Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Participatory Democracy: Fiction by Katherine Tomlinson

I don't write much political fiction, and this story, strictly speaking, is more of a noir-ish kind of tale. But after binge-watching the RNC and the DNC, I re-read the story (which I wrote several yaers ago) and felt like it suited the times a little too perfectly. And sums up why I'm With Her.
Nora had been working on the Congressman’s campaign for eighteen months. His neighborhood office was within walking distance of her apartment and going there every day gave her something to do with her unemployed hours; injected purpose into her otherwise

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Heartblaze 2: Vampire Rising by Shay Roberts

This is the second book in Shay Roberts' Heartblaze Trilogy, and unlike some series that seem to go through a "sophomore slump"  with sequels, this second outing with heroine Emma Rue is bigger and better and takes the story to a place where the stakes are monumental. (Yes, in this book, we face TEOTWAWKI,)

I read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and books with vampires and werewolves and witches seems to fall into two categories. There are those that simply mimic what's come before, and give us the same old/same old tropes that make readers want to roll their eyes at the very thought o reading another vampire book. And then there are the paranormal stories that give us something new. The Heartblaze series is in the latter category.

In this story Emma Rue comes to realize that she has a purpose and a destiny far beyond anything that she could have imagined. (Yes, I know, all heroines of paranormal romances are supposed to be special, but here, she really is special.) Just as the Heartblaze world is special. This is a dark fairy tale of a story, and when you learn what the dagger in Emma's hand (see cover) can do, you'll be stunned. Roberts teased it in Heartblaze 1, and he paid it off BIG TIME in this sequel.

Friday, July 22, 2016

New Orleans, Prohibition, and a mystical speakeasy. I'm there!

I've only visited New Orleans once and it was before Hurricane Katrina devastated the city. But it really is one of those places that isn't like any other. I'm a sucker for stories set in the big easy, and this one, V.R. McCoy's The Merchant, looks like it's right up my alley. The author cites Walter Mosley, James Patterson, Stephen King, and Tom Clancy as his inspirations, and just reading the blurbs of the other two books he's published, I believe his work has "commercial" encoded in its bookly DNA.

This is how The Merchant begins:  It was the year 1187 after his death. It had been raining fire for most of the night ..."  I don't know about you, but there's no way I'm going to stop reading after that. Kindle "look inside" tool--you just made a sale!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Oldest Sense: Vetiver Quinn #2, a preview

Last year, at the urging of a friend of  mine who is a best-selling novelist, I dipped my toes in the "paranormal romance" genre. I didn't want to use one of the typical paranormal creatures--honestly, I'll be fine if I never see another shifter story--and I wanted my heroine to have the power, not just be "the girl" who gets dragged along on the adventure. (And I did want there to be an adventure. Straight-out romances don't really work for me.) I started thinking about the powers my heroine might have and I thought of Anton Strout's great books about Simon Canderous and Rachel Caine's "Weather Warden" series. They aren't cookie-cutter books and I didn't want mine to be a cookie-cutter story either.

I was writing an aromatherapy book for a client at the time and I started thinking about what it would be like if someone could "see" things in a person's olfactory aura. I know that sounds weird, but there are all those studies about memory being linked to scent and I decided to try. The result was a woman I called Vetiver Quinn, an aromatherapist who can read people that way. And then I came up with a story that involved a government agent named Peter Eliades who needs her help foiling a terrorist incident.  And then I found a group of pictures of the couple on the left and a couple of covers came together. The first book was The Fourth Sense (smell being the fourth sense in the sequence of five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste). 

The sequel is called The Oldest Sense. (Smell is the first sense we develop while hearing is said to be the lasst sense to leave us as we're dying.)  The storyline for the new book is a straight up mystery, and it's been fun to write. These books are just novelettes, and the idea is to eventually put them together in a boxed set.  Yes, I know, I really need to finish that novel. But in the meantime, I'm enjoying writing the shorter stuff.  Here's the prologue of The Oldest Sense written under the name Delia Fontana.

The Oldest Sense

“I want it to smell like an NFL locker room at half-time during the Super Bowl when the other team is winning,” my client said.
Yikes, I thought, but what I said was, “Okay. Man tang and musk. Notes of camphor and mentholatum.”
“And leather,” she added. “Sweaty socks and leather.”
“Leather?” I asked, because I wasn’t following her. “I don’t think they really make footballs out of pig skin any more.”
She gave me a pitying look. “The players are wearing underwear.”
Of course, I thought. The players’ leather underwear.
“And a hint of chlorine.”
“From the showers?”
Again I got the look, this time tinged with a bit of impatience. “The smell of fresh spunk,” she said. “It smells like chlorine.”

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Trilogy is Complete!

Well, almost.  I published Bride of the Midnight King a year ago August, and the sequel, Daughter of the Midnight King in January. Now I'm rounding out the story with The Midnight Queen, which is about Joie, princess of Eindar and the first natural-born vampire in the land. I'm having a lot of fun mashing up fairy tales with my own kind of vampires, but I think Midnight Queen will be the last story in the series. I snagged this cover during the big June sale over at The Book Cover Designers.  It's by Magic Covers. The Midnight Queen will be out in September, just in time to celebrate my birthday.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

A modern-day Pinocchio?

I read the blurb for Ricardo Henriquez' debut dark fantasy/horror novel The Catcher's Trap over at Dread Central and it feels to me like a dark fairy tale along the lines of Pinocchio. It comes out in November. I'll be waiting.

Monday, July 11, 2016

A Tale of Two Covers

I love free books. And while I'm not what my best friend calls a "greedy grabber" (one of those people who scoops up freebies and never actually reads them), I have been known to actually fill my Kindle to capacity with free and bargain books.  and I have a lot of opportunities to do that because I'm subscribed to a couple of services that email me every morning with tempting books in every possible category. Today, on Freebooksy, Meg Xumei X's book Empress of Mysth caught my eye. It looked like something a little different in the paranormal romance genre, and I'm always looking for something different. (Killer angels!!)

The cover to the left is the one in the ad, and it caught my eye because it looks like an old school Tanith Lee cover. (I still miss Tanith Lee!)  It snagged my attention and then I read the blurb and clicked over to Amazon to claim my free book. Because ... free!  But also because I've read some of X's other books, including The Siren. I like her books. They always have high stakes (like the survival of the human race.) And they don't have cookie cutter characters. So, very much looking forward to reading this book. But when I clicked over, the cover below was the one on offer. And I tell you right now, if I'd seen that shirtless angel photoshop  cover, my eyes would have glided right past it.

I know there's been a lot of talk about "shirtless covers" and I've mostly kept out of it, but here's a real A/B test. To me, the book with the woman on the cover looks more interesting than the book with the shirtless angel. I'm not a prude, not at all. But the book above tells me the book is about a woman who is DOING SOMETHING. The shirtless angel cover tells me that the most important thing is the relationship with the shirtless angel. (Yes, I know it's a fantasy romance, but work with me here.)

Maybe if the guy's wings hadn't been off-center. (Because of the way his torso is turned, the wing on his left shoulder should have been turned as well and it isn't. The model has just been superimposed on the wings and it doesn't look great. In fact, it looks like a bazillion other covers you see in the Kindle book section.

I'm still looking forward to reading the book (which is #1 in one of his categories in the Free Book section right now), but I really wish the author had stuck with the original cover.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Steampunk Poe!

The annual Bellingham Steampunk Festival is coming up and as always, there are author appearances. This year one of the authors who'll be there is Lindsay Shopfer. I don't know his work, but when I Googled around, I found THIS collection, Merely This, which looks like all kinds of fun. (They had me at "clockwork raven.") I look forward to reading his work.

I like the playful thing the book designer did with Edgar Allan Poe's name. I also like the play of purple against the black and white. Not crazy about the way the title and subtitle are laid in. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Fury Rising by Yasmine Galenorn...a review

Fury Rising (Fury Unbound Book 1)Fury Rising by Yasmine Galenorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaeleen Donovan—her friends call her Kae—is a Theosian, a minor goddess created when her pregnant mother wandered into a patch of wild magic that altered her DNA. Bound to the goddess Hecate, and able to roam the Crossroads where all worlds meet, Kae has a mission to retrieve a stolen artifact that in the wrong hands, could mean TEOTWAWKI. That’s the setup for author Yasmine Galenorn’s latest book and it’s a romp through a Seattle altered by a cataclysmic magic storm unleashed by Gaia before the story opens.
The Portland of GRIMM has nothing on Galenorn’s Seattle, which is inhabited by creatures of both shadow and light, beings who can shift into hawks and work magic, spirit guides, and all manner of creatures that have come from the World Tree and through the various portals ripped in the fabric of space time.
Kae is a typical kickass urban fantasy heroine with her sword and dagger and whip, but though she walks “in flame and ash on a field of bones,” she is also recognizably human and profoundly grateful that she wasn’t bound to one of the death gods of Santeria instead of Hecate, Goddess of the crossroads and of dark magic. And her world includes a day-job (running a cleaning company), which grounds the fantastical in the mundane.
The author has done a lot of world building, which is a treat and as a special gift to her readers, she’s also added the playlist she used for the book, which includes everything from Android Lust to Tingstad & Rumbel. This is the first in a series, and it’ll be fun to see what’s next for Kae, who is known as “Fury” when she’s on the nightshift.

View all my reviews

Thursday, July 7, 2016

An interview with C.J. Warrant

1    C.J. Warrant is the debut author of the romantic suspense novel Forgetting Jane. (Review to come shortly, but trust me, you want to get it!) She stopped by to talk about her book and her writing and her life. 

 You’re an Army brat?  Me too! How do you think that shaped you as a person? Growing up, it was hard to make friends. I had to learn to put myself out there if I wanted them, which helps me now with networking. Also, since we got to travel from Korea, to Japan and then to the states, I met so many interesting people along the way.

2.       If someone gave you an all expenses vacation to anywhere you wanted, where would you go? Bora Bora! Every picture I have seen about that place reminds me of paradise, and I want to retreat to it.

3.       Why is Forgetting Jane set in Wisconsin? I lived in Wisconsin for about a year when I was ten, which drew me to have this story in that state. And all the elements in this story melds together making it a perfect fit.  I knew from the start of Forgetting Jane, it had to be Wisconsin.

4.      You’re a wife and a mother and also have another career outside of writing. How do you balance writing and life? Do you have a daily schedule for writing or do you just fit it into the corners of your time? Actually, I quit the beauty industry and turn my focus onto my family, my writing and myself. It was very stressful and it was affecting my health and connection with my family. I’m a lucky one who has tremendous support from my husband and kids. They encourages me to write and have me time.

Do you listen to music as you work and if so, what was in your playlist for this book? I don’t listen to music when I write. For me, it’s too distracting. But when I’m character building, I do. Depending on the character, I listen to anything from AC/DC to country. I also a big fan of club music, and get a little exercise in when I’m standing by my tall kitchen table typing away my characters…with the blinds wide open!

Picnic by the Lake of Time...out next week!

I have been playing around with a time travel idea for a while, and this novelette is going to be my first in the series. Hare is the opening:

The fifties were not my first choice as a time to seek refuge and 1955 was not my first choice of year, but as I did my research and exercised my due diligence, it became obvious that 1955 was probably the best place to lie low. For one thing, though I needed to hide somewhen fairly low-tech, I didn’t want to go so far into the past that I had to grow my own food and build my own house.
I also needed to pick a year where I could blend in without too much explanation.
The fifties were perfect for that. The decade had telephones and television and indoor plumbing and air conditioning but it didn’t have facial recognition software or stoplight cameras or laws requiring you to prove your citizenship when looking for a job. You might get asked to show your social security card, but it was easy enough to forge one of those with a totally meaningless SSN because in the days before computer databases, what were they going to do, make a long-distance call to another state to check a birth certificate?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Scent of Death by Andrew Taylor...a review

The Scent of DeathThe Scent of Death by Andrew  Taylor

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When London clerk Edward Savill sails into New York harbor on August 2, 1778, heh is not impressed. “I confess I expected a finer prospect,” he comments to a sailor keeping him company, “Something more like a city.” The British are occupying the city and like his cabin mate, Mr. Noak—an American who has been working in London for years—Savill is traveling on business. England and the United States may be at war, but war is good for business and opportunities for getting rich are everywhere. And in this atmosphere, everything is for sale, as Noak notes cynically. “For some people, sir, loyalty is a commodity, and like any other may be bought and sold.”

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Margaret Atwood rewrites The Tempest

What can I say but "I can't wait to read this." It's on offer as an Early Reviewer copy at Library Thing, so of course, I signed up for it, along with 308 other people who are vying for 20 copies. Wish me luck!

THE HATCHING by Ezekial Boone... a review

An international disaster ensues when a strange species of spiders suddenly hatches in Peru and China simultaneously. This new novel by Ezekial Boone is old school and intense!  Who doesn't hate spiders?

Miguel was born in Lima, Peru, a city of seven million, but to stay close to a girlfriend he’s found a job leading “eco tours” into the jungle. His latest trip has been kind of a disaster because he hasn’t spotted any animals at all. His clients are complaining but Miguel is spooked. And then a bird simply falls out of the sky, And then the wave of spiders overwhelms one of the tourists in his party.  That’s a terrific way to begin a disaster story and the pace only picks up from there as we meet a beleaguered FBI agent in the US, a baffled seismologist in India, and a smart and tough spider expert who has a theory that the SPIDER glyph scratched in the Nazca plains of Peru is older than the other images there. And meanwhile…China sets off a nuke in its own interior.  This is a lot of fun, and it’s the start of a trilogy, so there’s more fun to come.


Monday, July 4, 2016

TBR: Duane Swierczynski's Canary

I am a big, big fan of DS and have been all the way back to his days on Details Magazine. I can't remember the first piece of fiction of his I read. It was probably Expiration Date. I am thrilled he's got a new book out (or at least new to me, I've had my head down for the last 18 months or so. This is definitely one for the TBR bookcase.

Not super crazy about the Canary cover though. Even though the book is from a traditional publisher, this looks kind of like a cover that an author with basic Photoshop skills came up with himself. It IS eye-catching and looks great as a thumbnail, so from a marketing standpoint it works, but the writer's writing is so good, I want the whole package to be great.

Two Actors, Four Movies that got Journalism right

I've just watched Spotlight and Truth back to back and both of them were intense and realistic and Sixty Minutes, no television news show had ever been profitable--and in Spotlight, the shadow of the internet hangs over the newspaper office -- literally. I used to be a reporter, starting off as a magazine writer and then becoming a freelance cityside reporter for an L.A. weekly paper, then freelancing for a a syndicated news service. I rarely wrote hard news but I took my job seriously and i did it with pride. My Great-Aunt Marie had worked for a Chicago paper during WWII and when she came home from the night shift, she noticed that one of her neighbors was always up and talking to someone who wasn't there. She did some investigating and then had a chat with the FBI, who arrested the guy. He was a member of the German-American Bund and he was broadcasting on a radio.  Yes, my newspaperwoman great-aunt caught a Germany spy!!!
well-done. Both of them are about the financial realities of news organizations--before

I grew up in a house where we read two papers every day, the Washington Post in the morning and the Evening Star at night. I don't even know if the Evening Star is still being published--afternoon papers were starting to die even when I was in  high school. On Sundays, my father would drive down to the bus station and pick up copies of the out of town papers.  So newsprint is in my blood and even though I've long since left the newsgatherine world behind, I'm still a news junkie.  And I love movies about journalists. I have a pretty short list of favorite movies in that genre and oddly, Robert Redford is in two of them and Michael Keaton is in the other two.

All the President's Men is a still my favorite of the four movies. It's beautifully acted, beautifully cast, written by the great William Goldman and directed by Alan J. Pakula.  the movie came out 40 years

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Fourth Sense is WIDE!!

Up until now I've been in Kindle Select with all my books written under all my pen names. But since the advent of "unlimited reads," my sales have just taken a nosedive. I decided to try my fortunes going wide using Draft2Digital to format my books for all the platforms. I'm leading with The Fourth Sense, an award-winning novelette, the first in a four-part series that combines a little bit of romance, a little bit of paranormal, and a little bit of suspense. (There are no werewolves or vampires here.) You can now find it on Amazon, Kobo, Scribd, and more coming soon!!! It's just 99 cents at the moment, so why not pick up a copy?? And perhaps leave a review??

Vampire Girl by Karpov Kinrade...a review

“I didn’t expect beauty. I didn’t expect magic. I didn’t expect love,” the Vampire Girl book trailer says. I didn’t expect any of that and to be honest, I didn’t really expect that good a book. (And you know what I means—some of the best-selling vampire books out there are barely readable.) But Vampire Girl by Karpov Kinrade (a husband/wife writing team) kept coming up on my “Also Purchased” and “Recommended” reading lists so I finally took the hint and bought the book.
And wow. Just … wow. 

Vampire Girl is a great read. The writers have given us a wonderfully relatable heroine, a blue collar girl who dreams of being a lawyer and works in a diner and worries about paying the bills. She lives in Portland, Oregon and her life is filled with friends, including her best friend, a transwoman whose boyfriend has a bit of the second sight. The book is written in a cinematic style with cliff-hangers ending each chapter and mysteries that pull us through to the next bit.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Slave Graves by Thomas Hollyday...a review

Slave Graves is currently free on Amazon and you might want to head over there right now to snag your Kindle copy. It's the first in the "River Sunday" series set in backwoods Maryland featuring a university archaeologist named Frank Light. (If this were a romance series instead of a mystery, "River Sunday" would be the name of the heroine.)

Frank is out in the mosquito-ridden marshes because real estate financier Jake Tennent wants to build a bridge right in the middle of what might be a significant archaeological find. Jake is a friend of the university that employs Frank (and his girlfriend Mello, who teaches some business courses) and when Frank and a ragtag team of students, scholars, and state archaeologists block his plans, he is not a happy man. (It's no coincidence that Terment comes across like a certain New York-based real estate mogul currently running for president.)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Something Different in a Shakespeare Book: The Shakespeare Stealer

This looks like a coming of age story set in Shakespeare's time The hero is a young orphan 9aren't they always?) who can write a symbol language. His cruel master orders him to steal Hamlet or ele, and it goes from there.

My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix...a review

The title of this book makes it sound like a bouncy YA  with a dash of horror--maybe something along the lines of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. That is not this book. Instead, Grady Hendrix has whipped up a complex study of teenage friendship that' is brutally honest about class iand exceptionally sharp in dissecting the pecking order of a private high school in the deep South where the worst thing you can do to a dad is make him look like a Republican.

Abby, the book's narrator, is a kid whose life takes a downward spiral after her father, an air traffic controller, loses his job when President Reagan goes over his union for calling a strike. She's buoyed up by her freindshp with Gretchen, a rich girl who lives in the "nice" part of Charleston in a house that always smells of air conditioning and carpet shampoo. They are closer than sisters and then something terrible happens to Gretchen that changes everything.

As Gretchen goes into freefall she gives Abby plenty of reasons to simply walk away from their friendship but Abby will not do it. And because she will not, she pays a horrific price. The way Hendrix lays this out is very well thought out, and he final chapters of the story are genuinel tense, genuinely horrific, and terribly, terribly real. This is a book about love and loyalty and boundaries. And it will make you ask--how far would you go to save someone you love?