Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book info:

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

 

What if Harry Dresden, The Three Stooges and John Wayne Had a Baby? That’s Nate Temple

silver-tongueI like a guy who can meet up with Death, an alpha werewolf, the Minotaur and an Angel for a drink at a bar owned by Achilles. Yes, the Achilles.

Nate Temple is…or was…a wizard. Now, he’s something more but doesn’t know how to use his powers and everything is going to hell in a hand basket around him.

The women in his life are, shall we say, complicated. Extremely complicated, and his best friend lost an eye because Nate dragged him into a fight. Things are tough. So tough that he does something he never thought he’d do.

I really enjoy the Nate Temple series. It is what you would expect to get if Harry Dresden, the Three Stooges, and John Wayne had a baby. (Don’t think about that too hard. Just read the books. And Shayne gives away FREE BOOKS and this new one is only 99 cents.)

visit www.shaynesilvers.com or Amazon.

My short story is out!

besties-coverfinal-208x300In case anyone missed it on Facebook (and why aren’t you following me on Facebook?) an anthology came out which includes my story “My Vengeful Heart.”

In it, one teenage boy watches his best friend die and is stunned by the complicit acceptance shown by his parents and neighbors of the slaughter happening right in front of them. He turns to black magic to exact revenge with an unexpected result.

Click here to buy the book. I hope enjoy it.

Lucienne Diver takes on Teen Female Empowerment in Faultlines

This is a different kind of book for those who read Diver’s novels. This is a book that comes from the heart, from the headlines and with the hope that girls learn to speak up for themselves, be heard, be seen, and be proud.

Usually my novels start with a character talking in my head and in order to keep them from chattering aimlessly, I have to build a story line around them.  Not so with Faultlines. The idea for Faultlines came up in a most unusual way—I was doing a talk at a school and I didn’t want to use my story lines from the Vamped novels to illustrate plot development, conflict, escalation, climax and denouement. I wanted something more mainstream and accessible to everyone. To my surprise, I came up with something on the fly that I called The Notebook. A girl is dead and her notebook, her journal, contains secrets that keep popping up, causing trouble for people that builds toward a dangerous crescendo.

That was all I had at that point, but I thought hey, that’s pretty good. I should mark that down and use it some time. But I was in the midst of deadlines for the Vamped series and then my agent sold the Latter-Day Olympians series, and so the concept took up space in my back brain, never leaving me but not allowed to come to the fore…until it wouldn’t be denied.

I was at a house party, of all places, surrounded by people, and yet I felt the need to sneak away, grab my notebook and pen and start writing.  Now, I said my novels usually begin with characters.  I like writing strong women, and in both the aforementioned series, my protagonists are bold and snarky, always apt to run headlong into a fight.  I have a character like that in the novel that came to be called Faultlines as well. The problem is, she’s dead.

Six months before the start of the novel, Lisa stopped fighting. She pushed everyone away, started dressing to be overlooked rather than looked over, and withdrew into herself. My heroine, Vanessa, was her best friend. The sensible one. The one who did what she was supposed to.  But now, Lisa is gone and all Vanessa wants to do is make a scene—yell and scream and demand that someone pay attention, because Lisa could not possibly have killed herself. She couldn’t.

Staying quiet, being good hasn’t worked out very well for her. She feels like she failed her friend and that maybe it’s time to try something different. There are so many points I want to make here that it would probably take a series of blogs, so I’ll try to stick to two. Authors are always doing that—plots can go off in a million different directions, and we have to pick and choose what will make the novel strongest. So, here’s what I most want to say.

I think that young women, in particular, are often taught to be proper. Not to cause a fuss, not to create a stir or draw attention.  There’s so much text and subtext out there that implies that if girls or women behave or dress in a way that gets them noticed, they’ve invited harassment, bullying and other grief. And sadly, that’s exactly what a woman often gets for speaking out. Some characters in Faultlines decide not to speak out for this very reason. The problem is, this is how the bad guys win. This is how they get to move on and hurt someone else.  If all of the good people spoke up, we could shout down the bad, drown out their voices.  We could expose predators to the light to wither rather than thrive in secrets and shadows.

So easy to say. So difficult to do. Trust me, I know. I kick myself for every time I’ve stayed silent, and I’ve smarted from the wounds of every time I’ve spoken up.

Vanessa gets jump-started into various realizations because of Lisa’s death, because here’s another thing I want to say—people will often step up to fill a void. When Vanessa and Lisa were close, Lisa was the ringleader. Vanessa could be daring in her wake. But without Lisa, she has to push herself. She starts by asking herself What Would Lisa Do? but she comes up with her own answers as well.

Do about what? you might ask. Well, Faultlines is about a lot of things, but particularly finding fault and assigning blame. Vanessa blames herself for not being stronger, for letting Lisa push her away. She has no idea what led Lisa to end her life, but together with the boy she secretly loves who was Lisa’s almost-boyfriend and so eternally off limits, she decides she needs to find out. Maybe if she can discover what happened to Lisa, she can start to accept her death. Only, while she’s investigating, someone jumps ahead, attacking people they perceive hurt Lisa. As the former best friend, Vanessa is blamed. Absent any evidence at all, people retaliate against her, starting a circle of escalating violence.  It has to stop. Vanessa seems the only one inclined to stop it. And so she must step up.

Faultlines is a novel of so many things, all of them very close to my heart. All of them complex and difficult. I hope I’ve done them justice. I hope I’ve done Vanessa justice the way that she plans to do for Lisa. And I hope that those of you who read Faultlines will let me know and that you’ll reach out if you see yourselves or someone you know in the novel—not necessarily to me, although I’m here if you need me, but to someone trained to help. No one should suffer in silence.