Tag Archives: Jill Archer

#Writing life: Should you keep your face to the sun… Or your nose to the grindstone?

sunflowers 2

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadows. It’s what the sunflowers do.” HELEN KELLER

I’ve been keeping my face to the sun and my nose to the grindstone. It’s why I’ve been mostly absent on Facebook and Twitter lately. I’m enjoying summer and my sunny writing cave. What am I working on? A novella featuring a character I’ve wanted to spend more time with for a while now. Here’s his character blurb:

Nocturo “Nightshade” Onyx has the sinister looks of a Maegester but the soft, healing magic of a Mederi. Eight months ago he joined the progressive Demeter Tribe so that he could hone his skills. He now wields surgical scalpels, defensive daggers, and waxing magic with ease. But his greatest challenges are still to come: trapping a demon, capturing a young woman’s heart, and bringing his sister back from the brink of death.

What else have I been up to?

Reading: Tina Connolly’s IRONSKIN and the first two books in C.L. Wilson’s Tairen Soul series.

Map Making: Bought Campaign Cartographer 3. CC2 was tough for me, so wish me luck! If I can master the upgrade, I’ll be able to make maps of the places I write about. Maps I’d love to share: St. Luck’s campus; New Babylon, Etincelle, and the Mederi outposts; the eastern Lethe; the Shallows; southern Halja; and — if all goes according to plan — Rockthorn Gorge!

Animal Shelter: Took some food, treats, and my youngest to visit our local pet shelter. I’m still trying to talk my husband into adopting another cat in the fall. lol.

Sharing someone else’s good hiking/writing advice: I read this article recently about the Appalachian Trail. It struck me that thru-hiker Jim Parkins’ words about hiking a 2,180 mile trail might also apply, with one slight tweak, to writing a 100,000 word novel => “The hardest part is the mental part, [putting your butt in the chair every morning].” (emphasis added :-D )

sunflower

So how’s everyone’s summer going? Are you writing? Reading? Working? Sunbathing? Are you keeping your face to the sun… or your nose to the grindstone?

Hope everyone is having a terrific week!


Functional Nerds Podcast: #writing #violins #scrivener

John Anealio and Patrick Hester, hosts of the Functional Nerds podcast, interviewed me recently (Episode #198). We covered a range of interesting topics, which are listed below so that, even if you only have a few minutes, you can tune in and hear select bits. I’m also including links to some other podcast episodes you may enjoy. If you’re not already a Functional Nerds subscriber, check it out. Podcasts are free, but if you like what you hear, consider donating and/or sharing the links!

04:10 — My Pick of the Week: A Natural History of Dragons

09:09 — Patrick’s Pick of the Week: Magic: The Gathering

12:40 — John’s Pick of the Week: The Shambling Guide to New York City

14:00 — How my past career as a lawyer impacts my writing

18:20 — My alma maters: Penn State and University of Baltimore

19:20 — Me, rambling about how/when I started writing

22:20 — The Episode’s Big Reveal: Patrick tells me there’s a sequel to The Devil Went Down to Georgia (! — I had no idea).

23:10 — I talk about how I used to play the violin; great discussion on kids and music

29:00 — I do a horrible job discussing the original blog post that caught John’s attention (my post at SF Signal: What Is It With The Devil And Violins?). For some insane reason, I thought this would be the one thing John wouldn’t want to talk about (naively assumed he’d have a been there, done that feeling about the topic. Duh.) John’s articulate. I am not. Please forgive and read my original post instead of listening to my inane, totally unprepared response.

38:40 — We discuss fan conventions. John and Patrick share their favorites and recommend some for me.

42:00 — Urged on by me, Patrick gives a mini-intro to Scrivener spiel. I’ve written in Word pretty much since I first switched from typewriter to computer so I wanted to hear his perspective on why Scrivener’s so great.

51:10 — Episode closes with — what else? — The Devil Went Down to Georgia :-D

Other Functional Nerds podcasts you might enjoy:

Episode 195 — James SA Corey

Episode 148 — Mur Lafferty Part 1

Episode 149 — Mur Lafferty Part 2

Episode 146 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 1

Episode 147 — Delilah S. Dawson Part 2

I hope everyone is having a great July!


Goodreads #Giveaway and Other News

Hi all– quick post today to share links to two giveaways that end soon and links to a few new reviews:

GOODREADS GIVEAWAY

WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE

Goodreads Book Giveaway

White Heart of Justice by Jill Archer

White Heart of Justice

by Jill Archer

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

15 print copies (U.S. only)

If you’ve already bought the book and/or added it on Goodreads, please share the link with friends and followers.

Kings River Life

Review and Giveaway

Kings River Life is “a California magazine with local focus and global appeal.” It has a “Fantasy & Fangs” section that reviews fantasy and horror. Their reviewer recently reviewed WHOJ:

“[T]he journey approaches an epic, mythic level, pitting Noon against puzzles and monsters that can’t be defeated by flat-out attacks. The solutions are ingenious, and they help Noon build power in the magic she spent most of her life trying to hide and deny… Archer builds on the classic journey formula where the prize must be won at a cost.” Terrance McArthur for Kings River Life on White Heart of Justice

KRL is giving away one print copy of WHOJ (U.S. only). Giveaway ends tomorrow. Details on how to enter are here.

Other Wonderful Reviews and Reviewers

The Qwillery

“The chronicles of Noon’s journey to accept her place in her world culminates in a thrilling adventure… unpredictable and thoroughly satisfying… inspired and exhilarating… I loved the introduction of new creatures… [and] I love when an author surprises me. Archer raised my level of appreciation by catching me unawares.” Trinitytwo, reviewer for The Qwillery, on White Heart of Justice

 That’s What I’m Talking About

“[T]he overall story arc… was gripping and intriguing… [Noon's] growth over the course of these books is immense and heartfelt… If you are looking for something different – this alternate realty where the apocalypse has occurred and the demons won – you should really think about picking up the first book, Dark Light of Day and enjoy the journey.” Gikany & Una at That’s What I’m Talking About on White Heart of Justice

 Proud Nerd Book Reviews

“Archer does an excellent job of constructing and explaining the magical system in her world… the “law school” angle is intriguing… The fantasy elements in the story, especially magic and the demons, work extremely well… Anyone who reads fantasy, romance, or especially a combination of the two should thoroughly enjoy Noon’s adventures.” Matthew Cirilli for Proud Nerd Book Reviews on Dark Light of Day

“While Dark Light of Day focused on Noon’s myriad struggles coming to terms with her waning magic and her new life at St. Lucifer’s Law School, Fiery Edge of Steel sweeps Noon to the edges of New Babylonian civilization into the unknown… One of Jill Archer’s greatest strengths is her ability to create unique and intriguing creatures and characters to populate Halja.” Matthew Cirilli for Proud Nerd Book Reviews on Fiery Edge of Steel

Thank you to each of these reviewers for their interest and support! I’m grateful to them for taking the time to read the books, write such thorough and thoughtful reviews, and for sending me the links so that I can share them with you. If you aren’t already following them, please check out their sites.

Readers: I’m also incredibly grateful for your interest, support, ratings, and reviews. If you’ve read White Heart of Justice but haven’t yet posted a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, GoodreadsPowell’s Books, or wherever you hang out online, please consider adding your thoughts and comments! :-D

Best wishes for a terrific weekend, everyone!


16 Favorite Fairytale Films by Juli D. Revezzo and Jill Archer

Paranormal romance author Juli D. Revezzo was one of the first people to reach out and connect with me when I first started blogging. Two years ago she guest blogged here about “Ghosts as Paranormal Heroes.” [Two years! How the heck did that happen?!] She has a new book out called CHANGELING’S CROWN. When she contacted me about guest blogging again we discussed a few topics and one of them was fairytale film adaptations. Juli said she’d love to write a post about her favorites. And — because I couldn’t resist — I added a few of my own below too. Welcome, Juli!

 

Juli’s Favorite Fairytale Films

Jill asked me to come today to talk about fairy tale movie adaptations. There are some great ones out there—and some not so great. Let’s dispense with the not-so-great for the moment, these are my top favorites. Do I think these movies may’ve had an influence on my new release, CHANGELING’S CROWN? I’ll let you see what you think. :-)

10: Snow White and the Huntsman. Yes, Twilight’s Kristen Stewart was miscast, but she pulled it off. More importantly, the story was well done and Snow White doesn’t rely just on the prince to save her hide. I liked that.

9: Enchanted: Princess Giselle is sent to New York City by an evil queen. A quirky take on the princess and fairy godmother story.

8. Cinderella by Disney. Of course, you can’t really go wrong with this adaptation.

7. Shrek. Mashing all the faery tales together and giving them new problems? Brilliant.

6. Princess Bride. A tongue-in-cheek take on faery tale themes. A poor girl falls in love, loses her love, and is forced to marry a prince. But someone comes to change her plans. And some very memorable lines to boot.

5. The Little Mermaid. Disney paints a happier version of the tale yet it’s still by far the best. You all know this one, Ariel, the little mermaid, falls for a prince, and trades her voice to her father’s rival in order to gain human legs so she can be with him. In true Disney fashion, it ends happily.

4. The Princess Diaries. Mia, a typical teen, finds out her father was a prince and she his only heir. She is swept up into lessons at her grandmother’s behest so she can rule their small kingdom. Charming and funny YA series, the movies only hint at the fun tale Meg Cabot spins.

3. Pan’s Labyrinth: A young girl living during the Spanish Civil war meets a mysterious faun at the heart of a labyrinth and to fulfill his prophecy she must complete three tasks. If she does, she will take up her destiny as a princess, missing for decades. If not…she’ll be forever doomed to live under the iron rule of her evil stepfather.

2. Red Riding Hood. This one is the latest adaptation starring Gary Oldman. The bones of the story are here, but barely. In a nutshell, the lead actress lives in a village plagued by wolf attacks. When her sister falls victim to the attacks, a zealous priest comes into town and tells them it’s not just a wolf, but a curse and he’s going to rid them of. Red is part of a love triangle with one man, and another whom she loves. But mama and grandma won’t let her chose the one she wants most. Meanwhile, the villagers go after the wolf only to narrow it down to one possible suspect. Guess who gets to take the blame for the wolf attacks? Really a brilliant twist on the tale, I think, if some of the acting (not Oldman’s) leaves something to be desired.

1. Labyrinth. A young girl, sick of her boring life and little brother, tells him a bedtime story of child-stealing goblins, never knowing they’re about to grant her wish. Plus, you get David Bowie as the goblin king and a great soundtrack. What’s not to love?

So all these somehow had an influence on my latest book, CHANGELING’S CROWN. Would you like to see if you agree?  Here’s the synopsis:

CHANGELINGS CROWNWhen Ianthe began her career as a faery godmother, she stumbled so badly that Snow White will probably never speak to her again. After a long suspension, she’s finally been given a chance to redeem herself…but everything on this latest assignment is going wrong.

But why?

Worse, she definitely doesn’t need an attractive mortal man distracting her from her duties. Of course, needs and wants are two different things.

Briak has had his eye on Ianthe for a very, very long time, but he’s been waiting for just the right moment to make his move. Despite the fact all hell’s about to break loose on his watch, he can’t resist the opportunity to insert himself into her earthly assignment. Can he convince Ianthe of her true calling and thereby win her heart? Or will his subterfuge ultimately cost him her love?

CHANGELING’S CROWN is available at:

I hope you will enjoy it, and my thanks to Jill for inviting me here today!

More about Juli

Juli D. Revezzo

Juli D. Revezzo is a Florida girl, with a love of fantasy, science fiction, and Arthurian legend, so much so she gained a B.A. in English and American Literature. She loves writing stories with fantastical elements whether it be a full-on fantasy, or a story set in this world-slightly askew. She has been published in short form in Eternal Haunted Summer, Dark Things II: Cat Crimes (a charity anthology for cat related charities), Luna Station Quarterly, Crossing the River, An Anthology in Honor of Sacred Journeys; The Scribing Ibis: An Anthology of Pagan Fiction in Honor of Thoth, Twisted Dreams Magazine and more. She’s the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Harshad Wars series.

Jill’s Favorite Fairytale Films

Some of Juli’s favorites are on my list too. My thoughts on some of her choices?

Snow White and the Huntsman: I thought Kristen Stewart was okay. She would have been better if she hadn’t reminded me so much of Bella. Charlize Theron rocked her role as she always does.

Enchanted: on my list too! I adored this film. Amy Adams is absolutely fantastic. Only she could pull off a role like that — part poking good fun of the princess stereotype, part reminding us why we love it so much. She’s one of my favorite actresses because she has such range but also because of the Happy Working Song. Anyone who has spent precious time cleaning toilets, scrubbing soap scum, or doing loads of laundry is indebted to her for actually making it look funny.

Princess Bride: Yep, agree with Juli. Anything that spawns this many quotes deserves a spot on everyone’s list.

Pan’s Labyrinth: This one’s on my list too for the dark visuals and its multi-layered storyline that leaves the film’s ending and meaning open to multiple interpretations.

Red Riding Hood: This one’s not on my list, but it IS a fun film to talk about. I mostly agree w Juli’s take. My Jan 2012 review has my thoughts on who I thought the real stars were and what I most wanted to see Virginia Madsen do in that film.

Labyrinth: How the hell did I miss seeing this film? It may have been that I didn’t trust Bowie’s involvement. (I seem to recall being underwhelmed by Sting in Dune two years earlier, but I honestly can’t remember.)

And here are my adds:

#6 — Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou? Kind of a cheat since it’s based on an epic poem not a fairytale but George Clooney and his Dapper Dan pomade made me an instant fan. As well acted as Amy Adams in Enchanted and as quotable as Princess Bride.

#5 — Edward Scissorhands. It’s no secret that I like Tim Burton. Slightly Frankenstein-esque but very original.

#4 — Sleepy Hollow. I also like Christina Ricci. For years, we used to watch this movie every Halloween.

#3 — Black Swan: also kind of a cheat because it references Swan Lake rather than retelling it. But it makes my list because it’s incredibly creepy and I’m a fan of movies that play with the line between reality and fantasy.

#2 — A.I. Artificial Intelligence: inspired by Pinocchio. Heartbreaking. Spielberg made me care about an A.I. character (something that’s not real twice over!) David is a fictional robot who wants to become a real boy so his human mother will love him. Ugh. I’m sad just remembering it.

#1 — Hoodwinked: ‘Cause I gotta end on a happy note AND because my girls and I often break out into song whenever we refer to this movie. I also love the non-linear plot and the quirkiness of the characters and humor.

 Do you agree with our choices? What are yours? Thank you to Juli for guest blogging today!


Jennifer Harlow Releases the Omnibus Edition of VERITY HART VS THE VAMPYRES (#steampunk)

Happy July, all! To kick off a hot, summery month that’s known for vacations and voracious reading, Jen Harlow’s here with a guest post on how she wrangled her omnibus edition of VERITY HART VS. THE VAMPYRES into shape. Struggling writers who want to know they’re not alone and readers who love to read about all the stuff we pull our hair out over, read on! (There’s also a great giveaway. Details at the end.) Welcome, Jen!

Oh, @%&^

by Jennifer Harlow

She’s done! The weeks of research, the months of writing, the weeks of typing, the month of editing, it’s all done! She is ready to be read by my wonderful Beta testers who will see how splendiferous she is and confirm I am the genius I always knew I was! Huzzah!

Three Weeks Later…

Oh, @%&^. They hated it. They really hated it. They thought the main character was annoying. The male lead was too perfect (meaning no real man would act like that). I kept switching between too much description and too much telling and not showing. The entire first fifty pages were dull and redundant. And the grammar! Oy!

“Didn’t they teach you anything at the baby Ivy college your father and I took out a second mortgage on our house so you could attend?” my mother asked. (Yes, that watching Frat boys play beer pong is not how I want to spend my Friday nights, thank you very much).

Well, did you like anything? Yes. The chapter titles were funny.

Anything else? <long pause>  I liked the character names.

@%&^

What do you do when what you’ve written the first time around isn’t that great? Me, there was vodka and three Real Housewives marathons involved. (Kidding about the vodka.) It’s hard hearing criticism about something that you spent so much time and effort on. When they’re telling me their constructive criticism, I try to put on a brave face while inside I’m considering skewering them with a fireplace poker. (Once again kidding. It was a machete.) Then I watch more Real Housewives, calm down, and think about what they’ve said and the suggestions they give. Like how to make the hero less of an archetype. Make the heroine have faults instead of her being little miss perfect. See how much of the beginning can be cut away without losing the characterization and world building you presented in those pages to get to the action quicker. Use a thesaurus as much as possible. When in doubt, use a comma. Really ask if you need to describe the leaves on all the trees. Then put on your big girl pants and get back to work. (Unless there’s a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills on. Love me some Lisa and Yolanda.) With every word on the page ask if this is the best choice. Sound like fun? About as much fun as Andy Cohen has at the Housewives reunions. (I think I have a problem.)

Writing is @%&^#*! hard work. Most of my books have gone through at least five edits before I even present it to my Beta readers. This soul crushing conversation occurred after the sixth edit of the steampunk book I wrote, Verity Hart Vs. The Vampyres. I cut the first chapter entirely, then worked eight hours on the current first chapter, twelve on the second, and so on. My main character went from Cher Horowitz in Clueless to a pretty version of Jane Eyre. Her father constantly threatens to put her away in an asylum, her only friend in the world is her brother, and everyone looks down at her for being a spinster. My hero now smokes, drinks, cusses, and is rude to everyone, including the woman he’s falling in love with. I did more research into the Victorian and modern world, spending hours conceiving ways they could merge in realistic ways. There is more red ink on the pages than black. As it should be. Nothing comes out of the gate perfect, but if you’re smart enough and trust in your skills and vision, it can certainly get pretty darn close.

Publishers are tough, almost as tough as readers. So though it may hurt, and take for-bloody-ever, editing is probably the most important part of writing. I’ve learned that 80% of the time my Beta testers are right. As long as you have the backbone of the story and halfway decent characters with potential, then all is not lost. Most things can be fixed. And when I got those notes from them, I took some time off, and then revisited Verity and her steampunk world. It took months, and an entire red pen, but I made all the changes and if the early reviews are any indication I succeeded. And after all the hard work and tears, in the end you get this…

steampunk, romance, Jennifer Harlow, Verity Hart

More on Verity Hart Vs. The Vampyres

KEEP CALM AND STEAMPUNK ON

The whole of Victorian London knows there is something not quite right about the Lady Verity Hart. She may be the daughter of an MP and the sister of famed inventor Lord David Hart, but she is a spinster whose own father threatens to send her to the madhouse every fortnight. Because Society is correct-Verity Hart is no lady. If they suspected how quick with a quip she is, let alone the majority of her brother’s ingenious machines were her design, the sale of fainting couches would double.

Verity requires one herself when her beloved brother is kidnapped by vampyres in the dead of night. With the aid of an aggravating, rude American bounty hunter with a secret of his own, Verity takes to land, sea, and even air to rescue the only person who could ever love and truly accept her. Or is he?

Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow

More on Jennifer Harlow

Jennifer Harlow spent her restless childhood fighting with her three brothers and scaring the heck out of herself with horror movies and books. She grew up to earn a degree at the University of Virginia which she put to use as a radio DJ, crisis hotline volunteer, bookseller, lab assistant, wedding coordinator, and government investigator. Currently she calls Northern Virginia home but that restless itch is ever present. In her free time, she continues to scare the beejepers out of herself watching scary movies and opening her credit card bills.

She is the author of the Amazon best-selling F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad, Midnight Magic Mystery series and The Galilee Falls Trilogy. For the soundtrack to her books and other goodies visit her at her website or find her here:

Giveaway!

Jennifer is giving away 10 ebooks. The giveaway is open to international. To enter the tour-wide giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Verity Hart Banner

So how about you? How do you deal with constructive criticism? Me? I’m more of a fan of wine and BBC shows and/or sf movie marathons than vodka and the Real Housewives, but I’m betting we all have our preferred couch therapies. Here’s hoping no one’s laid up anytime soon clutching a glass and a remote! Thank you, Jen, for guest blogging today!


The month of leaves and roses… and inclines, fountains, cakes, and columns… movies, mail, ducks, and dragons

Last day of June, “the month of leaves and roses,” in the words of poet N.P. Willis, “When pleasant sights salute the eyes…” and the month when all sorts of interesting and/or everyday things happen.

SUMMER ROAD TRIPS

Allegheny River

Long time followers know how I love my summer road trips. Shortly after my last post, I took my daughters back to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the city where I grew up. We stayed with my childhood bestie (the same friend I backpacked through Europe with in 1995, pictured here, at the end of the post, with me and two other friends in Rome). She’s a bio teacher and always has a house full of interesting pets in the summer: cockatiels, birds of prey, a bearded dragon, as well as cats and one Australian Cattle Dog/Lab Mix.

During our visit, we rode up the Duquesne Incline, a centuries-old cable car that roughly follows the path of an old coal hoist. It’s a really, neat, unique thing to do if you ever find yourself in the ‘burgh. The incline was voted one of the Top Ten sites in the world from which to view a cityscape by USA Today. And I can personally vouch that the views are spectacular!

From there, we went over to Point State Park. The massive fountain at the point (the site of Fort Duquesne, built by the French in 1754 where the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers join to form the Ohio) had been under construction in recent years and just reopened. I remember spending time at this park as a kid. The Three Rivers Arts Fest is held there, as well as the Three Rivers Regatta, the largest inland regatta in the U.S.

After that, we drove to Pittsburgh’s redeveloped North Shore, which was a neat area for me to check out. It’s the site of Heinz Field and PNC Park, neither of which I’ve been to. (When I last lived in the ‘burgh, games were played at the now demolished Three Rivers Stadium). The North Shore has a fun river walk area with boat tie ups and restaurants. We ate at Jerome Bettis’ Grille 36 and loved it. The waitress kindly overlooked that my youngest colored the football player’s jersey on the kids menu purple and black (Baltimore Ravens colors, instead of Steelers colors… not sure what The Bus would have thought. :-D )

I ordered a Pittsburgh favorite of mine: steak salad. Native Pittsburghers know how to do steak salad right. It isn’t a few beef tips served over an adorable handful of vinaigrette-laced field greens. Nope. The calorie conscious need not apply. The Grille 36 steak salad is one of the best I’ve had: a mountain of lettuce topped with filet tips, corn, tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles and melted cheddar cheese, French fries and fried onion rings. Served with a very generous cup of Ranch dressing.

My friend and I capped the night off by sitting on her huge wrap around farm-house porch catching up and watching the kids catch fireflies. Awesome summer fun!

OTHER WRITING RELATED STUFF

Veronica Scott, a contributor to USA Today’s HEA column has been doing a fun summer feature. She’s asking authors (including me!) to talk about their favorite sf/f TV shows and movies. Check out our answers here and here.

Night Owl Reviews Top PickWhite Heart of Justice is a Night Owls Reviews Top Pick!

“Archer has a gift of creating characters with depth, growth and confidence that will leave all urban fantasy lovers wanting more… [L]ots of action, which I just tore through in record time. I was hooked from the beginning.” — Night Owl Reviews

Who’s Got Mail?

MailI love connecting with everyone online, of course, but it’s equally great to receive mail through good ole U.S.P.S. Send me something interesting this summer (a postcard, a picture, a drawing…)

Jill Archer
P.O. Box 381
Shrewsbury, PA 17361-0381

WHAT ELSE HAVE I BEEN UP TO?

Among other things, I’m working on a novella featuring Ari Carmine and Nocturo Onyx. Almost half of the rough draft is finished. If I like how it looks after it’s done, I’ll self-publish it. I’m excited about it because, as some of you know, I’ve been blathering on for a year or more now about how I should learn the indie side of things. I’ve also always wanted to do something featuring Night. He’s a fascinating character, capable of supporting his own series even. And the novella will also (hopefully) be a nice springboard into a probable Noon Onyx B4! :-D

In Other News

I celebrated my birthday last week. (I don’t usually make a big deal of my birthday online, but I do love to celebrate milestones both big and small.) My older daughter made and decorated a beautiful cake for me (did I mention she loves Next Great Baker?)

“MADE OF GUARANTEED, CERTIFIED STRICTLY GRADE-A PEPPERMINT CUCUMBER SAUSAGE-PASTE BUTTER!” — Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You! (Party Edition)

Beautiful birthday cake

[Editor's note: no peppermint cucumber sausage-paste butter was used in the making of this cake]

And then we went to see How To Train Your Dragon 2, which I loved! It was fun seeing Hiccup, Toothless, and the gang five years later and the film had enough surprises to keep the story feeling fresh. Luckily, the only thing I’d read before seeing it was an article on how the animators aged up Hiccup’s appearance so none of the movie’s big reveals were spoiled for me. Yes, parts of it are sad. And some of the characters made big mistakes in the past or make them in the movie. But plot points like that are a part of good storytelling. People aren’t perfect and characters that reflect that are more interesting and allow for greater emotional highs and lows.

So who’s this handsome guy? It’s Reggie masquerading as Toothless (am I Picasso-with-a-virtual-paintbrush or what? :-D )

So that’s a wrap for June! Tomorrow — to kick off July — Jennifer Harlow’s guest blogging about her steampunk romance, Verity Hart vs. The Vampyres.

What’s up with you? What are you working on? Vacations? New WIPs? TV show, movie, or book recommendations? Whatever you’re up to, I hope everyone is having a terrific Summer 2014!


BONESEEKER Author Brynn Chapman: Newton’s Inspiration… It Wasn’t An Apple

Brynn Chapman is here today with a fun post about how her dog inspired one of the minor characters in her recently released YA historical romance/mystery BONESEEKER. There are lots of cute pictures and (tattle) tales of furry pups doing frustrating things + a tour wide giveaway. Details at the end of the post. Enjoy, all! Welcome, Brynn!

Boneseeker Cover

A Tale Involving Sparkles, Fangs… and Fur

I see you are a native Pittsburgher, as am I. Even though you attended Penn State, and I, Pitt—I still wanted to give you something special. I decided to discuss a minor character for this blog visit—minor, but recurring, and vitally important to the BONESEEKER SERIES: Newton, Arabella Holmes’s dog.

[JA: I'm actually headed back to the 'burgh for a visit with my childhood BFF tomorrow. Plan on taking the kids to my old haunts, maybe down to the Point, the Riverwalk... not really sure yet, it's been a LONG TIME since I've been back. :-) ]

Sparkles 1

Four footed, sharp toothed inspiration

Okay so this isn’t precisely Arabella’s dog—said dog in question, however, is the inspiration for Newton. Arabella prefers animals to people. Like her famous father, Arabella…lacks social graces. She prefers animals to homo sapiens. They always love her, never spurn. Bella undertakes the training of her dogs as she does any of her scientific obsessions. To the n-th degree. My dog, Merry, was chosen from a long line of autism dogs. Bred for intelligence, tolerance and loyalty. Now is when I should insert my heartrending story…but I can’t…

I can however introduce you to the insanity that is MERRY. Or as she is called on Facebook, #sparkles. is hilarity/insanity personified.…adventures, we have had together thus far.

Here are a series of Facebook posts about MERRY under her pseudonym, Sparkles.

Merry a.k.a. "Sparkles"

Merry a.k.a. “Sparkles”

There are days…i am so insane with #sparkles, i cannot form amusing words. Today is one of them. So, boy #2 on antibiotics, We literally just got them. This am, I go downstairs (remember, its like 630) for literally 4 min….and return to see something white and crushed in her teeth. The antibiotic bottle. Immediately my mind goes crazy “I will have to cx all my patients, she will have to go to the vet hospital” Then I see them merely strewn about the ground like pretty pink polka dots. Apparently she just wanted the bottle. #seriously #ImMental

type type type. “Stop!” (barks at squirrel) type type type #whine massive paw rakes leg. type type type VERY front teeth nip soft flesh at forearm

#doIneedtoGoOn#adNauseum

Spray bottle: dog's best friend, worst enemy... or tastiest chew toy?

Spray bottle: dog’s best friend, worst enemy… or tastiest chew toy?

can i talk about how im #editing holdin a spray bottle in one hand, typing with the other. she literally just grabbed the tablecloth with her teeth. #saveMe

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO i use a spray bottle with #sparkles things have been nuts here, so she hasnt been getting her exercise…i came home tonight to SHREDDED SPRAY BOTTLE> GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH #thwarted

Brynn, how could you be frustrated with a dog as cute as this?! :-)

Warning. The following is a post of truth. Not a figment of the author’s imagination. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent. Yes, #sparkles So….all before 8 am. The temp hovers near zero. I take sausage and sparkles out. *Deep bark bark-the scary one. Sparkles bolts across field, INTO neighbor’s yard, Onto neighbors FREAKING PORCH, where two other dogs are behind glass, scratching, barking, waking their masters. I manage to grab hold of collar, back out into the knee deep snow, and after a struggle worthy of holmes and watson, collapse onto my butt, wet to the waste now, and manage the ‘click’ of the leash to collar. #itCantGetMoreFabulous #goodMorningSunshine

Thank you, direct tv, for my 7th, 30 minute conversation, just trying to order a video. Thank you, cell phone, for nearly dying, necessitating i run to plug into the wall, and am then trapped. Thank you, #sparkles for your obsession with my fuzzy socks. And biting them, while im trapped, tethered to the wall, and cannot scream as you bite my feet, lest the direct tv lady call for help.  Thank you, resolve as you cracked and i just remove the favorite socks, throwing them across the room to be shredded in the white fangs of death.  #thankyou #thisIsMyLife

I BRAKE FOR FUZZY SOCKS

Newton accompanied Arabella on the trip from England—he has a vocabulary, as does MERRY. She understands the difference between PORCH and OUTSIDE. She understands when you put your hand in your pocket, you may be reaching for a shock collar.

She….no, really. She…found a way to turn on the hose trigger herself, so she could squirt herself in the face. Which she enjoys—for some unknown reason.

MERRY and NEWTON are as intelligent as any toddler, and get into quite as much trouble.

So, if dogs interest you in the slightest, have a peek at BONESEEKER. Bella and Newton are waiting.

More About Boneseeker

Arabella Holmes was born different and raised different. After it became apparent she wouldn’t fit the role of a proper 1900’s lady, her father, Sherlock, called in some lingering favors, and landed her a position at the Mutter Museum. The museum was Arabella’s dream; she was to become a purveyor of abnormal science. What her father called a BoneSeeker.

Henry Watson arrives at the Mutter Museum with a double assignment–to become a finder of abnormal antiquities and to watch over and keep Arabella Holmes. An easy task, if he could only get her to speak to him instead of throwing knives in his general direction.

But this is no time for child’s play. The two teens are assigned to a most secret exploration, when the hand of a Nephilim is unearthed in upstate New York. Soon, Arabella and Henry are caught in a fight for their lives as scientific debate swirls around them. Are the bones from a Neanderthal … or are they living proof of fallen angels, who supposedly mated with humans according to ancient scrolls?

Sent to recover the skeleton, they discover they are the second team to have been deployed and the entire first team is dead. And now they must trust their instincts and rely on one another in order to survive and uncover the truth.

Brynn Chapman

Brynn Chapman

More About Brynn

Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, Brynn Chapman is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love—not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome.

Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.

More About the Giveaway

  • $10 Amazon Gift Card
  • 1 print copy of Boneseeker open to US Shipping

Click here for the Rafflecopter form to enter the giveaway.

Boneseeker Banner

So how about you? Have any Tales from the Dogside to share? Many thanks to Brynn for sharing pictures of her adorable dogs and for guest blogging today! 


Winners: White Heart of Justice Blog Tour Prizes

Today’s post: winners of the prizes I offered as part of my WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE blog tour, a belated Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there, and some pics from our weekend. (As you no doubt have guessed already, posts/emails from me will slow down a bit this summer. I have lots of writing to catch up on!! But I’ll still be around. I have some guest bloggers lined up and will likely be posting a few interesting day trip posts and hopefully even a book recommendation/review or two.)

WINNERS!

$50 Bookseller eGift Certificate

JODY D.

5 copies of White Heart of Justice

KAREN H., KATIE D., SAMANTHA D., ANDREA K., WANDA C.

Dark Light of Day themed prize pack

GIAO P.

Fiery Edge of Steel themed prize pack

KAI W.

White Heart of Justice themed prize pack

AMBER T.

All of the winners have been contacted and most of the prizes have already been sent. I will be mailing the themed prize packs this week.

THANK YOU to each and every one of you who tweeted, posted, and shared the links to the blog tour posts!

If you haven’t already, please consider reviewing White Heart of Justice wherever you hang out online. It’s an oft-repeated request of mine simply because reviews matter.

˜˜˜˜˜

FATHER’S DAY AT THE BEACH!

We had a fun Father’s Day weekend and I hope you did too (even if you weren’t celebrating Father’s Day exactly). We flew in to OXB (Ocean City, Maryland) on Saturday and it was bustling! Throughout the weekend, we saw formation flyers, sky writers, banner towers, Daedalus’ modern day descendants and — in my imagination at least — other fierce, awesome winged beasts. Scroll down for more on where I was, what I was thinking, and what I was reading…

Chincoteague Bay

“I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things…” Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight. For the greatest tragedy of them all  Is never to feel the burning light.” Oscar Wilde

“Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight. For the greatest tragedy of them all Is never to feel the burning light.” Oscar Wilde

"It flew in from the west, so that all I truly saw at first was a black silhouette against the fiery sky. Then it caught an updraft and skimmed up the mountain's slope, barely above the trees, and that gave me a better view: the blocky plates of the hide; the close-tucked legs and trailing tail; the enormous expanse of wings dwarfing the body they bore." MARIE BRENNAN

“It flew in from the west, so that all I truly saw at first was a black silhouette against the fiery sky. Then it caught an updraft and skimmed up the mountain’s slope, barely above the trees, and that gave me a better view: the blocky plates of the hide; the close-tucked legs and trailing tail; the enormous expanse of wings dwarfing the body they bore.” Marie Brennan

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And a quick hello from Ginger, the “monster” under my daughter’s bed :-)

 

Other links you might enjoy:

How about you? How was your weekend? Did you go anywhere fun or read anything interesting? Have you skydived? Do you want to? Stay tuned… tomorrow I have a terrific guest post by Brynn Chapman, author of recently released YA Historical Romance/Mystery BONESEEKER.


Character Interview: Emily Black from Robyn Bachar’s POISON IN THE BLOOD

Today’s guest blogger is paranormal romance author Robyn Bachar, whose latest release is Poison in the Blood. She has a fun character interview, excerpt, and giveaway. Details and links are below. Welcome, Robyn!

Poison in the Blood

Character Interview: Emily Black

Robyn: No, thank you. I don’t drink tea. I’ll take one of those tiny sandwiches, though… So, would you kindly introduce yourself to the readers?

Emily: *mystified* You don’t drink tea? That’s…horrible. Oh. Yes. I am Emily Black, and I am a seer—

 

Robyn: What’s a seer?

 

Emily: You don’t know what a seer is?

 

Robyn: Of course *I* know what a seer is. You’re explaining for this nice audience.

 

Emily: *straightens in her chair and folds her hands primly* A seer is a magician who reads magical auras and receives prophetic visions. We are the rarest kind of magician. I’ve never met another seer. Michael and I did try to meet with the one in Italy during our tour of the continent, but there was a problem with the trains. Seers are quite adept at locating a person’s soul mate, which is how I discovered that Michael is my soul mate.

 

Robyn: How’s that going for you? You’ve been married for a few years now, right?

 

Emily: Yes, and we have five beautiful children—two daughters and three sons.

 

Robyn: Yeah, I’m sorry about putting you through that whole birthing twins ordeal.

 

Emily: Pardon?

 

Robyn: Never mind. So I understand you’re fighting crime now? Because of that whole “your husband becoming a vampire and you need a new activity” thing.

 

Emily: *fidgets with the fingers of her gloves* Yes, Michael is a chronicler now, and it is a respectable position. I am grateful that he survived the ritual that transformed him. However, I wouldn’t say that I am “fighting crime”, as you put it. I am simply seeking tasks that are a challenging use of my seer abilities. I do enjoy matchmaking, but I am certain that I can do so much more with my magic. I am confident that I will be able to identify and locate the murderer responsible for abducting and tormenting local magician women.

 

Robyn: Well said. Do you have any advice for the readers?

 

Emily: To live each moment to its fullest. Even a seer cannot truly know the future, and one never knows when misfortune may strike. Those poor young ladies…

 

Robyn: Don’t worry, Em. I have faith that you’ll catch the murderer. Though there’s that whole problem with the… Umm, never mind. You’ll figure it out. Hey, is that cake?

Excerpt

Normally stepping into a garden would soothe me, but we were still within London, where there was no comfort whatsoever. I looked up at the night sky and wished I were with Michael.

“You have the soul of an artist, Miss Rose. It is a rare gift.” Mr. Paris stroked my hand, and I tugged it free of his arm. I folded both hands before me primly and smiled.

“Again, that is very kind of you.”

“I consider myself a patron of the arts.”

“So you attend gatherings such as this often?” I asked.

“Of course. I am always on the lookout for new talent.”

“I see. Did you know Mrs. Harding?” I tried to examine his aura to determine his reaction, but his magic continued to be so overwhelming that my eyes watered. Mr. Paris must be unspeakably powerful, and I found myself both worried and intrigued. Perhaps he was a sorcerer? One who specialized in darkness?

“I did. Poor girl. What a terrible thing to have happened to her and her family… Tell me, are you working on a second collection of your work?” he asked, quickly changing the subject.

“I am, though I am afraid the subject matter is quite a bit darker.”

Mr. Paris smiled a predatory grin, and my pulse leapt with a thrill of fear. “I am not afraid of the dark, Miss Rose. Are you?”

He stepped closer, but I held my ground, studying him with a curious tilt to my head. “What are you?” I asked.

He blinked, startled. “I beg your pardon?”

“What sort of magic do you practice?” I clarified.

“Oh. I am a librarian, of course,” he replied, and I laughed, unable to help myself. “What’s so funny?”

“You are most certainly not a librarian. Do people truly believe that lie?”

The smile slid from Mr. Paris’s face as his expression hardened. He stepped forward and tried to grab my arm, but Miss Dubois was suddenly between us, a shining silver blur. With a snarl he turned and ran, and the guardian chased him out of the garden and into the street.

Uncertain of what to do, I followed. I stood hesitant at the garden gate, wondering which way they went. My vision shifted, and I followed Miss Dubois’s blazing footsteps. I paused next to a blur traced over the high brick wall of another garden. It was another magical doorway, rather like the one I had discovered near Mrs. Harding’s body outside the Undiscovered Country. Foolishly I raised my hand to touch it, despite knowing full well that doing so could trigger another vision, but a hand emerged from the brick wall and grabbed my wrist.

Overwhelmed with shock, I barely managed a strangled gasp as Mr. Paris stepped through the wall and glared down at me. “Who are you?” he demanded.

“You first.” My voice trembled, and Mr. Paris grinned. He tightened his grip and snapped several small bones in my wrist, and I screamed.

“Who are you?” he repeated.

Something bubbled up within me, a bright plume of prophetic magic that became my answer. “I am your end.” That time my voice did not tremble at all, but was filled with terrible certainty. I would cause Mr. Paris’s death, and I knew it with as much confidence as I knew the sun would rise in the morning.

Something in my gaze must have worried him, because he snarled. Scowling, he grabbed my forearm with both hands and twisted. The bone snapped like dry kindling, and I screamed again. Before he could torment me further Miss Dubois arrived and bashed him with a round silver shield. Mr. Paris vanished into thin air, and the guardian stood near me. One arm bore the shield, while in her other hand she held a sword. How cunning of her. I wanted a sword as well.

“Are you all right?” she asked.

My knees wobbled and began to buckle, but then two dark blurs streaked up to us, and I was suddenly swept from my feet and cradled close in Michael’s arms.

“Darling! What happened?” he asked.

“You caught me.” I blinked—however had he moved that fast? Simon sighed and shook his head at his student, and I sensed that Michael and I were both in for a scolding.

“Of course I did. I will always catch you. Are you all right?”

More About Poison in the Blood

She is honey to his throat…but one sweet taste could part them forever…

Banished from home while her husband adjusts to life as an immortal, blood-drinking chronicler, Emily Black is homesick, heartsick and struggling under the constant sensory barrage of a city drenched in ancient magic. When an old friend asks for her aid in solving a string of murders, she welcomes the distraction, despite the danger.

Justine Dubois is grateful for a seer’s help, and more understanding than anyone of Emily’s plight. As a guardian, Justine commands respect; as a woman, her magic is considered inferior. Together, they are determined to prove their worth to London’s magicians, starting with solving these murders—with maybe a bit of matchmaking on the side.

Long before he met his soul mate, Michael Black made a commitment to join the Order of St. Jerome. He will live forever, forced to watch the woman he loves age and die. As Emily hunts the murderer, Michael struggles to protect her. But if he loses control of his hunger, the greatest threat to her safety could be Michael himself.

Warning: Contains tortured soul mates, scheming faeries, vampire debauchery, deadly parasols, illicit blood-drinker relations, and adorable plot moppets.

Readers can receive 30% off the ebook of Poison in the Blood from the Samhain Store by using the coupon code POISON14 at checkout.

Robyn Bachar

Robyn Bachar

More About Robyn

Robyn Bachar was born and raised in Berwyn, Illinois, and loves all things related to Chicago, from the Cubs to the pizza. It seemed only natural to combine it with her love of fantasy, and tell stories of witches and vampires in the Chicagoland area. As a gamer, Robyn has spent many hours rolling dice, playing rock-paper-scissors and slaying creatures in MMPORGs.

More About the Giveaway

  • 1 signed print copy of Poison in the Blood
  • 1 $25 Amazon gift card

To enter the giveaway, click here for the Rafflecopter form.

Poison in the Blood Banner

Thank you, Robyn, for guest blogging today. Hope everyone is having a great week!


Are Authors Allowed To Play Favorites? Susannah Sandlin Picks her Top 5 Scenes from ALLEGIANCE

Today’s guest blogger is paranormal romantic thriller writer Susannah Sandlin, who is urban fantasy author Suzanne Johnson’s alter ego. She’s here to dispel the myth that’s it’s not ok to play favorites… at least when it comes to books, characters, or scenes. She plays favorites and she shares five of them below. She’s also sponsoring a great tour-wide giveaway, including eGift Certificates and books. Details are at the end of the post. Welcome, Susannah!

allegiance-cover

Scene It: Five Favorite Scenes from Allegiance

by Susannah Sandlin

Authors are supposed to be like parents. You know, loving all our children equally. Not playing favorites with characters or books or scenes.

Horse-puckey. I will swear to this day (and often have) that my mom likes my brother best while I was a daddy’s girl.

And so it is with authors, if we’re forced to admit it. I have favorite characters, favorite books, favorite scenes within books. Today, since Allegiance is out this week and fresh in my mind (never mind I’ve written three books since I actually wrote this one—such is the bizarre schedule of an author), are my five fave scenes from the newest book in the Penton Legacy series, in order…

#5… Mirren learns that feeding from a shapeshifter isn’t quite like a human. Every member of the Penton community is bonded to one of the Penton master vampires, right? So it’s no big deal for newcomers Nik and Robin to be bonded. Aidan bonds Nik and Mirren takes Robin…only Nik is human and Robin isn’t. If you’ve read the series and wondered if Mirren Kincaid, known in his mercenary days as The Slayer, ever gets scared, well the answer is yes. It’s a fun scene—well, for everyone except Mirren and Robin. The two most fearless characters in Penton get a little freaked. Okay, a lot.

#4… Cage is caged. The hero of Allegiance, Cage Reynolds, was last seen in Penton with a maybe-something-relationship developing with Melissa Calvert. Since Robin Ashton came to town, he’s become fascinated with the feisty little shifter. (Don’t worry, it’s really not a love triangle.) But Cage gets caught in a little cat-fighting, so to speak, when Melissa and Robin finally meet. It doesn’t help that Melissa is possessive and Robin is wearing a sweatshirt tied around her waist…and nothing else. Cage is totally out of his league as the women snark it out, and his discomfort is really funny.

#3… “The wreck.” There’s an automobile accident in the book—although it was no accident—that literally changes things for every single character. The aftermath of it was emotional and gut-wrenching to write. It might not make you tear up, but it did me.

#2…The prologue and the final scene in the book. They dovetail really well to start and finish the book and, of course, I can’t exactly say what they are because then you’d have no need to read the book, right? Let’s just say the ending scene as it plays out against the opening of the book is dramatic. It’s both incredibly satisfying and incredibly sad, and maybe unexpected.

#1… Robin Ashton’s first appearance in the book. It’s a solemn occasion, and the petite little eagle shape-shifter wanders out of the woods without Mirren or Cage having a clue as to who she is. Her first lines to the 6-foot-8 Mirren (and note that she’s 5-foot-2) is to get in his face…er, sternum…and announce, “I’m your worst f*ing nightmare.” The scene pretty much degenerates from that point onward. I had a blast writing it, and it still makes me laugh.

Which scene do you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

More About Allegiance

From award-winning author Susannah Sandlin comes the fourth book in the smart and steamy Penton Legacy series.

British vampire psychiatrist and former mercenary Cage Reynolds returns to Penton, Alabama, looking for a permanent home. The town has been ravaged by the ongoing vampire war and the shortage of untainted human blood, and now the vampires and humans that make up the Omega Force are trying to rebuild. Cage hopes to help the cause, put down roots in Penton, and resolve his relationship with Melissa Calvert. The last thing he expects is an attraction to Robin Ashton, a trash-talking eagle shape-shifter and new Omega recruit.

Meanwhile, as a dangerous saboteur wreaks havoc in Penton, the ruthless Vampire Tribunal leader Matthias Ludlam has been freed on the eve of his scheduled execution. But by whom? And to what end? As war and chaos rage on, love is the last thing Cage is looking for, but will his attraction to Robin distract him from the danger living among them?

Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson

Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson

More About Susannah

Susannah Sandlin 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. Her Penton novel, Omega, was nominated for a 2013 Reviewer’s Choice Award in Paranormal Romance from RT Book Reviews magazine. Absolution was the winner of the 2013 Holt Medallion in Paranormal Romance.

More About the Tour-Wide Giveaway

Susannah is giving away these prizes at the end of her tour:

  • 1 $50 Amazon gift card
  • 2 $10 Amazon gift cards
  • 2 Author swag packs (books, swag)

To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 or older. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Allegiance Banner

So, how about you? Do you play favorites? Which scene of Susannah’s above did you find most intriguing? Do you generally remember the dramatic scenes in your favorite books, or the funny moments?

Susannah, congratulations and best wishes for Allegiance. Thank you for guest blogging today!


%d bloggers like this: