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Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

In the Dark of Night Book Fair

 All kinds of spooky books are available here.



Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Whipping Boy, a new mystery novel with a touch of romance

 I originally wrote Whipping Boy when I was still living in Los Angeles, and it reflects my love/hate relationship with the city. Most of the action takes place in an apartment building where the female protagonist lives, and I repurposed another apartment building I knew pretty well (friends of my sister lived there) to be the location, right down to the little ornamental pool in the center of the tiny courtyard. I published it in paper first so that I could have a shiny copy on my bookshelf and also to give to friends, including the woman it's dedicated to, a mystery writer in her own right.

It's a short novel (only 42,000 words or so), so what Amazon calls "a short read." I've put it on KU in case someone wants to read it as part of their subscription. I am rather pleased with it. If you'd like to check it out, you can do so here.

Here's the blurb:  

Lark Riordan works long hours as a crime scene investigator. She does not expect to return home to find one of her neighbors murdered.

Max Switek is the decorated homicide detective who catches the case. He is familiar with the victim, as he is with all of Lark’s neighbors.

He spends a lot of time with Lark, and not just in a professional capacity.

This does not go unnoticed by either his father—a cop-turned-judge—or her mother—the ex-wife of a womanizing actor who’s just been nominated for an Oscar®.

Who just happen to be married to each other. Even for L.A., it’s complicated. But so is the case, and there’s no shortage of people who wanted Jimmy Morrissey dead, and the chief suspect out of the way. 

Lark and Max take the case personally, and with help from a surprising source, they’re going to solve it.

Now if they could only do something about their love life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

The first in a new vampire series

Here's the blurb for the evocatively titled, Dowry of Blood. It's a new take onthe classic work Dracula.

S.T. Gibson's sensational novel is the darkly seductive tale of Dracula's first bride, Constanta. 

This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. . .

Saved from the brink of death by a mysterious stranger, Constanta is transformed from a medieval peasant into a bride fit for an undying king. But when Dracula draws a cunning aristocrat and a starving artist into his web of passion and deceit, Constanta realizes that her beloved is capable of terrible things.

Finding comfort in the arms of her rival consorts, she begins to unravel their husband's dark secrets. With the lives of everyone she loves on the line, Constanta will have to choose between her own freedom and her love for her husband. But bonds forged by blood can only be broken by death.

"A dizzying nightmare of a romance that will leave you aching, angry and ultimately hopeful." --
Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf.


You can follow the author here.


You can read an excerpt here.


Monday, October 3, 2022

A freebie vampire book

 

Publishers, both traditional and indie, begin pumping out the horror in October. Vampires are everywhere. Here's one that's free across all the ebook plaforms. This is specifically offered as a review copy, so it would be nice if you left a review.  You can follow author Kailin Gow on Goodreads. She's pretty amazing. Here's her website.

Apple

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Google

It's also available on Kindle, but it's $2.99 there. It's the first in a new series, so if you like it, there are more to come!

Free Book for National Bat Appreciation Month

 The University of Chicago Press has a program where you can sign up to get a free ebook every month. This  month you can grab a book on bats. The link is here.

Did you know you could also snag some free and cheap books on Tor's freebie shelf on Goodreads? (Some of the books are not free, so it's a bit of false advertising, but some are, like Martha Wells' All Systems Red.) You can find the link here.


Saturday, October 1, 2022

The month of Halloween is here!

 

I don't know about you, but I was never very good at carving jack o' lanterns. Every year I would get those little "carving kits" and every year I would just end up puttimg a pumpkin out on my front stoop to indicate that I had the Halloween spirit if not the skill to manifest my carving dreams. I'm constantly amazed when I see those articles with pictures of really elaborate jack o' lanterns. 

I remember the first year "ghost pumpkins" came on the market. I was in Los Angeles, working for Los Angeles magazine, and a rep from one of the local supermarkets came in with the white pumpkins. We were all amazed. (Now, apparently, they have blue pumpkins. I'd like to see a black pumpkin. I bet people would snap those up.)

I have a bunch of October/Halloween-themed book reviews coming up. Stay tuned.



Friday, September 30, 2022

A new fantasy book fair

 I love book fairs. Always a chance to grab books from writers new to me, often free or at a discount. Sure, I have to sign up for their newsletters, but I ask people to sign up for my newsletters too.  Check out the fair here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Talk Deadly to Me

 

Mystery books are my first love. My parents were big readers. My father favoried non-fiction--biographies, books about the Civil War, popular history. My mother was an insomniac and read a mystery book a night. My parents' bed had a built-in space for books (something I always tought was very handy) and while my father slept like a baby (I inherited his super-power of sleep), she would read. If she didn't have a book, she would read the small, digest-sized mystery magazines. Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. As soon as I was old enough to read, I started with Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books but I soon graduated to grown-up books.

I started out writing in the mystery genre as well. Short stories that were dark and mean and full of the tropes I grew up reading. My brother was a lawyer by then and he would sometimes tell me stories about his clients. I remember one was about a guy who killed his aunt and a fellow resident at a boarding house. The cops found him sitting on the steps, waiting for them, a bloodied hammer in his hand. I didn't want to seem blood-thirsty, but I told him to keep the stories coming.

Weirdly, I have no interest in lawyer shows or true crime. Except for Homicide Hunter. I love Joe Kenda. I love that he always caught the bad guys. I LOVE his wry delivery. I love the way he tosses off observations about how dumb crminal behavior is, or just observations in general. "Nothing good ever happens at two a.m."  

I have written a couple of cozy mysteries in the past couple of years, but it's been awhile since I went full-on mystery writer. So hen I got the chance to sign up for a list-aiming boxed set called Talk Deadly to Me, I was all in. My story has been percolating for a couple of years and I've had the cover for it a long time. Inspired by a news story I heard on NPR, my story A WOMAN PRESUMED, is about a woman who hears the report of her own death.

I'm writing it under my real name, and I hope people will like it. It's a return to my roots. And you know what they say about roots being noursished by blood.  You can pre-order it here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Hardboiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

 

A man whose brain has been altered creates his own reality for an afterlife. This work by Japanese author Haruki Murakami is a wonderful introduction to his work.

In a future world where people are known by their occupations or descriptions, a human data processor called a Calcutec is summoned to a meeting.  What happens next is a story that mixes a stylized reality with a dream world populated by people from the “reality.” 

It’s hard to categorize the genre of this book, which slipstreams between science fiction, hardboiled noir, cyberpunk, horror, and literary fiction.  (There’s definitely a little Franz Kafka here.)  The book will remind readers of China Mieville’s The City and the City, with its two different worlds existing simultaneously. 

It’s hard to nail down the theme of the book as well.  Murakami is working with a palette that includes ambiguity, consciousness, and self.  In both sections the hero is adrift a bit—an outsider who’s being kept off-balance.  

The book is also a dazzling romp through the tropes of pop culture, and cross-culturally (and self-consciously) hip, so it has that going for it as well. Find the book here.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Diary of a Void by Emi Yagi

 This is Emi Yagi's first novel--translated from the Japanese by David Boyd and Lucy North. It's a fast read with an intriguing presence. An office worker named Shibata is stuck at a dead-end job at a factory that makes cardboard cores for toilet tissue and paper towels. She actually doesn't mind it that much, but as the only woman in her section, she's ignored, dismissed, and exploited. If there's a mess to be cleaned, she cleans it. If there's coffee to be made, she makes it and serves it. She's everyone's general dogsbody and because she's a woman, no one thinks anythimg of it. 

Until the day she's finally had enough and tells her section head that she can't clear away the detritus of a meeting she wasn't in--coffee cups stuffed with cigarette butts. She tells him she's pregnant and the smell nauseates her. Her life changes immediately--for the better. For one thing, she's no longer expected to work hours and hours of overtime. The first night she goes home at a reasonable hour, she's shocked at how packed the metro is, and how bright and inviting the supermarkets are. (Usually by the time she gets there, all that's left are limp vegetables.) She has time for leisurely baths. She has time to cook. She begins taking aerobics class and incorporates stretching exercises into her daily routine. 

She starts taking care of herself and as the lie lingers, she comes up with all sorts of strategems to maintain the ruse, including using an app that tracks pregnancy. Along the way she interacts with a large cast of characters, from co-workers to other mothers, and the book becomes a reverie on loneliness that's bittersweet and incredibly affecting. 

Yagi knows human nature. Shibata is a wonderful character and working women will completely sympathize with her frustration at being the only woman in an all-male environment. There are bits and

pieces of Japanese culture that readers may not be familiar with. For example, pregnant women can get little badges to hang on their purses to show the world their state--thus entitling them to courteous treatment on trains and other benefits. It's a heart-shaped medallion with the caption, "There's a baby inside me." 

Diary of a Void is a lovely book. You can find our more here.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck

 If you're a fan of Only Murders in the Building, as I am, you know there's a dark side to living in those beautiful old buildings that have names. Rebeck's book shares some DNA with that project, mostly because it's told through the snarky point of view of Tina, the youngest of three sisters who may or may not have inherited an apartment in an historic building called The Edgewood. But the chain of events leading up to that inheritance is a little murky (there's another family involved) and then there's the matter of the building's Board. They never liked Tina's mother, or the man she was married to either, who inherited the apartment from his late wife. 

The story of what happens when Tina's bossy older sister Lucy (scarily efficient and not empathetic at all) installs Tina in the apartment to establish residency while she and the other heirs fight things out in court is more about Tina finding her self-esteem (and love) than anything else. 

There's a lot of fun to be had with the quirky characters, the plot full of twists and betrayals and the little side trips into such topics as moss. Tina is a wonderful character and we cheer for her as she finds allies and learns how to deal with her enemies. There's a particularly delightful little girl named Katherine who figures into the mix, and also a gorgeous socialite the doorman is in love with. Rebeck winds everything up in a very satisfying way, in a way that will send you searching for her other books. She really knows sibling dynamics, and it's a pleasure to watch her move her characters around. The apartment sounds fabulous, and so do the contents of that hidden room!!

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Fairytale Retellings...

 

I love fairy tales, way beyond the ten or so that are in heavy rotation. (You know the ones I mean--Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty, Rumpletstiltskin, the Snow Queen.) I have rewritten a number of fairy tales, including East of the Sun, West of the Moon (The Road Past Winter) and Beauty and the Beast (The Summer Garden) and Cinderella (Fashionista and The Bride of the Midnight King), and Sleeping Beauty (Spite and A Dream of Sun and Roses). I also wrote a version of Snow White called Hunter's Kiss. It's currently only available as part of a book promotion but I'll be putting it out on Amazon shortly.

For this new collection of rewritten fairy tales I've gone back to Beauty and the Beast. My story is called The Dragon's Pearl, and it's a retelling set in a setting that's modeled after the Han Dynasty in China. The "beast" is a dragon and I've made a number of changes to the story, including the heroine's relationship to her father. (Spoiler alert:  He's a scholar and a jerk who does not value her.) 

I'm also rewriting Beauty and the Beast for my story in a billionaire collection that's a charity anthology. That one's called Hero's Kiss, and it's about a military veteran who returns from war scarred by an IED. I bought a cover to use for it years ago, but it now seems rather old fasioned. My story is going to be a bit tamer than a lot of the stories--it does have a "billionaire" cover after all. My heroine is an activist lawyer named Ruth (after RBG) and she loves her father but it turns out that he's an unlucky

gambler who has been embezzling from his boss to cover his losses. Billionaire Fling is a boxed set with proceeds going to breast cancer research. You can preorder it here.

I've also written a really dark YA version of The Little Mermaid, called Blue. That was one that I bought the cover for and then had to write a story around it. I knew from the beginning it wasn't going to be a fluffy version of the story, but then, the original story is so tragic before it was Disneyfied. I did change the ending but it deals with some pretty tragic story elements.

I've ssigned up to write a contemporary version of Rapunzel that will take place in a luxury high-rise apartment and feature a thief with our modern-day princess. I haven't worked out all the little ways in which the new story will have the old story embedded in it.  

I'm also writing a version on The Snow Queen called The Ice-Bound Heart. I'm trying to decide where I'm going to set it. Frozen set it in a mythical kingdom based on Norway. I'm thinking of something more along the lines of Russia. I'm still working that one out. 

In the meantime, if you've never seen the gorgeous fairytale retellings and illustrations by artist Kinuko Y. Craft, check her out here. She has an absolutely stunning 2023 calendar on sale.

Just look at her Sleeping Beauty.

Or her Cinderella.

Or her Beauty and the Beast

Or her Cupid and Psyche

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Grady Hendrix is a genius!

 

One of the things that makes my day job so interesting is that in addition to reading scripts, I also read books. Even a bad book is often better than a mediocre script, and in the course of my job, I've been introduced to a number of wonderful writers. I still can't believe I get PAID TO READ. My grandmother never understood this job. "So you're paid to write book reports?" She didn't think a job was a real job unless you dressed up in a skirt and jacket outfit (accessorized with heels and discreet pearl button earrings, which she called "earbobs") and sat in an office all day with maybe an hour off for lunch. I work way more than 40 hours each week--112 hours on average. I work from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. seven days a week, but that counts breaks for social media or watching YouTube videos or whatever. Anyway, my job is wonderful and that's where I first read Grady Hendrix's My Best Friend's Exorcism. (Which I didn't know had been turned into a television series. I haven't seen it yet, but it's on my TBW list.) 

If you haven't discovered his writing, please let me introduce you to him.

Here's his website. His tongue-in-cheek "About" section on his site is hilarious.

Here's his bio on Wikikipedia.

Here he is on Goodreads.  

Another new boxed set...

 

Hexes and Heiresses


The call for submissions had me at "Witch Queens." I once wrote a historial novella about Catherine the Great being a queen, and I keep thinking about giving QEI the same treatment. I like research, so that would be fun. But it woul also be fun to set a witch queen story in my mythical fantasy worl of the Twelve Realms. I even have a cover for it. I like the cover for the anthology. You can preorder it here.

Boys and balls!

 

Balls, Bats, Pucks, And More.

It’s all part of the game.

Watch as these guys battle the biggest game of their lives. Winning the hearts of the ones they love.

Some of your favorite authors have come together to celebrate two of our favorite things: love and sports.

Whether it's friends to lovers, brothers best friend, or midlife romance, these couples are going to score -- on the field of love AND in the bedroom.

Preorder Bases loaded now. Exclusively on Amazon.

 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Happy Birthday Stephen King

 

The first book I read by Stephen King was not Carrie. I'm not sure what it was. Maybe 'Salem's Lot. I do know that I was reading It by my dying mother's bedside (she died a couple of days after my birthday and the book had been a birthday present). I read The Stand and was blown away. And the experience was even more bizarre because I think I had the worst cold of my life while I was reading it. I loved the original miniseries that was made from it. I didn't see the remake. I thought the first one was perfect. The casting was superb. Terrible wig on Laura San Giacomo. Jamey Sheridan was terrific. The late, great Miguel Ferrer was great. Ruby Dee. Ossie Davis. Matt Frewer. Gary Sinese.  Kathy Baker and Ed Harris in cameos. Just so much fun.

I think King is the Dickens of our time. And I say that even after reading Insomnia. The less said about that, the better.  I hope he lives to be a hundred.  

More promos...

 If you're watching House of Dragons and just can't get enough Dragons, then this is the promo for you.

Urban fantasy (dragon shifters), fantasy, epic fantasy. It's all there. And with an extra helping of romance to make the books extra tasty.

There's even an alien dragon king. (And those three key words together probably ensure the author gets a lot of traffic!)

Next up is shifter romance. I am still bemused that werewolves morphed into "wolf shifters" at some point. They were a lot more frightening back when they were werewolves but they're a lot sexier now. I'm an outlier, I know, but I prefer the scary version. You can find the books here.
I am curious though. What are the favorite shifter aniimals? Wolves. Bears. I've written a tiger shifter and a lion shifter as well as the usual wolves.

In my novella Reszo, my character belongs to a clan of Russians who can shift into creatures called byks, which are a sort of Minotaur-like bull creature.

Fae romance is a lot of fun. I'm in a couple of boxed sets with fairies as the main characters and I realized that we don't really know what fairies can do. Or elves, either, for that matter. They seem to be creatures that protect the woodlands. And we all know about the Fairy Godmother, but how powerful are they? Find out in the books collected here.  

I'm actually in four of the box sets promo'd here. A lot of them are available for 99 cents, some are on preorder. This is another mixed bag with everything from sweet romance to paranormal romance to alien sf (blue abs!)  







Book Promotions for September

 I love book promotions because they're always a great way to grab a bunch of new books at once. Sometimes you have to enter your email address, sometimes you can just snag them. As a writer, looking at promotions is a fabulous way to see who else is writing the kinds of books you're writing. It's a chance to evaluate your cover next to the other covers out there. I like to study blurbs and keywords to make sure I can maximize my own work. But basically, I just really like getting books.  Some of these book promotions feature books that are pruced $2.99 and lower. Find them here.

Here's another promo that's more focused on sci fi.  I'm writing a sci fi novella for Aliens on Earth this year and am excited to see the books in this one. 

Sespite the banner, the books here are an eclectic mix of genres, from straight up sci fi, space opera, fantasy, epic fantasy, and beyon. You can browse through them here.

And finally, here's a promo of books that are all action/all the time. I am particularly drawn to the apocalyptic Los Angeles ones. I love L.A., I truly do, but it's the kind of city where you expect an apocalypse to start. Check the books out here.

Kleopatra with a K

 

Kleopatra by Karen Essex is the first in a series of juicy historical novels giving us a new take on everybody's favorite Egyptian queen. This one focuses on the child who became that queen and she lives in such a treacherous world that it's a wonder she made it to adulthood. The story opens with the death of Ptolemy's wife--even a blind Armenian healer cannot prolong his life--and three-year-old Kleopatra sitting vigil with her sister and half-sister. The little girl is her father's favorite--he calls her his "piece of joy"--and up until this moment, her life has been charmed. But the queen's death is going to unleash a bitter contest for his empty throne, with the other contenders playing ruthlessly. 

This first book has everyting a reader could want--history, pageantry, sex, betrayal, great characters. The only thing its missing is dragons. (And you won't miss them.) Kleoatra's time was so far in the past that even the ordinary feels magical. This is an extremely satisfying book.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

It's almost autumn

 

Fall is my favorite season. Summer is nice but Fall has it all. Stephen King's birthday (Next Wednesday, the King will be 75). Halloween. Thanksgiving. Most of the run-up to the winter holidays. I grew up in Washington DC where the autumn color is pretty nice, but my paternal grandmother lived near the Blue Ridge Highway and Skyline Drive, which is one of the premiere places to find Fall color. Lately, the foliage hasn't been quite as spectacular because ofthe droughts everywhere but it can be glorious. The Pacific Northwest, where I lived for five years, does Fall even more spectacularly. In Bellingham, in a little plaza right beside my grocery store, was a trio of trees, one golden, one scarlet, and one brilliant orange. They were spectacular. This is a picture from Deposit Photos but there was a park near where I lived where the trees looked just like this. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Vote as if your life depends on it, because it does...

 I don't make a secret of my politics. Bu telling you to register to vote has nothing to do with who I vote for. It's one of the duties of being a citizen. The country doesn't ask much of you. Occasionally you might be summoned for jury duty. And every so often, they ask you to vote. If you aren't registered, visit this site. The mid-terms are important. The presidential election is important. The city council elections in your home town are important. VOTE!

I am cheered to see that celebrity influencers are geting involved too. Normally I just roll my eyes when I see a TikTok star or an Instagram influencer talking politic. But the lousy turnout of millennials shows that the regular messages are reaching them. So pieces like this are welcome:  https://youtu.be/V2cYnsYqlZE



I love book covers and I cannot lie

 One of my favorite things about being an indie author (and I've been traditionally published) is hat you have control over what your cover looks like. In trad publishing, even heavyweights like King and Patteson don't have that much say. But as an indie, you can have exactly the cover you want. (That doesn't prevent a lot of indie covers from being awful, but you could say that about a fair number of trad published books as well.)

A cover will make me want to pick up a book. The cover of Mexican Gothic, for example, is so beautiful it looks like a piece of art I want to put on my bookshelf facing out. (It's a wonderful book, but that cover is what snaggedme.) If ou haven't seen it, I urge you to look it up. I couldn't post the cover because it's protected by copyright, and I couldn't. 

When I started publishing 11 years ago, you could buy a lot of covers for under $50.  There were a couple of designers who specialized in inexpensive covers. They all used the same photo sources--Deposit Photo, Shutter Stock, Dreamstime--so you started to see the same faces over and over. (I have the same model on several books. His name is Gunther, and his images are up at a site called Period Images. Another of their models, Karl, is on a couple other books. 

Prices have gone up, but you can still snag some bargains if you cruise the sites. The one I use most often is Book Cover Design. They have tons of designs and one of the things I like about them is that they don't accept covers that use AI-generated images. I've seen a lot of posts touting how writers can make their own covers quickly and freely using sites dedicated tojust that. Right now, honestly, they mostly look awful but in a few months, who knows? (This is different from covers using characters that designers have patiently created on their own.) But the way AI images are created involves a kind of "sampling" from other images, that are the property of the designers who created them. In other words, depending on how you look at it, it's sketchy or it's stealing.  

Designers have to make a living too. Both my mother and my sister were artists. They made a living from their commercial art (working for department stores and thelike). I would hate to think that someone was stealing their art. (Piray of books is also a huge issue. I've seen my work on pirate sites. A lot of people say, well--I don't have the money to buy your book. Except, they're mostly all on KU, so you could spent $10 and get thousands of books for free. And don't tell me you don't spend at least ten dollars a month buying fancy coffee.Onw of my books has been downloaded so much that if I actually got royalties, I could actually cover my monthly expenses with my writing.) But I digress. We were talking about covers.

I have stockpiled a lot of covers, which turned out to be a good investment when prices started going up. A lot of designers I bought when they were just starting out are now in the $200-$300 range per cover. But there is one drawback. Styles in covers change and what looked like an awesome cover back in the day looks hopelessly dated now. Or you bought covers for a series you planned and now find yourself writing in another direction. (I have a number of covers for horror stories and I don't really write those that often.)

Man Chest Ahead...but my story is sweet


 I write a lot under the pen name Katherine Moore. "She" is my most successful pseudonym and the one with the best accolades. (I worked hard to get that USAT bestselling author, yes, I'm goig nto mention it often.) Her brand is sweet, cozy, feel good stories and while I'll occasionally get a little spicy (and it's very little), I mostly stay in the Hallmark zone, if you know what I mean.

But I also contribute to a lot of anthologies and in general, the covers are geared to an audience that's looking for more heat. I often feel like "which story is not like the others?"  But the thing is, I don't really read the sexier stuff. I'm not a prude--sex is awesome in movies--but when I read it, it often sounds really clinical and I get distracted by the words. Rod, shaft, manhood, cock.  Or pussy, cunt, mound, vagina.  It's not that I want to say "thing" and "ya-ya" but I'd rather take you up to the bedroom door so you can imagine what happens then.

Which brings me back to those covers. Basically, if you see I'm in an anthology with a Man Chest cover, it means that I've been invited to play along even though my story isn't as sexy as my fellow writers' fiction. If you like your romance across the spectrum, you will be a happy reader. (As Kat Parrish, I have done some Man Chest--the Rezso novels are sexier.)

Thursday, September 15, 2022

A different kind of shifter

 I admit it, werewolves (or as they're known in PNR. wolf-shifters) kind of bore me. I just think there are way more interesting creatures to shift into. (Do not get me started on those books about peacock shifters and raven shifters. It defies credulity that a fully grown adult can shift into a three-pound bird or a house cat or anything that weighs less than a hundred pounds.)

So when I write about shifters, they're likely to be somthing else. I have a whole series of books spotlighting women who shift into a tiger, a lion, and a snow leopard. The tiger story is called "A Tiger's Heart" and it's included in this anthology, Shifter Time. You might enjoy it. The title is taken from a Shakespeare play because I love Shakespeare and look for any opportunity to use it. It comes from Macbeth, one of my favorite plays despite its cursed reputation. It's a description of Lady Macbeth, who has a tiger's heart "wrapped in woman's hide."  



Wednesday, September 14, 2022

A Sense of Place

 I've lived a lot of places in my life. My father was in the Army, so at a minimum, that meant we moved every three years at the minimum until he retired. I traveled a lot as a kid, and visited a lot of other states and countries. Now, after five years in Washington state, I live as a digital nomade in Portugal.  Before my stay in Washington, I lived in Los Angeles for decades. L.A. was like no other place I'd ever been and I really loved it there. It became the setting for one of my long-running book series, and I also wrote a whole lot of short stories set there. L.A. had everything a writer could want.

When I moved from L.A. to Bellingham, it was a bit of a weather shock. I moved in January and it was the coldest day my new hometown had experienced in many years. It was 28, and the doors and windows were all open to air out the new paint fumes and allow the movies easy access. It was also raining. The last few years I lived in Los Angeles, it didn't rain much. It rained so much in Bellngham that if you took a shower and left your used towel on the towel rack--it wouldn't get dry. Things stayed damp. Mildew was a problem. Black mold was a problem. The house smelled of sporacide for a month after we started treating the mold we found everywhere. Bellingham was not beautiful in winter. 

But come the fall--it was the most magical place I'd seen in years. The oaks and maples and birch trees exploded wtih brilliant colors. I hadn't seen fall--my favorite season--since I left my parents' home in Virginia. I loved fall in Bellingham.  There were many other reasons to love the city. Located halfway between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, it had a park with a waterfall. The best indepedent bookstore on the West Coast, and tons of restaurants. It had a rich history that was literally embedded in its sidewalks--glass squares that provided illumination for the tunnels below--remnant of a dark past when Chinese immigrant workers lived in those tunnels. There was a road that ran adjacent to my bank that led to Canada. It was lined with trees and in the autumn, it looked like a road to some fairyland place.The city was criss-crossed by hiking trails that the deer also used. The deer were not shy and it was not unusual to see one passing. That also added to the fairytale atmosphere.

But for some reason, it was really hard for me to get a sense of the place.  I tried writing a short story set there for an anthology of Pacific Northwest stories called something like Blood and Rain. I failed miserably. I didn't know what was wrong, why it just wasn'tcoming. And then one day I started writing Deus Ex Magical, the first in my "Ostrander witches series, and I realized...my character lived in Seattle. I had taken the name of the series from a friend of mine who lives in Seattle, and I knew the city. And then, I wrote an spin-off story for my L.A. Nocturne series and decided my hero was going to be a guy who grew up in L.A. but hated it. Instead, he lived in the Pacific Northwest, in a town that's modeled on a place called Centralia. Centralia is home to about 18,000 people and it's full of Craftsmen houses and people who own guns and belong to White Nationalist groups. It also has fabulous thrift shops, a real community feeling, and a tiny, family-owned grocery store that showcases apples grown in Washington state. (Cosmic apples are the best I've ever tasted.) 

So the Rezso novels are set in an unnamed PNW town, which works just fine. But now I live in Portugal in a city with hills and cobblestone walks and grafitti and ruined places and incredible history and remarkable beauty. This is my sunset view from the terrace of the apartment I rent. The terrance "sold" the place. I spend more than I want to, but being able to look toward the ocean and see church towers is worth a lot. 

I've been here a little over a  year and I've already written two novellas set here. One is about a vampire killer who goes after a demonic vampire killing immigrants in the Algarve, the coastal area that's home to a lot of Brits and Americans who love it for its heat and similarity to So. California. The other was Second Honeymoon, which is a silly rom com of a story that takes place in a deserted apartment that's basically modeled on mine. Portugal and its second city Porto, don't have the same cachet of other European countries and cities, but it suits me fine. I am a woman of a certain age and the young ones call me Dona Caterina. I sort of like that. Learning the language has been tough. But I feel at home here, and that means I can write the city. Being able to do that tells me I'm at home.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

For the Rest of the Year

 I've been quiet on here for the last few months because it has been a crazy time. But thanks to a week of reflection and recharging centered around my landmark birthday yesterday, I now have more focus and clarity on what the last third of the year will be like.

There will be more writing!! As well as another run at attaining USA TODAY bestselling status. Yes, I know I already did it back in 2019-21, but USAT bestseller status is like getting a Michelin star. it doesn't follow the chef, it stays with the restaurant. So just because Katherine Moore won it, doesn't mean I can ue it with any of my other pen names. So I've joined a list-aiming mystery/suspense anthology and my story will be A Woman Presumed

I got the idea from a fragment of a news story I heard on the radio years ago about an important man who was murdered, along with the woman in bed beside him who was, "presumed to be his wife." Who the story didn't name, as if she was merely collateral damange to the death of the man, whose name I actually HAVE forgotten.  Wish me well on this journey and you know you'll hear more about it as the list run (which will take a year) progresses. 

I'm also continuing to join boxed sets, including those with proceeds going to charity. (I'm a sucker for charity anthologies because I feel guilty not being able to contribute more financially and I've been in a number of anthologies that have pulled in a lot of money for deserving charities. They're a great bargain for the readers as well.) Look for my fairytale retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Hero's Kiss) in a breast cancer anthology coming soon.

I love fairytale retellings and have a couple queued up. One is a retelling of the Snow Queen. One is another take on East of the Sun, West of the Moon. And I'm kicking off a series called "The Sherwood Chronicles" with a gender-bent take on Robin Hood and her merry companions.

I've been playing with a third pen name, Katia Kozar, these last few months, and "she's" starting to get a little traction. In gneral, this pen name is reserved for stories that my regular pen names don't. They're not cozy romances or mysteries like Katherine Moore writers, and they're not romantic fantasy, urban fantasy or the PNR that Kat Parrish writes.

But both those other pen names will be busy too. Kat's launching a series of space opera-y tales set in my Quincunx universe--a tale of neutral "hospital planets" caught in the middle of a territorial war as an exo-virus rampages through human and alien alike. All the hospital planets are named after famous Earth doctors (real and fictional) and the first three books are called, Kildare, Salk, and Paracelsus.

There will also be two more entries in the Ostrander witches series, with Mother Nature (a tale about Roz Ostrander, who's a weather witch) and then Expecting Magic which is about an Ostrander cousin whose talent is somewhat subtle but whose unborn child is already exhibiting talents. I never expected Deus Ex Magical to kick off a series.

I hope to reactivate (and reinvigorate) this blog with a lot more book reviews. Maybe a few movie reviews. (Was anyone else appalled at the arc for Brad Pitt's character in Lost City?) But I'm really looking forward to the |Weird Al Yankovic movie. 

So it's good to be back.

I hope I'll see you here!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Ukrainian anthologies all around...

 I have a couple of pen names and all of them signed up for anthologies to benefit Ukraine. At least the ones I knew about. There are a bunch of them, and I hope they all make a fortune. Here in Portugal, where I've been living almost a year, there are already refugees being housed by residents, and the price of sunflower oil is soaring. In February, you could buy a liter for two euros. It's now more than four euros. 

Also, one of the biggest grocery chains in the country, with markets all over my city--including one in walking distance--turns out to be run by a Russian firm. So I have modified my shopping habits somewhat. It's the least I can do. 

I do not have a lot of money to donate, but I can write. And since one of my pen names has the USA Today bestselling accolade attached to it, I'd like to think that I can add some value. I hope so. 

Here are some of the collections I'm participating in. They're pretty affordable and they all feature new work from a number of terrific writers. 

The first collection is from the New Romance Cafe. I wrote a new Silver Birch story as Katherine Moore, a sweet little romance called, "The Sadness of Sunflowers." You can buy it here.

Here's the blurb:  

Protect the innocent.

Provide for families.

We stand with Ukraine.

Across the globe authors have come together to provide stories filled with hope, heart and understanding, inspired by the events of February 2022.

STAND FOR UKRAINE is a collection of romance, women’s fiction and poetry. Proceeds go to Save the Children’s efforts to provide Ukrainian children with food, warmth, shelter and psychological support.

The second book is SEEDS OF LOVE, which is available on pre-order at the moment. Here is the blurb for this one. You can help us make a difference.

SEEDS OF LOVE is a romance anthology to benefit Ukraine. This collection of short romance stories


is not available anywhere else. 100% of the royalties will be donated to United Help Ukraine, a charitable organization dedicated to helping the Ukrainian people affected by Russia’s invasion. They are a grassroots, entirely volunteer-based organization that provides aid to wounded Ukrainian warriors, assistance to their families, and support to internally displaced people.

This anthology features 48 authors. The stories include various sub-genres of contemporary romance, paranormal romance, dark romance, and romantic comedy. You can pre-order it here.


SEEDS OF LOVE is only available for a limited time! Stand with the people of Ukraine and get your copy today!


And finally, I have contributed a story as Kat Parrish to BBB Publishing's Ukraine anthology LOVE IS ETERNAL. It will be out at the end of the month and is

available for pre-order for 99 cents right now. My story, "Hunter's Kiss," has never been widely available before. It's a modern magic retelling of Snow White. You can preorder it here for only 9 cents.

If you don't want to buy a book, consider donating to Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen, which has been in Poland feeding refugees since February. 

NPR posted a terrific list of organizations who are providing aid to the people of Ukraine. Find it here.

Etsy.com is making it easy to support Ukrainian artists by purchasing digital goods--artwork and cards and the like. They're waiving selling fees. The prices of some of the artwork is heartbreakingly low. Here's their landing page for Ukrainian artists. 



Wednesday, March 16, 2022

A Dance of Blood and Magic

 

More vampire stories. These are stories that have both witches and vampires in them. I went urban fantasy here again because I am very interested in the politics of the situation and not so much in the witch and the vampire exchanging bodily fluids.

My story is called, "City Girl Watching," and it's about a family of witches in New York who are descended from a Dutch witch who immigrated when the city was still called New Amsterdam. I did a ton of research for it (almost none of which shows) and got really fascinated by the sheer forward-thinking of Dutch law at the time. (Women kept their own names after marriage, they could own property., The English were scandalized.) 

The collection is called  A Dance of Blood and Magic and you can preorder it here.  Right now, it's exclusive to Kindle.



I like the cover of the collection which includes a lot of different writers with letters after their name like NYT bestselling and USAT bestselling. (And that's one of the annoyances of having multiple pen names. My cozy romance and PWF name, Katherine Moore, has the USA TODAY bestselling accolade, but I can't use it with my other pen names!!!  



Sunday, March 13, 2022

First Bite is coming soon...

 I never intended to start writing about vampires. I have never read Dracula, and I've never been able to watch Coppola's movie all the way through either. My favorite vampire novel is probably Salem's Lot. I like vampire movies, although they tend to be the offbeat ones, like Only Lovers Left Alive and Byzantium.

But one day a story idea popped into my head and it wouldn't go away and here I am, ten years later, still writing vampire stories. My vampire stories tend to be...different...from the standard PNR-style vampires. I tend to think in terms of practicalities. What would it really be like if we shared the world with creatures of the night? Would there be dry cleaners who specialized in getting blood out of clothes? Would vampire athletes compete with human ones? How many old vampires would still be sane.

"Vampire Occupation" is a story I wrote for an anthology/boxed set called First Bite, and I guarantee it's not exactly like the other stories. Although it is the story of a love triangle. 

Basically, my story is Red Dawn with vampires. A virus has decimated the human population at the same time the rush for a cure has created a new type of vampire. And now they've taken over...The tory I envision is actually going to end up to be sort of a menage tale, which is not something I usually do either. But somehow, it seems appropriate.  First Bite will be out soon, and you can preorder it here, across all the ebook platforms.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Love not War--Third Ukrainian anthology

 I didn't intend to sign up for three anthologies with deadlines ASAP but I did. For this one (writing as Katherine Tomlinson), I've been assigned a subgenre. (All the writers got different ones so all the stories won't be samey-samey. Mine is rom-com. 

Here's the sales pitch:

𝐋𝐎𝐕𝐄, 𝐍𝐎𝐓 𝐖𝐀𝐑 | A charity anthology for the Ukraine Crisis Fund

.

18 authors have come together to write 17 different romance stories of all sub-genres and tropes.

LOVE, NOT WAR releases 05.24.22

ONE CLICK ➜ https://books2read.com/LOVENOTWARCHARITYANTHO

Add to your TBR: https://bit.ly/3pKoTm2

All proceeds will go to benefit affected communities in Ukraine, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including children, who need access to food, medical services, and psychosocial support. It also supports humanitarian assistance in impacted communities in Ukraine and surrounding regions where Ukrainian refugees have fled.

Cover designer graciously donated by: Black Widow Designs

PARTICIPATING AUTHORS:

A.R. HALL

CASSIA BRIAR

DEE GARCIA

EMERY LEEANN & ELIZABETH ST JOHN

EMILY ROSE

HAZEL GRACE

JEN STEVENS

JENSEN REED

KATHERINE MOORE

M. JAMESON

M.R. LEAHY

N.M. BLACK

SARA A. MOSIER

SAVANNAH SLOAN

SUKI WILLIAMS

SUMMER O’TOOLE

YOLANDA OLSON

AMAZON US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09TZ859D4

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09TZ859D4

AMAZON AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B09TZ859D4

AMAZON CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B09TZ859D4

BARNES AND NOBLE: https://bit.ly/3tV3DLR

APPLE: https://apple.co/3ITWeTg

KOBO: https://bit.ly/3tzjHCF


Sunday, March 6, 2022

Cover reveal for Second Ukraine anthology

 

This is the second anthology that I'm participating in. I have a story bunny of an idea involving sunflowers, the national flower of Ukraine. Here's the link where you can preorder it. 

If you're looking for some more direct action, Etsy marketplace has waived listing and other fees for Ukrainian sellers. You can buy digital goods from artists who are actually in the cities being bombed and frozen and starved. Here's a link to do that. A a lot of downloadable artwork and greeting cards and you can help for as little as three dollars.

Also, Jose Andres and his World Central Kitchen Charity has boots on the ground (he is made of awesome and has done so much good.) Here's the link to donate to him (and there are corporations who are matching funds. 

And while a lot of companies have expressed their dismay and displeasure at what's going on by pulling their businesses out of Russia, you know who hasn't? Coca-Cola, Papa John's. Pizza Hut. McDonalds. Boycott them. (Links to their corporate offices are in the paragraph above.) And here's a terrific article on why you should boycott Coke.