Saturday, December 31, 2016

Ready For The New Year

Last year I said the same thing. I'm ready to move on to the new year. After a rough 2015, I'd claimed 2016 as my year...it didn't quite work out that way. This past year wasn't horrible for me and was an improvement on 2015 (even though I didn't get to see Chris Cornell in concert again) but still wasn't what I'd hoped.

My 2016 started with closing the retail business I'd spent three and a half years building. It was a personal low and I'm still very bitter. Unfortunately, many factors were working against me and it was necessary. Thankfully, Cori Vidae jumped in and saved the day. She was starting up a micropress and needed help. When she offered to bring me on as a publicist, I jumped on it. In February, Pen and Kink Publishing came to be. It's been fun working with Cori and the authors to put new books into the world and I'm looking forward to continuing that next year.

I had about five months at home after closing my business, working on P&K stuff and my own writing while I kept my eye out for jobs and worked with my mom on an online retail store (still in the works). When a job opened at the local library, I jumped on it and was lucky enough to get hired! I started at the end of June, one week before my girls finished school for the summer. I'd had grand plans of a summer off to spend with them, but when a job comes up, especially where I live, you need to take it.

As for my writing this past year...it was a lot of stop and start with my manuscript. I started querying again in January, fresh from working with editor Kate Angelella. Querying went on hold when the manuscript got accepted into two writing contests, Pitch Wars and FicFest. I met some great people through these contests that I hope to work with in the future as beta readers and critique partners. I can't wait to continue querying my manuscript in the new year. I also wrote a new manuscript, which is still in first draft because I keep getting pulled back into edits for the other one...not that that's a bad thing.

Other highlights from the year include going to see Rob Zombie in concert and visiting my in-laws in Hilton Head, South Carolina (the furthest south I've ever been).

I'm looking forward to 2017 because people I know have books coming out, including my friend and critique partner! There's also the promise of a few new albums next year from artists I like, which also means tours and the possibility of seeing them live. For my writing, I hope to continue to grow and learn, to meet more awesome contacts, and hit some more of my goals.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Favourite Books I Read In 2016

This year I found it hard to get into many of the books I read. I don't know if it was just me because I was restless much of the year, or if it was the books I choose. Maybe both. Holding my attention was not easy this year.

One habit I started (not sure if it's a good or bad one) is reading multiple books at once. If something's not holding my interest, I'd start something new but continue to pick away at the other book. I also don't really like reading on devices, so I usually have an e-book on the go for times I feel like reading off a screen (usually when I'm eating or stuck waiting somewhere) and a physical book that I read before going to sleep.

This year I read 30 books (I likely won't finish another before year end), which seems sort of low. But if you factor in the manuscripts I read for people the number is higher.

Here are my favourite reads for this year in order I read them:






BLACKBIRD SUMMER by Em Shotwell

This debut novel is fantastic! I loved the characters, the world, the story. Confession...it made me cry...more than once. I push this book on everyone I know. I now own a second copy that I can loan people. I can't wait for the sequel!

You can read my review on it here and an interview I did with Em here.
Find it on Goodreads.









TIGER LILY by Wende Dikec

Another wonderful debut novel. It's a young adult story that's fun, quirky, and kept me reading. This one also caused me to shed a few tears.

You can see my full review here and an interview I did with Wende here.
Find it on Goodreads.











IRON DRUID CHRONICLES by Kevin Hearne

I have such a love-hate relationship with this series. I read a few this year and am all caught up. I love the world, the characters, but I find there are things Hearne does that make me hang my head and keeps this from being my fave series. It gets big bonus points for making me laugh, often.

I did a review on Hounded and Shattered.
Find it on Goodreads.








THE REBURIALISTS by J.C. Nelson

This was my biggest book hangover this year. I carried this book everywhere, reading constantly, losing sleep (one night my husband asked me if I was ever going to turn off my light). I was totally useless until I finished this book. I made my husband read it when I was done, my cousin is next in line for me to force it on (not that I had to twist her arm, she likes books like this).

I did a review, which you can see here, and an interview with the author here.
Find it on Goodreads.








SERVANTS OF FATE TRILOGY 
by Wendy Sparrow

This was a guilty pleasure read. I don't read much romance, but I loved the characters, the witty banter (made me laugh out loud), and the sweet story. I write a lot of darker, emotionally intense stories, so it's nice to read something light every now and then.

I reviewed The Naughty List last year, which featured the first novella Stealing Time. You can read that here.
Find out more about this sweet paranormal romantic series on Goodreads.





I'd love to hear what you thought about any of these reads or what your favourite reads in 2016 where.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Luminous Dreams - Cover Reveal

I'm happy to host a cover reveal for the paranormal erotica Luminous Dreams!


Relax, close your eyes . . . and dream. Nine tales, nine sensual dreams of enchantment, wanderlust and lovers’ longings, of searching and finding; these dreams tell of birds of fire, curses that lie like bridges between night and day, and hunger for sweet seduction.




Find it online!

Official page

Goodreads

Amazon




Alexa Piper enjoys writing, romance, and the paranormal. This said, becoming a paranormal romance writer seemed perfectly reasonable, but for Alexa, it is more than that; it's fun. Alexa’s work has appeared in the anthologies Demons, Imps, and Incubi and The Naughty List. Luminous Dreams is Alexa's first collection, and she hopes her readers will have as much fun reading it as she had writing it. Check out Alexa’s online home for all things related to her writing and be sure to follow her on Twitter @prowlingpiper.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Your Time Will Come

Everyone's journey through life is different, and it goes the same with publishing. No one way is right, they are all just different.

I've been reminded of this recently. It's easy to see the success of others and wonder when yours will come. You may feel resentful or jealous towards those reaching their goals before you. That's okay. It's what you do with those emotions that's important. It's okay to step away and take the time you need to work through your feelings. It's an emotional road. I don't think it's cool to make other people feel guilty of their success though.

As I've mentioned before, my start in broadcasting was not easy. I was rejected by many radio stations, repeatedly. With the ability to prerecord breaks, those overnight spots that were usually given to new announcers to hone their skills have become practically nonexistent. It's a hard industry to break into especially with some bigger stations simulcasting the same programs on all their stations.

But guess what? I still got a job in broadcasting.

My journey was different from others I graduated with. Some got jobs right out of school. Some of those jobs I would have loved (especially the one at Much Music) and, yes, I was jealous. Some people I graduated with never got into radio or television.

My path was paved with lots of volunteering, freelancing, and finally a part-time job at Broadcast News (now Canadian Press). From there, I got a full time job as a news director at a radio station. It took several years, but I did it.

The path to being published is the same. You have to get your hands dirty, do the work, and keep going even when you feel like packing it in...and there will be many times you consider giving up.

I have author friends who were published by small presses, and I'm delighted for them. I have a close friend who got an agent and is out on submission, and I'm thrilled for her. I love celebrating with them and hearing about their successes. As publicist for Pen and Kink Publishing, I help put other people's books into the world, and it's wonderful to be part of that. I'm glad I've reached a point where I can do that without feeling bitter towards them. I think of it as, if they can do it, so can I.

I'm not saying I'm always positive as I go along my way. I have my down days, like everyone else. Sometimes I do need to step away because it can be overwhelming. But that's when I draw on the support of my writer friends. They help pick me up and keep going.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Faithful Is Here!

I'm so happy to help launch Michelle Hauck's second book of the Birth of Saints series today. Michelle does so much for the writing world by hosting contests and mentoring.

If you love fantasy, this is definitely a series for you!



The next volume in the Birth of Saints series is available now!



Following Grudging--and with a mix of Terry Goodkind and Bernard Cornwall--religion, witchcraft, and chivalry war in Faithful, the exciting next chapter in Michelle Hauck's Birth of Saints series!


A world of Fear and death…and those trying to save it.

Colina Hermosa has burned to the ground. The Northern invaders continue their assault on the ciudades-estados. Terror has taken hold, and those that should be allies betray each other in hopes of their own survival. As the realities of this devastating and unprovoked war settles in, what can they do to fight back?

On a mission of hope, an unlikely group sets out to find a teacher for Claire, and a new weapon to use against the Northerners and their swelling army.

What they find instead is an old woman.

But she’s not a random crone—she’s Claire’s grandmother. She’s also a Woman of the Song, and her music is both strong and horrible. And while Claire has already seen the power of her own Song, she is scared of her inability to control it, having seen how her magic has brought evil to the world, killing without reason or remorse. To preserve a life of honor and light, Ramiro and Claire will need to convince the old woman to teach them a way so that the power of the Song can be used for good. Otherwise, they’ll just be destroyers themselves, no better than the Northerners and their false god, Dal. With the annihilation their enemy has planned, though, they may not have a choice.

A tale of fear and tragedy, hope and redemption, Faithful is the harrowing second entry in the Birth of Saints trilogy.

Faithful- November 15, 2016
Harper Voyager

Also enter to win a signed paperback of Grudging, the first book in the series: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A world of chivalry and witchcraft…and the invaders who would destroy everything. The North has invaded, bringing a cruel religion and no mercy. The ciudades-estados who have stood in their way have been razed to nothing, and now the horde is before the gates of Colina Hermosa…demanding blood. On a mission of desperation, a small group escapes the besieged city in search of the one thing that might stem the tide of Northerners: the witches of the southern swamps. The Women of the Song. But when tragedy strikes their negotiations, all that is left is a single untried knight and a witch who has never given voice to her power. And time is running out. A lyrical tale of honor and magic, Grudging is the opening salvo in the Book of Saints trilogy.

GRUDGING
November 17, 2015 Harper Voyager

Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Goodreads


Michelle Hauck lives in the bustling metropolis of northern Indiana with her hubby and two kids in college. Besides working with special needs children by day, she writes all sorts of fantasy, giving her imagination free range. A book worm, she passes up the darker vices in favor of chocolate and looks for any excuse to reward herself. Bio finished? Time for a sweet snack. She is a co-host of the yearly contests Query Kombat, Nightmare on Query Street, and Sun versus Snow. Her Birth of Saints trilogy, starting with Grudging and Faithful (November 15, 2016), is available from Harper Voyager. Another epic fantasy, Kindar's Cure, is published by Divertir Publishing. She's repped by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Letting Go and New Beginnings

I have been sadly neglecting my blog for various reasons, the main one being time. I've been neck deep in Pitch Wars revisions for over a month while trying to continue to keep up other daily necessities, like work and parenting.

Being Samhain, I thought it was a good time for this post.

This is a time of endings, but with every end is a new beginning, even if we don't see it. The harvest season is winding down, it's time to prepare for the harsh winter with the promise of spring pushing us through.

Almost a year ago I made the very hard decision to let go of my business, the store I'd opened three years prior. It had always been my dream to own my own business. Unfortunately several things turned against me, leading to excessive stress. I'm very stubborn and don't give up easily, so for me, this marked a failure and was crushing. It's been about nine months since the store closed and it still hurts, but it really was for the best.

This can happen in writing too. As writers, it can be hard to recognize when it's time to let go and end something. It could be the manuscript we're working on, an idea, or polishing a work. We put a lot of ourselves into what we write, but sometimes that's not enough to make it ready or to make it fly.

How do you know when it's time to let go?

If you don't think that you're making any more progress, even with the help of your critique partners. It's either time to set it aside or put it out into the world (querying agents or small presses, or publish). My Pitch Wars manuscript had reached that stage. I'd taken it as far as I could, my critique circle had helped immensely, but it needed someone with more knowledge than I had to push it over. I am very thankful that I made it into Pitch Wars to get the help my manuscript needed.

When your editing consists of tweaking punctuation and curse words. If you're making small cosmetic changes, it's time to put that manuscript out there! If you haven't done beta readers and critique partners, pass it to them. Done that? Time query, or self-publish, whatever your end goal is.

When the story just isn't working. I loved the premise of a manuscript I started writing, but it was a grind. The story wasn't coming together, it wasn't clicking at all. It was time to set that one aside. Will I ever go back to it? I hope so because I love the world, but not until I know why it's not working.

Market. This can be a hard one. If the market isn't looking for your genre, premise, etc, it could be time to put the manuscript aside. Vampires have been a very hard sell for the past few years. I queried my vampire novel anyway but ended up setting it aside, more because I know it needs work than because of the market. But I haven't fixed it yet, because the market isn't quite ready for vampires again so I'm working on something that I hope will sell.

Queried extensively. It's said you should collect at least a hundred queries on your manuscript. If you've exhausted your query list. It's time to set that project aside. There could be a day to pull it out again, but in the meantime, work on something new and fresh.

How do you know when it's time to let a project go?

Monday, September 12, 2016

Get In On The Literary Lovefest!

Literary Lovefest is the creation of authors Sharon Johnston and Em Shotwell to raise funds for people in need through online auctions. The writing community is so generous, and this is just another example of that.


The first Literary Lovefest auction is underway!

In August, parts of Louisiana were flooded. Some people lost everything. It broke my heart when I saw the pictures. Em lived in one of those areas and, though her home didn't flood, she knows many people affected. Clean up efforts are still on going to help the victims.

For their first auction, Sharon and Em have chosen the Baton Rouge area Habitat for Humanity as their recipient.

So, what's up for grabs?

Thirty-five items are up for bids. This included critiques of query letters, manuscripts, etc., marketing advice, consultations, and books.

Check it out. All money goes to a great cause.

The auction is open until Saturday, September 17, 2016. Click here to check it out. To bid, just write your bid amount in the comments under the items you're interested in. Make sure it's higher than the last posted bid.


This is a great opportunity to pick up something that may help you with your writing or a bundle of new books!

If you miss out this time, keep an eye on these generous ladies as I'm sure they will host more auctions in the near future!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Crazy Week

Last week I was on holidays and what a week it was! Now that I'm home, I'm getting a chance to absorb it all.

My husband and I travelled to my parents place, dropped our imps off, and headed to Toronto for two days. In addition to catching up with friends and shopping, we saw Rob Zombie in concert! He put on an amazing show! I've wanted to see him for years and he didn't disappoint. Korn also played, but since we weren't big fans and it was obscenely loud (No, I'm not getting old. Some vibrations from the drums felt like they would choke me, I kid you not.), we left after half the set.





I also took my imps to an amusement park with my cousin and her two little ones. We had a great day and the kids had tons of fun. I figured by the end of that day, I'd walked over 10 hours in three days.

To top it all off...those who were chosen for Pitch Wars were announced. Though the names weren't supposed to be released until Thursday, contest organizer Brenda Drake (being the sweetie that she is) released the lists Wednesday night.

My cousin must have thought I was insane as she watched the end of the live mentor show with me. I kept saying, "I know she's going to do it. She's going to release the names." My cousin is trying to write her first book (I say trying because she has a three month old and two year old, which leaves her little time to write right now) so I filled her in on the joys of Pitch Wars and how great the mentors are for donating their time to help other writers.


Then the announcement came and I scrambled to get the adult list.

I finally got onto the webpage and started scanning. I was delighted to see a writer friend, Jen DeLuca, at the top. I gave her a little cheer.

As I scanned the list, my heart hammering, my hopes started to sink as I figured that I hadn't been chosen. I wanted this really bad (more than any other year) because I've taken my manuscript as far as I can and needed someone with the experience to help me get it to where it needs to be.

Then near the bottom of the list, I found it! I started freaking out, but then caught myself. Surely I was seeing thing. I checked again. Nope. It was my name!!! On the list for Pitch Wars! Nazarea Andrews had picked me! I could believe it! My cousin hugged me and I admit, I shed a few tears.

I started emailing my CPs, called my husband, and responding to the avalanche of tweets--I thank every one took time to send me a note of congratulations.

Over the next day or so, three emails appeared in my inbox. One from a mentor I'd submitted to but who hadn't requested any pages, congratulating me. It was so thoughtful. The other two were also very thoughtful emails from mentors who had requested full copies of my manuscript. I was touched that they all took the time to drop me notes.

I spoke with Nazarea the other night and she seems so awesome! I can't wait to work with her and hear her thoughts on my manuscript! The passion she has is amazing and with her help, I'm sure my manuscript will come out of edits ready to rock! I'm so thankful she chose me.

Now August has come to an end and I'm ready for a new adventure, and to edit my heart out to get this manuscript where it needs to be!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Servants of Fate Trilogy - Cover Reveal

I'm very happy to take part in today's cover reveal for the Servants of Fate trilogy by Wendy Sparrow!

I first read Stealing Time as part of The Naughty List, which I reviewed (see review here). I loved it and couldn't put it down. When I found out there were two more stories, I was excited to get my hands on them!

In November, everyone will be able to enjoy the trilogy!

Without further babble, here are the beautiful covers!





Father Time’s son, Zeit Geist, must sacrifice a mortal’s lifetime to the Fates each New Year’s Eve. Last year—inexplicably, really—he made an 11:59 substitution. The Fates are pissed and they’re after his mortal Hannah. With the year ending, he ought to figure out why he’d saved her—and why he keeps doing it.

Following an unlucky year, Hannah Lyons needs a week’s holiday in a lodge to unwind. What she gets is near-death experiences and a sexy immortal who can’t avoid kissing her, but might have to kill her. After all, even Zeit can’t hold back time indefinitely.

Released: November 1, 2016

Goodreads

Amazon.ca

                                                             Amazon.com


Excerpt
“You’re messing with time?”
He didn’t deny it. He just pulled his hand from hers and went back to eating. Her hand was cold without the heat from his palm, and she slid it off the table self-consciously.
“Will you stop doing that?” she asked.
“No.”
“Why not?”
He set his utensils down again and looked into her eyes—as if he was gazing directly into her soul. “Because I’m the one keeping you alive.”






Tempus fugit. Time flies…unless you’re Tempus Halt, Father Time’s son. Day in and day out are the same, except for New Year’s Eve when he steals the life of a mortal on behalf of the Fates. This year marks his first failure to stay the monotonous course. A mortal’s kiss and her insistence on taking the place of his year’s sacrifice stalled out everything. Now, Tempus has to keep her alive for a year so his sacrifice isn’t wasted, but that’s the only reason—definitely.

One of these crazy grim reapers stole Lacey Carpenter’s estranged father’s life two years ago. She’ll give her own life rather than letting it happen again. It backfires when Tempus doesn’t actually kill her, and they have to spend the year together. She’s falling for an immortal who stops time, not just to save her life, but also to ruin her dates and steal her books. This can never work and fate is just not on her side—in fact, they’d really like her dead before Tempus falls for her in return.


Released: November 8, 2016


Excerpt
“I’m immortal.”
“Yes, but what if you weren’t immortal? What would be on your bucket list?”
“I’ve done everything.” When you weren’t limited by time, money, or proximity, you could do everything—twice.
“You’ve fallen in love?”
“Of course not. Mortals believe in love. Time holders know it’s a temporary rush of hormones misleading those with limited lifespans to cling to each other, prolonging a fleeting sensation that is ultimately only in their heads. Human beings use love as a confirmation that their brief existences have meaning.”
“I bet you tell all your dates that.”





When Ruin’s mortal sacrifice to the Fates on New Year’s Eve is already dying, it should be the easiest life he has to take, but not this year. The dying man knows Ruin is there to kill him, but he asks Father Time’s son to look after his twin sister. Ruin can’t stay away from the sweet and sensual Phoebe. His previous interactions with women changed the definition of his name, Ruin, so he can’t fall for her, especially when the lovely mortal doesn’t know he killed her brother.

Phoebe’s brother promised to send her a guardian angel, but Ruin seems too devilish to be holy. He only wants to be friends and keep watch over her, but she can’t resist him. Loving Ruin is a sin tempting her heart. How wrong is it to cause an angel’s fall? Ruin and Phoebe’s time is running out as another New Year’s Eve sacrifice approaches, and Ruin might lose everything for keeping his true hand in fate secret.


Released: November 15, 2016



Excerpt
She stepped forward, cupped his face in her hands and kissed him. At first, he didn’t respond. Maybe he was too surprised. Maybe he didn’t like it. Then, he tunneled his fingers into her hair, grabbing a firm hold of her, and kissed her back. Oh, he liked it…and she liked that he liked it. Mmm.
When she would have opened her mouth to make this kiss a whole lot more, he pulled back and stared at her.
“I shouldn’t have done that,” he said with a sincerity that unnerved her.
“How bad is it that you did?”
He raised his eyebrows.
“Will you go to hell or something?” If so, that was a new low in her abysmal dating history.
“Go to hell?” he repeated.
“Do angels go to hell for kissing?”
His mouth opened and closed. “I promised your brother we’d be friends,” he finally said.
“Friends can kiss.”
“I don’t think they can.”
“We seem to have managed it just fine.



I really hope you pick up these sweet romances, packed with humour.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Follow Your Heart

On your writing journey you're likely to hear people say, "Write what you love."

But why is that important?

It can be tempting to follow trends when you see a certain genre or trope flying off the shelves, especially if you've been querying for years with little success.

I write mostly urban fantasy, so I understand. The genre is a VERY tough sell right now.

It can be tempting to look at what's "hot" and jump on that bandwagon. But one important thing to remember is, publishing is slow. It can take over a year to find an agent, then another year or more to sell the manuscript. By the time you make it through the process, whatever trend you chased has likely passed and five more have come and gone.

One of the most important reasons to write what you love is because you're going to have to read your manuscript a million times. Okay, maybe not a million, but it will feel like it. If you don't love it, it's easy to abandon it. If you don't want to spend hours with your story or characters, why would a reader?

I adore my characters. I love my stories. Even with all the love I have for them, I have been tempted to set fire to my manuscript many times because I was so sick of reading it. After a break, I'd pick up the manuscript again and remember why I loved the characters and story in the first place. If you don't have that passion for your work, you're not likely to finish it.

The love you have for your work shines through. If you write something you only like, or even really like, it won't read as well as something you are passionate about. It's sort of like what's said about good cooking, it's that way because you can taste the love that went into it.

Sometimes you'll be tempted to give up. But hang in there. Write what you love and try to make it as unique as possible to stand out. Hopefully, it will find a home with someone who loves it as much as you do.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

#PimpMyBio

For those of you seeing this and wondering what I'm doing now, this is part of the Pitch Wars contest and something that could be a little fun or end up a train wreck.

Soooo....where to start....

Why Am I Entering Pitch Wars?

I'm entering because I need to get my adult manuscript to the next level. After rounds of CPs and betas, it's as polished as it can be. I'm sure an awesome PW mentor can help get it to where it needs to be. I'm ready to bust my ass in edits and do the work. I like honest feedback...so give it to me straight.

I want someone who will love my characters as much as I do, and possibly hate me at the end of the story. I want someone not afraid to call me on issues (like my CP who banned me from using the word smirk) but also someone I can learn from.


What do I write?

Dark adult speculative fiction and urban fantasy. If it's not on the darker side, I get bored. My current manuscript has a mystery element to it. I like characters who are emotionally wounded (often broken), can fight, and are sarcastic smart asses. I always swear there will be no love interest in my WIP, but one shows up. I'm a sucker for a good romantic sub-plot. With all the crap I put my characters through, they need a little something to keep them going. Though I appreciate a happy ending in books I read, I don't always write them. My characters often get happy for now.


Some Faves

Some of my favourite books are:
American Psycho
Wizard's First Rule (I love the series)
American Gods
Mists of Avalon
The Outsiders

My all time favourite is still Interview With The Vampire. I adore Anne Rice (though I promise there are no vampires in my submission). I love her characters, the history she builds into her books, and her beautiful writing.


Favourite shows (when I allow myself to watch TV):
Supernatural
Mr. Robot
Dexter
The first two seasons of Heroes
The first season of True Detective


My Quirks?

I have music on when I write and often come up with play lists for my manuscripts. The one I'm entering into Pitch Wars was written to Chris Cornell/Audioslave/Soundgarden with some Godsmack thrown in.

When I'm stuck, I bust out the peanut butter M&Ms to help me write. It does work...most of the time. When it doesn't, it's sambuca and Dr. Pepper.

I leave myself notes as I draft which include things like, "Why didn't she do this already, genius?" or "WHAT TIME IS IT?!?!"

I use astrology to help shape my characters.

I also don't drink coffee. I think I'm the only news person (I used to work in radio) who doesn't drink coffee. But don't mess with my tea.

I use the word awesome A LOT. And I like Supernatural gifs.





On A More Personal Note...

When I'm not torturing my characters, I'm a mother to two imps, work as a circulation clerk at a library, do publicity for Pen and Kink Publishing, and co-host #DarkLitChat on Twitter once a month and moderate the corresponding Google community. Occasionally, I like to eat and sleep.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Six Things: On Sirens and Storytelling

This week I welcome Tabitha Lord who is featured in the Sirens anthology that came out this week.


SIX THINGS: ON SIRENS AND STORYTELLING


1. I didn’t draft my first novel until after turning forty. Although I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, I never really considered myself a storyteller. I didn’t think I had the imagination to turn the snippet of an idea into an entire book, or even into a short story. But once I committed to the practice of writing every day, my imagination began to flow. Weaving the threads of a tale into the tapestry of a novel became a satisfying, exciting endeavor. Now I have so many characters and stories floating in my head that I have to tell them to wait their turn!

2. I enjoy writing short stories. My “big” books can take me over a year to draft and just as long to edit. With a short story, there’s still a sense of completion, of an idea fully expressed, but it may only take a month to get that idea down on paper. Another reason I enjoy writing shorts is that I can play around with different voices. If I’m working on a longer draft in the third person, I can write a short in the first person and really tighten up the point of view. Similar to working with different voices, I can try out different styles in my short fiction. “Homecoming” - my Siren story, is written in a much more literary style than my science fiction series. I’m not sure I’d be able to sustain that for an entire full-length novel, but it really made me stretch as a writer.

3. I was a Classics major in college, so the idea behind “Homecoming” has been with me for years. Intrigued by Penelope, Odysseus’s wife, I always imagined the possibilities for her story beyond what we’re offered in the Odyssey. When World Weaver Press announced the continuation of their magical menageries series with an anthology titled Sirens, I was intrigued. After all, it was the famous Siren, Kalypso, who lured Odysseus away from Penelope for over seven years. Maybe there was a story here about both women?

4. Being an avid reader makes me a better writer. I love genre fiction and my shelves are filled with everything from horror, to military thrillers, to historical romance. I also appreciate good literary fiction with characters I remember long after I turn the last page. I just enjoy a good story, no matter the genre or style, and I own more books than I could possibly read in my lifetime. In fact, I had to turn my dining room into a library to fit them all. I enjoy making piles of books, sorted into various categories, and hovering over them like a dragon with her treasure.

5. I think the most difficult part of the writer’s life is finding long, uninterrupted hours to work. For me to have a productive creative writing session – working on new material, not editing – I need a minimum of two uninterrupted hours, and four is preferable. This is not so easy with four kids!

6. Six lines from page six of my Siren story:
She believes she is in love, but it is an obsessive, savage love. She feels the madness of it lurking within her—it infiltrates the crevices of her mind, seeps between her thoughts, and weaves its tendrils around her heart. And then she feels something different. Something altogether foreign. There is an urge, a tenacious whisper, compelling her into the sea. She fights the burn of it, shrugging it off like a cloak weighing too heavily in the hot sun.


For more on Sirens visit:
Rhonda Parrish (editor)


Friday, July 8, 2016

For the Girls!

We need to do better by our girls and young women. Despite having come a long way, there's still a long way to go before we are viewed as equals in the world.

A simple one for starters is women being called girls. It's demeaning. We are no longer children. Do men like being called boys? No. I've seen many get quite upset when they were called that. So why is it okay for us to refer to women as girls?

I'd also like to know why women action heroes often have to have their breasts hanging out or are not properly clothed. Even in cartoons that my daughters watch, there's the female in a skimpy outfit while the male's are fully clothed. It's degrading. Now some may argue that it's because super heroes are geared towards males. I'm sorry, boys don't need to watch cartoons where women have vast amounts of cleavage showing. In case you haven't seen the numbers, lots of women enjoy super hero and action movies.

While on the topic of action movies...can we please stop the trope with the kick ass woman wearing heels and her long hair flying around? A woman who knows she's going to be running is not going to wear heels and, personally, I can't stand my hair blowing in my face, give your hero a hair elastic to tie her hair  back with. Plus, long, loose hair, is easier to grab a hold of and yank. She would err on the side of caution and tie it back.

Can we also please do away with the stereotypical woman who loves shopping and manicures? Many women I know are not obsessed with clothes, shoes, or purses. Many women don't even bother to paint their nails, let alone spend money for a manicure. I read an urban fantasy several years ago where the female main character decided she needed a shopping break, while her life was in danger. It seemed very out of character. The author used initials, rather than a full first name, and immediately I looked it up to see that the book was written, unsurprisingly, by a man.

I've read books to my daughter at bedtime for ten years now. One thing I have noticed about books geared towards girls and young women, is that the female characters are so catty. This is a huge problem in society, women not lifting each other up. Why should we promote and encourage this behavior? Let's show girls that they can be strong, successful, and unique without other girls tearing them down. Yes, bullying and being picked on will probably always happen, but let's not go out of our way to make all female characters so cheap. I don't see a lot of books about females ages eight to twelve where one of the main conflicts is the mean girl at school.

We need to do away with gender defaults. When a police officer, doctor, or politician is mentioned in a book, what is your automatic gender association? I try to be very conscious of this when I talk to my children. The other day I used the pronoun "he" while talking about police officers and my 10 year old said, "Or she. Because girls can be police too." I was so proud of her for correcting me. Try to be conscious in your work and don't default to males filling roles. Also don't default to women doing the housework...it's sexist.

There have been numerous tweets by literary agents commenting on the lack of females in books at all. I was rather surprised and hadn't really thought about it before. The other night while watching the movie Forsaken, I realized that Demi Moore was the only woman with more than a couple lines! I think two other women had speaking parts. Our society is made up with all sorts of people, from different backgrounds, abilities, and beliefs, try to make them present in your books.

The intent of this post is not to complain, it's to raise awareness. Writing isn't just a joy, but also a responsibility. You are responsible for the thoughts you put out into the world (this goes for anything, not just writing), so please be aware of what you are releasing. If you're unsure, ask, don't rely on stereotypes.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Author Interview - TJ Dodd

The western anthology Rough Edges was released this week. It features seven different stories all based on the western theme.

I've invited TJ Dodd, author of Jump Without Looking to answer a few questions.

First, here's a bit about her story in Rough Edges:

Jackie has a veterinary practice, her family’s ranch, and a habit of avoiding men. The last thing she needs is a giant, blonde cowboy who tears down her fence and rattles her nerves. Russ has no job, a beat-up old pickup, and a rundown ranch he just inherited. He needs everything except the beautiful, angry neighbor who turns him on and then runs him off. Can one pregnant cow, two horses that love to jump, and three long kisses prove them both wrong?


TJ, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I plan to live to see triple digits and have no problem admitting every year I earn in this life, and I’d never want to live in the past because I’d probably have been mentally broken or killed by now for not behaving like a good little female. It took a few decades to get over the ‘never good enough’ syndrome I was raised with, but I’m pretty damned comfortable with myself now. I love the city but I grew up on a farm near a small town, and I believe that playing in the dirt and growing things can heal your soul.

What's your favourite time of day?

I love the night. I love going for late-night walks, staying up late reading, and those lovely nighttime writing binges. I like the world when it is quiet and softly lit and shadowed. In the daylight the world is claimed by many, but those of us who are happy in moonlight are fewer, and we can each claim more of that less-cluttered world.


Dr. Who, Dr. House or Dr. Seuss?

Dr. Who, because I love fantasy, the tease of the great What If, the profound and the silly, and the notion that good wins, even if it is painful and costly. And while being a sci fi classic, Dr. Who is also a romance between the ultimate outsider and a planet that needs but doesn’t understand him. There’s a heartbreaking wistfulness to Dr. Who that gets to me.


Do you ever find yourself torn between what YOU want for the character and what ACTUALLY ends up happening?

My problem is that I see too many possibilities and want them all to happen! I have folders with alternate plotlines, scenes, chunks of dialogue...the hard thing is deciding on just one. My characters have rich fantasy lives created by me!


If you could choose any writer, who would love to have as a mentor?

Fellow Missourian Mark Twain would be a great mentor because he had a social conscience, a brilliant sense of humor, and he wasn’t afraid to write about things that popular literature at the time ignored. He didn’t bend his writing to fit the genteel public audience, but rather brought that audience into his world. He was brave in his life choices, loved a good adventure, and never quit working. He didn’t always make the best decisions but he never backed down, and he didn’t automatically respect anyone, no matter how important they thought they were. He also was a redhead and a journalist, two of my favorite things.


What's your writing style?

My style is organized chaos. I hate outlining, so I don’t. I write the thing until it’s done if it’s short, then I poke around with it until I decide I like it. I may gut it and rewrite sections or throw them out for something else that suits me better, but I keep all versions of the draft. Long works I write mostly in order, although I’ll have chapters written ahead and waiting for the story to catch up. I use chapters as touchstones to keep the story focused and moving in the right direction. In order to get to this really awesome part of the story, I have to do this, and this, and this. ‘So stop fiddle farting around and indulging yourself and get back to the story.’ I also give myself pep talks and butt kicking as needed, sometimes loudly. Loud music and yelling in the middle of the night means I’m writing.


TJ Dodd is a frequently sweary, occasionally inappropriate former teacher and acknowledged black sheep of her family. She’s okay with that. She shares her home with her pit bull named Piddles, who outgrew the habit but got stuck with the name. She’s made up stories her whole life and thought it might be fun to try to get some of them published. So far it has been.


Work hard, play hard, love hard…

Nothing is sexier than someone who knows what they want and has the confidence go after it. This anthology is crammed full of hot romances featuring those kinds of rough-around-the-edges alpha personalities–stories about the kind of men and women who ride horses during the day and their partners at night, who speak few words but mean every one of them, and who would never break their own personal code of honor. We're talking about cowboys... and cowgirls.

This anthology contains seven romances with a Western theme that run the gamut from sweet to sizzling.

Find Rough Edges at:
Official page
Goodreads
All Romance eBooks
Amazon
Kobo
Smashwords

Monday, June 13, 2016

Book Launch - Urban Settings and Rural Settings Thesauruses

Today I'm excited to be part of the launch for the new Urban Settings Thesaurus and Rural Settings Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. I have found the Emotional, Positive Traits, and Negative Traits Thesauruses immensely helpful in my writing.

As we storytellers sit before the keyboard to craft our magic, we're usually laser-focused on the two titans of fiction: plot and character. Yet, there's a third element that impacts almost every aspect of the tale, one we really need to home in on as well: the setting.

The setting is so much more than a painted backdrop, more than a stage for our characters to tromp across during the scene. Used to its full advantage, the setting can characterize the story's cast, supply mood, steer the plot, provide challenges and conflict, trigger emotions, help us deliver those necessary snippets of backstory...and that's just scratching the surface. So the question is this: how do we unleash the full power of the setting within our stories?

Well, there's some good news on that front. Two new books have released this week that may change the description game for writers. The Urban Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to City Spaces and The Rural Setting Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Personal and Natural Spaces look at the sights, smells, tastes, textures, and sounds a character might experience within 225 different contemporary settings. And this is only the start of what these books offer writers.

 In fact, swing by and check out this hidden entry from the Rural Setting Thesaurus: Ancient Ruins.
 
And there's one more thing you might want to know more about....

Rock_The_Vault_WHW1
Becca and Angela, authors of The Emotion Thesaurus, are celebrating their double release with a fun event going on from June 13-20th called ROCK THE VAULT.

At the heart of the Writers Helping Writers site is a tremendous vault, and these two ladies have been hoarding prizes of epic writerly proportions.

A safe full of prizes, ripe for the taking...if the writing community can work together to unlock it, of course.

Ready to do your part? Stop by Writers Helping Writers to find out more!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Interview With Author Anna Kyle

Anna Kyle's book Omega Rising is out this week! I have been looking forward to it since reading Skye Falling in the fall. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to review Omega Rising.

Today I talk to Kyle about her characters, world-building, and writing.

Before we get to that though...here's a bit about Omega Rising:



Cass Nolan has been forced to avoid the burn of human touch for her whole life, drawing comfort instead from her dreams of a silver wolf—her protector, her friend. When her stalking nightmares return, her imaginary dead sister’s ghost tells her to run, Cass knows she should listen, but the sinfully hot stranger she just hired to work on her ranch has her mind buzzing with possibilities. Not only does her skin accept Nathan’s touch, it demands it. Cass must make a decision—run again and hope she saves the people who have become her family, or stand and fight. Question is, will it be with Nathan or against him?

Nathan Rivers’ life is consumed by his quest to find the Omega wolf responsible for killing his brother, but when the trail leads him to Cass and her merry band of shapeshifters, his wolf wants only to claim her for himself. When evidence begins piling up that Cass is the Omega he’s been seeking, things become complicated—especially since someone else wants her dead. Saving her life might mean sacrificing his own, but it may be worth it to save the woman he can’t keep from reaching for.



Here's my interview with Kyle...keep reading after for an excerpt from Omega Rising!


1) The women you write are strong and saucy (a perfect combo for me), why do you write them like that?

I love hearing that. Thank you! In a nutshell, I write the books I’d like to read and that includes a strong heroine with a good sense of humor. She calls bullshit when she smells it. She has a quick wit and isn’t afraid to use it. If one avenue to getting what she wants is blocked, she looks for another, then another. She can be stubborn and make mistakes but she owns it. The man who captures her heart knows the ride won't be smooth, but it sure will be fun.



2) Where did the idea of the mate bond come from? It seems very intense.

I wanted intense. I had to ask myself a lot of questions regarding the Wolf King mythology and toyed using the mate bond in it. Why did mate bonds disappear? Why are they back? Will it affect all the wolves? How does it work? Where does it come from? What if it is unwanted? When the answers surprised me, in a good way, I knew I had to include them.



3) You do a lot of world-building, do you find it comes easy to you or is it challenging?

Oh I love the world building aspect. I don’t consider myself a bossy person but there is a bit of a rush creating a world, decreeing all the rules, tossing one out, creating a new one. At an early stage in writing Omega Rising, many awesome (I thought) ideas fizzled out as the story unfolded. It just felt wrong, one of those staring at the screen moments “this doesn’t work at all anymore” because of where the story was taking me. Yes, world building is challenging but at the same time it flexes my creative muscles which leads, hopefully, to a richer story.



4) You have a good mix of action and romance, which scenes do you find easier to write?

The action scenes flow a little quicker as I’m writing. It’s mainly this happens then this happens then this twisty thing happens. A straight line of thought. External. In the romantic scenes I’m in the character’s head where it’s internal and jumbled and basically a mass of squiggly emotional lines. People are complicated. Feelings don’t follow a line. They're messy. I agonize over word choices as I write and then again when I’m editing to get the words just right so a reader feels what the character is feeling.



5) What are you working on currently? Is there another Wolf King book in the works?

I’ve got two projects right now. One is a magic romance trilogy of novellas and the other is Book Three of the Wolf King series.  I’m super busy but having a blast!



EXCERPT FROM OMEGA RISING!



“I’m Cass Nolan, the owner. I didn’t catch your name … again,” she said a little more breathily than she intended. She sat up slowly. The man’s eyes narrowed a fraction then slowly traveled down her leg, back up her body to rest on her eyes. Her breath hitched. The rising sun turned his eyes liquid silver, almost glowing. She didn’t notice he moved until his hand was stroking Baby’s damp neck, his shoulder brushing against her thigh. Cass closed her eyes, the scent of fir trees and fresh snow enveloping her like a warm blanket.

So familiar, so safe. Which was ridiculous considering she’d never met this man. Because, yeah, him she’d remember.

“I’m Agent Nathan Rivers,” he said, his voice deeper, and closer, than a moment ago. Her eyes snapped opened and she gawked. This close he was absolutely devastating. Those gorgeous gray eyes framed by long dark lashes, nose with a bump on the bridge, strong chin not at all hidden by the dark stubble she suddenly longed to scrape her fingers against.

Baby danced suddenly sideways, away from Agent Awesome. Cass silently thanked her as her brain sputtered back to life. Had her hand actually been reaching out? How mortifying. She quickly swung her leg over and dropped easily to the ground, the mare now between them. With trembling fingers she pulled off her helmet and tried to mitigate the damage of sweat dampened helmet hair. Stop, she told herself and dropping her arm quickly. He’s not looking at your hair which is a rat’s nest and makes you look like a crazy lady. She smoothed her hair anyway. Cass blew out a quick breath and started leading Baby to the barn still trying to get a hold of her galloping heart.

Cass stopped just inside the big door in the south aisle, Stranger Danger still on the other side of Baby, watching her. Cass started currying the mare, her hands brisk and efficient and definitely not straying toward him. Definitely not. Why wasn’t he talking?

She risked a peek at him over Baby’s back while brushing the mare’s silky coat, shedding dark hairs swirling into the air between them. Yep, still there and taking up way more space than a body ought and still staring at her. She didn’t feel any personal menace, but she was hyper-aware of every breath he took. Baby’s other side needing brushing but that would mean standing next to tall, dark and handsome, and she was so not ready to do that. Instead, she clipped a lead line to Baby’s halter and led her into the empty stall to finish grooming.

“She’s big. Baby?” His deep voice again sent little shocks through her body. Wait, was he calling her baby and why did she like it? She straightened and saw him eying the name plate on the stall but he was not quick enough to mask his eye roll. Irritation flooded through her. Good, she thought, now I’m annoyed. Annoyed I can deal with.

“You calling my horse fat, stranger danger? Fat with a stupid name? Is that what you just said?”




Anna Kyle wrote her first story at age 12 on an old manual typewriter, and though the technology has changed, she hasn’t stopped since. She lives in the Midwest surrounded by family and friends and dogs and horses. They’ve forgiven her (mostly) when they appear in her stories. She reads everything she can get her hands on, but romances, especially paranormals, are her favorite. Vampires, humans, Fae, shapeshifters, or demons, it doesn’t matter—Anna’s heart goes pitter-pat for the Happily Ever After. Hot heroes + strong, funny heroines = awesome. 

Find Kyle on her website and Twitter. She also has an author page on Goodreads.

Omega Rising is available on Amazon (US and Canada).

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Omega Rising - Book Review

I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of Anna Kyle's new book, Omega Rising, that comes out on June 7, 2016. Though I was provided with a copy, all opinions are my own.

Anna Kyle is another author I met on Twitter, which made reading her book a little nerve wracking. I enjoyed Skye Falling (see review here) but have gotten to know Anna a little more since then. There's always that fear, what if I'm just not that into it? I was fairly confident that I'd enjoy Omega Rising, the first book in her Wolf King series, because I liked the premise and world she had built in Skye Falling.

Omega Rising didn't disappoint.

To give you a bit about the story, here's the cover copy:

Cass Nolan has been forced to avoid the burn of human touch for her whole life, drawing comfort instead from her dreams of a silver wolf—her protector, her friend. When her stalking nightmares return, her imaginary dead sister’s ghost tells her to run, Cass knows she should listen, but the sinfully hot stranger she just hired to work on her ranch has her mind buzzing with possibilities. Not only does her skin accept Nathan’s touch, it demands it. Cass must make a decision—run again and hope she saves the people who have become her family, or stand and fight. Question is, will it be with Nathan or against him?

Nathan Rivers’ life is consumed by his quest to find the Omega wolf responsible for killing his brother, but when the trail leads him to Cass and her merry band of shapeshifters, his wolf wants only to claim her for himself. When evidence begins piling up that Cass is the Omega he’s been seeking, things become complicated—especially since someone else wants her dead. Saving her life might mean sacrificing his own, but it may be worth it to save the woman he can’t keep from reaching for.


There is a lot of humour in this book, at least in my opinion. Some things that Cass said to Nathan, surprised me. I'd have one of those, "She didn't seriously say that" moments, then realize she did and start laughing. More than a few times, I laughed out loud. At one point, Kyle had me both close to tears during an emotional part, but laughing at the same time. Humour isn't easy to get right when you're writing, mostly because everyone's is different, but Kyle did a great job.

The romantic tension in this book, almost killed me. I wanted Cass and Nathan to get out of their own ways to get together. Sometimes I felt like shaking them. There was a lot of, come close then pull away moments. Arg! Needless to say, readers are happy in the end.

Like, Skye Falling, Kyle has strong, sassy women in Omega Rising--which is always a win for me. Cass is independent and caring, ready to protect her friends. I loved her depth. She isn't afraid to speak her mind, and often does to everyone, including the intimidating Tremont. As much as I liked it, there were a few times I thought it went a little far, but it wasn't a deal breaker.

I also liked Nathan, a brooding, hunky, shifter. It took me a while to warm up to him because I found him a little too cold. But my opinion on him isn't important, he was meant for Cass, not me, and they fit together perfectly. Her spirit is tempered by his seriousness, and vice versa.

As I mentioned earlier, I like the world Kyle built with the shifters and the Wolf King. There's a well thought out mythology surrounding it all, which we start to learn about in Omega Rising. Not only are there shifters, but magic and fae, as well as other entities. I'm looking forward to seeing where it all goes.

I enjoyed the story Kyle wove to start the series. There's action and romance, mixed with loyalty and distrust. It took me a while to sort out the politics, but I think that was my fault for being tired when it was explained and I missed something (serves me right for reading when I'm overtired). At one point I found there was a little too much prolonged tension between some of the characters, which made for a bit of a heavier read--but that's just my opinion. Overall the pacing kept up, and everything was resolved for Cass and Nathan in the end with room for more to come.

I recommend Omega Rising for those who like paranormal romance reads and I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ashby Holler - Cover Reveal

I'm privileged to show off another cover.

This one is for Jamie Zakian, another wonderful writer I met on Twitter and saw pitching this book in the trenches with me during pitch parties.

I'm looking forward to reading it!



Today, Jamie Zakian and Limitless Publishing are revealing the cover for ASHBY HOLLER, book one of the Ashby Holler series, which releases June 14, 2016!




Sergeant at Arms for a deadly club of drug traffickers doesn’t sound like the ideal job for a nineteen-year-old girl…

But Sasha Ashby has never been typical, and she’s waited her entire life to sew a club patch on her leather jacket. Raised on violence and crime as part of Ashby Holler Trucking, while hiding her own dirty little secret, Sasha knows she can handle anything.

Now there’s a spot open at the table, and Sasha will do anything to secure it—including betray herself…

Her best friend and fellow prospect, Vinny, devises a stupidly brilliant plan—they fake a relationship. It’s a match the club president, who happens to be Sasha’s mother, has longed to see. It’s a good idea, in theory. Vinny knows she’s into girls, and what’s a little sex between friends? The ruse works well, elevating her in line for the coveted position, until Vinny’s older brother Dez gets out of jail and breezes into her seat.

There’s something about Dez that Sasha can’t shake…

She should hate him. It’s only natural after he snatched away her opportunity of a lifetime. But the instant Dez locks his fierce gaze on her, Sasha’s world turns upside down. In the midst of a war with a rival biker gang, Sasha must figure out what she needs most. Is it the gentle touch of her best friend Vinny, the savage hold of his dangerous brother, or the soft skin of the many women who crawl into the cab of her semi?

The timing couldn’t be worse, but the lies, deceit, and death that dwell in Ashby Holler wait for no woman.



Jamie Zakian lives in South Jersey with a rowdy bunch of dudes, also known as family. A YA/NA writer, her head is often in the clouds while her ears are covered in headphones. On the rare occasions when not writing, she enjoys blazing new trails on her 4wd quad or honing her archery skills. She’s a card carrying member of the Word Nerd Association, which means she’s probably stalking every Twitter writing competition and offering query critiques so keep an eye out.

You can find her on Twitter, on her website, or at Limitless Publishing.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Another 7x7x7 Challenge

I was challenged by Tiffany Hoffman this time for 7x7x7 Challenge. This has me post some of my work in progress.

This is seven lines, starting from the seventh line on page seven of the current urban fantasy story I'm writing. It is still very rough as I'm still working on the first draft, but here's what I have at this time:

Someone stirs. Looking to tip the balance.
“Who?”
All the ancient deities slept, only able to connect with people in dreams or meditations.
From my slumber I cannot tell. Be careful, my child.
“I will. Thank you.”

Her presence slipped from my mind, leaving an emptiness, a longing. I thought of my daughter and my love for her eased the void.


I will now tag some of my writer friends on Twitter to see what they come up with.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

#DarkLitChat

My wonderful critique partner, D.H. Poirier, and I have wanted to do something in the writing world for a while. Since we both write darker fiction, we are launching a Twitter chat, #DarkLitChat.

This will happen on the third Tuesday of every month at 8 p.m. eastern time. The first chat will take place on June 21. We invite all writers of darker fiction, regardless of the genre, to join. It's meant to be a fun chat to connect with other writers and share.

If you want reminders for the chat, fill out the form on D.H.'s webpage here.

We are also looking for published authors to feature during these chats.