HallowRead 2017 – #horror #UF #steampunk #paranormal

I’ll be at HallowRead this weekend. If you’re going to be near Ellicott City, Maryland on Saturday, come see me!

What’s HallowRead?

HallowRead is a book festival and mini-con for authors and fans of Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Steam Punk and Horror.

Multi-author event with various activities throughout the weekend including:

Writing Workshops

Ghost Tour

SteamPunk Author Tea

Author Panels

Book Signings

Paranormal Investigation

… and so much more.

Hang out with your favorite authors in our host city, the haunted and historic town of Ellicott City, Maryland!

What will I be doing there?

I’ll be watching and participating in the panels (more info on the two panels I’m on below; for a full schedule, check out HallowRead’s website. Darynda Jones is doing the Keynote Speech at 3:00.)

Indie Uprising- 12:30 The crest and subsequent ebbs and flows of the Indie market. Best practices, tips and techniques for an ever changing industry. Moderated by Bryan Nowak, with Meg Eden, C.J. Ellisson, Jill Archer, J.A. Grier and Alex Owens

Nevertheless, She Persisted- 2:15 Writing kickass heroines and wise women in the age after Buffy, Bella and Hermione. Moderated by Rebecca Rivard. With Jill Archer, Katherine McIntyre, Kathy MacMillan, Heather Elizabeth King, Misty Simon and R.A. Boyd

I’ll also be at the book signing from 4:00-6:00. If CreateSpace cooperates and sends me my books in time, I’ll have copies of Pocket Full of Tinder there. I’ll definitely have copies of the first three Noon Onyx books. I’ll have some Halloween goodies and some bookish bling to give away. Hopefully, I’ll have my new Square credit card reader, although cash always works. 😀

If you already have a copy of one of my books, bring it. I’d love to sign it!

Hope to see you there!

More Info

October 20-21, 2017
Roger Carter Center
3000 Milltowne Drive
United States
Ellicott City, MD 21043

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Out with the New, In with the Old – May Reading Challenge Choices (#steampunk)

I have a confession to make. I’ve never read steampunk – at least not that I can remember. Sure, I’ve read books with light steampunk elements. But never anything that was solidly in the steampunk sub-genre. So the books below aren’t new releases. They’re books that have been on my TBR list for a long time. But that was one of the reasons I wanted to do this reading challenge. To be more purposeful with my reading choices this year.

Quick recap for anyone new: For 2017, I’m doing a Reading Challenge. At the start of every month, I’ll post a list of possible books to read and then, at the end of the month, I’ll share my thoughts on at least one of them. YOU are invited to read along by picking whatever book on the list appeals to you and sharing your thoughts –OR– by picking some other book and sharing your thoughts about that. Easy, right? And, hopefully fun too.

May’s Choices

(Descriptions from Goodreads)

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster

When Nowhere Is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitechapel district. For Honoria Todd, it’s the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries—no one dares cross him. It’s been said he faced down the Echelon’s army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he’s been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She’s so…innocent. He doesn’t see her backbone of steel—or that she could be the very salvation he’s been seeking.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Prince Aleksander, would-be heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, is on the run. His own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battletorn war machine and a loyal crew of men.

Deryn Sharp is a commoner, disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. She’s a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.

With World War I brewing, Alek and Deryn’s paths cross in the most unexpected way…taking them on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure that will change both their lives forever.

The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

After the Iron Duke freed England from Horde control, he instantly became a national hero. Now Rhys Trahaearn has built a merchant empire on the power – and fear – of his name. And when a dead body is dropped from an airship onto his doorstep, bringing Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth into his dangerous world, he intends to make her his next possession.

But when Mina uncovers the victim’s identity, she stumbles upon a conspiracy that threatens the lives of everyone in England. To save them, Mina and Rhys must race across zombie-infested wastelands and treacherous oceans-and Mina discovers the danger is not only to her countrymen, as she finds herself tempted to give up everything to the Iron Duke.

Wicked as They Come by Delilah Dawson

When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish….

Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible. (They’re also very good kissers.) But when the evil Mayor of Manchester (formerly Bludchester) redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home…but has she found love with Criminy? Could she stay in Sang forever?

Happy reading!

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

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

The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

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

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

Something that represents where you live

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

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

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

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

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

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

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

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

More about The Dastardly Miss Lizzie

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon     BN     HarperVoyager     BD    Kobo     iBooks

More about Viola

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

Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook

More about the Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Welcome, Rachel!

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

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

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

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

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

More about HallowRead

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

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

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

http://www.HallowRead.com

More about Rachel’s

Maurin Kincaide Series

The Morrigna
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book One

Free  at    Amazon    Audible    BN

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

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

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

Witch Hunt
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Two

Available at Amazon    BN   Audible

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

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

Wolfsbane
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Three

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

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

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

Bloodbath
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Four

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

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

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

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

Ill Fated
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Five

Available at BN

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

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

More about Rachel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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!

SilkWords: Branched Fiction Grows Up

My next guest is Sharon Lynn Fisher, author of the steampunk romance, A Heart for Copper, which is a “branched fiction” story — a “pick your path” sweet romance featuring the automaton Copper.

Along with being intrigued by the premise, I was interested in the story structure of branched fiction and how that might work with e-books, as well as the publisher’s two online interactive storytelling formats (Pick Your Path versus Reader Vote), and I was just the tiniest bit curious about what it was like to work with Boyd Multerer, “Xbox’s father of invention”  so I asked if Sharon would be willing to come talk about any of those things. Happily, she agreed. (SilkWords also publishes erotica and this post briefly discusses some of those stories; recommended reading age 18+).

As part of her blog tour, Sharon is also giving away 5 e-copies of A Heart for Copper and a boxed set of other stories. The Rafflecopter form and other giveaway info is below. Welcome, Sharon! 

A Heart for Copper

Have you ever read a romance where you wished the heroine had made a different choice?

Lots of us have memories of reading the old Choose Your Own Adventure stories as kids. Branched fiction has been around a long time, but telling adult stories this way is a more recent development.

Technology has made this style of storytelling a more seamless experience for the reader — hyperlinks have taken the place of page-flipping — and it’s become part of the growing genre of interactive fiction.

SilkWords was born of the conviction that romance/erotica and branched storytelling were made for each other. Have you ever read a romance where you wished the heroine had made a different choice?

In my Pick Your Path story A HEART FOR COPPER, the heroine is an automaton who has just been animated by her inventor. For the alchemy to stick, she must choose whether she wants to stay with the inventor — a charming young man she’s known her whole life — or find her own way in the world. Both choices lead to interesting outcomes. The reader is free to follow one path, in the style of a linear story, or explore the possibilities by reading them all.

COPPER is a sweet romance, but the majority of SilkWords stories are hot romances, erotic romances, and erotica. We’ve weighted more heavily in favor of these stories because that’s the type of content our readers prefer. Pick Your Path works beautifully in stories of erotic adventure, where choices are often about sexual partners, flavors of erotic activity (spanking? bondage?), and devices. It’s a lot like choosing a flavor of ice cream.

We were having so much fun with Pick Your Path that we started thinking about new ways to tell choice-based stories. We liked the way some authors were collaborating with readers on Wattpad, so we decided to create a similar experience on SilkWords.

For our Reader Vote stories, authors write an introduction with a selection of choices at the end. Readers vote for how they’d like to see the story proceed, and the author writes a new installment with a new set of choices. The story wraps up in about four installments.

We’ve got a lot of big plans for the site going forward! In a couple months (coinciding with our one-year anniversary) we’ll be launching a major site update that will introduce a game currency (hearts, of course) to boost interaction with and between readers. This was cooked up by our dev guy and co-founder Boyd Multerer, who founded Microsoft Xbox Live and was director of development for Xbox One.

We’re also looking at developing a shared world for SilkWords, where our authors can create a series of stories with the same setting and potentially the same characters.

If you’re interested in staying up to date, visit www.silkwords.com and sign up for our newsletter. You can also check out some of our content for free!

More About A Heart for Copper

An automaton created by an inventor’s son, Copper has finally been given a heart by her young master. Her choice of whether to keep the key or give it to him will determine what happens next in this “pick your path” steampunk fairy tale.

Will she join his family in their English country manor, where she’ll be forced to consider the question of whether she’s really human? Or will she search out the quirky alchemist responsible for giving her life?

Will her master hold onto her heart, or will she be tempted by the charms of an automaton man?

Sharon Lynn Fisher
Sharon Lynn Fisher

More About Sharon

An RWA RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, Sharon Lynn Fisher writes stories for the geeky at heart — meaty mash-ups of sci-fi, suspense, and romance, with no apology for the latter. She lives where it rains nine months of the year. And she has a strange obsession with gingers (down to her freaky orange cat).

Sharon has written three science fiction romance novels for Tor Books — Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8(2015) — and she’s indie publishing her erotica series Fantasies in Color.

She’s also the editorial director for (and a partner in) SilkWords!

The Giveaway

Sharon is giving away 5 ecopies A Heart for Copper and an ebox set of The Harem Club, Storm at SEA, and Fetish Fair. For the Rafflecopter form, click here. For my official giveaway rules, click here.

A Heart for Copper Banner

Thank you, Sharon, for guest blogging today!

p.s. tell your cat my cat, Ginger, says hello! (Mine is super sweet, not freaky 🙂 )

EVERY CAT WANTS CONTROL "We wants it. We needs it. Must have the precious."
EVERY CAT WANTS CONTROL
“We wants it. We needs it.
Must have the precious.”

Jennifer Harlow Releases the Omnibus Edition of VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES (#steampunk)

Happy July, all! To kick off a hot, summery month that’s known for vacations and voracious reading, Jen Harlow’s here with a guest post on how she wrangled her omnibus edition of VERITY HART VS. THE VAMPYRES into shape. Struggling writers who want to know they’re not alone and readers who love to read about all the stuff we pull our hair out over, read on! (There’s also a great giveaway. Details at the end.) Welcome, Jen!

Oh, @%&^

by Jennifer Harlow

She’s done! The weeks of research, the months of writing, the weeks of typing, the month of editing, it’s all done! She is ready to be read by my wonderful Beta testers who will see how splendiferous she is and confirm I am the genius I always knew I was! Huzzah!

Three Weeks Later…

Oh, @%&^. They hated it. They really hated it. They thought the main character was annoying. The male lead was too perfect (meaning no real man would act like that). I kept switching between too much description and too much telling and not showing. The entire first fifty pages were dull and redundant. And the grammar! Oy!

“Didn’t they teach you anything at the baby Ivy college your father and I took out a second mortgage on our house so you could attend?” my mother asked. (Yes, that watching Frat boys play beer pong is not how I want to spend my Friday nights, thank you very much).

Well, did you like anything? Yes. The chapter titles were funny.

Anything else? <long pause>  I liked the character names.

@%&^

What do you do when what you’ve written the first time around isn’t that great? Me, there was vodka and three Real Housewives marathons involved. (Kidding about the vodka.) It’s hard hearing criticism about something that you spent so much time and effort on. When they’re telling me their constructive criticism, I try to put on a brave face while inside I’m considering skewering them with a fireplace poker. (Once again kidding. It was a machete.) Then I watch more Real Housewives, calm down, and think about what they’ve said and the suggestions they give. Like how to make the hero less of an archetype. Make the heroine have faults instead of her being little miss perfect. See how much of the beginning can be cut away without losing the characterization and world building you presented in those pages to get to the action quicker. Use a thesaurus as much as possible. When in doubt, use a comma. Really ask if you need to describe the leaves on all the trees. Then put on your big girl pants and get back to work. (Unless there’s a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on. Love me some Lisa and Yolanda.) With every word on the page ask if this is the best choice. Sound like fun? About as much fun as Andy Cohen has at the Housewives reunions. (I think I have a problem.)

Writing is @%&^#*! hard work. Most of my books have gone through at least five edits before I even present it to my Beta readers. This soul crushing conversation occurred after the sixth edit of the steampunk book I wrote, Verity Hart Vs. The Vampyres. I cut the first chapter entirely, then worked eight hours on the current first chapter, twelve on the second, and so on. My main character went from Cher Horowitz in Clueless to a pretty version of Jane Eyre. Her father constantly threatens to put her away in an asylum, her only friend in the world is her brother, and everyone looks down at her for being a spinster. My hero now smokes, drinks, cusses, and is rude to everyone, including the woman he’s falling in love with. I did more research into the Victorian and modern world, spending hours conceiving ways they could merge in realistic ways. There is more red ink on the pages than black. As it should be. Nothing comes out of the gate perfect, but if you’re smart enough and trust in your skills and vision, it can certainly get pretty darn close.

Publishers are tough, almost as tough as readers. So though it may hurt, and take for-bloody-ever, editing is probably the most important part of writing. I’ve learned that 80% of the time my Beta testers are right. As long as you have the backbone of the story and halfway decent characters with potential, then all is not lost. Most things can be fixed. And when I got those notes from them, I took some time off, and then revisited Verity and her steampunk world. It took months, and an entire red pen, but I made all the changes and if the early reviews are any indication I succeeded. And after all the hard work and tears, in the end you get this…

steampunk, romance, Jennifer Harlow, Verity Hart

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KEEP CALM AND STEAMPUNK ON

The whole of Victorian London knows there is something not quite right about the Lady Verity Hart. She may be the daughter of an MP and the sister of famed inventor Lord David Hart, but she is a spinster whose own father threatens to send her to the madhouse every fortnight. Because Society is correct-Verity Hart is no lady. If they suspected how quick with a quip she is, let alone the majority of her brother’s ingenious machines were her design, the sale of fainting couches would double.

Verity requires one herself when her beloved brother is kidnapped by vampyres in the dead of night. With the aid of an aggravating, rude American bounty hunter with a secret of his own, Verity takes to land, sea, and even air to rescue the only person who could ever love and truly accept her. Or is he?

Jennifer Harlow
Jennifer Harlow

More on Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.

She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series and The Galilee Falls Trilogy. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at her website or find her here:

Giveaway!

Jennifer is giving away 10 ebooks. The giveaway is open to international. To enter the tour-wide giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

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So how about you? How do you deal with constructive criticism? Me? I’m more of a fan of wine and BBC shows and/or sf movie marathons than vodka and the Real Housewives, but I’m betting we all have our preferred couch therapies. Here’s hoping no one’s laid up anytime soon clutching a glass and a remote! Thank you, Jen, for guest blogging today!