New Year extravaganza!

Happy New Year!

Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year. I was feeling a bit homesick as the new year approached, so I went shopping at the Global Foods.Traditionally, we would have sweets on New Year. And by sweets, I mean a big ol’ platter of candied fruit. Now, you’re thinking…Mmmm….candied fruit sounds good! It’s actually mostly coconut and lotus seeds and a few pieces of yam. The best pieces are the pineapple which you have to snag REAL fast before some cousin gets it.

So I went shopping for a random assortment of more yummy Asian candies. Unfortunately, this led me to regress to my childhood as I went on a bit of a shopping spree. I know everyone’s heard of Pocky, but as a kid, I preferred Yan yan because you get to dip the sticks into frosting yourself. And those lychee jelly things are addictive. I will be sharing part of this bounty with 5 lucky winners.

And of course New Year’s isn’t complete without lucky red envelopes:

And books! Each winner will receive one of these fabulous fantasy or paranormal books. There’s a nice mix of traditional epic fantasy, urban fantasy, historical paranormal and of course wuxia in there.

The Eldwyn Chronicles – 3 ebook set

I absolutely adore this fantasy series by Inez Kelley and jumped at the chance to be a beta reader for it. The first book (Myla at Midnight) started out with a fascinating premise and worldbuilding and the second book (Salome at Sunrise) added additional layers of emotional depth. Book 3 – Time Dancer is out tomorrow and it really takes the trilogy to a new level, weaving together an ensemble cast from all the previous books and explores the origins and dark side of magic. All the things I love in a great epic fantasy: magic, intrigue, and romance! I was going to give away a copy of Time Dancer, but that doesn’t make sense without the whole trilogy so I’m gifting the entire 3 book set to one lucky winner.

Blood and Honor by Chelle Ang

A martial arts adventure in the tradition of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or “Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre” with legendary swords, secret martial arts skill and two young protagonists, betrothed at birth, but separated. I really enjoyed reading all of the most beloved tropes of the wuxia genre in Blood and Honor. I believe Chelle Ang wrote this adventure in a very accessible way that can be enjoyed by readers who are new to the wuxia (martial arts heroic fantasy) as well as for those who are lovers of the genre and I can’t wait to read the sequel.

The ebook is available for Kindle, Nook and Kobo.

These last three books are autographed print books and come with swag like romance trading cards, bookmarks, and door hangers. One of the benefits of grabbing them at a booksigning. 🙂

Coveted by Shawntelle Madison

The first book in the Coveted series features Natalya, a werewolf with OCD who hoards Christmas ornaments, and her old flame Thorn. Shawntelle Madison is one of my critique partners and I am endlessly agog at how she comes up with her ideas! This urban fantasy series has a cast of quirky paranormal characters from Natalya’s therapy group as well as Natalya’s Russian family (yes, also werewolves). The sequel, Kept, is also available and I happen to know that…tee hee…a novella is coming out in a few months. If you like creative worldbuilding and unusual characters, this book is the ticket.

Boyfriend from Hell by Jamie Quaid

Don’t you love that title? I haven’t read this one yet, but I’ve bought a second copy via ebook so I can relinquish this copy for the giveaway. It’s about a law student who accidentally wishes her boyfriend into hell. Oops! Now she has to get him back while wrestling with a whole assortment of unfriendlies.

From the back cover:

“Much to her surprise, Tina is apparently one of Saturn’s daughters, with the power to wield vigilante justice. But poor Max didn’t deserve to go up in flames, even if he did almost run her over with her own car. Tina’s convinced someone cut the brakes—and now a relentless nemesis is stalking her through the Zone’s back alleys, where buildings glow, statues move, and chemical waste exposure comes with interesting consequences. Tina’s usually a loner, but now she needs a posse like no other: a shape-shifting kitten, an invisible thief, a biker gang, a snake-charming private detective, a well-meaning cop, and her sleazy, sexy boss. But in between freeing Max from hell, saving her own neck, and solving a mystery that threatens the Zone and her newfound friends, how is she ever going to study for finals?”

My Lord Vampire by Alexandra Ivy

This is the first in her Regency paranormal series. I’ve read a few of her Guardians of Eternity books, which are contemporary paranormals complete with vampires, weres, demons and a little gargoyle! We got to chat a bit about the gargoyle and his love interest today. I do love speaking to authors about their stories. The blurb of this one sounds nice and Dark Shadow-y.

Use the rafflecopter widget below to enter. I’ll draw next Sunday.

Wishing you good health, good fortune and all that you desire in the new year.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: The writing adventures of Inez Kelley

jinxed-300-smallWhat better day could there be than lucky 7/7 for an interview with Inez Kelley, author of the recent Samhain release, JINXED? Inez is not only a friend, but also an inspiration to me as a writer, so I was quite excited when she agreed to do an interview here. I’ve watched her work unfold in numerous online chat sessions, so it’s quite a treat to see them released to the world.

As you can see from the interview, her voice and personality radiates in everything she does. Welcome Inez!

Jeannie: Congratulations on your first release! Tell us about a little about JINXED and how you came up with the idea.

Inez: I have no earthly idea. I don’t. I wish I did. I remember sitting down to write, as I did eons ago, on my bed with a notebook and a pencil and thinking “I wonder what would happen if the hero and the heroine had the same name?” After that, it is pretty much a blur.

JINXED was my training ground, my learner’s permit about the ins and outs of writing from someone other than myself. I learned a lot in those pages. How to take critism and praise, how to listen to advice without getting all huffy, how to see where the flaws in my own style were, etc.

I see stories in movie form. They come full color with the plot, ending, etc already included. I don’t create characters so much as give them voice. I didn’t intend Steve to be bi-sexual, he just was. Tracey was a trip to write and she was herself, unapologetically snarky and funky. Frannie got on my nerves with her whining at times but that is her. Human beings are true to themselves and my characters are the same way, imperfect.

JINXED was my first ‘can I do this for real’ story and wow, I could and there is not stopping me now.

Jeannie: You write across so many genres. What determines what you’re going to write next? What are the great challenges as you switch from one genre to another?

Inez: The story screaming loudest in my head gets written next. I have one tale I have been tossing around for years. It will get written some day. But when a story screams, I have to write it. I consumes me every minute I am not writing it.

I am currently writing a YA. That is a challenge, not so much the actually story line but making sure I stay in a teen voice but don’t talk down. I hated being talked down to as a teen. I am not a teenager but I was once. I remember a lot about those emotions and I hope I can get those across without sounding like some old fart writing about her youth.

So yeah, I write across genres and am venturing into non-romance land. Why not? I read other stuff so when those stories pop into my head, I am not going to turn my back on them.

As for the greatest challenge…wow, I guess that would be atmosphere. For example, I wrote a contemporary that is very tense, emotional and somewhat dark. It has a scene where the heroine is drunk. I rewrote that scene like three times because I kept sliding into humor. It fit, it was funny but it wasn’t the right feel. The story needed more pain, more heartbreak at that point, not a laugh.

With my next book, Myla by Moonlight, I channeled all the humor to a secondary character Bryton. Not consciously, he just became my comedic mouthpiece for that story, it is part of who he is. He is a bodyguard, willing to die for his Prince without second thought. Because of that, he is very irreverent. He also is the Prince’s best friend, knows how heavy the crown can be and takes it upon himself to lighten that load by making Prince Taric smile. He does a good job. I like him.

One I get a few pages into a story, the tone is set and I can usually maintain the atmosphere but occasionally, like that drunk scene, I have to step back and remind myself that the story has the map and decides where to go, I am just the vessel of delivery.

Jeannie: Do you feel there’s such a thing as your true “voice”? And how would you describe it?

Inez: I don’t know. My boss read JINXED and then called to tell me she could “hear” me in the story. That surprised me.

If I had to describe my voice, I think it is slighty lyrical no matter what genre I write in. The play of words against each other I love and use without thinking about it. To me, words have to sing without music.

So many people have read my stories and tried to describe my voice to me. They are all different. I can’t describe my own voice except slightly purple, with a hint of poetry and a dash of pain. My husband says I like to rip your heart out, salt it then force feed it to you while laughing but I think he exaggerates. A little.
Jeannie: Best advice you’ve received so far?

Inez: Write what moves you and ignore the trends, the submission calls etc. Just because I can write it doesn’t mean I should write it.

I love vampire stories but have never written one. I have no vamp tales to tell. I hear voices like real whispers, those are the stories I have to tell. So what if everyone is clamoring for a m/m erotica and I know I could write one or there is a call for a detective romance. If I don’t ‘feel’ the story, it is like pulling teeth. Instead, if I let my stories come, they nearly write themselves. Then I am happiest and I think my love of them comes through. If MY passion can come through, then the reader can feel it and that is what I want.

Jeannie: We all have slumps, but you seem to be able to crank it out non-stop. What keeps you going? What do you think is your biggest challenge?

Inez: Oh, I have slumps, trust me. I just can’t be idle with them. I gave up writing for a while, a few years actually. Life was just too hectic and I channeled my energy into just living. I was afraid I had lost that drive to create for a long time, was afraid to try again. So now, when the slumps hit, that fear returns.

So during slump times, I edit, dabble with short stories, read for friends, crit other writers, pound out a few pages of a story I have no plans to finish with any deadline in mind. I play until the burning story hits again, then I write like a demon.

My biggest challenge is overwriting. I have to pare back because I get too detailed, to involved in the minute crap– like what the character had for breakfast, down to the fact that he didn’t like butter on his toast, just jam and then only strawberry. Yeah. Too. Much.

Jeannie: Something a little fun. What’s one of your guilty pleasures, writing or non-writing related?

Inez: I love to bake. I like cooking something completely off the wall for a redneck writer slash mother slash wife. Like I make French Onion soup from scratch or Dutch Apple Pie(which I don’t even like but my family does). I make a kick ass five cheese lasagna with homemade sauce too.

Jeannie: What’s in the future for Inez Kelley?

Inez: In September, I have my fantasy romance titled MYLA BY MOONLIGHT coming out with Samhain publishing. I just finished a contemporary novella and am working on another romcom for that publisher too. My agent has a few stories aimed at NY and print publishing and my fingers are crossed there too.

In a nut shell, what does my future hold? More. More stories, more laughs, more tears. More. And then even more.

I hope to be standing in line one day to get one of Inez’s books autographed by the lady herself. 🙂 You can find out more about Inez at her website. Her recent debut, JINXED is available from Samhain and watch out for MYLA BY MOONLIGHT in September. I hear there’s a killer promo trailer for that one. 🙂