Guest post: A Q&A with Amanda Carlson

Amanda CarlsonToday, I am pleased to welcome Amanda Carlson to the Magical Musings blog. Amanda is the author of the Jessica McClain urban fantasy series and the Sin City Collectors paranormal romance series.


Jennifer: Welcome, Amanda! Please tell readers about your newest book, Red Blooded.

Amanda: Red Blooded is the 4th book in the Jessica McClain series, and it’s out now! In this installment Jessica takes an unexpected trip to the Underworld and chaos ensues—just the way I like it. I absolutely love writing fast-paced action adventure, and this book is no exception. Jessica races to save her brother and encounters lots of bumps and road blocks along the way. Red Blooded was so much fun to write. I was able to create my own version of the Underworld, and being imaginative is the best part of this job.

Red BloodedJennifer: Can you tell us a little about the series?

Amanda: The Jessica McClain series is about the only female werewolf ever born. It starts out after her first shift, ten years later than any male, and it from there it takes off like wildfire. Jessica soon releases that she holds a very unique place in the supernatural world, and her journey throughout the books is to uncover what that is, and to figure out how to deal with all the changes thrown her way. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but each book is meant to bring her closer to the end game, and once she arrives, all will be revealed.

Jennifer: What appeals to you about the urban fantasy and paranormal romance genres?

Amanda: I absolutely love world building. Plain and simple. When an author writes fantasy they have a completely blank canvas to play with. They get to determine the rules, build characters from scratch, choose powers, invent ideas, but the best part? — being able to write an extremely strong female lead. That might be the best for me. Authors who write UF/PNR are able to write heroines who are physically stronger and more capable than regular heroines, and many times our female leads are stronger than their hero counterparts—at minimum they are equal. I think that’s a huge appeal to the genre, and a big reason why readers are attracted to it. I adore strong female leads—females who have a mind of their own, and are fully capable of getting themselves out of trouble.

Jennifer: You also write the Sin City Collectors series. Can you tell us a little about that series?

Aces WildAmanda: Absolutely! This is a brand new PNR series for me—and the first time I’ve written romance (and I have to say, I totally love it!). The Sin City Collectors is a multi-author collaborated world of stand alone PNR novellas. We like to think of each story as an installment. Each book has its own set of characters, set in the same Sin City world, and all have their own HEA. The backdrop is Las Vegas (honestly, what’s more fun than Vegas?) and the hero or heroine (or both) is tied somehow to the Sin City Collection agency—meaning they are the equivalent of paid bounty hunters—and in every book they are tasked with a different assignment. So in each installment contains as stand alone romance, but also some kickass action (which is how I like to write). They are tons of fun, both to read and write! And priced at $2.99, they’re a steal.

Jennifer: Have you always wanted to be a writer? What got you started on your writing journey?

Amanda: I’ve been writing since seventh grade. I used to open yearbooks and make up stories about the people inside. I started writing my first ms (a middle grade) in 1996 after my first child was born. From there I went on to write a restaurant & movie review in a local publication. I also wrote humorous essays on parenting. I started my first UF in 2008, but didn’t finish it until 2010. I sold the same ms in 2011, and here we are! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I love to do.

Jennifer: What’s next for you? What are you working on?

Amanda: I’m editing the 5th Jessica McClain book, Pure Blooded, out early spring/summer of ’15, and finishing up my 3rd installment of the Sin City Collectors, All In, out this November! I might have some sekrit projects in the works as well. To find out more about me, visit my website at

Thanks for hosting me, Jennifer! It’s always a pleasure to chat with you. You’re such a delight.

Jennifer: Thanks so much for stopping by! I appreciate it.


Amanda is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, with a BA in both Speech and Hearing Science & Child Development. She went on to get an A.A.S in Sign Language Interpreting and worked as an interpreter until her first child was born. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three kids.

You can follow Amanda on the following sites:





Amanda is offering up 10 digital copies of Aces Wild in her Sin City Collectors series. The giveaway is open to those 18 and older, international. To enter, use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Guest Posts, Jennifer's Posts | Tagged | 18 Comments

Breadcrumb Trails

alongthewayI don’t think I’m alone in being someone who clicks on something interesting, in my case usually a book that looks interesting, then I see something else interesting in the new place, click again, and end up following a breadcrumb trail of interesting things to finally find something good.

The other day I did this and found a really cool gift for a friend. It wasn’t her birthday or anything, I just followed along until I arrived at a destination where there was something I knew she’d love.

I’ve also found three new books in the last week or so doing this. A book looks interesting, but then I see another recommended book near it, click that and so on until I find something great. I have picked up a really nasty flu bug and the last three days I’ve been feeling very sorry for myself, not writing and reading a lot, and these books are not ones I’ve heard about or seen advertised, if feels like they are special finds, and they have all be terrific.

Do you do this, too, and what great surprises have you found along the way? Isn’t it fun how the internet has created this new way of finding things?

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 5 Comments

The Doctor is IN: Why Time Travel is Sexy

If you follow me on Facebook you probably already know that I have a slight obsession with Doctor Who.  It could be argued that this obsession has more to do with David Tennant and Matt Smith than the Doctor, but in my defense I’ve gone back to the 1963 Doctor Who episodes and started watching from there.  I only have 611 more episodes to go before I can say I’ve seen all of them that still exist today.

I love Who!

I love Who!

Part of why I love Doctor Who, regardless of what face he happens to have on at the moment, has to do with the adventure of time travel.  I love the idea of going back in the past but having all the knowledge of today.  It’s like you know more than they do about so many things, even though you would probably really be lost if you went back in time.  I mean, do you know how they used a toilet?  Brushed their teeth? Would you understand the jargon of the day?  But, if you push all that nonsense aside, you would have such an advantage and could help so many people. And going into the future would be exciting because you’d see things your contemporaries at home could only imagine.  Oh how I’d love to come home with an iPhone 100!!!! And, you could see what is popular, get the future lottery tickets and then go back and plan plan plan!  Uh, not that that is very ethical or anything, but come on, raise your hand if you know you’d do it.  See!

Different ways to time travel. Can you name the book or show these are associated with?

Different ways to time travel. Can you name the book or show these are associated with?

But, there are paradoxes and space-time continuums to consider, so pretty much anything could happen if you time travel.  Oh! And you don’t need a TARDIS, you’d be amazed at the different ways people time travel.  I mean, some of them just touch a stone and wah-lah! You’re in Scotland back in the 1700’s! If you just love a good time travel you can find a huge list of time travel books on Amazon and a big selection of movies and TV shows on IMDB.

Why do we find time travelers sexy? Because they hold that kind of power? Because they understand things we don’t even if they are from the past? Time travel is power and we do like our men powerful.  Give me a Time Lord any day!

What is YOUR favorite time travel story? Who is your favorite time traveler?

Posted in Sheila's Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Memorable Idiosyncrasies

I just returned yesterday from a two-week tour of England, Ireland and Scotland, which started and ended in London. Because it’s the end of the tourist season, there were only 18 of us, plus our tour director and the driver. I’m so glad that we went on this particular tour, and that it was smaller. We got to know each other much more than if it had been a bigger group.

The amazing Stonehenge!

The amazing Stonehenge!

When I started on the tour, I planned to try to use this in a future book so I could deduct some of the costs on my taxes. Near the end, I did think of a plot in which I could use all three countries. But when I looked at it a couple days later, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t write it. My books are about people and their idiosyncrasies and what makes them wonderful. They aren’t about places. So though I won’t be able to take deductions for the trip, I have a lot more ideas for characters that I’ll be using.

I could easily use one woman as a heroine. She found out early in the trip that she might have a blood clot in her leg, and there was something wrong with her knee. Instead of booking an early flight home or sitting sedately on her bus seat as much as possible, she was dancing down the aisle of the bus – at one point even saying to me, “I’m going to put on a show.”

She and the friend she was traveling with set the laughing, fun tone on the bus, so that it felt more like a party bus instead of a bus filled with mostly retired adults who’d booked the tour that started after school had started so the crowds would be thinner.

We also had a ‘hat lady.’ She and her husband were from Newfoundland, Canada, but spent half their year in Florida. And she looked so lovely in her hats, that I bought one, too. (I’ll wear it to my next authors’ lunch.) And our tour director spoke very English-y. Words and phrases like ‘quite lovely,’ ‘quite nice’ and ‘quite quite.’ (There were many others, and I wish I would’ve written everything down; a few of the others did.) And at the end of sentences, he liked to put his lips together and say, ‘Hmmmmmmmm.’

On our last evening, my husband and I saw War Horse at a West End theater. I loved it. The ending especially was amazing, and I was crying – and it was a great cry because it was sad and happy. I’ll never write a book like War Horse, but I’d love to write an ending that would make people feel a mix of emotions, with happy winning out.

So though the places I saw were magnificent and they had a great story, so were the people on the bus.

What’s your favorite trip, and what do you remember most about it?

Posted in Edie's Posts | 12 Comments

New release and new covers!

When I realized I really was going to do a 6th book in the Family Blood Ties series I wanted to redo all the covers. The first book in the series was one of the first books I ever released and the cover reflected the times. So with the new release up and coming, my son and I slowly but surely redesigned everyone one the first five covers to bring it line with the character who has grown so much through this series.

Let’s take a look. Here’s the first book it the series and the one that spawned the rest – Vampire in Denial

VID1 R2.2

Vampire in Denial - Final white text 800x1200










The second in the series: Vampire in Distress












Book 3 Vampire in Design

girl holding book











Book 4 Vampire in Deceit


girl holding book











Book 5 – Vampire in Defiance


girl holding book










And the newest book #6- Vampire in Conflict

9781928122227The blood farm is gone. Those behind it have either died, been caught, or are on the run. Time to return to the real world.

Only normal life isn’t quite what Tessa expected. Good thing, because there is no ‘normal’ anymore. She’s different. Her family is different. Her friends are different. The world around her is different. Trying to find her place is not easy. She wants nothing more than to be a normal teenager and join Cody and his friends on a Friday night out.

Cody wants the trouble to be over so he can get back to living the life he used to with one major addition – Tessa.

Only Ian and Jewel aren’t healing well, Rhia is acting out of character, and Jared keeps tripping over dead bodies. Then there’s David, who’ll do anything to help Jewel… even something he knows he shouldn’t do.

Something is wrong, and once again it’s up to Tessa to figure out what is happening under the surface of this ‘normal’ life.

So what do you think of the evolution of my covers?

Posted in Dale's Posts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Welcome Bonnie Dodge!

Take This Job and Love It

Finish this sentence. The best thing about writing is …………

  • Selling your book/story.
  • Collecting royalties.
  • Speaking at conferences.
  • Signing books and meeting new readers.
  • Seeing your name in the paper and in magazines.

I bet you can come up with a hundred more answers: Creating characters. Getting back at the villains in your life by killing them off in your stories. Lying. Telling the truth. Realizing dreams by rewriting your own stories.

All of the above are valid reasons, but for me the best thing about writing is getting to hang out with other writers. Let’s face it. Writing can be a lonely profession. You have to box yourself in a corner and write non-stop until your eyes cross and your butt numbs. I call it getting in the zone, but my husband calls it checking out, and he may be right. To create my stories I have to walk away from the laundry, the cooking, the housecleaning, my friends and family—the real world—and enter another dimension. And even though that is fun and exciting, it can also be lonely. Especially when I’m stuck or my characters refuse to do my bidding.

Writers by nature are curious and analytical. We like to take things apart. We like to put them back together again. We like to make things better and bring order to chaos. We can spend hours discussing plot lines, themes, story questions, or why something isn’t working. Hours that can drive non-writers batty. But we thrive on the confusion, the planning and the editing. Without it we’re lost.

And that’s why, for me, the best thing about writing is the wonderful writers I meet. People like me who struggle every day to tell their stories. Royalties are nice. Seeing my name on a book is thrilling. But my writing peers understand me. They challenge me, and make me a better writer.

What’s the best thing about writing for you?

BonnieDBIO  About Bonnie: Bonnie Dodge lives and writes from her home in southern Idaho. Her award-winning fiction, poetry, and non-fiction have appeared in several newspapers, magazines and anthologies in the Pacific Northwest. For more information visit her web page at and follow her on Twitter @BJDodge


Book Blurb
Three generations of Foster women–senior citizen Maxine, attention seeker Grace, and 166_0.488896001409264164_waiting_cv_hraspiring artist Abbie–think they are nothing alike. But they all share a secret. They wait. For love, for attention, for life, for death, for Idaho’s warm, but promising summer to return. In their journeys between despair and happiness, they learn there are worse things than being alone, like waiting for the wrong person’s love. With sensitivity and humor, Waiting carries readers into the hearts of three women who learn that happiness comes from within.

Now available at  Amazon or at B&N.

Posted in Dale's Posts, Guest Posts | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

New series, old worries

I’ve posted about this on my blog and social media sites already, but I wanted to share it here as well. I have a new young adult urban fantasy series that will begin in 2015. Woot! Woot!

It’s called the Black Blade series, and it features magic, monsters, and mobsters. The heroine is Lila Merriweather, a 17-year-old thief who does her best to avoid the Families (mobs) that run her town, a total tourist trap known for the monsters that haunt the area. But, of course, Lila finds herself in the middle of a feud between two of the Families. And there’s a cute guy in the mix too. As of right now, there will be at least three books in the series.

Cold Burn of MagicCold Burn of Magic, the first book, will be released on April 28, 2015. It is up for pre-order at the following sites:

Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Books-A-Million / IndieBound / iTunes / Kobo

I always get a little nervous whenever I start a new series, and the same worries always plague me (hence the title of this post). Will folks enjoy the new heroine and world that I’ve created? Will they like the mix of magic and monsters? Will they like it as much as my other series, especially my Mythos Academy young adult series? What if people hate the book? What if nobody buys it, and it gets the worst reviews in the entire history of book reviews?

Okay, okay, so some of these probably won’t happen, but what can I say? I worry about stuff like that.

What about you guys? Do you like it when authors start new series? Will you check out a new series, or do you want authors to keep writing books in their current series?

And here is the book description for Cold Burn of Magic:


It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call—get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her…

I’m excited about the new series, and I hope that everyone enjoys learning more about it. Lila has been a really fun, snarky character for me to write so far. Thanks, everyone!


I’m giving away a copy of Killer Frost, the sixth and last book in my Mythos Academy young adult series (U.S. only). To enter, use the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Posted in Jennifer's Posts | Tagged | 22 Comments

Where do you find Inspiration?

It’s my turn to blog for all you fabulous readers today and I’ve got nothing for you. I have searched high and low for a topic that you all might be interested in but nothing is turning up. That leads me to wonder – is this what writers feel like when they know they have to work on a manuscript but nothing is working? No words. No inspiration. Nothing.



So, I’m going to make this short and turn it over to you guys. For the writers out there, what do you do when you are having a tough time getting the words in? Where do you find your inspiration? What about the bloggers out there? Where do you find inspiration when needing to find a blog topic?

Posted in Amy R's Posts | 8 Comments

Everything Old is New Again — Guest Lori Handeland plus Double Giveaway!

I’m a huge fan of Lori’s books, so I was thrilled when she agreed to be my guest. Lori is a NYTimes/USA Today bestseller/Multiple RITA winner. I’m celebrating her visit today with a giveaway–any two of Lori’s ebooks to one lucky commenter, through September 28, winners announced here September 29. PLUS Lori is holding her own giveaway! Check out the end of this post–Crescent Moon is part of Tall, Dark and Paranormal, 10 Thrilling Tales of Sexy Alpha Bad Boys for only $0.99! Please welcome Lori!

Thanks to everyone for commenting! Mary’s winner, picked by number: Barbara M. Britton! Barbara, please email me at mary @ to claim your prize.

Readers may be wondering what’s up with books they’ve read being re-released with new covers (and in some cases new titles) all over the place.

It’s called reversion of rights and where once there wasn’t much for authors to do with a book when their rights reverted from the original publisher, there is now. We call them e-books and print on demand and self publishing.

I asked for the rights back to every one of my titles the instant they were available, long before there was anything to do with these reverted works. When my publisher asked what I planned to do with my reverted titles I said, “Anything I want.” And now I am.

When the rights to a book revert to the author, she needs to have a new cover designed since the cover design belongs to the publisher and the artwork/photo to the artist/photographer.

I am re-releasing the New Orleans trilogy of my Nightcreature Novels. Here are the original covers. At the time, this was the paranormal romance look. It is no longer.

Here are the covers I had done. Love them? I do.

As for titles, I usually keep the original titles because I want readers to know if they’ve read the book before, and that’s the easiest way. However, I did change the title on one of my reverted books. I titled my first contemporary series romance COACH MOM. It’s about a teacher and Little League coach being a mom and a teacher and finding romance, of course. Harlequin changed the title to MOTHER OF THE YEAR. I never much cared for that title, but the book sold well and I’ve learned over twenty years not to get attached to a title. But that’s another blog.

Family playing pranks on a couch.LoriHandeland_MotheroftheYear_800pxWhen the rights reverted to me, I released the book with several covers and the same title. Sales were meh.




One of my friends had retitled one of her category books and had great success. I figured I’d try it. I was going to go with COACH MOM, but my cover artist thought it should be something sexier. We went with this. She was right. Sales went way up.

I wrote in big letters on the blurb and in the file that the book had previously been published as MOTHER OF THE YEAR. That seemed to help.

Are you like me? Do you go into bookstores or surf online sites and look at covers? For me they’re artwork and I just adore comparing and contrasting. What are you favorite types? Clinch, guy only, heroine only, still lifes, landscapes? Where do you stand on the retitling question?

I’m giving away two e-book copies of OUT OF HER LEAGUE (MOTHER OF THE YEAR) to winners chosen at random from those posting today.  Thank you for having me!


Check out Lori’s latest! Crescent Moon is part of Tall, Dark and Paranormal, 10 Thrilling Tales of Sexy Alpha Bad Boys for only $0.99!

Buy for Kindle || Buy at iTunes || Buy at Kobo || Buy at Smashwords || Goodreads

Lori’s online! Visit her web site at:
For up to date information join her newsletter:
Follow Lori on Facebook:

Posted in Giveaway, Guest Posts, Mary's Posts | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments

Work in Progress

Tonight (it’s night for me as you read this, as I live in Australia :)) I attended my daughter’s annual school music concert. Watching the younger children playing their violins and cellos, it struck me how far she’s come in a very few short years.

I think think that’s the same for all of us, but it is really noticeable in musical instruments. She plays the violin and the piano, and practice and maturity and self-discipline have taken her so far.

It’s harder to see it in something like writing, or accounting, or lawyering, or teaching or whatever it is you do. Sometimes we forget, because it is hard to see, and also, when you improve a little more each day, it isn’t that noticeable.

I wrote a time-travel novel some years ago, before I was published. I took it out the other day and gave it a quick read. There were some really great ideas and writing there, but some real fails as well. Reading it made me realise how far I’ve come and how I’d have to totally rewrite the book for it to be something I’d put my name to, now.

It was like looking at the 7 year-olds I watched play their violins tonight, and then seeing my daughter go up there and play.

We’re all works in progress, but what stands out to you as something you’ve really improved at over the years?

Posted in Michelle's Posts | 2 Comments