Interview with Dana D’Angelo- author of Fallen Knight (Knights of Honor #3)

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Dana D’Angelo’s latest offering in the Knights of Honor Trilogy is Fallen Knight.  Though part of a series, each story can be read as a stand-alone novel.

Synopsis: For breaking the sacred vows of knighthood, Gareth de Mowbrey is banished to the outer realms of the kingdom. He is broken down and is plagued by the demons from his past. He has lost everything, his reputation is in shreds, and he is walking the path of self-destruction. That is, until he meets one woman who may have the power to save him from himself…

Clarisse de Servian knows that her duty is to marry the man that her family chooses for her. But even for the betterment of her people, she cannot bring herself to wed a man she does not love. She does however fall in love with a man who is forbidden to her, and for once she enjoys happiness. But this happiness is only fleeting, for Clarisse possess a dark secret that threatens to destroy her and everyone she loves.

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Review: Escapement by Ciara Knight (Neumarian Chronicles Book 1)

Escapement (The Neumarian Chronicles, #1)Escapement by Ciara Knight

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy in exchange for a review.***

Still not sure what to make of this one.

It’s got plenty of action, adventure, chases, near-misses, lasers, guns, explosions, aliens, cybernetic implants, beings with psychic and elemental powers, etc.

Which probably explains why it’s so lacking in characterization and story.

You’re thrust hip deep into the story right from the jump: Princess Semara must select a sacrifice from amongst the downtrodden masses to prove her worthiness to sit by her mother the Queen’s side as a member of the Council. Except the person she was about to choose turned out to be someone she knew- a girl named Raeth… someone who’d been experimented upon by Mother and left to die in a wasteland. Now set to be reprogrammed by her mother she manages to escape and finds her life in the hands of Ryder, Raeth’s older brother.

And this is the big problem. You’re never given any real background info on what’s happened and why. There was a war, her mother was the leader, she got injured and turned into the Bionic Woman as result- which made implants all the rage in high society- while still waging war against Neumarians and Kantians alike.

Except you’ve no idea what the hell either of these other two races are, where they came from or what they have to do with anything.

Nor do you get to know what happened- though that’s sure to be revealed in the other books. Earth is devastated via biological and chemical warfare, pockets of resistance exist, a few oases of beauty and luxury here and there. But no idea why. At all. Plenty of room for the YA romance between the princess and Raeth’s brother, though. Gotta focus on what’s important. Now add in the mystery of Semara’s father- who is he, is he dead or alive, etc.

Everything feels like it’s happening in a vacuum because there’s no context for any of it. And since you don’t really understand it, you can’t really get into it. But if you’re up for a quick read with lots of action and things going boom with a YA romance tossed in for good measure, this’ll do for ya.

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Weekend Edition – Life Without Regrets plus Writing Tips and Good Reads

Originally posted on Live to Write - Write to Live:

Dan’s right. It is later than you think.

paris clockDo you ever feel like the Universe is conspiring to send you a message? I do. All the time.

This week, the theme was “Life is Short.”

I began the week with a little getaway that was inspired by the truth of life’s brevity. Along with my beau and my daughter, I headed north to the elegant and enchanting Mount Washington Hotel – an idyllic, turn of the century hideaway in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Knowing how quickly the next few years will pass (and how, soon, my daughter may be less inclined to spend quality time with her dear mother), I took my fifth grader out of school for the three days so we could revel in the delights of slightly forbidden joys. We went on a horseback ride, hiked to a waterfall, and she and my beau spent hours performing…

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Spotlight: Predator by Janice Gable Bashman

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Predator by Janice Gable Bashman
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Month9Books

“Predator is a fast-paced, creepy page-turner! Bashman had me at the opening sentence and she’s still got me. I want more!”

Nancy Holder, New York Times Bestselling Author, The Rules

The hunt is on!

Sixteen-year-old Bree Sunderland must inject herself with an untested version of her father’s gene therapy to become a werewolf in order to stop a corrupt group of mercenaries from creating a team of unstoppable lycanthrope soldiers.

When Bree went with her scientist father to Ireland, she thought it would be a vacation to study bog bodies. She never expected to fall in love with a mysterious young Irishman and certainly never expected to become the kind of monster her father said only existed in nightmares. Dr. Sunderland discovers that lycanthropy was not a supernatural curse but rather a genetic mutation. When they return home, her dad continues his research, but the military wants to turn that research into a bio weapons program and rogue soldiers want to steal the research to turn themselves into unstoppable killing machines.

Bree’s boyfriend Liam surprises her with a visit to the United States, but there are darker surprises in store for both of them. As evil forces hunt those she loves, Bree must become an even more dangerous hunter to save them all.

Predator gives the werewolf legend a couple of new spins by introducing the Benandanti (an actual folkloric belief that certain families of Italy and Livonia were werewolves who fought against evil), as well as a modern scientific approach to mutation and the science of transgenics.

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Cover Reveal: I “Heart” Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

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Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

I HEART ROBOT Cover Art from Suzanne van Rooyen

I’m not the most artistically inclined. While I do love art and have been known to bust out the pencils and paints myself, it’s not an area where I’d consider myself particularly talented. In short, I knew that cover design was something best left to the professional and I had every confidence in Month9Books.

I am so grateful to Georgia McBride for allowing me to have the amount of input I did when it came to cover creation for I Heart Robot. This is a novel that is as much about a civil rights struggle in a futuristic, post-war city as it is about romance, and we wanted a cover that reflected both elements. Finding the right balance between romance and science fiction was a tall order, but Month9Books delivered in spades by presenting me with two stylistically different covers. I loved elements of both, and by working closely with the cover artist and with Georgia we managed to combine all the best parts of both original covers into what we have today: a cover that reflects the gritty world my characters live in while emphasizing the fact that this is above all, a love story.

I Heart Robot

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?

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Title: I Heart Robot
Publication date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Suzanne van Rooyen

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SV

Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego. Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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Book Blitz: Dark Roses Boxed Set

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Eight New York Times, USA Today or Best Selling Authors of Paranormal Romance- P.T. Michelle, Trisha Leigh, Anthea Sharp, Lola St. Vil, Terah Edun, Erica Cope, Cameron Jace, Sarra Cannon come together to bring you Dark Roses.

SYNOPSIS: Eight bestselling authors. Eight stories of paranormal romance. Eight series to take your breath away. From kick-ass cheerleaders to leaders of the fae, these teenage girls are out to save their worlds, one unforgettable adventure at a time. The only thing standing in their way – love, loss & a little magic.

From NYT & USA Today Bestselling author, P.T. MICHELLE – BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS — Nara Collins is an average sixteen-year-old, with one exception: every night she dreams the events of the following day. Due to an incident in her past, Nara avoids using her special gift to change fate…until she dreams a future she can’t ignore.

From USA Today bestselling author LYLA PAYNE, writing as TRISHA LEIGH – WHISPERS IN AUTUMN — For sixteen years, Althea has been alone in her ability to feel emotion, to think for herself, and on occasion, light things on fire. The autumn brings a boy named Lucas to town, along with unwanted scrutiny from the alien race of Others that rule Earth, and if she wants to live to see winter Althea will have to stop hiding–and start fighting

From USA Today bestselling author, ANTHEA SHARPFEYLAND: THE DARK REALM — Jennet Carter never thought hacking into her dad’s new epic-fantasy sim-game would be so exciting… or dangerous. But behind the interface, dark forces lie in wait, leading her toward a battle that will test her to her limits and cost her more than she ever imagined.

From bestselling author, LOLA ST. VILGUARDIANS: THE GIRL — The prophecy says “should human and angel unite, it will bring the end of the human race…” Yet Emmy & Marcus can’t fight their feelings. All they want is to be together; the only way for us to survive is to keep them apart…

From bestselling author, TERAH EDUNWITCHES FINISH FIRST — Witch. Daughter. Queen. Katherine is second-in-line in a provincial town ruled by her coven. But she’s about to learn that the hierarchy of witches first, fae second, and humans last isn’t set in stone…at least not in high school.

From bestselling author, ERICA COPELARK — An ordinary girl. An ordinary life. Until her Elfin heritage comes to light. Mia Carrington discovers she’s the heir to the kingdom of Álfheimr in the most unexpected way. But it’s the Dark Elves that pursue her that have her world turned upside down, because they will let no one and nothing stop them from claiming her.

From bestselling author, CAMERON JACEPENTIMENTO — On her seventeenth birthday she comes of age. Her seventeen birthday is also the day the Beasts come for her. After the destruction of the world these rulers of new America provide safety and services to human in exchange for one new teenage girl every week. They call them the Brides, and they never come back.

From bestselling author, SARRA CANNONBEAUTIFUL DEMONS
Harper Madison’s inability to control her extraordinary powers has gotten her kicked from countless foster homes. Shadowford Home for Girls and Peachville High are her last chance. But when evidence ties her to the gruesome murder of a Demons cheerleader, Harper discovers this small town has a big secret.

Publication Date: September 15, 2014

Genres: Paranormal, Romance

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Excerpt from BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS

Once we’d stowed my stuff in the back of my car, Ethan opened the car door and waited for me to get in. Even though I wanted to ask him so many questions, I was afraid to speak. It felt like we’d moved to a whole new level in our friendship, but I wasn’t sure what that level was.

Every nerve ending urged me to hug him, to show my appreciation, but I was unsure. Would he pull away? I didn’t need any more rejection in my life. “Thank you for being there,” I said in an unsteady voice.

Ethan clasped my wrist and pulled me into his arms, holding me close. “I’ll always be here for you.”

I shuddered against his chest, mumbling into his flannel shirt. “You weren’t at school and I didn’t see you after practice. I thought for sure no one would hear me scream when those guys finally got their hands on–“

Warm fingers tilted my chin up. “I had something to do today, but I’d never leave you hanging. When I saw your stuff on the field and then I heard a guy yelling, ‘She went this way,’ in the woods…” he paused, tensing. “I freaked.”

“You got to me just in time.” I tried to smile but my lips trembled. “Who knew knights wore flannel shirts and Led Zeppelin tees?” I knew I sounded like a goof, but I didn’t care. I wanted him to know how much his rescue meant to me.

Ethan leaned close and I closed my eyes as he lightly kissed my cheekbone, then my forehead. He had no idea that his gentle kiss had melted something inside me, how much I craved the physical connection. His warm lips lingered against my skin for a second before he took a step back and shoved his hands in his jean pockets.

“I’m no hero, Nara.” His gaze narrowed briefly toward the woods. “Go home. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Excerpt from BEAUTIFUL DEMONS

The tone of his voice turned my body to melted chocolate. I steadied myself against the wall, afraid that if he moved any closer, I really would melt. I felt his nearness in my bones, a vibration of warm, flushed energy.

“You better get inside,” he said, checking his watch even though it was probably too dark to see the time. The way he raised his arm and leaned forward brought his chest so close to me, I wanted to run my hand along the rippled muscles I felt certain I would find underneath his black t-shirt. “It’s way past your bedtime.”

My heart beat so hard in my chest my ears were filled with the loud thumping sound of it. I dipped under his arm and pushed open the barn door, grateful for the refreshing rush of cool, night air.
“I won’t tell if you won’t,” I said.

“Your secret’s safe with me,” Jackson said. He drew an X over his heart as I ran toward the house, disappearing into the shadows.

Excerpt from GUARDIANS: THE GIRL

She looks at me. She has no response. There was nothing she could have said that the two of us didn’t already know. I take her hands. She had started crying. I wipe her tears away with my hand.
“I can’t save the world, Marcus. I’m not strong enough.”

“You can’t save the world, you don’t know the world. So you have to focus and narrow it down to the people you do know—your mom, your uncle, your neighbors. You have to fight for the people that you love. You. Have. To. Fight.”

Excerpt from LARK

He runs a hand through his hair, but the waves fall right back to their disheveled state. The glow from the torch reflects off his hair, causing its already coppery hue to glow like embers. He is actually quite attractive. His features are angular but in a perfect sort of way. His skin is surprisingly freckle free considering the auburn color of his hair. He actually has a better tan than me. His pretty green eyes are framed by dark eyelashes most women would kill for. And he has full, kissable pink lips.

He’s actually sort of swoon-worthy.

A vision of Grey pops in my head and I feel guilty. Which is ridiculous for so many reasons. What the heck, Mia? I mentally slap the boy-crazy girl out of my head. Greyson and I are just friends, and this Jacoby character, regardless of how dreamy he may appear, is aiding and abetting my captivity. Not exactly the kind of guy you want to bring home to meet mom.

“Mia, I’m not going to bite.” He gently pats the spot right next to him again. I finally concede and sit down as far away from him as possible, which isn’t far on the narrow cot, and take my less than appealing breakfast while trying to appear grateful. I actually am a little hungry. I take a small nibble of the toast and it’s not terrible, so I take another bite.

“There. That is much better. I would hate to see you starve to death.”

“Why do you care anyway?” I finally say.

“Well, let’s just say that I don’t agree with keeping anyone, especially pretty girls, against their will. I would much rather they make the choice to be in my company, but since you are here anyway, I figure we better make the most of it.” He winks at me again.

“Is there something in your eye?”

“No, why?” He asks with a bemused expression.

“Then stop winking at me. It’s annoying.”

“Beautiful and feisty,” he mutters to himself. “I might never leave.”

Review: Witches Bane by Ann Gimpel (Witch Chronicles Series #2)

Witch's Bane (The Witch Chronicles #2)Witch’s Bane by Ann Gimpel

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Disclaimer: I received a copy in exchange for a review.***

Synopsis: Two stubborn people—a witch and a mage—come together with a fierceness borne of desperation. Can passion trump their intense need for independence? Will they live long enough to find out?

Roz, Jenna, and Colleen are the last of the demon-stalking witches. So far, they’ve escaped disaster, but their luck is running low. When demons strike in the midst of Colleen’s wedding, Roz launches desperate measures because she and her sister witches are Earth’s only hedge against being overrun by Hell’s minions. As she shape-shifts to keep one step ahead of the demons, at least it takes her mind off her other problems. Personal ones. She burned through a couple of marriages with a string of loser men before, after, and in between. Though she wants to be happy for Colleen, the jealousy bug bit deep and hasn’t let go.

In Roz’s secret heart she’s attracted to Ronin, one of the Daoine Sidhe. He’s so profanely beautiful she can barely breathe around him, but he’s also headstrong and arrogant. Not good partner material, she tells herself, unless she wants to end up dusting her heart off one more time.

Ronin set his sights on Roz when she was at his home in the U.K. for a strategy meeting and he can’t get her out of his mind. Unfortunately, she’s so prickly getting close to her requires scheming. He casts an enchantment to lure her at Colleen’s wedding, but she senses the spell and rebuffs him.

Roz is used to calling the shots. So is Ronin. Sparks fly. Tempers run hot, right along with an attraction too strong to be denied. Roz and Ronin come together with a fierceness borne of desperation, but demons are determined to rid themselves of the witches for good, no matter what it takes.

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The Story Structure Countdown: How Different ‘Experts’ Say You Should Structure a Story

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Originally posted on THE OTHER NETWORK WRITER'S ROOM:

The Story Structure Countdown

Lots of people have come up with lots of ways to map, chart, categorize, name and formulate story patterns and structures. (also see my Comparative Narrative Story Structure Chart for a graphic side-by-side exploration).

Some of these structures are obviously and/or explicitly derived from others and some feature similar story beats with different names, but I find they all have something to offer – at least conceptually.

I’ve never personally been able to directly apply any one of these to any of my own writing projects or to any clients’ work. I’ve found that all but the most formulaic writing projects have their own unique structure which has to be discovered during the creative process.

There’s no magic formula that works for every project every time. You can always find examples of successful projects that don’t fit a given formula or find ways successful projects do…

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Review: Shadow Fire (The Light Chronicles #1) by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

Shadow Fire (Light Chronicles, #1)Shadow Fire by Kimber Leigh Wheaton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Disclaimer: I received a copy in exchange for a review.***

Shadow Fire is listed as Light Fantasy, but a better description would be Light & Fluffy. This is one of the most under-engaging titles I’ve read in some time. In other words: typical YA Fantasy.

A lukewarm beginning gets undermined as the cliche’s come rolling in like the tide. Every few years a young girl aged 14-18 is selected to set off on a quest to recover a missing magical relic from the Goddess which protects the village from monsters. Reason they keep selecting is, of course, because no one’s gotten it done yet. This time it’s Ashlyn- the prettiest girl of this generation (how many girls does this village have to keep sending them off?) Chosen One… Girl So Pretty She Has to Downplay Her Looks… Handsome Warrior Who Only Has Eyes for The Chosen One… and then it gets worse.

Since Ashlyn’s sooooo pretty she avoids nearly all male contact (but her sister has a reputation for being a ‘fun time on a date’) her most stalwart friends are a pair of wolves she met in the forest while hunting. One is the last fenris wolf- a breed that is rather intelligent and smell like cinnamon and vanilla… from running around in the forest all the time. The other wolf turns out to be Loki- son of the departed Goddess who’s relic the Chosen One must recover. Seems he’s been hanging out just to keep an eye on Ashlyn… because reasons.

The plot is a slapdash of fantasy tropes strung around a MarySue YA romance. In a medieval fantasy world you’ve got a village where the kids can be sent to the Old Man on the Mountain to learn martial arts. Guess who’s so good she can beat down an older boy trying to molest her? A medieval world which has the most fantastical luxury inn built out of a fortress set in the midst of the plains replete with showers, gaslamps, shampoo and garden suites… plus a witch who can enchant things for you.

Speaking of magic… in this world magic is illegal and people who practice it will be killed. But why then is the whole plot about recovering a relic whose magical power helps protect the village by keeping monsters away? So pre-existing magic items are OK but you’re not allowed to make any new ones or cast spells?

And let’s not forget the romance- which is really what’s it’s all about. Zane and Ashlyn have that Insta-Chemistry Love Connection. He’s here to protect Ashlyn on her quest and is a famous mercenary… except Ashlyn’s the only one who’s never heard of him. Not surprising since he has almost no personality. But Ashlyn’s got plenty of perky, plucky persona for both of them so it’s ok. Since it’s YA, Ashlyn and Zane have a lot of makeout sessions, then always lament about not going further. She’s just met the guy, never even heard of him before and it takes less than three days to start rolling around the grass with him (guess it runs in the family), and using words like “molten gaze, smoldering looks, limpid pools, blahblahblah…”. Get used to it because it’s the meat and potatoes of the book.

Shadow Fire is utterly typical of the genre. Take that for what it’s worth.

 

Review: Stone of Destiny by Laura Howard

Stone of Destiny (The Danaan Trilogy, #2)Stone of Destiny by Laura Howard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

***Disclaimer: I received this book in exchange for a review.***

Book 2 of the series picks right up where the previous one leaves off with the news of Aoife’s escape. Her obsession with Liam threatens to plunge everything into chaos. But can they stop her before she undoes everything and everyone?

Laura Howard has style and imagination, no doubt. The geas spell Alison’s mother is under to keep her apart from Liam is a truly wicked plot nugget, reminiscent of other tales like Ladyhawke where the lovers are cursed to remain apart, but this one’s really evil. There’s some great scenes that kinda jump off the page and really placing you in the moment. I’m not a big fan of YA as it tends to be as syrupy and half-witted as the worst bodice ripper, but this one was pretty engaging for the most part, despite the prerequisite YA love triangle. Lots of characterization, development and growth- especially between Alison and her father, Liam. Saoirse remains an enigma; her true motivations and agenda shrouded. And Ethan has to deal with his memories of Danaan being erased by Deaghlan. Nice.

The first problem you’ll notice is the pacing: as much as a threat Aoife is, it takes quite some time before anyone’s moved to actually do something about it. Then everything starts speeding along, which makes the story uneven. Snippets of info about Danaan are doled out here and there- as they should be- without massive infodumping just to get things out of the way.

Second, as some others have pointed out, there’s too many things left unanswered and hanging, leading to some plot holes. Like how did Marie know that Liam, Ethan and Alison were gonna show up?

Stone of Destiny is an enjoyable book that’ll make you want to read the finale. Can’t ask for more than that.

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