Author Archives: Jill Archer

About Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, and WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE.

Celia Breslin: Vampires, Love, Mayhem *and* The Best Ever Holiday Caramel Candy Recipe

Today’s post is an interview with urban fantasy/paranormal romance author Celia Breslin. She talks about her vampire series, writing habits, favorite books and authors, and she shares her favorite caramel recipe — perfect for eating while reading! :-)

Celia Breslin, Destiny, vampires, urban fantasy, paranormal romance

CELIA’S TRANQUILLI BLOODLINE SERIES

Give us a 20-word summary for your latest release.

How about three words?  Vampires, love, mayhem.

Okay, just kidding.  Here are 20 words for DESTINY, book 2 in the Tranquilli Bloodline Series:  Carina must open her new club, repair her relationship, and save her friends from death by vampire. Sometimes destiny sucks.

Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why is he/she your favorite?

All my Tranquilli Bloodline characters hold a piece of my heart. But I hope Carina and crew will forgive me if I confess her mentor Jonas is my favorite. An ancient vampire originally from England, Jonas embodies extreme violence in a pretty package.  He’s a man of few words, dark and moody, fiercely loyal and violently protective of those few people he loves (such as Carina). I adore him so much that I gave him his own short story, VAMPIRE CODE.

WRITING HABITS

How long have you been writing and who or what inspired you?

My Irish grandmother started it with her stories of the Fae, including one tale of her encounter with a Banshee in her root cellar. Imagination fueled, I wrote a lot of fairy tales as a kid.

Do you choose a title first or write the book then choose the title?

Title first, though the title is derived from the subject matter of the book, so that’s a little bit like asking, ‘What comes first, chicken or egg?’

Do you decide on character traits before writing the whole book or as you go along?

As my work is character driven, I develop character profiles prior to writing the whole story. I have detailed questionnaires on all major characters. Of course, they still manage to surprise me while I’m writing their stories.

Do you have another job in addition to writing?

Mom, cat wrangler, line and content editor, slush pile reader, Joss Whedon fan. Oh wait, that last one isn’t actually a job, ha.

FAVORITE BOOKS AND AUTHORS

What is your favorite book and why?

I have so many favorites in varying genres. In urban fantasy/paranormal romance, I adore these series:  J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood; Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark; Amber Belldene’s Blood Vine; and Larissa Ione’s Demonica and Lords of Deliverance.

Favorite author?

So many great authors in the world! In urban fantasy/paranormal romance: J.R. Ward, Kresley Cole, Amber Belldene, Tricia Skinner, Laura Kaye, Larissa Ione, and more!

OTHER FAVORITES

Favorite format: e-book, hardback, or paperback?

All of the above.  I read a lot of eBooks, but there’s something quite satisfying about holding your own print book, or a print book by another author you love.

Favorite color?

Black and red. (I’m not a vampire. Really, I’m not, LOL.)

Favorite singer/group?

Depends on my mood. When I’m writing vampires, I often gravitate toward industrial and techno/electro, so NIN, The Prodigy, Bass Kittens, Meat Beat Manifesto, etc.

Favorite food?

Thai, Vietnamese, Burmese, Japanese, Chinese…ok, now I’m hungry! :-)

Favorite holiday treat?

Without question, my grandmother’s caramels. The recipe is below so you can make them too!  Warning: they’re sooooo good that you’ll want to make them year round.

WHAT’S NEXT

What’s in your writing future? More books in this genre or…?

Yes, more books in the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres.  For urban fantasy, Carina’s adventures continue in ORIGINS, Book 3 in the Tranquilli Bloodline Series.  For paranormal romance, my wolf shifters in DIAMOND MOON will release in summer 2015 from Decadent Publishing. A second wolf shifter story is in progress.

 The Best Ever Holiday Caramel Candy, aka Grandma Eddie’s Caramels

  • 1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups white Karo Syrup
  • 1 stick of butter (1/4 lb.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

 Mix together the first three ingredients (milk, sugar, syrup) in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large heavy kettle, pour in the mixture and bring to a boil. Stir continuously while mixture boils until it reaches the temperature of 245 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (can take up to 25 minutes). Note: If mixture overcooks, candy gets too hard. Once the 245 degree temperature is reached, remove kettle from stove. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract, then pour mixture onto a large buttered cookie sheet or flat pan.

For more holiday treats, visit my blog today! (E-books and e-gift card up for grabs! Giveaway ends 12/23/14).

Happy holidays!

Celia

More About Destiny

In HAVEN, San Francisco nightclub owner Carina Tranquilli survives a vicious attack by her vampire family’s longtime archenemies. Several weeks later, as she struggles with PTSD and survivor’s guilt, supervillain Dixon resurfaces and kidnaps two of her best friends. To save them, Carina must comply with the evil bastard’s unusual demands. The kicker? She must tell no one what she is up to.

Meanwhile, she has a new dance club to open for the preternatural community, a fated soul mate acting secretive and distant, and a sexy, new, undead friend who’d love to take Alexander’s place in her heart and bed.

Blackmailed, betrayed, tempted…sometimes destiny has a wicked sense of humor.

Where to find it:

Celia Breslin, Haven, vampire romance, urban fantasy, paranormal romance

Celia Breslin

More About Celia

Celia lives in California with her husband, daughter, and two feisty cats. She writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance, and has a particular fondness for vampires, werewolves, and the Fae. When not writing, you’ll find her exercising, reading a good book or indulging her addiction to Joss Whedon’s TV shows and movies.

Thank you, Celia, for the interview and the caramel recipe!

… how’s everyone doing? How’s your December going? Mine has been busy, which is why I’ve been quiet lately. December is just one of those months when everything sneaks up on you, you know? :-D

I have one more guest blogger in my “Writers Who Create Other Things” series and then I’ll likely take time off from blogging until after the New Year. But I have some fun stuff planned for 2015 so stay tuned!


Jeffe Kennedy: Magic in the Twelve Kingdoms… and Our Everyday World

Jeffe Kennedy‘s latest release, THE TEARS OF THE ROSE received a 4 1/2 stars Top Pick Gold review from RT Book Reviews. For those of you who are unfamiliar with RT Book Reviews (go subscribe!) that’s a really terrific review. (I happened to see it not long after she sent me this post so I figured mentioning it would be a great way to introduce her).  :-) She’s here with a topic that should appeal to fantasy and paranormal romance writers, as well as readers who love to hear about how we create the magic in our stories. Welcome, Jeffe!

“I’m fascinated by the idea that magic and other supernatural phenomena are simply products of universal laws we don’t yet understand.”

Thanks to Jill for inviting me to her blog today!

She asked me to talk some about the magic systems in my books, which isn’t something I get asked about all that frequently. In both of my fantasy romance trilogies thus far – A Covenant of Thorns and The Twelve Kingdoms – magic plays a fundamental role in the worlds.

A Covenant of Thorns takes place in Faerie, a world entirely infused with magic. The denizens of Faerie, with the exceptions of the human minority, are magical beings – some to the extent that they subsist entirely on magical energy. In The Twelve Kingdoms books, the world is populated mostly by humans and magic is scarce, mainly confined to the realm of Annfwn, where the Tala live. However, like the fae in my other series, the Tala are a magical people and the presence of magic in their world infuses everything about their lives and culture.

More than one reviewer has noted that Annfwn is a metaphor or form of Faerie, which I didn’t consciously intend, but I think the comparison is fair. In both series, the magical systems are outgrowth of Celtic culture, mythology and fairy tales. They both hearken to the earliest tales, such as the Táin Bó Cuailnge, which is an eighth-century cycle of Irish heroic tales. Much as in Greek mythology – another of my influences – they embody almost a form of magical realism, where magic infuses the world and shapes the creatures, landscape and events in the same way that the laws of physics, biology and ecology do.

This is my sweet spot.

As a scientist by training, I’m fascinated by the idea that magic and other supernatural phenomena are simply products of universal laws we don’t yet understand. In the Faerie of A Covenant of Thorns, I play with the idea that evolution follows a path similar to the one we know, but is accelerated and supercharged, if you will, by the mutating power of magic – which functions almost like a form of radiation in some cases. In The Twelve Kingdoms, the magic arises from the divine and from the land, which are profoundly intertwined. The Tala are shapeshifters and wizards because they have retained a stronger divine bloodline than the rest of the world.

In both of these series, the power of mental control, of self-discipline, self-knowledge and self-mastery all play a huge role. Thought is what controls the magic. This, then, loops back to the magical realism of the old stories, whether Celtic, Greek or from many other cultures I could list, that these tales teach lessons about how to govern our lives. Everything we struggle with – overcoming bad events, hoping for good outcomes, striving for more – all of that is essentially about manifesting what we want in our lives. Rather than waving magic wands or reciting spells, we govern our thoughts, eliminating negative thinking and focusing on the positive. In that way, we transform our lives and make them what we want them to be. That concept is at the core of all of my work, in truth.

A kind of magic we can all wield.

Thank you, Jeffe, for guest blogging today! Have a wonderful week, everyone!


Suzanne Johnson: The Secret to Staying Young and Sane

My next guest is UF, PNR, and romantic thriller author, Suzanne Johnson. She’s here as part of a guest blog series I’m doing featuring Writers Who Create Other Things. Many of the authors I’ve hosted recently have been jewelry designers, which is really neat. But Suzanne’s other creative talents are in drawing, painting, and mixed-media artwork. Below, she tells us her secret to staying young and sane. She also shares a bit about a new workshop she’s going to be giving next year, “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers,” and she’s giving away a signed original 9×12 mixed-media piece. Leave a comment below to enter to win. (U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne tells us otherwise in the comments). Welcome, Suzanne!

Be Creative and Play!

“I believe this is a fundamental truth: in order to stay young, in order to stay sane, humans need what I call creative play—call it a hobby or a craft or whatever, but we all need something creative to do that isn’t involved in our livelihoods.”

I’ve worked in journalism since I got out of college, and as I look back over the years, I realize my need for creative play has taken different forms at different times in my life. For a while, I scoured flea markets and resale shops and garage sales for pattern glass. I dabbled in macramé. I quilted. I made jewelry. I tried knitting scarves (accent on “try”).

Five or six years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, just for fun, and then the world tilted on its axis. Life changed pretty quickly as I fell in love with fiction writing, got published, and wrote more novels. Now, even though I maintain a day job, I consider “novelist” my primary occupation, and the past five years have been an absolute whirlwind of change.

So I found it a little strange that last winter, I found myself becoming obsessed with art. I’d done a lot of graphite drawings in high school and my mom painted a bit, but my school was too small to have offered art classes and I didn’t have enough talent or patience to pursue it as an occupation. But last winter, there I was, drawing. I had five novels due within the next thirteen months, the deadlines were mounting, and the day job was in turmoil.  I sure didn’t have time to be drawing pictures.

But I did it anyway, and it helped me write those books (well, the fifth one is almost finished) and survive the day-job chaos and remain relatively sane.

A year and a bulging box of artwork later, I’ve gotten a little perspective on the role art can play in the writing process. It’s tactile, and uses a different part of the brain than the one that’s tied up in knots trying to unravel plot points and figure out why the hero and heroine don’t have any spark.

This has nothing to do with artistic talent. Believe me, I’m no artist, not on any kind of commercial scale (and sometimes, not even on an aesthetic scale—LOL). What’s important is not what kind of art you produce, but about the process of producing it. The creative play. While my art brain is awash in ink and paper and paint, my writing brain can relax and noodle around those plot points without my interference.

(It’s the same process, I think, as why writers often get their best ideas while they’re driving or shopping or in the shower. Our subconscious is able to work interrupted, without us.)

When I began writing for publication, novel-writing was (and is) still fun, but it also became a business. It’s the most enjoyable, creative business in the world and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it’s no longer play.

What I was doing in going back to art, I realized, was seeking a new form of creative play. I can’t claim to have come to this conclusion on my own. I took an online workshop from artist Jane Davenport, who said that when she was a commercial fashion illustrator, art journaling was her play, her hobby. Now that she makes much of her income from art journaling, she’s turned to canvas painting as her hobby because she still needs that creative outlet that isn’t tied to her livelihood. That really zonked me over the head.

Thus, my love of mixed-media art, which after some experimentation, has become my artistic mode of choice. I started 2014 with the intention of spending at least one hour a day making art this year, an hour playing. I knew it was taking time from an already insane schedule, but hoped it would pay off in productivity.

I think it has. And it’s FUN to play!

What do I do with the pieces I create? Right now, I don’t think they’re good enough to sell, but I give them away as gifts. The rest, I bind into journals to remind myself of my own creative journey. I write notes on the back—not just when they were completed or what techniques I used, but also what was fueling my life the days I worked on the piece: a run-in with the boss, the loss of my 16-year-old, beloved dog, worry about a family issue. It’s therapy with a brush and a tube of paint.

Suzanne Johnson Mixed Media Artwork

New Workshop for Writers and Readers

The act of getting messy and stretching new creative muscles has allowed my writing brain to get reinvigorated, stay fresh, and avoid burnout. I’m planning a workshop for authors and readers alike in March, doing mixed-media pieces tied to our works-in-progress or our favorite books. If you’re interested in being on a waiting list for “Art Therapy for Writers and Readers” send me an email at: suzannej3523 at gmail dot com or keep an eye on the Workshops tab of my website.

Till then, keep on playing! Do you have a creative hobby of your own? Leave a comment for one of my signed original 9×12 mixed-media pieces.

The Giveaway

U.S. only due to mailing costs unless Suzanne says otherwise below. To enter to win, leave a comment. Giveaway will be open until midnight EST Monday December 15, 2014. For my complete official giveaway rules, click here.

More About Suzanne

Susannah Sandlin, who also writes as Suzanne Johnson, writes paranormal romance and romantic thrillers from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick. She’s the author of the award-winning Penton Legacy paranormal romance series, a spinoff novel, Storm Force, a standalone novelette, Chenoire, and a new romantic thriller series, The Collectors, beginning with Lovely, Dark, and Deep. Writing as Suzanne Johnson, she also is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series.

Suzanne can be found online here:

More About Suzanne’s latest release: DEADLY, CALM, AND COLD

Deadly Calm and Cold, romantic thriller, crown jewelsFrom award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the second book in The Collectors series (each book reads as a standalone).

How far will ordinary people go to protect their secrets? The Collectors’ games are as much about manipulating lives as finding lost treasure. Everyone is expendable as the ruthless C7 pushes people into gambling with their lives in order to find priceless objects lost to history.

Samantha Crowe’s secrets could ruin her career, while Brody Parker’s could get him killed. They become pawns for two Collectors seeking Bad King John’s crown jewels, which disappeared in rural England back when Robin Hood roamed Nottingham.

This time, however, the Collectors–a ruthless dotcom billionaire and a desperate London detective–might not be playing for the same team, leaving Sam and Brody trapped in the middle.

One thing’s for sure: If either hope to survive, Sam and Brody will have to find a way to overcome their distrust–and their growing attraction–in order to succeed on this winner-take-all treasure hunt.

So how about you all? Any creative hobbies?

Me? Not really, unless you count painting rooms in my house every now and then (which I don’t, although it can be a fun project). I’ll admit though, I’m intrigued by the idea of mixed media artwork. I’ve mentioned previously (not sure if it was here or on Twitter) that I’d love to design/draw maps to go with my stories. And it would be really fun to do dioramas or models for certain settings (buildings, boats, bars…) but for now I’m going to stick with creating worlds out of written words. :-)

Thank you, Suzanne, for guest blogging today and for sharing your artwork with us!


Bewitching Book Tours Holiday Giveaways (Chance to win a Kindle Fire, Amazon GCs, ebooks, and more)

Bewitching Book Tours is doing two holiday giveaways this season. Information is below. The winner of the copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance that I was giving away is Jen Schaper. Jen, please contact me with your address or DM me on Twitter. Everyone else who entered that giveaway — thank you!! – you will each be automatically entered into the second print giveaway I’ll be doing in January with the U.S. cover. Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, books, fiction

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway 2014, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, books, fiction

BBT and participating authors are giving away a Kindle Fire, Amazon gift cards and lots of e-books (see the virtual shelves above and list below). Click here for the Rafflecopter form to enter to win. Click here for my official giveaway rules. The giveaway is open until December 15.

    • Kindle Fire HD 7 Tablet
    • $25 Amazon Gift Card from Sky Purington
    • $10 Amazon Gift Card from Nancy Gideon
    • $5 Amazon Gift Card from Emma Weylin
    • ebook copy of Private Internship by Kitsy Clare
    • ebook copy of Angel Kin by Tricia Skinner
    • ebook copy of Destiny by Celia Breslin
    • ebook copy of Plight of the Highlander by Sky Purington
    • ebook copy of The Contract by ER Pierce
    • ebook copy of Bundle of Joy by Barbara Bretton
    • ebook copy of Going Under by Emma Weylin
    • ebook copy of The Necromancer’s Betrayal by Mimi Sebastian
    • ebook bundle The Kasadya Hellhound Series by Karen Swart
    • ebook copy of Scent of Valor by Annie Nicholas
    • ebook copy of Words That Bind by Ash Krafton
    • ebook copy of Weather Child by Philippa Ballantine
    • ebook copy of River Road by Suzanne Johnson
    • ebook copy of Santa Exposed by Kay Dee Royal
    • ebook copy of Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula by Jude Pittman-Gail Roughton
    • ebook copy of Deadly Secrets by Jude Pittman
    • ebook copy of The Color of Seven by Gail Roughton
    • ebook copy of The Professor by Olivia Devon
    • ebook copy of Unknown Protector by Maggie Mundy
    • ebook copy of Fading Light by Angela Dennis
    • ebook copy of The Only Sorceress by Anya Breton
    • ebook copy of Realm Walker by Kathleen Collins
    • ebook copy of Soulfire by Juliette Cross
    • ebook copy of Candy Cane Thrills by Roxanne Rhoads
    • ebook copy of The Huntress by J Risk

Bewitching Brews Holiday Giveaway

Bewitching Brews Holiday Giveaway, fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance, books, fiction

BBT and participating authors are giving away a print copy of Bewitching Brews and Devilish Desserts, a cute vintage style ruffled apron and assorted Bewitching Swag. Click here for the Rafflecopter form to enter to win. Click here for my official giveaway rules. The giveaway is open until December 15 (U.S. only).

Bewitching Brews and Devilish Desserts 

A Collection of Cocktail and Dessert Recipes 

By Bewitching Book Tours’ Authors: Roxanne Rhoads, Sharon Bayliss, Ami Blackwelder, Cassandra Lawson, Susannah Sandlin, Cherrie Mack, Maggie Mundy, Suzanne Johnson, Katalina Leon, Kay Dee Royal, Sophie Avett, Elizabeth Loraine, G.L. Ross, T.W. Kirchner 

Stir up a little magic from our cauldron full of cocktails and desserts.

The authors of Bewitching Book Tours conjured a collection of delicious potions inspired by their books and characters.

Grab your wand (or spoon) and cast one of these spellbinding recipes today.

Available at Createspace and Amazon


Blogging Milestone: My 300th Post!

I mentioned earlier that I was nearing my 300th post and THIS IS IT!

I posted my first blog article – a review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children – in September of 2011. At the time, I’m fairly certain only my agent saw it. Since 2012, I’ve averaged about a hundred posts a year (many of them written by fabulous guest bloggers), which means I’m once again celebrating a fun blogging milestone.

NEARLY 125 COUNTRIES!

One of the things that continues to amaze and delight me is the international nature of blogging. This year, people from nearly 125 countries visited my blog. Pretty darn cool, huh? :-D

Where are you all from? The Top Twenty

United States
Canada
United Kingdom
Australia
Brazil
France
Germany
India
New Zealand
Spain
Italy
Netherlands
Argentina
Philippines
Singapore
Romania
Belgium
Sweden
Mexico
Poland

WHAT BROUGHT YOU HERE? MOST POPULAR TOPICS

No surprises, but it was nice to see what the most popular categories and tags were because they nicely sum up what I want this blog to be:

CREEPY AND/OR FUN” posts about “WRITING” “BOOKS” and/or “FANTASY” stuff.

WHICH POSTS WERE YOUR FAVORITES? THE TOP FIVE

Fun “What’s Your Reaper Name?” Quiz by Boone Brux

7 Tips for Preparing for a Marathon (Oscar Movie Marathon, that is!)

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

King’s Quest: Vintage Gaming on an IBM PCjr

Is there a market for #NewAdult Fantasy?

My Oscar Movie Marathon post is a perennial favorite, which always makes me smile because I never would have guessed that it would be one of my most viewed posts when I wrote it. Like last year, a lot of the credit goes to Sir Jog A Lot. I linked to a great post he wrote back in 2009 (5 Tips for Running a 10K Race) and there’s a trackback to my post in the comments section of that post. What did this experience teach me? One, to love the serendipitous nature of blogging. Two, to be grateful for trackbacks! Three, I should do more posts linking to others in fun (even better, meaningful) ways.

As for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty… I should rename that post “The Secret Sauce of Blogging is Discussing Ghost Cat Metaphors.” :-D

WHY DO I STILL BLOG?

Reaching post 300 was a natural point in time to step back and take stock. Why do I blog? Should I still blog? To help me decide, I took a Writer’s Digest webinar with Jane Friedman on “How to Blog Meaningfully and Grow Your Audience.” If you’re new to blogging, trying to decide if you should start blogging, or just a casual blogger like me who’s wondering what it would take to push your blog to the next level, I recommend it. I watched it in the car on Thanksgiving during a two-hour car ride. Here are a few of the things I decided after watching it:

Things I Do Well

  1. My name is in the header. :-)
  2. I share my posts on Twitter and Facebook.
  3. I USE WORDPRESS! :-D

Things I Don’t Do Well

  1. My brand is a little muddled. My focus is not as tight as it could be. (You’ve heard these confessions before.)
  2. Lack of consistency in the timing of posts. (Although Jane did mention that once a week was probably ok for those of us who aren’t super-serious bloggers).
  3. Vague headlines (perhaps my most egregious sin; I’ve been trying to do better but make no promises about permanent abstention… ahem, just look at these subheadings!).

Things I’m Not Sure About

  1. Adding personal updates to the end of guest posts. I tend to do this when I haven’t posted something in a while and I just feel like updating everyone or saying hello with a little bit of news. But it detracts from the focus of the guest blogger’s content.

Things I Might Do/Should Do

  1. Add author interviews. I’ve done a few, but not many because I feel like there are lots of interview opportunities for authors out there. But it could be fun if I can think of a unique list of questions or an interesting interview angle.
  2. Add metadata to my images. Sometimes I do this, but I don’t always remember and sometimes I’m in a hurry and skip it.
  3. Add a newsletter option for readers who just want to know when my next novel or story is coming out.

 Things I Probably Won’t Do

  1. Monetize my site: This was one of the biggest reasons I took the webinar. To decide this. (You know, it’s the whole “Go big or get out?” question). But, nope, not gonna do either right now. (Good to know, however, that if I change my mind and want to “go big”, it would be relatively easy to switch from wordpress.com to a self-hosted site and start following blogging best practices instead of knowingly and willfully ignoring them. :-) )
  2. Nix the guest blogs: Structuring guest blogs as intermittent, themed series really works for me.
  3. Mix up the content: For now, I’m going to continue to blog about writing, movies, books, day trips, and whatever else I think might appeal to fantasy fans. It’s what I’m into. It’s the type of content I can sustain for the long haul (or, ya know, at least the next six months ;-) ).

Which brings us back to…

WHY BLOG?

Every blogger has to decide this for themselves. For me, my reasons haven’t changed too much from when I first started. And they can be summed up in one word: CONNECTIONS. With readers. With other writers. My blog is the hub of everything I do online. Sometimes, this blog is a quiet place. But that’s ok. Because I’m a novelist first and a blogger second.

THANK YOU!

I am ever appreciative of all of my followers. Just as with a story, a blog isn’t complete without readers. Thank you to all of you that take the time to read these posts, leave comments, like them, share them, or tell me in other ways that you value the information and stories you read here.

Click here for my 100th post (includes a silly little 100-themed quiz & a 1975 pic of me with my bro and a snowman) and here for my 200th post.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

P.S. another thing I do well is add images to my posts… although sometimes they have zippo to do with writing, books, or fantasy. :-D

My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979

My brother and me, standing by the Mississippi River circa 1979


#Writing #Workshops for December

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday had a terrific one. If the prerequisites of the holiday are giving thanks, catching up with friends and family, and eating way too much then I scored a hat trick. I’m nearing my 300th post so I’ll save my detailed thanks for that one, but for now, please know that I very much appreciate each and every one of you. You are all amazing!

Before I get to the main content for this post, a final reminder: **LAST CHANCE; GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT ** I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. International. Three ways to enter: comment here, contact me here, or tweet.

FF&P DECEMBER WRITING WORKSHOPS

Below are the online workshops being offered in December by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop in 2015, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Finding Your Hot Premise

12/01/2014 – 12/14/2014

What’s the premise that’s going to have an acquisitions editor sit up and take notice? What’s the story concept that’s going to make readers lunge for the buy button, stand in line to buy the print edition, camp outside the theater waiting in the cold for the film adaptation to hit the movie screens? Nobody knows for sure, but here’s a workshop that can give you ideas on figuring out what’s going to work for what you write and how to work it into the story that every editor and agent will want to buy.

About the Presenter

Eilis Flynn has spent a large share of her life working on Wall Street or in a Wall Street-related firm, so why should she write fiction that’s any more based in our world? She spends her days aware that there is a reality beyond what we can see … and tells stories about it. Published in finance, romance, and comic books, she lives in verdant Washington state with her equally fantastical husband and the ghosts of spoiled rotten cats.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for this workshop here.

Worldbuilding 201

12/01/2014 – 12/14/2014

What’s the difference between a story set in a vivid world and a tourist guide with a plot? In Worldbuilding 201, we’ll examine examples and do practical lessons on incorporating your world into your story, so that it brings the story alive instead of taking it over.

About the Presenter

Award-winning novelist Karina Fabian has plenty of voices in her head without being psychic. Fortunately, they fuel her many stories. When not writing about dragon detectives, a psychic fighting his way back to sanity, zombie exterminators, or nuns in space, she writes creative biographies of Catholic saints and homilies. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian, as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for this workshop here.


Leela Lou Dahlin: Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets (and Mockingjay!)

Today’s guest blogger is Leela Lou Dahlin, who makes pen bouquets. This post is part of a guest blog series I’m hosting featuring writers who create other things besides worlds and characters. Welcome, Leela Lou!

Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquets

Rosy Writer 3

 

A marriage of beauty and function. Does it seem odd that I would have this as a hobby when my first love is writing? Not to me. It’s very relaxing. Molding the clay, plotting my story line and creating something beautiful—the flower and the plot.

I love thick smooth paper and a pen that writes well. I’d rather send a hand-made card with a note of thanks than a text. There are so many ways to go digital today but sometimes it’s nice to feel a pen between your fingers as it glides along the page expressing your gratitude or your rage…depending on the mood.

Even though I love pens and I have way more than my fair share I don’t like the way they look sitting in a cup or holder. This is now how Rosy Writers got started though. My children and I moved to a wonderful school district when Christmas came my 5 children wanted a gift to take to their teachers. That was going to prove costly. Since I knew that teachers were another group of people who love pens so I took my love of making roses and found a way to make the pen look like a rose on a stem that would be a bouquet of flowers they could have throughout the year. The idea was a hit and soon I started getting orders for hostess gifts, thank you gifts, mother’s day, wedding and baby showers…practically any other time someone wanted a flower bouquet. Added bonus – no one can walk away with your pen and not realize it.

Making them helps me relax and gets my creative thoughts going, and thank goodness because sometimes they are quite in demand. I’m not sure what I like most…making them or hearing how happy the recipients are with the product.

More about Leela

Leela Lou Dahlin works undercover as an outgoing RN Case Manager by day, but at night her time is filled with kids, clay and computers…and she wouldn’t have it any other way.

She can be found online here:

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fun. We have a new kitten. 99.9% sure her name is going to be Nutmeg. (My kids have named both of my cats. We adopted a stray last springGinger). So a big part of the weekend was spent hanging w the new kitty and trying to gracefully intro her to Ginger. Unsurprisingly, he isn’t exactly thrilled about her arrival, but I’m still hopeful they will become friends eventually.

Took my older daughter and a group of her friends to see Mockingjay Part 1 on Friday. It was opening night and I expected the theater to be PACKED, and it was, but it wasn’t nearly the mad house that opening night for Hunger Games was. [this next bit is slightly SPOILERY] Put me firmly in the camp of those who do not think the third book needed two movies to tell its story. I’m not saying the movie wasn’t good (it was and is well worth seeing in the theater) but the pacing/tension was definitely slower/reduced for this one. There was action and emotion but not as much as I would have liked. I also missed the juxtaposition of Effie’s wildly colorful dresses and all the gag-inducing excess of the capital against the bleakness of life in the districts. This movie takes place mostly in District 13, which is all gray, all the time. Don’t get me wrong though — I’m a huge fan of this series. The characters, world, and writing are so well done and the filmmaker’s version of the story has captured my interest while remaining true to its source. Only one of the girls I took had read the book. Which made Part 1’s ending more dramatic and surprising for them than it was for series readers. (If you’ve read it, you can guess exactly where Part 1 ends). Overall, despite Mockingjay Part 1 being the deepest, darkest movie yet, it felt less immediate to me. But it’s a solid film that ably sets up next year’s final installment. 

Saturday night my husband and I went to a hippie-themed birthday party for a friend of ours. Initially, I had misread the invite and thought the theme was 70s. Got this vintage disco dress and some boots to wear and then, last minute, saw that entertainment would include clips from Woodstock and songs by Janis Joplin, The Who, CSN, the Dead, Jimi Hendrix…. So I ditched the dress.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE... and a beard. Craig's growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE…
and a beard. Craig’s growing a beard for the first time ever for No Shave November: http://www.no-shave.org/

Finally, if you missed Friday’s post… I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. International. Three ways to enter: comment here, contact me here, or tweet.

So… how about you? What did you do this weekend? Have you seen Mockingjay? What did you think? Which Rosy Writer Ink Pen Bouquet do you like best? I’ve given stationery as a thank you gift lots of times but haven’t yet given a bouquet of pens. It’s a neat idea, right?

Thank you to Leela Lou for guest blogging today! Happy Monday, all!


Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance Is Out!

A new Mammoth Book of… anthology released yesterday — the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. It’s full of all sorts of chilling, romantic tales. My own short story “Dream, Interrupted” is in there. At nearly 13,500 words, it’s a meaty tale, really more of a novelette with lots of story elements that I adore: creepy settings, interesting backstory, a dark mystery, a singularly unique heroine, and a hero who takes the heroine’s breath away. It’s also written in a slightly different style than I used for the Noon Onyx novels. I fused myriad inspirational seeds to create one darkly fun story. If you want to check it out, I’m giving away one print copy (international so long as Book Depository ships to your address). Details on the giveaway are below. Along with my super-long-short story, you also get a bunch of stories from 15 other fantastic authors.

gothic romance, dark fantasy

Set in a lush, steamy world of ceaseless rain, swamps, alligators, overgrown cemeteries, and home-grown magic, these are dark and scary, yet pleasurably thrilling stories that unfold sinister secrets at every turn. These paranormal, suspenseful Southern Gothic romances are by both bestselling authors and bright up-and-coming talents, including Erin Kellison; Jessa Slade; Laurie London; Shelli Stevens; Coreene Callahan; Bec McMaster; Jill Archer; Elle Jasper; Angie Fox; Kait Ballenger; Tiffany Trent; Michele Bardsley; Sonya Bateman; Shiloh Walker/JC Daniels; JD Horn; Dianne Sylvan.

Available for purchase here.

A U.S. print version with this awesome cover…

gothic romance, dark fantasy

will release is the U.S. on January 6, 2015. If you want to wait for that cover, pre-order here.

Add to your Goodreads shelf by clicking here.

More About Dream, Interrupted

What if your snoring really did wake up the dead?

When Corelei Neverest ends up at a sleep disorder clinic, she’s searching for a cure for Apnea Anima, a rare sleep condition that occurs when a person’s snoring wakes the dead. But after countless therapy-filled days and terror-filled nights, Corelei’s almost ready to call it quits when an old crush shows up.

Alluring, irresistible, and beguiling, Caradoc Ambrose has had his eye on Corelei for years. When he hears Corelei is a resident at the Oneiroi Institute, he can’t resist meeting her at breakfast one morning. They’ve had an on-again, off-again relationship that feels like one big dream, interrupted to Caradoc. He wants a chance to convince Corelei to stay with him, forever.

Corelei Neverest, Jill Archer, Dream Interrupted, gothic romance, dark fantasy

CORELEI NEVEREST:
“My goal at Oneiroi since I’d arrived was based on a simple strategy. Act like the white rabbit.
Hide, evade, run.”

The Playlist

During my Bitten By Books release day party for White Heart of Justice, I mentioned I would post the playlist for “Dream, Interrupted.” If you read it, you’ll see that music was a big inspiration of mine for this story. In particular, the songs listed below. I couldn’t reproduce lyrics in the story, of course, but for those of you that want a fantastic immersive reading experience, download these songs and listen to them along with the story:

  1. “She Talks To Angels” by The Black Crowes
  2. Oh, My Darling, Clementine” (American folk song)
  3. “Like the Weather” by 10,000 Maniacs
  4. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot
  5. “Edge of the Ocean” by Ivy
  6. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd
  7. “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure
  8. “Breathless” by The Corrs
  9. “How Do You Talk To An Angel” by Jamie Walters
  10. “My Immortal” by Evanescence

The Giveaway

I’m giving away one print copy of the Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance. The giveaway is open to international so long as Book Depository ships to your address. To enter to win, comment below, use my contact page to send me a message saying you are interested in winning the book, OR tweet one of these tweets (one entry per person):

I love gothic romance! Win copy of Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance: http://wp.me/p1G39m-22b @archer_jill #gothic #romance

I love dark fantasy! Win copy of Mammoth Book of Southern Gothic Romance: http://wp.me/p1G39m-22b @archer_jill #fantasy #anthology

Does Corelei Neverest really suffer from Apnea Anima? Win Mammoth Book of SoGoRom: http://wp.me/p1G39m-22b @archer_jill #shortstory #mystery

Will Caradoc convince Corelei to stay? Win Mammoth Book of SoGoRom: http://wp.me/p1G39m-22b @archer_jill #fantasy #romance #mystery

The giveaway will be open until midnight EST on November 30, 2014. I’ll announce the winner here by December 8th.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over. For my official rules for website giveaways, click here.

If you read “Dream, Interrupted” be sure to let me now what you think! One of the best things about writing a short story for an anthology was the opportunity to work with new characters, new beasties, and a new world. This small project allowed me to experiment a little bit. I love how it turned out and I hope you do too!


Sandra Hill on Book Series

My next guest is New York Times bestselling author and fellow Penn Stater, Sandra Hill. She’s touring to promote her latest Deadly Angels release, VAMPIRE IN PARADISE, which comes out November 25th. She’s giving away 5 print copies of the book (U.S./Canada) and 5 e-copies (worldwide). Rafflecopter link is below. Welcome, Sandra!

Sandra Hill, vampires, angels, paranormal romanceSeries, series, series!  Everywhere you look in publishing today, there are series.  You can’t escape them.

There are popular series in contemporary romance, like Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series, Lori Wilde’s cookie clubs, Susan Wiggs’ Lakeshore Chronicles, Kristin Higgins Blue Heron, Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, or Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ football heroes.  Series also flourish in historical romance, like Mary Balogh’s Suvivors Club, Jo Beverley’s rogues, Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses, or Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons.  And paranormals, like Nalini Singh’s archangels, Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunters, J.R. Ward’s Black Daggers, Christine Feehan’s Carpathians, Lynsay Sands’ Argeneaus, and shamelssly I mention, my Deadly Angels series (Viking vampire angels), with its most recent release of VAMPIRE IN PARADISE.

And that’s only the tip of the series iceberg.

So, what is it about series books that attracts us so?  I can tell you how I feel, both as a reader and a writer.  When you read a good book, you just don’t want it to end.  It’s as simple as that.  Oh, it’s not that we want a repetition of the same story, and maybe not even the same characters, but we want to return to the wonderful world we’ve been introduced to, whether it be a vampire world, a Regency family, a Trenton bounty hunter shop, or a small town named Transylvania, Pennsylvania.  The same is true of television, by the way.  Think about it.  Seinfeld.  Friends.  Happy Days.  Big Bang Theory.  Every week, there was, or is, a chance to return to a world, or community, or family we enjoy.  We belong.

If authors succeed in captivating readers with characters or settings we love…if they give us books we can’t put down until the wee hours when we sigh and wish they didn’t have to end…well, then, why should they be any different than popular television…dare I day…series?  I remember even as a child, when my mother would read those abridged novels, I would wonder why anyone would want a good book to be short.

And sometimes it takes a writer multiple books to tell a complete story.  Take George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, for example.  Can you imagine that complicated plot and all those dynasties in one book?

Yes, there are times when a series goes on too long.  And, yes, I get as irritated as the next reader when an author writes a series in such a way that you have to have read the previous books to understand what is going on.  But overall, they are a joy to this avid reader, and there’s nothing better than finding a new-to-me author and being able to go back and glom an entire series in one gulp.

In my own Deadly Angels series, I have set up a world in which Viking vampire angels (vangels) have been sent to this world by St. Michael the Archangel to fight demon vampires known as Lucipires.  It all starts with the seven Sigurdsson brothers, guilty of one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  In each book, a brother is commanded to serve in some role that conflicts with his particular weakness.  Vikar (pride) must live in a run-down, bat-ridden castle in Transylvania, Pennsylvania.  Trond (sloth) becomes a Viking Navy SEAL who must run six miles before breakfast and do other energy-draining exercises, like jump out of airplanes.  Ivak (lust) is a chaplain in Angola Prison.  Mordr (wrath) whose two children were murdered in a most brutal manner and thereafter cannot stand to be around children, must protect five mischievous orphans in Las Vegas.  And, of course, find their own destined lifemates.

In my current book, VAMPIRE IN PARADISE, Dr. Sigurd Sigurdsson, is transferred from his prestigious job at Johns Hopkins to serve as a doctor on a tropical island where a porno convention is being held.  Talk about a step down!  There, Sig meets a beautiful woman who is desperate for money to save her dying child.  What does she expect from him?  A miracle? Laughter guaranteed!

Not to be overlooked, I hope, is the recently released novella, CHRISTMAS IN TRANSYLVANIA, in which the whole gang of vangels is back at the castle in Pennsylvania where they have been talked into a modern Christmas celebration.   I mean, Santas with fangs.  Fake-O blood in the egg nog.  Mistletoe hanging from the cobwebs.  And a local waitress who needs a hero to rescue her from her abusive boyfriend.  There’s a lot more than jingle belling going on in the old castle this year!

So, what do you look for when buying books these days?  Do you deliberately seek out series like I do?  Do you google “…books in the vein of…” to find new authors?  I recently discovered Patrick Taylor’s Irish County Doctors series after having depleted an entire stock of Maeve Binchy’s.  Who have you discovered lately?

I can always be reached on my website at www.sandrahill.net or on my Facebook page at Sandra Hill Author.  Look for some special giveaways at the end of the month.

Wishing you smiles in your reading, as always, especially your series reading.  <g>

Sandra Hill

More About Vampire in Paradise

It’s been centuries since the Norseman Sigurd Sigurdsson was turned into a Vangel-a Viking Vampire Angel-as punishment for his sin of envy, but he’s still getting the hang of having fangs that get in the way when seducing women. Slaying demon vampires known as Lucipires and using his healing gifts as a cancer research doctor, Sigurd is sent to Florida’s Grand Keys Island as a resident physician where he encounters the most sinfully beautiful woman.

The only hope Marisa Lopez has of curing her five-year-old daughter of is a pricey experimental procedure. When she meets the good-looking doctor, Marisa is speechless. Then Sigurd tells her he believes he can help her daughter. Could this too-hot-to resist Viking doctor be an angel of some sort sent to bring a miracle for her daughter? Or is he just a vampire bent on breaking Marisa’s heart?

Available at Amazon  BN  Avon Romance

Add it to Your Goodreads List

More About Sandra

Sandra Hill

Sandra Hill

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than 10 years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

She is the wife of a stockbroker and the mother of four sons.

Sandra can be found online here:

The Giveaway

Sandra is giving away 5 print copies of the book (U.S./Canada) an 5 e-copies (worldwide).

Click here for the Rafflecopter link.

Click here for my official rules for website giveaways.

Sandra Hill, vampires, angels, paranormal romance

Hope everyone had a great weekend! I took my older daughter to Penn State to see the campus and watch the football game. Cold but fun!

Penn State v. Temple November 15, 2014

Penn State v. Temple
November 15, 2014

Penn State 2

Thank you, Sandra, for guest blogging today!


Beth Caudill: Chainmail Jewelry

My next guest blogger is Beth Caudill, who makes chainmail jewelry. Pretty cool, huh? (After hosting this season’s “Writers Who Create Other Things” guest blog series, I’m thinking that jewelry is the most popular “other” thing that writers create — or at least the most popular other thing that writers who contacted me create. I can understand the appeal and have to admit, I’ve thought about it. But, for now, I’m happy just listening to other writers’ stories of how they started making jewelry.) Welcome, Beth!

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

 “The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product.”

Thank you Jill for having me here today.

Growing up, jewelry wasn’t something I had an interest in. My father would give my mother necklaces or earrings for Christmas but I didn’t really want any of my own.  I bought a class ring when I graduated high school and I had a few special necklaces from vacations but nothing spectacular.

Fast forward several years and I’m a stay-at-home-mom with two small kids. I began writing as a way to stay sane.  I’m extremely introverted and being at home with two small people all the time can be very trying. You can’t even escape to the bathroom—any mother knows little hands and cries of “Mooommmm” follow you everywhere.

My escape was into the fantastical worlds I created with my romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. But I needed to do research, particularly for my magical stories. Usually magicians cast or draw power through items such as stones, wands, amulets or crystals. Suddenly I had a bunch of resources on making jewelry and the history of gems and crystals.

In my Paranormals of Arilase series, there are two elements which will be present in each story. Each heroine will have a jasper pendant to channel their power and a wedding. In Healer’s Fate, Corliss, a werewolf healer, used a red jasper pendant.  In Enchantress’ Destiny, my current work-in-progress, Clairessa, an elf, uses green jasper to channel energy for her spellcasting.

At one of my local romance writers workshops, another author’s husband was selling chainmaille jewelry. The silver rings were so pretty connected together in different weaves or patterns. I did some research and ordered a beginner set to try for myself.  The design I wear the most is this flower chain bracelet.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

After making a few pieces, I gave my mother and mother-in-law gifts of silver chainmaille. They loved it and talked me into trying to sell my items.  I’ve had an Etsy account for two years but it hasn’t been very productive.  This year, I’m focused on attending craft fairs to showcase my work.

The businesses of writing and selling jewelry are very similar. You need a unique, easy to identify brand and a distinctive product. While I love creating both my stories and jewelry, the hardest part for both businesses is connecting with the ideal customer.   I’ve found it’s easier to concentrate on creating stories and not worry about sales with the writing business.  But with the jewelry, I have a bunch of inventory and no one is buying. It’s disheartening.

I’ve had a lot of people say they like my designs but no one buys. One great thing has been the other sellers I’ve met. Like with the writing community, there have been wonderful people who’ve given me suggestions on things I can do to improve the chances someone will buy my jewelry – such as shortening the length of my earrings.  It’s wonderful that I’ve found two communities where people are willing to share their experiences and help each other.

Right now my biggest hurdle is time. I’m homeschooling my two sons and that has to be my number 1 priority. Both writing and jewelry making occur during my free time and some days I’m too exhausted to attempt either. Generally I try to do my writing in the morning or early afternoon and my jewelry making at night. But sometimes I have to devote all my time to one business or the other for a week.

I have lists of goals for both businesses and ideas to try in the New Year. It’s a bit like a juggling act and I don’t always succeed. But I enjoy both writing stories and making jewelry so I’m still trucking along.

chainmail jewelry, Beth Caudill, fantasy, author, books

More About Beth

Beth loves everything fantasy and grew up a lover of fairy tales. Her favorite TV shows are Once Upon a Time and Leverage because both combine a bit of good with a hint of wickedness. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and homeschools her two sons and their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. In her free time, Beth creates fantastical distant worlds for her romantic fantasy and paranormal romance stories. And for a bit of bling, she weaves metals rings and crystals into beautiful chainmaille jewelry.

Did everyone have a good weekend? I took my younger daughter and a friend to see Big Hero 6 Saturday night. It was great! Baymax was adorably huggable. :-) Also loved the animated short, Feast, that played before it began.

Have you seen Big Hero 6? Do you want to? What did you do this weekend? Do you think Beth’s chainmail jewelry is as cool as I do?

Thank you, Beth, for guest blogging today. Best wishes for lots of holiday sales!


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