Tag Archives: Author

You’re the First I’ve Ever Met

I had an interesting conversation with a coworker today.

I was at the Writing Center at Rowan University, where I tutor students and help them to (hopefully) become better writers. It’s an interesting job with some interesting people. As often happens at Rowan, the subject made its way around to the most common question you’ll ever hear as a college student: “What are you going to do when you graduate?”

I don’t have a good answer to that question. I don’t know what kind of day job I’m going to be getting. Though the real answer–the most honest one–is that I want to focus on being a professional writer.

Naturally, she asked, “So you want to publish books?”

And of course, I answered, “I’ve already published one.”

I’m a bit of a shy person, so I don’t go around shouting about my book to everyone I meet. So even though we’d worked together for some time, this was the first she’d heard about it. We had a short conversation about what the book is about (a girl with superpowers trying to survive in a world where magic is returning and going crazy), how long it took me to write (two years), and how the sales are going (an awkward question I avoid as much as I avoid telling people how much my day job pays). Once I got going, I got over my shyness and talked a bit about my book. Then my coworker said something that left me a bit speechless:

“You’re the first person I’ve ever known who published a book.”

I wasn’t sure how to react to that. I think I kind of blushed and stammered a bit. And I tried to think about who I knew that had written books.

The first that came to mind were my Rowan professors. Just listing the ones whose books I’ve actually read, there’s:

Red Dirt by Joe Samuel Starnes
Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Mimi Malloy, At Last! by Julia MacDonnell Chang
In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall by Sanford Tweedie

Then there’s a book written by one of my Rowan classmates, New Life and New Civilizations: Exploring Star Trek Comics, edited by Joseph Berenato.

And that’s not counting people I know online, whether self- or traditionally-published.

It kind of makes me feel like I’ve joined some kind of elite club. Like a country club membership, only with less golf and rich old white men, and more awesome books for me to read. Which sounds like a really good deal to me.

And it’s not one of those “you can’t golf here if you’re not a member” clubs. Because people who read are totally a part of the club, or else there wouldn’t BE a club, right? So the only people who aren’t allowed in the club are people who don’t like books.

And they can join the club if they find a book they DO like, and they read it.

So that’s what you should do today. Read a book. Maybe one of the ones I just mentioned above. Or mine. Either way, you’ll be having more fun than playing country club golf.

mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook


Zero Echo Shadow Prime

facebook_cover_01I just finished reading Zero Echo Shadow Prime by Peter Samet. It’s one of the best sci fi books I’ve read in a long time.

The story starts off with a teenage girl, Charlie Nobunaga, finding out she has cancer. As part of an extreme attempt to save her life, her father makes a deal with the head of a corporation that creates advances in artificial intelligence, augmented reality (AR), and robotics. Charlie’s mind is scanned and copied, and as a result, four different versions of her are born. Zero, her original, dying, biological body. Prime, an advanced super-strong robot. Shadow, a computer program that serves as a virtual assistant and companion to a wealthy man. And Echo, a four-armed creation that is forced to duel against a variety of other genetically and cybernetically altered clones in a virtual simulation.

ZESP does an amazing job developing the different aspects of Charlie’s persona and showing how they change once they begin living their separate lives. The book also creates an interesting dystopic future where flying police drones can monitor and control people’s movements, “smart cell” technology allows for digital manipulation of the human body, and radical separationists protest against the loss of humanity caused by the advent of robotics and AI.

In classic sci fi tradition, ZESP develops a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, and has an ending that, well, I won’t spoil it, but it’s a thrill and a shock that left me wanting more.

If you like sci fi, robots, virtual reality, flame throwers, spaceships, and cyber-terrorism, you should definitely check out this book.

Author Fragile Ego Syndrome

EMSStar-redwhitecopyMEDICAL ALERT

An epidemic has been spreading among a certain group of individuals. You may be at High Risk for AFES if you are in any of the following high-risk categories:

  • You stay up late at night, drinking coffee and mumbling about the inconvenient timing of your Muse
  • You speak in strange tongues and use words and phrases like MS, WIP, “Show, Don’t Tell,” character motivation, climax, turning point, YA, NA, and Query
  • You obsess over word counts and go on long rants about how a hyphenated word should count as two words, damn it, and you don’t care what the word processor says
  • You’re constantly looking for excuses to explain why you’ve neglected your fictional characters for so long
  • You cry when a loved one dies, then cry more when people tell you “It was just a fictional character!” (They’re real, damn it!)
  • You’ve been nodding along while reading this list
  • You simply hate when people ask you how your writing/revisions/sales are going (there’s no right answer)

If you show any of these warning signs, you might be an Author.

Authors should seek medical attention immediately if they show any symptoms of AFES, including but not limited to:

  • Nervous jitters when you send your WIP to be read by a CP, Beta, Agent, or Editor
  • The idea of friends/relatives reading your book makes you nauseous or lightheaded
  • You sit and stare at the monitor repeating, “I suck I suck I suck I suck…”
  • You ever made the mistake of reading the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads
  • You experience erections writing sprints lasting longer than four hours
  • You ever want to make a fort out of copies of your book so you can hide inside it forever

There is currently no known cure for AFES, but you can experience temporary symptom relief by writing a blog post about it.

mani_promoManifestation is available in paperback format through:

CreateSpace and Amazon

and in ebook format through:

Kindle and Nook

Fallen Son, Darkest Night

Today I’d like to introduce you to an author friend of mine who has a new story that’s just been released. The short story, “Fallen Son, Darkest Night,” serves as a prequel to Melissa A. Petreshock’s debut novel, Fire of Stars and Dragons.

FSDN Cover ArtFALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT by Melissa A. Petreshock

After four millennia of waiting for change, the Mother Goddess sees no other recourse but to summon Theo Pendragon to perform his sacred duty as one of the Dracopraesi, imprison her only son in the Underworld, and save her people.

​Given the​ vast destruction Dante has caused ​in the Earthen Realm, Theo is prepared to fulfill Dana’s request​ without hesitation​, but ​when confronted with ​unexpected events and a plea for mercy, will the dragon ​find him worth redemption, or is it too late for this dark soul to seek forgiveness?

FALLEN SON, DARKEST NIGHT is a ​short story companion to FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS (Stars and Souls Book 1). ​Three thousand years before Caitriona Hayden is even born, Dante’s actions and Theo’s decision impact the destiny that awaits them all.

Available October 21, 2014 on Wattpad.

About The Author

Melissa A. Petreshock_ smaller fileMelissa A. Petreshock is a full-time writer and member of the Romance Writers of America with past experience in the medical and educational fields, though she has primarily devoted her adult life to raising a family. Born and raised in Kentucky, Melissa spent a number of years in Massachusetts, living outside Boston and in Springfield before returning to her home state where she now resides on a small farm. She enjoys quiet married life and the silliness of her three children, indulging hobbies of music, Zumba, and a minor television addiction in what little free time she finds. Melissa’s interests include causes demanding social change such as mental health awareness and teen suicide prevention. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS is her debut NA Fantasy Romance novel.

You can find Melissa on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Goodreads.

I’ll be sharing some more info about both “Fallen Son, Darkest Night” and Fire of Stars and Dragons in some upcoming posts and reviews, so stay tuned for more to come.

FSDN - Cannot escape promo teaser

Awaken by Skye Malone

Hello! It’s my pleasure today to introduce you to an author friend of mine who recently released a new book and the start of a new series:

Awaken by Skye Malone, Book One of the Awakened Fate series
Awaken by Skye Malone, Book One of the Awakened Fate series

Running away from home was never Chloe Kowalski’s plan. Neither was ending up the target of killers, or having her body change in unusual ways. She only wanted a vacation, someplace far from her crazy parents and their irrational fear of water. She only wanted to do something normal for once, and maybe get to know her best friend’s hot stepbrother a bit better at the same time.

But the first day she goes out on the ocean, strange things start to happen. Dangerous things that should be impossible. Things to which ‘normal’ doesn’t even begin to apply.

Now madmen are hunting her. A mysterious guy with glowing blue eyes is following her. And her best friend’s stepbrother seems to be hiding secrets all his own.

It was supposed to be a vacation. It’s turning out to be a whole lot more.

Skye-MaloneSkye Malone is a fantasy and paranormal romance author, which means she spends most of her time not-quite-convinced that the things she imagines couldn’t actually exist. Born and raised in central Illinois, she hopes someday to travel the world – though in the meantime she’ll take any story that whisks her off to a place where the fantastic lives inside the everyday. She loves strong and passionate characters, complex villains, and satisfying endings that stay with you long after the book is done. An inveterate writer, she can’t go a day without getting her hands on a keyboard, and can usually be found typing away while she listens to all the adventures unfolding in her head.

Skye also writes YA urban fantasy as Megan Joel Peterson and is the author of The Children and the Blood series.

You can also visit Skye’s website, or connect with her on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or Tumblr.

Awaken is just 99 cents, and you can pick up a copy through any of the following links:

All Romance eBooks | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Google Play | iTunes | Kobo | Smashwords

You can also add Awaken on Goodreads. And if you’d like a chance to read some of Awaken before you buy it, check out the excerpt below:

Maddox slowed the boat, killed the engine, and then lowered the anchor. At least a mile off, the shore was a mosaic of green mountains and white buildings below. Puffs of clouds drifted over Santa Lucina, but out here, only the barest wisps hovered in the brilliant blue sky. Baylie leaned back on her seat, a smile on her face, while her dog just eyed the water as though trying to figure out how the demented humans could possibly think this was a good idea.

“So…” Noah started. “Anyone want to go for a swim?”

I smiled. My parents being so psychotic and all, we didn’t even have a bathtub in the house, just a stand-up shower the size of a broom closet. I’d never been able to teach myself how to hold my breath underwater, let alone swim.

But that was going to change, starting now.

“Well, um,” I began, feeling a bit reckless with excitement. “If you wouldn’t mind teaching me?”

His eyebrows climbed. “Uh, no. I mean, sure. I–”

The boat jumped.

“What the hell?” Maddox cried as the rest of us grabbed at the guardrails.

“Did we hit something?” Noah asked, scanning the water.

Maddox shook his head. “I don’t–”

The ocean around the boat began to bubble and roil.

Noah swore. “Get us out of here!” he called to Maddox.

His brother didn’t need the encouragement. Quickly, he scrambled back toward the driver’s seat and turned the key in the ignition.

The engine wouldn’t respond.

Shudders shook the boat, while all around, the ocean’s surface began to foam like the calm sea had suddenly become a boiling pot on a stove. Waves surged from every direction at once, growing more violent by the second, and on all sides the water darkened, as though a shadow was spreading below us.

“What’s happening?” Baylie cried.

No one could answer. As if shoved from beneath, the deck tipped up at a sharp angle and then just as quickly rocked back, wrenching us hard as we fought to hang onto the guardrails. The lurching came again, throwing us forward and back.

My grip broke. The metal rail hit me, knocking the air from my lungs.

And then came the water.

I didn’t even have time to scream. Waves closed over me, choking my instinctive gasp and tossing me so hard that, in only a heartbeat, I lost all sense of up and down. Flailing, I tried to reach out and find something, anything, to grab onto as the water pummeled me like it was a prize fighter and I was its punching bag.

Strong hands caught me. Steadied me. Pulled me from the maelstrom into a space of calm. I clutched at them, thinking Noah had managed to find me in the chaos.

Eyes like brilliant sapphires met mine.

“You’re okay,” a boy said, gripping my shoulders. “You’re fine.”

I stared at him. In the impossibly black water, I could see nothing but his face and his arms, both pale as though he’d spent his life out of the sun. He seemed only a year or two older than me, and his features were angular, carved like they came from stone, and strangely mesmerizing. In the darkness, his eyes shone like deep blue jewels, simultaneously seeming to reflect light and yet glow from within.

But we were underwater. We should be drowning. And instead, I could hear him as clearly as if we stood in the open air, and the oddest sense of peace was settling over me.

I wondered if I was dying.

Title: Awaken
Series: Awakened Fate (Book One)
Author: Skye Malone (www.skyemalone.com)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Wildflower Isle (www.wildflowerisle.com)
Publication Date: June 3, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-940617-07-7 (epub), 978-1-940617-06-0 (mobi), 978-1-940617-08-4 (paperback)
Cover Designer: Karri Klawiter (www.artbykarri.com)

A Tale of Two Witches, by Lisa Dawn

A tale of two witches smashwordsI had the opportunity to interview another indie author this week, Lisa Dawn. Her book, A Tale of Two Witches, just came out on Amazon this summer. Lisa was kind enough to answer some questions about her book, her writing process, and her plans for the future.

1. Your book, A Tale of Two Witches, has been described on Amazon as fun, exciting, and having characters with “just the right mix of evil and sass.” What drew you to working in an upbeat, sassy tone, even while dealing with issues of violence and death? Do you ever have trouble maintaining such a tone, even when the story takes a dark turn?

I have always leaned towards the “dark side” and I love anything that is horror and twisted but when it came time to write that way I just couldn’t do it.  I am an upbeat and sassy kind of gal and that really reflects in my writing.  There was a point when I was writing A Tale of Two Witches that the darkness appeared and a few chapters needed to be rewritten.  I got so involved with the story that I kept thinking “What would Stephen King do?” then I remembered the type of audience I was writing for–my daughter and her friends.  So yes I do sometimes have a hard time maintaining the upbeat sassy tone but then I look at my daughter and continue to write what she would love to read.

2. What has been the most difficult part of working on this book? The most rewarding?

Between work and life I do not really have a whole lot of time available to write.  The most difficult part of writing A Tale of Two Witches was where I was when I wrote–in the school car pick up line waiting to pick up my daughter.  The ideas were flowing and I needed to write quickly within the fifteen minutes I had available to me.  I am working on my time management issues, lol.  I have wonderful ideas and know how I would like the story to go but the time to write is my nemesis.

I loved the look on my daughter’s face when I finally finished the book and published it.  She beamed at me proudly and brags about me at school.  That is the most rewarding feeling.

3. Do you plan to release other books and turn this into a series? If so, what can you tell us about the things you have planned in the future?

Yes this is going to be a series.  A Tale of Two Witches is book 1 of the Lexi Reed Series and I am currently working on book 2, By the Light of the Moon.  I am not sure yet how many books will be in this series but I will have a book dedicated to Leticia, how she became to be what she is as well as about Tessa and Drake who are the keepers of the underworld.  I have too many ideas about By the Light of the Moon that I keep changing it but I will have it ready soon.  I am also working on a series that deals with high school drama the paranormal way.

4. Every author puts a certain amount of themselves into their characters. What parts of your own life or experiences have you put into Lexi, and how did that influence your writing?

Wow, this one is tough.  Lexi is a big part of me.  She is strong willed, determined, spunky, and scared all at the same time.   A lot of the emotions and issues I faced growing up play a big part in developing Lexi’s character.  I became very close with Lexi (I know that sounds weird) and want nothing but the best for her.  Her struggles were similar to some struggles that I had and that influenced me writing her tremendously.  Sometimes certain things that Lexi was going through or doing I wrote how I wish they ended for me.  I feel I grew stronger as a person the more that I wrote Lexi to be a stronger character.    I want my daughter to know that it is okay to have self doubt but if you power through and believe in yourself and believe that you can achieve anything, you will be pleasantly surprised at the outcome and feel empowered.

5. When dealing with any supernatural setting, whether it be a superhero series like the X-Men, a wizarding world like Harry Potter, or a paranormal story dealing with vampires and werewolves, the author needs to make certain decisions about the rules for magic and how they work in that world. What can you tell us about the way magic works in your world? How did you decide on the rules, such as what is or isn’t possible to do with magic?

With magic the rules can always change except for one.  Magic always comes with a price.  I read a lot and watch supernatural TV shows and movies and wrote my favorite from each and incorporated it into my story.  In the mortal world, Lexi’s world, you need to be careful with your magic.  If you don’t learn to control it things can go haywire.  For instance in the beginning of A Tale of Two Witches, Lexi is a hormonal, emotional teenage witch and whenever she was feeling angry she would create thunderstorms.   She needed to learn to control her emotions as well as her magic.  But, all magic comes with a price right?  So the stronger her magic became Leticia could feel it and she fed off of it leading to chaos, Kevin in danger, and people being angry with her.  There is so much going on in Lexi’s world that it is hard to really describe how it works and it’s best if you read the book.  I will mention one thing I think is the coolest part of my book.  I read a book where a witch turned into an animal and I fell in love with idea.  So not only is Lexi becoming one of the most powerful casters, she has the ability to transform into a beautiful fiery Phoenix.

6. Your book is described as having witches, vampires, and a vampire witch. What is it that made you decide to blend those separate types of paranormal characters together? Were you influenced by any particular novels or movies?

Everything that I read and watch has influenced me in some way.  It’s fun to write about witches and vampires.  I had a lot of fun developing Leticia’s character.  I thought how cool would it be to have a vampire witch.  I can’t remember where I read this, but I read when I was younger that some witches that were tortured, burned at the stake or whatever spiteful thing that was done to them, came back from the dead as vampires and avenge their death.   I thought that would be a great back story for Leticia and developed her hateful character.

7. While some people categorize paranormal books differently from more “literary” works, many authors are able to blend literary elements and deeper meaning into a book while still having fun with vampires and witches. A classic example is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which dealt with complex issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, personal identity, and family illness. What kind of deeper issues or meanings would you say are conveyed by your book, and what made you decide to include them?

I see some of the struggles my daughter as well as other kids her age and older are going through now.  Some are similar to when I was growing up and some are different.  I want to write about certain issues that are going on but in a fun way.  Like it is okay to be different and love who you are.   Ignore the bullies or people that treat you differently, it’s a reflection of themselves because they are not happy with who they are.  Be strong, independent, unafraid and stand up for yourself and what you believe in.

8. What is the most important part of your writing, and what would you say makes the writing process the most worthwhile?

The most important part of my writing is what I have to say.  I want to write books that people would read and know exactly what my characters are going through or think “wow that’s a great way to handle that” or something along those lines.  I write for fun and it is a great way for me to express myself.   I am becoming a role model not just for my daughter (who I have inspired to write and she is great at it)  but her entire class.   Her teacher has asked me to come in and talk to her class about my book, the writing process, and writing in general.  I hope to inspire more to be creative in some way, we all have it in us.  Every part of the writing process makes it all worthwhile if it means my daughter will look at me proudly.  That really is the best feeling.

Lisa DawnLisa Dawn lives somewhere in Texas with her wonderful husband, amazing daughter, two cats and three dogs.  For as long as she can remember she has loved to put a pen to paper.  You can find her books on Amazon


Lisa’s blog

I just published my first YA book, A tale of two witches and I am working on two others books that will be ready to publish by the end of the year.
I would love to hear from my readers so please feel free to contact me either by email, facebook, or twitter.

Secondhand Heart, by Kristen Strassel

Secondhand-Heart-FOR-WEB-200x300Kristen Strassel, author of the Night Songs Collection has a new book that just released. Her book, Secondhand Heart, is a New Adult contemporary romance novel about a struggling country singer, a military widow, and their journey together as they find their way back home and into a new stage of life. I asked Kristen if she’d be kind enough to talk a bit about her book, and she was happy to do so.

1. Your first three books, Seasons in the SunBecause the Night, and Night Moves are all paranormal romance novels with vampires. Yet this newest novel, Secondhand Heart, is a New Adult romance starring a country singer. What made you decide to take such a different direction with this book, and what did you find was different about the process of writing in such a different genre?

I decided that I was going to write books about musicians or vampires, or any combination of the two, so Secondhand Heart fits the bill. Once these characters presented their story to me, I knew it wasn’t paranormal.  Everyone has pointed out how different Secondhand Heart is from the books in The Night Songs Collection, but I feel that they all have my stamp on them. The process for this one wasn’t different. Once I met Daisy, she spoke to me in a very strong voice.  The main difference between paranormal and contemporary is that you have to stick to the facts in contemporary, which is sometimes easier and harder. You can’t make something up to get the characters out of a situation.  I tried to stick to “the rules” of contemporary romance in SHH, but I’m not much for those.

2. Your books tend to include characters who are celebrities in some form or another. Secondhand Heart includes a country singer and reality TV show competitor, and your other books include rock stars and the Las Vegas nightlife. But you also work on movies as a makeup artist. How much inspiration for your celebrity characters and their rock and roll lives comes from your real life experience working in the entertainment industry?

Even before I worked in film, I was involved in the entertainment industry. I’ve always been very connected to music, and have had friends who’ve enjoyed all levels of success. I pull from equal parts work and play.

3. Every author tends to put a little bit of themselves into their characters. What parts of your life, experiences, or relationships went into Cam and Daisy, and how did those inspirations help shape the narrative?

There’s a lot of me in Daisy. We have similar senses of humor, similar bodies, and we’ve been through similar things. If we met in real life, we’d love each other or claw each others’ eyes out. I binge watched “The Voice” while I wrote Secondhand Heart, and I have a giant crush on Blake Shelton, so I’m sure you can do the math on my inspirations for Cam.

4. Will Secondhand Heart be the first book in a series, just as your Night Songs Collection has been, and if so, what can we expect from the future?

I think it will be a series. They’ll all be stand alone books that build on each other, if that makes any sense. I’ve drafted another book which also features a Spotlight winner in a very different story.

5. There may not be any vampires in this novel, but do you see Secondhand Heart and the Night Songs Collection as having any connections? Do they take place in the same “world,” or is Secondhand Heart set in the “real” world where nothing supernatural exists, even behind the scenes?

Night Songs exists in this world, there are just vampires in it. 🙂 When Daisy and Cam go to the drive in, the movie they go see is a complete nod to We Own the Night. Other than that, there are no supernatural elements in Secondhand Heart.

6. You just published We Own the Night on September 1st of this year, Secondhand Heart is being released just over a month later, and you have another book, Silent Night coming out later this year. Are you secretly a robot? How do you manage to produce books with such drive and dedication?

Hahahahaha. I wish. It was actually just circumstance. We Own the Night had been finished for a while, but in order to coordinate the digital release with the Audible release, it had to wait until September.  Silent Night is a Christmas themed story, so I’d been sitting on that one as well, and that will release November 18. I could have waited on Secondhand Heart, but why?  I won’t be able to keep up this pace forever, but it sure is fun!

I’m totally self-employed, and I think that’s really helped me be able to produce material consistently and oversee the release of the books. You can’t ever get comfortable in a creative industry. There are always ten other people willing to take your place.

7. After branching out from paranormal romance into New Adult/contemporary, do you ever think you’ll expand into any other genres as well? Do you have any future plans for your writing that you’d like to share?

My writing partner, Julie Hutchings, thinks I should write horror, but the story has yet to present itself. Right now, I’m pretty content with paranormal and contemporary, but I would never rule anything out. I’m playing with some ideas in these genres that are different that what I’ve written, but they aren’t fleshed out enough to talk about yet.

8. You’ve mentioned on your blog that writing and releasing a book is both exciting and scary (something I think all writers can relate to). Taking a different direction with this book compared to your previous works is probably scarier than usual. How do you cope with that fear? Can you offer any advice to other authors who might be struggling with fear of their own?

I will cry and drink most of this week. Ha. I’m only sort of kidding. Branching out into something new is scary, because there’s nothing there yet for me. It’s strange because I’m not a debut author, but I’m still in the door-to-door phase, working for every sale. But with this one, there are different opportunities and avenues to explore, and I’m exited.  My advice would be don’t be afraid to try new things, especially if you’re an indie author. If something’s not working, you can always change it.

9. Stephen King has said that every writer has to have their “toolbox” well-loaded with all the writer’s tools they need for success. Obviously on a basic level, this includes strong prose, an understanding of grammar, and a personal voice and style that makes their writing unique. What other “tools” would you say have been most valuable to you as a writer, and what tools would you say you’re still learning or you’d like to acquire in the future?

Going through the editing process and understanding what makes a story work were both huge for me. I feel like that’s the biggest thing that improved my writing. I’m a Pitch Wars mentor this year and helping other people with their manuscripts has been an invaluable learning experience. The number one thing that people seem to struggle with is bridging the emotional connection from character to reader. That’s something I want to master. I want my narrators to sound like a friend telling you a story over drinks.

10. Lastly, you’ve said that this is “a story about coming home.” What does that mean to you on a deeper level, whether it be literary or personal? If you could hope for readers to gain one important thing from reading your work, what would that be?

Man, it really is, on so many levels.  Both Daisy and Cam thought they had gone from wanting something to having something. Daisy had married her childhood sweetheart, and was working towards living overseas and becoming a teacher. Cam had won The Spotlight, and was releasing albums and going on tour. He was also married. But both of them are now back home, starting all over again unwillingly. For me, “home” is something that doesn’t change, no matter how much I do. And at times, that can be a real struggle to reconcile the past, present, and future. No matter how successful you are, or how much you’re on cruise control, it can all be taken away at any time. Then it’s up to you what you do next.

You can find Secondhand Heart on Amazon.com, along with Kristen’s other books, Because the Night, Night Moves, and Seasons in the Sun.

kristenpic 2You can also find Kristen on Twitter, Facebook, her website, or her blog, Deadly Ever After.

Running Away

It’s my great honor to present to you the latest release by a good friend of mine and an author I seriously look up to, Julie Hutchings. Her latest novel, Running Away, released on September 26th:

Running Away Final Cover

Running Away is a vampire novel, but probably not one like you might expect. The rules for vampires in Julie’s world are quite unique, from absorbing memories to soul bonds to the threads of fate leading vampires to seek out victims that have been marked for death. And you can be assured that no one sparkles.

Running Away (The Shinigami series, #2) is a New Adult Paranormal Romance novel and the sequel to Julie’s first book, Running Home. You can find both books on Goodreads by following the links above, or read more here to find out what Running Away is all about:

Eliza Morgan is desperate to escape the horrors of her mortal life and understand why death follows her, leaving only one man, Nicholas French, in its wake. He’s the one she loves, the one she resents, and the one fated to make her legendary among the Shinigami– an ancient order of vampires with a “heroic” duty to kill. He’s also decaying before her eyes, and it’s her fault.

On the ghostlike mountaintop in Japan that the vampires consider home, Eliza will be guided by the all-powerful Master for her transition to Shinigami death god. When Eliza discovers that sacrificing her destiny will save Nicholas, she’s not afraid to defy fate and make it so—even when Nicholas’s salvation kills her slowly with torturous, puzzle-piece visions that beg her to solve them. Both Nicholas and his beloved Master fight her on veering from the path to immortality, but Eliza won’t be talked out of her plan, even if it drives the wedge between Nicholas and her deeper.

Allying with the fiery rebel, Kieran, who does what he wants and encourages her to do the same, and a mysterious deity that only she can see, Eliza must forge her own path through a maze of ancient traditions and rivalries, shameful secrets and dark betrayals to take back the choices denied her and the Shinigami who see her as their savior. To uncover the truth and save her loved ones, Eliza will stop at nothing, including war with fate itself.

You can find Running Away on Amazon Kindle.

About the Author Julie Hutchings:

Author Julie HutchingsJulie Hutchings is a pizza hoarding, coffee swilling, beer guzzling, karate loving book geek with a love of all things creepy and obscure. She lives in America’s Hometown of Plymouth, Massachusetts with her hilarious husband and two genius children.

Julie Hutchings is also an amazing person who will ENTHUSIASTICALLY ENCOURAGE YOU IN ALL THINGS IN ALL CAPS! You can find her on Twitter @HutchingsJulie, or find her on Goodreads. She also has a blog, Deadly Ever After, alongside @KristenStrassel, who ALSO writes awesome books.

Running HomeAnd I did mention that Running Away is a SEQUEL, right? That means you should probably go read Julie’s first book, Running Home, which you can find on Amazon in paperback and ebook.

And if you want to connect with Julie on Twitter, make sure you tell her, Jason sent you.

Interview with D. Emery Bunn

I’m all about supporting indie authors (I should be; I am one). So when D. Emery Bunn (who can be found on Twitter @DEmeryBunn or at his blog) told me he had a book coming out, I was eager for the chance to learn more and talk to him about his book, his writing process, and some other questions that plagued my mind. I had the chance to read an advance copy of the book, and to learn a bit more about what went into it.

-Your first novel, Darkness Concealed, takes place in a medieval fantasy world that experiences a period of darkness, death, and destruction that returns without explanation every century. This idea of a world periodically shrouded in darkness reminds me of a fantasy version of the movie Pitch Black. Though your novel takes this idea a bit further by going beyond the question of “How do we survive the darkness?” to the question of “What causes it, and how can we stop it?” Where did you get the idea for your setting, and for the quest to put a stop to this recurring darkness?

The initial idea came from a world-building challenge: come up with a brand new world/setting for this worldbuilding-based play-by-post campaign, and use it to apply.

I took up the challenge. I was in the shower, thinking over how I wanted to start the world, and two thoughts occurred: “A peaceful, idyllic pastureland”…”afflicted by a regular apocalypse.” Building those two contrary thoughts out, Telthan was born. Thanks, frogman55 (the campaign’s DM)!

I picked the 149 year separation between Darkenings for several reasons. First, I wanted it to be far apart enough that no one could possibly live through one and see the next. Second, I wanted it to be long enough that someone could conceivably live their entire life, and see neither Darkening. Third, I’m sick and tired of seeing perfectly round numbers for important time periods, so I didn’t do that. 149 is actually a prime number, but I picked it originally because it wasn’t 150.

With a world like this, telling the story of the Darkening itself would be very boring. People would get prepared for the worst, the worst would actually happen, and the next day things would be back to peaceful normal. Maybe that’s short story material, but it’s not a novel, and certainly not a trilogy.

The only story that made sense to tell in such a world is figuring out the what and why, and ultimately, stopping it completely. A long, epic journey in the vein of Robert Jordan and J. R. R. Tolkien. Thus, it’s the only story I ever sought to write within the setting.

-One of the most interesting things about this book is the diverse cast of characters. Four people from completely different backgrounds: A thief, a soldier, a farm boy, and a scholar. How did you develop each of their backgrounds and personalities, and how did that affect their interaction with each other?

I’m covering this in more detail on my own blog with a series called Shards of Personality, with Caleb (the farm boy) being first up.

I started with archetypes. The characters were originally named the Dreamer, the Scholar, the Veteran, and the Exile. Those were their roles, their starting points for entering the story. Each of them was to have a different outlook on the optimism/pessimism line (they’re ordered from most to least optimistic), and different reasons that drove them into the story.

– The Dreamer (Caleb) was obvious. He saw the Darkening all the time when he slept. His interest in the event is one born of desperation and a desire for a point to seeing it.
– The Scholar (Ivan) loves learning, loves finding out the answers to questions. The Darkening is a mystery that cannot be avoided, and one that consumes his interest. When he gets a chance to learn more beyond what the library he frequents can tell him, he jumps at the chance.
– The Veteran (Alexandra) has seen the monsters of the Darkening, seen what they do to her friends and to innocents. She quits chasing after those monsters when the last of her friends dies at their hands. But she has to atone for still being alive, for surviving. She’s drawn back to the Darkening by the need to punish those creatures who ended her happiness.
– The Exile (Liz) doesn’t really care about any of that stuff. She’s been an outcast her entire life, and it suits her just fine. But they say they’re going someplace forbidden and untouched since the last Darkening. Treasure, danger, challenge? That’s her calling card.

With such a diverse set of reasons for embarking on the journey, there was no need for them to have the same philosophy toward it. They were going to clash, and only the naive assumption that they all needed each other for some reason kept them from splitting apart at the beginning.

Going meta, I also made them so diverse and disagreeable at the start because I wanted to explore the concept of “how the adventuring party is made.” Countless stories start us off with the merry band of adventurers already having gelled together as a team. So rather than repeating that, I explored precisely how to go from strangers to comrades and friends.

-A lot of the danger and adventure in this story didn’t come from the usual fantasy-genre sources of evil wizards and rampaging hordes of monsters. Instead, there is a large section of the book devoted to exploration of ancient ruins, evading magical traps that have been lying dormant for years, and trying to solve a mystery. What was it like developing those traps and dangers, and where did you get your ideas from?

The traps in Andranine (the forbidden city) were a lot of fun to devise. I kept on going back to the core idea of the city: it was built to defend against the Darkening. How would one defend against horrible monsters? How would one make sure that everyone who fought would give it their all, to their very dying breath? Each and every trap was aimed at answering those questions.

The Library was a different beast. I wanted a place dangerous by existence, and known to be that way, but I wanted it to start somewhat innocuous. It gave me room to make the place creepier, and less safe as their time in there added up. I also wanted them questioning whether it was a good idea to be there in the first place, and to do it continually.

Speaking meta, I developed all the traps and tricks because I wanted to flip the expectations of a dungeon crawler upside down. I deliberately invert the usual traps, the typical pitfalls. I hide things in plain sight. And I aimed to make things dangerous and worrisome by existence and foreboding, rather than a cliche hallway full of swinging axes and pit traps with spikes at the bottom.

-This book also involves a lot of mystery about the very fabric of reality in the world and the nature of its existence. You’ve created a world that in many ways doesn’t follow the same “rules” as the real world. What was it like creating such a unique and different environment? Did you have any trouble developing the complexities that make this world what it is?

I’m smiling as I write this. Telthan as a setting has been on my mind since December 2008. I’ve had time to build up the rationale, the internal logic of the world. Everything has its place, and even the most bizarre thing shown in the book has a reason behind it. For every question, an answer exists, whether or not I stated it in the book.

The answers go further and further back into the past, ultimately disappearing beyond the reach of what little history Telthan retains after having its world broken regularly for countless millennia. It’s a fun concept having the answers literally beyond history. But it makes sense for a world where civilization is crushed under a tide of monsters every 149 years.

Going meta once again, I wanted to twist what is expected of an apocalypse, of the time after such an event, of the time before it. A step beyond, I wanted to ask the “why” of such an event. How could it recur? Why doesn’t it recur constantly? How does this or that even exist?

A fun little challenge for the brainteaser lovers out there: try to figure Telthan out. Theorycraft it, and see if with only the hints and clues provided in Darkness Concealed you can unravel its secrets. Feel free to email me what you think the truth really is.

-This book is part of a series. Is there anything you can tell us about what to expect from the sequels?

The sequel is entitled Darkness Revealed, and is a lovely case of “exactly what it says on the tin.” The vast majority of the questions raised in Darkness Concealed will be answered, with the pattern of darker and darker discoveries continuing until it reaches absolute blackest evil rock bottom.

It’ll be a darker book, and the first draft will be written this upcoming November’s NaNoWriMo. I plan for the second draft to be written between January and February 2015, and a tentative release date of May/June 2015.

There is a third book, but I won’t say the title yet.

-Will there be any kissing?

I’m going to let the slashfic people worry about doing that. I’m too busy horrifying my characters for them to get romantic during the course of the story.

-One last question: What does the “D.” stand for?

A secret for the ages
To remain untold
Forgotten by time
The ripples of history
Washing it away

D. Emery

Darkness Concealed is now available on Amazon Kindle. And keep an eye on D. “A secret for the ages” Emery’s blog for more information.


#ProtagonistPickupLines is a meme I devised over the weekend. The idea is to come up with lines that a book’s main character might use when flirting with their author. Think of it like the romance writer’s version of “Stranger Than Fiction,” where a book’s character comes to life and interacts with their author.

I decided a fitting way to portray this meme was to use the images of actors and actresses from books-turned-movies (or tv shows):

#ProtagonistPickupLines Katniss

#ProtagonistPickupLines Harry Potter

#ProtagonistPickupLines Aragorn

#ProtagonistPickupLines Richard Rahl

#ProtagonistPickupLines Kahlan_Amnell

#ProtagonistPickupLines Frodo#ProtagonistPickupLines Carrie

If you have any other ideas for #ProtagonistPickupLines, feel free to share them here, or tweet them at me @CantrellJason.