I’ve Got a Secret…

I have exciting news to share with you.

But I’m not going to share it now. I’ve decided that the subscribers to my What’s Up in the Between newsletter should get first dibs on all of the news and gossip related to my books, so I’m going to tell them first.

News and Newsletters go together like coffee and cream, chocolate and peanut butter, Kahlua and – well, Kahlua goes with pretty much everything. I’ve been meaning to try it in my oatmeal one of these mornings but when it comes right down to it I never quite finish the pour. Anyway, back to the news that I am not sharing right now.

The good news is that I’m going to hold off a bit, so everybody who wants to can get in on the fun. If you’re not already hooked up to What’s Up in the Between there is a very simple solution to the problem.

Just Click Here

What happens if you click the link? (I know. It feels a little bit like Neo choosing whether to take that pill or not…)

neopill

Don’t worry. You’re not going to wake up to discover that civilization as you know it is actually a giant computer program. And you won’t get sucked into the Between. (Well, probably. I can’t make guarantees about the Between, because the doors are everywhere.)

So even though I can’t predict everything that might happen, I can tell you three things are highly likely.

1. You get to hear news and announcements and see book covers and other fun and exciting things before everybody else.

2. You get to read exclusive excerpts from unpublished projects, as well as some fun outtakes from my “Darlings” file.

3. Every month you will get entered into a drawing for free books and other fun prizes.

If you just don’t want to mess around with one more email showing up in your inbox, no worries. I completely understand and I promise I will still tell you what’s going on.

Eventually.

Free for the Fourth

This sounds like it’s going to be some sort of post on Freedom and Liberty and all of that stuff.

It’s not.

While I am grateful, daily and always, for the freedom and liberty and lovely life I’ve been able to have in both my native Canada and adopted USA, I’m talking about Free Books.

Why?

Because I feel like giving things away, and because what better time is there to do that than the Fourth of July? Especially since Canada Day just also happened, and that is two celebration days for me in one week!

I’m also in the mood to make things match. So here’s the deal:

Over the next 4 days, beginning today on the 4th, I’m giving away 4 books (total). Each winner can choose one copy of Between or Wakeworld. US and Canadian peeps only this time, please.  You can play along here at the blog, or on Facebook or Twitter, or all of the above!

To enter here, just leave me a comment about something positive and good going on in your world. This could be anything from fresh tomatoes to winning the lottery. I’d just like to know what’s making you smile these days. Closing down the comments by midnight my time on the 7th. Bonus entry if you send somebody else this direction, just make sure they let me know who sent them so I can give you credit.

Now – Go!

What makes you happy?

 

Share the Book Love – and Win!

Many readers don’t realize how important reviews of books are to the people who write them.

For starters, it just makes a writer immeasurably happy to know that some reader out there who isn’t a friend or family member actually took the time to read and love the book.

Also, reader reviews help to sell more books. This is gospel truth. Nothing helps an author sell more books than enthusiastic love from another reader.

Another little known fact is that reader reviews actually influence publishing contracts. Publishers are more likely to contract with a writer for another book if they know there is a reader group out there who is waiting for more.

At the same time, I know it’s a hassle to go and leave a review. Personally, I hate doing it and am very guilty of loving books and not taking the time to leave a review. There’s all those stars and the “what do I say?” part, not to mention the flashbacks to the much hated book reports I had to do in school.

But here’s the thing – reviews can be as short as “I totally inhaled this book and can’t wait for the next one.” In fact, sometimes I think those are better. I’m challenging myself to take the time to review the books I love, and I’m challenging you to do the same.

Only – there’s a bonus in this for you!!

1. Leave a review on Amazon of WAKEWORLD or any other living author’s book sometime before Sunday at midnight (my time, which is PST) and I’ll enter you to win a $25 Amazon gift card. It’s that simple, and you’ll make a writer really happy. (HINT: choose a book you love, or at least like. Scathing reviews do not make authors happy. Trust me.)

2. Leave a comment here with a link to your review – that way you share what you love and I know to enter you.

3. Enter as many times as you wish. The more reviews out there the better!

Happy reading.

 

Ten Reasons to Read the Mindspace Investigations Series

I have a visitor here on the blog today – the fabulously talented Alex Hughes, author of the Mindspace Investigations Series. The latest installment is called Marked, and I’ve been going around telling everybody you need to read this book.  In fact, I’m so excited about the release of Marked that I’m giving a copy away!

What makes this series so fabulous? Funny you should ask. Alex has stopped by to give you ten good reasons why you should read Marked and the rest of the Mindspace Investigations Novels.

I feel like we need a drum roll here. Just so you know, I’m picturing Animal from the muppets providing a little intro. Okay. Ready? Take it away Alex:

10 Reasons to Read the Mindspace Investigations Series

1. A flawed hero you’ll love to root for, even when he screws up.

2. Flying cars.

3. Cool telepathy used to get the truth from suspects.

4. A cranky (but awesome) female homicide detective who gets the job done, no matter what it takes.

5. Seeing emotions people left behind in Mindspace. At crime scenes, that means finding clues

6. Interesting murder cases and mysteries.

7. A guy fighting to redeem himself from a dark past and do the right thing in the present.

8. A cast of minor characters you’ll love to follow.

9. The mysterious and foreboding Telepath’s Guild, who has its own agenda and the power to enforce it.

10. Scifi world like ours… with a twist. No computers (since we’re post-Tech Wars) but plenty of other futuristic stuff like antigravity, magnetic air conditioning, and artificial organs.

Convinced? Need more? Here comes the cover and the blurb. And if that’s not enough, stay tuned for the giveaway at the bottom!

Marked

FORESEE NO EVIL.

Freelancing for the Atlanta PD isn’t exactly a secure career; my job’s been on the line almost as much as my life. But it’s a paycheck, and it keeps me from falling back into the drug habit. Plus, things are looking up with my sometimes-partner, Cherabino, even if she is still simmering over the telepathic Link I created by accident.

When my ex, Kara, shows up begging for my help, I find myself heading to the last place I ever expected to set foot in again—Guild headquarters—to investigate the death of her uncle. Joining that group was a bad idea the first time. Going back when I’m unwanted is downright dangerous.

Luckily, the Guild needs me more than they’re willing to admit. Kara’s uncle was acting strange before he died—crazy strange. In fact, his madness seems to be slowly spreading through the Guild. And when an army of powerful telepaths loses their marbles, suddenly it’s a game of life or death.…

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers

When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers

The Disaster That Has Befallen

Let me get right to the point.

My dear friend and awesome writer Julie Butcher has landed in a spot of trouble.

Last Sunday her husband got on the wrong side of a chainsaw. What this means, for those of you unfamiliar with chainsaws, is that he’s in the hospital with a leg that looks, I’m told, like it’s been mauled by a grizzly. He’s had two surgeries and will need another. He’s also not likely to be working for quite awhile to come.

If you don’t know Julie, you are missing something. She is a force to be reckoned with. She is also the sort of person who will stay up half the night ferrying stragglers to and fro from the airport to the writer’s conference, critiquing manuscripts with great skill and daring for those of us struggling with plot and structure, not to mention managing her six kids and volunteering at soup kitchens and, and, and….

In short, only good things should happen to Julie.
Since the chainsaw disaster has befallen, however, the Powers that Be over at the Evil League of Evil Writers are putting together an extravaganza of a fundraiser to help Julie and family out with medical bills and expenses. The fundraiser will be run through a crowd funding site and will go live on April 1st.

How can you help?


Bless you, I knew that would be your first question. So let me count the ways.

1. Contribute goods and services. 

Between now and April 1st we are collecting items to offer up as perks and incentives. We are open to all sorts of objects such as handmade arts and crafts or copies of your books, as well as services like critiques, time with you at a convention, online chat time – whatever you have to offer that readers, writers, or the population at large might find of value.

2. Donate

When the fundraiser goes live, have a look around for perks that appeal to you and donate to the cause. You’ll get something awesome in return for helping out a fellow writer in a tough spot. Win/Win all round.

3. Share the Love

Let everybody know. Share the word with your connections and ask them to pass it along. The more people  that know about this, the more money we can raise. Even if you’re too busy or too broke to be able to pitch in with Contributing or Donating, if you can find a minute to retweet or repost you are definitely helping out the cause.

To make it easy for those of you who would like to contribute goods and/or services, here is a handy dandy form that will get your info directly to the Evil Goddesses who are running this show. Questions? Please ask. We will do our best to answer.

Baton Blog Hop

This morning’s Monday Blessing post has been bumped by an invitation to play  a game called Baton Blog Hop. The idea is sort of a blog relay. I was tagged  by the ever so lovely and talented Silver James. She writes sizzling Romance and Paranormal Romance and you should definitely hop on over and check out her blog HERE. Go ahead – we’ll wait.

Okay. My part in this gig is to answer four questions about my writing process, and then to introduce you to three other fabulous writers out there who will do the same thing next Monday.

Ready? Here we go:

1. What am I working on?

At the moment I’m in revisions on a Paranormal Mystery/Thriller called Dead Before Dying, in which an aging paranormal investigator goes undercover in a Senior Citizen’s community. There are some particularly vicious supernatural beasties floating around in this one, but plenty of dark humor and some kick ass fun.

I’m also drafting the 3rd book of the Books of the Between.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most female leads in Paranormal or Urban Fantasy books are young and kick ass. Maureen, the heroine of Dead Before Dying is about to turn sixty and is recovering from some injuries that limit her physically. However, her spirit is about as kick ass as you can get, and she’s got plenty of life in her yet. The book combines some elements of horror with dark humor and has a bit of a hard boiled mystery feel.
As for the Books of the Between – there aren’t a lot of penguins in fantasy novels, so there is that. The series also blends elements of Urban Fantasy with more traditional Fantasy.
3. Why do I write what I do?
These are the stories that talk to me, the ones that are able to drag me out of bed in the morning to make the time to write.  I’ve tried to write fiction without fantastical elements and I got bored. The fantasy creeps in willy nilly, so I figure I might as well embrace it. On the other hand, I love to play in the weird spaces, which seems to require the meeting of reality and fantasy.
4. How does your writing process work?
Every book is different. Some books require more plotting and planning than others. Some seem to write themselves. Usually, I get the seed of an idea like “What if there was a geriatric vampire?” and it all develops from there. Usually I write a rough draft in which I explore the ideas and the characters and try to develop a plot. And then I revise for — like — forever. I’m not kidding. By the time I’m done I often have nearly as many words in my discard file as in the finished product. I chase rabbit trails and I play with ideas. And then I cut and cut and cut, and rewrite, and polish, until I end up with a manuscript that looks more or less like a book.
Now, let me introduce to you the fabulous authors I’ve tagged to post next Monday.
Mia Marshall writes Urban Fantasy, and is the author of the Elements series. Shifting Selves was nominated for a 2013 RT Reviewers Choice award.
Susan Spann is the author of Claws of the Cat, a mystery set in medieval Japan and featuring shinobi Hiro Hattori as the investigator. The sequel, Blade of the Samurai, will be out in July
Derick William Dalton is the author of the SciFi novel Houses of Common. I haven’t read this yet but it looks awesome and here’s the really fun fact – Derick is a co-worker and I didn’t even know he was a writer!! Such a small and sometimes wonderful world.
Please check out the blogs of these wonderful writers and stay tuned for their posts next Monday!
Monday Morning Blessing: Union

My first thought this morning when the alarm went off?

Ugh. Monday.

I hit snooze and rolled over, trying to shut out the day. This wasn’t difficult, actually, since it’s freaking dark out there and the time change is still kicking my ass. My body knows damn well it’s only 3:30 am no matter what lies the clock might try to tell. Even the promise of coffee wasn’t enough to nudge me out of the safe and warm.

But I had a date with my critique partner.  And the Monday morning blessing card. Also, coffee. So I dragged myself out of bed, made coffee and fire and lit a candle, all in the interest of adding a little light and goodness to a mood determined to be bleak.

And then I drew the blessing card for the day.

union

My response was underwhelming.

Riffing on the word Union (which sounds an awful lot like onion but can’t be put in a sandwich) I come up with:

State of the Union

Labor Union

Civil Union

Credit Union

Time, I thought, for a re-union with my bed. Forget today, and the blog post, and the writing, and maybe even the coffee. Monday wins before it’s even fairly begun.

But the thought of “re-union” already put a different spin on union, which essentially is a joining, a togetherness, the forming of a cohesive unit. Which leads me to my Viking and my family, both definitely blessings. And then there is the union of coffee and cream, which is truly a beautiful thing.

An internet image search turned up mostly labor union stuff, but also gave me this:

the-union-1024Elton John and Leon Russell collaborated on an album called The Union. And this made me think of some of my favorite musical pairings, one of which is Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins. Unlikely unions are sometimes the best.

I also found this painting by MC Escher, titled Bond of Union:

bond-of-union

This is very cool. It makes me think about the union of atoms that make up all the things I take for granted every day. This is a union that leads to – well – pretty much everything. Coffee, fire, food, water, human beings, pets.

So yes, union is indeed a blessing. How does it fit into your Monday?

 

Monday Blessing: Joy

This morning I slept in.

It wasn’t an accident, although I planned to say it was. I didn’t set the alarm. Usually this isn’t a problem because my eyes pop open at 4:30 am pretty much every morning. Unless, of course, somebody makes me change my clock ahead an hour so that my eyes are supposed to pop open at 3:30 am.

I resent this. So I (pretty much deliberately) stumbled out of bed at what the clock called 5:40, feeling groggy and snarly and already behind with the day.

It’s raining again. And dark as – as — well, it’s dark. Like daylight savings stole my sunlight and locked it up in a vault somewhere and it will never, ever be light again…

Wait – what’s that I hear? Tiny violins playing in the distance? The Self Pity Theme?

But I remembered my resolution to draw a blessing card every Monday to share with you. And what did I get?

 

penguinjoy

That’s right. Freaking JOY.

I’ll admit to a temptation to dig a little deeper in the box and find another card, but as soon as I started rooting around in my miserable heart, lo and behold the joy was there after all. Even on a dark and rainy Monday morning.

Taste of coffee, melting snow, liquid sound of rain on roof, watching the cat turn herself upside down and inside out playing with an elastic band. The pleasure of the right word finding its way onto the page, the anticipation of reading a new book, Random Penguin, the way Link Dog greets me in the morning like we’re being reunited after years of separation.

And now it’s your turn. What is giving you joy today?

http://youtu.be/amTOvyMcXz0://

 

Monday Blessing: Laughter

There has been a lot of negative in my online feeds of late. Writers behaving badly. Bullying reviewers. Political nightmares. Prosecution, persecution, and discrimination every which way I look, not to mention the ever present threats of war or terrorism or whatever the latest looming disaster might be.

Here’s the thing. I’m no Pollyanna. I know full well how much nasty there is out there in the big wide world. But there is also a lot of good.

I’m currently reading Anne Bishop’s Ephemera novels, and this quote is really sticking with me:

“Let your heart travel lightly. Because what you bring with you becomes part of the landscape.”

In Ephemera this is literally true. The world around you can be altered by what is reflected from your heart.

“That’s just a story,” you might say. “Fiction.”

True. But I believe this is true in our own world as well. We are drawn to those people and situations that resonate with what is in our hearts. People around us are either darkened or lightened by the moods we broadcast.  I am consciously making a choice, as I have had to do over and over in my life, to focus on what is good and right and beautiful in the world.

I’m hoping you might like to play along with me.

On my desk I have a box full of little cards called “blessing cards.” Each contains a single word. (Yes, apparently you even have to work for blessings. No easy button!) I am bad about them. Sometimes I forget for weeks or months that they are there. But I’d like to start sharing them with all of you. My goal is to post a new blessing here on Monday mornings when I think we all need an extra dose of the positive.

I would love it if you would share your thoughts throughout the week and we could – maybe – create a place of encouragement and support for each other.

So here’s the card for this week: LAUGHTER

I invite you to carry this with you into the week, and would be delighted if you would share here how it has affected you.

My Valentine – an Excerpt from Wakeworld

Vivian is a dreamshifter with an internal dragon trying to break free. Zee was born to slay dragons. Their love is not an easy one.

As my valentine’s gift to you, here is a glimpse into the love story that runs through the heart of Wakeworld:

He was propped up against the stone wall beside the mouth of a cave. Her heart turned over at sight of his face, so changed from that first glimpse of him, sitting in a ray of golden sunlight in A to Zee Books. All of the artist had been beaten out of him, nothing but the warrior remaining. His head leaned back against the stone, eyes closed, but his face was tight and hard even in repose. The scars left by the bear were healing into long red welts. Both eyes had been blackened, and a greenish swelling marred his jaw. His right arm was bloody. A laceration ran along his rib cage; his belly and chest were marked with vivid purple bruises.

The strong hands were bound together, resting in his lap.

Vivian’s eyes blurred with sudden tears. “His wounds need tending. Help me up.”

“You are not getting up. Especially to tend to a madman who tried to kill you. Tell me what to do, I’ll take care of it.”

She shook her head, no, grateful that this small movement didn’t make the world spin. “I have to see.”

“I don’t see that there’s anything else to be done, and you need to lie down and rest.”

“There’s no time for rest, Weston. Look—my pulse is a little bit rapid but not too bad. I’m not feeling short of breath. We need to be moving soon, anyway. It’s not safe here.”

Zee’s eyes opened, those beautiful agate eyes, once light filled and now so dark. No smile at the sight of her, no softening of his face. “Rest,” he said. “I’m all right. We’ll try to move tomorrow.”

But he wasn’t all right, not at all. She could hear it in his voice. And she couldn’t bear the sight of his hands, tied together as though he were a criminal. She tried to push herself onto her feet, but her legs felt like rubber.

“I’ll not help with this madness,” Weston said, but when she started to crawl he picked her up like a child and carried her, setting her down in front of Zee.

She reached out to touch his cheek but he flinched away, avoiding her gaze, his eyes and face unreadable.

He was so very hurt. It was more than the wounds, all of which looked painful but not life threatening. The cut on his side was healing. The bruises didn’t indicate broken bones. But his arm was a mess. She kept her voice matter-of-fact and professional. “Looks like every time it starts to heal, you tear it open.”

“That’s been about the way of it.”

When she laid her hand on the taut skin of his bicep, his flesh quivered beneath her touch. She began fumbling with the knots in the rope that bound him, but they were tight and stubborn and her fingers kept slipping off.

Weston put a hand over hers to stop her. “He’s a dangerous brute, Vivian. He tried to kill you.”

“He tried to kill a dragon,” she said, her voice level. “Any man could make such a mistake.”

“And threatened the woman who replaced the dragon. Don’t you forget it.”

Vivian looked up into Zee’s eyes, guarded and watchful, as though she were a stranger, an enemy. She knew full well how lethal Zee could be. If he had turned against her, if he thought there was reason to kill her, he would do that if she freed him. And she could not afford to die—there was too much riding on her success. She must find the Gates, the Key, stop the sorceress.

There was no room for love or mercy in this equation.

“Give me the knife, Weston,” she said, never once breaking the gaze that bound her and the dragon slayer together.

“Vivian, it’s dragonstone.”

“I’m aware of what it is. Give it to me.” At the touch of stone against her hand she curled her fingers around the carven bone hilt, feeling the dragonstone respond to her blood. For the first time, emotion stirred in Zee’s eyes. Stricken, she recognized it as hope. With a long, shuddering breath he closed his eyes and leaned his head back, baring his neck, his breast, asking for a death.”