Tag Archives: Jill Archer

Jocelynn Drake: Writing from a Man’s POV (BONUS: great giveaway; fun cover contest)

Today’s guest blogger is New York Times bestselling urban fantasy author Jocelynn Drake. She is releasing three new Asylum Tales novellas: Demon’s Fury (today!); Demon’s Vow (Oct. 21), and Inner Demon (Oct. 28). Instead of writing them from her Dark Days heroine Mira’s point of view, they are written from Gage’s point of view. She’s here to discuss what writing from the guy’s POV was like. She’s also giving away a complete set of the e-novellas. Because I am Rafflecopter challenged, however, there are only two ways to enter: comment below or vote for your favorite Asylum Tales novella cover via tweet. The tweets and other giveaway details are below. Welcome, Jocelynn!

Stepping into Gage’s Shoes:

Understanding a Man’s Point of View

When I started writing novels from the first person point of view, there had been no question in my mind that my main character would be female. As a woman, this was instantly the safest and wisest course of action.  I know that men and women see the world differently.  There’s a mountain of books that have been written on how the men and women view their environment differently.  I didn’t want to worry about sounding male when my main concern at first was sounding like a 600-year-old vampire (that’s hard enough!).

But as I worked on the Dark Days series, I decided to stick a toe in the water in the fourth book (PRAY FOR DAWN) by telling the story from the vampire hunter Danaus’s point of view.  Not the easiest of tasks, but it was definitely fun and interesting.

When the Dark Days series came to an end a couple of years ago, I was presented with the opportunity to try something completely different. The doors were thrown open to my imagination and the sky was the limit.  It was thrilling and exciting!  I was back to playing god and the cosmos was spread before me, waiting for my unique brand of insanity.

One of the first things I decided was that I wanted to step away from the female point of view. I loved working with my vampire Mira.  I loved her temper, her intense concern for her close friends, and the internal struggles that waged within her on nearly every page.  I loved her because she was so damaged and because she had to be the potential to become the villain as easily as she had the potential to be the heroine.

But with the Asylum Tales, I needed to stretch my skills and tackle some new terrain. Gage was the perfect chance.  As the idea for the series started to form in my mind, the realization that my narrator was going to be male was one of my first decisions and I have never wavered from that.  I wanted to try to see the world through a guy’s point of view.

With Gage, my first thought was that I had to watch the emotional baggage and turmoil. Mira walked around unable to completely shed the demons from her past.  Gage has his own dark shadows, but he keeps them largely buried in the past.  The other thing that I’ve tried to keep in mind with Gage is that I’ve tried to rein in his emotional impulses.  When things go wrong, his first desire is to jump in and act, but unlike Mira, he’s been a little more careful, planning ahead in hopes of saving his own skin.

I think one of my favorite things is that I’ve turned off the little censor man when I’m writing as Gage. Most people are gifted with a little man in their brain who is able to stop most of the stupid things that we think from coming out their mouths.  Gage’s censor man takes a lot of vacations and I’ve enjoyed just letting the first things that come to him exit his mouth.

Gage has been fun to work with because I think he represents all the male friends I’ve had during my life as well as both of my brothers. While Mira tapped into my own personal dark side, Gage has been a great chance to stroll through some wonderful memories with old friends and family.   And like Mira, Gage has become a part of my private writing family along with Mira, Danaus, Tristan, Valerio, and Jabari from the Dark Days series.

More About Demon’s Fury

Jocelynn Drake continues her successful urban fantasy series, Asylum Tales, with Demon’s Fury, set in a world where elves, faeries, trolls, werewolves, and vampires walk free among humanity.

Powerful warlock and tattoo artist Gage has managed to escape the magical Ivory Towers who terrorize the rest of humans and monsters – but at a price.

Now he must join forces with his nemesis Gideon to stop an unknown entity who is using old magic to commit gruesome murders. And if that’s not keeping him busy enough, an investigator recruits Gage to help her track a killer … who might be targeting tattoo artists.

Available at Amazon

More About Demon’s Vow

Tattoo artist and warlock Gage is having a rough week. He’s trying to track down a mysterious murderer in Low Town while also chasing a powerful entity using forbidden Death Magic across the nation.

When Gage discovers the two forces may be trying to unite, the stakes get even higher. With Gideon’s help, Gage is determined to stop the murderers before anyone else gets hurt – including his girlfriend, Trixie.

Available at Amazon

More About Inner Demon

Gage is a powerful warlock in Low Town, where elves, faeries, trolls, goblins, and vampires walk free among humanity. But there are two dangerous entities murdering families and children, and Gage needs to stop them before anybody else gets hurt.

When Gage discovers a demon locked away it offers him access to dark magic in exchange for its freedom – a dangerous opportunity, but one that could save his loved ones. Gage must choose between what is right and what is easy … except he’s running out of time.

Available at Amazon

Jocelynn Drake

Jocelynn Drake

More About Jocelynn

By day, Jocelynn Drake is a clean-cut financial editor, picking apart stories about Wall Street and the global markets. But in her free time, she writes about a dark underworld where vampires and warlocks rule.

The author of Dark Days and Asylum Tales series, she lives in Florida with her husband, dog, and cat. When she’s not working on her next book, she’s usually hiding from the sun by playing video games.

She can be found online here:

The Giveaway

Jocelyn is giving away one e-book set of all three novellas:

  • Demon’s Fury
  • Demon’s Vow
  • Inner Demon

To enter to win, comment below by answering one of my questions, asking one of your own, or just saying you’re interested in reading the books. You can ALSO enter to win by voting for your favorite cover via tweet with one of these tweets:

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s DEMON’S FURY. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s DEMON’S VOW. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

My favorite Asylum Tales cover is @JocelynnDrake’s INNER DEMON. #urbanfantasy #giveaway @archer_jill http://wp.me/p1G39m-20o

Giveaway ends at midnight EDT on 10/31/14. I’ll announce the winner here by 11/7/14.

No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Open to international participants 18 and over.

One tweet/entry per person.

See my Giveaways page for official rules.

AsylumTales Series Banner

Questions:

Readers — Do you like stories written from a woman’s POV, man’s POV, multiple POVs, or don’t care so long as it’s a good story?

Writers — Do you find it hard to switch character POV?

Most of my followers know that my Noon Onyx series is written from Noon’s POV, although there’s a brief scene in the middle of Fiery Edge of Steel from Rafe’s POV and White Heart of Justice‘s prologue is written from Ari’s POV. Those scenes were both fun and challenging to write because they weren’t written from Noon’s perspective. Plus, the scene with Rafe was written from his perspective as a six-year-old boy and Ari’s was written from… well, let’s just say a perspective that was new to readers for reasons other than it being written from a man’s POV. :-D

Good luck and best wishes, everyone!

Thank you, Jocelynn, for guest blogging today!


Terry Spear: The Fantastical World of Wilde & Woolly Bears

My next guest is prolific, bestselling author Terry Spear. Terry writes paranormal romance (she is well known for her werewolf romances) and she makes award-winning teddy bears. They’re cute and cool and she tells us more below about how she makes them for herself, readers, and other writers. (I’m tempted to ask her if she can do a barghest or a tiger. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a little stuffed Nova or Virtus? :-D ) Links for finding Terry, her books, and her bears are below. Welcome, Terry!

Terry Spear, paranormal, author, crafts, teddy bear, Halloween

Like with books, creating original bear “characters” are lots of fun. But they’re also great companions for books. Years ago, my parents asked me to create an old-fashioned teddy bear to sit on the doll carriages they created that they took to doll and bear shows. I began winning awards for my bears and sold to stores all over, was featured in several magazines including Texas Monthly, Teddy Bear Review, The MacNeill Galley, Texas Co-op Monthly and several newspapers. They were even included in the Spectral Visions film: The International Teddy Bear Connection.

I realized, though I had created dolls, quilts, embroidered, cross-stitched, made rugs, you name it, bears were my perfect contribution to the world. As soon as the Internet came into existence, I wanted to tap into the market of the world! I was so excited to do so because I knew it would be a way to really showcase them and not just at craft or bear shows. Wilde & Woolly Bears have found homes all over the states, and across the world: Canada, Australia, Wales, Kazakhstan, Russia, France, and South Africa.

But how do I make the bear and book connection? Earlier on, I began to get requests for bears that would be given as prizes for authors’ new releases. The bears are really popular and I help spread the word to my fans that an author is giving away one of my bears as a prize. Cross promotion can really help.

Here are some of the bears I’ve recently made for authors as giveaways for their book promotions:

Matheson Clan Bears from Vonnie Davis for her Highland bear shifter books:

Matheson Bears

Matheson Bears

 Linda Warren has given away Texas Belle and a Texas Ranger bear:

Texas Belles Bear

Texas Belles Bear

A vampire author, Rick Tibauld, gave a vampire bear with his book. And actually created a coffin for it!

Vampire Bear

Vampire Bear

And many more!

Steampunk Bear

Steampunk Bear

The other thing I’ve been doing is that when I sell a bear or multiple bears to a bear buyer, I’ll ask if she wants one of my autographed books. I’ve had new readers excited about receiving a free autographed book with their bear order! A South African reader couldn’t get my first wolf book as it was out of print until they made up more, and she had ordered a wizard bear, so when I sent her the bear, I sent her and a friend a copy of the first book. They are loyal fans and spread the word to everyone else who worked at their firm.

A bear buyer in Wales had never read any of my books, and so I sent her the first one of my wolf series also, and she was delighted! And now is reading them all.

I’ve had several new readers who have gotten hooked on my bears, and now are reading my books. And some that have gotten hooked on my books, and now are buying my bears.

So if you have a creative talent and can cross-promote between authors and between selling what you make and your books, it’s a win-win promotional effort.

Even if you just give it away as some fun swag—like I’ve done with my bears at FB parties, and really seen a ton of response, that can help!

And also, I’ve given bears to critique partners and beta readers. So another way to share the love. Oh, and I create fun pictures with them—like a Halloween setting with two of my bears in attendance. And a wizard bear picture with a wizard girl. Just all kinds of fun.

my_favorite_bear_by_shapeshifter_goddess

Like with writing, it’s important to love creating a craft! And have fun in the promotion of it!

Wilde & Woolly Bears: http://www.celticbears.com

More about Terry:

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Terry Spear has written over fifty paranormal romance novels and four medieval Highland historical romances. Her first werewolf romance, Heart of the Wolf, was named a 2008 Publishers Weekly‘s Best Book of the Year, and her subsequent titles have garnered high praise and hit the USA Today bestseller list. A retired officer of the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on her next werewolf romance, continuing her new series about shapeshifting jaguars, loving to share her hot Highlanders, and having fun with her young adult novels. For more information, please visit www.terryspear.com, or follow her on Twitter, @TerrySpear. She is also on Facebook and on WordPress at Terry Spear’s Shifters.

The Senator Theater Baltimore, Maryland

The Senator Theater
Baltimore, Maryland

Hope everyone had a terrific weekend! Yesterday, my family went to a screening of several films that were made by middle and high school students last summer during a three-week summer camp (Steve Yeager’s Young Filmmakers Workshop). They were terrific!

View from Projection Booth

View from Projection Booth

The shows were followed by a brief, behind-the-scenes tour of The Senator, a 75-year-old historic art deco theater. My kids loved seeing the projection booth and I loved seeing the results of a recent $3.5 million dollar renovation. Afterward, we had an impromptu brunch at Shoo-Fly Diner (they have a fun menu that changes seasonally, but the neatest thing about the place is that it used to be an old shoe store). Most of the rest of the weekend was spent doing very unexciting things around my house.  

How about you? Did you do anything fun this weekend? Do you think Terry’s bears are as adorable as I do? If you could have her make a bear character from any book, who would it be?

Thank you, Terry, for guest blogging today!


Rose Shababy: What is the best Halloween costume you already have?

Today’s guest blogger, Rose Shababy, is the author of THE BLUE EFFECT, an adult urban sf/fantasy that was released this fall. She’s here with a confession…

“I’ve never been much for dressing up during the Halloween season.”

Sure, as a kid I looked forward to it every year, but as an adult I’ve been a little apathetic about the idea. I’ve only dressed up a couple of times in the last twenty years.

Once, in my twenties, I went to a bar party as a baby in a onesie with full freckles and binky and proceeded to consume large quantities of upside down margaritas. I will admit that I stumbled home with all the adroitness of a real baby.

One year I worked at an Italian specialty grocery and the girls I worked with convinced me we should all dress up. I went along with it, figured out a simple costume I could wear over a dress of my own, and showed up that day with a tiara and sash that read “Miss Diagnosed.” I chuckled over my own cleverness, but the laughs abated after a while, somewhere around the tenth customer that said “I don’t get it.”

I haven’t tried dressing up since. Oh, I talk about it. Sometimes I tell my husband, “We should have a giant costume party this year!” And we never do.

I’ve often thought I’m just a big ol’ stick-in-the-mud for not dressing up. Until recently.

I’m an avid reader. I love the whole fantasy/science fiction/paranormal genre, but I’m not picky. I’ll read just about anything if it looks interesting.

Writing a book is even better.

Reading someone else’s work means I’m limited by the confines of their story. When I sit down to write, I can build my own world and take it anywhere I want to go.

The people in my stories can be anything I want them to be.

I had so much fun writing my debut novel, The Blue Effect. Each character is a piece of me, albeit exaggerated. Not to mention they all have really cool super powers.

My main character, Blue Brennan, is larger than life. She’s sassy and mouthy, jaded yet vulnerable, ordinary and extraordinary.

Kasey is mysterious, honorable and kind.

Avery is grouchy and gorgeous and tortured.

The beautiful twins, Val and Esme, are opposites. Esme is gentle and brilliant, while Val is wild and hilariously snarky.

Ash is thoughtful and earthy.

When I sit down to write, everything I wish I could be, or the things I wish I could say or do come pouring out onto the pages.

None of my characters wear costumes, so no amount of dressing up could make me feel like I’m walking in their shoes.

Turns out, they’re unnecessary, because the best costume available is my own imagination.

I can close my eyes and suddenly I’m armed to the hilt, fighting evil vampires.

Or I’m waving my wand in an epic witch and wizard battle.

Sometimes I’m wandering Bourbon Street in New Orleans searching for ghosts and ghouls.

Other times I’m dressed in petticoats and lace, trying to escape Atlanta before Sherman’s men set it on fire.

Once in a while, I’m fighting for survival in prehistoric times, hunting mammoths and gathering food for winter.

And sometimes, I’m Blue Brennan, telling people off, freezing time and jumping through space to wherever it is I want to be.

When I read or write a book, I can be anyone I want, no costume necessary.

And as it turns out, my imagination is the best costume I could ever wear.

The Blue Effect

More About The Blue Effect

Blue Brennan is jaded and bitter despite her pin-up girl looks and quick wit. Night after night, she scours the Seattle club scene looking for someone or something to fill the emptiness inside.

When she meets the mysterious Kasey, her world stops… literally. He claims she has the ability to control time and stuns her even further when he reveals his own gifts.

Blue is inexplicably drawn to Kasey and reluctantly enters his world filled with a new breed of humanity. They’re misfits like her, blessed or cursed with powerful abilities, struggling to hide their differences from the rest of society.

Then the group discovers a nameless, faceless sociopath with nightmarish powers; and he’s coming for Blue. She’s left reeling when they discover her gifts are the key to defeating his terrible evil and saving them all.

Now she must race against the clock to harness her own powers and save her new friends. Can she be more than a renegade? Can she be a hero too?

Available at Amazon  BN  iTunes  

Rose Shababy

Rose Shababy

More About Rose

Rose Shababy and her family reside in eastern Washington State. Rose grew up in the Northwest but swears she’s going to move to warmer climates someday. She’s claimed this for over 20 years, however, and has yet to move more than 75 miles away from her mother.

Rose has a deep love of all things Star Trek and yearns to travel the heavens, as well as an intense desire to be bitten by a radioactive spider.

Unfortunately she sucks at science and math so she hasn’t been able bring her dreams to life, instead living vicariously through books, comics, television and film. She hopes to someday make a million dollars so she can afford to buy her way to the international space station, but she’d settle for being able to fly around the world and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Rose also loves to cook and worked for years in a gourmet Italian grocery and deli where she learned to hone her skills. She prepares culinary masterpieces for her family, but fervently wishes the dishes would wash themselves. Especially now that her dishwashers/children are nearly grown and only one still lives at home.

Rose likes to use her free time wisely. For instance, she likes to daydream, will often read for hours until she falls asleep on the couch with an electric blanket and a warm tabby cat curled up on her hip, as well as spending cozy weekend days watching Syfy movies like Sharknado and Mega Piranha with her husband.

If Rose were a cartoon animal, she’d prefer to be a wise old owl or a sleek and sexy jaguar, but in reality she’d probably be a myopic mole with coke-bottle glasses.

Rose can be found online here:

The Blue Effect Banner

So, what about you? What are you dressing up as for Halloween this year? Rose is the only one who gets a pass. Kidding. I actually haven’t dressed up in a while. But Halloween’s on a Friday this year, which means a little extra celebrating might be in order. 

Both of my kids want me to go as one of the Downton Abbey characters. I’m honestly not sure why. Maybe because they know I like that show. Maybe because the dresses are pretty cool. But I can’t do Downton Abbey without zombifying it. [and p.s. to WordPress "zombifying" is in Merriam-Webster: please update spellcheck.]

Thanks, Rose, for guest blogging today!


BALTIMORE BOOK FEST: My Take (+ pics from my engagement party and rehearsal dinner: remember I said it was my anniversary?)

Two weekends ago, I went to the Baltimore Book Fest. Mostly as an attendee, but also as a panelist. It was a wonderful weekend!

The event was held at the Inner Harbor. In years past, it’s been held in Mount Vernon but the Washington Monument is under construction so the event coordinators thought the harbor would be a better venue.

I think current plans call for the festival’s return to Mount Vernon, a historic neighborhood that is home to the Walters Art Museum, the Peabody Conservatory, and the George Peabody Library (if you haven’t seen pictures, click here! it’s a beautiful library!), but I have to admit that I enjoyed attending the festival at the harbor and wouldn’t mind if future festivals were held there. While the harbor lacks the cultural feel of Mount Vernon, the Inner Harbor offers waterfront views and room to spread out.

There were tons of tents, most of them with books and authors in them. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers and Maryland Romance Writers had a tent. Individual authors had tents. Barnes & Noble, indie bookstores, local museums, small presses, and library groups all had tents. It was fun seeing writers I’ve known for years as well as meeting many new ones.

Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.  I'm standing beside MRW's tent with a friend.  Can't you see me waving? ;-)

Craig took this pic from Federal Hill.
I’m standing beside MRW’s tent with a friend.
Can’t you see me waving? ;-)

One of my favorite things was walking around the book festival with my family. My younger daughter was away but my husband and older daughter spent time checking out all the tents and exhibits.

Jack Clemons, a former engineer and team leader of NASA’s Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs, did a “Flags on the Moon” presentation at SFWA’s tent. He talked about each of the missions he was involved with from a perspective neither my husband nor I had heard before, focusing on the U.S. flags that were left behind by the astronauts. It’s hard to overstate how much we enjoyed this talk. Jack mixed in video clips, photographs, and his own personal anecdotes and memories. Watching a History Channel documentary is not at all the same as seeing a live presentation by someone who was actually involved in these missions.

My daughter loved meeting Marissa Meyer. She’s currently reading Cinder for her outside reading assignment. I gave her a stack of YA books to choose from and she read the first few paragraphs of each and choose Meyer’s book about a cyborg Cinderella in part because Meyer establishes immediate sympathy for her protagonist. My daughter had her sign Cinder and Scarlet and even got to play Taboo with her, Charles Gannon, Sarah Pinkster, and Michael Underwood as part of SFWA’s Dangerous Voices Variety Hour.

Marissa Meyer's Cinder

The Dark Fantasy panel was great – a much more intimate setting than NYCC’s genre-benders panel in 2012! We opened by discussing “dark fantasy” and what the heck that term really means. I’m not sure a consensus was reached but it was interesting hearing everyone’s take. I shared my thoughts: basically, that the term dark fantasy can be used as a catchall category for works that otherwise defy categorization. When I hear the term I assume the story will have at least one element that is disturbing, unsettling, provocative, or even violent, and that it may not end happily. Other writers shared their view that dark fantasy, including horror, can be cathartic for both writer and reader. Overall, however, I think the biggest takeaway from the panel was this:

Write for yourself. Yes, genre writers want to be commercial and should pay attention to the market. But chasing trends won’t make you a success. Instead, it will almost always guarantee you fail. Why? Because you’ll never get the timing right for one thing (by the time your work is finished, submitted, bought, and published, the trend will be stale). What’s worse though is that your work won’t be genuine.

Jill Archer, dark fantasy panel, Noon Onyx, Baltimore Book Festival, SFWA

Jill Archer
DARK FANTASY PANEL
Baltimore Book Fest 2014

We didn’t spend a lot of time discussing the market, preferring instead to answer questions about our work or share tips for other writers in the audience, but it’s worth noting here that I’ve been hearing various behind-the-scenes chatter about a decreased interest in urban fantasy and paranormal romance. Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because if UF and/or PNR is your love, then write it. Read it. Trends come and go. If I’ve learned nothing else from my time as a writer, it’s that the most important thing is to be disciplined and stick to your own goals. For writers, it’s not the early bird who wins, it’s the one who hunts for the worms they think are perfect, from sunup to sundown… and then on through the night and into the next day… and so on and so forth.

It was also nice just getting down to the harbor. I used to work there and now I rarely get down there. So it was great having lunch with friends – and going to dinner! I mentioned before that it was our 17th wedding anniversary. (17 years?! Jeez, how did I get to be so old?! :-D )

Saturday night after the Author Meet & Greet, Craig and I cabbed it to Jack’s Bistro in Canton, a waterfront neighborhood to the east of the Inner Harbor. It was tiny and packed but absolutely terrific and just what we were in the mood for. Our waitress was super friendly with all sorts of helpful suggestions. We splurged: apps, wine, ridiculously large entrees, and a dessert.

Since I shared a wedding picture of us for our 15th anniversary, I’ll share two other vintage pics with you for this year: one from our engagement party and one from our rehearsal dinner. Enjoy!

Our engagement party circa 1995. I'm rocking the "young lawyer" look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!

Our engagement party circa 1995. I’m rocking the “young lawyer” look, huh? And some seriously curly hair!

Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997

Craig and Jill Rehearsal Dinner 1997

Hope everyone’s week is going well! Tomorrow, I have another guest blogger. (She says she doesn’t like to dress up for Halloween! But we’ll forgive her. It’s a great post! :-) )


Writers Who Create Other Things: Delilah Devlin’s The Emerald Casket

Last month a jewelry designer/artist contacted me about possibly doing a guest blog here. It gave me the idea to do a whole guest blog series featuring writers who create other things besides characters and the worlds they live in. So, over the next few months, I’m going to be posting a handful of guest blogs from writers who make jewelry, art, and crafts. I think it’s neat to see the different ways that writers use their creativity. My first guest is New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Delilah Devlin who creates “erotically-charged paranormal worlds” and “richly descriptive westerns that ring with authenticity.” She also makes and sells jewelry with her daughter from their Etsy page, The Emerald Casket. She’s here today to talk about that and her other creative endeavors. Welcome, Delilah!

The Emerald Casket 2

“When I’m stuck in a story and need to move away from my desk to think,

it’s the perfect time to pull out beads or paint.”

Hi there! First, I’d like to thank Jill for inviting me to be here to talk about something other than books! How fun!

If you don’t follow me on Facebook or read my blog, you probably don’t know that I try my hand at other artful pursuits.

I dabble in watercolor, Zentangle, fused glass, but the thing I enjoy doing most, other than writing books, is making jewelry. In fact, I have a little online business I began with my daughter, Kelly a couple of years ago. We don’t make a ton of items to sell there, therefore, we haven’t made a lot money selling our jewelry, but it gives us this little hobby we share.

Kelly and I both have busy lives. We’d thought about making jewelry, for fun and for profit, for a long time before we started. We kept waiting for the right time… When things slowed down… When the kids were a little older… Finally, we realized there would never be a perfect time to open the store. We just had to do it and see what happened.

The Emerald Casket 1

I’m a full-time writer, and like most folks who are passionate about their work, it’s much more than a full-time job. My daughter owns a frame shop and is a full-time mother of three, so her hands are full, too.

Where do we find the time to create? It’s not easy. We both have to use little windows of downtime. When I’m stuck in a story and need to move away from my desk to think, it’s the perfect time to pull out beads or paint. I can let my mind wander to whatever problem I’m having with the current story, while I let the other part of my mind enjoy something really relaxing—almost like meditation, but so much more productive.  Kelly has the added obstacle of trying to escape her house and family to come here to work, since everything is set up in our little crowded workroom.

 

We make time, because we love doing this. And if we manage to sell enough to pay for the supplies, we’ll be able to keep our doors open. Bead-therapy is expensive!

This past weekend we did something fun. A rural church held a “Pumpkin Days” event—think hay rides, pony rides, bouncy house, barbecued meat and hot dogs… They also had a little space for vendors. We took bracelets and dominoes and thought it would be a nice way to meet people in our area and maybe make a little money. We were very successful! Surprisingly so. We even got an invitation to participate in an A.M.E. church bazaar. Whew. If ever either of the event organizer knew what I did for a living… :)

Anyway, if you’d like to see what I do besides write, you can check out these sites:

The Emerald Casket: Etsy Store | Facebook Page | Website | Pinterest Page

If you are a writer who makes and sells art, jewelry, or some other type of craft, and you are interested in guest blogging, please contact me for more details. I have a few guest spots left. Hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was SUPER BUSY! (I haven’t forgotten about doing a post on the Baltimore Book Fest. Will do later this week!) Thank you, Delilah, for guest blogging today!


#Writing #Workshops for October

Below are the online workshops being offered in October 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.

Dialogue:

Don’t Let ‘Em Say What You Mean

10/03/2014 – 10/31/2014

We all know great dialogue when we read it—and the best dialogue seems effortless. But good dialogue takes work and a few key ingredients.

What do you need to get your characters talking in ways that make for riveting, exciting scenes?

1) Your Characters’ Voices
2) Conflict: Everyone Needs to Want Something
3) Making it Better Than Reality
4) Subtext: Layering Under the Words
5) Internal Dialogue – What’s too Much?
6) Invisible Tags and Punctuation
7) Accents, Ye Olde English, and Slang
8) Punch it! – Making Careful Edits

About the Presenter, Shannon Donnelly

Shannon Donnelly’s writing has won numerous awards, including a RITA nomination for Best Regency, the Grand Prize in the “Minute Maid Sensational Romance Writer” contest, judged by Nora Roberts, RWA’s Golden Heart, and others. Her writing has repeatedly earned 4½ Star Top Pick reviews from Romantic Times magazine, as well as praise from Booklist and other reviewers, who note: “simply superb”…”wonderfully uplifting”….and “beautifully written.”

Her Regency romances can be found as ebooks on all formats, and with Cool Gus Publishing, and include a series of four novellas.

She also has out the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the Urban Fantasy, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes Paths of Desire, a Historical Regency romance.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and computer games. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and only one love of her life. Shannon can be found online at sd-writer.com, facebook.com/sdwriter, and twitter/sdwriter.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Plotting

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Plotting is a crucial aspect in every novel. This class uses the three-act model of plotting which is appropriate for the pantser, the plotter, or a combination of both. The approach is plotting major points of the story and will also show the relationship of plotting to characterization through Deb Dixon’s “goals, motivation, and conflict” method. There will also be a short lecture on sagging middles and hitting the wall, what they are and how to avoid them.  Classes will be a mixture of lecture and exercises. By the end of the class, a student will have plotted one novel.

About the Presenter, Monette Michaels

My undergraduate majors were English and Mathematics from Purdue University. I then attended IU-Indpls Law School. My first job was in legal editing. Currently, my day job is as an arbitrator in commercial, securities, and employment law.

My creative writing background: I write as Monette Michaels and Rae Morgan. My first-published book was Fatal Vision (as Monette Michaels) in the late 1990s with one of the early e-publishers; it was re-published by LTDBooks, a Canadian indie press, in 2000. I went on to write several other single titles for LTDBooks: Death Benefits (an EPPIE finalist), Green Fire (a Dream Realm finalist), and The Case of the Virtuous Vampire (an EPPIE finalist and a CAPA Finalist) and now re-published as The Virtuous Vampire at Liquid Silver Books. I won an EPPIE in 2005 for Blind-Sided, published at Atlantic Bridge Publishing.

Currently, I write three series as Monette Michaels: the Gooden and Knight Paranormal Mystery series (The Virtuous Vampire, The Deadly Séance), The Security Specialists International series (Eye of the Storm, an EPPIE Finalist, Stormy Weather Baby, a novella, Cold Day in Hell, Storm Front, a novella, Weather the Storm) and the Prime Chronicles Trilogy (Prime Obsession and Prime Selection) .

As Rae Morgan, I write the Coven of the Wolf Series ( Destiny’s Magick, Moon Magick (Dream Realm finalist), Treading the Labyrinth (EPPIE finalist), and a novella“No Secrets,” in Zodiac Elements: Water). My single titles are Earth Awakened (a Terran Realm book), Enchantress, “Evanescence,” in Edge of Night, and “Once Upon a Princess,” in Ain’t Your Mama’s Bedtime Stories.

For the first years of Liquid Silver Books, I was the Acquisitions Editor and also edited books. I am currently a Senior Editor and do still read, acquire, and edit for the main lines of LSB, as needed.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Click here to register.

Vampires Along Silk Road and Beyond

10/06/2014 – 10/19/2014

Welcome to Vamps R Us! Is there another mythological creature that’s been as the source of so much more entertainment and speculation in recent years than the legend of the vampire? Pop culture and entertainment is overflowing with the bloodsuckers, and has been since Bram Stoker introduced the cover boy for vamps, Dracula, back in 1897.

But he wasn’t the first vampire to catch the imagination of the public, and Transylvania wasn’t the first place to see vampires. There have been stories about human-appearing monsters all over the world who suck the blood and the life force out of people, sometimes seducing them along the way, sometimes just going straight for the jugular, thanks very much, for thousands of years.

The descriptions about them change, of course, but there are a couple of details that don’t: One, vampires are always the dead come back to life, and two, they always vant to drink your bloooood. Except … vampires aren’t always dead, and they don’t necessarily want to suck your blood. Confused? Don’t blame you. It turns out that not only have there been legends about the vampires for thousands of years, but they’ve been spotted all over the world, and they’re all little different, differing from region to region, period after period, in the most unexpected of ways. The one thing that doesn’t change is their ability to mesmerize and terrify us.

Intrigued by ghosts? Let Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn take you on a walk around the world to examine those myths, and see how ghosts shift, change, and evolve as we travel, and haunt us wherever we go.

About the Presenters,

Jacquie Rogers and Eilis Flynn

Jacquie Rogers’ first burning desire was to be a baseball announcer, but that didn’t work out so she decided to write romance novels. Her latest novel is the third in the Much Ado western romance series, Much Ado About Mavericks. Faery Merry Christmas is her latest fantasy release. Jacquie is owner of Romancing The West, a popular western blog, and teaches online classes on various writing topics.

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: $20.00

Click here to register for this workshop.


The Lovegrove Legacy: Whisper the Dead by Alyxandra Harvey

Today’s guest blogger is Alyxandra Harvey, author of WHISPER THE DEAD, a YA historical paranormal featuring witches, which releases next Tuesday. She’s here with character sketches and a chance to win one of three print copies (open to U.S. and Canada). To enter, please click on the Rafflecopter link at the end of the post. Welcome, Alyxandra!

Whisper the Dead, The Lovegrove Legacy, Alyxandra Harvey, YA, YA historical paranormal, witches

Visit magical London in 1816 and meet the heroine and hero of

Whisper the Dead from The Lovegrove Legacy:

 

Whisper the Dead, The Lovegrove Legacy, Alyxandra Harvey, YA, YA historical paranormal, witchesGretchen Thorn

  • Age: 18
  • Hair: short and blond
  • Eyes: brown
  • Familiar: Wolfhound
  • Magic: “Whispering”… sensing when a spell is going wrong and knowing instinctively how to fix it

Gretchen is wild and rebellious and impatient. Her twin brother Godric and her cousins Emma and Penelope are the only ones who let her be herself. Her mother is determined to mold her into a proper debutante, which is something Gretchen fights with as much dedication as she fights the Greymalkin Sisters terrorizing London. She spends most of her time hiding in libraries at social events like balls and musicales.

She has short hair, which became a bit of a trend in the early 1800’s (even Lord Byron’s lover Lady Caroline Lamb cut hers off). Gretchen is much more interested in riding horses, climbing trees, and sneaking about than she is in fashion— but she would have been the first to run out and chop her hair off as soon as she could. She feels choked by the rules of society and she isn’t too keen on learning a new set of witch-society rules.

She is quite keen however on thumbing her nose at The Order of the Iron Nail.

The problem is, the Order is now perfectly aware of her ability to get herself into trouble.

And Tobias Lawless, a Keeper, keeps getting in her way.

Whisper the Dead, The Lovegrove Legacy, Alyxandra Harvey, YA, YA historical paranormal, witchesTobias Lawless

  • Hair: blond
  • Eyes: blue
  • Familiar: Wolf
  • Magic: Tracking magic and curses

Tobias is a Keeper for the Order of the Iron Nail, sworn to keep the peace and protect witches from warlocks. He believes in rules and order, both for the protection of Magical London and also for the protection of his own secrets.

Which is why Gretchen Thorn is going to be a problem.

She is reckless, defiant, infuriating—and quite possibly the most interesting girl he has ever met.

Unfortunately, the Order comes first.

Always.

More About Whisper the Dead

Gretchen is struggling with her newfound gift as a Whisperer; the constant buzzing in her ears from detecting spells is more frustrating than fun, especially when she is spending time with one of the Order of Iron Nail’s Keepers, the icy but strikingly handsome Tobias Lawless.

But while Gretchen tries to hide the truth and resolve her feelings for him, London fades from beautiful and bustling to deathly silent …Something evil is once again menacing Mayfair, and Gretchen and her cousins must use their powers to prevent a horrible sacrifice.

Available at Amazon

Excerpt

The contrast between fighting off the Rovers and pasting a polite smile on her face for the single sons of earls was too stark. Residual magic burned through her. She was surprised the air around her didn’t crackle. Her mother shouldn’t begrudge her a stolen moment in the library, not if the alternative involved magic shooting off the ends of her hair. Hardly subtle.

Not to mention hardly marriageable material.

On second thought….

Better not. She’d already pushed her luck by going off with Godric.

Egyptian onion farming it was then. She walked along the book shelves, reading titles and glancing into the glass-fronted cabinets that held Lord Worthing’s collection of painted globes. It was dull and dusty and soothing. Her witch knot stopped aching.

Until someone grabbed her arm, yanking it behind her back and spinning her around. Her check pressed to the cold glass of a curio cabinet. Pain shot up to her elbow when she tried to move.

“Who are you?” a man’s asked, his voice quiet and cold in her ear.

“Who am I?” she barked back. “Who the hell are you?”

He evaded the kick she aimed at his most sensitive parts. Her skirts wrapped around her knees, hobbling and infuriating her. He turned her roughly around.

Tobias Lawless.

She wasn’t sure which of the two of them was more surprised.

Someone so chilly and perfect and wearing such a flawless cravat shouldn’t be mauling ladies in dark libraries. He also shouldn’t have several short iron daggers tucked inside his cutaway coat. It probably said something unsavory about her character that the sight of those daggers made her like him a bit more. But only a little bit.

“Let me go,” she yanked savagely down, breaking his hold. He didn’t move back, and his body continued to block her against the cabinets. The glass rattled.

“What are you doing?” he stepped closer still. She had to tilt her chin up.

“I am currently being accosted,” she snapped, driving the heel of her shoe into the top of his foot. He fell back a step, growling in his throat. Growling. He really didn’t seem the type.

She made a proper fist, not like the ones girls made when they hadn’t practiced before. She’d already punched a Rover tonight. She was very comfortable punching Tobias, Lord Killingsworth. Eager, in fact.

“What is wrong with you?” she asked finally. “Are you drunk?”

“Certainly not.”

She raised an eyebrow. “I’m the one being mauled and yet you take offense?”

“I can smell it on you,” he answered which was no answer at all. “There’s no use prevaricating.”

“I don’t usually bother lying about perfume,” she replied, now more bewildered than concerned.

“Not perfume,” he ground out, as if she was the frustrating one. “Dark magic.”

Her eyes narrowed to angry slits. “I beg your pardon.”

“As you should.”

She aimed for his head. It was big and fat and so perfectly groomed, how could she miss? He caught her wrist and squeezed. Hard. He shouldn’t have been fast enough.

An iron-nail pendant in the shape of a wheel slipped out from under his collar. Gretchen stared at it, then transferred her glare to his haughty, unkindly beautiful face.

“I knew it.” She gave him a smile better suited to one of the animals in the zoological gardens. “You’re a bloody Keeper.”

Alyxandra Harvey

Alyxandra Harvey

More About Alyxandra

Alyxandra Harvey lives in a stone Victorian house in Ontario, Canada with a few resident ghosts who are allowed to stay as long as they keep company manners. She loves medieval dresses, used to be able to recite all of The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, and has been accused, more than once, of being born in the wrong century. She believes this to be mostly true except for the fact that she really likes running water, women’s rights, and ice cream.

More About the Giveaway

CLICK HERE TO ENTER TO WIN ONE OF THREE PRINT COPIES OF WHISPER THE DEAD (U.S. AND CANADA ONLY).

CLICK HERE FOR A COMPLETE LIST OF JILL’S GIVEAWAY RULES.

Whisper The Dead Banner

Thank you, Alyxandra, for guest blogging today! Tomorrow, I’ll post FF&P’s October workshop descriptions & links and Friday (hopefully!) I’ll load up some pictures from the Baltimore Book Fest. Hope everyone had as great a weekend as I did!


Baltimore Book Festival: I’m going; are you?

Baltimore Book Festival, fantasy author, Jill Archer, Noon Onyx

I’ll be at the Baltimore Book Fest this weekend. Details on my scheduled events are below. The rest of the time, I’ll likely be wandering around, checking out everyone else’s events. If you’re going, it would be great to meet you! Stop by my Friday night panel and/or Saturday’s Meet & Greet. Tell me whether you’re a writer, reader, or both. Let me know if you’re a Noon Onyx fan. Or wish me and my husband (who will be there too) a Happy Anniversary (it’s our 17th!). There will be a limited number of all three Noon Onyx books for sale at the festival — and I’m offering special pricing! If you haven’t yet purchased a Noon Onyx novel, now’s your chance to buy one at a discount and have me sign it. :-D Come on, don’t make me lug my books home from the festival! If you live in the Baltimore/Washington area, help me sell out! (I’m also happy to sign books you’ve previously purchased if you want to bring them.) Hope to see you there!

Friday 9/26/14 6:00-7:00

Writing Dark Fantasy

So you’d like to write dark fantasy, horror fiction, or paranormals, or demons, angels, post-apocalyptic, and genre-bending fiction that puts you on the edge of your seat. Meet with writers of these genres to talk about what’s trending, what publishers are doing, and what tips our panel of authors has to offer.

Panelists: Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jill Archer, Em Garner, John Maclay, Sunny Moraine

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.

Saturday 9/27/14 5:30 -7:00

Reception and Meet & Greet

(Authors, Music, and Food!)

Join the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America at our reception, autographing session, and Meet and Greet with our program participants at the Baltimore Book Festival.

Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Jeanne Adams, Jill Archer, Catherine Asaro, Jack Clemons, Brenda Clough, Scott Edelman, Charles Gannon, Ronald Garner, Em Garner, Herb Gilliland, Anne K Gray, Elektra Hammond, Justina Ireland, Jim Johnson, Alma Katsu, Cheryl Klam, L. Jagi Lamplighter, John Maclay, Marrisa Meyer, Sunny Moraine, Christine Norris, Ellen Oh, Sarah Pinsker, Caroline Richmond, Don Sakers, Karen Sandler, Peggy Rae Sapienza, Rori Shay, Alex Shvartsman, Dawnyell Snyder, Bud Sparhawk, John Tilden, Mike Underwood, Jean Marie Ward, Fran Wilde, Ilene Wong, Karlo Yeager

Where is it?

This event is at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Stage (SFWA’s tent), which is on the Key Highway side of the harbor between the Science Center and the Visionary Art Museum. Click here for a map of exhibits at the Baltimore Book Fest.


Ten Things from Summer 2014 (#movies #books)

My thoughts on ten things I watched or read this summer:

  1. The Lunch Box
  2. Outlander
  3. Snowpiercer
  4. The Amazing Spider-Man 2
  5. Guardians of the Galaxy
  6. The Giver
  7. Noah
  8. The Firebird
  9. Lucy
  10. Me Before You

The Lunch Box

This mixed-up lunch box story involves India’s dabbawallas, the men who pick up hot lunch from home and deliver them to office workers. I was nearly as fascinated by the dabbawallas as I was infatuated with the movie. And I’m not the only one. Apparently, others have been interested in the process by which the dabbawallas deliver hundreds of thousands of lunchboxes daily with very few mistakes or delays. But don’t watch the movie just to see the dabbawallas! Watch it for the wonderful characters: a lonely, unappreciated housewife who cooks amazing food, a cantankerous, soon-to-retire office worker, and his genial replacement.

Outlander

Who else is watching this series on Starz? I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was worried it might be too much Lifetime and not enough HBO, but I was pleasantly surprised by Episode 1 and now, after six episodes, I’m firmly entrenched. I read the books years ago so it’s been fun returning to the story and seeing how it’s being told on screen. Tobias Menzies as Frank/Jack Randall (remember him from Rome and GoT?) and Graham McTavish as Dougal (in truth, I did not remember him from The Hobbit) have been doing a terrific job. And Claire and Jamie (Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan), if not looking exactly as I imagined them, are skilled actors with great chemistry. And I loved the author’s cameo in Episode 4!

Snowpiercer

I loved this movie. Yes, it’s gory and violent and bloody. And, yes, it strains credulity (there’s steak up front; where are the cows?!) and, yes, there are a few things not to like about the MC (well, one thing in particular). But it sticks with you. It’s unique and memorable, as much for the story – admirable these days since post-apocalyptic stories seem to be everywhere ;-) – as for the juxtaposition of scenes and characters (gruesomely dark and wet ax fights; kids singing over-the-top propaganda songs inside a surreally calm and disturbingly charming classroom car; Tilda Swinton as a vile, deranged second-in-command; Octavia Spencer as a vengeful mother on a search and rescue mission; and Chris Evans as oh-so-conflicted Curtis).

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

I wanted to love it. I really enjoyed the first one, despite the fact that I didn’t think the franchise needed a reboot. But 2 didn’t wow me. It wasn’t the ending, it was the fact that the relationship between Gwen and Spidey before the end didn’t seem as fun as it did in the first movie and the villains were kind of meh. I’m still planning on seeing The Amazing Spider-Man 3, but only because Spidey is one of my favorite superheroes and I like Andrew Garfield. I think if everything around him comes together it could be great fun.

Guardians of the Galaxy

All the fun that was missing from Spidey 2. Word seems to be that this was everyone’s favorite summer ’14 film. Yeah. What they said. And for good reason. Mostly, the cast. I was largely unfamiliar with Chris Pratt before the film. I don’t watch Parks and Rec, I didn’t see Her, and, even though I saw Moneyball, I don’t remember his character. But he was terrific in Guardians! I read an Entertainment Weekly article before the movie that detailed his career to date. He sounded genuine and grounded. His portrayal of Peter Quill made the movie for me. And, of course, I loved Zoe Saldana as Gamora and Bradley Cooper as the voice of Rocket too. My kids loved Groot.

The Giver

I didn’t read the book. My older daughter did though and it was interesting hearing her take on how the book and the movie were different – namely, and among other things, that the movie’s characters were older and its ending less ambiguous. I found myself wondering if the novel’s vague ending was a subtle message and, if so, what that message might be. Ambiguous endings can be more powerful and achieve a more lasting impact because readers love to argue about them. Regardless of her original intent with respect to The Giver’s ending though, Lowry’s now written three other books that provide definitive closure.

Noah

I put this off for a while even though the trailer looked great and reviews were positive because I worried that it might be The Fountain meets Evan Almighty. But it wasn’t. If you are on the fence about this movie, rent it. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly had already proved they worked well together in A Beautiful Mind and adding Emma Watson to the mix definitely cinched it. They all delivered emotional, compelling performances. The special effects and visuals were fantastic and the filmmakers’ take on one of our oldest stories (especially the watchers, a fanciful bit of storytelling) was interesting.

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

The story of modern-day Nicola who has the gift of psychometry (she can sense an object’s history by touching it) interwoven with the story of Anna, a young Scottish woman living in Russia during the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite Uprising. I love parallel timeline plots when they are done well (Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth and Katherine Neville’s The Eight come to mind) so I very much enjoyed this. Two romances, historical detail, and a bit of ESP = an irresistible combination. I will definitely be searching for other Kearsley titles in the future!

Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

Last month, I promised to talk more about this. At the time, I wanted to see the movie so that I could compare and contrast it with the book, even though they are two entirely different stories. But I never made it to the theater. (I see very few R rated movies in the theater because I can’t bring my kids). In any case, my theory, which I’ll have to test later, is that the book and the movie share a similar title because each is about an evolutionarily advanced girl/woman and Lucy is a reference to “Lucy” our oldest human ancestor, the first Australopithecus afarensis skeleton ever found. [Incidentally – and as a wonderful example of how art can impact science deeply and directly – the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton was named after the Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”]

So what about the book? If you like social science fiction, read it. It’s the story of a girl who is half-human, half-bonobo, which to someone like me (who spends lots of time in a fictional world inhabited by all sorts of shapeshifters and human hybrids) doesn’t sound too outlandish. But the story initially appealed to me because it wasn’t fantasy. It’s billed as a Crichton-esque “biotechnical thriller.” And the book jacket copy describing the fifteen year old “adorable, lovely, magical Lucy” made me curious. I was worried about what would happen to her before I even started reading her story.

The two best parts of the book for me were the character’s relationships (more time is spent on these than on the scientific aspects, which suited me fine but may disappoint others) and the author’s idea of The Stream (his term for the whole ecosystem of living things and their observable and imperceptible, though real, effects on that ecosystem and other living things within it).

Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

I saved this one for last because it was the toughest one for me to gather my thoughts on. Initially, I downloaded this book because I was simply looking for a nice, warm emotional romance – one I could read in 24 hours and would, by and large, likely forget about 48 hours later. [As an aside, this is not a criticism of stories that can be consumed quickly or are forgotten easily; there’s an art to crafting them too – just because a story’s easy to read doesn’t mean it’s easy to write]. But Me Before You *isn’t* that kind of story. Parts of it are nice, warm, emotional, and romantic. But the book is a lot more than that and it’s not easily forgotten. Nor should it be.

It’s the story of a 26-year-old woman (Lou) who’s a little lost. At the start of the book, she’s living with her parents, she’s in a so-so relationship, and she’s lost her job. It wasn’t a glamorous or high paying job but it was one she enjoyed and its loss propels her in search of another. She finds one caring for a 35-year-old quadriplegic (Will) who’s not lost (he knows all too well what he wants). He’s rich and handsome… a former business tycoon and lady charmer who is now at times angry, withdrawn, or resigned.

SPOILERS… don’t read ahead if you want to read it and don’t like spoilers…

Before reading Me Before You I’d never heard of DIGNITAS, the Swiss right-to-die organization. And then, the day after I finished it, CNN ran this article. And then, the next week, a very close friend of mine had a family member take her own life. She wasn’t quadriplegic, but she was dealing with issues that were just as serious as Will’s. So I’ve been thinking, on and off nearly every day since I read Me Before You not just about the dignity of life, but the dignity of death. Is it a happy topic? No, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. It’s a huge, meaningful topic. A blog post can’t do it justice. So, for now, I’ll simply say that Jojo Moyes’ book should be read – as much for the author’s thoughtful portrayal of Will and his struggles as for the author’s down-to-earth and at times truly humorous take on Lou and Lou’s life.

Have any of you watched or read any of the above? If so, what did you think? If not, are you watching or reading anything worth sharing? Let me know in the comments! I hope everyone’s September is off to a great start.


Jeffe Kennedy: The Future of Fantasy Romance

Jeffe Kennedy’s third book in her Covenant of Thorns trilogy releases today. She’s here to chat about the fantasy romance genre and share a bit about her new book, Rogue’s Paradise. Welcome, Jeffe!

“It’s not easy for writers to know what genre to put their stories in”

Thanks to Jill for hosting me today, on the release day of Rogue’s Paradise!

Jill and I are both members of RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal special interest chapter (FFP). We’ve been having a lively discussion on our chapter loop lately about genre and how to categorize our own books.

This kind of question comes up fairly frequently, particularly from newer writers wondering how to describe their books in query letters or in choosing genre categories in self-publishing. Contrary to what you might think, it’s not easy for writers to know what genre to put their stories in. We generally write the stories and THEN figure out what to call it. Jill also writes what she calls “genre-bending fantasy.”

That said, it’s interesting to me to have this trilogy culminate at a time when the genre, Fantasy Romance, is considered “hot.” At the risk of sounding like I’m groaning out an old, sad tale about walking to school in hip-deep snow, uphill, both ways , when I wrote the first book, Rogue’s Pawn, Fantasy Romance wasn’t really a genre. Certainly not one I was aware of.

I know this because for a long time, I shopped that book as Urban Fantasy or Paranormal Romance. And it was politely explained to me (sometimes less so, as one agent sent me away in tears) that it was neither. When Carina Press bought the Covenant of Thorns trilogy, they called it Fantasy Romance. I swear that was the first time I was aware of the genre, though I had been reading other books classified that way. Rogue’s Pawn was only the tenth book at Carina to be published in that genre, in July of 2012, just over two years after Carina launched their first books.

Now, with Rogue’s Possession, the second book in the trilogy, finaling in FFP’s PRISM contest (though as Fantasy – even WE don’t recognize Fantasy Romance as a separate category yet!), and Rogue’s Paradise coming out today, I often hear my Covenant of Thorns trilogy cited as “classic” fantasy romance. Or, at least, as a solid example of the genre.

In our discussions on the FFP loop, I described myself as an interdimensional being who straddles genres, (we get to talk that way in FFP) especially since my other current trilogy is called Fantasy. One of our other members suggested the term “interstitial genres” – which, if you know biology, is a great choice. It would be interesting to trace the history of which books were first dubbed “Fantasy Romance.” Amusingly the Wikipedia link for Fantasy Romance redirects to Romantic Fantasy (last updated August 2014) – not the same thing at all.

At any rate, it’s so fun to have this trilogy culminate at this time, with so many wonderful writers doing great things with fantasy stories in all types of settings and romantic flavors.

It feels like a big party.

~throws confetti~

~twirls~

Jill’s Thoughts:

Every time these discussions come up about subgenre definition, I think of the last scene from Back to the Future when Doc says, “Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” lol.

Ah, if only it were that simple.

 I’m always tempted to call the Noon Onyx books “Fantasy” (which is what the spine says they are) and be done with it, but I also know it’s important to give readers information to help them decide if they want to read a book. And the fewer words a writer uses to do that, the better. So labels and genre definitions can be helpful. But they can also be limiting and misleading.

My books are genre mutts, full of fantasy (they’re set in an imaginary world), urban fantasy (the focus of the stories is the main character, a magic-wielding woman), and romance elements (there are several suitors and lots of emotion and inner conflict regarding Noon’s relationships). And, because the stories are written in the youthful, first person voice of a twenty-something postgrad, I even played around with the New Adult label. Plus each book in the series has drawn from the well of these other genres: mystery, adventure/quest, and legal thriller. Gah! See why I want to call up Doc and borrow his DeLorean?

Jeffe mentioned these discussions regarding subgenre definition come up fairly frequently among writers. Yep, too true. But, even though I joke about calling up Doc, I love discussing this stuff. In fact, just last week I was swapping emails with some of the writers who will be doing the Dark Fantasy Panel with me at the upcoming Baltimore Book Fest. Betcha can guess what one of the things we were discussing was. Yep, the future of dark fantasy and what the heck that label is supposed to mean. :-D

More About Rogue’s Paradise

Rogue's ParadisePregnant, possessed, and in love with a man I don’t dare to trust-those are the consequences of the risks I took to save my life. But Faerie, the land of blood and magic, is filled with bitter ironies, and the bargains I made now threaten me and my unborn child.

The darkly sensual fae noble Rogue still tempts me to danger and desire. As we await the birth of our child, I’ve been forced to question whether our offspring is part of a bargain Rogue once made to save himself. He can’t tell me the truth due to a spell the vicious Queen Titania has him under. Would he betray our family against his will? Could I ever forgive him if he does?

Rogue insists on an eternal commitment from me, even as Titania’s forces close in on us. I don’t know if Rogue and I can withstand her onslaught, or that of the beast within me. But I will not stop looking for answers-even if it brings the walls of Faerie crashing down.

 More About Jeffe

Jeffe KennedyJeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns;  the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Foreword Literary.

What sort of stories do you think of when you hear the term “fantasy romance”? Have you read any books that would fit that description? In addition to Jeffe’s Covenant of Thorns trilogy, two authors to try might be C.L. Wilson and Amy Raby.

Congratulations and best wishes, Jeffe. Thank you for guest blogging today!

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