Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Victoria Danann

Guest post by Victoria's assistants' Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey

Confessions of an Author’s Assistant
Judy Fox and Sarah Blausey

Being an author’s assistant is a job like no other: Exciting, fulfilling, and, at times, crazy! We work for an Indie author, Victoria Danann, which adds another level of challenge to the mix. Without a big publisher behind us, we work on her behalf to get the word out about her amazing books.

Here’s our first confession: Neither of us has worked as an author’s assistant before! We were both fans first, as well as being members of her street team. She mentioned one day that she was looking for a new assistant, and both of us replied. Being a smart woman, Victoria realized how amazing we both are. So, instead of choosing one, she hired us both! Now the three of us are blazing our own trail in the wild world of Indie publishing.

Our most important functions are managing Victoria’s social media and the street team, which is a group of some of the most devoted Victoria fans around. The street team is one of our most important keys to getting the word out about the Black Swan serial saga. We also work with Bloggers and Facebookers to feature or promote Victoria’s books, keep track of her calendar, and organize events such as giveaways. There are a lot of moving parts that require a tremendous amount of organization and detail supervision. Through a semi-complicated structure of file sharing and online chat, the three of us are able to work as a team so that each of us always knows what the other is doing.

Once people find out about and read Victoria’s first book, My Familiar Stranger, which is free everywhere, they usually join the rest of us in being fans of her work. We really love that her books are a mix of paranormal romance and fantasy, genres that we both really enjoy reading. It’s so fun working for someone you admire - Any task that helps her out is something we’re glad to do.

We’re commonly asked the following questions:

How’d you get the job?

Sarah: I had been on her Street Team for about a month when the opportunity came up that she needed an assistant. I sent her an email about all the things I had done in the past, reasons why I would be a great assistant. I was SO nervous waiting for the response! But, as you can see, I am here!

Judy: One day, on the street team page, Victoria mentioned that she needed an assistant. I contacted her to offer to help her out in the meantime, but it turns out I was in the right place at the right time, and started working for her! The learning curve has been pretty steep – there is so much about the author world that is so very different from the experience of a reader. I love this job! I get to utilize every skill I’ve learned over the years and apply them in unique and creative ways.

Sarah: You're right, it is crazy different as far as how it measures up to any other job I have, but I would never trade it!

Judy: I’m constantly amazed that I get to do what I do. I learn so much every day. I didn’t realize how bored I was before. Seriously.

How did you know that the street team idea would even work?

Judy: The idea of a street team isn’t really new. It started in the music industry with a literal street team handing out fliers about a new music group. The concept has evolved now into street teams for all kinds of things. Feedback I get from members of Victoria’s street team is that this is one of the most active groups for an author. Our team has regular blogs that they work with to help spread the word. Having a hangout on Facebook with a private page for our group has been really great for building our team identity.

Sarah: Victoria had the Street Team before I became her assistant. I think it's a great idea for many different reasons. Her biggest fans get time to chat with her whenever they like, they know her better than her other readers do. They also get the opportunity to get her new books about 2 weeks before everyone else. This helps both them and Victoria as she gets feedback before the release date. It is also a great advertising tool as we have wonderful Street Team members that will help get the word out about anything!

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author’s assistant?

Sarah: This one is hard to explain. Being Victoria's assistant is a reward in itself. I get to talk to her daily, manage a fantastic Street Team, and meet some really incredible people. All the while knowing that I am helping a writing genius get the time to do what she does best!

Judy: The most rewarding thing about this job is that I get to help an author I truly admire. It just feels so good knowing that my work in the background enables her to have time to write her amazing books.

Sarah: She's right; I know Victoria is writing fantastic things and that makes me extremely happy!

Judy: I love it every time Sarah says, “She’s right,” when she’s talking about me! It happens a lot.

How many hours a week/day do you spend on this job?

Sarah: A lot. But in no way can I complain. Most of the Street Team says they see me online, all the time, no matter what time it is. Well, I LOVE what I do. And a lot of my part of the job includes Facebook, so I'm on there for my stuff and book stuff all the time. Plus keeping track of what 50 people do takes up some time!!

Judy: It’s really impossible to calculate. I know I work the equivalent of office hours daily, and then check in again at night. I try to avoid working on the weekends, but when stuff is happening, I’m on whenever I need to be. This job for me is a blend of fan/ employee - it’s definitely more a labor of love….but it is nice to get paid!

Sarah: Wait... You get paid??

Judy: Oops.

So, what’s the dirt? Any scoops you can share?

Judy: Wow! Way to put us on the spot. Part of being an assistant is protecting the person you work for. My boss probably won’t fire me for saying that she put a photo of herself on Facebook once – she was swimming – I noticed no clothing in the picture, and asked her about if – to which she replied, “haha”. Yep. That’s the kind of crazy I’m lucky enough to work with every day. I love her.

Sarah: She's got a wicked crazy sense of humor....and she and I get one another's jokes, while Judy is often left scratching her head!

Judy: Hey! I get some of the jokes….sometimes.

Blazing a new trail in the world of Indy book publishing is exciting and fun. There is some seriously hard work involved, but it’s hard to really take note of that when we’re having such a good time! Being coworkers that truly enjoy and admire, not only our boss, but one another, makes every workday fun and entertaining. We both like meeting new people, learning new things, and we’re pretty good at sharing the load. We don’t know how Victoria got along without us!

Black Swan Collected Tales (Volume 1, Books 1-6)

The Order of the Black Swan is a serial saga including My Familiar Stranger, The Witch’s Dream, A Summoner’s Tale, Moonlight, Gathering Storm, and NEVER BEFORE RELEASED Book 6, A Tale of Two Kingdoms.
Once upon a time a girl lost everything familiar. She escaped death by being forced into an experiment that left her in another world where modern day knights, elves, vampires, werewolves, witches, demons and fae became her allies, friends and family. She discovered a place where adventure intersects fairytales, where honor is more than an ideal, and she learned that love can find you in the strangest places, when you're least expecting it, even when you're far, far from home. This is the story of Elora Laiken's strange and wonderful journey. It is also the story of those whose lives she touches along the way.
If you love romance, paranormal, science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, contemporary, this series is right for you. 17+
ISBN: 978-1-933320-94-6, 523,000 words
The entire box set, which will retail after December 15th for $18.99, will be available during release week for $0.99 and can be preordered at that price from either Smashwords or Kobo. Buy links to Amazon, B&N, and Apple (iBooks, iTunes) will be available release week. Subscribe to the mail list for a reminder.

Appropriate for 17+


If you’re looking for something new and different in PNR, you’ve come to the right place.

I write unapologetic romances with uniquely fresh perspectives on paranormal creatures, characters, and themes. Add a dash of scifi and a flourish of fantasy to enough humor to make you laugh out loud and enough steam to make you squirm in your chair. My heroines are independent femmes with flaws and minds of their own whether they are aliens, witches, demonologists, psychics, or past life therapists. My heroes are hot and hunky, but they also have brains, character, and good manners – usually – whether they be elves, demons, berserkers, werewolves, or vampires.

I have authored and illustrated Seasons of the Witch calendars and planners for fifteen years and teach magickal arts for Seasons in Avalon. I live in The Woodlands, Texas which is why I sometimes joke about being the witch in the woods.

Victoria Danann
TWITTER: @vdanann

Best-selling ROMANCE with Paranormal, Sci-fi, and Fantasy Flair.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Laurie Olerich

Guest Post and Excerpt by Laurie Olerich

Character Name: Mica Thomas

Character Bio:

Mica Thomas moved to Plattsburgh, New York after her mother died. She has a father, step-mother, two step-sisters who are twins, a step-brother, and a natural sister she never sees. She’s a natural athlete and loves all things snow: snowboarding, snowmobiling, snowballing...Mica can be found climbing mountains with her Dalmatian, Domino, and friends Ricki and Dani. Her favorite hangout is The Angry Lizard where she likes to hang with her bodyguard-turned-boyfriend Sean. Sean and his Primani brothers, Declan and Killian, are her trainers, her soul mates, and her path to immortality.

Describe yourself what is your worst and best quality? Hmm, let me think. I guess my worst quality is I suck at shooting. Ask Killian. I can’t hit anything! My best quality is probably my sense of humor. I mean, really. Have you read the book? With all the crap I’ve been through, I’d have lost my mind if I couldn’t laugh at it all.

What is the one thing you wish other people knew about you? I’m not as confident as I like to pretend I am. Oh sure, in public I’m all cocky and badass, but I’m shaking in my boots the whole time.

What is your biggest secret something no one knows about? If I told you, then it wouldn’t be a secret, would it? Aren’t like, 1,000 people going to read this interview? Besides, all my secrets concern Sean and he’s uber private.

What are you most afraid of? Easy question. Being abducted and tortured by demons is always a possibility now that I’m living with the Primani. My powers are weak still--I’m like one huge demon magnet these days. Just need someone to paint a target on my back!

What do you want more than anything? I don’t know...world peace? That’s a hard question. I don’t want much. I’m pretty simple. I want...I guess I just want to survive to be with Sean. I worry about that. The future is cloudy. I can’t always see him.

What is your relationship status? Today? I’d say in a relationship with Sean. He’s making me crazy but there’s something about the look in his eyes that I can’t walk away from. He’s intense. He’s brilliant. He’s wicked hot. He does things to me that should be illegal...But he’s got secrets and I get a weird feeling sometimes. I don’t know...I hope it’s nothing.

How would you describe your sense of fashion? Carelessly chic? Too much purple? Too many tanks and hoodies? I love clothes that are soft and comfy...oh, and they have to be stretchy so I can fight in them. Hard to do Krav Maga is tight jeans! If I’m going for a sexy look, it’s going to be short skirts and tall boots...Sean totally loves me in that.

How much of a rebel are you? Really? Have you read the book? You can’t find anyone more rebellious than I am...it’s pretty much how Sean and I got together in the first place! I hate rules. Period.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement? Healing my little brother when the demon attacked us. Yeah, that’s it, for sure. That night sucked. I don’t ever want to repeat it, but I’m thankful for Raphael’s gift that helped me heal Trevor.

What is your idea of happiness? A day spent in the forest...preferably with Sean and Domino. Nothing but me, the trees, and my two favorite peeps.

What is your current state of mind? Worried, but positive. My powers are expanding which is a good thing, but the stakes are getting higher. I know something’s coming for me, but I’m not alone in this fight. Sean and Killian are powerful allies. We’ll get through it. We always do, right?

What is your most treasured possession? Easy! The jewelry box my mother got me the Christmas before she died. It’s got a little porcelain Dalmatian on the top. It’s how I remember her.

What is your most marked characteristic? My eyes? Or something not physical? How about my sarcastic wit? I’m a serious smartass...I can’t help it. It’s a gift.

What is it that you most dislike? I hate being lied to. Really, that’s a sure way to piss me the hell off.

Which living person do you most despise? Great question! Maybe you have read the book! Scott Flynn wins the trophy for biggest scumbag on the planet. The fact that he’s a psycho and keeps trying to kill me pretty much puts him at the top of the list. One of these days, Sean’s going to kill him. I’m crossing fingers for that. I might even help.

What is your greatest regret? My mom’s death...she died before I could be a good daughter to her. I was horrible the year before she died...all full of my own wants, selfish as only teenaged girls can be, I guess. She was a good mom and I was a spoiled brat. I wish, every day, that I was nicer to her. I wish I had told her I loved her the day she died.

What is the quality you most like in a man? A man’s got to have a sense of humor or we’re just not going to click. I make fun of everyone and laugh at totally inappropriate things. A guy’s got to get that and laugh with me. Sean’s a little stiff still, but I’m wearing him down...slowly.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Now a woman has to have a spine. I can’t stand wimpy whiny women. A woman has to be able to stand on her own two feet and kick a little ass when she needs to.

Who is your favorite hero in fiction? Hmm. That’s gotta be Indiana Jones. Hands down, Harrison Ford’s nailed that role. I love Indy. He’s still my favorite crush.

Which living person do you most admire? Declan, for sure. He’s kind and sweet, but hard as steel. He’s my rock, my healer, my brother. I would be dead so many times without him in my life. He gives everyone love and patience, but still kills demons like a pro. I love Dec. He’s amazing.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be? My boobs. They should be bigger. No, don’t laugh. It’s true! Have you seen them? Of course not, they’re too small!

What is your motto? Live today, survive tomorrow!

It was about time to go out. Ricki and Dani were coming over to get me in a little while. I was finishing my hair and looking at my face critically. Was my nose crooked? I peered closer at my reflection. Mm, maybe it was okay. All traces of bruises were gone. The heart shape of my face was back and my lips were full from good genes instead of blood clots. I looked at my eyes for changes. Wide and tilted up at the outside, they shone dark blue in the mirror. They still had a shuttered look to them. I wasn’t quite healed. I forced a happy smile that would reach my eyes. Ugh! That’s worse. I look like a crazy person. Better to keep the smile small. I would just hope no one paid much attention to my eyes.

A movement caught my eye in the mirror. I spun around but the room was empty. Carefully, I snatched up my hairspray and crept around the corner. If someone was in here, they would get a rude surprise. I was armed this time! But I didn’t hear anything and I didn’t really sense anyone else. I must have imagined the dark-haired boy in the hall. At least it didn’t look like Scott Flynn. Maybe I needed a dog.

The party was huge. We were out in the country at Dani’s friend Angel’s house. Her parents had gone skiing and left the house to her. We were glad to keep her company…all 100 of her best friends. I hadn’t been to a party since my going away party last summer. After my mom’s funeral, I stayed with my sister until I finished school. It was horrible but my friends helped a lot. They kept me busy on the weekends and then threw a huge drunken bash for me before I left in June. It was the party to end all parties. I came very close to losing my virginity that night but was saved the trouble by the police after the neighbors complained. Marc was devastated.

Poor baby!

It had been a long time since I had been to a party. I was ready to have some fun tonight. I kept trying to push that half-seen face from my hallway out of my head, but he kept intruding anyway. I was making my way from the pool house back inside when I saw him again.

I stopped in my tracks and stared. Whoa!

Who are these guys?
I’ve never seen them before. There were two ridiculously gorgeous guys standing in the shadows near a covered walkway. They were talking intently to each other and seemed to be scanning the crowd for someone. There’s no way they were partying. No possible way--they were way too intense. They reminded me of Secret Service agents, but without the suits. Instinctively, I crouched behind a snow-covered shrub and watched them. The taller one seemed to be chewing out the shorter one. The shorter one was listening and nodding his head. He looked unhappy. I couldn’t help but stare. It was him!

He had short hair and a hard face. It was too strong…too mature for a teenager. I could see his cheekbones from here. I couldn’t make out his eyes though. He looked as if he was about to kick someone’s ass or take over a small country. He stood tensely, listening to the other one. His shoulders were squared back and tugged against the t-shirt he was wearing. Taking advantage of my invisibility, I let my eyes wander over the rest of his body. Glancing down at his arms, I did a little swoon and kept going. Sadly, his good parts were hidden in the shadows. Oh, yum!

He was hot. But what was he doing here? Was he really in my house earlier? That’s impossible.

“Find her!” The wind shifted and the harsh words drifted clearly. The taller one gestured towards the house. He had the same military look to him, but he was bigger and much more intimidating. He was more bulky in the shoulders but had a lean torso and a nice butt. I imagined he had amazing abs. Yes, he was gorgeous but looked mean. There was something about the set of his jaw that said he’d take no crap from anyone. What were they doing here? A small shiver went down my back and I started to look for an exit.

“Mica! There you are! We’ve been looking for you. Come back inside. Someone found a karaoke machine.” Tyler’s voice interrupted my spying. Smiling impatiently, he reached out to grab my arm and I flinched. He held out a hand and said, “Hey, my bad. I’m sorry, dude!”

The strangers zeroed in on me like I was standing in a spotlight. Both sets of eyes pinned me to the ground and I froze like a baby deer. While Tyler babbled about karaoke, I watched them watch me. Both stared so intently that I was afraid I would burst into flames. They seemed to know me. How was that possible? Who were these guys? The big one said something to the shorter one and they started moving my direction. The big one moved like he was stalking prey. I yelped and bolted back to the house. I was striving for a dignified retreat but knocking people out of the way kind of ruined it.

“What’s with you? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Tyler skidded to a halt beside me.

I laughed shakily. “Did you see those guys?”

“What guys?”

“The two guys who were standing across from us outside! You didn’t see them? They were coming over to us.”

Tyler looked down his long nose and said, “Dude, I didn’t see anyone but you standing behind a bush. I think you need another beer.” He put a new beer in my hand and clinked his bottle against mine in a toast.

I stayed inside the rest of the night and kept close to my friends. I kept a lookout for the ‘secret agents’ as I nicknamed them. I didn’t see them again. Maybe I had imagined the whole thing? It seemed so real though. It was really late when it was time to go home. Ricki was pretty wasted so I was driving. I wasn’t exactly sober and my dad would kill me if he knew I was driving. But hey, I had a new philosophy: I would die when it was my turn. In the meantime, I would live life how I wanted and we’d just see how things turned out. Aric and Dani walked us to the car and helped Ricki into the backseat. Aric made sure she had a seatbelt on and asked me how I was doing.

“Oh, I’m fine. I don’t feel buzzed at all. Don’t worry about us.”

He looked dubious and told me to drive slowly because the roads were slippery. I only had to drive about 30 miles to get us home. Ricki fell asleep before we turned onto the main highway and it was unnaturally quiet. I turned on the stereo and sung disjointedly to a Lady GaGa song that I barely knew. Tapping my fingers on the steering wheel, I yawned. The miles mocked me as we crept along in the snow. I wasn’t even sure we were really moving…My feet were freezing so I turned the heater on. Before long, the car was toasty warm and so were my eyes. Blinking to stay awake, I shifted forward to lean on the steering wheel and focus better on the road. Not one of my better ideas. The woods were dark around us and the falling snow obscured everything. It was like driving in a black and white tunnel. My eyes closed and I blinked hard again. The snow was so pretty bouncing off my window. It was mesmerizing…I was drifting off to sleep when the car started to slide and abruptly stopped. The bump jolted me awake and I looked around in astonishment. I wasn’t alone. I wasn’t even driving. I was in the passenger seat.

“What the hell? How did you get here?”

The Secret Agent Man from the party looked at me with snapping eyes. “Are you crazy? You almost died back there! Do you know how close you came to wrapping this car around a tree?” His hands flew as he yelled and I cringed away from him. Taking a deep breath, he held up his hands in a gesture of peace. “Calm down; I’m not going to hurt you,” he hissed impatiently and wrapped his big hand around mine before I could protest.

Book One
Laurie Olerich

Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1492124849

Cover Artist: Angela Bauer

Book Description:

Mica Thomas is Sean O'Cahan's worst nightmare. Part angel, all Primani, he's a ruthless protector with unusual talents. Jaded by the weakness of humans, he takes a hands-off approach to his charges. His job's to protect her. That's all. But Mica's got other ideas. He's strong, but she's stronger. Will his one moment of weakness destroy them both?

Mica doesn’t believe in quaint notions of fate and destiny. She’s a live-in-the-moment kind of girl until she’s attacked and left for dead. When Sean and his friends appear out of thin air to rescue her, Mica knows there’s more to them than they’re saying. Secrets and lies pile up but she can’t walk away from him.

As the clock ticks, Mica is drawn deeper into the Primani world until there’s no way out.

Tick-tock. Time is running out. What happens when it does?

About the Author:

Laurie Olerich is the author of the new Primani series. Part urban fantasy, part romance, part paranormal...Three things she can’t live without! Laurie spent most of her life in the Northeastern United States and in Western Europe. She now lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her son and Dalmatian duo, Domino and Rambo. Desperate to escape the heat, she lives vicariously through Mica and her Primani by setting their adventures in the mountain coolness of New England and the rainy days of London. Before throwing caution to the wind and diving into a writing career, Laurie dedicated 20 years to her country by serving in the United States Air Force. Much of her time was spent around men with guns and cool toys...this explains her obsession with both.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Crista McHugh

Guest Post and Excerpt by Crista McHugh

Medicinal Herbs and Plants

Izana discovers clues from ancient text about a native flower that holds the key to unlocking the truth of the former emperor’s death, but it’s the hero, Modius, who uses his knowledge of medicinal plants and puts two and two together. Throughout Antiquity, many cultures used various plants, herbs, and extracts for the purpose of healing various ailments. For example, opium poppies where used for pain relief, and male ferns were used to rid patients of intestinal worms. The extract from the autumn crocus was used to treat gout. Honey was frequently used to protect wounds and soothe coughs, and both chamomile and mallow plants were used to make expectorants.

Although I took some liberties with creating unique medicinal herbs and plants in my world, I did base them off commonly used plants in Ancient Rome. For example, glechon (or the cosmopolitan pennyroyal, a member of the mint family) was a plant that was brewed into tea and used by women as a contraceptive.

What are some of your favorite herbal remedies?

A roar ripped through the city of Emona, slapping against the walls of the Imperial Palace and making them quake under the force of the noise. The members of the Legion stiffened, their fingers tightening around the hilts of their swords. And all but two of the slaves ran deeper into the inner confines of the palace.

Izana and Farros stood in the middle of the courtyard, refusing to shrink in fear like the other Alpirions.

She glanced at her fellow slave, meeting his gaze in a silent challenge before bolting toward the outer wall. Neck and neck, they raced, the sun beating down on their skin and the thin shimmer of sweat that coated it. Izana ducked under Farros’s well-muscled arms when they reached the narrow staircase to the upper ramparts, using her smaller size to her advantage. She wanted to be the first person to see the newly engaged imperial couple enter the palace. She needed to see her mistress wearing the crown proclaiming her to be the future empress. And she prayed that this would be the first step in gaining freedom for her people.

Her lungs burned in protest as she ran into the wall, but her heart leaped with joy. Even though the carriage carrying Emperor Sergius and his bride-to-be was over a mile down the road, the crowd still cheered outside the palace walls. The people loved Lady Azurha, loved that she had been one of them, that she had walked along these very streets before she found her way into the palace and won the heart of the emperor. By now, the whole city knew how she’d saved his life from Pontus, one of the emperor’s cousins who coveted the throne for himself.

But very few knew the whole truth—that Azurha was the Rabbit, the most feared assassin in the empire. Varro had made those directly attending to the imperial couple swear to this a secret, but how quickly had the gossip spread before he made them take that oath?

Farros leaned against the wall beside her, his massive chest still heaving from their race. Did he know the truth?

“I think my lady’s fears were for naught,” she said, sweeping her hand toward the crowded streets below. “Look at how they cheer for an Alpirion empress.”

His dark eyes glinted with cynicism. “They cheer now, but how long do you think it will last? How many Deizians will bend their knee to a former slave?”

“More than you think.” But his words jabbed a sliver of fear into her chest. She chewed her bottom lip as she started counting the enemies Lady Azurha had made in the last three weeks. For starters, there was Governor Hostilius and his spoiled daughter, Claudia. Not to mention some other Deizians who believed the emperor was soiling the royal line by marrying a woman outside their race.

As though he knew what she’d been thinking, Farros gave a slow nod. “The Deizians may be few, but they hold all the power.” The muscle rippled along his jaw before he added, “For now.”

Nervous laughter bubbled up from her throat. “Are you suggesting someone is plotting to overthrow the emperor and his people?”

“Our people managed to withstand Deizian conquest for centuries.”

The dark intensity of his statement quickened her pulse. She took a step back, studying the man beside her. Farros was built more for the gladiatorial ring than the imperial household, where he worked in the stables. The sleeves of his tunic rose high enough to partially expose a tattoo on the inside of his bicep. He stared at the procession below, the sun reflecting off his freshly shaven head and coppery skin, the corded muscles in his forearms flexing as he pumped his hands into fists. If he wanted, he could snap her neck in a matter of seconds.

He looked back to her, his face sliding into the flirtatious smile he normally wore around her. Only now, she knew it was a mask. She’d glimpsed the man behind it.

“Why do you look so worried, Izana?”

“Because you talk like a man destined for trouble.”

Farros took her hand and pulled her back to the wall, caging her between his body and the stone bricks. The pounding of her heart drowned out the celebration below, but she still heard his low voice whispering in her ear, “As slaves, we’ve been told that as long as we obey our masters, we have nothing to fear. But that may not always be the case.”

Her breath caught, giving her a few precious seconds to choose her words carefully. “You are not my master.”

“Come now, Izana,” he continued, his hot breath bathing the hollow of her neck where the mark of her former owner was still visible. “How many men have mastered you over the years?”

Fury sizzled through her veins, driving away her fear. She rammed her elbow under his ribs. The air whooshed out of his lungs, and his arms retracted to cradle his injury, allowing her to escape. She retreated until she was well out of arm’s reach before replying, “I’m no longer engaged in that business, and unless you wish for me to tell my mistress everything, you’ll keep your hands to yourself.”

Her feet flew down the stairs in tempo with her pulse, never stopping until she was safely within the palace. Thankfully, Farros didn’t give chase. He was probably still doubled over on the ramparts.

Varro, the palace steward, stood beside the locked doors leading to the emperor’s private quarters. He pressed his hand against the plate as she approached, his brown eyes never missing a thing. “Is something wrong, Izana?”

She shook her head. “The sun was very warm today. I’m sure Lady Azurha will be ready for a dip in the tepidarium when she returns.”

Varro nodded, even though his expression told her he didn’t quite believe her. It didn’t matter. Once she was behind those doors, she was safe. But despite the cool tile beneath her bare feet, her cheeks still burned, and her gut twisted as though it held a den of snakes.

From now on, she needed to be wary of Farros.

Poisoned WebThe Deizian Empire 
Book Two
Crista McHugh

Genre: Fantasy Romance /

SF Romance / Paranormal Romance

ISBN: 978-1-940559-99-5

Cover Artist: Jaycee Delorenzo
at Sweet ‘N Spicy Designs

Book Description:

The fate of the empire hangs on one slave breaking her silence…

As the Deizian Empire prepares for the upcoming wedding of Emperor Titus Sergius Flavus and Azruha, one mystery remains unsolved—the sudden and unexplained death of the former emperor. And as her wedding gift to Titus, Azurha wants to give him answers. She suspects an unknown poison was involved, and her search for the truth enlists two unlikely allies.

Modius Varro’s thirst for knowledge caused an uproar in Emona three years ago and exiled him to the border town of Madrena. But when Titus falls victim to the same poison, his expertise in medicine becomes essential in solving both the riddle of the former emperor’s death and finding a cure to save the current one. His search leads him to far reaches of the Alpirion realm, to an ancient culture shrouded in secrets, and into the arms of one slave who must break her silence to save the empire.

About the Author:

Growing up in small town Alabama, Crista relied on story-telling as a natural way for her to pass the time and keep her two younger sisters entertained.

She currently lives in the Audi-filled suburbs of Seattle with her husband and two children, maintaining her alter ego of mild-mannered physician by day while she continues to pursue writing on nights and weekends.

Just for laughs, here are some of the jobs she’s had in the past to pay the bills: barista, bartender, sommelier, stagehand, actress, morgue attendant, and autopsy assistant.

And she’s also a recovering LARPer. (She blames it on her crazy college days)

For the latest updates, deleted scenes, and answers to any burning questions you have, please check out her webpage www.CristaMcHugh.com

Find Crista online at:

Twitter: twitter.com/crista_mchugh

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CristaMcHugh

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3035791.Crista_McHugh

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

D. Melhoff

Guest Post by D. Melhoff

Why My Mother Loves Stephen King and Hates Stephenie Meyer: A Look at Mainstream Fiction

By: D. Melhoff | November 19

My mother tried reading Twilight back when it was all the rage, but stopped after the first thirty pages.

To be fair, she’s never read Harry Potter either. Or Lord of the Rings. Or The Vampire Chronicles. Or Game of Thrones.

But what confuses me is that she loves Stephen King.

In fact, she’s read more King than anyone I know. She devours his new releases, she’s gone to hear him speak, and she’s stalked him for autographs with almost Annie Wilkes-like fervor.

So what’s going on here? How come when I ask her if she would like a new vampire book for Christmas, she tells me absolutely not, and yet she adored ‘Salem’s Lot? Or why did she love The Shining and hate Hell House and The Haunting of Hill House? She sailed through The Stand (extended version) no problem, but couldn’t be bothered by I Am Legend; and Carrie was completely fine, but try taking her to see X-Men or Push and you’ll probably get a slap across the back of the head.

I can point to a dozen other examples, but we’re all busy and I don’t want to waste your time. The fact is, my mother usually likes historical dramas, contemporary romances, true stories, and crime fiction—anything that has or could happen—but for some reason she always makes one exception. Stephen King.

Is it just good marketing? I don’t think so. If that were the case, she would’ve given up on him long ago.

So what’s the secret ingredient? Does King have higher concept ideas than other fiction authors? Or better pacing? Or a stronger vocabulary?

Needless to say, I’ve always been curious. So one day I asked her what she enjoys about Stephen’s books so much, and her response was simple: his characters. ‘Alright,’ I thought, ‘that’s a little vague.’ But when I asked her to elaborate, the follow-up was a lot more interesting. Put on the spot, she started listing the first words and phrases that came to mind—words like: ‘incredible backstories’, ‘strong dialogue’, ‘his attention to detail’, ‘the humor’, ‘they’re fun’, ‘they’re funny’, and ‘it’s so real’.

I think she hit a few nails on the head there.

For her, King’s greatest strength is his ability to build a world and populate it with characters that feel as real—and have as deep of histories—as you and I. Along the way, he’s able to convey these backstories as entertainingly as possible and pair the action with sharp wit and a constant sense of humor. The man can slay you with a well-timed aphorism, an astute observation, or a comparison from his arsenal of seemingly endless similes, and he does so at a prolific pace.

In his book On Writing, King likens the process of storytelling to paleontology. He says:

"…Stories are relics, part of an undiscovered pre-existing world. The writer's job is to use the tools in his or her toolbox to get as much of each one out of the ground in tact as possible. Sometimes the fossil you uncover is small; a seashell. Sometimes it's enormous, a Tyrannosaurus Rex with all those gigantic ribs and grinning teeth.”

In staying with this metaphor, I’d say the reason my mother enjoys the “relics” in the Museum of King so much isn’t necessarily because they’re the biggest fossils on display, or the rarest. It’s because they’re so exquisitely excavated and presented for visitors to see.

Sure, the Museum of Meyer across the street is just as busy, filled with people who have come to see the one lumbering T-Rex that was crudely jackhammered out of its resting place and assembled with Elmer’s glue, but it’s not my mother’s idea of an enjoyable afternoon, so she’ll skip it.

As a horror writer with my own excavating to do, I’d have to say I’ve inherited my mother’s taste for stories. If you’re looking for something to read, pick up Come Little Children and let me know which museum you think it belongs in.

D. Melhoff is the author of Come Little Children, a new thriller about a family of morticians who are connected to a string of paranormal murders in the secluded town of Nolan, Yukon.

Come Little Children
D. Melhoff

Genre: Horror, Thriller, Supernatural Thriller

Publisher: Bellwoods Publishing

Cover Artist: Carl Graves

Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/nM0QAA607yo

Book Description:

The Nolan morgue is more than just an ordinary funeral home.

When their newest employee uncovers a supernatural conspiracy connected to a string of child murders, she must use every shred of her intelligence to stop a new breed of serial killer and escape the morgue alive.

About the Author:

D. Melhoff was born in a prairie ghost town located an inch above the Canadian-American border. He credits King, Poe, Hitchcock, Harris, Raimi, and his second grade school teacher, Mrs. Lake, for turning him to horror.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Marcus Twyman

Excerpt by Marcus Twyman


I know my limits have been reached tonight. As I stare at the angry pale face snarling at me from across the darkened room, I can feel the last of my strength dwindling down to nothing. My body keeps bleeding out its life’s blood and I can feel it gathering in pools around the spread fingers of my bruised and battered hands where I'm crouching on the concrete floor. I feel the weight of the power-laced air increase as my assailant hunches down into position for one last lunge and my gut tells me that this cold dark cellar may become my eternal resting place. In this moment there is an overwhelming sense that my life has become forfeit.

In this place where all odds are against me, I 
envision her face one last time. Lifting my head slowly from the floor, I stare through the blood soaked strands of my hair at my opponent. His face is contorted into a mask of rage. His teeth glisten in the darkness and there is no mistaking the bloodlust in those ancient, glowing, yellow eyes.

I go back to picturing her face again – the image is so vivid I can practically reach out and touch her. I remember her sweet scent and the sound of her voice. I can feel her soft skin as I reach up to place a hand on her cheek.

I can't die here, I can't leave her to fend for herself against my kind. I must survive this. Focusing on my body, I concentrate

The moment that he decides to attack, I know it. As if in slow motion, his muscles begin to flex beneath the skin of his forearms and shoulders. He rocks forward onto the balls of his feet like a cobra ready for the strike.

For a split second all I can register is the sound of my own heart beating...that’s when he launches himself from his side of the room towards me. I propel myself forward with my own teeth bared and my claws fully extended. A low vibration rocks through my chest and explodes from my mouth. The awesome power of the roar is like no other on this planet. It’s the Nebu Khet's cry, and it always means death.

Khet Chronicles
Blood Ties
Marcus Twyman

Genre: Urban Fantasy

ISBN: 978-1461108184

Cover Artist: Marcus Twyman

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/14WArWj

Book Description:

Kalin Moshire and his stepbrother, Shane, struggle to survive the race of people known as the Nebu Khet, which they also happen to belong to. They are hunted because of Shane's heredity. He's half Homo Sapiens (sape) and Half Nebu Khet (khet). Kalin swore to protect him on the night his mother sacrificed herself to save their lives, but will he keep that promise or will unseen threats destroy them first.

From the cozy suburbs of Montgomery County, Maryland, to the busy streets of New York City, across the desert sands of Egypt, to the rocky cliffs of Ireland. Kalin must unravel the truths that have been hidden to him since childhood and fight for the right to live.

About the Author:

Marcus Twyman has lived most of his life in Montgomery County, Maryland. Since he was a child he's enjoyed writing stories, songs, and poetry - using the power of words as a therapeutic release for his feelings and emotions.

Now living in New York City, Marcus has been slowly adapting to the bustling concrete jungle and is incorporating his new experiences into his writing.

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/khetchronicles

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/khetchronicles

Youtube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udtuoEJp7fo

Website: http://www.khetchronicles.com

Amazon Buy-Link: http://amzn.to/1azxoFS

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shanyn Hosier

Guest Post by Shanyn Hosier

ESP, Quantum Entanglement, and the Multiverse

*Caveat emptor: I am no expert in physics! I might have this all wrong…

"The universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine." – Sir James Jeans

Let me first say I am a skeptic of ESP (Extra-Sensory Perception) claims. I strongly believe scientific, rational explanations are more plausible than supernatural ones. But it's interesting to note that many of the kinds of things claimed by ESP folk—telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis, and the like—don't necessarily contradict the rules of physics!

Psi, a term often used by ESP proponents, is defined as the general process of information and/or energy transfer. (1) According to Dean Radin, a psi-phenomenon researcher, words for ESP exist in every language. (2) "Magic" has always been a part of the human worldview.

If we think of thought and consciousness as forms of energy, a wave if you will, then like all waves, thoughts might be able to interact with other forms of energy to produce observable effects. Therefore ESP does not necessarily violate the laws of thermodynamics. A psychic must input thought energy into a system to alter it.

Quantum entanglement is when the quantum states of constituent objects (particles, waves, or bits of information, depending on your perspective) are linked together in "a kind of telepathic link that transcends space and time." (3) One particle can no longer be adequately described without full mention of its counterpart, even if they are spacially separated. The opposite of entanglement is decoherence, or the non-permanence of that link.

At any given moment, some of our particles are entangled with our surroundings. Some are entangled with those we love, no matter the time or distance separating us. But many more are connected to every other particle that crosses our paths, usually for just an instant. This decoherence is why we perceive the matter around us to have sharp edges, not blurry ones. (3)

Much of quantum mechanics involves symmetry. By manipulating one aspect of the system, through entangled quantum states, another separate-but-connected phenomenon may be affected. This is the basis for the concept of quantum computers. (4) Dean Radin takes it a step further, claiming, "Psi becomes an unavoidable consequence of living in an interconnected, entangled physical reality."

What about people who claim to see the future? It just might be possible, if the Multiverse theory is true. Before this theory, scientists thought reality consisted of a single, unfolding history. But Hugh Everett claimed in 1957 that an infinite number of universes branch off from each other, and everything that could ever possibly happen did. If these alternate realities can be visualized, their statistical probabilities somehow sensed, it might look to us like a form of precognition.

In the realm of quantum mechanics, all possibilities exist at once. Observables are indeterminate until a physical intervention to measure them is introduced. The act of observing alters the results. Merely looking at something determines its present and significantly impacts its future. Therefore the experiencers of reality are also its selectors. (cue Twilight Zone music…)

"Genesis occurs repeatedly in a timeless ocean of Nirvana" — Michio Kaku (5)


(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extrasensory_perception

(2) "Entangled Minds" by Dean Radin. His website: http://www.deanradin.com/NewWeb/EMindex.html

(3) http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=easy-go-easy-come

(4) http://www.howstuffworks.com/quantum-computer.htm

(5) "Parallel Worlds" by Michio Kaku. His website: http://mkaku.org/

Amanda Ryder V.I. 
Book 2

Shanyn Hosier

Book Description:

When all signs point to trouble, can Amanda steer clear of disaster?

Amanda Ryder's determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won't hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they'd trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…

Frustrated and itching to prove herself, Amanda snags her first Academy mission: she and Toby Laboyteaux, fellow teen witch who "kinda sorta sees the future," must work together to track down a local swamp monster stirring up trouble in the sticks. But overturned suburban garbage cans and blurry tabloid pictures aren't the only problems—strained relationships with her new colleagues, a growing guilt-complex, and the waxing moon all add to Amanda's stress. Add to that the pressure of being hunted by a psychic psychopath, and Amanda's got plenty on her mind.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Nash swears Marian Dupree and her Academy of bumbling do-gooders have thwarted his plans for the last time. Convinced Amanda's the subject of his mother's recent prophecy and the key to his future success, he redoubles his efforts to obtain the mystery girl. But when Amanda proves too slippery a quarry, Nash sets his sights on the next best thing. When a valuable member of the Academy coven is kidnapped, Amanda and her friends are in a race against time. Is a tragic future destined to come to pass?

Amazon Paperback

About the Author:

Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband and two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos). I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.

Web http://www.shanynhosier.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shanyn-Hosier/117508078349472

Twitter @Taboo_Mistress

Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5415139.Shanyn_Hosier

Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B006HGAZL0

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