Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Magic in the Real World

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
2017 is the year of my Old School series which mixes magic into our ordinary world. I love writing this kind of paranormal romance where the magic really could exist, just hidden from most of us.

Fire Fall is the latest stand-alone novel in the series. It releases in two days! *hyperventilates* Researching it was fabulous. The Rocky Mountains make a stunning setting and mixing magic with a gorgeous reality makes for something unforgettable.

In Fire Fall wildfire is threatening the Rio Grande National Park. As an Australian, the power of wildfires is something we see every summer. I'm thankful that so far my experience of its devastation isn't personal. I live in the suburbs, away from bushland, but we still smell the smoke in the air and hear the water-bomber helicopters pass overhead. So when I added the threat of fire to Fire Fall it felt real.

I won't give away the magical twist in Fire Fall that is the other reason for the title!

Danger comes in many forms, and sometimes the biggest danger is to our hearts. In Fire Fall, Seth walked away from Vanessa once before. She was with someone else, someone that it seemed better fitted her life as a billionaire's daughter. After all, what could a wizard mercenary offer her except strangeness and fear? But life changes. People change. This time Seth isn't walking away.

Writing about magic adds mystery and excitement, but it only works if magic also brings problems and limits. Vanessa and Seth certainly face those.

If you'd like to pre-order Fire Fall or save it to borrow free in Kindle Unlimited when it releases in two days, here's the link:

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Long Road to Love

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
When I first thought about writing a story about a Greek Muse, I imagined a woman whose life was such a wreck, putting her in charge of helping other people would be ridiculous. Satisfied that my premise was solid, yet weird, I went on to work on the plots for the Unfinished Muse and Unamused Muse.

I talk to myself a lot when I'm plotting a book. (Who am I kidding? I talk to myself all the time.) So, for this Muse idea I had, I asked myself questions to get the ball rolling.

"What does she want? What's her backstory? How does she look? Why is she such a loser?"

"Who will she fall in love with?"

My answer to myself on that last question was sharp, loud, and startled the cats into thinking it was time to wake up for dinner.

"No! Look at what a mess she is. No boys for her! Not until she fixes herself."

Harsh, right? So harsh. But the more I thought about it, the more clearly I could see Wynter Greene. She's almost unlikable in the first book, at least in the beginning. She's drifting through life without any sort of roots or anchor, not really caring about herself or the people around her. She quits every job, every project, and every relationship at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience.

Wynter herself is a project.

It took three books for Wynter to grow into the person I'd imagined she'd become. Along the way she runs into all sorts of problems, and love is the last one for her to sort out. Family, friends, career—it's all important.

But in the end, we all want to be loved, right?

Wynter's final book, Uninspired Muse, is out now. It took a little longer than I expected, but her story is finally told. Did she actually get her Happily Ever After?

You’ll have to find out for yourself.

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.

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Buy her books here:  Amazon B&N Carina Press

Monday, May 22, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Veronica Scott
New Releases:

Uninspired Muse 

Mt. Olympus Employment Agency: Muse #3

R.L. Naquin

Wynter Greene has finally hit her groove. She’s back at work in the Muse department and doing a fantastic job. Her newly reunited family gives her a sense of belonging and self-confidence she’s never had before. And she hasn’t annihilated any romantic relationships in quite a while—mostly because she’s avoided them.

But if mythology teaches anything, it’s not to get cocky when the gods are listening.

Wynter’s clients have been taken away, replaced by a morose artist with an ominous deadline. And her grandmother’s crush on a mortal puts the goddess’s powers on the fritz, which places Phyllis the philodendron in danger. While Wynter’s busy trying to help everyone else, her own fear of heartbreak could destroy her chance at true love forever. 

The Fates seem to be trying to tell her something. But is love really the answer to everything? 

Amazon B& N

Urban Fantasy/Romantic Suspense
Word Count: 37.2K
$2.99 e

Bounty hunters by day. Superheroes by night.

Slone and Embrie have known each other since birth, and after crash landing on Earth, they know they are the last of their kind. Intergalactic refugees, and extremely young, they are discovered and taken in by an older couple who teach them how to survive and fit in.

With powers no human possesses, the two decide they should share their strengths with the world, and Falcon and Hawk are born. Saving lives is their calling and the right thing to do, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills, so bounty hunting by day it is. Unfortunately, living a double life takes a toll on a person, superhuman or not, both physically and emotionally. And with exhaustion comes mistakes.

So when Embrie is injured, leaving her weak and vulnerable, Slone must make the decision to expose who they are to save her life or lose his love forever.

Until a job from the past resurfaces, threatening to make that decision for him, as well as destroy everything they've sacrificed and worked for. 

Warning! Contains a dozen red roses, a desire for Italian food, emergency surgery, a hostage crisis, a debt paid, a Level Four contagion, burning a candle at both ends, sonic booms, and two childhood friends who survive to become eternal lovers.

Other News: 

Veronica Scott visits the Everyday Fangirl Blog to talk about background on her Sectors short stories.

Bring It Back(list):
On this past weekend's special feature, Joely Sue Burkhart shared an excerpt from Rose of Shanhasson:

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Bring It Back(list) with Joely Sue Burkhart

Posted by: Joely Sue Burkhart

The Story Behind the Book:

The Rose of Shanhasson will always have a special place in my heart because it was the first book I ever completed.  It was first published in 2009 by now-defunct Drollerie Press, and then I self-published it a few years ago.

Because it was my first book, I made some choices early on that make this book difficult to categorize. I was reading a lot of epic fantasy and Laurell K. Hamilton at the time - and I wanted to write epic fantasy with lots of sex. Sounds good, right? Sure! Except as the series progressed, I ended up killing some main characters, so I couldn't call it Romance.  It's more erotic fantasy... which isn't really a genre.

I promise the trilogy has a huge happy ending at the end and all lovers are fully united and ride off into the moonlight together. But it is a long, hard road to get there.  So if made-up cultures, court intrigue, sexy barbarian warriors, a princess who's no damsel in distress, and menage a'many (cough) is intriguing, I hope you give Rose a try!

To celebrate my birthday, I'm offering Rose for $.99 through Memorial Day weekend. Enjoy!

The Rose of Shanhasson is a superb blend of fully-realized fantasy and scorching romance.  Joely Sue Burkhart dropped me into her fantasy world and left me breathless.  The Rose of Shanhasson is one of the best fantasy romances I’ve read in years! ~ Larissa Ione, New York Times Bestselling Author
As Our Blessed Lady’s last Daughter, Shannari must rule as High Queen or the Green Lands will fall into eternal darkness. Her destiny is to shine against the Shadow, protect the land and people with her magic, and keep the Blackest Heart of Darkness imprisoned. Her blood is the key, powered by the love in her heart. However, Shannari’s heart is broken, her magic is crippled, and the nobles must have forgotten the dire prophesies, because everyone wants her dead.
Only love can restore her magic, but her scars testify how love can be corrupted. So when a barbarian warlord conquers her army and professes a love like no other, Shannari’s first instinct is to kill the mighty Khul. Even worse, one of the Khul’s guards used to be an assassin–a very skilled assassin, if the darkness in the Blood’s eyes is any indication. The same darkness festers deep in her heart and draws her to the wickedly dangerous man as inexorably as his Khul’s unshakable honor. Her weakening heart is not only torn between love and duty, but also between two magnificent warriors.
Yet neither warrior will be able to help her when Shadow calls her name.

Blessed Lady above, why have You forsaken me?
Scanning the waters of Dalden Bay, Shannari looked for some sign of hope. Ceaseless prayers throughout the night, at the holiest site in the Green Lands, had been offered for naught. The silvered full moon mocked her with its silence.
The thick bayside air tasted like tears. Shannari swallowed the choking lump, her shoulders drooping with misery. Weary, she rubbed her aching, dry eyes and turned from the mist-covered waters. Power pulsed with the gentle moonlight, resonating in her blood and soul. Her skin tingled with the sweet melody, her heart aching, yearning to use that inborn gift.
If only she could find some way to restore her magic…
But no. That was another failure entirely. Her heart was dead.
Waiting at the last column, the High Priest took her chilled hands between his own. Father Aran’s snowy white hair and beard gleamed against his scarlet robes. “Our Blessed Lady has heard your prayers, Your Majesty.”
Shame clawed her chest and she dropped her gaze. She didn’t deserve the title, let alone his respect. “Please, don’t call me that.”
“I’ve known since your birth that you would be the next High Queen. I saw the Rose Crown on your head even in the cradle.”
“So you say.” Shannari jerked her hands back and clenched them into fists at her sides. “You also told me of the great power I would have as the Lady’s Last Daughter. Yet here I am, my magic crippled, my country surrounded by enemies, and betrothed to Prince Theo, the one person who most wants me dead.” Her voice broke. She would never forget the malice in the Crown Prince’s eyes, nor the suffocating horror that came over her when he’d touched her. “I’m trapped.”
The High Priest flinched. “The mistake was mine, Your Majesty, I–”
“How can I refuse to marry him now without starting a civil war?”
“Our Blessed Lady wants Her tainted son removed from the High Throne at all cost.” The High Priest stared through her, deeper, seeing beyond to some future that made his eyes flash with hope. “A way will be provided.”
Shannari refused to let that gleam of hope move her. She’d seen the same look in his eyes too many times to no avail. Seeing a possible future and knowing the Lady’s prophesy didn’t make it happen.
“Dark at times, clouded with Shadow and fraught with peril, your path is steep and treacherous with ravines on either side. If you fall, all the Green Lands will fall with you. This I know in my heart. Yet hope comes, though from where I cannot See.”
She knew all too well the dark prophesy of doom waiting for her people if she failed. Other children grew up on nursery rhymes and fairytales; she learned her destiny of blood and darkness and death. Death loomed closer than ever in these dark times.
Inwardly sighing, she joined her waiting father, King Valche. Surrounded by guards, they walked toward the village curving along the shoreline. Chittering raucously, gulls fought for scraps on the beach of sand and broken shells and the stench of rotting fish made her stomach churn.
Vessels ranging from local fishing boats to sea-worthy trading ships lined the docks. From crates full of rare spices from the jungles of Mambia, to exotic furs from the frigid ice of Jjord to the extreme north, exotic things from all over the world came through this port. Without Dalden Bay, Allandor’s tables might miss the sea’s natural bounty, but the largest blow would be felt in the merchants’ pockets.
Shannari ran through her options again and came to the same conclusion. Surely an alliance with Allandor’s greatest enemy was worth the risk to herself if it would save all the Green Lands. Shivering, she rubbed the nape of her neck. She had the nasty feeling that an invisible axe loomed over her head.
“I despise Stephan,” King Valche muttered beneath his breath. “I hate his clingy, sneaky ways, how he always cozies up to Theo, oozing snake oil promises.”
“Tell me any other way, Father, and I’ll do it.”
King Valche sighed heavily and ran a hand through his silvered hair. “We need him, slime or no.”
Dressed in Allandor’s regalia of midnight blue trimmed in gold braid, he presented the perfect image of control and regal civility. Ruefully, Shannari wondered what image she projected in her leathers and chain mail, sword within easy reach at her side. Her father had begged her to wear a court gown to emphasize her lineage and legitimate claim to the High Throne. Nevertheless, Last Daughter of the Blessed Lady or not, she went nowhere unarmed, even when escorted with a full contingent of guards. She’d learned that lesson at a very young age.
“Let’s try polite conversation first and see where we stand with Stephan,” King Valche said. “Maybe he’ll surprise us. Maybe he’ll take a stand against Theo for once and do what’s right.”
“No, I’m afraid not. Stephan knows nothing but taking. The only bargaining chip we have is Dalden Bay.” Well, that wasn’t entirely true. Lightly, she touched the hidden scar on the left side of her chest above her breast. “I’ll marry him if I must. Anyone’s better than Prince Theo.”
A silent warning shrilled in her head, and ice chilled her blood. Her heart pounded as adrenaline surged through her. Crippled and stunted her magic might be, but she knew a warning from the Lady when she felt it.
Struggling to maintain a normal demeanor, Shannari looked about them with her hand nonchalantly on her sword hilt. While the docks were busy this early in the morning, the main cobblestone street was deserted. The appointed meeting place, the best inn in Dalden Bay, towered above the smaller shops and houses of the villagers.
Flanked by guards, she couldn’t identify a visible threat, but the chill increased. Her teeth chattered and her fingers cramped on the hilt. Danger approached, but from where?
An alley opened up on her right. As they walked past, the shadow of deadly intent raised the hairs on the base of her neck. Choking back a cry, she took another step, waiting, waiting…
Behind her, steel whispered in the crisp dawn air. Shannari whirled and drew the sword. The nearest guard reached for his, too, turning too late. Slipping around him, the assassin rushed the last few steps, closing quickly so she couldn’t entirely block his thrusting blade. She fouled his aim and the knife slammed into her right side.
An iron fist of pain exploded in her ribcage. Grunting, she took a quick step back to gain some space. Thank the Lady for chain mail. Swinging the sword in a hard arc, she slit the assassin’s throat.
Blinking in shock, the man fell to his knees, his hands wrapped around the gaping wound in his neck. His mouth opened and closed wordlessly and he pitched face first onto the ground.
Eventually, she would fail. A knife would find her back, this time slicing her heart beyond repair. She would never forget the dark pool of blood spreading on the floor, her beautiful mother shattered like a porcelain doll.
I must wrest the High Throne from Theo soon, before one of his assassins succeeds in killing me.
King Valche bellowed, his face dark with fury. Shamefaced Guardsmen crowded closer, their swords at the ready. More soldiers raced down the street led by Sergeant Fenton. The baker across the way poked his head out the door.
Firm but polite, Sergeant Fenton brought the baker outside his shop. “Do you know this man? Did you see anyone about this morning?”
Shannari pushed the assassin over onto his back with her boot.
The baker recoiled and shook his head, wringing his hands in his apron. “No one, sir, other than the King when he passed right at dawn. I heard the guards about at The Slumbering Lion, but nothing else.”
Turning her attention to the body, Shannari dismissed the witness with a nod.
The assassin stared upward with glazed brown eyes. He was perhaps thirty years of age with nondescript features. She didn’t recognize him. His brown coat and breeches were clean and cut from quality cloth but not extravagant. His boots were serviceable and scuffed but well made. He wore no jewelry or insignia. Anyone could have sent him.
So many enemies, so much blood on her hands. Her ribs ached and she resisted the urge to hunch over in pain. Wincing, she bent down and wiped her sword and hands on the dead man’s coat. At least the blood hadn’t splattered her leather pants too badly.
“Are you hurt?” King Valche’s voice quivered with rage. “Should we cancel this meeting?”
She stood and sheathed her sword. “We can’t wait, Father. We need the Duke now more than ever.”
“This attempt could very well be his doing.”
“He won’t assassinate me before he learns how much we might offer. I’ll do whatever is necessary to secure this treaty.”
“I wish there were another way.” King Valche stared down the street at The Slumbering Lion, his jaw clenched. “I’ve delayed with every tactic I know. High King Rikard has every right to demand your presence in Shanhasson. If we don’t gain enough support, he’ll send an army large enough that we’ll be forced to accept his terms. Allandor is strong, but could we stand against the entire might of the Green Lands?”
He turned his tired, concerned gaze to Shannari. “I did my best. The betrothal bought us a little time, but I wish I could keep you from bartering away your life and your hand in marriage for a crown, even the Rose Crown of all the Green Lands. Your mother chose me, chose love, instead of the High Throne. I hoped you could have both. I failed you, Daughter, just as I failed to keep her safe.”
Years ago, Shannari had almost made the same mistake as her mother. She’d foolishly believed that love’s power would make her magic invincible. Instead, she now bore a vicious scar as proof that love could never be trusted. “Oh, Father, we haven’t failed. Father Aran said Our Blessed Lady will provide a way. We have to believe.”
“What I believe is that Theo would rather see you dead than beside him on the High Throne.”
The pulse of ice through her veins echoed the assassination warning and confirmed her father’s fears. Shannari hardened her voice to steel. “Then Lady help me, I’ll see him dead first.”

Friday, May 19, 2017

Auto-Buys: When Does an Author Become an Automatic Buy For You, the Reader?

Posted by: Linda Mooney
Sometimes when I’m scanning Facebook posts, I often see readers tell an author that they’re an automatic buy. Meaning they’re going to buy it, no matter what the book’s about.

Which got me to thinking. (Yes, I know. Dangerous territory here.) Is there an author who’s an auto-buy for you?
If so, why?

1. Quality
Regardless of the story, you know you’re going to get a well-written, exciting, emotional, etc. read that’ll manage to hit all the right buttons.

2. Genre
The author writes in a genre you enjoy immensely, and rarely deviates.

3. Characters
Her characters, especially the hero and heroine, resonate with you. Sometimes you might even wish you were the heroine just so you could be with that particular hero.

4. Story
The author never fails to deliver a story that’s unique, or odd, or exciting, or humorous, or (fill in the blank).

5. Author
You’ve met the author, and by their personality alone have been convinced to read their books.

Which brings me to my second question (you knew there had to be a #2 to go with the #1, right?) What would it take for an author to become an auto-buy for you?

To me, authors are like new restaurants. I always give a new place at least two tries before deciding whether or not to continue going back. I’m like that with authors and their books, as well. Personally speaking, I know that not every book I release is going to be hugely popular or a best seller. Same goes for other entertainment venues, actors, and even movie directors (M. Night Shyamalan, anyone?) If I pick up a book that looks interesting from a new-to-me author, and I don’t care for it, I don’t abandon that author’s other works. I’ll give him or her a second try before deciding whether or not to continue to follow them.

So my questions again are, is there an author who’s an auto-buy from you? And what would it take to become one of your favorite writers?

Now Available as an Audio Book!

Sci-Fi Romance
by Linda Mooney
Word Count:  73.9K
$3.99 e / $9.99 p / $19.95 a

Narrated by Mister Plug
Length: 7 hrs, 58 min.

Hear a Sample

Once in every one million births, a child is born on Bellac with the Synergistic gene. These children are taken from their parents and raised, trained, and prepared for the day when they will find their Synergistic other half. For when that happens, an entity is created from the combination of both male and female who holds unbelievable powers. An entity who is trained to protect and defend its home world.

Grey Dansis is a Synergian. She has reached the time when she must meet the others like herself and hopefully find the male who will become her life-long partner from a crowd of strong, prime adult males who are ready to join the war as soon as they are united with their female halves.

Unfortunately Grey has secretly harbored a longing for Rowe Maine. But the man is five years her senior and considered long past acceptance. He is an Unmatched Synergian who has lost his chance to become one of the rare new entities.   By law he is no longer able to seek his mate.  Now the man is a trainer and teacher at their special school.

It won’t be long, however, before their world is again attacked by marauders. The creatures bent on domination are a species the Synergians have never encountered before. And this time the creatures’ goal isn’t just to conquer Bellac, but to totally wipe the planet's population and its army of Synergians out of existence.

Grey has no idea that Rowe, the man she has long been in love with, is her fated other half.  Or that the power coming from their union would be the only force strong enough to save Bellac from complete annihilation.

Because the law won't even let them touch.

Warning! Contains human weaponry, alien attacks, unapproved use of pudding, overly-aggressive males, excessive sex as a health benefit, badly fitting uniforms, trial by antagonistic rulers, and a love that defies the laws of man and nature.

Excerpt and buy links.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Steampunk and Gaslamp Fantasy

Posted by: Shawna Reppert

So, one of my Twitter followers recently asked me if there is a difference between steampunk and gaslamp fantasy. I felt the question was an important one, and one I could not answer in 140 characters or less. Also, (full disclosure) I needed a topic for the blog.

 Like many questions, how you define the terms pretty much gives you your answer. ‘Steampunk’ is an older and more widely recognized term. When I have to define it to the uninitiated, I describe it as ‘the Victorian era if steam technology was way cooler than it actually was.’ There are purists out there who want to define it narrowly by years (generally the dates of Queen Victoria’s reign) and by what a book must include to be considered steampunk (usually clockwork and/or steam technology, and may or may not broaden the definition to include early chemistry or alchemy). There are some who argue that to be steampunk, the technology must form a central part of the story (often, in my opinion, to the detriment of plot and character development). These are probably the same people who are responsible for getting steampunk labeled as a subgenre of science fiction, a categorization which has never made much sense to me and which has caused me no end of marketing headaches. Some self-styled steampunk purists would go as far as to exclude works that have fantastical elements such as glamours, alchemy and, yes, werewolves.


 Personally, I think there’s a lot more room than that under the steampunk tent. In fact, I often use ‘steampunk-y’ as an adjective to describe some very not-Victorian things that have steampunk elements. . . since I am a confirmed Whovian, the first examples that spring to mind are the Doctor Who episodes The Girl in the Fireplace and Deep Breath, as well as the overall look of the twelfth Doctor’s TARDIS. By my definition, if it doesn’t have gears and levers, steam, a Victorian setting and/or alchemy, it probably isn’t steampunk, though I’m open to being convinced. I will confess that my own steampunk novels are more heavily influenced by Arthur Conan Doyle and by first-source research of the Victorian era than by any modern steampunk author. Whether that’s a strength or a weakness depends entirely on your tastes.


 ‘Gaslamp fantasy’ is a term I first heard used by fellow author Barb Taub in a very intelligent and insightful review she wrote of my best-selling steampunk novel A Hunt byMoonlight, although I don’t think she coined the term. By my definition of steampunk, gaslamp fantasy is a subgenre of steampunk, one that includes more fantastical elements such as alchemy, glamours and, yes, werewolves. It’s actually a term I’m personally quite fond of, as I think it’s a better descriptor of what I do. I started out my literary life as a fantasy author, writing both high fantasy and urban/contemporary fantasy, and I’ve always considered steampunk to be just another ‘flavor’ of fantasy.


Unfortunately, when one is trying to find readers, or, more precisely, to be findable by readers, one must use the most commonly recognizable marketing terms. So, while I will continue to campaign to bring ‘gaslamp fantasy’ into common usage, I generally describe A Hunt by Moonlight as a ‘steampunk Victorian detective novel with werewolves.’ 


Hope that’s helpful.


 Find Shawna Reppert's books on Amazon!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Love in the Stars...with Barbarians

Posted by: Marie Harte
I'm a big fan of space operas and romance. I love seeing advanced technologies mix with primitive cultures. And I like putting opposites together and watching them react. Sometimes it's that view of three moons in the background of a lush world that sets my creative cloud flying.

I wrote A Civilized Mating a few years ago for All Romance Ebooks. Sadly, they no longer exist. So I re-released the book. It's a space romance between a psychic Earther and two sexy, hunky, alien barbarians. Something about alien and barbarians just makes me want to laugh...and read more.

But I'd always wondered what happened to poor Mandy, another Earther working at the alien luxury resort, because two barbarians had their eyes on her. Did she get a happily ever after? Did the men Mandy was hiding from ever find her? Just what exactly is between the giant barbarians, anyway? Want to find out?

by Marie Harte
The Instinct #2
Released: May 16, 2017
Mandy Jacobs sought a job on planet Ussed because it took her far from her problems on Earth. Her goal has been simple—keep a low profile. Not that easy to do when two larger-than-life barbarians are keeping an eye on her. Avoidance seems like her best plan of action…until danger from her past comes calling. Soon on the run from an old enemy, a new enemy, and hunky warriors with a crazy notion to claim her, she’s running out of options.
Zhen and Lore have bonded, but they’re in need of female to complete them. When they see Mandy, they know. She’s the one. But the stubborn human female needs some persuading. And some saving, since she’s got humans and a rival clan after her. With time not on their side, Zhen and Lore must convince Mandy that she belongs with them. And that if she’ll let herself, she’ll find acceptance in the arms of not just one, but two barbarians who have nothing but love to give.
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