Sunday, July 24, 2016

Stuck in the Black Moment

Posted by: Shona Husk
I have been working on this book for ages (well it feels that way, I have partials from 2 years ago that I keep promising to finish...sorry characters it's me not you). Part of the problem with this WIP is that I had no clear idea about the black moment when I started. I usually have a first meet for the h/h and the black moment and a couple of other bits in my head before I even start plotting.

Not this time.

Characters have died, secrets have been revealed and now I'm here for the final confrontation I'm not sure what should happen. Evil should be vanquished. That's the best part of fiction.

I have jokingly suggested I should let my characters be killed and call it lit fic instead of romantic suspense.

I think part of the problem is this book has been dark. The hero should go to the cops but he can't trust them. He can't trust anyone, but killing the villain doesn't seem right. It's too easy, too neat and the villain doesn't pay for what he's done. And it's just another death. I want my characters to have moved past that. To have grown and learned.

As I sit with note pad and pen trying to think my way out of this box I have made for myself and the characters I ponder what makes a satisfying ending. If the villain isn't dead can the hero still win, or is he settling?

And once that is done I still have to drag the romance out of the ashes.


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Excerpt: Uninspired Muse, Mt. Olympus Employment Agency: Muse #3

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

Not long ago, I gave you the awesome news that I'm doing a brand new spinoff series with Carina Press--Djinn Haven. I'm super excited, but there was a catch. I'm still working on book #3 of the Mt. Olympus Employment Agency: Muse series. In order to make my deadline with Carina for the new series, I had to set aside the Muse book for a little while. 

I know a lot of people are waiting for this book, so I thought I could at least share an excerpt until I can get back to it and get it out to you. Keep in mind, it hasn't been edited. This is the raw stuff, folks. My editor hasn't even read it. 

Djinn Haven #1, To Catch a Stolen Soul will be out from Carina Press in January. Mt. Olympus Employment Agency: Muse #3, Uninspired Muse will be out in a few months, as soon as I can get back to it. If you haven't read the first two, you can get them from the links below. 

This sample of book #3 shouldn't be too spoilery. All you need to know going in is our Muse is about to "meet" her new client, world renowned fantasy artist Gordon Gordon. He's in a bit of a slump. Enjoy!


Uninspired Muse 

Chapter 3


Despite having my equipment with me, I had no real intention of inspiring Gordon Gordon that day. It was Thursday, so I figured I’d assess him, figure out what he needed to do and maybe why he needed a Muse to get it done, then spend Friday blowing inspiration bubbles at him to test his susceptibility to my influence. On Monday, we’d start fresh in ernest.

I emerged from the crowded, elaborately decorated Mt. Olympus Employment Agency building to a run-down neighborhood along the Kansas River in Topeka. The elegant skyscraper I’d been in now appeared to be an abandoned, two-story building with broken windows and a homeless dude smoking a cigarette while he leaned against a wall. He was always there. The first time I’d seen him was the day I’d started orientation. He’d been peeing on the wall that day.

“Hey Syd.” I waved.

He left the cigarette dangling from one corner of his mouth and waved back. “What’s the good news, Wynter?”

I grimaced. “None today. How about you?”

He shrugged. “Couple of guys were eyeing your car. Took care of it.”

“I appreciate it.” My smile was genuine, though my mood still wasn’t any lighter.

“Just doing my job. You try to have a better day, you hear?”

“Doing my best Syd. You do the same.”

In my car, I pulled out my assignment and punched Gordon’s address into my new GPS, then jumped on the highway. He lived clear across town, which would be annoying, except that it wasn’t too far from where I lived.

That didn’t help my sour mood. Probably, nothing short of a litter of kittens wearing tiny party hats and chasing a laser dot would pull me out of my funk.

A person would have to be a soulless ghoul not to be happy with all that going on.

Gordon’s house was in a quiet neighborhood and had a larger yard than most. Since we were into November, the grass didn’t have much green left to it, and the few small trees had hit that gorgeous bright orange stage with brown leaves dropping even as I watched. After pausing to get a good look at the house, I kept going. One block up and one block over — that was the rule of thumb. A Muse was never supposed to park right in front of a client’s house, especially since we’d be going there at least several times a week, if not every day. Somebody was bound to notice. In fact, we tried to park in a different place each time to avoid suspicion. Nobody wanted to tangle with a neighborhood watch.

I locked the car and pressed the button on the buckle of my belt. I felt no different and could see my own arms and legs without any trouble, but no one else would be able to see me.

I was invisible.

Despite having done this countless times, it always made me a little nervous. Since I wasn’t invisible to myself, I had no way of knowing for sure if the belt worked. A dark-haired woman in sweats raked leaves across the street. She stopped and rested for a moment, glancing around the neighborhood and brushing her hair off her face. I waved at her. Vigorously. She looked past me, then away. Either she was a bitch, or I was invisible. She went back to work, smiling to herself and humming. So, probably not a bitch. My belt was functional. Probably.

I strode up the block and around the corner to Gordon’s house. No one, humming or otherwise, appeared to care much about the leaves in his yard. The wind picked up as I approached the front door and, due to a recent rainstorm, leaves collected around my ankles like wet starfish.

Maybe I’d inspire my new client to do a little yard work while I was at it.

At the door, I took a deep breath and stepped through into the house. Again, no matter how many times I walked through closed doors, I half expected to slam my head into the hard surface. As always, the magic in my belt sent me through.

I stood in a vacant living room. The furniture was all dark leather and glass, and the floors were bare wood with a burgundy and navy throw rug in the center. A floorboard creaked from somewhere deeper in the house, and I followed the sound.

The doorway to the left led to the kitchen and dining room. I followed the doorway to the right down the hallway and found my target. The entire room — originally a bedroom — was tricked out as an art studio. Blank canvases leaned again one wall, and what appeared to be several completed paintings faced the wall, half-covered with a cloth. Multiple easels were set up around the room at different angles, presumably to catch the light at different times of day.

A large drop cloth speckled in bright colors covered the main traffic areas of the floor. And a wooden table held tubes of paint, jars of brushes, solvents, cloths, and palettes.

Gordon stood barefoot and bare chested in the middle of the room, gazing out the window. His dark hair hung over one chestnut eye. He ran stained fingers through it and dropped onto a stool next to him. He sighed and rubbed his palms over his jeans.

I folded my arms and leaned against a clean, bare spot on the wall by the door. “What’s keeping you from working, my barely dressed friend?”

He groaned and glanced at the blank canvas propped on the easel. His weight shifted, and he slid off the stool to pad over to the paint table. With a rag in one hand and a brush in the other, he paced the length of the room. He stopped in front of the window, wiped the brush on the cloth, then resumed pacing.

“Oh, you’re a mess, aren’t you?” I’d seen this sort of thing before. Something was on the guy’s mind. Something big.

“I can’t work in here today. It’s just…it’s too much.” He tossed the rag and paintbrush on the table and strode past me out the door.

I followed him. I’d learned over time that it was better on the first visit to pay more attention to the client and get a feel for what was stopping the creative juices from flowing than it was to actually begin the inspirations. This guy was in no condition for me to start working on him.

We wove our way through the house, stopping in the living room while he picked up then dropped a magazine. Gordon led us to the kitchen, where he grabbed an apple, took a bite, then left it wobbling on the counter.

He stopped for a full five minutes to stare at a squirrel scurrying up the tree outside the kitchen window, then let out a sigh and left the kitchen for the den. I was seriously afraid the guy was going to whip out a clove cigarette and an acoustic guitar. He clearly had a lot of feelings he needed to express.

Artists.


Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

Sign up for her newsletter for news, extras, and exclusive stuff: Newsletter
Hang out with her here: Website Blog Facebook Twitter
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Friday, July 22, 2016

On Fallen Trees and Fairy Curses

Posted by: Eleri Stone
This is what’s been happening at my house this week. 



A powerful storm blew through early Sunday morning and took down a hundred year old Bur Oak and two Hickories, landing on our house and deck. Thank God we weren’t home at the time as most of the heavy damage happened to my son’s room. So everyone’s okay and we’re working through all the tree removal/insurance/contractor stuff right now.

BUT here’s a story I think you all at Here Be Magic will appreciate:

A few days before this happened my husband was talking about cutting down this small tree that was overshadowed by one of the Hickories. It had thorns and was a pain to mow around.

“But I think that’s a Hawthorn,” I say. “It’s really bad luck to cut down a Hawthorn tree.”

“Why’s that?”

“You know, fairies.”

Husband sighs. “We’re taking it down.”

So we come home after the storm and every tree in our back yard has been uprooted and hurled at the house, except for the Hawthorn tree. At first, we think it's a goner too. You can’t even see it beneath the downed trees until some of the debris is cleared away.

The Hawthorn tree is a little damaged and the tree guy wants to know if he can take it out to make room for the crane, so we tell him the story and say, “Your call. We don’t want to tell you to cut it down.”

I mean, the tree is standing right there. It can hear us.

The tree guy defers the decision to his second in command and… long story short, no one wants to be the one cutting down the Hawthorn so we’re keeping it.

Mother Effing Fairies

Thursday, July 21, 2016

New Excerpt from HOSTAGE TO THE STARS #Scifi Romance

Posted by: Veronica Scott
I thought it might be a good time for a new excerpt from my best selling science fiction romance novel Hostage To The Stars!

The story:
He rescued her from space pirates … but can he keep them both safe from the far greater evil stalking a deserted planet?
Space travel without Kidnap & Ransom insurance? Not a good idea. University instructor and researcher Sara Bridges can’t afford it, so when pirates board her cruise liner, she’s taken captive along with the mistress of a wealthy man, and brought to a deserted planet. When a military extraction team sent to rescue the mistress refuses to take Sara too, she’s left to the mercies of a retired Special Forces soldier, along as consultant.
Reluctantly reactivated and coerced into signing up for the rescue operation to the planet Farduccir where he once was deployed,  Sgt. Johnny Danver just wants to get the job done. But when the team leader leaves one captured woman behind, he breaks away to rescue her himself.
As Johnny and Sara traverse the barren landscape, heading for an abandoned base where they hope to call Sectors Command for help, they find villages destroyed by battle and stripped of all inhabitants. A lone survivor tells a horrific tale of the Sectors’ alien enemy, the Mawreg, returning after being pushed out …
Searching for evidence to give the military, Johnny is captured. He regains consciousness in a Mawreg cage–with Sara next to him. Death is preferable to what the aliens will do to them… And even if they do escape their captors, can they alert the military in time to prevent another invasion of the Sectors?
The excerpt - Johnny's been stung by a cave dwelling, poisonous creature and Sara must cope:
She rummaged in the pack for the medkit and brought it and the water, along with a T shirt she’d grabbed. Tearing it into strips, she got ready to clean the wounds, which had stopped bleeding but were becoming puffy around the edges and a scary reddish black. Swallowing hard against the nausea rising in her gut, she said, “I’ll try to be gentle but this is going to hurt.”
                He laughed. “Can’t be worse than the bite and the burn.”
                She poured water over the wounds and then daubed at them with a piece of the T shirt soaked in antiseptic from the medkit. “Is there antivenom in this kit?”
                Johnny shook his head. “Only a generic. Keep the dose for you, just in case. I’ve had the injects for this planet and a buncha others. I’ll be ok.”
                “You’re not acting okay. Let me give you the inject anyway.” She dug in the medkit, searching for anything labelled antivenom.
                He pushed her hand away. “No. It’ll take time but I’ll sweat the poison out. Gotta extract the stingers though.”
                “What?” Sinking back on her heels, she made herself scrutinize the puncture highest on his leg, right below the kneecap. A red needlelike spike in the center drew her attention.  “What do I get this out with?”
                “I’ll do it.” He tried to sit. His hands were shaking.
                “Yeah, tough guy, I think this is my job.” Clearly he wasn’t going to be able to do anything as delicate as pulling out the stingers.
                He fumbled at his belt. “Knife.”
                She reached past him to pull the knife from its sheath. “What do I do?”
                “Get the tip under the stinger, flip it out. Don’t touch it, still has venom.” He shut his eyes and put one shaking hand over them. “Can’t see straight right now.”
                Sara did her best not to hurt him but she cringed at the way her clumsy efforts with the knife had to be causing him pain. He didn’t make a sound and finally she had the first stinger out. She looked at it on the knife tip for a moment, seeing how it had tiny prongs to help it stay in the wound once the creature had attacked its prey. Shuddering, she rose and stepped to the cave entrance, flinging the stinger into the brush. Going to kneel beside Johnny, she said, “I’ve got the hang of this now. Hopefully I can do the other one more easily.”
                “Doing fine,” he whispered, so softly she could hardly hear him. “Burn salve next. Red tube.” He undid the fastenings of his combat boots and toed them off with a lot of false starts.
                “I saw it in the kit, don’t worry.” Knowing what she was dealing with, she made quick work of extracting the second stinger, with less incidental damage to Johnny’s leg. Then she washed the wounds again, applied antiseptic, the burn salve and a bandage from the medkit. He was barely conscious. Sara staggered outside the cave and threw up, falling to her knees for a moment in sheer terror. Then because she feared he’d try to come find her, possibly hurting himself in the process, she made herself stand and walk into the cave with more confidence than she actually possessed.
                She got the bedroll out of his pack, pushing the tab to make it expand and tried to arrange it smoothly, close to where he lolled drunkenly against the cave wall because she didn’t think she could move him very far, but at least not lying close to the cave’s entrance. “All right, my friend, time to lie down.” She got her shoulder under his arm and tugged to get him to rise. She was exhausted by the time he’d limped to the sleeping mat and lowered himself to the ground with her help.
                “Drink some water,” she said, holding the canteen to his lips. “You’re going to get dehydrated.”
                “Lemme rest a minute and then I’ll go patrol.” His voice was slurred and faint. A tremor rocked his frame.
                Sara patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry about patrolling right now. Rest sounds like a good idea.” Gently she covered him with the thin blanket and then retreated to a nearby boulder to sit. Dropping her head into her hands for a moment, she gave in to the tears that had been threatening for the last hour while she tended to Johnny. Sara rocked back and forth, struggling to breathe past the tightness in her chest and lightheadedness. Never in a million years would it have occurred to her something would happen to Johnny. He’d seemed so tough and indestructible. 

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Guest Post: Excerpt from Marcella Burnard's DAMNED IF HE DOES

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Veronica: It’s our pleasure to have Marcella Burnard as our guest today, with an excerpt from her new book DAMNED IF HE DOES.

The Story:
Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?

Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan's consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer's wrath.

Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she's going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?

The Excerpt (Darsorin has a run in with Fiona’s landlady):
With a noise like a saw drawn across ice, a key slide into the lock on the front door.

Archimedes growled.

Darsorin frowned. Fiona came in the back door. Unless she’d walked to work.

The door opened.

Carrot and peeler still in hand, he peered around the archway into the hall.

The landlady eased into the entryway, book clasped to her bosom with one arm. She shut the door.

“Mrs. Murphy,” he said, racking his brain for any indication that she was supposed to have been in the duplex that day. There wasn’t one. Inability to forget anything, ever. Demonic perk. If Fiona told him to go to Hell when she came home, his perfect memory would be a curse for the rest of eternity. “What can I do for you? Fiona is still at work.”

“Good. I came to deal with you,” Mrs. Murphy said, her mouth set in a grim line. She marched toward him.

The cat hissed.

Dar glanced over his shoulder at Archimedes. He stood, fluffy tail bristling, the fur along his spine standing on end, and yellow eyes fixed with baleful intent upon the hallway. A comment Fiona had made caught Dar, he hates everyone.

Dar set the half-peeled carrot and the peeler back on the cutting board and started for the cat. “Mrs. Murphy, you’re frightening Archimedes. Let me . . .”

“You have done more than enough, Demon,” the landlady snapped. “I know what you are. And after what one of your kind did to my baby sister, I made sure I’d know exactly how to deal with one of you. Incubus.”

Darsorin rocked
.
The woman raked him with a derisive look, but her cheeks flushed, and she couldn’t complete her dismissive set-down.

Arching his back, Archimedes warbled a battle cry at the woman.

“Don’t you take that tone with me,” the landlady said, striding to the cat. In one swift move that left Darsorin breathless with rage, she swept Archimedes from the counter.

The cat yowled and struck out, claws flashing.

“Ow! Why you—”

“Don’t you dare touch that cat,” Darsorin snarled, summoning the power of Hell. Not how he wanted to sentence himself to spending a couple of regenerative hours in the lakes of fire, the scenery left so much to be desired, but he refused to let anyone be mean to Archimedes.

Fiona had been right. They couldn’t stay here. They wouldn’t.

“Fiona’s on her way home,” he said, gathering power and shaping it into one specific, emotion-laden intention. “You will not be here when she arrives. Time for you to LEAVE.” He threw every mote of unholy power into the word.

Ole Scratch knew the application of overwhelming force. He provided generously for his incubi. Malevolent will rolled in through his feet, flooded him until his vision swam with the pain. He released it in a sweep of his fingers.

It swarmed Mrs. Murphy.

He smiled.

The power bent. Piled up as if against a wall. His smile died. The wave crested, rolling back to smash down on his head. He yelped.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
Marcella Burnard graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a degree in acting. She writes science fiction romance for Berkley Sensation. Her first book, Enemy Within won the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice award for Best Futuristic of 2010. The second book in the series, Enemy Games, released on May 3, 2011. An erotica novella, Enemy Mine, set in the same world as the novels was released as an e-special edition by Berkley in April 2012. Emissary, a sword and sorcery short story released in the two volume Thunder on the Battlefield Anthology in the second half of 2013. Nightmare Ink, an Urban Fantasy novel from Intermix came out in April of 2014 and the second in that Living Ink series, Bound by Ink, came out in November 2014. She lives aboard a sailboat in Seattle where she and her husband are outnumbered by cats.

You can find Marcella here:
Twitter: @marcellaburnard
Instagram: marcellaburnard (but I warn you – this is almost 100% cat photos!)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Release Day! LONEN'S WAR

Posted by: Jeffe Kennedy
I have a new book in a new series out today!

LONEN'S WAR kicks off a new Fantasy Romance series, Sorcerous Moons. I did it on my own (self-published) because my agent felt the story concept too closely paralleled that of THE MARK OF THE TALA.

I can see it. Marriage of convenience between rulers of warring nations just really rocks my fantasy romance heart. What can I say?

And I really wanted to tell this story, particularly a very slow-burn romance. Also, caveat: as some reviewers rightfully point out, this first book has no heat and very little romance, because slow burn.

Oh yeah - we'll get there, people.

This review tickled me no end:

If you like stories of overlooked princesses coming into their own in spite of withering expectations, you will love Lonen’s War. Likewise if you enjoy epic fantasy with lots of political skullduggery, ( like The Goblin Emperor and Sorcerer to the Crown) because this book certainly fills that bill as well.
And if you are a fan of Jeffe Kennedy’s Twelve Kingdoms series, you are going to absolutely adore this.
I hope you all DO adore it! It really hits my own personal sweet spot. 
An Unquiet Heart
Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…


A Fight Without Hope
When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.

A Savage Bargain
Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.
BUY IT NOW

Amazon   |   Kobo   |   Smashwords

Monday, July 18, 2016

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases

New from Jeffe Kennedy!!

LONEN'S WAR, the first book in her new fantasy romance series, Sorcerous Moons, will be out on Tuesday!!

Watch this page for buy links.

An Unquiet Heart
Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince…

A Fight Without Hope
When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception.

A Savage Bargain

Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

Other News

Cindy Spencer Pape will be speaking and signing books at Motor City Steam Con this weekend! If you're in the Detroit area , stop by and check out the action.


HUGE Science Fiction Romance Sale, 40 books, including Veronica Scott's Award Winning  WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, and Shona Husk's DECADENT MOON and YOURS TO COMMAND. Details and links here.  



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