Category Archives: Favorite Authors
I am pleased to present my friend and fellow fantasy author L. Penelope’s Whispers of Shadow & Flame, book two in the Earthsinger Chronicles. To celebrate launch week, Leslye is offering a giveaway below and book one, Song of Blood & Stone, on sale for $.99.
Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger Chronicles #2)
by L. Penelope
Genre: Fantasy Romance, Dieselpunk
Age Range: Adult
Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the notorious rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.
Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.
As forbidden desire ignites their hearts, Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, the cost of their love might just be too high.
Kyara was just considering whether to douse the four covered wagons parked to the side of the warehouse with kerosene, as well, when the odd cloud of dust reached her. A hand reached out of the swirling mass to knock the metal canister from her hands. The force was enough to cause her to stumble and fall to the ground.
Her hood fell away as she sprawled on her back. Her ribs, still sore from Aren’s attack, protested harshly, but she held back a cry of pain. The teen she’d met, Farron, stood above her, his hair even wilder than it had been last night. Next to him, blocking out the sun, stood the man from the bar.
Though the man was in shadow, his eyes blazed, as intense as the heat of the day. “You!” He crouched down, allowing her a closer look. “What in pip’s name are you doing?” he whispered fiercely.
She froze, staring up at him. Those devastating eyes regarded her from an oval face, a dusting of stubble ran across his clenched jaw. When his eyebrows descended, she mentally shook herself, shocked at her reaction. Scrambling backward, she looked around, expecting the other Keepers she’d sensed in the area to emerge from their hiding places.
“There are children in there,” the Keeper said through gritted teeth. Then he cocked his head to the side, listening.
Kyara opened her mind’s eye, sensing the Nethersong of everyone inside the warehouse. The nabbers she could sense clearly, as well as the older children, but the younger ones were far more difficult. She could still not get a good count of them due to their weak Nether swirling together. Since when did nabbers start taking children that young?
The nabbers were moving around inside; one approached the door. Either the Keeper before her had his Song, or exceptionally good hearing, as his body suddenly went rigid.
“Hurry,” he said, gripping her arm firmly. Kyara held back a wince. She healed quickly, but most of her was still sore from the previous day’s beating. The Keeper frowned and released her. She stood on her own and followed him and Farron to the other side of the covered wagon, where they crouched and hid.
The metal door opened, and a new nabber poked his greasy head out, looking back and forth. Kyara held her breath. The horse she’d bought that morning was tied around the corner, out of his sightline. The nabber sniffed the air. If he picked up the scent of kerosene, he apparently didn’t find it odd. He retreated into the warehouse and slammed the door. With her other sight, she saw his light move deeper into the interior.
“All clear,” she said.
“I know,” the Keeper said, glowering. “Who are you and exactly what do you think you’re doing here?”
“I could ask you the same.” She raised an eyebrow and enjoyed watching his expression shift from fury to frustration and back again.
But have you read book one, Song of Blood & Stone? It’s not necessary, since Whispers of Shadow & Flame is a parallel story, but it’s fabulous! And on sale during launch week for .99!
Guest Post: Visual Inspiration & Worldbuilding
Last Christmas my family decided to escape the frigid east coast weather and spend the holiday in Palm Springs, CA. I’d never been there before, but once I arrived I realized that this place where the was desert surrounded by mountains was exactly how I’d envisioned one of the countries in my fantasy world: I had arrived in Lagrimar.
The mountains are a huge part of the worldbuilding in the Earthsinger Chronicles series. The country of Lagrimar is completely surrounded, cut off from the rest of the world by this natural barrier, as well as a magical one. Driving down the highway through the Palm Desert with the imposing peaks towering over me was deeply inspiring and helped me sink into the world I was creating.
But it’s not always possible to travel to the exact place your story is set. Some of the other locations were shaped and polished by virtue of me stumbling across images accidentally. Like this one of Horseshoe Bend, AZ, which becomes Serpent’s Gorge in the book.
And this article about toxic lakes and the petrified animals in them haunted me until it found its way into the novel.
The sights, sounds and smells of reality all go into making a fantasy world work. Once a location is real to me and I can live inside it in my head, then I know it’s ready to put to the page.
About the Author
Leslye Penelope believes love is magic and likes her romance with a healthy dose of imagination. She’s been writing since she could hold a pen and is the author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance with multicultural characters.
At one time or another she’s been a filmmaker, tape dubber, tech support specialist, model, poll worker, professor, and DJ. She has a quote from The Matrix tattooed on her arm and sometimes dreams in HTML. After living on both coasts, she settled in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.
Sign up for new release information and monthly giveaways on her website: http://www.lpenelope.com.
It’s a mere eleven days until the Baltimore Book Festival–September 25-27th–where my writing chapter the Maryland Romance Writers is hosting three days of speakers on our own stage at the Inner Harbor. Two of my fellow authors are featuring a number of those authors on their blog in the coming days. Hop on over to Toni Decker Books to meet:
I’ll be updating this post as Toni and Kira present more authors.
Click here for the day-by-day, hour-by-hour schedule for Maryland Romance Writers at the 2015 Baltimore Book Festival. I’m not on a panel, but will be at our information table on Friday. Hope to see you there!
I’m pleases to celebrate the release of the newest urban fantasy in the Grimm Agency Series by my critique partner, JC Nelson: Wish Bound!
As a partner at Grimm’s magical Agency, Marissa Locks is used to working odd jobs. But when an evil queen reappears in Kingdom, life becomes too strange to handle…
Even when she’s not starting it, trouble follows Marissa everywhere. First there was the incident with the homicidal Fairy Godmother. Then there was the time she accidentally started Armageddon. But the problems that always seem to arise on Marissa’s birthday take the cake.
This year, her annual bad-luck presents include an army of invading goblins, the resurrection of two vengeful enemies from hell, and the return of the Black Queen, the evil sorceress whose reign of terror still haunts Kingdom and who happens to have claimed Marissa as her servant.
As Marissa’s friends try to save her from the Black Queen’s clutches, Marissa fights to end a bitter war that started before her birth. But her quest for peace is about to bring up some inconvenient truths about her own past—ones that might cost her the happily ever after she’s always dreamed of…
Wish Bound on GoodReads
Buy Wish Bound Now:
Other books in the Grimm Agency Series:
Grimm Agency #1 – Free Agent
Grimm Agency #1.5 – Soul Ink
Grimm Agency #2 – Armageddon Rules
A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle.
Today, I’d like to welcome guest blogger Cecilia Dominic. Cecilia is a fellow steampunk author, with her novel Eros Element releasing August 25th.
Thanks so much for having me today, Laurel! It’s always fun to go back and think about books I’ve enjoyed.
I first found out about steampunk when my friend and fellow author James Bassett suggested I submit a story to his and Stephen Antczak’s anthology Clockwork Fairy Tales. I did, and they rejected it, but I was hooked. I started reading more of the genre and stumbled into Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. I went from hooked to in love. I’ve since read other steampunk works, and here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.
The first book in the Parasol Protectorate series embodies many things I love about the steampunk genre – a feisty misfit heroine who prefers matters of the head to those of the heart, mystery, urban fantasy elements, and interesting devices. The heroine Alexia is also half-Italian, which is a fun twist, and she is so romantically disadvantaged it’s fun to see how she manages to stumble into love. There’s also a Scottish werewolf. Yes, I’m all about the Scottish werewolves. I’ve read books two and three of the series, and they continue to be very entertaining.
The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook
I will admit to a bias against zombies that made me pick this one up with trepidation even though it had been highly recommended by a friend. This particular friend loves my books, so she must have good taste, right? This is one of those stories that you’ll think about long after it’s over, both because of the heroine – another half-breed misfit – and the well-drawn secondary characters. It’s darker than Soulless, but still a great story, and the zombies aren’t that prominent. I haven’t read further in the series but intend to, especially since the second book is about treasure hunter Archimedes Fox and airship captain Yasmeen, two of those great secondary characters. Just added it to my wish list.
I found this one because I picked up the first part for free as part of some promotion, and of course I had to continue all the way through the second book, The Clockwork Wolf. In this fascinating alternate history setting, the United States lost the Revolutionary War, so Victorian mores have a stranglehold on the land. The heroine, Kit, is a private investigator who doesn’t believe in magic but is being stalked by a deathmage. The way Viehl handles the love triangle between Kit, the deathmage, and the sweet police inspector is very clever. This was one of those cases where I found myself reading a steamy scene in a public place and really hoping no one else was looking at my phone. Write the third book, please, Ms.Viehl. Like, now.
The Clockwork Scarab by Colleen Gleason (Young Adult)
Sure, Sherlock Holmes has been through many retellings by now, and there’s no Benedict Cumberbatch to be found in this version, but this is a really fun book. Mina Holmes, niece of Sherlock, and Evaline Stoker, sister of Bram, have to team up to solve why London’s young society ladies are disappearing. The contrast between Mina’s calm, rational (of course) personality and Evaline’s brash, impulsive one creates enjoyable tension, and there are some sweet love interests to keep things even more interesting. The second one is waiting for me on my Kindle as a reward for when I’m done with my next project.
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Young Adult)
I picked this one up, read the first chapter, and put it down with a meh. So what is it doing on this list? Two words: Will Herondale. Yeah, I feel like *such* a cougar because he’s like, seventeen, but O.M.G. His tragedy makes him older in spirit. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. I re-read the book, made it through the first part, found Will, and my interest and the story picked up rapidly from there. The Shadowhunters are a mysterious organization dedicated to hunting evil entities. It sounds intimidating, and they do have some mad fighting skills, but at its heart, it’s a group of barely organized misfits in a big old castle, which makes it fun. Heroine Tessa Gray falls in with them and falls for Shadowhunter Will, who is under a curse. And Jem, who has his own problems. And I won’t spoil anything for you, but this is the best YA love triangle I’ve read in a long time. I’ve read the second book, and the third is waiting on my Kindle for me.
Hopefully that’s enough to get you started, and I hope that you’ll fall in love with the genre like I did. Up next in my queue – The Unraveling, of course! Also, please come meet and chat with Laurel at my virtual release party on Facebook August 25 at 6:30.
About Eros Element, Aether Psychics Book One
If love is the ivy, secrets are the poison.
After enduring heartbreak at the hands of a dishonest woman, Edward Bailey lives according to scientific principles of structure and predictability. Just the thought of stepping outside his strict routine raises his anxiety.
Adding to his discomfort is Iris McTavish, who appears at his school’s faculty meeting in place of her world-famous archeologist father. Worse, the two of them are to pose as Grand Tourists while they search for an element that will help harness the power of aether.
Iris jumps at the opportunity to prove her worth as a scholar—and avoid an unwanted marriage proposal—while hiding the truth of her father’s whereabouts. If her secret gets out, the house of McTavish will fall into ruin.
Quite unexpectedly, Edward and Iris discover a growing attraction as their journey takes them to Paris and Rome, where betrayal, blackmail and outright theft threaten to destroy what could be a revolutionary discovery—and break their hearts.
Warning: Allergen alert! This book was produced in a facility that handles copious amounts of wine, tea and baked goods. May contain one or more of the following: a spirited heroine, a quirky hero, clever banter, interesting facts both made-up and historical, and lots of secrets. It is, however, gluten free.
Buy Eros Element at:
If you’d like to check out a free steampunk story by Cecilia, you can read it here.
About the Author
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each. She also enjoys putting her psychological expertise to use helping other authors through her Characters on the Couch blog post series.
Find Cecilia Here:
I’m pleased to celebrate the release of The Codex by Joe Duck, one of my critique partners!
When an ancient book capable of summoning a demon is stolen from heaven, Narius, a young and not so bright angel of knowledge, is cast down and ordered to destroy it.
If he fails, he can never return to his blissful life as a lazy library guard.
Fortunately, to aid him in his quest, Narius is accompanied by the Codex, a theoretically holy book, who sprouts terrible courtship advice like a cheap fortune cookie.
Upon arrival to the world below his, Narius is tricked into helping Emily, a greedy sorceress in a bit of a pickle, trying to deal with a hungry dragon.
Together, the human and the angel must overcome enchanted apples, evil elves and the impoverished dragon or risk watching their world burn.
Connect with Joe on Goodreads
We’re less than 24 hours from the start of UtopYA, an author-fan con a fellow steampunk author has raved about.
It’s four days of fun in Nashville, Tenn, an easy drive for me (who likes driving across country–really!) and the focus is on young adult and new adult supernatural and contemporary fiction–right up my alley! But sadly I’d already booked my summer with self-publishing and trying to squeeze in a bit of writing. LOL.
Instead, I’m going in spirit with my friend Nooce Miller. Nooce has spent weeks, not just getting her print book formatted to perfection for the Saturday night author signing, but creating an exciting raffle basket, giveaways and running down the best deal in the midwest for a beautiful banner.
Doesn’t Theo look lovely fullsize, wielding her geared shotgun to protect her airship! It’s Nooce’s first signing as a published author–I’m so excited for her! If you’re traveling to Nashville, pop into the Millennium Maxwell House Hotel and look for Theo’s magenta airship on Saturday, June 20th.
Have fun, Nooce! *waves* Totally enjoy your first signing. 🙂
I’m thrilled to reveal the debut cover for a steampunk YA written by one of my critique partners and fellow steampunk authors! Congratulations, Nooce!
Beautiful! I love Theo’s magenta airship, and her undaunted stance. 🙂
Here’s what you can expect from this 19th century mid-western girl:
It’s 1879 and seventeen-year-old Theodocia Hews is out of control. Her inventor father Orin Hews tried to raise her to be a proper lady, but Theo says and does whatever she wants. Since girls aren’t supposed to be inventors, she’s secretly building her own airship up on the roof of their house. When her father is attacked and his valuable invention is stolen, she sets out in her untested airship to get her father’s contraption back. She’d better hurry. Her father’s contract with his buyer expires in three days and without it they’re ruined.
The airship lifts off but things get complicated when Theo finds an unintended passenger aboard. Henry Caracticus Thorne—the thief she’d spotted that morning making off with things in the market—is an altogether unsuitable companion. But he’s unlike anyone she’s ever met before, he’s willing to help, and he’s drop-dead gorgeous. As they soar through the sky in the close quarters of Theo’s airship, it’s not just the steam engine heating up.
Theo has a hunch who took her father’s invention. Will she manage to catch the culprit before it’s too late? What did that strange lightning storm do to Theo and Henry? And will Theo give in to her heart and act on her growing feelings for Henry?
The Adventures of Theodocia Hews is a humorous YA steampunk adventure and romance series set in 1879 Cincinnati in an alternate universe where the evil institution of slavery was abolished shortly after the United States was founded, the Civil War never happened, crazy inventions are commonplace, and steam power rules!
About the Author
Nooce Miller writes fantasy, speculative fiction, and YA steampunk. Technical writer, lawyer, marketing communications editor, medical writer, she’s held a lot of jobs, but her current gig is the one she likes best—author. Her favorite music to write to is silence because the dialogue turns out better. She’s also fond of birdsong, thunder, and the sound of the wind in the trees. She sees herself as a visually creative person, though others might disagree once they’ve been exposed to the questionable quality of her drawings, paintings, and photography. She drinks a lot of hot Earl Grey tea, usually in the company of her dog Stinky—who never partakes.
She’s lived in six different states and one foreign country. Tiring of so much moving, she undertook to persuade her husband that they should settle down and enjoy the four glorious seasons of her beloved Midwest until their two sons were grown, and lo and behold, it worked.
Nooce and I met critiquing YA fantasy in an online writer’s forum, Critique Circle. It’s a fabulous–and free!–place to hone your craft and meet many ambitious authors. After a while, you get to know them IRL, too! Nooce blogs about history, writing and steampunk crafts. Visit her Website | Twitter | Pinterest
I’m looking forward to The Rooftop Inventor releasing May 1, 2015!
It’s the fall of 2007 and my daughter learns–probably the night before–that Terry Pratchett will be speaking at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C.
Can we go?
I’d read a few of his books, but had no idea 1) she liked him so much and 2) there was a book festival with speakers on the National Mall. (I’ve come a long way since then.) She asked. We went.
As popular as he was, I insisted we go to the tent early and get a seat. To her embarrassment, I also made us move up several rows at a break between authors. Hey, we were here to see this guy talk, we were going to see him. And I planned to take pictures using a camera with no telephoto.
Lots of them.
I don’t know if I took notes, as I’ve now done on each other trip I’ve made to the National Book Festival, but I have photos, as you see.
I was very impressed he wore a shirt with a turtle on it, not knowing this was a Discworld theme. I did turtle rehabilitation, so anyone who likes turtles, I like.
The tent was indeed crowded. My daughter stood in line to ask a question, but I don’t believe she made it to the front.
A question someone else asked was, “How long do you spend on developing each of your characters? They’re so memorable.”
Not that long, Terry answered (I won’t quote him, because this is the gist of the answer.) I give each a trait or two that readers know from real life. Then that type of person is so familiar to you and you feel you already know my character.
We had brought my daughter’s books. The line for signing was horrendous. Hours long, I believe, because I only have photos of one other author. I asked my daughter to come up with a question. She couldn’t. Or didn’t.
So I did. “Will you be writing more about Susan and Lobsang?”
What? (I think I flummoxed him.)
“Are they going to have a romance?”
I suppose so. Who else is there for her to be with?
Since 2007, I have read most of the Discworld novels. We own the books, few movies, posters and various other fan-stuff. Today, I’m very teary-eyed.
Rest in Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett.
It’s been a week of edits, and not on a story with dogs in it, so it took a ‘like’ on my Facebook page–for the guinea pig excerpt–to remind me I promised to post a dog excerpt.
The last door opened into a dimly lit and mostly empty room. Two bowls sat inside, food and water. A box of dirt had been placed to one side. The surface of it was disturbed and the smell made its use obvious. The light of the hall shone almost to a mound in the back corner. It moved.
I pressed Eve aside, pulling the door to protect us.
She blocked it open. “I sense no hostility, aggression or opposition.”
The animal got slowly to its feet and stepped from the shadows. Eve’s fingers pinched into me, but the pain was nothing against the swirl of confusion surrounding the familiar animal. The big dog had been… I shut my eyes, reaching for the image.
Eve released me. I grappled to dismiss my churning memories, opening my eyes to the unbelievable sight of her stroking the wiry hair of the wolfhound’s head and unlatching the chain from his collar.
I rushed after her. “Be careful! We don’t know—”
“I know. This is—” She eyed me in an odd way, then shook her head. “D’dair,” she swore. “He shouldn’t be locked in here.”
Dead Air—the unique curse they used on this planet. Her tone indicated something was seriously wrong. She ushered the stumbling dog toward the door of its prison. His gait was stiff and awkward, the poor beast, but he came directly to me and pressed his head against my thigh. Familiarity flooded me. Elusive threads of memory wove forward. This dog had a name, I was sure of it.
“Quinn? Help me rub his legs to get the circulation going. Once we’re back, Evangeline will take proper care of this boy.”
The barrage of images compromised my concentration. I shook them off and dropped to a squat on the other side of the dog. “Evangeline?” I repeated.
“Right, the Evangeline you met probably didn’t seem the type, but that wasn’t her true personality. Our Evangeline has a gift with animals. It took her no time at all to correct the husbandry problems on Zeffir.”
Zeffir. Where Eve worked. If I kept my focus on her and her conversation, I wouldn’t dissolve into my confusing past. “I did notice the agriculture on the island was top notch.”
Eve massaged the dog’s thigh. He was leaning into me as much as I was leaning back. He poked his nose to mine, making a soft rumbling sound. The prickly fur, the sloppy tongue, the intelligent eyes staring steadily at me. He seemed so familiar…but why?
“Humph. Why are you getting the thanks when I’m the one doing the work?” Eve grumbled, but she was watching closely. “Here, turn him.”
The sturdy canine frame shifted when she pulled him, but the dog danced around until his broad face was in mine again. He whined. Smoothing the gray hairs of his muzzle back to the black ones on the crown of his head, I stared deep into his dark orange eyes. A memory came…a desperate cross-leap, the dog pushed against me—no, leading me—with someone—was it Graen?—forcing me through the Conducer, but the dog—
Like in my memory, the wolfhound jerked forward, his ears perked. Footsteps sounded. Together Eve and I tripped to the threshold. I intended to close the door, but the wolfhound slipped through with a growl. “So much for hiding.” I peered around the doorjamb.
The dog cantered to meet the single guard, who dropped bowls similar to the ones at our feet. The man lowered his face guard and reach for his stun sword.
I bolted forward. “No!”
My appearance was enough to make him hesitate. The dog leaped. With well over a hundred pounds of force, those huge paws struck the man’s shoulders and down he went. The dog bounded on. At the top of the stairs he turned to stare, as if summoning us.
We ran. The guard rolled to gain his feet. I shoved him down again and raced past. The wolfhound yipped and descended the stairs. I followed with Eve just paces behind me.
Thud! Someone tripped and fell.
I whirled. Eve sprawled motionless on the tile. The guard lurched up, shoving the stun sword before him. “Unless you want the same, freeze!”
The first chapters of Passages, a science fiction romance, are available to read here. The novel isn’t published–yet–but three author friends have SFR novels coming out in February, updates, available on Spacefreighter’s Lounge. Sorry, not sure about their dog content.
It’s finally here!
Shoalman Immortal – Book 2 in The Shoalman Chronicles – available NOW!
Falling in love was never supposed to be part of the picture.
Kyrissa Spears was born with a powerful, and deadly, gift. When she paints, she captures emotions so strong they can kill. Desperate to find a teacher capable of helping her unlock and control her abilities, Kyrissa’s search leads her to an artist who may be able to help her.And he’s the one person she can’t accidentally kill.
After five centuries of pain and loneliness, Robert Shoalman craves release from his immortality. He’s all but given up hope until he meets the beautiful and intriguing Kyrissa. She could paint his death and break the curse, but at the cost of destroying her gift and being lost to him forever—none of which will matter if the demon hunting him finds them first.
Available NOW on AMAZON
And for a limited time it’s only $.99*.
*until January 23rd. so get it while the price lasts.
Need to catch up on the series? Get the first book in the series IMAGES ETERNAL at one of the links below:
Who is Toni Decker?
Two authors telling one sizzling story after another about twenty-somethings getting along in their own crazy, fantastical worlds. Both women are wives and mothers, sharing brain cells and characters as if they only exist with the other.
Toni, one half of the Toni Decker brain, is an avid reader of all things Young and New Adult while Kira, the Decker half of Toni Decker brain, devours fantasy for midnight snacks.
Together, their stories are one part New Adult,
one part Fantasy and
three parts of Holy Hotness.
You can follow our journey on:
Twitter: @ToniDeckerBooks and @KiraDecker & @ToniPicker
FaceBook: Toni Decker Books, Kira Decker, Toni Picker
Goodreads: Toni Decker
WordPress: Toni Decker Books
Don’t forget to check out the SHOALMAN IMMORTAL Blog Hop happening until January 23, 2015.
TWO different GIVEAWAYS happening and lost of fun posts with “lost” chapters, character interviews and more.
Want more chances to win? Follow Toni and Kira on their blog tour!