Monday, September 27, 2010

Guest - D. Renee Bagby

Good morning, everyone! We have a special guest today - D. Renee Bagby who'll be talking about worldbuilding, one of my favorite topics. Enjoy!


My name is D. Renee Bagby and I am a world builder. It is my preference. I am not one for research, though I will do it when I must. For me, making it all up as I go along is much more comfortable. The more “alien” the world, the better, to my mind. I will make up new calendars complete with date and month names, new ways of telling time, and even bits and pieces of new languages to get as far away from the world around us as I can.

What I cannot get away from are the most mundane things that fill our days but we tend to forget about since they are so mundane. In fact, I cannot and should not get away from them because they ground the story in a sense of reality.

My heroines are usually black. I like to take said heroines from an Earth not unlike our own and toss them back in time or across dimensions or across the universe to other worlds. In some cases, that tossing lands them in a locale that may not have all of the modern conveniences the heroine will have gotten used to after two to three decades of life.

The first thing my heroine is concerned with is how to get home. That is what most normal people would be worried about. As the writer, I know she is not going home any time soon (or at all, in the case of some of my stories). I am not worried about how she is getting home. Her hair is my main concern.

I am not saying my heroines are fashion plates that need to look perfect at all times. Far from it. However, black women's hair is not wash and wear. Not even when we are going natural is our hair wash and wear. Though, going natural does make it less complicated to maintain.

So my poor heroine, who has just been tossed into this strange locale with no beauty supply stores anywhere, is about one humid day (or rain storm) away from turning into a knotted puff ball that no comb alone will be able to tame.

It would probably only take a few paragraphs to explain away the problem and keep the story moving. Some might even say it is a waste of words but I guarantee there would be a few readers who would be pulled out of the story because that mild and mundane concern was not broached.

There are plenty of other mundane things that some people overlook when writing -- monthly cycles, potty breaks, and should you really be eating/drinking that?

The first thing people tell you when visiting Mexico (from the United States) is not to drink the water. Should that not go double for a whole new world across the universe and quadruple if your heroine is traveling back in time?

Yes, potty breaks are not the most romantic of things to write about but a quick aside about a trip to the bushes would not hurt. If done right, it even becomes comic relief.

And last but definitely not least is every woman's monthly visitor. You cannot get away from it in real life (not without drugs or major surgery), so it is not something that should be glossed over in fiction either.

There are many more mundane things people tend to overlook when writing, no matter what the genre. I am sure you have already thought of some I did not mention. Using those mundane things to somewhat ground the fiction in reality makes the fantasy that much richer and easier to believe.

I am D. Renee Bagby and I love Building New Realms of Passion every day.


Renee is a military brat turned military wife who is currently stationed in MD with her husband and two cats.
Whether writing as D. Renee Bagby or Zenobia Renquist, she is a world-builder. She loves inventing new cultures and shaping their histories and laws because it beats researching the existing ones.
Her stories span the fantasy gamut but she dabbles in sci-fi and contemporary from time to time. While her main characters tend to be of different races, she doesn't let skin color rule or limit her stories. For her, it's all about how much she can torture her characters so they earn their happily-ever-after ending.
The rules are all new and pre-conceived notions will only slow you down, so when reading Renee's stories, she asks only one thing -- Leave Your Reality Behind.

To Contact Renee:

Blog -
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Publisher: Siren Publishing, Menage Amour Imprint
Genre: Interracial, Time Travel, Menage (m/f/m)

eBook - $6.99
Print - $16.99

Buy Now:

Read Chapter One:

Eternal Truths Series, Book 1

Time is on their side and they can be together, assuming the truth doesn't ruin everything first.

Immortals born in the thirteenth century, Lucien Riordan and Ranulf Styr have waited centuries to be reunited with their love. Want for her cemented their friendship through time even as it tore it apart. She changed their lives, made them want better, and they plan to show her that. There’s only one catch—she’s never met them before.

Eris Brue is flattered by Lucien and Ranulf’s attention but they are her bosses. She doesn’t want to get tangled up in an office romance, especially not with two men. Their joint seduction overcomes her resolve and she gives in even though she knows they are keeping secrets that could doom their relationship.

Centuries of planning have finally come to fruition. Lucien and Ranulf have a short amount of time to make Eris love them, because once time has her, everything could come to an end.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview: Postponed

Unfortunately I will be postponing my interview with Kelly Gay, Urban Fantasy writer extraordinaire until the new year. But don't fret, she's on deadline cranking out two fabulous new books. In the interim, I didn't want you to miss her latest in the Charlie Madigan Series--THE DARKEST EDGE OF DAWN!

From the back cover:

Deep beneath Underground a cunning bid for power and revenge has begun, one that threatens to make Atlanta the new battleground in the ultimate confrontation between heaven and hell. The powers of hellish Charbydon have the upper hand after plunging the city into primordial night. And under the cover of darkness, a serial killer targets the most powerful Elysian’s in the city, the angelic Adonai. For detective Charlie Madigan and her siren partner Hank, tracking deadly predators is all in a day’s work. But this case will test the limits of their strength and friendship as it draws them into a deadly world of power plays, ancient myths, explosive secrets, and a race against time that risks all that Charlie holds dear.

To read the excerpt, click here!

If you're interested in Kelly, check out the Q&A below in prep for her Interstellar Interview :0)

Q: How long did it take you to get published?
A: I started writing with career intentions when I was in my teens, almost *cough, cough* two decades ago with screenplays and plays, for which I garnered several finalist placings in screenwriting contests (Austin Film Festival, Red Inkworks, Hollywood Symposium, Disney Fellowship, to name a few). I think my rejection pile page-count might rival a novel or two! I also wrote several partials and unfinished novels, but the first novel I actually finished and started submitting was in 2003. It was a romantic comedy that I wrote during a three-week span of alone time. It was horrible, but I proved to myself I could write a book from start to finish.

Q: Give us an idea of your typical writing day.
A: Coffee. Kids off to school. About an hour of checking emails, responding, posting on my blog or updating my social networks, etc... Then, I write until lunch time. Usually, I eat a whatever is quickest to make, then go for a walk or run, then work another few hours until the kids get home. After that, I'm off. Unless, I'm behind on my deadlines or page count, then I'll work a little at night.

In case you're a fan or fellow author Kelly will be signing with fellow HCRW chaptermates at the Hilton Hotel by the Raleigh-Durham Aiport on October 16th! For the time, check back at Kelly's website.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Guest - Stacey Kennedy

Good morning everyone! Stacey Kennedy’s journey as an urban fantasy romance writer began as a way to keep her brain alive since being a stay at home mom can be a little let’s say―numbing. It was an escape from screaming kids, dirty diapers and plain old mom duty.  It started as a hobby, but as the stories progressed it became a passion. Now, she indulges at nap time, especially in the juicy bits! Every mom needs a good thrill!


What supernatural creature do you love to read about most?  For me, the answer is a complicated one.  I love them all!  The differences between the mythical beings have always left me a little unsure of which one was my favourite.

Which is why as a writer, I decided to write about them all.  I loved the idea of a world that not only included vampires, werewolves or witches, but had a place where they lived together in peace―well, sometimes they live peacefully.  

Anyways, it was from this idea The Magical Sword Series was born.  The stories revolve around Guardians and Witches, but vampires, werewolves, warlocks and just about every other mythical creature has an important role within these tales.  

So, why did I choose this path in my writing?  Because I honestly couldn’t settle on one.  Sure, I’ve branched out, written a few vampire or werewolf stories.  But in the end, The Magical Sword stories will always be my favourite to go back to.  I simply love the idea of creating a world that has all the magical beings we’ve all grown to love.  Loved it so much in fact, I created a spin off series, The Blue Bloods to continue with these adventures.  

My question to you, are you like me―do you love those furry werewolves or those sexy vampires too much to decide on one, or does one creature steal the show for you?

What’s out now?

The Willow ~ The Magical Sword Book One

In Carson City, Nevada a tragic car accident has claimed the lives of Nexi Jones’ adoptive parents. Now, without them, her reason to live has vanished and she is determined to end her pain.

The problem with that, it’s not heaven she wakes up to, it’s the Otherworld. Nexi must reconcile the truth about her past, and her heritage as part guardian/part witch, while she begins to train to join the Council’s guard. But it’s not the combat training that has her worried, its attempting to keep her cool around the luscious guardian, Kyden that’s her biggest concern.

Before long, Nexi’s skills are put to the test as she begins to fight against the supernatural who have taken a human life. But nothing can prepare her for the journey ahead. Soon, she will find herself lost in a mystery and fighting to keep all she’s gained, as Lazarus, a vampire, threatens to take it all away.

Read excerpt -

Ebook buy link

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Night Owl Romance – TOP PICK!
“The Willow was an amazing read. I really loved it. Once I started the book I didn’t stop. The characters and action are awesome. There is always something going on and plenty of twists that are unexpected.”  Tigger9

RT Book Reviews
“…Kennedy has created a world that readers will want to visit again and again!” Dawn Crowne

 The Wicked ~ The Magical Sword Book Two

Nexi Jones knows two things—being half Guardian is tough—being half Witch is simply problematic. With her Guardian duties put on hold, she begins the gruelling task of discovering her magical abilities, which tend to be unpredictable, at the best of times.

At least, she has her luscious Guardian, Kyden to keep her grounded. That is, until the military-built, Ryker returns with a keen interest in being a constant thorn in her backside. With enough trouble controlling her powers—the added rivalry between the two tough Guardians leaves Nexi in urgent demand of a fire extinguisher.

But when tragedy strikes the very core of the Otherworld, Nexi needs to shape up as she lands herself knee deep into vampire society—a world run by vampire Mistresses who offer their assistance in unearthing a deadly plot of revenge. But as the truth begins to unravel, Nexi begins to discover that the Otherworld isn’t the only place where Supernaturals exist—and there is something far darker than thirsty vampires lurking within the shadows…

Read excerpt -

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 What’s coming soon?

The Devil’s Kiss – The Magical Sword Book Three (September 2010)

An Everlasting Bite – The Blue Bloods Book One (October 2010)

To Contact Stacey:

Website -

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What'd You Say?

Last weekend I got the joy of traveling to Omaha...yes, as in Nebraska, for business. I'd been to Arizona before, so this ranked as the second farthest trip from my Southern home.

I had to take two flights, one of which connected in O'Hare. Trepidation filled me (no thanks to co-workers' stories) at navigating that huge place full of seasoned travelers. To my surprise I loved the airport! Though I do have to say they could use more table space to sit down and eat, especially when one has a two hour layover! While walking the halls, I whipped out my cell phone and took a picture. Of course I thought afterwards "That so made me look like a tourist", and therefore a robber's target. Oh well, you just don't see a huge dinosaur in our local airport! O'Hare also had beautiful benches hand crafted by an artisan to brighten the gray space, which seemed drearier given the rainy conditions when I arrived. No to mention the lighted subterranean walkway lit up like a rainbow...a totally perfect setting for paranormal activities!

During my departure, I had the chance to do some interesting people watching. My gate, was smack dab in the middle of international flights to Paris, Ontario, Rome, Heathrow, Frankfurt, and Dayton :0) Strangely enough the people sitting across from me speaking fluent Japanese were actually headed to Ohio! A gruff man from the British Isles even asked me for the Chicago time. Thankfully I'd set my watch correctly for the difference.

Not only did I people watch in the airport--like the 60+ woman with a tattooed arm leading her daughter around, or the woman with an eye patch--but also aboard my flights (and shuttle rides). Needless to say we were an eclectic blend! In fact the flight from Omaha to Chicago was a total mish mash of suited businessmen, young designers, home grown folks, and high-faluting ladies. Though it does make one wonder what brought us all together in that one moment. From overheard conversation, some were traveling to see children, others were on assignments like me, and some were in town for weddings/birthdays.

It goes to prove sometimes life really is stranger than fiction! Though my seminar teacher was a complete character (and seems to live in infamy among my peers), I found the people of Omaha inviting and down right friendly! I was shocked to find some talk very much like Wisconsin natives! Happily, in Omaha I wasn't ribbed for my accent like I had been in Scottsdale.

All in all, the trip was uneventful (except for almost getting splattered by a speeder while walking back from the mall) and yes, I did get the t-shirt!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Come Visit Me

So I got this new toy...not a glam toy. Nope, no bling at all. It's a clog cannon. You know, to open up clogged or slow running drains? Pretty simple to use but...I must not have had it exactly on the drain opening cause I got this blast of black gunk. On the mirror. On the wall. On the counter. On my arm. Eeewwww! Now I remember why I let the hubby take care of stuff like this (he's gone up north for a couple of days.)

So I cleaned the bathroom and myself up. The drain is running a bit faster though I suspect it needs another blast of air (and that will wait till hubby comes home - I don't like wearing black gunk, eeww!)

But that's not what I wanted to share. I've been invited to blog at Typos and All.

Read it here:

I'd love to have you stop and say hi!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Guest - Kendra Leigh Castle

Good morning, all! Today's guest is Kendra Castle Leigh, one of my favorite new authors...although newer might be a better word :-) Ms Leigh first caught my attention when she wrote for Sourcebooks. I fell in love with her writing style, her voice, her imagination and her characters. Make sure you catch the review I did for her newest book, Renegade Angel...then go buy it!

Kendra Leigh Castle spent her youth stealing her mom's romance novels, and now indulges her fascination with paranormal bad boys by writng her own.  She lives in Maryland with her family, and is the author of the acclaimed MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, Renegade Angel, out now from Harlequin Nocturne, and a new series coming from Grand Central Publishing about the ancient vampire dynasties that rule the night, beginning next summer with Dark Awakening.  Visit her online at!

Bad to the Bone

What is it about bad boys?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve always loved them, at least in theory.  From Sexy Severus and Luscious Lucius (stop looking at me that way, I didn’t make those names up!) of Harry Potter fame, to the tortured Phantom of the Opera, to the original Bad Vamp, Count Dracula, men with a dark and dangerous streak have always gotten my motor running.  Okay, so the one or two I dated in real life didn’t work out so well.  But in the realm of paranormal romance, bad boys tend to make the most excellent mates.  And in my new book Renegade Angel, out this month from Nocturne, the hero Raum is one of the original bad boys: a fallen angel.

When a new story idea shows up on my mental doorstep, it usually arrives in the form of the hero.  Renegade Angel was no exception…and would you be able to ignore a guy who looked like this, except with the addition of a pair of big, black wings?

Yeah, me neither.  And so Raum was born, ebony-haired, green-eyed, and with enough attitude to take on the world.  Or just survive working for a bunch of control-freak white wings he used to have the misfortune of knowing back in his better-behaved days.  See, Raum managed to make the wrong enemy in Hell when he was solidifying his reputation as the Destroyer of Dignities and Robber of Kings.  That enemy bided his time, got on Hell’s Infernal Council by sucking up to Lucifer, and eventually, Raum was marked for death on trumped up charges of being a traitor.  He was out of options until Leviathan, Hell’s sometimes-man, sometimes-sea monster, showed up with an offer he was pretty sure Raum wouldn’t refuse.

That’s how Raum ended up freelancing for Heaven, taking care of earth’s pesky half-demon problem so the angels have more time to concentrate on the rapidly slipping balance between darkness and light.  It pays well, but the company of a few fellow Fallen outcasts doesn’t exactly brighten Raum’s days.  Then he ends up in a little Vermont town, on what he assumes is just another mission to find and exterminate another psychotic human/demon hybrid (they do tend to turn out that way), and finds himself saddled with the mysterious and tantalizing puzzle that is Ember Riddick, the flame-haired proprietress of Lotions & Potions.  And the rest…well, the rest you’ll need to read and find out for yourself!  But Ember is far from psychotic.  And she’s also a great deal more than she seems.

Raum is different than any other hero I’ve written.  He’s unapologetically bad to the bone, with a sharp tongue and plenty of anger management issues.  He doesn’t particularly miss Heaven, though he’s gotten pretty sick of Hell, too.  And when he meets Ember for the first time, he has no idea what hit him.  Watching this particular bad boy remember what it is to love and be loved was such a treat for me, and I hope everyone who picks up the book enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.  If nothing else, enjoy picturing the Guyliner God there, except with wings, while reading the story!

So here’s my question for you: who’s your favorite bad boy in film or fiction?

Leave your answer in the comments AND email it to me with your snail mail addy. I’ll select my favorite answer and send you a copy of Renegade Angel, signed by me.  The contest will run until Tuesday and I'll announce the winner then!  Meanwhile I’ll be in and out every day to discuss my favorite subject…dark, sexy, world-wreckingly powerful men!

Email your answer to

Renegade Angel

It's been thousands of years since Raum's angelic wings turned from white to black, and the Destroyer of Dignities and Robber of Kings never looked back. These days he's also on the outs with Hell and works with a motley crew of ex-demons on a new mission: snuffing out lesser demons and their half-human progeny.

Raum's latest assignment brings him to a small Vermont town—and a sweet, funny half-demon, half-human he'll risk everything to save. Ember Riddick stirs him as no woman ever before—and she holds the key to what Lucifer will move Hell and Earth to prevent: his team's redemption.

But Ember's secrets are as dark as Raum's midnight wings. And their fate may leave them entwined…but destroyed….


-- Lynda Again
Ok, with eye candy like that for inspiration I wouldn't be able to write the book, lol. I'd be too busy wiping the drool off my chin. I'm anxious to hear who your favorite bad boys are so do leave a comment AND don't forget to email it and your snail mail addy to Kendra!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Review - Renegade Angel By Kendra Leigh Castle

Renegade Angel
By Kendra Leigh Castle
Harlequin Nocturne
Available Now

When Raum, Destroyer of Dignities and Robber of Kings, has to make a hasty escape from the bowels of Hell, he’s left with one option – to work for the white wings aka Heaven, the very same Heaven he left eons before. Caught between Heaven and Hell, he now finds and destroys half-breed demons on Earth.

Until his assignment takes him to Johnstown, Vermont and the half-demoness Ember Riddick. Ember, wearing ugly glasses and severe ponytail as she busily works in her perfume shop, is the least demon-like demoness he’s ever seen. She blushes, she stumbles, and she’s beautiful. In fact, her beauty is the only thing demon-like about her. Her red hair and beauty is a gift from her father, Mammon, the very demon who caused Raum to flee Hell or perish. But he senses an essential core of goodness, of light in Ember that in no way was a gift from Mammon.

Ember’s first sight of Raum awakens all the primal urges and lusts that she’s battled all her life. With his dark and dangerous beauty, she knows he’s one of THEM but she thinks her disguise has held even after she practically throws herself into his arms and wraps herself around him. Fortunately, good sense prevails helping Ember escape his presence…and the mind-fogging lust she feels for him.

Raum and his blond companion, Gadreel, are in town to find a demon capable of opening a Nexus between Earth and Hell. But he’s not sure Ember is that demon and when Uriel, the angel in charge of their mission, agrees, Raum volunteers to guard her. In fact, he insists on it which surprises him, Uriel and his fellow demons. And that insistence leads Ember and Raum into a dangerous and, sometimes, wonderful adventure as they both learn about love.

It’s not easy though. Raum is dark, dangerous…the epitome of ‘bad boy’. He wears black. He scowls. He basks in his own toughness…which is used to protect Ember. He won’t admit that he admires her humor, her stubbornness, her own feminine toughness. Certainly he won’t admit it to her and he won’t let her close to him. Not that that stops her from trying to peal away the layers to find out if there’s a chance of a permanent relationship between them.

But Ember’s emotional demons are huge…Until she met Raum, her demonic side tended to be more violent than regular human males could accept so she avoided them. She’s always wanted to feel loved but knows that there’s something inherently wrong with her since even her mother doesn’t seem to love her. With Raum, she senses there could be something more, something wonderful but…does he have any feelings for her at all? Or is he just using her to get something else that he wants?

Ms Castle has written another wonderfully complex and imaginative tale peopled with immensely likable characters. Raum, the fallen angel, is seriously HAWT but more than that the reader can understand why he fell and…how he can be redeemed. Ember is smart, with a dry sense of humor – much like your best girlfriend. That’s one of Ms Castle’s strengths, creating characters we can understand and relate to. There are several characters I would love to see in a book of their own – Levi, short for Leviathan, a sea-serpent shifter. Gadreel, the blond Adonis fallen angel. Justinian, the King of Vampires. Sadly, it doesn’t appear that this will be the first book of a series. But Ms Castle does have a new series coming out  from Grand Central Publishing about the ancient vampire dynasties that rule the night next summer with Dark Awakening.  I can hardly wait.

Make sure you visit Star-Crossed Romance to help welcome Kendra Leigh Castle as she talks about our favorite topic - 'bad boys'.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Guest - Lisa Kessler

Good morning everyone! And Happy Labor Day to all our USA readers! We have author Lisa Kessler with us today and she's given us a very interesting article. I think you'll enjoy it :-)

Hi Everyone

Thank you Lynda for inviting me here today!

I’ve always been a sucker for a really good short story, the ones that stick with you long after you reached “The End”. I remember reading “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson and “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell in high school, and I wanted to write like that.

Later I discovered Stephen King and Ray Bradbury, also masters of the art of short fiction. In a few sentences you’re transported to another world, and already vested in the characters. You need to know what happens next.

I was lucky enough to meet Ray Bradbury after one of his lectures about writing, and I asked him for advice on improving my craft. His eyes sparkled and he replied, “Write a new short story every week for a year. At the end of the year, you’ll have ideas to last a lifetime.”

I’ll be honest here. It took me almost two years to take his advice.

Call me hard-headed, but I had sold short stories in the past. I knew you didn’t get much money, and at that point in time it took me a few weeks to write one story. It was tough for me to imagine that short stories would help me with my paranormal romance novels.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

When I finally committed to take Ray Bradbury’s advice, I started my blog and posted a new short story every week. I learned about story arcs, crafting a tight beginning, keeping tension in the middle, and finding a satisfying ending.

There is no room for backstory in short fiction. The beginning hits the ground running. Every word counts. Through writing short fiction, you learn faster ways to research and edit, until your writing process itself is also streamlined. Instead of taking a couple weeks to craft a new short story, I could finish it in a day.

Flash Fiction is also an excellent exercise. Using the topic of “Murder in 250 words or less” I crafted micro fiction that forces you to make each word meaningful. Powerful, vivid verbs are a necessity, and another useful tool to add to a novelist’s toolkit.

During my 52 stories in 52 week journey, one tale demanded more attention. I wrote “Moonlight” as a short story for my blog initially. Shortly afterward, my local RWA Chapter challenged us to write a novel in nine months, so I took the short story and ran with it.

It was just announced this past week that “Moonlight” is a finalist in the Kensington Brava/RT Writing with the Stars contest!

So in the end, Ray Bradbury was right. In fact, I loved writing 52 stories in 52 weeks so much that I still try to post a new short fiction on my blog each week. We all read books on the craft and go to workshops, but writing short fiction gives you hands-on practice and like any art, you learn by using the techniques not just talking about them.

If you’ve never finished a novel, or if you’ve been toiling over edits and rewrites on the same book, short fiction might be just the thing to get you to the next level. And who knows, your next great novel might come from one of your short stories.

Bio: Lisa Kessler writes dark paranormal fiction novels and short stories. Her vampire short story, Immortal Beloved, was a finalist for a Bram Stoker award. Immortal Beloved can be found in the Dead Souls anthology from Morrigan Books.

Lisa is an active member of her local RWA chapter as well as the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal online chapter. Her novels have been finalists in the Winter Rose, On the Far Side, Spring into Romance, and the Linda Howard Award of Excellence.

Her novel Moonlight is currently a finalist in the Brava/RT Writing with the Stars contest.

When she’s not writing, Lisa sings in musical theater productions and operas. She lives in San Diego with her wonderful husband who reads every word she writes, and two amazing teens.

Dead Souls – Kindle -

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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Review - Embers by Laura Bickle

by Laura Bickle
Pocket Books
ISBN 978-1-4391-6765-6
Available Now

Anya Kalinczyk spends her days working for the Detroit Fire Department as an arson investigator. When a series of mysterious fires erupt, just weeks before Detroit's infamous Devil's Night, and she finds a horned viper symbol at east site, she fears the fires may have a paranormal connection. Anya is uniquely qualified to recognize the supernatural. She's the most rare kind of medium, a Lantern, and has a fire elemental as a familiar.

Even though Anya wants to keep her 'normal' self separate from her 'paranormal' self, she spends a lot of time working with a group of ghost hunters known as DAGR. Working with them wouldn't be so bad but the leader, Jules, prefers to deal with recalcitrant spirits through spiritual means. It's only when none of his or other members of the group can cause the spirits to leave that he grudgingly turns to Anya. As a Lantern, she has the ability to 'consume' ghosts. But using her power as a Lantern takes its toll on her both physically and emotionally.

As does trying to maintain distance from the group's tech wizard, Brian, who wants more from her than she can willingly give. She fears her ability as a Lantern and her fire elemental, Sparky, would destroy any relationship she could manage to have. As the fires become more dangerous and costly in terms of human life, Anya realizes the fire itself isn't the arsonist's primary goal. With the initial clue, the horned viper, as her main lead she fears the fires may lead to a cataclysmic awakening of an ancient evil.

Embers is one of the absolute best urban fantasies that I've read. Having spent most of my youth in Detroit, one of the first things that struck me was the author's knowledge of the city and its surroundings. Ms Bickle has done a phenomenal job of capturing the feel of the Detroit urban area.

But setting alone does not a story make. Ms Bickle has written a book that captures the loneliness and near despair of a woman who wants a more normal life. Unfortunately, her talent as a Lantern and her familiar, Sparky, makes that nearly impossible. However, Anya isn't a 'poor me' sort of character. She honestly loves Sparky who, I admit, is a fascinating and lovable creature who reminds me of a cross between a big doofus dog and a quirky, independent feline. The plot is fresh and masterfully intertwined with the setting. I will remind readers of Star-Crossed Romance that Embers is not a typical romance with the plot actually depending on the romantic elements. However, the romantic elements do play a fundamentally important role for characterization and, to a lesser extent, to the plot.

I highly recommend Embers for anyone who enjoys urban fantasy or paranormal stories.

Ms Bickle has a sequel, Sparks, that just became available. I'd already pre-purchased my copy of Sparks and was delighted when it arrived the other day. I can't wait to start reading it. If you don't already own Embers, you might want to get both books at the same time.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Defining Moments

In the past week, I've been busy. Unfortunately not because I've been writing. No, I'll chalk it up to life...which we all know has it's ups and downs. You know those moments that make you stop and go, I'll never be the same again....well I've had three of those this week (well two were due to friends and family).

The first was a wedding that occurred last Saturday. The youngest of my cousins, at age 30, said I do in a small country chapel near where he's stationed as a wildlife officer. I did imagine how this would change our family, but I also thought about how the event would change his life. Sure he and his wife had been dating a few years, and had recently renovated a house together, but I wasn't sure they'd worked out some issues. Then again, I'm not the one to judge, and they aren't characters in my book :0) I think the ramifications of the moment struck him when he was repeating his vows. He teared up, had to pause a couple times, and had to take a few deep breaths because he was so overcome. There are few times I've ever seen him this emotional. Taking that big a step can be overwhelming to say the least.

That's often why the wedding scene in a novel comes at the a way to "illustrate" that the hero and heroine have made that big step and have worked through issues. For most it means getting rid of the me and focusing on the we, which is integral to any relationship. Because it is such a big moment, a wedding can also serve as the BBM, when things go awry. How many books have we seen where a busted wedding leads to a self-journey AKA a better man/woman or to a secondary character having their own quest.

I arrived at my FT job Monday and saw my friend was upset. I asked her what was wrong, and she looked at me as if I should know. Immediately I said, I haven't been online...since the wedding location was in a small town and there never a good wi-fi connection. (Not to mention I would've had to wrestle my hubby's phone away, taking away his only source of entertainment.) Come to find out a pastor who was integral in shaping her life as well as her husband's had passed away suddenly in his sleep. It was a big blow for both of them, and I think a call to reevaluate their place in life and their direction in it. As she sat there trying to decide whether to spend the money to attend the visitation and funeral, she already knew the answer. She and her husband had to go...and spend the money they didn't have since he'd lost his job.

Sometimes even life's small decisions make a big impact. Like those plot points that lead up to more pivotal actions/decisions by the hero and heroine in a book. This is why everything a character does should have significance. Sometimes one simple decision can make or break a relationship. Did the hero forget to forward his mail and miss out on an invitation or did a heroine drop out of class too soon to realize the teacher really just has a quirky sense of humor?

Next up is the birthday, which happens this Saturday. Birthdays, like New Year's Days, are a biggie. A time for reflection on how things have changed over 365 days. Some birthdays are easier than others, like hitting 16 or 21. Others we take in stride, like 30 and above til 40. Then there are the tough ones, we say don't matter but we secretly 50. So whose birthday is it? Mine...and my twin, not to mention a cousin, and a friend's little girl. Popular day isn't it? A co-worker asked if I was upset because I always had to share my birthday. In a way it is sad because we always had to compromise. But it also means I don't have to celebrate alone and that someone else can share my anxiety. :0) Many things have changed for me since last year, but pretty much I'm still the same me...with a couple gray hairs. Though my husband pacifies me by saying they're only light blonde. I do know I'm not rushing to the beauty parlor just yet.

Milestones like these things called birthdays, can often be the single catalyst for a book. (And as we've seen this year, several movies.) It's all about trying to see if the character measures up to where they thought they'd be and if they've lived how they set out to. Sometimes it means trying to start/complete a bucket list of things to do before they die. Which in itself gives the author a plethora of interesting plots to point the hero and heroine toward.

What's one of your defining moments? A wedding, a death, a birth, the call, a book release? Yes, they count especially if your book has been back to press :0)