Thursday, November 26, 2015

Top Four New (to me) Series of 2015

Posted by: Nicole Luiken

1/ Gini Koch’s Katherine “Kitty” Katt series. (SF) I read book one Touched by an Alien in February. I immediately needed book two. I caught up with the latest book in the 11-books-and-counting series by June and am looking forward to book 12, Alien in Chief, coming out in December.


2/ Brent Week’s Lightbringer series. (epic fantasy) Book one: The Black Prism. Even more amazing than his Night Angel trilogy. Love the light-and-color-based magic. Love the characters. High action and man, oh man, some of the plot twists! Am dying to find out what happens next. I’m lobbying to convince my husband and son to start reading the series so I can justify buying book four in hardcover when it comes out.

3/ Diana Pharaoh Francis’s Diamond City series. (urban fantasy) Book one: Trace of Magic. Every bit as good as the author’s Horngate Witches series. Cool magic, lots of action and peril and some steamy romance scenes, too. Two books out so far.

4/ Carol Berg's Sanctuary Duet. (fantasy) Book one: Dust and Light. I'm super excited for the release of book two Ash and Silver to come out in December. I love Carol Berg’s world-building, and she's very good at putting her characters in tough places.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Giving Thanks

Posted by: Janni Nell
When I was considering a topic for this post, I realised that it's almost Thanksgiving in the U.S. and that got me thinking...

Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated in Australia, but there are plenty of reasons we should give it a go. I mean, what’s not to like about having time off work and totally pigging-out on turkey with all the trimmings. Of course, it’s hot in Australia at this time of year, so I’ve thought about what Thanksgiving might be like Down Under.

The Venue: Outdoors. Maybe a picnic. Definitely near water—a beach or river, the harbour or just a backyard swimming pool.

The Dress: T-shirt, shorts, thongs (flip-flops), or a light summer dress and sandals. (Don’t forget the hat, swimmers and sunscreen.)

The Food:  BBQ bush turkey with chilled cranberry and avocado salsa, sweet potato and bush tomato salad, green bean and macadamia nut salad, pumpkin scones.

Dessert: fruit salad with pumpkin seeds, pecan ice cream, pumpkin and apple pavlova.

The Drinks: pumpkin beer, apple cider, cranberry wine.

The People: It’s all about family. Doesn’t matter whether they’re blood relations, or randoms who have come together just because they like each other.

The Sentiment: I figure that’s the same wherever you come from. Taking time to give thanks for what you have—whether it’s a lot or a little—sharing time with family and friends.

So, here’s what I’m thankful for:
Good food and wine
Line dancing
The time to write stories
And the freedom to self-publish.

What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Looking for Holiday-Themed Spec Fic Romance Recs!

Posted by: Jenn Burke
One of my all-time favourite
holiday romances.
It's that time of year again...when romance readers scoop up all sorts of holiday-themed books. There are some fantastic ones out there. One of my favourites (which I just re-read) is Amy Lane's Christmas Kitsch, a story about a college kid who might not be the brightest star in the sky when it comes to academics, but he's got an amazing heart and soul. When he kisses his best friend/new boyfriend at Thanksgiving, he's thrown out by his parents and needs to define a life for himself. I highly recommend it.'s a contemporary romance. I find most holiday-themed romances are. And don't get me wrong...I love contemporary romance. Spec fic romance, however—sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal—is my favourite.

So, any suggestions for this holiday-loving spec fic romance reader? I love romance of all sorts, but I'm particularly interested in LGBTQIA romance these days.

I know Indra Vaughn has a new book out called Winter Spirit, all about a lonely B&B owner and his cupid-like, matchmaking ghost. Looks fun!

Winter Oranges by Marie Sexton (out soon!) also looks great, with a twist on the Christmas ghost theme.

Go ahead and list your favourite holiday romances! I know I asked for spec fic ones, and I'll love you forever if you have a few for me to add to my ever-expanding to-be-read list, but feel free to suggest anything—contemporary and het romance included!

Happy Thanksgiving (week) to my American friends. I hope you'll find some books on this list to enjoy after the turkey's done!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Here Be News

Posted by: Eleri Stone

Cover reveal!

The much-awaited third book in the award-winning Ravensblood series is coming in February!  

The reformed dark mage Corwyn Ravenscroft, Raven, has finally found his place in the world. He has a fiancé, friends, and meaningful work. Yet a shadow hangs over everything. His former master, the darkest and most powerful mage of their time, the man he betrayed, the man he thought he had killed, still lives. William is determined to destroy everyone and everything Raven ever loved.
Will Raven find a way to defeat him, once and for all? Or will he see the life he has built crumble around him as William rises once again to threaten the Three Communities, perhaps even the world?

Jeffe Kennedy is participating in the Worldbuilders 2015 Fundraiser for Heifer International, sponsored by Patrick Rothfuss. The high bidders can win a manuscript critique and genre analysis from her, or she'll name a character after the high bidder in her next Twelve Kingdoms book, THE EDGE OF THE BLADE. Lots of other great stuff to bid on, too!

We're thrilled to report the Here Be Magic box set charted as an Amazon best seller in its first week! Thank you to all the readers and we hope you're enjoying the stories!

Available at ebook retailers.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Food. Glorious Food!

Posted by: Jenny Schwartz
Food is so important in storytelling. Who else remembers the orphanage food scene in "Oliver"?
Food sets the scene in so many ways. It employs the senses - taste and smell. How it looks, the crunch of it, the slurp of a villain - it adds both to characters and setting. Personality is revealed in the foods we enjoy and share. A sense of where we are is established by the food we eat.

My books tend to feature food. Not to the extent some books do, where they actually share recipes in the back pages, but I do like to imagine my characters eating. Interesting discussions happen over a meal.

If you write fantasy or historical fiction, or are simply interested in history, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank by Krista Ball is good reading.

I love imagining great restaurant food. It's an excuse to check out menus online, and then, inspired, make up my own perfect meal - without messy cleaning up or the frankly impossible price.

I also share food ideas from my own life. If my characters are in a rush, I try to think what I'd cook in such situations.

It's interesting to read contemporary novels from different eras and see how eating trends shift. Stirfries, pasta, pizza, bbq, all have their time, and then, become dated. Have you ever read a novel where the character uses a pressure cooker? It's so 1950s. Food is a subtle way to position a novel in time.

Last, but not least, food is sensual. In a romance novel, as the characters dance towards intimacy, food can play a major role. It is sharing, indulgence and celebration.

I guess I'd better wind up the post with a recipe, except ... I really don't feel like cooking, today. Nope, not even fictionally.

Anyone want a donut? And while you contemplate that sugary-overload, do you have a book you love for its food?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Building Characters: Finding My Inspirational Mojo

Posted by: Danube Adele
Sometimes my brain goes on hiatus.

When I was a little girl, everything was very magical and seemed to happen automatically without having to give it much thought. I slept in my comfy bed, in my toy-laden room in a lovely little neighborhood. It was a care free time of non-directed play and endless fun when creative thoughts, wonderings and ideas bloomed in a state of perpetual spring. So what the heck happened? I'll tell you. Life.

I grew up and found myself inundated with responsibility. All that free space available in my mind as a happy-go-lucky kid became filled with giving homework help, maintaining soccer schedules, harassing children over piano practice and trying to figure out what to cook a week in advance that will accommodate everyone's work practices. Then there's the sick dog, monthly bills, a car that seems to be acting up every other week, taunting me I'm convinced, and house chores that just won't do themselves. I'm telling you, I refuse to be that family that ends up contracting some strange bacterial infection that comes from lack of cleanliness. Then I'm looking around wondering why it's already dark. So what do I do when I have a million and one things to think about besides the fun of writing when I'm finally sitting in front of my computer ready to start creating? I have a few tricks up my sleeve.

One of my favorite ways to get my creative juices flowing is music. What songs represent my characters? "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman has been excellent for overall theme of a character's struggle. Listening to the lyrics, I can sit back, close my eyes and let my imagination create the image that matches what the song makes me feel. Who is that girl? Why is she so completely down on her luck? Then I might listen to "Run Around" by Blues Traveler when I'm looking for a lighthearted tone that can create comic relief in a scene. Different songs can help give structure to an entire chapter. "It's the End of the World As We Know It" by R.E.M. is one of those songs in a new book I'm writing, a sci-fi romance. "Take Me To Church" by Hozier is a song that helped to form the emotional background of one of my male characters in Book 4 of the Dreamwalkers series. But wait...there's more.

Giving my characters a chance to rant is another way I work to build who they are. If I'm watching a television program or the news, I test myself to see how well I know my characters. I ask myself, how would they feel about what they just watched and why? This is purely an exercise and likely not going to end up in any of the story, but it helps to know how a character views the world. We're all shaped by the way we judge what is happening in our world, which in turn, tells us how to behave. Someone who is appreciative of the environment might be angered when they see someone throwing a cigarette on the ground in a careless manner, as an example. And still, there are times when getting started is really hard.

A final way of stirring the creative pot is to make sure I've figured out all aspects of a character's background, which means sitting my but down and figuring it all out. Often, when I'm stuck for ideas, it's because I haven't taken the time to really do my homework. Free time is so precious, a true rare commodity, that I just want to get to the writing. The result? Frustration. What I write is just sucky - a technical term - and it inevitably ends up getting cut. Instead, if I create a graphic organizer that lets me explore in depth how my characters feel about family, work, politics, religion, their dating background, etc., then I know how they will react in a given situation. At that point, the story can more easily unfold with not so many glitches - another technical term.

Thanks so much for stopping by. How do you get your creative juices flowing? If you're in the mood for a sexy, paranormal/sci-fi series, check out my Dreamwalkers series. It's a hot way to spend a chilly, fall evening.                                                                                                                                


Carina Amazon BN

Carina Amazon BN
Carina Amazon BN


Friday, November 20, 2015

Terror Mansion Excerpt New Rebecca York Decorah Security Novella

Posted by: Veronica Scott
Our new HERE BE MAGIC boxed set was released this week! Only 99 cents for eight special tales of magic. Here's an excerpt from New York Times and USA Today Best Seller Rebecca York's new novella Terror Mansion.

The story: His psychic abilities can save her life--if she will only trust him.

This wasn’t Wyatt Granger’s routine nightmare. Usually he had a clear vision of some unfortunate future event that he might or might not be able to alter.

Instead he saw a confusing swirl of murky images with shadowy figures appearing and disappearing, mostly at an old building near the dock in a seaside town. More confounding were the scenes in what looked like a house of horrors, filled with distorted mirrors, a laughing but menacing clown and places where the floor dropped out from under your feet, sending you to the depths of hell.

But always at the center of the whirlwind was a beautiful young woman with terror in her wide-set blue eyes and her blond hair in a tangle around her heart-shaped face.

When his own eyes blinked open, he lay with his heart pounding, fighting his way back to reality. But the here and now kept slithering away. What he saw instead was the woman’s face floating in his mind, the most indelible image from the nightmare.

“Who are you?” he whispered as he sat up and thrust aside the tangled bedsheets.

Although she wasn’t there to respond, he had no doubt that he was going to meet her soon, and the encounter was going to change his life.

A dramatic way to put it? Maybe, but he knew to the marrow of his bones that the dream had been about his own future—even when his prescient nightmares had never been personal before.
“Crap,” he whispered under his breath. He stood up, pressed his feet against the cold floor and walked naked to the window of his condo, where he stood clenching and unclenching his fists as he looked toward the glimmer of dawn on the horizon.

He ached to shake off the vivid confusion of the dream.

But instead of the bare tree trunks outside, he saw the woman’s face, pale and intense and beautiful.
“Who are you?” he asked again, but he heard only the throbbing of the blood in his veins.

He might not know her name, but he had to find her. He could have fought the feeling of urgency that threatened to choke off his breath, but the truth of the dream was burned into his soul, even when he had no way to cope with it on a logical level. All he knew was that he had to go to her. And then he had to take her in his arms and protect her—even when he knew she was going to mount a savage denial that she needed his aid.

Urgency and frustration had him stomping down the hall. In the bathroom, he took a quick shower. In too much of a hurry to shave, he pulled on jeans, a tee shirt and a leather jacket. Logically there was no way to even know where he was going. But he felt a compulsion to drive east, as though a psychic beacon was pulling him in the right direction, heading toward the waterfront that had flickered in and out of the nightmare.

His destination solidified in his mind when he’d crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to the Eastern Shore of Maryland. There were lots of waterfront towns in this part of the state, but he took the turn to St. Stephens, which had been a thriving port in colonial times. Now pleasure craft bobbed gently in the small harbor, and Main Street was lined with tourist shops and restaurants.

A welter of emotions grabbed him by the throat as he parked in a lot in the heart of the downtown area and strode toward the dock. Yet some part of him still feared the dream had all been a lie.

Relief jolted through him when he saw the shambling gray building from the nightmare. The feeling was nothing compared to what he felt when his gaze fell on the woman standing outside the barn-like door.

Buy the "Here Be Magic" boxed set now at
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