Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘magic’

MadisonsSong_medMadison’s Song is the latest addition to the Cassie Scot Paranormal Detective fantasy/mystery series. Though not the latest instalment, it is a stand-alone, companion book to the series and, though there are mystery elements in it, it is primarily a romantic fantasy.

So far I’ve read and enjoyed all of the books and this one didn’t disappoint. As usual, Amsden delivers a fast-pace, highly entertaining read with fully sympathetic and compelling characters. This time I was especially swept away by the romance between Madison and Scott.

Madison Carter is a sweet, shy music teacher from a small town. When her brother Clinton’s life is put in danger, she must unwillingly join forces with Scott Lee, a very alluring and dangerous alpha werewolf, to find Clinton and help him. Scott is slave to the moon, a vicious killer and man-eating monster, but he has a soft spot for Madison, whom he was forced to “mark”, make love to, two years ago in order to save her life. Since then, they’ve been bonded in more ways than both are willing to admit. Needless to say, sparks fly from the very beginning. As they follow the trail to Clinton, they find themselves thrown in a secret lab, prisoners of a psychopathic doctor with a very dark agenda. Romance, suspense, mystery, action and thrills abound, and then some.

Fans of the Cassie Scot series and romantic fantasy will gobble this one up. Amsden hooks us from page one and doesn’t let us go until the end. With minimalist descriptions, non-stop action, and skillful characterization, this author delivers a tale that both engages and captivates. I was also impressed by the world building and all the fascinating dynamics about werewolves and their packs. I was able to forget reality and immersed myself into the world of the impossible. Highly recommended!

Visit the author’s website or find out more on Amazon. You can also check out the publisher at Twilight Times Books.

My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Read Full Post »

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

“Writing has taught me the importance of self-confidence in becoming good at anything,” says Christine Amsden, who, in spite of having been diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision, has gone on to become the award-winning, bestselling author of the Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective fantasy/mystery series published by Twilight Times Books.

“My parents encouraged reading a LOT,” says this speculative fiction writer, who grew up gobbling up The Chronicles of Narnia, The Baby Sitter’s Club, and Flowers in the Attic. “I know they read to me too, but I was an advanced reader at an early age and preferred to read on my own when I could. I have memories of staring at picture books, making up stories about the pictures though I couldn’t understand the words.” At the tender age of 8, she wrote her first short story, about Cabbage Patch Dolls going to Mars. From then on, she wrote fairly consistently until 2003, which marked the beginning of her professional career when she attended a workshop with Orson Scott Card.

Amsden may be legally blind, but she hasn’t allowed that part of her life to stop her from becoming a prolific author, and nowadays she splits her time between writing, freelance editing, and coaching — with a keen focus on writing. She loves to write about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations, giving special attention to people and relationships, her way of making science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone. “I will continue to marry romance with speculative fiction because I simply love both genres,” states the author. “I love a good character story. I think character is more important than just about anything else, and a great character will have me reading any genre at all and loving it. I get a lot of people telling me that they like my books even though they ‘don’t normally read stuff like that.’ I think it’s because of the characters.”

In what she describes as her messy, cluttered desk, and with a special arm attached to her monitor to help her eyes and back, Amsden creates her stories rich in characterization and world building. Her latest book, Madison’s Song, a companion to her Cassie Scot series, is about a shy young woman who has suffered more than her fair share of betrayal in the past. A friend of Cassie (the only ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers), Madison now gets a chance to prove that she can be more than a plump, shy sidekick. When her brother’s life is in danger, she faces her greatest fear with head held high to save him. The story is equally about Scott, a werewolf who has fallen in love with a woman he doesn’t believe he deserves.

MadisonsSong_medAmsden’s writing style is straightforward and conversational, which is probably why most readers and reviewers describe her work as highly entertaining and fast paced. “I’m not the sort to hide the story behind flowery prose,” she says. “I like the words to get out of the way of the story.” She’s a fast writer as well, finishing the rough draft of the book in only two months, though she then put it aside for a year before revising it, a process that took her five additional months. Her writing process, though fluid, is different with each book. “My best story ideas are the ones that come to me while I’m doing something else, although this doesn’t excuse me from putting in my hours of conscious effort. No two projects that I’ve worked on have developed in exactly the same way, either. I like to try new strategies, mix things up, so life doesn’t get boring.”

Like the Cassie Scot series, Madison’s Song will also be available in audiobook format, which is how Amsden “reads” most books these days. “It was important to me, when I became an author, to make my books available to listen to as well as read, and not just for others with disabilities. Audiobooks are a terrific way to enjoy books for busy people whose reading time can be combined with a daily commute, or with housework.”

Like most authors, Amsden loves sharing her creative ideas with the world, something which can be understandably challenging. “Nothing is universally liked,” states the author. “I try not to read negative comments or reviews, but it’s almost impossible to avoid all of it. When someone ‘gets me’ I feel an almost euphoric connectedness to the world; when someone doesn’t, (in a really big way), it almost makes me feel isolated.”

The definition of success varies from writer to writer. For Amsden, it has changed since she started writing. “At one time (not too long ago), I had an unrealistic expectation of success that involved becoming a bestseller and making an upper-class living off of my books,” she confesses. “When the Cassie Scot series came out, I sold thousands of books but still didn’t make the kind of money that would let me ‘earn a living’ off of it. It made me rethink my definition of success, because MessyDeskby all measurable standards my books are doing well – I’ve got great reviews, I’ve won several awards, I’ve sold many thousands of books, and I’m making money. I feel most successful when I connect with readers who love my books. So maybe that’s what success is. I’d love to connect with more readers, sell more books, and make more money, but I’m becoming satisfied with who and what I am now. (Like Cassie.)”

At the moment, the author is waiting for her next book, Kaitlin’s Tale, to be released by Twilight Times Books. She’s also hard at work on a new series set in a completely different world and with a new cast of characters. Though it’s way too early to say much about it, readers can count on it being filled with romance and the paranormal.

A native of St. Louis, Christine Amsden now lives in Olathe, Kansas with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success, and their two beautiful children.

TouchofFateSigningBibliography:

Touch of Fate (Twilight Times Books, 2006)

The Immortality Virus (Twilight Times Books, 2011)

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Secrets and Lies (Twilight Times Books, 2013)

Mind Games (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Stolen Dreams (Twilight Times Books, 2014)

Madison’s Song (Twilight Times Books, 2015)

Connect with Christine Amsden on the web:

Read Full Post »

author pic 1

Terry Jackman was christened Teresa, and is married with kids. She’s not pretending to be a guy just for the book. It’s just that nobody, but nobody, calls her anything but Terry, so Terry is actually the most honest name to put on the cover.

To go with her two names she inhabits two worlds. In one she’s a mild-mannered lady who tutors children and lives in a pretty English village, called Lymm. [It’s not far from the Manchester United football ground. You can take a peek at it on www.lymmvillage.co.uk/gallery If you look carefully at the picture of the old stone cross in the village centre you might see the ancient stocks below, where villagers would have thrown rotten eggs etc at local miscreants – but we don’t do that now, honest.]

In the other, she’s written articles and study guides, is secretly on the committee of the British Science Fiction Association, coordinates all their online writers’ groups, writes a regular page for Focus magazine and reads submissions for Albedo One magazine in Ireland. Oh, and has been known to do convention panels and some freelance editing.

When Ashamet goes public the two worlds will finally collide. She suspects there’ll be some raised eyebrows so she’s stocking up on fortifying tea and biscuits – and lots of chocolate!

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Ashamet, Desert-Born. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Honestly, it was bad temper. I got really cross that a writer made the all-powerful prince in her story stupid, basically to make the plot work out the way she wanted, where if he’d had an ounce of sense it would have fallen apart. Why, I fumed, did powerful characters so often have to be bad, stupid or both? And just like that Ashamet walked onstage. He’s lots of things, but he’s definitely not stupid.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Maybe you know someone who says one thing and does another, or is different things to different people? Or maybe they hide their true character, even from themselves? That’s Ashamet. He’s also about the fact that even those who seem all powerful are still bound by some restrictions, and that in the end it’s how they cope with those that defines who they really are?

Ashamet-CoverQ: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: Ashamet, Desert-Born took several years to write. The first fifty pages came in a mad rush then I had stops and starts, because while Ashamet and Keril arrived fully formed, the world they lived in didn’t. It took me at least three tries to define the society Ash was born into well enough to make total sense of who he was. I couldn’t finish the story till I got that right.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: Ah, an easier answer. I listen to my characters. If it’s not what they’d do, or say, then out it goes. Otherwise the story loses its credibility, just like that stupid prince I mentioned. The story slumps, and frankly I get bored writing it.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Actually, no. I get anxious about showing stuff to others but not about writing it. Some days I can’t wait to write, others I have to remind myself there’s a deadline, but after the first couple of sentences I’m usually in the groove. I’m no longer aware of what I’m doing, as long as I’m not interrupted.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I have a VERY flexible schedule, because it depends largely on when my husband is playing golf! Crazy as it sounds, and I know it does, I can write around strangers, on trains, around other writers – but not around people I know well but aren’t also writing (otherwise known as friends and family). When they walk out the door I reach for pen or keyboard.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Success was selling my first three articles in one week, then turning one of them into a series. Less successfully, that ambushed me. Regular requests for more got me writing nonfiction for ten years. Between a more than full time job and articles I had no time to try fiction.

So an even greater success was having Dragonwell ask, out of the blue, if I’d “like to send them something” because they’d heard about me from another writer. Wow.

And the final and greatest success will be if people like reading the result, and take a second to review it or tell me so.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: It will make it harder but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t go for it, if they’re sufficiently driven. Hey, I grew up in a house without books and look where I ended up. Due to my extreme shyness problem my family didn’t even know I wrote for several years, till I was selling articles regularly.

And in the end I only owned up about fiction because an amazing author/university lecturer, Adam Roberts, said “You are a writer”. After that even I had to ‘come out’.

But it helps a lot if people at least humor you.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: Gosh no. Hearing strange voices in your head. Spending hours writing, assessing, rewriting. Crying over those nasty critiques – which are right, damn them – editing, polishing… How could that possibly be exhausting?

Seriously, sometimes it’s exhilarating, others depressing. So yes, I can’t imagine anyone doing it if they aren’t driven to. Me, I have to get those voices out of my head before they drive me mad.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Well, I guess I should tell people who don’t know me that Terry is actually short for Teresa, but that I regard Terry as my real name. I’m definitely NOT pretending to be a guy for my publisher. Since no one calls me anything but Terry, if I’d put Teresa on the book cover it would have felt more like hiding who I was, not less.

So unlike most of my characters I’m female, and as you’ll have gathered married with kids. I’ve visited some beautiful Moorish architecture, but I’ve never ridden a camel. In fact I’ve only once ‘sat’ on a horse. But hey, if we only wrote what we already knew science fiction and fantasy wouldn’t exist.

But I hope, very much, readers will enjoy reading Ashamet as much as I enjoyed writing it, and maybe tell me so, so I can breathe easier.

ABOUT THE BOOK

TitleAshamet, Desert-Born

Genre: Fantasy/adventure/romance/paranormal

Author: Terry Jackman

Websitewww.terryjackman.co.uk

Publisherwww.dragonwellpublishing.com

Find out more on Amazon

A desert world. A warrior nation that worships its emperor as a god. But for Ashamet, its prince, a future filled with danger…

Ashamet is confident his swordsmanship, and his arranged marriage, will be enough to maintain the empire’s peace. But when a divine symbol magically appears on his arm, closely followed by an attempt on his life, he no longer knows who to trust. Worse, the strange attraction he feels toward a foreign slave could be another trap. As events unravel, too fast,Ashamet must find out if this innocent young male is a tool for his enemies–or the magic key to his survival.

“Ashamet, Desert-Born” is a debut adventure fantasy with an exotic Arabian-style setting and elements of same-sex romance.

Read Full Post »

StolenDreams_med-193x300I can’t believe this is the last book in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series! I really have enjoyed this series a lot.

If you’re new to the series, I advise you to pick up the books in order:

Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective  
Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2) 
Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3)
Stolen Dreams (Cassie Scot #4)

In this the final installment, talented author Christine Amsden brings the infamous Scot vs. Blackwood family feud to a close, but not without filling her story with enough intrigue, mystery, twists and surprises to keep you thinking about the characters for a long time.

And this is, really, the biggest draw in these stories, the characters, especially Cassie and Evan. Cassie has been such a likable protagonist throughout the series, smart and strong and opinionated, yet caring and warm-hearted. Evan –yes, arrogant, condescending and overprotective Evan — has also been the perfect hero. They were school sweethearts…until Evan’s father stole her powers from her and gave them to Evan, thus starting a conflict between them that brought them to the depths of despair, especially for Cassie.

There are many subplots in this book, but the main problem happens when Cassie’s father is killed and she and her family think that Evan’s dad is the one responsible. The primary storyline has to do with finding out if this is true or not and, if not, then who, in fact, is responsible.

There are many surprises in Stolen Dreams, and I enjoyed all of them. Fans of romance will especially enjoy the focus on Cassie and Evan’s relationship. I loved the ending. In sum, this was a wonderful series, and the author delivered a satisfying closure. I wonder what she will come up next? I’m certainly going to be on the lookout for her future books.

My review was previously published in Blogcritics Magazine. 

Read Full Post »

ImageThis middle-grade novel was an entertaining, delightful read!

Terra is a sweet, smart girl, very close to her mom, and not what one might call popular at school. In fact, she’s often a bit bullied at times. She also suffers in silence for the death of her dad years ago.

The action begins soon after Terra’s 12th birthday, when she receives an unexpected visit from a mysterious Spirit Ambassador who tells Terra she’s a Nature Spirit of the Underworld and who escorts her to the secret, underground city of Concord. As is the tradition, Terra must now begin to learn what talents she possesses and how best to use them in the Underworld cities. Thus, she embarks on a journey of discovery; she must learn her reason for being there and she must also learn about those she is there to help. Soon, everybody agrees she’s the Spirit in the prophecy, the one being who will fight Blanco, the evil leader of the Trepidus, and bring back peace to Concord — a daunting quest for one so young, especially one who doubts her skills and talents.

I thoroughly enjoyed Beware of the White. This is the start of an exciting fantasy series (The Concord Chronicles) for tweens. There’s mystery, action and adventure, and even a hint of romance between Terra and her protector, Frank, a Security Spirit. Author Kai Strand does an excellent job with her world building, creating a fascinating, original universe that will appeal to young readers. Terra is a sympathetic protagonist, one who bravely faces her problems in spite of her insecurities. Readers will root for her as she embarks on her quest to fulfill the prophecy and find her destiny. The writing itself flows beautifully, and is very appropriate for the tween audience. Strand makes every word count. Recommended for fans of fantasy!

Visit Kai Strand’s website.

Purchase Beware of the White from Amazon.

 My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Read Full Post »

1

Secrets and Lies is the second installment in the Cassie Scot new adult paranormal mystery series. Though there’s a bit of backstory in this novel, it’s preferable to read the books in order, if only to find out from the beginning who Cassie is, how she got started as a detective and, especially, how her romance with Evan evolved. Also to understand the animosity between their families.

In Secrets and Lies, two girls have gone missing from a summer camp and although the local police have already started investigating, Cassie is hired by a family member of the girls to help in the case. Evan, always wanting to protect Cassie, joins her in the investigation.

Because Evan saved Cassie’s life in book 1, Cassie believes she owes him and finds it difficult to deny him what he wants.  This makes life both frustrating and thrilling for Cassie, who is not only an independent, smart, 21-year old sleuth, but she’s also powerfully attracted to him and prone to succumb to his charms…but who can resist a charismatic, handsome warlock?

As the two begin to investigate, it becomes increasingly obvious that magic is involved, and that the girls might still be alive. At the same time, there seems to be a “ghost” or “invisible person” robbing banks in town. Are the robberies and the girls’ disappearance connected in some way? Adding further tension to the mystery is the ongoing war between Cassie and her parents, who betrayed and disowned her in book 1, as well as the unending feud between Cassie’s and Evan’s families, who totally loath each other. This, of course, puts pressure on the young couple, who are not only in lust but also in love.

As Cassie closes in on the villains, tormenting issues about her mother resurface. On her mother’s deathbed, Cassie must make a decision that could forever distance her from her mother or could possibly reunite them — or at least ease some of the tension in the family and improve their relationship. The book isn’t titled Secrets and Lies for nothing, as there are plenty of these in the story, not to mention enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining read. First of all, what I love most about Cassie is her voice. She is very likable and sympathetic, with just the right amount of good qualities and flaws. She’s smart, independent, witty, sensitive, and has a good heart. Amsden does an excellent job with her character’s interiority.

The second aspect of this novel I enjoyed the most is the romance between Cassie and Evan. It’s just the right amount, without veering the plot away from the mystery. It also has its fair share of tension, as we never know how it’s going to end up for these two. The author keeps us guessing in this roller-coaster of a love story.

The pace flows fairly quickly, as this author doesn’t use too much exposition or description. Action and dialogue propel the story forward. The paranormal aspect adds fun and spice to the story without getting overwhelming, and I enjoyed all the magic 101.

The ending left me breathless with a mega-revelation that will have a major impact on the relationship between Cassie and Evan. Having read both books in the series, this is my favorite, and I can’t wait to see what Amsden will come up with in her next installment, soon to come out in 2014. Fans of paranormal mysteries will relish this one!

Find out more on Amazon and B&N.

Visit Christine Amsden’s website.

Originally published in Blogcritics

Read Full Post »

Campbell-author-400Melodie Campbell achieved a personal best this year when Library Digest compared her to Janet Evanovich.

Melodie got her start writing comedy (stand-up and columns.)  In1999, she opened the Canadian Humour Conference.  She has over 200 publications including 100 comedy credits, 40 short stories and 4 novels. Her fifth novel, a mob caper entitled The Goddaughter’s Revenge (Orca Books) will be released Oct. 1. She has won 6 awards for fiction, and was a finalist for both the 2012 Derringer and Arthur Ellis Awards.

Melodie is the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada. Her humour column ‘Bad Girl’ appears in The Sage.

Connect with Melodie on the web:

www.melodiecampbell.com

www.funnygirlmelodie.blogspot.com

Facebook: MelodieCampbellAuthor

Twitter: @MelodieCampbell

Q: Welcome to the Dark Phantom, Melodie! Tell us why readers should buy ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD.

A: Need a laugh? Want to escape? That’s what I’m all about. I’m a former comedy writer who has gone over to the dark side of writing comic fantasy. ROWENA AND THE DARK LORD is a rollicking adventure novel, with romance, adventure, magic and sex…and hopefully you will find it ‘Hot and Hilarious” as many reviewers called the first book in the series.

Q: What makes a good comic time travel novel?

A: Fast and lean writing. A protagonist you like and want to be for a little while. OH, and maybe a few attractive warrior men to bring up the heat. But really, I think the trick to writing any novel is to provide the reader with an entertaining escape.

I write in first person. I like the reader to *become* the protagonist, to be pitched into Rowena’s head and experience what she does.  That’s entertainment.

Q: What is a regular writing day like for you?

A: I’m the Executive Director of Crime Writers of Canada, so I have a day job. My writing, like many authors, is done mainly at night, from 8 until midnight, and on weekends.

I tell my writing students that writing takes time, and you have to give up something if you want to write. So I gave up the gym. And housework. I’m quite happy, really.

Q: What do you find most rewarding about being an author?

A: I’ve won six awards for fiction – BUT – have to admit – the most rewarding day of my writing life was very recent, when a reader found my email address and wrote to tell me that ROWENA THROUGH THE WALL (first in the Land’s End series) was the best book she had ever read. I actually cried. That’s the best reward I can imagine. And readers like her are the reason I continue to write.

Q: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received that you’d like to pass to other authors?

A: Writing is work – hard work. Be prepared for that. We all think it should be easier, but it’s not. Sometimes, in those magic moments, it doesn’t seem like work, and that is grand. Those are the moments we live for.

 ———————————————————-

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00066]

Dark magic…dark passions….

When Rowena is abducted from Arizona and taken back to medieval Land’s End, one thing is clear: she must learn to control her powers of magic. It isn’t easy being a modern girl in an archaic land, and when Rowena accidently conjures up a Roman Legion in mid-battle, Land’s End is on the brink of a war that could jeopardize everything and everyone she loves.

The stakes are raised when the Dark Lord reappears and traps Rowena in a cyclone of lust and passion. Once again, she is torn between the man she loves and the mage who fires her desire.

Purchase the book on Amazon.

Currently #2 Timetravel in Canada!  Top 100 in US!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: