Tag Archives: fantasy

Guest release–Not a Chance by Maureen Bonatch

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TAGLINE

Hope just wants to be normal—too bad that will never happen.

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The last thing Hope Hallows wants is to become the latest headline. Living in a town that likes secrets, she prefers to keep hers hidden. Avoiding a nosy reporter’s questions about her ability to infuse euphoria or despair with a single touch, and those who crave this bliss, is nothing new. But having her brother’s annoying girlfriend, Berta, go missing is—especially when it makes Hope suspect number one.

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EXCERPT

“I swear you have a death wish. Are you looking for any excuse to use your abilities again?”

I started at the ferocity in his remark and straightened in defense. He was supposed to be my ally, but I should’ve anticipated his reaction. “I had no choice.”

“Only because you chose to take her in the woods in the first place.” The tiny haze of lights ignited around him as his frustration built.

I pushed my hands in my pockets to prevent from reaching for him for my own selfish comfort. He had to understand. Griffith was the only one who understood me. He was my rock in this ever-changing town. “I had to help look for Berta. There isn’t a choice in everything. I couldn’t let Chance go alone. Yes, I went because it was my idea in the first place, but also because he’s my brother. It’s not safe for him.”

His gaze locked with mine. “You didn’t worry about yourself? Or consider how much worry you’ve caused me? Damn it Hope, you, of all people, should realize what lurks undercover in the daylight has little fear at night and outside of town.”

Griffith always saw right through my petty motives. The trait was what I loved and hated about him.

 

maureenbonatchMaureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

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Guest post–Progressing a Character through a Series by Jean Lamb

 

“In my end is my beginning”—Mary, Queen of Scots.

When working with a series character who changes and grows during the series, it would be well to keep in mind how he or she is going to die–or turn into an Immortal God, a saint, or other extreme change in the character that will keep you from using him or her for most of the time. We know that death isn’t always the end for some people.

Some writers do this progression very well; Tiffany Aching, in Terry Pratchett’s series that begins with WEE FREE MEN, grows from a child just discovering her powers to a fully-fledged witch stabilized in her Granny Aching’s hut on the Chalk—and at the same time gives another character, Granny Weatherwax, a proper send-off. Some writers freeze their series characters, and that’s their choice; but a lot of fans enjoy the first method better, because over time, they become invested more in the character’s progress through life than if the character never changes. Many love Rand al’ Thor better than say, Conan (though even Conan eventually becomes a king).

How many of us agonized with Raistlin during his long death-bed? I know I did. But fewer would have cared if he had not grown and changed during the Dragonlance Chronicles in which he played a part. How many of us cried when Granny Weatherwax cleaned her privy for the second time, because we knew why?

This is why I have planned out my series about Tameron dayn Sidian from his beginning in HATCHLING, through THE DRAGON’S PEARL, and to his eventual end. It will be a long journey, and the details will change along the way. I won’t be locked into a specific scene, though I can see it in my head. Characters do funny things when you’re not looking, and trying to force them into a mold they outgrew in book #5 is a mistake. But I know the flavor of his end, and that is as sure a guide as any writer needs.

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Tameron dayn Sidian is the only son of the Protector of Fiallyn Mor. All his relatives, and those of the ruling class of this country, have magic.

But he doesn’t. How can he be his father’s heir without the gifts that would make him worthy? How can he make sure the common people are heard?

Wait, there’s more. He finds out he does have one special gift, but it will mean he’ll live the rest of his life as a prisoner, with all his partners chosen for him.

What can he do now? Find out how he discovers what he must finally do. And someday he’ll know what all his dreams of dragons are about.

Hatchling is the first volume of a multi-volume series titled “Tameron and the Dragon.”

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EXCERPT

Stine attacked. Tameron barely blocked her sword in time and gasped for breath. Full armor was heavy, and he wasn’t used to it yet. The battle-hardened old woman facing him thrust again. Tam stepped to his right, and let the sharp-edged metal scrape along his shield.

He struck back. Stine beat his assault out of line, but he recovered quickly. He raised his blade again, only to falter when she whirled and punched his sword-arm with the top of her shield. The sword left his grip and clattered to the floor. Tameron desperately flung his own shield up and crouched down to retrieve his weapon under its cover, but a blow from her boot knocked him over and left him defenseless. He twisted over to grab at her ankles, but she easily evaded him.

“Not bad, not bad,” Stine said, letting the point of her blade droop towards the floor. She gave the sword to an assistant and offered him a hand up. “When you’re older and stronger, this won’t be so easy for me.”

Tameron dayn Sidian a’ Piran wished he was older and stronger now, as he struggled to his feet. He’d be fifteen in two months, but glumly knew it’d be years before he could dream of besting the Protector’s arms-mistress. It helped to have fine armor and a sword made at Diesa Tower, but not nearly as much as he hoped for on days like this in the high-ceilinged practice room. The only privilege he had as the Protector’s son was having a turn with her at every session.

Tam bowed in respect to Commander Stine, and stood in the back of the spacious room with the rest of the novice guards. He relaxed as Stine picked on someone else to humiliate.

Lorin, one of the other trainees, whispered in sympathy, “Just wait till your powers come in! Then you can get back at her, even if you’re not as strong a mage as your father.”

Tam smiled. “I know. If my Element is air, then I can read her mind and figure out what she’s going to do next. If it’s earth, then I’ll make her armor too heavy for her.” It was only fair, considering what a weight his armor was for him.

Lorin sighed. “But with your luck, it’ll be water and you’ll have to give up fighting!”

“On days like this I don’t know if I’d mind!” Tameron said. Healers were sacred. Not even Stine would dare strike at him then. Besides, everyone knew that the gift of healing could also bring death.

Lorin shrugged. “Of course, you could get lucky and end up with fire!”

They both smiled. Several other trainees sighed, the look in their eyes giving away their own wishes. Tameron could think of quite a few pranks to play when his magic finally emerged, and knew he wasn’t alone.

To be fair, Commander Stine was never cruel, but he knew he wasn’t the only one who would like to find a way to defeat her without having to work for years to get better. Most of the other novice guards were older than he was, and already knew they had too little of any one Element to give them magical powers.

Was he going to be like them? It was said that talents like his father’s showed themselves when the body changed from childhood. He was growing fast enough that he sometimes dreamed of what might happen during his first Festival next Midsummer, but he hadn’t seen any trace of wizardry in himself so far. Time was passing quickly. Soon everyone else would begin to wonder if he was going to have the powers that separated the rulers of Fiallyn Mor from the rest of the people.

After the practice session, he bathed and changed. Surely he’d learn which Element would rule his life soon. Some, like his father or the Guardian of the North, had the aid of two. His own silver hair and gray eyes marked him as the child of wizards, while high cheekbones told of a trace of Outsider blood. No foreigners were able to enter this land through Wizardwall without strong magic of their own. Surely that meant he had a strong potential as well. After all, his four brothers and sisters had had magic before their deaths.

As soon as he dressed, he decided he’d waited long enough. He had to know! Tameron received permission from his tutor to skip a study session. He presented himself to Coris Mimn, the Lord Protector’s dark-haired, dark-skinned friend, and requested an audience with his father as soon as it was convenient. He waited nearly an hour, but he was used to it. In fact, he was lucky the Protector was even in residence here in Kelemath, rather than on progress in some other city.

It was almost sunset when he was ushered into the small sitting-room behind the large audience chamber. Tameron was proud that he was allowed to bear a weapon into his father’s presence. Only favorites like Mimn and Commander Stine had that privilege as well.

Lord Sidian dayn Riallan a’ Piran, the Protector of Fiallyn Mor, was a tall, blue-eyed man with red hair turning white at the temples. His long, slim hands caressed his curlwood walking stick, which had a brilliant ruby inset at the top. His bright blue robes were trimmed with pale fur, though he rarely felt the cold.

Tameron bent his knee in brief homage, then asked, “Father…I will be fifteen this Midwinter. I wonder…how will I know when I get my powers? Will there be problems because I’m so late? And how will I know what element I’m going to be strong in?”

Jean Lamb

Jean Lamb is a 60-something woman with five novels on Amazon. Her story “Galley Slave” in MAN/KZIN WARS VIII was on the preliminary list for the Nebula in 1994, but she was seduced by the pretty songs of fantasy and romance in novel form. She’s been married for 44 years to a chemistry teacher and lives in a small town in Central Oregon. She has 30 books left to write.

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Guest Interview–Maureen Bonatch

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

It’s interesting that you ask that question since I’ve recently had my website and my logline updated. Previously it was, “Making the Ordinary Extraordinary and Laughing all the Way”.  My new one is, “Stories with Hocus Pocus and All That.”

I believe both capture the essence of my writing, which is humorous paranormal and fantasy romance.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

My characters always start the story. Sometimes I don’t even know their names when they begin telling me their story.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

As you can see from my answer above, my writing is freestyle (or panster as some refer to it–I write by the seat of my pants.) I’ve tried to force myself to plan out part of my story to reduce editing after, but most of the time my characters have minds of their own, lol.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Most of my stories feature small towns surrounded by dense wooded areas (a great place to tuck away all kinds of secrets). I draw from my home to create the settings, although I don’t use any specific locations.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yes, definitely. I currently have a Shih Tzu, or I should say, he has us, lol. Scruff’s been with our family for four years now. Prior to that, we had a Lhasa Apso for 14+ years. My girls have had an array of other critters over the years—guinea pigs, hermit crabs, fish and a hamster. My husband is allergic to cats, or I’m sure one might’ve been in the mix as well.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope readers find a relaxing escape from the everyday. That they might laugh a little and wander out of the comfort zone of their imagination. That they might appreciate those around them once they look a little closer and see the extraordinary concealed within.

EvilSpeaksSoftly_Oct 11

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They were never supposed to meet. Fame came easy for Liv by following in the footsteps of the female writers in her family. The cycle repeated for decades…until Liv changed the story. Her villain doesn’t like the revision—and he isn’t a fictional character. In his story, the bad guy always wins.

They were never supposed to find love. Liv never questioned her demanding nocturnal muse, or the strange incidents in her old, family home until she met Gage. His job was to watch her from afar, not reveal the truth about the curse and the stories of the dead. They’ve broken all the rules. Together they unravel secrets as they strive to stop the cycle. Liv’s ability to find love, and protect her loved ones, hangs on the fickle whims of the dead—and they’ve got nothing to lose.

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EXCERPT

“I met this strange man at the bar last night. He told me some really weird stuff.” I paused. When she remained silent, I continued. “He said it was related to my writing.” She watched me with the fascination of one who desperately wanted to look away but couldn’t. As if a deer blinded to the oncoming headlights, she was fixated, trapped. “He said to talk to you.”

I searched her face. I knew my Grams. When resignation settled on her features a knot clenched in my stomach from either fear, or the excitement of validating Gage didn’t fabricate the story. Perhaps he wasn’t crazy.

Grams slowly closed her eyes and opened them again. “He found you?”

I nodded.

She turned to stare out the frosted window where the birdfeeder sat frozen over from the recent snow. “I can’t believe he took that risk. Watchers are never to approach the Recorders. It could totally upset the balance.” She worried her lower lip between her teeth.

When she used the same terms as Gage, my anxiety elevated. I expected her to deny his claims and then we’d laugh about the incident. “Grams, please tell me. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I took a deep breath. “Some weird things happened last night. Occasionally I notice unusual things, but it’s an old house and I have an active imagination, but this time it scared me.”

Added note: This manuscript placed second in the 2015 Golden Palm Contest of the Florida Romance Writers—Paranormal category

maureenbonatch

Maureen Bonatch grew up in small town Pennsylvania and her love of the four seasons—hockey, biking, sweat pants and hibernation—keeps her there. While immersed in writing or reading paranormal romance and fantasy, she survives on caffeine, wine, music, and laughter. A feisty Shih Tzu keeps her in line.

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Guest Release Promotion–Angels Fly By Donna Simoneta

Angels Fly is the third book I wrote, but it is the first one that was published. Prior to this I had written high fantasy romance—think fairies, were-creatures, witches. With Angels Fly I wanted to combine two genres I enjoy reading, a contemporary romance with fantasy elements.

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After her husband’s death, Kelly believes her romantic life is done. Until she reconnects with her girlhood crush on social media, and as fate would have it, he lives across the street.

James is over the whole true-love thing. His grasping ex-wife tore that belief out of him. Then he finds out his first love moved to San Diego, and their attraction burns as hot as ever.

What they don’t know is that Fate didn’t bring them together – the Guardian Angel Corps did, led by two unlikely Cupids – Kelly’s late husband and Zane, a rough and tumble, 19th century cowboy.

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EXCERPT

She flashed a bright smile at her old friend.  “I sent a friend request to Susie Davidson, and I want to see if she’s responded.”

“Susie Davidson,” Grace’s voice dripped with disdain, “we didn’t badger you into doing this so you could reconnect with Susie Davidson.”

“Hey, what’ve you got against old Susie? She was an integral part of our nerd squad in high school,” David said. “Right, Kel?”

When she didn’t reply, he glanced over at his old friend to see her frozen at her computer, all the color drained from her face. “Kel, what’s wrong?”

“I didn’t hear from Susie, but I did get a message from James Flynn,” she whispered.

David jumped to his feet and peeked over her shoulder at the computer screen. “Yummy James Flynn from Rye?”

Grace snickered, “Sounds like a sandwich. I’ll have a Yummy James Flynn on rye. Hold the mayo.”

Kelly and David swung their heads in unison to stare at her.

“What? It’s not my fault you two come from a town named after a bread.”

David shook his head mournfully and intoned, “Californians.”

“Native, baby.”  The blonde woman grinned playfully, “And don’t you New England Yankees forget it.”

“What does he say, Kel?” David asked with interest.

Kelly gulped, “He wanted to get in touch and maybe meet for a drink.”  She twisted her head to look up at David, her eyes huge on her pale face, “He lives here, David. In San Diego.”

Donna Simonetta_June 30

After working in business world for years, I became a school librarian, and am now living my dream as an author. I live in Maryland, with my husband, who is my real-life romance hero. We both enjoy spending time on the beach with an umbrella drink and a good book.

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Guest Release Promotion–Umbra’s Shadow by Andrea Stanet

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Got a problem that needs a kick-ass mercenary to fix it? Merc’s your shapeshifter.

It’s been open season on changelings—human/faery hybrids—until word gets around: someone’s got their backs.

Merc relies on her unique shapeshifting talents to defend the poor and disenfranchised hybrids living on the fringes of a modern-day Hudson valley city. Perhaps her past spurs her to help—orphaned, unable to remember her parents or her original form, forced to survive alone until a kindly Changeling couple takes her in. But Merc also dreams of escaping the poverty and rescuing her boyfriend from the environment that feeds his addictions.

Dúl, a mysterious and seductive full-blooded fey, seems to offer Merc the way out. But the job he proposes will plunge her into the political wasp nest of the Dreaming World and its fey courts. Dúl hires her to rescue the female lieutenant of the Shadow Court’s king. But Morgan isn’t the only full-blood that’s disappeared.

Nothing is what it seems. A hidden player is capitalizing on the animosities within the four courts, and Merc must solve the puzzle before anyone else falls victim. Her investigation exposes the web of betrayals and lies ambushing the courts from without, or maybe from within.

No one could defeat this conspiracy alone. Merc must suppress her solitary nature and learn to work with a team, while Dúl enters into a bitter alliance with his most hated enemy. Amid this treachery, the magnetic attraction between Merc and Dúl deepens into a forbidden bond they are powerless to deny.

Even if she unravels the chaos plaguing the Dreaming, can she handle the truth about the full-blood she’s fallen for?

BIO

A dream stalker, shadow man, vengeful steampunk siren, ghost, and now fey court intrigue—while Andrea Stanet doesn’t shy away from any genre, her passion is writing fantasy and horror fiction for various age groups. Her short stories have appeared in several anthologies and an online literary magazine. Her most recent releases are The Tradition, a middle grade horror about were-crows, and Song of Vengeance, about a young performer whose father traps her dying spirit in a mechanical bird.

When not fixating on dragons and zombies, Andrea’s hobbies include running (clearly displaying masochistic tendencies), cycling (hills are only fun when going down), reading (anything and everything), and gaming (Cthulhu-themed board games are favorites). Andrea lives in New York with her husband, two kids, a cat that thinks she’s a dog, and another cat that thinks he’s a mountain lion.

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Guest Release Promotion–The Crimson Curse by Melissa J. Crispin

Hi Linda, Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

Tell us a bit about you and your background

I was born and raised in Connecticut where I still live today. I’m married with two kids, and I work full-time for a software company that builds solutions for people in the Finance industry. It’s often challenging to find time to write, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m a planner, but I allow my plan to go off the rails if it seems like the right thing to do. I start off by creating a loose outline with all the major turning points of the story, then break it out into scenes. Once I start writing the actual manuscript, I don’t freak out if the story wants to veer off elsewhere. I readjust as I go.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations)

My alarm goes off when it’s still pitch black outside. It’s so early my dog doesn’t even acknowledge it. I slip out of bed, make a large cup of coffee and head to my office. This is a spare room that my awesome husband converted into a writing den for me (yes, I know I’m a lucky gal J).

I proceed to write until it’s time for the kids to get up and ready for school. I get them moving and I get ready for the rest of the day, too. There’s a small window where everyone is all set and I don’t need to leave yet, so I sneak back into the office and use the precious minutes to my advantage.

Once time is up, I head to the day job. I’m usually too beat after work to go back to writing in the evening, but I’ll do it if I’m working on a deadline.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes! I write in a number of genres. The Crimson Curse is fantasy, a fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I also write YA, sci-fi, and contemporary romance. The one common thread in all of my writing is that I focus on relationships. So, whether my character is a cursed woman in search of true love, an aspiring ballerina who discovers she needs to save the world, or the President’s daughter who falls in love with a galactic garbage man, I try to paint a vivid picture of who is important to them in their world and try to show what they are willing to do for those people.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a pet person for sure. About three years ago, we rescued a brown and white Siberian Husky. A group of teenagers had found her wandering on the side of the road and took her to a vet. I have a friend who’s involved in helping animals find forever homes, and she told me about this one. My husband and I had another husky before this one, and we adored her. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to have another dog, because I was so heartbroken when she passed.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with this breed, they are very head strong and super stubborn. It turns out this dog had two other homes before us and had been abandoned. My friend asked if I was ready for another dog, and if I wanted to meet her. We decided right away to take her home with us. We had a shaky start, and had to work through some issues because of her past, but it all worked out in the end. She is almost always by my side. It’s so rewarding to know that we saved her and were able to give her the home that she needed.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

There are two things I hope a reader can gain from my stories. The first would be a chance to escape from reality for a bit. When I’m immersed in a good book, it’s as if the entire world falls away and I’m living in the story. It’s my hope that I can somehow do the same for others. The other thing would be for the reader to feel, to experience whatever emotion my character is feeling in that moment, too. If I’m able to invoke a spark of happiness, anger, or fear, then I feel like I’ve done my job as a writer.

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Cursed and disfigured, Calliope must find true love before the final leaf falls from the Enchanted Tree. Being bound to her mansion on the outskirts of town leaves her with little hope.

Abandoned by his wife for a wealthy man, Bastian only needs one female in his life, his five-year-old daughter, Yareena. When she goes missing during a raging fire, fate brings him to a strange place where he encounters a woman wearing a golden mask.

An attack by rogues puts Bastian in Calliope’s care. As he struggles against pride and prejudice, Bastian can’t ignore his growing attraction to the kind soul behind the mask.

Yareena and the mansion staff do their best at matchmaking, but Calliope can’t reveal her darkest secret. Will Bastian discover her true beauty before it’s too late?

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EXCERPT

Calliope returned her attention to Bastian, grasping his shoulder with a gentle hand and giving him a small shake. When he didn’t stir, she considered how she could clean the wound without undressing him as he slept. She had never taken off a man’s clothing before, and she hardly wanted her first time to be when he wasn’t even aware of her actions. But, no other options seemed available. She started at the bottom button of his shirt, working her way up with trembling fingers, and spreading the fabric apart when the last of the buttons slipped free.

Her eyes roamed his upper body. While she was supposed to be assessing the extent of his injuries, she couldn’t deny the flash of heat that blasted through her at the sight of his bare skin.

She dipped a washcloth in the basin that Mrs. Widdleworth left on the night table, wringing out the excess water. As she dabbed at the gash near his naval, his vulnerability in that moment struck her in a way she had not expected. After their first encounter, she would have predicted his ego to get in the way, choosing to bleed to death in the cold rather than accept anything from her.

Although he suffered a serious injury, his daughter seemed to remain his utmost concern. Could his earlier ill-temper have been an unusual display? A behavior born out of fear for his daughter’s safety?

Maybe she had been wrong about him.

She pressed her lips together, allowing the notion to sink in as she dropped the bloody fabric off to the side, and proceeded to stitch the wound with shaky fingers. When the task was complete, she picked up a fresh cloth to use as a dressing. Relief washed over her as she inspected the area before covering it up. The slice in his flesh went deep, but not nearly as deep as she initially feared. She positioned the bandage and fixed it in place, her gaze catching a thin trail of hair that started under the center of his chest, following the way it continued lower down his body, and even further yet where it dipped beneath his trousers.

“It’s been a long time since a woman has laid her hands on me,” Bastian said, his voice rough.

Calliope jumped, heat infusing her cheeks. “My apologies if this offends. Marcus doesn’t fare well with blood. I had to care for your injury myself.” Her eyes met his, and to her surprise, no anger seemed to stir there.

“I was only teasing.” He swallowed hard, appearing to bite back the immense discomfort he had to be feeling. “Thank you.”

She inclined her head. “You’re welcome.”

“I shouldn’t have been so terse with you earlier. Yareena is my life, and when I couldn’t find her, well…” He reached for his face, pressing the heel of his hand against his jaw. “I lost my sense for a short while. I apologize.”

 

BIO

Melissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

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Guest Interview—Jana Begovic

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex Yugoslavia) where I spent most of my adult life. I also acquired most of my higher education there (B.A. and M.A. degrees in languages and literature). With my husband and son, I immigrated to Canada in 1991, half a year before the country was engulfed in a civil war. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Canada, I started working for the Department of National Defence and began my career path as a foreign language curriculum and testing specialist. With a full-time job that involves a lot of international travel, too, I currently write only as a hobby.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Gourmet cooking and entertaining friends and family, reading, running and other fitness activities, travel, walks in nature.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I think of the characters first and have a rough contour of the plot in my mind. I allow the story to evolve organically without much planning.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

I’ve traveled to most of the locations I mention. For example, in Poisonous Whispers, parts of the plot unfold in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Glasgow. Glasgow is one of the cities I have not visited yet. England and Ireland are also mentioned in this book, and I was fortunate to visit England several times. I dream of travelling to Ireland because I feel a strong attraction to that country. My bucket list is much too long for one lifetime.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

When I get stuck, I simply stop writing and let the story ferment further in my subconscious mind. I also believe in synchronicities, that is meaningful coincidences that come into your life when you need them. And invariably, whenever I’d hit a reef in my storytelling, I would hear a story from a friend or an acquaintance during my travels that would inspire me to continue writing. When it comes to Poisonous Whispers, I simply trusted the process because I believed this book was destined to be born. I will never forget sitting in an airport in Europe and having the “Aha” moment, and knowing without a speck of doubt where the story needed to go in order for the plot line to come full circle.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I was shocked to see my characters assume a life of their own. They became alive and started to control the storyline. I was especially surprised that the heroine would reveal a certain secret to her husband almost ruining her marriage. That was so unnecessary and cruel!!! When it comes to editing itself, the realization that it is an almost never-ending process, that it is almost impossible to catch every single error discouraged and frustrated me many times. And I’m not even a perfectionist in my everyday life!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A hot climate with white pebbled beaches surrounded by pine trees, buzzing with cicada song and infused with the scent of brine and Mediterranean grasses. I believe I’m describing the Adriatic coast where I used to vacation, and which I will always miss.

In what genre do you read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary prose, but literary fiction is my preferred genre. I enjoy the depth of literary thought, and I crave books that make me stop after every couple of pages and contemplate life.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my debut novel; I hope they read it slowly, visualizing the pictures of both the physical and emotional landscapes I painted; I hope they lose track of time once they step into the multi-layered worlds I created; I hope the heroine’s pain-laced journey touches them, and also shows them that pain and loss, and poor judgment can deepen, strengthen, humble and redeem us.  And I hope they like and relate to my characters in spite of their flaws and moral fallibility.

Poisonous Whispers-1207

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“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing

Amazon

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

EXCERPT

A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand thisis what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

After I have washed, I come out of the tub feeling more exhausted than ever. At the same time, I realize I have not eaten for over a day and devour the plate of bread, cheese and apples ravenously. As I am eating, I can feel tears stream down my face; they are tears of silent despair and hopelessness. My chest is heaving with pain and I have difficulty swallowing the last few bites. I throw myself on the bed thinking my weeping and sobbing will continue forever, but I fall asleep. One would think that my dreams would be filled with the terror of the situation, but instead I dream of Kieran. In my dream I accuse him of being a weakling, of not fighting for our love. He just looks at me sadly and his eyes are filled with tears of powerlessness. He is also saying something in his defense, but I do not understand his words. I wake up feeling a sharp pain stabbing my chest and I gasp for breath. I feel like I am suffocating. I take a sip of water from the pitcher on the floor and the pain subsides. Outside, the moon is peering out from behind a cloud and I realize I’ve slept through the whole day. It is time to get ready for a new chance at life or for death.

I use the chamber pot and wash myself again with the bath water that is no longer clean. I tie my hair into a braid and pin it up. If I had scissors, I would gladly cut it off so it does not weigh me down once the cool river takes me in its wet embrace.

I sit on the bed waiting for my fate to open the next chapter of my life. I do not understand why I am suddenly so peaceful, and I cannot be certain if it is tranquility or resignation that has filled my heart.

I have no reaction when I hear the key turn in the lock and see the homely face of the gaoler appear in the doorframe. He is carrying a large red candle and in its light his toothless smile appears eerie and foreboding.

“Are you ready, my lovely, to face the savior? I must say ‘tis a shame to see such a nice body go to waste and be eaten by the fishes and snakes, but you are not the first or the last wretched witch this village has put an end to.”

His laughter is broken by a cough that must be tearing up his insides. It is so strong that it overwhelms him and he has to bend down to cough out something awful that seems to have been stuck in his throat. What a horrid man!

From a 5-star review

“The writing is exquisite—a book of depth, sophisticated in style, literary in nature. Ms. Begovic displays strong lyrical and poetic writing filled with symbolism and universal truths. The book also holds an element of suspense that keeps the reader wondering about the relationships of the characters until the surprise ending. A beautiful story, a compelling read.”

Beverly Knauer, Author of “The Line Between”

Jana_Begovic_Photo

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

WEB CONTACTS

Facebook

Twitter @ZhannaBegovic

Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

One AUTOGRAPHED book copy as giveaway will be mailed to a reader who leaves a question/comment and his/her contact info. The author will select the winner randomly. Good luck!

 

Guest Author Interview—Jeremy Higley

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in California, raised in Alabama, I earned my bachelor’s in Virginia, lived and served in Colorado, and now I live in Arizona. I’m an avid consumer of text, video, and apples. I love writing, teaching, and making people smile.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

A vague prophecy, an ancient war between immortal wizards, and in the middle of it all, a young apprentice named Skel just wants to save his infant brother from a dream cult more powerful than magic itself.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

It’s scary, actually, just how much of my life involves my computer. Work, school, and play are all digitally entangled in some way or another. The biggest thing I do away from the cyber-void is talk to random people I meet in public. In the line at the grocery store, on the curb as I walk down the street… anywhere, really. The world is full of amazing stories hidden in plain sight.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I start with the milieu. The geography, the chronology, the theology, the magic systems… not until I’ve fleshed out the world a bit do I feel comfortable filling it with characters and designing good stories for them to be a part of.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I plan more than Ray Bradbury, less than J.K. Rowling. My planning functions as a really basic sketch, but then I follow the characters as they fill out the details in their own way. I build the world, and then they explore it.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

For action scenes I’ll often pull out tracks from Star Wars movies, or anything similarly epic that can pull me in and help me keep my pacing. For everything else I’m usually listening to EDM, especially Lindsey Stirling.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

Neither, really. I’m more likely to just start over again if I get stuck. Research is something I do when questions come up. I make a lot of notes during the world-building process, and sometimes that requires some research, but more often the original idea for something comes from research I remember doing a long time ago.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

The Eltar plains are loosely based on the African savannah, which I have never visited. The Blood Mountains are based on the Appalachians more than anything, and I have been there. The Mirror Desert was actually inspired by a picture I drew when I was a Boy Scout of a reflective desert under a sunset. Irontree Mountain is meant as an echo of the Old Forest in Lord of the Rings, a place many of us have been in spirit. Personally, I’d much sooner brave the Old Forest than go anywhere near Irontree Mountain, as you’ll understand when you get to the end of the book.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

It’s very true that I often start over. If it’s the chapter that’s giving me trouble, I start the chapter over and use a different character’s perspective. I’ve done that three times in a row before. Whatever it takes to get the story across in the best way possible. I completely restarted Son of Dark after the first two years of working on it, and it ended up being a much better novel as a result. Sometimes I wish I’d started it over again before publishing, as it would have given me more time with it. Couldn’t have hurt, but I’m really enjoying having it published and working on the sequel.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

How fast everything goes! It felt like saying my goodbyes to a good friend while waiting for his plane to leave. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and it hurt to let go of a project I spent three years of my life on. I expect it will get easier as I write more novels, but a part of me kind of hopes it won’t.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

I hardly ever write for longer than an hour or two. Because of other obligations, especially grad school, I snag time for writing in the evening before bed, and some writing sessions only last a half hour. I have a group of writing friends who will sit and write with me on their own projects for a couple hours each week, and lately this has been a huge help.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

Egypt. I would love to visit Egypt and see all the sights. Especially the pyramids.

In what genre do you read?

Classic literature, such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Twain, and Hawthorne. Science fiction, such as Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Jules Verne, and Orson Scott Card. My tastes for fantasy include such authors as Brandon Sanderson, Brandon Mull, Madeleine L’engle, Sean Flanagan, Patricia C. Wrede, T. S. Eliot, and Tolkein. Also, huge Bill Watterson fan.

What resources do you use for picking character names?

I develop a feel for each culture by coming up with a bunch of names that involve similar constructions and patterns, then choose from the list the names that will fall easiest on modern ears and don’t sound too similar to each other. As such, most of the names I come up with come straight out of my head, but I’ll fiddle with them a bit until they sound right. If that doesn’t work, I’ll look up obscure names to borrow. Orihah, for example. I got his name from a seldom-referenced genealogy list toward the end of the Book of Mormon.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

Most of all I hope they have a fun time. I can’t ask for much more. If there’s one moral I’d like them to pick up from this first book, it’s that suicide is never an answer. A second one might well be that you can find friends almost anywhere. Also, the darkness in the world is often not as strong as it seems, so long as you’re willing to stand up to it and not let it grow in your home or in your heart.

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A thousand years ago, the wizards of the Nynsa were tricked. They failed to follow the prophecy of the Darksome Thorn, and now the greatest evil of their time has survived into the next age. They will do anything the fix their mistake.

The Darksome Thorn, meanwhile, has revealed a new prophecy, and the very evil they failed to kill is working to use that prophecy to his advantage.

Forces of evil run rampant in the land of Duskain. Ancient powers are stirring. A greater darkness is imminent…

…and Skel, the foster son of an elephant herder, finds himself caught in the middle of everything…

BUY LINK

Amazon

JeremyHigleypic

For more information on Jeremy, visit his webpage

Character Interview from Time Trap by Danele Rotharmel

How about you introduce yourself by providing the basics?

Hello, everyone! I’m Dr. Laura Nelson from Washington D.C. I’m a professor at National Science University and third-in-command of the Temporal Counseling Program.

What exactly is the Temporal Counseling Program?

TEMCO trains time-traveling cadets to intervene in the lives of troubled individuals before they embark on a career of crime. In essence, we find people in our prison systems who could have led peaceful lives instead of violent ones if they’d been counseled as children. We send counselors back through time to help criminals make different choices. Many times, the people we counsel end up becoming influential members of society.

That sounds very exciting. Is it dangerous?

Not usually. Occasionally, we do have a case that spirals out of control. Four years ago, we almost lost a cadet to a serial killer. But most of our cases go smoothly…

You look concerned. Is anything wrong?

Not really. It’s just that we lost contact with two of our cadets today. I’m sure it’s nothing serious. Most communication problems are due to malfunctioning equipment. Nevertheless, I can’t help feeling concerned… But I really shouldn’t be discussing ongoing cases. Do you have another question for me?

 Can you tell us where were you raised and how you became involved with TEMCO?

I was raised in the mountains of Alaska. My family lived miles away from the nearest large town. I wasn’t lonely, though. I had a pack of older brothers to keep me company. As I grew up, I excelled in academics. I went to college at age sixteen. While I was working on my doctorate, I met Peter Matthews and William Ableman. I began assisting them in their attempts to capture timewaves. Later, I helped them establish TEMCO operations on the NSU campus.

 You mentioned Director Peter Matthews. Is there truth to the rumor that you’re dating him?

Where on earth did you hear that? Peter and I are just friends. Good friends. I’ve known him since college. I’ll admit that he’s very handsome, but dating him would be like dating my brother.

 Would you ever consider dating him?

Peter is a wonderful man, but there’s never been a spark of romance between us. I wouldn’t be averse to exploring a relationship with him, but I doubt the opportunity will present itself. Regardless, I think we’re getting off subject. Do you have another question about TEMCO?

What do you like most about your profession?

I like the fact that we’re changing lives. TEMCO prevents tragedies from occurring. It turns criminals into productive members of society, and the crimes they would’ve committed never take place. Recently, Vice President Hamilton praised the TEMCO program in one of his speeches. He said that TEMCO had made our society better in a thousand ways.

Why are you smiling?

I was just thinking that TEMCO has made our society better in 4,896 ways—that’s how many cases we’ve handled since the establishment of the program. I don’t think people realize just how big of an impact we’ve had on society. TEMCO is a wonderful program!

 You mentioned earlier that cases occasionally become dangerous. How big of a commitment do you have to the program? Would you be willing to fight, or even die, for it?

No one likes walking into danger, but if the life of a cadet was in jeopardy, or if the program itself was facing a threat, I would willingly step up and fight. I know that with my manicured nails and coiffured hair that I don’t look like a fighter, but I am. I won’t let anything happen to my students or to TEMCO. If that means putting myself in danger or sacrificing my life, I’m willing to do it. But hopefully, that will never happen. As I said before, most cases never encounter a hint of danger.

 But if danger arises, you’re ready to face it?

Yes, I am.

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When problems arise during a field exam, Director Peter Matthews and Dr. Laura Nelson are sent through a time portal to investigate.  While they search for their missing cadets, they encounter an enemy who is calculating and brutal—a mysterious nemesis who is holding a grudge against the TEMCO program.  As Peter and Laura race to unravel clues directing them to their kidnapped cadets, their own survival comes into question.  A deadly trap has been set, and they are forced to pit their wits against a serial killer who is intent on playing a deadly chess game through time itself.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

EXCERPT

The soft sound came again. Standing to her feet, Laura tried to calm her breathing. The furtive sounds could only mean one thing—their captor was approaching.

“Whatever happens,” she said quietly, laying a hand on Peter’s shoulder, “don’t tug against your cuffs. You can’t afford to lose more blood.”

“Keep your head and take your time,” Peter said stiffly. “Be patient. Stay out of his reach until you see an opening. If he has a gun, you can use a roundhouse kick to disarm him, but you’ll have to be quick. If he gets you down and starts kicking you, curl into a ball and protect your head and stomach.”

Laura squeezed Peter’s shoulder. She could hear the tension in his voice, and she knew he was terrified for her. She also knew that his inability to protect her was ripping him apart.

Peter spoke quickly, “If he manages to get his hands on you, use the heel of your palm and thrust it up against his nose. Don’t be afraid to be vicious. Go for his eyes, throat, and groin.”

“Don’t worry,” she said in a focused, determined voice. “I’ll fight dirty.”

The door opened.

Moving to the center of the room, Laura took a solid stance.

Danele Rotharmel

Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles.  Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful.

WEB CONTACTS

Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

About Danele: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/

About Danele’s Books: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/my-books/

Spotlight on Masked Hearts from Roane Publishing

Masked Hearts cover

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Affinity by Dana Wright

Behind the shadows lies the truth…

A magic mirror and a houseful of ghosts await Kristen when fate leads her to Wanderly House. Secrets and spirits consume her days, but one look in the magic mirror and her heart falls fast. A mask, a cloak, and a key leading her to an enchanted evening in the faery garden might be Kristen’s end as all that glitters may well have sharp teeth.

Magic mirror on the wall…

Connor is trapped in Faery. With only a view through a bewitched mirror to the real world, his attention is nabbed by a curious cat shifter with a ghostly following. Can he find a way to break the spell that binds him so he can reach the girl that haunts his dreams?

When the forces of Faery and Wanderly House collide, will Kristen and Connor’s love be enough to save them?

Water Woman by Claire Davon

Sparks fly when a Spanish water woman, and an African two-horned horse shifter meet at a masquerade. Kimoni has gone to ask Isidora to use her skills to aid him with his ailing grandfather. When strangers claiming to be Isidora’s relatives try to force her to share her powers, the pair is plunged into danger. Isidora and Kimoni look for a way to fight the ruthless intruders, while also saving his grandfather.

Using their combined powers, they meet the challenge, all the while conscious of the growing attraction between them. It has been a long time since Isidora has met a man who calls to her as Kimoni does. The strong, handsome horse shifter sings to her senses, and she sees a matching spark in his eyes. Can love between them blossom? Can a water woman and a horse shifter find happiness together?

Dragon Law by Nemma Wollenfang

The kingdom of Baelin is under attack. A terrifying dragon rains fire down on the capital city, burning all in his path. The people’s one hope lies with the Princess Draxa, who – in accordance with an ancient rite – must willingly sacrifice her future to sate the beast’s wrath.

For her kingdom, Draxa will do it. She will leave Andre, the fierce soldier she loves with all of her heart, don her red cloak, and make the treacherous trip into the heart of the mountain, to face the monstrous Lord Siouxlian in his lair.  

Feather Fall by Sheryl Winters

Brooke Adair’s autism has turned the world into a constant puzzle, especially when it comes to men. When she meets fellow swan shifter Blake Landen in a dream, though, Brooke feels a potential connection to someone who could understand her. If she lets him.

But trusting in Blake takes a whole lot more courage than Brooke has. After all, if she doesn’t take this leap, Brooke might miss out on meeting the one man she could actually learn to understand.

Duty or Desire by Sharon Hughson

Alyona Wyrden dwells contentedly in her elven realm, but when her brother disappears, she travels to Earth to bring him home.

Camden Kerr hunts down magical artifacts, keeping them out of the wrong hands. The amulet that draws Alyona to her brother is just the sort of object Cam’s after. The way his flesh responds to the lithe, blonde necklace wearer is a different matter altogether. When their paths keep crossing, Camden decides they can work together-until he discovers her elven heritage.

Can their attraction defeat prejudice? Which will rule—duty or desire?

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing: http://www.roanepublishing.com/category-s/203.htm

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FZPTST8

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01FZPTST8

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/masked-hearts-dana-wright/1123833081?ean=2940158509322

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/638075

Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/masked-hearts-0

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-maskedhearts-2044722-166.html
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