Homegrown Holiday Shopping Ideas & #Kindle Book Bargains!


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In support of the creative class, of which I am a card-carrying member, my gal pal and pop culture media maven Tara Bennett has posted her annual “support your local artisans” shopping list. If you’re looking to find some truly inspired and unique gifts for your loved ones, start with this handy guide of crafty wares from some truly talented folks – click the pics to go to her blog of wonder:

Tara has graciously included me on her list again this year – and as luck would have it, both books in my Dream Stewards series are on sale through December 14th as part of the 200 Kindle Book Bargains promotion, all just $1.99 each (for the ebook edition). There’s a link to the books (and lots of other great stuff) on Tara’s page, but you can also go straight to the front of the line by clicking the book images below!

Tara is also an amazing author herself! Don’t forget to check out her TV tie-in books like SONS OF ANARCHY: The Collectors Edition, and her latest release SHOWRUNNERS: The Art of Running A TV Show (click the pics to buy the books):

Something Witchy This Way Comes – THE VOID is out today!


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A big shout out today to my friend and fellow author JD Horn, whose Witching Savannah Trilogy wraps up today with the release of THE VOID ! If you love dark, magical mystery and sinister intrigue, you’ll love this series.

An otherworldly energy runs through te city of Savannah, betraying its sleepy, moss-cradled charm. The old, beguiling streets look welcoming to most…but certain families know what lurks under their genteel surfaces. Families like Mercy Taylor’s, which has the most powerful lineage of witches in the South, know this all too well.

Mercy and her husband, Peter, are happily preparing to welcome baby Colin into their lives. But their excitement quickly becomes overshadowed by a gruesome discovery: someone has scattered severed limbs throughout the city. After a troubling visit from an old foe, Mercy learns dark magic is at play, and someone—or something—wants her and her unborn child out of the picture. To uncover the shocking reason why, the amateur witch must face a force beyond her power…or risk losing everything.

The third book in J.D. Horn’s Witching Savannah series, The Void is a gripping adventure about the enchantment—and evil—that can lie just beyond sight.


Goodreads Readers Choice Awards 2014


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Voting in the semi-final round of this year’s Goodreads Reader’s Choice Awards has begun, and I am so excited to share that my dear friend and fellow author JD Horn has been nominated in the Best Debut Author category!

JD’s Witching Savannah series has received a lot of critical acclaim from readers and reviewers, and if you haven’t read THE LINE yet, I highly recommend it! JD is a very talented writer and his debut novel is only the beginning of what I have no doubt is going to be a long and successful creative career!

I just love it when good things happen to good people :).

GR Readers Choic JD


Fall Festivities and Other Updates


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I crawled out of my writing cave this morning and realized I’d been in there a lot longer than I thought. Days, even entire weeks have passed – and I hardly noticed! I’d like to say I’ve got a completed manuscript to show for it, but the truth is I’m still a long way from finished.

I’ve got three core projects in the works – the first is an Urban Fantasy series that I just can’t seem to abandon, even though the publishing peeps have been telling me this particular subculture in the fantasy genre is dying on the vine. I’ve decided to put the words on the page and see where this first story goes.

Also on the story wheel is a novel length sequel to the short story I released through StoryFront earlier this year, AFTERSHOCK. If you’re into post-apocalyptic dystopian societies and hostile first-contact scenarios, you should give AFTERSHOCK a try. The novel picks up two years after the original event horizon, as the main characters are forced to confront the grim reality that life on earth is now more alien than human. This is an adapt or die situation that only the strongest can survive.

The project I’m most into this week is a full-on epic fantasy that takes place in a world where the balance of power has tipped too far in favor of a privileged few, and the scale is about to be reset. Akylah, the ruler of the Beyaz-at, is hell-bent to fulfill her father’s promise to lead the displaced tribe back to their ancestral home to reclaim the land and power that is rightfully theirs. To do that, she must retrieve a holy relic that holds no meaning for her, fight an enemy that isn’t hers, and broker a truce between opposing forces who would rather face extinction than make peace.

Sound interesting? I sure hope so. And while you’re waiting for me to finish, you might want to check out this stuff:

Over at SF Signal, Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues fame and I chat about women, research and the value of writing community -

SF Signal Interview

And, on Thursday October 30th, I’ll be hanging out at a Facebook Hallowe’en Party featuring a whole bunch of fabulous writers who will be reading, chatting, and giving away prizes -

A Murder of Authors

That’s all I’ve got on the calendar for now, but keep checking back for updates. Rumor has it I will be making a guest appearance or two in the Seattle area in the very near future!

Murder Boards, Fictional Landscapes and other Writing Tips


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Like most writers, I’m an obsessive note taker and list maker. I jot down story ideas, random lines of dialogue that I pick up when I’m eavesdropping in coffee shops, and good advice when I hear it.

I cleaned out my handbag this morning and unearthed a wad of post-its and shreds of scrap paper covered with snippets of information I wanted to remember to share with you all. There’s probably enough fodder for six weeks of blog posts here, but I’m just not that organized, or reliable when it comes to this blog. So, in typical fashion, I’m just going to jot down the most important stuff before it gets lost in the creative fray that is my life:

  • First up, award-winning fantasy author Kameron Hurley has a great blog post on plotting over at BRSBKBLOG today – she explains how she uses a “murder board” to help her plot complex story arcs. If I were you, I’d check it out:

Murder Boards

  • Next, I’ve got some writing advice that I picked up a week or so ago at a talk given by the illustrious Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz). Jayne’s writing career spans decades, and she easily makes the short list of authors who have successfuly sustained themselves over the long haul in the publishing business. Every time I hear her speak, I learn something important. Here are a couple of gems I got from her presentation:

1) The key to recognizing your unique writing “voice” is in understanding that your own core values and world view are underpinning everything you write.

2) Writers should never underestimate the value of a fictional landscape to readers – this refers mostly to genre fiction, and a fictional landscape is essentially another way of thinking about setting (geography, culture and time period). The point is to remember that readers choose genre fiction based on their affinity for a particular fictional landscape, and getting it right matters more to them than you realize.

3) Jayne also talked about knowing your “core story” as a writer. She was referring to a realization she had when she was analyzing her own writing style and goals. Jayne writes in three separate genres under three separate pseudonyms, but everything she writes is based on one core story concept – the marriage of convenience: two people who are forced to bond in order to survive. When she realized that this basic concept was at the root of all of her story ideas, she realized she could write in any genre – as long as she was true to the fictional landscape of that genre. I’m still ruminating on this, but it definitely struck home.

  •   Last on my list is the Edmonds Literary Walk, coming up on Saturday, September 13th. I’ll be participating in the roving discussion on writing as part of a panel presentation that takes place at the second stop on the tour – 10:30 am at The Edmonds Conference Center in downtown Edmonds, WA. The event is free. Here’s a link for more information: Chapter by Chapter: An Edmonds Literary Walk 

Well, that wraps up my list. Hope you found something useful in the crumpled remains of my daily musings!


Seeking Fame & Fortune, Author? Be careful what you wish for…


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Before I got my first book contract, I supported myself as a marketing consultant and personal publicist to some minor celebrities. That experience taught me a few important things about what it means to become a public person – a few things all authors should take into consideration.

Recently an uber-successful thriller author (who shall remain nameless for the purposes of this blog post) took to his/her FB fan page to chastise his/her fans for wasting his/her valuable time with questions like “what is the reading order for series x?”. Later comments and posts to responses from fans who were offended by his/her rebuffs spiraled out of control, until his/her publisher asked him/her to remove them. This he/she followed up with yet another public post about how said publisher made him/her remove the posts, and how he/she had no regrets about his/her behavior, adding that he/she should have the right to set his/her own boundaries when it came to public interaction.

Well, here’s the thing. If you are going to invite the public to support you – literally, and figuratively – you are going to have to accept some hard truths. And the biggest truth of all is that once you accept that public support, you owe that public an unending debt.

That’s not to say you can’t draw boundaries around your personal life. You absolutely should – but those boundaries absolutely cannot encompass anything having to do with your books or your writing endeavors. If your fans ask you questions about your work (and this goes for all entertainment professionals, everywhere), no matter how trivial or inane they may seem to you, you owe them an answer. You also owe them your gratitude, the continued expression of your art, your personal time, and most of all, your grace.

Fantasy is a Full Time Job ~ and other writing insights at WritingBelle


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Best-selling author and busy book blogger Summer Lane invited me over to chat on her site. We talk a bit about writing and publishing, and how it all worked out for me. Click the banner and check out our conversation and read my advice to aspiring authors:


Writing Belle Interview Snip







The Chrome-Assed Bitch Club – We Want YOU!


Last week’s blog post (see “An Elegant Epitaph: She Was a Chrome-assed Bitch”) inspired a lot of conversation in my author circles about the role and importance of older female characters in SFF – not just as protagonists, but also antagonists and supporting characters. The older female is too often relegated to the ranks of “sage advisor”, who, while often found in a position of power, is static – implying that she is past her prime or has no more need for growth. There seems to be a prevailing idea that once women have attained maturity (i.e. midlife) they are no longer adventurous – physically, emotionally, philosophically, sexually. In some cases the opinion is that these women are no longer interested, and in some cases the opinion is that these women are no longer capable. Neither could be further from the truth, and yet it seems readers (and book reviewers) have a hard time embracing a mature woman on a journey of any kind.

So, of a spark and a roar, a new author / reader discussion group was born. Teresa Frohock and I have opened up a little salon on the interwebs to explore some of the aforementioned issues and celebrate some of the truly remarkable characters and storylines that feature the Chrome-assed Bitches of SFF. There’s some great conversation happening, and a fabulous reading list. Come and check us out!

Chrome-assed Bitches FB Group

Life doesn’t end at 40. In many ways, it’s just getting started. The problem is that mature women are too often devalued, if only as a result of a mistaken perception. We are strong. We are powerful. And we are not to be effed with.

What woman of a certain age hasn’t secretly invoked Kathy Bates’ infamous line in Fried Green Tomatoes: “Face it, girls. I’m older, and I’ve got more insurance.” And on that note, I leave you with the rallying cry of older women everywhere.


An Elegant Epitaph: “She Was A Chrome-assed Bitch.”


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When I set out to write my debut novel, THE WELL OF TEARS, I took some pretty big risks. I hybridized the genre, I layered multiple story lines using many characters with unpronounceable names, and perhaps riskiest of all, I chose a mature female protagonist.

Alwen is a 40-something wife and mother who is also a skilled sorceress and wise leader who is heir to a powerful magical legacy. She is smart. She is strong. She is resilient. She is masterful. And she is a far superior version of herself at 40 than she was at 20. Life has honed her into the “chrome-assed bitch” she needs to be to outsmart a more powerful and far more diabolical mage and destroy the demon horde sent to obliterate her people.

The older the woman, the more dangerous she becomes. Older women didn’t need weapons to take the world down; they changed the course of history with a whisper. A word in the right ear brought down kings and queens, or maneuvered their kin into power. Chrome-assed bitches don’t need guns or swords, they have their brains.

I pulled the above quote from a recent article by Teresa Frohock, author of MISERERE: An Autumn Tale, which was one of my favorite reads of 2012. This quote kind of says it all. Teresa’s stunning debut dark fantasy novel features both a protagonist and an antagonist who are chrome-assed bitches in their 40s. These women have not only fought their way to respect and authority, but they have also acquired the mental discipline, social savvy and emotional seasoning it takes to survive and succeed along the way. With age comes experience.

I’m still surprised by the reviewers who disdain my choice of a mature heroine – calling her “old” and “unrelatable”. Without exception these reviewers are 20-something young women, who I suspect are still finding themselves and lack the foresight to envision the chrome-assed bitches they might yet become. That makes me a little sad.

Here’s the link to Teresa’s article on the blog A Dribble of Ink (edited by Aidan Moher). Teresa’a post includes a list of remarkable women in history worthy of the “chrome-assed bitch” epitaph. Check it out:

Women Made of Chrome by Teresa Frohock (Features on A Dribble of Ink)

So what do you think? Is an over 40 heroine unappealing to you? If so, why?

Zombies, and Knights, and Zombies, and Swordplay, and Zombies…


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One of my favorite reads of 2013 was a little known serial novel called THE SCOURGE – which is the first of a series of historical fantasy/horror novels by my author friend Roberto Rodriguez Calas.

In THE SCOURGE, a mysterious plague has descended upon 14th century England, ravaging the country and trapping the souls of the afflicted in eternal madness. Sir Edward of Bodiam has been separated from his wife, and with two of his knights, sets out to find her. The knights encounter unspeakable horror, violence, and sorrow on their quest, but nothing on heaven or earth can keep Edward from the woman he loves.

THE SCOURGE is a clever, witty twist on some familiar themes like honor, nobility, and true love – with characters you can’t help but love. The quest continues in Roberto’s next book, THE SCOURGE: EMACULUM.

Today I’ll be hanging out on Facebook with a bunch of seriously cool authors and readers, in celebration of Roberto’s new release. There will be zombies, and swordplay, and zombies, and prizes, and zombies, and knights in shining armor, and zombies…

The fun starts at 5:00 pm EST / 2:00 pm PST. Click the image below to be taken to the event page. Hope to see you there!

Scourge Lauch Party 8.5.14


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