Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Loving the Superheroine

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
When I first saw this amazing cover, I felt an actual, physical chill.

It was everything I could have hoped for - my warrior princess's thousand-yard stare, the golden glow and a great big freaking sword.


I was so thrilled, I called in my guy, David, and bounced happily as I showed him. He said, "there's no way she could swing a sword that big."

Oh, yeah - that annoyed me no end.

I should caveat at this point and say that David is a wonderful man. We've been together nearly 25 years and there's a reason I always put him in my Acknowledgements as the one who makes everything possible. He's a nurturing person, fair-minded and always supportive of everything I do. He also studied Kung Fu alongside me for 15 years and has decidedly strong opinions on the topic of what women fighters can and cannot do.

Which is all fair enough. A lot of Ursula's perspective on fighting and training is informed by those same considerations. I have a pretty good idea of what I can and can't do physically, especially if confronted by a male opponent.

Except this is fiction. And yes, I did tartly ask, "Does it help to know she's not fully human?"

Of course he backpedaled and felt bad for raining on my cover parade. He also doesn't read my books - or really any fiction - and I'm good with that. I also forgave him because I know that what he said was his knee-jerk, programmed response and not how he came to think about it after some discussion.

But it's salient that this is so culturally ingrained in us. We see male action heroes accomplishing the impossible ALL THE TIME. We expect it. Of course Indiana Jones can outrun a boulder despite all laws of physics! Can David Banner become a giant green monster that busts all clothing except his short pants? Why yes! Can Bruce Wayne pour bucket loads of money into technology to make himself a superhero with no supernatural abilities? SAVE US, BATMAN!!

Sure, we can pick apart the ways that our disbelief isn't *entirely* suspended. The Hulk's pants, right? Still, I'd lay money down that David would not have looked at a cover with a man holding a great big sword and immediately assessed whether he thought the guy could swing it. Because men are completely accustomed to fantasizing themselves as superheroes. Which usually includes saving the beautiful princess and winning her body, if not her love.

In this case, I wanted the fantasy of the superheroine. She's not screaming shrilly waiting for Indy to come save her. She's supernaturally fast and strong.

She has a big freaking sword and she knows how to use it.

The Talon of the Hawk

Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.
Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other-that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead…

Request a digital review copy

Available May 26, 2015


Monday, May 25, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

Lonely Shore (Book two of Chaos Station)

All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos's engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there's nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander's veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander's experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos's crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he's not in control of himself is Zander's worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover's keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can't ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

Buy Links: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | Carina Press

The Talon of the Hawk (Book three of The Twelve Kingdoms)


Three daughters were born to High King Uorsin, in place of the son he wanted. The youngest, lovely and sweet. The middle, pretty and subtle, with an air of magic. And the eldest, the Heir. A girl grudgingly honed to leadership, not beauty, to bear the sword and honor of the king.

Ursula’s loyalty is as ingrained as her straight warrior’s spine. She protects the peace of the Twelve Kingdoms with sweat and blood, her sisters from threats far and near. And she protects her father to prove her worth. But she never imagined her loyalty would become an open question on palace grounds. That her father would receive her with a foreign witch at one side and a hireling captain at the other—that soldiers would look on her as a woman, not as a warrior. She also never expected to decide the destiny of her sisters, of her people, of the Twelve Kingdoms and the Thirteenth. Not with her father still on the throne and war in the air. But the choice is before her. And the Heir must lead...

Buy links: Amazon - Barnes & Nobles - Bookdepository

One Cut Deeper 
Her needs are dark. His are dangerous.

Charlie MacNiall has been bringing his beautiful king shepherd to the vet clinic where Ranay Killian works for the better part of a year. She doesn't realize he's been slowly wooing her. She certainly has no idea that he picked her deliberately--that she is to become his. A broken heart and a desperate desire to be dominated make her the perfect victim.

His perfect victim.

Charlie fixes Ranay, testing her emotional limits while pushing her sexual boundaries past anything she'd imagined possible. Pain is their shared pleasure...until Charlie disappears and Ranay is all but destroyed.

The FBI says the man she loves is a serial killer. Ranay can't deny there's a darkness in Charlie, a monstrous hunger that drives him to the brink. She even believes he could kill. But Charlie's hunger is what bonds them--it's the foundation of their love. Would he actually kill her?

Sunday, May 24, 2015

What's in a Name?

Posted by: Janni Nell

Shakespeare said it first, but was Romeo and Juliet’s dilemma any greater than the dilemma of a modern writer working in more than one genre? I don’t think so.

I’ve reach a kind of crossroads in my writing. After releasing five humorous paranormal mysteries under the Janni Nell name, I published three humorous chick lit mysteries—yep, you guessed it—under the same name. I can still see the look on horror on the face of a fellow writer, when I told her I’d published both paranormal and chick lit under the same name.

Of course I’d considered using a different name, but because the two series were similar in voice and humor, I decided they had enough in common to be published under the same name. With the benefit of hindsight that seems like a big mistake. The differences between the genres were too great. All I ended up doing was confusing readers and messing with my brand.

Now I’m a month or two away from publishing another paranormal. This is a more serious story and, although there is a mystery to solve, I wouldn’t place it in the mystery genre. So I’m considering a name change. Am I crazy? Maybe. If I do change my name, in some ways, it’ll mean starting from scratch. But…and it’s a big but, I won’t confuse readers further by publishing something that is different from what I’ve published in the past.

I’m interested in how other writers have handled this situation, but also how readers feel when their favorite authors switch genres.

So, what should I do? Change my name? Keep the same name? Or maybe hedge my bets with “Janni Nell writing as…”?

In the meantime you can see what all the fuss is about by checking out the Allegra Fairweather series of paranormal mysteries and the Sassy Chance series of chick lit mysteries.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Cosy Mysteries

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Bird on a lanternA few years back, I devoured cosy mysteries. Carolyn G Hart's Death on Demand series, Joan Hess's Murder in Maggody, Margaret Maron's books -- all of them! There were ones with a harder edge, like Dana Stabenow's Alaskan mysteries. And ones which played up the cutesy humour, like Donna Andrews.

And then, suddenly, I stopped reading them. I can't even put a finger on why. From haunting the library for the latest releases, abruptly I didn't care.

I have some favourites that I re-read, like Marion Babson's classic British cosies, but generally the cutesy cosies and I have parted ways, and frankly, now that I think about it, I miss them.

I miss the gentle humour and sense of family or community that they celebrated. I miss the clear sense of right and wrong, and evil being punished. I even miss the puzzle solving (although for some, the puzzle was never very puzzling).

All of which leads me to the point of this post ... I think cosy mysteries are set for a resurgence, but in a slightly different guise. I think they're going to have a paranormal edge.

Mystery solving elves sound good to me :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Archives: Cheat A Cheater? DANCER OF THE NILE

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Veronica sez: In about two weeks I'll be releasing GHOST OF THE NILE so I thought today I'd revisit this excerpt from one of my earlier Gods of Egypt stories.

1550 BCE
Nima’s beauty and skill as a dancer leads an infatuated enemy to kidnap her after destroying an Egyptian border town. However, she’s not the only hostage in the enemy camp: Kamin, an Egyptian soldier on a secret mission for Pharaoh, has been taken as well. Working together to escape, the two of them embark on a desperate quest across the desert to carry word of the enemy’s invasion plans to Pharaoh’s people.
As they flee for their lives, these two strangers thrown together by misfortune have to trust in each other to survive.  Nima suspects Kamin is more than the simple soldier he seems, but she finds it hard to resist the effect he has on her heart.  Kamin has a duty to his Pharaoh to see his mission completed, but this clever and courageous dancer is claiming more of his loyalty and love by the moment. Kamin starts to worry, if it comes to a choice between saving Egypt or saving Nima’s life…what will he do?
Aided by the Egyptian god Horus and the Snake Goddess Renenutet, beset by the enemy’s black magic, can Nima and Kamin evade the enemy and reach the safety of the Nile in time to foil the planned attack?
Can there ever be a happy future together for the humble dancer and the brave Egyptian soldier who is so much more than he seems?
The excerpt:
(Trying to escape the enemy, Nima and Kamin have been taken by a caravan master who's determined to have a profit from the encounter.)
 Please, Great Ones, let him follow my lead now. “Either we’re going to be your guests or your prisoners.”
           “You can’t have it both ways, sir,” she said when the laughter quieted, laying one hand on Kamin’s arm as a calming gesture.
                “Good point.” Ptahnetamun poured himself another round of the wine before sitting down. “It seems we’re on the horns of a dilemma.”
                He likes toying with us. Hoping she’d found a way out of the situation, Nima took a chance. “Are you a gambling man?” She pointed at the object taking up most of the table beside him. “Do I see a senet board?”
                He rubbed his hand across the game board inlaid atop the gleaming container. “Indeed it is. You play?”
                As if she had all the time in the world, Nima walked to the game box, deliberately making her stride slow and sensuous, like the opening steps of a dance. Bending to give him a good view of her shapely bottom outlined by the dress pulled tight as she leaned over, Nima opened the bottom drawer of the case and plucked a shiny black pawn at random from inside. With an elegant gesture, she turned and extended her hand to the caravan master, the pawn sitting on her flat palm. “I challenge you to a game.”
                He stroked his bearded chin, leaned back as he braced one foot on a trunk and made a show of considering. “For what stakes?”
                “If I win, you give us shelter for the night, and we go our separate ways in the morning.” She set the pawn on the board in the starting square. “If you win, we’re yours to do with as you please.”
                “Nima—” Kamin’s protest was instant and angry. In two steps he was at her side, yanking her to face him. “What are you—”
                Wrenching herself loose, she ignored him, facing Ptahnetamun again. “I’ve lived in border towns all my life, so I’ve heard of the honor code governing caravan masters. I want your word you’ll abide by the outcome of the game.” She held up one hand before he could speak. “No, I want your blood oath on it.”
                Jaw dropping, Ptahnetamun stared at her while his men muttered and even the serving girl looked impressed by Nima’s boldness.
                “Well? Do you agree to my terms or don’t you?” Nima drew herself to her full height and tried to feel impressive, despite her dusty clothes and tired body. He can’t back down from this challenge in front of his crew. I hope. Since he hesitated, she taunted him, paraphrasing a saying she’d often heard in the taverns where she danced. Be aware I’ll pass you by as one who sails with the breeze, blessed by the Sun. I’ll be entering the House of Repeating Life while you, my opponent, will be stopped.”
                Next minute, Ptahnetamun threw back his head, roaring with laughter. “Spoken like a true gambler. I like your spirit, woman.” He pointed at Kamin. “Does your warrior agree to what you propose? The deal must include you both.”
                “Will you give us a moment?” Pulling Kamin aside, Nima turned so the gawking caravan crew couldn’t see their faces. Kamin’s cheeks were red, and his frown was truly impressive.
                Putting both hands on her shoulders, he gave her a little shake. “What in the seven hells are you doing? “
                She laid her hand gently over his mouth, leaning close as she whispered, “Trust me, please, Kamin? If he swears me a blood oath—”
                Shoving her hand away, he rolled his eyes. “And if you win,” he said furiously. “The throwing sticks are bound to be false-weighted somehow. It won’t be a fair game, not some friendly match in the tavern for mugs of beer.”
                “I’m hoping the sticks are false.” She smiled mischievously, letting her smile fade as he continued to glare at her. “Please? I know the stakes are high, but we’re not getting out of here otherwise. You’re one man surrounded by dozens, and he sees profit in selling us. This is the only way we stand a chance of escaping.”
                “You’re asking me to risk the success of my mission for Pharaoh, for Egypt, on how well you can cheat a cheater?” He closed his eyes for a moment, rubbing his brow.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ever Been to a Book Signing? If You Haven't, You're Missing Out!

Posted by: Linda Mooney

This weekend I'll be at the Austin Author Affair. A whole slew of authors will be there to sell and autograph their books. Check the list above to see how many of your favorites are attending.

If you've never made it to a book signing, either a multi-author one like the Austin Author Affair, or even one put on by a single author, you're missing out. Authors love to schmooze with readers, whether you read their books or not.

Going to book signings is the author's chance to get out of their writing caves and meet the public. And this is the reader's chance to put a face to the name on the books they love. It's a win-win for both parties!

Better, authors use this time to recharge their batteries. Get fresh story ideas. Trade info with fellow authors. But the best part is that readers reaffirm the authors, giving them the impetus to write more.

And what could be better for a reader than to chat with a favorite author, and walk away with a personalized autograph? At the AAA this weekend, if you're in the area, admittance is FREE for readers! Plus, you might get to have drinks or dinner with your favorite author after the signing is over. You never know!

Come by and say, "Hi!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

From the Archives: Hope (or, What I Learned From Watching Way Too Much Voyager)

Posted by: Joshua Roots
Veronica sez =>Posting one from the Archives, written by our Josh Roots, because all things Star Trek are timeless, right?:

I've been watching a lot of Star Trek: Voyager recently*. During a marathon viewing, I had two big revelations about the show:

1) Captain Janeway might just be favorite captain**. That in no way diminishes my ardent worship of Picard, my adoration for Sisko, my utmost respect for Archer, or my admiration for the original Space Cowboy, Kirk. But Janeway? She's my kind of leader. Brash, bold, honorable, but also willing to put a photon torpedo between your eyes if the situation calls for it.

2) Voyager is, at its core, extremely hopeful.

The latter fact is what really struck me. Here you have a ship that is pulled to the other side of the galaxy, well beyond where anyone has gone before. At the end of the pilot episode, they are 75 years away from Earth and desperate to return home. Their journey is wrought with danger and the fear of the unknown. The crew should be despondent. There should be more pessimism, more angst.

But there's not. Even during its darkest moments, there's a sense of hope that runs throughout the show. Optimism that, despite it all, they will get home.

The thing is, having watched and read a great deal of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, that optimism is completely striking. So many of my favorite genre tales are ones where humanity is on the brink. Death, destruction, and doing whatever is necessary to survive. Sometimes at the cost of a main character's own code of ethics. Sometimes at the cost of others.

And many times, any sense of hope has long since been purged from their minds.

Now don't get me wrong, I love pretty much all Sci-Fi/Fant. Dark, light, happy, sad, I read and watch it all. But there's something about Star Trek, and Voyager in particular, that speaks to me. I like the world where humanity is driven by the love of science and wonderment. I soak up the stories where the brash and bold leader encourages a sense of determiation among her people. And I am inspired by the thought that no matter what the odds, our species can overcome internal and external crises with a sense of pride and honor.

Heck, I want to live in that kind of world.

Granted, Voyager is a work of fiction. A pretend universe with fake characters. It is, after all, just a story.

Then again, imaginary worlds and the make-believe people who populate them are the bread and butter for many writers. We use them as tools to tell our tale. But sometimes, if we're lucky, we touch the lives of our readers. Maybe even influence them in some way.

It certainly was the case for the writers on Stark Trek who believed that our future was one of optimism, not despair. Because of them, I am filled with hope.

For fake worlds and for our real one.



Undead Chaos:



Summoned Chaos: July 2014


Joshua Roots is a car collector, beekeeper, and storyteller. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, golf, and all facets of Sci-Fi/Fantasy. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

*It's been a slow month.

**Or, at least, tied with Picard. Because, come on. It's Picard!

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