Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It's a Stormy Giveaway!

Posted by: Christine Bell
Today is the release of The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale, and to celebrate, I'm giving away a copy of the first book in this series, The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale, as well as a $10 gift certificate to either Amazon or B&N so you can load up on some more steampunk! All you have to do to enter is comment on this post. The winner will be selected on May 30th at 8:00 p.m. EST and announced on this post. I will also email the winner if an address is made available in comments.

Check out a short excerpt from the book!

London, England, July 4th, 1841

As the sun crested the horizon beyond the Park Village row-homes of Albany Street, a turtle dove flew overhead. Shadows from the surrounding magnolia trees dappled the ivory exterior of the building in a dazzling display. From my hiding spot behind the hedgerow, I took a moment to soak in the lovely view, then another to enjoy the horrified, high-pitched scream that rent the cool morning air.

The sound warmed me right down to the cockles of my heart as I closed the now empty rat-trap with a satisfied snap. I was like the f*%$ing Marines, right? Getting more done before 7:00 a.m. than most people do all day. Oo-rah!

There was already some activity on the street so I stowed the trap in a large basket I'd brought along with me. Despite the pleasant temperature, I pulled the coarse brown cape tighter around my

shoulders, covering my telltale mass of black hair with its hood. Stripping off my leather gloves, I took a furtive glance around. All clear.

I shambled along the stucco building until its end then shifted onto the street. Buoyed by yet another successful mission, I magnanimously awarded a merit point to Ms. Blakeslee for her newfound bravery. Beyond that one initial scream, there had been no ruckus or fanfare this time. Apparently the little chit had learned that dealing privately with whatever came her way was preferable to running down the street in her unmentionables like a lunatic. Even with that, in my mind, the score was thirteen to one, with me in the lead. Not bad for a few weeks' work.

I covered a good distance, skirting the perimeter of Regent's Park, until the narrow cobbled streets gave way to wider avenues lined with rows of shops. Shielded by a large pickle barrel, I shucked my cloak, stuffing it into the basket along with my trap. The air grew warmer by the minute, and it was a relief to be free of the scratchy garment. Giving my hair a fluff, I stepped onto the now bustling city street, melding into the crowd. Mission accomplished.

I began my long walk home, the initial euphoria at a job well-done seemed to lessen with every step. Sooner or later, Dev would catch me sneaking in or out and ask me directly what I was up to. The thought of answering filled me with dread. He was going to be all, "You're better than that, love."

And I'd be all, "No, you're better than that. I'm exactly equivalent to that."

Then we'd argue, and he'd make me feel guilty. I didn't want to feel guilty. I wanted to feel righteous. Besides, no matter what he said, it wouldn't stop me. There was a job that needed doing and I was going to do it until it felt done.

My heroine, Stormy, is a real piece a work. An eye for an eye kind if gal who will protect those she loves by any means necessary. My question to you, readers, is how do you feel about a heroine who isn't sweet, or even all that nice? Do you like your protaganists to be obviously flawed or do you prefer to root for someone you can look up to and aspire to be like? Comment for a chancer to win a copy of the first book in the series and a $10 gift card!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
Our new releases this week

London, 1841

There I was, retired from time pirating, enjoying a full if somewhat conventional life as a wife and mother. Then a chance encounter with a stranger drew me back into a world I'd thought I'd left, quite literally, in the past. From his odd behavior and even odder answers to my questions, I knew Phineas Grubb was up to something. I should have trusted my instincts--before he pulled out a time-travel mechanism and dragged my brother, Bacon, back with him...

Salem, 1698

The infamous Witch Trials may have ended a few years earlier, but the people of Salem are still pretty touchy about outsiders that appear in town as if by magic. Thanks to Grubb, my brother's been accused of witchcraft and thrown in jail. Now it's up to me and my husband, Dev, to save Bacon's bacon before the hysteria starts up again, and the course of history is altered forever...

Sequel to The Twisted Tale of Stormy Gale.

Click to Buy

Here Be Magic Group Announcements

Check out Jeffe Kennedy's brand new cover for Rogue's Pawn coming July 16, 2012. Beautiful, no?

Jeffe just sold book 2 in the Blood Currency series (for Ellora’s Cave). Feeding the Vampire will now be followed by Hunting the Siren.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
Links of Interest

Avengers concept art takes a closer look at Loki’s staff and Hawkeye’s arrows This is so cool! The detail is incredible. There's a link to the artist's site in the article.

Updates on the DOJ lawsuit: Judge comes down hard on publishers, Apple in e-book case

Patrick Rothfuss speaks to time-travelling reviewers on Goodreads.

Group Announcements

Download an extended excerpt of The Bewitching Tale of Stormy Gale by Christine Bell here.

Join Jenny Schwartz Friday night to chat about Steampunk Romance. From Jenny:

This Friday, May 25, at 9 pm (New York time, which is Saturday morning if you’re an Aussie) I’ll be hosting the last #steampunkchat before the Twitterati scatter for their (northern) summer holidays — so be sure to join in before #steampunkchat goes on summer hiatus. The theme is Steampunk Romance. If you read, write, costume, sing or otherwise adore the romantic element in Steampunk, please join the one hour Twitter chat. Everyone is welcome and the chat is very friendly.

The #steampunkchat will kick off with the question: What makes steampunk romantic? You are more than welcome to argue that steampunk is not romantic at all…but I won’t believe you  Also think heroes, heroines, villains, etiquette, social change and mechanical marvels. I’m looking forward to a lively discussion. At the end of the session, there’ll be five minutes for everyone to share a self-promo post.

Look for Cindy Spencer Pape at World Steam Expo in Dearborn, MI this coming weekend.

Rebecca York, who has been running a critique group since the mid 80's, is excited to announce that she received the WRW Nancy Richards-Akers Mentoring Award. Unfortunately, she has the slight feeling that "it never even happened," because she was in Belgium when they made the presentation.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Blurring the Lines with Monsters

Posted by: R.L. Naquin

Urban fantasy is a strange mix of the world we live in and the world of fantasy. I thought it might be easier to write than straight fantasy. After all, I grew up in Marin County, California. I remember it very well and have friends there who take pictures of bizarre spots I need. They scour my manuscripts for factual errors.

Making something up from scratch might actually have been easier, just so you know.

But the creatures in an urban fantasy--those have to be unique. Every vampire, werewolf, angel, or demon story out there has a distinct take on what we think we know. The settings may look like our world, but the rules are always different.

My Monster Haven stories are filled with a menagerie—closet monsters, brownies, fairies, an incubus, sea serpents, skunk apes, the Leprechaun Mafia.  You can’t sneeze without something weird handing you a tissue.

And every one of them has rules to their existence, a family life, and of course, a description. If I’d gone with an epic sword and sorcery fantasy, I might have been able to use, for example, what everyone generally accepts as a dragon. 

But how can you fit a dragon into someone’s cramped garage? I couldn’t. Zoey’s garage was too full of boxes. She needed to get into those boxes to find Barbie furniture for the family of brownies hiding in her linen closet.

And that’s how the pigmy dragon, Bruce, was born. More compact, you see. Molly, the brownie, explained it to Zoey. The world is a much smaller place now. It’s hard enough for someone Molly’s size to keep out of sight of humans. Dragons adapted and became smaller.

In my books, I have a philosophy: The more fantastic the creature, the more down-to-earth I should make his problems. If I’m going to ask you to believe that Maurice, the closet monster, is not just real, but someone you want to hang around with, I have to give him recognizable, human problems. His gargoyle wife is having an affair with a bridge troll, and she kicked Maurice out. He’s homeless, miserable, and cooks better than a trained chef. Here’s a little spoiler for you: In Monster in My Closet, the closet monster is not the bad guy.

The point is, monsters have real problems, too. I think that’s why I love urban fantasy so much. That line between the fantastic and the mundane zigzags, blurs, and eventually becomes irrelevant. 

Molly and her kids are the victims of domestic abuse. A black eye is a black eye. It doesn’t matter if the person who was hit is less than a foot tall. Iris, my skunk-ape (cousin of Bigfoot, often sighted in the southeast U.S.) does not stink to high heaven like the rest of his clan. He doesn’t want to smell bad. He likes flowers. They kicked him out. Conform or leave.  And poor little Bruce? He’s got a nasty cold. 

Because sometimes the problems of monsters are actually pretty simple.

So, the next time you run into a monster or other fantastical creature, maybe take the time to get to know him. See if he needs some help or just someone to listen to his problems for awhile. Maybe he could use a friend.

And maybe, despite his glowing eyes, fangs, and claws, he's just like you.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Movie Review: Cabin in the Woods

Posted by: Seleste deLaney/Julie Particka
I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of horror movies. I never watched them as a kid and only started in high school because I was more or less forced to. Eventually, monster movies became okay, but the movies where people just go around killing other people? Uh... no. The closest I came was the first Scream movie because it made fun of all the tropes of horror movies.

When I heard the name Joss Whedon associated with the new Cabin in the Woods, I was tempted to see it. Then I saw that Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth, was in it and I wanted to go. When friends kept saying how good it was, I started bemoaning both my husband's dislike of horror movies and our lack of a babysitter. In the end, I went through a rather expensive and convoluted plan to go with a girlfriend from high school.

I am happy to report that those tropes I mentioned? Cabin in the Woods used all of them AND made them have a purpose within the story. If you haven't seen me mention this elsewhere: Joss Whedon is brilliant.

The story starts with a rather odd clip that takes place in a lab type setting where two men (Sitterson & Hadley) are discussing work. My friend and I glanced at each other with the "What did we get ourselves into?" look in our eyes. Then the title flashed on the screen and the action moved to a college town (specifically the apartment shared by our two female leads: Jules and Dana). They're getting ready to go away for the weekend with Jules's boyfriend, Curt; the guy they're trying to fix Dana up with, Holden; and their stoner friend, Marty. (I missed a bit in here because of a phone call from my mother--don't ask.) They pass the requisite creepy old man who tells them not to go to the cabin. Of course they go anyway.

Scenes between the kids at the cabin are broken up by scenes in the lab/control-room where bets are being placed on outcome and other things that are a bit confusing at first. But, the control-room scenes are also the primary comic relief in the movie. As things progress at the cabin, people start behaving... strangely, and then during a game of truth or dare, a trap door in the floor is sprung and they go into the cellar to investigate. This starts the real chain of events in motion. And it's one hell of a fun ride.

I really don't want to give away more of the story, let's just say if you like the twists and turns Joss Whedon always worked into his television shows, you will love this movie. Plus, he made sure to cast some fan favorites: Amy Acker (Fred from Angel), Fran Kranz (Topher from Dollhouse), and Tom Lenk (Jonathan from Buffy). There's even a Firefly Easter egg that I totally missed :(

A couple complaints.
It needed to be longer. At 95 minutes, it was a pretty short movie anyway, but an extra thirty minutes would have allowed for more showing of how the college kids were manipulated, which would have made their personality changes more obvious to the viewer (as it was, we didn't see enough of them before being at the cabin to see the difference).
The end was... not what I (or my friend wanted). It wasn't a horrible ending, but it felt too easy--lazy almost. It was fine, but the movie opened itself up for some brilliant, crazy ending and it just wasn't there. I'm very curious to get the blu-ray and see if it includes an alternative ending (or more than one).

Overall though, Cabin in the Woods has taken its place as my favorite horror movie ever. If you're a fan of intelligent spoofs or of Joss Whedon's work, you should definitely check it out.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
New releases this week


Heaven can go to hell.

Until her cousin slaughtered the supernal family, Anazakia’s father ruled the Heavens, governing noble Host and Fallen peasants alike. Now Anazakia is the last grand duchess of the House of Arkhangel’sk, and all she wants is to stay alive.

Hunted by Seraph assassins, Anazakia flees Heaven with two Fallen thieves—fire demon Vasily and air demon Belphagor, each with their own nefarious agenda—who hide her in the world of Man. The line between vice and virtue soon blurs, and when Belphagor is imprisoned, the unexpected passion of Vasily warms her through the Russian winter.

Heaven seems a distant dream, but when Anazakia learns the truth behind the celestial coup, she will have to return to fight for the throne—even if it means saving the man who murdered everyone she loved.

Get your copy of The Fallen Queen at Amazon (paperback pre-order) | on Kindle |Barnes & Noble (paperback pre-order and Nook) | The Book Depository | Books On Board | Diesel | Epic Fantasy Books and look for the next installment of The House of Arkhangel’sk trilogy coming August 14, 2012 from Entangled Publishing!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Character Interview - Dai from KISS OF THE GOBLIN PRINCE

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Today I'm interviewing Dai, the unforgettable hero from KISS OF THE GOBLIN PRINCE by Shona Husk.

Here's the story in a nutshell:

Trapped for centuries in the bleak Shadowlands, Dai clings to his humanity with a thirst for knowledge. But now he's free of the goblin curse, and some would say he knows too much- he can make nature bend to his will, influence the minds of others, and command magic. Yet love eludes him. Then he meets Amanda, a single mother with a sick daughter whom he feels compelled to protect. But could she possibly place her trust in the kiss of a goblin prince?

"Darkly Celtic, richly imagined, this is paranormal romance at its best." -Juliet Marilier, award-winning author of Daughter of the Forest praise for The Goblin King

What was your life like growing up?
I grew up in what is now Flintshire, Wales. That was the Decangli lands. When I was a child my life was much like everyone else’s. Even though my father was King, my brother and I weren’t allowed to place ourselves above the rest of the tribe. I imagined growing up and becoming a druid, but then the Roman’s pushed West, my mother died giving birth to my sister and everything changed. We resisted for several years, then they built a fort and at fourteen I was taken as a good behavior hostage. Things went from bad to worse rather rapidly, and not just for me but for every Decangli.
Before the action in the book, what were your plans/hopes for the future?
Honestly if the curse hadn’t broken, I’d planned to die. I was so close to succumbing and fading to goblin, another day and I’d have been gone, nothing but a grey skinned mindless beast. I didn’t want to live like that. No one should have to live like that.
Do you have a motto or code you live by?
Do what you will but harm none…sort of. If you’re rushing in to battle, you are expecting to get hurt. But seriously, when I studied magic and was initiated I made oaths not to use magic harm others. Those are vows I live by because the repercussions would be far worse than being cursed to be a goblin.
What is your most distinguishing characteristic?
I have scars and tattoos. I could pick one but without the rest it wouldn’t make sense. Most of the scars came from my time as a slave, a few happened later when fighting goblins. When I wasn’t fighting I was studying magic, which is how I got the tattoos. They are markings from various masters, most are more than skin deep and also mark my soul.
What is your major skill or talent?
Magic. I spent years studying all different kinds of lore in the Shadowlands. Once human and in the Fixed Realm again I found I was able to use it. Everything I’d learned (and remembered, I’m sure I’ve forgotten more about magic than I can remember—the human mind isn’t able to hold two thousand years of memories) about I can do. Travel across the globe with a thought, heal, create something out of nothing, stop time—except I’m not supposed to do that. Actually most magic I’m not supposed to use, but what Birch Trustees doesn’t know won’t hurt them, or me.
What’s your favorite color?
Gold? Joking, I’m not a goblin anymore. Blue, sky blue. Until it’s gone you don’t realize how important it is.
If you had to pick another career, what would it be?
If I wasn’t a mage, I’d be a scholar. There’s always something to study, language, history, occult law. You’d be surprised how much history got wrong. Of course it’s so deeply entrenched that those contradicting popular knowledge gets laughed at—I know that from first-hand experience.
What’s on your bucket list?
After living as long as I have I don’t really have a bucket list. I’ve travelled, seen history unfold, seen things I wish I hadn’t seen, seen creatures that no longer exist. I guess my priority now is family. Roan and I should get on better than we do. Amanda would like another child…Do ex-goblins make good parents? I suppose there have been plenty of books written about parenting so I can always look it up. I should probably spend less time reading.
Who do you love?
Amanda. She made my second chance worth living.

VS sez: KISS OF THE GOBLIN PRINCE is available at Amazon 
Also check out  GOBLIN KING, the first book in the Shadowlands series 

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Magic of Mothers, According To Our Authors

Posted by: Veronica Scott

 In honor of Mothers Day, our Authors share ~ The magic of mothers is....

“...they love you even when you're behaving like an idiot.”  Janni Nell, DANCE OF FLAMES (Carina Press Presents: Editor's Choice Volume II)

“…the ability to read the minds of their offspring. Mothers know their children better than anyone can know anyone else in the world. So you may THINK you are getting away with something, but you never really know …  Tia Nevitt, THE SEVENFOLD SPELL

“In many ancient pagan faiths, women were considered sacred because they were seen as the gateway between this realm and the realm of spirit. Only women can create new life, and if that isn't magic, I don't know what is.” Barbara Longley, FAR FROM PERFECT/Fall 2012 MONTLAKE ROMANCE

"… is best expressed in a finger-painted masterpiece stuck to the fridge." Jenny Schwartz,  WANTED: ONE SCOUNDREL

“…Their love expands to cover every challenge.”  Shawna Thomas, ALTERED DESTINY

“...even when you drive them to the end of their rope, they get up the next day with a whole new cable.”  Cindy Spencer Pape  MOTOR CITY MAGE

"...unconditional love."  David Bridger, QUARTER SQUARE

“…their ability to do ten things at one time." Sandy James, RULES OF THE GAME

“…someone who can take the place of everyone else but no one in the world can replace her.”  Ruth A. Casie KNIGHT OF RUNES
“…..the unfathomable amount of forgiveness within their hearts.”  Annie Nicholas, OMEGAS IN LOVE

“…that only they know the secret formula for ghost spray, the magic words to banish monsters, and have kisses that can heal everything but a broken heart... for those they use hugs that shelter you
from the world.” Seleste deLaney, BADLANDS
“... their uncanny ability to know when their child is being 'too quiet'.” Nicole Luiken, GATE TO KANDRITH

"..that they hold their children's hands for a while, and their hearts forever." Angela Campbell, CRY WOLF

“... the ability to love you even when they (rightfully) want to strangle you.” Jax Garren,  HOW BEAUTY MET THE BEAST,  coming in November!

“…the way they connect all the generations and all the branches of even the most farflung family, with  their love.” Veronica Scott, WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM

“…a hastily given, sweet, sticky kiss. The magic of mothers is little arms pulling you close for a hug that's never long enough. The magic of mothers is a tiny hand resting trustingly inside yours. The magic of mothers is your heart walking beside you. “  Kaily Hart, POINT BLANK

We'd like to wish every Mother a magical and happy Mother's Day from Here Be Magic!

What's the most magical thing about your  mom?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Six Ways to Squeeze More Reading Into Your Day

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

I read 200 books a year.  Now I admit, I am a stay-at-home mom/writer, but even when I worked full-time I read over 100 books a year.

So how do I do it, and how can you, too?  Here are some ways.

1.  Carry a book and find opportunities to read. 

On public transit.  In the can.  (Okay, this one is more my husband than me.)  At lunch.  Waiting for appointments: doctor, dentist, hair salon, etc.  At the airport.  During TV commercials.  While exercising. (I read while jogging on the spot--though if you get motion sick reading in a car, I don’t advise this one.) While your computer boots up.  While you’re waiting for the microwave or the coffee maker to finish.

2. Get an e-reader.  Or put the app on your iPod or smart phone. 

If you can check your email/Facebook standing in line at the movie theater/bus stop/grocery store, you can read a few pages of a novel, too.

3. Try audio books.

While driving or working out at the gym or doing dishes or anything that busies your hands but leaves most of your mind free.  (Hint: the library has a large selection.)

4. Avoid channel surfing.  

There are many well-written, excellent shows out there.  Keep the ones you love, but don't automatically turn on the TV.  Veg out with a book on the sofa instead.

5.   Set aside reading time as a reward for accomplishing unpleasant tasks. 

Tell yourself, “If I do the dishes/vacuum the living room/wash the floor I’ll let myself read for ten minutes.”
Or, if you're a procrastinator, "I'll let myself read one scene, and then I'll do the dishes."

6. Read something you enjoy.

I really cannot emphasize this one enough. Pick a fast read that hooks you from the first page. Save the meaty, heavy prize-winning books for longer stretches of time (or never if you’re reading them because you think you should rather than because you actually enjoy them). Read (gasp) two books at once and switch between them if you hit a slow spot in one. Give yourself permission to not finish a book that isn’t to your taste and pick up one you’re eager to read.

Happy reading!

P.S. I currently have three books on the go.  Main read: paperback of Shadowborn by Alison Sinclair.  Ebook read: Quarter Square by David Bridger.  Basement read (while computer boots up): Costume Not Included by Matthew Hughes.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Here Be News

Posted by: Unknown
New releases this week

The Man of Her Dreams

He is like a prince in a fairy tale: tall, outrageously handsome, and way too dark for her own good. Amanda has been hurt before, though. And with her daughter's illness, the last thing she needs right now is a man. But the power of Dai King is hard to resist. And when he threads his hands through her hair and pulls her in for a kiss, there is no denying it feels achingly right.

In a Land of Nightmares

After being trapped in the Shadowlands for centuries with the goblin horde a constant threat, Dai revels in his newfound freedom back in the human realm. But even with the centuries of magic he's accumulated, he still doesn't know how to heal Amanda's daughter—and it breaks his heart. Yet for the woman he loves, he'd risk anything...including a return to the Shadowlands.

Links of Interest

TOR announces the 2012 Locus Awards Finalists.

The Sexual-Romantic Politics of Star Trek from Wonk-o-mance. (Which is a fantastically entertaining new site if you haven't checked it out.)

Group Announcements

A big welcome to our new contributors: Kaily Hart, Annie Nicholas, Jax Garren, Sandy James, Kim Knox and Inez Kelley. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

And the winner is...

Posted by: Shawna Thomas
Congratulations, Nicole Luiken!

 You won 10 ebooks and an awesome compass key chain. You're set for summer reading, and you'll only have to worry about getting lost in a book.
' _ ' 

Yeah I know, but if you don't know it already, I'm a wee bit corny. ; )

Friday, May 4, 2012

Steampunk Chat

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Hiya folks! All aboard the dirigible and be sure to buckle up ... no, Seleste, you do not need that handsome young steward to assist you with that particular buckle -- Cindy, did you just pinch his butt?!!


ahem, and gentlemen.

The Steampunk Writers and Artists Guild has invited me to host their weekly #steampunkchat on Twitter, tonight. At 9pm (New York time) we're all "Off to the Antipodes" -- which is this week's theme for the chat.

What do you think of when you hear "the Antipodes"? What is steampunk like in Australia? Are there kangaroos?

Well, bring your questions and your dreams to Twitter and join the party.

These weekly #steampunkchats are fun and very welcoming (and I am a very nervous first time host and would love some support). You can see transcripts of past chats here.

A twitter chat is simply a discussion organised around everyone including the same hashtag in their tweets. In this case, that hashtag is #steampunkchat . The chat will run for an hour and at the end of it, there'll be five minutes for a self-promo (because we're shameless steampunkers) tweet from everyone.

If I don't stuff up this hosting gig, I'll be back 25 May to host another #steampunkchat, this time on the theme "Steampunk and Romance". I can't wait for that one, either!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Meet the Here Be Magic Authors - Nicole Luiken

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Continuing a new feature at Here Be Magic - periodic interviews with the Authors who create the magic. Our next interviewee is Nicole Luiken, whose most recent book is Gate to Kandrith. 

Tell us a little about yourself:
I wrote my first book when I was just 13 years old (on a manual typewriter, eep!) and have had eight YA novels published.  I'm a stay-at-home mom with three kids and live in Edmonton, Alberta.  I read a ton of books (about 200 a year) mostly romance and SF/Fantasy.

 What prompted you to start writing?
I wrote my first book when I was thirteen, mostly because of a library book--Guide to Fiction Writing by Phyllis A. Whitney.  I read the book cover-to-cover, got all fired up about writing and decided to write a novel.  What can I say?  It was summer vacation, I lived on a farm a two-mile bike trip from my nearest friend, and I was bored.  I wrote one page a day and 100 days later I had a novel.  I liked writing books so much I just never stopped.  I wrote through high school, college, full-time jobs and with a newborn in the house.  I often joke that it's impossible for me to go more than three days without writing.

 What’s your writing process? Where do you write?
 I usually spend about a month plotting out the novel, brainstorming scenes, writing down snippets of dialogue, developing the characters and eventually outlining.  The first draft takes me 2-4 months depending on whether I'm writing YA or adult and then I usually let the book sit for a bit.  When I feel I can come back to it with fresh eyes, I read the whole novel making notes on what I like and what isn't working, and then I replot it.  After that things get complicated, because I essentially do the 2nd and 3rd drafts at the same time.  I race ahead instituting the big plot changes, revising old scenes and inserting new ones in the afternoons, but do scene-by-scene polishing/honing/adding description (my bane!) in the mornings and evenings.

I write on my netbook on the kitchen table for first and second drafts.  Plotting and 3rd draft polishing is done by hand on printed double-spaced pages on a clipboard in the living room or sometimes while my child is at the playground.  (The mom version of writing in a coffeeshop.)

 Which five people (real, fictional, historical) would you invite to dinner and why?
Suzanne Brockmann, Lois McMaster Bujold, Patricia Briggs, Sarah Rees Brennan (real people)  They are all authors whose books I love.
Miles Vorkosigan (fictional character)  I don't crush on movie stars, but I am definitely a little in love with Miles.  Sigh.  Though perhaps I won't invite him to the same dinner as Lois as he may be a tad upset with her for complicating his life.

 How do you celebrate when you finish a novel?
Dance around with my four-year-old then go out to dinner.  (Mmmm, Italian...  Must type faster.)

 Quickfire :
Favorite TV Show: Fringe
Favorite Movie:  The Princess Bride
Morning person or evening person:   Afternoon.  I neither roll out of bed at the crack of dawn, nor stay up past midnight if I can help it.
Favorite food:  Spaghetti and meatballs, if you're talking main dish, otherwise chocolate, chocolate, chocolate.
Favorite time of the year:  Late spring, once things have greened up, but the mosquitos haven't hatched yet.
Favorite song:  Eye of the Tiger

 Finish this sentence  “I believe in the Magic of escaping into a good book."

 What are you working on next?  I am currently working on the sequel to Gate to Kandrith, tentatively titled Soul of Kandrith.

 What one question do you want to ask your Readers today?  How old were you when you first discovered your vocation/passion?

Where can your Readers find you online?  I have a Nicole Luiken facebook fan page and a Goodreads account, on twitter I'm NicoleLuiken, and my website is www.nicoleluiken.com

 You can find Gate to Kandrith at  Amazon  Carina
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