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Wednesday 28 January 2015

Guest Post: Christy Effinger And Paranormal New Adult...

Christy's Novel
Today, Christy Effinger’s is going to tell us about her Paranormal New Adult novel, Say Nothing Of What You See. Christy's poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications. She lives near Indianapolis. Her website is www.christyeffinger.com.

To give you a taste of the novel, here's the blurb...

When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon. 

Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students. 

Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal. 

Now you're in the mood, here's an extract:

“You are absolutely stunning, Mira.” 

I stole another glance in the mirror. The material was a rich, shimmery gold that fell from my shoulders in folds of liquid light. It looked like something a Greek goddess might wear. Oh, how I wished the girls from Amberville High School could see me in this dress! 

“When you came here,” said Dr. Simon, “I had a vision of you like this. I looked at the girl before me, but I saw the woman you are now.” 

“Thank you,” I murmured, gesturing toward the piles of clothes on my bed. “You’ve been so generous. I know you’ve spent a good deal of money on me—” 

“Money means nothing,” he interrupted abruptly. “I have more than I could ever spend, more than I know what to do with. Don’t consider the cost.” 

His tone was brusque, and I wondered if I had offended him. 

But the next moment Dr. Simon smiled. “I think of you as my charity case. You were like a doll thrown out in the garbage. I simply rescued you from the trash, cleaned you up, and dressed you in something decent. But the beauty was present all along.” He touched my cheek. “Here.” Then he touched my forehead. “Here.” Then he touched my chest. “And here.” 

I knew he was referring to my heart, but even so, his hand on my chest made my face warm with discomfort. 

“You blush so easily,” he laughed. “You’ll never be able hide anything, Mira, with such a transparent face.” 

“That’s all right,” I said, taking a small step back. “I don’t have anything to hide.”

To find out more about Say Nothing Of What You See, click on any of these buy linksWild Rose PressAmazonBarnes and Noble

Thanks for sharing this with us, Christy, and good luck with Say Nothing Of What You See.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Guest Post: Rebecca Grace, Author of Blues At 11

See http://bit.ly/1BbqyTe for details
 Today I'm welcoming Rebecca Grace to my blog. Rebecca's going to tell us about the background to her new release, Blues At 11, and treat us to an excerpt.


My newest book, Blues at 11, came out last week, and I have to admit it is the book I had the most fun writing. I started it out as a serious mystery, and it seemed to go nowhere. Then I changed it to first person, and began re-writing it in a humorous vein and suddenly the words just seemed to come so easily.
I started with the premise of a bar conversation I had with a good friend when I had just broken up with a boyfriend. We were drinking margaritas and discussing how we should kill him for being such a jerk. Halfway through the conversation, the bartender came by and promised not to tell the police everything he’d overheard when the body turned up.
Well, that got me to thinking – what if one of the women at the bar was well-known? Not just well known but a TV anchorwoman who has just broken up with a boyfriend. What if she is suspected of killing him? And what if the chief of police in the town is a guy she once dated?
Suddenly things fell into place.
Rebecca Grace
I’ve been writing stories based on just that sort of a “what if” concept ever since I was in high school. I’ve loved mystery books and suspense since I was a pre-teen but then I read Pride and Prejudice and started devouring romance novels. It was natural when I began writing fiction myself that I would go in the direction of writing romance, romantic suspense and mystery. I always wanted to be a writer, which was why I eventually chose to major in journalism in college. I didn’t know I would end up in television news, but I was there for more than 30 years, a good many in Los Angeles where Blues is set. I am currently working on new adventures for Kimberly.

Here’s an excerpt from Blues At 11:
“Someone needs to find the killer,” I said. “What if he’s after me too? Think about Lindy’s accident. She was driving my car. The hit and run driver might have been after me.”
 Hank waved an impatient hand. “From what I’ve heard, she was driving too fast and may have been racing the other car.”
“She told me she was careful.”
“You think she’d tell the truth if she was racing? Look, I would appreciate it if you hired a PI and left my dad out of this.”
“All you’re worried about is looking bad for your mayor and rich people like the Brookings family. I’m sure they’ll give you a nice contribution to your next campaign for providing personal attention.”
“I am not elected,” he said through gritted teeth.
“But you are worried about your job and appearances. Isn’t that why you were making such a big deal out of my ‘security arrangement’ with your dad?” It was my turn to hold up the quote fingers.
The coldness that grew in his eyes was like an approaching glacier. “Look, I know what's happening. You’re doing your normal Kimberly crap.”
His harsh words smacked into me like a slap of hard wind to my face. “My what?”
He unloaded on me with the force of a blizzard. “You’re a pampered princess who is so damned used to getting your own way that you can’t handle it when the real world invades your private fantasy life! Well, it’s here, lady, and it’s real. But I won’t stand by and let you hurt my father by getting him involved.”

Thanks for starring her today, Rebecca. I love the idea of an eavesdropper getting the wrong idea. Anybody looking at the search history on a writer's computer ought to be ready for a few shocks, too! Good luck with Blues At 11, and the further adventures of Kimberley, too.

To enjoy more of Rebecca and Blues At 11, here are her buy links and contact details:

Buy Links:
http://amzn.to/1G87Z5B                         Amazon       
http://bit.ly/1BbqyTe                               TWRP
http://bit.ly/1yEZTMX                            BN.com
On the Web
Twitter: @RebeccaGrace55 

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Guest Blog: J.C.McKenzie, author of 'Beast Coast'...

J.C's Latest Release
Today, J.C. McKenzie's giving us a taste her latest release for Wild Rose Press, Beast Coast.  Born and raised on the Haida Gwaii, off the West Coast of Canada, J.C. McKenzie grew up in a pristine wilderness that inspired her to dream. She writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance with a PG13 (spicy) rating, so to get you in the mood for her extract, here's the blurb for Beast Coast...

Sometimes the greatest danger comes from within…

When Master Vampire Lucien Delgatto threatens her potential mate Wick’s life, Shape Shifter Andrea “Andy” McNeilly will employ a den of witches, a bedazzled thong, and her ability to shift into multiple animals to meet his demands. She plans to keep Wick safe—even if she’s not speaking to him. Lucien’s unwelcomed control over Wick's life has thrown Andy into a whirlwind of emotions. 

Though Wick vows to do whatever it takes to earn Andy’s forgiveness and win back her trust, it may be too late. This recent conflict awakens something within Andy, an animal she’s never learned to control. For hidden beneath all her forms is a beast whose anger and brutality rivals none.

And she’s pissed.

Here's the extract...

Letting my falcon drift close to the surface, my eyesight sharpened. A dark figure moved in the brambles near the deer path ahead of me. About to step closer, something tugged at my senses.
Come to me, a voice echoed in my head. I froze.
An overwhelming urge to walk into the forest on my right consumed my body. I hadn’t felt anything like this since…
Since I was fourteen, and walked into the forest to meet three feras.
Sweat beaded on my brow and the bridge of my nose. I wiped it away, while fighting the compulsion to move.
Come to me, Carus.
Leaning forward, I tried to locate the animal. A branch snapped, and my attention darted to where the sound originated from. The forest hummed with the sound of summer insects. My heart beat loud and heavy in my chest.
Underbrush rustled. There!
A flash of orange.
Pop! A sharp sting, much like a rubber band on bare skin, radiated across my right butt cheek. I yipped and jumped three feet in the air.
Whirling around, I found Wick with an ear-to-ear grin and his paintball gun resting over one of his shoulders. If he had a leg propped up on a recently deceased moose, he’d look like a hunter from a photo.
“Tagged you,” his whiskey voice crooned.

To find out more about Beast Coast, click on any of these buy links:

Thanks for sharing this with us, J.C., and good luck with Beast Coast.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Birth Of A Book, Part Three: Find Your Writing Style...

By Antonio Litterio
Does your novel have a beginning, a muddle, and an end? Do you want to find out the secrets of a well-rounded, satisfying story? First, discover what kind of writer you are by answering these 3 simple questions:

1.     At the supermarket, do you:
a)     dash round grabbing the first things you see because you've run out of food, time, or both
b)     Visit once a week at exactly the same time, with a list (and a full stomach).

2.     Fancy a holiday?
a)     Yay! When do we go? I love surprises!
b)     No, thanks. Every year I rent the same little cottage for two weeks in August, in a place where all the locals know me.

3.     Is your working day...
a)     A roller coaster of triumphs and disasters, with snack and/or cigarette breaks here and there to liven up the mix
b)     A production line of completed tasks and problem solving, and you always get ready for the next day's work before you leave.

If you answered a) to those questions, you're more likely to wing your way through your writing, without much forethought. Answering b) means you like the order outline and planning brings to your life. I've written successful novels using both methods, and each has their good and bad points.

ADVANTAGES: Just sitting down and letting the words pour out is a great way to get a first draft finished in record time. If you're a planner who's written their way into a cul-de-sac, letting your mind wander and writing free-form for a change can pole-vault you over your problems.

DISADVANTAGES: You don't jump into a car without some idea of where you're going (I hope). Winging it while writing might turn your original short story into a 100,000 word epic, which still has no end in sight. On the other hand, if you've planned in so much detail any suggested revisions have you reaching for the gin bottle, you've lost sight of the release (and enjoyment) writing can bring.

Find out more at http://amzn.to/1s1xFHH (UK)
 http://amzn.to/1AEgP5b (US)
I wrote my historical novel, Jewel Under Siegewithout any formal plan. Researching a non-fiction project on the eleventh-century daredevil, Robert Curthose, I discovered 3 things:

-  Robert would make good comic relief for a serious story,
-  Not all mediaeval ladies culled florets and sighed in solars—some rolled up their sleeves and ran successful businesses, and
-  Talking rather than fighting is the best way to counter ignorance and bigotry.

I sat down and blasted my way through the first three chapters, and then wrote the last one. This was to give me an idea how my characters would get their Happy Ever After moment. Then I went back and filled in the thousands of words which were missing from the middle of the book.

With the first rough draft finished, I put the manuscript aside for a while to let it marinate (to find out why this is always a good idea, however you write, take a minute to read this).

In second and subsequent drafts of Jewel Under Siege, I tightened everything up, made sure timings agreed and all the continuity was right. By the time it was published, I'd had a whale of a time, but the whole process took me several months longer than the writing of my next release, His Majesty's Secret Passion.

Before starting to write His Majesty's Secret Passion,  I spent a lot of time thinking how the internal conflicts of Sara, my career-obsessed heroine, could strike sparks off hero Leo, a man who has abandoned his own career for the sake of family loyalty. Once I'd filled out a sheet of details for both Sara and Leo, I was ready to start my first draft.

Send an email with the words Character Sheet in the subject line to christinahollis(at)hotmail.co.uk, and I'll send you a copy of the detailed form I fill in for each of my fictional characters. 

Order your copy here http://amzn.to/14udZUC!
I've written here about the joys and woes of the Scrivener writing package. It's a kind of virtual filing cabinet where you collect every link, image and note you need, and produce your manuscript, all in one place. You can have hours of fun naming folders and dividing every chapter into individual scenes, complete with sidebar of notes for each one. If you use the basic Three Act Structure for your novels—I'll be talking about that next time—writing sessions become an easy matter of opening your Scrivener project and seeing at a glance what you should be doing next.

I'm a Scrivener devotee, but I've also used Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake system with success. This is a more free-form approach. You start by identifying the big idea at the heart of your novel, then gradually add layer on layer of more detail. In the same way every snowflake is built up of simple shapes, your book grows organically into a novel of many facets. I like Snowflake a lot, but Scrivener stops my desk disappearing under a sea of Post-It notes and scrappy bits of paper!

If you don't want to use a commercial word-processing package like Scrivener or Snowflake, try making a simple "And Then" list of all the important and exciting events in your story. This way you can make sure you've got plenty of page-turning action, and juggle the order before you start writing.

Here's the "And Then" list I could have used for the beginning of His Majesty's Secret Passion's first chapter

Sara—shark attack? And then...
Leo saves her, and then...
She's embarrassed —it was a false alarm. And then...
Attraction tussles with suspicion, until...
Leo's distracted by his jealous PA, but...
He'd rather help an injured woman than socialise, although...
Sara's recent history makes her put up barriers, and so...
Leo takes direct action...

There's an added benefit of this type of brief list. It makes creating a detailed synopsis easy later on, when you've settled on the content and order of your story.

When it comes to writing, are you a free spirit, or a planner?

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Guest Post: Mary Gillgannon talks about Call Down The Moon

Mary Gillgannon
My first guest of 2015 is Mary Gillgannon. Mary writes historical and paranormal romance and fantasy, and she's her to tell us about Call Down the Moon, the first book her Soulmate reincarnation/time travel series. 

Where did you get the idea for your story?
The opening and characters for Call Down the Moon came to me almost ten years ago. I wrote a few chapters of a story set in dark age Ireland. But I had trouble keeping the hero and heroine together. The odds against them were so great, as both the hero’s tribe and women who raised the heroine found the idea of a relationship between the two of them absolutely abhorrent. Then, a couple of years ago, I started getting images of my heroine in the modern world, and I gradually realized Connar and Aisling didn’t find their happily ever after in the dark ages. But the love between them was so strong, their story continued in another time.  

How long did it take you to write?
Once I figured out the story, it took me about nine months to write. That’s fairly slow for me, but now that authors have to do some much promotion, I have less time to write and I don’t finish books as quickly as I used to. 

Who is your favourite character, and why?
Connar is my favorite character because he risks the most to be reunited with Aisling. His love for her is so strong he gives up not only his family and friends, but everything that is familiar and meaningful to him.

Have you ever had any rejections in your writing life? How did you cope? 
I’ve been writing fiction for over twenty years, so I could probably wallpaper my office with all the rejections I’ve received! I cope by telling myself that it’s only one person’s opinion and remind myself that there are other people who love my stories.

What's the most important piece of writing advice you've been given during your career? 
It’s all about persistence, hard work and never giving up. 

Who's had the most influence on your writing life?  
Probably other writers. Some authors who have especially inspired me are Morgan Llywelyn, Sharon Kay Penman and Mary Stewart. Because of them, I fell in love with historical fiction.

What does your family think of your writing?  
My kids (who are adults now) are proud of me, but are still a little uncomfortable with the fact that there is sex in my stories. My husband is also very proud of me, but he really doesn’t understand what I do. He’s very much a “here and now” sort of person who lives in the real physical world. He can’t really imagine what it’s like to “live in your head” and create an imaginary realm that sometimes seems as real to me as my own life. 

and finally:

What's next for you?
I’m currently working on the second book in the Soulmate series. In this one, I’ve taken secondary characters from one of my earlier books and changed and expanded their stories and then brought them to the present time.
The book begins in Ireland, a couple of hundred years after Call Down the Moon.  My heroine lives with her grandmother and is training to be a wise woman and healer. But she ends up being captured in a Viking raid. The man who captures her is a skilled metalsmith who only went on the raid to satisfy his obligation to his jarl. He doesn’t want to take her captive but he has no choice but to do so in order to protect her from his fellow Vikings. 

There’s a lot of conflict between the hero and heroine in the beginning, but they do fall passionately in love. Then they are parted in that time period, and the hero follows the heroine to her new life in Los Angeles, where she works as an event planner. So far, it’s been a really fun story to write. I hope to finish it by spring. 

     The Nine Sisters danced upon the hillside.  Light from the Seed Moon revealed their long flowing hair—raven black, blood red, silver.  It shone on their nakedness, young and old flesh curving into the flowing lines of the Earth Goddess herself. Their bodies gleamed as they writhed and whirled, calling on the Ancient Ones.
Aisling stood in the center of the circle of women. She was naked except for the whorls of black and crimson that marked her breasts and belly, the shapes of serpents entwined around her arms and ankles. Her skin felt heavy, as if the patterns covering her had substance, and were not merely dyes from earth and plants. Her body tingled and her nipples felt hard. Her lower belly and thighs burned with a heat that defied the cool night air.  
Aisling took a deep breath. Her night.  Her initiation into the magic. Although she’d watched the Sisters dance many times before, she’d never been part of the circle.  She feared the gods would not speak to her. Even more, she feared they would pronounce some future she could not bear.
The dancing grew more rapid. The women wove in and out, a ribbon of pulsing flesh. They formed circles within the circle. Three sets of three, the sacred number. The dancers surrounded Aisling, binding her in the center of the magic. The tension built. The night seemed to crackle with energy, fierce as lightning. The woman’s voices rang out in eerie exhortation and they ended the dance with arms stretched to the sky, long hair streaming down their backs.
A heartbeat passed. They approached Aisling and directed her to the fire burning on the other side of the hill. As she reached it, Aisling turned and saw her companions sweat-slicked faces, lit by the orange gold flames. They looked weary, empty. Maebbina, the oldest, took Aisling's arm firmly and pointed her to a caldron near the fire. "Look," she said. "Look in the scrying bowl."
Aisling bent down, heart hammering, and stared at the oily surface shining in the firelight.
At first, she saw nothing. Nothing but blackness, the reflection of firelight and her own face. She knew a sharp disappointment, mingled with relief. The magic didn't work.  No god possessed her. Everything was real and ordinary and...
She stiffened as something in the orb of liquid began to swell and grow. There was another light there, soft and faint. Silver instead of the gold of the fire. It was filled with shapes. The sheen of armor and flash of weapons caught her eye. "Warriors," she murmured.
She dimly heard the excited whispers of the other women. The shapes in the cauldron grew nearer, filling her vision. The warriors were all around her. She could hear the clank and rattle of their weapons, smell the scent of them. Dust and sweat...and man. Their long hair flowed over their shoulders. Their hands stood ready on their weapons. Their hot breath covered her.
One of them grasped her wrist and fixed her with a piercing look, his eyes like the glowing green depths of a shadowed forest pool.  "Aisling," he said.  
The world swam away.

That's an exciting hook, if every I saw one! Thanks for blogging here today, Mary. Best of luck with Call Down The Moon, which is available from  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Q3RFF7M
You can connect with Mary at:

Monday 5 January 2015

Birth Of A Book—Part Two: Finding The Heart And Soul Of Your Book

By Antonio Litterio
What do the names Ebenezer Scrooge or Scarlett O'Hara mean to you? Whether or not you've read either A Christmas Carol or Gone With The Wind, I'll bet pictures of a mean old man, or a wilful Southern Belle jumped straight into your mind.

Scrooge and Scarlett were so perfectly drawn by their respective authors, Charles Dickens and Margaret Mitchell, we feel we know them. Their characters stay with us once we've finished a book, and long after we've forgotten its plot.

If you read the first part of my Birth Of A Book series (which appeared here), you'll have been collecting your thoughts and making plenty of notes. A good fund of ideas stops you being stunned by your first sight of a blank sheet of paper, so by now you should be raring to go.

Before you tap out your first words, you've got one more job to do. Characters give your work heart and soul.You might have a plot all planned out in your head, but if your central figures don't capture your reader's imagination, your book may be abandoned after they've read your first few pages. Readers need to care enough about your hero to follow them through the ups and downs of a story, which might be hundreds of pages long. Use the three C's—Characterisation, Credibility and Consistency—to keep your readers keen.


Take the time to build up a detailed picture of your main characters. I used to work in Marketing Research, and used customer profiling  to build up a picture of our clients. When I started writing novels, the sort of forms I'd designed in my office job came in handy for making sure my fictional people had a good grounding in reality.

Start off by cataloguing your character's appearance. It's a bit of a cliche to make heroes perfect and handsome, while every villain is rotten to the core and ugly with it, so mix and match. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo, managed some heroic deeds, while Paul Freeman's handsome Bellocq in Raiders Of The Lost Ark was a mercenary with no morals.

Create a complete fictional past for your characters, right down to the pets they kept as children, and the schools they attended. Wondering why that's important? Imagine the contrast in outlook a strict faith school gives, compared to one where free expression rules. How someone reacts to rules and regulations early in life sets the scene for conflicts later on.

What does your character do when they have some spare time? How do they relate to other people—are they sociable, or a loner? Do they hate their job, or are they the sort who loves their work? Do they do voluntary work? The more questions you can invent, the more detailed your characterisation will be.

Send an email with the words Character Sheet in the subject line to christinahollis(at)hotmail.co.uk, I'll send you a copy of the form I fill in for each of my fictional characters. 

Coming Soon!

Nobody in real life is perfect, so give your hero a flaw or two. It makes them more human, and three-dimensional.

To go back to Ebenezer Scrooge, he's a horrible character. What is there to like about someone who hates Christmas, and treats his poor overworked, underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit  like a slave? Well, not much.  But there can't be many people who haven't been in such a bad mood they wanted to turn down an invitation from an over-jolly relative, or scowled at the sight of yet another expensive charity advert produced by big business and "posed by models". Dickens has recognised faults we all have, packed them into one man, then magnified them to create the monster Scrooge.

Scarlett O'Hara has faults, too. Most people have bent the truth, been stubborn, or shallow, at some time in their life. Anyone reading about her may be driven mad by some of the things she does, but deep down they'll recognise what it's like to be young and capricious.  None of us alive today lived through the American Civil War, but we all know what it's like to feel hard-done by, or to be overtaken by some mad yearning. Scarlett's turmoil is far more outrageous than ours, but it still has that kernel of familiarity.  That's one reason why we read to the end of the book.


The way a character develops (for better or worse) during a story is all part of the roller-coaster ride  which keeps us hanging on right to the end of the line. It's important these changes happen in a believable way. That's not to say each chapter of your book should be a similar-sized step along the character arc, pointed out with neon signalling. Mix up the big ways and small ways. Your character may be caught up in a national disaster, or they may not be able to pay a gas bill. The way they react to these situations may be completely transformed over the course of your book, but be careful their reactions and attitudes don't see-saw too wildly in between, unless there's a cast-iron reason. In my next release, His Majesty's Secret Passion, Leo manages to unwind stressed-out Sara a bit at a time. Gradually, they reach the point where her fury at uncovering the secret Leo's been keeping from her is defused by the way they must both adapt to changing circumstances. All through the book their attitudes to each other soften, but although this happens at different rates at different times, they always behave in character.

To keep up with the progress of His Majesty's Secret Passion, visit my author page here and click on the "like" button for updates.