The Gang’s All Here

For most of the first part of this week, I was down with the flu. Ick. I always seem to fall prey to the flu or a cold in late February/early March. I don’t know why, it’s a strange cycle for me. Even if I do my best to avoid sick people during that time frame, it finds me. Anyway, being sick meant lots of down time, and I thought to myself since being sick frees you of all obligations, maybe I’d get some writing done. Ha!

Instead, I binge-watched the first two seasons of Shameless on Netflix. If you’re unfamiliar with the show, it’s a dark comedy about a seasoned, neglectful (and wholly irredeemable) alcoholic and his six children (ranging in ages from 21 to 2) who are left to fend for themselves since he and his ex-wife have essentially abandoned them. The oldest, 21 year-old Fiona, becomes her siblings’ surrogate mother and fights hard to make ends meet and keep them from ending up in the foster system. And the show is, in a word, hypnotic. It’s also very, very adult, if you’re considering watching it, so be warned!

The thing is, I LOVE ensemble casts. Whether it’s in TV, movies, or books, I like a big, robust roster of characters who interact with each other but also have their own storylines. From the Lord of the Rings trilogy, to Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, to heck, Star Trek, I love a world populated with fleshed-out characters, not just background and side characters. My own Siren Song series is pretty much an ensemble cast, but I wish I had written it in third person omniscient, so I could have followed the lives of some of the other characters more closely. Who knows, maybe someday I’ll re-write it that way.

That’s not to say I don’t like stories that focus more tightly on just several characters, because I do. But a huge cast of characters feels like I get more bang for my buck, that I get many stories instead of just one.

How about you? Do you like lots of characters with lots of stories, or would you rather write/read a more tightly-focused character study?

Have a great weekend!

The Thrill Is Gone

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 March 1 posting of the IWSG will be Tamara Narayan, Patsy Collins, M.J. Fifield, and Nicohle Christopherson!

My insecurity this month revolves around the fact that the second novel in my Kentucky Haints series, White Witch Magic, came out on February 21st. Well, I’m not insecure about that actually, that was pretty awesome, and it’s gotten some nice reviews and generally been well-received.

The thing is, I wrote the first and second book one right after another, a couple years ago. The story arc definitely needs a trilogy to be complete and wrap up the loose ends I left hanging at the end of the second book. I even know how I want to tie those ends up. However, I’ve written about a chapter of the third book so far and I’m feeling kinda bleh about the whole thing, just wanting to move on to something else.

I feel like if I put myself to the task I can probably complete the third book and wrap it up nicely. But I’m also wishing I wrote it when I wrote the other two, before the fire dwindled and my passion for the story dampened. Ugh. Have you ever found yourself in this situation? What did you do? Maybe simply working on the book will bring back my interest in the series. Goodness knows when I put my fingers to the keyboard and write, instead of procrastinating and whining, magical things happen.

March 1 Question: Have you ever pulled out a really old story and reworked it? Did it work out?

One thing I’ve learned for myself is to let sleeping dogs lie. I’ve tried to reawaken stories a couple times and discovered that if I had really wanted the story to come to fruition, I would have completed it and made more of it at the time. Not to mention the further back in my writing I go, the worse it is and the more work it needs to be brought up to my current self-standards.

However, I have taken scenes from scrapped stories, reworked them, and put them into new stories. It’s a very patchwork quilt method of writing. That’s why we keep a scrap box!

Run To Her by Lynn Kellan

Today I’m hosting Lynn Kellan and her contemporary romance, Run To Her. Lynn is giving away a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Lynn is also here today to give us an interview!

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card

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


INTERVIEW WITH LYNN KELLAN

What would we find under your bed?

You’d find quilts under my bed. One quilt was made by my husband’s grandmother. She grew up on a farm and she used the fabric from feedbags to piece together quilts, clothing, and whatever she needed. It’s fascinating to look at the brightly colored fabric she used. Another quilt you’d find under my bed was made by my bridesmaid, who is a doctor. She made the quilt for our wedding gift, and she tied every knot the same way a surgeon ties knots when stitching up a patient after surgery. The third quilt is one I made soon after my wedding. It’s a very simple pattern, but the blocks of red, white, and mauve contain many memories. Piecing together a quilt taught me that in order to complete a complex task, you must break it down into small pieces.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

When I learned I was pregnant! My husband is 6’5” tall, and I had a feeling our baby would be huge. I was right. My daughter ended up being over 10 pounds at birth and required an emergency c-section. After my ob/gyn met my huge husband, she suggested we schedule a c-section for my second daughter. Good thing we did, because she was a big baby, too. I shudder to think of how large a son would’ve been. Probably close to 13 pounds. Eesh!

Do you listen to music while writing? If so what?

It depends. I try not to listen to music because the lyrics distract me. However, when I need to set a mood in a scene, I do turn to music to get me in the right frame of mind. When I do listen to tunes, I stick to instrumental pieces or songs that are sung in Italian. I don’t speak Italian, so Italian lyrics can’t distract me. I favor songs sung by Josh Groban. He sings a surprising amount of lyrics in Italian, and his pieces always have a soulful, yearning feel that I strive to imbue into my writing.

What is something you’d like to accomplish in your writing career next year?

In 2017, I hope to release books 2 and 3 in The Brothers Series. RUN TO HER is the first book in the series, and it focuses on Gabe, the oldest brother in the Antonov family.

Book 2 is TURN TO HER, and focuses on Ivan, who is a brilliant graduate student with a past that threatens to dismantle his future. He can leave those bad memories behind once he graduates, but walking away from campus means he’ll also walk away from his gorgeous neighbor, who is a psychologist – and the one person who is sharp enough to discover his painful secret.

Book 3 is called PROMISED TO HER. This story is about Victor, who is a former Marine struggling to adapt to civilian life. His “normal” life skids off the road when his car is slammed into a ditch. He doesn’t know if the crash was an accident…or attempted murder. Soon afterward, his restaurant burns down. Now he’s maimed, pissed off, and determined to discover the cause of these “accidents.” He agrees to work on a farm to buy himself some time, but finds himself elbow-deep in lust for the pretty woman who owns the farm. If another “accident” hurts her, he’ll never be able to forgive himself.

How long did it take you to write this book?

RUN TO HER took 2 years to write. Initially, it was an erotic contemporary. Sex plays an important role in Gabe and Leigh’s growth, and there was a TON of sex scenes in the first draft. There was also a secondary plot line in the story that included Gabe’s ex-girlfriend and Leigh’s ex-boyfriend. Many of my writer friends suggested that the story would flow better with the “exes,” so I recrafted the book and set aside the secondary plot line. I’m glad I did. The romance between Gabe and Leigh takes center stage, and I got to know them very well through all of my rewrites. I hope you like them, too.

Thanks for the interview, Lynn!


She avoids men like him. He needs a woman like her. One lie changes everything…

Gabriel Antonov is a mechanic who can fix anything, even a woman’s hesitance. His talents have earned him the well-deserved reputation as a player, but when a routine one-night stand goes wrong, he’s haunted by what he’s done. Nothing can free him from those depraved memories, until he meets Leigh Nelson.

Leigh avoids strong, silent types like Gabe, who is stronger and quieter than most guys. The only man she’s focused on is her father, who is suffering from a devastating health crisis. She’ll do anything to help him, even at the cost of ignoring her own well-being, but the stress is getting to her. Gabe’s strength is tough to resist, and his silence might be hiding a crushing secret only she can understand.

He can’t outrun his gut-deep craving for her. Problem is, she’s running from him. When they’re marooned in his lakeside cabin, he might finally catch her…if he can admit why he’s falling apart without her.


EXCERPT:

A fat raindrop splattered on the porch screen. And another. Tiny fragments of water landed on Leigh’s shoulder like little kisses. A shiver trickled across her back, forcing her to step toward the center of the porch to avoid getting wet.

The carefree humor fled from his expression. His gaze dropped to the tips of her toes and slowly rose up her legs, her body, her face. Gabe locked eyes with her, reached out, and opened his hand.

An invitation.

She gazed at his broad palm and dark memories rose, fueled by a violent incident that flashed through her mind whenever a big man got close…but this man was different. Gabe used his considerable strength to protect, not dominate. Months ago, he’d pulled off the Interstate to help her when no one else had. After that, he’d showed up to run with her when no one else would. And a few minutes ago, he’d tamed his powerful Harley so she’d enjoy the ride when no one else seemed to care if she had any fun. Even tiny things like ladybugs received his special brand of kindness.

She had no reason to believe Gabe would willfully hurt her. Even so, her heart tripped at the sight of the thick rope of muscle along his arm.


BUY LINKS (currently on sale for 2.99):

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2gFuHec
Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2fL6oXQ
iBooks: http://apple.co/2gP8UB7
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2g1AEkK
Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2gQZkuK


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Lynn Kellan writes contemporary romance about strong men who have a weakness for smart women. She believes men and women aren’t that different, because everyone wants to be with someone who will empty the dishwasher. To prepare for her career as a romance author, she fell in love with bad boys, burly athletes, battle-hardened Marines…and married a chemist. Lynn has won numerous writing contests and served two terms as President of her local Romance Writers of America chapter, but she feels a true sense of accomplishment whenever she doesn’t embarrass her teenaged kids.

For love. For funny. For ever.

Find Lynn at: http://LynnKellan.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LynnKellan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LynnKellan.Author
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/LynnKellan/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ey_aNwYAAp0
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/E4qxL

Enter to win a $50 Amazon/B&N gift card

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

A Wild Week

Apologies for the lack of meaty posts on the blog this week. White Witch Magic came out this past Tuesday and I’ve been wrapped up in new release stuff and promotion. I promise next week it will be back to your regularly scheduled blogging, starting with a guest tour and giveaway! Until Monday…

It’s Release Day!

Get your hands on the first book in the series, Black Mountain Magic, right now for just 99 cents!

White Witch Magic – Kentucky Haints #2

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…

Read the first chapter

Purchase it at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleKobo | Smashwords | iBooks | Paperback

The Joy In Doing

I’ve discovered lately, and maybe you already know this as a writer, that when you actually make yourself focus and write, the more you can write, and sometimes even much more than you expected to. For example:

I’m an ultra-procrastinator. I have writing projects to work on, I really do want to work on them, I have time to work on them, but when it comes to actually sitting down and getting the work done, it’s a big old groaaaan. I can find a million ways to distract myself: internet, TV, reading pointless things, doing chores. I like to write, I want to write, but that also means putting the work in, and that doesn’t seem like much fun.

But, with a lot of griping and grumbling, I finally make myself do it. I give myself a small word count to reach and tell myself if I get to that I can consider it an accomplishment. And you know what happens, very often? Once I start writing, I don’t usually stop at that small number. The words start flowing, the ideas start coming, and before I know it, I’m writing. The kind of good, happy writing that makes me feel satisfied when I’m finished with it. The other day I told myself I’d just hammer out 1,000 words and I ended up writing over 6,000! My hands were actually sore and that’s why I stopped. That doesn’t happen every day, of course, and I don’t always have time for that much work, but it just goes to show when I actually put the effort in it quickly becomes enjoyable and easy.

Sometimes it’s just about getting over that initial block and reluctance. It’s amazing how much you can accomplish after you didn’t want to start to begin with. The story is in there, if you’re willing to put the time in to follow it. It’s another one of those writing mysteries.

For example, I put off working on this blog post for a few hours, and now it’s finished. Score!

Upcoming Release and A Sale!

White Witch Magic, the sequel to Black Mountain Magic, will be released this Tuesday, February 21st! To celebrate, right now until the end of February, you can get Black Mountain Magic from Smashwords for only 99 cents. Just input the code “CD94D” when you check out!

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.

Learn More/Buy | Get it for 99 cents at Smashwords with code CD94D

 

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…

Learn more/Pre-order

Have a great weekend!

 

Ancient Ties by Marie Johnston

Today I’m hosting Marie Johnston and her paranormal romance, Ancient Ties. Marie is giving away a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway!

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card

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


Kaitlyn Savoy might’ve been raised human, but she’s fully embraced her shifter side in her role as Guardian. Protecting her species calls to her blood, but unfortunately, so does her new partner. She pretends indifference to his cutting remarks about her heritage and the inconvenient blackouts she experiences after each shift.

Chayton Eagle’s honorable bloodlines include an ancient father and full-blooded Sioux mother. When he joins the West Creek Guardians and meets Kaitlyn, he can’t believe fate chose her to be his mate. But it’s too late. He already swore himself to another female.

When the two Guardians have to partner for a mission, it brings them too close to resist their attraction. Until Chayton discovers the promise he made in the past may kill his future.


EXCERPT:

He pulled away from the house to drive slowly through town. There wasn’t much traffic, but like most shifter colonies, they made their actions count and didn’t waste time running errands.

His smile died. “When we go hunt, we’ll hike into the woods and hide our gear. We shift and search, but we leave town the way we came.”

The shifting thing again? “Ashamed?”

Chayton abruptly pulled to the side of the road. He twisted in his seat to face her, his dark eyes deadly serious. “Any weakness will get exploited here, Kaitlyn. You think I’m a dick, wait until you meet every other shifter in this colony. This isn’t a place touched by modern inclusive thinking. Their motto is still the strong survive and if anyone finds out a Guardian roams their streets to enforce how someone else says to govern them and she can’t shift normally, they will use your shifting defect as an example. Mato wouldn’t allow anything less.”


BUY LINKS:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Ties-Moonlight-Shifters-Romance-ebook/dp/B01MFEATE2/
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/ancient-ties-marie-johnston/1125059988?
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/ancient-ties-1


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Marie Johnston lives in the upper-Midwest with her husband, four kids, and an old cat. Deciding to trade in her lab coat for a laptop, she’s writing down all the tales she’s been making up in her head for years. An avid reader of paranormal romance, these are the stories hanging out and waiting to be told, between the demands of work, home, and the endless chauffeuring that comes with children.

Website: http://www.mariejohnstonwriter.com/
Blog: http://www.mariejohnstonwriter.com/blog
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mjohnstonwriter
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mjohnstonwriter/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11248716.Marie_Johnston
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Marie-Johnston/e/B00R6SC79Q/

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card

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

The Evolution Of Writing Tools

I’ve had a lot of writing tools over the years. I started out in high school writing in notebooks. I got a manual Brother typewriter for Christmas when I was 12 or 13, but even by the standards of the day (goodness I’m dating myself, but 1989? 1990?) it was archaic, clunky, and hard to use, and the keys always stuck. The only way to correct typos was with white out paper (remember that stuff?), though you could buy ink cartridges with a correction ribbon as well. Nevertheless, I did type out a short story on it and sent it to a magazine. Hilariously, they sent it back unread because the typesetting was so bad as to be nearly unreadable. I was 14 and more optimistic than smart, what can I say?

My first ‘technological’ writing tool was a Brother word processor. MUCH better than a manual typewriter, but by today’s standards still a cumbersome, difficult piece of equipment. They keyboard part (which was also a typewriter) weighed about seven hundred pounds, and the cables to hook it up to the monitor were plentiful. Despite it being a huge advancement over a typewriter, its technological capabilities were limited. Printing anything took years, as it printed by literally typing out everything on the screen (and to print out an entire book took about six ink cartridges). It did take 3.5 disks though, which I saved tons and tons of stories on. I can no longer access those disks because the files on them can’t be read by newer technology. Nevertheless, I wrote many stories and books on it and submitted them to magazines and contests. I even got a short story published. I also had a ‘laptop’ word processor, but I didn’t have a printer to hook it up to so I mostly wrote fan fiction on it.

And then, in 2000, we got our first desktop computer. Oh, the ease of writing! The technology! The mountains of stories and books I wrote and submitted and had rejected! Truly astounding. The internet also enabled me to become a hugely popular fan fiction author, which is where I cut my writing teeth to full sharpness (I won’t tell you the fandom or my screen name, to spare my dignity, but there’s a few friends who read this whom I actually met through that writing).

And then on to laptops, eventually. With each new machine came better technology and a better version of Word. Just recently, I replaced my old laptop because I’d had it nearly four years and it was getting to the point it was usable, but not very efficient. Kind of like that one light switch in your house that’s wired backwards so you have to turn it off to turn it on, or the toilet handle you always have to jiggle. It’s comfortable and you know the workaround by heart, but why not fix the issue and do it without the unnecessary jumping through hoops and voodoo spells you have to cast to make it work right?

My new laptop types beautifully, has more memory, better graphics, more storage, and Word 2016 runs as smooth as butter, the words just flowing from my fingertips onto the screen like the technology is right inside my head. I’ve come all this way from pounding sticky keys and cramping my hand with a pen and notebook. Do I miss the old ways? No, not at all. But nostalgia isn’t always about wishing you could do something the hard way again.

How have your writing tools evolved?