Official Upcoming Release Schedule!

Due to changes in how my publisher assigns dates, I won't have release dates until I finish the book. I'm currently working on:

Taking the Realm which is book 3 of Sha and Connor's trilogy (previously titled Shaking the Balance)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Interview + Review for Dianne Duvall!!!



Hello my lovelies!! Today I am honored to welcome one of my all-time favorite authors, Dianne Duvall on her release tour for Darkness Rises!! I can't tell you how thrilled I am to have her on the blog :) To make things even better, she sat down for an interview with me AND I got the opportunity to read an ARC of Darkness Rises so be sure to stay tuned after the interview for that review!

But wait! There's more...


 
 

Be sure to answer Dianne's question in the comments below for your chance to win a SIGNED copy of Predatory containing a novella of the Immortal Guardians series :D Plus you'll get some pretty kick ass swag! OPEN INTERNATIONALLY, MUST BE 18+ TO ENTER. Don't forget to leave your email address so the winner can be contacted! Contest ends Sunday Oct 27 11:59:59 PM EST.
 
Answer this question from Dianne!! Don't forget your email address!!

 Are you reading any special books to get yourself in the Halloween spirit?  Let me know for a chance to win a signed copy of PREDATORY, my last release, + Immortal Guardians swag.

 
Now sit back, relax, and enjoy meeting this absolutely amazing author!
 


Welcome to my humble blog, Dianne! First let me tell you what an honor it is to host one of my favorite authors :) I love your new take on the vampire mythology. Tell us about the Immortal Guardians and what makes them so unique.

Although my Immortal Guardians series falls under the heading of vampire romance, vampires aren’t the heroes in it.  They’re the villains.  (Or rather they’re ONE group of villains.  Others have reared their heads as the series has progressed.) Vampires are humans who have been infected with a very rare symbiotic virus that behaves like no other on the planet.  This virus conquers and replaces the immune system, then lends its host heightened senses coupled with incredible speed, strength, and regenerative capabilities.  It also causes photosensitivity, a need for blood, and progressive brain damage that rapidly drives humans infected with it insane.  

Immortal Guardians, on the other hand, are men and women born with extremely advance DNA, who are infected with the same virus.  Their advanced DNA lends them abilities humans and vampires don’t possess — such as telepathy in the case of Étienne, the hero of DARKNESS RISES — and protects them from the more corrosive aspects of the virus so they suffer no brain damage.  As a result, immortals spend their nights hunting and destroying the insane vampires who prey upon humans.

 
I love that distinction between the Guardians and vamps. It truly makes for an intriguing premise as the every day human doesn't know there is a difference between the two beings. How did you come up with the inspiration for your Immortal Guardians series?

I never know what might inspire me.  The idea to make vampirism the result of a virus, for example, arose from watching documentaries and educational programs in which historians expressed their belief that much of the vampire mythology that has existed for centuries resulted from a simple misunderstanding of such illnesses as porphyria.  When I sought a way to differentiate between immortals and vampires, the notion of having the virus cause progressive brain damage and madness in humans was inspired by a biography of King George III, whose madness many in the medical field now believe resulted from the same illness:  porphyria.  The laughter and teasing immortals frequently engage in was simply inspired by the laughter that’s such a large part of my own life.  So, inspiration can come from many sources.  J

 
I've heard that theory! I do think it's plausible it originated from a misunderstanding of diseases and having disease be the source of vampirism makes it seem more likely this could actually happen. Do you have any favorite characters? In particular, do you have any favorite Immortal Guardian? If so, why?

My favorite vampire in the series would be Cliff.  His heroic struggle to stave off the madness just breaks my heart.  Darnell, Chris, and Sheldon are pretty evenly tied for my favorite mortals in the series.  My favorite Immortal Guardians, however, tend to change with each book. Étienne and Krysta, the hero and heroine of DARKNESS RISES, are my current favorites.  I simply love the teasing banter they share.  But, if I had to choose just one, it would be Seth, the eldest and most powerful Immortal Guardian.  He carries so many responsibilities on his broad shoulders and has seen such tragedy in his long existence.  I think he deserves a HEA more than anyone.

 
Personally, I adore Cliff and his struggles, as well as Seth. He's the most intriguing character I've read in a very long time and I find myself rereading the parts centered around him the most :) What has been the most fun about exploring the world of the Immortal Guardians?

Discovering that characters can surprise me.  It may sound odd — I’m the writer, after all, and control all aspects of the series — but it’s true.  I’m a pantser, not a plotter, which means I don’t have the entire series already outlined and summarized from beginning to end.  I know where I want series arc to take me.  However, I don’t know how many books it will take me to get there or which couples will find their HEAs along the way.

Étienne and his siblings are among the characters who have surprised me thus far.  I had initially planned to tell their stories later in the series, but I couldn’t stop thinking about them.  Sibling immortals are extremely rare in my Immortal Guardians world.  And, for two centuries, Lisette has borne enormous guilt over accidentally transforming her brothers.  The more I encountered Étienne and Richart, the more I wanted them to find their HEAs.  And I knew Lisette would never let herself find happiness until they did, so they pretty much demanded I tell their stories sooner rather than later.  J

 
I admit that I was a bit surprised that you told their stories so early, but I fell in love with them immediately. I cannot wait to read Lisette's story! If you were stuck on a deserted island and could only have 3 things, what would they be?

Assuming there was no cell phone reception, I would want one of those large hunting knives that has waterproof matches, a fishing line with a hook, and a compass in the handle (Did I mention I’ve had to research weapons for several manuscripts?); an iPad crammed full of pics and videos of my family, books, movies, music, and apps; and a solar-powered tent to power it and keep me warm at night.

 
Oooo, creative choice of things with multiple uses! I love it :) What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with my family, read, and garden, though I admit I’ve had very little time for the last two of late.  My TBR pile now teeters precariously near the ceiling, and I don’t know if my plants are going to forgive me for neglecting them so heinously over the last few months while I prepared for DARKNESS RISES’ release.  J

 
I commend you for even attempting to keep plants. I can't manage to keep the poor things alive. The only reason I manage to have a dog is that she gets cranky if she doesn't get plenty of attention. Last time I checked, plants don't communicate well ;) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write every day.  I know life can be busy and hectic and stressful and exhausting.  But, even if you can only manage to write a single paragraph on your worst day, you will be one paragraph closer to achieving your goal.  And ALWAYS look for ways to improve your writing.  If I had 30 million books in print that had been translated into 20 different languages and were worldwide bestsellers, I would still search for ways I could be a better writer.  If you’ve never taken any creative writing classes, I highly recommend that you read Stephen King’s ON WRITING (also available as an audiobook) and Christopher Vogler’s THE WRITER’S JOURNEY.  Both will help you distinguish between strong and weak writing and avoid the pitfalls into which new writers can unknowingly fall.

 
That is amazing advice <3 Can you tell us anything about what you have in store for the Immortal Guardians?

Right now I’m working on NIGHT UNBOUND, the fifth book in the series.  It will feature Étienne’s sister Lisette as heroine and Zach — a dark, mysterious, and very powerful winged figure — as hero.  Zach is yet another of those characters who surprised me.  I didn’t realize when I introduced him what a pivotal role he would end up playing in the series. J    

 
I cannot WAIT for this book. Seriously. I am dying to know more about Zach and Lisette!! Any last thoughts you’d like to share with your readers?

Thank you for your support!  You’ve been so generous, helping me spread the word about my series.  And your wonderful comments, messages, and emails never fail to make me smile.  I hope you’ll enjoy Étienne and Krysta’s story!  Thank you again!


Thank you again so much for joining me, Dianne! It has been a pleasure getting to know you a bit better :)

Lovelies, stay tuned for my review of Darkness Rises and be sure to enter to win a SIGNED paperback copy of Predatory!!



About the book:
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
My source for the book: Gift from author
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Description:
 
Krysta is used to getting the drop on vampires. Her "special abilities" aren't much, but the plan is simple—she plays helpless pretty young thing to lure them in. Then her shoto swords come out and it's bye-bye, bloodsucker. Until one night she finds herself with an unexpected ally. He's a vampire, all right, but different. Mysterious. Handsome. And more interested in saving her skin than draining it.

Étienne has been an Immortal Guardian for two hundred years—long enough to know that Krysta is special. He can't stop thinking about her long legs, even more than her short swords. Then he discovers the vamps she's exterminating have friends in high places, and the Guardians are in danger too. He'll have to accept Krysta's help to save them. The stakes for a mortal are high. But the cost to his heart might be higher. . .

 
 
WHAT I LIKED:
 
This series is incredibly original and contains some of the most interesting characters I've read in quite a while. I stumbled across Dianne's work in the bookstore and I'm hooked. Never have I fallen so hard and so fast for every character in a book, especially the secondary characters! From the moment I encounted Etienne, I couldn't wait to get my hands on his story.
 
Krysta was a perfect match for Etienne. She's prickly, stubborn, and a born warrior. While she isn't too keen on Etienne when she first meets him (and can you blame her? She does think he's a vampire after all), the attraction is undeniable. As more of their story unfolded, I found myself turning the pages faster and faster to find out what happened. The moment I finished the book, I flipped right back to the beginning and started re-reading it. There are VERY few authors I do that.
 
Beyond Etienne and Krysta, I adored learning more about my favorite couples and the secondary characters. Zach is turning into such a mysterious character and I was thrilled to see that his book is the next one. Dianne has a talent for creating a rich environment and plot that grabs you from the first paragraph and never lets you up.
 
While this is part of a series, it is stand alone. That being said, I HIGHLY recommend reading the previous books so you can love the characters as much as I do :)
 
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:
 
Having to wait for the next book to be released!
 
 
OVERALL VERDICT: 5/5 Blue Duckies!!
 
 
If you are looking for a fantastic paranormal romance that's action packed, suspenseful, steamy, and has beautifully written characters that stay with you long after you've finished the book, then run out and grab your copy today! And be sure to read all of the others!!


Meet Dianne!

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series.  Her debut novel, Darkness Dawns, was nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance by RT Book Reviews and for Best Paranormal Romance—Vampire by The Romance Reviews.  Ensuing books in the series — Night Reigns, Phantom Shadows, and Predatory — have all been deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews.  Her latest release, Darkness Rises, has been declared a Top Pick by both Night Owl Reviews and The Romance Reviews as well. 
Dianne loves all things creative.  When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and once even appeared onscreen as a machete-wielding maniac not unlike the vampires in her novels.
 
Connect With Dianne Online
Website: http://www.dianneduvall.com
Blog: http://dianneduvall.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DianneDuvallAuthor
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/DianneDuvall
Youtube: http://www.youtube
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/dianneduvall
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4400405.Dianne_Duvall

 

 





Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Channeling negativity into something good

I've been pretty open about the fact that I recently took a hiatus from writing and my online presence as I struggled with anxiety. Long story short, anxiety sucks and is far more crippling than I could ever have imagined.

I have beaten it into submission for the most part, but I still get anxiety attacks. They come in different forms, some where I'm obsessing over every little situation to the point where I want to scream at myself to chill the hell out. Ok, sometimes I do that. Doesn't necessarily help, but it's amusing to audibly yell at yourself ;)

Other times, I get antsy and claustrophobic around people. I get incredibly overwhelmed and can't stand the noise and it feels like everyone is just pressing in on me and getting into my personal space, even if they're not. I'm not claustrophobic by nature, in fact I like seeing what tight spaces I can fit myself into. In high school, I was very proud of the fact that I fit into my locker on my own. Of course I tore my pants on the way OUT of the locker and had to safety pin them closed for the rest of the day, but that's beside the point.

This type of anxiety attack hit me the other day at work. I hated it, felt helpless and like I was going to crawl out of my own skin. Instead of letting myself be crippled by it though, I opened up to a few people when it was happening. Then I decided to harness those feelings and wrote a scene from Dante and Marisa's book.

It was more cathartic than I'd ever thought. When I was younger, I'd write poetry when the anxiety got bad but I'd lost touch with that practice as I got older. Writing this scene was so amazing because it rekindled the calm that I felt after getting my emotions out on paper. I ended up loving what I wrote and have a new tool in my arsenal to battle back the anxiety.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

8 Sentence Sunday - 10/13!


Hello lovelies! Be sure to check out the other excerpts of Weekend Writing Warriors!!

This excerpt is from the same scene I posted last week from my novel, Breaking the Nexus. Enjoy!!



Another crash shook the ground beneath Connor’s feet and he watched as the woman, her golden hair streaked with blue, turned to shout at the man in a strange language. Panic coated her voice, her vivid blue eyes wild with terror. And determination, Connor realized. His body inexplicable strained toward her, every fiber of his being wanting to offer aid to them but he was held in place by invisible bonds.


Before him, the air seemed to part, flashing symbols glowing faintly. The woman was oblivious to the new danger behind her and he opened his mouth to shout a warning.


The words died on his tongue as once more the earth heaved beneath him, tossing him to the ground as little more than a rag doll. Pain exploded as his head struck something sharp and his vision dimmed.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

8 Sentence Sunday - 10/6/13!

Hello lovelies! Today marks the first venture into 8 Sentence Sunday!! Be sure to check out the other excerpts of Weekend Writing Warriors!!

My first excerpt is from Breaking the Nexus. I previously had self-published this and then pulled it so I could publish it with the fantabulous Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing. I also decided to add some brand new content and to flesh out some scenes where readers wanted some more details. The following is a snippet from the brand new beginning!

Disjointed images bombarded him, nightmarish scenes of battles between creatures that couldn’t exist. Cries of pain and fear reverberated through a forest of strange, twisting trees, nearly drowning out the clash of steel, the sickening crunch of bones breaking, the wet ripping of flesh giving way.

What the hell was going on?

Connor Flynn considered himself a practical man. Having worked too many gruesome crime scenes over the years, it wasn’t unusual for his dreams to be twisted. Yet he couldn’t remember a single instance when his mind had conjured up anything like this.

The beings locked in battle were illuminated by flashes of brilliant color light, seeming to originate from something that looked human, but couldn’t be.

Well, what did you think?

Curious about the book? Well don't miss my novella of the Mythrian Realm, Warrior Unleashed, AVAILABLE NOW on Amazon!!

Warrior Unleashed...Buy it Now!

Nothing is more dangerous than an unleashed warrior.

When Sentinels, an elite group of warriors, begin dying under mysterious circumstances, the deaths are believed to be unrelated but Achaius Rilke knows the truth. As a panther Chimerae, he recognizes the signs of a predator...even an unpredictable one. No one is safe and the only person Achaius can trust is Saia Makan, a Tempestuous Sorceri and the very person who has driven him crazy for years. When the killer sets its sight on Saia, Achaius faces the fight of his life.

But will he survive?




Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Warrior-Unleashed-Mythrian-Series-ebook/dp/B00F8TCNPI

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Warrior-Unleashed-Mythrian-Series-ebook/dp/B00F8TCNPI

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Thoughts - The Need for Efficiency

In my day job, we have a daily meeting called a "stand up" that is supposed to take 15 minutes. Since I started back in June, that thing has NEVER taken 15 minutes. Most of the time, it's closer to an hour than anything else. There are usually 15-20 people in this meeting so consider, for a moment, just how much work is lost when so many people are tied for that long.

Never mind the toll on the feet. It's not called a stand up because you get to lounge in comfy chairs. Let it be known that I mostly wear boots to work (or sandals with a heel) and it is NOT comfortable to stand in one place that long. Plus I fidget like no other. But, I digress.

Now, we tried various ways to cut down the time, changing formats, etc. Nothing really helped. People would still go off on tangents and nobody would stop them. The point of a stand off is to update the team on what you're working on and what issues you have, if any. I'm not going to remember the 20 minute conversation between 3 people about implementation of some functionality (sorry all whose eyes just glazed over on that little bit).

Today, we attained the unattainable. A 15 minute stand up. Actually, it was a little less than 15 minutes. Want to know what changed? I ran the show.

Ok, it's not just my awesomeness, though I'm sure that helped. I ran through everyone's assignments and asked a simple question: "Any blockers or issues?" Most of the time people said no. I asked for progress in a few areas, a simple thing to answer with things like "I'm working on that now" or "I haven't started it yet." Short, simple phrases. Issues were briefly explained but if people tried to discuss solutions, I interjected with "let's take that offline."

15 minutes later I announced we'd finally done what none of those was possible. Needless to say, everyone was happy with the outcome. Everything that needed to be said was said. All of those needless discussions that only applied to a few people were tabled. People got the information they required without the other distractions.

What's the point of this story? Efficiency is needed in all aspects of writing. Whether it's tightening your story and stripping out that unnecessary filler bogging down your plot, or stripping out distractions so you can write when you have little time, efficiency is crucial. I can't tell you how many times I've read something (including my own writing) and thought to myself, "Self, why the hell couldn't they have gotten to the point faster?"

Be it cutting an hour long meeting to just 15 minutes or cutting an entire chapter of needless filler, try to take a look at being more efficient. It's easier said than done, believe me. But try not to discount the importance of being efficient :)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Wednesday Wisdom - Finding your style

I'm going to impart great wisdom upon all of my lovelies.

Ok, who am I kidding? That's just not my style lol. I will however ramble on as usual about random stuff. Today, I feel like rambling on about writing style.

I'll let you in on a little secret. Well, not so much a secret as a story. But, I digress. Breaking the Nexus began as a story for National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. If you haven't participated in that, I highly recommend it. It's a challenge and exhilarating and without it (and my sister's nagging), you wouldn't have Breaking the Nexus.

There was just one little problem with NaNoWriMo...I wrote the story hoping to win (which I did). You have all of these little tricks to help your word count along, such as not using contractions. In my defense, I'd often gotten yelled at by English teachers for using contractions (albeit in papers), so I thought I was doing it the correct way. There were a host of other issues with the story, but I was blissfully unaware of them. I mean, a friend of mine had told me it was wonderful. Wasn't that good enough?

Yeah, not so much. I had a few people read it and the general consensus was something along the lines of: Great premise! But ye gods, woman, your style needs help.

Granted, nobody said that exactly, but it was what they were thinking. I meekly flipped through the corrections, astounded by the bloody marks all over my masterpiece. I was crushed. I had been the one to massacre friends' papers in high school. It wasn't supposed to be my writing that sustained such mortal wounds!

I dragged my feet over to my husband and started crying and saying how I was going to have to rewrite the story. He asked if I was sure and I wailed that there was so many mistakes, there was no way to edit it. My dreams of being a writer were crushed. It had taken me forever to write this much! How was I going to rewrite it? Then he simplified it in the most magnificent way. He said very matter-of-factly: "Then I guess you'll have to rewrite it."

My tears stopped and I thought, He's a genius! I'll just rewrite it!

Yes, I know how illogical that logic was. You'd think I'd have listened to myself when I thought those same words, but in my defense, my hubby has a magical way of cutting through bullshit and making everything make sense.

I set about rewriting the story, going paragraph by paragraph, keeping the same general story line and fixing the style. I let it flow naturally instead of fighting the words like I had when I first wrote the book. Want to know what happened? I discovered it was infinitely easier to let it flow.

So, what was the point of my rambling story? Don't be afraid to get critiques on your style. You're not going to get it right the first time, I'm pretty sure nobody ever has. Take advice on things you do wrong and make changes you agree with. If you disagree on a point, go back and read your favorite authors and see what they do. I had multiple people tell me to stop jumping perspectives. I disagreed, but I went back through multiple authors to see what they did. On the one hand, several authors did jump perspective quite a bit and did it well, yet I found a few that lost me in the jumps. I also saw that more authors used section breaks for perspective jumps and it was much more coherent.

I incorporated this into my writing and *gasp* the world didn't end. Shocking, I know. Find your style and stay true to it. There will always be people who don't like your voice, accept that and move on. Focus on the ones who love your style because clearly, they're the smarter ones ;) But always realize that your style will change and grow the more you write. That's the truly exciting, magical thing about being an author and it excites me to see where my style will go next.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Cut off from the world

Good morning my lovelies! Today, the unthinkable happened. I forgot my cellphone. I carpool with a coworker and this is her week to drive. The way it works is that we meet at a parking lot and one of us drives to work. I ALWAYS have my phone, but not today. Nope, I brilliantly left it in my car in that parking lot.

Now, you'd think it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I mean, people lived for millenia without constant contact with the outside world. There's just one little problem...I'm addicted to my cellphone. There, I've admitted it. I'm a tech addict.

It doesn't help that my company blocks a lot of access to websites and such, including my beloved Gmail. I got my first phone at 16 and before that, I was fine. Needed to go somewhere? I just had to be sure to have a quarter, know one of several tricks to get a free call, or call the 1-800 number my daddy set up for when we forgot money. If all else failed, we could call collect. Remember collect? Yeah, I barely do either.

Isn't it sad how forgetting your cellphone leaves you feeling cut off from the world? The first thing I did was text my husband from my friend's cell to tell him I left mine at home. Then I emailed him the same thing. Logically I know it's not the end of the world not to have my little Android at the ready. Hell, in some ways it'll probably be better because it removes a major distraction for me. That doesn't help those seconds of panic when I reach for my phone out of sheer habit and it's not there. Automatically, I wonder, "OMG did I lose it?! Oh, wait. It's safe in my car...wait...what if someone breaks in and steals my phone?!"

Yes, I'm weird. Don't judge me ;)

Anyway, what would you do if you had to be without your phone for an entire day? Would it be nothing to you or would you feel cut off from the world?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Snippet from Dante and Marisa's book!!


Hushed voices teased his subconscious, pulling him from his restless sleep. Idiot guards. They honestly thought he couldn’t hear them, couldn’t discern every syllable hissed between clenched teeth. The acrid stench of fear rolled off of the men, invading his miniscule cell.

 

They argued over who would bring the pathetic ration of water to the prisoners. Cowards. Brave when they held their implements of torture against their restrained victims. Yet when they were unarmed? The bastards refused to come near him or his men.

 

Pity, that. All they needed was one chance, one slipup, and Dante could free himself and his men. As he shifted, a dull clank echoed off of the thick stone walls of the cell.  His lip curled in disgust. Chained like a fucking animal. The steel collar around his neck would be problematic, but the heavy links anchoring his bulky body to the floor were another matter. A sharp tang assaulted his senses with every inhale. Morons were so proud of the collar with its spikes that jabbed him if he made the wrong move, yet it never occurred to them to check the integrity of their leash. A few sharp tugs at just the right angle and the links would snap. All he needed was the right time.

 

Frowning, Dante realized the conversation had shifted. They were discussing a woman now, a new captive, boasting of what they’d do to her when their captain was through with her. Something stirred within him, a long buried protective instinct, but he stifled it. It wasn’t his job to protect damsels in distress.  He couldn’t afford to lose focus, not his men were counting on him.

 

Squelching his annoying, nagging conscience, Dante shifted his battered frame to a more comfortable position. Well, at least as comfortable as he could get in a room the size of a child’s playpen. A whisper of sound across the hall drew his attention. He met the glowing gaze of Raven through a crack in the heavy oak door and nodded once. It was time to plan.

Musings from my Phone: Plot ideas

Let's face it, you've wondered at some point how authors come up with their plot ideas. Some dream about them, others take inspiration from things they've read, and still others can't really answer where their ideas come from because they magically appear in their imagination.

So, where do I get my plot ideas? Nobody's asked me that question for a while, but I'll answer it anyway.

I get them from all different sources. For one thing, I have a warped mind and constantly daydream. I hold conversations with characters when I get bored. I used to think I was insane because of those conversations, but I know the characters aren't real and I decided I'm just weird.

Breaking the Nexus drew inspiration from a few external sources as a way to reconcile my constant daydream that magic exists and mythical creatures are real. Nobody can tell me that I won't one day have magical powers. Daddy always said I could be anything I wanted to be, and I've decided I'm going to be a Sorceri.

I'm also inspired by mythology and other books I've read. My sister drilled into me an appreciation for classical mythology as well as my own fascination with all things Celtic (as if that weren't already obvious lol). Sometimes listening to epic music will inspire a plot point or battle scene. Other times, a funny phrase will spark my imagination.

The best inspiration can come from my amazing beta readers who know just how to ask me the questions that get my creative juices flowing. If I'm stuck at a certain area or I'm not sure what I'm trying to say, one of them is always there to help give me that not-so-gentle shove right where I need it. Plus, they have the patience of saints. Literally. You should ask them sometime how mean I am to give them a scene that leaves them begging for more only to then have to wait weeks for the writing fairy to return to me.

Every once in a while, a few simple words trigger an avalanche of ideas. When I came up with a certain book title, I had the best inspiration for where that book would end up that I started dancing around in my car. You should've seen the looks I got from the other cars around me. Then again, I usually get weird looks because I like doing my happy dance wherever I am :) I seriously cannot WAIT until you people read that book, but I don't want to give away anything so I'll endeavor to keep my mouth shut.

So there you have it, lovelies. Now you know how I get my plot ideas and I should probably go back to thinking up those delicious plot ideas so my betas finally get more content :D

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Interview and Review with Sharon Sala!!!

Hello my lovelies! Today is a VERY special day. Not only am I kickstarting my interviewing and reviewing again, I'm hosting one of my all-time favorite authors, ever. It's such an honor to be able to introduce you to the fantabulous Sharon Sala!!

Sharon is an amazing writer, one of the rare few who have released a phenomenal amount of books while mantaining a consistent style. Not only that, but this New York Times Bestselling author has also ventured into the tumultuous waters of self-publishing.

I also had the astounding privilege of being able to review an advanced copy of her book, Going Once, that was released today!! It's the first in a new trilogy and I can't recommend it enough. Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself so let's get on to the interview then the review!!



Thank you so much for joining me, Sharon. May I say what an honor it is to have you on my blog? When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I ever had a moment that hit me and said, “this is it, Sharon! You should be a writer.” It was more of a gradual thing…finding a way to share the stories that were always in my head.


That's wonderful. You have definitely found the perfect way to share those stories :) What has been the most difficult part about being a writer?

It’s probably never having enough time to write the way I’d like to, and the long drawn out process about waiting for an editor to pass judgment on a proposal or a manuscript.


Oh yes, I can only imagine how nervewracking that must be! Do you use a pen name? If so, how did you come up with your pen name?

Dinah McCall is my pen name, and it came about from a publisher I had who wanted to publish me in a different genre. The name Dinah was my younger sister, Diane’s, nickname. She died in 1985, before all of this started for me, so choosing it as my pen name was my way of taking her with me on this amazing journey. I chose McCall because at the time, there wasn’t another McCall writing romance. All about the marketing… LOL

I think that's such a beautiful way to honor your sister! Who are your favorite authors?

Without hesitation, John Hart, Robert Crais and Harlan Coben.

Those are fantastic authors :) What authors inspire you?

Authors who aren’t just ‘telling me a story’, but the ones who bring the pages to life. Kay Hooper is brilliant at this, as is Iris Johansen.

I couldn't agree more. Kay Hooper has always been another of my personal favorite authors. What type of books do you like to read?

Suspense, romantic suspense, paranormal if it’s psychic or healers, not the horror side of paranormal.

I adore those genres <3 What do you like to do in your free time?

Read, bake, paint pictures, be with my family.

Ooo, you bake? I'll have to get some tasty recipes from you! And that's fantastic that you're a painter as well. I've always wanted to paint, but sadly, I have no talent whatsoever lol. Where is your favorite place to vacation?

I haven’t been on a vacation in so long I wouldn’t even know where to start. I will say that one of my favorite areas of the country to be in, is the South.

Having lived in the South and visited many times over the years, I share your love of the area :) If you were stuck on a desert island and could have only three things, what would they be?

A machete, a flint to start fires, and a tent.

How wonderfully practical :D Remind me to call you up if I'm ever on a deserted island! Are you a plotter or a pantser with your writing?

Neither. I dream my stories…like you go to the movies. So when I wake up, the whole story is already in my head. No writing by the seat of my pants because the story was ‘given to me’ in a dream. No plotting because the story is already there.


OMG, that's truly amazing. I love that that's how you get your stories!! Why did you choose to write romantic suspense?
 
I like happy ever after, (romance) and I am an adrenaline junkie when it comes to movies, books, etc… I’d rather watch Die Hard 12, than sit through something like Bridget Jones Diary or some kind of relationship movie. My all time favorite movie ever to have seen is AVATAR. I still wish I was 9 feet tall and blue and lived on Pandora. Omg.

Wow, I seriously couldn't agree more with you about watching Die Hard 12 than sitting through a sappy movie *shudder* What has been the most fun about working on your books?

I think probably bringing to life the people that I see in my head.

What has been the hardest scene for you to write?

Love scenes are getting harder because I’ve been writing/published for over 22 years. So 85 plus books and counting and I’ve pretty much written every kind of a love scene there is to write in my genre. SOOO now when I come to those scenes in the manuscript, I kind of take a deep breath and fight my way through them.  


LOL!! I can see how that would get to be a problem! Rest assured, your love scenes have never felt stale or boring to me :) Do you have any favorite characters? If so, why?

Yes, Jonah Gray Wolf in THE HEALER, and the ancient spirit WINDWALKER, in my last Dinah McCall book, WINDWALKER… Also, Cat Dupree in my female bounty hunter trilogy, NINE LIVES, CUT THROAT, and BAD PENNY. AND… Layla Birdsong/Singing Bird from the WINDWALKER.  

*sighs wistfully* I loved Jonah <3 Do you have any favorite books or series among all the ones you’ve written?

Favorite series might be my Rebel Ridge trilogy, NEXT OF KIN, DON’T CRY FOR ME, and TIL DEATH. Favorite books… THE HEALER, THE WARRIOR, WINDWALKER… and my first women’s fiction that I self-pubbed, A FIELD OF POPPIES, and my first fiction I wrote for Belle Books, THE BOARDING HOUSE.

I'm not going to lie, Rebel Ridge is right up there among my favorite series of all time. Then again, now that I've read Going Once, that may tie it lol. Tell us more about Rebel Ridge. Do you plan to write more books in this series?

No, that series is finished with the release of Til Death.

Aww, well there's always re-reading for me! Lovelies, definitely check out my review of 'Til Death! In book two of the Rebel Ridge series, Don’t Cry For Me, your characters deal with PTSD. As someone with a best friend in the Air Force, I love that you shed light on this condition so many of our returning soldiers face. Did you find it difficult to write about it?

Yes, it was difficult for me to write because I have a family member who suffers from this. He served two tours in Iraq, the last in Fallujah where he was wounded and sent home. It has destroyed who he was, and he struggles daily to find a way to live in this world.


It's so tragic that so many of our soldiers suffer after defending our country. It's important for people to understand that this is a devastating condition that affects so many lives. You have also self-published. How is this process different from working with your publisher?

One great big plus is there is no lag time between finishing it and getting it up for sale. I have enjoyed it immensely, have two out now, A FIELD OF POPPIES and WINDWALKER, and am at the present writing a third called A THOUSAND LIES. Poppies and Lies are written under my Sala name and are women’s fiction. Windwalker is a paranormal romance written under my pen name, Dinah McCall.

I definitely love the freedom of choosing my own timeline with self-publishing :) Do you have any advice for other authors?

If you’re passionate about wanting to be a writer, join a writer’s group. It’s the single best thing you can do for yourself, being in the company of other people on the same journey as you are on.

That is fantastic advice <3 What's next for you?

Always another book.

You have no idea how happy that makes me :D Anything else you want your readers to know?

That I appreciate them SO much, and they can reach me on Facebook.  I can also be reached at my website, www.sharonsala.net.  


Thank you so much for taking the time to visit my blog, Sharon!! It has truly been a pleasure having you here.

Now my lovelies, stick around for my review of Going Once and be sure to snag your copy today!!



About the book:
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
My source for the book: Gift from author
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Description:


From New York Times bestselling author Sharon Sala comes a story of reignited passion set amidst a town reeling from disaster and the long shadow of a killer…  
As raging floodwaters engulf her Louisiana hometown Nola Landry is stranded on high ground, the unwitting witness to the brutal murder of three fellow survivors. Finally rescued in the aftermath of the storm, no one is willing to believe a story as horrific as hers—until three FBI agents arrive on the scene…one of whom Nola knows very well.
Tate Benton has been tracking the so-called Stormchaser serial killer for months, never expecting the trail might lead him home, or to the woman he cannot forget. Home is now a ravaged town full of memories—of love, of disappointment, of past mistakes. The investigation brings Nola back into his life. Long-buried feelings resurface, and the former lovers try to pick up the pieces in the wake of the disaster.  
Amid the relief effort the killer lingers, determined to silence Nola forever. In the Stormchaser's twisted mind the pain is far from over…and hers is just beginning.

WHAT I LIKED:

Sharon Sala is one of my all-time favorite authors for a reason. I can always count on her books to draw me in from the beginning and keep me enthralled for the entire book. She writes with a beautiful blend of romance and suspense that few authors can match in my opinion. This book was no exception. I loved the premise of the Storm Chaser and I can honestly say that as soon as I was finished with this book, I immediately started re-reading it...twice...in one weekend.

Tate and Nola have a history, but Sharon doesn't belabor the history. Yes, she makes it known that they each have scars from their past, but Nola doesn't hold a grudge. However, she doesn't forgive him straight away, either.

This is the first book in the Forces of Nature trilogy and it introduces an antagonist that will be present in all three books. He was an interesting villain and definitely something different. I look forward to seeing how Sharon continues to develop this character. This book also introduces the the heroes of the other books and I cannot WAIT to read more about these men. Sharon's characters are so rich and detailed, I instantly fall in love with them.


WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE:

My biggest complaint is that I have to wait for the next two books. I know that I'll be stalking the bookstores waiting for them to be released :D

OVERALL VERDICT: 5/5 Blue Duckies!


 
If you're in the mood for beautifully crafted romantic suspense with compelling characters and an intriguing plot, look no further than Sharon Sala! 


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Trials of an Indie Author: How to be an Author 101

First of all, I'd like to point out that I'm actually doing some regular posting, go me! I may have been updated by duckies or aliens or alien duckies. That's ok though :)

Today I wanted to talk about how to be an author. It's really quite simple. You sit down, bang on a keyboard for a while, and magically a book will appear. Then you do some more magic and it goes up for sale and people magically know how to find it and buy it and boom! You're famous.

Man, I wish it were that easy. It's not, of course, but don't burst my little bubble yet.

Anyway, you need a combination of insanity, determination, creativity, and some really good friends to be an author. Oh, and luck. Lots and lots and LOTS of luck. Think about it, how many times have you grabbed a best seller and flipped through it going, "Really? THIS is a bestseller when [Insert your favorite obscure author] writes so much better?!" Let's be honest, lovelies...we've all thought that. Everyone's entitled to think that, that's what makes people unique.

Granted, I hope at least some of you inserted my name in that little phrase ;)

But, I digress. Luck plays a massive role in being an author. You need luck to find the right people to work with, for your idea to take off, and for so many things. Vampires were around long before Twilight came about, yet few were as insanely popular. BDSM books were around long before 50 Shades of Grey, but again, few took off as well as that did. It's all about luck. That's the part that sucks because you can't control it.

Let's take luck out of the equation, then. You need to be insane to be an author. Imagine pouring everything you have into something then tossing it out for the world to judge and criticize. Insane, right? Insanity also comes in handy when you need twisted plots and ideas.

You also need determination. When I first wrote Breaking the Nexus, I was writing during NaNoWriMo 2011 and I was determined to win that year so I could shut up my older sister. No, seriously. We were doing it together and she bugged me constantly about my word count. I won, then I had to find the determination to finish the book. Before I'd written the whole thing, I let a few people read it.

Let's just say, it needed some love. The kind of love that can only come from burning it to the ground so you can start fresh. The painful love.

I could have thrown in the towel and I wanted to...ask my husband sometime about how I sobbed that I'd probably have to rewrite the whole thing. Know what he said? "Then you'll just have to rewrite it." It was that simple. I was determined to get my story out there so I salvaged the basic plot and rewrote it. Feel free to ask anyone who read both versions...they are VASTLY different.

It's not just the beginning of the journey that requires determination. Every book will test your determination. You hit a wall where you go "I will never finish this damn thing, I don't even want to look at it anymore." You have to figure out what's more important: giving in to the frustration you're feeling or giving up your dream.

The last thing you need are some really good friends. You need people who will listen to you when you're frustrated then tell you to get your butt back to writing. You need people who can ask you questions to get your brain in gear and the writing muse flowing. You need people to tell you how awesome you are when you feel like you can't do it anymore and people to tell you where you need work because they know you can do better.

I majorly simplified everything, but for me, this is what I've needed to be an author. It's not easy, it's frustrating, and I've cried more than once. I took a hiatus where I questioned if this is what I was meant to do. In the end, it comes back to that determination. I have stories I can't keep locked in my brain anymore. Plus, I've got some amazing friends I've never even met in person who wouldn't let me quit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Journey from Self-Published to Indie-Publisher

Yesterday marked my very first release with my new publishing company, Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly. A year ago, I never would have thought I'd sign on with a publisher of any kind. I was too scared to submit my work to anyone so the safest route seemed to be self-publishing.

As I embarked on the journey of self-publishing, I learned many things. First of all, I'm a control freak in many ways which reinforced my desire to stay self-published. I didn't want to lose control over things like setting the price of my book or having someone tell me I needed to change my fundamental story. I loved having the final say in many things.

I also learned how expensive it is to self-publish. While you get to keep more of the profits, you have to pay for everything up front. Stuff like cover art, formatting, and editing do not come cheap if you want it done well. Then there's the task of finding good people. How do you know that you'll find someone that does quality work and is easy to work with? It's harder than you'd think, though part of that is probably just my personality lol.

The details that fascinated me at first soon became overwhelming. I was stressing more and more over the process of publishing than the actual writing. Setting deadlines for myself wasn't working and I was losing sight of what I loved.

Enter the epiphany. One evening I messaged a friend on a whim and asked about her publisher. She raved and answered my questions honestly and to my amazement I learned she still maintained a high level of freedom over her books. No one I'd talked to ever got a say in price and half of the time, they didn't even get a say in the cover art. I decided to stop being a chicken and submit my story. Every day I checked for a response and wondered if I was making the right decision.

Then came the day I got that wonderful response: they wanted my books. I thought long and hard about what I was doing, knowing I wouldn't be able to shop those books around to main stream publishers. I knew I'd have to change some things, but I hoped my friend had been right. Finally, I knew I'd made my decision and signed a contract for the two books I'd already released plus two more books I had planned.

Best. Decision. Ever.

Not only is my publisher amazing to work with, so sweet and fun to talk to, she's flexible. She proposed some ideas for release dates, but left the decision up to me. She assigned me a brilliant cover artist who did a fantastic job and who let me pick the image I wanted to use. Even when I sent some stuff to her late because of some unexpected issues, she was easy-going and didn't flip out on me. When I asked if she'd credit my amazing editor on Amazon, she had no problem and asked for the editor's name so she could get it right.

Beyond all of that, I joined a wonderfully supportive literary family. When I say family, I mean it. Everyone welcomed me and readily offered advice when I needed it. Already I'm making new friends and I have new energy. My publisher put me into categories that had me ranking as an Amazon BestSeller straight out of the gate.

Instead of worrying over everything, particularly the cost of everything, I can focus on my writing again. I'm re-energized with a plan to expand Breaking the Nexus and now I have release dates for the rest of the books in the trilogy. I have a plan and for me, that was vital.

I'm not saying that going with an indie publisher is the way to go and my publisher could very well be the exception. But no matter what, I know it's the right decision for me. I may still self-publish other books and I plan to try to find an agent to go the traditional publishing route.

After overcoming a number of things recently, signing on with Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly was the change I needed to find my way back to the part of being an author that's most important: loving what I'm writing.

Amazon BestSeller + Title Reveal for Book 3!!

Well my dear lovelies, I want to thank everyone who purchased a copy of Warrior Unleashed yesterday. You helped push my book into the Amazon BestSeller lists for Dark Fantasy and Dystopian!!! PLUS, I made it into the top 15 for Hot New Releases - Dark Fantasy!!!!!

Basically, you all kick ass :D

Now, many of you read my other book, Breaking the Nexus, which will be re-released on December 2, 2013 with all new content and expanded scenes. This will be the first of a trilogy and following that will be Waking the Phoenix. Until now, I have not revealed the title of book 3 of the trilogy featuring Connor Flynn and Sha Phoenix.

Book 3 will be..........

Taking the Darkness

So? What do you think?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Re-Release of Warrior Unleashed!!!


Well my lovelies, today's the big day!!! I'm re-releasing Warrior Unleashed with my brand new publisher, Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing!!

Be sure to get your copy with a sneak preview at the new beginning to Breaking the Nexus, which is re-releasing December 2, 2013 with expanded content!!

Warrior Unleashed

 
Nothing is more dangerous than an unleashed warrior.

When Sentinels, an elite group of warriors, begin dying under mysterious circumstances, the deaths are believed to be unrelated but Achaius Rilke knows the truth. As a panther Chimerae, he recognizes the signs of a predator...even an unpredictable one. No one is safe and the only person Achaius can trust is Saia Makan, a Tempestuous Sorceri and the very person who has driven him crazy for years. When the killer sets its sight on Saia, Achaius faces the fight of his life.

But will he survive?
 
 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Musings from my Phone, Part 3 - Chaos Demon

I'm the most accident prone person, ever. Seriously, I am. Put me in a room with nothing in it but soft, padded walls and I can guarantee you I'll find a way to fall over or some other way to injure myself. I don't mean to be, but I can be a bit impulsive and distracted. I'll be walking out of a room, lost in my own little world, when bam! Suddenly a door jamb has mysteriously appeared right where my shoulder is.

Being accident prone is annoying as hell. Besides the obvious downside of it hurting, you open yourself up to all sorts of teasing, well-meant of course :) Well, yesterday I hit a new low. I apparently can't even walk out of my house now.

Now, in my book Breaking the Nexus, I invented a chaos demon that liked to wreak havoc on unsuspecting people. I'm 99% sure my subconscious was drawing from personal experience. It's the only explanation. I'm not really a klutz, I'm just plagued by a chaos demon.

Anyway, back to the story. There I was minding my own business, leaving the house to go to my day job. I took one single, little step out of the front door and disaster struck. My left ankle turned under me. Not an uncommon occurance, really, so I wasn't worried. I not-so-smoothly tried to compensate and catch myself so I would have just stumbled a bit. Yeah, not so much.

My right ankle decided to join the party and twisted underneath me, twisting my whole damn leg in the process and down I went. To add insult to injury, I braced myself with my right arm and discovered hours later that my shoulder was unhappy with the impact.

I maintain, however, that it's not my fault. There had to have been a chaos demon lurking somewhere, right? I mean seriously, I can't be THAT accident prone that I can't even walk properly. So my dear lovelies, be sure to watch out for those tricky chaos demons. And walking. Walking is dangerous. Maybe I should just stay inside and write all day where it's safe. Unless, of course, I have to walk through a doorway. Those things come out of nowhere, you know. ;)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

We remember

Every year on this day, it's impossible not to think of September 11, 2001.

I didn't know anyone personally in the towers, but it did change everything for me. When it happened I was 15. I remember being in Spanish class taking a test and someone coming in to tell us. They wouldn't turn on the TV until everyone finished the test, but time ran out in class before we could hear anything.

Wild rumors flew around the halls as I walked to my next class, a study hall. Everyone thought they knew everything about why it happened, but no one really understood the ramifications. In study hall, we were able to go to news sites and find out some more info. One of the students in the school had parents in the towers so the school banned turning on the TVs, but we could still go online. It still didn't really sink in.

I remember going home and finally turning on the news and watching silently, tears streaming down my face at the footage. I was devastated at the senseless act of violence. When my mom came home, she knew I'd been crying but she didn't ask me about it. After that first day, I refused to turn on the news. I collected magazines and newspapers about it, but I refused to read them. I still don't know why I did that.

As a senior in high school we had to do a project on the human condition. I chose violence and courage in the face of violence. I made a scrapbook of clippings illustrating that and for the first time, I went through those magazines. I cried the entire time, but this time I focused on the bravery of the rescuers and the survivors instead of just the tragedy.

A good family friend had to watch as their son was deployed to Afghanistan to fight the war on terror. He was captured. It took YEARS before his family finally got closure and found his body to bring him home. Just a couple of years ago, my best friend was deployed to Afghanistan and even though I knew she wouldn't see action (her position kept her on base), it terrified me that she might not come home. Luckily she served her time and came home safe.

So many people remember today by thinking of all of the lives that were lost. Don't forget the lives of those who were heroes, who risked their lives that day and every day since.

Cover Reveal for Scent of a Mate


Scent of a Mate by Milly Taiden




Mission: Scent a Mate

Jordan Alvarez knew that a promise to her best friend involved staking out the local wolf pack's scenting ceremony and recording the graphic details, but she was the writer and the only one with the balls to finish the task. No one would know that four human women had sneaked proof of their rituals, or at least, that was the plan until Aric Wolfe showed up. 



Mission: Stake a Claim

Aric Wolfe knew his baby sister was up to something, and expected her best friend, Jordan, to be in on the chaos. He finally had an opportunity to lay claim to a mate that had been under his nose for years. Jordan's scent called to both the man and the animal, and he was done fighting the call of the beast. It was time to mark his mate.



Mission: Survive an Alpha

When a good intention creates a problem for the Wolfe family, Jordan finds herself being stalked by a woman intent on claiming Aric as her own. Battle lines will be drawn, love will be put to the test, and Aric will have to fight Jordan's strong personality to keep her alive. Two alpha hearts seeking control will either find the balance or risk losing their love forever.

 Trailer





About Milly

Want to know about me? Milly Taiden (aka April Angel) was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. She grew up between New York, Florida and Massachusetts. Currently, she resides in New York City with her husband, bossy young son and their little dog Speedy.
She’s addicted to shopping for shoes, chocolate (but who isn’t?) and Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.
A bookworm when she can get her hands on a good story, she loves reading romance, thrillers and suspense.

Find out more about Milly Taiden here:

Facebook Friend Page: http://www.facebook.com/milly.taiden


~ Look for these titles from Milly Taiden ~

Now Available
Wolf Fever Alpha Project Book One
Wolf Protector Federal Paranormal Unit Book One
Sharp Change Black Meadows Pack Book One
Caged Heat Black Meadows Pack Book Two
Mate Event” Halloween Heat III
Fate’s Wish
Wynter’s Captive

Coming Soon
Scent of a Mate
Dangerous Protector Federal Paranormal Unit Book 2
Caught by the Alpha


As April Angel

Stranded Temptation
Party Crasher
A Hero’s Pride

The Sizzling Encounters Series
Mr. Buff
Wicked Valentine
Lucky Break

Coming Soon
A Hero Scarred