PLEASE WELCOME LYNDI’S ADVENTUROUS FRIEND J.B. Dane!!!!
The toughest thing (and the most fun one, too) that a writer can do when spinning a series is looking for ways to top what happened in the titles that went before. But when I found a way to weave in something I’ve found thrilling and have for years, that really was the cherry on top. The “cherry” in RAVEN’S EDGE, the 3rd Raven Tale novel, was putting a sword in urban fantasy PI Bram Farrell’s hand and dropping him into a position where he wielded a rapier twice! Once while seeking information about a missing man and then to simply survive. Well, and take a stab (yes, pun city!) at reacquiring a talisman stolen from the Tuatha Dè Danann horde in Tara. It gave me a good reason (or so I thought) to rewatch all my favorite swashbuckling movies to take notes on moves and thrill to the ringing sound of blade kissing blade. Backed that up with a centuries old guide on the correct way to do battle with a rapier in hand so the terms would be correct. You can take the historian (me) out of their element and drop them in an urban fantasy one, but you can’t pry them away from historically correct terms.
To work some sword play into RAVEN’S EDGE not only meant I had to find (and then steal) a legendary magical sword, I had to have a reason why Bram was expert enough to use it when the time came. It just so happens, though, I had a prequel novella where he and D’Artagnan (of Three Musketeers fame) were drinking at a tavern and mention was made that the musketeer had taught my hero to wield a rapier well enough to be a regular sparring partner. And how can a fictional character do this? Well, it just so happens that Bram was 100% fictional at the time, too. They both lived in fictionland and neither knew they were nothing more than words on a page.
That’s the set up of The Raven Tales. A magic wielding, snark spewing PI with a 20-volume strong resume of kicking Otherworlder’s to the curb, but more likely killing them when need be, is yanked into the “real” world. This happens in the REAL first book of the series and Bram has been dreaming of becoming fully human himself since then. It’s just that people keep trying to kill him outside of the seam stitched binding as they did inside it.
Raven’s Edge Excerpt:
Mack perked up when he noted a light on in a second-floor window. “That’s Seth’s place. He must be home.”
“Nasty flu bug goin’ around. Maybe he’s just got a bad case,” Burt offered. Oddly enough, he no longer seemed inclined to climb out of the cab and be part of the party now.
“Could be,” Mack agreed as he angled out of the back. “He teaches in an elementary school, so colds fell him regularly.”
Sounded logical but something niggled at me that such was not going to be what we found. Only a few weeks ago I’d been searching for another missing person, this one the great-grandson of a particularly slinky vampiress. Hoped we’d find Mack’s friend doing nothing more than downing meds and watching television when we reached his door.
I trailed a bit behind as Mack headed for his friend’s place. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The sort of hackles that raise when it feels like I’m being watched didn’t stir, so I took the steps up to the upper level two at a time as Mack had done.
He relaxed a bit when he heard a familiar sound leaking into the hall. “Marathoning Game of Thrones again,” he said, jerking his head toward the closed door. “He’s got a thing for Daenerys.”
“What’s not to like about a girl who owns dragons?” I asked.
“And always looks hot,” Mack added then knocked on the door. “Yo, Seth. You alright? It just wasn’t St. Pat’s without yo—”
The door creaked open of its own accord.
The set was on, and Jon Snow wasn’t having an easy time of it on the screen. But it didn’t look like Seth had fared much better. A recliner lay on its side, sofa cushions were cockeyed, a bookshelf had its contents splayed across the floor and a side table and lamp had bit the dust. The only things in good order were the floor lamp glowing near the window and the flat screen where the fate of Westeros still hung in the balance.
“Seth!” Mack shouted, heading for what was probably the bedroom.
I stayed where I was, closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. Yup, the Spidey senses had been on the job alright. The room smelled of spilled beer, nachos, weed, and three other essences.
Vampire, ghoul, and blood.
Links to RAVEN’S EDGE
J.B. Dane is the author of the urban fantasy PI mystery comedy series, The Raven Tales, which includes novels published by Burns and Lea Books, and a series of Indie published novellas that are prequels and also “between the books” adventures of her main character, Bram Farrell. The latest novel in the series is RAVEN’S EDGE. Quite a few 5* reviews have followed for the novels in particular. She also writes shorter fantasy fiction, many tales of which have appeared in anthologies, particularly her Nick Claus, North Pole Security stories.
Social Media Links
Facebook: J.B. Dane Mystery and Fantasy http://bit.ly/2GJtejL
Welcome guest author DARIEL RAYE!
Ask any writer, published or not quite yet, and you’ll get the same response – “If only I’d known then what I know now.” Of course, I suppose that could be said about life in general, but that’s another post or two, or maybe ten! For today, I’ll talk about ten things I’ve learned since I started writing to publish.
I started writing at a very young age, as soon as I learned to spell and write coherent sentences. Writing stories and drawing paper dolls to go with them was one of my favorite things to do, but I never considered publishing anything until much later. I’ve learned a whole lot more than ten things, but that’s mostly because by the time I decided to actually try to sell some of my stories, I knew almost nothing about the industry. I was working as a therapist, and writing provided a pleasant escape from some of the harsh realities I faced daily.
One summer, a friend presented me with entry information for a short story competition. My job was slower during summer months, so I took that summer off and started writing. I didn’t win or even place in that contest, but by the time I finished my story, the writing bug had me under its spell, and eventually, I won a writing competition for my first shifter story, “Dark Sentinels Book One: Sable.” So, here are ten things I’ve learned about writing, the pros and cons, in no particular order…
There are millions of writers in the world of every caliber, and tens-of-thousands of them write romance. Now that could be a con, but considering that there are even more readers than writers (plus, most writers are avid readers as well), many readers devour three or more books a week, and there are 52 weeks in a year, there are still enough readers to get around to your books. In other words, you will not lose anything by supporting other authors.
Along those lines, readers have to know about your books in order to read them, and marketing is harder and much more time consuming than writing the book in the first place. The positive side of this is that the many avenues available to authors today can make marketing fun (well, maybe not exactly fun all the time, but definitely doable) and engaging. There are a number of marketing courses specifically for authors, and some are free. I highly suggest taking one.
Once you’ve overcome the barriers and silenced the “nay-sayers” in your life and in your head, map out time and a place to write. Yes, this is the part about respecting your writing as if it’s already paying the bills. Treat it like your profession – your passion, even. One day soon, it just might replace that day job if that’s your goal, but you must be disciplined to accomplish anything lasting.
Learn to say “NO.” When it’s time to write, write. Don’t allow others to distract you with phone calls or tedious chores simply because you “work from home.” Most of us have a regular daily eight-to-twelve-hour gig before we even get the opportunity to write, so don’t allow anyone else to gobble up that hard earned time to pursue your dream. This does not mean neglect your relationships. Make time for friends and family as well. It’s all about balance.
Until writing becomes your bread and butter, schedule around it like a second job. For many of us, second jobs are like second nature, but life goes on. Plan time with friends and family, and teach family members to support you by helping as much as possible at home. Prepare two or three entrees at once on weekends so you can save some time during the week. Things might not get done just the way you would prefer, but they’ll get done. You’ve got writing to do, and those fantastic stories will never get written if you’re climbing out of the dishwasher, washing machine, or pray tell, the oven!
Find a quick, accessible ‘de-stresser’ to focus your mind before you sit down to write. One of the best for me is a hot shower. Gives mind and body time to relax, and I like to imagine the problems of the day getting washed away, leaving me refreshed and ready to move forward. A favorite song can also be a perfect ‘de-stressor.’ Over the years, I’ve developed a playlist of songs to listen to before walking into my house. The songs only last a few minutes, and in that time I can breathe, allow my thoughts to wander, and get ready to cope sensibly with whatever greets me once I walk through the door. As you know, when other people live with you, you never know what you’ll have to deal with when you get home, and it can be a battle to keep your goals and dreams from being gobbled up by unexpected drama. Here’s one of my favorites.
Now, you’ve de-stressed and you’re sitting down to write. You’ve also told your friends and family that unless they’re calling you to dinner or someone is bleeding out, you are not to be disturbed. Focus on getting the first draft completed. Tell your story freely, keeping in mind that you have the freedom to write as many drafts as necessary, picking and choosing just the right word here and there (later, after the first draft is done) until you’re ready to call in an objective expert – that is, an editor. Oh, and while you’re finding all the right words, be sure to make time for your physical health. Take regular breaks from the computer screen and move. Walking and dancing work best for me because they don’t require special equipment or space.
Let’s talk editors for a moment. You need one. They can be costly, and certainly not every editor is suitable for every writer, but the light the right editor shines on your story and your writing as a whole is priceless. Consider it paying for education, investing in your dream. No matter how wonderful an editor you are, you are too close to your own writing to do all of your own editing. That’s not to say self-editing should be overlooked, but don’t stop there. Get a good editor with glowing recommendations from at least three authors whose work meets your standards. You can find a list of over forty editors on my Musings blog along with a short post on finding the right one for you.
One more note about editing, I’ll count this as number nine because it’s just that important, and number eight was pretty long. Learn to use track changes. The feature will save you immeasurable hours once you reach the editing phase.
These ten things have barely scratched the surface, but join an author group and start building your support system. There’s always more to learn, and someone willing to share – that’s one of my favorite things about the writing community. Tell me about some of the things you’ve learned since you started on this journey?
Organize your life, the space around you, and your computer files. These days, I keep calendars on my phone, desk, and online so I can check my schedule wherever I happen to be. I’m an avid user of the file feature in email to help keep track, and another handy tool I came across several years ago is Scrivener, a writing program that allows me to keep everything about my stories in one place. It’s been particularly helpful since I started writing series – stores all my details, and I’m a big fan of keeping everything in one place.
Every predator has a weakness.
When an ancient being, the last of his kind, meets a fiery woman sought by evil, neither one of them is prepared for the consequences.
Gateway is a shape-shifting demon hunter who finds, protects, and prepares the Chosen – human females with the ability to redeem or destroy demons. For centuries, he has followed the rules…
Complete genetic imprint
No personal attachments…
Until he meets his newest charge – curvy, fiery, headstrong, and angry with the world. Following the rules while fending-off demons is going to take everything he has and then some.
*Please Note – “Gateway” contains explicit love scenes, profanity, and violence. Must be 18+ Part of this story was previously published in the “A Darker Shade of Evil” anthology under the title, “The Devil Upstairs.”
About the Author
Dariel Raye is an animal lover, animal rights activist, musician, and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of powerful paranormal romance and dark urban fantasy with IR/MC (Interracial/Multi-cultural) alpha male heroes to die for, and strong heroines with hearts worth winning. She fell in love with books and started reciting stories at the age of 3. A counseling psychologist, classically trained vocalist, and pianist, she plays over 11 musical instruments, and naturally incorporates behavioral psychology into her characters. Her stories tell of shifters, vamps, angels, demons, and fey (the Vodouin variety). She is also a mom, art tinkerer, and Netflix and Amazon Prime paranormal TV series binger.
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It’s funny how life directs you in a new direction, one you never expected to head, and that the end result is where you find you needed to be and just didn’t know it.
That’s what happened to me. I’m J.B. Dane, and I’m a recovering romance writer (under a different name, of course…writing is a form of witness protection sometimes). I picked up my first urban fantasy novel as a palate cleanser, something to read that I’d never consider ever writing.
The trouble is, my muse is a guy. He’s always has been, shrugging on the features and whatever else the hero on the page at the moment needs to have. By the time I’d finished reading that urban fantasy book – and I think it was probably the first Dresden Files tome – my muse cleared his throat. “You know,” he said in my head, “you’ve had a guy hanging out in my waiting room since the late eighties just waiting for the opportune moment to introduce himself. He’s read all the magazines more than once and has been juggling balls of fire in boredom. Say’s his name is Bram Farrell and that he’s been the main character in a series of UF books written by some witch and that she’s planning to yank him across the seam stitched binding into the real world and he’d rather have someone else in the driver’s seat when that happens.”
“Bring him on,” I answered. And that is how The Raven Tales were born.
I’ve spent a lot of time with Bram since then. Weirdly, I didn’t even realize I was writing the first book in a series until the end of the 1st book (RAVEN’S MOON), but I was really settled into Bram’s world when I lost myself in MARKED RAVEN, the 2nd book. Now I can’t remember why I ever wanted to write all those romantic comedy and historical romances in the past (not that I’ve stopped spinning a few) because I love hanging out with Bram. Well, and Beelz, the hellhound that prefers to manifest as a black and tan dachshund, until something is going down and attacking as a Great Dane suits him better. I have a feeling that Beelz has watched too much Scooby Doo.
Or maybe I did.
In any case, I like this manifestation of myself as an urban fantasy P.I. mystery comedy writer. Fortunately, I have a wonderful publisher who loves Bram – and Beelz – as much as I do and doesn’t mind that I release Raven Tale novellas of shorter, though no less involved, cases independently.
The Raven’s universe just keeps growing and growing, and I’d like to invite you to come have a reading adventure with us. According to reviewers there are twists they never saw coming, that there is noir lean to the investigations, and that, as one phrased it, “Bram is comedy gold.”
But, if you’ve never read urban fantasy mystery comedy before, and are a writer in another genre, just beware. You, too, might get lured into writing a new world into existence.
BIO for J.B. Dane plus Social Media links
J.B. DANE is a pseudonym of a multi-published, multi-genre novelist who goes by many names. Not because she is in Witness Protection. Really not in Witness Protection. Really.
She may start hiding from citizens of Detroit since her Raven Tales urban fantasy comedic mysteries have populated their fair city with neighbors who might be supernatural, paranormal or legendary beasts…or not so beasts…but probably ARE beasts. They could be hungry, too.
She has also tampered with the lore of the Claus family, you know the one at the North Pole, and hopes this does not land her on the Naughty List, even if Nick Claus has landed on it frequently himself.
She might be found at www.4TaleTellers.com, but leave a message to be picked up by a disguised courier and delivered to a secret location. Ditto via Facebook.com/JBDaneWriter or @JBDaneWriter on Twitter.
Buy Links for MARKED RAVEN by J.B. Dane:
It all started shortly after dawn on the most dangerous day of the year—Valentine’s Day.
One minute I was engrossed in taking names and kicking ass— you know, deep into a video game—when the familiar black-and caramel muzzle of my canine partner got between me and the screen.
And the arrow.
The first I became aware of the danger was when his teeth snapped down on it a foot away from reaching its target.
It was old-school design. The only bit you might call high-tech being the pink and red feather bits at the tail end. Beelz had it gripped between his teeth and had amped up his growl as he turned demon red eyes to the being hovering near the ceiling.
A cupid wearing nothing but a red sash with a quiver of those dainty fletched arrows on his back.
“What the frick!” the curly blond-headed, bow-wielding tike snarled around the cigarette clamped between his front teeth. Based on the deep octaves of his voice, as well as his language and smoke, I made the deduction: this weren’t no kid. I’m a P.I.; it’s what I do.
Beelz spat the stick out and hustled around the desk to leap at the intruder. He might be a hellhound but as his preferred form is that of a dachshund, the leaps were getting him nowhere near his target.
And cupid was nocking up another bolt.
I took cover beneath the desk. “Who the hell wants me to fall in love with them?” I yelled at the little bundle of lethal joy. I certainly didn’t want it to be any femme with Otherworlder DNA. A human, now… Except a human wouldn’t have hired a real cupid. Mostly because few knew they actually existed.
“No one, slick. I was hired to take you out.” Ash cascaded as the cigarette bobbed. Don’t talk and smoke at the same time should be up there with chew with your trap shut. But, hey? He was an assassin?
“Pretty lousy camouflage. In that get up”—or lack of one—“you don’t exactly blend into the surroundings, pal.”
Beelz kept leaping and added a bark, obviously agreeing with me.
“What camouflage? I ain’t wearin’ no camouflage. Youse The Raven, right?”
No one had asked me that since November, but the answer lingered on my tongue. I’d said it enough times last fall. “Fictional character. Yeah, I’ve got the same name, but that’s all.”
“Not what I heard, buddy. Let’s just get this over with. Crawl out and take the medicine I come ta give ya.”
Hmm. Supply a target or evoke my décor-singeing modicum of magic. Decisions, decisions. But, since what prestidigits I could toss leaned more toward human flame-thrower, and I really didn’t want to burn the house down, there had to be a third option.
“How much they paying you?”
“Whadda you care?” the cupid snarled.
“I’m willing to top the offer so you don’t shoot me,” I said.
Only the sound of Beelz’s now half-hearted snarls filled the room as our visitor considered.
“What if I said it was a million?”
“I’d say you were lying through your teeth. Nobody hates me that much.” Well, right now they didn’t. At least… I couldn’t remember ticking anyone—or anything—off recently enough that they’d want to whack me. I’d been busy writing a book so the only interaction I’d had lately was with the humans who supposedly found me endearing.
“Doubt you could match my price, Raven,” chubby snarled.
“Farrell,” I corrected. “The name’s Bram Farrell. The Raven is not a real person. I think if you’d just take a gander at this room, you’ll see that I probably can match—if not best—the amount you agreed to.”
I’d inherited a cushy joint. No need to describe the place. Just saying mansion should fill in the blanks. All it’d taken was making sure my creator bit the big one.
“Oh,” the fake toddler mumbled. Sounded like he was eyeballing the décor.
Beelz gave an exhausted sigh and stopped trying to get a piece of the hit-tike.
“I’ll throw in extra for the name of your client,” I offered from my burrow safely beneath the desk.
“No can do,” Babyface said.
“Never met them. Just an envelope dropped in my quiver at the wedding chapel I frequent. Gave me the address, a picture of the target—you—and a hefty down payment.”
“Fifty thousand dollars?”
“Nah. Fifty pieces of gold. The places I frequent don’t trust paper, pal, just coin.”
“Any particular kind?”
“Spanish, Roman, Etruscan—whatever ya got.”
Great. All I had to do was denude every online offering of antique gold coins. Collectors would be gnashing their teeth as it disappeared from circulation. Since denomination didn’t matter, I might be able to buy myself a reprieve for under a hundred thousand. Heck, I’d spent that much my first six days outside of a bookbinding back in October. I was, after all, still a fictional character—The Raven—even if currently packaged in something that was certainly puncturable by an arrow.
“You on a timeline?” I needed to know. There would be shipping involved.
“End of the month,” chubby said.
In that case, expedited shipping.
Please welcome Lyndi’s adventurous friend Janet Lane Walters! Thnaks for being with us today. First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc. Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times? What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have?
Greetings. I’ve been a writer since the dark ages. What I mean is the time of typewriters and carbon paper. My first short story was published in 1968. First poem in 1972 and my first book in 1972, I continued writing in all areas and then it happened. As the mother of four children, college beckoned and they wanted to go. I returned to work as a nurse and put writing aside. I now have seven grandchildren from the age of thirty to eleven. Dealing with the emotional states of teenagers and patients seemed enough. I didn’t really stop writing but I mainly jotted ideas for stories. One day I read in the paper about the Hudson Valley Romance Writers’ conference. I went and met some terrific people. I joined and then had to write since part of their meetings was critiquing what people wrote. In 1994, I returned to writing with a sale, aided by Jane Toombs. Then together we discovered electronic publishing and I haven’t looked back since then. I don’t keep track of the books I’ve written. There are a lot.
At present, I live in the Hudson Valley on the west side of the river. In January, my husband died but I don’t live alone. My oldest son and my oldest granddaughter live here and keep me sequestered because of the Covid thing. As well as writing, I’ve done a few other things. For a time I composed music and even heard several pieces played in public. I’m also a student of Astrology and use this to cast my characters. As an obsession, I collect dragons. I have thirty or forty on my desk above the computer. At present, I am cat-less. Robespierre, my familiar and Maine Coon cat is immortalized in my cozy mystery series.
I do have a BA in English with a creative writing focus. I also have a BS in Nursing. Have these helped my career. Perhaps. I just enjoy exploring the worlds of my characters in mystery, contemporary romance, fantasy romance, paranormal romance and young adult fantasy.
Tell us about your most recent publication/whichever book you’d like to talk about today?
My most recent book is Lines of Fire Challenged. This is the second book of a trilogy. Since I have a rather twisted imagination, this series began with my thoughts about vampires. I’m sure lots of readers will disagree with me but vampires leave me as cold as they are. As I was falling asleep one night, I began thinking about what would happen if some people could see the lines of fire on people’s skins and were able to both give and take from these lines and use the power for good. What if someone’s lines were tainted and if they often killed the person whose lines they fed on. Since this is total imagination what I learned in writing it was a lot about forests and a more rural lifestyle. I spent a lot of time reading about ancient cultures and forest living. While writing this book, this was my favorite book but now my new story is the one that’s my favorite.
How would you best describe your books?
I call myself an eclectic writer since I’ve tried most genres except horror. Those I won’t write or read. Medicine both real and also psychically healing are featured in many of my books. I enjoy reading and pulling a fact I can use from reading about ancient healing techniques and ones that seem over the top. There is always a romance except in my YA books but there friendships take the place of romance.
What is your favorite genre to write? To read?
My reading is rather like my writing. Since the first of the year, I’ve read several mysteries, science fiction, fantasy and romances. I’ve had a library card since age 4. An early reader and a late one.
What do you most like about writing? Least like? When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
I actually like just about everything about writing. Developing characters, making a plot that works, writing many drafts and revision. I’m not sure when I thought about becoming an author but I decided to write my own nurse romances after a bout with pneumonia and a shopping bag full of nurse romances. I realized most of the people who were writing them at the time knew little about medicine and nursing. What I don’t like is promoting but I do it.
Do you belong to any writing groups? Are there any writing websites you find particularly useful?
I belong to the Hudson Valley Chapter of RWA. Used to belong to more but haven’t time to keep up with them all.
Is there any special music you like to listen to while writing? How does it inspire you?
Having music on isn’t my thing, though I would listen if I could hear it. When I’m witing, I enter the tory and all else isn’t heard. I’ve written in hospital waiting rooms and never missed a beat with words. I just zone out.
Do you belong to a critique group? What do you find most valuable about the experience?
I belong to a critique group that meets at my house. We’ve been around since 1994 with changes in those attending. I find a critique group helps for me at least to make sure the things I’ve slid over are put in during the next revision.
How did you find a publisher? How did you receive the Call?
Since I’ve been writing for a long time, I found one the hard way. This was in the days when publishers wanted the entire mss to consider for publication. This meant sending out copies with postage enough for a return and praying you wouldn’t have to retype the entire mss. The call came in an interesting way. My husband was doing his residency in Psychiatry. The letter came and I called. Since he was in a session and couldn’t be disturbed, I gave this message to the secretary. “Tell him I just sold my first child.” A few minutes later, I received a call from him wondering what had happened. Then I told him.
What are you writing now? What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you?
At present I’m on deadline. Have until June 1 to finish Tangled Dreams book 6 in the Moon Child series. Personal appearances are not happening these days because of Covid so I sit at home and do social media.
http://bookswelove.net/walters-janet-lane/ You can find most of my books here.
What would you like to tell readers?
If you read a book by any author, consider leaving a review.
One of the themes of this blog is adventure, which I think everyone should experience at some point. But sometimes adventures are planned…and sometimes….
As she reached Broadway, a worn blue bicycle pulled up next to her, horn screeching over its rider’s distinctive squeal. “Where is your car, woman?”
Jelani eyed her best friend, Iris Pallaton, whose blonde hair swirled above the bright cloud of a magenta blouse. “Richard had it towed.”
“Tell me about it. I’m late.” Jelani headed off again.
Iris pedaled along the curb beside her. “You should call his supervisor and complain.”
“And what? Humiliate myself because he’s a jerk? Screw him!”
“Maybe you should.” Iris laughed. “Then he’d be too awed to bother you again.”
Jelani glared as they crossed the street. “Funny.”
On the far side, she caught the glint of glass in the middle of the sidewalk. “What idiot would drop a bottle when there’s a trash can right there?” she grumbled. “I’ll get it. First karma points of the day.”
Iris climbed off the bike and put down the kickstand. “What is that?” She bent down near the object. “Oh, sweet Gaia! It’s a glass slipper!”
No kidding. It really appeared to be a shoe made out of glass. A large one.
“Who would have left this here?” Jelani picked it up, looking around for a prankster camera team. Something kept her from tossing the shoe.
“Try it on,” Iris whispered. “It would get Richard Snyder off your mind.”
“Richard is not on my mind. He’s on my crap list.”
“Oooh. Sorry.” Iris ran her finger over the shoe. “You’re chicken anyway.”
“Don’t even go there.”
“Chicken. Bawk-bawk.” Iris giggled.
“Fine! If it means I can get to work.” Reaching down with her right hand, she unzipped her boot and kicked it off. “Ready? You want a picture?”
Iris dug for her cellphone and raised it, ready to take a shot. “Just in case your prince shows up right then.”
“I don’t need a prince,” Jelani complained. “I don’t need a man. I need a new life.”
Setting the shoe on the ground, Jelani slipped her foot in it and gently stepped down, not sure to what expect.
The slipper shattered, slicing into the sole of her foot.
Nauseous, Jelani screamed and could only watch in disbelief as tiny men sprang from the blood trickling under the broken shoe. She lost track of how many. With the biggest maybe two inches high, the men scattered into the shadows around the nearest building and disappeared.
She lifted her foot, shaking off the blood, and examined her sole to see if glass remained buried in her skin.
“Did you see that?” Iris gasped, nearly breathless. She grabbed at the wall, eyes closed for a moment.
Jelani felt faint, too, suddenly washed out. “I don’t know.”
There were no glass fragments in her foot or anywhere. The shoe had vanished. The only trace of the whole incident was dark blood, slowly drying in the sun on the sidewalk. As she watched, the cuts in her foot healed.
Iris knelt down to peer at Jelani’s foot. “There were little people. Naked little people. They ran away. I swear they did.”
“Did you get pictures?”
“I almost forgot!” Iris got up and activated the screen on her cell phone, pressed the arrow. Jelani leaned close to watch the whole thing replay in living color. “Oh. Bless. My. God,” Iris said, in her shock reverting to the male deity.
Jelani nodded. “And the horse He rode in on.”
When Jelani tries on a real glass slipper left lying on the sidewalk, it splits in half and out pour dozens of two-inch high creatures who scurry away into the shadows. As if that’s not bizarre enough, she is soon approached by two men claiming (of all things) to be elves who need her help to rescue their queen.
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From author ETTA JEAN, her latest, The Shaughnessy File, first in a five-book series:
Welcome to the 3rd District in New York City, where pumpkins become limos and corporations are kingdoms in this modern take on classic faerie tales.
Trouble starts in the Shaughnessy household when youngest daughter Aenya starts dancing her way through her shoes every night—without ever leaving her room! She keeps her double life a secret from all the men who try to find the truth, but then private investigator Hiro Michaels arrives on the scene. Can she find a way to have her dreams and her love all at the same time?
Kienan Shaughnessy throws his dreams of a musical career on a wild gamble that takes a detour once he meets plain nightingale Madelyne Winters. The young innkeeper has been burned by love and cursed by hate, and she can’t trust anyone as beautiful as swan-like Kienan. Can he teach her to sing a love song before it’s too late?
Eldest sibling Taegan Shaughnessy unexpectedly gets a new pair of glass slippers as he pines for a princess out of his reach. Station and impropriety alike threaten to keep Kalliope Tavoularis from having the man she loves, but this princess won’t take anything lying down. Can some help from an unlikely faerie godmother stop the clock from striking midnight forever?
Mel Shaughnessy is the wild-spirited beauty of the household. Though as smart as he is handsome, his college grades have plummeted past the point of no return. His only hope is the university’s tutor: a woman nicknamed ‘the beast’. Audra Alexandros has no sympathy, and no graces, and yet there’s something about this lone wolf that Mel finds himself helplessly drawn toward. Can the beauty win the beast and close the file on the Shaughnessy Family for good?
“Special delivery!” Kienan told Madelyne cheerfully as he reached her side. “I caught the teacher at the door and decided to save him a trip.”
If she hadn’t been sure that he was behind it, she would have never suspected him. She warily got to her feet and took the carnation he was holding out. The card was blank and she blinked at it. “It’s not signed.” What was this maddening male up to?
“It’s not?” He peered at the card. “How are you supposed to know who it’s from then? Ah! Wait. I bet this will help.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen. Before she could stop him, he had taken the card and scrawled his distinctive signature across it. “There. That ought to do it.”
“Oh my god!” a girl in the back of the room blurted excitedly. “Kienan Shaughnessy is courting Madelyne Winters!”
The entire room erupted into an excited buzz. It was the most interesting thing to happen in a long time, and definitely the most romantic thing to happen ever.
“No!” Madelyne said hastily, trying to wave her hands in the air for attention. “No, he’s not! Kienan,” she pleaded, looking at her ‘admirer,’ “tell them the truth!”
“What truth?” He grinned. “I am courting you, nightingale.”
AVAILABLE AUGUST 2014 from PDMI Publishing!
Etta Jean was made in England but born in Sacramento, California. Her destiny as a bard was somewhat inevitable. Little else can explain how she constantly told her mother tall tales so outlandish that she couldn’t even get grounded for them. A love of worlds created by others eventually brought out the desire to create her own, and she has never looked back. She has seen both good and evil in her life, and her stories, like life, have no half measures. Her happy endings never come without cost, though, for she truly believes we can’t appreciate the good and the joy without the bad and the pain along the way.
Her current haunt is a comfy house in her beloved Sacramento where she wrangles four feline fur-kids and consumes peppermints like mana in order to balance a calendar filled with more creative venues than a sane person should realistically undertake. If she’s not chained to her desk, she’s stomping through the scenery in search of equally fantastical photographs.
I traveled to Austin, Texas this week at the invitation of my publisher, Liz Burton of Zumaya Publications, for a launch party for the second book in the Color of Fear series, DESTINATIONS.
The first adventure was tracking down the books. Liz had brought so much stuff for Zumaya, that she’d inadvertently left the box with the books at home. She had to send someone to get them. So we sold other books and held on to the dozens of colorful cupcakes she ordered for the occasion.
Along with Rie Sheridan Rose and Gloria Oliver, we got the table inventoried and set up while we were waiting. The dealer’s room was populated with really nice people–I’d never heard of Armadillocon, but it appears to be a science-fiction based con, with a lot of really interesting discussions and panels from the Aztecs to the DNA of mummies. Who knew?
Finally we got the table set up, the drawing ready to go and we let her rip!
The afternoon went faster than I expected, and the books looked great. I had to laugh that the guy across from us tried a unique technique to attract readers. He tied his book to a long string and set it in the middle of the floor, drawing them in a bit at a time.
All in all, it was a huge amount of fun meeting these writers and readers. We had a great day and followed it with a wonderful dinner.
If you couldn’t get to Austin this weekend, remember you can order your very own copy of DESTINATIONS on Amazon.com or other online booksellers:
Xi San saved the life of a mysterious girl one night in his ravaged San Francisco neighborhood. He can’t get her out of his mind, but believes that she’s lost to him.
Lin Kwan came to America to bring her scientist father Chinese medicinal herbs, hoping to stop the virus that killed most of the world’s Caucasians before it mutates to infect the rest of the world. On her way to finding him, she meets again the man who once saved her, a man she can’t forget.
With a diverse group of fellow travelers, they head for St. Louis, where civilization is being rebuilt. Between them and safety, danger lurks—Gabriel, a self-styled religious leader and white supremacist, who has organized his army from Upper Midwest survivalist and militia followers, determined to take revenge for the white man.
But Gabriel isn’t their only enemy. Before they reach their destination, they will battle nature, prejudice and even those hidden among them who wish their destruction.
AND there’s a Goodreads giveaway for a copy of WINDMILLS and DESTINATIONS through August 7–https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/99329-windmills PASS IT ON!!
First, I’d like to thank Lyndi Alexander for inviting me to be a guest on her blog today. I plan to discuss the setting of my debut novel, Shift Happens, which is now available exclusively on Amazon. At the end of the post, you can enter for a chance to win one of five kindle ebooks of Shift Happens.
Shift Happens takes place in Vancouver, Canada. In this case, I took Mark Twain’s “write what you know” quote literally (although I personally feel he referred to emotions). I’ve lived in Vancouver for many years and definitely know it. Born and raised on the West Coast, I feel at home in the rain, with the ocean breeze, and the picturesque views of snow-capped mountains and dense evergreen forests.
My not-so-secret plan is to spotlight a beautiful city in a beautiful country. With writing Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy, I add “supernatural” elements to the location to make it my own, but I keep a lot of the landmarks, street names and areas the same, hopefully preserving the ”feel” of the city. I like mixing the known with the unknown. Isn’t that what Urban Fantasy is all about?
Does that mean every book I write will be set in Vancouver? No. In fact, I’m currently working on a short story set in Maine. Writing a piece with an unfamiliar area takes a lot of research. It’s definitely not the easy way out. What types of birds do they have? Flowers? Trees? What kind of slang do people from the area use? It’s exhausting. As much as I love research, the need for accuracy (total A-type here) means I’ll never do something like Historical Romance. Not only do historical writers have to get the area and landmarks right, they also have to get the time period aspect correct as well—when did they stop wearing pantaloons, when did indoor plumbing come about, when did men wear knee-high boots, etc, etc. Exhausting!
So did I “cop out” by placing my series in Vancouver? I don’t think so. Vancouver fits with the dark, gloomy and rainy image I’m going for with Shift Happens. I needed a city that could be beautiful and bright, and at the same time be seedy and grimy; and all surrounded by the brilliance of pristine nature, namely forests and mountains. In other words, Vancouver! My imagination took me on a journey; one that specifically took place in a city I love.
What’s your take on setting?
Does it matter to you if you read a book set in Vancouver, versus New York or LA?
Do you like it if you read a book set in a place you know really well, or do you find it distracting, even insulting (if they describe a place you like negatively)?
Do you prefer to read about a place you’ve never been to? Escapism at its best?
Thanks for taking a moment to join me. Happy writing and reading!
· HER PAST DESTROYED HER HEART, CAN SHE PUT IT BACK TOGETHER IN TIME?
Andrea McNelly’s job as a government agent is not asking questions, but then a routine assignment turns into a botched assassination of a Master Vampire’s human servant. Answers become a priority. Her search to discover the truth is riddled with obstacles, the largest being an oversized Werewolf who resembles a Norse god. Andy can’t afford the distraction he offers, because if she fails, she faces eternal enslavement.
Wick’s job is to monitor Andy, but he prefers more intimate activities, none of them G-Rated. His choices, however, are often not his own. His ability to help Andy is limited by his bond to the Master Vampire.
Facing many trials and challenges along her path to redemption, Andy learns the value of her freedom might be set too high.
A large black wolf trotted into the clearing to confront me. He had a white-tipped snout, white boots and mitts and would have looked cute had he not been the most intimidating Werewolf I’d ever seen. Standing tall and solid, power rolled off of his body. His eyes bore into mine. I sniffed the air. The strong Werewolf scent of rosemary swirled around me, strong and seductive, laced with sugar. A weird fuzzy sensation spread out from my chest. Whoa.
My other form growled low, demanding release, straining against my skin. The energy of the wolves built—layers upon layers of excitement and impatience. The air pulsated with anticipation. They could sense the imminent kill.
Let me out! My other form repeated, throwing her power against my built up walls, howling in defiance.
When the energy of the Werewolves surged, I finally released her. My wolf form flowed out fast, wiping out the feline in little more than a heartbeat. Smaller, weaker and the size of a natural wolf, a Shifter in this form was no match for a Werewolf, especially a dominant one. I had time to meet the eyes of the Alpha for only an instant before the pack leapt forward. My limbs shook. It went against every instinct ingrained within me, but I rolled onto my back—submissive.
Available exclusively in Kindle electronic format on March 27th, 2014
Available in print and all other electronic formats on July 16th, 2014
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.
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Greetings from the frozen Northland! I used to live in Montana, where THE ELF MAGE is set, and I decided to leave there because it just got too cold in the winter. So today I woke up to -3 (-16 with the wind chill) here in Pennsylvania, and in Missoula, it’s 22 degrees. What’s up with that?
Anyway, as I sit here bundled up in my chair and just my fingers sticking out so I can type, I wanted to share a snippet of THE ELF MAGE, part of the Clan Elves of the Bitterroot series. This piece is near the beginning of the third book, just after the elf prince has been abducted by persons or elves unknown and the clan nearly destroyed. Daven Talvi, whose pride helped bring things to this point, has come to after being knocked out in a fight, in the queen’s enchanted home, finding himself alone and everything in shambles:
Astan had many times expressed his concern since the queen came to live in the forest with the clan, worried that Grigor had not perished alone in the forests, and that he would return to avenge his dead master Bartolomey. But Daven had counseled his son not to take action, to wait and watch. Astan disagreed, but obeyed his father, as duty required.
And look where that has brought you.
Truly Daven had underestimated the evil Grigor held within him, the sense of blackness that still pervaded the atmosphere inside the queen’s home. As a fullblood elf, well-trained in the ways of divination, Daven perceived several mental voices, several personas who had left the barest impression of themselves behind, an impression of menace and ill-will.
Something about one in particular felt familiar to Daven. Something he had not felt for many years. Something so vague he couldn’t put a name to it yet. But he would.
And thus begins a transformation that will lead to the biggest battle this clan has ever endured…that may be the end of them all.
For other amazing snippets from sci-fi fantasy authors around the world, check out this week’s edition of SFFS here!
Tags: adventure, author, Bitterroot, Clan Elves, clan war, Dragonfly, Dragonfly Publishing, elf, Elf Queen, elves, enchanted, fantasy, Lyndi Alexander, Missoula, Montana, Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday, snippet, The Elf Child, urban fantasy, writer, writing, YA