June Trop’s New Release: The Deadliest Sport

I’m happy to have June Trop over to visit my blog and share her newest release, The Deadliest Sport.

BEST cover THE DEADLIEST SPORT June Trop Cover

Help Miriam solve the locked-room murder of a spindling, jackal-faced slave…

The Deadliest Sport is a locked-room murder mystery; the victim, a guest at The Pegasus, a sleazy waterfront inn where Miriam goes to investigate the disappearance of an elderly friend’s will.

Could the bashing of a jackal-faced slave’s skull have anything to do with that will? And who killed him anyway? Miriam’s brother’s buddy, the soon-to-be ex-gladiator who was sentenced to the arena for murder? An itinerant dwarf whose walking stick was the murder weapon? Or the inn’s husky hostess, a tart with both an appetite for sea captains and lofty connections to Nero’s magistrates? Why else would she be so eager to get Miriam off the premises?

Only Miriam is shrewd enough to penetrate a monstrous, multi-layered scheme and bold enough to risk her life to expose the mastermind behind it.

 

Earliest reviews for THE DEADLIEST SPORT

 “The story has a ring of truth that is rare in historical fiction, and it is clear that the author knows her history. A really good read.”  Taylor Jones, Reviewer

 The Deadliest Sport is filled with well-developed and realistic characters, plenty of tension, and an intriguing mystery, as well as a strong authenticity that was a real treat. This is one you won’t want to put down.” Regan Murphy, Reviewer

 

You can pick up a copy HERE at Amazon or HERE from Black Opal Books.  You can also find June Trop on her blog HERE.

Strong Secondary Characters & A Free Short Story

I was recently asked in an interview about which characters I love. My mind immediately went to some of my secondary characters. While I love my main characters, I enjoy my minor characters because they have so much story left that the readers never see. When I start a novel, I begin with the characters. I write short stories, journal entries, and whatever I need to get inside the characters mind. Then when I began writing, the characters take off. Sometimes they do as expected, but every now and then they take a twist I didn’t see coming and controlled chaos ensues. It’s part of what makes writing fun.

One of my favorite secondary characters is Grace. We meet her halfway through the story, as a product of the magicians’ slave trade. She’s compliant and defeated at first, but she never loses her brazen personality. When she is given a second chance, she fights with everything she has.EvilEtched in Gold (1)

Another character that makes a brief appearance and strong impression is Nevada. He struck me so much that I wrote a short story about him, Evil Etched in Gold. I’m offering this story for a limited time on my website when you sign up for my newsletter (click HERE). Nevada is an illusionist with the power to look like anyone. He is on the run from the local coven and with Nevada, nothing is ever as it seems. We’ll be seeing more of Nevada in book two, Unholy Sundering out with Black Opal Book 2018.

Hope you enjoy!

DeAnna

CANDY HEARTS VERSUS BOW-CHICK-A-WOW-WOW guest post by Jami Gray

I’m excited to welcome Jami Gray to my humble abode. Congratulations are in order for her recently released tenth novel, MARKED BY OBSESSION (I’m in thrall with it right now). Today she’s come to talk about the heat level in romance, which is perfect for the month of February and because she’s got it down.

CANDY HEARTS VERSUS BOW-CHICK-A-WOW-WOW

In the romance genre stories run the gamut from sweet-handholding-blushes-demure-glances to wild-raunchy-OMG-can-a-body-really-do-that and everything in between. There is a huge variety in romance because our reading audience is composed of, well, a huge variety of humans.

When I first started my writing journey, I approached the daunting world of publishing with an Urban Fantasy series where romance played a secondary role. Of course, the majority of publishers wanted ROMANCE (yes, in all caps). So no surprise I received a plethora of rejection letters that shared a common theme: There’s not enough romance.

Some even went so far as to suggest I add a few heavy breathing scenes to up that elusive romance quotient. When you’re trying to get published, it’s very difficult not to buckle under the pressure, but I gritted my teeth, declaring my characters weren’t at that particular stage in their relationship, and kept going.  As a writer of UF and Paranormal Romantic Suspense, romance plays a crucial part in all my stories, but that romantic connection needs to come about naturally, not be forced through the bedroom door.

Long story short, I did get my UF series picked up, and yes, in the second book there is required ROMANCE. Not because that’s what my publisher wanted (they loved my story just the way it was), but because that is where my couple naturally ended up.

So why am I sharing this? Well, writers are victim to the “sex sells” mentality as much as any other artist. In fact, if you read a ton of romance you’ve witnessed it firsthand. There are those titles that are all about the sex with thin plots and even thinner character development. Then there are those stories where sex plays understudy to the relationship.

And then there are those that nail it. It’s like they find the perfect recipe of intriguing-heart-attack-inducing-story, suck-you-in-until-you’re-drowning depth of characters, and the breath-stealing-fantasy-inducing sex. These books aren’t always labeled erotica (though there are some really great series out there), but they are labeled romance. This is because the emotion behind why the characters we love fall into each other’s arms is something we can connect to and the evolution of their relationship feels real.

Romance readers read their genre because we are fascinated by the emotional aspect of human connections—how does the cynical heroine overcome past betrayals to take a chance on happiness with the hero she feels is out of reach, or how does the weary hero find peace in the arms of a strong woman. We want to see our flawed characters get their happy ever after. There is something so beautiful about two people finding each other despite what life’s thrown at them, that gives us, the readers, hope for the same out here in our crazy, everyday world.  And there’s not a darn thing wrong with that.

So the next time you encounter that person who rolls their eyes because you read romance, remember there is a depth to romance that goes beyond the bow-chick-a-wow-wow, and dives into the heart of what love really means.

MARKED BY OBSESSION

markedbyobsession_m

 

Some betrayals hide behind love, others obsession…

The loss of her beloved brother and a series of unexplained events plunges Meli Dwyer into a dangerously unfamiliar reality. Alone and floundering, she turns to the sexy and unsettling Wolf Kincaid, PSY-IV Team’s skilled telepath, for help even as her battered heart whispers to steer clear of a man more dangerous than what hunts her.

Will Meli find the answers to her personal nightmare before one man’s obsession costs her the heart of another?

Pick up your copy here:

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/print-books/romance-print-books/romantic-suspense/marked-by-obsession-detail

Amazon: http://a.co/9WVE4Yw

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/marked-by-obsession-jami-gray/1125298655?ean=2940153541624

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/marked-by-obsession/id1184185022?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/marked-by-obsession

 

Want a sneak peak?

“That’s it angel. Keep going.” He watched, offering quiet encouragement until I was breathing normally. His hand stopped its gentle movements, but didn’t move away.

“Better?”

I nodded. “I’m sor—”

“Stop,” he growled, literally growled, as a fierce light made his eyes bright. “There is nothing to apologize for.”

Logically I knew that, but logic didn’t stand a chance against old habits.

He released my wrists and turned his hand to tangle his fingers with mine, giving me an anchor. “You up for continuing?”

He asked the question like I had a choice. Despite the evidence to the contrary, I wasn’t blind to the fact that I needed to share what had happened. If I could do that with Wolf, maybe it would dull the jagged edges of the memories. What worried me was sharing and then watching Wolf realize I wasn’t the type of woman he needed or wanted. Broken and barely mended didn’t hold a candle to strong and sure. Unable to look away, I slowly nodded.

“Okay.” The hand under my breasts disappeared and he rose to his feet, still holding my other hand. “You’re going to come sit with me on the couch. That way, we’ll both be more comfortable.”

Meli the Milquetoast I may be, but there was no way I was turning down a chance to be close to him while I could. Part of me warned to hoard the experience while I could because he wouldn’t be staying. Too battered emotionally, I chose to ignore the pessimistic voice. For now. He tugged on my hand, and I uncurled my legs and stood shakily, waiting for the pins and needles to fade. Wolf stood patient and quiet, waiting for me.

We moved to the couch. He sat down, reached up, and pulled me into his lap. His warmth was better than any blanket and being held in his arms against his solid chest gave me the illusion of protection. Nothing could touch me, so long as he held me. I tucked my head in the hollow of his shoulder. When his chin brushed my temple, I closed my eyes, gripped his wrist at my waist, and sank into him.

 

jami-gray

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

 

Hunt her down at:

Website: www.JamiGray.com

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JamiGray

Facebook Author Page:  https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter

Twitter:   https://twitter.com/JamiGrayAuthor

Google+:  https://google.com/+JamiGray

 

Thankful for Authors

‘Tis the season of thanks, and I thought I’d expound my list of gratitude by adding some of my favorite authors to it. Some of these books have gotten me through hard times, comforting me like an old friend. Many have inspired me with their well-crafted words. Whatever the case, I am grateful to these wonderful authors for their gifts.

patricia-briggs

 

Patricia Briggs – Her urban-fantasy Mercy Thompson Series and Alpha & Omega Series will keep you flipping the pages. I love her main characters. This is a world, I never want to leave. Moon Called is the first book. Thank you Patricia!

these-is-my-words

 

Nancy E. Turner – One of my favorite love stories is These is my Words: A Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine. It’s a sweet story based of the author’s grandmother as she settled with some of the earlier pioneers in Southern Arizona. It’s one that I’ll always remember.

John Steinbeck – While Steinbeck isn’t on my binge list, I find a comfort in his beautifully crafted words. They inspire me to be a better author and have changed me for the better. Grab any one of his books and savor his prose.

I hope peace and gratitude find you this Thanksgiving Holiday, and of course, a good book too.

~DeAnna

be-thankful

Brainstorming: Finding Ideas That Work

At a recent write-in, a couple of us needed to work on world building. In my case, I was working on names for magic ceremonies, events in the past, that sort of thing. One technique that worked well for us was what I call idea dumping (aka brainstorming).

I’m not talking about the old style of brainstorming: grabbing a pen and staring at a blank page for an hour until the perfect idea comes. I’m talking about dumping all the ideas out of your mind−good, bad and ugly—until you find what fits. We pulled up a thesaurus, and I wrote down everything that was said. My paper was a mess, cramped and full of notes.

I can’t lie and say magic poured out of our mouths, but as we batted around ideas they morphed into something great. So when you’re searching for that perfect name for your next goblin or handsome hunk remember a couple of things:

*Write every idea that comes to mind, even the crappy ones.

*Write at least ten if not twenty. I find my first three ideas are generic, and middle five to ten suck. The other day, it was not until at least twenty or more names had floated around until I found one I loved.

*Keep the list for a little bit, percolation helps sometimes. One writer thought she had a name, but it wasn’t until we moved on and were talking about something else did she realize the perfect one hit.

Idea Dumping can be used for book names, magic systems, upcoming plot twists, and more. Sometimes our creativity is laying on the service and other times we have to dig a little for that golden nugget.

Video

Digging for Characters

I recently read Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I’m a fan of Steinbeck, but have to admit I struggled with the beginning of this book. It was full of description: describing places, houses, people and even a couple pages on the Model T truck. By page 34, I wasn’t sure what the plot was. Halfway through the novel, I realized how this Nobel Peace Prize Winning Author continues to draw me in—characters.

There are over two handfuls of unique, interesting characters in this book. While writing, I often want to reach for clique or average, especially in secondary characters. I want to challenge myself to dig deeper for those unique personalities that we love to read about.

Here’s an example of a secondary character, Gay, in Cannery Row that only participates for thirty five pages. While I don’t remember the color of his hair or body type, I won’t forget this story anytime soon.

 

Doc asked, “How are things going up at the Palace?”

Hazel ran his fingers through his dark hair and he peered into the clutter of his mind.          “Pretty good,” he said. “That fellow Gay is moving in with us I guess. His wife hits him        pretty bad. He don’t mind that when he’s awake but she waits ‘til he gets to sleep and          then hits him. He hates that. He has to wake up and beat her up and then when he goes      back to sleep she hits him again. He don’t get any rest so he’s moving in with us.”

“That’s a new one,” said Doc. “She used to swear out a warrant and put him in jail.”

“Yeah!” said Hazel. “But that was before they built the new jail in Salinas. Used to be           thirty days and Gay was pretty hot to get out, but this new jail—radio in the tank and             good bunks and the sheriff’s a nice fellow. Gay gets in there and he don’t want to come         out. He likes it so much his wife won’t get him arrested any more. So she figured out this     hitting him while he’s asleep.  It’s nerve racking, he says. And you know as good as me         —Gay never did take any pleasure beating her up. He only done it to keep his self-                respect. But he gets tired of it. I guess he’ll be with us now.”

 

Steinbeck paints gritty characters that stick with us. Two dimensional characters are easy, like neighbors that we wave to while our garage shuts. There is more out there, let’s tip over their trash and see who they really are. Let’s keep digging.

The Brothers Grimm

 

Every now and again, I like to dip into history and non-fiction. I find the change of pace welcoming and what I learn always intriguing. My most recent read was The Brothers Grimm: Two Lives, One Legacy by Donald R. Hettinga.

Jacob and Wilhem Grimm are most popular for combing the German countryside for fables and legends and publishing them. Disney has made a mint on several of their stories such as Snow White or Sleeping Beauty. But the story behind their lives was a true and interesting tale woven with kings, queens, and even revolution. The brothers Grimm preserved these ancient tales and also the German language with their books on linguistics.

My favorite part was when a critic of their first published book of stories complained that they were too graphic and disturbing for children. Jacob (the elder brother) responded that grew him up with his mother telling him the tale of How Some Children Played at Slaughtering, to show him the dangers of playing, and it worked for him. The story is about children who pretended to play slaughtering pigs and ended up killing their playmates. Fantastically morbid, I know, but part of me is still intrigued enough to read it. Wilhem Grimm’s take in response to the critics was also noteworthy: “You can fool yourself into thinking that what can be removed from a book can also be removed from real life.”

The Grimm brothers survived many political regimes and Napoleon’s conquests that sent soldiers into the streets outside their house. They dealt with poverty and death. By the end of their lives, their work and contributions were celebrated and revered. They spent their last days together, as a family.

I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes from the book: “In a grain of sand we may see the sense and significance of large globes of which our world is one of the smallest.” Jacob Grimm

Ten Commandments of Reading

The other day while my son was reading book four of the Michael Vay series, skipping book two and three since we’re waiting for them from our library, I decided he needed to learn some very basic rules of reading. So in my horrific English accent, I proceeded to the commandments of reading.

  The Ten Commandments of Reading

  1. Never tell the end of a good book to a friend.
  2. Read the book before the movie, except if the movie is Princess Bride.
  3. If you’re in a used bookstore, you must buy a book. Unless you’re dead broke, then go to the library.
  4. You should always have a library card.
  5. Always read a series in order, unless there are too many to keep count. Then go crazy.
  6. If a friend lends you a book and you accidentally damage it, replace it.
  7. Don’t break the binding of a book or damage a book, no matter how you detest it. Get a bookmark people, even a sock will do.
  8. If you interrupt someone during a good part of a book you must recite the alphabet backwards, while standing on your head. (Parents are the only exception for underage children, and a fire because the safety of a book comes first.)
  9. No skipping to the end of a book. Yes, you know who you are.
  10. When reciting the commandments, please use your best snooty English accent.

library card

When my daughter broke rule one as my son was reading Harry Potter, I thought she’d catch on fire with that blasphemy. And I recommend two library cards, in case of emergencies.

What is your pet peeve when reading?  Let me know. While these may be etched in stone, like every writer knows, the edits never stop.

Undiscovered Gems

A while back, I discovered a book at the library. Published twenty years ago, this novel had a title that caught my attention: The Parable of the Sower.  I started it on a sunny afternoon, but Octavia E. Butler soon had a tight grip on me, and I kept reading late into the night.parable of the sower

This post apocalyptic novel follows a sixteen year old girl through California in 2025, amid rampant war, drugs, gangs, unemployment, and an unlawfulness that staggers the mind. The realism was nothing I’d experienced in today’s young adult commercial fiction.

This older, under appreciated book struck true and left me thinking about it for days, months, and even years later. There is joy in finding a new book or new author that speaks to you in a language that can’t be contained on paper.

I can’t wait to find my next undiscovered gem. Do you have an undiscovered or under appreciated novel hidden away in your book shelf?

 

2016 Writing Conferences

Spring is upon us with new anticipated books hitting the shelves (cough, cough Anne Bishop). Also, it means writing conferences starting. From April to September writers congregate to hone their craft and pitch their stories. I’ve shifted through the various conferences, and thought I’d share some reputable conferences to attend. I’d love to hear from you, if you have a favorite, and I can add it to the list.

 

Desert Dreams, April 7-10, 2016, Scottsdale, AZ  http://desertroserwa.org/desertdreams

The Scottsdale Romance Writers’ organization puts on a fabulous four day conference full of workshops, and pitches to agents. I know several who have attended and it comes highly recommended, especially for the price.

 

Las Vegas Writers’ Conference, April 28-30, 2016 http://lasvegaswritersconference.com/

I would love to hear the keynote speaker, Larry Brooks.

 

National Romance Writers Association Conference, July 13-16 2016, San Diego, CA

https://www.rwa.org/conference

Great conference and great location. Who doesn’t love San Diego in July?

 

Pikes Peak Writers’ Conference, April 15-17, 2016, Colorado Springs, CO

http://www.pikespeakwriters.com/ppwc/

 

And if you really feel like going all out, you can even go on a writing cruise

Out of Excuses Writing Conference, September 14-17, 2016, Caribbean

http://www.writingexcuses.com/out-of-excuses-2016/

Cruising around the Caribbean with Brandon Sanderson and a host of very accomplished writers sounds epic.