Tag Archives: urban fantasy

Rachel Rawlings: HallowRead 2016 and her Maurin Kincaide #UF Series

Today’s guest is UF author Rachel Rawlings. Rachel is from Baltimore and, for the past four years, she’s organized HallowRead, a book festival and mini-con for fans of paranormal, UF, steampunk, and horror. She’s here to tell us a little bit about HallowRead 2016 (it’s never too early to start thinking about Halloween!) and her Maurin Kincaide series. Do any of you live near Baltimore? Interested in going? I know I am!:-)

Welcome, Rachel!

First let me start out by thanking Jill for having me on the blog! I’m thrilled to be here talking about my other passion besides writing – HallowRead Book Convention.

HallowRead is a mini-con for fans of Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Steampunk and Horror themed around Halloween. In fact, as you already may have guessed, it’s name is a mash-up between my favorite holiday and my favorite pastime. This is our fourth annual event and man, have we come a long way. Lightning struck in January of 2013 while driving through the Fort McHenry tunnel and I knew I had to find away to make this event happen. That fall we had our first con.  From running from one banquet room to another setting up tables our first year in Ellicott City, Maryland to attracting talent like Darynda Jones and last year’s keynote speaker Kami Garcia, HallowRead and I have been very fortunate indeed.

This year we’re taking HallowRead on the road, moving from our former host town of Ellicott City to another haunted and historic town – Havre de Grace, Maryland. Situated on the Susquehanna River just at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, this quaint waterfront town is steeped in history from being raised to the ground by the British in the War of 1812, to losing the vote to become the capital of the United States by one ballot, a film set for the Netflix series House of Cards, to being the last place Edgar Allan Poe was seen alive before his mysterious death in Baltimore. Sounds perfect, right? With bed and breakfasts, restaurants and shopping all within walking distances, we couldn’t agree more. In fact, the town will be an active participant, in a throw back to our first year we are going to hold activities in different venues throughout the town.

From engaging author panels where book lovers can listen to their favorite authors talk about their books and writing process, to writing workshops, a book signing, ghost tours, awesome swag bags filled with goodies and more, we certainly have something for everyone to enjoy. HallowRead is a nonprofit event (5013c), focusing all our fundraising efforts on the arts. This year we will be donating our funds to organizations like LASOS who help children whose first language is not English learn to read and prepare for school, the Harford Library System, and the Opera House restoration in Havre de Grace, which will provide a much needed mix use presentation house for the Arts and Entertainment District of Havre de Grace.

We’re excited about HallowRead 2016 and can’t wait to see you there!

More about HallowRead

Multi author event with various activities throughout the weekend including Writing Workshops, Ghost Tour, SteamPunk Author Tea, Author Panels, Book Signing, Paranormal Investigation and so much more. Hang out with your favorite authors in our new host city, the haunted and historic town of Havre de Grace, Maryland!

Local Maryland author of dark urban fantasy, Rachel Rawlings, had a crazy idea. Create a book convention for genre fiction and hold it the weekend before Halloween. Haunted and historic Ellicott City held a special place in her heart so there was no other place to take her first ever convention. The town welcomed her and HallowRead with open arms. Each ticket sold helped raise money for the Ellicott City Partnership- a coalition of residents and business owners for the betterment of the town. HallowRead raised money for projects like rain barrels which help reduce the sediment and contaminants running into the Patapsco River and fund grants for projects like Paint Main Street which helped small business owners get a much needed fresh coat of paint improving the moral and overall appearance of the town.

Rachel is excited to take the convention on the road for 2016 and raise funds for Harford County literacy programs and the local library system! One ticket, whether it’s a $10 paranormal investigation or the full monty ticket makes a difference for the town and the wonderful people who call it home, something Rachel is extremely proud of.

http://www.HallowRead.com

More about Rachel’s

Maurin Kincaide Series

The Morrigna
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book One

Free  at    Amazon    Audible    BN

I’m Maurin Kincaide, a psychometric, and until a few days ago I was working for Salem’s Preternatural Task Force as an interrogator. I cracked more cold cases and got more confessions than anyone else in the department. Of course that was before I traded in my badge for an ancient Celtic sword. Now, I’m the Special Liaison for the Council, the governing body of the Others, and I take my orders from witches, werewolves and vampires.

I didn’t just make a career change though. I’m not the same person I was before. I’m stronger, I can heal from wounds that would kill a normal person. I’m developing latent psychic skills at a breakneck speed. Oh yeah, and it would seem that a Pagan goddess has taken permanent residence in my body and mind. Crazy thing is, I’m starting to feel normal, like this is who I’m supposed to be.

Of course, there are those who don’t agree. Morrigan and her sisters for example. Actually, I’m pretty sure they’d like nothing more than to see me dead. And if I can’t stop them and the demons they’ve raised, they just might get their wish.

Witch Hunt
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Two

Available at Amazon    BN   Audible

Maurin Kincaide is back in this action packed follow up novel to The Morrigna. No longer a member of Salem’s Preternatural Task Force, Maurin is the new liaison for The Council, governing body of Others. During what should have been a routine meeting with her former Captain, Maurin is brought in on a murder investigation.

Three dead witches, three cryptic clues, no sign of the killers and the Salem coven is losing allies within the Council. If Maurin and her unlikely partner Captain Matthison can’t stop the killers, the Witch City might be without its namesake.

Wolfsbane
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Three

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Given the choice between her sister’s wedding and witnessing the challenge for Alpha of the Salem pack, Maurin knows exactly where she’d rather be. Smack dead center in a pack of snarling werewolves wearing eau de filet mignon.

Until Francesca takes off the morning of her wedding. Being her sister’s keeper will not excuse her from her job as the Council Liaison. Torn between obligations to a family she’s avoided for almost a decade and the Council of Others, Maurin has less than twenty-four hours to set things right.

Bloodbath
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Four

Available at  Amazon   BN   Audible

Bodies are piling up and all signs point in one direction. Rogue vampire. Except things aren’t always what they seem, especially in a murder investigation.

With her current relationship on the rocks, her father playing match-maker and her neighbor tossing his hat in the ring, the body count isn’t the only thing on the rise. Maurin is neck deep in magic, mayhem and murder.

Can she catch the killer before the killer catches her? One things for certain, when hunting vampires there will be blood.

Ill Fated
The Maurin Kincaide Series
Book Five

Available at BN

Some things are destined to end in death. After the first attempt on her life Maurin wasn’t scared. Hell, she was almost flattered. But someone put a price on her head and things are getting complicated. Trouble is brewing in the fae courts and it’s spilling over into Salem. The UnSeelie Dark Guard have answered the call for her head on a platter and people closest to her are disappearing.

Can Maurin master court politics and find her missing men before someone claims the bounty on her head?

More about Rachel

Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn’t until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.

When she isn’t writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.

More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com  and www.facebook.com/Hallowread.

She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.

It looks like HallowRead 2016 will be on October 21-23. If you will be anywhere close, put it on your calendar! Thank you to Rachel for guest blogging today!


The Spirit Chaser’s Playlist: 13 Songs

Kat Mayor is a “full-time reader, part-time writer” from Texas. Her paranormal romance THE SPIRIT CHASER features a paranormal investigator, psychics, ghosts, demons, and dangerous places. Do you have a song that reminds you of your favorite book? Kat has thirteen songs that remind her of various scenes from her book. She’s here with her playlist and a chance to win some awesome prizes: a $50 Amazon eGC, a $25 Amazon eGC, a signed copy of The Spirit Chaser, and an e-copy. Details are below. Welcome, Kat!

Spirit Chaser

Playlist for The Spirit Chaser

I love to listen to music while I write. These songs either played in my head during certain parts of the book, or the lyrics remind me of the story in some way.  After the song title I wrote a short description of the part of the book it reminds me of.

  1. Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield: Casey’s ringtone.
  2. The Devil Went Down to Georgia by The Charlie Daniel’s Band: The bar scene with Casey and her friend Tina.
  3. Love Bites by Def Leppard: Austin and Casey slow dance.
  4. Talking Body by Tove Lo: Austin and Casey’s first night together.
  5. So High by Ghost Loft: Austin brings Casey to his high-rise apartment.
  6. Crave by Tove Lo: Austin comes to visit Casey in Shadowcreek over Christmas.
  7. Devil Woman by Cliff Richard: Wild party at Austin’s loft.
  8. Prayer in C by Lilly Wood and The Prick and Robin Schulz: Casey separates from Austin.
  9. Take Me to Church by Hozier: She-demon visits Austin in her human form.
  10. The Moon Is Falling Down by Cry Wolf: The Spirit Chaser crew arrives at Enchanted Hill Manor.
  11. Ghost Town by Adam Lambert: Casey returns to Shadowcreek.
  12. The Home We Made, Pt II by Cry Wolf: Casey reflects on everything that has happened.
  13. When the Love Falls by Yiruma: The final pages of the book.

Do you have a song that reminds you of your favorite book?  What is it about the song that makes you think of it?

More About The Spirit Chaser

Some places are too evil. Some places should be left alone.

Austin Cole has it made. Star of the hit television show Spirit Chaser Investigations, he has become the world’s most famous paranormal investigator. Although hard work, a talented investigation team, and favorable genetics have something to do with it, it’s his lack of fear and willingness to take risks no one else will that make Spirit Chaser Investigations cable’s number-one show.

When a ghost-hunt-gone-wrong seriously injures his best friend and lead psychic, Austin is forced to find a replacement for a team member he considers irreplaceable.

Casey Lawson can’t catch a break. She’s been on her own since she turned eighteen and is scraping by as a part-time psychic and cashier at a New Age store. When a desperate Austin Cole calls her up and offers her a position on his team, has her fortune finally changed?

He’s a control freak; she’s stubborn and opinionated. It takes time, but when they finally realize they’re working on the same side, everything clicks, both on and off screen.

Just when things are looking up, a new threat emerges. Over the years, Austin has angered plenty of demons, and one of them has set her sights on him. Now he’s the one in danger, and it’s up to the team to rescue him from the riskiest investigation of their lives.

Amazon Kindle    Amazon Paperback   Kobo   BN   Smashwords

More About Kat

Kat Mayor is a native Texan, wife, and mom. In addition to The Spirit Chaser, she has written a young adult series, The Circle. She’s a full-time reader, part-time writer, and when she’s not kicking a story around in her head, she loves to read and review books on Goodreads.

More about the Giveaway

Kat is giving away the following prizes at the end of her blog tour:

  • First Prize: $50 Amazon gift card and signed Paperback of The Spirit Chaser
  • Second Prize: $25 Amazon gift card and e-book of The Spirit Chaser in Mobi, EPUB, or PDF.

Click here for the Rafflecopter link. Click here for my complete giveaway rules.

The Spirit Chaser Banner

I don’t have a song that reminds me of a favorite book, but I do have ten songs that served as partial inspiration for my gothic romance novelette “Dream, Interrupted.” Long-time followers have already seen the playlist, as well as read about how the songs served as transitions in the story itself, but anyone new who’s interested can click here for the playlist and here for the transition post. Basically, I introduced each section in the story by having the main character discuss those songs. I loved how, for anyone familiar with the songs, the references and discussion added a deeper layer of meaning to the story.

Also, gotta add, that I’ve been inspired by the song The Devil Went Down to Georgia too. The working titles of all of my novels were originally riffs on common sayings involving the devil, the third one being The Demon Went Down to Jorja (cue the groan 😀 ). Interested in hearing more about the how the devil became associated with the violin? Click here for a post I did over at SF Signal a while back.

And, while we’re not on the subject, Valentine’s Day?! Did everyone have a happy one? I hope so! My Valentine’s Days always seem to be a bit un-traditional, which I like. Last year, I had lunch with a friend and then played poker with my family. This year, I spent an hour+ browsing in a New Jersey Barnes & Noble with one of my daughters and then played an intense game of UNO, the Frozen version. Best new card? Olaf’s summertime card. I could use a little summertime… we’re under yet another winter storm warning, this one with sleet and freezing rain.

Thank you, Kat, for guest blogging today. Wishing you and everyone a dry, warm, and not-too-scary Tuesday!


Five Photographs: Jami Gray, Urban Fantasy Author of the Kyn Kronicles

Today’s Five Photographs guest is urban fantasy author Jami Gray. Love fast cars, beautiful sunsets, and adorable labs? Then this post is a must! Since Jami watches Game of Thrones too, I also included my latest (and last) thoughts on GoT. *Spoiler alert* If you haven’t watched S5’s finale, skip the purple section below!]

Something that represents something unique about you

Jami Gray My Baby

I grew up loving classic cars, with my favorite being the 1968 Mustang. It only took forty plus years, but I finally got my own Mustang!

[Jill: love that it’s parked outside of Barnes & Noble. 😀 ]

Something that represents where you live

Jami Gray Sunset

I’m blessed to live in the Southwest, Arizona to be exact. While I’ve spent time in the Northwest, I found I missed the open skies, especially the spectacular sunsets.

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

Jami Gray The Girls

These are the two newest editions to our family, Lola (in a sexy black number) and Angel (in stunning white), affectionately known as the Fur Minxes.

[Jill: I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s pet pics. That’s at least HALF the fun of the internet, right? 😀 ]

Something (not someone) that really frustrates you

Jami Gray Cooking

Growing up in a very large family, cooking was not a fun endeavor. In fact, I loathed it. Fast forward years and years and still don’t enjoy it. Thank goodness I have a hubby who does…

[Jill: I hear ya. Me too!]

Something that brings you joy (besides writing)

Jami Gray The Boys

Every writer needs a great support team, and I was blessed with these three. Not only will they forgive me for walking around in a daze in the midst of a project, but they have no problems combining family vacations with my need for writing research. In this case, we hit San Diego when I was working on my PSY-IV Team series.

Interview

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

Beauty is a treacherous bitch, and her name is Natasha—but can a demon queen allow Darius, a mysterious interloper, to uncover truth from lies before betrayal claims her life?

What are you working on next?

 I just finished my second PSY-IV book, TOUCHED BY FATE, so now I’m putting together a collection of short stories set in the Kyn world for a Fall 2015 release. After that, I have two projects: the next Kyn book and planning a new series.

What are you currently reading?

Oh man, as I write these answers, I’m finishing up Christine Feehan’s CAT’S LAIR, but up next is Megan Mitcham’s Base Branch Series and finishing Kristen Ashley’s Colorado Mountain series. Plus, I have CONCRETE EVIDENCE by Rachel Grant I want to dive into, along with Joseph Nassise’s THE HERETIC. All before the summer titles hit shelves…

What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

I live with geeks, ergo we watch Marvel’s AGENTS OF SHIELD religiously. I’m an avid fan of BITTEN (love Kelly Armstrong’s books), CSI CYBER, NCIS NEW ORLEANS, CRIMINAL MINDS, BONES, CASTLE, and my hubby insists I watch GAME OF THRONES. Not sure why, since everyone dies on that show, the outcome is pretty moot.

*SPOILERS!*

[Jill: GoT… my last thoughts on it… I thought the finale was somewhat disappointing. Not saying I won’t be watching the show when it returns. Just that I’m way less eager for its return than I have been in past seasons. Is it fatigue? Maybe. Instead of feeling outrage after the final shot, I almost felt relief that the season was over. As for the different story lines… I was disappointed in Sansa’s season ending, of course. I’d mentioned earlier that I was looking for her to get her revenge, which sounds very unforgiving and bloodthirsty. But let’s face it, it’s GoT. That’s the type of show it is. What I really wanted was for Sansa to take charge of her own destiny. And she did… but only in the tiniest way. She picked a lock and lit a candle. Not exactly the big bang I was hoping for. And, frankly, I’m super sick of Ramsay. I was hoping S5 would be it for him. The thought of having to watch him again next season, ugh.

I thought Stannis’ ending was just. That worked for me. He deserved his fate, which included everything that happened to him in the show up to the point of his death at Brienne’s hands. Arya? I really liked that we finally got to see how some of the magic of the Many-Faced God worked. I’m not sure how I feel about her killing Ser Meryn Trant and going blind because of it. I’m patiently waiting to see where the writers are going with that one. The Dorne/Jaime/Myrcella story? Dorne was kinda meh, start to finish. The sand snakes never fulfilled their promise of being bad asses. I was sad to see Myrcella die, of course, but she wasn’t a character I really knew. And even though I know Jaime a lot better than I did in S1, it’s hard for me to forget that he’s the one who pushed Bran out the window. Cersei? To be honest, I got up during that part for a snack break. I didn’t pause and it wasn’t bc I couldn’t watch. It’s bc it went on for way too long. Maybe it felt different in the book. And finally, Jon Snow… if that’s truly the end of him, it will be massively disappointing. Yes, partly bc he is a favorite character, but also bc his story seems unresolved. Lots of set ups this season for things that didn’t get paid off.

Jami, I think I read somewhere (couldn’t find a link to share though) that George RR Martin has said that Song of Ice and Fire is a tragedy. I gotta admit, I’m not a huge fan of tragedy. Tragic plot points, sure. But I’m too fond of happy endings and tidy resolutions to fully embrace tragedy as a favored art form. In any case, I think the best thing about GoT is that it’s brought fantasy into the mainstream. One can argue that other works did that before, but there’s no denying its tremendous effect on pop culture.]

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

Umm, again going back to the geek roots, I would hyperventilate to work with Wolverine. (Does that count for fantasy creature and weapon?) Villain would have to be Loki, because a man with a sense of humor is hard to walk away from.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

For me, marketing. While I mentally get the best way to market your books is to write the next one, there’s still pressure to keep your books out there. That’s not an easy feat considering today’s market.

How can we meet that challenge?

Perseverance. Do the best you can, try new options, find out what works, but don’t ever forget to get back behind the keyboard and write your next story. You owe that to your readers.

More About the Kyn Kronicles

Jami Gray Banner

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1

Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2

Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3

Even wild hearts can be broken…

Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.

If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.

SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4

Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/ 

Jami Gray

Jami Gray

More About Jami

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Thank you, Jami, for the interview and for sharing your pictures. Good luck and best wishes for the Kyn Kronicles!


Jan DeLima: The World of her Celtic Wolves Series (#fantasy #giveaway)

Today’s guest is Jan DeLima, author of the Celtic Wolves series: CELTIC MOON, SUMMER MOON, and AUTUMN MOON. She’s here to share a little bit about the world her stories are set in, which was partially inspired by Maine and Celtic culture. She’s giving away some fantastic tour-wide prizes: one $100 Amazon eGC (U.S. and Canada) and five signed copies of the first two books (package set; international). Details below.

[As an aside, I wanted to introduce her as an author and as… someone from Maine… but I didn’t know what people from Maine called themselves (in Maryland, it’s easy; we’re Marylanders). So I looked it up: Mainer. Or possibly Mainiac, which didn’t sound right and gave me an immediate earworm — who remembers the Michael Sembello tune from Flashdance? — yep, I know it’s spelled differently 😀 ]

In any case, without further ado, please welcome UF author and Mainer Jan DeLima!

“There are rumors that wolves have been sighted…”

Celtic Wolves World 2

 The Environment of the Celtic Wolves World

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog, and for participating in my first blog tour!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with my Celtic Wolves series, just imagine a place where warriors are also wolves and reality isn’t always what it seems.  Set in modern day, the stories are a mixture of both urban fantasy and romance.  Written for adults, each installment has strong fantasy elements built around Celtic folklore, with a secondary romance between two new characters.

I draw a lot of inspiration from the history of the Celtic culture for my series, and nature was, and still is, an important influence for Celts.  The magic of my world is based on their beliefs; therefore nature is where my Celtic warriors derive their power to shift.  Because of this, I make sure the wilderness setting of the books is real, even if what the characters do within it isn’t.  I’ve positioned tribes across the globe conducive to the habitats of wolves, and I like to write about environments I know, so the setting for Celtic Moon, the first book in the series, is in my home state of Maine.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

In my travels, I’ve noticed that most people associate Maine with our coastal villages, but if you go an hour north of Bangor, you’ll find a beautiful mountain region. There are still isolated areas and small towns where an ancient Celtic tribe of shifters could easily hide for centuries, and where cellphones still don’t receive signals.

The environment is perfect for many wild creatures.  There are rumors that wolves have been sighted, but for now they are just rumors—our own local urban legend.  Wolves are in the woods of our Canadian neighbors to the north, and it’s not much of a stretch for them to migrate south if the environment supports their habitat.  Wolves, I suspect, don’t recognize state or country lines on human maps, only forests and food.  Perhaps one day that legend will be revealed as truth.

The above pictures are from my Celtic Wolves world.  You are welcome to read an excerpt on my website from Celtic Moon that I’ve posted for this articleNature is magic, as my very human heroine learns. This is the scene where Sophie witnesses her son’s father shift into a wolf for the first time… http://jandelima.com/celtic-moon-when-it-began/

All my best,
Jan

Celtic Wolves Series

 

More About Celtic Moon

Celtic Wolves Celtic MoonLike father, like son…

Sophie Thibodeau has been on the run from the father of her son for more than fifteen years.  Now her son, Joshua, is changing, and her greatest fears are about to be realized.  He’s going to end up being just like his father—-a man who can change into a wolf.

Dylan Black has been hunting for Sophie since the night she ran from him—-an obsession he cannot afford in the midst of an impending war.  Dylan controls Rhuddin Village, an isolated town in Maine where he lives with an ancient Celtic tribe.  One of the few of his clan who can still shift into a wolf, he must protect his people from the Guardians, vicious warriors who seek to destroy them.

When Sophie and Dylan come together for the sake of their son, their reunion reignites the fierce passion they once shared.  For the first time in years, Dylan’s lost family is within his grasp.  But will he lose them all over again? Are Joshua and Sophie strong enough to fight alongside Dylan in battle? Nothing less than the fate of his tribe depends on it…

Celtic Moon’s first chapter

Available at  Amazon and  BN

More About Summer Moon

Celtic Wolves Summer MoonShe won’t be ruled again…

Rosa Alban has been obedient her entire life. But when her alpha husband dies, she seizes the opportunity to flee the oppressive Guardians—the rulers of the secret shapeshifter world. Her flight instantly brands her as a pack traitor, and she has no choice but to seek protection from a neighboring tribe by marrying one of their sons.

Known as the Beast of Merin, Luc Black loyally plays the part of unwanted son and devoted brother. He realizes marrying Rosa will strengthen his tribe’s territory, but he has no intention of loving ever again. Still, he’s unprepared for the intense physical need the wild she-wolf awakens in him.

When the Guardians hone in on Rosa, Luc must fight to protect his new bride. And as war descends, the unlikely allies discover their destinies are irrevocably entwined…

Summer Moon’s first chapter

Available at  Amazon and  BN

More About Autumn Moon

Celtic Wolves Autumn MoonThe heart of a warrior, the soul of a wolf, and the desires of a man…

For centuries, Cormack has lived between worlds—a man trapped in the body of a wolf, shunned by humans and shifters alike. Only one person has ever welcomed his company: Elen, a kindred outcast who is feared by others of her ancient Celtic race for her strange healing abilities.

Cormack has always valued Elen’s kindness and understanding, but after a desperate act of friendship causes Elen to free him from his curse, he realizes he wants more. He wants all of her—completely and forever.Except before Cormack can win Elen’s heart, Pendaran, the evil leader of the Guardians, captures her, determined to manipulate her incredible power to aid him in his twisted war against the shapeshifting tribes.

Now Cormack must use all of his skills as a warrior and a wolf to save the woman he loves—before Pendaran’s vile schemes destroy them all…

Prequel for Autumn Moon

Available at Amazon  and   BN

Jan DeLima

Jan DeLima

More About Jan

Jan DeLima is the author of the Celtic Wolves novels, including Summer Moon and Celtic Moon. She lives in Maine with her husband and their two sons. Unlike many authors, Jan didn’t pen stories at an early age, but she has always been a dedicated reader. She loves stories and storytelling. It wasn’t until after her children entered school that she began writing. Raised in a military family, she lived in different countries such as Thailand and Germany, but home base has always been Maine.

More About the Giveaway

Jan is giving away: $100 Amazon gift card open to U.S. and Canada and 5 signed copies of Celtic Moon and Summer Moon (package set). For the Rafflecopter link, click here. For my compete giveaway rules, click here.

Thank you, Jan, for guest blogging today!

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Five Photographs: Suzanne Johnson (Boeuf Gras, Pirate’s Alley, and a Terrific #Giveaway)

Today’s guest is Suzanne Johnson, author of the recently released PIRATE’S ALLEY, the fourth book in her Sentinels of New Orleans series. She’s been a guest blogger here at least a few times (more if you count her alter ego Susannah Sandlin) so when I heard she was doing a BBT tour to promote Pirate’s Alley, I signed up. We discussed several fun topics, all of which I would have been happy to hear her thoughts on, but in the end she said she wanted to do a “Five Photographs” post. (For anyone new here today, I’m doing a photo themed guest blog series this spring. It features a bunch of writers who write romantic, otherworldly/supernatural tales. They submit five photos and answer seven questions.) As part of Suzanne’s tour, she’s giving away one $50 Amazon eGC and two $15 Amazon eGCs. Details below. Welcome, Suzanne!

Something that represents something unique about you

Suzanne Johnson ADD Collector

I will call this “The ADD Collector.” I get on obsessive collecting kicks and then, just as obsessively, grow tired of it. Represented here are some previous collecting frenzies: a piece of Early American Pattern Glass with animal motifs, some early 1960s glassware with Greek characters that was given out at Texaco stations with a fillup, a mask and, from my current collecting binges, a wooden cigar box, an alligator, and some Mardi Gras throws. You could also add dolls and Fenton colonial blue thumbprint glass to this list. And music. And…

Something about where you live

Suzanne Johnson boef gras

Meet two version of “Boeuf Gras,” the plush version thrown from the Mardi Gras float and the “special” version acquired for me by a friend from a member of the Krewe of Rex, the original oldest Mardi Gras krewe. Boeuf Gras is my favorite Mardi Gras float—it’s a huge white bull the size of an eighteen-wheeler that’s a signature float in the Rex parade. But it also represents my current home city of Auburn, Alabama, where there are a lot of cattle and, at the university, a big meat sciences program. Alabama fans who hate Auburn call it “the cow college.” Them’s fightin’ words ’round here.

Something or someone you care about

Suzanne Johnson Shane and Tanker

I debated whether or not to use this photo. It feels a little like cheating, but these are the loves of my life, Shane (the Irish terrier mix) and Tanker (part black chow-chow, part golden retriever). Both of them were rescues I adopted in 2000. I lost Shane at age 16 about six months ago and Tanker, also at age 16, three weeks ago. I will have another dog eventually, but it’s still too raw and hurts too much.

[Jill: That’s rough losing them so close together. I’m so sorry. When you’re ready, I hope you find another dog. He or she will be different — I’m sure neither Shane nor Tanker can be replaced — but I’m equally sure the new dog will bring you just as much joy.]

Something that frustrates you

Suzanne Johnson Fiji House

The FIJI House. I thought about taking a shot of pollen on my car, or my office building where I spend my day job. But, in the end, I chose the Auburn University Phi Gamma Delta fraternity house, aka the FIJI house. I’m sure they’re lovely kids, but the house sits just outside my office window and they’re always yelling and playing annoying music at full blast and hammering on some secret project in their courtyard. I have to work with earbuds stuffed in my ears.

[Jill: Ah, this one made me laugh. 😀]

Something that brings you joy

Suzanne Johnson art stuff

Um…remember all those collections? This isn’t exactly a collection, but it’s one corner of my sprawling art space, where I dabble in paint and have copious amounts of art supplies. There’s also a 20-drawer cabinet, two multi-level rolling carts, and three bookcase shelves full. It’s a sickness…but it makes me happy. That’s my happy space.

Interview

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

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the preternatural world.” An unexpected interspecies pregnancy has the preternatural world on the brink of war, with DJ, New Orleans’ wizard sentinel, caught squarely in the middle—and who she sides with won’t be an easy decision.

What are you working on next?

WILD MAN’S BLUFF, the first book in a new suspense series (written as Susannah Sandlin) about a Louisiana game warden caught up in the case of a murdered voodoo priestess, a long-buried secret, and a woman who’s about to learned that you can take the Cajun girl out of Louisiana but the swamps stay deep within the heart.

What are you currently reading?

Better sit down, or the excitement might do you in: Game Warden: On Patrol in Louisiana, by Jerald Horst. LOL. Gotta do my research!

 What are you currently watching (TV shows)?

Currently, I watch NCIS: New Orleans, The Amazing Race, Chicago Fire, and Cutthroat Kitchen, of which I’ve never missed an episode. I DVR the shows and watch them in 20-minute spurts. My attention span is the size of a gnat, which I blame on my iPhone and too many years of General Hospital.

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

I still wish I’d thought to animate a dinosaur. Jim Butcher did that in one of the Dresden books, and Harry Dresden rode the dinosaur skeleton from the Field Museum down the middle of Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. It was freaking brilliant.

Biggest challenge facing writers today?

Discoverability, without a doubt. The downside to authors having so many publishing options these days (which is great) is that it’s harder than ever for an author to find readers. The number of books released in the U.S. was about 300,000 in 2005; in 2009 it had grown to more than 1 million; in 2012, more than 2 million—including more than 500,000 self-published titles PER YEAR. That means a ton of authors and a lot of good books are getting lost in the noise while everyone (authors and publishers) are scrambling around, trying to figure out how to be “discovered” in that crowd. Meanwhile, the number of readers has not grown proportionately.

[Jill: that’s an insane number of books!]

 How can we meet that challenge?

I honestly don’t know. If I did, I’d be a very rich woman…or at least be able to give up my day job!:-) The same thing doesn’t work for every book or every author and technology is in constant flux. We’re all trying to figure it out.

[Jill: too true. The thing that keeps me from going batshit crazy is remembering that the majority of those 2 million+ books are not in my wheelhouse — either as a writer or as a reader.]

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's AlleyMore About Pirate’s Alley

From award-winning author Suzanne Johnson comes the fourth book in the smart and sexy Sentinels of New Orleans series.

Wizard sentinel DJ Jaco thought she had gotten used to the chaos of her life in post-Katrina New Orleans, but a new threat is looming, one that will test every relationship she holds dear.

Caught in the middle of a rising struggle between the major powers in the supernatural world—the Wizards, Elves, Vampires and the Fae—DJ finds her loyalties torn and her mettle tested in matters both professional and personal. Her relationship with enforcer Alex Warin is shaky, her non-husband Quince Randolph is growing more powerful, and her best friend Eugenie has a bombshell that could blow everything to Elfheim and back.

And that’s before the French pirate Jean Lafitte, newly revived from his latest “death,” returns to New Orleans with vengeance on his mind. DJ’s assignment? Keep the sexy leader of the historical undead out of trouble. Good luck with that.

Duty clashes with love, loyalty with deception, and friendship with responsibility as DJ navigates passion and politics in the murky waters of a New Orleans caught in the grips of a brutal winter that might have nothing to do with Mother Nature.

War could be brewing, and DJ will be forced to take a stand. But choosing sides won’t be that easy.

Available at   Amazon   BN   Book Depository

More About Suzanne

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal fiction from Auburn, Alabama, on top of a career in educational publishing that has thus far spanned five states and six universities—including both Alabama and Auburn, which makes her bilingual. She grew up in Winfield, Alabama, but was also a longtime resident of New Orleans, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football, cheap Mardi Gras trinkets, and fried gator on a stick.

Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she also is the author of the best-selling Penton Legacy paranormal romance series and The Collectors romantic thriller series. Elysian Fields, book three in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, won the 2014 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence while her Sandlin-penned novel, Allegiance, is nominated for a 2015 Reviewer’s Choice Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.

More About the Giveaway

Suzanne is giving away one $50 Amazon eGift Certificate and two $15 Amazon eGift Certificates as part of her Bewitching Book Tour. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter link. For my complete giveaway rules, click here.

Suzanne Johnson Pirate's Alley Banner

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Thank you, Suzanne, for sharing your pictures, thoughts, and great giveaway with us!


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

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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?😀

Thank you, Ann, for guest blogging today!


#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


Graphic Designer and UF Author, Cory Dale: 5 Tell-Tale Signs of an Amateur Book Cover

My next guest blogger is Cory Dale (Karen Duvall’s alter ego; Karen’s been a guest here before). Her December ’14 release, DEMON FARE, is an urban fantasy set in an alternate NYC featuring demon exorcist Wanda Snow. She’s here with a behind-the-scenes look at how book covers are made and a chance to win two print copies (US only) or 3 e-book copies of her latest release. Welcome Cory/Karen!

Demon Fare Cover

“What readers are looking for is an indication of what kind of book they’ll be getting”

Though I wish I could write books full time, alas, like most writers, I have another job as well. I’ve been a professional graphic designer for over thirty years and that’s what I do when I’m not writing. Part of my job is designing book covers for self-published authors.

People really do judge books by their covers. A huge part of the decision making process for buying a book is based on what the cover looks like. It expresses the genre, tone, atmosphere and whether or not the book is part of a series. To readers, the degree of professionalism on the outside is a direct reflection of what they’ll find on the inside.

Think of the book cover as the outside of a package. When you go to the store to buy a product, you’re looking at the packaging to help you decide which one to choose. The visual aspects of that package will invite you to pick it up off the shelf and take a closer look. When you have it your hands, you’ll read the information on the package to see if it’s what you want. A book is exactly the same. The product behind the cover is your story. The cover is a selling tool; it’s the face of a novel and a reader’s first impression of that book.

“The most emotional part of the publishing process is the book cover.” — Senior VP and Creative Director Marysarah Quinn of Crown Publishing

“Our job is to intrigue the consumer and set the tone, set the stage, create an atmosphere.” — Robin Schiff, Executive Art Director for Random Publishing Group

The creative people at Random House read the manuscripts before doing any conceptual work on the cover. The art directors believe this step is crucial to their jobs. All the cues for the cover are taken from the text. On a cover design, they don’t call out a story character in full and prefer to leave it up to the reader’s imagination. They feel it’s important that if you’re going to show a character, only use part of one. That’s why you see so many headless bodies and miscellaneous body parts on books, either that or they’re viewed from the back. Many freelance cover designers don’t go to the extent of reading an entire manuscript, but they will require at least a synopsis of the book to get a sense of the story.

Genre tropes immediately tell readers what kind of book they’re buying. The image and tone should tie in with the book. A hard boiled detective novel showing a bouquet of flowers would confuse potential readers, but it would make more sense if those flowers had blood on them, or a knife was used as a stem, or the muzzle of a gun became a vase. Romance novels are expected to show a couple on the cover unless it’s written by a brand-name romance author. In that case, readers already know what they’re getting, but debut authors may suffer if their genre isn’t easily recognizable.

Mystery, suspense, horror and thriller novels are expected to have dark and edgy covers, often with weapons, crime scenes, inanimate objects. A mainstream novel may appear soft, quiet, editorial or quirky. Science Fiction covers often portray high-tech images or spaceships, and fantasy story art will usually look surreal.

Simplicity works. A successful book cover uses the right image with the right photo enhancements, right color choices and effective typography to attract readers. What readers are looking for is an indication of what kind of book they’ll be getting, what genre it is, and expect a sense of the story’s tone. If the cover art is too literal and conveys too many story details, it will ultimately fail.

Simple, strong, and a high concept will yield an engaging design to attract readers. Drama and emotion are key to a dynamic cover design. Color is always an important consideration and the title and author name should pop from the background. Warm colors against cool colors, or cool against warm, are good contrasts to make type elements stand out.

A few tell-tale signs of amateur book covers include:

  • bad font choices
  • confused and cluttered graphics
  • colors that don’t work
  • meaningless or overused stock photography
  • too much copy

Thank you, Cory/Karen, for guest blogging today!

More About Demon Fare

In an alternate history New York City—one hundred and fifty years after an earthquake from hell nearly destroyed the planet—the twenty-first century clings to an industrial age. Steam engines rule, and demon-powered technology is the up and coming thing. Henry Paine, a half-demon taxi driver, is the go-to guy for just the right demon to possess your machine and automate any mechanical gizmo with or without an engine. The creatures are tame as pets. Or at least they have been… until now.

Wanda Snow is an exorcist who grudgingly admits to having a few drops of demon blood herself. She’s come to New York to rid the city of demonic vermin as well as any other demons that get in her way. Wanda and Henry are naturally at odds, but the two are forced to become partners in a mutual goal to round up the rogue demons biting the Big Apple and take down the sinister tyrant who started it all.

Available at Amazon

More About Cory

Karen Duvall, who wrote Demon Fare as Cory Dale, lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and four incredibly spoiled pets. Karen is represented by Elizabeth Winick Rubenstein of the McIntosh & Otis Literary Agency. Her Knight’s Curse series was published by Harlequin Luna in 2011 and 2012, and her post apocalyptic novella, Sun Storm, appeared in Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology in 2013.

Karen is also a professional graphic designer who designs book covers and book interiors for self-published authors, and creates original 3D graphics for computer gaming. Demon Fare is the first book in her Spawnstertown Chronicles.

The Giveaway

Cory is giving away 2 print copies (US only) and 3 e-book copies of DEMON FARE. To enter to win, click here for the Rafflecopter form. For my official giveaway rules, click here.

Demon Fare Banner


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

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

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

CELIA’S TRANQUILLI BLOODLINE SERIES

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

How about three words?  Vampires, love, mayhem.

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

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

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

WRITING HABITS

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have another job in addition to writing?

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

FAVORITE BOOKS AND AUTHORS

What is your favorite book and why?

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

Favorite author?

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

OTHER FAVORITES

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

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

Favorite color?

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

Favorite singer/group?

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

Favorite food?

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

Favorite holiday treat?

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

WHAT’S NEXT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy holidays!

Celia

More About Destiny

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

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

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

Where to find it:

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

Celia Breslin

More About Celia

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

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

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

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


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

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

Bewitching Book Tours Hot Holiday Giveaway

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

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

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

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

Bewitching Brews Holiday Giveaway

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

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

Bewitching Brews and Devilish Desserts 

A Collection of Cocktail and Dessert Recipes 

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

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

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

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

Available at Createspace and Amazon


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