Interview with Author Tawdra Kandle

Hey, everyone! I’m back and I have another author to introduce to you. Her name is Tawdra Kandle and I recently learned about her from the box set Hot Beach Romance: Sand, Sunshine and Sizzle!  It looks really good with 15 books for just 99 cents!

Are you ready to get to know Tawdra?

To start off, can you tell us a little about yourself? 

Absolutely! I’m a writer who also happens to be a wife and homeschooling mom. I live in central Florida, but I was an Army and P&G brat and grew up everywhere. Home is technically South Jersey, which means for me, ‘the city’ is Philadelphia, we cheer for the Philies and the Eagles and the shore is nothing like what you’ve seen on television. I’m happily transplanted in Florida, though I love to travel whenever I can.

Have you been writing “forever” and if not, when/how did you decide to write?

11187249_1062495793778903_6378414454093288781_oI have been writing forever. In school, I was the one known for being able to put things into words; I was the newspaper editor, and I planned to major in journalism. Ultimately, I left college to get married and move to Hawaii with my husband (who was in the Army), and being a wife and mom took over. But I never stopped writing. I did short stories, I wrote non-fiction pieces for different small publications and ran more church newsletters than I can remember. Fiction was also playing in the back of my mind, but it didn’t burst forth fully until 2008, when I was sick in bed for two weeks. I’d read “Twilight” and the fourth book wasn’t out yet. . .I needed something to read and couldn’t find anything. I decided I would write what I wanted to read, and about four months later, FEARLESS was finished. I never looked back.

 What genres do you typically write? 

Always romance. I started out writing YA paranormal, and I did enjoy it, but when I wrote THE POSSE, I realized I’d found my true love. (Pun intended.) I straddled contemporary and paranormal for about 18 months, but this year I’m only releasing contemporary romance. However. . .my paranormal characters have begun to get a little loud. So I plan to release a few paranormal romances next year. All of my paranormals are in the same world and are connected in some way, although some are YA, some are NA and others are adult. But I’m eager to get back to them.

Do you read in the same genres you write? 

Mostly. I love contemporary romance, especially new adult. I don’t read much YA, which is probably why I’ve moved away from it. Right now, I’m hooked on NA sports romances, so I’ve been toying with the idea of working one of those into my own writing schedule.

the planWhere do you find your inspiration and ideas for your stories?

I find it in a mixture of places. A good deal of my YA work came from interaction with my kids and their friends, as well as my own memories and life. Most of my con rom ideas come from the characters themselves, or whatever I happen to be doing at the time I’m planning their books.

Are you on social media? If so, which platforms do you like to use to interact with your readers most? 

I am on social media. . .all the time. I’m most interactive on Facebook and Twitter, though I also use Instagram and Pinterest to some degree. My private group of readers is where I have the most fun, because I can be myself—and they love me anyway.

What is the strangest thing a reader has ever said to you? 

Oh, my, that’s actually harder than you might think. I hear a lot of weird stuff! The most disturbing was when someone said she’d based a life decision on one of my books. (gulp!) Something I’m asked pretty frequently is about THE POSSE, where the main female character is a widow. I’m often asked if I’ve picked out one of my husband’s friends, just in case. Uhhhhh . . . no.

What do you love most about the romance writing world? 

I love that we all can gush about love and happily-ever-afters, and we tend to not be cynical. Mostly. We have to believe in true love, at least to some extent.

the pathWhat do you have coming up?  

Well, THE PLAN (which is the second Crystal Cove romance) came out on June 29th, and THE PATH, the third Crystal Cove romance, comes out August 25th. It’s a beach summer! I’ll also be in St. Louis at Penned Con, in Orlando at Indie BookFest and in Atlanta at Authors After Dark. In the fall, the next book in the Perfect Dish series comes out. It’s called JUST ROLL WITH IT and I am itching to get at it!

Anything else you want to say to the Magical Musings readers? 

Thank you for having me here . . . and please do stop my Facebook page and let me know you found me at Magical Musings. I love to chat with readers and meet new ones. *And* if you’re going to be at any of the events I mentioned above, be sure to come by my table—I’ll have something special for you.

* * * * *

Readers, you can find The Plan and The Path at the following retailers!

The Plan: iBooks / Amazon / Nook / Google Play / Kobo / ARe

The Path: iBooks / Amazon / Nook / Google Play / Kobo

* * * * *

Have any of you read a book by Tawdra in the past? If not, have you been to any book conferences that you enjoyed so much you want to go back? 

Posted in Amy R's Posts | Tagged | 5 Comments

Creativity Myths

creativityI came across this excellent article on 5 creativity myths, and found myself nodding my head almost continually while I read it. If you’d like to do so before you read the rest of my blog post, go ahead, I’ll wait . . . :)

5 Creativity Myths You Probably Believe

First off, myth number one, creativity comes from the right brain. I have to admit, I’ve been sceptical of this one, but now I know for sure it isn’t true.

Myth number two is the common wisdom that brainstorming is good. I have never, and I can’t stress this strongly enough, NEVER liked brainstorming. It was a very popular method for writers to use in helping them plot when I first started writing seriously, but before I was published. I stayed far away :), all the time wondering if I was just too much of a control freak to participate. It may still be true that I’m a control freak, but at least I know brainstorming isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. :)

Myth number three is a personal bugbear. Pressure breeds creativity. No. No. No. It does not. Well, for me, anyway. I like to have a schedule that I have to stick to, but the one time I was in a pressure situation where I had to produce work under a really tight deadline, was the worst time I’ve ever had as a writer. When there is a ticking clock, I have the sense that every word needs to be perfect, or I’m wasting time, and of course, every word is never going to be perfect, so I end up frozen, like Bambi in the headlights. Ugh!

Myth number four is another one I’ve always taken exception to. That only a certain group of people are creative. Absolute and utter rubbish. I see creativity all around me. My sister is a scientist, but she also creates the most amazing quilts and bags. Really breathtaking stuff I wouldn’t even think to try my hand at. One of my best friends, also a scientist, is a genuine artist with icing. She has made the most amazing cakes you can imagine. For one of my birthdays she made me a cake that looked like a Chanel handbag, and some people actually thought it WAS a handbag it looked so realistic. Other friends are gardening whizzes or home decorators. Everyone is creative in different ways. My daughter plays the piano so well it sometimes floors me. Talent is all around, and no one has the market on it.

Myth five is something I agree with, but hadn’t thought about much until I read the article. That creativity is all about Eureka moments. I think because I’m a writer of longish novels, I’ve always seen creativity as a process that starts with a small spark of inspiration but which needs a long time to develop into the creative project it eventually becomes. Eureka moments are fun, but they are only the start of things, for the most part.

Which myths did you think were true, and what are your thoughts on creativity?

photo credit: Bloom n Chalk – Safety Harbor, Fl. via photopin (license)

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 2 Comments

So Many Questions with Author Gwendolyn Beynon

Hello, Magical Musings readers! I am so excited to introduce you to new feature here on the blog. We have decided to turn my posts into a question/answer session with an author! I love getting to know authors and introducing them to readers so this works our perfectly. Some of you know, but for those that don’t, I run the review blog So Many Reads. When trying to come up with a title for this feature a friend recommended So Many Questions. So, there we go! I hope you enjoy this feature and meet some new authors along the way!

Today, my guest is Author Gwendolyn Beynon! Let’s get to know her a little.

Gwen_Dragon_300dpi_monoCan you tell us what type of books you write (genre, etc)?

My books are low fantasy historicals set in sixth century Wales. They take real characters of Welsh dark age culture, merge them with ancient mythology and Arthurian legend, and then brush everything over with a healthy dose of dragons (yay!).  The first in the y Ddraig series, ‘Sacrifice’, is built around a real virgin hermitess called Melangell who lived alone in the Welsh mountains for years and later founded a sanctuary for the dispossessed there. I re-imagined her story by wondering what if she wasn’t alone out there in those woods at all, what if she was protecting something very ancient and very secret—a dragon egg. And what if the King wanted the egg’s power badly enough to send his warrior brother, Cai, out to hunt it down in the name of the Christian God.

I hadn’t planned on using a character quite so close to the Arthurian panetheon but Cai’s story really intrigued me. Early Welsh literature speaks very highly of him and then suddenly something happens and history begins speaking of him in downright scathing terms. It wasn’t a long leap to imagine that his powerful brother, Artwr, might have had something to do with the sudden shift and that became the springboard for the story of love and loyalty between Cai and Melangell.

Why do you love that genre? 

I didn’t know I was going to love historical fantasy quite so much. I took half a year off from writing contemporary romance (after twenty books) to write a ‘palate cleanser’ and I wasn’t even sure what story I was going to write. I just knew it was going to be very different from my usual works. My grandparents were Welsh and everything about Wales’ history and culture and myth and landscapes just captivate me so much; overturn a rock in Cymru and an ancient myth will be wriggling around underneath it. I let all those aspects inspire me and looked for synergistic moments to inspire and steer the story points.

For instance…who knew I was going to write about dragons! It wasn’t my plan. At all. But I was standing in Melangell’s valley deep in Montgomeryshire visualising how the amazing circle of ancient yew trees might work in a story and the magical spring up the valleyside with its healing powers and the whole legend of Melangell (the patron saint of hares) and I turned around and saw a massive rib bone mounted on the wall of the Church dedicated to her. Some say giant’s rib, some say Auroch, some say it was a whale bone pushed high into the mountains by glaciation and kept by Melangell since the sixth century. But I knew as soon as I saw it…. Dragon bone! How completely perfect. The y Ddraig series and Melangell’s dragon valley were born (y Ddraig is Welsh for ‘dragon’.)

As an author I love moments like that.  I live for them.

With my contemporary romance and romantic suspense stories (as Nikki Logan) I create the synergistic moments (or my sub-conscious does) but with my Welsh dragons history created them. I just get to have fun with them.

What type of books do you like to read? I am always curious if authors read in the same genre they write.

When I read contemporary fiction of any kind I find it harder and harder to immerse because my writer’s mind can’t turn off. If I’m reading for pleasure (*sigh* remember reading for pleasure??) then I read something that will whisk me away to another world. Paranormal or fantasy or steampunk or even a bit of soft sci fi. YA. NA. Historical. Not really fussed. If it couldn’t possibly be, I’m there!

The thought has crossed my mind that I might be ruining Fantasy (as a genre) for myself, too, but… I don’t care. I love the whole y Ddraig world too much. If it all burns, it will be worth it.

What is the last new-to-you author you have read and would recommend?

I recently read The Dragons Path by Daniel Abraham after I’d read him as MLN Hanover and loved his voice in his Black Sun’s Daughter series. If you enjoy YA, then I’d recommend that series but if you like fantasy then The Dragon’s Path was a strong opening book to what will be a very complicated and involved world. He has a gift for writing strong female characters. Not necessarily ‘kick-arse’ but complex and real and flawed and just…crunchy. I think we’re all more than ready to read females with a bit more subtlety now, right?

For someone a bit newer to the game, I loved Daniel deLorne’s M/M ‘Beckoning Blood’ in which a pair of vampire brothers slaughter their way across the eternity that has been foisted on them. No-one can keep that up forever, right? The protag is technically Thierry who just wants to be a good guy, but his twin brother, Olivier, totally won me from the start. He’s cruel, and bloody, and merciless and morally broken but somehow deLorne has made him so appealing. Redeemable. And that always interests me, when a character I shouldn’t like ends up being my favourite. I’m counting on him getting his own book at some point and fighting for his own HEA.  (I give this one a medium horror rating and medium M/M themes, tho, in case you prefer your vampires sparkly and straight).

Sacrifice_Brython_final_KeylineWhich of your books would you suggest new-to-you readers start with?

Definitely ‘Sacrifice’. Partly because it’s the only one out yet (ha!) but more importantly because it sets up the world of y Ddraigand lays all the groundwork for the rest of the series. And, you know, because spoilers!  Nothing worse than starting a book with all its surprises already revealed.

Are you on social media? If so, which platform do you prefer to interact with readers? Or do you prefer email?

I’m around the place but the best place to find me to talk dragons or Wales or whatever you like is Facebook or, yes, email.

What is the craziest response you have ever received from a reader after they finished one of your books?

A reader contacted me right after reading ‘Sacrifice’ (like…right after) demanding to know why she couldn’t buy the next in the series. When I told her I was still writing it she asked me if I could tell her what happens because she couldn’t bear not knowing and couldn’t wait until later in the year.  That’s the kind of crazy that warms an author’s heart.

What are you working on next?

I’m tag-teaming between Book 2 in the y Ddraig series (‘Ascension’) and my next Nikki Logan contemporary (set in the wilds of Canada). So it’s dragons and polar bears. Predators to the left of me, predators to the right…. Just how I like it.

Anything else you want to tell these awesome Magical Musings readers?

Other than how awesome you truly are? No, just a massive thank you for having me and my dragons along today. They’re slowly getting used to being out in public and I’m thrilled they’ve managed not to scorch or eat anyone yet.

Thank you so much for visiting us today, Gwendolyn! 

* * * * *

Gwendolyn’s books sound pretty good, huh? Check out the awesome trailer below for Sacrifice!

Who are the fantasy lovers out there? When you read fantasy, do you like to read about anything in particular? Dragons, faeries, etc?

Posted in Amy R's Posts | Tagged , | 8 Comments

A Little Crazy (with Giveaway)

Congratulations to Maria D. for winning a print copy of When Darkness Falls by Liz Kreger!

TruthAboutLove&Murder-333x500My life has been a little crazy lately – and in the midst of craziness, my computer crashed and the laptop I’d ordered from the manufacturer was delayed for a week and a half. All this preceding the busiest time of the year for me. I have two books in my new Love & Murder series on pre-order now, with a release date of July 20th. The Romance Super Bundle III will be out on July 6th. Plus, I’m taking part of Read a New Genre on Facebook (there are books given away every day,  so check it out!).

I hope you’ll check out Truth About Love & Murder (book 1) and Rules of Love & Murder (book 2). And pre-order them! The first book is on sale for $2.99, the first week after release only.

WhenDarknessFalls_500pxAnd Romance Super Bundle III is out on July 6th, and is also on pre-order.

And in August, Must Love Pets 2 (a romance box set) will be available.

And I do have a life outside writing, too. Can you see why I’m a little crazy?

Last month, we announced the release of Liz Kreger’s urban fantasy, When Darkness Falls by Liz Kreger. This is a special book, and I’m giving a print book to a commenter.

So, how are you doing? Is anything making you a little crazy?

Posted in Edie's Posts, Giveaway | Tagged , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Review: Hard to be Good by Laura Kaye

HardToBeGood-636x1024About the Book:

Title: Hard to Be Good (Hard Ink, #3.5)
Author: Laura Kaye
Release Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: HarperCollins
Rating: 3.5 stars

Book Summary:

Hard Ink Tattoo owner Jeremy Rixey has taken on his brother’s stateside fight against the forces that nearly killed Nick and his Special Forces team a year before. Now, Jeremy’s whole world has been turned upside down—not the least of which by a brilliant, quiet blond man who tempts Jeremy to settle down for the first time ever.

Recent kidnapping victim Charlie Merritt has always been better with computers than people, so when he’s drawn into the SF team’s investigation of his army colonel father’s corruption, he’s surprised to find acceptance and friendship—especially since his father never accepted who Charlie was. Even more surprising is the heated tension Charlie feels with sexy, tattooed Jeremy, Charlie’s opposite in almost every way.

With tragedy and chaos all around them, temptation flashes hot, and Jeremy and Charlie can’t help but wonder why they’re trying so hard to be good…

My Thoughts:

Hard to Be Good by Laura Kaye was quite an interesting book for me. It was my first male/male romance book. I absolutely loved Jeremy in the Hard Ink Series and while I have not read any m/m books, I thought I would give this one a try because it was from an author I know and trust to do a good job.

In Hard To Be Good, we are treated to Jeremy’s love story. As it sort of builds up in Hard to Come By prior to this, it came to no surprise to me that Charlie would be his perfect match. The two of them are finally able to spend time alone and when that happens, they are unable to hold back their feelings for one another. While I mentioned earlier that I love Jeremy, I am still not sure what I think about Charlie. He is very insecure and while I understood that and first felt compassion for him, I was a little annoyed with it as the story went on. I wanted to slap him really.

The author does a nice job with this novella in the series. The overall plot progresses a little yet, not enough that you would miss anything major if you don’t read it. While I am no stranger to erotic romance and like detailed intimate scenes, this one was a bit much for me. I just can’t connect with male/male intimacy. I found myself looking forward to the non-sex parts of the book and sort of wanted it to be over quickly.

I do feel that someone who enjoys this genre of romance will enjoy this short story, however. As with all of the Hard Ink stories, I enjoyed seeing the other members of the story. I especially liked a scene with Nick getting more tattoos. If you have read the Hard Ink series so far, this is a story that will complement it well, however, not required to complete the series if you are not a fan of m/m romances. This is also a book, however, that I think you can only understand if you have read the other books in the series.

Reviewed by: Amy R.

I really liked this book.

Posted in Contemporary Romance, Novella, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: SHEV by Tracey Devlyn

ShevAbout the Book:

Title: Shev (Nexus Series, #5)
Author: Tracey Devlyn
Release Date: June 1, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC received from Author

Summary:

The Marquess of Shevington’s bleak existence sparks to life after hiring a mysterious governess whose secrets stir his curiosity and whose courage awakens his desire.

A LOVE SO DEEP . . .

Marcus Keene, Lord Shevington, leads a life of idleness and indulgence—or so he would have everyone believe. The illusion he has carefully crafted to protect his country no longer holds the same appeal it once did. His life takes a dramatic turn when a five-year-old girl—his daughter—appears on his doorstep, scared and angry and carrying a missive from his former French mistress.

A SECRET SO DARK . . .

The unassuming, aloof governess Shev hires begins to break through to his daughter while protecting a dark secret of her own. A secret that is tearing her apart, day-by-day. What the governess does not understand is that mysteries are like catnip to Shev. Irresistible. Much like the governess herself. But all is about to change when his daughter’s French family arrives to take her away, and Shev’s faced with the prospect of an empty home once again and his heart’s desire slipping from his grasp.

My Thoughts:

Shev by Tracey Devlyn is a great novella. It is a nice ending to the Nexus Series. I am not a huge historical romance fan, but Devlyn is one of a of the few I will auto-read. I have really enjoyed this series because they are spies, which leads to suspense and mystery in addition to the romance. Spies from the past are a lot different than contemporary spies. Very intriguing. If you like historical romance or even if you haven’t given it a try, you should check out this short story or the entire series.

In Shev, we read about Marcus and Anne. Marcus is a bit of a playboy that Anne wants nothing to do with. She is brought in as a governess for his daughter. Marcus doesn’t think he will have a problem keeping his hands off Anne because she is not really his type at all. Boy is he wrong. One thing I love about Devlyn’s heroines is that they are strong. Even with their sometimes troubled past, they stand up for themselves and usually go outside the expectations of how they should act in public. I find that pretty cool.

This is a novella and reads fast. It was entertaining from start to finish with some intrigue, mystery and some fantastic romance. This book was hot and I loved it! I have read al the other books in the series and wasn’t expecting it. I thought there was the perfect blend of detail and imagination which made it incredibly passionate.

If you haven’t read Tracey Devlyn’s books yet and want to give them a try, you should grab this one. For those that like romance and suspense, even if you don’t typically read historical, you will enjoy Shev as well as the other books in the Nexus series!

Reviewed by: Amy R

Four stars

Posted in Historical Romance, Novella, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Friday Finds

Friday Finds is a little different this week. There is a really AWESOME reader challenge which starts on July 2nd, and we wanted to let all our MM readers know about it.

Since June 22, we’ve also been giving away books every day leading up to the start of the challenge, and having a whole lot of fun.

New Genre Contest Graphic

How It Works

This challenge starts on July 2nd, and ends on July 30th, so you have a month to get reading. First off, you’ll need to join us at the Read a New Genre Facebook Group.

PERSUADE US . . .

We’re all different and what we like to read is no exception. However, sometimes it’s fun to change things up a bit and try something new. We’re going to help with that, by giving the first 200 lucky readers to ask us an ebook for free. All we ask is that the book they request is in a genre they don’t read, or read a long time ago and drifted out of.

Each participating author will offer ten books for free (we’ll give you a list of what’s available). But if you don’t manage to get in fast enough and there aren’t any books left, don’t worry, you’re still eligible for the Take a Walk on the Wild Side contest. Find a book in a new-to-you genre, whether at the library, from a friend, or if you want to support the wonderful authors involved in this contest by buying one of their books, so much the better!

Read the book—the contest runs for four weeks, so you’ve got time—then write a paragraph on the contest’s Facebook group about what surprised and delighted you about the genre you just read. You can also include a short paragraph on the genre you usually read and why you love it. Help convince other readers to give a new genre a try!

We’re going to encourage people to like the paragraphs that inspired them to read a new genre, and the five entries with the most likes will go to a well-known book blogger (with names redacted) to choose the winner of the $200 gift card.

BE A CHATTERBOX . . .

This is one place where being a chatterbox will get you sent to the top of the class, not to detention. We want people talking about the books they’re reading, swopping recommendations, and generally connecting over new genres, so we’ve got a $50 gift card prize to the person who interacts the most on the Facebook group.

Good luck, everyone, this is going to be a lot of fun!

And here are the amazing authors involved in sponsoring this contest:

Marilyn Brant
Robin Bielman
Kelsey Browning
Zoe Dawson
Michelle Diener
Cynthia Eden
Jennifer Estep
Misty Evans
Maggie Mae Gallagher
Lori Handeland
Mary Hughes
Shona Husk
Rachel Johns
Dale Mayer
Nancy Naigle
Christina Phillips
Edie Ramer​
Elle J Rossi
Barbara Samuel
Therese Walsh

We’ll be posting a profile on each author and the books they have made eligible for the giveaway on the Read a New Genre Facebook group on July 2nd. As stated above, the first 200 people to request the books on offer will get them for free, thereafter, participants will have to source their own books, either from the library, a friend, or if they’d like to support one of the authors sponsoring this contest, so much the better! Only one free book request per person, so as many readers as possible can benefit.

Posted in Friday Finds, Giveaway, Michelle's Posts | Leave a comment

Magic Happens When You Open Your Door and Let the Adventure Begin — Guest Leigh Morgan plus Giveaway

Fairy Pools - Isle of Skye

Fairy Pools – Isle of Skye

You don’t have to travel out your door for magic to enter your bones and change the way you see the world, but it’s easier to do if you’ve got a wandering soul. I love to travel and would do more if time and resources allowed. That’s not technically true—if resources allowed, I’d find the time.

Getting a new perspective, quite literally by changing what we see, is just one of the things that makes travel a creative endeavor. Minds open. Art happens. And, sometimes a lit bit of something wonderful touches us and stays in our hearts and our minds forever. If that isn’t magic, I don’t know what is.

Good storytelling grabs me and scuttles me away to a different time, place, world that is not mine, but one where I love vacationing for a while. Great storytelling is like travel. It opens the mind, the heart, and leaves me moved in some elemental way. In Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

This summer I’ll be swept off to Scotland and I can’t wait.

Part of this trip is research for a series of novels I’m writing that are set in Scotland. They will be connected by setting and by Clan affiliation. I’ll be on the Isle of Skye, paying special attention to Clan Donald and Clan Macleod. I love research, especially the hands-on kind, so this will be an adventure for me. My daughter will also be in Scotland for most of the summer on an archeological dig on the Ness of Brodgar on Orkney. Had she not traveled to Orkney with us in 2009, she may not have even known about the excavation, much less have the opportunity to be a part of it.

See, travel is magic.

When we stayed on Orkney in 2009, we noticed that one of the farms across the Ness from us had tape marking off sections of land, some of which had clearly been dug by archeological experts. Being an inquisitive type (feel free to read: busybody) I asked the farmer what was going on. Apparently the farmer, who was more than happy to talk to us, had hired someone new to plow his field that spring. The gentleman he hired brought out equipment that dug deeper than usual and struck what is now being excavated—a huge Neolithic Temple complex on the Ness.

Ness of Brodgar excavation

Ness of Brodgar excavation

How cool is that? The farmer wasn’t so thrilled then, but I bet he is now when he rents his house to tourists at greatly increased prices. We all got caught up in the story and now, six years later, our daughter gets to be part of history. Pure, unadulterated magic. And I get to write about it. Here’s a link to a National Geographic article about the dig, if you’re interested.

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You don’t have to travel far for inspiration to crash into you and open your eyes to something wonderful. A song on the radio I couldn’t get out of my head was the igniting force behind my novel, Second Chances. A documentary on ancient Viking swords spurred the storyline in the third Warrior Chronicles book, Defending Destiny. Here’s a link to that documentary. Exceptionally cool stuff and the sword maker is from Wisconsin. Double dose of awesome there. A trip to our local Renaissance Faire with some costuming friends was the impetus for a scene in my Shute Pond novella, Midday Masquerade. And on my morning walk past a swampy marsh, I thought of a short murder mystery where I could off one of our town officials who is currently giving us grief—on paper folks, but it’ll still be satisfying. (Please feel free to imagine me grinning. I am.)

Going on adventures, large and small, near or far, sparks creativity, rekindles the spirit and lifts emotion like little else I’ve found. I’d love to hear about your adventures. Do they help get your creative juices flowing? Do you have a fantasy or dream adventure you’d like to take? If finances were no obstacle, where would you go, and what would you hope to experience?

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We’re spoiled here in southeastern Wisconsin. We have numerous state and county parks. We have the world’s largest Celtic Festival and the world’s largest Music Festival at our lovely lakefront in Milwaukee. There’s music in the park most nights during the week and myriad ethnic festivals, block parties and street dances. Our Renaissance Faire is no more than ten minutes from my house. There is always an adventure waiting to happen in the summer, so finding one is easy.

I hope that whatever your dream adventure is, you’re able to experience it. I hope that the experience exceeds your expectations. I hope that you find a bit of magic in every story you read and every tale you tell. For me, that’s living the dream.

I’m giving away an e-book of your choice. Simply share an adventure you’ve taken or dream of taking. Mary will select the winner and I’ll forward your choice in the format you chose via e-mail. The covers are on the bottom, and if I’ve done my job correctly, there are links so you can read the blurbs.

I can’t wait to read your comments. Maybe I can even weave a few into a story.

Happy Summer…Let the Adventures Begin!

Leigh Morgan

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Posted in Guest Posts, Mary's Posts | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

When do you decide on dinner?

DSC00225This is a post for writers…and people who like to figure out how things work…and for anyone who likes vacations, eating out, or just eating.

We have a running joke in my house. Whenever we’d like to do something fun (visit London!) but can’t afford it (time or money), we say “Research!” and pretend that, since digging up information for a story qualifies as work, we can justify spending the money. But of course we can’t really afford whatever it is, so we don’t do it.

photo credit: Veyron via photopin (license)

photo credit: Veyron via photopin (license)

Then one day my husband got a groupon for driving a supercar, and a research dream of mine became an actual opportunity.

MOMENT OF TRUTH. Take it, or not?

I didn’t take it.

Before I start to hear clucking, let me tell you why. I once based a story climax in the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Before writing, I did my homework. I visited the museum and did a thorough walkthrough, taking a hand-cramping amount of notes, and pictures of everything I thought I’d need. Several hundred dollars of parking, admission, gasoline and food later, we came home.

Then I wrote the scene.

Words started flowing. Things were going great…until my muse/subconscious/contrary imp of wherever-ideas-come-from decided to take a right turn and complicate a simple scene about a vampire stalking a woman with electricity, big red buttons and ninjas. Not really the ninjas, but you get the picture about the imp that is my subconscious. Loves to fizzle me up, laughing all the way.

All the research I’d done? Useless. I needed to go back to the museum.

So yes, I could have spent a hundred bucks or whatever to research driving a supercar, and I could even have written it off as work, because I put my heroes in super and hypercars all the time.

But the fact is, whatever goodies I got, I’d need more.

For me, it’s more effective for me to do free Internet research, write the scene as best I can, come up with questions, then fill in the gaps and hone the details with actual experience.

What about you? Do you map your meals in advance, or pull whatever’s not fuzzy from the fridge? Do you decide on a restaurant before you leave the house, or once you’re in the car? Do you write or research first?

Biting Love Nibbles Bundle_web-ready_medComing June 30 Biting Love Nibbles (Biting Love Short Bites collection)

Sparkling, sassy, sinfully sexy. Indulge your yen for action-packed vampire romance with these short bites.

Biting Holiday Honeymoons
That special night with their master vampires is interrupted by Dracula and Santa Vamp. Biting Halloween—Elena and Bo’s honeymoon in the Dells is derailed when they get run off the road by a vampire. They chase him, only to find out Dracula—the real Dracula—is on the loose. Introduces Glynn Rhys-Jenkins from Biting Oz. Biting Christmas—Nixie and Julian slide into a hot-tub honeymoon, but things turn nasty when Santa Vamp and Mrs. Claus show up. Warning: These titles contain vampires. Fighting, biting, loving vampires. And adult couples trying to have sexy times on their wedding nights. Explicit language. Slang guide included.

Oz Bites
Vampires and sex and flamingos oh my! Punk musician Nixie Emerson is now married to her master vampire and life is grand. Until the mayor “voluntells” her to assemble a pit orchestra for Oz, Wonderful Oz, a new Broadway-caliber musical. Problem—she has no budget. Add in a vampire turf war and a pregnancy that makes finding the right sexual position a challenge and running from rogue vampires impossible, and she’s getting overwhelmed. As a rebel who thrives on creative solos, she’s getting zilch for solo time. Then someone blabs there’s no pay and her musicians back out. Worse, whoever’s stealing secrets isn’t just stealing Nixie’s. Warning: Contains wild sex, explicit violence, and a frazzled punk heroine. Or is that explicit sex, wild violence, and a frazzled lawyer vampire? What the heck. There’s sex, swearing, fighting and smiles.

Murder at Chipmunk Lake
Nixie’s lost her mojo! Nixie Emerson, punk rock musician and first-time mom-to-be, has a stalker. Her band Guns and Polkas has gone national after their big stage debut, but the price of fame is the stalker trying to scare her into leaving the band. Her husband, master vampire Julian, whisks Nixie away to the Wisconsin north woods—where they meet the stalker on the pier of their cabin and he again threatens Nixie. Julian punches him out and the couple walks away thinking the problem is over. But when the next evening the stalker is found dead, they find out the trouble is only starting. Warning: contains a cranky pregnant lady trying to control her swearing, a master vampire appeasing his wife with food and creative sex, murder, mayhem and several arguments over what to name the baby.

Biting Serendipity
Best April Fools joke ever—falling in love. Serendipity “Sera” Braun hoists beer steins at her tavern job, where a Viking bouncer is bedsheets waiting to get sweaty. But Thor only scowls at her. Warning: A terribly lonely vampire, a conflicted schoolmarm with a caged wild side, nosy roommates and the female version of a bromance, not to mention scorching sex, swearing with the **** filled in, a whole town full of busybodies—and the best April Fools joke ever.

These stories contain material intended for mature audiences. Reader discretion advised.

Available for preorder now at these retailers and more.

Kindle | Nook (coming soon) | Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks | Google | ARE | Kindle UK | Nook UK (coming soon)

Thanks to author Sahara Kelly for suggesting Nibbles for the title. Thanks to P&N Graphics for the amazing cover.

 

Posted in Mary's Posts | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

New release – finally!

Hi everyone,

It’s been a month of chaos and reorganization, major decisions and lots of changes. For the first time in a long time I was forced to delay the release of my latest book – if you know me, you know I avoid this at all costs. This time it is unavoidable. The move and renovations and finding some bigger issues in the story meant pushing the release date back in order to devote the necessary time to make the story shine.

Now it’s being released next week! :) It’s nice to know I made the second deadline. lol. So what book is this? This is Chilled by Death, book 3 of the By Death series.

Chilled By Death R0.3

This is book 3 in the By Death series. In this book we revisit a character from Haunted by Death – Stacey Carter.

After losing several friends in an accident, Stacey became a loner. She knows she needs to grow past it but, a career working with the dead is not a warm and cozy conversation starter. When her brother coaxes her back to the same mountain for a holiday to help her heal, she realizes he’s right – it’s time.

Royce, a long time friend and someone who wants to be so much more, can’t believe Stacey is back and fighting her depression. He blew their last time together and this might be his second chance with her. His only chance to get back with her. Now if only he could figure out how to not blow it…

But once out in the winter wonderland, the holiday atmosphere quickly shifts when they find a dead man. Then one of their own goes missing…

It will take everything Stacy and Royce have to make it through this nightmare…. They can’t trust anyone – maybe not even each other…

Available for preorder now! Amazon, itunes, Google Play.

Release day is June 29th when it will be available everywhere! I for one, am very glad to be back to normal release days and a steady working schedule!

Posted in Dale's Posts | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments