Monday, November 3, 2014

Release Day! Nocte by Courtney Cole

Everyone has secrets. Today, you find out mine.

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NOCTE is here. Get it: Amazon - iBooks - B&N - Kobo Add it on Goodreads

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My name is Calla Price. I’m eighteen years old, and I’m one half of a whole. My other half--my twin brother, my Finn--is crazy.
I love him. More than life, more than anything. And even though I’m terrified he’ll suck me down with him, no one can save him but me.
I’m doing all I can to stay afloat in a sea of insanity, but I’m drowning more and more each day. So I reach out for a lifeline.
Dare DuBray.
He’s my savior and my anti-Christ. His arms are where I feel safe, where I’m afraid, where I belong, where I’m lost. He will heal me, break me, love me and hate me.
He has the power to destroy me.
Maybe that’s ok. Because I can’t seem to save Finn and love Dare without everyone getting hurt.
Why? Because of a secret.
A secret I’m so busy trying to figure out, that I never see it coming.
You won’t either.
NOCTE is here. Get it: Amazon - iBooks - B&N - Kobo Add it on Goodreads
Find Courtney Cole: Website - Newsletter - Facebook - Twitter
NOCTE-trailer

 Save me, and I'll save you.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

My Worst Nightmare Blog Hop!

Today, I’m taking part in Vicki Leigh’s “My Worst Nightmare” blog hop, to celebrate the recent release of her young-adult, paranormal-romance/ urban-fantasy, CATCH ME WHEN I FALL, which centers around seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham, a Protector of the Night, who has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. 

I’ve had two recurring nightmares for as long as I can remember. They’re pretty standard, really: falling, and spiders. I know I share my fear of these two things with pretty much half the world. More, even; if politicians campaigned on universal spider extermination initiatives, they’d win in a landslide. Just writing about them, even talking about them, doesn’t really do the topic justice, though.

You have to dream them.

The first dream has endless variations, but one thing never changes: it starts with the familiar.  Just beyond the shower curtain. The bedspread, before you turn it down. See, the thing about spiders is how little and unnoticeable they are. You could have an infestation (creeping you out yet?) and never know- until one of them catches your attention. So easy to overlook- until someone shines a light. Then they become moving  pinpoints of horror.  In my dream, the familiar turns nightmarish. Hundreds- no, thousands- of spiders reveal themselves hiding behind every day things, making my sanctuary into a nightmare. They swarm my bed; I step into a mass of them after my shower. But that isn’t even the worst.

There’s also the falling. That nightmare is literally endless, in that I never remember why I’m falling or even where I am. Sometimes I trip and fall into a never-ending chasm or off the tallest cliff in the world. Mostly, though, this dream begins where it stops: in the middle, with no reason or location. There’s simply that stomach-dropping stasis that never leaves, not for as long as I’m caught in the nightmare. I never hit the bottom but I wish that I would. Anything to stop the sick queasy feeling of falling.

But the worst- the very worst- are the dreams that combine the two.

I’m standing in my kitchen, cooking. Usually it’s something that sizzles and steams, like meat frying, or eggs. That’s why I can’t hear them coming. The cooking food covers the approach of thousands, maybe millions, of tiny legs. I do something routine, something comforting I’ve done a million times, like reach for the spatula or a dishtowel. That’s when I see the movement- spiders are everywhere. They pool around my feet and skitter up the sides of the stove. Soon every surface of my kitchen swarms with a million tiny bodies. I scream until my throat hurts and back away. My kitchen has vanished. A strong wind blasts me from all directions and I stumble backward. My heel catches on something- I never see what- and I’m falling, flailing in space. Empty darkness rushes past as my hands grasp at nothing. Until something sticky and soft clings to them. I’m falling through spider webs. They are my only companions on this endless descent. If I stay in the dream long enough, they even stop my screaming. That’s what happens when your mouth fills up with spider webs: silence.

If something were to feed off my fears, it would look like spiders and wind. Spiders because, well, did you just read my nightmare? Yes? So spiders are kind of a given, then, right? And wind because falling is kind of hard to do.




Want to play too? 


Rules:
·         On 11.03.14 post about your worst nightmare, and what form the clawed, red-eyed creatures would take if they fed off your fears.
·         Visit the other participants of the blog hop, and comment on their worst nightmares



At the end of the blog tour, on 11.14.14, Vicki Leigh will pick one of the participants at random and award them with [prize].


Visit the other participants:
Sharon Bayliss | Emma Adams at From the Writer's Nest               | The Writer Diaries      
Jennifer Brooks at The Cubicle Escapee | Katja at Cautious                          
Cait Spivey | Lucy Lala at Book-A-Holic                   
--
About Catch Me When I Fall:
Recruited at his death to be a Protector of the Night, seventeen-year-old Daniel Graham has spent two-hundred years fighting Nightmares and guarding humans from the clawed, red-eyed creatures that feed off people’s fears. Each night, he risks his eternal life, having given up his chance at an afterlife when he chose to become a Protector. That doesn’t stop a burnt-out Daniel from risking daring maneuvers during each battle. He’s become one of the best, but he wants nothing more than to stop.
Then he’s given an assignment to watch over sixteen-year-old Kayla Bartlett, a clinically depressed patient in a psychiatric ward. Nightmares love a human with a tortured past. Yet, when they take a deep interest in her, appearing in unprecedented numbers, the job becomes more dangerous than any Daniel’s ever experienced. He fights ruthlessly to keep the Nightmares from overwhelming his team and Kayla. Soon, Daniel finds himself watching over Kayla during the day, drawn to why she’s different, and what it is about her that attracts the Nightmares. And him.
A vicious attack on Kayla forces Daniel to break the first Law and reveal his identity. Driven by his growing feelings for her, he whisks her away to Rome where others like him can keep her safe. Under their roof, the Protectors discover what Kayla is and why someone who can manipulate Nightmares has her in his sights. But before they can make a move, the Protectors are betrayed and Kayla is kidnapped. Daniel will stop at nothing to save her. Even if it means giving up his immortality.

Find Catch Me When I Fall Online:
--
About Vicki Leigh:
Adopted at three-days-old by a construction worker and a stay-at-home mom, Vicki Leigh grew up in a small suburb of Akron, Ohio where she learned to read by the age of four and considered being sent to her room for punishment as an opportunity to dive into another book. By the sixth grade, Vicki penned her first, full-length screenplay. If she couldn’t be a writer, Vicki would be a Hunter (think Dean and Sam Winchester) or a Jedi. Her favorite place on earth is Hogwarts (she refuses to believe it doesn’t exist), and her favorite dreams include solving cases alongside Sherlock Holmes.
Vicki is an editor for Curiosity Quills Press and is represented by Sarah Negovetich of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Find Vicki Leigh Online:

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Just a quick Happy Halloween before I'm off to Halloween-related activities! Personally I love candy corn, but I know not everyone feels the same...


So I leave you with the burning question that consumes every Halloween: Candy Corn.... best candy ever, or tears of Satan in candy form? Discuss!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Interview with Krystal Wade


I'm really excited to be hosting Krystal Wade, author of the just-released Charming, on her blog tour! I've been a fan of Krystal's since her Wilde's Fire series came out, and Charming was no disappointment. I thought I'd try to peek inside Krystal's head and see what life is like for her as a busy writer with a family and day job. I'm hoping she'll have some tips for me! 

  1. You’re a writer, mother, wife, and hold down a day job with a long commute, right? What is that like?
            I’m sorry. Did you ask a question? I was too busy catching up on some sleep. Honestly, being a mother, wife, writer, worker, farmer is so difficult. But as with all things that are rewarding, difficulty is just part of the process. One day, my kids will be grown and out of the house and I’ll retire from my job, and thankfully I know I’ll still have books, my husband, and chickens to keep me busy.

2.            Walk us through a typical day in the Wade household.
            The alarm blares at 5:30. I hustle the kids out of bed and myself into the shower. The husband leaves by 6:30 with the girls. I leave by 6:50 with the teen. We all do our business for the day. Teen arrives home in the afternoon, shortly followed by the rest of us. We cook dinner, take care of the chickens and ducks and bunnies and maybe spray a little round-up on those ridiculous weeds growing through my gorgeous landscaping. Then it’s homework (if not already done) time, bath time, family TV time, then writing, editing, reading for me. I’m usually in bed just before midnight, only to get up and repeat myself. And this is a day WITHOUT after school activities. Have I mentioned how tired I am?

3.            If any one thing has to give on a stressful/ crazy day, what is it?
            My writing, editing, reading time. Unfortunately.

4.            How does your writing process work with having a family?
            Well, I’m always writing. Sometimes in my head, on my phone, or on the computer. I squeeze in writing whenever I can, whether at break or lunch at work, while my girls are soaking in the tub, or when it’s way past midnight and I really ought to be in bed.

5.            Any advice for fellow writers out there with families or similar time constraints?
            Don’t give up. You can totally do it!

6.            So tell us about your writing in specific- Tell us about Charming!
            Charming is my baby, my brainchild, my favorite book ever. This story allowed me to include so many personal elements, from my painful past to my happy now, from my love of all things creepy, to my strong views on family, blood or no blood. I especially loved infusing my passion of darker, scarier works into a real world setting. I found my niche while writing this book and can’t seem to stop daydreaming about thrillers now.

7.            What are you working now? What’s next from the mind of Krystal Wade?
            I’m working on two books I hope to have published in 2015. One is the second book in the Book of Red series, and the other is another thriller named The Unraveling of Willard Hill. Willard Hill will drive in the fact that you should be careful what you wish for. 

Thanks so much to Krystal for her interview! I know there's some stuff I can use in there. And don't forget to check out Charming, out now!

Krystal Wade is back with a spine-tingling retelling of Cinderella!

About Krystal Wade:

Krystal Wade is happily married to the love of her life (don’t gag) and raising three beautiful children in the gorgeous state of Virginia. They live just outside Washington, D.C., and every day she wakes up to find herself stuck in traffic trying to get there. When she’s not working, commuting, or chasing after her three children (four if you count the man), you can usually find Krystal outside talking to her chickens like they’re the cutest things in the world (they are), or training her amazing dogs how to herd said chickens (which they love), or curled up on the sofa with a good book (why can’t that be 100% of the time?).

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Book Review: The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The sequel to The Fifth Wave does not disappoint. In addition to having lots of fighting and action sequences, we get to know an expanded universe as we get inside the heads of new characters- people like Ringer, and Poundcake. Plot wise, this sequel has a huge twist at the end- one that redefines what it means to be a survivor of the war.

The only complaint I had was that there was too little time given to the main characters from The Fifth Wave. This is largely Ringer's story, and although her POV was gripping and well written, I still wanted more time with Evan and Cassie. There is a lot less romance in this version, as well.

But clearly, I loved it. It was an amazing follow up- pretty much everything I'd hoped for. Five stars, all the way.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Interview With Courtney Cole: Making Family and Writing Work

When I was writing my first book, I had a wonderful little routine established. After dinner I'd make
sure my two middle-school aged children were settled in with homework, a movie, or some other form of entertainment. Then I'd head out to the back yard where I'd converted a gardening shed into a writing studio. Surrounded by my prized quilt collection, I'd crank the music and write until I'd made word count, or fell over from exhaustion.

Enter Baby #3, She might as well have popped out holding a sign that said, "Hi! My name is Emma, and I'm here to turn your life upside down." I still have an office to write in, but it's slowly become a glorified storage room with a desk because I never get to use it. Instead of The National, I listen to Baby Einstein. I snatch writing moments in between diaper changes, snack time, and boo boo kisses. I'm currently writing at about 1/3 to 1/4 my former speed.

 I decided to reach out to other writers who are in the same boat, or have been there, to see what kind of advice they have. After all, I can't be alone in this struggle. Lots of writers juggle families and evil day jobs and still manage to produce. I need to unearth their secrets.

Today the amazing and talented Courtney Cole agreed to let me interview her on how she makes it all work. I'm a long time fan- not just of her writing, but that she seems to exude this "got it together" air when it comes to this writing thing.

1. So you’re a writer, mother, wife, and juggle a lot of other commitments, right? What is that like?

It’s like having a rabid wildcat inside of me, constantly fighting to get out. 
Kidding.  Not Kidding.  

2. Walk us through a typical day in the Cole household.

I get up at 6:30 now that school has started to get my 16-year old son up and around.  I’ve got to make sure he eats a big breakfast so he’s ready for football practice after school. Then I take my 11-year old demon  daughter to middle school, and I’m back at home and in my office chair by 9:45.   I stay planted in that chair until my word goal (3,000 words) is complete.   Sometimes that means not going to pee.  

3. If any one thing has to give on a stressful/ crazy day, what is it?

It will always be my sanity. 
But seriously, if something gives… it’s usually me showering.  Or putting on makeup.  Or real clothes.  Or sometimes, it’s me going to the store, so we have Chinese takeout.

4. How does having a family impact your writing process?

Lol.  Well, this is a loaded question.   Um.  It impacts WHEN I write.  For instance, writers like to write when their creative juices are flowing.  For instance, if I get a great idea at midnight, I’ll get up and write it.  BUT, if I get a great idea on a Sunday afternoon when I’m supposed to be spending family time around the pool, I’ll put off writing it.  And sometimes, when I get around to writing it, the spark just isn’t there like it was when I had the idea.

5.  Would you say your family supports your writing, and if so, how?

Oh, they definitely do.  Although my son gets aggravated because he thinks I work too much.  He just doesn’t remember the days when I also had a full-time day job, and wrote in the mornings and nights.  Kids have short memories. 
But they definitely support me. 

6. Any advice for fellow writers out there with families or similar time constraints?

Write when you can.  You just have to adjust your schedule to make time.  I know it’s hard, but everything that’s worth doing is hard.  If you have to, get up early.  Stay up late.  I know that’s difficult, especially when you have a baby, but it’s the best I’ve got.

7.  What are you working now? What’s next from the mind of Courtney Cole?

I’m working on an amazing, dark NA romance. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written before—I’m so excited about it!  J



Courtney Cole is a novelist who was born and raised in rural Kansas, lived the next decade near Lake Michigan and has recently migrated to sunny Florida where she writes beneath palm trees.  To learn more about her, please visit www.courtneycolewrites.com

Courtney Cole
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Daughter of Glass Release Information!

I finally have a release date for the first ever Whitfield stand-alone novel, Daughter of Glass. The official release date is:

March 9, 2015!!!

I'm really excited about the idea of this book being released out into the world. It's been a long time coming, and I think it will offer fans of my Angel's Edge series a new insight into the town. Not only that, it will offer interior illustrations for each chapter that show parts of the town, like the fabled fountain in the town square, as well as individual characters from the book. Some of the same characters from Angel's Edge appear in Daughter of Glass, and I love how you can get a chance to see how they look and interact in different situations.

In the meantime, I'm working on a spin-off series featuring the twins from the Whitfield Coffee Shop, Amelie and Nicolas, that focuses on their journey out of the city to save a fellow citizen from enslavement by the Fae. I love stories about the Fae, and feel like I've managed to put a unique spin on this mythology. Even better, it allows me to keep writing in the Whitfield universe while exploring other realms at the same time.

That's just a snapshot of a few things I'm working on, and of course, Daughter of Glass will be available for pre-order prior to its actual release.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: The Curse Merchant by JP Sloan


I'm almost as excited to be a part of The Curse Merchant blog tour as I was to read the actual book! JP Sloan's debut novel is full of action, mystery, magic, and more, and it kept me up waaaay past my bedtime. And now I can't wait for the second book in the series! 

Dorian Lake uses his talent for magic to make hexes, and he tries hard to keep himself and his practice free of the dark influences of Netherwork- aka dark magic. He's built a solid life as a Baltimore hex maker, and all seems well.

Until the day the woman he once loved tells him she's sold her soul to a rival magician- one steeped in Netherwork- and she has only two weeks to  get it back. Dorian descends into a world of lies, betrayal, and evil to help her- at the risk of his own soul. Along the way, he has to stay one step ahead of the Presidium, a shadowy organization that polices magic users.

One of the things I really loved about this book was the setting. Sloan has a gift for making the city really come alive in his writing. Sloan presents us with a city that seems normal at first glance. Dig a little deeper, though, and you'll turn up a whole vibrant magical world full of good and bad magicians, buried secrets, exclusive secret clubs, and guardians both protective and menacing. It's a world where, once you scratch the surface, nothing is as it seems, and Dorian has to work hard to uncover the secrets and lies surrounding him. The Curse Merchant has twists and turns at every corner, and will keep you guessing until the very end. All in all, this is the start of a very promising series. Definitely a full five stars.

Buy The Curse Merchant on Amazon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Untaken by J. E. Anckorn Cover Reveal


I am so thrilled to be able to show off the cover of one of my very favorite upcoming books, Untaken by JE Anckorn. I had a chance to read it in one of its early forms, and I fell in love with it right away. The cover does not disappoint!

Summary: It turns out that a real alien invasion is nothing like the Sci-fi shows 14-year-old Gracie loves. Not when it’s your own family who are swallowed whole by those big silver ships. Not if it could be you next.

In her search for her family, Gracie meets Brandon, a high school dropout who would never have been caught dead hanging out with a dork like Gracie before the world ended. Gracie isn’t too crazy about Brandon either, but he has one thing she doesn’t: A plan.
Brandon’s uncle has a cabin up in Maine, and If Gracie and Brandon can survive long enough to get there they can hide out until the Space Men pack up their ships and leave.
Until the army guys come to rescue them, says Brandon. Brandon is big into army guys.

Gracie has to admit that Brandon’s Awesome Plan probably would have worked out great if wasn't for Jake.

They found 5-year-old Jake, laying half-dead under the remains of someone’s ranch house. He’s a good kid, even if he won’t-or can’t- talk.

But Jake has a secret, and when Gracie finds out what it is, the fragile new life they’ve started to forge looks set to break apart.

When the people you’ve been counting on to put the world back together start hunting you down, alien invaders are the least of your worries.

Untaken is coming this winter from Curiosity Quills Press! 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

How Being Traditionally Published Has Made Me Lazy

My publisher recently implemented a new PR policy that, at first, put me in a really bad mood. I won't go into specifics, but it has to do with just how much they are growing and the changes they have to make in the kind of publicity they can offer their authors. Now, don't get me wrong. They still offer more personalized attention than almost any other small publisher I've ever heard of. But they've studied the market and came to the conclusion that certain types of PR just weren't really working anymore- one of them being the blog tour. (That's been taken as gospel in a lot of circles, actually.) I spent a couple of hours being bummed about this before I had one of those realizations that feels like it should be accompanied by thunder and lightning.

Being traditionally published has made me lazy.

It's not that my publisher is offering less PR. Nope, it's more that they offer so much more than I was used to as an Indie, that I let myself just slip into the comfortable flow of, "Well, CQ handles that. Right?" And they do handle a lot of stuff- no way could I afford BookBub and NetGalley, just to name two. But I used to do so much more promotion and outreach when it was just me. It hit me that I actually miss it. It's not just about sales. It's about feeling more plugged in to the book world I love so much.

After the panic subsided, and after my epiphany, I sat down to look at what I was doing then vs. what I'm doing now, and I identified three things that I can slip back into, relatively pain free. Actually, there are way more than three, but I cut off the tip of my finger with a potato peeler the other day and typing has become very clunky. So three it shall be, for now. Let me start with my two golden rules of the writing trade:

Read, read, read
Promote unto others as you would have promoted unto you

These lead into these specific marketing strategies I used to do but stopped because, well, I got too comfortable:

1. Visit and interact with book bloggers. This should be an easy one. You're a reading fool, right? Because writers need to be readers too. We must stay abreast of what's current in our field. We must learn by seeing what works, and what doesn't. I don't even know how many times I've heard some variant of, "If you don't read, you'll never be a writer." My take on it is that writers are just readers who run out of books now and then and have to make up their own. But the point is: there is a whole universe of websites run by people who read like mad fiends, too! And they are nice enough to write reviews, have discussions, and even contests about the very same books you are probably reading. Why not reach out to them? Chime in about a book you've read that they're featuring. Pop up every now and then, even if it's just to say, "That looks interesting. I'll have to check it out." Spread the book love, people! And when the time comes to promote your book, those sites that share your interests will probably be willing to promote you too. After all, you have books in common, and odds are good a book you write will fit right in.

2. Start a blog of your own. At the very least you need a landing page and a FAQ section so people can actually find your books. But for me a blog is a valuable personal and commercial tool. I use it to communicate with readers, but I also look at it as a way to become a better writer. This little blog o' mine is where I practice. Sometimes my entries are quick and dirty, and sometimes I sit down and pour effort into what I hope will be original, thought-provoking content. And sometimes, those kinds of posts have actually turned into longer articles, stories- that kind of thing. My blog also autofeeds into my Goodreads page, my Amazon author page, Twitter, Facebook, and more. It's like a feeder site for all other social media platforms. I realize blogging is not for everyone, but for me, it's the single most important social media tool in my arsenal. 

3. This is more a variation of #1: Reach out to and review other authors in your genre. This is just another way not just of networking, but of staying on top of your field. You don't even have to stick to the genre you write, I suppose. I tend to stick to YA and paranormal because that's what I like. The important thing, though, is to reach out and make connections. Frequently, especially in the case of Indie authors or small presses, they might even review you in return, or give a shout out when you've got a book coming out. This is not the kind of review trading Amazon has banned. Amazon, in fact, welcomes reviews from other authors. The only stipulation is that 1. a reviewer cannot live under the same roof as the author and 2. a reviewer must not receive any financial compensation for the book in question. "Financial compensation" means editor, illustrator, etc., NOT donating ARCs or review copies, although if you get one of those you must disclose it.

As I wrote above, there are many more than these, and hopefully my finger will heal enough to write more soon. I'd like to leave you with a couple of questions: what book blogs do you love? Can you recommend some for me? What are you reading that makes you want to connect with the author? I'm asking because, as I've said multiple times, I'm feeling out of touch, and your insight via comment section would be greatly appreciated! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

On My Bookshelf: Past, Present, and Future

1. The Past: Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas

I cannot say enough good things about this book. It came into my life at the perfect moment. I had just gone through a dry spell as far as reading goes. It seems I couldn't finish anything- not even Melissa Marr, and everyone knows of my undying love for Melissa. Throne of Glass has action, adventure, romance, and my favorite thing of all: a kick butt heroine who isn't afraid to still be a girl. The main character loves beating all the other assassins in the King's Tournament as much as she loves shopping. She's smart and snarky as hell, too. So this was a real win- a steak dinner after weeks of Weight Watchers frozen entrees.





2. The Present: These Broken Stars
by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

I'm just getting into this book, and I already love it. Two people from very different backgrounds crash land together and must help each other to survive. Maybe not the most original plot ever, right? But where I was expecting another opposites attract/ bad boy v. good girl dynamic, I got complex characters trying to survive some really fantastic world building. The charcaters are nuanced, too, with shades of gray to their personalities rather than flat polarization. Engrossing, so far.







3. The Future: DeadBlood
by Carolyn McCray

This is the second book in McCray's Praxis collection. HeartsBlood was the first, and I read and loved it a long time ago. Like, three years ago or so. :( I've been anxiously awaiting the sequel, and McCray surprised me by putting out an entire collection- all three books in the trilogy, plus bridge short stories in between. I loved the first book so much, and I'm alread
y loving what I've scanned of book two. McCray's heroine is smart, driven, and not a super model, which is always refreshing. Her magical system is one of the simplest and smartest I've ever encountered- equally refreshing, that. And there's a sexy book boyfriend to round it all out.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Book Review: Crossing By Stacey Wallace Benefiel

Favorite quote: "I’m a white Midwestern girl who looks like every other white Midwestern girl. Sometimes this seriously bums me out and sometimes I’m glad I’m not THE MOST BEAUTIFUL because it makes me try harder at being funny and charismatic and outgoing. "

I wish I hadn't waited so long to read this book. It's one of the most original reads in New Adult Romance I've run across. This was so refreshing in a genre that has become formulaic. This is a novel about accepting love in whatever form it appears, even if (or especially if) that love challenges our comfort zone.

In a lot of ways, Liam and Dani seem made for each other. He makes her feel secure, accepted, and loved, and we can tell from early on that she does the same for him. Liam's attractive, confident, and sexy- someone Dani fears is out of her league. But he's really into her, treating her with respect and obvious physical attraction. It was great to see Liam help Dani grow in confidence. But there is one hell of a p[lot twist, and just like it did Dani's, Benefiel's twist pushed my comfort level quite a bit. It forced me to consider just how far I'd go for the guy I loved.

Crossing helped me realize I'd go pretty far.

The writing is enjoyable, as well. It's a smooth immersion into a college world not too different from my own experience, and I really liked feeling transported back to those years. The dialogue was particularly fun- it had a real pulse, and captured the banter among the closest of friends. All in all, I really recommend this read. Not just because it's good- which it is- but because it stretches the way you think. Maybe even changes it.

Bestest of all? Follow this link to get it free right now over at Amazon! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Curse Merchant- Cover Reveal!

I am so pleased to be able to participate in the cover reveal for my friend JP Sloan's forthcoming The Curse Merchant!

About the cover:

I loooove this book. I first had the chance to read one of the early drafts, and it's stuck with me ever since. So imagine my delight when I learned JP Sloan was going to become my publisher-mate and re-release The Curse Merchant through Curiosity Quills Press. One of the things I love most about the book is its urban setting steeped in illusion and secrets of all kinds, which manages to maintain a realistic "city" feel even while being imbued with dark magic. When I saw the cover, I kind of squealed a little, because it ties all these elements together so well: personable average kind of guy drawn deeper and deeper into an urban underworld. 


Description:

Dorian Lake spent years cornering the Baltimore hex-crafting market, using his skills at the hermetic arts to exact karmic justice for those whom the system has failed. He keeps his magic clean and free of soul-corrupting Netherwork, thus avoiding both the karmic blow-back of his practice and the notice of the Presidium, a powerful cabal of practitioners that polices the esoteric arts in America. However, when an unscrupulous Netherworker interferes with both his business and his personal life, Dorian's disarming charisma and hermetic savvy may not be enough to keep his soul out of jeopardy.

His rival, a soul monger named Neil Osterhaus, wouldn't be such a problem were it not for Carmen, Dorian's captivating ex-lover. After two years' absence Carmen arrives at Dorian’s doorstep with a problem: she sold her soul to Osterhaus, and has only two weeks to buy it back. Hoping to win back Carmen's affections, Dorian must find a replacement soul without tainting his own. As Dorian descends into the shadows of Baltimore’s underworld, he must decide how low he is willing to stoop in order to save Carmen from eternal damnation... with the Presidium watching, waiting for him to cross the line.

Find JP Sloan Online:

Website | Facebook  | Twitter | Goodreads

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Happy 4th of July

For those of you who celebrate such things, tomorrow is Independence Day in America. We'll be grilling out, swimming in the lake, and watching the fireworks over Lake Weir. We may have a bonfire- that will depend on the weather. We're still experiencing the outer bands of the Hurricane Arthur. Hopefully it will have passed on by tomorrow.

And of course, lots of people will be drinking. Sadly, some of those people will choose to get behind the wheel. So please enjoy yourselves and watch out for drunk drivers.

This is such a big family holiday that I'm going internet silent until sometime on the 5th. Feel free to contact me, but I probably won't respond until after the holiday. So thank you for visiting, enjoy the music and (picture of) fireworks, and check out the super secret Keire family recipes for 4th of July Burgers!

5 lbs ground chuck
12 oz roll pork sausage, mild or spicy, according to taste
3 tablespoons Montreal Steak seasoning
3 tablespoons Dale's steak sauce
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning
a few vigorous shakes of Everglades seasoning

Mix all the above together in a huge mixing bowl. Don't be shy- use your hands and really dig in there to mix it up. Don't stop until your hands ache- that's how you can tell it's well mixed. Divide meat mixture into about 12 equal patties (we're feeding five people, including two teenagers who eat like starving bears). Of course, you may prefer to make 8 huge ones, or 14 smaller . . . whatever works for you. Grill until crispy on the outside and cooked to taste throughout.

We top ours with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, the usual condiments, pickles, pepper jack and sharp colby cheeses, and, of course, bacon. We also keep both seeded and plain buns, which we toast for a minute on the grill before eating.

NOTE: These are probably terrible for you, which is why we hardly ever make them. The fourth of July, maybe Labor Day and Memorial Day, and if someone is very very lucky, perhaps a birthday, although that is doubtful.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Interview With a Book Pirate

When my third book was published, it hit pirate websites within hours. I remember staring at the page, stunned, and then bursting into tears. It took the better part of an hour for my husband to calm me down, and I still don't think he 100 percent understands why I got so hysterical. I'm not sure I can explain it myself.

Most writers fall into two groups when it comes to piracy: the "They're going to do it anyway," school, and the "Witch!" camp. I mostly belong with the stones and pitchforks group, but to keep my sanity I've been forced to adopt an attitude more in step with the first.

There's a third thing that's harder to articulate. Piracy hurts. There's the obvious financial pain of stolen royalties. But I'm talking about a pain that goes deeper than that. Piracy just straight-up hurts my feelings, making me feel like the writerly equivalent of the skank who just gives it away under the bleachers after school, during football games, and most times in between.

Yeah, I went there.

And yet, there are so many book pirates out there, many of them otherwise decent people leading decent lives. I know some of them, and you do too. Maybe you've swiped a book or two yourself. I'm really not trying to judge, but rather to get inside the mind of a pirate. That's why I hunted one down, and got it to answer some of my burning questions.

Me: How long have you been a book pirate?
Pirate: For a few years now. Once ebooks started getting really big, I began reading them on my computer, but I didn't really start downloading pirated versions until I got my first Kindle.

Me: So the Kindle was kind of a gateway drug, then? (shakes fist at Amazon). I would have blamed bleed over from music piracy.
Pirate: (laughs) No, I pretty much stick to ebooks. I'm much more into books than music.

Me: I guess the burning question is: why? You've got to know you're hurting people- taking money away from writers and their families.
Pirate: I know that on a level, but it seems far removed. Technology makes it really easy, makes it almost seem like a victimless crime. When I look at the price of an ebook- let's say ten bucks, which is pretty standard, I think- my brain turns that into groceries, or a sliver of the cable bill, and that makes me think really hard about whether to buy or pirate. My financial standing is not nearly as strong as it was before the ebook revolution, which coincided, incidentally, with the Great Recession. So cost is a major factor.

Me: That's an interesting connection- ebooks did start to get really big around '08/'09. Do you see a connection?
Pirate: Absolutely. People woke up with 1/3 to 2/3 less of their net worth, and suddenly here was this cheap, or free, entertainment, without having to leave home. So yes, I think they're connected.

Me: If ebooks cost less, would you pay instead of pirate?
Pirate: Probably. I read some Indie writers, and I'm much more likely to buy a 99 cent book than a ten dollar one, but only if it's by a promising author or one I already like.

Me: What about free books? Like through Amazon or BookBub?
Pirate: I subscribe to BookBub, and I'll frequently download the free books that catch my interest, but honestly, I almost never read them, and I'm not re
ally sure why. The same goes for Amazon. The exception is if I know it's the first book in a really good, usually cheap series. Then sometimes I'll bite. But free books? Nah. I can pirate major releases for free.

Me: You're breaking my heart here.
Pirate: I don't want to! But you asked for honesty.

Me: Right. I did at that. Let's get technical, then. Where and how do you acquire these pirated books?
Pirate: I use Mobilism and Pirate Bay. I either download direct or use UTorrent, then run them through this free software called Calibre. Calibre is supposed to act as an ebook organizer- like a library on your computer- but in reality it allows you to download almost any format and convert it to another format. So I can download an epub (like Nook books) or pdf (common, because you can easily scan books that way), and convert it to a Mobi file (Amazon) in seconds. It takes just seconds more to put directly on my Kindle.

Me: Amazon doesn't somehow detect that you have pirated books when you buy from them, or deal with them?
Pirate: Nope.

Me: Do you ever worry about getting caught?
Pirate: No. I do worry about viruses, but I have software for it.

Me: Did you pay for that software? Just kidding. What can an author do to avoid being pirated? Anything?
Pirate: Sometimes I run into notices where the author or publisher has had the file removed, and then I have to make a call as to whether I want to buy it or not. If it's reasonably priced and I want it enough, sometimes I'll buy. So I guess find a way to take your books down. I've also seen notices- usually Indie writers- asking people who pirate to please buy the next book, if they *must* pirate. That works with me sometimes too.

Me: I said I wouldn't judge, but you have to know you're taking money away from hardworking people. Piracy has cost my own family thousands and thousands of dollars- just taken that money right out of my kid's college funds, or kept me from having the security to write even more. How do you live with yourself?
Pirate: I don't feel good about it. I'm definitely conflicted.

Me: What would have to happen to make you stop stealing?
Pirate: Having enough money.

Me: You realize that's a terrible double standard, right?
Pirate: Like I said, I don't feel good about it.

... and that's as far as I could go without devolving into a frothing-at-the-mouth Hound of Hell. I know there are no answers here, but honesty was really what I was after. And I did learn some things. What I'll do with that, I don't quite know.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Bread and Books

Yes, I made these!
Apparently summer in Central Florida coincides with monsoon season. This makes sense since the climate zone is tropical. Or maybe sub-tropical? Either way, it doesn't matter, because what it's lead to is a whole lot of rain. Rain three times a day. A terrible soaking rain that gets into everything- even your bones. Steamy jungle rain from which there is no escape- not even a nice pot of soup and a book and a blanket, because it is still too darned hot for at least two of those things.

But rather than complain further, I decided to dive into writing and blogging and tuning up my (once again) sadly neglected Twitter account. So I'd like to share with you two things saving my sanity this rainy season: books and baking.

It's really too hot to do too much baking in the oven, and so this led me to invest in a bread machine. If you've never owned one of these marvelous creatures, you're missing out. In the week that I've had mine, I have yet to produce a loaf that doesn't get eaten within minutes of pulling it out of the machine. I've also made yeast rolls. These almost caused fights, and I had to ration them equally to prevent it. The only thing
that made it to Day 2 was a pan of cinnamon rolls, and that was because I hid them under aluminum, behind the fruit and vegetable basket. No teenager, apparently, would ever look there.

In addition to all this lovely staff-of-life bounty, I've managed to read. Sort of. I managed to get my hands on an ARC of the new Melissa Marr, Made For You. It's a YA contemporary thriller- her first- and I am sad to report that it has been relegated to the could-not-finish pile. This has a lot more to do with my own headspace than with Marr's writing. I've had a hard time finishing anything. I'm not sure why. I similarly had to put down Laini Taylor's third book, Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I for sure didn't see that happening. The whole series so far has been brilliant, but the last book just couldn't grab me. The same happened with Marr's new book. As soon as I found out who the killer was, I just lost interest. I also think I'm pining for her wonderful Faery world. I so wish I could read more Irial. But then, I bet a lot of us do.

Instead, I'm going to try high fantasy, with Sarah Maas's Throne of Glass. I'm interested in circuitous routes to publication lately, and I discovered that Maas had originally started Throne of Glass on Fictionwise, where it was wildly popular and eventually garnered her an agent and a deal with Bloomsbury Children's. Hopefully, I'll be able to finish this one. If not, then we'll know for sure it has something to do with my headspace, and nothing whatsoever to do with these authors, whom I love very much.

I'm going to leave you with the yeast bread recipe, which taste even better with a cup of strong coffee, a good book, an easy chair, a sleeping toddler, and a storm rolling through, churning the lake.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Summer!

forest in the morning
 I've let Monday Blogs and Teaser Tuesdays blow me by, and there isn't really anything special for Wednesdays. But what the heck, right? It's officially summer vacation, which means I have more than the ususal number of people under foot at all hours of the day. It's taken some getting used to, but we're starting to establish a nice little routine. Full fledged summer has only been with us for- oh- a week today, exactly. Being as isolated as we are, it's a different kind of summer than we've ever had before. I wanted to just share some pics of where we live- the middle of the Ocala National Forest. Even though there's not much here, (nearest fast food? 20 minutes!), there's a lot by way of natural beauty and things to do. Beaches, hiking, and swimming come to mind. So here's a few pics, and I hope everyone else is enjoying their summer as well.

Can you spot the llama?
The lake, like glass
Our version of snow- Spanish Moss
view from the porch- the dock where we swim and canoe

Monday, June 2, 2014

The Myth That Writing is a "Dream"

I was shocked at the response to my last blog. So many people wrote to tell me that they related- that they had the kind of unsupportive families that might qualify them for an ABC Afterschool Special. And yet, they kept writing, whole-heartedly embracing my "Screw 'em, do it anyway," mentality. A few wrote to share just how supportive spouses, friends, etc. actually were, to the point that these writers don't feel they could make it without them. Like most things in life, I suspect the vast majority of us fall somewhere in the middle. But one common sentiment arose again and again:

Follow your dreams. Don't let anyone stand in the way of your dreams. Cherish your dream. Your dreams are a vital part of your happiness.

Here's a closely guarded personal truth: Writing is not a dream. Not for me. Never has been. And believe me, I wish it was.

For me, writing is a way of navigating the world, of trying to make peace with it, to make sense of my place in it, and to translate that experience into something that lets me be a happy and productive member of the human race. It's exhilarating and painful and lonely and hard.

But it's also beautiful. And completely, totally mandatory.

The truth is, for many of us, writing is not a choice. We have to do it, or we sicken, slow down, and sometimes outright break down. I don't know why this is. I suspect the reasons are different for everyone. I know I can look back through the course of my life and identify the times when I was the most miserable, and every single one of them has to do with me choosing to not write in favor of something more grown-up, or practical, or some other such line.

That's as far from a "dream" as I can imagine. Gwendolyn Brooks deconstucts the word so beautifully in "Kitchenette Building*": "Dream makes a giddy sound, not strong like 'rent,' 'feeding a wife,' 'satisfying a man.'" It is a word loaded with privilege and frivolity, and I believe it can be yet another way society devalues what writers, or any creative person, does.

This is the part where I'm supposed to tell you that, as caring humans, we must have priorities. We must put the college fund and the mortgage first. Many of us do this, and  maybe this is the way it's supposed to be. But some of us can't. Some of us have to plod onward and hope everything will come out balanced in the end.  

By no means do I intend to imply that creative expression shouldn't be an intimate, beautiful, cherished thing. And whether that is a dream or a compulsion, I'm wary of those who try to devalue it in any way.


*Brooks, Gwendolyn. "Kitchenette Building." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 02 June 2014.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

When Your Family Won't Support Your Writing

Over the years since I published my first book, I've dealt with a lot of challenges. I never dreamed, when I first typed "The End," that the hardest obstacle to overcome would be my own family.

Here's a composite list of my supposed writerly crimes. They include the collected complaints of siblings, husbands, parents, children, extended relatives, and more:

I do nothing all day. I do not have a "real" job, prompting comments like: "If I had nothing to do all day, I'd get so much more done than just making things up..." I will never be JK Rowling. I won't schedule lunches for one whole day out of the week, because I'm writing. My head's not in the game. I live in a fantasy world. I'm moody, brooding, and sometimes downright depressed. At other times, I'm euphoric, babbling on about imaginary people and isn't it wonderful that they did x. There's no point reading my published novels- they're not the right genre, or they might be too personal, or yes, dear, I'll get to them someday. I wear yoga pants for days in a row, my hair perpetually thrown up in a clip. If I have a deadline, nothing else exists but that deadline. I read too much. I don't have "normal" hobbies like tennis or gardening. I don't watch tv, go to movies, or keep up with current events. I spend too much time in front of the computer, which would be best used, at times, as a projectile.

I mean wow.

I can't, and won't, pin this on just one person. I also know I'm not alone in being on the receiving end of these kinds of sentiments, if not the comments themselves. Each one of them hurt, and each one of them made me want to stuff my head under my pillow and cry. Then two thoughts occurred to me.

Maybe there's a tiny bit of truth in there. Maybe.
And screw them.

First off, I had to pick apart what seemed like a tangled ball of petty, jealous ranting. I love my family, and staunchly believe most families are made up of people who do love and want the best for each other. So what's behind the stunning lack of support, if not outright sabotage? I set out to analyze their comments, turning them over to find the grain of truth. Best done in pieces, and at the end of it, I realized:

1. Writers really are moody. We have the reputation of being self-absorbed, tormented alcoholics who must torture ourselves in the name of our muse. And while this certainly fits some of us, the most stable among us have almost certainly had the occasional bout of staring at nothing for an uncomfortable period of time. Can we blame the people who love us if, "But I just figured out the Syncline Corporation was behind it all!" is not a valid excuse? (In fact, it's probably more alarming than the staring.)

2. Yoga pants and hair clips? Guilty as charged. (Hey, at least I've graduated from my pajamas.) And even though this same outfit is the default uniform for any work-from-home person, it would not kill me to spruce up the word-slinging duds a bit.

3. I never will be JK Rowling, and I have nothing but pity in my soul for anyone who defines success this way. Instead, I do have a string of smaller milestones that are nonetheless important to me, that keep me going when things get hard. Once, success was typing, "The End." Then it was selling 1k copies. Then 50k. Then 100k. Being a bestseller? Check. Making more than my day job? Check. Having a great publisher? Yup. The bar keeps adjusting as I grow as a writer, and that's more important than achieving financial success. It's a radically different way of looking at life that has been hard won, but something I wouldn't trade, even to be JK.

4.  Writing takes up resources. Time, money you could be making at a day or second job, head space. It's only natural that sometimes, family members get resentful when things seem out of whack. Opting out of a lunch date one- or several- days a week seems reasonable, but repeated isolation is death to any relationship. Not to mention how bad it is for our own heads. Checking in to make sure things stay balanced- money, time, attention, housework- is just Happy Family 101.

Most of the rest of it can go under the "I don't give a damn" category. Don't want to read my books? That's cool. Plenty of other people have, including some amazing beta readers and fans who have become friends and cheerleaders. Too much time on the internet? Well, see, there's this amazing, supportive community of readers and writers out there who get this whole word-slinging deal, and support it, and me, whole-heartedly. I'd be lost without them. A lot of tv is overrated; I kill cacti, so forget about gardening; if something important happens, I'll hear about it from my family, friend, or garbage man.

That about covers the important parts. The rest? That brings me back to my second point.

Screw them. Keep writing anyway.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Teaser Tuesday: Carnivalesque

I'm truly blessed in the number of projects I have coming to fruition. Some are new territory for me, like my New Adult I love so much, but others are the labor of years. Like this one. I've decided to share it for Teaser Tuesday because I'll be releasing it as a series of episodes, hopefully by summer. Pieces of it have appeared in different anthologies here and there, but they all add up to one epic, cohesive whole. So. Welcome to Verres, a world of ash, phantom carnivals, and masks that infuse the wearers with a rare mineral and god-like powers. Meet Jessa, princess of starvation and cinders, as she braves the surface of her destroyed world to catch a forbidden glimpse of the sun.

The Last Carnivale

     Jessa ran.
     The corridor stretched on into blackness, its walls covered with burnt paper.  Faint moonlight leaked through broken windows. She dodged chunks of fallen ceiling, kicking up dust and ash. Her eyes stung and her lungs pulsed with acid. Glass and smaller chunks of debris cracked too loudly under her heavy, ugly boots.
     She knew the importance of silence; she could hear the group of soldiers behind her. She knew she hadn’t yet been spotted. She just had to make it to the end of the corridor, then up the servant’s stairs to what remained of the roof. With luck and skill, she might still have a chance.
     Then I can run back to the caves so Theodric can kill me himself, Jessa thought bitterly.
     They were closer now. She forced herself to concentrate.
     Jessa had learned from bitter experience not to go rushing blindly into exposed space while she was above ground. Predators, collapsing debris, and Syncline soldiers were just a few of the dangers that awaited the unwary. She dropped to her belly, protected by her thick canvas coat. She could see one of them wedged into a doorway just meters from the staircase entrance. He held a sleek rifle with an arm made of both flesh and metal.
     A new brand of killer, Jessa thought numbly.  Syncline Corp. had sent their very latest model for her this time. She’d stopped asking why long ago. The short answer was simple: the mineral found only on Verres that was infinitely more powerful than any source Syncline currently possessed. The long answer started as far back as the day they’d killed her family and razed her world, mistakenly leaving the youngest, most headstrong member of the ruling family alive.
     Hide.  I’m going to have to hide. Theodric will know, he’ll bring help…
     Shouts behind her let her know hiding was no longer an option. 
     The roof, then.
     With one swift slice of her knife, her bootlaces fell away. Barefoot, she’d get cut, but she wouldn’t fall. Cuts would heal. A fall would snap her neck. Weakened by the repeated bombings that followed the Day of Fire, the remaining buildings were off limits to all survivors. The roof, especially, was treacherous territory. But Jessa knew her forbidden rooftop kingdom well. She crossed it often in her frequent attempts to escape the shelters and see the sun, unlike the Syncline soldiers who followed.
     Jessa vaulted across open space, staying low as she slammed into the stairwell. The lone soldier who’d been guarding it barked commands into a crackle of static. Voices echoed behind her, followed by pounding feet and gunfire. She ran, skipping steps three at a time, ignoring the chaos in her wake. The sounds of fighting grew closer.
     She cleared the staircase in seconds.  Burned out buildings and twisted metal spires stretched up into endless night around her. What had once been beautiful, luminous structures mocked her with their broken windows and grime-encrusted surfaces. She barely had time to draw breath before a metal hand grabbed her.
     “Target acquired,” the Syncline soldier said. An oddly elegant faceplate covered half his features. A red lens obscured one eye, while a grid of some kind jutted out and over part of his mouth. All that remained of his human face was a ribbon of flesh curving through metal barriers. His grip on her collar tightened while his inhuman strength hauled her even higher into the air. Her feet scraped wildly at nothing. 
     “I’m not …” Jessa gagged, trying to pry even an inch of air from the man’s merciless metal hands. “I’m not who you think,” she managed at last. He ignored her.
     “She’s an exact match,” he said into the grid. Jessa didn’t hear the reply, but whatever it was made him narrow his eyes. “No, not a problem. She’s a tiny little thing.” The soldier shook her again, as if examining a pet he was considering taking home. “Scrawny, even. The embargo must be hitting them hard.”
     Outraged, Jessa tried to kick him. Nothing happened, of course.
     Gunfire echoed below. The soldier holding her froze as bullets rained down in a circle around them. Several hit him in the leg. She watched as a thick silver liquid oozed out, but he didn’t seem hurt. Instead, he grimaced as he dropped her and hauled her in front of him in a protective embrace. 
     Two thoughts hit her at once:
     Theodric sent the Guard for me.
     Why is a Syncline soldier protecting me from gunfire?
     The latter she filed away for later. There simply wasn’t time, as tantalizing as the possibilities were. But her Guard’s presence meant a chance at rescue and demanded immediate action. As the hail of gunfire increased around her, she took a deep breath and dropped to her knees, leaving the soldier holding a much too large for her empty jacket.
     How’s that for scrawny, she almost yelled after the astonished soldier as she crawled for the middle of the roof. Great big pieces of the structure were missing all around her. She crawled forward across a support beam, relying on deeply ingrained memory to guide her. Bullets and blasts were pierced by the occasional scream or yelled command. Behind her, she could hear more and more people clambering up onto the roof. Which was bad. Very bad. Too many, and the whole thing would collapse. She just hoped the main support beam would withstand the increasing weight.
     Without her bulky jacket and its sheltering hood, there was no mistaking who she was. Her long red hair lashed across her face. Without the bulky jacket to hide her shape, it was obvious she was young and female. Not many young females survived the Day of Fire. Certainly only one had the kind of stupidity that would lead her to risk the roofs, and only one had her trademark red hair. She might as well be wearing a sign for Syncline’s forces.
     They called her the Beggar Princess, the sole survivor of Verres’ ruling family after the Day of Fire. Gods be damned, how she hated that title. Hated it almost as much as she hated who she was, where she was, and what had happened.