Available For Pre-Order

The sequel to Black Mountain Magic is available for pre-order now! Get it from your favorite online retailer.


White Witch Magic – Kentucky Haints #2

Available February 21, 2016

We need peace in the valley, y’all.

City girl and unpracticed witch Lorena Mills never dreamed she’d be living in a small Appalachian town in the backwoods of Kentucky, but here she is. Mated to a handsome, brash, and sometimes aggravating Lycan named Deacon Kelley, she’s slowly becoming a better witch and more of a backwoods kind of gal.

Lorena’s job in the town of Blue Ditch is to study the creatures known as Wolvites—once thought to be feral, mindless beasts, now known to have human forms—in an effort to advance science and magic. However, when Lorena is kidnapped by the nefarious witch Neala, who once tried to destroy Deacon’s family, she discovers she doesn’t know nearly enough about either subject. Neala wants Lorena to cure her Wolvite mate Dafydd of a quick-killing virus that is ravaging their species: except, there is no cure. Lorena has to find one, and fast, or the Wolvites will slaughter Deacon’s family.

Forced to work with the Wolvites, Lorena learns about their culture and gains sympathy for them, thanks to a kinder, gentler, diplomatic Wolvite named Kendrick who would like to see an end to the violence. Lorena would love to facilitate peace between the Wolvites and Lycans, but is such a thing even possible?

If she wants to keep Deacon—and his family, and the entire town of Blue Ditch—safe, she’s going to have to find a way. Good thing her powers may be stronger than she ever imagined…

Pre-order it at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleKobo | Smashwords | iBooks


Have a great weekend!

Ghost Witching by Ally Shields

Today I’m hosting Ally Shields and her paranormal/mystery romance, Ghost Witching. Ally is giving away a $30 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Ally is also here today to talk about her paranormal version of New Orleans!

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!


MY PARANORMAL NEW ORLEANS

by Ally Shields

New Orleans inside the world of the Maggie York Paranormal Mysteries

Since Ghost Witching and Ghost Walking (book 1) are written primarily from Maggie York’s point of view, it’s important to know what influences her perceptions of the city.

Maggie was born in New Orleans, but her parents took her away as an infant and she was raised without any contact with New Orleans or her relatives who live there. She had a no-nonsense upbringing where magic and the paranormal were never mentioned.

After preparing for a career in law enforcement, she accepted a position with the New Orleans Police Dept. over her parents’ objection. When book one opens, she has been a NOPD homicide cop for several years. Prior to six months ago, she knew nothing about paranormal activity in New Orleans except some of the locals and many tourists believed in all kinds of witchcraft, voodoo, hoodoo, and ghostly beings.

Then she had a near-death experience from a sniper’s bullet, came back seeing ghosts, and a relative arrived claiming her family was from a long line of witches. Maggie doesn’t believe it, and even when forced to accept some portions of this new reality, she remains skeptical and resistant.

So, what the reader knows is only what Maggie experiences and gradually comes to acknowledge.

It begins with a single ghost and a few protection stones, a protective ward or two to keep the ghosts away. By Ghost Witching (book two) more of this underground culture is emerging with other witches, including the Witching Hour Society, a trio of ghostly murder victims, and a warning that other, more aggressive types exist.

Whether there are vampires, werecreatures, elves, demons, or other paranormal beings in the city is currently unknown. Maggie hasn’t seen or heard them…yet. But New Orleans has long been a mysterious city where anything can happen. As Maggie accepts her powers and they begin to expand, who knows what beings may emerge to challenge her?

Ghost Witching Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/cxgb07Wzn7w


Too many ghosts is never a good thing…

Detectives Maggie York and Josh Brandt’s latest murder case comes at the wrong moment. She just moved out on him and wants to “cool it.” But complications throw them together more than usual. Even for New Orleans, the case is unique—with way too many suspects and creepy things—ghosts, snakes, curses, not to mention the witches.

Maggie and Josh try to make sense of it all and resist finding consolation in each other’s arms. Then Josh’s ex-fiancee, a curvy blonde, arrives from Boston, making a touchy situation impossible.

But this killer won’t wait for them to sort out their personal lives, and the situation spins out of control…


EXCERPT:

Stopping abruptly on the front door threshold, Maggie swept her gaze across the living room of the Garden District Victorian home, taking in the body of the matronly female victim and the carcass of the presumed killer sprawled on the polished floor. She drew in a shallow breath and placed one hand on the door frame, letting the eerie feel of the scene roll over her. It happened every time. She used to wonder why—before she knew her family origins. Now she just accepted it.

Her partner, New Orleans homicide detective Joshua Brandt and currently estranged lover, moved past her, no doubt welcoming the coolness of the air-conditioning. Unhampered by the strange sensations she experienced, he squatted next to the body.

Maggie closed the door, leaving the humid August heat outside, and circled to the far side of the victim. She noted, discarded, or filed away each detail, searching for the ones that would eventually lead them to a human predator.

Interesting scene, to say the least. Two sets of reddened punctures, one on the victim’s neck, the other on the left cheek. But no blood, only a faint odor of death thanks to the hard-working AC. Pleasant features—or would have been if the eyes weren’t wide open and fixed in a vacant stare—a few extra pounds but not excessive, hints of gray at the temples and roots of her short brunette hair. She’d been due for a touchup. A modern grandmother in faded jeans and a white shirt hanging open over a pale blue tank top.


BUY LINK:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ally Shields grew up in the Midwest along the Mississippi River, still considers herself “a river rat,” and currently resides near Des Moines. After a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time fiction writing in 2009. Her first urban fantasy, Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1) was published in 2012, and she currently has twelve published novels. She loves to travel in the US and abroad and incorporates many of those settings into her books. Ms. Shields welcomes reader contact through her website and can frequently be found on Twitter.

Website: http://allyshields.com
Blog: http://allyshields.com/blog.html
Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShieldsAlly
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527209.Ally_Shields
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Ally-Shields/e/B009AKNDZU
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100652807699295011703/posts
Newsletter: http://paper.li/ShieldsAlly/1353941420

Enter to win a $30 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

The Good, The Bad, And Somewhere In Between

Every Monday for the #MondayBlogs tag I try to talk about some technical aspect of writing. Today, I’m going to talk about the difference between villains and my favorite character archetype: the antihero.

It should be noted that these two terms are not synonymous with protagonist and antagonist, which are literary terms that don’t convey character morality. A protagonist is always the person at the center, the narrator, the POV character, the one whose story we’re reading about, be they good or bad. Likewise, the antagonist isn’t specifically good or bad, they simply create problems and try to block the protagonist from reaching their goal. In a story about a cop and a criminal, protagonist and antagonist are interchangeable depending on which one of them is telling the story.

But villains and antiheroes bring a tone and flavor to these two terms. Let’s see how they differ:

  • An antihero is a protagonist who isn’t necessarily a ‘good’ person in the eyes of the law, society, or the basic standards of morality. Antiheroes are pretty popular in this day and age, that’s why we have so many TV shows and movies about mobsters, drug lords, jewel thieves, serial killers, outlaw bikers, and chemistry teachers turned meth makers. However, even if an antihero does bad things, they usually do it for some relatable or justifiable reason. Relatable in the sense that we get why they do it–most of us like money and power, after all, or would love to live a thrilling and dangerous life. Sometimes the antihero’s plight is justifiable–they’re being bad to protect their family or get out of some terrible situation, or trying to overcome their own nature. We may hate some of the things they do but we relate to their story and feel sympathy for them. Or, they might be doing bad things but are actually a good person caught up in something they can’t control. Being a romance author, I hesitate to lump the ‘sexy bad boy’ character in with antiheroes, because they don’t always fall along those lines. However, the antihero is usually my favorite character in any genre, as I think they’re much more interesting and realistic than a downright good guy.
  • Villains are an antagonist focused on doing bad, or causing pain and strife, and are oftentimes irredeemable. Not that a villain can’t be relatable or sympathetic–in fact, some of the best, and scariest, villains are the ones we can understand, probably because we hate to see something about ourselves reflected in someone terrible and it makes us uncomfortable. While many villains have their reasons, they cross the lines of morality too far and do things for reasons we can’t so readily excuse as we do with antiheroes. They’re usually much more self-serving and twisted in some way, and their methods of achieving their goals are ruthless. They present a strong force that the protagonist has to overcome. Villains can exist on a huge spectrum depending on the genre, from villains who are evil for the sake of evil, to mentally disturbed people, to people out for revenge or carrying out a sadistic vendetta.

Antiheroes and villains add rich differences and facets to a story. Sometimes the line between good and bad is blurred, on both sides of the equation. This allows for a deeper and more layered sort of storytelling, I feel. After all, real life is rarely black and white, and everyone has their reasons for what they do.

Who are some of your favorite villains and antiheroes?

A Few More Days On Sale!

Just a reminder, Black Mountain Magic will be 99 cents through the rest of the weekend before it goes back to full price on Monday. So if you’d like a copy–cheap–get it while it’s hot!

Also, remember you can get an Authorgraph for this or any of my books!

Black Mountain Magic – Kentucky Haints #1

Witches and Lycans and hillbillies, oh my!

Lorena Mills is a witch, but she’s not very good with potions and incantations. Working for a government agency that puts down dangerous uprisings of supernatural creatures, she does much more paperwork than spell casting. When her less-than-magical job lands her in the small Appalachian town of Blue Ditch, Kentucky, in the shadow of Black Mountain, her life starts to get a whole lot wilder.

In the forests surrounding the town, Wolvites—twisted, bestial creatures who hunt and kill humans—are posing a threat. When handsome, charming, and altogether reckless local Deacon Kelley insists on taking matters into his own hands, Lorena has more than monsters to worry about. He won’t stay out of her way, and he won’t take no for an answer.

Deacon is a Lycan–in modern terms, the non-shifting descendants of werewolves–and he and his family have protected Blue Ditch for generations. But now, something too sinister to be controlled by their efforts alone is stirring, and the Wolvites are far more vicious than they’ve ever been. Will Lorena be able to stop the threat and uncover the deadly secrets surrounding it before it’s too late?

To keep the town, and Deacon, safe, she’ll have to—and she’s really starting to like this town.

Buy it at:

Amazon| Barnes & NobleKobo | Smashwords | iBooks

 

Have a great weekend!

Self-Pubbing Check In

I have about two months under my belt now with my self-publishing experience. My first self-published book, Black Mountain Magic, went live November 15th and I put it on sale for 99 cents on December 15th. I made a post talking about what I learned when I first started this adventure and I’m going to make another update now.

As of today, I’ve sold 218 copies on Amazon, 22 on B&N, 4 on Kobo, 5 on iBooks, and 1 on Smashwords, for a total of 250 books sold. About 75% of those sales have been the result of paid advertising, which I haven’t broken even on, so don’t cheer for me yet!

Here’s where I’ve done promotion. If you’re looking into doing paid promotion, my experiment may help you out:

Total: $203 spent on promotion.

Out of all these promoters, the only two who were any good and worth the money were Ereader News Today (which is ALWAYS gold) which netted me 106 sales on Amazon, and Bargain Booksy, which netted me 73 sales on Amazon. However, I paid twice as much for Bargain Booksy for less sales, so take that as you will. Would I use them again anyway? Absolutely.

The others got me between 0-10 sales. BKnights gave me back my money (I didn’t ask for it) but in the form of a credit to use on Fiverr. Books Butterfly guarantees your sales or your money back, but in the introductory email they tell you this is just ‘store credit’ to try their services again (also they weirdly track your visits to their site and list them in the email). Since they didn’t work for me I’m not even going to bother asking for a refund and chalk it up as a learning experience. Maybe it was my genre or the timing of running the promotion on a holiday (I didn’t pick the date of the promotion, they did).

Ereader News Today (usually referred to as ENT) continues to be the BEST site for promotion outside of BookBub (which is incredibly difficult/expensive to get into) and I’ve used them for almost all my books in the past. Some authors don’t use them because they mistakenly believe you have to have a certain number of reviews for them to accept you.  This isn’t true, you simply have to have an overall decent rating if  you have any reviews at all.

What I’ve learned so far: you gotta spend money to make money. But spend it in the right place!

Other things I’ve learned from self-publishing:

  • If you think understanding your sales with KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) will be easy, you’re gonna have a bad time. Amazon continues to lead the market in not making a lick of sense, so don’t expect the various confusing parts of your sales dashboard and your sales rank to correlate or reflect each other accurately at any given time. Just smile and nod, and understand if you want to get anywhere with self-publishing at all, you need to be on Amazon.
  • Smashwords has a hilarious attitude about Amazon, to the point I’m pretty sure they try to gaslight their customers into believing there’s no such thing as a Kindle. Don’t mention the word Amazon anywhere in your book. In fact, if you wrote a book about the Amazonian jungle, you’ll probably want to avoid publishing it on Smashwords. They seem to believe they’re going to be bigger and better than Amazon. Just smile and nod.
  • Send your book to reviewers and review sites yourself. Don’t pay for reviews, as this could get you kicked off Amazon for life. Of the 1,000 sites you send a review request to, about 10 will say they’ll review it and 2 will. However, don’t believe the scare tactic of “Reviews are the only way to sell books! Ooooh!” It’s not true. I’ve sold 250 copies with one review. I would rather get them organically than pander.
  • Trying to size book covers correctly is the devil.
  • If you’re not a super-duper popular author, the only real reason to produce a paperback copy of your book is so you can buy insanely discounted copies for yourself to not sell to people who don’t want them (also so you can run a Goodreads giveaway because you can only give away physical books).
  • Just keep writing.

So that’s my two-month report. The second book in the series, White Witch Magic, will come out February 21st and I’ve already racked up a wonderful 16 presales for it! I’m a superstar!

Worlds Reclaimed by Maggie Mundy

Today I’m hosting Maggie Mundy and her paranormal romance, Worlds Reclaimed. Maggie is giving away a digital copy of Worlds Reclaimed. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Enter to win a digital copy of Worlds Reclaimed

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!


Clare and her group of vampires, fae and werewolves want to live on Earth. To do that, they must heal the worlds they have been visiting through the portals.

Vesi, is an albino vampire and Heln, is a white werewolf. Neither has been accepted by their people. This unlikely couple tries to fight their growing attraction to each other while helping to save two worlds.

On one world, a mist is closing in so nothing will survive. On the other, the High Priestess Sari is at war. Her power is failing and she wants to use Vesi’s blood so she can live forever.

Can Heln save his love and help his friends save both worlds. Will their group ever get to Earth?


EXCERPT:

Vesi could sense, as always, when the sun was going down. Like all bloodsuckers, she could survive in daylight, but her skin would burn and the recovery was slow and painful. Her body was always cool, but she could detect the dip in the temperature outside the barn as the sun dipped below the horizon. She could also still feel the heat of the werewolf Heln, who cradled her back.

This new world seemed to be bringing more surprises than she expected. She thought back to the first time she had seen Heln in the Temple of Paqua. She had felt he was the only person in the room. It was as if no one else existed and her body had yearned for him. She was no prude and had taken many human partners over the years, but this strong urge was new to her.

She had never understood why the other bloodsuckers saw the werewolf clans as subhuman, and playthings for their entertainment. She would never kill anyone or anything for sport. What she was considering now was different. The thought of mating with this werewolf was enticing. What concerned her was that the imprinting was for life, and she was not sure she was ready for that kind of commitment. Then again wasn’t it what she and Torvan had wanted. For now she would just enjoy the closeness of another person.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Maggie Mundy lives in Australia and is a member of Romance Writers of Australia. She recently completed a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and English at Flinders University. She had a short story published in the RWA Topaz Anthology Little Gems in 2010 called Sea and Vines. She has four books with Rogue Phoenix Press. Two erotic novellas called Blood Scent and Blood Oath and two paranormal romances called World Change and World Apart.

She has also performed for many years in corporate entertainment for which she wrote her own sketches, which probably explains why her head is so full of characters. She loves writing romance but thinks falling in love can be scary, especially in her stories where creatures of the night exist.

Website: http://www.maggiemundy.com
Blog: http://maggiemundy.blogspot.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MaggieMundyAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MundyMaggie
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/maggiemundy/
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5428101.Maggie_Mundy?from_search=true

 

Enter to win a digital copy of Worlds Reclaimed

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

Rules We Love

This past Wednesday, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group question of the month was what writing rule do you wish you’d never heard? I had fun visiting various blogs and finding out what writing rules hurt rather than helped, or annoyed rather than bolstered. Some rules popped up multiple times. Some were unique like L.G. Keltner’s post that hilariously made me realize for the first time in my life that ‘i before e’ is actually not a rule at all because it’s only true about half the time. All in all, it seemed like everyone decided rules are meant to be broken!

So, I thought today I’d talk about the opposite: writing rules I love.

Here are some ‘rules’ (of course they can be bent and broken) that I felt really enriched my writing once I implemented them:

  • Get rid of filtering. This was like finding a hidden jewel. It was something I hadn’t even thought about until an editor brought it to my attention. It means getting rid of language that distances us from the point of view character. So instead of saying ‘she saw,’ ‘she felt,’ or ‘she heard,’ instead describe the sight, feeling, or sound, because we don’t need to be told the person is experiencing it–we just need to know what they’re experiencing. This makes the writing much more immediate.
  • No disconnected body parts. Hands don’t move on their own. Eyes don’t close by themselves. She moved her hands over the wall, rather than her hands moved over the wall. He closed his eyes, instead of his eyes fell closed.
  • Stop piling up actions. Separate multiple actions that can’t be happening simultaneously. Instead of “he walked across the room petting the dog and turning on the TV,” break it up into “he walked across the room, stopped to pet the dog, then turned on the TV.” I actually see this sort of piling up happening even in the books of well-experienced authors.
  • Action beats instead of ‘said.’ I shared this example on emaginette’s blog. One of my favorite ways to avoid using ‘said’ is the action tag: //”Oh my God.” Amy couldn’t believe this was happening. “Why today, of all days?” / “I know.” Roy’s heart ached for her. “On the day of your dead dog’s birthday!” // It shows who is speaking while also getting deeper into what the characters are feeling.
  • Get rid of gerunds. I used to be terrible about using too many ‘ing’ words. Once this was pointed out to me, I went on the lookout for them.

These are some of my favorite rules, even if I do bend and break them from time to time. What are your favorite rules?

You Know Nothing

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the January 4 posting of the IWSG will be Eva @ Lillicasplace, Crystal Collier, Sheena-kay Graham, Chemist Ken, LG Keltner, and Heather Gardner!

January 4 Question: What writing rule do you wish you’d never heard?

This is a funny question because I tend to take the teachings of my editors way too far. Once they show me a new rule or show me how something should be done, I then religiously use what I’ve learned to the point of forsaking style and rhythm. Only when I go back and find things feel clunky or awkward because of whatever rule I’m strictly following, I learn the real truth: sometimes, rules are meant to be broken, or at least bent. Preserving readability is more important than adhering strictly and unwaveringly to technicality. Style is just as important as structure.

That being said, what writing rule do I wish I’d never heard? Well, it’s more like one I wish writers would stop telling each other: write what you know.

This is a silly rule taken at face value. If people only wrote what they know, we’d have far less books about detectives, doctors, murderers, medieval kings, and time travelers. There would be no stories about spaceships and werewolves and superheroes. What we don’t know, we can research, especially in this age of technology. Sure, if you’re writing about something you don’t personally take part in, it’s good if you have a fascination or interest in it at least; however, it’s not hard to learn the details of most places, professions, and eras, or to make up rules for aliens and paranormal creatures.

Write what you know should mean to write about how you know people behave in certain situations, how humanity interacts with each other, and what drives us as people. It’s about knowing what it’s like to be a human being who struggles, wants, suffers, and needs. That’s what you know, that’s what all people know. That should be where ‘write what you know’ ends. It doesn’t apply to knowing what it’s like to be a Roman Emperor or a talking cat.

To hell with writing what you know. Write what you like!

Who Are You Writing For?

If you’re a published author, even if you’re a multi-published author, even if you’re making a living off writing, there’s a truth all writers share from beginner to pro: the truth that not everything that flows from your fingertips will, or should, end up being for sale. That is, not everything you write is going to be publishable.

Some of it will merely be practice, some will be experimentation, some will be failed attempts. No matter where you are on the timeline of being an author, it can be frustrating. It’s hard to put a lot of time and work into something that you have to throw out or tuck away in the hopes it will one day flourish or fit into something else. It’s even harder, I think, when you become successful, because there’s a real anxiety to keep producing, keep proving yourself, keep putting out a product for consumption. If you have a bunch of books published and you write a bad one that you have to scrap, it feels like a lot of time, money, and achievement just went down the drain.

This of course begs the question: when you’ve been writing for a long time, and you’re trying to (or have) made a career of it, can you still write for pleasure? That’s not to say writing isn’t a pleasure, or that the books you write for publication don’t give you joy. But at some point you start to think about things like an audience and reader demographics. Who are you writing the story for, and who will buy it? This can stifle creativity and give you a whole new set of worries if you think too much about it, and of course it’s always there in the back of your mind. Will my readers like this? Will an agent like this? Will it sell? Does it fit with the zeitgeist of my genre?

At this stage, does it feel like a waste of time to write some self-indulgent romp that will probably never see the light of day and you have no idea who to market it to even if it did? With the rise of self-publishing, it’s a little easier. Niche markets and experimental genres can more readily find their way into the hands of readers who want them. But it may be hard to step away from what sells to “what a few people will buy.” At some point in a writer’s career you start to think both strategically and creatively, which can turn into a hinderance.

I think it’s important to flex your creative muscles in whatever direction they want to go, and it can open you up to other things, but it’s also difficult and frightening when you’re worried about carving out a spot in the writing world. It’s sad to think that your fun, on the side writing might be taking time away from your ‘real’ writing and could hurt your career. Success gives you a whole new set of worries you weren’t even thinking about when you first started writing. At some point your concern will turn from writing something good to writing the correct thing.

What do you think? Is it hard to play around once you find yourself writing for an audience? Is there a way to do both? Or did I just give you a brand new anxiety? (Sorry!)