Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gothic Beginnings - Guest Post by Layna Pimentel


Gothic Beginnings 

by Layna Pimentel


My obsession with gargoyles began long ago when I was transitioning from an awkward teenager, to a woman whose fondness for all things that go bump in the night, became a way of life. I’m not shy to admit that I like many others dove into the misunderstood realm of being ‘goth’. To this day, I am proud of that path I chose, and the people I met during those years. It wasn’t just the dark and heavy music of Nine Inch Nails, Ministry, or Type O Negative that allured me, but the culture in itself was the most fascinating thing ever.

But gone are the days of wearing long red crushed velvet dresses, knee-high boots that buckled all the way up, and black hair dye. The only thing that remains from those years is my obsession for stone figures—or in my case, resin castings of fascinating dark creatures.



I suppose it was inevitable that I’d eventually write a book about them one day. And I suppose hell froze over, ‘cuz guess what? I wrote one, and it got picked up, and it’s coming out very soon from Secret Cravings Publishing this April (date is still TBA).

For those of you intrigued of what Hardened Desire is all about, here is the blurb and a tiny snippet to tide you over until I post the full excerpt on March 30th at my regular stint at 69 Shades of Smut. Enjoy!


Hardened Desire:

What could Luc Mercier, a gargoyle who's more than a century old, possibly have in common with modern introvert, Gillian Harris? Loneliness and isolation.

When meddlesome friends bring the two together, neither is prepared for the flurry of emotions nor revelations that overwhelm them. That is, until Gillian stumbles across the truth and struggles with how she let her guard down.

Learning to love again has never been harder.

Excerpt:

Was he for real or what? Gillian mused while driving back to her High Park apartment. The stranger’s eyes captivated her, but also warned her not to get too close. There was something peculiar about his mannerisms. Who the hell actually kisses a woman’s hand when first meeting her these days? The age of polite men and chivalry only existed in history books and romance novels, and her life was anything but a romance novel.

Lizzie had crossed the line. What the fuck! Lizzie would be one dead chickie the next time Gillian saw her. If she wanted a date, she knew how to get one herself. Hell…the last thing I ever wanted was to be hand-fed a man.

Let alone the fact that she really didn’t have the time for one. It was bad enough this meeting put her into over-time, she still had work at eight in the morning. Yet, despite the inconvenience of this impromptu mini date—if you could call it as such—the man was charming in a distinguished sort of way.

Luc exuded a confidence that frightened her. Perhaps her inexperience with men dictated her apprehension, yet her inquisitive nature led her—or more accurately—dragged her on. She wanted to know more and understand what really attracted her to him in the first place.

Gillian backed into her designated parking space, narrowly missing the lamppost, utterly distracted by tonight’s events. She rushed into the building and ascended the staircase with expedience. She needed to talk to Lizzie and make sense of this, not to mention address the issue of her meddling.

Author Bio:

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Layna discovered her love of reading at an early age. When she isn’t devouring salacious romance novels or writing, she enjoys losing herself in researching ancient history and mythology, weaponry, and hiking. She lives in Northern Ontario, with her husband and two daughters.

Layna is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and is a monthly contributor at 69 Shades of Smut. For updates on her upcoming releases, or to leave her a comment, you can find at:





Saturday, March 23, 2013

My first shifter love...


My first shifter love…

Everyone remembers their first love and I have to share mine – it happened when I went into a bookstore decades ago and tripped over a nice little paperback with a grey horse on the front, rearing up and daring me to pluck it off the shelf and take a look.

I'm talking about "The Grey Horse" by R.A McAvoy , of course.

Here's the official blurb from Amazon:

Set against the colorful and magical backdrop of Ireland, The Grey Horse chronicles a time when the Irish people suffered under harsh English overlords who sought to destroy their culture and way of life. Into the Irish town of Carraroe, a magnificent, completely grey stallion appears. The horse brings with him the promise of better times and magical happenings, for he is actually the shape-shifted form of Ruairi MacEibhir, journeyed to such a time of danger in order to win the hand of the woman he loves.

I know the blurb sounds pretty lame but at the time it was my first entrance into the magical world of Irish lore and of shifters—and of a sweet love.

Ruairi has come to town to woo a woman who isn't impressed with his shape-shifting skills or the revelation that Ruairi is a puca, a fairy pony. But he's determined to stay the course even if it means being baptized, an event that has to be read to be believed. Add in the usual problems of young love, a village wondering about their new resident and you've got a great story.

I wore out two copies of this paperback because of the flowing words and the beauty of the simple love story. Or should I say, love stories. Because in the middle of Ruairi's courting there's a lovely secondary plot with an older couple who are responsible for Ruairi's cover story and show a simple love that's lasted through time. It was one of the first time I'd seen seniors depicted as not only having a love life and I can say without doubt I think they'll stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

One of the things that I enjoyed, in retrospect, was that Ruairi's magic skill wasn't all that great. He could shift into a horse and do some basic other tricks but he wasn't a wizard nor did he have wild abilities either as a horse or a human. In fact he has a slew of peculiar thoughts and misunderstandings about humans which makes his wooing even more funny. He's not overpowering and more than a little naïve in the ways of humans but isn't afraid to step up when he's needed to right wrongs as he sees them.

This book was written in 1987 and is just as good a read now as it was then and is now available in ebook form. If you're looking for a sweet shifter love story I'd recommend it highly!

So there you go—my first shifter love. Why not tell me who yours was?

 

 



 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Werebunnies in Your Basket





Spring has arrived...I'm doing my best to ignore the foot of snow still on the ground and throw myself into spring. The weather will catch up soon (I hope. I really, really hope).

Spring sunshine has a way of bringing out the sweeter side of life. Long looks in the lunchroom for the kiddos. A wink shared over the dinner table. Outside sports starting up again with long walks to behind the dugout...ah, spring.

If you're in the mood to spice up your basket, toss in some bunnies--werebunnies that is. Guaranteed not to give you actual cavities :)

Earlier this month I had the great joy of chatting with Curvy, the owner and operator of an all things sexy store and blog. She loved the bunnies nearly as much as me!

 
 
 
 
 
Stay warm and Happy Spring!!
 
Stephanie Beck
 
 
 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

School Fundraiser... with books!

Heyla, it's me again!

Life lately is absolutely hectic. I'm teaching six classes, writing two serial novels, and doing my part to raise two little boys. My wife and I recently had the opportunity to support the boys' school by taking part in a book fair, where a big chunk of each book's sale price went to various enrichment programs in the school. The boys got books they like, the school got some much needed funding, and we got a little peace and quiet while they read instead of running around like maniacs or playing games-that-go-beep.

That got me thinking about where I work. It's an inner city school, and the funding sent from the Federal government never seems to reach us. I've got books older than my kids, desks older than I am, and no one actually remembers the last time we received a shipment of lab supplies. I've suggested a book fair, but that requires both a source of books and a local population that reads, neither of which we have.

I've donated copies of my own books to the library, as well as getting my publisher, Decadent, to donate a few of their YA titles. Just in case I haven't said it enough, thanks, DP! The kids love the books you sent! At any rate, while some of the students are getting some quality book-time from that, my classroom is still a unsupplied relic and the enrichment program I volunteer a few hours for every day is funded by happy thoughts, pocket change, and occasional hardware donations from my sister-in-law's husband.

So... here's the deal. I'm going to start donating half my writing income (royalties, prizes, all of it) to the school in the form of lab supplies and enrichment program stuff. If you've got some time and would like to pitch in, the details are here. Even if you don't have any money, my two serials are *free*, and the site pays me some money if I have enough votes every month.

Anywho, that's all I've got for you today. Hope to see you reading (and commenting on! and voting for!) my serials, and either way I'll see you here next month!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

PREVIEW Moonlight: The Big Bad Wolf, Black Swan Book 4

 As you probably know, I write in serial saga format. Each book in my paranormal romance series begins where the last ended. For that reason, I have encouraged reading in order by making the first book in the series (NOMINATED FOR BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE OF 2012 BY REVIEWERS' CHOICE AWARD) permafree and available at Amazon, Apple, B&N, Smashwords, and Kobo.

WHAT WOULD YOU DO FOR LOVE?

Coming on the full moon, May 25th.

1. Sol taps Storm to replace him as Jefferson Unit Sovreign.
 
2. B Team learns the shocking truth about the origin of the vampire virus.
 
3. Monq races to develop a defense system to repel interdimensional terrorists/assassins.
 
4. Litha volunteers her father to help to Black Swan.
 
5. Desperation drives Stalkson Grey to embark on an adventure beyond his wildest dreams in a bid to save the Loti werewolves from extinction. In the process he learns that true love can find you in the strangest places, even when you're far, far from home.
 

Second EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1.

(The first excerpt from Chapter 1 in included at the end of A Summoner's Tale.)
 
Prince Duff Torquil's family was having a small reception to celebrate his mid winter graduation from law school from The University of Strathclyde at Glasgow. There was a tradition among the fae monarchy that those who were likely to rule study history, with an emphasis on Fae history, and go on to law school, logic being that the law is best administered by those who know and understand it. The royal family, currently in residence at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, considered a small reception to number eight hundred people. At that, there were sure to be at least two thousand more who would consider their lack of invitation a snub.

Elora had written to the prince and explained that she and her husband had taken temporary quarters in the States. She added that she hoped it would not be presumptuous of her to ask that her friend, Istvan Baka and his bride, both employed by the same organization, take their place. Of course she knew it was presumptuous. After all, she had a background in the gentility of social arts, but she hoped he would grasp the code of her next sentence which was this.

"You are certain to enjoy Baka's company and that of his new bride who is popular among the young associates where she works. I'm certain you would make a loyal ally for life should you offer an extra invitation for her to bring a friend."

On the off chance that people were smarter than they appear to be, Duff reread the note twice before tossing it on the glowing embers of the fireplace in his north wing office. He stabbed at the coals with the poker until the paper caught and burned to ash within seconds while he made a mental note to find a way to repay the Lady Laiken for her smart and capable assistance. He opened the door and stepped out to speak to his secretary. No matter how many times it occurred, the young man always appeared startled when the prince leaned out and spoke to him. It seemed the palace staff would never get used to Duff's inappropriately modern and boorish behavior.

At first it had annoyed Duff that Grieve jumped in his chair whenever Duff opened the door to the outer offices and spoke to him. Grieve had been appointed by his father without Duff having any say in the matter. Whatsoever. As usual. But eventually he came to terms with the fact that there was an odd, little bespectacled man sitting just outside the entrance to his suite of rooms. He managed this internal resolution largely by appreciating the humor of the thing.  Grieve's display of shock had become part of the reality Duffy's day to day and one that he'd grown to look forward to. In fact, he imagined that, should Grieve develop nerves of steel, he, Duff Torquil, Prince of Scotia Fae and heir to the throne, would be forced to devise ways to deliberately create surprise, simply for the pleasure of seeing Grieve jump, gasp, and clutch his chest.

With that thought, Duff lowered his chin into his chest and chuckled while Grieve got himself together.

"Grieve," Duff repeated.

"Aye, your highness."

"Please send an additional invitation to my reception to an Istvan Baka at the Black Swan Charitable Corporation offices, Charlotte Square."

"But, sir, there are no odd invitations left to offer."

"Are you goin'?"

Grieve pushed his glasses higher on his nose. "Oh, aye. My presence is expected."
"Do you want to go?"

Grieve hesitated, mouth open, while trying to decide whether it would be in his interest to tell the truth or not. "I, ah..."

"The truth, man."

"No' particularly."

"There you have it then. Problem solved." Duff was ducking his head back into his rooms.

"But, sir, your father..."

The prince slowly opened the door and reappeared, but without his customary affable and approachable expression. He didn't seem happy. And might even have been scowling a little.

"Who do you work for, Grieve?"

"You, sir?"

"I understand that my father hired you, but he is no' in a position to oversee and sign off on every detail of my affairs every day. Do you no' agree?"

Grieve nodded. "Aye."

"Well, then it seems you must make a choice. Is your loyalty to the one who appointed you or to the one whom you serve?"

Grieve paused for only a moment before standing and pulling his shoulders back. "My loyalty is to you, sir. I would be honored to have you rely upon me."

Truly, Duff was half joking and had not expected the equivalent of a chivalric vow of service, but seeing that the little man was serious, the prince was touched and decided not to dismiss it as a jest.

"Thank you, Grieve. I will treasure your declaration and count on it, from this day forward."

Looking like he had just experienced the best moment of his life, Grieve smiled like he'd just been knighted.

Duff withdrew and closed the door, but stowed away in his heart the knowledge that allies could be made from something so small as a little respect and recognition.

 *

Baka would have loved to skip the prince's reception, but Elora had asked him to go and take Aelsong. So he was standing in front of the mirror in a blindingly white pleated shirt trying to tie his black tie. He was just glad his tux came with pants instead of the kilt that most of the male guests would be wearing under their coats.

Heaven came up behind him with a towel wrapped around her. She pressed into his back and looked over his shoulder at his reflection in the mirror.

"Hmmm. Handsome."

Baka gave her his best debonair smile. "Bond. James Bond."

She giggled. "Here." She urged him to turn around so that she could tie the tie. While she was doing that, he dropped her towel to the floor, pulling her closer with one hand while the other found wicked things to do. He loved the way her chest heaved when she sucked in a surprised breath. "You don't really want this tied, do you?"

He laughed softly. "Not as much as I want to touch you. In fact..." Grabbing her waist, he lifted, turned and set her on the edge of the bathroom counter. "...what if we just...?"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Vindication by Lyric James

Vindication 2

Blurb:

Warning: This book contains a submissive ready to embrace her dark side…a Dom unwilling to dominate the woman he loves…and a killer with a dangerous secret to hide.

Private Investigator Karyn Harris' sister was killed in the line of duty and branded a rogue cop. She's spent the last year grieving and wishing she could find the one clue that will vindicate her sister. Zechariah Washington, an ex-cop and law student, is there to help ease her pain, but he wants to be more than a shoulder to cry on.

After a mid-afternoon booty call, an unexpected phone call sends Karyn and Zechariah to the last place her sister was seen alive...the BDSM club, Twine. Karyn finds out more than she bargained for about the last few months of her sister's life and realizes the only way to find her killer is to follow in her footsteps, become a member of the club and enlists Zechariah to go under cover with her. Before too long, Karyn realizes she's going down the same path. When the dark fantasies of voyeurism, spankings and group sex become her own, finding her sister's killer no longer drives her desire to return to the club again and again, but her erotic need for Zechariah's dominance.

Will she come to her senses before it's too late or will Karyn and Zechariah fall victim to the same people who murdered her sister?

Excerpt:

Zechariah glanced across the front seat of his car at Karyn. As close as they'd been to fucking in front of a crowd of people only minutes ago, as responsive as they'd been to the sinfully wicked scene that happened right in front of them, she was someplace else now, quiet as a mouse.

And he didn't like it one fucking bit. 

She was the one who'd dragged them into that goddamn den of wickedness.

Was she feeling guilty about giving him a blow job and jerking him off in front of a room full of people?  How did she feel now that she'd watched a woman willingly be gang-banged in front of a licentious crowd?

Hell, how did he feel?

It had been as if a real-life porno had been acted out right in front of him. It took him back to an experience he didn't want to remember.

Zechariah had nearly swallowed his tongue when the woman appeared in front of all of them buck-assed naked. She'd had a gorgeously lush body with curves in all the right places, a tiny waist and a shaved, puffy pink mound he wanted to put his mouth on.

He'd been hard instantly and had felt awkward because the woman he loved had been sitting right next to him. But even more ill at ease when he'd glanced at her and realized she was just as turned on as he was.

If they hadn't been witnessing it all with a room full of people, he would have sunk his cock into her and stayed until the morning.

He squirmed in his seat.

"Pull over," she whispered.

"What?"

They were on a dark, narrow road and nothing but woods surrounded them. Even though the club had stayed open and the people around them had dispersed to other rooms to fuck and who knows what else, he'd pulled Karyn up by the arm and hightailed it out of there, unable to take any more.

There were no lights in front or behind them, and the bright lights of his car were like beacons in the night. The car tires grunted over the gravel road.

"Pull over," she insisted.

They came to a dirt road on the right and he pulled on to it and braked before putting the car in park. "What?"

Karyn straddled his lap and slid her tongue in his mouth, going all out for a hot and greedy kiss. The hunger already roaring through his belly turned into pure starvation.

"Karyn," he hissed as her mouth found his throat. What the hell was happening to her? To them? One night spent with a bunch of sexual deviants and she was willing to fuck him on the side of the road. And he wanted to do it.

She nipped at his earlobe. "Don't talk. Don't think. You can’t tell me you don't want this."

~*****~*****~

Download your copy today!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

ELIXXIR RELEASES! ~ Deena Remiel


I am pleased and proud to present the third book in THE BRETHREN SERIES, ELIXXIR. This paranormal romance series has it all- action, suspense, humor, romance. And best of all, this series has SEXY, HOT, ANGELS. In my world, they aren't fallen. They're superheroes, but they're complicated. You can start anywhere, with any book, but TRINITY was written first, then RELIC, and now ELIXXIR.
Take NATHANAEL, for example. He's been struggling with a dangerous addiction, and Satan's thrilled to exploit it in order to turn him toward EVIL.

Check out the blurb...


Callie has secrets, too many to count.

For twenty years she’s been living a lie as Callie Worthington, hiding from the monsters who brutally murdered her parents for possession of the Elixxir of Life. Unsuccessful before, their killers have found her and will stop at nothing to acquire the Elixxir. And see her dead.

Nathanael has a couple of secrets, too. A nasty one in particular blurs the line separating Good from Evil. As an immortal Brethren Warrior, though, he must retrieve the Elixxir before it falls into the wrong hands. Just how he’s going to get it out of Callie’s is the big question.

Tempers flare and passion ignites as Callie and Nathanael reach out to each other with their own hidden agendas. She needs his protection. He needs the Elixxir. Will their fiery passion lead to lasting love, or will their web of secrets and lies ultimately destroy them both?

Secrets, lies, and love’s loyalties tested. What price for immortality? What price for love?

ELIXXIR is available now at your favorite eBook retailer. Click on the title below the cover and you'll be on its amazon page. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Getting Bundled Up With A Vampire And A Zombie!




I can't believe how long this winter has felt. And some folks are still getting hounded with snow. Just so not right! So when the news came in that Decadent Publishing were bundling my Tales from the Coffin books, I instantly felt cozy and warm.
Not because any sane person would want to be bundled up with Estella and Lucy--the story tellers from this series--but because it sounded like such a deal for my readers. Under a dollar for each book? AWESOME! 
And they make great winter stories. Not because they're so steamy they'll heat the frostiest heart (yeah, they are steamy, but that's not the reason). And not because the romance is so endearing you'll get warm fuzzies (the stories are romantic, but void of all HEAs so, yeah). The reason why I think they are perfect reads for the winter? Because they make you grateful for the roaring fire you are sat beside, and for the cozy warmth of your home. And they are perfect reading material while snuggling under a blanket with a hot cup of something tasty.Yeah. Estella and Lucy are cold bitaches who would see you in their basement given half the chance. And trust me, that is not a fate you want for yourself.

Not sure what I mean... yeah, come take a walk into my weird and wonderful world of Estella and Lucy's basement and let me 'show' you.

SNIPPETS FROM
All The Pretty Faces

SNIPPET ONE, from Estella's story
The bimbo knew nothing about the paranormal and thought an EVP meter was a “flux capacitor ghost-catching thingamabob.” A dumb fake-blonde fresh out of acting school. Maybe it’s actors I have a problem with? Nah. She’d known others, but Debra was the only one she ever wanted to smack over the head with a clapper board while shouting “cut the bitch.”
“We’re out of time. From the York Castle Prison, it’s good night from me and good night from Debra. Wishing you all sour dreams and hoping the bed bugs bite...hard.”
“And we’re out.” The show was now off-air.
Walker cheered, his whoop void of excitement. “And yet again, we didn’t catch anything. Surprise. We’re in the most haunted city in the UK, and we’ve got nothing. Not even in a thousand year old castle turned prison where people died
4All the Pretty Faces
heinously. Dick Turpin, the highwayman, didn’t even make an appearance to hold us up. It’s a joke.”
“One of these days, we’ll experience something so supernaturally spectacular it will beat the skeptic out of you...maybe even leave bruises.” She made a beeline for Walker.


SNIPPET TWO, from Estella's POV
Stopping at Walker, a sly grin broke free. “Got a little greedy for paranormal proof, didn’t you?” She stuck out a long, spindly finger and pointed at his nose. “See where that got you. A VIP invite to supper at Estella’s. She leaned forward and touched his lips with hers. “Hmmm. I forgot what a man’s lips feel like.” Her canines pierced plump flesh.
Sinking. Warm. Tasty.
Blood streamed down onto her pink Victorian dress, and metallic fluid swirling in her mouth, arousing her hunger. She stepped back and cocked her head to one side to evaluate her feelings. Fuck or feed?
“How odd. It seems as if your little adventure tonight has me all horny.”
“Lady, I don’t know who you are, but orgies aren’t my style, so we’ll be leaving now.” A waver in his words betrayed his cocky stance.
She shot out a hand and gripped him around his neck, lifting him off the floor, his feet dangling. “Pfft. Leave? I do believe you are mistaken. You’re never
14All the Pretty Faces
leaving. Not alive anyway. All right, back to food. Who’s first?” “This one has talented fingers, so I think I’ll start with her.” Lucy spread her
jaw wide, dived head first, and snacked down on Debra. Gnawing at her arm, she tore at the epidermis with her blunt teeth and gulped down the slivering chunks. Then bit deeper into the layers, down to the fat and bone. Debra howled, tried to free herself from the feeding frenzy, but Lucy was zoned-out in the land of brain lust. Frantic. Desperate. Lucy ate on, regardless of the struggle her dinner was putting up. Blood squirted over her face and across to YOU, just missing your foot.
“Your table manners suck, dear Lucy. Do I need to get you a steak knife? And for goodness sakes, close your mouth when you chew.” Ignored by the noshing zombie, Estella released Walker, who collapsed in a heap on the floor and gasped for breath. She then turned her attention to Lindsay. “You’re debating making a run for it, leaving the team behind. But you’re also wondering if there’s any point to escaping. Poor little Lindsay. She conquered her last fear only to have another added...me. Bored now.” Sigh. “Run. Run. That’s right, I’m giving you a free pass.”

So. Now you see. They are not my typical stories. I reached out and tried something different with these ladies. FYI all my other stories are romances. HEAs and all :)
Talking of which, book one from my selkie romance series should be out later this year. Now that is one super romantic story! SEAL THE DEAL.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Red Lady of D'nvannae




When I was doing the world building for my science fiction romance novels set in the far future of the Sectors, where WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM (“Titanic in space”) occurs, I knew I wanted to include an element of pure paranormal, along with the technical aspects of life in the far future.  So I added the Red Lady of D’nvannae and her sister, the White Lady. They’re ancient twin beings, regarded as goddesses by many in the sprawling outer space world of the Sectors, with seemingly unlimited powers. I know their backstory of course, but only reveal the details grudgingly. The mystery is the enticing thing, right?

As you might expect the Red Lady has an army of highly dangerous followers who serve on contracts as bodyguards or assassins. She decides on a whim which to provide, if both services are requested in the same case. If you can make the payment and contract with a member of the Brotherhood, the odds are high that you’ll achieve your goal, whether it’s your safety or someone else’s death. Her men and women are lethal. I modeled her very loosely after aspects of Kali, goddess of Time and Change and Darkness. It’s not a one for one Red Lady equals Kali. She’s known to be beautiful, greedy, sensual.

Marked with the flamboyant scarlet facial tattoo of his Order, Khevan, a senior member of the Brotherhood, plays a significant role in WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM and I’ve had so many requests for a sequel about him. Which I do plan to write in the not too distant future.

Her sister, the White Lady, is harder to quantify, if you live in the Sectors. Her servants go about doing good deeds, don’t accept payment and sometimes directly oppose the D’nvannae. Some of her followers take a voluntary vow of poverty and chastity.  I think most in the Sectors view hers as a charitable organization. I will say she’s the only one who can control and contain the Red Lady, so what does that indicate about her power? Not that she chooses to act against her sister very often! She does play a small role in one scene of WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM.

There’s one key moment in a novitiate’s training where he or she first sees one Lady or the other – or no one, in which case they’re released from further service. In extremely rare cases, the candidate may see both goddesses and can choose a path. Here’s what Khevan had to say when challenged by another Nebula Dream passenger, Damais:

Barely touching his skin, Damais traced the tattoo on his cheek. The outline glowed as her finger passed over it. Khevan flinched.

"You have seen them both, have you not? The Red Lady and her sister, the Lady in White, although you chose to serve Red." Damais made a flat statement, but Nick thought he heard an odd hint of something faintly judgmental in her tone.

Perhaps Khevan heard the same thing. Raising his head, he met her stare calmly, but with the beginnings of a frown, brows knitting together. "I have seen them both, my lady. And made my choice, as you say."

"To have such choice is rare, but not unknown." She eyed him for another long minute. "Confident in your selection of loyal­ties, I see.”

Khevan’s loyalties get tested to a terrible degree during the attempt to escape the wrecked ship.

When I was first plotting my Sectors it was so much fun to really think through the two opposing forces embodied by the sisters, what motivates them, how the rivalry will play out over all the Sectors novels where they do appear, how the humans caught up in the service of each are affected…

It’s quite a change from the Ancient Egyptian paranormals I also write, where I’m working with the Egyptian gods and goddesses and trying to stay somewhat inside the beliefs of the people who actually worshipped them.

But it’s all fun, as a writer! Do you have a favorite pantheon of gods and goddesses you like to see in novels? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Stompin' Tom

A Canadian legend passed away on March 6, 2013. He was 77 and a HUGE part of my childhood.

His songs were ingrained in my life as a young Canadian.

My Dad listened to his songs, I grew up on them, just like I grew up on Kraft Dinner & SCTV.

Stompin' Tom Connors passed away at his home of natural causes. He was called Stompin' Tom because he stomped his foot in time with his music.

When I heard he'd passed. I shed a tear. I couldn't believe he was gone. Every Canadian felt like a true friend to Stompin' Tom because he sang about Canada and it's people.

His most famous songs were "Bud the Spud" and the "Hockey Song". I knew these songs well, but on Thursday I heard a song I'd never heard of before, The Road to Thunder Bay.

I gave it a whirl and it was one of the most hauntingly beautiful and sad songs I'd heard.



I traveled the LONG road to Thunder Bay. We traveled from Thunder Bay to Sault Ste. Marie this past summer. My GOD the scenery is beautiful, but the distance is KILLER. We were absolutely exhausted by the time we got to our hotel in Sault Ste. Marie.


When I heard Tom's voice, about picking up a ghost of a young man who was trying to get to his true love, I shed another tear.

Rest in Peace Stompin' Tom.

"When I've come to the end of my journey, down this long, lonely road to Thunder Bay."

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Reading on Sunshine! Wolves, Coyotes, Nymphs, and Vampires--oh my!

As an author, it should come as no surprise that I love reading...I love reading so much I've lost hours of sleep night after night for years just to devour the next book in my TBR pile. But one of the drawbacks to being a full time writer means I don't get to read as often as I might like. I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago, spent time with readers and authors and came home with a burning desire to read--particularly several new releases that were scheduled to come out! I also came home with a cold that I haven't been able to shake (due in large part to the fact that we're in allergy hell season at the moment, too!)

Reading in Sunshine

You know the song, Walking on Sunshine?


This is how I feel about reading! This past week, I had the privilege of sharing release day with some of my favorite authors and while I'm on deadlines and  I have so much to do, but I'm setting aside time every day to read--why? Because it's a rare joy that I tend to push aside because of "work" that has to be done. I write books, because I love to read and sometimes, you have to go back to the basics and read, read, read.

Frost Burned
I have loved Patricia Briggs for years, her Mercedes Thompson series ranks as probably one of my favorite series of all time. Every book adds deeper nuances and layers to the world of Mercy, a coyote, and the wolf pack she calls home and the Alpha she loves. Adam and Mercy's romance fills me with hope and admiration--they aren't perfect, but they love each other so much. I devoured Frost Burned in one sitting and it's another exceptional addition to a fantastic world. If you haven't checked out these books, start with Moon Called and prepare yourself for a wonderful new addiction.

Immortal Ever After
Lynsay Sands writes a lot of books, but her Argeaneau vampires are my favorites. While you don't have to read these in order, I would recommend it so you can see the world unfold. Sands' vampires are the descendants (and in some case the actual survivors) of the immortals of Atlantis--a handful who received nano technology that repairs their bodies but requires that they restore their blood supply. They aren't "vampires' of myth and legend, but they are fantastic. This is Anders' book and I'm crazy happy about it almost as much as I was for Christian Notte's book last year!

Wild Invitation

Nalini Singh is a gifted story teller and whether you love her angel books or her psy-changeling series (I adore both), she has a way of drawing you into her world and making it vibrant and alive inside of you. Wild Invitation features two previously published novellas (both of which I adored the first time and loved reading for a second) and two new ones--including one about Walker and Lara. Reading these three books reminds me of exactly why I love reading, why I became an author, and the demand to read them had me setting aside my to do list and chapters to write because I wanted to read.

Read.

Read.

Read.

When I realized that my new series from Samhain would share a release day with these fantastic storytellers, I squee'd like a fangirl. Four days later, I'm still nudging aside the writing I have to do or hurrying to get my chapters in so I can go play in their sandbox, dance in their worlds, and read in sunshine.

What are you reading?

Discover the Soulgirls! 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Writer as Reader


Ever since I started writing seriously for publication, reading has had to take a back seat. On top of the daily writing on the current manuscript, there are multiple rounds of edits and revisions on manuscripts I’ve sold, blog tours and promotion, posts to blogs I’m a member of—such as this one—and to my own blog (which is sadly languishing), social media, conventions and conferences, and always one more thing popping up that has to be done. In addition, I have a full-time day job.

I used to consume books, but I realized when I looked at Goodreads at the end of last year that in all of 2012 I had read three books. Three. So this year I took the Goodreads Challenge and made a New Year’s Resolution to read at least one book a week. So far I’m about two weeks behind.

I’m discovering that in addition to taking time to read that must be squeezed from something else (sleeping is the first to go), reading actually takes a lot out of me. I become emotionally invested to the point of being in major anxiety if something bad is happening to a sympathetic character. I can’t seem to cope with fictional tension.

A book is nothing without tension. But does it need the level of constant rising tension without valleys in between the peaks that I seem to be finding everywhere lately? I think maybe this is a recent development in the publishing world, this demand for outrageous tension. Or maybe it’s the genre I’m reading currently, as I seem to notice this more with urban fantasy, in which it seems there’s some rule that the main character can never be truly happy and must face increasing misery a real human being would never be able to survive.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s my anxiety disorder (admittedly, I have one) and books have always been this way; I’m just having new issues I didn’t used to have with separating myself from the fictional world of the book.

I’m not really sure what the cause is, but it’s making me think about what I’m putting out there in the world. I hate the idea of making other people feel the way I’m feeling right now with the particular book I’m reading. It’s part of a series that didn’t seem to have the level of tension this one book has. And it’s great writing. The author dug deep and is sparing no punches. But I feel really bad—uneasy and angry, and afraid to keep reading lest it get even worse. (And then it does.) Is that how reading is supposed to feel? It used to be something I loved.

I’ve been known to take a certain sadistic pride in tormenting my characters. But I never intended to torment my readers. On the other hand, if the character doesn’t suffer, he or she doesn’t grow, and the reader won’t be invested in the outcome.

There’s a delicate balance in this contract between writer and reader. As my reader, you’re taking a journey of trust with me, and I don’t want to betray that trust. I want to give you a story that makes you feel, but not one that makes you feel you’ve been punched in the gut.

If nothing else comes of this reading challenge, it’s certainly been an eye opener to be on the other side of the page from where I’m used to being.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

What's a Synopsis?

During a conversation with some authors about an upcoming project, several mentioned they didn't know how to write a synopsis.

This surprised me, since it's a staple of the writing world. I mean, at one time or another, if you are a published author, you have to knuckle down and write one. In this case, the publisher was looking for a snapshot synopsis (three or four paragraphs, which is more like a blurb with the ending and spoilers).

I will be the first to say, the synopsis is one of my least favorite things to write, and I have been known to submit to publishers that don't require them, because I despise them that much.

But to get into any of the big houses, you need one.

Most of the authors I have talked to about it, tell me they hate the blurbs, the pitches and queries. Believe it or not, these are my favorites and I can crank them out all day, but the synopsis--not so much. That sucker trips me up all the time.

I think what I dislike about a synopsis so much is that it covers your book, soup to nuts, in less than two pages, well, in most instances, you should keep it to less than two. The longer it is, the more time you give whoever you've submitted it to, a chance to put it down.

But who likes to summarize their book in two pages? Sure I do it with blurbs, but they don't contain the spoilers and I can strive to hook you without giving the milk away for free. With a synopsis it's all or nothing.

So what does a good synopsis contain?

The plot--summarized.

An introduction to the characters, their names, who they are and the conflicts they face.

Opening, middle and conclusion without surprises. A synopsis is not to keep and editor, publisher or agent in suspense.

In essence, whoever is reading it, gets a condensed version of your book, with the highlights, plot and conflict spelled out for them. And it's a major pain.

So, what are some of your least favorite things to write? Do you hate queries? Or is it the dreaded outline that throws you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Spring...

Has it sprung YET! Lord, and everyone else, knows I'm tired of the cold. Awesomely happy it's March so I know it's just around the corner even if I did see a teeny, tiny flurry of snow when I headed to work on Sunday. Good thing too--the hairballs are going to run me out of house and home soon so I need to get the fur babies out in the fresh air so I can get some spring cleaning done without them snooping into the chemicals. Yes, I'm one of the weirdos who love the smell of bleach and I use copious amounts when cleaning, but I don't want them sniffing around it!

RT is coming up, I'm going to miss it again this year but will be attending RAW hopefully. I've got an edit or two to finish so I can get something new out there. It's been awhile, but I'm still here with the dogs growling, the cats roaring, and the vamps thirsting for blood!! Oh, and the disciples have more stories to tell too. Keep your eyes open.

In the meantime, plan that colorful garden, plant a new tree or flower, wash those windows and get ready to open them and let the sunshine in! *smile* And you know there is going to be a picture, right? I love spring flowers and tulips are my fave so here you go:
then there are lilacs...the color - purple!
Growl and roar-it's okay to let the beast out! - J. Hali Steele
 

Monday, March 4, 2013

It's All About the Swag


I spent most of my day yesterday making promotional swag for upcoming conferences. Each time I attend a conference, I like to change up what I take with me a little. To the last conference I attended, I had shot glasses made with the logo for a chopper shop from one of my books. Luckily I knew someone that was driving to the conference and I was able to ship them to her in order to get them to the conference. No way would I have taken those on a plane with me. Or tried to pack them in my checked luggage.

For the upcoming conference I'll be attending (RT Con in Kansas City), everyone I know will be flying. So, I needed to come up with a few things that I could pack in my luggage that wouldn't weight a ton. This time I'll be bringing buttons, travel mugs and booklets. Luckily I've some design skills and I can make the graphics myself (thereby cutting down on the cost of paying someone else) and just find a place to upload my artwork onto the item, print and ship to me. It's actually fun working on the graphics to come up with something to have available to readers. It's easy to get caught up in it however and forget that I have edits waiting for me to handle!

Still looking for that one special thing to bring, though. Hailey Edwards posted yesterday about her fabulous swag she had made up for series that's really unique. Such an inventive idea.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Araneae Nail Polish!

Yes, you read that right. There will be an Araneae color collection!

I love nail polish. I’m a total addict. To spread my love, I commissioned the fabulous Pam at Paint Box Polish to design five colors around the five heroines from the Araneae series.

This is the first to be revealed. It’s a holo topcoat (shown over a black base in this picture for contrast).

The color is No More Shady Kaidi, named after Kaidi, who you’ll meet in A Time of Dying. ;D



Well, what do we think? Good idea for swag? I’m hoping to debut the set at my upcoming reader’s luncheon in August. Nothing like a little face-to-face feedback from readers. :)

I have plans for two other out-of-the-box swag ideas, but those have to wait until closer to the event to be revealed. I still need two or three other little things to round out my gift bags. I'm trying to pick items readers haven't seen before or are customized in such a way that the reader is left with an OMG-gotta-read-it impression of the Araneae series.

I'll admit the covers do most of the work for me, but I still like to nudge them along. *fingers crossed* Readers will enjoy the new ideas.

For readers, what are your favorite swag items to receive? For authors, what new items have you tried and loved? I'm always open to recommendations.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

My trip to The Naughty Sleepover

(The above picture was given to me at the conference by Valerie Mann, by editor on all of my INS books and also my Edge books.  I love it.  Its for wine glasses, to differentiate mine from other people's. Its a wolf!! I just adore it.)

Well, howdy folks.  How is it going? I decided today i would blog about my recent trip to The Naughty Sleepover in San Antonio.  For those of you who might be wondering what The Naughty Sleepover is, it is a writing conference hosted by the Sassy Seven Authors.  If you'd like to know who they are I suggest you google them because they are fabulous.

Why do writers like myself go to conventions? Well, I suppose the answer is different for every author. For me, there were many reasons. Tied for first is my absolute adoration of the Sassy Seven Authors and because a lot of my editors, publishers, and friends were going. Also, I adore meeting readers and I like learning new things about writing.  Plus, and this can't be discounted, it means a lot to get to speak to other people who value the same things that I value on occasion. If you met me on the street and asked me about my writing I am likely to be vague with you.  Not because I am ashamed or don't want you reading my books but because I'm not sure how you will react to them.  That's right folks.  Romance and Erotic Romance authors take a lot of crap for what we do.

Now, a lot of people enjoy what we do and we LOVE our readers. But a lot of people feel the need to degrade or put down either the books we write or what we do.  Sometimes they don't let their kids come over and play at our houses.  So, I'm going to be vague with a stranger because I don't want to have to defend myself, my writing, or my life to people I barely know on the street.  But if I go to a conference, everyone there is going to want to talk about writing and for a few blessed days I can talk about it as much as I want for as long as I want.  And, as an incredible bonus, I get to meet a few people who have read and liked my work.  Its such a gift!

Plus, I get to meet the people I work with face-to-face. I can go years talking to someone nearly every day and never meet them.

This time I went to The Naughty Sleepover.  It was an incredible time. I learned so much, had a great time, hung out with readers, watched a stripper (gasp) play with some of the best writers in the business, and visited a place called The Dungeon.  (You can use your imagination as to what went on there) I got stranded on the street outside of The Dungeon, pulled over in a car driven by someone who had been at The Dungeon with too many of us in the backseat, and learned so much about writing and reading that my head is still awash as I write this.  WOW! And I made some incredible new friends while also finally connecting face-to-face with old friends I had never had the pleasure of meeting in person before.

By the way, the first people I ever met at a conference--a few years ago in New Jersey at a conference called the Liberty State Fiction Writers--were J. Hali Steele and Annie Nicholas.  I'm sure you all know them from their incredible writing and this blog!

Later this year, I'll be attending Romantic Times Convention.  I hope if you're there you'll come say hi!

Maybe we can talk the Sassy Seven into running another conference.  I'd be there in a heart beat.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Peanut



This is Peanut.

 
She's my new fur baby.
 
She's 8 weeks old.
 

 
She's half Saint Bernard and half Great Dane.

 
 She will be so big that I have heart palpitations every time I think about it.
 
For the past year my fat hound, Lola, has been very lonely and depressed. My two boys have out grown light saber fights and tag with her. She has been telling us she wants a friend. We choose a large breed pup because Lola never had any interest in playing with small dogs.
 

 
In the last two weeks this little pup has grown dear to our hearts and I can't imagine life without her now.
 
 
 
Neither can Lola. She is very, very happy to have her own Peanut.
 
 
Annie Nicholas
Check out my new website.