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Downtown. Coffee shop. 2 AM.

One minute, Josh is firing off sarcastic remarks at his best friend Marc – the next, they’re running from shape-shifters. Apparently, even best friends don’t share all their secrets.

Now Josh is in danger. He can see the monsters among the humans.

When Marc is kidnapped, Josh finds himself pulled into the schemes of the fae courts, and throws in his lot with Marc’s allies: the lovely Larae, a human named David, and the fighter, Eliaster. But what began as a rescue mission becomes something much more involved…

And all Josh wants to do is get out before it’s too late.

 

5 Minutes With H. L. Burke

Welcome H. L. Burke!11755639_10154140291146002_1215304829087524943_n

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:–I’m a military wife, mother, and dragon keeper and I also obsessively write fantasy novels while under the influence of caffeine.

Coiled is a fairy tale/mythological retelling that features a cursed prince and princess pair … and giant snakes. I’ve always enjoyed versions of the Eros and Psyche myth (which has been retold by various cultures over time). One of my favorites is the French version, The Green Serpent, where the prince turns into a giant green snake so he tries to woo an ugly princess in the darkness. There is just something alluring to me about falling in love with a soul rather than a body, and the concept of two people who come to care for each other while never able to see each other really appealed to me.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

I’m not sure if it counts as research, but in Coiled there is a scene where a ruffian grabs Laidra, the main character, and tries to carry her off, so she’s slung over his shoulder, kicking him in the chest … I had a beta reader question this, suggesting her legs would probably at least reach his stomach.

Matt (my husband, who is 6’5” and a Marine, which is probably important to the understanding of this story) was handy, so the exchange went something like this:

Me: Hey, can you throw me over your shoulder so I can see where my kicks would fall if you tried to carry me off?

Matt: That didn’t go where I was hoping it would …

He picked me up and slung me over his shoulder, and yeah, my feet did fall about his chest, but his arms around my legs to keep me on his shoulder prevented me from making anything but pathetic little flutter kicks. Trying to be helpful, he suggested I try to punch him in the kidneys as that might be the easiest way for my heroine to fight back. After several attempts to do this, I had to admit, my husband was just too dang tall for me to reach his kidneys. I ended up leaving the scene as it was.

(that is wonderfully hilarious. 😄 )

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it?IMG_20170502_135018

When you have two youngish (my daughters are 5 and 9) children, you have to be flexible. Some of my best writing has been achieved at the McDonald’s play structure. That said, I do have a desktop computer on a folding table, but there’s nothing very special about it … some scattered books, an empty tea tin full of extra pens, and a keyboard … oh and my cat, Bruce Wayne (he’s Batcat). He often hangs out with me, whether I want him to or not. Sometimes he’ll add to a document, so I have to watch him or else annnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn98iaasf.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

Nah, my writing is strange enough (girls falling in love with giant snakes, sarcastic computers, dragons popping up all over the place) on its own without the writing method being weird, too. When I write I channel a whole other version of me. Usual me doesn’t plan ahead, makes business decisions with coin flips, never does the same thing the same way twice because “boring.” Writer me just sits down at a desk and writes … well, sometimes at a McDonald’s play place, but you work with what you’re given. I do most of my writing at night after my kids are in bed. I usually listen to instrumental music (epic soundtracks and video game music are the best), and to keep myself focused, I time myself in ten minute word sprints allowing a short “distraction break” between them. I do this over and over again until I have my word count goal (1000 words a day) met. Then if I’m feeling inspired I’ll keep going until I’m too tired to write any more … or if I just barely got that thousand words out and can’t do any more, I’ll switch from epic music to ASMR videos (it’s a weird thing, but it relaxes me… it’s people on youtube making videos where they softly tell stories or paint pictures or cut hair or something. It’s a thing, I swear. Look it up.) until I’ve relaxed enough to go to bed. There may be a glass of red wine or a cup of hot herbal tea involved as well.

* (If interviewing for a series) Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next? (If interviewing for a stand-alone) What’s next on your plate?

After I finished Coiled, I started on a magician themed new adult fantasy series called Spellsmith and Carver. It’s about two young men, Auric Spellsmith, the estranged biological son of a magician, and Jericho Carver, the same magician’s adopted apprentice, who start out as rivals but are forced to work together when Fey forces threaten their fractured family. I actually already finished the first book and released it on May 6th … I work a lot faster self-publishing than I do with my publisher (Coiled is published through Uncommon Universes Press and will be released on June 15th), but both methods have their advantage. I’m now writing book two in the Spellsmith and Carver series. I enjoy writing these two characters who are opposites in pretty much every way, but who develop a mutual respect that takes them from near enemies to closer than brothers. Plus the series has a magical clockwork fox. I really want my own magical clockwork fox. His name is Jaspyr.

(I’m currently reading the first Spellsmith and Carver and yes, it’s as fabulous as it sounds.)

Thanks for visiting! Here’s more information about Coiled..CoiledFrontCover (1)(1)

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

A YA mythology/romance that retells the myth of Eros and Psyche with adventure, magic, and true love.

Catch up with H. L. Burke here: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Coiled cover release!

CoiledFrontCover (1)

A healing touch. A hideous face. A looming curse.

As the ugly twin to a perfect sister, Princess Laidra lives her life in the shadows—until her parents offer her as bait for a giant serpent.

Her escape attempt leaves her shipwrecked on a secluded island with only one inhabitant: Prince Calen, who lives under a curse. If anyone looks upon him, he turns into a giant serpent. Speaking to him in the darkness, Laidra sees past the monster to Calen’s lonely soul, and she determines to free him from the magic’s hold.

But if Laidra can’t break the curse in time, Calen will become a mindless creature of scales and fangs forever.

A YA mythology/romance that retells the myth of Eros and Psyche with adventure, magic, and true love.

About the Author:

Born in a small town in north central Oregon, H. L. Burke spent most of her childhood around trees and farm animals and was always accompanied by a book. Growing up with epic heroes from Middle Earth and Narnia keeping her company, she also became an incurable romantic.

An addictive personality, she jumped from one fandom to another, being at times completely obsessed with various books, movies, or television series (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Star Trek all took their turns), but she has grown to be what she considers a well-rounded connoisseur of geek culture.

Married to her high school crush who is now a US Marine, she has moved multiple times in her adult life but believes that home is wherever her husband, two daughters, and pets are.

Follow her personal blog at www.hlburkeblog.com

Next week, I’ll have an interview with H. L. Burke here on the blog. Don’t miss it!

After a Long Winter…

UpdateWow! I did not mean to take such a long break–“just for the holidays,” I told myself at the end of November.

Weeellllllll…sorry about that.

In my defense, I have been busy!

I finished Slag! I fought through that insane rewrite and it’s now in the hands of my first readers. I am hoping to get it out before Realm Makers this year, so by the latest, mid-July. (Am I insane? Probably…? I believe this has been established before…)

I am soooooo close to finishing Misfits but it is fighting me tooth and nail. Part of the problem is that some of it has been written out of order, only I didn’t write down that order, so now I have to sit down and re-order things, add things in that I forgot about, and generally do some tidying up before my head explodes from the snarly mess that this story is in.

I’ve written one short story, The Dragon Charmer (in an hour and a half writing sprint at the library), and hope to write a few more this year. No story acceptances to talk about yet this year, but I continue to throw stuff at various magazines and hope something sticks. It’s a bit like trying to figure out what to feed my four-year-old for lunch…you never know what bizarre combination of things will finally get him to eat. (I mean, this is the kid whose favorite snack was once watermelon with mustard…)

I’m almost finished with an untitled novella that features a secondary character from my stalled-out fantasy/steampunk novel, Darkglass. This novella sets up events that are fairly important later down the road in the world’s history…and I wrote the majority of the 16,000-word monster in two weeks. That’s probably the fastest I’ve ever written before, but it also felt super, super awesome. I think my best word count in one day was about 5,000 words.

In geek news, I discovered two new shows that I adore. (And they’re both cartoons, which is…kind of weird…) Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir is simply just cute and fluffy, though with some really good character building. (And my boys will watch it with me, which is another bonus.)

Voltron Legendary Defender is…just…where do I start? The incredible characterization, the fun if kinda of weird premise, the unexpected way I got sucked into it. (And a cartoon gave me feels…I don’t even know who I am anymore.) I basically love every character–Lance and Allura had to grow on me at first, but I’ve come to like even them. And oh yes, I like this show so much that I and some friends got together and we’re cosplaying a Rule 63 Voltron crew for Realm Makers this year. (I LOVE MY PEOPLE.)

Oh yes, and let’s not ignore the fact that the show gave me an idea for a science fiction space opera/military story. My MC maaaaaay slightly be based off Pidge and her brother is sooooort oooof Hunk and their sniper is kindaaaaa Shiro, but I have a lot of great ideas for it and really want to turn it into my own thing rather than just fanfiction.

And of course there’s been a lot of knitting, and some spinning, and contemplating learning embroidery, and trying to start freelance editing a bit, and helping my husband teach FPU for the second time at our church, and I’ve even started exercising semi-regularly and enjoying it. My two boys have grown in leaps and bounds this year. It’s a crazy life, and I’m loving it to the fullest.

Another day, another check-in

UpdateOctober went by faster than September. And what’s with all this Christmas stuff now?!? I mean, one day there’s half-price candy corn, and the next, there’s a mechanical Santa yelling “HO HO HO MERRY CHRISTMAS” at you when you walk into the store. (Doctor Who has forever scarred me in regards to mechanical Santas…thank you, Russell T. Davies…)

I’m in the thick of making Christmas gifts, though, so I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much.

And yay, I finally got my reading mojo back! I’d been in a serious reading slump since Jase was born–I honestly think I went two whole months without picking up a book! (I can’t remember another time in my life that I’ve been that long without reading.) And I read in snatches here and there after that, but I never really got back into it until September, when I renewed my subscription to Audible. (Because I decided I just didn’t have enough time to actually sit and read.) WELL. Apparently that did the trick, because I’ve now plowed through several audiobooks and e-books, and I even finished The Legend of Sam Miracle! (Not because of any problem with the book, oh no. N. D. Wilson delivered, as always.)

A short sampling of books I’ve finished in the past couple of months:

The Legend of Sam Miracle by N. D. Wilson. (YES this book was fabulous. Time travel plus Old West plus a villain with a bunch of creepy pocketwatches. Fabulous.)

The Legend of Eli Monpress  by Rachel Aaron. (I see a trend in the titles here. This was actually a series, and I got them all on audiobook, and oh my yes. They had some problems, and the first book especially suffered from a bit of wooden dialog, and YES there are stereotypical characters like the huge-stoic-bruiser-fighter, and the cheeky-flippant-thief, and the over-zealous-good-girl, and the dark-mysterious-girl-who-might-kill-us-all-because-of-creepy-powers. But heists! And thievery! And cheekiness! And illogical-yet-fantastic fights! They actually remind me of the Ryria books by Michael J. Sullivan, and I have to admit…there’s nothing I ADORE listening to on audiobook than these kinds of series.)

Crucible Steele and Steele-Faced by Alex P. Berg. (Psych meets The Dresden Files if Dresden was an out of shape murder cop and Shawn was a woman. Weird description, yes, but it fits. These books are weird and quirky and wonderful and I unashamedly love them. I love a good urban fantasy/detective story, and these are a fun twist–set in a sort-of-modern fantasy city with all your typical fantasy races. Definitely worth checking out. I flew through these two books in three days.)

OKAY. Now, writing. The reason you guys all look at this blog anyway.

Misfits, the MG fantasy novel: still on hold. Hoping to finish it this month. (I know, I say this every month, but I continue to hold out hope!)

Slag, the Underworld Mythos novella: SO CLOSE I CAN TASTE VICTORY. Seriously, I have, like, just a couple of chapters to edit and tweak to fit the current draft, and I should be done! Do I still hold hope that I can publish this by the end of the year? Ehhh…sort of? But not really?

itwoudltakeamiracle

5 Minutes With Janeen Ippolito and Julia Busko

Welcome to another interview! Again, these ladies are fellow Realmies, and I honestly don’t remember when I met them, except that it was online. Janeen and I met in person at Realm Makers 2015, and this year I managed to at least say hi to Julia this year (she had THE MOST FABULOUS costume of The Last Unicorn and I’m a wee bit jealous and… *ahem* okay, back on track.) This is the first time I’ve interviewed co-authors, so this should be fun! 😀

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel: 2016juliaheadshot

JB: My name is Julia Busko, and I’m a freelance illustrator stationed out of Lancaster, PA. I’m a storyteller who has WAY too many worlds in her head and the story of Blood Mercy is actually the story that brought Janeen and I together as friends.

JI: Janeen Ippolito here! Extroverted, collaborator, writer, teacher, reviewer, sword-fighter, and someone who gets on Facebook to INCREASE productivity (radical, I know!) Seeing Blood Mercy come to life is a fantastic experience after all the sweat and tears Julia and I put into constructing it over the years.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?
2016janeenheadshot
JB: … I’m fairly certain I’ve blocked out most of them. I’m pretty sure that according to my search history, I’d be portrayed as a serial killer who is sensible about recycling. Hahaha. I’d have to say that currently, the search the freaked me out the most was “drowned body.” Don’t google it. Just… yeah. Wouldn’t suggest it.

JI: Um, I don’t think anything is particularly weird. How addictive heroin (very), the electromagnetic spectrum (very cool), and birds in mythology (also cool). I think what I found most interesting was researching poisonous plants – it’s fascinating that the most deadly plants can also be the most healing in the right preparations!

*Where do you usually write? Can you describe it?

JB: Generally I write while sitting on one of my couches. In the livingroom, we have a SUPER comfy floral couch facing our projector screen. When not there, I crash my husband’s den and chill out on our retro green couch (it’s from the 50’s and LOOKS like it) while he is either working or playing Skyrim. I suffer from Raynaud’s, so there’s generally a fuzzy blanket involved when I’m writing. Or a oscillating fan, if it’s summer.

JI: On the couch where everyone is. I do better when I’m around people vs. being alone. It’s better for accountability and for moral support. I’m a ridiculously social writer.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

JB: Not that I know of? I’m not sure. Janeen would probably be able to answer this better than I can.

JI: ALL THE POSSIBILITIES. When Julia and I collaborate, the only cardinal rule is that there is NO dissing of the brainstorming. All the ideas must be thoroughly explored, even if you have to work the next day (unless it is getting super-duper late, in which case there is a reluctant rain check). Also, stopping the writing process to find new songs or look at goofy videos is always acceptable. Until Janeen gets antsy and starts threatening to write without Julia (which rarely happens, but some nights…). Um, oh and everything must, must MUST have a Pinterest board.

* Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?

JB: Let’s just say that reconciliation is a beautiful thing, And not all of the Talamar’s secrets are their own.

JI: Agreed. The Talamars are on the plate – expect all the flair, drama, glitz, and emotional instability/narcissism. And fighting. And goldfish. But also humor. We always bring the humor (that’s how we get away with the dark feels). AND there is totally an HEA, even if it isn’t what you’d expect.

thanks for joining me here, ladies! I am so looking forward to reading this book! Her’es more about Blood Mercy: Thicker Than Water:

What would you do if the one you loved was turned into a monster?Houses of the Dead cover

Melrose Durante brings order. As founder of the Houses of the Dead, he tirelessly opposes the vampires, and provides refuge for the Blood Kind, those like himself who fight against the blood curse that leads to vampirism. His medical breakthroughs have brought many back from the vampire path. After thousands of years, the Blood Kind finally has the upper hand.

Until a vampire attacks Melrose’s family, then begs for asylum. To his friends she’s Lucy, a disturbed young woman prone to incoherent rants, warning of an imminent attack by vampire leader, Conan. But to Melrose she’s something more.

His lost wife, Jane.

One thing is clear – time is running out. In five days Conan will attack Quebec City, killing or enslaving all in his way. If Melrose cannot unlock his wife’s tormented mind, even his immortal wisdom may not be enough to save Quebec City, the Blood Kind, and the Houses of the Dead.

Check it out on Amazon!

The authors’ online hangouts:

Janeen: Facebook| Instagram| Website

Julia: Facebook| Instagram| Website

5 Minutes with Sarah Baysinger

Sara and I have been online friends for a couple of years, but we bonded at Realm Makers 2015 while talking about writing as moms of young kids–our oldest kids are months apart, and while I was pregnant with my second, she had her second baby with her at the conference. Black Tiger is her debut novel, and after reading the blurb, it is definitely on the top of my TBR list. Enjoy the interview! 🙂

*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:fullsizerender-1-59-47-pm

I grew up in Ecuador as an MK (missionary kid) but now live among the endless cornfields of Indiana. I have a terrible addiction to coffee. *Takes sip of Pumpkin Spice Latte while typing.* I’m obsessed with dinosaurs, and still consider paleontology a possible career choice for myself. I have two young children and a husband who can tell you everything about Star Wars. (I mean EVERYTHING.) I’m also the author of the upcoming dystopian series Black Tiger. Black Tiger takes place in futuristic Kentucky and features a girl, Ember, who grew up in an orchard, is taken to the most elite city, and learns some big secrets about herself—secrets that give her the power to affect the rise or fall of her country.

*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

Research? What’s that? Isn’t the point of writing stories in the FUTURE so that you DON’T have to do research? ;P Kidding, of course. I can’t really think of anything funny that I’ve researched. Since my lead in Black Tiger lives on an orchard, I had to research orchard stuff, like when do you prune the trees? (Answer: winter time.) Also, I know absolutely nothing about fashion or clothes designs, so I had to do a little research on Victorian Era dresses after a beta reader pointed out that petticoats aren’t, in fact, supposed to show. #thankGodforbetareaders

*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it? writing-space

We recently moved out to a little house in the country, and unfortunately don’t have my own personal office anymore. *sad face*. BUT I do have a writing corner, which is kind of more… quaint? rustic? whimsical? (peculiar?) Not sure what the perfect adjective is to put here, but you get the idea. Unfortunately, it’s more of a holding place for all my book stuff. I do most of my writing outside, on a little picnic table where I can keep an eye on my kids while they play.

*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?

So… before kids, I had a whole routine that took, like, an HOUR to set up before I even started writing. I would make my tea/coffee (cuz every writer needs a hot drink close by, no matter the weather.) I would go so far as to light candles, put Enya on Pandora, and throw on “writing clothes” (i.e. sweatpants and t-shirt). It was bliss. Now I’m lucky if I even get an hour to write in a day, and my “writing clothes” are now my “regular daytime clothes”. (But I get to play with kids all day, so I guess it’s win/win, really. 😉 ) So I guess my answer (after kids) is that I always need a warm drink in hand while writing.

*Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?

I’m planning on writing a three-book series with Black Tiger. I have a novella for one of a secondary characters brewing, but we’ll see if it ever takes off. Book Two in the series, Ashen City, will deal with Ember’s struggle with the decision to redeem her country, or leave and never look back. It’ll deal with her questioning, no only her purpose, but also what it means to have a self-sacrificing type of love for those she doesn’t even know.

This was fun! Thanks so much for having me! 😀

Thanks for hanging out with us! 🙂 Here’s more about Black Tiger:

When the fire goes out, supposedly dead, the embers still remain, tiny specks of deadwood and front-cover-final-copyash that have the capacity to start a fire large enough to burn down an entire city.

Ember Carter is a sixteen-year- old farmer’s daughter who wants nothing more than to stay close to her family in the Community Garden when Career Day approaches. Unfortunately, all farming careers are given to boys, and besides, as of the past two years, all students have been drafted to the Line of Defenders to fight in a war no one seems to know about. When Ember meets Forest, the mysterious stranger who seems to know a bit too much about city life and the way the government is run, she’s even less eager to leave the safe haven of the Garden.
On Career Day, the future couldn’t look brighter when Ember is the only student assigned the career of a Farmer. But all hopes come to end when she attacks a Defender to save her best friend. Suspected a rebel and sentenced to death, she’s transferred to Frankfort Prison where she will carry out her sentence.
But Frankfort is full of surprises and snotty Patricians. While in prison, Ember learns a dark secret about Forest that makes her question what little she knew about him. And then there’s Rain,the carelessly handsome boy who enjoys instigating her just a bit too much. If THAT’S not enough, the world learns something about Ember even she doesn’t know. A secret that brings her character into question, enlightens her on her mother’s true identity, and ultimately, gives her the power to affect the rise or fall of Ky.
With the handsome Forest tugging at her heart, and the rogue Rain whispering treasons into her ear, can Ember make the right decision that will redeem the corrupt government of Ky?

Check it out on Amazon!

Sara’s online hangouts: Website| Twitter| Facebook| Instagram

September check-in

UpdateAnother month just went flying by, and I’m still not entirely sure where it went or what happened. Story of my life nowadays, it seems.

September saw the last of the jet-skiing and swimming, and while we’re still on our bikes14520604_1260856453935893_1664918853133711673_n occasionally, today saw the first of our fall hikes. Justin winterized the dirtbike, jetski, and camper yesterday, and I’m sure he’ll start tinkering with the snowmobile soon. I’ve begun preschool with Toby, and between that, housework, projects, writing, and fiberwork, I’ve found I have a lot less time for reading–something that I never, ever though would ever happen.

Speaking of fiberwork, I’ve been working on a commission for a friend–some stuffies of Willoughby, the dragon in her children’s book. They’re so adorable, and I can’t want to share pictures!

Writing-wise:

  1. Misfits (previously known as The Secret Project) is currently on hold, but hopefully not for long
  2. I’m almost done with rewriting Slag and hope to get it out to critique partners within a week. My goal is still to release this novella this year, so here’s hoping that happens!

That’s about it! I’m still trying to figure out if I have time for NaNoWriMo this year…I’m guessing probably not, but I’d still like to try. What is this madness?!?

How was your September?