Saturday, February 20, 2016

Alliance Blog Hop: A Peek Inside She Lights Up the Dark

Today I'm participating in a Blog Hop with the Alliance of Self-Published Authors, organized by the inimitable Jolie Mason.  This group is chock full of talent!  I encourage all my readers to check out these fine independent writers.  I'm sharing with you an excerpt from my current work in progress, She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2), followed by a short synopsis. If you haven't yet read Book 1 of the series, you can download a copy of She Dies at the End today. She Lights Up the Dark will be released on April 19 on Amazon Kindle. It's already available for pre-order.

She saw the bloody tears on her face as she turned to look at herself in the cracked mirror hanging on the bathroom door.  In the fairy light, her eyes were the otherworldly eyes of a demon, swirling galaxies of stars around a blue-hot flame.  They were the same eyes she'd had for thousands of years, life after life after life.  They were not the eyes of a single young girl, frightened and lonely.  They were the eyes of queens and warriors, soothsayers and witches, werewolves and fairies and humans, babes and maids and mothers and crones, their lives piled high, one on top of the other.  
She looked at herself and felt the weight of it all, and she did not buckle beneath it.  She squared her shoulders and wiped the tears away.  She met her own unearthly eyes.
I will prevail.  One way or another, in this life or the next, I will turn all your plans to ruin.
I will lay waste to your towers.  I will scatter your armies.
I will destroy you, Luka.
She smiled.


A frightening vision stalks November, even in her grave . . . and things go severely sideways just as soon as she claws her way out of it.

Continuing the story begun in the well-received paranormal romp She Dies at the End, She Lights Up the Dark finds November Snow struggling to adjust to her new life as a vampire with none of the support she'd expected.  Her nemesis, Luka, has plotted to isolate November and scatter her allies as he executes his plan to bring human society under his control.  Her loneliness leads her to become emotionally entangled with a charming but likely untrustworthy fellow vampire.

When danger flares, November discovers that her psychic gift has expanded in a powerful and perilous fashion.  Coerced into close company with her enemy, she fights to master her power and to uncover the secrets that may help her to save both her friends and the human world from being crushed under Luka’s boot.  November is determined to stop Luka as his plan builds toward an unknown and deadly climax, but she may find that lighting up the dark comes with a high price to pay.

This books contains violence, some sexual content, and occasional profanity.

Happy reading, everyone!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Everyday inspiration: the making of a cover

I want to tell you guys a little bit about how I created the cover for my upcoming release She Lights Up the Dark (November Snow Book 2).

I knew before I started designing that I wanted something involving a bright light in the sky.  I needed it to be reminiscent of the sun, but not close off the possibility of a different source for the light.  I started glancing through stock photos on Canva, my go-to for all design needs.  I just couldn't find the right picture.

Then, a minor miracle occurred.  I was biking with my son to school early one morning, and the sun was rising through the fog.  It was bright, but partially obscured.  I whipped out my phone and took this picture:

From that starting point, I began playing with filters, cropping, rotating, brightness, transparency, etc.  Eventually, I wound up with this:

But it wasn't quite right.  It needed something more.  It needed a November.  So I started going through all the Canva stock photos of woman's faces.  I probably tried a half-dozen and rejected them before I found the perfect one.  I tried a few different versions and tested them out on my friends.  This, to me, is a crucial step.  You don't necessarily have to take their advice if you have a strong feelings about an artistic decision, but you need another set of eyes to help you gauge a reader's reaction.  After much trial and error, this was the result:

I'm pretty pleased with it.  I hope you are, too.  It's amazing how randomly inspiration can strike.  One minute, you're taking your kid to school with no idea what to do for your next book cover.  The next, you're having a blast turning a hastily snapped phone photo into something special.  Keep your eyes open, everyone.  You never know when inspiration will strike.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review: Rannigan's Redemption 2: Running Rogue by Pandora Spocks

Pandora Spocks is out tomorrow with her much-anticipated sequel, Rannigan’s Redemption 2: Running Rogue.  She left us with quite the cliffhanger last year, when Part 1 ended with a rift between Maggie and Michael just after they finally gave in to their mutual attraction.  Part 2 picks up right where the first installment left off.

I have to confess I have limited patience for the “A-hole Rich Guy” subgenre of romance novels, but Spocks once again manages to overcome my preconceived notions. It helps that Michael experiences actual consequences for his ridiculousness, and that Maggie never so much as entertains the notion of putting up with his misbehavior.  Maggie nevertheless shows her heart of gold when she is a friend to him when it really counts. Between her kindness, toughness, and potty mouth, Maggie may be my favorite romance main character of all time.

My favorite part of the book starts in about the 5th inning, when retired baseball player Bobby makes his appearance.  I don't want to give too much away. I'll just say that he's awesome, and I look forward to seeing more of him in book 3. Happy reading!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Book Review: Redemption Burning by Jolie Mason

I really enjoy all of Jolie Mason’s stuff.  I adore her universe and the way she has built it up piece by piece over the many stories in both her series.  I love the way the outside forces affect the romances and how the series are becoming intertwined.  This new release, Redemption Burning, is no exception. It drops tomorrow, 2/08, and sci-fi romance buffs should pre-order now.

In the latest addition to the adventures of a team of mercenaries with hearts of gold, just as occasionally happens in real life, grief and romance co-mingle for Briar and Hercules. They juggle mourning their friend Beezer, accepting their blossoming feelings for each other, and fighting the evil alien hordes.  You know, like you do.  This is an exciting, heartwarming, and satisfying sci-fi romance, full of love and mechs and explosions.  I’ve come to expect nothing less from Jolie Mason.  So get on that Kindle and start downloading already!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Book Review: Jim Heskett's Nailgun Messiah

Reformed criminal and recovering alcoholic Micah Reed returns in Nailgun Messiah, the nail-biting sequel to last year’s Airbag Scars.  Heskett proves once again that he is the master of dialing up the tension.  In this story, Micah is hiding from a highly displeased drug dealer while simultaneously trying to save his sister from a bizarre cult. Micah never can stay out of trouble for long.

What I particularly love about this book are the characters.  Micah is someone you cannot help rooting for, even with all his flaws, or perhaps because of them.  He’s a man with a past who is trying to make up for his mistakes and avoid making new ones, and his struggle to do right really draws you in.  The supporting characters are equally vivid.  Lilah, the principal antagonist, is terrifying and heartbreaking all at once. Nobody is a caricature.

While this is a sequel, you shouldn’t have any trouble following the story if you start with this one.  I guarantee that after you read it, you’re going to want more Micah Reed.  I’ve read a number of Heskett’s books, and this one is my favorite thus far.  Happy reading!