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ImageCassie came to me, I didn’t go to her.  

I finished The Immortality Virus late in the fall of 2008, and though I took pride in my second novel, I felt worn out (creatively). When the new year came, bringing with it the opportunity for all kinds of writerly resolutions, I decided I needed to take the year off. I would read, blog, journal, but otherwise give my muse time to heal. 

I didn’t make it a year. It turns out, I really am a writer. Writers write. We can’t not write. Taking the pressure off my muse did turn out to have been a great idea, but putting a time frame on it was a bit naive.  

Cassie came to me in mid-February, as I played on the floor with me (then) 9-month-old daughter. I won’t go so far as to say she popped into my head fully formed, but it was close. I sat bolt upright, my eyes probably doing that cartoon bulge, as a light bulb appeared over my head.  

What if… What if the hero of a fantasy story was the only one in it without magic?  

I wrote the first line of the story as soon as my daughter went down for a nap. It read: “My parents think the longer the name, the more powerful the sorcerer, so they named me Nicolas Merlin Apollonius Roger Scot. You can call me Nick.” 

Okay, so it needed work. It didn’t take me long to realize I wanted a female heroine. Nicolas (who does not go by Nick and might set you on fire if you tried) became the oldest of Cassie’s siblings. 

After that, Cassie told me new things about herself every day. I had a rough draft by the end of June.

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Award-winning author Christine Amsden has written stories since she was eight, always with a touch of the strange or unusual. She became a “serious” writer in 2003, after attending a boot Imagecamp with Orson Scott Card. She finished Touch of Fate shortly afterward, then penned The Immortality Virus, which won two awards. Expect many more titles by this up-and-coming author.

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Find Christine Amsden on the web: 

Web Site: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/

Blog: http://christineamsden.com/wordpress/?page_id=200

Facebook: Christine Amsden

Twitter: @ChristineAmsden

Goodreads: Christine Amsden

Goodreads Q&A Group: http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/48134-q-a-with-christine-amsden

 

Cassie Scot is the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers, born between worlds but belonging to neither. At 21, all she wants is to find a place for herself, but earning a living as a private investigator in the shadow of her family’s reputation isn’t easy. When she is pulled into a paranormal investigation, and tempted by a powerful and handsome sorcerer, she will have to decide where she truly belongs.

Reviews: 

“When sorcerers call the shots, what’s a girl without powers to do? Get ready for a ripper of a murder mystery full of romance and intrigue, where magic potions bubble, passions spark and vampires are definitely not your friend. Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective grabs you by the heart and won’t let go until the very last page. Well written, immersive and unputdownable. This is urban fantasy at its best. More please!” 

–Kim Falconer, bestselling author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Series

 

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Why do I write? Well, because the little voices in my head tell me to—seriously, I’ve always talked to myself—now I put the voices on paper.

I was a late bloomer and didn’t start my love of reading until I was in my twenties and then I couldn’t get enough of the wonderfully, smutty Harlequin books.

I’ve worked in the government sector for fifteen years and always dreamed of having a job that I could work from home. This crazy idea came to me one night, after reading a particularly sizzling romance. Why not try my hand at writing one? So, out of the blue I told my husband I was going to write a Harlequin novel. He said, “Okay.”

I figured I’d read enough of them, I could write one—no problem. Eight thousand words later; I realized it was harder than I thought. I also realized, I wasn’t writing what I was most comfortable with—animals.

I put my Harlequin attempt on the back burner and started writing “The Boss from Hell”. My boss, who I adored, had been fired and his replacement was a living-terror. It was really easy to come up with material to write about and of course I threw in a bunch of romance and of course animals. Ninety thousand words later I was still optimistic that I could write for a living, but I’d need a lot of support, my cat couldn’t give me. The support came in the form of Romance Writers of America and all the people involved in the local chapter.

Several of the members of my local chapter read my book and made numerous suggestions, one of them came from an independent publisher—Books to Go Now. She told me to put the novel aside for now and try my hand at a short story. That’s where I incorporated the paranormal aspect to my writing and it really clicked for me.

I submitted ‘Flamingo Blues’, as a Christmas short story to Books to Go Now and I was offered my first contract. ‘Be Mine’, a Valentine short story, is book two of ‘The Corny Meyers Series’ and in addition to a contract, I won the holiday contest too. Woo hoo! Klutzy Love is book three of ‘The Corny Myers Series’, which was released August 2012.

I’ve been a jack-of-all-trades and master-of-none, my whole life. I’ve worked in restaurants, weight loss centers, worked in a fish cannery and even worked in a top salon in Seattle, but none of that was as satisfying as seeing my own words in print. That’s why I write….

About Klutzy Love blurb:

Corny is a hot chick with a great job that she loves. All that changed in the blink of an eye when her boss had an accident involving an oversized rubber band. She’s still a hot chick, but her boss is dead.

Steve Spears is a seasoned narcotics cop who ends up wanting to strangle Corny on a regular basis. After finding out Corny’s dream of opening a pet detective business, he decides he doesn’t want a girlfriend who routinely puts herself in danger. That’s his job!

Corny misses Steve, but she’s getting on with her life. She decides to get a month’s worth of dating out of the way in a single night, by combining her three favorite things—men, food, and alcohol.

Steve’s big gun and cop’s intuition saves Corny’s life, but not from another trip to the emergency room. He makes Corny promise never to get hurt again—she agreed, but has her fingers crossed behind her back.

Bio:

Sharon Kleve was born and raised in Washington and currently lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her husband.

She loves romance. Loves reading romance, living romance, and especially loves writing about romance. She gets no greater feeling than watching her characters come alive in each other’s arms. Most of all, she loves giving her characters the happily ever after they deserve—with a few bumps and bruises along the way.

One of her favorite things to do is picking up a new book and sinking into the story, immersing herself in the emotions between the characters. She hopes to inspire her readers the same way her favorite authors have inspired her.

When not writing, she can usually be found either curled up in her recliner with her cat and a good book, or in the kitchen baking sourdough bread or bagels.

My website: http://www.sharonkleve.com/

My blog:  http://www.sharonkleve.com/blog.html

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Klutzy-Love-ebook/dp/B0091HGE6W/ref=la_B006JAH14S_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346092549&sr=1-1

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/klutzy-love-sharon-kleve/1112629112?ean=2940015197198

 

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ImageMar Preston is the author of two mystery novels set in Santa Monica, California, featuring Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. His girlfriend is a community activist, liberal in bent, which clashes with Mason’s traditional cop views. A third novel, set in a California mountain village features a County Sheriff’s Detective and an injured former Detective working as a patrol officer.

Thanks for this interview, Mar! When did your passion for crime and detective fiction begin?

Not until my forties until life settled down−and mostly importantly, after I wrote four unpublished literary fiction novels. I thought, well, mysteries can’t be as hard as literary fiction.  Silly me.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

When I felt comfortable that I could think up and tell a good story.

Tell us about your latest novel, Rip-Off.

High-tech burglary and murder are bad for business in the upscale, tourist-destination beach city of Santa Monica with its leftist politics, rich homeowners, its entertainment mega-businesses, and huge homeless population. Bad for Detective Dave Mason of the Santa Monica Police Department. 

A deadbeat burglar is found in the beach condo of a playboy studio exec. The dead body must link up with a string of high-tech burglaries, and the Chechens Mason keeps meeting must link up with each other somehow, but how?

The investigation involves Mason in the dark world of embezzlement and an explosion that almost kills him. The stakes rise when the investigation leads him to the Hollywood Russian community and he ignores a warning by the FBI and Homeland Security.

How long does it usually take you to write a novel?

Years.

Are you disciplined?

No, life is too interesting. Maybe that’s why it takes me years.

Describe a typical writing day for you.

ImageOne cup of coffee playing Spider Solitaire to warm up. Long sigh, then get at it. The first draft is agony. I love rewriting and making the story better.

I hear you’re quite inventive when marketing your books. Can you tell us about your latest marketing event?

Sell, pawn, mortgage all your possessions and hire a publicist. Few writers are good self-promoters. I comment on interesting blogs, praise and review other writers, search for opportunities to guest blog, publish short stories, support Sisters-in-Crime, arrange house readings, and spend a limited time on Facebook and Twitter. I wish I had a clone.

What are the three main ingredients of a good mystery?

An absorbing plot that keeps you turning pages, engaging characters, and a twist on the usual rules of crime fiction.

What is the most difficult part of writing crime fiction?

The reason why it’s so hard to get a cop to read a mystery is clichéd plots and characters. Authors really need to work to make a story realistic and founded in fact.  Cops consider CSI a comedy show.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being an author?

Holding a book that you’re proud of in your hand. Then it’s like childbirth. You forget all the agony that went into making that book and you foolishly start another.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Write in whatever genre people are willing to read while you get the craft of writing polished to a high lustre.

What’s on the horizon for Mar Preston?

A New Adventure. I’m moving home to Canada after a 30-year vacation in California.

Connect with Mar Preston:

Author’s website: http://marpreston.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mar-Preston/136299239777273

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/YesMarPreston

RIP-OFF available on Kindle and print: http://www.amazon.com/Rip-Off-ebook/dp/B007WTYGI4

 

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There are things in this world that can’t just be explained away, happenings that occur and evil that dwells in the darkest recesses of the Earth. Have you ever wondered what causes a darkness to settle over you, that eerie feeling that something just isn’t right? I know I have, and so has Detective Nikki Adams.

Nikki is a homicide detective for the Boston Police Department and she quickly discovers that there may be more to the Boston nightlife than good music and the corner bar. I’ve always admired women who stand up for what they believe in, no matter the circumstances. Nikki is bombarded with vampires, werewolves, and a dark secret her family has kept for generations, but she is still determined to do her job and keep Boston safe from the killer that is wreaking havoc on the city.

Snow Beast, the first in my new Dark Warrior series, delves into the world of the paranormal while inter-mingling my love for criminal justice. As a paranormal writer, I get to explore history, crime, and all the fascinating aspects of the unexplained. Setting the Dark Warrior series in Boston allows for a rich setting of history. My fascination with criminal justice is explored through the eyes of Nikki as she solves each case. Just to twist things around, Nikki discovers vampires are real.

Detective Stephanie Wills already knows this in The Christmas Present. Her family has been hunting vampires for years. She just doesn’t believe they are all bad. Stephanie’s life gets turned upside down Christmas Day when she is called in to her job with the Seattle Homicide Division, and there is a body drained of blood hanging suspended from the ceiling at the downtown art gallery.

Stephanie has to face her worst fears, and go vampire-hunting with her family before vampires drain the good citizens of Seattle. I live in the Northwest with my husband and son, and the area lends itself to mystery and suspense. With the sky darkened by rain clouds for most of the year, it’s easy to imagine the place infested by vampires. The Christmas Present is the first in a series called The Hunter Diaries, I look forward to releasing the next book Bite Me soon.

Taking these two brave women on a harrowing journey both dangerous, and full of possibilities, I hope you enjoy reading about them as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Excerpt The Christmas Present

Preview

Chapter 1

Large white flakes of snow floated down. Stephanie Wills stood on her back porch. Her finger trailed a path along the cold metal of the old wrought iron railing. It was Christmas Eve, and she was alone. The spot where her engagement ring had rested was bare.

Who needs men anyway? Stephanie raised the champagne glass to her lips. Not me. Nope. It had been the same all her life. One guy after another had left. Her damn family always chased them off, and Daniel was no different. She had waited this time, until she had a ring on her finger, and a wedding date set. It hadn’t done any good.

Stephanie’s brother had let the cat out of the bag, crashing in on their nice family dinner, looking like he’d been beaten and dragged through the dirt for a few hundred yards. She guessed that wasn’t far from the truth. Daniel had been fine with that part. It was when her brother yelled to secure the house, and her mother handed him a stake that things really started to turn.

The night ended with Daniel walking stunned from her parents home, after an all-out battle against a group of vampires. He’d asked for his ring back, and Stephanie was too proud to deny him. After all, who wanted to have a family of vampire hunters as their in-laws? A tear slipped down her cheek. She sniffed and wiped angrily at the tear, taking a gulp of champagne. Stephanie was giving up on men.

Christmas lights twinkled at her merrily. Perhaps she shouldn’t give up on men entirely, after all. They were so much fun to have around, most of the time. Maybe she could make a list; a New Year’s Resolution list. The New Year was just around the corner. People came up with lists all the time. Why not one for relationships? Knowing just what she would put at the top of her list, she wanted to get started.

Stephanie stumbled back into the house, glared at the Christmas tree in the corner of her living room, and made her way to the desk. Placing her glass on the desktop, she yanked open a drawer, pulled out a notepad, and rummaged around for a pen that would write. After several unsuccessful tries, she growled and marched over to her police jacket hanging from her coat rack. Stephanie pulled out the pen she knew worked, smiled at it, and sat down to write her list.

At the top, she scrawled Resolutions.

1) No settling for less, go only for eternal bliss – no more losers

2) Stay away from my family and all things supernatural

3) Lose 10 pounds

There. Stephanie racked her brain. She couldn’t come up with anything else right now, and her head was spinning. Glaring at her champagne glass, she pushed it back on her desk and stood up.

Maybe a good movie would take her mind off things? Wondering what was on the television she wandered over and pushed the power button on the remote. It’s A Wonderful Life flared on the screen and Stephanie grimaced. It was going to be all Christmas movies tonight. She flipped through the channels rapidly, and decided there wasn’t anything on that was going to make her feel any better. Powering off the TV, she leaned her head back on the arm of the couch. Perhaps she should just go to sleep.

Stephanie closed her eyes, and tried not to think of her fiancé, well, ex-fiancé. It didn’t help. Her head started to spin more. Restless, she popped her eyes open, and got up. Perhaps a good book would help. Her bookshelf called to her, and Stephanie pulled out her favorite. If she couldn’t find a man in real life then Nicholas would just have to do. Opening the first page, she began to read about the exploits of her favorite character, Nicholas Garreth.


About the Author

Serena Zane currently lives with her husband and her son in the Northwest. Working full-time at a day job, she also plays hard, and spends her free time studying the Middle Ages in a re-creationist organization called the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc (SCA). Much of her time is spent between training for heavy armored combat, learning about music in the 16th Century, and writing her novels.

Serena started writing at an early age with short stories, and poetry inspired by her mother, a strong independent woman who loves to help others, and wrote her own stories. Dark Hope was picked up and published by Southwest Publications in 2008.

In 2009 Serena became a member of Romance Writer’s of America, and has been working on her craft with the wonderful members of the Olympia Chapter. Though she does love the Middle Ages, and will most likely write a historical romance in the near future, she fell in love with the idea of writing a contemporary action/adventure romance while she was attending college to study Criminal Justice.

After months of working on homework assignments late at night that made her want to turn on every light in the house, she decided it would be a great idea to take some of the ideas running through her head and commit them to paper.

Serena has recently stared exploring the world of Short Story writing and will soon be releasing her first Short through Books To Go Now.

Link to author’s website or blog: http://www.serenazane.com

The Christmas Present

Books to go Now: http://www.bookstogonow.com/thechristmaspresent.html

Amazon Ebook: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006ASJQKQ

Amazon UK Ebook: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B006ASJQKQ

Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1036585889?ean=2940013502369

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lolaYou may want to hold this book with gloves, because it is caliente!

Lola Cruz is a young and feisty private detective working for Camacho and Associates. Her quirky co-workers include an overbearing boss and a blue-haired secretary who thinks she looks like Jennifer Lopez. Of course, these aren’t the only people driving her crazy: there’s also her meddling, over-protective mom, playboy brother and a young cousin who wants her help for an upcoming quinceanera party.

Then one day Lola is put in charge of a high-profile case. A woman has disappeared, and Lola must find out what happened to her. Her investigation once again puts her in contact with Jack Callaghan, a journalist she’s had a crush on since high school and who happens to be her brother’s good friend. Just as in the old times, sparks go off as soon as they meet. Though Lola doesn’t exactly want his help, he somehow finds a way to show up in the most unusual–and dangerous–situations. As the investigation progresses, takes a bad turn, and the list of suspects keeps growing, it becomes evident that the case isn’t a simple ‘disappearance’ and that some important people are involved. Will Lola bring her relationship with Jack to another level, solve the case, and live to tell about it?

Living the Vida Loca is a fun, entertaining novel. Lola is a sympathetic, good-hearted, spunky protagonist who gives a new meaning to the words ‘private investigator’. For one thing, she refuses to carry a gun! The story combines romance, mystery and humor and moves at a fast pace that will keep you turning those pages. There’s a great array of secondary characters that add color to the story. I found there was a good balance between the romance and the mystery, without one getting in the way of the other. There’s also a lot of romantic tension between the hero and heroine. This is the first book in the Lola Cruz mystery series and I’m eagerly looking forward to reading the next book. Be sure to add this title to your summer reading list!

Visit the author’s website: http://misaramirez.com/

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smelldeath_1210072.jpg
Welcome to The Dark Phantom Review! It’s nice to have you here.

Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?

Smell of Death is the fourth in the Rocky Bluff P.D. crime series. In each book, different member of R.B.P.D. are spotlighted. In this book, Officer Stacey Wilbur is the main character. I wanted to let the readers know how a small, female police officer is able to stand on her own among all the men she works with. As for the story itself, in movies and on TV, no matter how gruesome the murder, the viewer can’t imagine how horrible the smells are. Also, my police officer son-in-law used to always say that movies and TV crime show weren’t realistic because in real life, there is never just one case going on at a time. In Smell of Death Rocky Bluff P. D. is searching for a missing toddler, investigating a stalker and some strange burglaries and in the end, some of them intertwine.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?

I usually have a fair idea of where I’m going when I’m starting a novel. I always develop my characters first before deciding what is going to happen to them and why. Of course, once I start writing, the characters often take off on their own. It usually takes me about six months to finish a book. I always run my manuscripts by my critique group—and sometimes I let them sit for quite a long while before going back over them.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?

Actually, I’ve never really had writer’s block. I have too many ideas squirming around in my brain waiting to get out. I try to stop writing each day at a place where I know what will happen next. Makes it much easier to get started again.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

For this book, I sent it to the publisher who did the third in the series, Fringe Benefits, Tigress Press.com. Before sending a query off to anyone first make sure your manuscript is as good as it possibly can be. Have someone edit it for you—and that someone needs to know what they are doing. Be sure your query has absolutely no typos or spelling errors. Publishers are looking for a reason to reject you because they have so many submissions. Keep your query short and to the point, tell what the book is about in one paragraph, why you were the one to write the book, and any publishing credits.

If you’re young enough and have time, try to find an agent first. All the things I said in the above paragraph pertain to agents too.

What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?

I’ve been thrilled with the virtual book tour. The last one I did brought my Amazon numbers way down—and that’s a good thing. I also have a monthly e-newsletter that I send out that keeps readers informed about what I’m doing. And I’ve learned if I can talk, I’ll sell books. Which means library appearances and places where I can give a presentation work better than a regular book signing.

What is your favorite book of all time? Why?

I don’t really have a favorite book of all time. There are lots of books I love—but often it’s the one I’m reading at the moment. I have favorite writers like Jan Burke, Wm. Kent Krueger, James Lee Burke, but there are many more.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

My website is: http://fictionforyou.com and all my books and first chapters are there. Plus you can order most of my books directly from my website. http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/ is my personal blog where I’m liable to talk about most anything.

Do you have another novel on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects.

In August, the next in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree series, Kindred Spirits, will debut. I will be sending my next Rocky Bluff P.D. novel off to the publisher as soon as I go over it one more time. It’s titled, No Sancturary.


Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you for letting me chat.

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Who Killed Marcia Maynard? is a short, easily readable little mystery with a twist: written by a psychoanalyst, it is filled with clinical observations about the criminal mind.

A famous child psychologist called Marcia Maynard has been gruesomely killed in her Manhattan home, and psychoanalyst Mary Wells, together with her lover, Detective John Franklin, are called to the case to find the murderer.

Both Mary and Franklin are devastated by the news, as they knew the victim and had grown to love her. Soon, however, it becomes evident that many people have intensely mixed feelings about Maynard — a controverial person who was both loved and hated.

Who is the killer? And why are people associated with the victim also dead — some by suicide? As Mary and Franklin set out to interrogate the suspects, readers will become more and more perplexed about the outcome.

The novel is interesting in that the narrator stops at times to give insightful descriptions about the criminal mind, giving this author’s series an original twist. But the novel, though enjoyable, is not without its minor faults. The interrogations are interesting in the beginning but towards the end they begin to sound a bit repetitive, taking from the story some of the suspense.

At times, the descriptions of the wounded victim sound unnecessarily detailed and gruesome, as if the character is talking to the reader instead of to the other character. Also, the novel maintains the same pace thoroughout. I didn’t get the feeling of a climax, which was somewhat disappointing, considering this is a murder mystery.

The characters are symphathetic, though, and Mary and Franklin make an endearing, likable team of sleuths. This is a novel that will particularly appeal to fans of both mystery and criminal psychology.

See the cover and/or buy from Amazon.

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