Thursday, February 27, 2014

S.A. Bolich brings romance to a Civil War ghost story, IN HEAVEN'S SHADOW

I do love a good genre-bender. Historical fiction meets paranormal romance in S.A. Bolich's latest book. She stopped by to tell us about In Heaven's Shadow and the research behind it.

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When should love end? The question behind In Heaven’s Shadow
by S.A. Bolich

How can you build a life with a ghost? I mean, really, why would you want to? On the other hand, who says you can’t? In the case of poor Lilith Stark, the heroine of In Heaven’s Shadow, just about everybody!

Who wouldn’t love a man who foreswears Heaven to be with you? Poor Joab found the love of his life a bit late, and only got two years with her before the war came along. He’s not ready to move on, and Lilith sees no particular reason why he should. But how would you react if your neighbor suddenly announced that her dead husband had come home from Gettysburg a ghost and had taken up residence? Suppose she was a little “odd” anyway, with a certifiably strange father? And suppose you thought you saw rainbows following her around on occasion, or caught her talking to people who weren’t there? How hard would she have to talk to convince you it was all true?

Yup. Even today, society would likely still commit her first and ask questions later. Just imagine how upset 19th century sensibilities would be.

The Civil War was an era when “community” meant people helped each other and knew everything about one another and got in each other’s business without question or qualm. The backdrop of the war just made it more essential for people on the home front to get along. With so many men off fighting, the burden on the women at home was truly remarkable as they fought to keep houses and families and farms together and food on the table while raiders from both sides stole everything in sight. I grew up on a farm (Lilith’s hatred of hoeing comes straight from my childhood of maintaining the kitchen garden), but before I wrote this book I really didn’t have a bedrock appreciation for the amount of sheer manual labor our ancestors put in every day. Lilith and her neighbors need to pull together—but she has tossed a rock into the pool of settled truths that are all they have left to depend upon. With the war already looming over this prim and proper corner of Virginia like the scythe of the Grim Reaper choosing another victim, they’re just not up to her overturning all the notions of life and death and faith that keep them going from day to day.

Yet how can she turn her back on the man she loves just because he’s dead? What a delicious dilemma.
I have always been fascinated by the Civil War, and I love fantasy. As a history major in college (yes, I’m one of those geeks!) I set out to write historical fiction, but there was always that fantasy element that kept drawing me away. At last, with In Heaven’s Shadow, I got a great chance to combine paranormal with “straight” history and magic and come up with a Civil War ghost story that is also a very different sort of love story.

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Learn More about S.A. Bolich on her website.

Purchase In Heaven’s Shadow as an ebook on AmazonSmashwordsB&N, or directly from Taliesin Publishing

Thursday, February 20, 2014

M. Garnet switches genre gears for latest story, EYES OF DANGER

Please welcome M. Garnet. When I learned that her most recent publication was a switch from her usual fare, I asked her to talk about why she decided to write a contemporary romantic mystery this time around.

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Anne, I want to thank you very much for inviting me as a guest on your blog.  There is a lot to say about my story EYES OF DANGER due to the fact that it is a little different than most of my published books, so the opportunity to talk about it with your readers is something I appreciate.

When I put up an introduction for my release of this story I said “I locked up my vampires in the closet and turned off my telescope”.  My fans who have read my stories will understand what I meant by that strange little sentence.  I have written several stories about love that included space travel with strange events and strange individuals.  There is something that I love to write about sexy aliens.

I also have had a reasonable amount of success writing about Vampires including a series called BLOOD SISTERS of which the third in the series, MISERY was awarded a four star award from Romance Review saying it was ‘an outstanding read’.  Some would say I should stay with what is selling.  I want to say here that I do love my vampires and I have the fourth in the series with the publisher at this moment.

But, there is always something that draws me back to the contemporary mystery genre so I just can’t resist plowing through my old notes and emailing all my great research contacts to get back into a modern thriller with love pulled apart in the middle of evil government types with too much power.

With this story, I wanted to bring my reader along with the heroine into a web that she got lost trying to understand as she fell in love with a pair of dark eyes.  I needed to surround her with some real locations, actual threats and true ways of getting away and safe.

For some authors research can be tedious and boring.  For me it is exciting and a great way to learn.  On top of that, because of my long and interesting life, I have had the surprise to find that I have a plethora of people that I know personally who have first hand knowledge on things that most of the citizens around us never even saw on the evening news.  My list of people I can dip into involves retired Navy Seals, Experts on Police and Federal armament and every military type you can think about.  My email reaches out to those in almost every US state but also those who personally experienced time deep inside the working process of both the government and the largest businesses that run this world.

The cover may not have a half naked vampire or very sexy alien on it, but still my favorite artist Carmen Waters did an outstanding job doing artwork that was stunning.  Pardon the pun but it is ‘eye catching’.  I also have to give credit to my editor Tex Burd who keeps me out of any trouble that might make me look like I slept through all the courses on Lit 101.

This is the third in the genre of contemporary mystery love story I have written but, I will have to warn my fans, it won’t be my last.  I just hope that there are some fans and perhaps some new ones that will find this story with a strange turn at the end interesting enough to recommend it to others.

Again Anne, thanks for this opportunity. 

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Learn more about M. Garnet on her website.   

You can purchase Eyes of Danger at Extasy Books.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Beth Barany: Epigraphs in HENRIETTA AND THE DRAGON STONE #yalit #fantasy

Today's guest, Beth Barany, writes magical tales of romance and adventure to transport readers to new worlds where anything is possible. She's the award-winning author HENRIETTA THE DRAGON SLAYER, a young adult fantasy novel (Book 1 of the Five Kingdom series.) Beth also helps authors create successful careers, via her coaching, consulting, speaking, and online courses. Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post!

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Fairy Tale Elements in Young Adult Fantasy 

by Beth Barany

Hi Anne, Thanks for having me on your blog! I’m excited to share a little bit about my latest young adult fantasy novel, Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, book 2 in my Five Kingdoms series, and to offer fun prizes! More on the later at the end of this post.

When I wrote Henrietta The Dragon Slayer, book 1 in my Five Kingdoms series, I was inspired to share about the Five Kingdoms world I created through songs, poems, and sayings. I love fairy tales and folktales, so I wanted to add elements that sounded like oral lore, tales handed down from the ages, songs, sayings, and other elements of Henrietta’s life.

I did that by creating made-up poems, songs, and other lore. I put them at the start of every chapter, lending another texture or counterpoint or hint. After I added them, I learned they were called “epigraphs.”

Wikipedia defines them epigraphs well: “In literature, an epigraph is a phrase, quotation, or poem that is set at the beginning of a document or component. The epigraph may serve as a preface, as a summary, as a counter-example, or to link the work to a wider literary canon, either to invite comparison or to enlist a conventional context. (

I created more epigraphs for book 2, Henrietta and the Dragon Stone, and even expanded and excerpted ones I created in book 1. Here are a few of my favorites from that book:

The Dracontias, dra-con-ti-as, emphasis on the second syllable, is the most powerful gem in all the Five Kingdoms, and more powerful than all the other so-called Kingdom Stones. This one and only Dragon Stone unifies the kingdoms and empowers its user. But beware its one fatal flaw.
—from the Fire Wizards Compendium

In and out, Fate weaves her spell
She jumps out and runs from here to hell
All that remains
Is alive and well
So, do hold tight
Do hold fast
Do not let go
Of your heart, dear child
The Weavers of Yore chant

From Romania, a valley town born
The Dragon Slayer strides
As the crow flies west down the river ways
The Dragon Slayer strides
Tempered at the castle mount
Tested on battlefield and in cave
The Dragon Slayer strides
The Dragon Slayer strides
—From Ode One of the Valley version of “Song of the Dragon Slayer

More about Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (Book 2):

A new story of young adult epic fantasy adventure by award-winning author, Beth Barany.

Book 2 in the Five Kingdom series of the continuing adventures of Henrietta The Dragon Slayer.

What if everyone you loved was threatened by a force you couldn't see or fight?

Henrietta the legendary dragon slayer wants to return to her village for a heroes’ welcome. But an unknown sorcerer rides after her and her Dragon Stone and aims to destroy everyone she cares about. Can she claim her newfound powers sparked by the Dragon Stone and keep her loved ones safe, or will the sorcerer destroy everyone and everything she loves?

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Purchase Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (Book 2) on 

Learn more about Beth Barany on her website.

Raffecopter Giveaway until 2/28/2014:

Beth is giving away 3 prizes!
·         A $25 Amazon gift card
·         One print copy of Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (US only)

·         One jumbo bag with a Henrietta and the Dragon Stone image

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Sandra Barret on BLOOD OF A TRAITOR and developing culture in #SciFi

My guest today is Sandra Barret, whose latest work is Blood of a Traitor, Book 2 in her Terran-Novan Universe series. Here Sandra discusses a very difficult question: how the concept of culture might be used in futuristic sci-fi.

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How Writing The Other Taught Me "You know nothing, Jon Snow"
by Sandra Barret

Okay, I'm mixing my metaphors (and my genres here), but that Game of Thrones expression so perfectly matches my reality after trying to write about someone from a culture different from my own.  My latest science fiction novel, Blood of a Traitor, has two main characters.  Kay is short, sarcastic, and a little too much like me (or my inner me anyway). And then there's Ayaan - tall, African, and Muslim (or a version of Muslim I extrapolated from current liberal Muslim trends).

I did my research like a good little writer. I got books, I hunted blogs. I created a character that I felt was well rounded and represented someone who isn't common in our stories.  After sitting through the Arisia convention's panel on Writing for The Other, I realized I fell short of the mark.

I did focus on one item that was critical to Ayaan.  She chose to follow her religion when family and the military frowned on it. It was core to who she was, and that I think I represented well.  Where it weakened was in the supporting cast of characters.

Now before I continue to bash my own book, I think the story and characters are great (call me biased).  But for my own goal and what I set out when I created this book? Yeah, didn't quite make it.  I fell into a few common holes. The biggest one, I like to call "Why Aren't There Kenyans on Pluto" (referencing comments from that Arisia panel).  The mistake I made was to assume that some far flung future, complete with human genome enhancements and galactic space travel, would automatically strip away major cultural differences.  My story cultures are different, but on a planetary scope. Within the planet, each is homogenous. 

One recommendation from the panel was to evaluate the Jewish culture, as something that has spanned millennia, experienced wide scale Diaspora, and yet both retained and shed aspects of what was core thousands of years before.  And then recognize the differences within that culture. It too is not monolithic. People mingle with other cultures, adopting parts here and there.

So for my next book in the series, I hope to be less like Jon Snow....and maybe I'll put Kenyans on Pluto? Side by side with Canadians, Brazilians, and an alien or two. Or Brazilian aliens, or Kenyans who integrated cultural aspects of those aliens.  They may self-identify as Plutonians to outsiders, but amongst themselves, don't strip away their heritage. Keep it, enhance it, and let the characters be real.

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Learn more about Sandra Barret on her website.

You can purchase Blood of a Traitor on Amazon as print or e-book.