Tag Archives: Jill Archer

Five Photographs: Celia Breslin (Desserts You Can’t Eat + Disney for Adults)

This spring, I’m hosting a guest blog series called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures and complete a brief interview. Today’s guest is Celia Breslin. Welcome, Celia!

Hi Everyone!

I’m happy to be here today to participate in Jill’s new guest blog series.  And Jill, thanks for giving me a reason to peruse my photo albums. :-)

Something that represents something unique about you

Breslin Tattoo

This is my tattoo.  I designed it myself. I was going for a primitive, moon-goddess-meets-silver-surfer kind of vibe.  Actual size: six inches.

Something that represents where you live

Breslin San Francisco Fog

San Francisco is a beautiful city.  I love watching the fog roll over the hills.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for (besides your human family/friends)

Breslin Cats

These are my cats Lenny and Hazel.  We adopted them from our local shelter when they were both a little over one year old. They’re loads of purring fun.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Breslin Dessert

This is made-to-order, molten chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and delicious, creamy sauce at Moki’s Sushi & Pacific Grill.  I get to watch my family enjoy this dessert because I’m allergic to dairy and cannot eat it!  Frustrating, indeed. :-)

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Breslin Vegas

I love going on vacation with my family. Last fall, we went to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary and stayed in a suite at the Wynn. We like to spend most of our time poolside then go to shows in the evening.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

Human-wolf hybrid Darci wants a cure for her shifting problem not a Wolf mate, but Dominant wolf Ross intends to change her mind and capture her heart. – DIAMOND MOON, Black Hills Wolves series.

What are you working on next?

I’m currently editing the second werewolf story for the Black Hills Wolves (a multi-author series from Decadent Pub), writing the third wolf story, and also working on the third vampire novel for my Tranquilli Bloodline series (Champagne Books).

What are you currently reading?

21 Marine Salute, a collection of military romance stories by Heather Long.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Vampire Diaries and Originals.

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

Vampires and werewolves top my list of favorite fantasy creatures, along with the Fae. I particularly enjoy them all in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series. And her vampire villain, Lothaire, tops my list of fun villains. For a weapon, I’ll go with the daggers in J. R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

I’d say it’s the same challenge pre and post publication: it’s important to keep writing while one attends to the other aspects of the business, such as promotion, conferences, queries, submissions, etc.

How can we meet that challenge?

Write every day. Lock in that writing time on your busy schedule and make it happen!

Thanks again, Jill, this was fun! Have a great day, everyone! ::waves::  :-)

More About Celia

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

Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us, Celia! A dairy allergy would be tough, especially if it prevents you from eating chocolate desserts. (Although it would be tougher for me to give up cheese. I’m one of those people who prefers fruity/sour sweets to chocolate ones.) I’ve only been to Vegas once but I really enjoyed it. Went with a bunch of girlfriends that I’ve been friends with forever and we had a blast. I’d love to go back with my husband. Everyone was so friendly. Disney for adults! :-D

Now back to writing! ;-)


Five Photographs: JC Stockli (Rescue Pup + Why to Join a Writing Group)

This spring, I’m hosting a guest blog series called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures and complete a brief interview. Today’s guest is JC Stockli. Welcome, JC!

Something Unique About You:

JC Stockli UniqueMy ring represents my marriage, but it is a unique ring, just like my relationship with my husband. He special ordered it because he wanted something out of the norm. The engagement ring did not have a matching band (because what guy thinks of that when he orders a ring), so the wedding band is literally one-of-a-kind, hand-carved to match the engagement ring. More than that, it is a representation of a truly unusual relationship. We were two very anti-relationship kind of people, but within 3 weeks decided to get engaged. That was 10 ½ years ago, and we’ve been married for 8 ½ of those years. Everything in our life together has happened fluidly. From the moment we met to the birth of our children, nothing has been a struggle for us. We are truly blessed. Life has naturally progressed since we found each other. How many young couples can say that these days?

Something That Represents Where You Live:

JC Stockli SunsetI have taken some real breathtaking photos of the area that I live in, but this one in particular makes me happy. This was my back yard a few weeks ago. I awoke to this amazing blood orange hue warming my bedroom, setting everything on fire. When I look outside, this is what I saw. I live in the country, but am a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean. I can hear the sea gulls along the coast while watching hawks fly overhead. It’s amazing.

Your Pet or Plant or Thing You Care For:

JC Stockli Awesome Possum

~

This is my “Awesome Possum”. Ever since we rescued this boy after being found alone underneath the wheel well of a school bus in the middle of Kentucky, Possum has been the perfect addition to our New England family… and I haven’t stopped writing since he arrived. My husband says he is my muse.

Something That Frustrates You:

JC Stockli Frustrating~

The fact that I spend more time alone in my office rather than with my family or doing what I love frustrates me. I believe that you have to smile and/or laugh at least once a day at work. Such a feat is difficult to accomplish on days when your whole family is home and you’re not. My daughter wrote this on my white board in my office, and while I realize that she was just saying I’d be out to lunch, I can’t help but find the dramatic undertone beneath it. Work sucks!

Something That Brings You Joy:

JC Stockli Joy~

These little monsters are my ALL. I think being a parent is hands down the most difficult job, because at the end of a 9-5 it’s not about going home to a glass of wine with dinner, maybe a work out and then some writing. It’s about making sure we all sit at the table together to chat about how our day went. It’s about making sure homework is done and tubbies are set. Let’s be honest, it’s about relinquishing all rights to privacy in the bathroom and premature grey hairs. On the weekends, it’s not about warrioring through a couple of chapters, but what you can do as a family to make lasting memories. Writing is secondary, even when your daughter walks up to you and asks if you’re done with your book yet. It’s about turning her on to reading so that she may be inspired to follow in your footsteps someday. It’s a difficult balance when you have passion for your work, but it’s worth it.

Interview

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

The Nothingness is about an alcoholic waitress. It’s a dark, urban fantasy with paranormal elements, but the heart of the series is about the main character’s struggle to overcome her addictions. The first book in this series introduces the drug to the main character, where the remainder of the series takes her through the various stages of intervention, reveling in the high, over-dosing, hitting rock bottom, and finding ways to cope and recover.

What are you working on next?

Aside from working on the sequel to The Nothingness (The Saving, which I hope to release this July), I have a paranormal fantasy about witchcraft and a very intimate connection between two people. It was really just a story I wrote for myself, that literally flowed out of me in a month’s time. I feel it would be a shame not to share it with the world. I also have several other WIPs, another being a dark faerie fantasy / Gothic romance. I just sort of let my mind go with that one. It’s been amazing.

What are you currently reading?

Too much… Ha! But seriously, I have several “to read” books in my pile, I’m trying to wrap up The Shadow Fabric by Mark Cassell. It’s a great mystery/thriller based on witchcraft folklore, which I dig.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Not a cop-out, but I don’t watch a lot of TV. I probably should, but I really don’t. When I do, it’s usually Scrubs reruns with my husband, or Big Bang Theory reruns. If I’m going to watch TV, I usually like it to be an escape, effortless, and funny. Have you ever watched Drunk History?  100% hilarious!

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

I’m a Star Wars dork. I’m a fan of the Order of the Sith. Where I respect Darth Vader for the legend he is, I am partial to Darth Maul. His fighting style is just badass, and his death was a tragedy… but I realize there can be only two ;)

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Exposure. I think the digital age has been great for indies, but it’s a double-edged sword in my opinion. Social media is a useful tool, but it’s so immense of an undertaking to create a profile out of thin air. This is where I feel traditional publishing, even down to a small press has the upper hand. Indies don’t have a network of their own. They have to go out and make their own friends from scratch, not through a publishing house. It’s a daunting task for any introvert, even if we’re guarded by our digital cloak.

How can we meet that challenge?

Groups that aim to foster constructive, synergistic relationships between writers of all genres. The groups I have joined have been wonderful. They are full of supportive and positive criticism. They make it easier to build up the nerve to share ideas. And they say “sharing is caring”. No matter what stage of the game you are at in your writing career, we all need to pitch in and support each other. There’s a readership out there for all of us.

Thank you for sharing your pictures and thoughts with us, JC. Your little climbers are cute and your Awesome Possum is adorable! :-)


Five Photographs: Carla Richards (Saskatchewan, Snuffaleupagus, and Summon the Sun)

Fun bloggy news: I’m starting a new guest blog series today called “Five Photographs.” I asked a bunch of writers to submit five pictures (all taken by them; no stock photos :-) ) and complete a brief interview. You all know how I love themed guest blog series AND how I love eclectic blog posts and photographs, so this idea sounded perfect. Carla Richards is kicking it off with five beautiful, cute, and/or creative photos. She discusses author branding in her interview. There’s also a Goodreads giveaway link for an anthology Carla contributed to. Details below. Enjoy! Welcome, Carla!

Something that represents something unique about you:

Carla Richards Unique

This is one of my paintings. Although, it was done intentionally in the style of Jackson Pollock, it also represents something about me. I once had an acquaintance psychoanalyze me based on this painting when he and his wife were over for supper. He was an engineer not a psychiatrist, but he had learned to do this in some kind of class. The analysis wasn’t terribly accurate, but it was still a lot like those horrible dreams of going to school naked.

Something that represents where you live:

Carla Richards Saskatchewan

This photo pretty much covers winters here in Saskatchewan. It’s beautiful and it’s cold. It’s hard to remember that it’s beautiful when winter is trying to take over for the other seasons, the streets are covered in mucky snow and ice, and there are days when the windchill can freeze your face in under a minute.

Your pet or plant or thing you care for besides your human family/friends:

Carla Richards Pickles

This is Pickles. She loves to knead on the bed and purr. She’s incredibly loyal, but some people think she might be imaginary like Snuffaleupagus (had to look up how to spell that!) because she is very shy.

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you:

Carla Richards Cords

Cords! Never-ending cords! I do like trying to photograph everyday objects in interesting ways, but cords are just ugly.

 Something that brings you joy (besides writing):

Carla Richards Quilts

This is a quilt my late grandmother made for me many years ago. It was soft, just the right size, just the right weight, and made with grandma-love. As you can partly see from the photo, sadly, it is falling apart. I had to take it off the bed and put it away, but I did take pictures first. Still hoping it can be fixed.

Interview with Carla

What’s the elevator pitch for your latest published novel?

My latest published work is a short story called “Summon the Sun” in Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods, an anthology exploring faith through science fiction and fantasy. Right now you can enter to win a copy on Goodreads!

The pitch for my story: An irresponsible novice witch summons the Egyptian Sun God to help warm up winter. But how much can a deity accomplish with a present following of one part-time Starbucks barista?

 What are you working on next?

I have a short story coming out in a benefit anthology for Friends of Homeless Animals, and my Work in Progress is a funny urban fantasy set in NYC with a fashion design assistant and some slightly ridiculous demons.

What are you currently reading?

I am usually reading several things at once. Right now: Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin, and Animals Make Us Human by Temple Grandin.

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I’m catching up on the last season of Game of Thrones, and eagerly awaiting more Outlander. Jamie (sigh).

[Jill: Believe it or not, I haven’t watched Outlander episode 9 yet! We were out of town for Easter and now my kids are on spring break. Maybe tonight. And – yes! – can’t wait for GoT S5!]

Favorite fantasy creature, villain, or weapon not from your own work?

My favorite villains are the ones that are sort of grey rather than black and white, or the ones that are on a redemption path. You are never quite sure if they are going to do something evil or something heroic, but your heart is in your throat every time they have to make a choice. Jaime Lannister is one of my favorite villains like this.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Author branding may not be the biggest challenge facing writers today, but it’s been on my mind, so it’s the one I’ll talk about. The part of it that concerns me is the expectation that, for marketing purposes, all of an author’s work will fit neatly into one genre category like widgets produced in a factory. We are not factories. The truth is that this kind of restriction can really derail creativity, decreasing the quality of the work or stopping the creative process dead in its tracks. It’s true. It’s a business. But, it’s a creative business. And that means we have to protect our inner artists too.

The other aspect of this for authors is the use of a new pen name for every subgenre they write in, and the time then spent maintaining websites and social media for three or four “different” people. Time not spent writing.

[Jill: I’m always torn about author branding. I was a marketing major in college so I can appreciate why products/companies should have strong brands. But as an author I often rebel (ahem, this blog. ‘nough said.) My most admired actors/actresses are people with excellent range, because I think they’re the ones with the most talent. So I think it’s interesting that writers aren’t judged by the same standard. Our medium is the written word and theirs is performance, but still… Should that matter? Just because you can hold a book in your hand, doesn’t mean it’s a widget. It’s a story.]

How can we meet that challenge?

One of the cool things I’ve noticed lately is using author taglines that are less genre-specific. Lots of authors use taglines–the quick little blurb that can set our work apart and make it memorable. But some of the ones I’ve seen in the past are really genre specific, letting the reader know that the author writes historical western romances or post-apocalyptic sci-fi for young adults. That’s fine if it’s the only thing an author ever wants to write. Lately though I’ve been noticing taglines that aren’t so genre specific. Taglines that promise the reader an experience, like: “She’ll keep you up all night” (Jackie Collins) or “All. The. Feels.” (Gayle Forman). These taglines can go with an author for the life of their career.

We can also use our website(s) to communicate. Neil Gaiman writes speculative fiction for adults AND he writes picture books (see Blueberry Girl–it’s lovely), all under his own name. Gaiman has two websites, one for adults and a separate one for kids. (He also has an agent who’s very successful at representing multi-genre authors.) When Courtney Milan released her first Contemporary Romance, she wrote to fans of her Regency romance on her website, telling them a bit about why she felt she needed to do something different. There’s a wonderful authenticity and connection to readers in writing under one name, and being open about the process of writing.

Another thing we can do is keep our novels within one genre and still play and experiment with short fiction, like author Mary Robinette Kowal.

Lastly, I think we should respect that readers are intelligent, and can look at the front cover, read the back cover copy, and say, “this is a bit different from her last book, but it sounds cool too.” Yep, not all of the readers of an author’s medieval fantasy trilogy are going to want to go with her on a space expedition, but I guess in the end, I feel like what we lose in branding when writing multiple genres will be gained back in creating more engaging stories that we, and our readers, are passionate about.

Does anyone have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them.

Thank you, Jill, for having me. This was a really fun blog idea.

Carla Richards

Carla Richards

More about Carla

Carla Richards has had fiction produced for CBC Radio; and published in Ocean Stories, Spring, and Tesseracts 18: Wrestling With Gods. She still has a baby tooth, and believes it is keeping her young.

Thank you, Carla, for guest blogging today! I loved your pictures and enjoyed reading your interview!


Earth Reclaimed Series Author Ann Gimpel: Living With Dogs and Wolves

When I heard Ann was doing a blog tour to help spread the word about her Earth Reclaimed Series, I asked if she wanted to share some of her hiking/mountain photographs and/or talk about her wolf hybrids. She’s here with some beautiful pictures, some tales about her four-footed pals, and a bit about her books. Welcome, Ann!

hiking, dogs, mountains, Ann Gimpel

“What’s that your dog is carrying?”

(hint: it wasn’t a backpack)

It’s hard to imagine my life without the three canine life forces that are almost always milling around me. From time to time, I try to adopt their mindset to shed some light on how they think. For example, while making lunch today I dropped a single shrimp on the floor. Kua, the youngest of my three, swooped in and picked it up in his mouth. He then proceeded to drop it and roll in it. (It’s a pretty small shrimp, mind you, and this is a hundred pound wolf hybrid.) When that didn’t work out for him, he lay there with the shrimp between his front legs and his head atop it. Since he obviously wasn’t going to do anything but guard the shrimp, I decided I’d give it to one of the other two. A sharp growl when I went after the prize told me Kua hadn’t given up. Sucking it back into his mouth, he tried to eat it again, but it just wasn’t right. This time, when he spit it out, it was in four pieces. Sigh… About an hour later, once he’d moseyed off to greener pastures, I surreptitiously picked up the pieces and tossed them.

Then there was the marmot they ganged up on during one of our long backpack trips. Two of them killed it, then proceeded to play tug of war, growling and snarling at one another seconds after they’d tag teamed on a successful hunt. Go figure. One of the sayings around Mammoth Lakes is there are no friends on powder days, meaning everyone is on their own as we hunt down untracked powder stashes to annihilate. The wolf version of that must be there are no friends when there’s carrion to be eaten. That marmot got a lot of mileage, let me tell you. One of the hybrids dragged it the mile or so back to our camp. Another carted it miles to our next camp. And the third, who’d had no hand at all in anything, simply waited. When the other two were exhausted from carting around what had to be a ten pound marmot, wolf number three closed in, took it, and ate over half. The other two circled him the whole time he was eating. The second he made the mistake of getting up to go get a drink from a nearby stream, they took the carcass back and wiped it out down to the toenails. I was ever-so-grateful we didn’t run into anyone that day. Saved a lot of explanations. Like, “What’s that your dog is carrying?” Followed by the inevitable, “Ewwww—“

And then we have the food dish issue. My oldest hybrid is pushing fifteen. Over the past couple of years, he’s decided he can’t eat when the kibble dish is next to the wall. So he noses it till it’s in the middle of the room. Of course, this puts him in a direct line to the second dish and the water. No one can go around him without an unholy fuss, so when Nikki is eating, the kitchen is off limits for the other two.

We had German shepherds for many years. And I loved them to tears. But they were a much more high-maintenance breed. Many of them aren’t fond of any humans outside their immediate family. Remember, they’re bred to be guard dogs, but they’re also regal and beautiful. People like to pet shepherds they’ve never met before, often with less-than-optimal results. I used to be amazed at the responses I’d get when I’d tell a stranger not to pet my dog. They’d range from, “Why not?” to “Oh, it’ll be fine. Dogs really like me.” I heard this last more than once when the shepherd who was on heel next to me was growling with his hackles at half-mast. Why anyone would persist in wanting to sink their fingers into the ruff of a large, powerful animal that’s growling at them defies credibility.

A saying in our home is, “It’s never the dog’s fault. They’re just being dogs.” Late one night, I watched one of our shepherds in a Montana motel. It was just Bob, McKinley and I and the dog was restless. He circled the small room a couple of times and then lunged for a bagel sitting on a bakery bag. I took it away from him (the ‘out’ command is useful), but you could see the wheels turning in his little doggie brain before he went for what he wanted. I figure he decided we’d be mad at him, but we wouldn’t kill him or kick him out of the pack, so the risk of displeasing us was worth the gain. He gambled and lost, but he didn’t lose much. He knew we’d still love him, and we did.

If any of you have dog stories, send ’em along! I’m a sucker for anything that’s canine-related.

More About Ann’s Books

urban fantasy, dystopian, Ann Gimpel, Earth's Requiem

EARTH’S REQUIEM

Resilient, kickass, and determined, Aislinn’s walled herself off from anything that might make her feel again. Until a wolf picks her for a bondmate, and a Celtic god rises out of legend to claim her for his own.

Aislinn Lenear lost her anthropologist father high in the Bolivian Andes. Her mother, crazy with grief that muted her magic, was marched into a radioactive vortex by dark creatures and killed. Three years later, stripped of every illusion that ever comforted her, twenty-two year old Aislinn is one resilient, kickass woman with a take no prisoners attitude. In a world turned upside down, where virtually nothing familiar is left, she’s conscripted to fight the dark gods responsible for her father’s death. Battling evil on her own terms, Aislinn walls herself off from anything that might make her feel again in this compelling dystopian urban fantasy.

Fionn MacCumhaill, Celtic god of wisdom, protection, and divination has been laying low since the dark gods stormed Earth. He and his fellow Celts decided to wait them out. After all, three years is nothing compared to their long lives. On a clear winter day, Aislinn walks into his life and suddenly all bets are off. Awed by her courage, he stakes his claim to her and to an Earth he’s willing to fight for.

Aislinn’s not so easily convinced. Fionn’s one gorgeous man, but she has a world to save. Emotional entanglements will only get in her way. Letting a wolf into her life was hard. Letting love in may well prove impossible.

Available at Amazon

urban fantasy, dystopian, Ann Gimpel, Earth's BloodEARTH’S BLOOD

Clinging to their courage in a crumbling world, Aislinn and Fionn vow to save Earth, no matter what it takes.

In a post-apocalyptic world where most people have been slaughtered, the Celtic gods and a few humans with magic are all that stand between survival and Earth falling into chaos. The combination of dark sorcery leveraged by the enemy is daunting. Destruction is all but certain if the small enclaves of humans who are left can’t get past their distrust of the Celts.

Captured by the enemy, Aislinn Lenear wonders if she’ll ever see her bond wolf or Fionn, a Celtic god, again. She’s had nothing but her wits to rely on for years. They haven’t failed her yet, but escape from her current predicament seems remote.

An enticing blend of dystopian urban fantasy and romance, this second volume of the Earth Reclaimed Series provides fertile ground for Aislinn and Fionn’s relationship to deepen. Headstrong and independent, the pair run up against each other’s demands time and time again. Fireworks spark. In the end, they learn to savor every moment in a bittersweet world where each day may well be the last.

Available at Amazon

urban fantasy, dystopian, Ann Gimpel, Earth's HopeEARTH’S HOPE

Power so old, deep, and chilling it hurts to think about it will overrun Earth if nothing changes. Targeted, furious, and fighting back, Aislinn runs wide open, gathering allies and putting her life on the line.

Aislinn Lenear has traveled a long road since the dark gods invaded Earth better than three years ago. After seeing her father slaughtered in front of her, and her mother sink into madness, Aislinn built strong walls around her heart. First her bond wolf, and then Fionn MacCumhaill, changed all that, but she and Fionn are far from home free.

Four of the six dark gods are still sowing destruction, and they’ve joined forces with Lemurians, a desperate lot, running just ahead of the tide of their own mortality. In a bold move, they try to coopt a group of young dragons, and very nearly succeed. Dewi, the Celtic dragon god, and Nidhogg, the Norse dragon god, banish their brood to the dragons’ home world, but they refuse to stay put.

In a fast-paced, tension-riddled closure to this dystopian, urban fantasy series, Earth’s Hope sweeps from Ireland to the Greek Islands to the Pacific Northwest to borderworlds where the dark gods live. Fionn’s and Aislinn’s relationship is strained to the breaking point as they struggle to work together without tearing one another to bits. Fionn is used to being obeyed without question, but Aislinn won’t dance to his tune. If they can find their way, there may be hope for a ravaged Earth.

Available at Amazon

Ann Gimpel

Ann Gimpel

More About Ann

Ann Gimpel is a mountaineer at heart. Recently retired from a long career as a psychologist, she remembers many hours at her desk where her body may have been stuck inside four walls, but her soul was planning yet one more trip to the backcountry. Around the turn of the last century (that would be 2000, not 1900!), she managed to finagle moving to the Eastern Sierra, a mecca for those in love with the mountains. It was during long backcountry treks that Ann’s writing evolved. Unlike some who see the backcountry as an excuse to drag friends and relatives along, Ann prefers solitude. Stories always ran around in her head on those journeys, sometimes as a hedge against abject terror when challenging conditions made her fear for her life, sometimes for company. Eventually, she returned from a trip and sat down at the computer. Three months later, a five hundred page novel emerged. Oh, it wasn’t very good, but it was a beginning. And, she learned a lot between writing that novel and its sequel.

Around that time, a friend of hers suggested she try her hand at short stories. It didn’t take long before that first story found its way into print and they’ve been accepted pretty regularly since then. One of Ann’s passions has always been ecology, so her tales often have a green twist.

In addition to writing, Ann enjoys wilderness photography. She lugs pounds of camera equipment in her backpack to distant locales every year. A standing joke is that over ten percent of her pack weight is camera gear which means someone else has to carry the food! That someone is her husband. They’ve shared a life together for a very long time. Children, grandchildren and three wolf hybrids round out their family.

hiking, dogs, mountains, Ann Gimpel

~

urban fantasy, dystopian, Ann Gimpel, Earth Reclaimed

Anyone have any crazy and/or fun dog stories? Anyone else hike with their dog? 

Anyone read with their dog? :-D

Thank you, Ann, for guest blogging today!


#Writing #Workshops for April

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

The Query Conundrum

04/06/2015 – 04/19/2015

Query writing doesn’t have to be a mystery!

In this highly interactive course, you’ll learn the basics of query writing.  Plus, view successful queries, write your own rejection letters, read all about my chat with a popular agent on what her ideal query would look like, practice your query writing skills, and then receive a free query letter critique from me at the end of the course.

Lessons Include:

Query Me This…

Understanding the Basics

Everybody Loves a Good Query

Right to the Point

You Talkin’ to Me?

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

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

Click here to register.

Adding the Unexpected:

Subverting Reader Expectations

04/13/2015 – 04/26/2015

The unexpected can illustrate character, move plot, and provide new goals, all while keeping your reader up at night turning pages. But, you don’t need to have aliens land in the middle of your quiet dinner party with the mayor to keep your readers guessing. By dissecting popular movies and a few books, we’ll discover simple things you can do to keep your audience engaged and coming back for more.

Some of the movies and books discussed will include:

  • Star Trek (2009)
  • Captain America: The Winter Solider
  • Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase

Don’t worry if you haven’t seen or read each of the scenes, they’ll be thoroughly described in each lesson and I will post a heads up before each one in case you’d like to watch/read for yourself.

Join me to learn new ways to secure your book’s place on the “keeper shelf”.

About the Presenter, Elle Keen

A longtime member of RWA, Elle enjoys writing paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic stories and since she’s normally got a fairy or two hanging around, unexpected things tend to happen.

“Elle Keen knows her way around the unexpected. You’ll get what you need to take your books to the next level from this class.” – Gini Koch, author of the Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series from DAW Books

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Click here to register for this workshop.


POLL — Fantasy Fans: What’s your “Gateway” Book?

Months ago, I was at an event with my husband. We were sitting at a table with some people we knew through others. In other words, it was a friendly environment but we didn’t really know anyone. At some point my husband mentioned that I was a writer and that I wrote “adult fantasy,” which, of course, is true, but…

that label evokes different associations depending on who hears it. Sure enough I was then immediately asked, “Oh, so your books are like Fifty Shades of Grey”?

Um, no. Not really. Yes, there’s romance in them. And, no, I don’t always close the bedroom door. But the world within which my stories are written is very different from Christian and Anastasia’s. Without thinking, I blurted out:

“No, more like Lord of the Rings.”

But then I thought about it, and realized that comparison wasn’t any more appropriate than the Fifty Shades one. My writing is as similar to Tolkien’s as it is to E.L. James’. (In other words, it isn’t. And that’s a good thing. Every writer should try to develop their own style.)

The people we were talking to were genuinely curious about what I wrote. They weren’t avid readers and they were simply trying to relate to the type of stories I write. And when people do that, they tend to make references to people, places, and things that EVERYONE has heard of. Otherwise, there’s no bridge, no connection. There’s no jumping off point, no basis for discussion. It’s just people talking at each other, instead of to each other.

But the experience made me think. And even after all this time, I haven’t really answered the question it raised, which is basically:

What’s my gateway book?

So I’m curious if anyone else struggles with this.

Writers – when you are talking to someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you compare your work to?

Readers – when you meet someone who isn’t a fantasy fan (or who may not even be a reader at all), which book do you use as a well-known example of the genre?

Before we get to the fun part, an acknowledgement:

Yes, I know fantasy is replete with subgenres and endless iterations. I’m aware that your answer to this question is highly dependent on your own reading preferences. But that’s why you must choose something that has a 90% chance of being known by someone who is NOT ALREADY A FANTASY FAN AND POSSIBLY NOT EVEN A READER AT ALL. (In other words, this is not a post about all of the stories people should have heard of because they are great examples of the genre, but rather it’s a post about the books we use to start a discussion in the first place.)

So, here are some choices. But I’m also very interested in hearing from you. I can’t possibly have listed all the options…


#Writing: Ten Vendors I Used in 2014

It’s tax season again – and that means time spent gathering up old receipts and reviewing them. In years past I’ve done detailed posts about various things writers might want to talk to their accountants about so this year I thought I’d just do a quick post with the links to various vendors I used in 2014.

1. Etsy: I am a sucker for fun blog tour prizes and there were so many beautiful, unique items to choose from on Etsy.

2. iStock: there are other stock photo websites, but iStock’s my current favorite.

3. Campaign Cartographer: bought this to try to make maps for the Noon Onyx series, but haven’t been disciplined enough to spend the time it takes to master it. Also figure Noon fans would prefer I spend my time writing rather than making maps. :-)

4. Zazzle: business cards

5. Uprinting: bookmarks

6. Bitten by Books: release day party

7. Bewitching Book Tours: blog tour

8. Night Owl Reviews: multi-title box ad

9. Goodreads Ads: writers can determine how much and how long + you can link to an excerpt or giveaway

10. Publishers Marketplace: good resource for anyone who’s looking for an agent or editor. Obviously, it shouldn’t be your sole source of info.

Bonus: Not a vendor, but one of my favorite 2014 Indiegogo/Kickstarter campaigns was the Museum of Science Fiction in DC.

How about you? Have you filed your tax returns yet? Do you have a vendor recommendation for writers? What was your favorite crowdfunding campaign from 2014?

Hope everyone’s week is going well! (We are looking at another potential snow day tomorrow. Sound ridiculous? I’m not joking. In other news: I finally saw INTERSTELLAR. Christopher Nolan loves worlds that fold up on themselves, huh? In any case, it was terrific.)


Laura Bickle: You Don’t Get to Pick Your Spirit Guide

Today’s guest is Laura Bickle, whose newest novel, DARK ALCHEMY, is coming out March 24th. She’s here with a sneak peek at her new MC’s spirit guide. She’s also giving away one copy of her novel as part of her blog tour. Details below. Welcome, Laura!

Laura Bickle Coyote Teaser

“You may not believe in spirit guides,

but all that’s important is that the animal does.”

A spirit guide is a funny thing. The general idea is that a serene and wise entity guides a willing person to enlightenment and self-understanding. There are lotus blossoms and meditation and a lot of focusing on the state of one’s chakras. Can you hear the dulcet tones of angels murmuring?

Yeah. That’s not how it works out for the heroine of DARK ALCHEMY. Petra Dee arrives in the sleepy town of Temperance to search for her father, missing ten years. She’s also running away from her own past, away from the last screams of the ocean.

Temperance isn’t the sleepy gold rush town it seems to be. At the edge of Yellowstone Park, it’s the epicenter of a turf war among the local undead, a meth lord, a cattle baron, and the forgotten alchemical monsters left behind by the town’s founder. Temperance was a town built on alchemy, when gold was conjured from stones, and the heirs of that legacy are still searching for the secret of eternal life.

Petra’s a scientist. She doesn’t believe in anything she can’t touch and measure. But when she’s confronted with bulletproof ranch hands, the Alchemical Tree of Life, and a string of dead bodies twisted and calcinated like driftwood, she’s got to start believing in something beyond the lenses of her microscope.

That something is a coyote who turns up at the doorstep of her trailer, searching for lunch meat. Coyote has long been a trickster in myth, and he’s determined to show Petra that there’s more here than meets the eye. Terrifying things long buried are waking, and he digs up one of these artifacts for her: the Venificus Locus. It’s a golden compass that locates magic and runs on blood.

Well-fed on lunch meat and dozing at the foot of Petra’s bed, the coyote knows that he’s the only one who can protect Petra from the denizens of the dark. He knows where danger lies, and he can help Petra navigate the weird west.

But will she listen to him? She’s given him a bath, a flea collar, and a name.  He’s masquerading as a Good Dog. When push comes to shove, will Petra follow the coyote’s instincts, or will she follow her scientific curiosity to become the next victim in a string of murders?

Dark Alchemy, Laura Bickle, fantasy

More About Dark Alchemy

Stephen King’s The Gunslinger meets Breaking Bad in Laura Bickle’s novel Dark Alchemy.

Some secrets are better left buried…

Geologist Petra Dee arrives in Wyoming looking for clues to her father’s disappearance years before. What she finds instead is Temperance, a dying Western town with a gold rush past and a meth-infested present.

But under the town’s dust and quiet, an old power is shifting. When bodies start turning up – desiccated and twisted skeletons that Petra can’t scientifically explain – her investigations land her in the middle of a covert war between the town’s most powerful interests. Petra’s father wasn’t the only one searching for the alchemical secrets of Temperance, and those still looking are now ready to kill.

Armed with nothing but shaky alliances, a pair of antique guns, and a relic she doesn’t understand, the only thing Petra knows for sure is that she and her coyote sidekick are going to have to move fast, or die next.

Available at:

Amazon    BN   Google Books    HarperCollins

Laura Bickle, Dark Alchemy, fantasy

Laura Bickle

More About Laura

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. After graduating with an MA in Sociology – Criminology from Ohio State University and an MLIS in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, she patrolled the stacks at the public library and worked with data systems in criminal justice. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs, also writing contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams.

Her work has been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. THE HALLOWED ONES and THE OUTSIDE are her latest young adult novels.

The Giveaway

Laura is giving away one e-copy of DARK ALCHEMY. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. 18 and over. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

Dark Alchemy Banner

Hope everyone had a great weekend! Thank you, Laura, for guest blogging today!

 


Deleted Scenes: one from Dark Light of Day + one from future Noon Onyx B4

Writers: do you share your deleted scenes?

Readers: do you like reading them?

I don’t share many deleted scenes mostly because they’ve been deleted for a reason. They’re either not very good, they’re redundant, it’s a story thread I didn’t pursue, or something similar. So sharing them doesn’t make much sense. If I wanted to sell a beautiful dress, I wouldn’t stand on the street corner handing out remnants, right? And sharing a deleted scene from a WIP is doubly precarious because it may give something away that I shouldn’t or show something that I’ll change my mind about later.

But deleted scenes can sometimes be fun and/or interesting. Who doesn’t watch the blooper reel? I love story extras, whether they’re coming from authors or filmmakers. Below are two of mine. (I’ll also eventually share a bunch of deleted scenes from White Heart of Justice featuring Ari and what he was up to when Noon was down in southern Halja with Rafe, but I’m not sure yet exactly how I’ll share those… I might share them here or I might make them available some other way).

This first deleted scene is from Dark Light of Day (Noon Onyx #1). It’s a second training scene. I cut it because that book was already long and I didn’t think we needed to see another Wednesday in the Manipulation dungeon. The scene below wasn’t as strong as the scene in the book where Brunus attacks Noon with the nadziak.

Deleted Scene from

DARK LIGHT OF DAY

The day after the call from Night was a Wednesday, which meant the next morning I was back in the Manipulation dungeon. My mood was one of weary resignation… that is until Rochester told us we were through (for a while anyway) with learning how to try to shape our magic like weapons. We would now be moving on to our most important magical skill — throwing fire. And we would be practicing it alone, one on one, with Rochester. He picked me as his first victim and then kicked everyone else out.

The dungeon felt like a melting ice-cube today: cold, hard, clear, and dripping wet.

“Have you ever been to the Osmium Mountains, Ms. Onyx?”

I shook my head. No one had that I knew of. They were the edge of the world as far as most people were concerned — high mountains located miles and miles northwest of New Babylon, far past the scattered Hyrke outposts and demon devotion sites situated in Halja’s northern hinterlands.

I stood in the center of the room, near one of the floor grates, listening to the trickle of water. My breath puffed in the cold and I stamped my feet, although it was more out of expectation than impatience. Over the course of the semester, I’d mastered the attitude of this room, if not its lessons.

“They’re glacier mountains, prone to avalanches,” Rochester explained. “Do you know which type of demon is the most common there?”

No, but I could guess. “Ice breathers.”

Rochester’s mouth quirked in a smug little self-satisfied smile.

I wanted to kick him in the shin.

“Oh, there are plenty of those. But there’s even more of another type of demon. Pyrothropes.”

“Pyrothropes? Why would demons whose true form is fire want to live in a land full of snow and ice?”

“It’s not that they want to. That’s where they’re spawned.”

“They could leave. Come down from the mountains. No one’s forcing them to live up there.”

Rochester stared at me. “There’s a lot you can learn from the pyrothropes, Nouiomo. But we’re only going to focus on one of those things today — the difference between heat and an explosion. The pyrothropes are capable of creating huge explosions with their magic.” He raised an eyebrow at me and his implication was clear. Like me. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got it. “But if they went around throwing explosive fireballs everywhere up there, what do you think would happen?”

“Avalanche,” I supplied dutifully.

“Right,” Rochester brightened, smiling at me. I was instantly suspicious. “And yet, despite all their precautions, the pyrothropes are still buried from time to time under natural avalanches. How do you think they use their magic to escape?”

“Explosion?” I said, imagining a plume of snow erupting like a volcano.

But Rochester shook his head. “Definitely not, as you will see. Throwing an explosive burst of fire while lying trapped beneath tons of snow and ice is quite… uncomfortable. Even throwing fire or — for the pyrothrope, reverting to true form — is risky. Do you know why?”

I remained silent, suddenly worried about the direction this lesson was heading.

“The pyrothropes didn’t learn to control their magic because they were afraid of hurting somebody. They did it because, if they didn’t, they would suffocate to death.”

And then — whoosh! — a wave of magic washed over me. Suddenly, I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. Couldn’t see. Couldn’t hear.

I could feel though. And what I felt was terrifying. Because I was trapped in a block of something so cold, solid, and crushing, I couldn’t even lift my eyelids to see what it was. I couldn’t expand my lungs enough to take a breath to smell it. I tried to wiggle my fingers. The tips moved the tiniest little bit. All I could feel was cold.

Rochester’s muffled voice called to me, “Use your magic to melt the ice. But be careful, Nouiomo. No uncontrolled explosions this time. If you panic and throw an explosive fireball, you’re likely to be trapped in there with it. Much better to concentrate. Shape your magic into a nice warm ball and then slowly expand it.”

I started panicking almost immediately. How could Rochester use words like nice and warm when he was referring to my being smothered to death? My eyes started to water with tears of frustration. They instantly froze, further cementing my eyes shut. My lungs burned with the need for breath. Before I could stop what was happening, my magic ‘popped’ inside of Rochester’s life-sized ice-cube and the most exquisite blistering pain bubbled up underneath my skin. I screamed, but of course no sound came out of my mouth. My lips didn’t even move. I tried to run, but only my toes twitched.

I tried to heat up my magic again, just to get out, but this time it sputtered. Its spasms echoed mine as I started to black out. Just before I did, Rochester melted the ice-cube. I fell to the floor, burned, shivering, and gasping for breath.

Rochester put me in the cube eighteen more times that Wednesday morning. When I left I didn’t even look at him. I couldn’t.

~

The scene below is from the as yet untitled Noon Onyx #4. It’s from the first chapter, so I don’t think it gives much away, but it’s a fun sneak peek because it shows three of the main characters and hints at a few things. Just remember, like the scene above, it’s an irregularly shaped, rough-edged remnant. It’s been discarded for a reason. (It’s cute, but didn’t have enough oomph for me for chapter one).

Deleted Scene from

Untitled Noon Onyx #4

Like a glowing aura of glamoured light, Fara Vanderlin stood all white and bright at the end of the dirty alley in between Corpus Justica, our law library, and Rickard Building, where all my classes were held, waiting for me.

“What’s with the paper bag?” she called.

“Don’t ask,” I answered.

She raised her eyebrows, but said nothing else as I set the bag down on the pavement.

“Do you think you can cloak this so that it’s safe here until we get back?”

Her slightly puzzled expression turned to one of complete bewilderment. “You want me to cast a cloaking spell over a bag of trash?”

“Yep.”

She shrugged. “Okay.”

She murmured a series of unfamiliar words and the bag disappeared into the grunge of the alley. And that was one of the things I loved about Fara. Unlike my previous Guardian, she didn’t ask all sorts of unwarranted questions. If she knew a spell that could help me, she cast it.

“Where’s Virtus?” I asked.

Fara glanced at Nova. “I thought since he and Nova were still… getting aquainted… it might be better if he stayed behind while we ran our little errand.”

I grunted my assent. Virtus was Fara’s tiger. Her having him as a four-footed companion was just as unusual as my having Nova. We’d been hoping their mutual non-verbal, no opposable thumbs status would make them BFFs but no such luck. It had been hate at first sight.

“And the Joshua School’s still okay with you keeping him there?”

“Yes. Why wouldn’t they be?”

“Ah… no reason.”

So… how about you? Thoughts on deleted scenes?

Hope everyone had a great weekend!


#Writing #Workshops for March

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

Balancing the Paranormal and the Romance

03/02/2015 – 03/29/2015

It’s difficult enough to write a good romance, or to write a good paranormal or fantasy novel—when you put the two together you now have an even bigger challenge. How do you structure your story so the paranormal plot doesn’t overwhelm the romance? How do you create characters that have a great romance—with paranormal elements that increase the conflict and are key to the story? This workshop looks at a process to create a really strong paranormal romance that has a romance as the main story arc, but which also uses paranormal/fantasy elements that are vital to the plot.

Lectures include:

  • What’s the difference between Urban Fantasy, Fantasy, Paranormal, and Paranormal Romance?
  • Blending other subgenres (such as suspense) into the mix—what can this give you and what are the dangers?
  • What’s a story arc and what are character arcs?
  • Crafting your characters for romantic conflict that includes vital paranormal elements?
  • How to balance action and romance—what are the turning points for each?
  • How to test if your story is really more of a paranormal/fantasy or a romance?
  • Do you have strong enough antagonists—and are they well developed to create maximum romantic conflicts and increase the paranormal/fantasy elements?
  • Making sure the dark moment hits both the romance and the paranormal/fantasy story line.

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.”

In addition to her Regency and Historical romances, she is the author of the Mackenzie Solomon, Demon/Warders Urban Fantasy series, Burn Baby Burnand Riding in on a Burning Tire, and the SF/Paranormal, Edge Walkers. Her work has been on the top seller list of Amazon.com and includes the Historical romances, The Cardros Ruby and Paths of Desire.

She is the author of several young adult horror stories, and has also written computer games and does editing work on the side. She lives in New Mexico with two horses, two donkeys, two dogs, and the 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

Register for This Workshop

The Nuances of Dialogue

03/02/2015 – 03/27/2015

Whether in prose or dramatic mediums, characters need to speak in a succinct, entertaining manner that moves the story forward. Inner character motivation and personality can be revealed through what is spoken and how. This workshop will cover diction & syntax, concepts of multi-layered meaning, the difference between speech patterns of male-female speakers, influence of age-education-culture, how to control lecturing and argument orchestration.

About the Presenter, Sally J. Walker

Sally J. Walker has taught over 35 different workshops both on-site and on-line.  An avid learner, she is always ready to change and grow her own process then pass on what she has learned in a practical manner intended to challenge participants rather than dictate end-all-be-all concepts.  She has taught for Omaha’s Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City’s Johnson County Community College, Lincoln (NE)’s Southeast Community College, several chapters of RWA including KOD and Scriptscene, a Romantic Times national conference, and the Moondance International Film Festival, as well as conducted a mini-workshop of writing and meditation for Omaha-area churches.  Sally has also been an Artist-in-Residence and motivational speaker at several Omaha area schools and conducts free weekly mentoring sessions for teens at the Ralston Baright Library.

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

Register for This Workshop


%d bloggers like this: