#amreading #amwriting – November’s Challenge

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) started yesterday! Are you in? Libraries, book stores, and coffee shops across the globe are offering “write in” spots so that you have WiFi, caffeine, and company during your month-long marathon.

Even if you’re not participating in NaNoWriMo, you can still get in on the spirit of it by reading one of the books below. For this month’s reading challenge, I chose three novels that were started during NaNo and two writing books that are on my TBR list. Happy reading! Best of luck, writers!!

November’s Choices

(all book descriptions are from Goodreads)

Fangirl

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan…

But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

27 Days to Midnight

Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die. Except her.

Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father died to protect…and the time research that could bring him back to life.

Then she meets Farren Reed. She should hate him. He’s an enemy soldier, a cowardly deserter, and the most insufferable man Dahlia’s ever met. Still, she needs all the help she can get, and Farren is the only chance she has to find the man who murdered her father. But Farren has only twenty-seven days left on his watch.

In that time, Dahlia must recover her father’s time research, foil a psychotic general’s plot, and learn to survive in a world that will never be the same. But the research holds secrets more dangerous than she had ever imagined. She will have to choose what is most important: revenge, Farren’s life, or her own. And time is running out.

Born of Illusion

Anna Van Housen has a secret.

A gifted illusionist, Anna assists her mother, the renowned medium Marguerite Van Housen, in her stage show and séances, easily navigating the underground world of magicians, mediums, and mentalists in 1920’s New York. As the illegitimate daughter of Harry Houdini—or so Marguerite claims—sleight of hand illusions have never been a challenge for Anna. The real trick is keeping her own gifts secret from her opportunistic mother. Because while Marguerite’s own powers may be a sham, Anna possesses a true ability to sense people’s feelings and foretell the future.

But as Anna’s powers intensify, she begins to experience frightening visions of her mother in peril, which leads her to explore the powers she’s tried so long to hide. And when a mysterious young man named Cole moves into the flat downstairs, introducing Anna to a secret society that studies people with gifts like hers, she is forced to confront her past and rethink everything she’s ever known. Is her mother truly in danger, or are Anna’s visions merely illusion? And could the great Houdini really be her father, or is it just another of Marguerite’s tricks?

From Teri Brown comes a world bursting with magic, with romance, and the temptations of Jazz Age New York—and the story of a girl about to become the mistress of her own destiny.

Other novels that were written or started during NaNo: Hugh Howey’s Wool, Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus, Marissa Meyer’s Cinder, Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants, Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey, Carrie Ryan’s The Forest of Hands and Teeth, and Kalayna Price’s Once Bitten. Click here for the full list of published NaNoWriMo novels.

Writing Advice

I’m reading Story Trumps Structure right now. Good, sound, basic advice; well presented. Dialogue is on my list because it’s Robert McKee and I’m curious about what he has to say.

Story Trumps Structure

Don’t limit your fiction – LIBERATE IT

All too often, following the “rules” of writing can constrict rather than inspire you. With Story Trumps Structure, you can shed those rules – about three-act structure, rising action, outlining, and more – to craft your most powerful, emotional, and gripping stories.

Award-winning novelist Steven James explains how to trust the narrative process to make your story believable, compelling, and engaging, and debunks the common myths that hold writers back from creating their best work.

Ditch your outline and learn to write organically. Set up promises for readers – and deliver on them. Discover how to craft a satisfying climax. Master the subtleties of characterization. Add mind-blowing twists to your fiction. When you focus on what lies at the heart of story – tension, desire, crisis, escalation, struggle, discovery – rather than plot templates and formulas, you’ll begin to break out of the box and write fiction that resonates with your readers. Story Trumps Structure will transform the way you think about stories and the way you write them, forever.

Dialogue

The long-awaited follow-up to the perennially bestselling writers’ guide Story, from the most sought-after expert in the art of storytelling.

Robert McKee’s popular writing workshops have earned him an international reputation. The list of alumni with Oscars runs off the page. The cornerstone of his program is his singular book, Story, which has defined how we talk about the art of story creation.

Now, in DIALOGUE, McKee offers the same in-depth analysis for how characters speak on the screen, on the stage, and on the page in believable and engaging ways. From Macbeth to Breaking Bad, McKee deconstructs key scenes to illustrate the strategies and techniques of dialogue. DIALOGUE applies a framework of incisive thinking to instruct the prospective writer on how to craft artful, impactful speech. Famous McKee alumni include Peter Jackson, Jane Campion, Geoffrey Rush, Paul Haggis, the writing team for Pixar, and many others.

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#amwriting – Kickass Heroines and Wise Women in the age after Buffy, Bella and Hermione

This is my second and last follow-up post to this past weekend’s fantastic HallowRead. Writers and readers, if you’re going to be in the Maryland area next year in mid-October, be sure to check out this awesome mini-con. Rachel Rawlings does an amazing job of organizing it!!


The other panel I participated in was the “Nevertheless, She Persisted” one (such a great title, aptly referring to both creators and characters). As with the indie panel, the actual discussion was more organic, but I’m sharing the quick notes I prepared because they’re already written and because several questions during the panel touched on these ideas.

I first started writing in the heyday of urban fantasy. There’s no doubt that heroines like Buffy, Bella, Hermione and many others have left their mark and are hard acts to follow. It was also a little unsettling when the market started to change and drift toward contemporary fiction. But change is constant and that’s the way of publishing. You have two choices: change genres or continue writing what you love. If you love paranormal characters (which I assume all of you do or you wouldn’t be here), then keep creating them!

But how?

Regardless of genre, your characters should be relatable, but unique. Kind of like your story. You want to give your readers something that feels familiar — something that’s the same as what they already love — but also different.

Sympathetic characters: when you work with characters who have special powers, they still need to feel human and vulnerable. Make sure their magic isn’t so powerful your character can’t be defeated. My main character has waning magic, which is super destructive. But she’s not immortal. She suffers pain and injuries. In the beginning of the series, she’s inexperienced and naive.

Growth arc: Readers like characters who learn from their mistakes and grow over time. It’s fun, for both writers and readers, to reflect on how much a character has changed over the course of a novel or series. In each book, I try to give Noon both external and internal growth opportunities. Her external growth occurs as a result of training and increased experience. Noon’s magic allows her to shape weapons out of fire. In Dark Light of Day, she has trouble shaping anything more complicated than a fireball and she has no control or aim. As the books and her magic progress, she gets better at shaping things. And her aim improves. For her internal growth, each book has posed a question: will she embrace her true self? Can she kill in cold blood? Will she give up control over her own destiny for the greater good? Can she survive something heartbreaking and unexpected?

Unique spin: even though your character needs to be relatable, they shouldn’t be a cookie-cutter version of every heroine that has come before. It’s okay to put a little bit of yourself in the character. I value wit and knowledge as much, if not more than, physical strength, so I made Noon smart. She still does dumb things, but I give her assignments, quests, and challenges that require her to use her intellect as much as her magic.

How about you? Are you working on a WIP with a kickass heroine, a wise woman, or both? What traits do you and your character share? How is she the same as every other woman? How is she different? What are her strengths? What are her vulnerabilities?

Make your character’s obstacles feel insurmountable… and then write her/your way through them.

#MondayMotivation – 5 Simple Tips for Surviving #IndiePub

HallowRead was fantastic! Loved every bit of it. Saw writer friends from past events, chatted with awesome readers, listened to Darynda Jones’ excellent keynote speech, sold some books, and participated in two terrific panels. Below are the notes I put together to prepare for the indie panel. The discussion itself was more organic, but I’m sharing these thoughts because they’re already written and ready to go – hopefully perfect for some Monday writing/publishing motivation! 

The Pep Talk I Prepared for HallowRead’s Indie Uprising Panel

  1. Don’t get discouraged. Writing is hard, self-publishing is even harder. But there are benefits that can make it worthwhile. Creative freedom, flexible schedule (you determine your own release dates), the best covers you can afford, a sense of empowerment (you are the ultimate writer entrepreneur), and being part of a supportive, helpful community.

  2. Don’t quit your day job. Overnight successes, whether traditional or self-published are rare. It’s okay to write for commercial reasons, but plan on a slow build. Most writers grow their readership one reader at a time. Remember that quote from Dune, “Fear is the mind-killer”? Well, for self-published authors, frustration is the career-killer. There should be an indie “Litany against Frustration.”

  3. Do try to work somewhere that is compatible with your writing, both in terms of hours and substance. During the many years I’ve been a creative writer, I’ve had several different day jobs, but they’ve all supported my creative writing goals in one way or another.

    Years ago, I was a lawyer. As a practicing attorney, I didn’t have much time to write but I crammed it in during lunch hours, evenings, and weekends. On the plus side, lawyers are wordsmiths and that career gave me countless hours of butt-in-your-chair discipline. By the time I left, I was used to spending hours in front of my computer, hacking away at my keyboard, in the hopes of finishing a competently written piece.

    After that, I worked as an adjunct professor and taught legal writing. That experience gave me an appreciation of structure and knowing who your audience is and what they want from your writing.

    Currently, I work part-time as a librarian, which is probably one of the best “supplemental” careers a writer can have. Every time I work, I’m exposed to new books, fellow readers, and innovative ways to reach them.

  4. Publish only your best work. Take the time to learn your craft. There’s always something new to learn. Hire the best team you can. For me, essential team members include an editor, a cover designer, and a formatter. It can be tempting, with indie publishing, to load up a manuscript before its ready. A good chef wouldn’t serve undercooked food. Don’t be the writer who offers an undercooked book. Cook it to perfection and then “plate it” to the best of your budget’s ability.

  5. Have fun! With so much emphasis on To Do Lists and Don’ts, it can be easy to lose sight of why you started writing in the first place. As much as we’d all like to make money at writing, the reason we started — and the reason you will be successful — is your passion for this form of creative expression. If you’re like me, you love to live in made-up worlds, spend time with fictional characters that make you feel something, and you like to play in a sandbox full of words. When things get tough, always go back to the core of what matters — YOUR STORY. When the business side of things starts to drive you nuts, return to your WIP.
Shared a table with Kim Alexander, former co-programmer for Sirius XM Book Radio, who (like me) switched careers and is now an indie author. If we can do it, you can do it too!

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

5 PHOTOS with Diane Burton: Is editing like weeding? (#writerslife #gardening)

Spring has finally sprung! Where I live, the sun is out, the temperature is up, the windows are open (the allergies are out-of-control 🙂 ). My guest today is cozy mystery writer, Diane Burton, who’s sharing her five writer’s life photos. One of them got me thinking: is editing like weeding? Is writing like gardening?

The Photos

Something that represents something unique about you

After moving several times for Hubs’ job, we built our final house. It was a wonderful experience. Not many people say that. Yes, it ended up costing more than projected, and Hubs hates the word “upcharge”, but we don’t regret doing it. The house has felt like home from the day we moved in.

Something that represents where you live

We live close to Lake Michigan. There’s something magical about living near the water.

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

My flowers. Most came from my mother’s garden. I’ve had the same flowers at every house I’ve lived in and brought a few of each to every new house.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Weeds. No matter how often you pull them, they keep coming back.

Jill: Because it’s spring, I’ve been thinking a lot about gardening. For years, we’ve had a back, fenced-off area that we used for an organic veggie garden. But – wow! – the weeds. We’ve used ground cover sheeting with some success, but over the last year, the weeds took such hold that we were half-tempted to spray the whole thing down with Roundup. Instead, we decided to join a CSA farm and turn our garden into grass for one season (which should get rid of most of the weeds naturally).

Hypothesis — writing : gardening :: editing : weeding…? Basically, if you like to garden, then you don’t want to quit, even when parts of it aggravate and frustrate you. Same with writing. There’s always another book… another manuscript… another story that has to be pulled, pruned, snipped, clipped, and/or coaxed into something beautiful. It doesn’t matter what method you use to shape your creation as long as you (mostly) enjoy the process as much as the product. 😀

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

(Besides my family.)

The Mackinac Bridge connects the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan. It is such an exciting site, whether from the park (where this was taken) or coming around a curve in I-75. As a kid, I watched the bridge being built when we took a car ferry over to the Upper Peninsula. I always get a thrill upon seeing it.

The Interview

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

Go on an adventure with PI Alex O’Hara as she solves another case. Nick’s mother has moved in with Alex, putting a crimp in Nick and Alex’s romance. What’s a girl to do? At least the latest case is an easy one.

What are you working on next?

A science fiction romance, The Spy, is part of my Outer Rim series about strong women on the frontier of space.

What are you currently reading?

NIKO: Licensed to Kill by Vonnie Davis. Love her writing, especially the comic twists she adds to serious situations—like being chased by terrorists. Just finished Danger in the Stars by Veronica Scott, a science fiction romance. It’s part of her Sectors series that I thoroughly enjoy.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Murdoch Mysteries (aka The Artful Detective) takes place in the late 1890s and early 1900s. I love the relationships within the series. I’m eagerly awaiting the return of Dark Matter on the Syfy channel. Again, it’s the relationships between the characters that make me watch the show.

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

Gandalf, especially the way Ian McKellen portrays him. In both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series, Gandalf is the impetus to get the MC to go on the adventure. We all need someone like that in our lives, someone who will force us out of complacency.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Getting noticed. There are so many good writers that nobody knows about because they’re lost in the plethora of books released every day.

How can we meet that challenge?

Dogged determination. An online presence: blogging (both on one’s own blog and guest blogging—like here), Facebook, Twitter. More importantly helping/supporting other writers. I truly believe that what goes around comes around and paying it forward. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Thanks, Jill, for having me here.

My pleasure, Diane. Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts.

More about Diane

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and three grandchildren.

Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Newsletter

More about The Case of the Meddling Mama

Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

#Maryland #Writers – Writing and Publishing Workshop in Westminster this Sunday!

Hi all–I’ll be at the Westminster Library this Sunday, April 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. along with three other Maryland authors (JL Lora, Jamie Farrell, and Tracee Lydia Garner, who put the whole event together — thank you, Tracee!) I’m going to briefly discuss some of the things I talked about at the Indie Author Day Follow Up we held in Hereford but I’m also going to share the #1 thing I wish I would have done when I first started writing and the top three things that every new writer should DO RIGHT NOW. I’ll have some books to give out. If you’re in the area, we’d love to see you!!

Self-publishing v. traditional – which path? This video might help you decide… (#amwriting #getpublished)

Terrific Indie Author Day Follow Up at BCPL this past Saturday! Was fantastic seeing writers who attended the first national Indie Author Day back in October and great meeting new people who came. Below is the video from my “Path to Publication” presentation. Great discussion on the pros and cons of traditional v. indie publishing. Let me know if anyone has any follow-up questions in the comments! Good luck and best wishes with your writing!

Indie Author Day Follow Up: March 25th at Hereford Library – Come see me!

My wonderful local library participated in the first (ever) Indie Author Day back in October of last year. (The 2nd Indie Author Day will be on October 14, 2017 — indie authors, mark your calendars! Contact your local libraries! Get involved!! 😀 ) In the meantime, my library didn’t want to wait a whole year to round up indie authors from the mid-Atlantic area for another sit-down, so we’re hosting an Indie Author Day Follow Up on March 25th. Details below!


What’s Indie Author Day?

On October 8, 2016, nearly 300 libraries across North America invited thousands of local writers in their communities to join them for a day of celebration and inspiration devoted to indie authors. During the inaugural Indie Author Day, libraries big and small hosted events where local authors connected, networked, shared experiences and offered advice to one another, while also featuring locally written books to library patrons in their communities. http://indieauthorday.com/


Hereford Library’s

Indie Author Day Follow Up

March 25, 2017

10:00 a.m. Meet and Greet: Grab a coffee, buy a book, and get it signed.

10:15 a.m. Path to Publication: An overview of traditional publishing versus self-publishing. Discussion of the pros and cons of each.

11:00 a.m. Author Platform: Building your social media foundation.

11:30 a.m. Readings/Book Sales/Q&A: Space for readings and sales are limited. Pre-registration required.

1:00 p.m. Break

2:00 p.m. Self-Publishing Nuts & Bolts: Hiring editors, formatters, and cover designers. Writing back cover copy. Obtaining blurbs and ISBNs.

3:00 p.m. More on Marketing: How to get reviews and author quotes. Perfect your elevator pitch and social media strategy.


More Details

I’m doing the “Path to Publication” part of the program. This event is mostly for writers, but would appeal to any reader who wants a behind-the-scenes look at writing as a business. And the readings are for everyone, of course!

If I do it correctly, my presentation will be dry, professorial, and purely informational (kidding — hopefully there will be a lively Q&A). I’m not doing a reading (they aren’t my bailiwick and I wanted others to have more time), but I will be giving away a few books.

girls-weekend-by-cara-sue-achterbergThe “Author Platform” session will be led by Cara Sue Achterberg, who is a blogger and novelist from South Central, Pennsylvania. She’s the author of I’m Not HerGirls’ Weekend, and Live Intentionally, a nonfiction book based on ten years of trying to shop, cook, eat, and live intentionally with kids haranguing her. She teaches creative writing and is working on a memoir about fostering her first fifty dogs. (She currently fosters dogs and puppies for the all-breed rescue, Operation Paws for Homes.)

The “Nuts & Bolts” and “Marketing” sessions are panels featuring authors with a wide range of experience, including:

Nechama Frier, co-editor of Vertoscope, A Villainous Collection by Many Devious Minds, which is “an original comics anthology that specializes in beasts, villains, shadows, and anything else you might find by taking the wrong way home.”

Rachel Rawlings, author of the Maurin Kincaide series and founder of HallowRead.

viking-by-katie-ritterKatie Ritter, author of Viking, The Green Land.

Demi Stevens, writing coach, founder of York Book Expo, and CEO of Year of the Book Press.

mosaics-by-p-k-tylerP.K. Tyler, co-curator of Mosaics, A Collection of Independent Women, an anthology whose profits were donated to the The Pixel Project.

We’d love to see you for the whole day, but you can also come to whichever part of the program interests you the most.

Hereford Library, 16940 York Road, Hereford, Maryland


Are you an author who wants more information on the upcoming October 2017 national Indie Author Day? Click here

Are you a librarian who wants to get involved in the 2nd national Indie Author Day? Click here.

In the meantime, if you live in my area…

Hope to see you at our local Indie Author Day Follow Up next month on March 25th in Hereford!

5 Photos with Jasmine Silvera (#writerslife)

Five Photographs is back! 

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

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


Jasmine Silvera’s 5 Photos:

Something that represents something unique about you

jasmine-silvera-unique

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

Something that represents where you live

jasmine-silvera-where-you-live

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

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

jasmine-silvera-thing-you-care-for

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

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

jasmine-silvera-thing-that-frustrates-you

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

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

jasmine-silvera-joy

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


Q&A

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

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

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

What are you working on next?

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

What are you currently reading?

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

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

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

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

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

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

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

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

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

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

How can we meet that challenge?

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


More about Death’s Dancer

deaths-dancer

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

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

More about Jasmine

jasmine-silvera

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter


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

RELEASE DAY FOR POCKET FULL OF TINDER!

Last New Year’s I celebrated with a bunch of my friends and had a really great time, but I was still inwardly bummed about 2015 and vowed this year would be different. I picked two resolutions and promised myself no matter what I’d figure out how to accomplish them. The first was to finally self-publish already! I’d been talking about it for years and it felt like this gaping hole in my author resume. Everyone was self-publishing (or so it felt to me) and I was stuck on the sidelines. 2015 was the year I published nothing, which felt really crappy. (In my defense, I was still writing and submitting, but since the proposal we’d been shopping around didn’t sell, it felt like a wasted year writing-wise even though, if it were anyone else, I would tell them ABSOLUTELY NOT – that any and all time spent in the pursuit of your passion, or which could lead to paid written work, is time well spent and… blah blah blah. I published nothing in 2015 was all I could think about.)

My second 2016 New Year’s resolution? To get a bookish job so I could afford to self-publish the way I wanted to. I started working as a librarian this past June, which has been fantastic, but TODAY, with only two weeks to spare, my #1 goal for 2016 has been met. (Yay!)

If you haven’t already bought Pocket Full of Tinder, TODAY IS THE DAY! Forget about that midnight showing of ROGUE ONE. What you really want to be doing tonight is reading PFoT!

More reviews are trickling in…

Trinitytwo at The Qwillery gave the book a fantastic review (and there’s a separate giveaway for the book there too!):

There is something for everyone in Pocket Full of Tinder: magical skirmishes, romance, espionage, betrayal, death, and redemption… Noon Onyx is a great heroine… Although powerful and extremely badass, Noon’s decisions are tempered by an admirable degree of love and compassion. I appreciate that she has a great sense of humor, is fiercely loyal to her friends and that she has one heck of a stylist… Archer has taken the series to new heights… I am a big fan of this series and hope to read about Noon’s life and adventures for years to come.

Luna Lovebooks from One Book Two called the book:

Heartbreaking… uplifting… devastating… the best Noon novel yet.

and Gikany & Una at That’s What I’m Talking About said they were:

Thrilled to be back in this unique and fascinating world… The supporting characters are just as compelling as Noon… We cannot wait to see what happens next…

I’ll continue to share positive and mixed reviews that are sent to me. I cannot thank those who have already reviewed the book enough. I’m humbled and grateful for all the kind words.

If you received an ARC and haven’t yet posted a review, TODAY’S THE DAY to share your thoughts on Goodreads, Amazon, and wherever else you hang out online.

If you pre-ordered, or buy the book today, please try to post a review by this weekend. Reviews help keep Amazon’s search algorithm juiced. I’d love to see if I can break into the Top 100 in the Fantasy New Adult category. (Is that even possible with this book? I don’t know! It’s been on pre-order for longer than it should have been, it’s a fourth book in a series where the first book is the highest priced one in the series, there’s been two years in between the last book and this one… basically, if I can break the Top 500 in my Amazon category it would be a Christmas miracle. I think in the time it took to write this post, my rank actually went down. So, for the record, if my rank tanks I’m still going to stubbornly consider this release a success because – hello?! – didn’t you read paragraph one? 😀 )

THANK YOU TO EACH OF YOU for all the shares, likes, tweets, posts, purchases, and reviews. No one can launch a book alone. I’m so grateful for your enthusiasm and support.

Jill Archer, Noon Onyx, fantasy, new adult, paranormal

FOR PRINT COPIES: CREATE SPACE eSTORE

FOR DIGITAL COPIES: Amazon | iTunes | Kobo | Nook


Release Day Blitz!

A bunch of bloggers agreed to help me spread the word about today’s release. They’ll be sharing excerpts, teasers, Q&As, and chances to win my release day giveaway: a $25 Amazon eGC + a signed set of Noon Onyx books. Giveaway is open to U.S. and Canada. To see the list of participating bloggers, click here. For my complete giveaway rules, click here. And to stay up to date on all of the Bewitching Book Tours blog posts, spotlights, and reviews, click here.

#SFF Genre Talk: The Queen of the Tearling and Low-Tech Futuristic Worlds

The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen is the first book in a fantasy trilogy featuring Kelsea Raleigh, a nineteen year-old newly crowned queen. One of my favorite parts of the story was its world, which is a low-tech futuristic one.

fantasy, futuristic, medieval, magic, Erika Johansen, The Queen of the Tearling

The story takes place in a fictional country called Tear, which exists at some point in the future (Wikipedia says it takes place in the 24th century, although I couldn’t find where that was mentioned in the book) in a New World (which, I assume is somewhere in the Old World, i.e. Europe??). This vague backstory might be frustrating to some, but I was interested as both writer and reader in how Johansen built her world.

In the distant past, the new queen’s ancestor sailed himself and a bunch of followers from America to wherever they are now. But utopianism didn’t work out as well as everyone wanted and, at the story’s open, the country has been subjugated by the neighboring country, Mortmesne, which is ruled by a queen as evil as her country’s name suggests.

The world of the Tear and Morts might seem odd or inconsistent to a reader unwilling to imagine a low-tech future without a causative apocalyptic event. There are geneticists, but no cars. There are ruling monarchs and magic, but no guns. There are cities, but very few books. There was a Crossing, not a Catastrophe. But I think low-tech futuristic worlds are ripe with potential. (Yes, I’m admittedly biased; my Noon Onyx series takes place in a low-tech futuristic world. As a writer, I love the possibilities of this as yet unlabeled sub-genre… which I’m not necessarily suggesting we label. Are we any closer to understanding what “dark fantasy” is or what type of stories are truly “new adult”? Worth noting, though, that others have already taken a stab at naming it. Best Fantasy Books uses the term “Futuristic Fantasy” and its list of books shows how long the sub-genre has been around.)

Regardless of what we call them, low-tech futuristics seem to offer the best of two other sf/f sub-genres: historical fantasy and post-apocalyptic fantasy. Readers get to immerse themselves in a medieval-ish, make-believe otherworld, but one with recognizable references (e.g. the Brothers Grimm and Leonardo da Vinci). Instead of centering on how the characters will survive the immediate aftermath of some sort of grand catastrophe, a low-tech futuristic story has more room to breathe in terms of plot. It can be epic instead of laser-focused. Its pacing can be slower and less breakneck. Most importantly, however, it provides flexibility for a writer to pick and choose which real world elements work for them and their story. This expansive, though eclectic, approach can lead to a world that feels familiar, but different – to a world that has broken its historical constraints while at the same time remaining accessible and identifiable to readers.

The bottom line is that low-tech futuristic stories allow writers to play with the past, instead of being limited by it.

So what about the rest of the story?

The Queen of the Tearling is part of a trilogy (the third book, The Fate of the Tearling, comes out tomorrow) and this first book feels a lot like Act I of a bigger story, which is fine. There are lots of unanswered questions for future books to address, such as:

Who is Kelsea’s father?

What’s up with Andalie, her lady-in-waiting?

And the Robin Hood-like Fetch? (whose name brings out my sophomoric sense of humor because I could NOT stop thinking of Gretchen from Mean Girls every time his name was mentioned in the book)

Here are a few other brief, disjointed thoughts about the book:

I loved all the fictional epigraphs at the beginning of the chapters. Yes, they seem to give much of the plot away, but somehow story tension remains (see unanswered questions above).

The book has been shelved multiple times on Goodreads under Young Adult, but it’s not YA.

Emma Watson is starring in, and producing, the movie adaptation.

What do you think of low-tech futuristics? What do you call them?

Have you read The Queen of the Tearling? What did you think? Have any other, similar books to recommend?

Pocket Full of Tinder Pre-Order Links (#Fantasy #Paranormal)

I have pre-order links for Noon Onyx #4!

Pre-Order on Amazon

Pre-Order on iTunes

Pre-Order on Kobo

The digital version is $3.99 and the print version will be $12.99. That digital price is the lowest price of any book in the series so, even if you haven’t yet read a Noon Onyx book, I’m hoping it’s an easy entry price. Yes, I know it’s not $0.99 — and it likely never will be. (So, please don’t wait for it to go on sale; if you want to buy it, please pre-order it now 🙂 ).

When the book releases on December 15, 2016, it will also be available on Nook and CreateSpace.

Want a Sample Booklet?

Pocket Full of Tinder, Noon Onyx, Jill Archer, Fantasy, Paranormal

Interested in receiving a sample booklet with Pocket Full of Tinder’s prologue and first chapter? Then use my Contact Page to send me your U.S. mailing address. (While supplies last. My newsletter subscribers get first dibs.)

Have a wonderful Halloween weekend, everyone! Don’t forget to pre-order before your weekend festivities!!

Pre-Order on Amazon

Pre-Order on iTunes

Pre-Order on Kobo

THANK YOU!!!

THIS BOOK WOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT THE AMAZING SUPPORT OF THE INDIE AUTHOR COMMUNITY, THE READERS WHO HAVE PATIENTLY WAITED FOR ME TO CONTINUE NOON’S STORY, AND MY OWN STUBBORN INSISTENCE TO KEEP WRITING IN THE FACE OF SOME VERY STRONG HEADWINDS.

TO MIX METAPHORS, I’M GOING BACK TO MY ROLLER COASTER ANALOGY — PRE-ORDER LINKS MEAN THAT WE ARE AT THE VERY TOP OF THE LIFT HILL, BALANCED FOR ONE BRIEF MOMENT (OR FOR THE NEXT 49 DAYS) BETWEEN THE MASSIVE HEAVY LIFTING THAT HAS BROUGHT US TO THIS POINT AND…

THE UNKNOWN…

My Thoughts on Reviews (#writing #publishing advice)

As I head into the pre-release period for Pocket Full of Tinder, I figured it would be a great time to share my thoughts on reviews, readers, and writers.

  1. A reviewer’s opinion is never wrong. Ever. Their interpretation of your story is what it is. You can’t change it. Nor should you try to. The wonderful thing about writing and publishing (as opposed to keeping your work locked in a drawer) is that it becomes a dialog of sorts between you and the reader. A reader’s own backstory and experiences become a part of the reading experience. That explains, in part, why fairy tale retellings are so popular. The amount of story information that is immediately conveyed when a character has a red hood or a magic mirror or a glass slipper is incredible. Include two words in your character description and suddenly a reader is drawing upon generations-worth of mythological information. (That’s, obviously, a very simple explanation of how the unwritten dialog between an author and a reader works.) The bottom line is: A writer can’t control that final missing piece of their story – the reader’s interpretation of it. Which is all to the better. If we could, it would be like writing a story for ourselves. Boring! The risk and uncertainty involved with crafting something that requires a last sine qua non from someone else is what makes the writing process challenging and worthwhile.
  2. In the unlikely event that a reviewer states something factually incorrect about your book, I’m still not sure I’d argue with them. Writers, you’ll have to judge this for yourselves based on the situation, but I don’t think it’s worth it. Quibbling over minor book details seems petty as best, and insecure and antagonistic at worst.
  3. What happens if a reader or a reviewer is mistaken about you personally? This is a tougher situation and it’s only happened to me once. Years ago, a reviewer posted a review that included thoughts on me and my personal beliefs. What was said was so egregious that I felt I had to correct the record (privately, at least). I ended up reaching out to her via email and we actually had a nice exchange. I have no idea if she continued reading my books or not, but the experience ended up being (for the most part) a positive one.
  4. From the perspective of the writer, bad reviews suck. There’s no getting around it. We all want everyone to love our books. (Although, that analogy that your book is your baby isn’t one I subscribe to). But we all know, either consciously or deep down, that it is IMPOSSIBLE for everyone to adore our work. Simply impossible. And the more you want your work read, the more you’ll find readers who don’t like it. It’s a math equation. The answer isn’t hiding your work and living in fear. The answer is always to KEEP ON. I don’t want bad reviews (who does?!) but, at this point, I’m more afraid of the fact that, four years after being published, I’m still a slow writer. And that I promised to finish a series in which I have no control over the first three books. (Commercial suicide, people, don’t try this at home! More on that later. Maybe.)

What about positive or mixed reviews? How should a writer handle those?

With cartwheels and confetti and ticker tape parades!!!

Seriously though, unequivocally enthusiastic and supportive reviews will keep you going during those inevitable times when you want to throw in the towel. (If you are a writer who has never thought about quitting, then you are either new to the game or some sort of unprecedented confidence-crackerjack.)

And mixed reviews contain all sorts of valuable information. I love thorough, thoughtful reviews that discuss the many different aspects of a novel.

What’s my policy on sharing reviews?

Since I’ll be reaching out soon and asking for reviews of Pocket Full of Tinder, here’s my policy on sharing the reviews:

First, I hope you’ll review Pocket Full of Tinder! Readers/reviewers, don’t ever think that your thoughts on a book don’t matter or shouldn’t be shared.

If someone sends me a link to a review (or lets me know about it through social media) and it’s a mixed or positive review, I will share it.

If it’s a positive review, I may also include a quote from it on my “Novels” page and include the reviewer’s blog on my “Book Reviewers & Bibliophiles” blogroll. Quotes might also be included in marketing materials such as bookmarks and media kits.

If it’s a negative review, I’ll ignore it. It’s not sour grapes; it’s business. No one expects those to be shared by the author anyway. (But I still hope that any reviewer who doesn’t like the Noon Onyx series might try something else of mine later.)

That’s it for now because I need to get back to work. Updates and more blog posts later…

Hope everyone is having a fantastic October!!!

Rekindling the Joy of #Writing by Michelle Miles

I met Michelle years ago at FF&P’s Gathering — I think the one in New York? She’s here to share a little bit about Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways class and how it helped her to find her writing bliss again, as well as tell us some details about the book that came out of it, In the Tower of the Wizard King. She’s giving away one digital download, any format. Details below. Welcome, Michelle!

An old steamer trunk, a portal, and a wizard

First, I just want to say a huge thank you to Jill for letting me take over her blog today. I’m excited to be here! I’m also excited to talk about my newest release, In the Tower of the Wizard King. It’s an epic fantasy with lots of fun stuff like time travel, Faeries, action, adventure, romance, wizards and magic!

Writing this book was definitely a labor of love. It was born from a need to rekindle the joy of writing because at the time I started it, I was almost ready to completely give up. I had hit a really low point. I had five books with a publisher that wasn’t paying me—five GOOD books that deserved a heck of a lot better. I was really disappointed in my sales and I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it anymore. I felt like it wasn’t worth my time because no one was reading what I was putting out. It seemed like a wasted effort.

So I took time off. Four months to be exact. I read lots of craft books. I started writing short stories again. I am also a big supporter of Holly Lisle’s writing classes, so in early 2015 when the email came out she was offering her How to Think Sideways class, I decided that was going to be my last-ditch effort to salvage my writing. I’d heard lots of good things about her class. She only offers it once a year, so I knew if I didn’t jump at it, I would have to wait.

The course is self-paced. One of my favorite lessons was where she has you do what she calls a “Sweet Spot Map”—it’s basically mind-mapping. She gives you six different words to start with and then you build off those. It’s a very personal, thought-provoking exercise designed to let your mind work without constraints and discover all the things you like and dislike. Out of that, she shows you how to leverage those repeater words across the six starters to reveal the things that are most intriguing to you and your writer mind.

I loved it.

It was an eye-opening experience for me and really pinpointed the things I loved and not just about writing.

All this to say that out of that one exercise I discovered most of the elements in Wizard King. An old steamer trunk, a portal, a wizard. I wrote the first scene of the book and built off that. The more story I wrote, the more I discovered about who the characters really were deep down and what motivated them and the bigger the story got. I built a huge world with endless possibilities for these four main characters. And every day I stepped into that world was a day the real world faded to black. I was there in the story with them.

It was great fun.

Wizard King gave me back my joy of writing. I’m so grateful to Holly Lisle and her writing course for that. I hope you’ll check it out!


More about

In the Tower of the Wizard King

In the Tower of the Wizard King

In the Age of Wizards, Time is a commodity more valuable than gold. When Aoife (EE-fa) stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic, it calls to her with an ancient magic. Inside she finds a stairway leading into darkness and cannot resist stepping onto that first stair. It leads her to dark truths her mother never wanted her to uncover and love so powerful she walks through time to save it.

Her magic is dormant.

When Aoife Burke rushes home after the unexpected death of her father, she discovers her mother has vanished amidst inexplicable circumstances. She returns to her childhood home to search for clues of her mother’s whereabouts but another shock awaits her. Sean O’Connell, the object of her girlhood crush, has purchased the family home. She senses Sean is hiding something from her, refuses to let her inside and does everything he can to keep her out. A determined Aoife breaks inside and stumbles upon an antique trunk in the attic. When she opens it, instead of the normal musty clothes and ancient letters, she finds a stairway leading into darkness. It calls to her and she cannot resist stepping into the trunk and onto that first stair where it leads her to magical truths her mother never wanted her to discover.

His magic is dangerous.

Sean O’Connell has been assigned by the Inter-dimensional Portal Protection Agency to keep Aoife and her mother out of Faery. But when she breaks into the house and disappears through the portal in the trunk—like her mother—he has no choice but to follow her, even though stepping into Faery will force him to face his past. Keeping her safe and out of the hands of the Wizard King also becomes a fight to save Aoife’s life from her own mother, who has discovered a time portal in Faery leading her back in time to alter her past mistakes, putting Aoife’s life in peril. Sean is willing to do anything to make sure she’s safe. Even if it means he has to tap into his dangerous magic to do it.

iBooks     Amazon     BN      Kobo     Smashwords


More about Michelle

Michelle Miles grew up in North Central Texas in a rodeo town but was far more interested in nerdy things like Star Trek and Star Wars. She started writing fan fiction in high school. When being an archeologist like Indiana Jones or a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader didn’t work out, she decided writing was her gig and has wanted to write her own stories ever since.

Her love of romance started when she picked up Victoria Holt and Daphne du Maurier and was immediately smitten with the genre. But she also found another love in the fantasies of Patricia A. McKillip and Anne McCaffrey. Since she couldn’t decide which genre to pick—and because she’s a true Gemini—she decided it would be super fun to write contemporary and fantasy romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and has served on the board of several chapters as president and treasurer.

In her spare time, she enjoys listening to music, reading, cross-stitching and watching movies. A Native Texan, she loves castles, dragons, fairies and elves and is an avid Game of Thrones fan.

Giveaway

Michelle is giving away one digital download, in any format, of In the Tower of the Wizard King. Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Longtime followers know I’ve had my ups and downs. I think all writers do. I really enjoyed hearing about your journey back to the joy of writing. Holly’s class sounds great. You/she have me wondering what my writing “sweet spots” are and what those six words were. Thank you for guest blogging today, Michelle! Wishing you much joy and success!

Wizard King

Indie Author Day

Back from my last summer vaca — visited family in Tennessee last week. This week, I’m continuing to put plans in place for POCKET FULL OF TINDER’s release. I added the book to my Goodreads page. Add it to your shelves by clicking here. Cover reveal and series spotlight will be on September 15th. (Want to host me? Sign up here.) There will be a Twitter contest, excerpt, giveaways, and, of course, much sharing (I hope!) of Rebecca Frank‘s wonderful final cover. (Newsletter subscribers saw preliminary sketches back in June.) More details soon…

For today, I figured I’d share some info on Indie Author Day. For those of you who haven’t yet heard of it, it’s happening this October. This year is the FIRST ONE and YOU can be a part of it!

What’s Indie Author Day?

During the Inaugural Indie Author Day on October 8, 2016, libraries from all across North America will host their own local author events with the support of the Indie Author Day team. In addition to these local programs, each library’s indie community will come together for an hour-long digital gathering at 2 pm Eastern featuring Q&A with writers, agents and other industry leaders. Don’t miss out on this fantastic opportunity for libraries and authors to connect on both local and global levels!

http://indieauthorday.com/

Which libraries are hosting local programs on Indie Author Day? Click here.

Are you a writer who wants to get involved? Click here.

Are you a Maryland writer who wants to get involved? Click here and contact me.

Author Interview: Juliette Cross on Dogs, Dragons, Romance, and Writing

My guest today is Juliette Cross, author of the paranormal/fantasy romance DRAGON IN THE BLOOD. Since Juliette and I both have labs, there are DOG PICTURES!!! I also ask her about some other fun topics: Gothic romance, worldbuilding, the biggest challenge of writing characters that are human-dragon hybrids, and the hero and heroine from her novel. She’s offering the chance to win a $25 Amazon eGC. Details below. Welcome, Juliette!


Jill: I read that you have a black lab, Kona. I have a chocolate lab puppy, Tug. Labs are known for their loyalty and their chewing tendencies, at least during the first year or two. Has Kona ever chewed anything she shouldn’t have? Feel free to share any Kona stories and a picture!

Juliette: OMG! Kona chews EVERYTHING! We’ve bought her several chew toys of her own, but she’s so playful, she loses them under furniture then steals stuffed animals and toys from my five-year-old’s room. We recently went on a family vacation and Jackson came back with a stuffed otter. The first day we were home, Kona was hiding in the corner with it. Jackson said, “Kona ate Bodie (the otter’s name) and now he can’t see anymore.” Kona chewed off the eyes first as she always does. Good thing we love her!

You’re a fan of Gothic romance. Me too! Have you written any Gothic romance stories? Any favorite Gothic romance authors or titles you can share?

Ooooo, my favorite topic. Actually, a good bit of my writing has dark elements, settings, and emotional threads, similar to Gothic literature. I’d say my historical paranormal THE DEEPEST WELL is the most Gothic of my romances that I’ve written thus far. Demons and darkness abound in that one. As for my own favorites, most of my friends already know that JANE EYRE is my favorite book ever written, and it’s also considered Gothic lit. The misty moors, the brooding hero, the unlikely heroine, the mystery in the attic—all of it appeals to my love of the Gothic romance.

I love to hear about how authors build their worlds. Are there any behind-the-scenes details you can tell us about Gladium Province, the Morgon Guard, Nightwing Security, or the Wastelands of Aria?

I think it’s important to know that while Gladium Province prides itself on its desegregation laws and mixture of the populations of humans and Morgons, just like in the real world, there are people who hate for no reason. And no law can change that. As for the Morgon Guard, I’d like readers to know this is the global police force for all Morgon provinces. However, it’s also their military. It is expected for all Morgon males to do service time in the Morgon Guard, but of course there are always rebels who don’t. Nightwing Security is a private security team started by the Nightwing family living in Gladium to protect the interests of Morgons living and working in the city. But they are now more than guns-for-hire. They work with the Gladium Precinct as well as the Morgon Guard to help maintain law and order.

As for Aria, I can tell readers that my inspiration for this frozen wasteland was the “Wild West” of America. Outlaws flee there to escape punishment and to live on the fringes of society. And just like in the old west, all those passing through must beware of dangerous predators and hostile natives.

What was one of the biggest challenges of writing characters who are Morgons—human-dragon hybrids?

The only thing I find difficult is during technical scenes where I must remember they have wings and so they move, sit, stand, even have sex differently than humans. And because of their wings, they even think differently, especially during travel. This inspired some interesting scenes, such as their conversation with the Morgon priest they meet on their first stop in Aria.

Sounds like your hero and heroine have some great chemistry! Can you tell us something about them that you haven’t yet shared?

Hmmm, I’d probably share that Valla wants nothing more than to give in to her desires for Conn, but she often resists because she’s afraid this will make her weak. She doesn’t think like most women because she never had a woman’s or a mother’s influence growing up. What she doesn’t realize (which Conn does), and it takes her a while to do so, is that Conn’s love will only make her stronger. Luckily, my heroines and heroes always learn from their mistakes.


Dragon In The Blood

More about Dragon in the Blood

When desire bites, there’s no patience for a slow burn.

While all seems quiet in Gladium Province, the Morgon Guard—the global justice force for the dragon hybrid race—knows their enemy is rebuilding its forces in the underground.

Valla Moonring, an assassin for the Order of the Morgon Guard, is ordered on a mission into the Wastelands of Aria—a formidable, icy wilderness fraught with all manner of dangers, including outlaws, deadly weather, and big-game predators.

To her great distaste, she’s partnered with a Nightwing Security operative, Conn Rowanflame, a Morgon with the aggravating ability to get under her skin. While she takes her mission seriously, Conn’s confident charm throws her off balance, a dangerous place to be in conditions like these. Especially when cold nights require close contact.

Sensual attraction binds them ever closer, igniting a passion of unexpected force—the soulfire. But when the hunters become the hunted, their bond could prove perilous. Even fatal…

DragonInTheBlood_Teaser2

Available at Amazon


More about Juliette

Juliette lives in lush, moss-laden Louisiana where she lives with her husband, four kids, and black lab, Kona. Multi-published author of paranormal and urban fantasy romance, she loves reading and writing brooding characters, mysterious settings, persevering heroines, and dark, sexy heroes. From the moment she read JANE EYRE as a teenager, she fell in love with the Gothic romance. Even then, she not only longed to read more novels set in Gothic worlds, she wanted to create her own.

You can discover more of Juliette and her books on her website.

More about the Giveaway

Juliette is giving away one tour-wide $25 Amazon eGift Certificate. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Thanks for a great interview, Juliette!

HallowRead 2016 Book Convention Tickets On Sale Now!

Received this info from Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours and Rachel Rawlings, HallowRead’s founder. Bought my ticket this morning! Hope to see you there!!

Halloween, books, book convention, HallowRead, Maryland, fantasy, horror

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

October 21-23 2016 in Havre de Grace, Maryland!

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 over all 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.

Click here to see a list of HallowRead events http://hallowread.com/events/

Get your tickets here: http://hallowread.com/tickets/

See a list of attending authors here: http://hallowread.com/authors/

Author Opportunities still available!


About the Founder of Hallowread:

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.

www.rachelrawlings.com | www.authorrachelrawlings.com | www.hallowread.com

#Gothic #FlashFiction #BookSpine Story

A dying knight goes to heaven, witnesses a dark battle for a divine crown and the bleak, cold aftermath of immortal war. The everlasting itself seems destroyed, but the knight finds a buoyant, hopeful survivor, who casts a beautiful new world…

That’s a summary of my attempt at a book spine story, which you can read below. I “wrote” it last night, just before and after dinner. Thanks to Carla Richards for the idea!!!

If you try one yourself, take pictures, post, and link to it in the comments. I’d love to read! 🙂

Blink of an Eye, Ted Dekker, The Sword of the Lady, S.M. Stirling, Fallen, Lauren Kate, Fade to Black, Francis Knight, Death Comes as Epiphany, Sharan Newman, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 1 of 6
1
the five people you meet in heaven, Mitch Albom, Rivals for the Crown, Kathleen Givens, The Historian, Elizabeth Kostova, The Prince, Machiavelli, The Fencing Master, Arturo Perez-Reverte, The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 2 of 6
2
Instruments of Darkness, Imogen Robertson, The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner, The Battle of Blood and Ink, Jared Axelrod, Steve Walker, City of Bones, Cassandra Clare, Dust, Joan Francis Turner, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 3 of 6
3
A Breath of Snow and Ashes, Diana Gabaldon, Shiver, Maggie Stiefvater, Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer, Gone With the Wind, Margaret Mitchell, World Without End, Ken Follett, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 4 of 6
4
In the Shadow of Eagles, Rudy Billberg, Jim Rearden, The Exile, Diana Gabaldon, The Girl Who Could Fly, Victoria Forester, Clockwork Angel, Cassandra Clare, Dream Weaver, Gary Wright, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 5 of 6
5
New Moon, Stephenie Meyer, Magic Study, Maria V. Snyder, Garden Spells, Sarah Addison Allen, The Name of the Rose, Umberto Eco, A Beautiful Mess, Elsie Larson, Emma Chapman, Brave New World, Aldous Huxley, book spine poetry, flash fiction, Jill Archer, 6 of 6
6

Blink of an eye,
The Sword of the Lady fallen;
Fade to black,
Death comes as epiphany.

The five people you meet in heaven, rivals for the crown:
The historian, the prince,
The fencing master,
The golem and the jinni.

Instruments of darkness: the sound and the fury;
The Battle of Blood and Ink;
City of bones…
Dust.

A breath of snow and ashes,
Shiver into thin air;
Gone with the wind,
World without end.

In the shadow of eagles, the exile,
The girl who could fly,
Clockwork angel,
Dream weaver.

New moon magic study;
Garden spells: The Name of the Rose;
A beautiful mess;
Brave new world.

ONLY 5 MORE DAYS TO ENTER! FFnP’s On The Far Side Contest (#SFF #Writers #GetPublished)

Unpublished writers: FF&P’s OTFS Contest gives you an opportunity for feedback and the possibility of getting your work in front of an editor. Rules, categories, and list of final round judges are below.


Futuristic, Fantasy, & Paranormal RWA chapter presents:

2016 On The Far Side Contest

Write fantasy, futuristic, or paranormal? Then the On the Far Side contest is for you!!

Welcome dragons, witches, ghosts, psychics, vampires, shapeshifters, unicorns, and any creature your imagination can conjure up in a galaxy far, far away, in a time long past, or in your very own backyard. Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.

The deadline for submissions is May 15, 2016. All entries and fees must be received by the contest coordinator by this date.

Entrant Eligibility:

1st rule: Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
2nd rule: Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.

Entry Fees:

  • FF&P Members in good standing:      $20 each entry
  • Non-members:                                      $25 each entry

On The Far Side IS ALL ELECTRONIC!! NO MAILING FEES!

To Enter: Click Here
Email address for contest: otfscontest@romance-ffp.com


Rules

  • Every category MUST contain a futuristic, fantasy, or paranormal element.
  • Entrant must not be published in full-length fiction (40,000+) for the genre entering/or not published in genre entering for past 5 years. To further clarify, if your current WIP or entry is a paranormal historical then you can enter even if you are published in standard paranormal, etc.
  • Entry must begin with the first pages of your WIP, and may include a short synopsis. Entry MUST BE 20 PAGES TOTAL. This includes any synopsis pages. (Synopsis is not judged, but may help judge determine the elements of your story and offers chance to practice a very important skill). Do not send more than 20 pages even with your synopsis or your entry will be disqualified.
  • When submitting your 20-pages total, please adhere to industry standards:
    • 1” margins
    • Double-spaced
    • 12-point face type, Times New Roman
    • Optional synopsis should follow manuscript portion of entry. (If manuscript is 18 pages, then synopsis must be 2 pages)
    • Do not include illustrations, author bio/photos, vocabulary lists, or footnotes
    • The title and category should be on the top left of the page, page number on top right
  • The author’s name shall not appear on the submission. If your name appears anywhere on the submission, you will be disqualified.
  • Entry and payment for submission must be submitted by midnight Eastern Standard Time by May 15th, 2016
  • No changes may be made after the contest deadline.
  • Entries must be sent in: .doc or .docx files are preferred, but .rtf files will be accepted.
  • No more than TWO (2) entries per entrant per category.
  • ALL RULES MUST BE FOLLOWED OR YOUR ENTRY WILL BE DISQUALIFIED.

Judging:

  • First round entries will reviewed by experienced, qualified, or published judges
  • FF&P cannot guarantee commentary on every entry, however we strongly encourage our judges to provide positive, constructive feedback through track changes. However, judges will remain anonymous.
  • Entries will be judged by a minimum of FOUR (4) first round judges. Lowest score will be dropped to determine final average. Three highest score manuscripts will advance to the final round. All judged copies will be returned to non-finalist entrants Coordinator chosen date. Finalist entries will be returned after winners are announced on Coordinator chosen date.

To Enter: Click Here


Categories

Please choose category which best suits your submission. If you are unclear which suits your story best, pick closest, then an alternate.

  • ROMANTIC ELEMENTS: Any of the below categories with romantic elements (a romance plays a significant part in the story, but other themes or elements take the plot beyond the traditional romance boundaries. No HEA required. Think Gone with the Wind)
  • HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC: Set in the future with science fiction elements that include technological advancements; these stories may involve futuristic earth, other planets, aliens, or space travel. (Think Star Trek)
  • DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL: Paranormal happenings are a major element of the plot. (Think JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood)
  • TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS: A character or characters travel back or forward in time; these stories can take place in a historical, contemporary, or futuristic setting. Steampunk should include typical steampunk elements.
  • URBAN FANTASY: Includes mythical creatures and magical/paranormal elements. Settings and time frame are current modern world.
  • FANTASY: Setting takes place in medieval world. (Think Lord of the Rings).
  • YOUNG ADULT: Novels appropriate for teen and young adult readers, typically featuring main characters in high school or college. These stories may take place in a contemporary, historical, futuristic, or otherworldly setting. Minimum word count: 40,000 words. (Think Twilight)
  • NEW ADULT: Specialty romance for readers ages 18-24.
  • HISTORICAL: Historical with paranormal elements. These stories must take place in the past – from ancient times to WWII.
  • EROTIC ROMANCE: (WITH PARANORMAL ELEMENTS): No straight erotica – this means there must be a HEA ending or at least a Happy For Now and your entry must contain a significant paranormal element (such as a futuristic setting; time travel; paranormal creatures–vampires, shape shifters, werewolves, and or any other mythical creatures or magical elements typically deemed fantasy, futuristic or paranormal in nature.)

* If you have entered the contest, you may not judge in the category you have entered.

For more information contact the Contest Coordinator, Jillian Jacobs at  otfscontest@romance-ffp.com

Coordinator will not judge contest.


Timeline

  • March 14th: Contest opens for entries and judges
  • May 15th: Contest closes at Midnight EST
  • May 22nd: All entries distributed to 1st round judges
  • June 19th: Deadline for 1st round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • July 5th: Finalists notified via email and phone.
    1. All scores/feedback returned to contestants who did not final
    2. Notify 3 finalists per category- by phone then email
    3. Finalist entries sent to final round judges
    4. Post finalist list on all formats
  • August 1st: Deadline for final round judges to return entries to contest coordinator
  • August 8th: OTFS winners notified and announced
  • September 15th: Certificates and On The Far Side pins delivered

Judges for Final Round

ROMANTIC ELEMENTS Andrea Somberg, Harvey Klinger Inc.
HARD SCIENCE FICTION/SF/FUTURISTIC Laurie McLean, FUSE
DARK/LIGHT/GENERAL PARANORMAL Peter Senftleben, Kensington
TIME TRAVEL/STEAMPUNK Robin Haseltine, Entangled Publishing
URBAN FANTASY Melissa Singer, Tor
FANTASY Chris Keeslar, Boroughs Publishing
YOUNG ADULT Becca Stumpf, Prospect Agency
NEW ADULT Samantha McMahon, Soul Mate Publishing
HISTORICAL Penny Barber, Lyrical Press
EROTICA Deelylah Mullin, Torquere Press

The Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter of RWA appreciates your willingness to enter this contest. Not a member of FF&P? Find more information at www.rwa.org or visit the FF&P website:http://www.romance-ffp.com


Good luck, everyone!

Nerd Quilts! Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead, Disney Villains, and more… made by Author/Quilter Susan Marshall

Today’s guest is author/quilter Susan Marshall. She makes one-of-a-kind quilts with novelty fabrics. Basically, if your favorite thing has an associated fabric, she can make a quilt for it. For those of us that love to burrow on our couches under blankets while we marathon movies and shows, this post is a MUST READ! Welcome, Susan!!

Doctor Who Quilt by My Nerd Quilt, Susan Marshall
Susan’s MyNerdQuilt Shop on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyNerdQuilt

I accidentally stumbled upon Jill’s blog because I thought she’d written a book that I loved but it was actually someone else.  Despite the fact we had a missed connection after checking out her blog I immediately subscribed.  At the time I’d just started writing and loved her blog because it helped me not feel alone in my struggle to write everyday. Like my own blog, Jill likes to promote her books but also talks to other authors about their own books.  There’s so many books out there I love when other authors support each other by shining a light on their hard work.  She makes a point to write interesting posts about the craft of writing and fun stuff about her life.  Over the last two years her blog has helped me on more than one occasion when I was blocked or feeling down.  She’s an inspiration to us all to spread positivity and it will come back to you.  Thank you, Jill!!*

At the ripe age of 48 I published my first book Instant Connection which is now almost two years since it was first published.  Over the last two years I suffered some writers block and some financial issues that kept me from writing as quickly as I would have wanted.  Luckily with the support of my friends and fellow writers I’ve pushed through.  My goal is to publish two books this year and with one at the editors now, it might just happen.  If you’d like to learn more about my writing and me, check me out on social media (links below).

Other than being an indie romance writer, my crafting focus is quilting. My love of sewing started when I was 9 years old and my mother forced me to take sewing lessons.  When I say forced, she only had to force me to go to the first time and after that I loved it.  I won blue ribbons on my sewing projects in 4-H and got great satisfaction out of making pretty things for others.  As I got older and busier as a teenager I stopped sewing and crafting.  Boys became more important.

Disney Villain Quilt, My Nerd QuiltNow that I am older, I have started to sew again making quilts for friends and family for special occasions or just for fun when I was inspired.  My day job allows me to work from home as an events consultant in the video game industry so I am able to work it into my day.  Late last year I found myself in need of a new revenue stream as I lost a valued client, so I started to think about what I could do to earn extra cash.

I started selling vintage jewelry on Etsy and I really enjoyed my experience so I found myself wandering the isles of Jo-Anne Fabrics looking for inspiration on a new project and saw all of this Star Wars fabric.  As a self-professed nerd who attends Comic Con almost ever year, I was inspired like I’d been hit with a light saber.  My store is called My Nerd Quilt, which was inspired by my love of all things Star Wars, Doctor Who, The Walking Dead and more.   When I started to do research about available fabrics I got more excited because there were loads of cool fabrics. When I looked further I found there wasn’t anyone turning them into bespoke quilts.  I’ve settled into my niche and work hard every week coming up with new quilt inspirations.  I use faux fur, satins, fleece and flannels to make them soft and perfect for cuddling on your sofa to binge watch Netflix.  All the blankets are all machine washable. Check out my customer have to say about my quilts on my Etsy reviews.

Over the Christmas period I sold out of stock because I got a mention on the Nerdist podcast.  One mention on that podcast has given me great sales and some pretty cool special orders.  I love making special orders for quilts that you might not see on my site.  Recently I finished two king-sized Star Wars inspired quilts for two young girls’ birthdays in England.  Over the holidays I made special order Sherlock, Doctor Who and a limited edition vintage Star Wars fabric quilts.

This week I added a new type of quilt, a nerd quilt for your dog.  These quilts are for small to medium-sized dogs so you can put it on their beds for added warmth or your sofa to protect your furniture. 

Star Wars, quilt, dog blanket
Your Dog Deserves a Nerd Quilt Too!!!

My artistic gene is something I gladly inherited from my mother, as she was a painter, jewelry maker, and interior decorator.  Unfortunately for me, I didn’t inherit her skinny legs or exceptional metabolism.   Every day I am making these quilts as it feeds my artistic nature when I am unable to write, both of these bring me joy and help me to honor her memory.

Check out my quilts and feel free to contact me if you’d like to special order a quilt.



Where to Find Susan & Her Jewelry, Quilts, and Books

My Nerd Quilt on Etsy | My Nerd Quilt on Facebook | My Nerd Quilt on Instagram | @MyNerdQuilts on Twitter | My Antique Jewelry Shop on Etsy

Susan’s Website | Susan on Facebook | Twitter: @marshall_sl | Instagram: marshall_sl

Instant Connection: Amazon | Nook | iTunes

*I was so surprised and grateful when Susan first reached out to me to say how much she appreciated some of the writing posts I’ve shared here. Sometimes I worry, because I’m still relatively new at this writing/publishing gig, that I don’t have any super useful or awesomely valuable tips for fellow writers. But then I remind myself how much I’ve enjoyed reading other writers’ posts about all sorts of stuff. Writing tips, sure. But also just stuff about the day to day. Successes and challenges, both big and small. Lots of headwinds in our industry — but better to be in the midst of a maelstrom with friends than alone on a calm sea, right? 😀 🙂

I saw on Facebook that Susan just finished a Frozen and Game of Thrones quilt. Lots of awesome possibilities for Nerd Quilts!! Please go check out her Etsy shop.

Susan, thank you for the wonderful guest post!

p.s. To those of you who are celebrating Mother’s Day this weekend, have a happy one!

p.p.s. I bought my husband and older daughter MASTERING THE ART OF FRENCH COOKING for Christmas. She’s taking French and they both love to cook WAY MORE THAN I DO. Told them all I want for Mother’s Day is for them to make me something from it. No Julie & Julia year-long project. One day. One meal. Will report back. If the weather’s nice, we may just go for a bike ride. Because I’m starting to feel like we Northeasterners are actually living on Venus in Ray Bradbury’s “All Summer in a Day.” Double-triple-quadruple aside, you know they are STILL assigning that story in middle school and asking kids to write a short story about what happened to Margot next? Can you believe I got a “C” on mine when I was a kid?!!! >:-(