Friday, November 24, 2017

Editor and Proofreader Emily Hainsworth

As I finished tweaking my work-in-progress, I knew I needed anther set of eyes to look it over.  Fortuitously, I ran across a post on Kboards from an editor looking for clients.  It was a stroke of good fortune for which I am most grateful.

Working with Emily Hainsworth on my latest novel has been a joy.  It is always frightening to entrust your work to someone new, and I am so grateful that I took a chance on Emily.  She is responsive, efficient, focused, and encouraging.  Her attention to detail, along with her ability to understand my voice and my story, enabled her to give my book a thorough and effective polish.  Her work and feedback have given me a great boost of confidence as I prepare to release my new characters into the world.  I can’t recommend Emily highly enough, and I will happily work with her again.  

My timeline for publishing this work has been derailed a bit by my father's recent passing.  I had been intending to mount a Kindle Scout campaign this month, but with my new responsibilities to the estate and to my mother, that won't be possible.   In my forced hiatus, I intend to send some query letters and see if I can make any progress in the traditional side of publishing.  If not, after the first of the year, I'll hopefully have the bandwidth to give Kindle Scout a proper go.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Wednesday Work-in-Progress: Brother Edmun

In my forthcoming fantasy novel, I make liberal use of flashbacks.  In fact, every chapter begins with a scene from earlier in the life of with Shiloh or Silas.  In the Kingdom of Bryn, the past isn't buried.  It informs nearly every decision the characters make. 

In fact, there is one central character who dies before the book even begins: Brother Edmun.  A brilliant wizard and the bastard half-brother of the king, he chose the wrong side in the civil war an has lived out the remainder of his life in exile in the mountains, with Shiloh as his only student. 

Demanding and grouchy, Edmun is. nevertheless, not without redeeming qualities.  In this excerpt, we get a glimpse of him and of his relationship with Shiloh.

Little Shiloh knocked on Brother Edmun’s door, shaking like a leaf.

“Where have you been, lazy child? You’re late. Did the roosters all perish in the night? Were you picking daisies?” he scolded, pulling open the door. He grabbed her by the arm and yanked her inside.

“I’m sorry, master,” she whispered. “I fell down . . . they were hiding and . . .” Her voice was thick with tears, and he looked down at her in surprise. There was something on her face.

“Are you bleeding?” Edmun exclaimed. He guided her gently into the light pouring through his window and knelt down in front of her. The irritation drained from his face when he pulled back her hood. “Lords above,” he breathed.

Shiloh’s hair was matted with blood, which continued to seep steadily from a deep gash on the crown of her head. Another wound in front of her left ear bled freely, crimson pouring down her neck and staining her collar. A bruise had begun to color her forehead. Edmun pulled out his wand and murmured an incantation. The flow of blood slowed until, soon, it stopped altogether.

The priest felt for broken bones. “Where else did they get you, poppet?” he asked. “Where else does it hurt?”

“It hurts when I breathe,” she admitted.

“Ach, probably a cracked rib. What in blazes happened?” he asked.

“They threw rocks at me,” she replied, a tear sneaking down her face. “Big ones. They hid behind the Temple, so my Da wouldn’t see from his window.”


She shook her head. “It’ll be worse for me if they know I told you.”

Edmun held her by the shoulders. “I know that, Shiloh. I am not an idiot. I worked all my life with obnoxious children. I’ll not be revealing that you told me who they are. We’ll get your justice on the sly; mark my words. But first, I’ll teach you how to make charms to protect yourself from the worthless Teethtrash that inhabit this Godsforsaken village. I should have done it already. Now, do as I say, and tell me their names.”

“Victoh, Meggan, and Karl,” she confessed.

“Sounds about right. Their parents are lazy dolts and mean as snakes.” Edmun gently wiped the blood from her face and kissed her on the forehead, then pointed at her little desk.

“Now, to work,” he ordered. “A girl like you needs to learn to use her pain, or else she hasn’t a chance in the world.”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wednesday Work-in-Progress: "Stranger things have happened . . ."

This week, a peek at Silas Hatch, the bastard son of a lord and Chief Minister to the king.  In his early thirties, he was just old enough to get caught up in the civil war that raged before Shiloh's birth.  He is an expert in violent magic, and he will do anything to maintain the kingdom's peace.



Before Hatch and his men entered the village of Smoke Valley, there they were: a half-dozen charred skulls on pikes at the edge of the road leading down from the pass, a warning to outlaws to steer clear of the settlement. He squinted and held out a gloved hand as if feeling for heat. A muscle in his face twitched.

“Looks like they’re holding their own against the Feralfolk,” Perce observed. The men grunted with approval after they traced superstitious circles on their foreheads.

“She, not they. Magic killed them all,” Hatch countered grimly, before prodding his horse to continue past the macabre display. He heard retching behind him and turned to find Cyrus, the young priest sent to replace Edmun, vomiting into the brush.

Hatch shook his head. These high country folk are going to walk all over him. Let’s hope he doesn’t pass out the first time he sees one of them chop the head from a chicken.

“A little girl from the Teeth, all by her lonesome, killed six grown men?” Perce asked skeptically. “A girl who hasn’t even been to the Academy yet? Isn’t it more likely this Brother Edmun did them in?”

Hatch fixed his sharp eyes upon his companion. “That is possible, but as poor as his health has been these last years, I find it unlikely. The rumors all say the girl killed them. As to the child’s education, Brother Edmun was the finest professor at the Royal Academy for decades before the war started. He was the youngest headmaster ever appointed. She’ll know more walking through the door than most of our most gifted noblemen know when they finish their studies. You underestimate her at your peril.”

Perce held up his hands in surrender. “Yes, Uncle. It’s just . . . it’s a lot to believe. A hexborn kid that he found in the woods grows up and kills grown Feralfolk without even having a wand to use?”

“She might have used one of his. Stranger things have happened,” Hatch replied. “And my source in South Lake has proved reliable in the past. Evidently, the Feralfolk had just killed her father when the . . . incident . . . occurred. That is certainly plausible motivation.

“You’re not old enough to have been in the war. I saw grieving wizards slaughter entire companies of men after losing a beloved companion on the battlefield; some of them were barely older than this foundling. Power comes in unlikely packages, and rage can unlock any box you try to hide it in.”

“Where do you suppose she even came from?” Perce asked.

“There are a number of possibilities. She was born in the last days of the war. Many of the monks and nuns drafted into the fighting broke their vows in those days. Of those who bore children from such illicit unions, some abandoned or killed them in the hopes of hiding their guilt. Some ran off and became Feralfolk along with their offspring,” Silas explained patiently.

“It is fortunate that the girl was found by someone interested in proving his loyalty. Had she been raised a Feral, or spirited out of the country by the king’s enemies, she could have become a significant problem for the realm. A weapon like that, in hostile hands,” Silas concluded, “could be devastating.”

“Do you think she’ll come quietly, Uncle Silas?”

“I think the chances are good. Edmun claims that she is as devout and patriotic a lass as could be found anywhere. Even if that is an exaggeration, if she were not clever, Edmun would not have bothered with her. He never was an easy man to impress. I doubt he gentled with age,” Silas opined.

“And if she seems like a threat, once we have her in hand?” his nephew asked.

Silas turned his intimidating gaze upon Perce once again. “Then we shall fulfill our duty to kingdom and crown. Why do you suppose King Rischar sent me to handle this myself?”

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Wednesday Work-in-Progress: "The dust betrayed them . . ."

My first draft is complete, and I am getting feedback and working on revisions.  I'm very excited about sharing this new world I've created over the next weeks and months.  I love November and the gang; don't get me wrong.  But working with new characters and filling out the world I've built for them is tremendously enjoyable.  I hope you'll enjoy them, too!

Today, I've got an excerpt from the first chapter, just before my two point-of-view characters meet for the first time.  My protagonist, Shiloh, is a fifteen-year-old sorceress who has grown up in the poorest part of the kingdom of Bryn.  She is about to journey to court, to the Royal Academy of Mages, brought there by Silas Hatch, the king's ruthless fixer.  Silas is my second point-of-view character.  You'll have to read the book to find out if he turns out more friend than enemy, but I do warn you: this is not a romance.

I hope this excerpt entices you to want to know more.  Enjoy!

The dust betrayed them. At the end of a long, dry summer in the Teeth, the hooves of their horses stirred up a cloud that billowed like smoke as they traversed the pass. Shiloh made out a flash of blue that she reckoned must be Lord Blackmine's crest. The Lord of the Teeth's men flew a banner with a white horse on a blue field.

Not that we see it much, given his lordship’s lack of interest in defending his lands and his folk.

The spots of red up in front she supposed might be Silas Hatch's household livery: a golden hatchet on blood crimson.

At least the man embraces his infamy.

She’d been packed for weeks, waiting. She could have run. That is what Brother Edmun had urged her to do, from his deathbed . . . Edmun, who had put her in mortal peril long before he'd learned to love her like a daughter.

He had let Shiloh read all his letters to the City, the ones in which he’d begged the Hatchet to find a place for her at the Royal Academy. He had extolled Shiloh’s virtue and her gifts at length, hopeful that his favorite old pupil would have mercy on his beloved young one. But toward the end, Edmun’s fear for her safety had overcome his hopes for her future, and he'd urged the girl to fly away before Hatch’s men came stomping up their mountains.

She had considered it. As she'd wept into Edmun’s blankets after he'd finally breathed his last, she'd considered it. As she’d watched his wands crumble to dust as they died with him, she’d considered it. As she’d prepared him for burial, as she’d put him in the ground, as she had waited for weeks . . .

And, yet, here she stood, waiting patiently for an infamously ruthless stranger to spirit her away.

As she watched the cloud of dust move ever closer to her home, she considered her choice one last time. Her options were limited. No other village would ever accept a hexborn stranger, and a bastard foundling at that. Her own had only tolerated her because they’d feared to cross Edmun and her father, and because her skills had made her useful. She was surprised they hadn’t tried to drive her out of town since her men had died.

If not a village, then where? Living as a hermit in the woods lacked appeal, not least of which because her ill health turned every winter into mortal combat. Besides, the Feralfolk were not exactly fond of her. She would be easily caught if she ventured any further west, closer to the City. She had not the money to go abroad, to Estany.

Thus, she waited, and she hoped that all of her work, and all Edmun’s plotting, had not been in vain. She wondered how the soldiers would react if her village failed to produce her.

Not well, she thought.

It would serve them right.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Spotlight Author Tour: Jennifer Hinsman

I'm delighted to be hosting the current Rave Reviews Book Club Spotlight Author, Jennifer Hinsmann.  Today she is treating us to a peek inside her mystery thriller, Angel of Death.

Excerpt from Chapter 4- Angel of Death:

Everyone sat in his or her usual spots at the huge dining table, and the chef served the first course, lobster bisque. This was followed by a tomato salad and a mint sorbet to cleanse the palette for the wine and Brie that was to come. Finally, the main course of duck with caramelized orange sauce, small roasted potatoes, and asparagus steamed to perfection, with a hint of garlic, was placed in front of each dinner guest and compliments to the chef went around. The family talked business and oil prices, and they also wanted to know about Miles and Stacy Lynn’s plans for children and how the landscaping was going on their new home. Everyone seemed to be in good spirits, but Audrey was rather quiet because of her nervous stomach.

Baron asked Audrey to tell everyone what she had been up to, and that seemed like a good time to bring up the dreaded subject of Chicago. She shrugged and talked about finishing her senior paper and studying for finals.

“There is a bit of other news I wanted to share with everyone.” Audrey couldn’t make eye contact with her parents so she looked at Jonathan instead; he smiled at her.

Liza’s face lit up, “Oh Audrey, I bet I know, please tell us you have finally picked a college. I have a feeling it is University of Texas or SMU.” She clapped her hands in excitement. “We spent so much time with applications and touring campuses, they are all really great and I have a favorite, but I did tell you it was your decision.”

“Well, I am glad to hear that you feel it is my decision. I am not really sure how to tell you all, but I plan to leave Texas for college.” She took a deep breath.

Miles spoke up, “You’re kidding, right? That’s funny little sis, seriously though, which did you pick?” His gaze was on her, as was everyone else’s.

“No, I am not kidding, actually. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’m sure that I want to do this.” She looked at Miles as she spoke and saw Stacy Lynn gasp in surprise. “Don’t act so surprised, Stacy Lynn. It’s not like you know me, and really my decisions aren’t any of your business anyway.” She looked at Miles and he seemed a little hurt.

“Don’t be ridiculous, Audrey,” her father piped in at the end of the table, his tone was even, but she could tell he wasn’t happy about this. “You will stay in Texas, just as all of us have. The schools here are exceptional, so there is no reason to go out of Texas.” He took a sip of his wine.

“First, I’m sorry, Miles, I didn’t mean to snap at Stacy Lynn like that.” He nodded and she knew she was forgiven, at least by him, and that was all she cared about. “I have been accepted to Northwestern in Chicago. Mom and I have traveled there several times for shows and shopping. The city fits me and has so much to offer. I love the culture and diversity there. Plus, there are all four seasons there and I know Texas can’t offer me that.” She smiled, hoping that would lighten the mood in the room.

Her grandparents were very quiet, but Audrey guessed they knew it was Baron and Liza that would lay down the law.

“I don’t remember you saying anything about Chicago for school. When did you apply and why was it behind my back?” Liza glared at her daughter, feeling stupid in front of her in-laws and parents.

“Mom, I know, I knew you would fight me on it and not let me apply. Or dad would call a business friend to make sure my application was denied. I did this on my own and used my own money to pay the application fee.” Audrey took a sip of her water; her throat was suddenly feeling constricted and dry. “I accepted their offer a few months ago.” She looked down at her plate, but defiantly decided to look up at her parents to show confidence in her decision.

“That’s impossible, Audrey, your mother and I are paying for your college education and you may not move up to Chicago. End of story.” Her dad was using his business voice and expected to have Audrey follow whatever he demanded. “Now, after all this foolishness, who wants dessert?” Baron looked around at the quiet table.

Jonathan spoke, “Well, I’m always ready for dessert, but maybe you and mom could hear Audrey out, and look at all the things Northwestern has to offer.” Audrey cringed, knowing her father would probably take his comments out on him at the office.

“No one asked for your opinion, Jonathan,” Baron said with an edge to his voice. “Besides, you got your degree here in Texas, and you seemed very happy about that.”

“True, but Audrey and I are two different people. She’s the most independent of the three of us.” She could see that Miles nodded in agreement. Audrey really loved her brothers, but she didn’t want them to take the wrath for her.

“Look, Dad, Mom …” Audrey sighed. “The boys are not trying to go against you, they just love me and still see me as the littlest, the youngest, and the one they need to protect, so please don’t be mad at either of them. I really don’t think they have a side, so to speak, in this, they know I just want a chance at something different.”

“So, they’ve known this whole time and didn’t bother to let us know.” Liza waved her hand in the air and gestured toward them. “That’s great, all we do for you kids and then you go off keeping secrets like this. I won’t stand for this, Audrey, you are staying in Texas. We are not letting you make this monumental mistake!” With those words, she disappeared into the kitchen and they could all hear her telling the chef they were ready for dessert.

“Dad, they didn’t know anything, I swear. I wouldn’t make either of them keep a secret from you guys.” Jonathan had known for a few weeks, but she didn’t need to tell her parents that.

“Dessert will be served momentarily.” Liza walked back in, acting as if that uncomfortable conversation had never happened. “Who would like some coffee?” She held up a silver coffee pitcher and smiled.

Liza would have made a great actress, Audrey thought. She was beautiful, tall and thin, and she could always mask whatever she was really feeling to be the perfect hostess, business woman, volunteer or whatever she was doing at any particular moment. In a sense, Audrey admired her mother’s resolve, but this was a family discussion, so why did she have to be such a Stepford-wife at this time?

Audrey got up from the table and excused herself. She was too annoyed to be around her parents right now. Jonathan excused himself from the table a few minutes later to check on her.

* * *

Author Bio:

Jenny graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in business. She currently resides in Michigan with her husband, two sons, a furry son (pet dog) and a furry daughter (pet cat). Jenny is an avid reader and loves to escape with a great book. She is a huge animal lover and supports rescue organizations that help save all kinds of four-legged family members and more. All of her family pets have been rescues.

Twitter - @JennyHinsman1

Facebook - @SoulsANovel

Website -

Amazon -

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Hot Upcoming Release: For Sparrow by Pandora Spocks

The skilled and vivacious Pandora Spocks has a new release next week for those of you who like your romance novels a little dirty. For Sparrow is a sweet and spicy tale of a second chance at love for a young widow, who, naturally, happens to be into submission. Release day is October 3rd.

I had the pleasure of beta reading this novel, and I found it most enjoyable. Spocks is one of the strongest writers on the erotic romance scene. She is good at balancing plot and sex scenes, and she creates sympathetic characters you can't help rooting for. She manages make her stories both realistic and hopeful.

The pre-order price is only $0.99, so you should get it while the getting's good.

Here's the blurb:

When Jessi Crenshaw’s husband Graham dies unexpectedly, she’s devastated. He’s the only man she’s ever loved. Just eighteen when she met him, she’s been married to him for twenty-five years. Now she’s lost her friend, her lover…and her Dominant.

But as it turns out, Graham had an inkling that his health was in decline, and he tapped his friend and protégé in the Lifestyle, firefighter and paramedic Judd Farris, to be Jessi’s Dominant until she gets back on her feet.

Judd is determined to fulfill his promise to his friend. But it’s a damn odd arrangement—a platonic Dom/sub relationship. With her fiery auburn hair, sparkling green eyes, and audacious spirit, Jessi captured his attention the first time he ever saw her. At her husband’s funeral.

A man could go to hell for the things he’s been thinking. But they’ve drawn a line, and he’s going to stick to it.

Judd’s sexy good looks and his gentle confidence aren’t lost on Jessi. She’s torn between loyalty to the man she loved, and desire for the man increasingly in her fantasies. In the letter Graham left for her, he mentioned that she might find Judd attractive. But that’s simply ridiculous. He’s five years younger than she is. He couldn’t possibly be interested in her. Could he?

Judd’s a Dom without a sub, and Jessi’s a sub without a Dom. It’s perfect for the time being. Could it be that Graham had more in mind than merely a temporary solution?

And could it all end at the hands of a madman?

FOR SPARROW is a contemporary erotic romance novel with a light BDSM theme. It’s the third book in the Dream Dominant Collection.

And an excerpt for your reading pleasure:

Jessi’s hands shook. With her index finger, she traced the writing on the front of the envelope. She glanced out the back door to see Judd kick off his shoes and sit on the edge of the pool, sinking his feet in the water. Buddy flopped down beside him and rolled over, wanting his tummy scratched, and Judd obliged.

She turned her attention back to the envelope. Her irrational self told her that if she didn’t open it, somehow everything could go back to normal. But curiosity won the moment, and she slid her thumb under the flap and carefully opened the letter.

My dearest Sparrow,

I’m so sorry I’m not there with you. I can feel my heart beginning to wear out. Please don’t be angry with me for not telling you, I know how you worry about things. We’ve had a good life together. I’ve told you before and I’m telling you again, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. The fact that you are the mother of my children amazes the hell out of me. What did I ever do to deserve such a terrific family?

Jessi reached up to wipe a silent tear from her cheek. Self-consciously, she flicked her eyes out to the pool deck to find that Judd was watching her intently, and he flashed a sympathetic smile. Sniffing, she read on.

It would be pointless, I suppose, to tell you not to mourn. Just don’t do it too long. And don’t you dare wear black. God, I hate all that maudlin bullshit. Now Sparrow, you and I know that you are a natural submissive. I don’t want you to feel lost without a Dominant in your life. I want you to find one, a true Gentleman who will cherish you in the way you deserve. One who will nurture the sexy, sensual woman you truly are. Don’t you go back to some kind of vanilla half-existence. That would really piss me off.

Tears still streaming, she laughed because she could almost hear Graham’s voice.

If you have this letter, you’ve met Judd. I’ve known him for several years now, and he’s a solid Dominant. I’ve asked him to check in on you and to take care of some things around the house. I’ve also asked him to help you out until you find a Dominant of your own. Judd is willing to give you knee time, Sparrow, to help you settle your mind and find peace. I don’t mean sex and kink. He would be a sort of ‘emotional Dominant,’ just until you get back on your feet.

On the other hand, if you found yourself attracted to Judd, it would make me happy knowing that you’d be in good hands. He’s a good man, Jessi, a gentle man and a Gentleman. He would be a perfect sexual Dominant for you. I worry thinking about the dangers out there, Sparrow. You and Judd could make your own way.

Mortified, Jessi glanced out the back door. Thankfully, Judd was staring out across the pool. “I can’t believe you’re telling me these things,” she murmured to herself.

Anyway, I trust you, Sparrow. You’re smart and strong, and I’m so proud of you. Never forget that you are absolutely the love of my life. I’m forever grateful to you for taking my hard, stuffy heart and helping me to be a better man than I ever dreamed about being. Be sure the kids know how much I love them. I love you, my Sparrow, with all my heart. Live happy. Find love and cherish it.

Your loving husband and Master, G.

Jessi was completely undone. Sobbing, she folded her arms on the counter and rested her head on them. She cried until she felt she had no tears left. Moments passed and she raised her head. It hurt and her eyes felt puffy. With a glance at Judd and Buddy still sitting by the pool, she went into the powder room and splashed water on her face.

Taking a deep breath, she forced her feet out the back door and across the pool deck. Judd smiled up at her kindly. “How are you holding up?”

Jessi shrugged as she stepped out of her sandals and sat beside him, slipping her feet into the cool water. They sat without speaking, each gently sliding feet through the water, watching the ripples cross the pool and return to them. Judd moved his foot under her leg and raised her foot to the surface. The fuchsia nail polish was chipped and peeling.

“How long since you had a pedicure, Jessi?” he asked gently.

She moved her foot away and looked at him sharply. “What exactly did your letter say, Judd?”

He exhaled forcefully. “Like I said, he was worried about you. He said that you’re submissive and that you might need somebody in your life until you find your way.” He glanced at her knowingly. “When was the last time your mind was quiet, little one?”

A tear slid down Jessi’s cheek and she swiped at it roughly. “So, you’re my appointed Dominant, is that it?” she asked testily.

“It’s not like that.” Judd looked at her steadily. “Graham and I were friends. We talked about Dominance and submission for hours over the years. He trusted me. Trusted me with the one thing that meant the most to him in the world.”

He paused, gazing at her thoughtfully. “He didn’t want you to run into the wrong kind of man while you’re looking to ease your mind, to fill that emptiness that I see in your eyes.” Jessi stubbornly looked away and swiped at her cheek again.

“You know, it’s entirely up to you. I’m going to complete the list of things around your house. I promised him I would. But whether you accept me as a surrogate Dominant? Only you can decide that.”

He ran a frustrated hand through his hair. “You miss knee time, I know you do,” he said softly. “A chance to just let go of all the concerns that weigh you down.” Jessi turned back to look at him, her expression softer. “I’m not talking about kinky sex, tying you up and all that. I’m offering you a chance to clear your mind of everything, let me carry your burdens for a while.”

“Why? Why would you do that?” Her voice was strained.

Judd shrugged. “I’m Dominant. It’s what I crave, to be needed, to take care of a submissive.” He laughed lightly. “I’m a Dominant without a submissive, and you’re a submissive without a Dominant. For the time being, it works out well.”

He gazed at her steadily, kindness in his brown eyes. “Just say the word. Do you want knee time, little one?”

Another tear rolled down her cheek. And she nodded. “Yes,” she whispered. “I want knee time.”

He smiled patiently. “Yes, what, little one?”

“Yes, Master.”

Judd shook his head. “I’m not your Master, little one. Yes, Sir will do.”

Unconsciously, Jessi bowed her head submissively. “Yes, Sir, may I please have knee time?”

“Yes, you may,” he responded gently. “There is a big leather chair in your den. Be kneeling beside the chair in two minutes. Your eyes will be closed and you will clear your mind. Do you understand, little one?”

“Yes, Sir.” Jessi stood and started to walk away, but then turned and looked at him anxiously. “My clothes, Sir?”

“Your clothes are fine the way they are,” he answered. “Hurry. I’ll come to you shortly.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said, and she hurried into the house.

You can find out more about Pandora Spocks in the following places:

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Hosting Stephen Geez

It's my pleasure today to be hosting fellow author Stephen Geez.  He's promoting his thriller, Fantasy Patch, available on Amazon.

Stephen Geez is a retired businessman, television producer, and music composer/producer who writes novels, essay collections, all manner of shorts, and industrial scripts. With University of Michigan bachelors and masters degrees including English Language & Literature, he’s a maven of language mechanics and literary styles who argues that any message is more compelling if told like a story.

A media thriller by Stephen Geez
Snippet from Chapter 3

What I’m picturing is a nice guy in his mid-thirties, blond hair, average build, devilish good looks, a twinkle in his eye―okay, it’s me, but what I don’t want to imagine is how I’d look standing in a long line at the unemployment office, dark circles under my eyes, my face the picture of dispirited resignation . . .
Let’s try it this way: have me standing confidently beside my lawyer, Super-Cyn SiCauge, barracuda in a power-suit, champion of the downtrodden, righter of corporate wrongs, and she’s suing the socks off those Kehoe/Lundy bastards for wrongful discharge. The jury is awarding me all the corporate assets, the company now mine, mine! Mine!
Okay, let’s bring it down a notch. Picture me updating my résumé, dazzling all the competing agencies, landing the power position, then swooping back to steal away Kehoe’s most lucrative clients!
Okay, forget the pictures. Right now as I carry my office accoutrements to the parking lot, what I really see is the hard reality of a young single mother sitting in a beat-up blue compact, face buried in her hands, and she’s crying.
The Kehoe/Lundy security guard doesn’t notice. “You guys always do better when it’s time to move on,” he reassures me while helping load the last box into the back of my jet-black Cadillac. Stepping back, he fidgets uncomfortably. “You’ll do all right.”
“You, too, Tommy.” I lean close, glancing about furtively, then whisper, “And I’ll give you a big raise when I come back and take over this place.”
He grins. “I just bet you would, sir.” He tips his hat and wanders back inside.
I head toward Melissa’s car.

~ ~ ~

Comment from Stephen Geez

Please follow and do something nice for the fine blogger hosting us. Today is Day 3 of my 4 Wills Publishing blog tour to tout Fantasy Patch, my media thriller. The snippet above shows how my narrator, Creative Director Dante Roenik, tends to ruminate visually. Sure, it’s a good way to sneak in some exposition, but when problem-solving needs thinking “outside the box,” it’s handy to have a protagonist who lives out there. So, that begs for first-person narration; let him tell the story his way. Present tense, I sort of kept winding up there when I mentally rehearsed scenes. Dante changes too much to let him have past-tense knowledge of future events. Then he would have to tell the story quite differently. Fantasy Patch is my only novel with either first-person narrative or present tense. You get both for the price of one. That could matter only for gifts, though, if you win your own from this tour. Thanks for visiting.

~ ~ ~

"This tour sponsored by"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Pay It Forward Day: Jeff Haws

One of my author groups (Rave Reviews Book Club) has invited us to take a fellow member, learn a little more about him or her, and share his or her talent with the world at large.  I chose Jeff Haws, who has an exciting new release coming up called The Solitary Apocalypse.  It, as you might guess, falls in the category of dystopian fiction and is currently available for pre-order.  I was excited to see that the story is set in North Georgia, where my husband and I grew up.  It turns out that Jeff lives in my hometown of Atlanta.  Small world, huh?

Here's the blurb:

Along with the rest of a North Georgia town that survived a deadly worldwide plague, Michael's forced to wear a steel ring around his waist wherever he goes. He's seen cohabitation banned. Marriages dissolved. Families torn apart.

But he's a good soldier, supporting the leader's draconian policies -- until he learns an explosive secret about her that threatens to destroy the delicate balance they've achieved between safety and order.

Now, Michael must enlist help to confront the awful truth about the town of Alessandra, and the fate of what may be the last human colony on Earth.

This isn't Jeff's first time at the rodeo, either.  He is also the author of a short story called The Slingshot, a novella called Tomorrow's News Today, and a novel called Killing The Immortals.

Jeff has a great deal of experience in the world of journalism, so you just know he brings clean writing and an eye for detail to his fiction.  I encourage you to check him out.  You can learn more about him in the following places:


Happy reading!

Monday, September 18, 2017

New Release: MaryDee Night by M.S. Tarot

In the publishing world of erotic romance, M.S. Tarot possesses the rare ability to combine real emotion with transgression.  He's trying something new with his upcoming release, MaryDee Night, which drops October 3rd from Deep Desire Press and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

Here is the blurb:

For Oliver West, the local night clubs are his kingdom. Glittering palaces filled with music and erotic delights for all the senses. Known by the nickname “O”, he is a benevolent ruler, forsaking nothing in his quest to slake the desires that decent people hide. Like an angel fallen from heaven, he left decency and innocence far behind him long ago. Or so he thought. Enter, the lovely Paige Turner. With her mane of Cruella de Vil hair and a smile more wicked than any witch, she could tame the club-hound “O” if she wished. With a request for a single red rose and a wink that promises things he never dreamed of, fate is showing him that Paige can be the Queen to his King. But, given his past, will Oliver be able to do what he has never imagined himself doing to be worthy of her?

And an excerpt:

Living is making choices. Lying there in a military hospital for
the weeks that followed, my broken body held together with
plaster and steel rods, I made choices. Some were good, some were
bad, most were simply a different choice than what I would have
normally made. Some of those choices I made by myself.

And to be honest, some were made for me. By doctors
delivering medical reports to my superior officers. Reports that
testified about how I would never be a soldier again, but then I
could have saved them the time. I had no intentions of ever
marching another step, whether I was ever going to be capable of
marching again or not. See, that time in that grave in such terrible
pain, clawing at mud, begging for my life and for the pain to end, it
showed me what nothing had been able to show me before.

I was not alive. Oh, I breathed and I walked and I talked, but I
was not really alive. I was not living a life; oh no, I was, in fact,
trying to live a life over. My father’s life. And I had to
acknowledge that there, in that hole, I was not him.

Benson West had been a highly decorated war hero. Then a
mud-on-his-boots construction worker, slaving for pennies
building bridges in third world countries. Now in his late fifties, he
was a tough-as-nails, general contractor. A man known to drink his
weight in beer a week, to fight at the drop of any hat, and he would
still brag of the women he had fucked … sometimes even within
my mother’s hearing. A man’s man! That was my father.

That’s what I had wanted to be.

But I wasn't. Not even close.

Oh, I had tried to play the part. Only too late did I realize that
all I could ever be was a little kid with his tiny child’s feet stuck in
his dad’s oversized shoes. It took a lot of pain to come to realize
that, to accept that image. By the time I had my casts cut off, and
the crutches were more for help than for absolute movement, I was
decided. No longer was I going to be a fake person. Whatever
came to mind was going to be what I did. No matter what.

Happy reading!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Is there trouble? Must be Thursday.

Jolie Mason is coming out with her first thriller, Thursday's Child, on October 5th. She's known for sci-fi romance, where she adroitly balances technical detail with matters of the heart. I have no doubt she will bring the same skill and sensibility to a mystery thriller. Today, Mason is sharing with us an interview with her protagonist, Detective Thursday. Enjoy!


Is there trouble? Must be Thursday.

Teen City is one of the foremost, teen demographic e-mags in the Met, and we like to sit down with powerful female role models to empower our readership. Today, we sit down with none other than, the hero cop, Detective Hayden Thursday.

Thursday: I prefer just Metropolitan Police Detective.

Leslie: Yeah, but where’s the fun in that? So, detective… Who’s the guy?

Thursday: Excuse me?

Leslie: There’s gotta be a guy, right? Who is he?

Thursday: Um…. No guy. I don’t get out much. The job takes a lot of dedication, hard work.

In the interest of full disclosure, fans and readers, this interview took place in the detective’s workplace, the 15th precinct Homicide Department, and it was a good time. Detective Thursday works with a lot of guys because, despite today’s forward thinking policies on feminism, women are still underrepresented in law enforcement.

However, these guys are so supportive of Detective Thursday. They stayed around to give her moral support and laughed at all her jokes. It was heartwarming to see. I teared up a little.

Leslie: So, if there’s no guy, how do you… you know...relax?

The Detective is so shy, guys.

Thursday: (while looking at the supportive coworkers standing around) Mostly, I shoot things.

Leslie: Judging from the way these fellas are hovering around our interview, Detective, are you sure there’s no office romance? You seem to have all their attention.

Thursday: Yes, yes I do. And, it will be remembered, oh, you can bet, I will not forget each and every one of their supportive faces. These guys are my family, and we’re all professionals here. No dating.

At this point, some kind of silent emergency alert drew all the guys back to work. It must be inspiring for the Detective to work in such a great office environment.

We are interrupted again, by her partner, Detective Randall Ace, though everyone just calls him
Ace at the 15th.

He’s old enough to be Thursday’s grandfather but in a distinguished, hard-boiled sort of way. He runs up to the Detective apologizing.

Thursday: You said you’d be here!

Ace: I’m sorry! The captain held me up.

Thursday: (mutters) She did that on purpose.

Ace: Ms…?

Leslie: Leslie Cage. Teen City Magazine.

Ace: Ms. Cage. I am so sorry I have to cut this short. Detective Thursday has a homicide to attend. She’s instrumental. We absolutely cannot do it without her.

Thursday: Why, thank you, Ace. Thanks again for the great talk, Leslie. Good luck with the story.

As they hurry off, I have to say, this reporter enjoyed seeing a woman in law enforcement at work very much. Women are so empowered in this environment, supported and praised. It was an amazing thing to see.

So, remember, Girls, law enforcement has changed. Until next time, empower yourself!


Let me leave you with the blurb for Thursday's Child:

Detective Thursday just caught another homicide in the borough, her first serial killer case. So much for the holiday spirit. These horrific murders should be bad enough, but as she works the case, solves the puzzle and finds a witness to protect, Hayden discovers a much bigger intrigue at play, one that will change her life irrevocably.

In this debut thriller by Jolie Mason, she begins the tale of Detective Hayden Thursday, a young detective in the mega-city known as the Metropolitan City Authority at the dawn of the new century. She made homicide detective through hard work and determination, and she hates a good mystery. That's why she works so hard to answer the tough questions.

She and her partner, Randall Ace, are working against the clock to track down a serial killer in the Met, and it takes them into the underbelly of corporate research and development, leading them to illegal research, cybernetics and beyond. Hayden finds herself a little distracted by Dr. Gray Kerry, her witness and the biggest question mark in her life.

This series is best enjoyed in order and falls into the category of romantic fiction, but is not a true romance. If you love a good thriller, you might love Thursday.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Silver Medal for She Lights Up the Dark

I was so pleased to find out last week that am once again a winner in the Readers' Favorite Book Awards! My second November Snow novel, She Lights Up the Dark, received second place in the category of Supernatural Fiction!

This marks the fifth time a book in the November Snow Series has been recognized by a major indie publishing award.

If you haven't yet read She Light Up the Dark, the sequel to She Dies at the End, here is an excerpt:

I died. I'm a vampire.

For a moment, she wasn't certain if she would laugh or weep. The amazed cackle that escaped between her fingers settled that question. It was only after the glow of feeding had faded that she noticed the pandemonium that had erupted around her.

They were looking for something. Zinnia was on the ground. She looked completely undone. And Ilyn . . . Ilyn looked terrible. It took November a long, confused moment to realize that what they were looking for . . . was her. She stood up, covered in blood, and looked at her companions uncomprehendingly.

“I’m right here,” she proclaimed, waving her hands in front of Hazel’s face. “Hello? Can you hear me?”

She looked down at her own body, and it was perfectly visible and solid to her.

"Zinnia? Ilyn?"

She tried to touch her maker, reaching out a hand to toward his arm. Her blood-stained fingers passed right through him.

"It’s no use, kitten. They cannot hear you.”

November closed her eyes, willing that familiar voice to disappear, praying she’d imagined it. When she got up the nerve to turn around, rage filled her, and she tackled Luka to the ground, fangs bared, screaming like a madwoman, “What have you done?”

He looked up at her, unconcerned, and laughed delightedly.

“Oh, my, vampirism certainly does become you, November. More beautiful than ever. So savage," he winked. "But as much as I enjoy having you on top of me, it is a bit distracting. Another time.”

He threw her off of himself with ease, as the newborn was no match for the strength of his eight centuries as a vampire.

She landed lightly on her feet and demanded again, in a voice quieter but no less hostile, “What have you done?”

“Do allow me to apologize for the sniper, by the way. He's lucky he's already dead. It pains me to think how you might have suffered in your final human moments. As for your current invisibility . . . Ilyn managed to steal you from me: the final victory of a dying man. I have simply employed Willow to steal you back by hiding you quite thoroughly. Thank you for saving her life, by the way. That was most helpful. Perhaps after a few decades you’ll learn to be less merciful."

"But you lost," she argued with a childlike stubbornness. She shook her head in disbelief. "They defeated you. We defeated you."

His smile was a strange mix of pity and gloating. "Do I really strike you as the type to put all my eggs in one basket, kitten? For centuries, I've been amassing personnel and real estate to support my plans. My base in the desert was merely an outpost. An outpost I no longer require.

"Regardless, these people can neither see nor hear you. If you write them a note, the words will disappear before they can read it. You cannot call them on the phone, text them, send them email. If you try to use a human to pass on a message, they will fail. Post a video on YouTube, use Snapchat . . . well, you get the idea. There is not a single vampire, fairy, or werewolf on God’s green earth who can receive your communication except with my permission. The most you could manage is perhaps a game of twenty questions. I don't really understand how it works, but there you have it.”

He smiled. “The bottom line is that I am your only friend now, kitten.”

November shook her head. “No,” she whispered. “I would rather be alone forever than be with you.”

Luka walked toward her, his manner strangely gentle. “You say that now, of course. You think you hate me. You think you know what loneliness is from your hospitals and your carnies and your trailer trash adolescence with your ridiculous excuse for a mother.

"But forever is a long time. And now you’ve tasted what it is to have a family, and you won’t be able to bear true isolation for long. Being a newborn vampire is not easy. You need help. You need someone to teach you, to comfort you. Young vampires need physical affection as much human children do. Perhaps more. They need to rest in the arms of their kin.

"Moreover, you don’t know how to be a vampire safely. You don't know how to enthrall. You don’t know how your transformation will affect your clairvoyance. You don’t know how to feed without killing. How many human carcasses will you leave rotting in the dirt before you show up at my door? How many innocents will you kill before you bow to the inevitable? Savita managed to slaughter an entire village in under a minute one dark night, and it took her a century to recover.”

“As though you care about innocent people,” she spat, furious but unable to look away from him.

“I don’t, except insofar as I don’t like waste or the complications of disposal. But you do care. At least for now. We can help each other, November. Just come with me. No tricks. No imprisonment. You can temper my excesses. I’ll take care of you. Together, we'll reshape the world."

“I’d rather die,” she replied, her voice dripping with acid. "I can always go sunbathing if I can't hack it on my own."

“I don’t think so. If suicide was in you, you'd have succeeded at it a long time ago. I think you have a remarkable will to live. There’s fight in you. Inspiring, really. Lovely. Unfortunately, your maker lacks your fire.”

He took her by the shoulders and forcibly turned her around to face the others. She struggled, trying to pull away from his grasp, but his grip was too strong.

“Look at him. You’ve managed what 2500 years failed to do. Even after my mother’s murder and his inexcusable failure to find her killer, he managed to plod on another few centuries. But not this time . . . Look at his face. You’ve broken him. You gave him hope, and now it’s gone. And he will never find it again.”

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

New Release: Luka's Dawn Episode 3

The third installment of the November Snow Epilogue Stories is live!   You can find Luka's Dawn, Episode 3 exclusively on Amazon Kindle.

I'm bringing paranormal peril back to Livermore, California, to which Flannery and her entourage relocated following the events in Luka's Dawn, Episode 2.  Someone opens an anti-supernatural church, and they're interested int putting their beliefs into practice.  When danger strikes those dear to them, Luka and Raina need assistance from their favorite tween psychic.

Here is an excerpt to give you a taste:

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?” Raina asked warily.  She slammed the car door and gazed across the parking lot at the unassuming building that housed Flannery’s parents’ new church.
“What’s the problem?  Merrick and Hannah are not in attendance tonight.  They both have food poisoning.  Of course, I can’t imagine how they caught it while Flannery and the twins were spared,” Luka replied with an evil grin.
“Oh, I can imagine,” Raina muttered darkly.
“At any rate,” her brother continued, “No one we know would be caught dead or alive at this Jesus jamboree, so it is unlikely we will be recognized,” Luka argued.  “I want to know what her parents are poisoning her mind with.  Don’t you?  She has enough to worry about without those two finding a new way to teach her to hate herself.”  He pulled his cane from the back seat, then locked the car.
“I know,” Raina acquiesced.  “Let’s get this over with.”
They entered the building to an outrageously chipper welcome.  “Hi, are you new?  I’m Poppy!” a young woman chirped, handing them each a bulletin.
“Indeed,” Luka replied in his most seductive voice.  “I’m Jack.  This is Diane.”  Raina briefly closed her eyes in irritated disbelief.
“Awesome!  Make sure you fill out a contact card so we can keep you up to date on all our awesome events to keep the truth alive in the face of the demonic hordes!”
“Yeah, we’ll do that,” Raina replied, then grabbed Luka’s arm and dragged him into the sanctuary proper, where they were subjected to praise music karaoke style for what seemed like an hour.
“I’m starting to regret this whole immortality thing,” Luka whispered to Raina.  “Did you bring a stake?”

“Shut up and sing,” she growled back, but even the straights seemed to be getting impatient.  It seemed the good reverend was running late.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress: A Magical Flashback

Here is a little peek at my YA Fantasy work in progress.  This scene shows us a moment in the childhood of Shiloh, my protagonist.  I make heavy use of flashback in this book.  It's almost as much fun as writing November's visions.  I hope you find it intriguing.

“Fetch me the box, child. The red one with the lock,” the priest ordered his only student.

Little Shiloh rose from the floor to obey and crossed to the tall bookshelf opposite the wood stove. She smiled when she picked up the box. They had never looked at this one before, and Shiloh was a terribly curious little girl. She carried the treasure back to her master, her accustomed solemn expression of firmly back in place. Brother Edmund liked serious girls, not silly ones.

“Tell me about the four magical elements,” he directed.

“The four elements are earth, air, fire, and water. Each mage has a primary affinity for one of the four elements, from which the mage draws her power and through which she focuses her craft,” she recited, lisping through her missing front teeth.

“Good,” Edmund proclaimed, the praise filling Shiloh with warmth. “Now, we are going to find out how the elements react to you. Listen to me carefully, child. What I am doing here is against the law. Only with a bishop’s permission can a young person be legally tested. You cannot tell anyone, do you understand? Not even your father. Someone might overhear. I don’t want them coming for you before we are ready.”

“Yes, master,” she replied. “But if it is against the law, then why are we doing it?” she asked, head cocked in puzzlement.

“Because the law is bullshit,” he replied. “And I want to know if you're a waste of my precious time.”

Shiloh opened her mouth to ask another question, but the look on Edmund’s face told her to mind her tongue.

The priest unlocked the box with his wand and carefully tilted back the lid. Nestled in blue velvet sat four small spheres of glass. One was clear and colorless, filled only with air. One contained a bright flame, flickering without ceasing. One sat half full of sloshing water that moved in waves like a miniature sea. The last contained a hunk of granite speckled with pink quartz.

“They're beautiful,” Shiloh whispered. Her hand clutched her hook behind her back; she struggled to resist the urge to reach out. Edmund had long since taught her not to touch magical objects without permission; it had been a painful lesson.

“Aye,” Edmund agreed. “Now, when I tell you to, you reach out and hold your hand above the box. Do not touch the spheres. Just take a deep breath and clear your mind. Hopefully, one of the balls will react to you, just a little bit. Don't expect dramatics. It will just be a little wiggle. Go ahead, now.”

Shiloh grinned and held out her hand. She took a deep breath, as instructed. She closed her eyes. At the sound of an exclamation from Brother Edmund, they snapped back open.

All four balls had risen from their cradle and floated an inch below her palm. She turned over her hand, and the balls followed. They now sat suspended above her palm, rotating slowly.

She looked to her teacher, whose mouth stood gaping. “Did I do it wrong?” she whispered. Her eyes brimmed with worry.

Edmund stared back at her, incredulous. “No, poppet. You didn't bloody do it wrong. Gods above!”

He laughed loudly enough to shake the herbs hanging from the rafters, which only worried the girl more, as it was a sound from him with which she was entirely unfamiliar. He finally calmed himself and continued, “Time to put them away. They've told us all they're going to tell.” He waved his wand, and the orbs returned to their resting places.

“What did they tell us?” Shiloh ventured.

“That we’re both going to need to work harder,” he grumped. “And that you should stop pestering me with questions.”

Shiloh relaxed. That sounded more like Brother Edmund.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday Work in Progress: Luka's Dawn, Episode 3

Today I'll be giving you a peek into the third installment of my November Snow Epilogue short story series, Luka's Dawn.  Our dear characters are living a quiet suburban life, until an anti-vampire church brings trouble to their door.

“Are you sure this is such a good idea?” Raina asked warily. She slammed the car door and gazed across the parking lot at the unassuming building that housed Flannery’s parents’ new church.

“What’s the problem? Merrick and Hannah are not in attendance tonight. They both have food poisoning. Of course, I can’t imagine how they caught it while Flannery and the twins were spared,” he replied with an evil grin.

“Oh, I can imagine,” Raina muttered darkly.

“At any rate,” her brother continued, “No one we know would be caught dead or alive at this Jesus jamboree, so it is unlikely we will be recognized,” Luka argued. “I want to know what her parents are poisoning her mind with. Don’t you? She has enough to worry about without those two finding a new way to teach her to hate herself.” He pulled his cane from the back seat, then locked the car.

“I know,” Raina acquiesced. “Let’s get this over with.”

They entered the building to an outrageously chipper welcome. “Hi, are you new? I’m Poppy!” a young woman chirped, handing them each a bulletin.

“Indeed,” Luka replied in his most seductive voice. “I’m Jack. This is Diane.” Raina briefly closed her eyes in irritated disbelief.

“Awesome! Make sure you fill out a contact card so we can keep you up to date on all our awesome events to keep the truth alive in the face of the demonic hordes!”

“Yeah, we’ll do that,” Raina replied, then grabbed Luka’s arm and dragged him into the sanctuary proper, where they were subjected to praise music karaoke style for what seemed like an hour.

“I’m starting to regret this whole immortality thing,” Luka whispered to Raina. “Did you bring a stake?”

“Shut up and sing,” she growled back, but even the straights seemed to be getting impatient. It seemed the good reverend was running late.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Wednesday Work-In-Progress: A Classroom Scene

One of the hallmarks of Young Adult lit is the depiction of school life.  The schools may be quite unusual (like Hogwarts or Vampire Academy), but many of the stresses involved are familiar to us all.  In this scene, Shiloh has a less-than-edifying encounter with a bully of a new teacher.


Shiloh sat in a small classroom with a dozen children, all under the age of ten, save for her.  In front of each of them sat a bowl of water.  At the front of the room stood Kevin Rangeborn, professor of Farsight.  He’d been away on a pilgrimage to holy sites in Gerne; this was, therefore, Shiloh’s first class with him.  It wasn’t looking too promising.  With hair more salt than pepper and a face full of frown lines, he glared down at his students with narrow eyes.

“Scrying, properly performed, can change the course of history.  It can reveal danger, expose treachery, provide insight.  Or it can be a cheap parlor trick for rich people with too much time on their hands.  I’ve no doubt that for most of you, it shall be the latter, if you can see anything at all,” Master Kevin proclaimed.  “Farsight arises only in those who possess an affinity for the element of water.  If your magic is devoid of water, you will see nothing.  Visions do not come to a busy mind, nor to a soul burdened with sin.  Your mind must be calm as the glassy surface of the water.  Your soul must be pure as the driven snow.  The Gods show nothing to those filthy with misdeeds and vile magics.” 

He turned his eyes on Shiloh, his expression full of disgust.  Her ears flushed pink as her hair, and she pressed her lips together to keep herself from replying in anger. 

“Begin,” the teacher ordered.  

The children obeyed, looking skeptically into the water, breathing deeply.  Shiloh did the same, though her mind was roiling at the professor’s obvious antipathy.  She closed her eyes and tried to let go of her anger, then gazed down into the bowl, letting her eyes become unfocused.
For an instant, she caught a glimpse of Queen Rose standing on a wooden platform, in tears, wearing only a simple shift.  In a blink, the image was gone.   She raised her eyes to find Master Kevin standing before her, glowering.

“You needn’t bother trying.  You reek of dark magic.  The Gods do not reveal truth to the unclean,” he hissed.  “No wonder Edmund didn’t bother trying to teach you farsight.  Even that traitor knew you were unworthy.  He should have killed you in your cradle.”

   Every child in the class had given up the assignment and focused their wide eyes on the spectacle at Shiloh’s desk.  Shaking, she stood to face the professor.  Drawing herself up to her full height, she barely came up to the man’s chest.  Still, her expression must have conveyed something of her rage and of her power, for the large man took a step back when she looked up into his face.

“Master Kevin, I would so hate to be a waste of your precious time,” she said, her voice sickly sweet and her eyes blazing.  “After all, who can know how much time one has?”  And with that, she turned on her heel and strode out of the room.

She kept walking until she found herself in the Temple in front of the shrine to the Mother.  She knelt down onto the pad and bent to rest her forehead on the railing.  A few tears fell, hot and silent, onto the stone floor below.

You shouldn’t have let him get to you, she scolded herself.  You know better than to let them see it hurts.

“Are you alright?” Brother Charles asked, coming up behind her.

She lifted her head and brushed aside a tear.  “I’m fine.  I just walked out of class in a huff.”

“What happened?” the priest asked, taking a seat on a bench nearby.  Shiloh rose to join him.

“Master Kevin started talking about how unclean I am, and how the Gods would never show me anything, so I needn’t bother taking his class,” she explained, voice hot.

Charles rolled his eyes.  “Kevin is an ass.  Always has been.  We shared a room our first year here.  He’s always been . . . strident.  I considered murder on a number of occasions.” 

Shiloh laughed.  “Will the headmaster be cross with me if I don’t continue taking Farsight?”

“I doubt it,” Charles replied.  “You could always ask to study it independently.  I’m sure there are books in the library.  Master Hatch is quite adept, I’m told.  Perhaps he would be willing to tutor you.”

Shiloh sighed.  “Somehow, I doubt it.  I should probably go tell the headmaster before Maser Kevin gets to him first and makes it sound like I did something wrong.”

Luka's Dawn, Episode 2

Good news, vampire junkies!  The second installment of Luka's Dawn is available here for pre-order.

If you're lucky, maybe one of these days I'll run out of Flannery O'Conner references for my graphics.

Here is a short excerpt:

Flannery looked up from her ice cream, suspicion in her deep blue eyes.
“Are you two going to yell at me, too?” she asked.  Raina and Luka exchanged glances.
“Kitten, have we ever yelled at you?” Luka asked.
“No, I guess not,” the child admitted sullenly.
“You want to talk about it?” asked Raina.
“I just thought she should know that her husband is stepping out!” the little girl erupted.  “And everyone is acting like I am the worst little girl in the world.  Does she want to get herpes?  Because that’s how you get herpes.”
The sound of her lisping the word “herpes” through her missing front tooth caused Raina to snort a laugh, which she tried unsuccessfully to hide behind her hand.
“It’s not funny!” Flannery insisted, scowling.
 “No, it isn’t,” Luka agreed, seeking to mollify her.  “It isn’t funny.  I know you meant well, kitten.  But humans . . . they don’t tend to appreciate such warnings.  They blame the messenger.  And they don’t have much patience for children who are different.  It’s not fair to you, but that’s just how they are.  The loss is theirs, kitten.  You are an ancient and powerful creature.  They are merely human.”
Flannery looked down at her dish, poking angrily at the melting ice cream with her spoon.  “My mommy is pregnant,” she announced, tears springing to her eyes.  “With twins.  I don’t think my mommy knows yet.  And they’re going to be all normal and perfect, and my mom and dad are not going to want me anymore.  I’ve seen it.”
Remind me again why killing them is a bad idea? Luka asked himself.
“Oh, honey,” Raina replied, pulling the girl onto her lap for a hug.  “I know they don’t understand you, but they do love you.  They’re not going to stop loving you just because they have more children.  That isn’t how it works.”  
Luka hoped she wasn’t lying.  It’s not as though either of them had any children.  What would they know about it?
“They’ll be easier to love,” Flannery insisted.  “I’ll love them, too, but it will still make me mad.”
“Well, I won’t love them at all, and if they’re mean to you, I’ll eat them right up,” Luka promised.  He extended his fangs and made a scary face until Flannery giggled.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Huge Sci-f- and Fantasy $0.99 Promotion

Hello, darlings. I just wanted to let you know that I'm participating in a Sci-fi and Fantasy promotion featuring tons of books on sale for only $0.99 July 1st and 2nd. My contribution is She Dies at the End, so if you have friends you've been meaning to turn into November Snow fans, spread the word. Have fun stocking up on your airplane/beach/staycation reading.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Meeting Flannery

Today is the day!  The first episode of my November Snow Epilogue short story series is now available on Amazon.  For $0.99, catch up with Luka and see how he is handling life after She Marches Through Fire.  (Hint: not great)  Are you as excited to meet Flannery as he is?

I have two more stories in the series written and ready to go in the coming weeks.  I hope you will enjoy reading them as much as I did writing them.  Happy Reading!

Author Kim Cox

Today, it is my absolute pleasure to host a fellow member of Rave Reviews Book Club, Kim Cox.  I thoroughly enjoy her writing, and if you're a fan of romance, you ought to give her work a try.

Today, Kim is sharing with us her thoughts on being an indie author, as opposed to a traditionally published writer.

Doesn’t everyone dream of finding an agent and a publisher handle all the details? Don’t know. I did once. So how did I end up where I am now, an Indie Author?

I did everything I thought an aspiring author was supposed to do. I joined clubs, all the RWAs that I could join, and I went to virtual meetings. I joined critique groups. I even worked for a few clubs and groups as treasurer, contest coordinator, etc. I entered a few contest to get feedback.

I wrote a romantic suspense book and rewrote it until I felt it was publishable. I researched what to do next, and I purchased Writer’s Digest’s book, Writer’s Market which lists agents and publishers, their addresses, and their guidelines.

I queried a publisher that I liked, that had authors I loved to read. They requested a synopsis and the first three chapters within a month. After, I received a rejection but it told me what didn’t work for them. So I rewrote the book and sent a query to Harlequin Intrigue.

Harlequin sent for the synopsis and first three chapters. Then they sent for the whole manuscript. I thought this could be it. I tried to work on other writing, even started writing another book. I wrote some articles for a website and some short stories while waiting to hear if they’d publish my book. Eighteen months later, I received their rejection letter.

I was devastated. Because it was taking so long to hear something, I just knew they would accept my baby as one of their own. I had heard from a source that it had gotten to the last round before deciding to publish. While the rejection letter was a good one, it didn’t tell me why Harlequin decided to pass on it.

One of the clubs I belonged to had a workshop where an ex-editor was the guest speaker. I attended. During the workshop, she said she would give a FREE edit a manuscript to the first three aspiring authors to send her an email. I was one of those.

She told me why my manuscript was most-likely turned down for publication. I followed her advice and rewrote the book again, but I didn’t want to wait over a year to find out if it would be accepted or not.

By this time, small online publishers were starting to open their doors and publishing books in a new format, ebooks. Hey guys, this was before Amazon became to being. Anyway, I thought it was a great idea, and I knew a few authors who’d already gone that route. I did some research and found a publisher who had a good reputation.

One thing I loved, things moved very quickly. There weren’t the months or even years of waiting for an answer about publication. It was almost instantaneous when compared to my experience thus far. Did I say I loved it? I loved the speed.

You heard me say, I found a publisher who had a good reputation, right? Well, they did, up and until after I signed the contract. Then I started hearing stuff about non-payment to their authors, editors, cover artist, etc. Many were leaving the company. But I took the "wait and see" attitude. Some of the authors I knew still stood by them, and so I would too for the time being.

At that time, my contract said I had to keep my book with them for one year of publishing and that’s what I did. I know I sold quite a few when the book first released but my book had to make $100 in royalties before I receive any money from them. Not sure if it did or not but I never saw a dime.

During the next exodus, many of those authors and editors who'd stood by them the first time left, and the ones I knew well started their own publishing company. So as soon as my year was up, I left too.

My second online publisher, Amber Quill Press, was great. They knew exactly what not to do from the old company which went out of business within the next couple of years. I’d had a couple of other online publishers too but none as good as Amber Quill. But I had lost faith in making any money. I had a few sales here and there over the years but not much. Sales became almost nonexistent.

By this time Amazon was selling electronic and print books. I talked to other authors I knew who'd gone the self-publishing route. Then I read everything I could get on the subject. Something happened. I was excited about writing again. I pulled my books from one publisher and eventually from Amber Quill. I had to wait a while to get my rights back though. A few months before my rights were returned from Amber Quill, they announced they were closing business like so many before them already had.

So that’s how I became an Indie Author and I love it. I love the control over pricing and sales, and I love the creative and technical process of creating covers and formatting my own books. The promotion, though, I don’t love so much but that’s something I'd had to do with a small publisher anyway. From what I hear, unless you’re and author who already has a big-name, you’re not promoted by the publisher very much anyway.

On my own, I've sold more books than I ever have. I have also spent more money even with doing almost everything myself, mostly on editing and promotion. Keep in mind that finding a good editor is a must, and you should research for the one who is right for you, because there are those out there who say they’re editors who aren’t that great. So be careful.

I understand that there are authors who just don’t want to deal with all the other stuff that comes with self-publishing. There are companies who offer these services for authors, designing covers and formatting books. Some prices are reasonable and some aren’t. Some are reputable and some aren’t. So look around and make the right connections.

Like in all things, if you’re paying for a service, research and talk to others who have already used the services.

Thanks for your insights, Kim!  Did her story resonate with you?  What thoughts do you have to share about your own publishing experiences?

Kim is hosting a giveaway, where FIVE lucky winners will receive one of the following prizes: (1) ebook copy of "ALL THIS TIME" and a $10 Amazon Gift Card or (4) ebook copy of ALL THIS TIME. To enter Kim's giveaway, simply leave a comment anywhere along the tour!

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