• Who We Are

  • Schedule

    Mondays ~
    Tuesdays ~ Snarky
    Wednesdays ~ Dreamer
    Thursdays ~ Naughty
    Fridays ~ Dreary
    Saturdays ~
    Sundays ~

    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

  • Snarky’s Tweets

  • Kinetic’s Tweets

  • Dreamer’s Tweets

  • Wicked’s Tweets

  • Eerie’s Tweets

  • Mighty’s Tweets

New Release ~ Firestorm (Heart of a Vampire, #5) is here!

Firestorm_Kindle

Firestorm (Heart of a Vampire, Book 5)

Release Date: 11/13/2013

       Buy From   Amazon     B&N

Coming soon to: Smashwords    Kobo     Apple

A Viking vampire must face his tortuous past to save the woman who holds the key to his future.

Eric Wulfgar escapes from twisted dreams, only to find they have followed him into reality. Feeling like a shell of the man he once was, his king’s orders to help a New Orleans vampire clan might require more than he can give. But he has no choice to leave the shadows and return to the living.

Cat Bienville is frantic. Something strange is stalking the vampires of New Orleans. When the missing turn up dead with no explanation and her sire goes missing, she runs out of options. Left in charge of her coven, her duty is to keep her people safe. Only, she’s not prepared for help to come in the form of a chauvinistic male with a tattered soul.

When friends may be foes, Cat and Eric must find balance with one another in order to unveil the evil in their midst, even as a bigger threat darkens the horizon. Yet, Cat’s past may fracture their growing love. For how can she give Eric her heart, when her deepest secret may be more than he can ever accept?

Buy From   Amazon     B&N

Excerpt

Trapped.

Caught in the deepest recesses of his mind, Eric Wulfgar curled on an ice-cold stone floor. So very cold it seeped into his bones.

And pain.

Eternal agony ate at his limbs, into his very soul.

Laughter rang out from the unending darkness, so sweet and musical it should have warmed him. Instead it chilled him to his core. Fear shuddered through him as he realized where he must be. Her dungeon.

From the nothingness, a ball of light appeared. He blinked against the brightness. As his vision focused, he stared at his nightmare come back to life. The glowing orb highlighted long crimson hair framing an angelic face. Lines of cruelty etched around her shining green eyes and laughing red lips.

He stared at the sorceress, unbelieving, uncomprehending. She had killed his family, then captured him and his twin brother long ago.

He would not give in to the whimper building in his dry throat. The memories of this place and his time here with her, had been buried, locked so deeply he’d thought them gone. He’d not been forced to face them in a millennia.

Biting his tongue, he savored the coppery tang of blood filling his mouth, but it was faint, as if none of this was truly real. As he struggled to escape, she laughed harder. It was too late. He had no strength left.

And he cursed himself for such weakness.

Shadows crawled across the floor. Invisible hands grabbed him, flipping him onto his stomach, and yanking his arms and legs out wide.

Fire whipped along his back, burning from shoulders to knees, as she used her favorite whip–blazing with magical hellfire. Flames licked across his skin, over and over, digging deeper, until he was beyond hoarse and could only scream soundlessly. He welcomed the death hovering just beyond reach.

The lashes stopped.

Senseless from pain, his mind nearly broke as he remembered what came next. The sorceress would never let him die.

Her smooth, soft hands caressed his face and arms. She kissed his neck, her flowery scent making him gag.

“My beasts are hungry,” she murmured in his ear.

He wanted to cry out, to beg her to stop. But he was a warrior. A Viking. He refused to be as weak, as broken as she wanted. He would not bend to her desires.

When he responded with nothing but silence, she hissed, “Fine.”

Clutching his hair, she wrenched his head back, then slapped him. Her nails raked furrows down his cheek. The scent of his blood spiked into the air.

And the monsters came, drawn by their endless hunger. Wolves, bears. Other creatures so grotesque and hard to look at, he couldn’t even begin to name them.

Biting.

Chewing.

Devouring him alive.

Finally, blessed darkness took his mind. For a while, he floated, unfeeling, unthinking.

As always, she forced him to wake. Then the healing began, even more agonizing than the rest. Eric’s mind wavered and he knew he would thankfully soon be lost.

The memories dimmed.

It was a short respite. Another feminine laugh echoed around him, this one childlike yet holding a chilling hint of lunacy.

The vision of the sorceress changed, merging into another memory. Long blonde hair curled around a youthful, innocent face. Fiona’s image was comforting, the twin of his king. She skipped across the dungeon’s stone floor toward him, smiling shyly. Yet, like the sorceress, it was false, hiding pure evil.

More recent evil, he knew, not sure where the thought came from. These memories had never been locked inside that dark well. Instead, they were the force that had shattered the barrier he’d long ago erected to hide the past.

All too soon, the pain resumed. His skin burned. No whip this time. Fiona used shards of rowan wood, one of the few kinds of trees remaining with enough earth magic to hurt the vampire he’d become.

She slid the tip of a dagger beneath his skin, then shoved another sliver of rowan into the wound. She moved down the length of his body, adding long, rough scars to those he’d received millennia ago. His skin burned as if, at any moment, it would melt from the intense agony.

Uncontrollable shudders wracked him from the pain. Nausea followed. He would have vomited if there was anything in his stomach. All he could do was heave until the cramps mixed with the fiery burning from the wooden slivers.

He desperately prayed to Odin, begging to fade back into mindlessness. But release eluded him.

From the surrounding darkness, seemingly so far away he shouldn’t be able to hear, his brother shouted their family war cry.

Fear coursed through Eric as a new vision appeared before him. His brother stood in a strange, dark place. Multicolored lights flashed over Brandon’s angry face. A ball made of thousands of shards of glass dangled from a high ceiling. It spun in circles, shooting refracted light over his brother.

Magic filled the air, trapping Brandon. It stank of the sorceress. As her laughter washed over him, he realized she’d finally come to claim their souls as she’d failed to do long ago.

He had to save his brother. Save them both.

With a cry of rage, he called on his ancestors’ berserker strength. His vision blurred. Finally refocused. Blinking in the dim, flickering candlelight, he worked to sort out his memories and thoughts.

Pain no longer leeched at his body, though he still felt weak as an infant. He lay on something soft, facing a blackened, rock hewn wall that didn’t resemble the sorceress’s hellish dungeon.

“Hush, now. It will be all right,” a woman said softly from behind him.

Strangely, her voice soothed a part of his ragged heart. He cautiously turned. The woman smiled at him, breathtakingly beautiful, with an angelic face and short blonde hair.

His lungs compressed, forcing his breath to rush out. As he clenched his fists, he realized he wasn’t chained. He watched her, hiding his triumph. She would pay for that stupidity.

With a roar, he leapt up and lunged toward her.

“Eric, stop,” the woman commanded.

His body obeyed. More damned sorcery.

“You’re safe,” she said, then began to hum.

He remained locked in place. Slowly, the tune came to him. It had been his mother’s favorite melody, one she’d sung to him and Brandon as children.

His focus cleared and he realized she was neither the sorceress, nor his king’s sister. Her short blonde hair was streaked with… pink stripes? Her eyes drew him in, mesmerizing, calming his rage.

“That’s right,” she whispered. “No one will hurt you here.”

“Where’s my brother?” His voice was a hoarse croak.

“My name is Dalia. Do you remember me?”

He tried to shake his head, but still couldn’t move. An overpowering urge filled him. Not anger, as expected, but an unfounded, yet undeniable need to protect this woman.

“That’s all right. It will come in time.” She continued to hum and his tense muscles relaxed a little.

Across the room, a door opened, letting in more light. A large man stood silhouetted in shadow. Eric’s instincts screamed. Keep the woman safe at all costs. His duty.

She turned to glance at the intruder, and the magic over Eric slipped. It was all he needed to break free of her spell. He jumped between her and the doorway, crouching to a fighting stance, baring his fangs. He ignored the light-headedness, his body shaking from weakness.

He’d never win this fight.

It didn’t matter. He would do his duty until death took him. From habit, he reached over his shoulder, grasping for his battle-axe, BrynTröll. It wasn’t there.

The man stepped closer, from shadow to light, just as he’d done millennia ago.

Eric dropped one knee to the stone floor, bowing his head. “Sire.” His voice was little more than a choked whisper.

“Thank the gods you’ve returned to us,” his king said. Rough hands grabbed Eric’s arms, pulling him to his feet.

The rush of anger, the need to protect the woman, spilled from him as if he’d been drained of all energy. He slumped against the man, staring into his face. “Jordan,” he whispered.

“Don’t talk. And you shouldn’t be standing.” Jordan half-carried, half-led him back to the bed and pushed him down onto the mattress.

The woman, Dalia, poured a glass of thick, red liquid, then held it to his lips.

The scent of blood hit him and his stomach roared. When he tried to grasp the cup, his hands shook so badly he spilled the warm drink over his chin and chest.

“Let me hold it,” she said kindly.

He drank. The taste–salty, coppery, yet sweet–only inflamed his hunger. He gulped it down.

Needed more.

As if reading his mind, Dalia refilled the cup four times. Finally, the ravenous ache settled to a bearable level. As warmth rushed through his chilled body, his mind grew clearer. The recent past filled the gaps in his memory.

Dalia, his king’s charge. Vampires from their clan disappearing. He’d been following a lead, trying to find them, when it led to a trap.

Kidnapped.

His king’s twin sister, working with other vampires and, strangely, wolf shifters. They’d all taken pleasure in torturing him.

He fisted his hands in his lap, trying to shove the memories away before they engulfed him.

Pushed them back into the dark depths with the rest. Locked them all up tight.

Slowly, they receded, but didn’t go far. Ghostly whispers hovered at the edge of his mind, flickering like images seen from the corner of his vision.

He once more saw his brother facing evil.

“Where’s Brandon?” he asked again, this time stronger.

Jordan sighed. “We have much to discuss. But you’re with us again. Right now, that’s what matters.”

Pain lashed over Eric’s back. There, then gone. He heard laughter, the sound promising more.

Jordan and Dalia didn’t move, didn’t seem to hear anything amiss.

Eric stared at his king, realizing that while he might be awake, his sanity was lost.

***

Two Weeks Later

In the impossibly cold March night air, Cathrina Bienville raced through the edges of the bayou, outside her beloved city of New Orleans. Even with her vamipiric speed–the trees and miniscule glimmers of light from distant plantations flashed by–there didn’t seem to be any way she could win this race.

Behind her, the baying of the chasing wolves grew louder as they closed in.

She tripped over an exposed root and fell, splashing face first into a puddle of bitter brackish swamp. Spitting grit from her mouth, she rose. Snowy mud dripped down the front of her dark sweater and jeans. Appropriate spy attire, she’d figured earlier.

Running once more, Cat tried to breathe deep. The growing ache in her chest screamed from a deeper pain. She prayed her fall hadn’t damaged something internal.

A branch sliced across her cheek, ripped at her long red hair falling from its bun. Strands tumbled in her face, obscuring her vision. She shoved it back, leaves and twigs poking from the tangled mass.

Freezing sweat dripped down her face, stinging her cuts and scrapes. The heady scent of blood surrounded her.

The howls drew ever nearer, making her stomach lurch.

What was supposed to have been simple–checking out a deserted plantation for her missing coven members and hopefully finding her sire–had turned into a dark, breathless flight from at least six wolves.

All of them out for her blood.

Not good odds. Not in her favor anyway.

At least she’d eaten recently. Right before the alarm had sounded, she’d come across a wolf in his human form. Just as he’d swung his blade for her neck, she’d whispered her precious command. Fire rose from the ground around his feet, distracting him long enough for her to sink her fangs into his delectable throat.

The magic from the shifter’s blood, the only thing sustaining her desperate flight, was fading.

She flashed through the trees, dodging claw-like branches that seemed to surge out and try to capture her in their grip. The ground sucked at her shoes with each step.

The scent of magic drifted to her on the icy breeze. Her plantation, and the wards creating a barrier around it. Almost home, yet still seemingly so far.

Howls rent the air. They were so close now, she could hear claws scrabbling over the ground. She tried to push herself faster still.

The world became a blur, filled only by the sounds of her labored breaths, her thundering heartbeat, and the baying of the hounds at her heels. She caught the stench of wolves, wet fur mixed with decaying meat and blood.

The trembling in her legs slowed her pace.

Howls echoed as the pack sensed their prey within striking distance.

She broke through the last line of grasping branches. A few hundred yards ahead, a line of trees stood sentinel at the edge of her land, marking the boundary of the magical barrier.

A wolf snarled, slamming into her back, sending them both tumbling. It snapped its toothy muzzle at her neck. Fetid breath washed over her face.

She punched it in the throat. Clawing its fur, she shoved her last shreds of power into the command. “Incendium.”

Flames erupted from her palm, hungrily spreading over the beast. Its yelp escalated into a screeching wail of agony.

Shoving it aside, Cat rose to her knees. Not twenty feet away, the other wolves crouched. Bulky shadows glared at her with glowing, ice blue eyes.

She raised her arms, though the effort made her dizzy, and held her hands out, palms facing them.

The wolf beside her stilled. Burning hair and flesh wafted on the cold air.

The rest of the pack howled, the sound ear splitting. Then as one, they fell silent, watching her. None advanced.

Not giving them a chance to realize she had no strength left, Cat stood, trying to hide her shakiness. She walked backwards until she reached the barrier.

As she stepped through, magic swept over her skin in a tingling warmth. She lowered her hands and leaned against a tree. The pack approached the fallen wolf, their anguished howls resuming. Cat turned and stumbled over the stretching fields, towards her home.

She’d failed.

Again.

New Orleans had never been normal, not since the long ago days when her father had claimed the area for the King of France. But lately, dark magics were running rampant through the city.

Dark enough to take out her sire, the leader of their local coven. Jacques Gervais was the most powerful vampire she’d met in her centuries of life. Not only was he missing, so was Cat’s best friend. Just a girl–it had only been a hundred years since her turning–Abby Cameron was still nearly as weak as a mortal. She didn’t know how to use her vampire powers well. If Cat didn’t find the two of them soon…

As she climbed the porch steps to her front door, her head bowed, her shoulders drooping from the heavy weight of worry, she had to admit she was lost and sinking fast. With the mystery of the missing and murdered vampires, the sudden arrival of so many wolves, and the dark magic flooding the city, she needed help.

She couldn’t solve this by herself.

Not with her life intact.

An errant thought hit her. That of a young vampire she’d once helped and befriended. Niki DeVeraux had ended up in some small town in Arizona. More importantly, she’d been taken in by a huge coven of vampires.

Cat wasn’t comfortable reaching out and explaining her problems to others–she’d been brought up to be a proper lady who kept such things to herself–but perhaps they’d be able to help. She had to do something, or her sire and best friend would certainly end up dead… and she’d end up murdered, right along with them.

Buy From   Amazon     B&N

Hope you enjoy 😀

~ Amber

The Next Big Thing…

I’ve been tagged by Sandy Wright for The Next Big Thing Blog Hop, where new releases and new authors get highlighted. Sandy’s SONG OF THE ANCIENTS, is a Paranormal Suspense currently making the rounds in finding a publishing home.  Feel free to check out her blog at www.writersandy.com for all the nifty details on her first book.

So since I’m it, let’s get to it!

  • What’s the title/working title of your latest book?

For those that are following, we’ll do SHADOW’S MOON, because I’m keeping my current WIP under wraps for a bit.

  • Where did the idea for the book come from?

This will be the third in the Kyn Kronicles, but this time I decided to leave Raine and Gavin alone to take advantage of some downtime.  Instead I got caught up in Xander and Warrick’s relationship. I’ve always loved the concept of magic and the supernatural existing alongside reality, so the world I created has some dark corners that you don’t want to face without a sharp, pointy object. For SHADOW’S MOON, I wanted to explore the relationship between the most dominant male wolf in the Northwest and his top female enforcer, Xander.  What happens when two strong personalities meet? Do they bend, break or create something new? SHADOW’S MOON continues the twists and turns of the Kyn universe, but also allows the readers a chance to see the world through the eyes of the Shifter House.  Plus the sparks from Xander and Warrick were a blast to maneuver through.

  • What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy

  • What’s a one sentence synopsis for your book?

As the Northwest Alpha wolf, compromise isn’t in Warrick Vidis’s vocabulary, but when his reluctant mate, Xander Cade, refuses to leave off the hunt for the one threatening their pack, will he be able to bend before they both break?

  •  How long did it take to write the first draft of the manuscript?

It took me about 4 1/2 to 5 months to get through the first draft.  Then another month or so to fine tune it.

  • Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

         Currently it is under consideration by a handful of publishing houses/agencies, so fingers crossed one of them picks it up.

  • What other books would you compare this book to in your genre?

Hmmm…think Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniels series or Patricia Briggs’s Mercy Thompson or Alpha and Omega series. 

Since I like to share the spotlight, here are my “MUST READ” new authors! Swing on over and check them out!

Mona Karel

Liv Rancourt

Amber Kallyn

Lynn Rush

Hellos and Goodbyes…

It’s been awhile since we’ve visited the Swamp and her inhabitants. Today I thought you might like to take a peek into our little farewell get together for Mighty, who shall remain with us via the technology gods until her return, and meet our newest member…

Wicked: *shoving Might’s duffle on to the back of the lopsided jackass*  Why the hell are you going to the Windy City? Between the Werewolf Monks and Eerie’s Free Range Zombies, I would’ve thought we had enough drama for you.

Mighty:*stashing her Staff of Bull Shark Repellent*  You know how it is, money’s a little tight and those Bull Sharks aren’t going to leave the lake any time soon. I’m just going to make sure they don’t pass beyond where they’re allowed.

Snarky: *lazily curling and uncurling her whip*  I can whip them into shape.

Mighty: *look of indulgent disdain*  Your whip is not going to reach.

*Overhead Mischievous calls out*:  Hey Mighty, you ready to lose a few fingers and toes?  The temps over there will keep you in deep freeze.  *He cackles at his lame attempt at humor*

Mighty: *rolling her eyes across the road. Picks them up and puts them back in*:  That bird would be great fried.

Wicked: *grinning in agreement, even as the Prankster Duo comment on Mighty’s gory trick*  Yeah, but I think Eerie might take exception to our meal plans.

Eerie: *taking his Free Range Zombies for a walk with chains and a pointy stick*  What meal plans? The Werewolf Monks have been promising me a new vintage, I could pester them for it.

*A cloud of smoke drifts over* Smokey: “Just took down a mastodon over by Swamp Thing’s place. It’s been smoking nicely for the last few days. I’ll have my Spicy Bit bring it over. We don’t want you heading off without a full belly, Mighty.

Quirky: *practicing knots with some newly purchased ropes*  The Muses headed out a few hours ago, so we could probably hang over at Filet Your Own Deli without worrying about another knock down drag out argument over the use of details or lack thereof.

Dreamer *arms full of colorful blooms and Angel Boy fluttering around her ankles*  What about your cabin, Mighty? Do you need someone to pop in and keep an eye on things for you?

Mighty: *the smirk we all know and love but have learned to be wary of appears* Nah, I forgot to mention I found someone to cabin sit while I’m gone.  That way it’ll still be standing, Zombie Free, when I get back.

Dreamer *beatific smile appears* It’s so nice to have new blood in the community.  So much to play with…*a small blush*  I mean, perhaps they’ll have new playmates for Angel Boy.  *Turns to Wicked and Snarky*  No offense girls, but I believe your progeny may be perhaps a bit too adventurous for mine right now.

Wicked & Snarky exchange high fives.  

Wicked: None taken…

Snarky:  So this new peep.  What’s the deal? Who are they? Where are they from? Most importantly, can they pass the Swamp Entry Exam?

*A loud pop and a blue telephone booth appears and settles in the road. Red Dwarf steps out

Red: Good eve, all, I thought I’d pop in before tea to bid Mighty adieu.  

*A small blond races from behind Red and joins forces with the Prankster Duo, where upon a discussion of how Yoda took down Darth in this year’s Star Wars March Madness*

Red: Did I hear something about an entrance exam? I thought we’d straightened that out months ago.  Besides, I don’t see any dead bodies lying around. Everyone’s here–Snarky, Wicked, Smokey, Quirky, Eerie, Dreamer, Mighty, myself…doesn’t that put us one over?

Eerie *capturing a wondering single hand and wrestling it back in line*  Even though you’re over the Pond and Mighty will soon be in the Land of Winds and You-betchas, we’ve decided to allow one more individual into the group.

Quirky:  We did? When?

Wicked: It was during the brawl over at the Kilted Ferret pub when we had to hold off that damn Molly and her two henchboys from Eerie’s Three Misfiteers.  

Quirky: *flying fingers and rope pause before continuing their dizzy dance*  Oh yeah.  So, who is the new person?

Mighty: *tossing another package on top of the lopsided jackass* I’d introduce you all, but she’s been here the whole time, so I ‘ll let her do the honors.

*All seven dwarves start checking out their surroundings*

Eerie: Short? Tall? Gnome? Troll? What exactly are we looking for here? And a name would be good.

*Mighty smiles and continues to finish her packing*

*From behind him a shadow separates and forms into a petite, lithe form*  Names are not to be given lightly, small man.

Eerie: *huffs up to his full three foot one inch height* Who you calling small?

Wicked: *arms folded so knives are in easy reach* Nice move there, I need to introduce you to Raine.

Snarky: *lets her whip snap, crackle and pop*  And you would be…

*Shadow girl drops a very elegant bow* I am called Ninja Dwarf.

Quirky: *looking intrigues*  Wow! Totally cool, we get our very own ninja!

Off to a running start…

imagesWhew! So far we’ve been running around like decapitated chickens!  The year started off with a huge bang with Kevin Hearne’s visit, but was then quickly followed by the  whirlwind of the Blogger Book Fair. Then, because that wasn’t enough, we had the MRFW Bloghop nipping at our heels. But, now it’s back to just me!

Time to catch you all up on the happenings.

SHADOW’S SOUL won First place in the Paranormal category for the 2013 Shooting Star Contest. I was told I’d get a nifty badge for my website, so as soon as I get it, I shall post away. There’s suppose to be a trophy as well.  If that’s true, I’ll take a picture and post so you can share the “Oooohhh/aaaawwww” moment with me.

I was humbled by my nomination for Blogger of the Year by The Book Boost.  The results should be in on Valentine’s Day, so hopefully we’ll get to add this to our list of accomplishments!

SHADOW’S MOON is now out and about in the query world in search of new home, so I’ll keep you posted on what happens there.

Want to spend an exciting hour on Twitter? Then come join me and the awesome Lynn Rush for a Twitter Party on February 20th at 8 pm Eastern time.  We’d love to hear from you and hope you’ll make it.

Thanks to Snarky, I will be making a regular appearance at Castles and Guns each month with posts, so come keep me company and add  in your opinions so I have someone to talk to, besides the voice in my head.  My first post goes up on March 4th!

Don’t forget to check out my Guest Post and Blog page for all my upcoming guests. We have some really awesome authors coming in the next few months so mark the dates!

Now that we’re all caught up, we’ll return to our normal programming next week…

Until then…be good (but not too good!).

BTW–HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

images

 

Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest!

Today’s post is a little early because we are taking part in Ciara Knight and Ninja Captain Alex’s “Did I Notice  Your Book” Blogfest.  Yes, my loyal Swamp followers, I’m here to share my discovering with you.  The coolest part of this blogfest, I’m not the only one sharing awesome new writers.  In fact, there are over 80 of us doing the same thing today, so if you need to add to your towering “TO BE READ” pile, stay tune at the end of this post for a link to a list of all participating authors where you can discover your next favorite writer!

Choices, choices, choices…you would not believe how many really great stories are sitting out there, all by themselves, trying to be heard over the roar of the masses.  So today I chose…

Yes, that’s right, Bloodstorm-Heart of a Vampire is Amber Kallyn’s introduction into an entertaining world of vamps, shamans, shifters and castles in the desert.  It all starts out with our lovely vamp, Nikki, doing what vamps do best, hunting for blood.  Not just any blood, mind you, but the one flowing in the veins of the monster who slaughtered her family and turned her.  Unfortunately, she’s tracked her Maker into a small desert town where the ruggedly handsome sheriff and the Magic Council’s Keeper of the Peace, Shane calls home.  When the two meet, Nikki’s desire for revenge is soon eclipsed by her desire for Shane.   Problem is, her mad sire has been creating a few newbie vamps–in someone else’s territory and Nikki’s sudden appearance puts her front and center for the local supernatural community’s suspicions, leaving Shane caught between his heart and his duty.

This is an awesome read and a great start to Ms. Kallyn’s series (the second book, Hungerstorm is also out!) and the best part–right now it’s free in e-book format, so what are you waiting for? Go check it out!  Here’s the link for her author page at Amazon so you can see all her titles!  

http://www.amazon.com/Amber-Kallyn/e/B006HAOP3U/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

And if you’re eager for more, swing over to Alex J. Cavanaugh’s place for a complete list of participants in today’s Blogfest, I promise you’ll discover new favorite reads! Don’t forget to spread the word!

Did I Notice Your Book Blogfest’s list of participants

–Wicked

The Secret Ingredient is…SIMPLICITY!

Yes, I do realize I watch waaayyy too many cooking shows–Iron Chef, Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, Chopped–I can only excuse it because I CAN’T COOK.  I’m not even ashamed of this little facet of my personality.  It’s a given and all who know me are currently nodding their head sagely (yep, you can do that) as they remember numerous incidents that support this claim.  However, the opening line from Iron Chef fit perfectly for this little post.

I’m not sure how many of you out there have children that have been inducted into the hive mind of a little computer game known as MINECRAFT, but my Prankster Duo are devote practitioners.  This morning as I’m taking the younger one off to school, he couldn’t wait to share his plethora of MINECRAFT song parodies with me.  (Yes, they were amusing and some were really well done, surprisingly enough!)  But it got me to thinking–why is it in this day and age of some the best computer game graphics EVER–children are thrilled with a game made up of pixellated graphics that would make the original PONG blush?  I live with massive computer gamers/geeks/whatever you want to label them, and I’ve  shaken my head as they are enthralled for hours by the beauty and stunningly frightening realistic graphics of their chosen games.  The artwork is mind-blowing and I swear if I could figure out a way to have some of those artists do my covers, I’d be thrilled.

Sorry, got a little sidetracked.

So what’s the appeal of MINECRAFT versus, say Sky Rim or Arkham Asylum or one of those other epic computer games?

Simplicity.

As I wove my way home through rain slicked streets this morning, this little revelation set off a chain reaction. 

I’m at the dreaded middle section of book 3.  You know that part–where you start to wonder if your story is really all that enthralling, are your characters sporting enough dimensions to hold readers, maybe it was fluke I managed to get the other books done?  Yeah, that big black hole most writers hit smack dab in the middle of their creations.  It sucks.  And it means that I’ve struggled the last couple of weeks to keep my story moving forward.  Buried under all these doubts, it’s hard to find your way out.  So I shut down my Macbook, went to lunch with someone I’m blessed to call friend and critique partner–Snarky Dwarf.  Over some luscious Mexican food, she helped me start an escape route.

Funny thing was, as we were digging it hit me–plots don’t have to rival a soap opera labyrinth. Not only will you get lost as you write, but your readers will get tired of  trying to find their way and leave.  Your plots, no matter how deep they go, should be spawned in simplicity.  It’s your characters that should possess all the secret nooks and crannies that make your story shine.  Yet, no matter how complex your characters are their underlying motivations have to be just as simple.  There are three basic human emotions that tend to help motivate your villain to grandiose heights: jealousy, vengeance, greed.  These three also make for some really good reasons on why your hero/heroine is under attack.

So while I may never grace the stage of Iron Chef, I give you the secret ingredient for your writing dish–Simplicity!

What emotions do you use to motivate your characters?

-Wicked

Perfection is so hard to acheive…

The other day our highly intelligent and quite demanding Snarky Dwarf sent me a link to a blog post. 

http://kriswrites.com/2012/06/27/the-business-rusch-perfection/

Here’s the thing, this post was just what I needed to read at this particular moment. With two books out there, and working on a third, I’m starting to recognize that there are a couple of stages in the writing game every writer goes through.  The first one comes after you begin to fall from that high of being published and seeing your first work out there–all alone in the big bad world of readers, where it can be raised up and kicked down faster than lightning.  You try not to get obsessive about the reviews, feedback and those pesky things known as ratings, but those little voices manage to wiggle their way in and tear bits and pieces off of your creativity.  Together those small things gain strength, and so the debilitating question looms on your writing horizon—can I really manage to write another book?

Answer: Hell, yeah you can.  You’re a writer, stop worrying about what’s being said out there.  You’re out there. Readers are reading you. You have to be doing something right. So in a truly horribly NY/Bronx accent “Forget about it!” and write your story.  Take the things you’ve learned with your first book, do them better or fix them in your second.

Once I made it through and got the second book done, it was time to tackle the third.  This was hard because I was leaving behind the familiarity of Raine and Gavin to focus on another character, Xander.  Granted she has some of the same things that makes Raine, well Raine, but she uniquely herself.  It took me longer than expected to get Xander and Warrick’s story off the ground.  Now that I’m about 100 pages in, it’s starting to come together…bit by bit. 

Yet while I’m crafting this story, I’m still getting feedback on Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul.  I know you’ll never please all your readers all of the time, but it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of  “OMG, I need to change this…” or “Maybe I should do this instead…” Second guessing ourselves is not productive, not even a little bit.

Reading Kris’s post as she discusses when is your book truly done…I so needed to hear her when she said,

“I’m here to tell you this: If you want a career as a writer, ignore your critics.

When the book is finished, when the book is published for heaven’s sake, then it’s done. Irrevocably done. Mistakes and all.”

So now, I make it a point not to obsess over rankings or critiques–readers will either love it or hate it, it’s out there, I’m not changing it.  For now, all I can do as a writer, is take what I’ve learned, and use it for Shadow’s Moon.  And the mistakes I make in that story, I’ll just use those to make the next one even better. 

I’m a writer, but I won’t be much of one if I don’t learn and grow from my screw-ups.  Besides, who knows, maybe one of those screw-ups will turn into a flash of genius!

Give a Great Swamp Welcome to Alison Stone…

Okay everyone, settle down and take a seat. 

Eerie, one of your Zombie’s is munching on the Hellhound’s tail.  Mischevious and Adile, if you two don’t knock it off, I’m tying a boulder to your tails and dropping you in Dreamer’s moat.  Smokey, you’re creating a haze even Snarky can’t cut through.  Quirky, could you open that window behind my Knight? Let’s get some Swamp Gas in here.  Prankster Duo, for the love of Pete would you please stop trying to get Angel Boy to launch from the ceiling beams!

Finally! Are you all ready?

Great, so be good and give it up for our guest-the most awesome Alison Stone!  Her debut novel, Random Acts, is now available so afterwards, we’re doing a trip to the bookstore!

  Listen up and find out how she got sucked into the crazy world of writing…

Why do I write?

I ask myself this question every so often. Like when I’m stuck on a plot point or when I’d rather be reading or watching TV or cleaning the toilet… Yes, some days it seems like I’d rather be doing anything other than writing. So, why do I do it?

Is it for the money? (Okay, you over there, stop laughing.) Even if they don’t admit it, I think most writers hope their book will be the next big thing. But who can actually predict these things?  I’d settle for a nice income, never mind a seven-figure income. Yet, if it’s income I’m truly after, why write? I could go back to my former career as an engineer and make far more money than I do as a writer. However, an office job wouldn’t give me the flexibility I have as a writer. Don’t get me wrong, I work long hours crafting my stories, but I’m home if my kids need me for something—like a ride or dinner. J

But why write? Is it because I have the burning desire to tell a story? I can’t say I have one particular story that needs to be told. Rather I have a lot of ideas bouncing around my head. Once the idea to try writing took hold, I couldn’t let go. There is something about the challenge of writing and fitting all the pieces of the story puzzle together (I write romantic suspense) that intrigues me. It occupies my mind.

The other night my husband and I went out for dinner and we discussed my new career. My debut novel, Random Acts, had just been released. I told him how I really hoped this new career would provide income to help send our children to college. Then, like usual, I started to doubt myself. Wouldn’t my time be better spent working at a job that paid me an hourly rate or one that paid a salary? My awesome husband equated my budding writing career to starting a business. My husband, an engineer, told me one of his co-workers quit to start a machine shop. He has the expense of a new building, machines and salaries. My writing career is also a new venture, but my overhead is low. I have the expense of my laptop and my time. I love the analogy. I have worked hard over the years to build a solid foundation. From here, I need to continue to produce quality books and build my readership. I am excited my second book, Too Close to Home, is coming out on August 7th. I also have other books in the works. From here, I will grow my business.

Writing is one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done. A few years ago, shortly after I signed with my wonderful agent, I received a crushing rejection from a New York publishing house.  This was not the first time my work had been passed up to the senior editor for possible acquisition only to be rejected, albeit with a “good rejection.”

The editor raved about my “clean writing style” and she was “eager to get Alison under contract and happy to read anything she submits.”  But this was the third time I had come so close, but yet so far. I was ready to throw in the towel, when my wonderful friend and critique partner—who always gave it to me straight— sent me his e-mail:

If an editor said “I’m eager to get her under contract” I would have swooned. Do people still swoon? You’ve got it, kid. Don’t give up. At the very least, what a model for your kids on what it takes to succeed. Am I blowing smoke up your derriere? Nope. Close only counts when people use it as an excuse to bow out. Look at the many writers who struggled. I’m talking good writers who managed to believe in themselves no matter what. There are too many fools out there who make it because they are blind to their own BS. You just need to find your own unique voice, blend it to the “smooth, clean writing style.”

This e-mail is over three years old, but it still sits in my inbox. I write because I enjoy it. I write because I hope to have a solid career. I continue to write even when the mountain seem insurmountable because I want to show my kids that sometimes you have to work hard—very hard—to achieve your dreams.

Much thanks to Alison for braving our Swamp and visiting with us!

Alison Stone graduated with a degree in industrial engineering from Georgia Tech. After working in Corporate America for a number of years, she retired to raise her young family. Soon the writing bug bit. After years of conferences, critique groups and writing, Alison sold two manuscripts that will be released in 2012. She claims it was easier to earn her engineering degree. Random Acts is her debut novel. To learn more about Alison Stone please visit www.AlisonStone.com.

Check out Random Acts

Second chances can have a terrible sense of timing.

As a child, watching her mother always pick the wrong man left Danielle Carson wary of opening her heart to anyone—except Patrick Kingsley. But circumstances came between them and left Danielle with a broken heart. Now she buries the pain of what might have been by channeling all her energy into her career. When a family crisis brings her back to her hometown, she is forced to face the past—and the disturbing fact that her sister’s car accident was staged to mask a brutal beating.

A police officer and widower, Patrick guards his heart as fiercely as he guards his beloved daughter. Seeing Danielle again unexpectedly reignites their old flame, but no way will he introduce a woman into his daughter’s life. Certainly not one whose values on faith and family are so different from his own.

Despite their best intentions, they are drawn together—until Danielle learns Patrick had a hand in putting her sister in harm’s way. Her fragile trust is crushed, but Patrick is the only man who can help her stop the villain before everything they both love is destroyed. Faith, family…and their second chance at forever.

Run, don’t walk, and get your copy now!  Available at:

Samhain Publishing: http://store.samhainpublishing.com/alison-stone-pa-1705.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Random-Acts-ebook/dp/B00795G1X4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334076604&sr=8-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/random-acts-alison-stone/1108890294?ean=9781609288242&itm=1&usri=alison+stone

Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Random-Acts/book-OSXUgDoMQ0aVm-JoFxmVXg/page1.html?s=QoeSfSCRk0m4in6w2_-prQ&r=1

Also available at Sony and iTunes.

It’s Amazing What A Little Time Off Will Bring…

I came back to the Swamp on Sunday after spending the weekend with Snarky at the RWA Desert Dreams conference down in the Valley of the Sun and found the Zombie Horde had finally deserted Dreamer’s little piece of property.  I’m guessing Eerie and Mischevious have been making tracks to the Impentrable Forest considering the path of gnawed bones littering the trail.  Have to love those Piranha Hummingbirds, they clean their dinner plates!  Not to worry, the Prankster Duo has no problem attracting new Zombies, it seems to be an inborn talent of theirs.

So after rounding up the Hellhound, I was pleased to see my Knight in Slightly Muddy Armor had managed to keep the Duo busy while I was away.  Seems there was a required marathon of movies involving a horned-helmeted blond with a facination for hammers, a green muscle head with a temper problem, and that dashing king of sarcasm who looks good in red and self perpetuating battery.  Something about all three, plus a red-head in latex and, if I do say so myself, a rather good looking archer gathering for their debut this weekend. The tickets have already been purchased–twice.

In the meantime, Snarky and I attended this conference.  Now you may wonder why two paranormal, urban fantasy writers would attend a gathering of those mavens of love and hard chests, but there are some really good workskhops at these things. Plus we were considering kidnapping a few agents and editors for our own amusement.  Since this time I wasn’t on pins and needles endlessly practicing my story pitch, I was able to enjoy the expierence.  For writers, conferences are like a red carpet gala–you get to meet the actual human that writes those books you wait on pins and needles for every Tuesday.  It can reduce a 41 year old to a 16 year old in like two minutes flat.  It’s so embarrassing!

Anyway, other than the massive amounts of information that I’m still processing, the biggest success I pulled from my three day stint was the eight hour brainstorming session Snarky and I indulged ourselves in.  What was funny was there was an actual brain storming session planned on Saturday night during the dinner.  We got a head start, because that’s just how we roll.  We headed over to the nearest barrista heaven, spent two and half hours there before realizing we might miss dinner, dashed back to the conference, gathered necessary sustanance, then hunkered down in our room and balcony and spent the next 6 plus hours taking everything that had been thrown at us and incorporating it into our WIPs (works in progress).

Doing things this way is a double edged sword.  I was having issues with Shadow’s Moon (Book 3 of the Kyn Kronicles) and by the end of the evening realized why (you really do need a strong villian for a good story!), and now all those pages I’ve accumlated are being moved to the cut pile–yes indeed, we are starting over.  Here’s hoping that since there’s a clearer picture of where we’re going and Xander’s stopped being so damn coy, it will go much faster.  Plus Snarky figured out her sticking point on her hush-hush project.  It’s hard to explain to a non-writer how much fun the expierence was because for some peeps the idead of talking through plot points, character motivation, series arcs, and personalities is just….blehh!  But for me–I LOVED IT! 

Plus it was the most awesomest thing in the world to meet both newbie and not-so-newbie writers and READERS! I swear the writing community just rocks.  Conferences are where no one gets upset if you space in the middle of a conversation, they understand sometimes those voices in your head just drown out those around you.  Plus where else could you chat about what exactly constitutes a psychopath versus a sociopath, or why corsets are a hell of a lot harder to get rid of than just “ripping” them off–think bones and damn tough material? There was even the most entertaining conversation regarding the staminia of the men of the Paranormal community versus the rakes of the historicals–truly riveting!

Now the goal is to make it to the Paranormal Conference next year because as lovely as the RWA crowd was–I think I’d like to expierence the wild, twisted worlds of the Paranorms for a bit.  Think of what it would do to my Muse!  She’d have others to play blade-darts with, they could go on Zombie hunts, and maybe torment a few demons along the way.   Who knows, maybe we’ll get to come back with new alligator boots next year! 

-Wicked

Finding the lost Snark and Lucky Seven Challenge

Well, it’s been a busy week here at the Swamp.  Eerie, Mischevious, the Muses and I decided to track down Snarky’s missing snark.  Eerie, Mischevious and I had to swing by the Swamp Shack and drag out the Muses.  They weren’t too thrilled to be put to work, but I really didn’t have the patience to deal with their complaints.  Plus, they were facing off with Quirky’s bartending Muse regarding their running tab.  Before things could get dicey, I convisicated all the sharp edged weapons, and got the mini crowd into the armored Humvee so we could start our search. Chances were good that Snark had probably started out to welcome Dreamer to the neightborhood and got sidetracked.  She can be a little ditzy in the best of times, but we make allowances.  First up was the Filet Your Own Deli (yep, the name changes weekly!) because the Muses decided they needed to “stock up” for the search.  Seriously? You’d think those two had a hollow leg or three stashed somewhere.  I sent Mischevious ahead to the Swamp Thing’s place, because my Muse was speculating how many feathers would be needed for her new pillow and Mischevious was looking a little gray.

Once Eerie and I had rounded up our remaining charges and set off down the trail, we made quick work of the shops Snark could have gotten lost in–Knaves’ End, Everzombie & Flesh, Cave & Coffin, and Vladimir’s Secret.  No such luck.  Finally, after hours of listening to the Muses gritch about the lack of beverage options, we ended up at the Werewolf Moonastary.  We lost the old white haired dude somewhere in the whites, but over in the reds we found Snark.  Oh yes, she was passed out in front of a bottle littered table.  Seems the reds were a bit much for her plebian palate. Eerie and I dragged her to the Humvee, while my Muse took off with one of the hairy monks.  Mischevious found us at Snarky’s, pouring coffee down the slowly reviving Snark.  Give it a few more days, and she should be up to snuff.  If not, I’m sure Snarky Dwark will whip her into shape. Literally.

As I headed home I passed Dreamer’s lovely place.  She was out adding something colorful to her yard.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her it may not make through the next full moon.  Maybe she’ll get lucky and the moat and C. Adile’s cousins will be able to keep her lawn safe.  If not, the Prankster Duo is having a fun time with the Hellhound playing hide-n-seek-the-pieces with Eerie’s Zombie hordes.  We might be able to keep them hidden for a few more days! Just enough to worm our way into Dreamer’s heart.

So this weekend I’m off, leaving Knight in slightly muddy armor in charge of the Duo as Snarky and I crash the Desert Dreams Writer Conference.  Hopefully we’ll make a few new conquests…umm..friends.

And lastly, this week I was challenged by the mighty UF writer Marie Loughin (aka @mmloughin on Twitter), for the Lucky Seven. For those who aren’t familiar, Lucky Seven is a simple little Twitter game that goes like this:

  • go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript
  • go to line 7
  • post on your blog the next 7 lines, or sentences, as they are
  • tag 7 other people to do the same

It’s fun, it’s simple, and it can give you a chance to make your fellow writers show off!  So, since I just finished the third and final edits of Shadow’s Soul (out in June 2012), you’re getting a sneak peak of page 77:

Raine laughed, she couldn’t help it. Even Gavin couldn’t stop the twitch of his lips, while Xander lowered her head as if to hide her face. If Tomás thought threatening to sic Mulcahy on them was going to pull them in line, he was bound for disappointment. Mulcahy was the captain of the Wraiths, and if he hadn’t trusted them to do their job, he wouldn’t have sent them down here in the first place.

“Please do, Alpha Chavez,” she said. “Let him know we’ll contact him in the next day or so.” She didn’t need to lower her shields to feel the roil of power coming off the alpha because of her dismissive tone.

And now for the next seven victims!

Liv Rancourt             @LivRancourt

Amber  Kallyn           @AmberKallyn

Joe Alfano                  @Zombie_Joe

Adriana Ryan             @adrianaryansc

Mackenzie Crowne    @MacCrowne

Cynthia Woolf             @CynthiaWoolf

Rachel Firasek             @RachelFirasek

* “Tagged” means that you were called to action or attention via social media avenues such as Twitter or Facebook. So I know I told you about it!

For those following along with my guest posts, this week you’ll find me:

4/22/12            Black Opal’s Some Stories Told should have my post on Pantsing It…Writer Style.

4/24/12            Denise Alicea’s The Pen Muse where you get to follow my first meeting with Raine McCord!

4/25/12            Sarah Merchant’s Work Aday Reads as we go Where The Monsters Live…

–Wicked

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