Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Author Dakota Banks Deliverance Blog Tour | Guest Post and Giveaway

Dakota Banks blog tour stops here today to promote the release of Deliverance, the third book in the Mortal Path series. This urban fantasy thriller feature the hard-core Maliha Crayne,  a repentant assassin seeking redemption and fighting the good fight.

In my review of the first book I said -
"Dark Time is a thriller that synthesizes and delivers action akin to Mission Impossible and James Bond. Unlike many of the characters in those stories, Maliha is believable because she has the experiences, knowledge, languages and training from a lifetime of 300 plus years to back up her actions. It is gratifying to see a character whose inner contemplations, relationships and dialogue truly reflect what it would be like to have lived that long."
Book Description

Kill . . . or be damned.

A demon's assassin for centuries, Maliha Crayne has gone rogue, determined to save a life for every one she's destroyed in order to free herself from an eternity of enslavement, damnation, and excruciating torment. But as the powers that sustained her in the past fade, she is wary of trusting those closest to her—especially her lover, Jake. And her closest friends are beginning to disappear, one by one. Amid her anger, suspicion, and sorrow, her life is spiraling out of control.

Worse still, a beautiful Renaissance murderess is recruiting Maliha as her new assassin. Maliha is turning into a lethal puppet with an evil Immortal pulling the strings, forced to kill innocents or see her missing friends die horribly. Suddenly trapped in a moral no-man's-land, Maliha is damned if she does and damned if she doesn't . . . and time is rapidly running out.
Dakota has assembled a fabulous swag bag as a giveaway for this leg of the tour consisting of a tote bag, 3 signed books, pens, bookmarks, magnets, and a calculator. Wow.  Dakota talks about the brain, not the zombie type but the creative type - left or right? Which are you? Leave a comment and share. To enter the giveaway fill out the form at the end of the post?

Welcome Dakota!

The Brain Conundrum 
by Dakota Banks

Thank you, Doug, for the chance to visit you again and to chat with your followers.

I’ve been reading lately about left-brained and right-brained writers. The theory is that people who are right-brained are emotional and intuitive, while left-brained people are logical and orderly. I can see those thought bubbles above your heads. Fiction writers must be right-brained, right? I hope that’s not a strict rule, because I’m definitely left-brained. Uh-oh. I guess I’d better switch to writing textbooks, since my brain is pushing me that way!

Fortunately, there is a dominant brain spectrum, and a person can fall anywhere along the line, including right in the middle. Or be fairly far to the left, yet still have some right characteristics. We’re not talking politics here, but general personality. Every person is unique, and thank goodness for that.

How does being on the left side of the dominant brain spectrum affect my writing process? Some things come easily to me, and some I have to work at getting correct. Take the pre-planning for a novel. I may spend a month or two thinking about the plot and characters before any words are set down. (Of course, I’m doing other things during that time, too, not just sitting around thinking—although I could go for that.) Then I write a synopsis, beginning with a page and enlarging it to ten pages to give my agent something to work with. For my own use, I’ll continue working with the synopsis until it’s about thirty pages long. When I write the story, I’ve got a map of sorts: I’m starting at point A, finishing at point F, with stops at B, C, D, and E along the way. Usually the book changes quite a bit as I write it because I don’t stick with the ideas in the synopsis if they turn out to be a losers. But when I’m done, the book would still be at least recognizable from the synopsis.

Does it mean that my writing is dry and emotionless, for all that planning? I don’t think so. Deliverance is an emotional roller-coaster ride, and tears were shed during its writing. I love my characters. My protagonist in the Mortal Path books, Maliha Crayne, has the ability to sense where violent deaths have occurred. She can experience the last few minutes of the victim’s life as the victim, then draw the shredded fragments of the hurting, violated soul around her, make the spirit whole, and allow it to move on. She has this ability as a direct analogy for what I do when creating characters. I draw their fragments around me, make them whole human beings (or whatever), and let them into the world I’ve built. Now you know a secret about one of Maliha’s abilities!

A right-brained writer’s approach might be, “Some characters popped into my head,” or “I dreamed about the plot.” Writing would begin immediately, and the writer would feel his way through the book, often saying that he was going where the characters were taking him. Sometimes this leads to a satisfying path through beginning, middle, and end, and sometimes it doesn’t, because the characters are in charge, not the writer. The right-brained writer probably deals with more rewrites, getting lost in the middle, and writer’s block—yet can’t imagine the writing process being any different, because this is the way that meshes with his personality. And it works!

For the finished book, when the readers see it, I don’t think it matters which approach the writer took. We all try to come up with memorable books that engage, inform, and entertain. Behind the scenes, though, approach is everything.

Which side of the brain is dominant for you? If you recognize yourself in most of the characteristics from either of these two lists (taken loosely from Grace Fleming, an expert at this stuff), you’ll have a good idea which side of your brain is dominant. In the interest of soul-baring, I’ve marked the ones that I believe apply to me with an asterisk.

You probably work with a To-Do list *
You can provide reasoned criticism *
You're good at math or science *
You are rational and logical *
You set goals for yourself *
You can interpret information well *
Your home is orderly
You can answer questions spontaneously *
You follow directions and you do read directions (unlike some people) *
You aren't touchy-feely *
You can listen to a long lecture without losing patience *
You don’t let feelings get in your way
You like action movies *
You read sitting up *
Your words are precise *

You might have a hard time making up your mind
You are good with people *
You don't fall for practical jokes as easily as some
You seem dreamy, but you're really deep in thought
People may have told you you're psychic *
You may enjoy drawing or playing music
You might be athletic
You like mystery stories *
You may lose track of time *
You are spontaneous
You may find it hard to follow verbal directions *
You are unpredictable
You get lost *
You are emotional
You don't like reading directions
You read lying down
You may be interested in “the unexplained” *

It’s been great talking with you!

Finding Dakota Banks-
Website: http://dakota-banks.com
Blog: http://dbanks.me/mortalblog
Facebook: http://dbanks.me/DBwelcome
Twitter: @dakotabanks or http://dbanks.me/DBtwit
Goodreads: http://dbanks.me/DBgood

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cover Art - Haunted by Jeanne C. Stein

Here is the cover for Haunted, the eighth book in Jeanne Stein's urban fantasy series Anna Strong, Vampire. This series has always been a personal favourite.  It has been out a couple of weeks but I wanted to post it anyway. Jeanne in her recent newsletter  says there will only be one more Anna book. Sigh. Haunted releases August 28th. Over the years the covers have been consistently branded Anna and make a great matched set.

Anna Strong—kick-ass bounty hunter and vampire—has made some enemies in her time. But it’s not just her old foes she should be worried about…

Anna’s shape-shifting friend, Culebra, finally opens up to her about his life before owning Beso de la Muerte, a bar catering to supernatural clientele. As if summoned by the conversation, Culebra’s past stumbles into his bar in the form of an old buddy cashing in on a favor.

Soon Anna, Culebra and her ex, DEA agent Max, find themselves deep in Mexico, dealing with drug cartel infighting, old vendettas, and missing girls. Mexico may just prove to be Anna’s best match yet…

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Winner - Jessa Slade Prize Pack

The randomizer has spoken and entry number 22


has been awarded the Prize Pack from author Jessa Slade consisting of  -
* A signed copy of DARKNESS UNDONE
* A set of Marked Souls Romance Trading Cards
* A music download card with the album containing the Marked Souls theme song
* A pair of earrings inspired by the storyworld
 * Once again a big thank you to Jessa Slade for the generous giveaway.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Guest Author - Chelsea Quinn Yarbro | Giveaway

Bram Stoker award winning author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro pays us a visit today with a special post about how she dedicates her books (and that's a lot of dedications with over 80 books to her credit). And speaking of her books, Chelsea is celebrating the release of her 25th Saint Germaine vampire novel Commedia della Morte which is set in France and Italy from 1792-1794. Goodreads has a giveaway of 25 copies of the book to be won. Contest closes April 13 (US only).

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's modern classic, Hotel Transylvania, introduced the Count Saint-Germain and his beloved, Madelaine de Montalia. The Count is one of the most critically acclaimed vampire characters ever created, with dedicated fans who have followed his adventures through more than twenty novels, dozens of short stories, and thousands of years of human history. But of all the women the Count has loved, the most popular is the beautiful, ever-youthful Madelaine.

In Commedia della Morte, Saint-Germain learns that Madelaine—now a vampire—has been arrested by France's Revolutionary Tribunal and is soon to lose her head. Desperate to rescue her, the Count sneaks into France with a troupe of actors led by the glamorous Photine, who soon becomes Saint-Germain's mistress. Photine's teenage son, driven by jealousy and revolutionary fervor, betrays the Count. Now Saint-Germain's life, as well as Madelaine's, hangs in the balance, in this darkly romantic historical vampire novel.

Welcome Chelsea!

About Dedications 
by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

About once a year someone will ask me at a convention or a signing why I dedicated a specific book the way I did; I’ve also been asked at seminars about the rules of dedications. I’m not speaking for any other writer than myself, but I’ll try to sort some of it out.

Going in reverse order of the above paragraph: so far as I know, there are no official rules governing dedications. It is considered good-mannered, if a bit traditional, to dedicate a first book to one’s family and/or parents, but it is certainly not required. Other possible first-book dedicatees are other close relatives such as spouses, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, and children; agents or someone else involved in the sale of the book; editors; significant English or literature teachers; and authors whose work were inspirational to the creation of the first (sold) book.

For me, I consider dedications a form of thank you; the book being dedicated may not have a direct connection in theme or genre to the person or persons of the dedication — sometimes the connections are more aspects of what was happening in my life while I was working on the book — and given what I tend to write about, this shouldn’t be surprising. For example, the dedication of Commedia della Morte is to the real estate agent who handled the sale of our house and found me the place I live now, all very much connected to the writing of the book, but not thematically associated with it. I have dedicated books to a goodly number of friends because they are friends. I have dedicated books to artists and writers I admire (Tempting Fate is dedicated to the French director Francois Truffaut because his film, The 400 Blows gave me insight into the character of Laisha, who is the key character in the action of the book); to those who have mentored me in the past, not always on matters of writing; to colleagues, sometimes humorously, at least between us (I dedicated a romance novel I did under another name to Felicia Andrews, the name under which the late Charles L. Grant wrote romances, with the epithet takes one to know one — Charlie was delighted).

Whenever possible, I describe the book to the potential dedicatee/s and ask she/he/they if he/she/they would mind the dedication; out of the over eighty books I have published, a dozen potential dedicatees have declined the offer, and I have selected other dedicatee/s for those books. I’ve been asked several times if I ever dedicated a book to my mother, and the answer is no, for although she was pleased to have a writer in the family, she usually hated my work and had no wish to be directly associated with it. On the other hand, when my father remarried after my mother’s death, I dedicated a book to the two of them without any objection on their parts.

One of the major importance of a dedication, at least for me, is that it gives me someone or someones to tell the story to; this is especially true if the dedication is to someone I know personally. I find it useful to have an audience in mind that is familiar, one that will provide a frame of reference to doing the work. To that extent, I try to have a degree of match-up between the story and the dedicatee that bolsters the narrative. Occasionally I have added a second dedicatee/s — my cats, and when I could still ride, my horses. They may not know what it is, or care, but it is my acknowledgment to their importance to me, and, at least in terms of the cats, their determination to contribute to my efforts.

Twice in my career, I’ve had someone ask me to dedicate a book to him/her, a notion that still flabbergasts me. In one instance I reluctantly complied, in the other I refused, and was treated to a year of high dudgeon for such refusal. I’m sorry the person was offended, but it seemed to me then and still does now, that such a request is at the very least inappropriate.

A few dedications in my early works now seem a bit puzzling to me in retrospect — not that I would alter them in any way, but I do find it reminiscent of that wonderful answer that Robert Browning gave Elizabeth Barrett early in the acquaintance when she asked him about the meaning of a passage in one of his poems. His answer was that when he wrote that only God and Robert Browning knew what it meant: now only God knows. I know the feeling well.

About Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is the first woman to be named a Living Legend by the International Horror Guild and is one of only two women ever to be named as Grand Master of the World Horror Convention (2003). In 1995, Yarbro was the only novelist guest of the Romanian government for the First World Dracula Congress, sponsored by the Transylvanian Society of Dracula, the Romanian Bureau of Tourism and the Romanian Ministry of Culture.

Yarbro is best known as the creator of the heroic vampire, the Count Saint-Germain. With her creation of Saint-Germain in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (St. Martin's Press, 1978), she delved into history and vampiric literature and subverted the standard myth to invent the first vampire who was more honorable, humane, and heroic than most of the humans around him. The 25th volume of the Saint-Germain Cycle, COMMEDIA DELLA MORTE, will be published by Tor in March 2012. The first three books, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, THE PALACE and BLOOD GAMES, are all available as e-books from E-Reads.com.

A professional writer since 1968, Yarbro has worked in a wide variety of genres, from science fiction to westerns, from young adult adventure to historical horror.

For more information on Yarbro’s many books and interests, check out her website at www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Guest Author Terry Spear | Guest Post and Giveaway

It is always a pleasure to welcome paranormal romance writer Terry Spear here as a guest. A Seal in Wolf's Clothing, the ninth installment of her werewolf romance series goes with a military theme this time around. The book released March 6 and I have two copies courtesy of Sourcebooks to giveaway (details at the end of the post).

Terry in her guest post uses her experiences traveling to relate how plans don't always turn out as expected which alludes to events in the new novel. Please take the opportunity to leave a comment for Terry or tell us about one of your own travel horror stories.

Welcome Terry!

When the She-Wolf Comes out to Play,
the SEAL-Wolf Gets in Her Way

by Terry Spear

Has that ever happened to you? I mean, you have your whole couple of weeks scheduled and someone or something puts a monkey wrench in your whole plan?

Not just a little monkey wrench, but a big hulking SEAL-wolf-who’s-not-going-to-allow-you-to-do-it kind of monkey wrench?

One year when I was a personnel officer at Fort Hood, Texas, I had my leave approved to see a friend in NJ, plane tickets scheduled, the whole nine yards. But his boss said no! I couldn’t leave for another three weeks.

Now, I was not in any kind of crucial position that would require one brand new second lieutenant to stay at that job for the few days of leave I’d had scheduled. So I was upset.

If I’d had a SEAL-wolf thwart my plans to look for an alpha mate, I’m thinking I would have been a WHOLE lot less upset, and a WHOLE lot more agreeable. Yeah, no doubt about it.

Of course there have been some really near misses that could have ruined our plans—like the time my mother and I flew from Texas to NYC, intending on catching the international flight to Greece and were told we had no reservations! Our travel agent had found she had booked us twice for the same flight, so cancelled them. Both. And the airline that had sent us there, hadn’t bothered to tell us our connecting flight reservation had been canceled.

We had gone through a travel agent, why?

So we flew on standby and joked about how we each had our own Greek guy to sleep with for the night. (Long overnight flight, and Mom and I were separated by several seats.) After asking the man next to me if he knew how to operate the headphones button thingy (I normally don’t bother with stuff like that), I realize why they say “That’s Greek to me.” There’s nothing in their language that matches up with anything I’ve ever heard before. (I watched the news on the tv at the hotel while the Athenians tore up the stadium just down the street over a soccer game—cars set on fire, you know, the usual, and couldn’t understand a word they said—so I just watched to make sure they didn’t head toward our hotel anytime soon.)….When in Rome, wrong country, when in Athens…don’t do as the Greeks do, stay put until the danger has passed.

I LOVED the Greek islands! Gorgeous! But after we returned to the airport to go home, we had the same problem. Standby. “Can you take another flight tomorrow?”

NO! I had to pick up my kids!!!

Okay, so we made it home and we actually got to sit by each other, but we were some of the lucky ones. Several missed the flight who were also on standby.

Then there was the time Mom and I decided to go to Las Vegas because of all the free cool shows, saw Riverdance and the white tiger show, and the hotels were so spectacular to see. We arrive at the airport in Austin and are told—my reservation is showing my maiden name, not my married name. This was after 9-11, so everyone had to have matching ID. But it’s my name, and I haven’t used it in 100 years, so no ID with me to prove it. But it’s me!

My mother said, “I’m her mother. I’ll vouch for her.”

I’m sure no one else would have ever let us through later, but this time they did. This was another travel agency that handled it, btw.

Then we decided to take the kids the next year because we had so much fun and we arrive at the airport in Austin, and…okay, you know where this is going, right? I have a son and daughter with my last name, but the tickets when we got there were with some married couple’s name, not our own.

This time we had more trouble. And I was ready to line up a whole bunch of travel agents on the firing line. My mother would have volunteered to be on the firing squad.

After calling the travel agency, who had to fax the airline the updated information, and with the plane boarding, we rushed to board and made it. Barely.

The next time we took a trip, we made our own reservations!

It doesn’t end there though. I know what you’re thinking. You’re not raising your hand to accompany me on a trip. But you know, without all the hassle and frantic moments of terror, we probably wouldn’t have remembered the trip at all. So there’s something to be said about that!

So a friend said she was going to Scotland with another friend and I said I wanted to go too. I meant it, though, you know how it is. I didn’t MEAN it. Just that I’d LOVE to go…and didn’t expect her to say, “Come on then!” And me to say, “All right, then!”

I’m normally not that impulsive. Good thing my dad isn’t around or he’d say I was, but really, I’m not THAT impulsive.

So with ticket and passport in hand, and yes, this time I had the right name on ALL my documentation, and I did NOT go through a travel agency, and I went through TWO airports, Waco and Houston, before arriving in NYC and them telling me as I’m about ready to board, “Ma’am, I’m so sorry to say, but…”

My friends are in England already, I’m in NYC supposed to be in Scotland the next morning, to meet up with them that night and….

My passport is expired. Now, the NYC airport personnel were almost giddy with delight because according to them Houston claims they NEVER make a mistake. They’re giddy, and I’m devastated!!!

My cell phone is dying, I’m trying to get hold of my son to ask if I can just come and see him a week early, skip my trip to Scotland, tears in my eyes, attempting to get hold of my friends in England and…the NYC airport personnel weren’t about to let me down! Not when Houston had screwed up so badly! Not to mention Waco did too.

I had the biggest adventure of them all. The NYC airport personnel were wonderful. They gave me a night in a hotel, vouchers for a meal for that night and the next morning and afternoon until I could take the next eve flight out, told me how to get hold of a passport in Philadelphia, (which I’m like, OMG, go to another big city in another state???...I didn’t know how far away it was, but they said I wouldn’t be able to get one in NYC that fast) but I had to take a train (which I’ve never done before and loved it!), then a taxi, find a place to get a new passport photo that was close to where the passport building was, get to the historic building to get the new passport, waited for hours, rushed to get back on the train (which I have to say, I had a terrible time getting a taxi, I had to take my two bags and laptop with me everywhere, no place to leave them during all this nightmare, and the taxi driver was having trouble with his meter and while he was playing around with it, was only inches away from ramming into the back of another vehicle), rushed to get back to the airport, and I have never been so nervous about missing some part of the process after all that I had to go through.

Okay, so now my passport is updated and I’ve GOT to go somewhere again soon. Anywhere. Anyone want to come with me?

But still, I think about Meara Greymere and her plan to find a mate from the alpha males she’s renting the cabins out to on the Oregon beach while her brother, the alpha pack leader, is away…and I think I would give up my passport and plans to take a trip just to meet Finn Emerson, or even Bjornolf, who could throw my plans asunder.

How about you? Ever have the best laid plans and something or someone got in the way?

Oh, and btw, I met up with my friends in Scotland, managed to stay awake for maybe a half hour, and conked out for the first couple of hours on our drive. All’s well that ends well, that sort of thing. And I’ll never forget my trip to Scotland! We visited 7 castles and my only regret? I had to leave all those Highlanders in kilts behind!

Thanks so much to Doug for having me back! And good luck to everyone who comments!


Her instincts tell her he's dangerous...

While her overprotective brother's away, Meara Greymere's planning to play—and it wouldn't hurt to find herself a mate in the process. The last thing she needs is one of his SEAL buddies spoiling her fun, even if the guy is the hottest one she's ever seen...

His powers of persuasion are impossible to resist...

Finn Emerson is a battle-hardened Navy SEAL and alpha wolf. He's a little overqualified for baby-sitting, but feisty Meara is attracting trouble like a magnet...

As the only responsible alpha male in the vicinity, Finn is going to have to protect this intriguing woman from a horde of questionable men, and definitely from himself...

Experience the sensual, action-packed, critically acclaimed world of Terry Spear, author of a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year…
Product Details:
ISBN-13: 9781402258909
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication Date: 3/6/2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Series: Werewolf #9
Pages: 352


Terry Spear has written a dozen paranormal romance novels and two medieval Highland historical romances. An award-winning author, Terry’s Heart of the Wolf  was named a Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year in 2008. A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear is a librarian by day and spends every spare moment writing paranormal romance as well as historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas, where she is working on new paranormal romances!

For more information, please visit: 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Review (Fantasy) - The Fallen Kings Cycle by Gail Z. Martin

DESCRIPTION The Sworn - The Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Tris seeks new allies from among the living – and the dead – as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle. Meanwhile, the legendary Dread are stirring in their burrows after millennia of silence and no one knows what hand wakes them and whom they will serve when they rise.

Now, Drayke turns to the Sworn, a nomadic clan of warriors bound to protect the Dread. But even the mighty Sworn do not know what will happen when the Dread awake. All are certain, though, that war is coming to the Winter Kingdoms.

DESCRIPTION The Dread - Still reeling from plague and civil war, the Winter Kingdoms face an invasion force from across the Northern Sea led my a dark spirit mage in the name of ancient, vanquished gods. Summoner-King Martris Drayke and an untested generation of new rulers must stand against an unholy alliance of shadowy invaders.  To prevail, Tris must win the uncertain support of the Dread, spirit-beings that stand guard within the sacred barrows over an even more fearsome threat imprisoned within.  In the balance lies not only the freedom of the Winter Kingdoms, but Tris’s life and the soul of his young son, whose untested magic might be the biggest spoil of war.

The Dread is Book Two of The Fallen Kings Cycle, and it picks up the adventures of Tris, Jonmarc and the Winter Kingdoms gang immediately after the events in The Sworn.

The Fallen Kings Cycle is a  fantasy duology consisting of The Sworn and The Dread. It is an extension of the Chronicles of the Necromancer series following the same characters. In this pair of novels the eclectic band of friends face their greatest challenges. They are forced to accept ultimate responsibility and become the next generation of leaders among their various factions as one by one the various kings of the Winter Kingdoms succumb to assassination and disease.

Told from multiple points of view, we get to see how each beloved character responds to the new threats as all of the Winter Kingdoms go to war against an enemy that is the match to their own Summoner. Needless to say, people are lost along the way. We feel the survivors grief. Battles are frantic and chaotic and the action is furious.

Both books reveal new layers of spirit magic and secrets of the dead. The Dread are immensely powerful and need to be awakened for the Summoners forces to prevail but at a risk of awakening and even more powerful entities that the Dread themselves guard.

The Fallen Kings Cycle is a worthy closer to the series and readers of epic fantasy are sure to ensure this fast-paced character-driven story.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Amazing Advances in Aerial Robotics

Until recently I had not heard about TED.   I was sent a link  about Vijay Kumar and his team at Penn State University that build flying quadrotors, small, agile robots that swarm, sense each other, and form ad hoc teams – for construction, surveying disasters and far more. Here is a note from the TED website. Watch the video and see what these amazing robots can do. I am always fascinated by how science fiction is happening now.
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Urban Fantasy Author Jessa Slade | Guest Post & Giveaway

Jessa Slade, urban fantasy romance author is my special guest today. Jessa writes the action-packed Marked Souls series featuring immortal warriors possessed by repentant demons who stand between humanity and the true demons. Darkness Undone, the fourth book in the series releases next Tuesday and is the start of a new trilogy cycle in the Marked Souls world.

Every hero needs a weapon and Jessa takes the subject seriously with today's guest post, which I have entitled "Loving Arms".  Jessa walks us through the armaments featured in the series. We have a terrific goody bag of items to giveaway to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment telling us about your favorite weapons, real or imagined (please fill out the entry form at the end to make it easier to contact you.

Jessa also has an instant giveaway (free download) of her science fiction romance  novella "Enslaved by Starlight" (details below).

Welcome Jessa!

Loving Arms
by Jessa Slade

I am a huge fan of multi-stage explosions. Many a mediocre movie has been improved -- to my mind anyway -- with additional pretend napalm. While I haven’t been super impressed with the superhero movies lately, I cheered at the Avengers trailer when we got to the explosions-within-explosions part. (Plus, Joss Whedon; need I say more? I thought not.)

I wanted some destructo-fun in my stories too. But I didn’t want to destroy too much of Chicago (it’s my hometown, after all) so I kept my mayhem lower key. In the first three Marked Souls novels, I stuck with weapons that stick: all pointy, edged weapons. My heroes are all immortal warriors possessed by repentant demons. They keep to the shadows in a world that doesn’t know they exist, so they need silent, hand-to-hand weapons to fight the demons that have no intention of repenting.

In SEDUCED BY SHADOWS, Archer has a futuristic cool battle ax with telescoping blade that retracts into itself so he can tuck it into his sexy trenchcoat. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why they didn’t put a telescoping battle ax on the cover. Maybe because all the suggested images I sent them for reference featured short, chubby dwarves with monstrous beards? Hmm, just a thought.

I gave the cover artist a break and got a little more realistic with the second two books. In FORGED OF SHADOWS, the Chinese-American heroine Jilly chooses for herself deer horn knives, also known as crescent moon knives that were geared for Asian martial arts. Although the hero, Liam, is a former blacksmith and fights with a hammer, he is holding Jilly’s knife on the cover. Aw, isn’t that sweet?

In VOWED IN SHADOWS, Jonah was an African missionary in his old life and is partial to a multi-pronged Congolese weapon that came in a few sizes, from almost sword length to a throwing design. Although some version were more ceremonial, I figured they look highly effective too. At least I know I wouldn’t want to come up against one in a dark alley if I was a demon.

But in the fourth Marked Souls book, DARKNESS UNDONE, I have a hero who ISN’T a moody broody bad boy demonically possessed alpha male. Sidney Westerbrook is basically a bookworm, so handing him a sword-and-a-half wasn’t going to do him much good. And, since DARKNESS UNDONE starts a new trilogy within the world of the Marked Souls, with a new villain, I wanted to go off with a bang.

Hence Sid’s gun on the cover. I admit I was sort of thinking of Indiana Jones facing the broadsword with a whip...and then wisely unholstering his gun. Actually, Sid and Indy would have gotten along gangbusters, discussing antiquities and saving the world. And they both know sometimes heroism turns into grandstanding, which is just foolish. I had the chance to shoot an M14 once and I was surprised at how...well, gentle it was. Sid’s gun holds hollow-point rounds filled with shards of an angelic sword (long story; about 370 pages to be exact) and packs a bigger kick. Against demons anyway.

(Of course, no weapon in the world is going to save Sid from his heroine, Alyce, but we won’t tell him that.)

Just as the title convention of the stories is changing -- from “Shadows” to “Darkness” -- so is the gun a symbol of change in the Marked Souls’ battle against evil. The fight is coming out of the shadows, and it’s time to start making some noise.

I’d love to hear from you about your favorite weapons, real or imagined. I have a few more heroes who need some loving arms around them!

Leave a comment for your chance to win:
  1. A signed copy of DARKNESS UNDONE
  2. A set of Marked Souls Romance Trading Cards
  3. A music download card with the album containing the Marked Souls theme song
  4. A pair of earrings inspired by the storyworld
And everyone who stops by today can download a free copy of my science fiction romance novella, “Enslaved By Starlight,” in the HOTTER ON THE EDGE anthology. Just go to http://tinyurl.com/hotter4free and use coupon code UW37U, or download at Amazon, BN.com and other ebook retailers for 99¢. 

Thank you for reading!

The war between good and evil has raged for millennia,
and as a powerful new enemy ascends,
the Marked Souls are pushed to the ragged edge…

Sidney Westerbrook has always studied darkness and damnation from a sensible distance. Now, to earn his place as a league Bookkeeper, he must discover why Chicago is such a battleground of soul-linked warriors. But the research becomes personal when he finds himself over his head and under attack — and at the mercy of a waif with demon-lit eyes and a deep yearning in her heart.

Alyce Carver has been alone longer than she can remember, battered by the living nightmares that haunt her city. Cornered by yet another gang of demons, she unwittingly joins forces with a handsome scholar who can salvage her past, and she in turn may be the key to his investigations. But she won’t let him go until he shows her everything she’s been missing.

What begins as an experiment in possession becomes a trial by desire so powerful it threatens both their lives, even as it binds their souls.
Product Details:

ISBN-13: 9780451236265
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 3/6/2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Pages: 400

“Slade’s plot packs plenty of action…in a group of forceful personalities.”
– Publishers Weekly

“[A] fish-out-of-water story that keeps a rapid pace, delivering a strong plot, 
enjoyable characters and a stunning world.”
–RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

Read Chapter 1 of DARKNESS UNDONE and find links to favorite bookstores here.

Read the first chapters of all the Marked Souls novels at http://jessaslade.com

You can find Jessa online at:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Review (SFR) | Celebrity in Death


Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she's managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It's a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director's luxury building. Now she's at the center of a crime scene-and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster and step into the role she was born to play: cop.

One to two titles in the "In Death" series are released each year with Celebrity in Death being the 34th in the series. This marginally science fiction romance/police procedural is set in the year 2060 but really only gives a nod to future world-building and possibilities. Ultimately it doesn't matter as the heart of each story is the mystery and the relationship between Lieutenant Eve Dallas and billionaire husband Roarke.

In Celebrity in Death we have some interesting twists as Eve investigates a murder at a dinner party honouring the film production of one of her famous cases attended by the actors that play her real life friends, family and co-workers. It makes for some interesting scenes and dialogue between the actors and "real life" characters. All of the usual elements one expects of an "In Death" book are present - multiple suspects, red herrings and a big reveal at the end and of course the more intimate scenes between Eve and Roarke. Their relationship is sophisticated with believable dialogue, an evolving intimacy and romance that lights up the pages. Personally I would read the series just to find out what is happening with the couple aside from the mystery.

A lot of series begin to lose steam after a dozen novels or so, but not so with this series which has been around nearly 20 years. It is difficult to rank one particular book against the whole but Celebrity in Death was a surefire gratifying read and is certain to please fans of the series. Lots of references to past cases in this book so new readers might be better directed to start with an earlier book such as Origin in Death to which this one frequently refers.

Product Details:
  • ISBN-13: 9780399158308
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/21/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Series: In Death #34
The In Death Series:

Naked in Death, July 1995
Glory in Death, December 1995
Immortal in Death, July 1996
Rapture in Death, October 1996
Ceremony in Death, May 1997
Vengeance in Death, October 1997
Holiday in Death, June 1998
Conspiracy in Death, April 1999
Loyalty in Death, October 1999
Witness in Death, March 2000
Judgment in Death, September 2000
Betrayal in Death, March 2001
Seduction in Death, September 2001
Reunion in Death, March 2002
Purity in Death, September 2002
Portrait in Death, March 2003
Imitation in Death, September 2003
Divided in Death, January 2004
Visions in Death, August 2004
Survivor in Death, February 2005
Origin in Death, July 2005
Memory in Death, January 2006
Born in Death, November 2006
Innocent in Death, February 2007
Creation in Death, November 2007
Strangers in Death, February 2008
Salvation in Death, November 2008
Promises in Death, February 2009
Kindred in Death, November 2009
Fantasy in Death, February 2010
Indulgence in Death, November 2010
Treachery in Death, February 2011
New York to Dallas, September 2011
Celebrity in Death, February 2012
Delusion in Death, September 2012

March Guest Preview

Some terrific guest coming to visit this month beginning with Jessa Slade tomorrow. Stop by, say hi and check out the guest post and giveaway!

March 2 - Jessa Slade, urban fantasy romance writer is dropping in to talk about the Marked Souls series. Darkness Undone, Book 4 releases March 6.

March 13 - Frequent guest Terry Spear pays us a visit to talk about her newest paranormal romance release, A Seal in Wolf's Clothing.

March 14 - Vampire writer extraordinaire, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro joins us to celebrate the release of Commedia Della Morte, the 25th book in her Saint Germaine Chronicles. Chelsea is a Bram Stoker Vampire of the Century Award nominee.

 March 20 - Urban fantasy author, Dakota Banks is dropping in to discuss her Mortal Path series, with the release of Deliverance, the third book which hits stores March 27.
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