Tuesday, January 15, 2019

PreOrder Witchling: A Collection of Short Stories

If you are looking for the most recent episodes of “A Cold Spring,” they are waiting for you at Sorchia’s Universe. If you have just discovered the story and don’t want to wander the Interwebs to find each episode, I’ve put a link to a PDF of previous episodes there too.

Today, I want to talk about something else here at Paranormal Romantics.

As any writer knows, when you write a story you wind up with a lot of slush that doesn’t make it into the final version. Just because it’s slush, doesn’t mean it’s useless. No—a great deal of backstory has to be written before you get to know your characters and sometimes their history captures your imagination.

That’s what happened to me. When I started writing about Zoraida Grey, I intended she be the main character in a series of ghost-hunting mysteries. Now, it’s no secret I use Tarot cards as inspiration pieces, so I started pulling cards for Zoraida. Pretty quickly, I found an entirely different tale—and that’s where the Zoraida Grey trilogy was born.

But I had all these ideas for ghost hunting mysteries. As I wrote the trilogy, tantalizing segments from the backstories of several characters came along, too. I worked as much as I could into the trilogy—avoiding mountainous paragraphs of description at all times—but I still had stories to tell. So I condensed some of them into short stories and put them together into a collection.

Witchling: A Collection of Zoraida Grey Short Stories goes on sale on February 14. Yep—that’s a day usually reserved for lovers. Witchling: A Collection is for anyone who either doesn’t have somebody to love or has had enough of hearts and sentiment and craves ghosts and murder instead. 

Stories in the collection:

“Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”

“Zoraida Grey and the Twisted Sisters”

“Zoraida Grey and the Surly Spirit”

“The Witch and the Spaniard”

Here’s a little taste from “Zoraida Grey and the Skinwalker”—a nostalgic story about Zoraida as a little girl.

An owl hoots a loud Hoo Hooowaaaa just above my head. With a silky whoosh, downy wings brush my shoulder. The owl is gone before I can level my flashlight beam to catch a glimpse. If I were a mouse, I’d be owl chow right now.

The clack of gravel spins me around. I play the weak beam across the undergrowth and back down the road. Nothing. Imagination. I shake it off. The weather must be making me jumpy.

I like storms, as a rule, but tonight the mutter of thunder sounds like growls. Maybe it’s a good thing Al didn’t come walking with me if I’m going to flinch every time a cricket chirps. This isn’t the way an all-powerful sorceress should act at all.

What I ought to be doing is chasing down the source of this odd oily feeling I have. It tastes like bitter cherries and it smells like roadkill. My tummy gives a toss the way it does when I have to read aloud in class. The shaft of light from my flashlight weakens as the battery runs down.

Just as I pull the handle out to recharge it, a dark shadow in the bushes moves onto the road. Two eyes gleam in the anemic light. Not my imagination at all. Neither is the low snarl.

The useless flashlight drops from my numb hand, clatters on the rocky road, and goes completely out. I don’t waste time retrieving it. I am a quarter mile closer to home before it stops rolling.

If I were a cartoon character, flames would line the hot trail I leave behind. The running treads of a pursuer grow closer with each step. Fear pulls air from my lungs. I am afraid to look back. Afraid not to look back.

The rasp of its breath, clear and close, shifts my legs into another gear. For the first time in my life, I’m glad I have these long, gawky legs. I risk a glance back. The dark pursuing shadow is yards behind, but gaining. Whatever chases me has long legs too. I’m not going to beat it in a sprint, anyhow. Panic squirms like a maggot in my belly, but there’s always a way. I still have a good lead.

Preorders for Witchling: A Collection are available at selected spots—Unfortunately, Amazon isn’t one of them at this time. Here’s the universal link to preorder a copy of this lively collection where it is available. New distributors will be added along the way and on February 14, Witchling: A Collection will should be available everywhere.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Oscar Wilde

Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde was born October 16,1854 – 30 November 1900) was an Irish poet and playwright. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of London's most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is best remembered for his epigrams and plays, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.-- Credit: Wikipedia.
I have always loved Wilde's wit and his works.  He wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray, one of my all-time favorites. For any who have not read the book a handsome man is led astray by his mentor and given a portrait -- I won't go further but encourage you to read the novel.

Here are a few of his notable quotes:

“Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

“The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”

“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit.”

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."
And my personal favorite:
"The world was my oyster, but I used the wrong fork."


My current WIP is Sinners' Opera. Look for it soon from The Wild Rose Press
I hope you enjoyed these witticisms. Happy 2019!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

SMART Goals for 2019 by Diane Burton

On January 1st, I posted about setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely.

In the comments here and on my post for Insecure WritersSupport Group, several people mentioned breaking down big projects into smaller more manageable goals. Mind you, sometimes parts of our goals depend on someone else. For my main goals, I have to depend on the time beta readers, my editor, and cover designer can get back to me.

So, as promised in my post, I’ve written out my SMART goals for this year.

Goal #1: Publish Rescuing Mara’s Father by March 31, 2019.
·         Final review and edit manuscript by Jan. 10
·         Contact cover designer by Jan. 15
·         Submit to beta readers by Jan. 20
·         Revise returned ms by Jan 30
·         Send to editor by Feb 5
·         Set up pre-order by Feb 28
·         Revise edited ms by Mar 15
·         Format ms for e-book and print book by Mar 24
·         Upload final ms by Mar 25
·         Rescuing Mara’s Father available for purchase on Mar 31

Goal #2: Develop promo plan by Mar 1
·         Promote Rescuing Mara’s Father on a minimum of 10 blogs by April 30, 2019
·         Set up blog tour by Mar 30
·         Write 10 blog posts by Mar 10
·         ???

Goal #3: Publish The Spy by Aug 15
·         (same breakdown with smaller goals as above)

Goal #4: Develop promotion plan for The Spy by July 15

Goal #5: Publish the 4th Alex O’Hara novel by Dec 15

As you can see, I’ve taken big goals and broken them down into smaller ones. Some items overlap, and I can do certain steps during “down” time (e.g., when the beta readers and the editor have the manuscript. As I see what promo I need to do for Rescuing Mara’s Father, I’ll use what works for the other works. Or, I’ll try other methods.

Am I being too ambitious? I’ve never published three full-length novels in one year. But, Rescuing Mara’s Father is completed and revised/edited. The Spy is half-written, and the 4th Alex O’Hara mystery needs 50k words. I think I have a shot at this.

Then again, maybe I’m expecting too much of myself. I need balance in my life. I have a family, grandchildren who need babysitting and/or would like my presence at their sports’ games and dance recitals. Even though Hubs is really understanding, he needs some of my time. We have vacations planned, vacations where it’s understood I leave the laptop home, willingly. LOL I need to refill that creative well with reading, movies, and other experiences.

Last April, I joined Weight Watchers. I lost 28 pounds by August. Then, I got negligent and, even though I attend meetings each week, I've gained back 8 of those pounds. I’m sure you’ve all heard of the yo-yo effect. I lose two, gain back one, or gain three, lose one, etc. If I let it, those pounds will continue to creep back on. With the new year, I’m determined to get back on track. So, here's my personal goal: I will lose 20 more pounds by April 1st. No fooling. 😊

I hope you have your goals for 2019 prepared. If my example helps, great. But I’m sure you’ve figured out a better way to kick off your career this year. Please share.

Good luck.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Merry Christmas! (Wait, What?) An (Un)timely Giveaway From Jane Kindred

I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t this a little late? Not at all! Today is Russian Orthodox Christmas (and I guess also just plain Orthodox Christmas as well, but I celebrate the Russian one). That’s my excuse for my little tree (isn’t it cute?) still being up. It’s also my excuse for not having remembered to write my blog and for offering a “Christmas” giveaway! Even though I am not Russian. Nor am I in collusion with any. ;)

On this lovely Orthodox Christmas, and in keeping with the fresh start offered by the new year, I’ve been taking stock. Literally. One wall of the hallway in my apartment is stacked halfway to the ceiling with boxes of author copies of my books. I have never been good at promotion, I don’t go to conventions or conferences anymore due to reasons, and I have the classic inability to make decisions and finish tasks (or, you know, do anything) that comes with clinical depression.

The boxes are now taking over my life, and they’ve got to go. That’s where you come in.

I want to give you my books! I’m offering all five books in my Sisters in Sin series to one lucky commenter below. The winner also has the option to choose any of my other series instead, including The House of Arkhangel’sk, Demon of Elysium, and Looking Glass Gods (not including the prequel novella, which is not available in hardcopy) or even a set of my two standalone novels, Lost Coast and The Water Thief, if you prefer.

GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment to be entered to win a complete set of signed hard copies of my Sisters in Sin series (or the book set of your choice, as detailed above)! Giveaway ends at midnight PST on January 10, 2019. Winner to be determined by random drawing and will be notified here in the comments by 9:00 am PST on January 11, 2019, so check back. Winner will have 48 hours to respond. (Don’t forget to let me know which set you prefer to receive!)

P.S., I stole this post idea (and most of the above paragraph) from the lovely Lea Kirk! :D

Friday, January 4, 2019

Making More Room for Magic by Getting Rid of My Bestie

cc credit Unsplash matteo-vistocco
I’m not making a resolution this year. Instead, I’m making a decision. 
Deciding to spend less time with my “bestie”. Saying I’ll spend no time with my bestie is unrealistic, as much as I’d like to show her the door. Because you see, sometimes small doses of her are helpful and motivate me. It’s the extended visits that I’d like to stop. 
You see, my bestie for the last year or so has been, Stress. 

Spend Less Time with Stress

Stress has been hogging the time I wanted to spend with family and friends. Stealing my attention even when I’m with the ones I love, and distracting me from writing and doing the things I enjoy. 
She wakes me up at night, wastes hours of my time, and coerces me into believing that she’ll leave if I pay more attention to her, or eat all the foods I’ve resolved to eat less of. 
She’s a bad influence, and unfortunately, she likes to be the life of the party. When she visits, she rarely comes alone. 
She hangs out with a bad crowd and brings Worry, Doubt, Fear, and sometimes more, of her unsavory friends. Sometimes they sneak in and I don’t even realize they’ve all crowded in until there’s no room for Optimism.

Make Room for Optimism

It used to be that I didn’t recognize Stress at first. 
She’d arrive disguised as Fatigue, Anxiety, or Irritability. Then there are other times that she didn’t even come to see me, she came to see others that I love, yet I invited her in and cleared a seat on my shoulders until Tension took her place.
This time I’ve decided that she’s worn out her welcome. I know I can’t get rid of her, but I also know her visits are detrimental and I hope to see less of her. 
I also realize I might have to make this resolution more than once a year, maybe every month, and sometimes every day, because Stress can be tenacious. 

Make 2019 More Magical

I plan to be more mindful of how much time we spend together, and find ways to get rid of her once she’s started to wear out her welcome. 
I hope to recognize if she’s not come to see me and help my loved ones shorten her visit rather than sharing in entertaining her and allowing Stress to drain us all.
I intend to become better acquainted with Appreciation, Enjoyment, and Happiness. 
Making a little time for them each day, because the days will pass, as will many worries and stressors, and I’d rather spend that time dreaming, instead of dreading, each precious minute. 

Happy New Year!

What Are You Giving the Boot to Make Room for Magic this Year?

Author Bio: Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line. Find Maureen on her websiteFacebookTwitter
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Wednesday, January 2, 2019

What About a Story? Episodes 3 and 4 of A Cold Spring

Last month, I started a serial story right here at Paranormal Romantics. It seems to me that once a month is too long to wait for the next bit, so I'm going to speed things up by posting weekly on my own blog as well as new episodes here when it's my turn on PNR. I'll also post links and PDFs of previous episodes so you can easily catch up.

Here is the link to last month's post: "A Cherry Tomato" and "Burning."

A Cold Spring Episodes 1 and 2

Episode 3: Coils of Enchantment

Lucia’s enchantment coils into the form of a snake, its head poised to strike. Above me, the creature rises-- blotting out the moon, blotting out the stars, devouring my last fragment of hope.
The curse I weave in that fractured second binds inside it the magic of my ancestors, the hatred of a hundred generations, the essence of a thousand souls who cry for vengeance.  One final blaze before the eternal cold of death. One killing strike before darkness descends. My child and I will not die alone.
The laws of the Universe say such a curse will be visited back on me ten times but I don’t care.  I will be the handmaiden of Hecate who makes sure Lucia pays. Beyond that, I see only the void.
 “Goodbye, Maddock, my love,” I whisper.
In the distance, the castle shimmers with heat. No trace of Maddock reaches me through the ether. He may be dead already. My heart speaks to the sleeping spirit within my womb.
“Goodbye sweet child. I might have named you Melody or Petunia or Lavender or Pearl or any of a thousand family names for victims of Lucia’s dark magic. If the Universe grants us a new life, perhaps we will meet there.”
The curse perches on my tongue, but the will to speak withers into dust and blows away on a wintry gust. A tingle of ice on my neck, a tremor in time, a subtle shift of energy rocks the ground beneath me, shudders in the murky, smoke-thick air.
I’m too late.

Episode 4:  Down, down, down. . .

From outside the vision, I watch myself fall to the stony ground. Feel again the vibration of Earth and air. Steel gray clouds boil in a tumultuous sky and smoky wind tears my hair.  But Lucia is not the author of this numbing spell.
Her threatening hex twists its venomous head toward the castle. With an impotent sigh, it crumbles into black ash. Residue filters through my hair, coats my upturned face, but the malice it once held is dead.
In the distance, the castle blazes to phosphorescent blue, each stone etched into stark relief by an iridescent indigo flash. A pulse of energy, a thunderous blast, and New Castle Highmoor winks out leaving a black hole in the night.
Gone. Dissolved in the ether.
With light-blind eyes and bated breath, I wait, hope and dread in equal portions. Did Maddock escape? My knees bleeding and my heart pounding,  I stagger back toward the ghostly spiral of ozone marking the spot where the castle once stood. Wraithlike shrubs loom in the darkness. Frightened night birds flutter across the path, call from the trees. What do they see that I do not?
I stand amazed beneath a sky suddenly clear and calm and filled with stars. Pale meadow flowers reflect the ghostly light, bob in the nightly zephyr. Neither lover nor foe waits in the darkness. Only a wisp of disorderly mist remains in the center of the wide plain.
 “Allium!” His cry echoes far away, far away, far away. The vision fades to black.

With a racking gasp, I return to the garden. Dream images sift into the air like dandelion seeds in a spring breeze. The cold mud has seeped through my skirt and the hard stems of dead weeds cut into my hands. An earthy, pungent scent of dirt and tomato leaves penetrates the lingering odor of smoke.

Episodes 5 and 6 are waiting for you in Sorchia's Universe. Follow this link  (Or take the second star to the right and straight on till morning.)

Author Notes:

I started this story with Scrivener because I kept hearing how wonderful that software was. Though I'd tried it before, I didn't feel like I'd really made the effort to learn how to use it so this was supposed to be my chance to get comfortable and produce something along the way.  Long story short--I hated it.
I wound up pulling the whole thing off of Scrivener and going back to my tried and true Word. I write in spurts and spits--circling back and jumping ahead as ideas come to me. Then I go back and tie it all together with a good, solid revision. Scrivener tried to force me to be organized and I have no stomach for that. 
Do you have a preferred software for writing? Tell me all about it! And anything you want to mention about "A Cold Spring" is welcome, too.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Year by Diane Burton

Another new year, a new beginning. A chance to start over. 

Thinking about the past year, I discovered a few things. My goals aren't always reachable. For 2018, I planned to write three books. I finished one and re-issued another. I made progress on two more. One thing I've always known is that I need to set high (but possibly reachable) goals. If I don't, I get lazy.

How about you? Do you set reasonable goals?

A good business practice is to have goals. Long-term and short-term goals. Most of us know about SMART goals. Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Relevant. Timely. Can we apply them to our writing?

I want to be a best-selling author. (Don't we all.) Not a SMART goal. So, let's try to make it one.

Specific: a USA Today or NYT bestseller
Measurable: sure, the lists are online
Attainable: for me, no. At least, not yet. But, if your books sell well, it's possible.
Relevant: since writing is my business, it is relevant.
Timely: when? This year? In 5 (10, 15) years?

I will be a USA Today best-selling author in 10 years. That is a SMART goal. Did you notice I changed "want to be" to "will be"? Verbs are important, not just in our novels but in our goals, too.

Now comes the hard part. How to do it. For that, I'll need to make smaller (still SMART) goals that will help me achieve my big goal. I'll be back on my regular posting day (the 13th) with my goals for 2019.

Meantime, keep writing and have fun doing it.