5 PHOTOS: Jenna Barwin (#WritersLife – #vampires, bloody fish, and bromeliads!)

Please welcome Jenna Barwin, who’s here to share her five “writer’s life” photos!

The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

I shoot underwater photography. Recently, I considered whether there was a link between the sea creatures I photograph, and my fiction writing. Denizens of the sea and vampires share this in common: they can be both beautiful and dangerous.

For example, this lionfish elegantly floats through the water, and is quite lovely to watch, but its spines contain a nasty neurotoxin. Unlike vampires, they aren’t aggressive, and they move slowly through the water, so it’s easy to avoid them.

Something that represents where you live

Dana Point is named after Richard Henry Dana Jr. He wrote Two Years Before the Mast, published in 1840, which chronicles his two-year sea voyage to California. Dana Point hosts a tall ships festival each year, and you can sail on craft similar to the one Dana wrote about. I had a great time at last year’s tall ships festival, and took this photo while sailing aboard the Spirit of Dana Point.

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

My mother passed away in 2004. She had a green thumb, and I have a thumb tattooed with a skull and crossbones. Plants I take care of rarely thrive. Well, I inherited her potted plants, including this bromeliad. I’m proud to say I’ve kept it alive 13 years, and it’s still going strong.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Software updates are like Russian roulette. When I press “update now,” I can almost hear the gun’s cylinder spinning. Will it really update overnight, or will I come back in the morning to find it stuck in that endless spinning wheel of death? And after it finishes updating, will my programs stop functioning? I’ve lost days of writing time to updates that froze my computer. And anything that gets between me and writing frustrates me.

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Nature photography, both underwater and on land, is a source of great joy for me. This was the hardest photo to pick because I have so many favorites. I chose this great egret, taken in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The bird was hunting along a river, stalking a fish, and struck, spearing its dinner. With a little shake of its head, the egret caught the fish in its mouth and gobbled it down.

Your outdoor photos are beautiful!

The Interview

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

A research scientist is forced by her people to spy on the vampires she’s trying to help. One of those vampires is an expert winemaker with eyes the color of dark bourbon—and just as intoxicating—who’s hiding his own deep secrets. In the end, he learns to love again, and she learns to embrace her own decisions, which includes choosing him.

Dark Wine at Midnight, the first book in my urban fantasy Hill Vampire series, is available on Amazon.

What are you working on next?

Dark Wine at Sunrise is book 2 in the Hill Vampire series, and I’m currently editing it.

What are you currently reading?

Jeaniene Frost’s Into the Night, the final book in her series about Leila and Vlad the Impaler (just don’t call him Dracula). Jeaniene writes “couple series”—a series of books featuring one romantic couple. Once I fall in love with a couple, I like following their story through multiple books.

My Hill Vampire series is a couple series, although there may be other characters who find love too.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

The Magicians, season 2. I love the college angst mixed with superb writing and great characters.

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

My favorite villain is Dr. Horrible from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Joss Whedon did a fantastic job directing this short video story, which exemplifies a saying we writers often hear: the villain is the hero of his or her own story.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Getting discovered. Indie publishing opened up the world of publishing to many books that the Big Publishers were afraid to take a risk on. But it also increased the number of books readers can choose from. It’s easy to get lost in the volume of new books being produced.

How can we meet that challenge?

First, deliver top quality writing and don’t skimp on the editing process. Second, put ourselves out there through social media and other reader-oriented opportunities. Readers won’t just stumble across our books. We have to go to where they are. Third, work with other authors to promote each other’s work. Working together, we’ve got this!

Where to Find Jenna

Newsletter | Facebook | Twitter: @JennaBarwin | Goodreads

Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts, Jenna!

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Author Interview: L.D. Rose, Physician by Day, Writer by Night

Today’s guest is urban fantasy author L.D. Rose, whose latest book, BLACK BULLET, was released earlier this month. I asked her to share her thoughts on time management, superheroes, her vampire series, what it’s like to live in Rhode Island, and pictures of her pets. She gamely answered all my questions, provided adorable furry friend photos, and a chance to win a $10 Amazon eGC + a print copy of her first book. Details below. Welcome, Linda!

Being a doctor is a demanding job. How do you balance work, writing, and having a personal life? Do you have any time management tips for writers who are struggling to find time to write?

To be honest, I’m not quite sure how I do it, LOL! I don’t have children and it’s just hubby, our pets, and me so that helps. I tend to do most of my writing on my rare days off, weekends, and especially staycations (I enter total author mode then!). A lot of my promotion is on the go, during quick breaks at work and such. I designate time to study and keep up with doctoring, exercising, writing/revising/promotion, and spending time with hubby every day. Sometimes it’s hard to stick to a schedule, and sometimes one thing takes up much more than the others, but it’s all a matter of just MAKING the time in the end. If you truly want it, you have to fit it into your daily life.

As for finding time to write, many people use timers and such, but that’s never worked for me. I generally designate complete days to write. If I have a day off coming up, I say, “Hey, I’m going to write for at least half of it, then spend time with family/friends/hubby.” Granted, the rest of the week will fill up with my studies and other extraneous things, but I prefer to get a huge chunk out and focus solely on writing for that period of time (rather than a half hour here and there). I know it doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s worked well for me so far. Writing every day is essentially impossible for me, so I tend to designate writing time on a weekly basis.

Your bio says you’re a wanna be superhero. Tell us more! What would your backstory be? What superpowers, weapons, or tools would you use? What would you wear while fighting villains? Would you have any sidekicks? Did you see Doctor Strange? What did you think of it?

Oh my goodness, what a question, LOL!

Yeah, my superpower is asking long, rambling questions… 😉

Well, I grew up poor and my family (and I) had to work our asses off to have even simple comforts. Experiencing this definitely influenced my perception and overall views on life, so I definitely wouldn’t have taken the Bruce Wayne route, haha! I’d probably end up more along the lines of Catwoman or Jessica Jones, where they kind of just stumble in on being a superhero, LOL.

As for superpowers, I’d love to be able to heal people (naturally), but I’ve always had a thing for psychic powers such as telepathy or telekinesis. Although it would be a huge burden, I’m always questioning people’s motives, actions, and what the hell they’re thinking! Telekinesis would definitely cater to my intermittent laziness (haha), but since I lack physical strength in general, it would prove useful if I want to kick some ass. 😉

I’m pretty good with a gun (shhh), but that’s boring, so I’d love to use knives or daggers as my weapon of choice. A dart gun loaded with some interesting drug cocktails would be useful too. 😉 As for clothes, I’d definitely go the more comfortable route, much like the modernized version of Wonder Woman. Anything I could easily maneuver in along with sneakers or boots. I’d wear my hair up too, nothing more annoying than getting hair in your face while you’re trying to lay the beat down! There’s no way I could fight with heels and a catsuit, either, that’s outrageous.

Agreed!

As for a sidekick, I think I’d go with my dog, haha! Animals make the best sidekicks. I didn’t see Doctor Strange, but I’d love to, and will soon!

You’re currently writing a vampire series called The Order of the Senary. What is the Senary? How many books will be in the series? Do the books have other supernatural creatures in them?

“Senary” means anything related to the number six, so essentially “The Order of Six.” The Senary is a group of six male mercenaries assigned to protect NYC, all genetically engineered half-human, half-vampire hybrids with side effects that lead to each having a distinct “superpower.” I essentially took everything I loved about the paranormal and comics and mashed them together into this series. Each novel revolves around one of these fellas and both the internal and external battles they endure. Not to mention how they each find their one true love, whether human, vampire, or something else entirely.

I’m planning for seven books in this series, one for each hybrid and an extra for a certain “good” vampire (whose story is BLACK BULLET, incidentally!). Maybe I’ll do a spinoff revolving around a separate Order someday, but for now I’m drawing a hard line there. The novels are dominated by vampires in a dystopian world where they seize their place at the top of the food chain and actively hunt humans. The hybrids with their “traits” are their own breed, and I do plan for cameos of a few other types of supernatural creatures, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers! 😀

What’s it like to live in Rhode Island? What are some of your favorite things to do there?

RI is a great little state and grossly underestimated! My favorite thing about RI is the ocean; we definitely have gorgeous beaches here and I spend way too much time walking on them! There’s also plenty to do, with mountains, snowboarding and hiking nearby along with some FAB restaurants (thanks to one of the nation’s premier culinary schools being located in Providence). I live just outside of the city and it’s perfect for me—not too overwhelming with plenty of activities to do. I definitely miss NYC (where I went to medical school), and someday I might return, but for now I’m enjoying my little stint here in America’s smallest state.

I’ve never been to Rhode Island, but your description makes me want to go!

Does your dog get along with your cats? Names? Pictures?

She does, shockingly! One of my cats, Oreo, definitely gets along with her and they frequently play with each other. Milk, on the other hand, tends to be more standoffish with her, but I’ve caught them cuddling. Milk and Oreo (both brothers) are eight years old and Kaia (my Boxer) came along when they were two. She adores them both like siblings, probably because she doesn’t know any better, LOL. It also helps that both cats are very friendly and “doglike,” so they all probably think they’re human, haha. I absolutely love them and I don’t know what I would do without them!

They are adorable! Love their names!!

More about Black Bullet

black-bulletFledgling vampire Jonathan Kerr has just met his match.

Not even his past life as a former marine and FBI agent could prepare him for the battle against the monster inside him, struggling to take hold. After an old nemesis of the Senary surfaces in Brooklyn, unleashing chaos and terror in the battered borough, Jon sets out to take him down. Instead, he ends up with far more than he bargained for when he clashes with the beautiful half-vampire hybrid, Lawan Knight.

After escaping near death and suffering unspeakable horror at the hands of vampires, Lawan trusts no one, regardless of species. In between bouts of drunken stupor, her only goal is to exterminate all those who’ve wronged her, including every member of Jon’s vampire bloodline. But Jon’s soulful eyes and quick smile crawls under her skin, transforming her black and white world into a hazy shade of gray.

As the days rapidly grow darker, Jon and Lawan turn to one another, but their inner demons threaten to tear them apart. The only way either of them will survive is if they overcome their greatest fear—love.

Amazon     Goodreads

More about Linda

L.D. Rose is a neurotic physician by day, crazed writer by night, and all around wannabe superhero. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, but she’s been known to delve into horror, sci-fi, and medical suspense on occasion. L.D. Rose is a PAN member of the RWA, FF&P, NEC-RWA and CoLoNY. She currently lives in Rhode Island with her studly hubby, her hyperactive boxer, and her two devious cats.

Sign up for her newsletter for the latest on the Senary, sneak peeks, giveaways, and other fun stuff.  You’ll receive a free horror short story with sign-up! You can also join her street team on FB for more shenanigans: DEVOUR THE NIGHT.

Where else to find her:

More about the Giveaway

Linda is giving away one $10 Amazon eGift Certificate and a print copy of RELEASING THE DEMONS. (U.S. residents can have the book signed). Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

black-bullet-banner-851-x-315

Thank you for the terrific interview, Linda! Best wishes for Black Bullet!

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

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

Something that represents something unique about you:

Anise Rae Marathon

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

Something that represents where you live:

Anise Rae Georgia

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

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

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

Anise Rae Gylfie

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

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

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you:

Anise Rae Frustrating

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

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

Something that brings you joy (besides writing):

Anise Rae Joy

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

Interview

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

My latest book is Enchanter’s Echo.

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

What are you working on next?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

What are you currently watching?

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

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

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

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

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

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

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

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

an author’s best promo is their latest release;

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

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

How can we meet that challenge?

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

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

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

Anise Rae
Anise Rae

More About Anise

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

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

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

Anise can be found online here:

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

Five Photographs: Celia Breslin (Desserts You Can’t Eat + Disney for Adults)

This spring, I’m hosting a guest blog series called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures and complete a brief interview. Today’s guest is Celia Breslin. Welcome, Celia!

Hi Everyone!

I’m happy to be here today to participate in Jill’s new guest blog series.  And Jill, thanks for giving me a reason to peruse my photo albums. 🙂

Something that represents something unique about you

Breslin Tattoo

This is my tattoo.  I designed it myself. I was going for a primitive, moon-goddess-meets-silver-surfer kind of vibe.  Actual size: six inches.

Something that represents where you live

Breslin San Francisco Fog

San Francisco is a beautiful city.  I love watching the fog roll over the hills.

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

Breslin Cats

These are my cats Lenny and Hazel.  We adopted them from our local shelter when they were both a little over one year old. They’re loads of purring fun.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Breslin Dessert

This is made-to-order, molten chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and delicious, creamy sauce at Moki’s Sushi & Pacific Grill.  I get to watch my family enjoy this dessert because I’m allergic to dairy and cannot eat it!  Frustrating, indeed. 🙂

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Breslin Vegas

I love going on vacation with my family. Last fall, we went to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary and stayed in a suite at the Wynn. We like to spend most of our time poolside then go to shows in the evening.

Interview

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

Human-wolf hybrid Darci wants a cure for her shifting problem not a Wolf mate, but Dominant wolf Ross intends to change her mind and capture her heart. – DIAMOND MOON, Black Hills Wolves series.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently editing the second werewolf story for the Black Hills Wolves (a multi-author series from Decadent Pub), writing the third wolf story, and also working on the third vampire novel for my Tranquilli Bloodline series (Champagne Books).

What are you currently reading?

21 Marine Salute, a collection of military romance stories by Heather Long.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Vampire Diaries and Originals.

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

Vampires and werewolves top my list of favorite fantasy creatures, along with the Fae. I particularly enjoy them all in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. And her vampire villain, Lothaire, tops my list of fun villains. For a weapon, I’ll go with the daggers in J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’d say it’s the same challenge pre and post publication: it’s important to keep writing while one attends to the other aspects of the business, such as promotion, conferences, queries, submissions, etc.

How can we meet that challenge?

Write every day. Lock in that writing time on your busy schedule and make it happen!

Thanks again, Jill, this was fun! Have a great day, everyone! ::waves::  🙂

More About Celia

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

Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us, Celia! A dairy allergy would be tough, especially if it prevents you from eating chocolate desserts. (Although it would be tougher for me to give up cheese. I’m one of those people who prefers fruity/sour sweets to chocolate ones.) I’ve only been to Vegas once but I really enjoyed it. Went with a bunch of girlfriends that I’ve been friends with forever and we had a blast. I’d love to go back with my husband. Everyone was so friendly. Disney for adults! 😀

Now back to writing! 😉

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

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

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

CELIA’S TRANQUILLI BLOODLINE SERIES

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

How about three words?  Vampires, love, mayhem.

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

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

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

WRITING HABITS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have another job in addition to writing?

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

FAVORITE BOOKS AND AUTHORS

What is your favorite book and why?

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

Favorite author?

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

OTHER FAVORITES

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

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

Favorite color?

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

Favorite singer/group?

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

Favorite food?

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

Favorite holiday treat?

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

WHAT’S NEXT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays!

Celia

More About Destiny

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

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

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

Where to find it:

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

More About Celia

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

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

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

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

Karen Greco: First Rule of Fight Club

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

urban fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

More About Tainted Blood

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

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

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

No wonder she still can’t get a date.

Karen Greco
Karen Greco

More About Karen

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

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

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

Karen can be found online here:

The Giveaway

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

To enter, click here for the Rafflecopter link.

Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Free Short Story Prequel

River Vamp

River Vamp: A Hell’s Belle Prequel Short Story

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

Free at Smashwords

Tainted Blood Banner

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

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

Thank you for guest blogging today, Karen!

#Writing #Workshops for October

Below are the online workshops being offered in October by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop in 2015, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Dialogue:

Don’t Let ‘Em Say What You Mean

10/03/2014 – 10/31/2014

We all know great dialogue when we read it—and the best dialogue seems effortless. But good dialogue takes work and a few key ingredients.

What do you need to get your characters talking in ways that make for riveting, exciting scenes?

1) Your Characters’ Voices
2) Conflict: Everyone Needs to Want Something
3) Making it Better Than Reality
4) Subtext: Layering Under the Words
5) Internal Dialogue – What’s too Much?
6) Invisible Tags and Punctuation
7) Accents, Ye Olde English, and Slang
8) Punch it! – Making Careful Edits

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.

She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Plotting

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Plotting is a crucial aspect in every novel. This class uses the three-act model of plotting which is appropriate for the pantser, the plotter, or a combination of both. The approach is plotting major points of the story and will also show the relationship of plotting to characterization through Deb Dixon’s “goals, motivation, and conflict” method. There will also be a short lecture on sagging middles and hitting the wall, what they are and how to avoid them.  Classes will be a mixture of lecture and exercises. By the end of the class, a student will have plotted one novel.

About the Presenter, Monette Michaels

My undergraduate majors were English and Mathematics from Purdue University. I then attended IU-Indpls Law School. My first job was in legal editing. Currently, my day job is as an arbitrator in commercial, securities, and employment law.

My creative writing background: I write as Monette Michaels and Rae Morgan. My first-published book was Fatal Vision (as Monette Michaels) in the late 1990s with one of the early e-publishers; it was re-published by LTDBooks, a Canadian indie press, in 2000. I went on to write several other single titles for LTDBooks: Death Benefits (an EPPIE finalist), Green Fire (a Dream Realm finalist), and The Case of the Virtuous Vampire (an EPPIE finalist and a CAPA Finalist) and now re-published as The Virtuous Vampire at Liquid Silver Books. I won an EPPIE in 2005 for Blind-Sided, published at Atlantic Bridge Publishing.

Currently, I write three series as Monette Michaels: the Gooden and Knight Paranormal Mystery series (The Virtuous Vampire, The Deadly Séance), The Security Specialists International series (Eye of the Storm, an EPPIE Finalist, Stormy Weather Baby, a novella, Cold Day in Hell, Storm Front, a novella, Weather the Storm) and the Prime Chronicles Trilogy (Prime Obsession and Prime Selection) .

As Rae Morgan, I write the Coven of the Wolf Series ( Destiny’s Magick, Moon Magick (Dream Realm finalist), Treading the Labyrinth (EPPIE finalist), and a novella“No Secrets,” in Zodiac Elements: Water). My single titles are Earth Awakened (a Terran Realm book), Enchantress, “Evanescence,” in Edge of Night, and “Once Upon a Princess,” in Ain’t Your Mama’s Bedtime Stories.

For the first years of Liquid Silver Books, I was the Acquisitions Editor and also edited books. I am currently a Senior Editor and do still read, acquire, and edit for the main lines of LSB, as needed.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Vampires Along Silk Road and Beyond

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Welcome to Vamps R Us! Is there another mythological creature that’s been as the source of so much more entertainment and speculation in recent years than the legend of the vampire? Pop culture and entertainment is overflowing with the bloodsuckers, and has been since Bram Stoker introduced the cover boy for vamps, Dracula, back in 1897.

But he wasn’t the first vampire to catch the imagination of the public, and Transylvania wasn’t the first place to see vampires. There have been stories about human-appearing monsters all over the world who suck the blood and the life force out of people, sometimes seducing them along the way, sometimes just going straight for the jugular, thanks very much, for thousands of years.

The descriptions about them change, of course, but there are a couple of details that don’t: One, vampires are always the dead come back to life, and two, they always vant to drink your bloooood. Except … vampires aren’t always dead, and they don’t necessarily want to suck your blood. Confused? Don’t blame you. It turns out that not only have there been legends about the vampires for thousands of years, but they’ve been spotted all over the world, and they’re all little different, differing from region to region, period after period, in the most unexpected of ways. The one thing that doesn’t change is their ability to mesmerize and terrify us.

Intrigued by ghosts? Let Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn take you on a walk around the world to examine those myths, and see how ghosts shift, change, and evolve as we travel, and haunt us wherever we go.

About the Presenters,

Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn

Jacquie Rogers’ first burning desire was to be a baseball announcer, but that didn’t work out so she decided to write romance novels. Her latest novel is the third in the Much Ado western romance series, Much Ado About Mavericks. Faery Merry Christmas is her latest fantasy release. Jacquie is owner of Romancing The West, a popular western blog, and teaches online classes on various writing topics.

Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $20.00

Click here to register for this workshop.

Character Interview: Emily Black from Robyn Bachar’s POISON IN THE BLOOD

Today’s guest blogger is paranormal romance author Robyn Bachar, whose latest release is Poison in the Blood. She has a fun character interview, excerpt, and giveaway. Details and links are below. Welcome, Robyn!

Poison in the Blood

Character Interview: Emily Black

Robyn: No, thank you. I don’t drink tea. I’ll take one of those tiny sandwiches, though… So, would you kindly introduce yourself to the readers?

Emily: *mystified* You don’t drink tea? That’s…horrible. Oh. Yes. I am Emily Black, and I am a seer—

 

Robyn: What’s a seer?

 

Emily: You don’t know what a seer is?

 

Robyn: Of course *I* know what a seer is. You’re explaining for this nice audience.

 

Emily: *straightens in her chair and folds her hands primly* A seer is a magician who reads magical auras and receives prophetic visions. We are the rarest kind of magician. I’ve never met another seer. Michael and I did try to meet with the one in Italy during our tour of the continent, but there was a problem with the trains. Seers are quite adept at locating a person’s soul mate, which is how I discovered that Michael is my soul mate.

 

Robyn: How’s that going for you? You’ve been married for a few years now, right?

 

Emily: Yes, and we have five beautiful children—two daughters and three sons.

 

Robyn: Yeah, I’m sorry about putting you through that whole birthing twins ordeal.

 

Emily: Pardon?

 

Robyn: Never mind. So I understand you’re fighting crime now? Because of that whole “your husband becoming a vampire and you need a new activity” thing.

 

Emily: *fidgets with the fingers of her gloves* Yes, Michael is a chronicler now, and it is a respectable position. I am grateful that he survived the ritual that transformed him. However, I wouldn’t say that I am “fighting crime”, as you put it. I am simply seeking tasks that are a challenging use of my seer abilities. I do enjoy matchmaking, but I am certain that I can do so much more with my magic. I am confident that I will be able to identify and locate the murderer responsible for abducting and tormenting local magician women.

 

Robyn: Well said. Do you have any advice for the readers?

 

Emily: To live each moment to its fullest. Even a seer cannot truly know the future, and one never knows when misfortune may strike. Those poor young ladies…

 

Robyn: Don’t worry, Em. I have faith that you’ll catch the murderer. Though there’s that whole problem with the… Umm, never mind. You’ll figure it out. Hey, is that cake?

Excerpt

Normally stepping into a garden would soothe me, but we were still within London, where there was no comfort whatsoever. I looked up at the night sky and wished I were with Michael.

“You have the soul of an artist, Miss Rose. It is a rare gift.” Mr. Paris stroked my hand, and I tugged it free of his arm. I folded both hands before me primly and smiled.

“Again, that is very kind of you.”

“I consider myself a patron of the arts.”

“So you attend gatherings such as this often?” I asked.

“Of course. I am always on the lookout for new talent.”

“I see. Did you know Mrs. Harding?” I tried to examine his aura to determine his reaction, but his magic continued to be so overwhelming that my eyes watered. Mr. Paris must be unspeakably powerful, and I found myself both worried and intrigued. Perhaps he was a sorcerer? One who specialized in darkness?

“I did. Poor girl. What a terrible thing to have happened to her and her family… Tell me, are you working on a second collection of your work?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.

“I am, though I am afraid the subject matter is quite a bit darker.”

Mr. Paris smiled a predatory grin, and my pulse leapt with a thrill of fear. “I am not afraid of the dark, Miss Rose. Are you?”

He stepped closer, but I held my ground, studying him with a curious tilt to my head. “What are you?” I asked.

He blinked, startled. “I beg your pardon?”

“What sort of magic do you practice?” I clarified.

“Oh. I am a librarian, of course,” he replied, and I laughed, unable to help myself. “What’s so funny?”

“You are most certainly not a librarian. Do people truly believe that lie?”

The smile slid from Mr. Paris’s face as his expression hardened. He stepped forward and tried to grab my arm, but Miss Dubois was suddenly between us, a shining silver blur. With a snarl he turned and ran, and the guardian chased him out of the garden and into the street.

Uncertain of what to do, I followed. I stood hesitant at the garden gate, wondering which way they went. My vision shifted, and I followed Miss Dubois’s blazing footsteps. I paused next to a blur traced over the high brick wall of another garden. It was another magical doorway, rather like the one I had discovered near Mrs. Harding’s body outside the Undiscovered Country. Foolishly I raised my hand to touch it, despite knowing full well that doing so could trigger another vision, but a hand emerged from the brick wall and grabbed my wrist.

Overwhelmed with shock, I barely managed a strangled gasp as Mr. Paris stepped through the wall and glared down at me. “Who are you?” he demanded.

“You first.” My voice trembled, and Mr. Paris grinned. He tightened his grip and snapped several small bones in my wrist, and I screamed.

“Who are you?” he repeated.

Something bubbled up within me, a bright plume of prophetic magic that became my answer. “I am your end.” That time my voice did not tremble at all, but was filled with terrible certainty. I would cause Mr. Paris’s death, and I knew it with as much confidence as I knew the sun would rise in the morning.

Something in my gaze must have worried him, because he snarled. Scowling, he grabbed my forearm with both hands and twisted. The bone snapped like dry kindling, and I screamed again. Before he could torment me further Miss Dubois arrived and bashed him with a round silver shield. Mr. Paris vanished into thin air, and the guardian stood near me. One arm bore the shield, while in her other hand she held a sword. How cunning of her. I wanted a sword as well.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

My knees wobbled and began to buckle, but then two dark blurs streaked up to us, and I was suddenly swept from my feet and cradled close in Michael’s arms.

“Darling! What happened?” he asked.

“You caught me.” I blinked—however had he moved that fast? Simon sighed and shook his head at his student, and I sensed that Michael and I were both in for a scolding.

“Of course I did. I will always catch you. Are you all right?”

More About Poison in the Blood

She is honey to his throat…but one sweet taste could part them forever…

Banished from home while her husband adjusts to life as an immortal, blood-drinking chronicler, Emily Black is homesick, heartsick and struggling under the constant sensory barrage of a city drenched in ancient magic. When an old friend asks for her aid in solving a string of murders, she welcomes the distraction, despite the danger.

Justine Dubois is grateful for a seer’s help, and more understanding than anyone of Emily’s plight. As a guardian, Justine commands respect; as a woman, her magic is considered inferior. Together, they are determined to prove their worth to London’s magicians, starting with solving these murders—with maybe a bit of matchmaking on the side.

Long before he met his soul mate, Michael Black made a commitment to join the Order of St. Jerome. He will live forever, forced to watch the woman he loves age and die. As Emily hunts the murderer, Michael struggles to protect her. But if he loses control of his hunger, the greatest threat to her safety could be Michael himself.

Warning: Contains tortured soul mates, scheming faeries, vampire debauchery, deadly parasols, illicit blood-drinker relations, and adorable plot moppets.

Readers can receive 30% off the ebook of Poison in the Blood from the Samhain Store by using the coupon code POISON14 at checkout.

Robyn Bachar
Robyn Bachar

More About Robyn

Robyn Bachar was born and raised in Berwyn, Illinois, and loves all things related to Chicago, from the Cubs to the pizza. It seemed only natural to combine it with her love of fantasy, and tell stories of witches and vampires in the Chicagoland area. As a gamer, Robyn has spent many hours rolling dice, playing rock-paper-scissors and slaying creatures in MMPORGs.

More About the Giveaway

  • 1 signed print copy of Poison in the Blood
  • 1 $25 Amazon gift card

To enter the giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form.

Poison in the Blood Banner

Thank you, Robyn, for guest blogging today. Hope everyone is having a great week!

Are Authors Allowed To Play Favorites? Susannah Sandlin Picks her Top 5 Scenes from ALLEGIANCE

Today’s guest blogger is paranormal romantic thriller writer Susannah Sandlin, who is urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson’s alter ego. She’s here to dispel the myth that’s it’s not ok to play favorites… at least when it comes to books, characters, or scenes. She plays favorites and she shares five of them below. She’s also sponsoring a great tour-wide giveaway, including eGift Certificates and books. Details are at the end of the post. Welcome, Susannah!

allegiance-cover

Scene It: Five Favorite Scenes from Allegiance

by Susannah Sandlin

Authors are supposed to be like parents. You know, loving all our children equally. Not playing favorites with characters or books or scenes.

Horse-puckey. I will swear to this day (and often have) that my mom likes my brother best while I was a daddy’s girl.

And so it is with authors, if we’re forced to admit it. I have favorite characters, favorite books, favorite scenes within books. Today, since Allegiance is out this week and fresh in my mind (never mind I’ve written three books since I actually wrote this one—such is the bizarre schedule of an author), are my five fave scenes from the newest book in the Penton Legacy series, in order…

#5… Mirren learns that feeding from a shapeshifter isn’t quite like a human. Every member of the Penton community is bonded to one of the Penton master vampires, right? So it’s no big deal for newcomers Nik and Robin to be bonded. Aidan bonds Nik and Mirren takes Robin…only Nik is human and Robin isn’t. If you’ve read the series and wondered if Mirren Kincaid, known in his mercenary days as The Slayer, ever gets scared, well the answer is yes. It’s a fun scene—well, for everyone except Mirren and Robin. The two most fearless characters in Penton get a little freaked. Okay, a lot.

#4… Cage is caged. The hero of Allegiance, Cage Reynolds, was last seen in Penton with a maybe-something-relationship developing with Melissa Calvert. Since Robin Ashton came to town, he’s become fascinated with the feisty little shifter. (Don’t worry, it’s really not a love triangle.) But Cage gets caught in a little cat-fighting, so to speak, when Melissa and Robin finally meet. It doesn’t help that Melissa is possessive and Robin is wearing a sweatshirt tied around her waist…and nothing else. Cage is totally out of his league as the women snark it out, and his discomfort is really funny.

#3… “The wreck.” There’s an automobile accident in the book—although it was no accident—that literally changes things for every single character. The aftermath of it was emotional and gut-wrenching to write. It might not make you tear up, but it did me.

#2…The prologue and the final scene in the book. They dovetail really well to start and finish the book and, of course, I can’t exactly say what they are because then you’d have no need to read the book, right? Let’s just say the ending scene as it plays out against the opening of the book is dramatic. It’s both incredibly satisfying and incredibly sad, and maybe unexpected.

#1… Robin Ashton’s first appearance in the book. It’s a solemn occasion, and the petite little eagle shape-shifter wanders out of the woods without Mirren or Cage having a clue as to who she is. Her first lines to the 6-foot-8 Mirren (and note that she’s 5-foot-2) is to get in his face…er, sternum…and announce, “I’m your worst f*ing nightmare.” The scene pretty much degenerates from that point onward. I had a blast writing it, and it still makes me laugh.

Which scene do you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

More About Allegiance

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the fourth book in the smart and steamy Penton Legacy series.

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is an attraction to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love is the last thing Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson
Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson

More About Susannah

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

She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series. Her Penton novel, Omega, was nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine. Absolution was the winner of the 2013 Holt Medallion in Paranormal Romance.

More About the Tour-Wide Giveaway

Susannah is giving away these prizes at the end of her tour:

  • 1 $50 Amazon gift card
  • 2 $10 Amazon gift cards
  • 2 Author swag packs (books, swag)

To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 or older. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Allegiance Banner

So, how about you? Do you play favorites? Which scene of Susannah’s above did you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

Susannah, congratulations and best wishes for Allegiance. Thank you for guest blogging today!

Roxanne Rhoads on the Vampires in Hex and the Single Witch

Roxanne Rhoads

Roxanne Rhoads is my next guest for the 2012 Fall into Winter Darkness Book Blast. Many of you probably already know Roxanne because she’s the owner of Bewitching Book Tours. In fact, she’s been helping me with the DLOD blog tour — speaking of which, I’m at Ex Libris today talking about the humans from DLOD…while Roxanne is here to discuss the vampires from Hex and the Single Witch, the first book in her new Vehicle City Vampires series. As part of her tour, Roxanne’s giving away some really cool prizes, including SWAG packs, a $10 Amazon eGift Card, and e-copies of Hex and the Single Witch, so be sure to check out the prize pack pics and how you can enter to win them at the end of the post. Welcome, Roxanne!

The Vampires in Hex and the Single Witch by Roxanne Rhoads

Hex and the Single Witch’s main character, Anwyn, is a witch not a vampire so many are wondering — why is the series called Vehicle City Vampires?

Vampires run Vehicle City. Sometimes in the background, sometimes right out in the open and many don’t even realize they are dealing with vamps. The late twentieth century seen a second Hysteria where supernaturals of all sorts were outed thanks to vampires who decided they no longer wanted to live in the shadows pretending to be human. This caused a war…a massive slaughter with high casualties on both sides (human and Other). To remedy the situation the most powerful witches in the world cast a mass spelling that worked so well Others now walk among humans as themselves and the humans don’t even know they are dealing with anything unusual.

There is a small problem though — as time goes by those who were small children or not even born yet when the spelling took place — will soon be adults. And they see Others for exactly who and what they are.

The top fang in Flint is Satinka Tala. She’s a side character in Hex but will play an important role throughout the series and will have her own book after I wrap up Anwyn’s story.

Satinka Tala is a centuries old Native American vampire who was tasked with being The Guardian of the land that became Flint (Vehicle City). She takes her job seriously and wants to be at peace with humans. She rules the city with kindness and empathy and cares for the humans that are suffering.

She keeps her eyes on everything and owns a lot of land. And she’s very philanthropic. She wants the city to thrive. But everything seems to work against her. So she created a group of Guardians that are the paranormal equivalent to police. But they can do things the human police cannot — like take down demons and vampires — things bullets don’t stop.

Satinka tries very hard to keep the humans safe and the “Others” under control.  She even throws an annual Vampire Ball to entertain everyone and lets humans and vamps mingle safely. Vampires disguised as humans dressed as vampires.

Hmmm. Do you think this is what this happening at the actual Flint Vampire Ball? Yes there is a real vampire ball in Flint every year. It is hosted by Vertigo Theatrics and partial proceeds go to the Flint Farmer’s Market.

Another thing about Satinka is not only is she a vampire, she’s also a shifter. Not a were, but a shifter — no moon needed. And she can take more than just one shifted form.

Many of the vampires on Vehicle City Vampires will defy normal conventions and in a way, be hybrids.

The vampires are all a little different from each other. Some have issues with sunlight, some do not, some have silver sensitivities some do not.

This is because there are many species of Others (fae, demon, shifter, witch, etc) that have interbred with humans over the centuries. When a human is turned into a vampire the dormant powers inside them become active. Most humans will never know they have “Other” blood inside them until the catalyst of becoming a vampire brings that dormant power to the surface. In addition vampires also gain some of their abilities and powers from the vampire that made them, their sire. The result is a species of vampires that have a wide variety of powers and abilities. Which is why they are so hard to track, kill or fight — you never know what you’re going up against when you deal with a vamp.

A 100% human with no “Other” blood inside them will not survive the change into a vampire.

In the Vehicle City Vampire series I wanted to take all the myths, legends and variances of vampire abilities, mix them all up and create an explanation as to why vampires are all so different from each other.

Top photo credit: Leena Allure vampire photo taken by Ray Smith of RSII Photography 

Excerpt featuring Mike Malone

“You should have told me why you hate vampires so much. It was during the Hysteria wasn’t it?” The damn Hysteria ruined and destroyed so many lives all thanks to a bunch of power hungry vampires and Others who thought it was a good idea to let humans know they existed. Like the witch hunts, the burning times from before hadn’t proven that was a bad idea. But, no, they thought a new, modern generation of humans could handle it.

The Hysteria proved humans hadn’t evolved much. Of course, neither had the Others.

“Yeah,” he said into his hands.

“You know I lost my dad to vampires at the end. At the last battle. The rogues had the humans all riled up. No one knew what was going on, the riot started and there was this group of mercenaries, humans killing anything that moved. My dad’s team tried to get them out of there, but as soon as they realized vampires and Others were on the police squad the mercenaries decided to wipe everyone out. My dad was shot and while he was down rogue vampires finished him off.”

“Then how can you still be close to them?” Mike sneered.

“Humans played their part in his death too, Mike. Can I shut myself off from the world and hate everyone? It’s unrealistic. I understand your hate, but they are not all bad.”

“They all drink blood. They are monsters designed to kill humans.” His snarl looked ferocious.

I had not realized his hate ran so deep.

“And humans are designed to kill animals and each other. Doesn’t mean we all do.” Stubborn man.

“Anwyn, I’m sorry I can’t look at them the way you do.” He glanced at me then stared at the floor.

I touched his face gently and made him look at me. “Mike you can’t carry pain and anger around with you forever. Believe me, I know. I dragged it around with me for a long time. I lost both my dad and my mom that night. Even though my mom still lives and breathes, she’s not the same. But I can’t change it, and I can’t hate everyone for it. I just have to accept it. I took this job to try and prevent other kids from growing up with this pain and anger. Isn’t that why you took this job too? You know we have to fight the bad guys and take help from all the good guys we can, right?”

“Yeah,” he muttered.

I caressed his strong jaw. Goddess, he was a beautiful man. And more complex and tender than I had thought. I took off his top hat and laid it on the desk so I could run my fingers through his wild wavy hair. The move startled Mike and he look at me with a puzzled expression on his face for a moment before heat flared in his eyes.

As soon as I saw the flames in his eyes my body responded. A burning need rose inside me, an ache suddenly needed to be filled.

Mike’s expression changed into one that promised deliciously wicked things. Hot damn.

Roxanne Rhoads Hex and the Single Witch

More About Hex and the Single Witch

Anwyn Rose is descended from a long line of powerful witches yet she can barely cast spells young witchlings have mastered. She has one functioning witch gift, the power of knowing, which she puts to good use as a Detective on Flint’s Preternatural Investigation Team.

It’s a new era in Vehicle City, supernaturals are running the town.

The P.I.T has their hands full with paranormal crimes. Top priority is a serial killer, who appears to be a vampire, draining young women in the city.

Anwyn is on the case with her sexy partner Detective Mike Malone. Complicating things is her relationship Galen, a vampire who looks more guilty than innocent, although Anwyn trusts her instincts even if her power is on the fritz.

Mysterious spells, compromising situations, and a possible demon on the loose make it hard to focus on the case, but Anwyn has to make things right before the human police execute the wrong vampire.

Hex and the Single Witch contains magick, a little bit of mystery, a lot of supernatural mayhem, and a sexy love triangle that will leave you wanting more.

Roxanne Rhoads

More About Roxanne Rhoads

Story strumpet, tome loving tart, eccentric night owl…these words describe book publicist and erotic romance author Roxanne Rhoads.

When not fulfilling one the many roles being a wife and mother of three require, Roxanne’s world revolves around words…reading them, writing them, editing them, and talking about them. In addition to writing her own stories she loves to read, promote and review what others write.

Roxanne is the owner of Bewitching Book Tours and operates Fang-tastic Books, a book blog dedicated to paranormal and urban fantasy books.

When not reading, writing, or promoting Roxanne loves to hang out with her family, craft, garden and search for unique vintage finds.

You can find Roxanne online here:

SWAG, prizes, giveaway, contest
Prize Packs 1, 2, and 3

Tour Wide Prizes!

Prize Pack 1: A Fang-tastic Tote Bag, glow in the dark gloves, a Bewitching Charm bracelet (made by BookSwag Shop),  , Bewitching Broom pen, mini witch hat notebook and various book swag from Bewitching authors. Open to US Shipping Only

Prize Pack 2: Bewitching Charm bookmark (made by BookSwag Shop), Bewitching Broom pen, mini witch hat notebook and various book swag from Bewitching authors. Open to US Shipping Only

Prize Pack 3: Bewitching necklace (made by paragraphic), Bewitching Broom pen, mini witch hat notebook and various book swag from Bewitching authors. Open to US Shipping Only

Prize 4: $10 Amazon Gift Card delivered digitally. Open internationally

Prize 5 (with 5 winners): 5 ecopies of Hex and the Single Witch. Open internationally

Click here to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Has anyone ever been to a vampire ball? Are any of you going as vampires for Halloween? If not, what ARE you going as? If you don’t know yet, you’d better get moving! 😉 Thanks to Roxanne for guest blogging today! Don’t forget to come visit me at Stella’s Ex Libris after this! 😀

Susannah Sandlin on the Care and Feeding of Vampires (+ a Vamp Friendly Bread Pudding Recipe)

Paranormal Romance New Release
Absolution releases TODAY!

I’m excited to have Susannah Sandlin guest blogging today because it’s the RELEASE DAY for ABSOLUTION! To celebrate, Susannah prepared a very sweet post for us. 😉 Enjoy!!

The Care and Feeding of a Vampire

Pity the poor vampires, consigned to a permanent low-carb diet, rich in protein and iron, with a taste he enjoys but, really—it’s blood. Night after night after night.

This situation doesn’t sit well with Glory Cummings. She’s an unvaccinated human, but she wants to do something special for Mirren, the vampire who recently saved her from a really dire situation. Problem is, Glory doesn’t have much to offer because what she’s really good at is something Mirren can’t use: she’s a great cook with aspirations of owning her own restaurant.

But Glory’s stubborn, so she comes up with a solution: An hour before Mirren rises, she eats something rich that he can taste in her blood. And Mirren, she learns, has quite a sweet tooth, er, fang.

So in honor of Mirren and Glory’s story, which comes out today as Absolution is released upon the world, is Mirren’s favorite food. (Um, did I mention Glory’s on a diet after a month of this?)

GLORY’S VAMP-FRIENDLY BREAD PUDDING

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease a 9×13-inch pan.

Cube three cups of day-old French bread and spread in the pan.

Mix: 2 cups sugar, 5 large eggs, 2 cups whole milk, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Pour over cubed bread and let sit for ten minutes.

In another bowl, mix: ½ cup light brown sugar, ½ stick softened butter (1/4 cup), 1 cup chopped pecans, and 1 cup of golden raisins (optional). Sprinkle over the bread mixture.

Bake 45 minutes or until set.

Mix and stir over medium heat until sugar is melted: 1 cup sugar, 1 stick butter (melted), 1 egg (beaten).

Add 1/3 cup bourbon (Mirren likes Black Jack or Four Roses), stirring well.

Pour over bread pudding and serve warm one hour before vampire rises.

Bon appetite!

More about Absolution

With the vampire world on the brink of civil war over the scarcity of untainted human blood, battle lines are being drawn between the once peaceful vampire and human enclave of Penton, Alabama, and the powerful Vampire Tribunal. When the descendant of a powerful shaman is sent to bring Penton’s second-in-command back under Tribunal control, will Glory Cummings help Mirren Kincaid find absolution for his ruthless past, or will she turn him back into the Tribunal’s killing machine?

It’s a town under siege, a powerful warrior in a battle with his past, and the power of one woman who can make the earth move—literally—as the Penton Legacy continues.

Absolution is available here:

More about Susannah

Author of Absolution, Paranormal Romance
Susannah Sandlin

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

You can connect with Susannah here:

So, readers, what do you think? Are you gonna try Glory’s vamp-friendly bread pudding recipe? Do you like bread pudding? (I do!) If you make it, you’ll have to stop back by and let us know how it went! Thank you for guest blogging today, Susannah! 😀

Next Two Stops: Dark Light of Day Excerpt & A Monster Rally

Creative Writing Tools — First Drafts and the Scene Summary

I’m over at Writing Secrets of the 7 Scribes today discussing first drafts and the tool I use to create my scenes, the Scene Summary. There’s also a 1,200 word excerpt from the first chapter of Dark Light of Day.

Writers, how do you write your first draft? Slow? Fast? Plotted? Not? How much prep work do you put into building a scene before you actually write it? What drafting tools are in your creative writing tool box?

Readers, come share some of your favorite opening scenes. Which stories have grabbed you from that first paragraph and why? What was the opening scene for the book you’re currently reading?

The Demons of Halja — Dark Light of Day’s Monsters

Since I’m hosting a guest blogger tomorrow, I also wanted to let you know where I’ll be on 9/15/12: Happy Tails and Tales. I’ll be offering a sneak peek at Halja’s demons and will be sharing a brief excerpt from the scene where Noon Onyx, Dark Light of Day’s protagonist, meets a palm sized demon for the very first time.

Saturday’s post is also part rallying cry for those of us who love “monster stories.” If you love vamps, werewolves, demons and the like, stop by Happy Tails and Tales and let your voice be heard!! 😀

Don’t forget, I’m giving away one Ace/Roc SF/F sampler at every stop (US only due to mailing costs) and all commenters (international too!) will be entered to win the $10 eGiftCard (Amazon or B&N, winner’s choice) that I’m giving away at the end of the tour. For info on other prizes I’m offering, see my blog tour page. Hope to see you at 7 Scribes and/or Happy Tails and Tales!