Lost Girl: Hidden, Book One Audiobook is Now Available!

LostGirlAudioBookCoverIt’s a busy week over here — two releases in one week! The first is the audiobook for Lost Girl, which is now available on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes! (I teased a sample of the audiobook in this post, if you’d like to have a listen.)

I can’t fully express what a great experience this was for me, and I am looking forward to working with actress Tonya Cornelisse and the awesome team at Punch Audio in bringing the rest of the series to life.

I should also mention that if you don’t have an Audible account, you can open one and get your first book from Audible for free — so that may be a nice way to have a listen and see if you like the audiobook experience. I think you’ll really enjoy this one. Tonya did an awesome job bringing  my characters to life. It really is almost like listening to a radio play by an amazing one-woman show.

Imps, man. You need to hear her as the imps. That’s all I’m gonna say.

Oh, and that moment Molly and Nain meet for the first time? She nailed it.

Oh, oh — and that letter at the end? I cried, and I was the one who wrote the damn thing. :)

Anyway. I hope you’ll check it out. Here are those links again:

 

EarthBound_UpdatedCover_700-2As for the second release of the week — Earth Bound will be out on FRIDAY! As with Forever Night, it will be free on release day so my amazing, loyal readers can grab it for no additional cost. Reviews on both the audiobook and Earth Bound are, as alway, very much appreciated.

Have a great day!

Sneak Peek (Listen?): Lost Girl: Hidden, Book One Audiobook

I have had the pleasure of working with actress Tonya Cornelisse and the team at Punch Audio in producing the Hidden audiobooks, and they just wrapped production of the first one! It should be available for sale in the next couple of weeks via Audible, Amazon, and iTunes.

This has been an awesome experience. Tonya is a very talented and busy actress (check out these interviews with her here and here) and our engineer, Samir, has been awesome even during those times when I forget check my email and he’s waiting on me to listen to things. :) Tonya will be the narrator for the entire series, so there’s definitely a team-type feel in making these audiobooks. Here is a first listen, just a taste, of Lost Girl:

Aaaah! Don’t you love it? The first time I heard Tonya’s voice, I swear I shivered a little. Her voice is just how I hear Molly in my head, so I was thrilled when she agreed to audition, and, even more so, when she accepted the offer to narrate. I am so excited about these, and I can’t wait to share more with you!

Friday Reads: Intisar Khanani, Grace Draven (Yep, again) and Strong Female Protagonist

This was a GOOD reading week. I mentioned last week on Friday that I had started reading Grace Draven’s Entreat Me.

Oh my Hades, you guys.

entreatmeIf you love Beauty and the Beast, and (even more) stories that re-imagine the tale, this book is definitely for you. Draven takes a familiar story and absolutely, 100% makes it her own, all while still managing to pay homage to the original. Here’s the blurb for the book:

“Afflicted by a centuries-old curse, a warlord slowly surrenders his humanity and descends toward madness. Ballard of Ketach Tor holds no hope of escaping his fate until his son returns home one day, accompanied by a woman of incomparable beauty. His family believes her arrival may herald Ballard’s salvation.

…until they confront her elder sister.

Determined to rescue her sibling from ruin, Louvaen Duenda pursues her to a decrepit castle and discovers a household imprisoned in time. Dark magic, threatening sorcerers, and a malevolent climbing rose with a thirst for blood won’t deter her, but a proud man disfigured by an undying hatred might. Louvaen must decide if loving him will ultimately save him or destroy him.

A tale of vengeance and devotion.”

Louvaen is one of my favorite heroines to date. Prickly, tough as hell, straightforward, and strong… yet incredibly sweet and generous to those who deserve it. She was immensely fun to read, and her devotion to her sister was very sweet. I have to confess to being frustrated with her and her staunch dedication to protecting her sister’s virtue — just as both the hero and her sister were. Draven did an excellent job of letting us see both sides of that situation, and it says a lot about her skill as a writer that we can easily empathize with both Louvaen’s desire to help her sister and her sister’s desire to be her own woman. Excellent.

And then there’s Ballard. Oh, man. Both monstrous and enticing, angry yet caring. When you first meet him, he’s described as monstrous, so deformed that even Louvaen’s sister can’t look at him. Yet, just as Louvaen comes to see his deformities as dear, so do we.

You can’t talk about this story without talking about the setting, and Ballard’s castle is both a warm home and a living nightmare. It all comes together in a story so full of romance, angst, loss, revenge, and love (both love for family and romantic love) that it is nearly impossible to put down. I read it in a day. :)

lgwifeboneknifeAnd then, not having had enough of Grace Draven’s work, I read her short story, The Lightning God’s Wife. You get a teensy bit of Silhara and Martise (from her excellent Master of Crows) but, more so, you get a peek at the mythology in that world, and the story is beautifully told. Highly recommended!

After that, I read a short story that Grace Draven (oh, let’s just make this the Grace Draven fangirl post, shall we?) recommended on her Facebook page, The Bone Knife, by Intisar Khanani — and I immediately ordered Khanani’s Thorn, which I hope to read next week. Here is the description:

“Rae knows how to look out for family. Born with a deformed foot, she feigns indifference to the pity and insults that come her way. Wary of all things beautiful, Rae instantly distrusts their latest visitor: an appallingly attractive faerie. Further, his presence imperils the secret her sister guards. But when the local townspeople show up demanding his blood, Rae must find a way to protect both her sister’s secret and their guest. Even if that means risking herself.”

This is a short story that feels so much bigger than its fifty-five pages would suggest. And Khanani’s writing is stunning. I cannot wait to delve into Thorn.

Finally, I was excited (see photo below — haha) to receive my copy of the Strong Female Protagonist book, which I supported via Kickstarter a while back. I have read it online, but it’s nice to have a paper copy in hand to leaf through. If you haven’t read it, it’s a really great webcomic by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag. You can (and should!) check it out here.

Photo on 10-24-14 at 10.09 AM #2

 

That’s it for this week! Have a recommendation for me? Tell me about it — PLEASE! :)

Thoughts on life after Hidden

Can you tell this is on my mind a bit lately? If you are a regular reader of the blog or if you follow my page on Facebook, you’ve likely seen me talk about “life after Hidden.” Maybe I should just start referring to my creative life in terms of B.H. and A.H.

The period B.H. (before Hidden) was about me finding a way to make a (admittedly meager) living writing. I wrote about gardening and green living and parenting. I had two books about gardening published, and was published in what is still my favorite magazine, Mother Earth News, not once, but three times. I wrote for TreeHugger, which was, to me, like finally getting that stamp of “green-cred” approval.

I started writing Hidden. And this story lived in my mind, and went through multiple drafts over the course of the past five years. And I took the (to me, absolutely fucking terrifying at the time) step to get it out there via publishing it as a web serial here.

And then it came out in ebook form. Through it all, I was goofing around. I was finally giving form to this story that just wouldn’t leave me alone. Molly and company lived in my mind for a long time before anyone ever read them on my blog or in an ebook.

I am surprised, to this day, that the books have found the audience they have. I don’t think it really hit me until after Home came out that, holy shit, people are actually following this story. Way more people than I ever would have imagined. I didn’t think anyone would care about my oddball band of heroes and antiheroes. And I am immensely grateful for every single person who has taken a chance on an unknown author like me. It is more than I ever could have dreamed. It’s a modest success compared to some of my indie author brothers and sisters, but it is mine and I am thrilled beyond belief with it.

Which brings me to life A.H. (after Hidden). We’re almost there, because the final book comes out next month, followed by one final novella (since readers want this story told, and, more so, because I am dying to tell it.)

And I find myself both excited to share the rest of the stories I’ve been living with, and a bit terrified. Excited, because writing runs through my blood just as strongly as my Polish/German/Irish ancestry and I have fun doing it and I learn more about myself and the art of telling stories with each and every word I write.

Terrifying, because what if this was it? What if, as that bitchy voice in the back of my mind so often tries to tell me, I am nothing more than a one-hit wonder? What if I release the next stories, the next series, out into the world, and they sit there, fading into nothingness?

When I shared this fear, a good friend told me that you can only be a one-hit wonder if you stop working and putting books out.

This friend always gives me things to think about. Including, back when I started, the advice that this whole book-writing thing is a marathon, not a sprint.

A life, not a moment.

And I realize that when I started all of this, it was to prove to myself that I could. That I could get past my fear of putting my fiction out there. That I could finish writing books instead of letting partially-finished manuscripts pile up on my hard drive, never to be seen by anyone but me.

And I have done that. But you know what the funny part is? It’s something I think I’m going to have to prove to myself over and over and over again until it feels real. And I think, maybe, I’m grateful for that. I’ve always thrived on being the underdog, on feeling like I need to prove myself. And I’m here again.

I guess I’ll never settle on my laurels, so that’s a good thing.

I have several series and books in the works. Next year, you will see the first books in the series about the vampires from HIDDEN. You’ll be introduced to the Copper Falls series, which I teased here on the blog. and there will be superhero romance, because I am a geek and those are the kinds of stories I get a kick out of writing. There may also be a contemporary romance along the way. We’ll see.

What do I really hope to achieve in posting something like this? It’s not to be patted on the head and told that everything will be fine. :) Partially, it’s to untangle my thoughts, which I obviously do best in writing. But it’s also because I know I have several readers and followers who are starting out, or maybe thinking about seriously giving their writing a chance. And I want them to know that I’m pretty sure the insecurity never dies. And really, it probably never should. I also want them (and me, when that bitchy voice gets too loud) to know that they should keep going, because there’s nothing on Earth like making characters who only lived in your head live in other people’s minds and hearts as well. It’s magic. And it is worth every single second of doubt.

That’s that, then. Back to work.

 

What I’m Writing Wednesdays: Nether Prologue

My time with Nether is drawing to a close. Well, at least the writing part of it is. There will be editing and polishing, but I usually edit as I go along so by the time I’ve finished the first draft, everything is pretty clean.

It is starting to feel final now. I made banners for my Facebook and Twitter pages, sharing the release date (11-24-14!) and, in several of the little promo images I’ve made up to this point, I’ve included the phrase “because all things must come to an end.” And of course, that’s an allusion to the series ending, but it’s also taken directly from the prologue to Nether. I think it’s a good time to share that part of the book!

 

Nether: Hidden, Book Five

Prologue

The Story of Aether and Nether

As told to the Fates by Nyx, Darkness Be Her Name

In the beginning there was Chaos, and out of Chaos was born Darkness, and from the Darkness came everything.

Darkness called Herself Nyx. And She brought order to Chaos.

The first thing She made was to become Her most beloved creation.

The first thing She created, was Aether. Light. Her son.

After Aether, She created more.

Life.

 

And, because balance is essential, She created death as well.

 

She created Nether to balance Aether’s light.

And She set to Aether and Nether the task of creating realms to house the beings She would one day bring into existence.

From the moment she saw Aether, Nether was entranced.

He was light in all the ways she was dark;

Good in all the ways she was evil.

And she felt unworthy.

 

And all of the things she saw in Aether, he saw in her as well:

Someone to shroud him in darkness when the light became too much to bear;

Dark to his light,

Cool to his warmth,

Passionate to his calm.

The other side of himself.

And so, they loved.

 

And it came to be that the differences that had enamored them so

Began to drive them apart.

 

Strife found her first breath in them,

As did Misery, Sadness, Rage, and Violence.

And so, they fought.

The heavens thundered with their power,

And the newly-formed realms were set ablaze.

And the stars came to be;

Eternal proof of their passion.

And of their downfall.

 

When it was over, Aether lay crumbled, broken.

Nether, weakened.

And Nether wept over her lover, begged unforgiving Nyx to save him.

And Nyx could not repair the damage that had been done to Her most beloved creation.

She could not let him go.

And yet, he was beginning to fade.

 

Death would have its first victim.

 

Instead, Nyx used her power to keep Her son alive the only way She could:

By turning him into the realm that would be home to Her next creations.

A place of light, beauty, and hope.

She would never hold him again, but She could feel his presence there, and it gave Her peace.

 

But Nyx is not a forgiving being.

She turned Her wrath on Nether,

And, as punishment for what she’d done to beloved Aether,

Nyx turned Nether into a realm as well;

A realm that would be home to monsters.

It would house evil,

And those who lived there would one day rule the dead.

 

There they would exist for eternity, alive, imprisoned, their strength powering what would, one day, be the homes of beings so great and cruel and powerful that odes would be written and people would pray their names

They would watch life pass them by. Until the end of everything.

Because all things must come to an end. Balance demands that it be so.

 

When it was done, Nyx created the Fates and the Furies to provide guidance and punishment to those who would come after.

And, with Her work done,

With Her heart, Her soul, in mourning,

Nyx slept.

Friday Reads: Eve Langlais, Meljean Brook, Elizabeth Hunter, and Brian Michael Bendis

“Three of these things belong together,

three of these things are kind of the same. 

Can you guess which one of these doesn’t belong here?

Now it’s time to play our game…” 

Sesame Street lyrics just never quite go out of style, do they? :)

So in addition to writing a hell of a lot right now, I’m also on a pretty steady reading kick again, which makes me very happy. This week, I re-read a couple of old favorites by Eve Langlais, mostly because I needed a laugh and she absolutely delivers — If you haven’t read her Welcome to Hell series, it’s worth a look BUT only if you’re not bothered by twisted characters, lots of foul language and quite a bit of steaminess. Since I am a fan of all three, I am a fan of Eve Langlais. Her Furry United Coalition (F.U.C. — get it?) is also equally hilarious and sexy.

On Tuesday, the lovely Elizabeth Hunter released the second novel in her Cambio Springs series, Desert Bound, which I absolutely adored. If you’re interested (AND YOU SHOULD BE… ahem) you can check out my review here. Really, what you should do is go buy the book. Here (Amazon). Or here (BN). Or here (Kobo).

This week, I also had the pleasure of reading Meljean Brook‘s amazing fantasy romance, Frozen. Eventually, I will have to give this book a more thorough review, but for now all I can say is WOW. Little bit of Norse mythology, little bit of a “Beauty and the Beast” vibe, a hero and heroine with a bit of a past together that complicates the situation, and a whole lot of sensual writing. I highly recommend picking it up. I couldn’t put it down and read it in one evening.

I’ve mentioned before that I have an interest in writing comics, so I have a few “how to write comics”-type books on my shelf, and writer Brian Michael Bendis (Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, All-New X-Men, and about a zillion others) published his book Words for Pictures this summer. I’ve read through it a couple of times now, and definitely recommend it, not just for those interested in writing comics, but for those interested in writing any kind of narrative. I tend to “see” my books in pictures, so I guess maybe that’s why I find books like this so helpful, but he offers a lot of great general writing advice in addition to information about the business of writing comics.

Next from the TBR pile: I’m reading Grace Draven’s Entreat Me (and LOVING it so far!) and Marina Warner’s biography of Joan of Arc.

So… what are you reading? Give me something to add to my to-read list. PLEASE! :)

Hidden #TBT — The time I wrote a HIDDEN Christmas story

I was messing around with my blog a little and found this — and I had completely forgotten about it! I wrote this short story to coincide with the release of Lost Girl in ebook form, and I had this posted on the blog as a little extra for readers who stopped by the blog after reading the book.

It takes place a couple of months after the events of Lost Girl, and before Broken. I’d forgotten how much I loved this story. I had a lot of fun writing it. If you want to read it, you can check it out here!

What I’m Writing Wednesdays:

I’m in the closing stretch of writing Nether, and Earth Bound is just about finished as well! I even have release dates for you:

Earth Bound (Hidden, Book 4.5) — October 31

Nether (Hidden, Book Five) — November 24

It’s getting to the point where I don’t want to share much more from the current books since I’ll start giving things away and I hate spoilers. I’m so wrapped up in Nether right now that I’m not working on much else, so for this week’s “What I’m Writing Wednesday” all I have is this little snippet from Nether to share:

* * *

“You can’t die,” Nain said, picking up where we’d left off before the cursing incident. “Doesn’t mean it won’t still hurt.”

I shrugged. “I’ve been beheaded, incinerated, eviscerated, stabbed, shot, and buried alive. I don’t think it’ll be that big of a deal.”

* * *

Oh, Molly. Being a badass. I love her. :)

Have a great day, all!

Book Review: “Desert Bound” by Elizabeth Hunter

UnknownLet’s be honest. If you know me at all via the blog or social media, you probably already know how this review is going to go (because you probably already know that I’m a big fan of Elizabeth Hunter’s work.)

So let’s get that part out of the way now:

I love this book.

I love Alex and Ted.

I love the setting and the romance and the mystery and Elizabeth Hunter is disgustingly talented.

You should buy this book as soon as you possibly can. 

All right. Now that that’s out of the way, here are some thoughts about WHY you should read Desert Bound (and the first book in the Cambio Springs series, Shifting Dreams).

I should probably start by saying that when Elizabeth asked if I wanted to beta read Desert Bound (yes, I am a lucky, lucky girl and I may have jumped up and down with joy when she asked…) I was a little burnt out on shifter romances. I had read several of them earlier this year and through the summer and I just wasn’t feeling the whole shifter thing (um, other than MY shifter, of course). But I knew that Elizabeth knows how to tell a damn good story, and I was excited to see what would happen with Ted and Alex.

Needless to say, this book made me appreciate shifters again. 

Ted is exactly what you expect an alpha female to be: strong-willed, independent, straightforward, and honest. And Alex is the best kind of shifter male: alpha in a true alpha way, meaning he can do the tough and gruff thing very, very well but rarely needs to because posturing is stupid when everyone knows he’s the big dog (er, wolf. You know what I mean.) I loved that not only was he NOT an asshole alpha, but he took his role in his pack and community very seriously. And that care and strength extended to his relationship with Ted.

The relationship was, of course, the core of the book, and it was very well done. Their relationship had an almost melancholy feel to it. These are two people who loved each other dearly, who had a whole lot of history between them, and it had all fallen apart somewhere along the way. Reading the way they worked through their past issues, and the way they both gave a little to make it work (and make it last!) was wonderful. The love scenes were very well written: steamy and sensual and Hunter does a fantastic job of making sex not just a plot point, but very much integral to the way their relationship evolved. Beautifully done.

I also enjoyed the way she handled the extensive cast of characters in Cambio Springs. Each one felt real, as if this was someone who could easily live next door to  you. I wanted to know more about each and every one of them (particularly a somewhat surly bartender.)

And, since this is a mystery, I should also note that the mystery element was very well done. I was worried at a point in the story, wondering how in the world Hunter was going to make it all work, and damn if she didn’t pull it off in a surprising, yet perfect way.

This book is just another example of Hunter’s ability to provide a story with amazing depth and living characters. I cannot wait to read more about the inhabitants of Cambio Springs.

 

Friday Reads: Master of Crows and Thor #1

Moc_med-210x300Book Review: Grace Draven’s Master of Crows

One of the things I want to do more often is showcase authors whose work I enjoy. Most often, they’ll probably be indie authors, because these are my people. :) This week, I want to talk about Grace Draven’s Master of Crows.

*stares at you intensely*

You HAVE to read this book. Have to. Go get it. Now.

But then come back so I can tell you how amazing it is.

. . .

Okay. All set? Good.

I guess the first thing I have to say about Master of Crows is that I’m pretty sure Grace Draven is some kind of writing talent-enhanced cyborg. It’s really the only thing that makes sense. It is unnatural to be able to write this beautifully, to so perfectly capture a scene  that your reader feels like she’s right there with the heroine. Draven’s descriptive talent is inspiring, and makes Master of Crows one of those books in which, once you’ve set it down (or your Kindle battery has died on you), you feel as if you’re waking from a dream.

She doesn’t just say things like “the curtains fluttered in the breeze.” No, Draven makes you see it:

“Curtains of faded lapis and rust fluttered outward, snapping in the wind like a Kurman dancer’s skirts.”

Isn’t that gorgeous? Can you see it? I love the imagery there. And that is just one small example of the attention to detail shown throughout Master of Crows; details that make the story feel so alive and vibrant that you never want it to end.

As to the story, I can’t say enough good things (can you tell?) Draven loves her anti-heroes, and Silhara is a complicated, intelligent character. I love that we (as the reader) come to understand his character alongside Martise (the heroine), adding even more to the feeling that we’re there with them. As Martise comes to know him deeper, to learn about his code of honor and his history, we see a character who started the story very much as the villain become so much more. Silhara’s character development was exceptionally well-done.

Martise is my favorite kind of heroine: intelligent, resourceful, complex, and with plenty of backbone. Again, we see wonderful character development with her. I can confess to not feeling much for Martise either way as the book began. That changed fairly quickly, and, like Silhara, I came to appreciate her so much more than I thought I would.

And because Master of Crows is fantasy romance, the romance should really be discussed. It is intense. A slow burn, an enemies-to-lovers story that flows beautifully. It is the story of two people who really seem not to belong anywhere finding themselves, and then finding a place together. It isn’t instalove (or even insta-like, really) and they have to work their way to the realization that they care.

And when they do… remember how I said Draven is a master of description and detail? Her love scenes are to die for.

Master of Crows has everything: intrigue, anti-heroes, faithful sidekicks, romance, moody settings, beautiful writing… can you tell I loved it?

Grace Draven Online

Thor #1

4078196-thor_1_coverI know I have fewer comics fans, but if you are into comics, you really should take a look at Thor #1, which came out this week. To see my review, check out my Geekerella blog.