Wednesday, April 25, 2018

No Time To Kill by Nancy Gideon

What do we writers desire the most (besides fame, fortune and a self-cleaning house)? Time. Time to write. Time to relax. Time to take care of the business of writing.


I've had time to reconsider that. Be careful what you wish for.

A week after coming back from a fab (read: expensive shopping-wise!) trip to the Tucson Festival of Books and Sedona, my monetary security is rocked by the unexpected news that one of the attorneys in my office has decided to retire . . . in two weeks, and will not be paying any more rent. The rent that pays the salaries for me and our law clerk. Surprise, 30% of my income gone, just like that. Now, mind you, I don't have the luxury of a self-supporting writing career. After the shock and panic wore off (and some, I admit, righteous annoyance at the lack of notice), it was time to hunker down with the calculator and weigh the pros and cons: Time v Cash.

My Coolest Boss Ever and I crunched numbers and possibilities to provide an income I could live with (if not live on). Fridays off without pay was a no brainer. I could do that. Who wouldn't love a three day weekend every weekend? Then our suite neighbor stepped up and offered to take me on for four hours a week to do odds and ends for him. Our law clerk had just decided to go for a double masters next semester and won't have time to clerk, so the situation worked out pretty well in the end.

Now, how to spend that extra 8 hours (actually 10 1/2 without drive and prep time)?

My first Friday off while my grandguy visited over Spring Break I spent in Toys R Us looking for deals (there were none!), pet stores, restaurants, and a bookstore (never say No to a book!). The next, I spent on the couch binge watching movies. A recovery weekend, I justified. The third Friday, I slept in until 5:30 then went straight to the computer, spending the day doing a time line for where the previous book and my WIP overlap AND got in a new chapter written. Last Friday, I wrote way past noon, and it was marvelous.

And this is where I'll spend this Friday . . . 


With the extra day off, I can take advantage of the pre-conference Write-In time from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm before our Mid-Michigan RWA weekend Retreat from Harsh Reality and JUST WRITE! See ya' there, Diane Burton!

Okay, this can work! Just that extra day to pour out on the keyboard picked up my momentum for the rest of the week's pages and posts. My ultimate vision is to write Friday morning and use the afternoon to do writing business i.e. blog posts, gifs for FB/Twitter, excerpts, etc., freeing up the rest of my weekday early morning writing time to just do writing. And Saturday and Sunday - maybe I'll use as an actual weekend days off once in a while. All-in-all, not bad lemonade from that first sour bit of news.

Time is what you make of it, so make the most of it!

What would you do with that extra day?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Nancy Gideon on the Web


Monday, April 23, 2018

The Shadow Tailor by Francesca Quarto

Her sister Janice, would be forever getting her five inch nails done. Originally, their plans included a full massage, for both of them, or a body thumping as Bernie called it, to annoy her older sister.
"Bernice," Janice responded with her usual eye-roll. "You have never appreciated the benefits of being pampered."
Bernie, as she always referred to herself, laughed.  "You do enough self-indulging for the both of us."
At eighteen and nineteen, the girls enjoyed their parent's wealth in very different ways. But they still managed to enjoy one another's company on small outings, like this day of shopping in Chicago.  
She left Janice to the cooing women, hovering around her in the salon and wandered across the street.
At first, the busy sidewalks were cluttered, door to door, with chi-chi stores and boutiques. After several long, city-blocks, these eventually thinned out and Bernie began noticing signs for consignment shops and ethnic restaurants and grocers with strange names. 
She turned down a side street, almost an alley really,hoping to find a used book store, with something more interesting than piles of torn jeans to look through. 
 Standing at the end of the block, she looked up, taking her bearings in the strange neighborhood she'd wandered into. 
Swinging in the mild gusts of summer wind Chicago is known for, was an ancient looking wooden sign reading, "The Shadow Tailor".
Bernie looked at it again, mouthing the words as she silently read it again. She walked over to a large front window, peering through the gritty glass. It was dark as night inside.  She figured the shop was closed, but it was only past two and there was no "closed" sign on the door. 
She moved  closer to the window, noticing the sweep of curtains, bunched up to one side.
Just as she was turning away, she caught movement from the corner of her eye.  A candle burst into flame on the other side of the glass, inches from her hovering face  
Not squeamish by nature and having a deep curiosity of the what she called the oddities of life, Bernice, never-the-less, felt an odd tingle of warning flood her body.
"Oh for Pete's sake!" she chided herself, "It's just a candle. People do light them!"
She left the window and stepped over to the door.  Its wood was scarred, pealing red paint was still vivid in places. but faded to a dead rose color, from years of Chicago weather.  
Bernie turned an old fashioned, but elegant brass handle, and was musically accompanied inside, by the soft chimes of bells.
It took several long and uncomfortable seconds for her eyes to adjust to the sudden change in light.  The candle that flared into existence earlier, was sitting atop a fireplace in a corner of a large room.  The candlelight's creamy glow showed off an ornately carved mantle and its surrounding rich wood frame. 
Nearby, Bernie spotted several pieces of over-stuffed furnishings.  Sofas, chairs, settees, all placed in a comfortable semi circle, as if for expected company. Several side tables were scattered around the seating, each holding a delicate looking tea cups and saucers, small spoons placed beside each of them. In the center of the grouping, a low coffee table was set with a lovely sterling tea service and a tiered silver pastry dish, with fresh smelling scones arranged temptingly.
In spite herself, Bernie felt her mouth water.  Then she realized she'd missed lunch a few hours ago.
"Hello.  Anyone about?"
Bernie tried to keep her voice cheery and friendly, not wanting to startle the shop owner, or staff, when they came into the dimly lit room to find her standing there.
Bernie's greeting was lost in such a complete a stillness, that it seemed to weigh down even the sound of her voice. Not wanting to stand like a fool, yelling out to an apparently empty store, Bernie turned to leave.  She grabbed the brass handle, immediately feeling a searing cold, bite her fingers.
She jumped back, a stinging sensation traveling through her hand and up her arm.  She was too stunned by the sudden pain to think about its source.  With her hand tucked under her arm pit for warmth, she studied the handle.  About to try it again, she froze when a deep male voice sliced through the silence like a sharp knife through Kobe Steak.
"I wouldn't do that again, unless you enjoy pain, but then I don't know you enough yet to answer that."
Stepping out of the shadows in a corner of the shop and into the candle's waving light, stood the most handsome man Bernie had ever seen.  
His hair was a glossy, black mass of curls, long enough to brush his collar.  His features looked carved from unblemished marble, patrician in elegance and undoubtedly self-assured.
Bernie was so enthralled with his perfection,she didn't focus on his warning.  She stood entranced as he moved closer to her, stopping next to a sofa.  
She recalled herself enough to see his clothes were all vintage late eighteen hundred's.  They were pristine in every perfect stitch and the cut of his suite was perfection.  His broad shoulders were enhanced by the careful attention of the tailor, capturing the easy flow of his body's movements.
"I'm so sorry to have disturbed you," Bernie said softly. "I thought you were a shop when I read your sign outside.  "Shadow Tailor" is quite an unusual name."
"Please, forgive my rudeness, Miss.  Would you care to sit for a few minutes and I'll be happy to tell you about my ...special shop."
Bernie didn't know how, but suddenly she found herself seated on the sofa next to the gorgeous man.  She gave her head a small shake, trying to clear the feeling that this guy had somehow influenced her usual clear-headed pragmatism. That levelheadedness would have told her to leave and fast! 
Her mind was racing while her heart was pounding like a kettle drum at the stranger's nearness.  She swore she could feel his body heat.
Wait, that's not heat I feel.  It's cold, like from the door handle. She shivered.
Bernie heard the delicate clinking of a spoon on a cup and saw that the man had carefully poured a single cup of tea.
"I think you'll find this to your liking and most relaxing dear lady,"
Without hesitating, Bernie reached for the steaming cup and with their eyes locked in a probing stare, she began to sip. 
She had taken a small drink, but the steam rose thick and fragrantly around her face and head. 
"I've never tasted anything as wonderful in my life," she declared in a voice that sounded dreamy and far away.
"What is.. this tea.. called?" she said as the china cup slipped from her hand. It silently fell to an ancient Persian rug that was stained by countless other visitors.
"Why, I must admit to a small vanity, my dear.  I call it Immortal."
Bernie was blinking furiously, trying to keep her eyes open and focused.  She used all her will power to stand on wobbly legs, moving slightly away from the sofa and the handsome man.  He stood, watching her struggle.  A leering look transformed his face as his tongue darted out to lick his full lips.
"I thought you were..a sign...said...Tailor."
"Indeed, I am quite adapt at taking the raw material that wanders into my shop and altering them into the many shadows I feed from over many long, painful nights.  Yes, they do become mere shadows of their former selves, but after awhile,they do stop screaming."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Draw from Real Life...Create Something New

I am what I call a visual writer. I see the book unfold in my mind like watching a movie. This is particularly true when it comes to write the action scenes. Not being a fighter myself, I find with those, it helps to actually see videos. Watching the action in progress helps me describe it on the page.

This is fairly easy if I'm writing a scene where the characters are human. Whether they are fighting using a type of martial art, or using weapons, YouTube becomes my best friend, because it has videos of all that. But what does a writer like me do when the scene is more fantastical. For example, my current WIP involves dragon shifters. The fight scenes in these books is dragon on dragon fighting, mostly in the air, but also partly on the ground.

What's a girl to do when she needs some visuals to inspire her?

I started with movies. Believe it or not, there are only a handful of movies or shows with more than one dragon. And even fewer where the dragons are fighting each other. (And I don't have time to wait for Game of Thrones to get to that point.) The best I found was Eragon which is technically dragon (with rider) vs. shadow dragon (with rider), but it helped.



However, one short scene only helps so much (I'm writing 8 books here), and when I watch these videos I don't write everything I'm seeing because those scenes are specific to those stories. Instead, I pick out individual moves or maneuvers that fit my characters, the terrain, the situation, etc., and piece together my own unique fight scene.

So if the obvious isn't the answer, move on to the not as obvious (but sometimes cooler)...

In this case, I decided to draw from real life. What fights in the air in real life? Birds. So, I started looking up nature videos where birds are fighting midair or attacking something on the ground. With that small change in focus, I found was exactly what I needed.  Lots of it, in fact!

Example:



I still have to pull out bits and pieces from each video to put together an entire fight scene. Maybe the spiraling tug-of-war from the video above. Maybe the way an eagle turns his head before flipping over to face an oncoming falcon. Maybe what a massive golden eagle does when attacking a mountain goat. But the point is, I now have a lot more fodder for my visual brain to engage with.

I write paranormal to escape, to not be confined by the bounds of this world and be able to let my imagination run free. The irony is not lost on me that this world is still informing my fantasy world at very in depth levels. It makes me stop and appreciate the beauty and majesty we can find right here. No imagination needed.

Hey writers... What do you use to help you write scenes with no basis in this world? What else would you think of as a real-life example for dragons fighting each other?

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Finding Time to Write When You Have No Time by Elizabeth Alsobrooks



These days, most people have jobs, even if they’re writers (or perhaps especially if they’re writers), except of course for those Stephen King and Nora Roberts types among us. That means we have to “find time” to write.  We have to juggle our schedules and once we have the time to write, perhaps we are too tired, or uninspired to write anyway. So what’s the solution? For many of us, it’s habit and preparation.



Everyone wastes at least 30 minutes in a single day, watching TV, or doing something unnecessary. Make that 30 minutes work for you. Find time to write at a time and in a place that’s right for you. If you’re a morning person, get up ½ hour earlier, before anyone else, and write then. If you’re a night owl, use ½ hour in the evening to write. The point here is to write when your brain is “up for it,” and to get into the habit of doing it every single day, getting yourself into the habit of writing.

Easier said than done? Maybe, but it sure isn’t hard for us to quickly establish bad habits. Why not make a little more effort to create a good one?



That brings us to the where of writing. You need a ‘space’ for your creative endeavors. It doesn’t need to be a fancy, single-purpose office, but it should be cleared of clutter ‘space’ where you can feel comfortable and be relatively uninterrupted—which probably means your significant other or children should know this is time for you to work and you will be with them shortly. Unless they are on fire or the house is about to blow up, they should learn to leave you alone.

Speaking of being alone, be sure you are. Turn off your phone and the TV. It’s fine to have some mood music, if it helps you get your creative juices flowing, but anything that interferes with your writing has to go.

If you need a little prep to rev up your muse, choose some special music tracks that help you get into the mood of whatever genre you’re working on. Get your coffee, tea, water, or other beverage, a snack if it helps you think (and celery is every bit as fun to munch as licorice when you’re not really thinking about what’s going into your mouth), so you won’t have to stop once you get flowing.



Once you’ve begun to establish a habit of writing every day, challenge yourself. If you’re a goal setter, give yourself a word count to strive toward (perhaps not as daunting as NANO), but don’t beat yourself up if you don’t always reach it. It’s just that more exciting when you do. Keep it reasonable so you can reach it, too.

Yeah, you’ve done it, you’ve become a writer. Just be careful not to become your own worst critic! Allow yourself to brainstorm, to free write, to let your ideas flow. You will find some beautiful flowers among the weeds.

I hope this helps! Write on!


Friday, April 13, 2018

World Building: Medicine by Diane Burton


A couple of years ago, I did a series of world building posts that concentrated on different aspects of the world building we do in our stories. We all build the “worlds” our characters inhabit. Sometimes we call it “setting” instead of world building. Whatever we call it, we develop the conditions surrounding our characters. Today, I’m concentrating on medicine of the future.


In my science fiction romance, The Pilot (An Outer Rime Novel), a medi-healer is used to cure the hero’s infection. In my world, the handheld device is too expensive for a cargo pilot (the heroine) to own. But her brother, who works for a galactic gangster, has one. He waved the device over the patient. It diagnosed and cured. A medi-healer would’ve come in handy for me two weeks ago.

This has been a bad winter health-wise for many people. Influenza that the flu shots didn’t prevent. People in hospitals, even dying. I counted my self lucky that when Hubs and other members of the family got sick I didn’t. My luck ran out right before Easter. I woke up coughing. Okay, a cold finally hit. So I thought. If I’d had a handy-dandy medical tricorder, like Star Trek’s Doctor McCoy, it would’ve told me I had pneumonia. In a scenario from The Pilot, a medi-healer would’ve diagnosed then cured. All with a wave of the device. No going to Urgent Care, no x-rays, no courses of antibiotics—one to cure pneumonia and a second course to take care of a subsequent sinus/ear infection.



That got me thinking about what else would the future hold in the medical field. In The Pilot, my character used a hover board to carry a patient to the medical center. It rises above the ground on a steady stream of air and is guided by one person. Remember the scene in Star Wars V: The Empire Strikes Back when Han, encased in carbonite, is guided to the bounty hunter’s ship?



Creating a cyborg isn’t the future. It’s here now. Artificial joints are common. I have two titanium knees, and I know people who’ve had hip and shoulder replacements. Mechanical hands that function like real ones by being connected to the brain. The “Six Million Dollar Man” was fantasy back in 1974. Today, the severely injured can now be “rebuilt” with artificial arms and legs.



In Greta van der Rol’s Iron Admiral series, humans are fitted with neuro implants that allow them to speak without words. They can access data ports using their implants, no typing necessary, and store the info until it can be downloaded. Fiction? As his ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) advanced, Stephen Hawking, the physicist and cosmologist who just passed away, was unable to speak. Using a speech-generating device (SGD), he was able to communicate using a single cheek muscle. SGDs are used by many people for whom speech is impossible or difficult.

What else is coming in the medical field? Organ transplanting isn’t new. Creating an organ, like a kidney, using a 3-D printer is a real possibility. Curing diseases using a cell instead of a pill. Surgery using ultrasound instead of a knife. A vaccine patch instead of an injections. Robots doing surgery.


Nanobots, microscopic machines, could carry medicine to certain parts of the body to heal diseased parts or destroy (cancer cells) on a molecular level. In science fiction, nanobots are commonly used. Yet the thought of tiny robots running around through my blood stream is kind of creepy. If nanobots could destroy cancer cells without the debilitating effects of chemotherapy and/or radiation, I’d take the nanobots.

What other fantastical medical advances are possible?




The Pilot (An Outer Rim Novel) blurb:

Sparks fly around the Outer Rim when rule-bound Administrator Trevarr Jovano clashes with free-spirited space pilot Celara d'Enfaden. She must deliver her cargo or lose her ship to a loanshark. Having lost her last shipment to pirates masquerading as Coalition Inspectors, Celara refuses to be duped again. Determined to make an example of those who flaunt the law, Trevarr seizes her ship. Yet, they must work together to rescue her brother and find his wife's murderer.

The Pilot (An Outer Rim Novel) is available at:


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Left Coast Crime Fangirl

By Sandy Wright


I’m home from the Reno West Coast Crime conference. In addition to hosting a paranormal suspense panel, I attended excellent workshops and met a bunch of interesting new authors.

I always like to read authors I’ve met personally, talked with or listened to on author panels. It makes their stories resonate more deeply, to know something about the author.

I became interested in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series after hearing her speak about how she decided to write that series. And her presentation on the decisions she and the filming crew made when the books were adapted for the Starz series pointed out the difficulty of cutting a six- hundred-page novel into 60 -minute episodes for the Starz mini-series.

At the first writers’ conference I ever attended, Lisa Gardner, the guest speaker, told us about sneaking out of the house and driving downtown to interview prostitutes for one of her first books, Say Goodbye.  Now I’ve read more than a dozen of her novels.

At that same conference, a handsome ex-lawyer I’d never heard of, Bob Dugoni, congratulated me on winning first place in the conference’s unpublished writer contest that year. He was so nice, I picked up one of his books and read it on the plane ride home. It was really, really good. Now, everyone who reads suspense knows his name.

So, I attended Left Coast Crime this year, not just as an author, but also as a reader…a reader with an eye out to discover some new favorite authors. Some of them have just written their debut novel. Others are only new to me. I tried to make some type of personal connection with each writer on this list.

Please, take a look, and give some books I’ve listed a try, if you like suspense or crime fiction. Or, check out the whole gallery of titles for each author at your bookseller of choice.

Good reading!

      Todd Borg - Tahoe Blowup. When Tahoe detective Owen McKenna’s cabin narrowly escapes burning in an arson-set forest fire, the local fire department hires him to investigate. As more fires follow and people die, Owen can’t tell if the fires are an act of eco-terrorism or a method of murder. Why I’m reading – The author has a large series (15 books to date). Several of his plots interest me. He was nominated for a Lefty for Best Mystery. Plus, the detective has a Great Dane for a sidekick. (This title is book #2 in the series).                                                                                                                                                                                       
      Steven Cooper – Desert Remains.  A literature-loving homicide detective and a reluctant psychic stalk a psychopath who signs his gruesome crime tableaux with petroglyphs in the Arizona desert. An ingenious and promising series debut. Why I’m readingSteven and Shannon Baker were both so knowledgeable on a panel about law enforcement research. Cooper is a former TV reporter with multiple Emmys. The stuff he said about research made a lot of sense. Plus, his new novel is set in Phoenix, so I get to test those research skills.   


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


   . Howard Michael Gould – Last Looks - This book is touted as a new spin on a Hollywood P.I. mystery. With a blend of humor and suspense that calls to mind Harlan Coben and Robert Crais, Howard Michael Gould brings to life the quirky Charlie Waldo, a former cop confined to 100 worldly possessions and the claustrophobia of his own guilt over a former case gone bad. His journey back to the world is a ride well worth taking. Why I’m reading – My roommate Sharon Moore and I both met Howard the first night in the Lobby Bar and we found him delightful. You know how you feel when someone talks with you and listens, I mean, really listens? That’s Howard. His pedigreed background is Madison Avenue, where he won three Clios, and he was the executive producer and head writer on the TV show Cybill when it won the Golden Globe for best comedy series. I’m hoping his move to novels will be just as golden. It’s slated for publication in August.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
    Timothy Halliman – A Nail Through the Heart - American travel writer Poke Rafferty is out to right some serious wrongs on the predatory streets of Bangkok. While attempting to adopt a homeless girl, rescue a potentially murderous urchin known as Superman, and build a lasting relationship with the former bar girl he loves, Poke is pulled into two brutal mysteries. One involves a notorious Khmer Rouge torturer, the other a series of child-porn photos.

 As he doggedly plumbs these ghastly depths, Rafferty matures from a play-it-as-it-lays layabout into a man willing to meet his lover's culture more than halfway and find his moral compass at a time when the victims can be as guilty as the murderers are innocent. The fact that the referenced pedophile photo series and Phnom Penh torture house both existed heightens the impact of a narrative that's already deeply felt. Hallinan is off to a surefooted start with this new series. Why I’m reading –Halliman is a veteran writer who happens to be new to me. I attended both of his panels and, when he described his characters in the Taking Emotional Risks panel, it was easy to see this man cares deeply about his characters. He writes 2 series. When I asked him, after the panel, which book to read first if I love character-driven suspense, he recommended this first book of his Bangkok series.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
     Cheryl Reed –Poison Girls - It’s the summer of 2008. Chicago’s Hyde Park Senator is running for the White House, the city is vying to host the 2016 Summer Olympics, and “Poison,” a lethal form of heroin, has killed more than 250 people, including dozens of suburban girls from prominent families.

Natalie Delaney, a crime reporter from the Chicago Times, discovers that daughters of Democratic powerhouses are the real targets. Obsessed with finding who is behind the killings, Natalie becomes entangled in an underworld where drugs, cops, gangs, politics, and privilege collide. Risking everything, this reporter becomes the story…
Why I’m reading- Cheryl is a former editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun Times, a professor at Syracuse University, and a journalism grad from U of Missouri, my alma mater. Her past is so full of excitement and awards, I’m willing to give her debut fiction novel a try—and it’s a plot that could have been ripped from today’s headlines. 
                                            
  


          Wendall Thomas - Lost Luggage by Wendall Thomas - Cyd Redondo, a Brooklyn travel agent who specializes in senior citizens, has never ventured farther than New Jersey. Until her Travel Agents' Convention fling, Roger Claymore, leaves her weak in the knees-and everywhere else-then sneaks out of her Atlantic City hotel room at three a.m.

Back in Brooklyn, when she reads about smugglers stopped at JFK with skinks in their socks or monkeys down their pants, she never imagines she will join their ranks. But days after the pet store owner next door to Redondo Travel is poisoned, Cyd wins a free safari. Her boss, Uncle Ray, wants to cash it in for computers, but Cyd is determined to go. When Roger turns up at the Redondo clan's door, Cyd invites him along as her "plus one." And just like that she is thrown heels-first into the bizarre and sinister world of international animal smuggling. Why I’m reading: This screen-writer turned author’s debut novel sounds like a hoot. Readers have described it as the travel agency business’ equivalent to bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.                                                                                                                                                                                 
  Mark Wheaton- Fields of Wrath - Following his ordination as a priest, Father Luis Chavez returns to the mean streets of his youth, hoping to put his past behind him. But the brutal murder of a worker in Ventura County’s vast farm fields compels Luis to return to his criminal roots in order to unravel a massive conspiracy. Teaming up with Michael Story, an ambitious Los Angeles deputy DA, Chavez goes undercover as a farm laborer to bring down an immense human-trafficking ring tied to one of California’s most prominent and powerful families.
Fighting to stay on the path of the righteous while confronting evil at every turn, Father Chavez finds himself in a battle of good versus evil, with the souls of hundreds hanging in the balance. Why I’m reading – A Priest who infiltrates a human-trafficking ring caught my interest. Plus, I have human trafficking in my work-in-progress, so it will be interesting to compare.                                                                                                                                                        




       James (Jim) Ziskin - Stix and Stones - "If you were a man, you’d make a good detective.”

Ellie is sure that Sgt. McKeever meant that as a compliment, but that identity-a girl wanting to do a man's job-has throttled her for too long. It's 1960, and Ellie doesn't want to blaze any trails for women; she just wants to be a reporter, one who doesn't need to swat hands off her behind at every turn.

Adrift in her career, Ellie is back in New York City after receiving news that her estranged father, a renowned Dante scholar and distinguished professor, is near death after a savage bludgeoning in his home. The police suspect a routine burglary, but Ellie has her doubts. When a second attempt is made on her father's life, in the form of an "accident" in the hospital's ICU, Ellie's suspicions are confirmed.

Then another professor turns up dead, and Ellie's investigation turns to her father's university colleagues. She embarks on a thorny journey of discovery and reconciliation, as she pursues an investigation that offers her both a chance at redemption in her father's eyes, and the risk of losing him forever.
Why I’m reading – First, every book of Ziskin’s has an intriguing premise. Second, the man has won almost every suspense award out there, and his latest novel was nominated for Lefty’s Best Novel award. Third, he was friendly and open and not at all “lofty” at the conference, despite being one of the best-known authors at the conference. Based on his recommendation, I’m starting at the beginning of his series.


Sandy Wright loves to take ordinary characters and thrust them into extraordinary situations.
In her debut novel, Song of the Ancients, a Midwestern woman moves west for a fresh start. Instead, she becomes the prey in an ancient war to open an underworld portal buried in Sedona, Arizona's magical red rocks.
Readers interested in the dark side of our supernatural world will enjoy of this paranormal suspense series, written by a real-life Wiccan high priestess.
And look for Sandy’s new suspense, Crescent Moon Crossing, to be released in 2018.







                                         














Saturday, April 7, 2018

So I Wrote a Devil Book... by Jane Kindred

When I started writing Sisters in Sin, I knew the Devil would eventually show up. After all, these sisters seem to have an uncanny ability to attract serpent-identified dudes, and Satan is the ultimate serpent. What's more, the Carlisle sisters are linked to the original temptress—not Eve, but Lilith. But I didn't expect to be writing Theia's story quite yet. There were three other sisters' stories still to tell.

The publishing biz being what it is, we didn't quite get to sisters five, six, and seven. Which I'm actually okay with. I may come back to them at some point in the future, but their stories are complicated and maybe aren't mine to tell. But I did manage to write a final companion story, Kindling the Darkness, which comes out later this year.

At any rate, Theia's story, Seducing the Dark Prince, had to be moved up. Which meant Lucien had to make his appearance. Now, Lucien isn't literally Satan, but to elaborate would mean giving too many spoilers, so suffice it to say, Lucien has issues. As you might infer from the cover, he has a bit of an Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow) complex. What he's doing nocking an arrow with his shirt off, I don't know. But who's complaining?

One of my favorite things about Lucien is that he isn’t an alpha hero. He tries to project an alpha fa├žade, but Theia sees right through it. And when he gets in over his head with one of my actual alphas, well, let’s just say, that was my favorite scene to write.

The whole gang is here in Book 4—all of the Carlisle sisters and their dragon-shifter beaux. And a certain character you probably wish was dead rears his ugly head again. But I promise, he’ll get his comeuppance. As Evie says to Beni in The Mummy (the good one, with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz), "Nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance... Always."

Hell Might Be Heavenly...for One of the Sisters in Sin

Lucien Smok is heir to the Smok fortune. He's also the crown prince of Hell, a legacy he despises. Clairvoyant Theia Dawn tries to convince herself that she's only interested in Lucien because of his family's role in the persecution of her ancestor, not because he's the most beguiling man she's ever met. The attraction that burns between them might be her downfall. Or it might be his salvation.

Seducing the Dark Prince is available now from the following retailers:

Amazon.com | Barnes & Noble | BookDepository.com | BAM | Booktopia | iBooks | Kobo

Friday, April 6, 2018

Guest: Melissa Keir


Thank you for visiting with me today. At the urging of a friend, I wrote my first paranormal romance, titled My Secret Mate. When I started writing, I knew the hero, Sean MacKenzie would be a dragon shifter, but I didn’t realize he could take more than one form.

Dragons are the stuff of fantasy. We have read Anne McCaffrey’s dragons and fell in love with both the dangerous and protective aspects of their personalities. But having a dragon hanging out in a small Ohio town would be something impossible not to notice, so I needed to have my hero also become something a little more “normal”— a big black dog. The dog becomes the friend and protector of our heroine and allows for Sean to spend time with his mate before he can claim her. After all, if you have waited three hundred years for your one true love…what’s a few more years??



With the dog form, I loved writing about some of the silly things dogs can do, like take up the whole bed. I have two small dogs and feel like my king-sized bed isn’t big enough at times. I can’t imagine having a large dog sharing my small double-sized bed.


I invite your readers to visit my make-believe town and see what happens when a shifter finally finds his one true love.

EXCERPT:
Sean lay on the rug while he listened to his mate running the water upstairs. With his enhanced shifter senses, he heard each piece of clothing fall to the floor. He ached to race up the stairs and join her in the tub…as a man, not a dog. But it was too soon. She hadn’t accepted him, nor did she know his uniqueness.
Ironically, her parents understood. He’d often been a guest at their house. They’d accepted his heritage, and enjoyed learning about his trips to visit Macy. It gave them comfort to know he watched over and protected her. Sadly, they hadn’t been able to see them bonded. But he believed they continued to observe their daughters in the afterlife. They’d be there in spirit when he started his life with Macy.
Climbing to his feet, Sean shook from head to tail, letting his sadness fly away. Unable to be away from her for a moment longer, he bounded up the stairs. The silence of the house was broken by the occasional splash of water. He pushed his nose against the door, but it was closed. With a quick shift, Sean stood in the hallway as a man, turned the knob, and opened it. Then shifted back into his dog form.
Nudging it open, he padded into the room and plopped down on her towel on the rug in front of the tub. The scent of lavender filled the room. With his head on the edge of the bathtub, he studied his mate. She lay back in the water with her eyes closed. Her hair was piled up on her head, and he could see her full breasts through the water. Moisture beaded along her neck and chest. Sean wished to reach out with his tongue and taste the droplets.
He warred with his desires. A growl of frustration left his lips.
Macy’s gaze locked with his. Her eyes widened as she glanced from the door to the dog. “What are you doing here? You scared me. I thought I closed that.” She waved her hands at the dog, and he moved off her towel. But not before appreciating the sight before him. Macy grabbed the blue towel then stood and wrapped it around her body. She patted him on his head. “Want your turn in the tub?” She giggled.
The sound of her laughter was a balm to his soul. It lightened his heart but also made him more determined to protect her.
Sean followed Macy to her bedroom and jumped onto the bed. Laying his head on his paws, he watched her slip into a nightgown.
As she turned around, Macy put her hands on her hips. “Get down, Moonlight. You can’t sleep there.” She started toward him.
Sean rolled over on his back and exposed his stomach. Maybe, if I play my cards right, she’ll think I’m too cute to kick out of bed. Not working? He moved his front legs in a begging motion. See, I’m cute and harmless. The perfect little snuggler.
“Don’t fight with me.” She pushed on him, but he fell to the bed like a limp noodle. “Fine.” She stomped over to the light switch and turned it off then climbed under the covers. “Just don’t get mad at me if I push you off during the night. I’m not one for sharing the blankets.”
Duly noted… Sean smiled. When he heard Macy’s soft snores, he shifted to his human form and held her in his arms.

My Secret Mate is available in the Daydreams and Night Desires box set.

Daydreams and Night Desires...drift into six tales of magic, mayhem, and love.
My Secret Mate by Melissa Keir
Fall for a Shifter Who Has Waited a Lifetime for his Mate….
As Sean shares his secret with Macy, can she learn to love a man who is something more, or will she give up on her own magical happy ending?

Wishing For It All by R.M. Duffy
What would you do if you were granted three wishes? After discovering a magical lamp and the beautiful genie Keara, Drew Preston thought he knew exactly what he wanted to make his life complete: the dream job, the dream woman, and the whole happily-ever-after life. But what if he made the wrong wishes? What if instead of the wishes, all he wanted was the genie?

Night Whispers by Mia Bishop
Rissa had life all figured out until the accident, but her world is turned upside down when she finds herself being hunted by a dragon in a magical land. With Griffe, her rescuer and guide by her side she finally feels safe and complete, but can she continue to trust him when she realizes he's hiding something from her?

An Evening in Crossroads by Kate Richards
Shifters have never been this vampire's cup of blood, but Mane Wolf shifter Roberto may change that in a club called Crossroads.

To Capture a Dragon by Lisa Kumar
When Lord Eacion, leader of the dragon fae, visits Anni Brownston’s village, he takes over her life for a day—and one glorious night. But when the next morning dawns, will Eacion’s rash actions and her own fears about her lame leg kill any future between them and consign her to a fate they will both abhor?

Chasing Unicorns by D. Lin Scott
As a female fairy, Fiona craves a mate but knows there is none left after the Great War wiped out all fae. Human Bryce Hollinsworth will do anything to save his grandfather, even if it means trusting another species. Can Fiona and Bryce overcome mutual distrust and fear to fall in love?

~~This set features strong language and sexual situations between males/females, males/males, vampires, fae, and shifters guaranteed to steam up your e-reader and make you believe in a happily ever after~~

Only $0.99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited


About the Author


Melissa Keir has always wanted to be an author when she wasn’t hoping for a career as a racecar driver. Her love of books was instilled by her mother and grandparents who were avid readers. She’d often sneak books away from them so that she could fantasize about those strong alpha males and plucky heroines.

Melissa doesn’t believe in down time. She’s always keeping busy. Melissa is a wife and mother, an elementary school teacher, a movie reviewer with WHMI (a local radio station), owner of a publishing company as well as an author. Her home blends two families and is a lot like the Brady Bunch, without Alice- a large grocery bill, tons of dirty dishes and a mound of laundry. She loves to write stories that feature happy endings and is often seen plotting her next story.

She’d love to hear from you!


Other Books by Melissa Keir
Wilder Sisters Series:
Forever Love
Beach Desires
A Christmas Accident
Coming Home
Home is Where the Heart Is (combine print of Wilder Sisters’ Books)
**
The Cowboys of Whisper, Colorado
The Heartsong Cowboy
The Heartbroken Cowboy
Claiming the Cowboy’s Heart
A Pigskin Cowboy
Broken Dreams
Broken Vows
Redeeming Dreams
Bidding for the Cowboy’s Heart
**
Charming Chances:
Charming Chances (print of combined ebooks)
Second Time’s a Charm
Three’s a Crowd
**
Pigg Detective Agency:
Protecting His Wolfe
Protecting Her Pigg
**
Magical Matchmaker
Chalkboard Romance
One Night in Laguna
One Night Behind Bars
**
Crash and Burn
Redeeming Love
The House that Built Me
Wildly Drawn to Him
**
Love, Bake, Write (recipe book)
The Way to the Heart (recipe book)
We’d Rather Be Writing (recipe book)
Musings of a Madcap Mind (memoirs)