this world. I’m curious about the MC too, the pain-mage Rojan Dizon who “prefers the shadows”.

6. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed: Proving that great quotes from trusted sources can still capture a reader’s attention, io9’s endorsement, “The best swashbuckler of the year… If you love smart escapism, don’t miss out on this book” had me immediately interested. The blurb wasn’t too shabby either and I’m eager to see how the power struggle between the Khalif and the Falcon Prince plays out in the Crescent Moon Kingdoms, “home to djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics.”

The Best Offer – The Ending

If you’re reading this, you’ve decided you don’t care if I spoil the movie for you in favor of discussing it. Great. Here are my final thoughts:

I love how the heist was its own work of art and I thought that was set up well. The off-balance relationship between Oldman (the auctioneer) and Billy (his accomplice in deceit) was established early on. Billy makes a casual remark about how disappointed he is that Oldman never saw any promise in his paintings. Donald Sutherland plays this scene just right, masking the character’s bitterness. Oldman tells Billy that “you need an inner mystery” in order for something to be a masterpiece.

But the thing I loved most about The Best Offer was its sense of cosmic justice. Over the course of the movie, the viewer starts to sympathize with Oldman. Although he is rude, cold, and obsessive, there were times when I found myself wishing he could be happy. But it was always marred by a sense that he didn’t deserve it. Because he was a dishonest, deceitful person. His collection of antique beauties were all acquired by trickery, if not outright thievery. (Oldman would intentionally devalue paintings he coveted and then have Billy bid on them). Worse, when he finally meets a living, breathing human being whom he may have a chance at happiness with, he continues his deceits and lies.

Oldman believed the automaton (made up of the rusty gears and broken pieces he kept finding in the villa), once completed, would be the most valuable piece of art he’d ever found. Yet he repeatedly (even during a scene when Claire is worried about money and her future) failed to tell Claire about it. It’s clear that he intended to steal it from her. Worse still, in a creepy, voyeuristic scene, Oldman spies on Claire – this poor, borderline mentally ill woman whom he has begged to “trust him.”

So their relationship was doomed from the start because both Oldman and Claire were hiding things from one another. The big reveal was that Claire wasn’t hiding herself, she was hiding the heist – Billy’s masterpiece. There’s a wonderful scene where Oldman and Billy discuss the nature of art and whether human emotions are like art, which leads Oldman to muse about whether emotions can be faked… or forged. Billy’s reply: “Everything can be faked, Virgil… even love.”

For those of you that saw the movie:

* Do you think Billy proved he was the ultimate artist or the ultimate forger? What was Billy’s best work of art? The heist? Claire’s “love” for Virgil? Or the ballerina portrait (his final thumb in Virgil’s eye)?

* Toward the end of the movie, Oldman tells Robert (the young Romeo machinist) that “there’s something authentic in every forgery.” Do you think Claire really loved Virgil? I don’t, but she does make that interesting statement when Virgil finally shows her his room full of ill-gotten beauties that, no matter what happens, she wants him to know that she loves him. Hmm…

* Where was Oldman at the end of the movie? In a convalescent home or at the café? My interpretation was that the end scenes were filmed out-of-order and he spent his remaining days having Lambert bring him his mail. But, I suppose, the more romantic interpretation is that Virgil’s still waiting for Claire at Night and Day.

So how about you? Have you seen The Best Offer or Mr. Selfridge? Have you read Throne of the Crescent Moon, Fade to Black, The Spirit Keeper, The Crane Wife, Surfmen, or Hollow City? If not, have I convinced you to put them in your TBR pile or Netflix queue? Best wishes for a wonderful weekend!

My Favorite Gifts

S and Kindle Fire
The two gifts I was most excited about getting this year were
J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst’s ‘S.’ and a Kindle Fire HDX.

I’ve been looking forward to reading ‘S.’ since I first heard about it. And really, all I’ve heard about it is three things: (1) it’s a book for bibliophiles; (2) it’s a book that must be read in physical form because of all the tangible and non-digitally consumable extras (the postcards, maps, margin notes, handwritten napkins, etc.); and (3) it was written by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst. I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of Dorst until I heard of S. but I’m really excited to see what he came up with. The premise – a story inside a story, written in the margins and on things slipped inside the book – is such a neat concept. At $35.00 it was a splurge, so I put it on my Christmas list with a very strong hint to my husband that he’d better not wait to buy it from our local bookstore.

'S' by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst

S by J.J. Abrams and Doug Dorst
All the goodies sticking out of ‘S’

The second gift I was super excited about was a new Kindle. Until Dec. 25th, I’d been reading on my trusty second generation Kindle and, while I still sort of have a sentimental attachment to it, it was time to upgrade. For those of you who don’t remember or never had one, the second generation Kindles are black & white and have no ability to stream content. I only used mine to access the Kindle store and buy books (not that that’s a bad thing, which is why it’s taken me so long to upgrade). But now it’ll be really cool to watch movies, surf the web, and see all those amazing book covers IN COLOR! 😀

Goodbye Kindle 2!
Goodbye Kindle 2!

How about you? Did anyone give you anything awesome, amazing, or inspiring? I hope so!

What to Read and Watch: 3 Fantasy Novels + 2 Futuristic Movies + 1 Horror Show #SFF

I’m a panelist at SF Signal’s Mind Meld today. The question was:

What lesser-known books have you read, fairly recently, that you think deserve more attention, and why?

If you stop by, you’ll get to see what my answer was (hint: 3 fantasy novels), as well as read the other panelists’ answers, which should give you some great reading ideas for your holiday break.

For those of you who need to take a break from your TBR pile (it happens; you’re forgiven 😉 ), below are my thoughts on what I’ve been watching.

General Spoiler Warning: I find it hard to discuss things without giving too much away. I’m not a reviewer, I’m a fan. So… if you don’t like spoilers, go watch MR. NOBODY, HOW I LIVE NOW, and AMERICAN HORROR STORY (COVEN) and come back.

Mr. Nobody

Like Inception and Cloud Atlas, this is a movie you’re gonna wanna watch twice. I knew from the trailer that it was trippy science fiction (a good thing). Even so I still had to resort to some post-viewing internet searches to get the red-yellow-blue thing. But once I did, I thought it was a brilliant visual way of reinforcing Nemo’s various life choices/paths. The story is about a man named Nemo Nobody who is 118 years old when the movie starts. He is the last mortal man in a futuristic society that has learned how to achieve immortality through stem cell compatible pigs (that part sounds absurd, but the movie isn’t, and the filmmakers treat the concept as absurdly as it sounds… perhaps a commentary on the futility and absurdity of man’s constant search for immortality?).

In any case, Nemo is being interviewed on his deathbed. A journalist has snuck into his room and wants to hear his life’s story. But his joy at snagging the scoop turns to confusion as Nemo weaves a story that is full of multiple inconsistencies and not a few earlier deaths. Nemo isn’t just musing about “what if” or “wish I woulda.” His constructs three different realities with alternate endings in each. Most of us tell our life’s story in chronological order. Not Nemo. His story is full of all the choices he made – and all the ones he didn’t. It’s pretty neat. (Although I found his “blue” life and wife hard to take, but she’s supposed to be that way. Great acting by Sarah Polley, btw. Who saw The Claim? That’s another good one to rent, although there’s not even a whiff of SFF in it).

All of the above aside, I’m not sure I agree with the ending premise: that all your life’s paths are just as worthy, equal, or meaningful. At the same time though, since we live in the real world (where smoke will not go back into the cigarette even if we live to be 118), I think it’s important not to regret past choices or wonder too much about paths not taken.

Interested in reading more about Mr. Nobody?

How I Live Now

Fifteen year old Elizabeth a.k.a. “Daisy” – a troubled teen who hears voices and has a constant need to wash her hands – arrives from the U.S. to spend a summer with cousins on a remote farm in the English countryside. A nuclear bomb is dropped on London. WWIII breaks out. Martial law is declared. And then… bad stuff happens. The kind of stuff you can imagine. And then are glad that you’re only imagining it, not remembering it.

The movie opens with scenes of idyllic summer days (you know their only purpose is to sharply contrast with whatever’s coming next) and scenes from an idyllic summer love (the fact that the young lovers are cousins is glossed over and, in light of the film’s true horrors, I had no trouble forgetting about that too).

Saoirse Ronan plays Daisy and she is terrific, as always. I wanted to know more about Daisy’s character. Why did she hear voices before the war even started? Why was she always washing her hands? There was other evidence of mental and/or emotional vulnerability (medication, a vague reference to a possible eating disorder) but the underlying cause was never explained. Were all of Daisy’s pre-war problems just due to the fact that her dad ignored her? Maybe the character was more fully fleshed out in the novel. Or maybe it doesn’t matter. The message of the film was survival and forward motion, not looking back.

Regardless of the cause of Daisy’s initial troubles, the one bright spot of the film was watching her transform from a prickly, obsessive, anti-social teen into someone with close family relationships, the competence to plan and execute a cross-country trek back home through land pock-marked with enemies and other dangers, and the will not just to survive but to make sure those she cares about do too.

Above all, How I Live Now is a film that makes you appreciate life. All of it. The big stuff. Family. A safe place. A sense of self. And the small stuff. Gardens. Sunshine. Clean water.

American Horror Show (Coven)

Even though I’m a speculative fiction fan, I don’t read or watch a lot of horror. But I love certain aspects of it: dark, macabre storylines, monsters, usually a twist or two, and sometimes, humor. I think I first heard about this show in Entertainment Weekly and the premise intrigued me: a New Orleans boarding school for non-conformists who also happen to be witches. In the first episode, a witch accidentally kills her boyfriend – by her act of passion, not in an act of passion – and another is burned at the stake (she comes back to life in E2). The show never looked back. Each episode just got more and more outlandish, which is what makes it so entertaining.

Ordinarily, by now, I would be wondering how the creators could possibly sustain the dramatic trajectory they’ve put themselves on, but that brings me to the other reason I got hooked on the show: its unique anthology format. Each season is a standalone story, with its own story arc – a promised beginning, middle, and end – all in one season. Each season stars many of the same cast members: Jessica Lange, Taissa Farmiga, Evan Peters… As well as some who are there only for that season: Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Zachary Quinto… So, of course, I had to go back and start watching season 1 (Murder House) in between episodes of S3. Be forewarned, however, this is not a show for the meek. (Fans of True Blood or Game of Thrones, you’ll be fine. 😀 ).

What about you? Have you seen Mr. Nobody, How I Live Now, or American Horror Story (Coven)? What do YOU think? Hope everyone’s having a great week!

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway

Bewitching Book Tours organized a holiday giveaway, which includes a Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch (or equivalent value Amazon Gift Card), three prize packs full of fun swag, and TONS of ebooks, which are all listed below. I’m not offering an ebook because I currently only do print giveaways, but I did contribute to the big prize and I wanted to let you all know about the giveaway because it’s a great opportunity to be introduced to some new authors… and, of course, possibly win a new Kindle Fire — for yourself or to give as a gift.

Hope everyone is having a great week. I’m in the midst of revisions for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, which are going well. On the horizon? The holidays, finishing up a wonderfully dark and romantic short story I’ve been working on as well as a proposal for a new (totally awesome) series. 😀

Happy Thursday and Good Luck with the Holiday Giveaway!

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway Banner

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway Nov 15- Dec 15

Giveaways:

1 Kindle Fire HD 8.9 inch or equivalent value Amazon Gift Card

3 Bewitching Prize Packs full of books and book swag goodies- open to US Shipping- prize packs may contain print copies of The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle, Would Be Witch by Kimberly Frost and Earth Angel by E Van Lowe, Paranormal Pleasures by Roxanne Rhoads, Tasty Christmas Treats by Roxanne Rhoads- books will be distributed among the 3 prize packs

1  e-book set of the first three books in the Seven Seals Series by Traci Douglass

1 Release, book 3 of The Angler series by Annie Nicholas

1 ebook copy Murder on Mars A New Orleans Mystery by MM Shelley

1 Ebook giveaway Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea

1 Ebook copy of Tigress by JE Taylor

1 ebook copy of In Flames by Jessica Jayne

1 copy of River Road by Suzanne Johnson

1 ebook copy of Visionary- Unleashed by N Dunham

1 copy of each Bleeding Hearts and Blood Rush by Ash Krafton

1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning (Seventeen Book 1) by AD Starrling

1 ebook copy of Blaze Ignites by JL Madore

1  e-book copy of Operation Earth by Maria Hammarblad

1 Earth’s Requiem. Print if in the U.S., an e-copy otherwise.

1 ebook copy Silent Oath (Book 2 of the Locked Within Trilogy) by Paul Anthony Shortt

1 Ebook: Five Golden Rings by Jeffe Kennedy from the Season of Seduction Carina Press erotic holiday anthology

1 eBook: An Unexpected Bride (The Bride Series, Book 1) by Shadonna Richards

1 eCopy of Divine Destiny by Joanna Grace

1 Ministry Protocol: Thrilling Tales of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences

1 Ebook giveaway. “Beautiful Stranger” by Katalina Leon

1 ebook copy of Chasing the Star Garden by Melanie Karsak

1 ebook copy of Cleaning Up by Jophrael L Avario

1 One e-book copy of Haven by Celia Breslin

1 one e-book copy of Dragon Fire by Dina Von Lowenkraft

1 ebook copy of Hex and the Single Witch by Roxanne Rhoads

1 one kindle copy of Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective by Christine Amsden

1 One ecopy of Cursed Ever After by AC James

1 copy of The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone

1 ecopy of Catwalk:Messiah by Nick Kelly

1 ecopy of Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair

1 ecopy of The Bottom Line by Shelley Munro

1 Ebook copy of Dangerous Pursuit by Margaret Daly

CLICK HERE FOR THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM.

Happy reading! 😀

Cover Reveal: WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE (Noon Onyx #3)

Today I’ve got a fun, beautiful, fantastic post that I’ve been looking forward to sharing with you — the new cover for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, the third book in my Noon Onyx series. As with FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, Jason Chan was the cover artist. Below are my thoughts on the cover, the book blurb, pre-order and Goodreads links, and a chance to win some neat prizes: signed copies of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL (US only) and a $25 eGift Certificate to the book store of your choice (international). Please help me to share the new cover by tweeting, posting, etc.!

urban fantasy, dark fantasy, fantasy, White Heart of Justice, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, cover reveal, cover art
WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE
Noon Onyx #3
Cover Artist: Jason Chan
Cover Designer: Lesley Worrell

My Thoughts

I’ve loved each of my covers for different reasons. DARK LIGHT OF DAY was my first cover so I’m rather sentimental about it. I’ll always love it because it was my first and because cover artist David Palumbo incorporated a lot of design elements that I appreciated: the blackened vine motif on the gate, St. Luck’s in the background, the books that Noon held, the fireball raised high in her hand, and that defiant, though somewhat hesitant, face. It fit the story and the character for that book perfectly.

I loved FIERY EDGE OF STEEL’s cover because it was visually striking. Noon looked tougher and, instead of carrying books and a vague, unshaped fireball, she was now griping a knife — a fiery filleting knife that she’d shaped out of waning magic. The backdrop was the New Babylon docks — appropriate since that story was, for the most part, a river adventure.

But — wow! — I think the cover for WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE is the best yet. It’s stunning.

When my editor sent me the cover art and I opened it up for the first time, I was thrilled. It’s beautiful, and like my first two covers, it incorporates many of the design elements that we discussed early on. Noon’s clothing is different than it was on the first two covers. Instead of a bustier and cloak, she’s bundled up in a fur-lined hood and gloves for her trip into the dark parts of southern Halja. She’s graduated from a knife to a sword. It’s symbolic of how far she’s come as a character. (Whether or not the sword on the cover is actually the famed “White Heart of Justice” that Noon seeks in the book, I leave to readers to determine). And a fiery war bird circles her, another nod to her growing magic skills and a hint to readers that they will see magic used in new and different ways in book #3.

But the two things I love the most about this cover are its attention-grabbing, bright, bracing colors and Noon’s expression. Though she is looking down, she looks contemplative and strong, almost meditative. Appropriate for a character whose decisions have become more weighty with each book. Here’s the blurb…

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

A Noon Onyx Novel

Since Lucifer claimed victory at Armageddon, demons, angels, and humans have coexisted in uneasy harmony. Those with waning magic are trained to maintain peace and order. But hostilities are never far from erupting…

After years of denying her abilities, Noon Onyx, the first woman in history to wield waning magic, has embraced her power. She’s won the right to compete in the prestigious Laurel Crown Race—an event that will not only earn her the respect of her peers but also, if she wins, the right to control her future.

However, Noon’s task is nearly impossible: retrieve the White Heart of Justice, a mythical sword that disappeared hundreds of years ago. The sword is rumored to be hidden in a dangerous region of Halja that she is unlikely to return from. But Noon’s life isn’t the only thing hanging in the balance. The sword holds an awesome power that, in the wrong hands, could reboot the apocalypse—and Noon is the only one who can prevent Armageddon from starting again…

Please Pre-Order and Add to Your Goodreads Shelf

Who else is participating

in the cover reveal?

Below are the other bloggers that are participating in the cover reveal. THANK YOU to each and every one of them! I am very grateful that they wanted to help share the new cover and spread the word about WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. Please stop by to check out their sites, subscribe and/or follow them, and for more chances to win my cover reveal prizes. A big thank you to Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours, who helped to organize the cover reveal.

Prizes!

To celebrate the new cover, I am giving away a signed set of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL (US only) and a $25 eGift Certificate to a book store of winner’s choice (international). To enter to win, click here.

So what do you think? Do you love the new cover as much as I do? Thank you for helping me share it!

Looking for #Writers (both pubbed and unpubbed)

Writer

In search of… Writers!

I’m putting together a new guest blog series for this fall. In the past, I’ve done guest blog series that focus on a particular type of story: romance, new adult, “dark stories” (UF, mystery, horror), but this time I’d love to do a guest blog series that unpublished writers could participate in too. I already have a handful of writers lined up with some great topics (interesting, different, and creative ones — love it!) but I’d like to find a few more, if possible.

Here are examples of the type of content I’m looking for in these future guest posts:

  • Writing craft / Writing process
  • Writing life
  • Speculative fiction/PNR book review (honest and fair, but generally positive)
  • SF/F movie review (especially ones that are adaptations from novels)
  • Product review (product needs to be related to writing or reading)
  • Spotlight your favorite Bookstore or Coffee Shop
  • Neat post about your day job (especially if it’s in an interesting career and/or something someone might base a character on)
  • Travel post related to books in some way – either a research trip you took or a trip to a place that was a setting in a book you read
  • Seasonal post related to Halloween: books, decorations, costumes, food, history, etc.

I’m NOT looking for posts about your WIP, current project, or published work but published authors can include their published work in their bio and I can share links to websites, blogs, FB, Twitter, etc. I’m hoping that some of you will think this idea is as fun as I do. I like blogging and am excited to see the posts for a guest blog series like this.

If you’re interested in participating, please e-mail me (archer at jillarcher dot com) and include the information below:

  • Title for the post
  • Description of what you want to talk about
  • Online contact info
  • Anything else you think is relevant

Please forward this post to anyone you think might be interested. Thanks, everyone!

Fiery Edge of Steel Blog Tour Winners & Thank You

The Fiery Edge of Steel blog tour was fun! With the help of the blog tour hosts, I shared excerpts from Chapter One, my main character participated in a Supernatural Smackdown, I talked about why I like writing fantasy, reviews, and day trips for your muse. I shared who I thought would make a great Noon, Ari, and Rafe if the books were made into movies, told everyone my thoughts on love triangles, and even wrote some flash fiction. There were a lot of other great posts and interviews. If you missed any of them and are interested in checking them out, check out the links on my Fiery Edge of Steel blog tour page.

If you enjoyed Fiery Edge of Steel,

please be Noon’s “ambassador” and help spread the word about the series

1. Talk it up! Tell everyone. Word of mouth continues to be the best way to support a book or its author. If you liked the book and recommend it to just one other person — that is a huge help!

2. Give it an honest and fair review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or wherever you hang out online. This will help readers who have similar reading tastes find it. (Your review doesn’t have to be long. A sentence or two can make a big difference in helping other readers discover the series.)

Tour-Wide Winners and Many Thanks

Robin M. and Kristia M. won the prize packs I was giving away (copies of both books and a $10 eGC). I am truly thankful to everyone who participated in the tour by sharing links, commenting, tweeting, posting status updates, etc.

Thank you to each and every one of you who purchased and/or read Fiery Edge of Steel. Your support is much appreciated! No one can be an author without an audience. *Your* interest is what keeps the series going! 😀

Roxanne Rhoads at Bewitching Book Tours, who helped me to organize, schedule, and promote this tour, gets a special thanks. She did a fantastic job of rounding up interested bloggers, making sure they had all the necessary information for posts, and getting the word out about the tour. She also ran the tour-wide contests, which I was grateful for. I also want to thank my publisher, Penguin/Ace, for supplying the ARCs that I gave away during the first part of the tour and my editor and publicist who also helped to get the word out about some of the posts.

Thank you to all of the book bloggers who hosted me on their sites, posted promotional materials, and/or reviewed Fiery Edge of Steel. Below is a list of Bewitching Book Tours blog tour participants, but my thanks goes out to EVERYONE who took the time to check out the book, recommend it, write a review, and/or rate it on Goodreads and/or Amazon. Likely you are doing the same thing for other authors and this helps keep our shared passion (books!) alive.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

Bewitching Book Tours Sizzling Summer Giveaway!

I mentioned before that I was participating in Bewitching Book Tours Sizzling Summer Giveaway and I promised more information on it. This post tells you everything you need to know to enter to win some really awesome prizes (including books, prize packs, and a Kindle Fire HD 8.9” screen with Wifi and 16GB). Over thirty Bewitching authors joined together to offer FOUR separate giveaway packs. Check them out below. Giveaway ends July 21st.

paranormal, bewitching books, supernatural, fantasy, giveaway, contest

Rafflecopter Giveaway One:

Kindle and swag packs

  •  1 Kindle HD -30 authors joined together to offer a spectacular grand prize A Kindle Fire HD 8.9” screen , Wifi ,16GB $269 value Open to US shipping, if outside US you can receive an equal value Amazon Gift Card
  •  1 huge package of book swag from Bewitching Book Tours filled with fun goodies from Bewitching Book Tours, owner Roxanne Rhoads and numerous Bewitching authors including a Starbucks giftcard from Gina Conkle
  •  4 packages of book swag from Bewitching Book Tours- filled with fun goodies from Bewitching authors
  •  1 mixed swag pack of various book swag from Milly Taiden
  •  1 book swag from Constance Phillips
  •  $15 Amazon gift card from Sky Purington

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY ONE.

Rafflecopter Giveaway Two:

Print Books

  •  1 set of Bleeding Hearts (Demimonde #1) and Blood Rush (Demimonde #2) by Ash Krafton- US Shipping
  • 2 sets of Her Dear & Loving Husband and Her Loving Husband’s Curse by Meredith Allard open to US Shipping
  •  1 Kidnapped by Maria Hammarbald us shipping
  •  1 ROGUE ORACLE and DARK ORACLE by Alayna Williams- us shipping
  •  1 EMBERS and SPARKS by Laura Bickle- US shipping
  •  1 Fall of Sky City by SM Blooding US Shipping only
  •  1 signed set of DARK LIGHT OF DAY and FIERY EDGE OF STEEL by Jill Archer
  •  1 Life After the Undead and Death to the Undead by Pembroke Sinclair- US shipping
  •  1 DiSemblance by Shanae Branham
  •  1 Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two by JC Andrijeski (or Revik: Allie’s War, Early Years) by JC Andrijeski
  •  1 signed copy of VICIOUS CIRCLE by Linda Robertson (or any other title written by her if winner already has VC)
  •  1 DiSemblance by Shanae Branham open to International Shipping
  •  1 The Necromancer’s Seduction by Mimi Sebastian open to International Shipping
  •  2 print copies of The Chosen by Annette Gisby, US/Canada and UK entrants
  •  1 Print or ebook Copy of Night Hawk by JE Taylor to US residents or ebook (mobi or epub) for international folks. If US resident would prefer ebook – that can be done as well.
  •  1 Print or ebook Copy of Hunting Season by JE Taylor to US residents or ebook (mobi or epub) for international folks. If US resident would prefer ebook – that can be done as well
  •  1 Winner’s choice of print or digital (.mobi or .epub) of Royal Street or River Road by Suzanne Johnson, in either U.S. or U.K. editions; open to international.
  •  1 Winner’s Choice of print, audio, or digital (.mobi only) of Redemption, Absolution, Omega, or Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin open to international.
  •  1 All three books in the Phaeton Black, Paranormal Investigator series The Seduction of Phaeton Black, The Moonstone and Miss Jones, The Miss Education of Dr. Exeter by Jillian Stone. Print or eBook any format, reader’s choice Ebook open international

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY TWO.

Bewitching Giveaway Three:

YA Books

  • 1 Signed print copy Portal by Imogen Rose- US Shipping
  •  1 Signed print copy of INITIATION by Imogen Rose- US Shipping
  •  1 print copy Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea- US Shipping
  •  5 print copies Visionary Unleashed by N. Dunham US shipping
  •  1 THE HALLOWED ONES by Laura Bickle- US Shipping
  •  1 print copy The Ifs (middle grade book) by JD Pooker
  •  1 print set of Reckoning and Relentless by Molly Hall- US shipping
  •  1 ebook copy of Soul Meaning by AD Starrling
  •  1 ebook copy of King’s Crusade by AD Starrling (
  •  1 ebook copy Hollow’s End by Marianne Morea
  •  5 ecopies Visionary Unleashed by N. Dunham
  •  5 ecopies of Portal by Imogen Rose
  •  5 ecopies INITIATION by Imogen Rose

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY THREE.

Bewitching Books Tours Summer Giveaway Four:

E-books

  • 1 ebook copy Flashback by Maria Hammarblad
  •  10 ebook copies of Shield: Allie’s War, Book Two by JC Andrijeski (or Revik: Allie’s War, Early Years)
  •  1 Tyrant of Tarsit (Time travel romance) by Holly Hunt
  •  2 ebooks of New Zealand with a Hobbit Botherer by John Gisby (international)
  •  1 each Bleeding Hearts (Demimonde #1) and Blood Rush (Demimonde #2) by Ash Krafton
  •  2 copies each Her Dear & Loving Husband and Her Loving Husband’s Curse by Meredith Allard
  •  1 Winner’s choice Caged Heat or Wolf Protector by Milly Taiden
  •  1 ecopy Resurrecting Harry by Constance Phillips
  •  1 The Cat’s Meow by Stacey Kennedy
  •  1 Stavros is giving away 1 of each- eBook copies of Dead Girl: A Romantic Zombie Tale of Revenge, Blood Junky, and Love in Vein
  •  1 Murder on Mars (A New Orleans Mystery) by MM Shelley
  •  1 Little Red Riding Wolf by Jessica Aspen, mobi or epub available
  •  1 Cindy Spencer Paper is giving away an E-book – winner’s choice of any available on her website.
  •  1 eCopy of The MacLomain Series Boxed Set by Sky Purington (Books 1-4), PDF or gifted to Kindle
  •  5 free copies of DRAGONSTONE by Paula Millhouse : pdf, emobi, ePub
  •  5 ecopies of THREE WISHES by Paula Millhouse pdf, mobi, ePub
  •  1 ecopy SMOKE AND MIRRORS (The Gifted, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 ecopy SERAFINA AND THE SILENT VAMPIRE (Serafina’s, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 BLOOD GUILT (Blood Hunters, Book 1) by Marie Treanor
  •  1 Annie Nicholas is giving away Reader’s choice of any ebook from her backlist winner’s choice of .pdf, epub, mobi.
  •  1 one e-book set of the first two books in the Seven Seals Series (Seal of Destiny and Seal of Surrender) by Traci Douglass
  •  1 ecopy Wucaii by Pembroke Sinclair
  •  2 ebooks of Silent Screams by Annette Gisby (international)
  •  2 ebooks of Shadows of the Rose by Annette Gisby (international)
  •  3 EBOOKS (one set): THE CROSSE HARBOR TIME TRAVEL TRILOGY by Barbara Bretton
  •  1 More Than Friends by Jessica Jayne (.epub, .pdf, .mobi)
  •  1 In Flames by Jessica Jayne (.epub, .prc and .pdf)

CLICK HERE TO GO TO THE RAFFLECOPTER FORM FOR GIVEAWAY FOUR.

Good luck, everyone!

Love Triangles, Swamp Tours, and the Noon Onyx Series

Jenn at Tynga’s Reviews interviewed me yesterday. She asked a lot of great questions – like why I named waning and waxing magic after the phases of the moon, my thoughts on love triangles, whether Noon and Ari would ever get a Happily Ever After ending, and whether we would see more of Peter and/or Noon’s family members in future books. If you haven’t read Dark Light of Day (what are you waiting for? :-D) the interview has some spoilers. Stop by to check out my answers and enter to win one of two prize packs which include copies of both Dark Light of Day and Fiery Edge of Steel and a $10 eGC.

Today, I’m over at Suzanne Johnson’s Preternatura blog discussing the swampy inspirations for The Shallows, one of the settings in Fiery Edge of Steel. Want to see a semi-vintage photo that my husband took on our first (and only) swamp tour together? Interested in seeing my eclectic collection of fridge magnets? Stop by for a chance to win a copy of Fiery Edge of Steel.

The Fiery Edge of Steel Goodreads giveaway that my publisher sponsored ended last night with almost 900 people requesting a copy. Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway and/or added the book to their Goodreads shelf!

THE MOON'S PHASES = PARTIAL INSPIRATION FOR WANING AND WAXING MAGIC
THE MOON’S PHASES = PARTIAL INSPIRATION FOR WANING AND WAXING MAGIC

Hope everyone is having a great week! 😀

Life

LIFE IS A BOX OF CEREAL
LIFE IS A BOX OF CEREAL

What does this box of cereal have to do with Fiery Edge of Steel? Absolutely, positively nothing. I was just wondering if any of you wake up in the morning greeted by this sort of thing. This is a brand-new box of cereal (opened by one of my kids, of course — because they look far worse when I open them. :-D)

Updates

Yesterday I was at Tote Bags ‘n’ Blogs discussing fortune cookies, wine, and divination tools. I also shared the cryptic “fortune” that Noon receives at the beginning of Fiery Edge of Steel.

Today I’m over at Frankie Blooding’s Bookshelf talking about reviews, what parts of Fiery Edge of Steel were the hardest to write, and communication between readers and authors, as well as why Noon’s character is “a little off the beaten path.”

My publisher is sponsoring a Goodreads giveaway for Fiery Edge of Steel if you’d like to add it to your bookshelf or enter to win a copy over there.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Dark Faerie Tales Supernatural Smackdown. That was a lot of fun! I stopped by to add a last comment but comments were closed so I’ll let you know here that I mailed the winner their books today.

I’ve shared elsewhere, but not here (which doesn’t seem right since I try to make this my online hub) that the third book in the Noon Onyx series will be called WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE. Yay! More details on that later.

Hmm… what else?

I am scrambling to finish up some things before my kids’ last day of school next week. The weather is nice and summery, and the pools are open, but it never feels like SUMMER until SCHOOL’S OUT. 😀

Speaking of summer… one of the things on my summer to do list is to give this site a refresh. Not sure how extensive it will be, but it’s time.

How about you? What are your plans for the summer? Hope everyone is doing GREAT!!

“Writing about what you know… when you don’t really know it” by Shelly Ellis

Shelly Ellis is the author of the women’s fiction/contemporary romance, Can’t Stand the Heat, which was just released by Kensington on April 30th. She’s here to talk about how an only child wrote a book about sisters. She’s also sharing an excerpt, which is below, and she’s giving away two signed ARCs — one each to the first two commenters with a US or Canadian address. Welcome, Shelly!

shelly eliis, can't stand the heat, women's fiction, contemporary romance, multicultural

A book about sisters?

But you’re an only child!

What would you know about sisters?”

Hi, everyone and thanks, Jill, for letting me guest blog today!

Almost everyone has heard the old adage, “Write what you know.” (Yes, I can almost hear you paranormal authors out there laughing hysterically at that one.) Frankly, I’ve always paid it little attention. I figured if I only wrote based on what I’ve experienced my repertoire of fictional work would be pretty limited. But when I embarked on my first women’s fiction series, it was the first time the old adage gave me pause. I knew I wanted the novels, the first of which is Can’t Stand the Heat, to be about a group of women who seduce men for money and gradually learn the error of their ways through love and a series of mishaps. I also knew I wanted the women to be sisters. I thought having a family of women that was so eccentric that they invented an unwritten gold-digging rule book that every one of the sisters could quote by heart would add humor to the story.

But the really funny part wasn’t in the novel. It was when I told people the premise of my books. They didn’t say, “But you’re not a gold digger. How could you possibly write about that?” No, instead I got, “A book about sisters? But you’re an only child! What would you know about sisters?”

I had to come up with a good answer for that one.

I like to refer to writers as anthropologists with wild imaginations. I think the best authors are not only great researchers, but also people observers who make mental notes of cultural differences, social quirks, and general human behavior. I’ve been doing this “anthropological work” since I was young without even realizing it, got better at it when I later became a reporter, and learned to adapt it into my fictional writing.

So, my response to their question was, “Yes, I did grow up as an only child, but my mother didn’t.” She grew up in a family of five boisterous sisters. Being from a close-knit family, I got to study their sisterly dynamics over the years and witness the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve seen the endless back-biting, the changing alliances, and the competitiveness. But I also witnessed the playfulness, the humor, and the strong sense of camaraderie. No matter how bad things got between my mother and her sisters — in the end — they all knew they had each other’s backs. Those types of dynamics are a gold mine for novel. How could I not write about it just because I hadn’t experienced it firsthand?

So should authors write what they know? Sure! It could be a good starting point for some compelling stories. But venturing out to what you’ve observed and even what can imagine also makes for a great adventure and can lead to exciting fictional work.

More About Can’t Stand the Heat

If there’s a man with money around, a Gibbons girl can’t be far behind… or at least that’s how the saying goes in the small, prosperous, scenic town of Chesterton, Virginia.

There, the eccentric Gibbons sisters have a well-earned reputation as a family of shameless gold diggers. For the past three generations, the women in their family have found ways to scheme and seduce men out of their money. They even have an unwritten gold digging “rule book” by which the whole family operates and must abide. But Lauren, the youngest member of the Gibbons clan, believes it’s time for a change and to throw the old rule book out the window. On the way to finding herself, Lauren also discovers a new love with retired NFL player Crisanto Weaver.  But the small-town rumor mill — and her own sisters — aren’t ready for the new Lauren. Between her conniving relatives, her vengeful ex, and a mountain of debt, can Lauren escape her old life, and create something new?

Excerpt from Can’t Stand the Heat

“Should I . . . should I start plating the entrées?” Lauren asked. She turned from the stove, wiped her hands on a dishcloth, and faced her first new client, the ex-Dallas Cowboy/millionaire Cris Weaver.

He had been standing about ten feet behind her for the past hour and a half, observing her while she cooked. He said he wanted it to be part of the evening: Lauren doing her kitchen voodoo while everyone else at the party watched her work, like they were watching a show.

Whatever, she had thought flippantly on the phone as he made his request. You’re the one writing the check, sweetheart. Short of me wearing a thong bikini while I’m cooking, I’m game for just about anything at this point.

Her casual attitude disappeared, though, when she realized he would be staring at her the whole time she cooked. Knowing his dark eyes were on her had been unnerving, but miraculously she had managed to not burn herself or set his kitchen on fire.

“Or I can hold off serving the entrées for a bit . . . until your guests arrive. The meat shouldn’t dry out if you want to wait.” She shrugged her shoulders. “It’s up to you.”

Cris propped his elbow against the kitchen island’s granite countertop, shifted on his leather stool, and took a sip of red wine. “No, you can go ahead if it’s done. I have no idea when they’ll get here. I might as well start without them.” He grinned. “The food smells too good not to eat.”

He certainly was in good spirits for a man who was throwing a party and not one guest had shown up.

If it was me, I’d be pissed, Lauren thought as she glanced at the two porcelain platters covered with appetizers. Most of them—dates wrapped in applewood bacon and stuffed with blue cheese, deviled eggs filled with crabmeat ravigote, and white pork boudin balls—still sat untouched. It looked like the price of his dinner was quickly escalating from $875 a plate to $3,500 a plate with every minute that guests didn’t arrive. She felt bad for the guy.

Lauren pursed her lips. “All right. Well, I guess you can go ahead and sit at your dinner table. I’ll bring the food to you in about two minutes.”

“You’re serving me, too?”

Lauren opened his oven to reveal a bubbling pan filled with pork chops. The room suddenly filled with the food’s intoxicating aroma. “Sure, why not? You’re paying a lot of money for this.” She used both ends of the dish towel to tug the pan out of the oven without burning her hands. She set it on the stove top. “I may as well give you the full service, right?”

Really? And what does the ‘full service’ include exactly?”

At those words, the hairs started to prick on the back of her neck. A delicious thrill went down her spine.

Shelly Ellis
Shelly Ellis

Where to buy Can’t Stand the Heat

Where to find Shelly online

Writers, do you always write what you know or do you take chances and push yourself to write about characters in situations you’ve never personally experienced? If so, what sources do you use to give your writing verisimilitude? For my Noon Onyx series, I tapped into my personal experiences with law school, legal concepts, and justice symbols to come up with some of the scenes and story ideas, but the parts that have been the most fun to write about are those I’ve had no experience with. Readers, do you think Lauren’s appetizers sound as good as I do? The first two commenters will receive a signed ARC from Shelly. (US and Canada only).

Bonus giveaway! I’m giving away books from my personal collection (sharing the book wealth!). Interested? Enter to win by commenting below. Extra entries for sharing a link to this post on Twitter and/or Facebook. (But you gotta include my Twitter handle @archer_jill and tag me on FB for me to track your entries!). US only.

Hope everyone is having a great week! I’m still deep in my writing cave, furiously working on Noon Onyx B3. But Fiery Edge of Steel is coming out at the end of this month, so I’ll be posting some more information on that very soon! Happy Friday, all!

Thank you, Shelly, for guest blogging today!

2013 SPRING INTO SUMMER ROMANCE: Terrific Guest Posts + Awesome Giveaways

Starting tomorrow, I’m hosting another group of authors who write romance. Last spring, I hosted a similar series and it was FUN! This year the group is just as diverse as last year. We’ll hear from authors who write paranormal romance, fantasy romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. Some of these women have published one book (like me!) and others have published many, including one author who is a NYT bestseller. And they’ve published their work in a variety of different ways: Big 6, small press, and self-pub. I’m really looking forward to seeing what new romances will be out this spring and early summer and I hope you are too! To make the new guest blog series EVEN MORE FUN, I’ll be adding my own giveaways =>

free books, book giveaway, novels, fiction

Print Book Giveaways!

For those of you that live in the U.S., I’m going to be offering a chance to win one new or gently used print book during each Spring Into Summer guest blog post. My bookshelves are bursting and I want to share the overflow with you. Most of these books I received at conferences and some are duplicates of ones I already own. I’m a bibliophile but not so much that I want to hoard two copies of the same book — because someone else could be reading it!

So I’m going to give away one book per post. You can enter to win by commenting on the post and including your e-mail address. Two additional entries for:

  1. Sharing the link on Twitter (please include my Twitter handle @archer_jill)
  2. Sharing the link or Facebook (please tag me in the FB post)

I’ll e-mail the winner the list of possible choices and then, once their choice is made, will mail the book off to its new, loving home.

There are 20 possible choices for the winners to choose from, including books by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Diana Gabaldon, Tess Gerritsen, Steve Berry, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Julie Kagawa, Gena Showalter, Lili St. Crow, Jill Archer — 😀 – and many more!

In fact, I’m going to start the giveaway right now! (Why not, right?)

So if you’re excited about this new Spring Into Summer Romance guest blog series, want a chance to win a great book, or just want to help me spread the word about the upcoming series, then please comment below + SHARE THIS POST!

A brief note about any giveaways offered by the guest bloggers: Guest bloggers may offer their own giveaways. If they do, they select the winner and arrange for delivery of the giveaway.

The chance to win a book from this post ends at midnight EDT on April 11, 2013. Good luck and best wishes, everyone!