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.