Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book review - Sacrifice of an Angel by Tasha and Sophie Duncan

The horrific murder of a well loved young woman shakes up a small English town. Police detectives, twins Remy and Theo Haward, must use all their skill and cunning to track the dangerous killer before he strikes again. What takes this beyond the typical murder mystery is the infusion of magic, the paranormal, and the beyond (or as it's called in Sacrifice of an Angel, There).

It's always wonderful to find gems such as this in the indie book arena. Tasha and Sophie tell a great story. The murders are suitably grisly, the characters are charming, and the working magical aspects are very interesting. The last point is especially of interest to me, as I like to see how the unusual is integrated into the "real" world. They show the nuts and bolts of it without it being boring. I love that there's a "Sorcerous Crimes Task Force (SeCT)".

If I have any complaints, which I'm nitpicking at this point, because this book was enjoyable and a pleasure to read, the characters sometimes seemed a bit cookie cutter. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I'm the type of reader who likes to delve deeply into character - that's a personal preference.

The mystery aspect leaves plenty of clues as to who might have done it, while leaving little trails that give you cause to doubt. Close to the end, though, I was pretty certain who, and I was rewarded by being correct. The case is wrapped up neatly; however, throughout the book there is a larger plot at work. At the end, it blows up and leaves a huge lead-in for the next in the series. I will be purchasing the sequel for sure.

Overall, a well written page turner, (I was often up past 2am reading!), for those who are looking for a murder mystery with a twist.

Monday, October 29, 2012

How Ebooks Have Changed Writing

Fifth stop on my international blog tour, Indiana. Thanks so much to Tressa Green for hosting me; it’s good to be here.

I've had a lot of people ask me what I think about this recent craze over ebooks. They want to know how ebooks have changed the face of writing. I tell them writing has not changed. Publishing has changed a lot, as well as technology, but the art of crafting a story and presenting it in a permanent form on paper has not changed in several hundred years. No matter what the genre is, or the length of the story, all fiction writing has a few things in common. There must be a hero. The hero must have a goal. There must be obstacles between the hero and the goal. Some people may be surprised I don’t specify there must be a villain. There are many types of conflict and obstacles, not all of which absolutely require a villain; however, most heroes do have a flesh and blood nemesis throwing obstacles in their path.

Now, a little about publishing. Some 700 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg put together several new technologies to create a new type of type of printing press. Before this time, all books were either written by hand or printed after a piece of wood had been carved for each page. Somewhere around 150 years ago, Samuel Clemens is credited with being the first author to turn a manuscript in to his editor which had been written on a typewriter. Before that, all manuscripts were written out by hand. In fact, the very word manuscript means hand-written.

Some five years ago, ebooks became very popular with the invention of the Kindle. Ebooks had been around before that, but people like to carry their books around with them, and not have to sit at their desk to read them. The Kindle made the carrying-around part easy. Suddenly readers had the ability to go on vacation and take all of their favorite books with them. They would never run out of things to read. However, because mainstream publishers were slow to make their books available in electronic format, readers became frustrated. At the same time, writers who for one reason or another were unable or unwilling to publish via mainstream companies were frustrated at the inability to get their books in front of willing readers. Self-publishing a book at that time cost a small fortune. By making ebook publishing affordable and available to all, readers and authors both found a cure for their frustration. Authors could afford to self-publish. Readers had more novels to choose from. Self-published ebooks made everyone happy except for the main-stream publishing companies who didn’t dare try the new technology.

Various inventions have changed the face of publishing over the years. The art and science of novel-writing has changed very little, however. An author still needs a hero, his goal, and a bunch of obstacles standing between the two. A good story is a good story, no matter how it’s produced, and it will continue to delight readers for many years to come. The method of its delivery to a reader’s eager eyes and hands is largely irrelevant to the writing process. Instead of stories being written and revised and copied out by hand on voluminous amounts of paper, an ebook can be produced entirely with a computer and use no paper at all, yet still be totally engrossing to the reader. Thanks to my e-reader, I have just discovered a “new” favorite author...H. G. Wells.

Over the thirteen years I worked on Tanella’s Flight, I used a lot of paper. Many of the chapters were written in longhand, then typed into the computer. The manuscript was printed out, double spaced, at nearly a ream of paper per copy, for each revision. Ten copies were printed and sent to beta-readers. By contrast, The Siege of Kwennjurat was never on paper at all until the proof copy was printed. No paper! If you buy an e-copy, then between us we have used no trees in the production of an excellent novel. If you want a print copy, then the tree-consumption is still kept at a minimum, because only copies that are ordered get printed. There is no pile of paper books sitting in a warehouse someplace gathering dust.

The publishing process of both books was different, but the writing followed roughly the same path. I have a hero...and a goal...and a whole pile of obstacles standing in his path.

Books available from A M Jenner:
The Siege of Kwennjurat is the second book in the Kwennjurat Chronicles. Alone in Kwenndara, Princess Tanella cares for the refugees from war-torn Jurisse, while she worries about her loved ones’ safety. Her new husband Fergan is two days away in Renthenn, coordinating the business of two kingdoms. Kings Jameisaan and Fergasse join forces in Jurisse to pursue the war against the Black Army. They know Liammial hasn't played his last card, and are willing to give their lives to protect their people and their children. Who will triumph and claim the throne of Kwennjurat?

About the author:
A M Jenner lives in Gilbert, Arizona, with her family, a car named Babycakes, several quirky computers, and around 5,000 books. A self-professed hermit, she loves to interact with her readers online. Her books are available at, as well as most major online retailers.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Book review: Rising by J. R. Nova

Rising is a spectacular first novel in the Czar Chronicles series by J. R. Nova about a young woman on a mission of revenge. The revenge theme runs strong throughout; it's all Clara can think about -- it's her life's purpose. However, things don't go quite the way she plans when she runs into Zen, a young man with problems of his own.

There are several plot threads woven together to create the overall story and though the main line is about Clara, I have to say, I'm most intrigued with Franz Deckard. I admit to being a sucker for the anti-hero, but I feel like this character has a huge role to play and it's going to be fantastic. I can hardly keep from rubbing my hands together in anticipation. He's a nicely fleshed out character in his own right; I can't wait to see deeper inside such a ruthless, yet perfectly flawed man. All the characters are like this. Wonderfully imperfect; very human.

Another thing that stood out is the canon. Very original take on traditional beings such as witches, werewolves, vampires, and other various paranormal creatures. Absolutely a delight to read. J. R. took time and care in creating this world and its workings; it shows.

The cherry on top of this lovely novel is the nearly flawless editing. What a treasure.

If I had any complaints about Rising at all, it would be the end. It's a part of a series and it doesn't dance around that fact when it drops you like a hot brick. It serves its purpose by pretty much guarenteeing that I'm tapping my foot impatiently wanting the next book; as if I needed a reason. Rising is stellar reading in its genre. If I could rate it more than five coffees, I would in a minute.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Tagged! The Next Big Thing

The lovely Sophie tagged me last week for the Next Big Thing where I answer some questions about my current work in progress.

1. What is the working title of your book?
Shattered Bones for now.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was doing a portrait of both characters in my novel Fragile Bones, which is from Nathan's POV, and I thought, hey, I should write Michael's story. He's such an interesting character, but you only get the smallest glimpse into who he is because you can only see him from Nathan's perspective. And so it began.

3. What genre does your book fall under?
I'm still trying to figure that one out. Whatever Fragile Bones is, so would be Shattered Bones. I'd call it sort of an esoteric dark urban fantasy for lack of a better idea.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Gale Harold as Michael. I think he'd perfectly capture the nuances of a long carried pain, the cool aloof exterior, and the fiery, passionate heart of the hidden killer.

Andrej Pejic if he let me dye his hair black. I don't know if he can act, but he's got exactly the right look.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When the darkness fills the furthest reaches of your soul, only the darkest heart can lead you to the light.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Most definitely self-pubbed. I find it rather fullfilling and of course, I have complete control. Not that I'm a control freak or anything, but my stories are my babies.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still working on it. I'll be working on it for quite awhile, I'm sure. It took a full five years with long breaks between to pen Fragile Bones. I don't expect such difficult topics to come any easier the second time around. I sometimes have to wait patiently for the characters to speak.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I've not read anything like it, so I don't know.

9. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I have a keen interest in digging around the parts of human nature that really should probably be left in the dark. We all have these dark spots we keep hidden, whether we want to admit them or not. My characters are put in extreme situations and they aren't too heroic about how they deal with those circumstances. Even though these books are in the gay category, the subject matter deals more with coming to terms with one's inner darkness and not overcoming it, but recognizing and directing it.

I've got excerpts of Fragile Bones here on my blog and you can of course read quite a ways into the first part of Fragile Bones on Smashwords and Amazon. (see the links on the sidebar)

10. Tag you’re it!
Alas... I'm floating alone in the great wide world. If you find the message in the bottle, pick it up and let me know... I'll link back to you here. ;)

Reviews - two short vampire stories

From the unique mind of Gabriel Fitzpatrick, comes two short vampire tales that will leave you a bit unsettled. Without further ado...

An Anecdote at Dinner by Gabriel Fitzpatrick is a welcome change from the vampire genre where the shine of glitter seems to have blinded those who seek out the more traditional vampire canon. It's about time.

I've been a long time fan of the vampire; cutting my teeth (if you will) on movies like Gary Oldman's Dracula and reading about the notorious vampire Lestat, for example. So while I love the idea of what Gabriel tried to do here, I couldn't fall in love with the nameless vampire narrator. The cold detachment was perfectly executed (pardon me again for the puns) but the POV character lacked the allure of the beautiful, but deadly seductive tragic monster I enjoy reading about. The humanity is completely gone from him and so he loses his power to enchant.

Gabriel is definitely on the right track here with An Anecdote, but when I got to the end, I felt nothing except a bit startled. Perhaps that emptiness was the point of this avant garde story. I suspect fans of true horror would have a much better appreciation for it.

I dug the treatment of the vampire overall, but I have to take away some points for the cold, impersonal narrative that left me feeling too detached. Three and a half coffees.


The Centurion's Commencement, also by Gabriel, is a leap across time from the previous short. I have to admit that I'm a little perplexed by this story. I enjoyed it quite a bit, but I just don't know what to think about it as a take away. It's almost dread slice of life, yet there's this stark otherworldness about it that skims along just below the surface--highlighted by the introduction of the vampire character. This transforms a perfectly ordinary tale into a somewhat odd excursion.

Having read three of Gabriel's stories now, I've come to expect the unexpected with his twisty, pop in your face endings. Still, knowing ahead of time something odd is going to happen doesn't really prepare you for the oddness, because he has a talent for taking 180 turns at the last moment. Even though the prose remains somewhat distant, I did feel the centurion's apathy; like a struck match throw sparks.

Gabriel's work as a body, in my opinion, is not for mass consumption, but more for tasty little nibbles, a piece at a time over time.

This particular treat of a story gets five out of five coffees for being fabulously what it is. Even if I can't quite figure that out; I did enjoy reading it.

Where to find his work:

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Guest post by Sophie Duncan - There were 3 in the Bed...

I'm pleased to host Literary+ member, Sophie Duncan, a gal after my own heart, talking today about menage in fiction.


Much gratitude to Tressa for hosting me today and thanks to Literary+ (especially Paul Carroll) for organising the blog tour for me.

There Were 3 In The Bed - Menage, ewww or gimme gimme!

My title today came to me, because, as I was considering this subject for a blog post, that old song 'there were x in the bed and the little one said roll over, roll over', came to mind and it made me laugh as I thought about the extra arms and legs and other unmentionables in a PG post that a writer is dealing with when they tackle a menage. Of course, menage does not strictly mean a sexual relationship, but the type of menage I'm discussing here is definitely of the sexual kind and, usually when I read or write it, it means the sexual relations go all ways, not as in the classical menage a trois where one person has two lovers and those two lovers are not sexually involved.

three in the bed

Phew! Menage is a tricky concept to define and writing it can be even more complex. Traditionally speaking, we're used to duos, one-to-one relationships in both our romance and erotica (less so in porn - and if you want to see my definitions of those three genres, check back to yesterday's blog tour post). When we move on to three or more in a relationship, lots of things get complicated and not just the sex scenes. Personally, I like reading and writing menage, those challenges in dynamics make for an interesting read/write and, well, three in a bed can be hot! I'll state clearly here, I'm talking fiction, fantasy: I have no objections to equal, consensual multi-way relationships in the real world (by equal, I mean any combination of male and/or female partners allowed, no restrictions, I'm not attempting to start a religious debate), but I'll keep my own menage fantasies safely on the page :). For other people, two is the perfect number, any more and it gets icky for them. To those people, I say, fair enough, each to their own, I like pairs too, but for me there is just something a little kinky and erotic about breaking that convention.

My only published menage*, apart from fanfic, is Bonds of Fire, which, again I mentioned yesterday, and including an all-male threesome romance (emphasis on PG13 here) in a science-fiction/fantasy story has made it both my most popular release to date, but also the one that has drawn the most vitriol. Apparently, some people reading fantasy don't want a m/m/m romance popping up in the middle of the story. Personally, I didn't even think twice about it, it didn't occur to me that the relationship in the story would 'ruin' it for some people, although I have now listed that content in the description due to some folks' comments, not everyone who was surprised by it was nasty BTW. Anyway, my point for mentioning this story is that I enjoyed developing the relationship in this story. One of the empaths, Yakov, is the catalyst for romance developing and he is already in a relationship with Malachi, the other empath, before Drekken, my protagonist, enters the equation.

There were two scenes I had a lot of fun writing. The first may be obvious to anyone who has read the book, and even if you haven't, you'll understand why I enjoyed it when I say it was the nearest this story gets to a sex scene: it's a little playful flirting, okay, so they are naked, but that's because they've all just been washing in a pool and there are children present (in the form of dragon hatchlings), so there's nothing overtly sexual going on. This is a two-on-one scene where the empaths, the established relationship, are teasing Drekken, the newcomer, and I like writing flirty scenes like this, they are light, fun and gently erotic (if I can get them right, that is ;) ). The second scene deals much more with character: Malachi and Drekken to be exact and Malachi's jealousy over the easy way Drekken and Yakov had begun to hit it off. The society in which I have set this story does not have hangups about gender in relationships, and only gives a nod to pair-thinking as 'the norm', but I wanted to explore the protective side of Malachi when it comes to Yakov and how he deals with the new dynamic.

Throwing a new person into an established relationship and watching the fireworks is something that is done in fanfic, usually because a TV show already has a popular male-female pairing and some of the fans want to see the bromance pairing joined into that relationship. You get any number of combinations in Harry Potter fandom, from Harry/Draco/pick a girl (or guy for that matter), to James/Lilly/Snape and anything in between, you'll also get multi-way relationships with The Marauders as well. In fact, in any fandom where there are more than two leads, you're likely to get menage of established characters and, even when there are only two male leads, you sometimes find writers throwing in an original character to spice up the mix (beware of the dodgy Mary Sues in this form though). Menage is by no means as common as pairings, but it can be a fun read if done well - bad menage, though, is up there with bad porn, especially when the writer loses track of where that hand is and who is doing what to whom :P.

And so, my final thoughts on menage: it's not a kink for everyone, but if you like it, you like it and those of us who do would love to see more quality menage out there. Give me romance, give me sex, show me the unusual character dynamics that multi-way relationships can produce and I'm usually a happy girl.

*I will have another menage (erotica) coming out soon, Incubus Shadows, in the Wittegen Press Giveaway Games Anthologies.

Sophie Duncan

Sophie was born with the writing bug in her blood, boring her primary school teachers with pages of creative writing and killing her first typewriter from over use when she was thirteen. She began publishing her work on line while at university where she discovered the internet and fanfiction. It took another decade for Sophie to realise her long-time dream of releasing her own original fiction as an author through Wittegen Press.

Death In The Family (Heritage is Deadly #1)

Leaving a good London school with solid prospects, Tom Franklin has the world at his feet. Yet one thing has always haunted his perfect life: his dreams. When Tom discovers that the nightmarish images of dark places and even darker instincts are in fact repressed memories from his early childhood, he must face the heritage from his birth-father, a savage vampire known only as Raxos.

Realising his memories are his only hope of controlling his awakening instincts, Tom returns to, Coombedown, the sleepy, Cornish village in which he was born, unknowing that the night-breed in his veins will lead him into danger.

Death In The Family is a young adult, paranormal novel.

Death In The Family Literary+ Blog Tour Schedule:

Literary+ is a marketing initiative which was founded and led by Shen Hart. This is a time of evolution and progress, the market is being opened up to e-books and self-publication. As a fellow writer, Shen understands that self-publication is a hard and often lonely road. She started Literary+ to bring together authors and related creative specialities with the goal of helping each other. With a tight knit, friendly and welcoming community at its core, Literary+ holds a strong focus on marketing. As Literary+ continues to grow and evolve it will use innovating, original and experimental marketing methods and schemes to get its member's books into their reader's hands.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Chances pre-order now available!

The title says it all. :) If you love a good m/m romance, Second Chances features five stories about finding love again:

Non-Negotiable by T. D. Green <--this one is mine. ;)
Jacob Kerns is due for a promotion, but his ambitions are at risk when he learns his next contract will be handled by Alexander Corey, his ex. Jake tries to put personal feelings aside to do his job, but Alex won't let him. Will they find love again or is the whole thing non-negotiable?

Heart of Glass by L. J. Harris
When Zack Doherty comes to Australia on a working holiday, he is uncharacteristically forward in pushing Heath Connors, a man he barely knows, for a date. Heath, who has only recently begun to live life his way, wonders if Zack will be the one to mend his heart of glass.

Better Together by DaNay Smith
Greyson Welles followed Dominic Nash to Baltimore for his dream job, putting his own on hold. Dominic can see that Greyson's unhappy, but never expects him to turn down his proposal and return to New York. Will Greyson be gone forever or will he decide they're better together?

Dirty Martini by Bette Browne
When Daniel Fletcher runs into his ex with the man he caught him in bed with, vodka seems like the answer. Nathan Smith is used to men drowning their sorrows at the bar he tends, so the connection he feels to one is unusual.  Will a means to forget turn into something more?

Notice to Appear by C. C. Lorenz
Josh Campbell is handed a notice to appear in court for a traffic offense, but his humiliation is complete when he comes face to face with his schoolboy crush, Carter Sullivan, in the court room. Could this be the start of something with Carter now that age is not an issue.

Coming August 31st, pre-order now!