Monthly Archives: July 2014

Cover Reveal: The Warrior and the Holy Man

Introducing Haveshi Yellowcrow and Latan the Clerk:
I’ve been wanting a better cover for The Warrior and The Holy Man ever since I released it, so I put Mominur Rahman, the artist who did the Daughter of the Wildings and new Urdaisunia covers, on the job, and I love what he came up with. Above is the ebook version; below is the full wrap-around:

Since Warrior and Holy Man is short fiction, at the moment I’m not planning to release a paperback edition. Eventually I’ll put together a collection of all my Estelend short fiction (Haveshi and Latan’s stories, A Cure for Nel, Tales of Azara, and whatever else I might write) and use this as the cover for the paperback of that.The landscape I used for the original cover is cool, but it really didn’t work very well with the lettering, and it didn’t convey anything about the story. For me, stories are mainly about characters, and so I like to see the characters on the cover. Stock art that’s usable for fantasy characters can be hard to find (though I love the work that Design by Katt did for the Chosen of Azara and Sarya’s Song covers), especially if you aren’t using the standard fantasy-type characters, and especially especially if you tend to have a lot of mixed-ethnicity couples like I do, like Silas and Lainie (Daughter of the Wildings), Eruz and Rashali (Urdaisunia), and Haveshi and Latan. That’s where having an illustrator who does amazing work, like Mominur Rahman, comes in handy!

If you want to get to know Haveshi and Latan a little better, check out these previous blog posts:

Character Interview with Haveshi Yellowcrow
Character Interview with Latan the Clerk
Sneak Peek: The Path of Haveshi Yellowcrow
Sneak Peek: The Path of Latan the Clerk

Currently, The Warrior and the Holy Man is available exclusively at Amazon, $2.99 for the ebook or, if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership (U.S. only) or Amazon Prime, you can read it for free!

Don’t have a Kindle? Never fear! You can download the free Kindle reading app for PC, Mac, Android, and iPad/iPod/iPhone; read in the Amazon Cloud Reader, or, since all my ebooks are DRM-free, you can download free Calibre ebook management software to convert my Kindle books into epub format for your Nook, Kobo, Sony, or iDevice.


Clean Out Your eReader Book Review: Guardian of the Abyss

Guardian of the AbyssGuardian of the Abyss, by Shannon Phoenix

When deep sea diver Sarah’s business partner and best friend stages an accident and leaves her for dead, she is rescued by a being that shouldn’t exist. Abaddon, a gorgoyle condemned to eternity trapped in a cave beneath the sea, takes extreme measures to save her life, but what should have been a curse to her becomes a great blessing.

A novella set in the author’s Supernaturals paranormal world, Guardian of the Abyss is a lovely little romance, about redemption and hope. I enjoyed the characters of Sarah and Abaddon and really cared about what happened to them. The desperation of their circumstances trapped in a cave at the bottom of the ocean was well-written, and I was anxious to find out if they made it out ok.

I haven’t read any other books in this series, but I was able to keep up with the story; the background and other important information is conveyed without info-dumping. I did start to get confused when a bunch of other characters, vampires, werewolves, and other gargoyles came on the scene, but the story soon went back to the main characters.

Highly recommended if you enjoy paranormal romance or want to try dipping your toe into the genre.

See my main COYER post for reading list and review links!

Clean Out Your eReader Book Review: Huntress Moon

Huntress Moon by Alexandra SokoloffHuntress Moon, by Alexandra Sokoloff

Wow. Fast-paced, breathless suspense thriller about an FBI agent on the hunt for the female serial killer who killed one of his undercover agents right in front of him. Roarke, the agent, has extensive – and soul-crushing – experience as a profiler of criminals, but this killer defies all his profiling experience – until he learns of the astonishing connection he shares with her and figures out the true purpose behind her string of killings.

Well-drawn, sympathetic characters who grabbed my interest right away and kept me rooting for them – even the killer, whose mind we spend a great deal of time in, and vividly-portrayed settings, including San Francisco, Portland, the forest wilderness around Mt. Hood, and the peaceful and quaint yet hip California central coast, make this a book I got lost in and didn’t want to put down. The action (though there isn’t a lot of action as in fight scenes, I mean Roarke’s pursuit of the killer and the killer’s pursuit of her destiny) is non-stop, with one twist after another, and I ended up staying up way too late one night to finish it.

The one downside is this is the first book in a series, so the ending is inconclusive, but that just means I get to read more about the Huntress and the FBI agent. So that’s a good thing.

I’ll add that this is one of the few books I’ve ever read that I wish I had written. To that end, I’ve purchased Ms. Sokoloff’s writing book Writing Love: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors II (based on her Screenwriting Tricks for Authors book but with additional material on writing romance) and I’m working my way through it. Writers should always keep working to improve their craft, and I think this book will be really helpful.

For all my COYER books and reviews, see my main Clean Out Your eReader post.

COYER Book Review: The Stone in the Sword, and Summer Storm

Two more short reviews as I plow my way through the depths of my Kindle during the Clean Out Your eReader Summer Vacation challenge:

PictureThe Stone in the Sword, by N.A. Roy

In this fantasy adventure, sixteen-year-old Charlie is on vacation to visit relatives in Scotland when his life takes a strange turn – he discovers the true nature of the power of Excalibur, has to rescue his brother who has been kidnapped by dark beings, and learns of his own unexpected powers and heritage.

It was hard for me to decide how to review this book; it’s written for a considerably younger audience than the books I prefer to read, but in objective terms, I think middle grade and young teen readers will enjoy exploring the ancient, mysterious Scotland where Charlie’s relatives live and the Sidhe world Charlie finds himself in. The book is fast-paced and not very long, with themes of brotherly love and self-sacrifice, a touch of Arthurian legend, and a thrilling magical battle.

PictureSummer Storm, by Elizabeth Baxter

In Summer Storm, Falen is a princess who wants to be a scientist, much to the displeasure of her father the King. While working on the project she hopes will get her admitted to the academy of engineering, she meets an old man who might have the solution to her problem – or plunge her life into nightmare.

I liked this. I enjoyed the use of science in a fantasy world, and the sense of dark things to come. I had a little trouble with Falen; it was hard to tell how old she is. Sometimes she acts like a petulant young teenager because her life has demands and responsibilities she doesn’t like, but in one scene her father tells her it’s well past time she was married. So that’s my one problem with the story.

Otherwise, Summer Storm is well-written and entertaining. It’s a novella-length prequel to the author’s Wrath of the Northmen series, which I look forward to checking out.

Author Spotlight: Josephine McNabb

PictureIntroducing author Josephine McNabb and her paranormal romance/urban fantasy novel Fire and Fangs:

1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a twenty-three year old student. I grew up in a farm in Northern Ireland. I have two brothers and so many pets I couldn’t start naming them all. I started writing Fire and Fangs about a year and a half ago. I didn’t think it would turn out to be an actual book, but when it did, my boyfriend suggested that I publish it. I am editing book two in the Blood and Flames series and looking forward to starting book 3. I’ve always been an avid reader too. My Mum used to read stories with me when I was younger and I’ve been reading ever since.

2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started writing because I was off work with an injury and this scenario came to mind when I was going to bed one night.. Then the next night.. So I decided I would write it down to get it out of my head. It didn’t work! It kept going so I kept writing. I’ve written small stories since I was in school, nothing published, but my teacher said i had a vivid imagination.

3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?

I write paranormal romance with a lot of action and suspense. I like my stories to have a bit of grit about them. I don’t like it to be all about the romance, but how the romance can survive through the tough times.

4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
My first and only (so far) series is Blood and Flames. Fire and Fangs is available now and book two, which I am in the process of editing will be available before the end of the summer.

Picture 5. “Welcome To My Worlds”: Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
My world builds itself throughout the book. It begins as a normal world, where there are bad creatures out there, but only a select few know about it and they try to protect humanity from it. Of course it doesn’t stay that way.. Danni and Keri hunt rogue’s, vampires, shifters etc that go bad and start killing innocents.

6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Danni is a seasoned fighter, she grew up under the wing of Nick, who is a surrogate father to her. He took her in after her parents died. The book begins with Danni tailing a rogue who has kidnapped a little girl. She is bad ass and not afraid of anything. She is confident in her abilities but she wishes that she was normal. She has a gift that she calls, ‘The Heat’. Her body goes up in flames and she can manipulate her fire. She has been repressing it for years.

Keri is a newbie, she is fresh out of the training academy and is keen to prove her skills. She is naive and comes across quite vulnerable at times. Although I do love her snide remarks. She develops and grows within this book.

Nest Master Damon is someone that you love to hate at the beginning. He isn’t very nice. He is determined to rule his Nest and keep all of his vampires safe. I think his stubbornness and single mindedness is what I like about him.

Rachel aka Blondie is Danni’s boyfriends sister. Blondie hates Danni with a passion and thinks her brother Greg, can do so much better. She’s out to make trouble for them.

7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
While writing this book I sent everyone around me mad, you would have to say my name about four times before I heard you and if you were wanted me to do something you had to wait until my brain went quiet before I could tear myself way. I was too afraid I would forget such a brilliant scene.

8. Blog/site link:
Facebook | Goodreads

Fire and Fangs is available at Amazon (universal link)

COYER Book Review: The Last Waltz

Picture The Last Waltz, by G.G. Vandagriff

The Last Waltz is the story of an upper-class young woman from Vienna named Amalia and the three men she loves: Eberhard, who is torn between his love of music and the Prussian military ideals he was raised with; Andrzej, the dangerous and romantic young Polish doctor; and Rudolf, the good friend of Amalia’s beloved uncle, who becomes her protector and mentor. The story begins with Amalia as a naive young girl in the months before World War One breaks out, and follows her through romance, heartbreak, tragedy, and personal growth to the eve of World War Two, when she has matured to realize there are many different ways to love and that it’s possible to love more than once in your life (contrary to what she’s been taught). She has also become a fervent Austrian patriot, fighting in the few ways that are open to her as a woman to save her country from both the Communists and the Nazis.

The book takes a close look at a fascinating time in history – the leadup to and early years of WWI, which I don’t know much about, and the years before WWII, which I know a little more about. The history is interesting and I enjoyed the look at how ordinary people (albeit people of the upper classes) were trying to live their lives amidst those momentous events. I found myself less interested in the political ins and outs of Austria in the late 1930s. But that’s just me; I’m less interested in political details than I am in the larger events of history. If you are interested in those details, they are written out very clearly and obviously based on careful, thorough research.

Romance and angst abound, and I did find myself growing frustrated with Amalia, Eberhard, Andrzej, and Rudolf’s seeming inability to make good decisions where love was concerned. Simple misunderstandings that could have been sorted out with an honest conversation instead led to years of heartache. But given the time period and society the book is set in, maybe it isn’t realistic to expect that those kinds of conversations would have taken place. Amalia’s attraction to Eberhard, Andrzej, and Rudolf is easy to understand, as is theirs to her. The Last Waltz is sweet romance, with no on-screen sex though there are a few brief and non-explicit references to off-screen sexual activity.

There’s a lot of dialogue, and a lot of telling what people are thinking and feeling, and little action until the very end, a thrilling escape attempt from Austria after the Nazis take over. For my taste, I would have liked a little more showing through action and less telling of what the characters were thinking and feeling. In addition, transitions from one scene to the next were kind of abrupt and disorienting for my taste, and the end also seemed kind of abrupt; I would have liked a scene or an epilogue giving more resolution and hinting at where things go from there. I came to care about the characters and wanted to know what life had in store for them after the events at the end.

The world of Vienna from 1913-1938 is painted in colorful detail, bringing its beauty, glamour, and ebullience to life. I visited Vienna for a week as a child, and reading The Last Waltz made me want to go back sometime.

If you enjoy sweeping and well-researched historical novels filled with romance in a vivid setting with well-drawn characters, I recommend The Last Waltz.

For reading list and more reviews, see my main Clean Out Your eReader post.

COYER Book Review: A Sad, Sad Symphony


A Sad, Sad Symphony, by Cristian Mihai

Cristian Mihai is a talented young lit-fic writer from Romania. Literary fiction generally isn’t my reading material of choice, but somehow I stumbled across Mr. Mihai’s writing (I think he followed my WordPress blog?) and found myself enjoying it very much. Most of his work seems to be short stories, which are easily digestible for someone like me, who prefers stories with magic and evil and guys with swords (or guns).

A Sad, Sad Symphony is a story about a composer who at the end of his life finally composes the perfect symphony, an achievement he’s always fallen short of before. Flashbacks into his earlier years suggest that this symphony might be a final gift of grace from the cosmos. It’s a beautifully-written examination of the creative process and the need to create, as great as the need to breathe or eat for some people. Character, place, and mood are powerfully invoked by the clear, graceful language.


I also recommend Remember, another story by Mr. Mihai, about the remembrance of first love meeting the reality years later. Again, beautifully written.

COYER Book Reviews: Degrees of Delusion, and Desolace


Couple of quick reviews today for the Clean Out Your eReader Summer Vacation challenge. (see my main COYER post for reading list and links to other reviews.)

PictureDegrees of Delusion, by Lindsay Buroker

I really enjoyed Lindsay Buroker’s Emperor’s Edge series and have a lot of her other work on my Kindle waiting to be read. This is an old longish short story unrelated to any of her other work, but I was happy to snap it up when she put it up for sale.

Fortis is a mercenary kicked out of the Imperial army, who finds his unit hired by powerful wizards who want them to take out an Imperial military installation. Faced with the presence of the former lover who betrayed him, whose motivations strike a little too close to home for Fortis, and a sudden crisis of conscience when it comes to killing his countrymen and former comrades, Fortis comes up with an ingenious solution to take control of the base.

Like all of Ms. Buroker’s work that I’ve read so far, this is witty and fast-moving, with well-drawn, vivid characters in an interesting world. Little information is given about the world of this story, but the presence of expansionist wizards makes me want to read more.

PictureDesolace, by Lucian Barnes

Sadly, I had to DNF this. The premise is really interesting: A serial killer catches the attention of an evil power from a world parallel to our Earth, and he and the teenage girl who is hunting him (after he kidnaps her best friend) get caught up into the battle between good and evil in this other world. Unfortunately, I found the book very difficult to get into. The style alternates between a very light YA feel and extremely graphic depictions of torture and rape. Neither of those styles is to my taste, and I found the contrast between them especially jarring. So, not my thing.

Meet My Character Blog Hop: Silas Vendine

Welcome to the Meet My Character Blog Hop! First I want to thank Maron Anrow and Shari Sakurai for inviting me to participate this week.

Maron Anrow grew up in California, came of age in the Midwest, and is now passing time in New Jersey. She lives with her husband, stepdaughter, and three awesome cats. Maron has a Ph.D. in social psychology and has published (under her real name) over 20 scientific articles since 2008. Laika in Lisan is her first novel, and it details the journey of Laika, a private tutor who is invited to study in the mysterious country of Lisan. While in Lisan, Laika struggles with moral ambiguity and a life-changing ethical dilemma.
Meet My Character Blog Hop post | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Shari Sakurai was born in Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom. After completing secondary school she moved away from further education to work in administration. She is very interested in other countries’ cultures and mythology; in particular Japan. Japanese themes and influences can often be found in her work. Her debut novel Demon’s Blood was released in ebook format on 25th January 2014. She has participated and won the National Novel Writing Month challenge for the past seven years. Meet My Character Blog Hop post | Website | Facebook | Goodreads

PictureAnd now, let’s meet Silas Vendine, the hero of my upcoming Daughter of the Wildings series:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
The name he goes by is Silas Vendine. He was born Siyavas Venedias, a member of an elite mage family of Island heritage, but he is estranged from his family, and going by an Islander name in the Wildings is a sure way to get yourself hanged as a wizard.

Don’t tell him this, but he’s fictional. He thinks he’s real.

2) When and where is the story set?
Daughter of the Wildings is mostly set in the Wildings, a vast, mostly unsettled region roughly modeled after the American Wild West of the 1880s. The Wildings is being settled by Plain (non-magical) people who have fled from the mage-dominated society of Granadaia, the civilized land along the eastern coast of the continent.

3) What should we know about him?

He grew up in an elite mage family in Granadaia, but he never fit in. When he was very young, he came to realize that the way Plain (unmagical) people were treated in Granadaia was wrong. As he grew up, he had the chance to read some books, smuggled into Granadaia, by foreign philosophers talking about natural equality and rights of all people regardless of their birth or station in life, and he found he believed in this.

Now he works as a bounty hunter tracking down and stopping renegade mages who have rebelled against the ruling Mage Council and come to the Wildings to get rich and/or set up their own independent domains. He doesn’t really care about enforcing the Mage Council’s authority, though; his main concern is protecting the Plain settlers of the Wildings against these ruthless, lawless mages. He does this even though the Plain settlers hate wizards with a passion.

Picture4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

When he comes to the town of Bitterbush Springs, he meets a young woman named Lainie Banfrey, who appears to be Plain but is actually developing very strong magical powers. She wants to learn how to use her power, but is terrified of being turned into a heartless, soulless monster like she believes all wizards are. Untrained mages can be extremely dangerous to themselves and others around them, and the Mage Council’s law requires Silas to either send her back to Granadaia for training or to Strip her of her power, which will leave her mindless and helpless. Or there’s a third option – he could take her with him and train her himself, which would make both of them outlaws and renegades.

At the same time, dangerous plots are in motion among the mages back in Granadaia, plots that threaten him, Lainie, and the freedom of the Wildings.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

His main goal is to protect Lainie. He also wants to protect the Plain people of the Wildings against mages who threaten their freedom and rights. The problem is that sometimes these two goals conflict.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The series is called Daughter of the Wildings. Follow the link to read teasers about the individual books and find links to excerpts, cover art reveals, and a playlist.

7) When can we expect the book to be published?

Good question! I’m aiming for book 1, Beneath the Canyons, to be released later this fall. To be notified when it’s released, sign up for my email alerts.

Be sure to check out next weeks’ stops on the Meet My Character Blog Hop:

Kyoko M is an author, a fangirl, and an avid book reader. Her debut novel, The Black Parade, made it through the first round of Amazon’s 2013 Breakthrough Novel Contest. She participated and completed the 2011 National Novel Writing Month competition. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Lit degree from the University of Georgia, which gave her every valid excuse to devour book after book with a concentration in Greek mythology and Christian mythology. When not working feverishly on a manuscript (or two), she can be found buried under her Dashboard on Tumblr, or chatting with fellow nerds on Twitter, or curled up with a good Harry Dresden novel on a warm central Florida night. Like any author, she wants nothing more than to contribute something great to the best profession in the world, no matter how small.
Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Zoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, new adult, urban fantasy and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.
Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Lyn Johanson: A computer science major, Lyn C. Johanson decided to leave the cold world of code lines and pursue her passion for writing romance stories. Now, she mostly lives in the world she dreams up. Except when her husband and sons drag her back to reality—where she enjoys photography, dancing, and spending time with her family.
Website | Facebook | Goodreads

COYER Book Review

Picture Princess of Persia, by Shantnu Tiwari

Princess of Persia is a tale of the end of the world, gods and demons, terrorists, superheroes, polite vegetarian zombies, super-intelligent coffee machines, evil conspiracies, gay arranged marriages, murderous butterflies, and Bollywood. And, oh yeah, there’s a prince of Persia in there who’s in love with the heroine.

This book is part satire, part farce, and mostly pure silliness. You don’t read it for the prose stylings or the character development (which is a little thin), you read it for the humor. And, yeah, the story itself is pretty exciting. But mostly it didn’t matter what was going on in the story, I was too busy laughing out loud.

See my COYER main post and reading list here.