Monday, January 30, 2012

Interview with Todd Keisling


This week we're giving away 5 books. That's right, FIVE! You can find out how to win at the end of this interview.
Hello, Todd, thanks for stopping by PYN. I see that you like writing in different genres. Which one do you think is your favorite?
I don't think I have a particular favorite. I started out writing horror stories when I was a teen, but I've dabbled in thrillers and pseudo-literary stories since college. These days I try to write stories that span multiple genres so there's always a little something for everyone no matter what their tastes are. I don't want to be known as a writer who can only write one type of story. I want to write them all.

I love this: "Mediocrity is a man-made disease. Affliction is a choice." And it seems to be a theme for you. How does this push you to be better?
I suppose it would be a theme for me, in some respect. When I wrote it, it was meant to underline a central idea in the story that people choose their own way in life, often to their detriment, and it's usually in a passive manner. In A Life Transparent (or ALT), there are repercussions for not living up to one's potential, such as permanent obscurity.
I try to live by it, taking it as the warning it's meant to be. I can choose to live up to my capabilities, or I can choose to take a passive role in my own life. The danger of taking an easier road is the obscurity referenced in the book. I'd rather be remembered for something.

What inspired this story?
I was 23 at the time, just out of college and working at a dead-end job. One day I went to work and no one spoke to me, sparking a simple thought: I could disappear and no one would notice. As I explored that idea, I uncovered some uncomfortable truths about myself. I wasn't happy at the time. I felt as though I'd squandered my potential, sacrificing my dreams for the sake of a steady paycheck. These truths surfaced in the narrative, reflected by the protagonist, Donovan Candle.

My favorite review so far was this: "I wanted a book that was 'out of the box' so to speak and I really got it!! This book is part scary,part sci-fi and part fantasy all rolled into one." How does that make you feel and is that what you were aiming for?
Honestly, when I wrote the book, I just wanted to see where the story would go. I knew it might have some supernatural elements, but I didn't expect it to wear so many different hats. What the story became helped shape my outlook on genres in general, and I think the review reflects this.
That being said, having a book that fits so many different categories does make it difficult to promote--ALT is certainly a niche book--but it also caters to many different readers. If a person likes thrillers, I can say "Yes, you'd like this," and the same applies if a person likes horror or paranormal fiction. Calling it sci-fi or fantasy is a stretch, but I can see where people might get the distinction. I do play around with alternate dimensions and supernatural creatures, after all.

What inspired these characters?
The characters in the story were a mixture of different things, borrowing from my own psyche, characteristics of people I’ve known, and basic archetypes I studied in school.
For example, the story's protagonist, Donovan Candle, is rooted in my own psyche. As I mentioned above, he's a projection of myself, but aged about ten years, about 30 lbs. heavier. He's an honest guy, tries to play by the rules, and deals with a lot of inner turmoil. He is your typical tortured writer trying to make it in a corporate environment. Naturally, a lot of my own insecurities manifest in his character - from his fear of not being able to provide for his family, to his fear of being unhappy. His transparent affliction--a thing called the "flickering"--stems from my fear of anonymity. That I may live and die without leaving some sort of legacy terrifies me. His devotion to his dreams is matched only by the devotion he holds for his wife.
I could spend a lot of time discussing the other characters, especially the villains, but I’d rather let new readers discover them on their own.

What was your favorite part of the research to create this book?
A couple of anecdotes come to mind:
1) In the early stages of the first draft, I polled co-workers about what they considered to be the most boring, mundane things in life. The results were varied, from infomercials to reality television to sales calls and listening to NPR. I had a lot of fun with it, and some of them (the calls and talk radio) made it into the story.
2) During revisions for the second edition, my editor asked if I’d ever fired a gun (I haven’t). She insisted that I do so, but it wasn’t something I could easily arrange, and we were up against a deadline. So I called my best friend who happens to be a card-carrying member of the NRA, and we spent about two hours on the phone discussing trajectory, recoil, how a bullet would react upon collision with solid concrete, and so on. The conversation accounted for about three sentences in the final draft, but it was a lot of fun learning about the intricacies of gunfire. I felt like a part of the Warren Commission.

So you’re writing Book 2. Is there anything you can tell us without giving away the plot? A teaser?
The second book is titled THE LIMINAL MAN. There isn’t much I can give away without spoiling the first book for readers. It takes place about a  year after the events of ALT and involves a growing number of disappearances across the city. Length-wise, it’s about twice the length of the first book. I think it’s a much darker, violent, heavier story, and it deals with themes of doubt, fear, and redemption.

I’m currently working with my editor on the third draft, and I expect one more draft before it’s ready for publication. We’re hoping to have it ready for print sometime this Fall.

Where can readers purchase your book?
A LIFE TRANSPARENT is available at all major retailers in hardcover, paperback, and digital formats:
May we read an excerpt from the book?
Sure thing:
Donovan raised the gun and peered around the corner of the shack toward the grove of trees. What he saw made a pit open in his stomach and all his insides fall into his feet.
The tiny, white things marched across the grass, a veritable army of them numbering in the thousands. They looked harmless while standing on the shoulders of others; now, as they advanced, he found their mass intimidating. There was more movement in his peripheral vision. A small wave of the little bastards crashed over the fountain, their pudgy bodies sprawling across the walkway. Their backward voices meshed into a constant, buzzing drone as they advanced.
He looked at the 9mm, then back at the swarming, white legion.
One of the things saw him. It screeched and pointed. The others cheered.
“I’m not seeing this.” His declaration fell deaf against their wall of reversed language. He tried to look away, but found he couldn’t take his eyes off them.
The throng of miniature albino soldiers marched onward. When they reached the plaza’s perimeter, Donovan turned and ran, managing only a few strides before he realized he was surrounded. The Lilliputian monsters streamed from all corners, over the grass, the benches, even on the limbs of trees. He was lost in the Monochrome wilderness, and had stumbled into a hive.
Donovan stepped back against the wall of the shack and raised the pistol. I’m going to die here, he thought. They’re going to drag me down and tear me to pieces.
The creatures stopped a few feet away. They chattered in unison, looking up at him from a sea of black, empty eyes.
“It is a shame Mr. Guffin could not follow instructions.”
The creatures fell silent as Aleister Dullington’s voice boomed overhead. Donovan felt the ground vibrate with each pronounced syllable. On the phone, Dullington was soft spoken, disarming. In the Monochrome, his voice thundered with authority, asserting one immutable fact: this was his kingdom, and here he was God.

Where can your readers connect with you on the web?

My website and blog are here: www.toddkeisling.com

I also frequent a social network or two:
A big thanks to Todd for letting us interview him. If you'd like to hear more, we'll be interviewing him live this Wednesday on our Blog Talk Radio show at 3:30 PST. To set a reminder for the show click here. To enter for a chance to win a copy of A Life Transparent please leave a comment along with your email adress.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

PYN Review of Berinn Rae's Nightfall

Reviewed by Amanda James
PYN Reviewer
4 out of 5 stars

From the beginning Berinn Rae pulls you into the fantastic world of the Guardians of the Seven Souls. This book starts off with the introduction to one tough female bush pilot Kerra whose determination got her listed at the top in Alaska. In the sky is the one true place Kerra feels like she belongs as her gift of seeing auras has made fitting in challenging. Unbeknownst to Kerra this very gift throws her into a supernatural world of Dark Angels and the Guardians of the Seven Seals.
Kerra’s family heritage causes one dark angel named Malgrin turn his sights on her and who will stop at nothing to make Kerra his. Lucky for Kerra that from the shadows a guardian has been watching and it’s his duty to assess whether Kerra is a threat to the Guardians or an unknowing pawn in a war that has been waging for thousands of years.
Kerra’s never ending stubbornness and determination draws Gareth to her creating a dynamic dance between responsibility and a love that could stand the test of time. Berinn does a fantastic job in creating a world of wonder and the super natural. This is a definite read for anyone who enjoys some action and romance rolled into one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview with Jamie Haden, Author of Spirit Seeker


Jamie, it’s great to meet you! What can you tell us about you that we wouldn’t already know from your other interviews?

Oh my goodness. Let’s see. To tell you the truth, I have a very unhealthy obsession with Chanel No. 5. I used to wear Coco, but a few years back my husband surprised me with a bottle of No. 5. Since, I’ve been in love. I wear it if I’m going to the beach or simply swimming in the pool.    

Speed Answer Challenge:

Chocolate or Vanilla:  chocolate
Favorite color:  purple
Astrological sign:  Aquarius
Favorite season:  fall
Sports car or All-terrain vehicle: sports  
Watch TV or Go for a hike:  hike
Favorite animal:  eagle

Tell us a bit about your book, Spirit Seeker.
Spirit Seeker is the story of sixteen-year-old Talisa Santiago.  Life is strange and difficult for Talisa. She was born in the desert underneath the full moon in January—the wolf moon. However, she left the desert with her mother when she was a young girl. She remembers bits and pieces of her past but it isn’t until she and her mom move to a remote barrier island off the coast of North Carolina that she feels fate has finally called—secretive and mysterious he stands alone on the edge of the bank. Her friends tell her to stay away; she hears rumors that he is dangerous. Still, she can’t resist. Whether Talisa realizes it or not, she knows a thing or two about boys like Jag Chavez. Fate is funny that way.
For the first time in her life, Talisa meets kids just like her—Native Americans who know the way of the spirit. The closer she gets to Jag, the more she realizes he is hiding a dark secret. He may have the markings of the Thunderbird, but he is named for the powerful Jaguar. Together they embark on a journey that will haunt her forever.


What inspired this story? And what’s the driving force behind the rest of the series?
 Definitely my daughters.

A couple of us authors were talking on Twitter the other day about how our characters/books take on lives of their own. Like one character in my YA series loves Lady Gaga and I can’t stand her! You mention that you let Talisa have her own Voice. Have you experienced anything like we have? LOL! #FellowWritersMustJoinTogether

                Good question. Talisa lives on a remote island without a computer or a cell phone. She hates shopping and isn’t into new trends. She doesn’t wear any makeup, and dreams of going to college and becoming a doctor.
                As for me, I couldn’t live without my laptop. I love shopping, especially for shoes. I splurge on expensive make-up and dream of moving to Spain. When I was Talisa’s age I wanted to backpack through Europe with my friends.  
  
I have a harder time writing action than dialogue too! Sometimes, it’s just brutal! How do you get through it?

I’ve recently read quite a bit of noir crime fiction. Action is certainly the hardest to write, in my opinion. I’m a literary fiction girl at heart. What a thrill to read some hardboiled noir that leaves you exhilarated and utterly miserable at the same time. I love it!    

What can you tell us about the rest of the series?

The following books are all completely separate. They are stand alones and will each have a different theme.   

Where can readers purchase your book?

Spirit Seeker is available at Pill Hill Press and most online retailers such as Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc.

May we read an excerpt from the book?

I was only five when I first saw the dead man. I was awakened at midnight by the sound of beating drums.
Before me were two men with their bodies painted, wearing masks, dancing around the grotesque corpse. Their long, thick hair flapped against their backs as they moved in perfect rhythm. In and out, they went into a trance. Shadows appeared through the smoke. I could see the dead man’s spirit hovering around, waiting for redemption. His side had been torn in half, mauled it seemed by a wild animal of some sort. In the background there was a woman stirring a paste. I smiled when she looked at me. It was my mother.
She went to the dead man and began rubbing his ragged, maggot-ridden side with the magic potion. Her long hair flowed into his wounds. The two male dancers began stomping their feet, waving their hands, and chanting foreign sounds only the spirits could understand. The ceremony took most of the night. By dawn, the drums finally stopped beating. And the dead man woke up. He staggered as he stood, walking out of the tent with a limp. The miracle workers removed their masks. I watched my mother with perfect clarity. She was mesmerizing. Her beauty was extraordinary. Divine. The way she carefully wiped the paint from their sweat filled faces and soaked their bloody, battered feet in buckets of warm water was a ritual my mother knew all too well. The two men she cleansed were my father and grandfather. She handed each of them a peace pipe. That was the last memory I have of my father. After that, I don’t remember ever seeing him again.
Although I do know the moon well, the lullabies sung to me as a child were never from storybooks that promised goodnight wishes to the beautiful planet. Instead, at night, when the stars shone upon me, I would recite a sacred prayer to the hidden sun, the earth father—the almighty jaguar. I would gaze into the night sky and dream of the jaguar’s spots shinning above me. I would wish into them and fantasize childlike dreams. I knew the jaguar had a sacred power in the earth and the animals that lived upon it. I just never knew I was creating my own destiny so long ago.


Where can your readers connect with you on the web?

Thank you so much for asking

I had a wonderful time today! Thanks for taking a minute to chat with me!

And thank YOU Jamie for letting us chat with you! If you'd like to hear more from Jamie, we'll be talking with her live this Wednesday at 3:30 PST on our Blog Talk Radio show. To set a reminder for the interview click here.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

PYN Review of Entanglements

Reviewed by Jess Macallan
PYN Reviewer
4 out of 5 stars

ENTANGLED is a paranormal YA featuring teen Kizzy Taylor. Her life takes a dramatic and tragic turn the day she unknowingly opens a vortex and loses her little brother. She makes a half-hearted attempt at a normal life to appease her loved ones. But everything changes when Rom Calixo shows up at school. He looks familiar, and gorgeous, and like everyone else, she tries to hold him at a distance. However, he has other ideas—and motives.
Rom tags along with Kizzy’s group to a spelunking adventure to an abandoned hospital. That’s when Kizzy discovers the hard way that she’s a portal key. Her step-sister and friend are sucked into the vortex and Kizzy can barely comprehend what comes out in their place. She has to move through alternate dimensions to save them, while avoiding the creatures that would love to use her as a key.
Ms. Mason blends the paranormal—think vampires, ghouls and more—with some fascinating sci-fi components—vortexes, wild scientific theories and alternate dimensions—into a world I was sucked into. (*cringe* Please forgive the pun.) I’ve never read a storyline quite like this, and I enjoyed how she pulled everything together. Rom was both formal and charming, whereas Kizzy is aloof and understandably vulnerable. The romance between them was fun to read, although I would have liked to have known a little more about Rom beyond his family history.
Ms. Mason introduces an interesting premise and characters I’d like to read more about. I hope to see more of the world(s) she created. 4 stars to ENTANGLED.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

PYN Review of Ward Against Death

Reviewed by Amanda James
PYN Reviewer
3 out of 5 stars

Ward Against Death:

Edward de’Ath-Ward is a necromancer who unknowingly gets hired to perform a wake on a young female from a noble family. Ward becomes entranced by Celia who begs for his help in pursuing those that caused her death. Ward and Celia embark on an investigation that has so many suspects that each time they turn a corner more sinister plots are revealed.

Melanie Card weaves a tale that has many twists and turns. The players in this puzzle continue to leave you guessing as to who may be the one that took Celia’s life. The bond that Melanie creates between Ward and Celia is one that anyone who has been in a relationship can relate too. The constant push and pull for the balance of power between these two dynamic characters is intriguing to the end as you see the changes of their bond ebb and flow. This book has action, romance and humor rolled into a great plot that keeps you reading all night long.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Interview with Patricia Mason

Hey, Patricia! It’s nice to meet you! Tell us something about yourself.
I write steamy contemporary and paranormal romance under the name Patricia Mason and young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy as P.R. Mason. I was born in the Midwest, and while I had lots of friends and an established career there, I moved to the strange and wonderful city of Savannah, Georgia in 2001. My sister and I had visited Savannah for a long weekend and couldn't resist its siren call. Now I've been here for about ten years and every day is still a treat. I love it here. My home is in the historic downtown and is ruled by a couple of benevolent overlords: my two black cats.

I’m about to embark on a journey of writing romance and YA. What have you learned from this approach? What were some of the challenges?

The biggest challenge, I think, is in branding yourself and your writing. Some readers will cross over between YA and romance but some won't. It's important to let the reader know what they're getting. That's why I've used two different pen names. However, the names are obviously very close to one another so I think a reader could easily find all my books if they would like to. In my writing, the story and characters dictates the heat level or genre. Right now, the stories in my head are urban fantasy/paranormal romance in the YA or New Adult category. I think you have to write what you love, what you're passionate about. If you don't have enthusiasm for what you're writing, the reader won't have enthusiasm when they read the book.


How did you stumble on the quantum mechanics theory of entanglements that inspired this story? #GeeksRULE #GeekIsTheNewBlack  

I was watching a television program on the Discovery channel (I think) about string theory. There was a mention of the entanglements phenomenon and quote by Einstein about the theory. Einstein had called it "Spooky action at a distance." That totally intrigued me. I found out scientists had observed that a particle might be tweaked and a second one, miles away, would turn in response even though there was no discernable connection between the two. They theorized that the two particles were linked or entangled in some alternate dimension. Once I started reading about entanglements and multiverses, I found some very cool facts such as the fact that cause and effect don't always occur in that order. Sometimes the effect happens before the cause. There is so much paranormal activity in Savannah that I've often thought about what sort of scientific basis could be behind these hauntings. I really think we may not understand all the science yet, but there are explanations. The theory of entanglements could be one of them. Anyway, I began thinking that if particles could be linked in alternate dimensions then people could be also. What if people or other beings were linked? The plot emerged from there.

You said Savannah, Georgia and my internal paranormal investigator geek got super excited! LOL! What’s the most haunted place you’ve been to and what did it do for you as a writer?  

My sister and I used to own an antique shop. The building we leased was built over the first burial ground of Savannah, an extremely haunted area. And our building had a number of spirits. More than once we opened the shop to paranormal investigators who found fascinating results such as an EVP (electronic voice phenomenon) of a panting dog and a child saying, "he likes you." Items in the shop would regularly move on their own and we would hear the sound of breaking glass. No glass was broken, only the sound. In fact, my sister and I were called by our alarm company so many times after hours for breaking glass (they thought the front window had been broken) and movement in the shop, that we stopped having them monitor for those occurrences. However, the mediums who investigated our shop said that the spirits liked us, so they didn't break any of our good stuff. The shop owner in the space prior to us was an art glass seller and they had a lot of broken items.  My sister's carriage house is also very haunted. Paramount Pictures, in fact, sent a team to investigate and film at her house for a bonus feature they included in the twenty-fifth anniversary edition of Poltergeist. These are just a couple of many hauntings I've had experience with. I think what it has done for me as a writer is open my imagination and start me thinking about things I never would have considered before.

You mention that Savannah, Georgia has a high quantity of alleged vortexes. As a paranormal investigator, I’m interested to know what type, what are people saying, what are the claims, because that’s something I haven’t heard about in Savannah. But most of my paranormal research has been here in Denver…where we don’t have a lot of those. *chuckle*

Savannah was voted the most haunted city in America by a parapsychology group. A medium I talked to believes that not only are there a plethora of hauntings here because Savannah is one of the oldest cities in America (founded in 1733) but also because of vortexes. Savannah is laid out in a grid and originally there were twenty-four squares, i.e., little parks that would serve each ward or neighborhood. Twenty-three of them are still greenspace. One of my friends swears he observed a figure pop up out of the ground in the middle of one of these squares from out of a vortex. And since my friend isn't mentally ill, I have to give his personal experience some credence. Part of my book Entanglements was inspired by a vortex reportedly in the basement of a local 'haunted' restaurant. The basement is connected to the riverfront through a tunnel system originally used to shanghai sailors and to transport slaves to and from ships. I'm acquainted with the owner of a local paranormal tour company, which was developing a paranormal investigation tour for the basement. They brought in a medium. Her remark was "no wonder the building is so haunted, someone drew a vortex opening symbol on the floor and never closed it." I investigated the location and the symbol and used a symbol like it in Entanglements.


*stashing the inner geek* LOL! Tell us about your book!  

In Entanglements, teen KIZZY TAYLOR is just hoping for an evening of fun when she joins her friends in a spelunking expedition through an under-city tunnel. But fun turns bizarre when Kizzy accidentally opens a vortex and her stepsister is swept through to an evil alternate dimension. The only way to rescue her stepsister is to reopen the vortex and go in after her. But is her new boyfriend, ROM CALIXO, going to help Kizzy or try to stop her? And if she can get past Rom, will she be able to get back home?
What’s something about your characters that your readers wouldn’t know after reading the book?

The villain of Entanglements is His Royal Highness, The Prince Leopold. He is the son of Queen Victoria. In his dimension, which has an alternate history to ours, he was transformed into a vampire when an attempt to cure his hemophilia didn't quite work out. He became monarch of the Empire of the Dark after killing off his entire family, including his mother. Since then he's been busy creating a vampire aristocracy and gathering all sorts of paranormal creatures into his sphere. Only trouble is, humans are becoming scarce in his world so he'd like to get control of Kizzy so she can open up other dimensions for conquering. But what readers wouldn't know is that Leopold is in therapy. He turned the famous Dr. Sigmund Freud into a vampire so that he could enter psychoanalysis to help him deal with his traumatic past.


Where can readers purchase your book, Entanglements?
May we read an excerpt from the book?


Chapter One

June 21st
No one had ever lived after jumping from the Talmadge Bridge. Until now, in my entire fifteen years, I had never been particularly special or unique. So the chances I, Kizzy Taylor, would be the first to survive were probably slimmer than the cheerleading captain at my high school. The nighttime Savannah skyline, with its gold domed city hall, loomed in the distance, serene and beautiful. Leaning over the railing, I peered down to the water far, far below me. The whipping wind slammed my ponytail against my forehead.
In the darkness, the black sheen of the water’s surface had the appearance of asphalt after a rain. It would probably feel like asphalt on impact. At the thought, my knees buckled. Even if I wasn’t particularly afraid of falling, I was suddenly very afraid of heights…Weird.
Straightening my shaking legs with defiance, I dragged my gaze away from the river and deliberately stared at my feet. They weren’t as scary as the height. From the purple polish on my toes to the blister on my right heel, they were the same feet I’d slipped into clear plastic flip-flops this morning. The garishly happy sunflower appliqué of my shoes mocked me.
 “Kizzy.” Adam’s tiny four-year-old fingers tugged at the denim of my pants. He held his favorite plastic pterodactyl toy in his other hand.
Glancing back at him, I pried his fingers away. “Get back,” I ordered, giving a little push behind me. Okay. Maybe my life was over but I was going to save my little brother.
“I want to go home and see Mommy.” Adam's blue eyes were wide and glistening with fear.
“I know, baby. We will. But get back now.” I tried to keep my tone firm but loving.
A car’s horn blared. Rising as it approached, the tone of the honking then fell as the car left us behind. The lights of the enormous suspension bridge must be illuminating us as if we were on a theater stage. Why didn’t any of these passing cars stop to help?
Adam’s sobs tore at me as I balanced my belly against the icy metal of the railing and climbed over. With barely enough room for my feet, their tips hung over the concrete edge.
“Shhh.” I glanced back over my right shoulder at Adam to try to meet his eyes but they were scrunched tightly shut. “We’re just playing a game. We’ll go home soon. I promise.”
“This isn’t a game.” The baritone voice, so agonizingly familiar, drowned out my brother’s cries. “You have to do it,” the man shouted prodding me in the back with his revolver.
The muzzle jabbed into my skin through the thin fabric of my t-shirt and pushed me forward. I would totally have a bruise tomorrow...if I survived until tomorrow.
“Jump,” the man screamed.
Gripping the rail behind me, I clung. A jagged piece of metal on the rail bit into my flesh and I winced as liquid pooled in my palm. I couldn’t help jerking that hand away to hold it in front of me. Blood dripped off my palm before disappearing into the darkness and becoming part of the Savannah River water.
“Kizzzzzy!” My brother screeched.
“Shut up.” The man started with a jerk. “Do you want to make me shoot?”
The pitch of Adam’s wailing heightened.
Clutching at my necklace as if it were a religious medal, I turned to try to talk to him.
“Can’t you just leave Adam alone? I’ll do what you want.” My pleading had the same effect on the man as it did on the steel of the suspension cable a few feet away.
“This is because of you,” he said. He. My dad. He didn’t even look like the hero I’d always known. My once handsome father was now ugly with his face set in angry angles and with unrecognizable wild eyes. "This is all because of you."
Tell me something new. I’d always suspected I was to blame for my parents’ divorce. But could the breakdown of a marriage actually send my father into this kind of craziness?
“What about Adam,” I said. “Will you take him home…after this?”
“That’s not important.” He—I refused to think of him as Dad again—waved the gun around as if he weren’t even aware of it anymore.
His monotone statement sent an uncontrolled shiver rushing through me. Suddenly, my heart raced so fast and hard it wouldn’t have surprised me if it burst through to the outside of my chest like that creature in the movie Alien. I was terrified for myself and for Adam.
If I tried to get past him, my father could easily block me and throw me over. Mind racing, I remembered the door in the concrete tower—one of the two supporting the deck of the bridge—we’d passed walking up here from our car. I hoped that door led to a stairway down or possibly an elevator. The tower and its door to freedom tantalized me at only about fifty feet away. I could walk the edge of the bridge like a balance beam and make it there pretty quickly.
But what about the gun? It occurred to me that, for some reason, shooting me wasn’t what he wanted or he would have done it by now.
Carefully turning my feet and preparing to get away as fast as I could, I gripped the rail with my right hand and held out the other toward my brother.
“Come to me,” I said.
With complete trust Adam ran and hopped so I could lift him into a “seat” on my left elbow. His arms wrapped tightly around my neck. The smell of chocolate in his hair bolstered my resolve.
“What?” The man blinked as if coming out of some kind of trance. “What are you doing?”
Not bothering to answer, I inched my way along. A wall of wind I hadn’t counted on thwarted my progress. Worse, a sudden gust threatened to sweep us over the side.
“Stop,” the man ordered.
A popping from behind me was almost immediately accompanied by a burning in my right bicep. The arm I’d been using to anchor us to the rail went numb and I lost my hold. Apparently, he was willing to shoot me after all.
Only a few more feet to the door. We could still make it, but I needed to go back over the rail to get there.
Twisting, I prepared to set Adam down on the safe side. Another popping noise sounded from behind me and a thud reverberated in my body as if I'd been slammed in the side with a twenty-pound barbell. The numbness in my arm expanded into the rest of my body and fog seeped into my brain. I know I dropped backward and lost the precarious balance I’d had with my feet.
Falling seemed to take forever as the water slowly rose to meet me. The dome of city hall continued to gleam in the distance, with its golden reflection extending to the river water. Strange that I hadn’t seen that before.
No, I thought. The glow wasn’t on the water it was above the water. A luminous oval pulsed between the river and me. The oval transformed into a circle tinged not only with gold but also with violet.
This must be some dying hallucination the brain generates, I thought as I passed into the shimmering ring. The teacher hadn’t covered this in Biology I. Maybe death tripping was in next semester’s material. The stuff I wouldn’t be learning.
Hitting the water felt like a giant wet mouth sucking me in before swallowing me down.


Where can your readers connect with you on the web? 


I love to hear from readers. Here are my links:

Thank you so much to Patricia for letting us interview her! She's giving away 2 copies of her book. For a chance to win one of them, please leave a comment in the following format: parayournormal(at)blogspot(dot)com.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Interview with Melanie Card

Wow, Melanie! Look at you getting yourself out there! Congrats! There were a lot of interviews to go through! You and your book are getting some great reviews and some good spotlight action! But one thing that popped out was actually in your bio. You mentioned two great teachers that helped make you the writer you are today. I did too! I’d like to hear more about them.
Thanks, PYN Team! I’m excited to be here today.  There have been a number of great teachers who’ve encouraged me over the years, but these first two I met very early in my life—public school—and although I know I would have found my way to writing and storytelling eventually, they set me on the path early.  They made creative writing welcoming and encouraged me to write stories, even if I was supposed to be doing non-creative writing during journal writing period.  Or at least, at the time I thought I was supposed to be doing non-creative writing. Now that I think about it, I wonder if the exercise was just to get kids writing. Boy, did I hate journal writing. Compared to the people in my imagination, I had a boring life. These people did awesome things like go on adventures to find magical swords and battled dragons and made friends with fairies. So one day I started writing that in my journal. I don’t know what this teacher really thought about it, but she left some encouraging remarks in the journal, asking questions about where the story might go. The next journal writing period I wrote a little bit more and the next period, even more. The teacher left more comments, asked more questions. Soon I couldn’t wait for journal writing period. I would plan what my characters were going to do and what cliffhanger I was going to leave them on to see what kind of questions I could get my teacher to ask. She did that for a few years (followed my class through a number of grades) and when I moved to the next awesome teacher, he took up where she’d left off. I can honestly attribute learning to be a novelist to these two teachers. Whether they knew it or not they were teaching me about plot complications and cliff hangers and for that I will forever be grateful.

I also notice that you have some lovely bits for writers. What was the most helpful piece of advice that you put up there? I mean, you picked these for a reason. So which was it and why?
I picked the topics because they were things someone had been kind enough to share with me and I wanted to pass them along to other writers. The one I like the most is the two-fold Show vs. Tell entries, probably because in a lot of ways it’s about choice and not just about “the rules”. We hear as beginning writers “show don’t tell”, and while I agree, 95% of the time you should show—it’s more exciting, grabs the reader, and immerses her in the story—there are times when you probably shouldn’t show. I wrote those two musings as a way to make others think about when and where (and to question and examine rules, not just follow them.) Of course, then I wrote about dialogue tags because punctuating dialogue is one of those rules you really can’t break.

How did you choose to write your story “before gun powder, but after the printing press had been invented”? I know, for me, researching that era, I was blown away. What inspired you to take the plunge in this era?
I come to YA and romance from traditional fantasy (Lord of the Rings type books) so the “before gun powder” comes naturally to me and I really love the swashbuckling of the Three Musketeer type stories. I also liked the idea of having more than just monks interested in the written word and education, which lead me to create a world set in a faux-Renaissance type period. There are also interesting details you can put in about clothing and scientific advancement from that time period. Which is a long way to say, I thought the era was cool!

Everyone who’s – or nearly so – read your book waxes poetic about your setting. *grin* Now, in one of your interviews you mentioned how you developed Brawenal City. Can you share with the readers here a bit, show us why it’s so breathtaking?
The inspiration for Brawenal City came from images of the cities on the southern coast of Italy. The towns curl down the sloping hillside to the sea and I wanted to try and capture that sense of winding from the mountain top to the port. As well, I also wanted a city with a sense of age and yet growth, so I added the city rings. Walls were often built around cities or fortifications, but as a city’s population grows and the space within the wall is taken up people are forced to build their houses outside of the wall’s protection.  Brawenal has gone through numerous periods of growth and there are many walls and, as a result, physical separation between different “classes” within the city. The noble and royal classes have their houses on the top of the hill, in the older parts of town, farthest from the noise and smell of the docks and warehouses, as well as the tanning and knacker yards. I honestly didn’t anticipate how complicated Brawenal City would become, but in fantasy fiction the world is often treated like a character, and I suppose since my characters had a life of their own, it made sense the city would have one as well.

Okay. In all of your interviews, you talk a lot about Ward and Celia (great plot idea, btw) but you don’t say what inspired these two characters. Can you share that with us?
The characters were really inspired by one character. Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Ichabod Crane in Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow. I loved how quirky and sincere he was and in Burton’s version, Ichabod gets the girl (something I always feel is missing from the original story).  Around the same time I was watching the movie I was also playing around with the question about good vs. evil and why we traditionally cast certain types of characters as villains (namely necromancers). Alright, I suppose I know why necromancers are often villains. It’s because their magic is dark. Controlling the dead is scary. So I began wondering in what situation would a necromancer be a hero.
Out of that came Ward. Edward de’Ath the Fourth.  Just some guy who’s had to fall back on the family business of necromancy because his chosen profession is out of his reach.  He’s a little awkward and nerdy like Ichabod, but also just as sincere.
Once I had Ward I knew the best heroine for him would be someone who challenged him and helped him to grow in confidence. But also someone who needed to learn something from Ward’s gentle nature. Who better than a kick-ass assassin who doesn’t trust anyone?

*wild clapping* This is my favorite question and I can’t wait to read your answer. *mild shrieking* You’re a fellow research geek!!!!! *chuckle* I have to know! When you were researching the medieval surgery techniques, what was the coolest thing you discovered, the thing that just blew your socks off?
The thing that completely blew my socks off was the types of complicated and delicate surgeries 10th century physician Abu al-Qasim al-Zahrawi could do. The man supposedly could reattached severed ears, do breast reduction surgery, eye surgeries, remove nasal polyps, among other things. His use of catgut for internal stitches is still being used today.

So you’re writing Book 2. Is there anything you can tell us without giving away the plot? A teaser?
This is a tough one; I don’t want to give too much away. So I’ll just say Ward and Celia get into even more trouble with more undead creatures and evil necromancers and their relationship gets even more complicated.

Where can readers purchase your book, Ward against Death?

May we read an excerpt from the book?
Her eyes narrowed and her hand snaked under the pillow. “It’s not wise to enter a lady’s bedchamber without her consent.”
                Ward plastered on his calmest, gentlest expression. The newly wakened dead often assumed they had just roused from sleep. “You’ve been unwell.”
                Her icy blue eyes examined him, her gaze jumping from his face, to his wig, to his jacket, and back to his face. “Unwell? Is that what my father told you?”
                “In a manner of speaking.” She wasn’t acting the way she was supposed to.
Noblewomen, particularly those around his age, were usually demure or aloof—not suspicious.
                “Well, I’m fine, and I’m sorry my father troubled you.” She threw back the covers, sat up, and stepped onto the thick rug. “Now go, be a good doctor, and tell my family I’m healthy and sleeping.” She punctuated her last word by pulling her nightdress over her head, revealing a slim waist, athletic muscles, and pale skin marked with the purple bruises of livor mortis along her back. And no other clothes.
                “But—” He flushed and spun around to face the wall. “What are you doing?” No. Wait. What was he doing? He’d seen a dead naked woman before. Just never like this.
                She chuckled. “I’m going for a walk.”
                “A what? No—You can’t.” She really wasn’t acting the way she was supposed to.
                “I beg to differ.”
                The situation was spiraling out of hand. Damn it, he had to take control. He was the necromancer, she the newly awakened. She was supposed to listen to him.
                He turned to confront her. Thankfully, she was fully dressed—in men’s clothes, but at least she was dressed. “Listen, I—”
                She slipped her hand under her pillow and removed a sheathed dagger.
                Great Goddess! She kept a dagger under her pillow? Ward inched toward the door to block her escape without appearing obvious, although he had no idea what he’d do if she fought him. Why did he always get stuck with the difficult corpses?

Where can your readers connect with you on the web?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Winner Announcement

This week we're giving away a copy of Stone Cold Seduction by Jess Macallan. And the lucky winner is...

Na

Come back tomorrow for another chance to win a paranormal read!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

PYN Review of Stone Cold Seduction, by Jess Macallan

Reviewed by SJ Byrne
PYN Reviewer

Take a talented author's creative spin on mythical creatures, mix in gorgeous men, fast paced action, and sizzling hot scenes and you've got 'Stone Cold Seduction.' Jess Macallan has shaped a world parallel to our own with some imaginative twists; never before have a Phoenix and a Gargoyle been this incredibly sexy.

Elleodora Fredricks, aka Elle, is a seemingly normal woman, who owns and operates an organic soap store in Seattle, Washington. By day, she fills her time creating new concoctions for her customers but by night she has taken to thieving priceless items with insider guidance from her best friend and childhood pal. After a narrow escape, thanks to her extremely hot employee Jaxon West, Elle learns there's more going on in her life than she understands. Nothing is as it seems; her recently deceased mother, her vicious father, and even her dearest friend are all strangers in her mind.

In order to repair the stolen memories keeping her in the dark about her rightful place in the world, Elle begins a journey of discoveries only to learn nothing will come easy or be normal ever again. Caught between two men who hold different pieces of her heart, and a cruel father who only wants to break and control her, Elle must find her way in this new mystical realm that threatens to swallow her whole.

With 'Stone Cold Seduction,' Jess Macallan shows promise of great things to come. If for some incredible reason a reader is immune to the steaminess of the characters, surely they will be hooked by the humorous laugh-out-loud undertone. This book has it all - it pulled me in and left me wanting more!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Interview with Jess Macallan, Author of Stone Cold Seduction

Hey, Jess! It’s great to meet you! Before we start talking about your book – which I HAD to buy, BTW, let’s talk about the New Year. You’re doing a *looking again* a Vision Board? *very interested* Tell us more. What are you doing with it and are there pics to share?
Hi! Thanks so much for having me here today. Yes, I’m addicted to creating vision boards. I usually do a couple per year. I’m also addicted to magazines, which sort of fueled the vision board obsession. I cut out pictures and words to represent my goals, dreams and even inspirations. To ring in the New Year, my husband and kids all did one. It’s the perfect visual reminder. I haven’t quite finished mine, but I’ll post pics to my blog as soon as it’s done. My favorite picture is of Johnny Depp dressed as Captain Jack Sparrow. You know, for inspiration. Ahem.

Good luck to your non-resolution-resolutions. *chuckle* There’s not a whole lot about you on the web. Why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself?
Thanks. I suppose I should mention I set so many goals in a year, resolutions are sort of redundant. *grins* And on that note, I’m a mom of 3, yoga teacher, gardener, speaker, craft junkie, book addict, volunteer…did I mention I’m a type A personality? Seriously though, I have a wide variety of interests and am easily distracted by shiny new ideas. Writing was an ideal fit for the part of my brain that needed an outlet for some of those ideas.

Your book, Stone Cold Seduction, is out. Tell us a bit about your book.

It’s the first book in my Set in Stone trilogy, from Entangled Publishing. The series features Elle Fredricks, who is unexpectedly thrown into a paranormal world she wants nothing to do with. Family secrets come to light, and Elle discovers she’s part shadow elf. To make matters interesting, a sexy gargoyle and hot phoenix both claim to be her mate. In order to make sense of everything, including her growing abilities, she has to find her fate. Her father will do anything to prevent that from happening.

I’m always intrigued when an author picks a creature you haven’t seen in a million books and creates a character around that. YOU chose a gargoyle as the mc’s love interest. *giggle* And by the reviews, that’s a going well. I love the comment by Katie Dalton, “All I saw was ‘he can turn parts of himself to stone at will’ yeah, I’m SOLD!!!!!!!”. That had me laughing. How’d you decide on a gargoyle?

I hadn’t heard that one, but that’s hilarious! I chose a gargoyle because I had nothing new to add to the vampire/werewolf genre. Don’t get me wrong, I love those books, but I wanted to do something different, and gargoyles have always fascinated me. In fact, they get a bad rap. Most people think of them as ugly, creepy creatures, but they were originally used to ward away evil spirits. Well, and also as rain spouts, but that’s far less sexy. So I wanted to bring that protector to life and see what happened.

What inspired this book?

I love mythical creatures, and wanted to do my own twist on elves, phoenix and oracles. I wish I could claim I had a brilliant epiphany, but I simply started with gargoyles and worked my way out from there. My creative process for this book was equal parts random and methodical.

Tell us something about your characters that we wouldn’t be able to figure out by reading the book.
Oh, gosh, that’s a hard one. I’m always surprised by how readers perceive characters, because it can vary wildly. I wanted each of the characters, especially Jax (the gargoyle) and MacLean (the phoenix) to have to work for readers’ affection as they try to win Elle. With that said, Jax is one of the more complex characters. Although he’s the strong, silent type, he has a soft spot for big dogs (think Irish Wolfhounds), and romantic gestures. Readers get to see more of that when he turns up the heat in Stone Cold Revenge.

Is there a book 2 in the works? Can you tell us a bit about it?
Yes, Stone Cold Revenge is the second book, and Stone Cold Destiny rounds out the trilogy. I should know release dates very soon. Stone Cold Revenge introduces a couple of new characters, and Elle comes into her full abilities (with some very surprising twists). She chooses her mate, but it doesn’t go quite as planned. And readers get to see exactly what a gargoyle can do. *winks*

Where can readers purchase your book?

Readers can purchase a copy of STONE COLD SEDUCTION at: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books On Board | Powell's | BAM | Diesel
May we read an excerpt from the book?

Absolutely!

Get in, get out. Get in, get out, I chanted in my head.
I could do this. I crept toward the stairs, keeping to the shadows and the outer edges of the room. Footsteps moving at a fast pace were coming toward me. I touched the small mark for the cloaking ward and silently chanted the words, and pressed against the wall. Please let this work. A split second later, two gargoyles rounded the corner. My mouth went dry, and I was afraid they’d hear my heart pounding, it was so loud.
They were full gargoyles. Their stone feet made dull, heavy thuds against the stone floor. Hysteria bubbled, and I wondered what happened if they got a chip in gargoyle form. Did they ever break a toe or finger off? Wings tucked behind them, horns on their heads, they were an awesome sight. Long faces, pointy chins and bright, glowing silver eyes. No clothes and very, very…naked.
I brought my gaze back to their faces as they neared the stairs. I held my breath. Silently, they brushed past me, oblivious to my presence. So close, I could have reached out and grabbed their…er…wings. I waited until I could no longer hear their footsteps, before releasing the ward and my breath in a quiet exhale.
I sucked in a deep, shaky breath. That had been far too close for comfort. I made my way down the stairs, one cautious step at a time.
Candle sconces lined the walls. Tiny flames flickered and cast sinister shadows down the curving stairwell. I felt like I was walking down to the dungeons, which is what I’m sure the lower levels used to be. Fear snaked along my spine. I didn’t want to be here.
Which was more motivation to hurry the hell up.
Because of the candle sconces, I couldn’t hug the walls. I crouched down and took the steps as quickly and quietly as I could. Every five steps, I paused to listen. The gargoyles must be faster than I gave them credit for, because I didn’t hear their footsteps receding.
The growing silence strained my nerves. Where were all the guards and oracles MacLean had spoke about? I’d heard one female and seen the two gargoyles. There were five upper levels and three lower levels. I should hear something.
Keeping one hand on the wall, trying to avoid the hot, dripping wax, I made my way downstairs, into what felt like the pit of hell. Was it getting warmer?
The spiral stairs continued down. I was almost there, when the next ward hit me. If I’d thought the first one was big, this one brought me to my knees. Literally.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t hear. Raw energy consumed me. It ripped through me with the force of a tsunami. As quickly as it started, it was over. Huddled on the stairs, I gasped for breath. A twinge in my shoulder indicated where the new mark was.
“The ward is down. Did you hear that?” The low, nasty voice came from below. It echoed in the stairwell. Heavy thuds on the stairs had me scrambling to my feet.
Shit. They were coming.
Quiet, calm shadow. Quiet, calm shadow, I repeated mentally, squeezing my eyes shut. I held the image in my head, praying it would hold. If I got out of this alive, I’d donate more. Volunteer my time. Be nice to every person I met. No more take-out food. I’d exercise and get enough sleep. I’d…
The two gargoyles raced up the stairs. Fast and agile, they ran right through me. Right through me.
Shock held me still.
Time was running out. I moved down the stairs, despite the way my legs threatened to give out with each step. Hitting the second level, I ducked into the first room I found. Hoping there was electricity down here, I fumbled for a light switch. Success. I flipped the switch.
With horror, I took in the scene in front of me.

Where can your readers connect with you on the web? (provide links)

Readers can connect with me at | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | JessMacallan |

Thanks so much for having me at ParaYourNormal today. I hope you all enjoy Stone Cold Seduction and watch for Stone Cold Revenge to hit shelves this spring!

Thanks so much to Jess for letting us interview her! She's also giving away a copy of her book to one lucky winner, so if you'd like to enter for a chance to win then please post a comment with your email in the following format: parayournormal(at)blogspot(dot)com