Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Being Australian and Writing Fantasy

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
As an Australian author writing for a predominantly American audience, there are a few challenges. The first of these is not slipping into Australianisms when I'm writing my American characters. Phrases like the laconic, understated approval and encouragement of "good onya" don't necessarily translate that well. And then there are more subtle things like the way Australians talk of kitchen benches, and Americans call them counters. To me, counters exist in shops, not homes. Ah well. The funniest was when I wrote about pot plants ... no, I didn't mean marijuana! Potted plants are called pot plants here (although we have the other kind of "pot" plants, too).

With my contemporary romance novels and short stories, I published them with Harlequin's Australian digital publisher, Escape Publishing, and I didn't have to worry about my Australian oddness. [If you're interested, the collection of short stories is Love, Coast to Coast].

What I'd really like to do is write a fantasy that draws on the rich cultural heritage of Australia's indigenous people. I thoroughly recommend The Dreaming for an overview and links for further reading. The challenge for me as a non-indigenous Australian is referencing Aboriginal mythology and history without cultural appropriation. It can be done, but my writing and publishing schedule at the moment is so crammed, I just don't have the time. But it nags at me.

I hope indigenous authors break out internationally, generously enabling a wider audience to appreciate the wisdom and endurance of their ancient culture. I feel a deep gratitude that when I look overhead, Aboriginal astronomy ties me to the land of my birth, and that walking or even driving, I'm aware of people travelling the same country for tens of thousands of years (Nourishing Terrains is a pdf on Aboriginal Australians' connection to country). In fact, Aboriginal star maps underlie some of Australia's main highways.

I guess this post is me saying - look at this amazing world view! It's one of the world's oldest living cultures. As a novelist, I default to exploring issues through my writing, but Aboriginal culture is celebrated in so many other ways. Whether you enter via paintings, music, stories, movies or current affairs (there's a push for a treaty recognising the First Australians), your life will be richer for it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

New Releases



Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance (vampires)
by Linda Mooney
Word Count: 40.8K
$2.99 e

Deep in the heart of New York City, a killer is stalking a select group of individuals. A killer whose M.O. matches a series of murders that have been going on for more than eighty years.

Orrora Dalca is brought in by the U.S. Government to identify and find this murderer...but there's a problem. Orrora is hiding a dark secret. And although she's met with the task of finding this killer, she must also hide that person's identity from ever becoming known.

Joel Powers produces independent horror films, and he gets many of his ideas by tailing the police when he gets wind of an unusual homicide. When he encounters Orrora at one of the crime scenes, there is something about her that draws him inexorably to her. These cases intrigue him, as does the girl. But the more he uncovers, the more he isn't sure he wants to put the pieces of this puzzle together.

Determined to see her again, he does everything he can to learn all about her, not realizing there will be a price to pay for his curiosity.

Warning! Contains raw meat, a gold button, discombobulation, ancient history, untruths, a rare medical condition, and the possibility that a decades-old longing for love may finally be over.

Other News

5 Star Review!
Veronica Scott sez: Beaming over this Goodreads review for DANGER IN THE STARS !

"Danger in the Stars kept me on the edge of my seat and is my favorite Sectors sci-fi romance so far...."

The story:
Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.
Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.
The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?
Buy Links:
Amazon      iBooks    Kobo     Barnes & Noble

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bring It Back(list) with Nicole Luiken

Posted by: Nicole Luiken


A long, long time ago when I was in high school I wrote a YA dystopian novel called Beyond the Barrier. The plot was so bad it never made it past the first draft, but I always had a soft spot for the hero, Lance. Years later I resurrected the two main characters and stuck them in a fantasy novel. Sara evolved so much the only real remaining similarity is her name, however I kept the basic idea behind Lance’s character: someone who is always ill, but has a very stoic (and heroic) attitude. The magical reason behind his illness is the core idea for the novel. Everything else followed out of that.

Gate to Kandrith was published in 2012 by Carina Press. My working title was Sacrifice, but there are a lot of novels out there with that title so the publisher changed it to something more unique. Similarly, the title of the sequel changed from Soulless to Soul of Kandrith.


Sarathena Remillus, daughter of the newly elected Primus of the Republic of Temboria, has been given a mission: discover the secret of slave magic. Anxious to escape the corruption and treachery of the capital, Sara welcomes the chance to finally prove herself far away in Kandrith, the tiny nation of former slaves.

Accompanying her on the journey is Lance, a Kandrithan to whom Sara owes her life. Lance despises the nobility, and is determined to resist his desire for Sara, despite her attempts to entice him into divulging the secret of his magic.

Soon their travels become fraught with peril, and Sara discovers she's fallen victim to the ultimate betrayal. To end a war between two nations, she will have to make the ultimate sacrifice...

Chapter One

Almost time.

Sara’s stomach compressed into a hard knot as the tall, cadaverous high priest of Nir, the God of War, strode in to the banquet hall. 

Seeking reassurance, Sara touched the crossbow she’d secretly had mounted to the underside of the head table. Hidden by the blue tablecloth, her fingers found the crossbow bolt she’d loaded, the cord she’d cranked back still taut, ready to fire as soon as she gave a hard pull on the lever. 

 Her mouth felt as dry as the desert. The circular hall’s white dome seemed to press down on her as if she were an insect trapped under a bowl. Eight long tables radiated out from the head table’s dais in the middle, each seating two hundred men and women. The rise and fall of so many people talking battered her ears like a sea of sound, most of them ignorant of the drama playing out.

They would assume Nir had come, like the other priests, to confer a blessing on her father, the new Primus of the Republic of Temboria. Was she the only one who noticed the way Nir ignored protocol and headed straight toward her father? All high priests were called by the same name as their god, but Nir seemed to believe he was the God of War incarnate. 

Her hands felt icy. Now that the time was at hand, her contingency plan seemed inadequate. 

When Primus Vidor died unexpectedly two weeks ago without heirs, the Senate had been divided between two candidates: the wealthy Lord Favonius and General Pallax, whose military victories had won Nir’s favor. No one had been more shocked than Sara when Aleron Remillus had emerged as the compromise choice after four days of deadlock. 

In one stroke, her father had elevated their minor House to a major power, secured the future of Sara’s beloved younger brother and rid their family of crippling debt, but he’d also made enemies, most notably the priest from the powerful Temple of Nir.

 Her father believed he’d placated the temple with a large “thanks offering” immediately after his selection, but, unlike her father, Nir was not a consummate politician. His response to the Senate’s failure to vote as he wished was apt to be a lot more…direct. And violent.

Sara’s nerves tightened at Nir’s approach. He scowled as he was forced to wait for the diminutive priest of Cepi, the God of Small Favors, to grant his benediction.

Archers stood watch on the second-floor inner balconies to guard against assassination, but most legionnaires worshipped the God of War. She did not trust them.

Again, her hand went to the crossbow lever. If Nir drew his sword, she would—

A man’s hand slid up her thigh. Sara flinched, barely sucking back a shriek.

Buy on Amazon.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Comparing the Price of an Ebook

Posted by: Linda Mooney
There has been a lot of talk among authors and readers regarding the price of ebooks. Some readers are griping about the "high" cost of ebooks, and a few are even demanding that authors give them away, or at least drop the prices to 99 cents or less.

On one hand, as a reader, I can see some of what others are saying. Ebook prices from the NY houses are astonishingly high. Some authors’ ebooks may be as costly as their print editions. But it’s the publisher who sets those prices, not the authors. On the other hand, independent authors are able to set their prices substantially lower because they don’t have big salaries or giant overhead costs to cover. But neither NY nor indie authors can afford to keep giving away or cheapening our product.

I won’t go into how, as an author, I need the money from my book sales to help pay my bills. (I’m a retired school teacher.) I can’t drop my prices any further. However, I’d like to make a few comparisons you may not have thought about.

An average-sized ebook (around 40K words or more) runs around $3.99. For that you get several hours of enjoyment and entertainment. And on top of that, you can go back and re-read it indefinitely! So let’s compare that with the following at a similar cost:

A cup of coffee from your favorite bistro:
Cost = $4.99 and up
Length of time to enjoy it = 30 minutes average
Repeat? Only if you purchase another one.

An online/cable movie rental:
Cost = $4.99 and up
Length of time to enjoy it = 90 to 120 minutes average
Repeatable? Most rentals allow a short time span to watch again, but it's not indefinite. If you want to watch it again in the future, you either have to re-rent or purchase the movie.

Hamburger with fries and a drink (or a typical lunch at a fast food restaurant):
Cost = $5.00 and up
Length of time to enjoy it = 30 to 45 minutes average
Repeat? Only if you purchase another one.

All of the above bring you both enjoyment and entertainment, but at a higher price than an ebook. So imagine how much you could help an author if you opted for water instead of coffee just once and bought an ebook instead. Or if you waited for that action thriller movie to show up on cable, and purchased a nice romantic suspense ebook in its place? Or if you packed a quick P&B lunch (with fruit), and spent your lunchtime with an ebook?

You and the author would definitely come out ahead.

*photo above taken by yours truly

Coming April 25th!

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy Romance
Count: 40K
$2.99 e

Deep in the heart of New York City, a killer is stalking a select group of individuals. A killer whose M.O. matches a series of murders that have been going on for more than eighty years.

Orrora Dalca is brought in by the U.S. Government to identify and find this murderer...but there's a problem. Orrora is hiding a dark secret. And although she's met with the task of finding this killer, she must also hide that person's identity from ever becoming known.

Joel Powers produces independent horror films, and he gets many of his ideas by tailing the police when he gets wind of an unusual homicide. When he encounters Orrora at one of the crime scenes, there is something about her that draws him inexorably to her. Determined to see her again, he does everything he can to learn all about her, not realizing there will be a price to pay for his curiosity.

Warning! Contains raw meat, a gold button, discombobulation, ancient history, untruths, a rare medical condition, and the possibility that a decades-old longing for love may finally be over.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Young Man's Fancy. . .

Posted by: Shawna Reppert


 Alfred, Lord Tennyson said “In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” But there was nothing light about Richard Bandon’s early courtship of his ladylove. Below is a teaser from my short story “The Beast Within”, a prequel of sorts to my best-selling novel AHunt by Moonlight.


His aunt had meant well. He could almost forgive her for the untenable position she’d put him in.

Miss Fairchild’s maid opened the impressive tall doors of the Fairchild ancestral home. The maid led Richard across the marble threshold and into the presence of oil portraits of Miss Fairchild’s parents, now deceased. Richard swept off his top hat and explained his business.

The maid curtseyed. “This way, if you would, sir. My mistress is in the garden.”

In the well-ordered garden, groomed white gravel paths wound between well-tended beds of roses and lavender. The floral scents crowded in his sensitive nose. He fought a sneeze.

A large tower of gears and levers stood incongruously in the center of the garden. Miss Fairchild sat in the sunshine at an easel, painting roses, her walking dress the same pale pink as the flowers.

He bowed. “Miss Fairchild, good morning. Thank you for allowing me the grace of your presence.”

The lady in question looked up briefly and went back to her oils. “Mr. Brandon. Come to make your excuses?”

Her voice was as sharp as her nose. A witch’s nose, his friend Pemberton had called it when they had discussed the lady over cards and good port. Rather unfair; the admittedly sharp feature complimented her delicate cheekbones and her chin, which was rather like the lower half of a valentine heart. If he could fault anything, it would be her eyes—a pretty shade of gray, but cold and passionless.

“Well?” she prompted.

He had been staring in silence. Most rude, and he had no excuse for lacking in gentleman’s manners. Not now that the moon had set.

He brushed a non-existent bit of lint from his gray frock coat. “I was... indisposed.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Indisposed.”

Maybe it was for the best that his aunt had unwittingly made an engagement on his behalf for a night on which he couldn’t possibly keep it. Catherine Fairchild was beautiful, yes, and from an appropriate family, but was that enough to spend his life bound to a woman so harsh and unforgiving? He could imagine it now. Separate bedrooms, separate lives. Proper to their class, but he somehow hoped for more.

Not to mention that he had a particular need for fellow-feeling and understanding in a wife. Any woman who lived with him so closely would surely discover his secret.

Movement at the far end of the garden caught his eye. A plain girl in a homespun dress and an improbable set of goggles came running out of a small ivy-obscured hut in the corner of the garden. “Cat! Come quick! It’s boiling over. I’m afraid it’s going to explode again.”

Miss Fairchild leaped to her feet and without bothering to excuse herself hiked up her skirts and dashed into the hut. The girl followed close at her heels.

Richard shifted from foot to foot. A gentleman did not follow where he was not invited, but a gentleman also did not leave the fairer sex to face apparent danger alone. The breeze changed direction, carrying the acrid smell of unknown chemicals. From the hut came crashes and bangs, a hiss like hot metal quenched in cold water, and Miss Fairchild’s voice cursing like a London hansom-cab driver cut off by some toff’s horseless carriage.

Miss Fairchild appeared a moment later, overskirt singed and soot smudged on the point of her nose. Her elaborate hair had come undone. The biggest change was in her eyes—no longer cool and uninterested, they flashed like lightening.

Suddenly she was captivating. She reminded him of a lady explorer he had met once at a reception, a woman full of ideas and fascinating tales, a woman who might have been unconventional enough not to be put off if she learned the truth about him. A woman he might have loved, had she not been married. Miss Fairchild was unattached, and he very much regretted that they had started off badly. He’d have to work hard to correct—

“Mr. Bandon, I apologize that I must cut our social engagement short.” Her words were drawing-room proper, her tone anything but. “You apologize for being unavoidably absent at the dinner party your aunt arranged so that we might meet. I accept your apology and pretend to hope another dinner will be arranged soon. Which we both know will not happen, because you have by now been in London long enough to hear about crazy Catherine, fancies herself a scientist. Shame, you would think an heiress like her would be able to snare a suitable husband and settle down into a suitable life.”

“No, I—”

“Can we just agree that all polite protestations and acknowledgments were exchanged so I can salvage what remains of my experiment? My maid will see you out. Good day!” She turned and stalked off.

He watched until she disappeared into the ivy-covered building that doubtless held her laboratory.

That had not gone well. He’d simply have to persuade his aunt to arrange another dinner party. Hopefully this time not on the night of a full moon.


Like it? Buy the whole story on Amazon!  Check out the author's other works while you're there. And then head over to her website for her blog plus a link to a free novel!


Guest Author Diane Burton Talks Location, Location, Location

Posted by: Veronica Scott

Veronica: I’ve known Diane in the author community for quite a while, and enjoyed her books greatly so it’s my pleasure to welcome her back to Here Be Magic as our guest today!

Diane: Thank you so much for inviting me back. I write in three genres: science fiction romance, cozy mysteries, and romantic suspense. As different as they are, all of them have their own reader expectations. But one thing that’s the same is a location where the story takes place.

In contemporary stories (including romantic suspense and mysteries), we call it a setting. In fantasy and science fiction romance, we describe it as world-building. Basically, we do the same thing for both. My SFR stories can take place in a starship or on an alien planet. In order to ground the reader, I have to establish all the external factors that influence my characters. The reader doesn’t need to know everything I do, but I’d better figure it all out—things like the climate/weather, government (or lack of), customs, food, holidays, religious observances, etc. And, I need to keep track. I keep a separate file for each book titled “details” (so original, LOL). If I’m writing a series, I copy the file to the new book and add those details.

My Private Eye mysteries require the same thing. A few things we can take for granted when writing contemporary stories—the government, for example. But my stories that take place in a small town on the west coast of Michigan will have different foods, customs, or events than a story set in New York City, the Pacific NW, or Japan.

“They” say you should write what you know. Okay. That works for my contemporary stories, but what about the sci-fi romances? I would love to experience traveling in a starship at faster than light speed or teleporting from Michigan to Arizona to visit my granddaughter (well, her parents, too). Since that’s not possible, I have to do a lot of research. Besides Google, I love Pinterest for the pictures that give me so many ideas.

I grew up in a rural community where everyone (except us) was related or had known each other since birth. I’ve lived in medium-size cities, metropolitan suburbs (Detroit and Chicago), and a small town. Now I live in a Lake Michigan resort town, though not as small the fictional town of Far Haven in my Alex O’Hara PI mystery series.

Seasons in Michigan are different from those in Arizona. Traditional foods, too. Western Michigan was settled by the Dutch. I’d never had, or even heard of, oliebollen or bankets before living here. Those pastries are quite yummy, by the way.

During the Tulip Time Festival (early May), visitors and locals get to sample all kinds of Dutch food, watch klompen dancing (in wooden shoes), or watch the kinderparade with children from the area schools marching in Dutch costumes. I had to include those local customs in my stories.

Parts, if not most, of my SFR Outer Rim stories take place in a desert colony on the frontier of space. I used what I know of the desert in the American Southwest to make the setting seem familiar. Heat, penetrating sun, cold nights, grit and sand everywhere and in everything. For my PI mysteries, I set each story in the same small town but in a different season. To ground the reader, I mentioned the depressing gray skies and the bone-chilling damp cold of winter around the Great Lakes as well as “lake effect” snow. Or the distinct smells of autumn and spring.

As with all descriptions of setting—or world building—readers will skip info dumps, so we have to weave in the details subtly. Here’s an excerpt from my newly released Alex O’Hara PI mystery, The Case of the Meddling Mama.

Nick and I ran through Waterfront Park. Now that he was back again, running together was our only alone time. We stayed on the jogging path lined with tulip spears poking their leaves through the ground. If the weather cooperated, we would have a beautiful display in time for Holland’s Tulip Time Festival. Considering how close Far Haven was to Holland, we got a lot of spillover from the tourists. I had mixed feelings about spring. The influx of tourists boosted our economy. It also turned our sleepy, little town into a tourist haven. Nightmare was more like it, especially traffic. I liked knowing everyone in town. It made me feel comfortable, secure. All the strangers made me . . . edgy.
For a while, the only sound came from the screeching gulls and our shoes slapping the hard-packed sand. We ran to the Point then turned around. A couple of hardy souls in black wet suits kite-surfed about a hundred feet out into Lake Michigan. Their brightly-colored kites danced in the wind while their boards skimmed the water. The sun glinted off the gentle waves, sparkling like tiny fireworks. In the distance, a freighter headed south. Fully loaded considering how low it rode in the water.
On our way back, Nick stopped at the park. “We have to talk.”
Nothing ever good came from a conversation that started with those words. He pulled me down onto a bench. For several seconds, he just gazed out at Lake Michigan. In the distance, a freighter headed south. Fully loaded, considering how low it rode in the water.
I couldn’t stand Nick’s silence any longer. I was about to ask what he wanted to talk about when he said, “Did you really mean what you said? After Ma showed up. About not wanting to be married to me?”

Once again, Alex O’Hara is up to her ears in mysteries. After surviving an attempted murder, all she wants is R&R time with Nick Palzetti. But his mother leaving his father (“that horse’s patoot”) and moving in with Alex puts a crimp in their plans. Then Nick leaves on assignment and the teen she rescued from an abusive father believes his buddy is doing drugs. Meanwhile, Alex has two easy cases to take her mind off her shaky relationship with Nick—a philandering husband and a background check on a client’s boyfriend. Piece of cake.

Available at:

About the Author:

Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense. She is also a contributor to the anthology How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in Michigan. They have two children and two grandchildren.
 For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com

Connect with Diane Burton online

Amazon author page: http://amzn.com/e/B00683MH5E

Sign up for Diane’s New Release Alert: http://eepurl.com/bdHtYf
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