Cold Reign is Supreme

Everyone who reads my posts regularly knows I’m a massive fan of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series.

For longtime readers, Cold Reign is a big payoff. I agree with other bloggers who have said that if you haven’t read the preceding books, don’t start with this one. This is a reward for those who have followed Jane over time. We get European vampires, Bruiser and Ricky Bo, a bit of Angie-baby (one of my favorite characters), the whole Clan Yellowrock family, and more. I forced myself to slow down and read it over three days because I need sleep.

This is a HIGHLY RECOMMEND for her fans. If you haven’t read these books, stop, go back to number 1 and read from the beginning. The rest of us will be waiting here for you.

Excerpt:
Was heaving breaths, cat-gagging. Alex strapped Jane’s waterproof gobag around my neck. Held plastic cup of vampire blood to nose.
 
Smell good. Smell strong. I/we lapped blood. Licked small cup clean. Was still hungry in belly but strongness raced through body.
 
Alex slapped Beast on butt.
 
Snarled at littermate Alex. Pulled paws under belly and stood. Needed food. Needed cow or deer. Needed to hunt and pounce and kill and eat. Growled. Shook pelt like dog. Was wet.
 
“I can’t leave,” Alex said. “Not with vamps in the house. Be careful.”
 
Hacked at Alex. Padded to porch, to door where Edmund had come in to den. Blood was everywhere. Edmund blood, rich and strong. Licked at blood. Some was good. Some was also silver. Looked up at Alex. Was man now. Held white-man gun in one hand, pointed at floor. Fingers on safe place called slide.
 
“I’ll clean up the mess,” Alex said.
 
Sniffed with scree of sound, lips back, sucking air over tongue and scent sacs at top of mouth. Smelled strange vampires, their blood mixed with blood of Edmund. Blood. Silver. Death.
***
About COLD REIGN:

Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker…and the woman rogue vampires fear most.

Jane walks softly and carries a big stake to keep the peace in New Orleans, all part of her job as official Enforcer to Leo Pellissier, Master of the City. But Leo’s reign is being threatened by a visit from a delegation of ancient European vampires seeking to expand their dominions.

And there’s another danger to the city. When she hears reports of revenant vampires, loose in NOLA and out for blood, Jane goes to put them down—and discovers there’s something unusual about these revenants. They never should have risen.

Jane must test her strength against a deadly, unnatural magic beyond human understanding, and a ruthless cadre of near-immortals whose thirst for power knows no bounds…

Publisher: Roc
New York Times Bestselling author Faith Hunter writes three series: the Jane Yellowrock series, dark urban fantasy novels featuring Jane, a Cherokee Skinwalker; the Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy / post apocalyptic series and role playing game featuring Thorn St. Croix; and the Soulwood Series featuring Nell Nicholson Ingram.
Visit Faith online at www.faithhunter.net, or follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Goodreads.
Giveaway!
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for copies of COLD REIGN and totes featuring Beast! Open to US residents only.

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The Soul Wars arrives in June with first novella!!!

Announcement: My first book, The Soul Wars, will be published in a four novella series starting June 1, through Falstaff Books! The first novella is titled Souls Collide and for my subscribers and followers, I’m revealing the first cover.  (Squeee…..Her name is Kara and she’s a  Valkyrie! Isn’t she badass?)

I need volunteers to read a manuscript of the book, not in book format yet, in exchange for writing real reviews, tell the truth, on Amazon and BN, Goodreads, etc, when the novella is up for pre-order. Anyone game? 

The whole book is four novellas and a total of 120K words. The titles are: Souls Collide, Souls Fall, Souls Rise and Souls Unite.

The Soul Wars
Kara, a Norse Valkyrie warrior, and Gaspard, a century’s old vampire, find themselves in an improbable alliance to prevent the Soul Wars, an epic battle between vampires with souls and those without, which a god swears could shake the very foundations of the Earth.

Kara and Gaspard’s relationship is rocky at the start but proceeds to something more. Can they nurture their unexpected feelings for one another while fighting for their lives?

In Souls Collide, novella 1:
Things thought long dead reappear, forcing Kara, Gaspard and their paranormally sensitive neighbor Adelaide, to work together to put them to rest forever, or at least, for now. Kara and Gaspard’s growing attraction forces Kara to reconsider her feelings about vampires and her belief that they are soulless monsters.

 

Jennifer Estep’s Snared

I enjoyed Jennifer Estep’s Snared very much. Gin is drawn into a murder investigation when a friend’s sister disappears, only to find that a serial killer is on the loose and somehow related to the Circle, her mortal enemy.
I’m enjoying these later books with the focus on the Circle because it brings back the larger story of good and evil that we saw in the originals when Gin was trying to determine who’d kill her mother and sister.
Sister relationship run supreme in this series, and they ride equally if not larger than the romance, which is still there. I like this a lot because it isn’t common in Urban Fantasy.  If you’ve enjoyed this series, it does not disappoint. If you haven’t, I wouldn’t recommend jumping in with this one. It requires too much knowledge of the world.  Start at the beginning or maybe with #8, which starts up after the Mab Monroe story line.
Excerpt:
Being an assassin meant knowing when to kill—and when not to kill.
 
Unfortunately.
 
I stood in a pool of midnight shadows, my boots, jeans, turtleneck, and fleece jacket as black as the night around me. My dark brown hair was stuffed up underneath a black toboggan that matched the rest of my clothes, and I’d swiped a bit of black greasepaint under my eyes to break up the paleness of my face. The only bit of color on my body was the silverstone knife that glinted in my right hand. I even inhaled and exhaled through my nose, so that my breath wouldn’t frost in the chilly January air and give away my position.
 
Not that anyone was actually looking for me.
 
Oh, a dwarf on guard duty was patrolling the estate. Supposedly, he was here to keep an eye out and make sure that no one snuck out of the woods, sprinted across the lawn, and broke into the mansion in the distance. But he was doing a piss-poor job of it, since I’d been watching him amble around for more than three minutes now, making an exceptionally slow circuit of this part of the landscaped grounds.
 
Every once in a while, the guard would raise his head and look around, scanning the twisted shadows cast out by the trees and ornamental bushes that dotted the rolling lawn. But most of the time, he was far more interested in playing a game on his phone, judging from the beeps and chimes that continually rang out from it. He didn’t even have the sound muted—or his gun drawn. I shook my head. It was so hard to find good help these days.
About SNARED:
If you don’t know Gin “the Spider” Blanco, you don’t know dangerous female heroines.
 
Irony 101—The Spider herself snared in someone else’s web…
 
Another week, another few clues trickling in about the Circle, the mysterious group that supposedly runs the city’s underworld. Gathering intel on my hidden enemies is a painstaking process, but a more immediate mystery has popped up on my radar: a missing girl.
 
My search for the girl begins on the mean streets of Ashland, but with all the killers and crooks in this city, I’m not holding out much hope that she’s still alive.
 
A series of clues leads me down an increasingly dark, dangerous path, and I realize that the missing girl is really just the first thread in this web of evil. As an assassin, I’m used to facing down the worst of the worst, but nothing prepares me for this new, terrifying enemy—one who strikes from the shadows and is determined to make me the next victim.
Jennifer Estep is a New York TimesUSA Today, and international bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

 

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. Snared, book #16, will be released on April 25.

 

Jennifer also writes the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

 

For more information on Jennifer and her books, visit www.jenniferestep.com or follow Jennifer on FacebookGoodreads, and Twitter.
Giveaway!
There’s a tour-wide giveaway for copies of SNARED and a $20 Amazon gift card! Open to US residents only.

Upcoming Publications and Events

Some cool stuff to announce.

1. A piece I wrote is going to be read as a dramatized reading March 18 at a program on Immigration in NE Ohio. It is called Generation to Generation. (I think this is super awesome. I can’t wait to see what the actors and director do with it.)

2. I’ll be at ConConction March 11-12 speaking and moderating some panels. Come watch me make a fool of myself creating characters on the spot at my 1pm Saturday slot.
3. I’ll be a guest at ConCarolinas in June as well.
4. My story, Family Trees: A Lovely Little Bookshop story, will be in New Realm magazine soon. This is the second one in a series.
The first one is here. Just buy the one issue for $3.99.
5. My story, Don’t Fool with an Earth Witch will be Mother’s Revenge, an anthology, releasing Earth Day! (cover above)

Silence Fallen by Patricia Briggs

Silence Fallen (A Mercy Thompson Novel) by [Briggs, Patricia]Before we get started talking about Silence Fallen, let’s take a moment to wish Patty a Happy Birthday! Yes, February 28th is her birthday. A Pisces. Naturally creative, kind and understanding. But get this description from one astrology site.

“Your ruling planet is Neptune that stands for spiritual enlightenment, fantasies, mercy and guilt.”

Creepy, huh? The mention of fantasies and mercy? A chill just ran down my spine.

I’m going out on a limb here, people. This is my favorite Mercy book in a while, and I love all of them. I fell in love with Mercy all over again as I marveled at how smart and resourceful she has become.

This book could have been titled “Mercy Goes to Europe,” or “Mercy is Kidnapped to Europe and Adam, Mostly In-Control, Goes After the Ones that Did it. (I am sure the only reason Patty didn’t call it that is because it is so long.) Oh, and there is one massive surprise.

If you like your alpha hot and on the edge and your heroine to take care of herself, this is the book for you. You also get to visit Eastern Europe and the Jewish mythology of Prague, and get a taste of European werewolves’ politics, which are brutal.

I asked Patty two questions. Bonarata is a serious bad vampire from Italy. This is not a spoiler; you meet him early. There is a quick line where Bonarata is speaking to an architect in Seattle. So, I asked the obvious question.

  • Is Bonarata moving to Seattle? Can we assume he’s going to be in the next book?
    All that wily minx would say is “All characters not dead–er, dead and gone–are subject to reuse.”
  • Not very helpful.

I’m not going to include the second question because I think it is too spoiler-y. We can talk about at the end of March.

Book release is March 7.  Go here to read a snippet. Go here on Amazon to buy.

Note: The astrology site is is here. I don’t believe in astrology but the wording was too perfect not to include.

Stephen Blackmoore’s Hungry Ghosts

Stephen Blackmoore’s third book (Hungry Ghosts) in his Eric Carter series will, finally, be available February 7th. For those who read the first two books, the third will not disappoint.

Following our anti-hero through his story we witness Eric continue his rampage through whomever and whatever gets in his way, human or supernatural, to reach his goal of destroying his metaphysical wife, Santa Murete, and her jade imprisoned husband, Mictlantecuhtli. He makes promises he can’t keep, destroys property, drinks too much and acts and feels like a man at the end of his rope. Every once in a while we realize Eric does have some concern for innocents left in his soul, but we are witnessing a man on a dangerous slide downward.

In one of the most stark and riveting parts of the book, Eric reaches Mictlan, the Aztec world of the dead. This is where Blackmoore shines. He creates a vision of a hell scape that pulls you in. I could see it vividly in my mind. Part Mad Max and part Jurassic Park, it isn’t a place you’d like to be, but you don’t mind visiting for a while.

I asked Stephen about this.

1. How did you get the image of the afterlife in Mictlan? You did an amazing job creating a sense of place. 

I’m really not sure. I know it started with an image of a landscape made of bones and then I grew it out of that. It first shows up in DEAD THINGS, and I liked it so much that I wanted to have it in HUNGRY GHOSTS, but I also wanted to explain it better. Mictlan isn’t Hell, and I wanted to get across the idea that on some fundamental level the place is broken.

2. Our hero is an anti-hero. He’s done some pretty messed up stuff. Is he expecting to pay for that when he dies? 

Not really. His moral compass doesn’t really swing that direction. Yeah, he gets guilt and regret, but they’re not keyed into some grand cosmological debate of right and wrong. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen to him, but he’s also not much of a forward thinker. He has enough problems without worrying about that.

There’s a line in the book that I think sums it up for him.

“Mages are surprisingly agnostic. Yes, we know there are gods, we deal with them all the time. We just think they’re largely irrelevant and mostly assholes.”

3. Is Santa Muerte pissed or what? So are the other gods I would imagine. This isn’t going to go well for Eric, is it? 

That’s… complicated.

In real life Santa Muerte is seen as not so much as a representation of death as death itself. It’s a weird distinction, I know, but it plays differently from a lot of other death gods and goddesses. They’re mostly considered as representatives of the concept, stewards to the dead, that sort of thing. But Santa Muerte is seen as the thing itself.

Where it gets even more interesting, is that at the same time she’s also seen as a love sorceress. So there’s this part of Santa Muerte that is an amorphous, hard to nail down concept of entropy, and at the same time there’s an actual individual who you can pray to for help in matters of the heart.

They sound like they contradict each other, but I don’t know that they necessarily do. Love and death have a lot of visceral connections that we don’t always like to think about. Death is easier to see as an undefinable and indefatigable force. But we don’t really perceive love that way. We’re all guaranteed a death, we’re not all guaranteed that something’s going to love us.

In my books she’s not just Santa Muerte, who actually has more connections to the Spanish than she does to the Aztecs, but she’s also Mictecihuatl, the Aztec goddess of the dead. The evidence for them being connected in real life isn’t really strong, but it’s easy to tie them together at least in fiction.

I wanted to keep that idea that emotionally she’s very alien. She sees the things that she does as right and good. Hurt isn’t something she’s got a lot of experience with, and death isn’t something that she’s going to see as a bad thing.

Killing the things you love to show your love for them isn’t a concept that makes sense to us (hopefully), but to her it’s like saying water’s wet.

There’s a bit where Carter is talking about this weird pseudo-relationship he has with her.

“It’s fucked up, like Sid and Nancy fucked up. She’s not human. She’s not going to feel the way we do. The fuck does love even mean with her? Love the way a dog loves a bone? Love me enough to murder my sister to get my attention? That’s insane to me. But it isn’t to her. I think she loves me for what she can use me for. She’s got a plan. And I’m a big chunk of it.”

I did ask Stephen about one important character, Tabitha, whose fate is unrevealed. She’s as much a victim as Eric is, perhaps more so, and we are left hanging. So…I asked:

4. Can you give us any hint about Tabitha’s fate? 

I could.

But I won’t.

Arrrrrggggghhhhh. Guess we’ll have to wait for book 4.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Showing, not Telling

When I first started writing, I had a terrible time figuring out how to write “to show” instead of “to tell.” I’ve learned a few things on the way and also see this error in my slush reading.

First of all, watch for filter words like “felt” and “started to.” If you tell us a character started to do something or felt something, you’re telling. Google filter words. There are great lists out there.

The key is ACTION with BEHAVIOR, which means strong verbs that have the character doing something that implies why the character is doing it.

The best way to learn how to show is through an example. Let’s take an actual example from my own writing. This was actually published but it is a mess. Truly awful.

Noelle walked into Witch Blossom from the bakery next door where she worked. The bakery, called DoNut Pass, was filled with yummy, sugary treats as well as breads, muffins and scones. 

So much telling! Yuck.

Let’s analyze it. The first sentence is not great but it isn’t horrible. The second is crap. Let’s re-write it.

The bell rang as Noelle entered the flower shop, and as usual, she was dusting flour and sugar off her pants from Do Nut pass, the bakery next door. Lovey sniffed, enjoying the aroma of fresh bread and muffins that she would always associate with her friend.

What changed? Action. Instead of telling that Noelle entered the door and that the bakery next door sold yummy things, I included those details with action. I had her actually walk through (you know if the bell rang that she walked in) and I used strong verbs: rang, dusting, and sniffed. The last part lets you know, without saying it, that the two have been friends a long time.

Let’s try a simpler one.

Tracey felt the need to sneeze so she walked outside to keep from disturbing everyone.

“Felt” is a warning word. Find a better verb. Let’s find one…

Tracey’s nose tickled with an oncoming sneeze.

Let’s do the second half.

She slipped out the front door as silently as possible so as not to disturb everyone.

Okay, that is better, but we now have an adverb, silently, that needs to be turned into action. Let’s try again and move the reason for her action to the front of the sentence.

Not wanting to disturb the others, she pinched her nose, took off her heels, and slipped out the door. 

What happened? We added strong verbs with accompanying behaviors. “Took off her shoes and slipped out the door,” is an action, a behavior, something that the character did that let you know she left quietly. I didn’t tell you she left quietly. I had her do things that you understand means quietly.

So now our sentence went from telling to showing.

Tracey felt the need to sneeze so she walked outside to keep from disturbing everyone.

became:

Tracey’s nose tickled with an oncoming sneeze. Not wanting to disturb the others, she pinched her nose, took off her heels, and slipped out the door. 

To repeat the beginning: The key is ACTION with BEHAVIOR, which means strong verbs that have the character doing something.

Post your telling sentences with the rewrite to showing below! I would love to see them.

Things I’ve learned as a slush reader

Hey everyone. I thought I would write a blog on some of the key pitfalls I see as a slush reader.  If you can avoid these things, it will make your submission stand out.

  1. Follow the guidelines. I know everyone says this but you would be shocked at how many people submit not double-spaced, not in the right word count, and some with editing marks still in the manuscript. These lead to an automatic rejection.
  2. Show, not tell. This is another common one but deserves saying again. Look for the filter words that tell you that you need to revisit that sentence or paragraph. Key among those are “felt” and “tried.” If you say the character felt something then you are telling us, not showing us.
  3. Make sure your story has a beginning, middle and an end. Even flash fiction. Many stories submitted to Fictionmagazines.com fizzle out at the end. It is as if the writers can’t figure out how to finish. The ending needs to be strong.
  4. Typos in the synopsis. Sometimes writers are rushing to submit and they don’t proofread their synopsis. It is off-putting to a slush reader to see a typo at the outset.
  5. Make sure your piece has a driving beat. What I mean by that is make sure it moves along. Some stories move slower than others but the story should make you want to keep reading, to turn the page. My main complaint with many of the stories is that they are boring. They drag on and on. I’ll be on page 6 and still have no idea what the story is about. Those get a no from me.
  6. If you get a rewrite and resubmit, be happy. That’s a win. But, if you get feedback, make sure to take it into consideration before re-submitting.  Don’t send us the same stuff without addressing the problems.

Nice Guys Bite: A new novella from Jennifer Estep

jennife-estep_novella

Jennifer Estep has a new novella out today. I haven’t read it, but I love that it is from Silvio’s perspective. Enjoy!

NICE GUYS BITE takes place after the events of UNRAVELED (#15). It is told from the point of view of Silvio Sanchez, Gin’s personal assistant.

Working for Gin Blanco (aka the Spider, the assassin who runs the Ashland underworld) doesn’t leave much time for romance, especially with Gin’s holiday party planning in full swing. But when he catches the eye of a charming gentleman, Silvio finds himself going out for coffee.

All’s fair in love and war, though. Just as Silvio is starting to enjoy himself, he realizes he’s being watched. His nice-guy date doesn’t sense the danger, and Silvio wants to keep it that way (and, well, keep the guy alive) so Silvio ends the date early—only to be abducted by some villainous giants.

Will Silvio survive the night and make it back to the Pork Pit in time for Gin’s holiday party? Only if he decks the hall with bodies …

Giveaway!
Jennifer has a $20 Amazon gift card giveaway for this book blast! Giveaway runs Dec. 12 – 19.

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Book info:

Title: NICE GUYS BITE (Elemental Assassin #15.5)
Format: e-novella
Author: Jennifer Estep
Purchase links:

 

Because words are slippery little suckers