June Trop’s New Release: The Deadliest Sport

I’m happy to have June Trop over to visit my blog and share her newest release, The Deadliest Sport.

BEST cover THE DEADLIEST SPORT June Trop Cover

Help Miriam solve the locked-room murder of a spindling, jackal-faced slave…

The Deadliest Sport is a locked-room murder mystery; the victim, a guest at The Pegasus, a sleazy waterfront inn where Miriam goes to investigate the disappearance of an elderly friend’s will.

Could the bashing of a jackal-faced slave’s skull have anything to do with that will? And who killed him anyway? Miriam’s brother’s buddy, the soon-to-be ex-gladiator who was sentenced to the arena for murder? An itinerant dwarf whose walking stick was the murder weapon? Or the inn’s husky hostess, a tart with both an appetite for sea captains and lofty connections to Nero’s magistrates? Why else would she be so eager to get Miriam off the premises?

Only Miriam is shrewd enough to penetrate a monstrous, multi-layered scheme and bold enough to risk her life to expose the mastermind behind it.

 

Earliest reviews for THE DEADLIEST SPORT

 “The story has a ring of truth that is rare in historical fiction, and it is clear that the author knows her history. A really good read.”  Taylor Jones, Reviewer

 The Deadliest Sport is filled with well-developed and realistic characters, plenty of tension, and an intriguing mystery, as well as a strong authenticity that was a real treat. This is one you won’t want to put down.” Regan Murphy, Reviewer

 

You can pick up a copy HERE at Amazon or HERE from Black Opal Books.  You can also find June Trop on her blog HERE.

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Strong Secondary Characters & A Free Short Story

I was recently asked in an interview about which characters I love. My mind immediately went to some of my secondary characters. While I love my main characters, I enjoy my minor characters because they have so much story left that the readers never see. When I start a novel, I begin with the characters. I write short stories, journal entries, and whatever I need to get inside the characters mind. Then when I began writing, the characters take off. Sometimes they do as expected, but every now and then they take a twist I didn’t see coming and controlled chaos ensues. It’s part of what makes writing fun.

One of my favorite secondary characters is Grace. We meet her halfway through the story, as a product of the magicians’ slave trade. She’s compliant and defeated at first, but she never loses her brazen personality. When she is given a second chance, she fights with everything she has.EvilEtched in Gold (1)

Another character that makes a brief appearance and strong impression is Nevada. He struck me so much that I wrote a short story about him, Evil Etched in Gold. I’m offering this story for a limited time on my website when you sign up for my newsletter (click HERE). Nevada is an illusionist with the power to look like anyone. He is on the run from the local coven and with Nevada, nothing is ever as it seems. We’ll be seeing more of Nevada in book two, Unholy Sundering out with Black Opal Book 2018.

Hope you enjoy!

DeAnna

Peek at my New Release, DEMON RISING

Over the weekend my debut novel, DEMON RISING, was released on Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and Kobo. One reviewer, Taylor Jones said, “For a debut novel, the story is extremely well written, filled with wonderful characters, strange happenings, and fast-paced actions. I, for one, found it very hard to put down. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.”

I have the first page below for those that want a sneak peak. Also remember if you sign up for my newsletter (click here to sign up), I have a free short story based on one of the characters from Demon Rising, Nevada. He’s one of my favorites. Hope you enjoy.

2x6_bookmark - side 1 DEMON RISING

The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist.

She moved amid a throng of people, shuffling along the worn walkways. Heavy clouds were scattered across the sky, while dilapidated buildings surrounded them, a haunting reminder of what once was. A young man pushed past Becca, dressed in blue coveralls. He must be heading to the line. The tattoo on Becca’s neck prickled as she walked the crowded path to work. Searching for the possible source of magic, she continued forward, with coffee in one hand and the other resting by the knife at her waist.

The warehouse traveled up twenty stories high, the tallest building in town with a large fountain in front. It must have once been a beauty. Now the fountain, covered in graffiti, ran dry and the boarded up windows could barely keep the wind out.

A familiar, lanky guard stood watch on the side of the road. Could he have been the source of the magic warming her tattoo? He scanned the crowd with a demon dog at his side, a German shepherd with unnaturally large black eyes.

Turning forward, she let her dark hair fall into her face, not wanting to draw his attention. She stepped past the guard undisturbed. She could handle herself with the guards, but her boss, Nikko, constantly nagged her about keeping a low profile.

The crowds pressed together, and a large man knocked into Becca’s side, tripping her. She stumbled, spilling the remains of her coffee all over her black jeans. Someone swore as the crowd surged forward, and she stepped to the side.

At five-foot-five, she was on the small side, but strong enough to cause pain and scrappy enough to avoid it when she could. The crowds weren’t her problem, though. That would be the presence behind her, causing her tattoo to burn.

Cover Reveal: Demon Rising

I’m excited to announced my debut novel, Demon Rising, will be released with Black Opal Books mid-August 2017. As this is my first book baby, I’m a ball of nerves. But I’m already done with book two and it’s under contract. So ready or not, here we come.

DeAnnaBrowne_ADemonRising_eCover_1400

Thirty years ago, dark magicians unleashed new power on the earth fueled by demons. Governments toppled, millions died and magicians ended up on top of the food chain.

Twenty-four-year-old Becca survives these dangerous times by relying on her wits, her fists, and the limited goodwill of her boss, a local crime lord. When news comes of a fire back home and the family she left behind dead, she realizes her dark past has finally caught up to her.

On the hunt for her missing sister, she must rely on Darion, a treacherous ex-boyfriend with ties to the local coven for back-up. Problem is he’s a pyromancer that can’t be trusted, especially with her heart. Becca’s forced to navigate a dangerous web of deceit and must decide what’s she’s willing to sacrifice to save her sister.

 

 

 

Don’t Let Research Opportunities Pass You By

One of the best parts of being a writer is research. Research can take you to different cities (or websites when funds are low), unusual restaurants, meeting exotic people with rich history, or in my case, a longsword class. I wanted to share what I learned, not only to help others with their writing, but to encourage people to step out of their comfort zone a bit more.

I attended an ancient European longsword class taught by New York Times Best Seller, Melissa Marr. The sword, surprisingly, only weighed two and a half pounds. Light at first, but soon the weight of the sword burned my arms as my speed increased. Yes, my forearms were sore the next day. The names of positions were German, and we walk through several at the beginning of class.

Soon, we were practicing a particular set of strikes against another person. Then we walked with these attacks. The purpose was muscle memory and to strike at one’s opponent without thought.

One thing I learned was often the movies get it wrong. Opponents don’t clash in a bind (when two swords meet) and then proceed to struggle in that same position to give insults. There are many responses to a bind and they all happen very quickly. A few are: the void, where one steps back; disarming one’s opponent by a variety of methods; and maneuvering the blade to strike at one’s opponent (a few being the wind, undercut, or take off −where you try to behead your opponent).

Not only was this class a blast (yes, I’m going back), but I learned so much about fighting. When writers don’t do their research, whether it be about location, tools, weapons or even food, it shows. Next time I write a fight scene, I have so many more options in my toolbox.  So work outside of your comfort zone, now and again. Like the saying goes: “We often regret what we don’t do.”

National Poetry Month, Let’s Write

I am thrilled to have my friend, Stephanie Abney, visit my blog today to talk about poetry and encourage everyone to give it a try. She is an amazing teacher and poet, and is having a poetry book coming out soon. I could go on, but I’ll hand the reins over to her.

Greetings – DeAnna and I are in the same writers group and I’m excited she invited me to share something I love about writing with you here on her blog today. Here’s why I’m happy April has arrived: every APRIL IS NATIONAL POETRY MONTH!! And I love poetry.

Now, stay with me please, even if you think you don’t enjoy poetry and especially if you think you can’t write poetry. As a retired teacher, I’m of the opinion that ANYONE can learn to write poetry, especially with the easy to follow instructions that I post on my blog, “Stephanie Says So.” I started this challenge of writing 30 poems in 30 days a few years ago and one friend, who basically had not ever written any poetry, has since gone on to write more than two thousand poems. Yep, she even writes a poem or two about her day and includes it in her personal journal. She writes poems to give as cards to friends on special occasions. Heck, she would even write a poem about a trip to the dump. ANYTHING that you do, see, feel, experience, and/or think about . . . is fair game to write a poem about and it’s so much easier than you may think!!

Not only did I use these methods when I taught 8th grade English and Creative Writing to a bunch of middle schoolers, I even used them when I went to China and taught English, particularly how to write poetry, to some teenage students. It was awesome and the poems my Chinese students wrote were delightful, funny, heartfelt, profound and just plain amazing. And you can do the same!!

There SO MANY KINDS OF POETRY out there, that not only could you give it a try, you could actually write a DIFFERENT style of poem each day. (I also have a FB group for this purpose: “A Month of Poetry – 30 Poems in 30 Days” ~ totally OPTIONAL ~ just ask to join: https://www.facebook.com/groups/178557275869627/?ref=bookmarks).

We’re going to start out this year with a basic and simple poetry form call a “Lantern Poem.” The instructions are waiting for you over at my blog: “Stephanie Says So.” Hope you will join in the fun!! Cheers!!

Like I said, even if you think you can’t write poetry, I’d love to prove to you that you can!!! So many poems have actual patterns or forms to follow; some are almost “fill in the blank.”

Below are a few sample poems. What will you come up with?

This poetry from is called a “Cinquain” poem. It has a specific number of syllables per line:

Comfort
Feeling secure
Where judgment has no place
Wrapped in the safety of your arms
Husband

©  Stephanie Abney

A ball of fireSlips behind the horizonA summer goodnight© Stephanie Abney

I hope you’ll join me this month! Cheers!Stephanie Abney headshot 2015

Stephanie Abney

“Stephanie Says So”

http://stephaniesaysso.blogspot.com/

 

The Balance between Creativity and Constraint

In all art forms, there is a thin line between creativity and constraint. As artists, we all want to push that envelope, to create a unique story or piece of art, to let our mind be free and uninhibited. That is why I create. Those few moments of bliss in creating something you love.

But as an artist that wants to make a paycheck and to be marketable in this economy, there has to be some constraints. For writing, you need to learn the technique and grammar needed to sell a book.

“Paradoxically, creativity thrives on the tension between freedom and constraint,” says Brent Rosso, an organizational psychology professor at Montana State University. “They’re the yin and yang of creativity.”

Remember though, the individual artist is the negotiator of this balance and always has the final decision. I think of my muse as a beautiful little monster whose creativity needs to be feed with freedom and exercised with restraint. Here are a couple things I use to keep my muse well feed and in check.

  1. Have a trusted writing group whose feedback I trust. They will let you know when you get too far off the beaten path.
  2. Give myself permission to fail. This may be the hardest one yet. Shut the door to the peanut gallery. Do your thing, and if you believe in it that’s all that matters. Experience is sometimes the best teacher.
  3. Try new things, whether writing in a new point of view or possibly a new genre or prose. Try your hand at poetry or short story maybe. Even drawing or coloring can open creative pathways. Don’t be afraid to try.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite sayings. I look at it often as I’m now finishing up edits on book two of my The Dark Rising series.

Write without Fear

Finding Perspective in Your Writing Career

As I anxiously await the release of my new book, my To Do List is growing by the minute. I can be easily overwhelmed by the promoting, editing, blogging, blog tours, and the list continues.  But before I spiraled into crazy land filled with sticky notes, red pens and caffeine IVs, I sat down and wrote this list of how to keep things in perspective.

  1. Don’t Compare Myself to Others: Online I find amazing authors who have the blogging, promoting and reviews down to an art. As a debut author, I can use ideas of things that work for others, but once I start saying I should be more like X, or I’m not as good as Y, then things will travel from bad to worse. Every artist is different, and we have to acknowledge and honor that difference in ourselves.
  2. Set Realistic Goals: I have pushed back my deadline to finish edits on book two for the third month and continual rake myself across the coals for it. I wasn’t being realistic though setting a goal in December when I have five kids. It wasn’t going to happen. At this time in my life, I may not be able to complete a novel in six months. It goes back to #1 on my list. Set goals that work for me, not others.
  3. Time Management: This is a hard one for me. Many writers have other full-time jobs, and it’s a challenge to make time for writing. I just make it a priority to at least do something little each day. I want to make a habit and feel good about keeping that habit. Others may have to do big chunks of time on the weekends. Find whatever works for you and do it.
  4. Enjoy the Journey: Sometimes I have to take a step back from the edits and blogs and reviews, and just write for fun, or maybe even read a great book. If I don’t, I’ll forget why I picked this career and lose myself in the stress of it. It’s not worth it.

I’d love to hear what helps you stay grounded for I’m sure I’ll need this more than once.

CANDY HEARTS VERSUS BOW-CHICK-A-WOW-WOW guest post by Jami Gray

I’m excited to welcome Jami Gray to my humble abode. Congratulations are in order for her recently released tenth novel, MARKED BY OBSESSION (I’m in thrall with it right now). Today she’s come to talk about the heat level in romance, which is perfect for the month of February and because she’s got it down.

CANDY HEARTS VERSUS BOW-CHICK-A-WOW-WOW

In the romance genre stories run the gamut from sweet-handholding-blushes-demure-glances to wild-raunchy-OMG-can-a-body-really-do-that and everything in between. There is a huge variety in romance because our reading audience is composed of, well, a huge variety of humans.

When I first started my writing journey, I approached the daunting world of publishing with an Urban Fantasy series where romance played a secondary role. Of course, the majority of publishers wanted ROMANCE (yes, in all caps). So no surprise I received a plethora of rejection letters that shared a common theme: There’s not enough romance.

Some even went so far as to suggest I add a few heavy breathing scenes to up that elusive romance quotient. When you’re trying to get published, it’s very difficult not to buckle under the pressure, but I gritted my teeth, declaring my characters weren’t at that particular stage in their relationship, and kept going.  As a writer of UF and Paranormal Romantic Suspense, romance plays a crucial part in all my stories, but that romantic connection needs to come about naturally, not be forced through the bedroom door.

Long story short, I did get my UF series picked up, and yes, in the second book there is required ROMANCE. Not because that’s what my publisher wanted (they loved my story just the way it was), but because that is where my couple naturally ended up.

So why am I sharing this? Well, writers are victim to the “sex sells” mentality as much as any other artist. In fact, if you read a ton of romance you’ve witnessed it firsthand. There are those titles that are all about the sex with thin plots and even thinner character development. Then there are those stories where sex plays understudy to the relationship.

And then there are those that nail it. It’s like they find the perfect recipe of intriguing-heart-attack-inducing-story, suck-you-in-until-you’re-drowning depth of characters, and the breath-stealing-fantasy-inducing sex. These books aren’t always labeled erotica (though there are some really great series out there), but they are labeled romance. This is because the emotion behind why the characters we love fall into each other’s arms is something we can connect to and the evolution of their relationship feels real.

Romance readers read their genre because we are fascinated by the emotional aspect of human connections—how does the cynical heroine overcome past betrayals to take a chance on happiness with the hero she feels is out of reach, or how does the weary hero find peace in the arms of a strong woman. We want to see our flawed characters get their happy ever after. There is something so beautiful about two people finding each other despite what life’s thrown at them, that gives us, the readers, hope for the same out here in our crazy, everyday world.  And there’s not a darn thing wrong with that.

So the next time you encounter that person who rolls their eyes because you read romance, remember there is a depth to romance that goes beyond the bow-chick-a-wow-wow, and dives into the heart of what love really means.

MARKED BY OBSESSION

markedbyobsession_m

 

Some betrayals hide behind love, others obsession…

The loss of her beloved brother and a series of unexplained events plunges Meli Dwyer into a dangerously unfamiliar reality. Alone and floundering, she turns to the sexy and unsettling Wolf Kincaid, PSY-IV Team’s skilled telepath, for help even as her battered heart whispers to steer clear of a man more dangerous than what hunts her.

Will Meli find the answers to her personal nightmare before one man’s obsession costs her the heart of another?

Pick up your copy here:

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/print-books/romance-print-books/romantic-suspense/marked-by-obsession-detail

Amazon: http://a.co/9WVE4Yw

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/marked-by-obsession-jami-gray/1125298655?ean=2940153541624

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/marked-by-obsession/id1184185022?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/marked-by-obsession

 

Want a sneak peak?

“That’s it angel. Keep going.” He watched, offering quiet encouragement until I was breathing normally. His hand stopped its gentle movements, but didn’t move away.

“Better?”

I nodded. “I’m sor—”

“Stop,” he growled, literally growled, as a fierce light made his eyes bright. “There is nothing to apologize for.”

Logically I knew that, but logic didn’t stand a chance against old habits.

He released my wrists and turned his hand to tangle his fingers with mine, giving me an anchor. “You up for continuing?”

He asked the question like I had a choice. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I wasn’t blind to the fact that I needed to share what had happened. If I could do that with Wolf, maybe it would dull the jagged edges of the memories. What worried me was sharing and then watching Wolf realize I wasn’t the type of woman he needed or wanted. Broken and barely mended didn’t hold a candle to strong and sure. Unable to look away, I slowly nodded.

“Okay.” The hand under my breasts disappeared and he rose to his feet, still holding my other hand. “You’re going to come sit with me on the couch. That way, we’ll both be more comfortable.”

Meli the Milquetoast I may be, but there was no way I was turning down a chance to be close to him while I could. Part of me warned to hoard the experience while I could because he wouldn’t be staying. Too battered emotionally, I chose to ignore the pessimistic voice. For now. He tugged on my hand, and I uncurled my legs and stood shakily, waiting for the pins and needles to fade. Wolf stood patient and quiet, waiting for me.

We moved to the couch. He sat down, reached up, and pulled me into his lap. His warmth was better than any blanket and being held in his arms against his solid chest gave me the illusion of protection. Nothing could touch me, so long as he held me. I tucked my head in the hollow of his shoulder. When his chin brushed my temple, I closed my eyes, gripped his wrist at my waist, and sank into him.

 

jami-gray

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

 

Hunt her down at:

Website: www.JamiGray.com

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JamiGray

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/JamiGrayAuthor

Google+:  https://google.com/+JamiGray

 

Theresa Sneed Comes to Visit with her Band of Fairies

Faires, wizards, and pixies, OH MY!  Welcome, welcome, to our guest this week, Theresa Sneed. In her recent release, Theresa takes us on another adventure in her SONS of ELDERBERRY Series. It’s a unique mystical world with daring adventures and a sweet romance that makes our hearts melt.

In effort to uncover this mystical writer beyond her back cover bio, I asked her to tell us a little about herself and she wasn’t shy.

What are TOP TEN THINGS we should know about Theresa Sneed?

  1. Born and raised in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.milo-feb-2015-003
  2. Became a “ghost writer” in 3rd grade when she gave her friend a poem she had written which won first place and was published in the local newspaper under her friend’s name!
  3. Loves the outdoors – especially in New England.
  4. Strongly believes that we are all brothers and sisters and ought to treat each other as such regardless of our ethnicity, religious preference, or political affiliation.
  5. Loves, loves, loves to write and spends inordinate amounts of time in front of her computer!
  6. Loves classical music – listens to it while writng.
  7. Doesn’t mind growing old – adheres to Edgar Allen Poe’s words “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream,” and believes that this life is for but a moment and a greater existence awaits.
  8. Deeply in love with her husband of 38 years.
  9. Wishes she knew her distant grandchildren better.
  10. Loves to read and recognizes the correlation of being an avid reader and an effective writer. Loves Stephen King’s sage advice, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”

 

We’re also lucky enough to get a sneak peek inside the covers of her recent release, SONS of ELDERBERRY and don’t miss out below on the free GIVEAWAY.

wood-fairies-front-cover-2017

When Elias of Elderberry introduces his best friend Jaron Finley to his magical world of fairies and castles, wizards and yōkai shape-shifters, will Jaron ever want to go back to his dull world of school and homework, especially after meeting Elieli, the fairy princess of Estraelia? It’s doubtful, but he must—the mortal that he is. Will Elias have to alter his memory and erase all that his friend has seen, or will Jaron be able to keep the secret that Elias Rey—a sophomore at PVHS, is a wizard and the youngest heir of Elderberry?

Reviews from Elias of Elderberry, Book One:

Elias of Elderberry is a truly marvelous book! The action, concept, and mysteries contained in this novel are intensely compelling and exciting. Not satisfied with simply writing an entertaining story, Sneed fills the pages with lessons about temptation, addiction, and the morals of right versus wrong. – R.L. Drembic

The Sons of Elderberry! Book One, Elias of Elderberry, was fantastic! I am eager to read the continuing sequels. Do any of us really know who we are and what our real worth is? Fifteen-year-old Elias was soon to discover things beyond his wildest imagination. This is about present day with regular school attendance, yet also, time travel with castles, dungeons, dragons and more! There were many characters well-defined and realistic. Also, the scenes were portrayed very well so the reader was able to easily picture them occurring. My Review of this book offers a Five Stars rating. – LAWonder10

 

EXCERPT from THE SONS OF ELDERBERRY

In the fairy kingdom of Estraelia, the birth of a fairy is a spectacular event. It happens much like the Merwing, once every thousand years, when hundreds of infant fairies enter their world for the first time. Elieli beckoned for Elias and Samuel to follow her. They slipped away from the feast unnoticed, as the others continued talking and eating Elderberry pie, topped with swirls of white-lemon cream.

“Hurry! I want to show you something.” They followed her through the chamber and on through the ballroom, but instead of leaving the donjon the way the boys had entered, she took them down a long hallway, then up a narrow flight of circular stairs that tightly hugged the castle’s stone wall. The evening sky greeted them, as they neared the top of the sixth tower. Though they stepped out to a spectacular view of the woods and the tiny village far below, it was the stars that stood out the most. The heavens danced, as they twinkled brightly, setting off bursts of energy that filled the sky with gentle fireworks of bluish-white lights.

Samuel pointed to the sky. “What is this? I’ve never seen the stars look like that!”

“It is the Dance of the Fairies,” Elieli said, gazing up at them. “They do look like stars, don’t they?”

Samuel glanced from one shining orb to the next. “They are stars, Elieli. Aren’t they?”

“No,” she said, with a sigh, “not stars.” She looked at the boys then took a small, clear stone from her pocket and held it up to the shimmering display of lights. “Look!” she exclaimed, pointing through the stone to the lights.

“Wow!” Elias said, with a gasp. “It’s hundreds of wood fairies!” He could see them clearly now, even though they were in the sky—lifting their magnificent wings slowly up and down in beautiful, synchronized patterns of dance miles away.

Book Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wood-Fairies-Estraelia-Sons-Elderberry/dp/B01MR4QT6F/

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33958367-the-wood-fairies-of-estraelia?from_search=true

Rafflecopter Giveaway: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/330006f8281/

WANT MORE OF THERESA?

Official Facebook Event pagehttps://www.facebook.com/events/616599811870520/

website: www.theresasneed.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheresaMSneed/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheresaSneed

Author email: tmsneed.author@yahoo.com

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/theresasneed/