Thursday, January 31, 2013

Magic Thursday: Worldbuilding with A Gargoyle for the Hotel Gothica

by Eleanor Maine



A Gargoyle for Hotel Gothica was my first ever romance. Until then, I had never written anything in the genre. Other genres, yes, but I couldn’t get my head around what made a romance novel work. It took me six months to learn enough of the genre basics to try writing for publication.

At first I couldn’t decide where to set my story, and then I saw, Dark Eden’s contest, Scottish Nocturnal. Stories for the contest had to feature a Scottish hero who was also a creature of the night. At the time, vampires and werewolves were very popular, as they are today, but neither inspired me as much as the idea of having a gargoyle hero.

I also wanted to write in a setting that I knew well enough to make authentic—and Scotland wasn’t it. I have cousins there, yes, and very distant relatives, but I’ve never walked the highlands or the streets of Glasgow and didn’t feel I could make them come alive for myself, let alone my readers.

I needed to set my story in Australia, in a place I knew the streets well enough to bring them to mind while writing, or accessible enough that I could go and explore them until the words painted them ‘just right’. I needed to set my story in Melbourne, with its hotel-mounted gargoyles, or Hobart, with its equally historic architecture.


Photo: Eleni Konstantine - St Peter's Cathedral, Adelaide


During my research, I learned of the debate raging over selling one of Hobart’s oldest cathedrals because the diocese could no longer maintain it. Such a beautiful building, with all its gothic architecture, would form the perfect basis for a very special hotel. It was just the kind of gothic building traditionally protected by stone statues in the Old Country, and something a collector of gargoyles might treasure in this one.

I didn’t use that cathedral in particular, but chose to create a fictional building that had been built at around the same time, and which faced similar troubles. I decided this was the cathedral Claire bought and turned into a hotel, while doing her best to preserving its character and history. In this way the Hotel Gothica was born.

It was a nice basis, but it needed more. Who was my villain? Why was the gargoyle brought to the hotel anyway? And why was Claire, of all people, without a partner?

By answering these questions, I came up with the dissatisfied heir, who will do anything to get retrieve what he considers ‘his’ inheritance, and the treacherous ex-fiance, who broke Claire’s heart. By now I had a goodly portion of the story, but the mythology of Scotland is full of stories of elves—and not the nice cheerful ones that like to help Santa, or the mysterious-but-well-inclined elves of Tolkein. No. Scottish elves are nasty. I just had to have some appear in this tale.

I wrote, researched and wrote some more, fitting the pieces together and watching as A Gargoyle for the Hotel Gothica gradually took shape. More than that, by mapping out the different characters and describing their place in the world has given me a stack of notes and ideas that will form the basis for many more stories set in the Hotel Gothica universe. I foresee a future containing stories with more gargoyles and more elves… and many more nights in the Hotel Gothica.



A Gargoyle for the Hotel Gothica 

When Claire buys a gargoyle from a Scottish castle, she unwittingly buys the secret history that comes with it. A gift from the fae to the laird of the castle, four hundred years ago, the statue was a double-edge boon, until MacGregor gained control—and then his house fell. Where he went to is not Claire’s concern, although the handsome Duncan MacGregor who claims her gargoyle for himself, definitely is. And there are other complications. A statue with unsavory legends attached, might bring in the tourists, but when Claire rescues a woman from a winged attacker, she is forced to find out if the stories are true.


~~~
You can find buy links from CM Simpson Publishing



Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Bite of... Dark Child

This fortnight's "A Bite Of", features our wonderful Adina West and a snippet of her novel Dark Child.





Can you, in less than five words describe your book Dark Child?

Tarot, destiny, foreboding, Machiavellian…you did say less than five, right? But of course that means I have to leave out my brooding heroes, and magical runes, and lots of other fun stuff.

What inspired you to write it?

 Dark Child started as an experiment. After years of writing contemporary and historical romance, with little success, I wanted to try my hand at paranormal. I’d watched every vampire movie and TV series ever made, and evidently it had all been percolating away in the back of my mind.

I started by writing a single scene about a girl living in a building with a dangerous secret, a building she should have walked right past without seeing, like everyone else did. That scene grew into a full length novel. And that original scene, pretty much unchanged, is still in the final book, in Dark Child Episode 2.

Without further delay, here's the snippet!


Excerpt from Dark Child Episode 1
***

Kat turned her head to see what he was looking at, and saw another man – a very tall, very well-dressed man – filling the doorway.
And he was looking right at her.
Director Norris took a step in his direction, and faltered. “Sir, is . . . is something the matter? I understood you’d be waiting in the car.”
The man didn’t immediately acknowledge him.
Norris held out the sample shipper. “I have the sample right here.”
Finally, the man broke his unblinking focus on Kat, and glanced at Norris. “I’ll take over now.” He made a dismissive gesture with his hand, as if shooing away an annoying fly. “Take that to the car.”
“Yes, sir.” Director Norris scurried away down the corridor carrying the shipper.
Kat looked back up at the man in the doorway. “Country club material,” her grandmother would have said. A perfect match for the limousine outside. Even without his height, he was the sort of man who commanded instant attention, with all the confidence of bearing, the charisma, of one used to leading others. But who was he? And why had just seeing him been enough to make Director Norris jump to do his bidding – behaving more like a junior associate than the director of an entire research division?
“I am Ionescu,” the man said, somehow knowing to answer the question she hadn’t asked. His dark eyes glittered. “Director Norris reports to me.” He took a step towards them.
“Your name isn’t familiar, Mr Ionescu,” Paul said, looking baffled. “Do you work in our corporate head office?”
Ionescu turned to face him with an expression of mild surprise, as if he’d only just noticed him standing there. “Indeed,” he murmured. “Would you excuse us?”
Kat saw the strangest expression cross Paul’s face. Shock, then an odd blankness, then bewilderment. “Of course,” he said, and walked out of his own office without another word.
Kat swallowed, and felt a flutter of nerves as Ionescu again turned toward her with those darkly fascinating eyes.
“Ms Chanter,” Ionescu said, with a caressing smile. His voice was cultured, the vocal rhythm strangely soothing. If she’d thought otherwise when Paul had first mentioned it to her, the attention Ionescu was paying her showed that this part of the meeting was most definitely not an afterthought.
Then a sudden chill ran up her spine. Ionescu hadn’t been in the room when Paul had done the introductions.
So how do you know my name?
“I saw your photograph in the foyer,” Ionescu continued smoothly. “Last year’s employee of the year. Quite remarkable.”
Again, it was as if he’d anticipated her question and answered it before she could ask it.
“Oh,” she said, her anxiety dispelled. “Thank you.”
Ionescu crossed the room to stand in front of her, and she automatically held out her hand, expecting to shake with him.
“Meeting you is a most . . . unexpected pleasure,” Ionescu murmured. She caught a flash of dark eyes as he bent over her hand with a brief inclination of the head – a remnant of what perhaps would have been a gentlemanly bow in years gone past. It seemed perfectly in keeping with the rest of him, somehow.
“P-pleased to meet you,” Kat said in return, finding herself surprisingly tongue-tied.
Was that because of his old-fashioned courtliness? Or because he was still holding her hand? She had no idea of the etiquette on this. Most people she knew just shook hands and then let go. Should she . . . pull away?
Finally, he smiled and released her hand. Again, he made that half-bowing motion in her direction. “As I am sure Norris has communicated, we would be privileged to have an employee of your caliber join us.”
Kat smoothed her palms down the sides of her thighs. “The platelet study does sound very interesting, though I only know the little I’ve read about it in the research bulletin.”
“It certainly is . . . interesting.” Was there a glimmer of humour in his eyes? “And our research is cutting edge. Research subjects with blood matching this platelet profile are quite unique, with a fascinating list of correlating attributes.”
“What attributes do the subjects share?” Kat said. She couldn’t resist asking the question. Tread carefully, Kat, an inner voice warned.
“Certain dietary sensitivities and accelerated healing, among other things.” Ionescu’s mouth curled slowly into a smile. “I’m afraid I can’t disclose any more details in general discussion. The subjects in this study value their privacy, and we request all employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement when they join us.” He paused, and his eyes, thoughtful and assessing, briefly met hers. “Perhaps I should also mention that this position would attract a significant salary increase.”
“Oh!” Extra money would be nice, particularly if she had to pay for accommodation in a big city
“I hope I can count on you accepting our offer?” Ionescu’s voice was smooth as silk.
Kat blinked. It was a little too early to be asking for a commitment, surely? She wasn’t sure why he was being so pushy. “As I was saying to Director Norris when you arrived, I’ll need a few days to think it over. But I’m very grateful to be offered the opportunity.”
For the merest instant, Kat thought she saw discomfiture on Ionescu’s face, as if he’d actually expected her to agree immediately, to give her acceptance on the spot. But then that momentary lapse was cleanly erased, and his expression became benign once more, so she almost thought she’d imagined it.
“Of course.” Another charming smile. “Anything involving relocation requires some thought. But I hope you will not take too long to make your decision.”
Sounds awesome! Thanks for sharing Adina.
If you want to find out more about Adina West and her writing, check out the links below...


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Good News Day!

Welcome to this week's good news...




BOOK COVERS & RELEASE DATES

Ruby’s Ghost from Shona Husk releases May 14th, 2013 from Samhain.

Breaking up is hard to survive.
One moment, Tate Cooper is giving his ex-girlfriend a lift home on his motorcycle. The next, his soul is suspended between life and death, wandering in confusion between the accident scene and the house he grew up in.
Except it’s not his home anymore. In his old bedroom sleeps a beautiful young woman, the only person who can see him. And the only person who can keep him from succumbing to the temptation to escape the horrific pain awaiting him in his mortal body.
Eloise Jones should be studying for her college exams, but it’s tough to stay focused when a lost soul keeps appearing in her room. She figures it must have something to do with sirens she heard screaming in the night, but she’s helpless to assist—and helpless to resist.
As Eloise tries to help Tate unravel the tangled facts surrounding the accident, longing and desire grow into an almost tangible bond between them. But then a second spirit appears, one with a darker intent that could separate them before love draws its first breath…


Kylie Scott's Skin is out on February 1st from Momentum!

Nick is a man with a plan. He’ll treat Roslyn like a Queen, devoting the rest of his life to protecting and providing for her. In exchange, of course, for sexual favours. It’s the deal of the century given the state of the world. But Roslyn doesn’t see it that way. The first chance she gets she attacks the ex-army man and attempts to escape, forcing Nick to contain her. And so begins his awkward courtship of the woman, with her chained to the bed for security reasons.
Chained like a dog and forced to spend her every waking moment with a creep, albeit a good looking one, Ros is determined to escape. When circumstances force them to band together against a common enemy their very survival depends on their ability to learn to trust each other. An uneasy partnership develops, but can a relationship with such a difficult beginning ever have a future?
The hotly anticipated sequel to Flesh, Skin is set in the same universe with a different set of characters.




REVIEWS

Twinsie Talk Book Reviews said this about Skin, Kylie Scott's upcoming release...
"All I can say is that this book is amazing and maybe even better than the 1st if possible!!! Also 5 stars is not high enough!!! This book is a 5+ stars rating!!"


And Page Flipperz has this to say about Skin:
"Kylie Scott has delivered yet another fantastic story. Filled with Energy, hot sex, action, suspense, and gore."


Anna Hackett received this review from Romance Lover for her paranormal short story, One Night Is Not Enough.
"This was a Bite of paranormal and I have to say I enjoyed every single morsel. Anna Hackett rocks. This is my first time reading her and I must say I will continue to. She gives us a female alpha heroine with an unexpected male that turned out to be absolutely perfect for her. It's a short read so I won't go into much detail. I will say it is sexy, action packed, intriguing and kept me glued til the end. Very good book!"





A lovely review from the Minding Spot for Kylie Griffin's fantasy romance, Alliance Forged.
"The perfect mix between conflict and suspense and sexy, sweet romance. Alliance Forged has that special spark that keeps the pages briskly turning from beginning to end. This book has amazing depth and completely transports you with Griffin's amazing world building abilities. It is very well written with characters that are complex yet likable. It picked up right where Vengeance Born left off and sweeps you right back into their world. I anxiously await the release of book three " Allegiance Sworn ".  Great urban fantasy series that I would highly recommend." 
Full review here.




Monday, January 28, 2013

Magic Thursday Winner


The winner of Tyla Grey's giveaway of Hunting Eve collection is

Mary Preston

Congratulations, Mary! Tyla should be contacting you soon.


Thank you to everyone who commented.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Weekly Overview



COMING UP THIS WEEK


Mon 28 Jan - Winner of Tyla's giveaway

Tues 29 - GOOD NEWS DAY compiled by Kylie Griffin

Wed 30 - A BITE OF... Dark Child by Adina West

Thur 31 - MAGIC THURSDAY - with Eleanor Maine

Fri 1 Feb - REAL LIFE PARANORMAL 

Sat 2 - ENCHANTED ORB.... with Adina West




DARKSIDER TREKKING


Other blogs our DarkSiders have visited (or are mentioned) this week

Anna Hackett - Love an Apocalypse (Kylie Scott)

Eleni Konstantine - Smart Girls Love SciFi and Paranormal Romance

Nicole Murphy - DownUnder Divas

Shona Husk - Book Lovers Inc

C.T. Green - Eleni's Taverna


Blog Hops
Eric Hayes - Revelation Blog Hop



Other group blogs with DarkSiders as members

Hot Down Under - C.T. Green, S E Gilchrist, Shona Husk, Rhyll Biest, Keziah Hill. 

Romance Writers of the Apocalypse - Mel Teshco, Shona Husk, Tracey O'Hara, Cathleen Ross, Erica Hayes, Kylie Scott, Christina Ashcroft. 

Hotter than Hades - Imogene Nix, Khloe Wren, Kathrine Leannan, JL Addicoat, Efthalia Pegios, Angela Castle 

Historical Hearts - Annie Seaton, Christina Phillips, Nicole Hurley-Moore

Contact: Infinite Futures - Anna Hackett

Supernatural Underground - Nicole Murphy



Google Plus


Maree Anderson

Keri Arthur

Rowena Cory Daniells

Erica Hayes

Leanne Ihmels

Eleni Konstantine

Emmeline Lock

Nicole R. Murphy

Imogene Nix

Tracey O'Hara

Paula Roe

Jenny Schwartz

Annie Seaton

JJ Somerville

Nicky Strickland

Adina West





WHAT'S UP?

Welcome to our latest member, Tyla Grey - whom was introduced through a Magic Thursday spot this past week. Check it out if you haven't done so for your chance to win a copy of her Hunting Eve collection.

Dont' forget you can subscribe to the blog using the different options in the right hand column - subscribe to; by email; and using Google Connect.





Have a great week!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Happy Australia Day!


The heart of Australia Day, like the heart of the country, is community. Some people call it mateship.

Here at the Dark Side DownUnder, we know the value of community. It's all around us. It's you. It's us. It's our shared love of great books and the journeys they take us on.

If you're looking for an Australia Day event to join, there's a website for that: Australia Day. There's also a fun blog hop, the Australia Day Book Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Book'd Out and Confessions from Romaholics, as well as the ongoing Australian Women Writers Challenge which is collecting such a stash of great book recommendations and reviews that when you visit, you'll never leave :)

Wherever you are around the world, we hope today reminds you how important you are to your community--and how much we love having you visit! [Why else do you think we de-fanged the bunyip? *wink*]


Happy Australia Day!


Friday, January 25, 2013

What We Are Reading

Welcome to the first What We Are Reading for the year! I'm reading lots but becasue they are RITA books I can't talk about them :( Today, we have Eleni Konstantine, Jenny Schwartz and Kylie Griffin, and they can all talk about the great books they've been reading.

Eleni Konstantine

January has started off slowly but in the last week I’ve finished off two books that I began in 2012. Huzzah!

Curse the Dark by Laura Anne Gilman

This is the second series of The Retrievers novels and I was able to get into this book a little more than the first one. I don’t know whether it was me or the story that has improved. It certainly was fun following Wren Valerie and her business partner (& now love interest) Sergei travel to Italy to work a job for the Silence. There is good humour, adventure, interesting world building – non humans, the big bad Council, and those who like Wren wield Current (i.e. New magic).



Blameless by Gail Carriger.

I actually was lucky enough to get this book signed by Ms Carriger at WorldCon in 2010 when it was in Australia. This is the third book in The Parasol Protectorate – aka the Alexia Tarabotti series. Again, this book is full of good manners, funny side quips, vampires, werewolves, and tea – lots of tea. There’s also a trip to the Templars who according to Alexia wear nightgowns with crosses and think she is the devil spawn, and also the discovery of pesto. After being shunned by her husband, Connall for falling pregnant (werewolves can’t have children), Alexia finds herself back in her maternal home. Too bad, her family have absolutely no feeling for her situation. Pretty soon, Alexia is chased by vampires meaning to kill her. She can’t have that and travels with her trusty butler Floote, and inventor friend, Madam Lefaoux in search of answers about her ‘inconvenience’ -ie the baby.
 
With both books, I plan on continuing to read more books in the series.

Jenny Schwartz

I've been reading some fantastic speculative romances books.

Copper Beach by Jayne Ann Krentz  is the start of a new paranormal series from one of my favourite romance authors. A damsel in distress who can rescue herself, thank you very much, and a mad scientist hero who is strong, brooding and adorable. Loved it.

For the Love of a Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk

Okay, let's get the Perth parochial pride out of the way. The setting for the book is vivid and real and I loved that it was Perth, my hometown. Now for the really good stuff. This third book in Shona's Shadowlands series is my personal favourite. Real world issues, those faced by soldiers returning from combat, are given extra edge and intensity by the addition of a fantasy element. I enjoyed the journey back to life and love. It was emotional and real.






Asher's Dilemma by Coleen Kwan saw the end of another great series by an Aussie author. This time steampunk, which I love. It has a lovely, lucid and convoluted time travel plot. The steampunk details are fantastic -- and charming. Who can resist a "chronometrical conveyance"?

Kylie Griffin

Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
Burnard packed a whole lot into ENEMY WITHIN. There's so much to like about it - the absolutely amazing world-building, the fascinating characters, the cracking pace (helped by the fact that EVERY chapter ended on a hook and made you "read just one more"), the twisting plot filled with tension and intrigue.

I absolutely loved the detail of Burnard's world building. The geography/planetary creation, the technology, the medical/scientific information, the political/military/cultural structures, the racial histories - all of it just sucked me in. I love how effortlessly this was woven into the story. It made the story and characters come alive and I felt like I was right there beside them as their adventures unfolded.

I connected immediately with Ari (the heroine) and, not long after, Cullin (the hero). Their individual backgrounds, the circumstances, their loyalties, their fears, their romance - totally believable. Both were fully fleshed and ultimately believable. I was disappointed to finish their story as I wanted to keep on reading more about them. The secondary characters (and there were quite a few) were well developed as well, and I loved how integral each and every one of them were to the story.
The plot sucked me right in and I never found myself able to predict the twists or any events with any certainty. I became immersed in the intrigue. And as I mentioned before, the tension and pace kept me riveted and turning those pages as I just HAD to see what happened next.

The action, adventure and romance were woven so well together. I highly recommend ENEMY WITHIN if you like Linnea Sinclair, Ann Aguirre, Sara Creasy or Jess Granger (whose works are all on my keeper shelf).
~~~
happy reading!
Shona

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Magic Thursday: Writing Paranormal Romance

by Tyla Grey




It’s not surprising that I ended up writing paranormal romance. I’ve always had a fascination for ‘the other side’ – which for me could encompass anything from ghosts in the contemporary world to vastly different beings in a different dimension.

More than 20 years ago I started a book about a woman who had fragmented visions of crimes and could often foretell death. This was well before the dozens of TV shows and films that feature the same kind of thing. That story had to take a back seat (never to see the light of day) while I churned out writing tasks (ghostwriting and articles) that paid the bills immediately, but of course I kept reading about the paranormal world.

I read romances and thrillers, mysteries and fantasy. I read the Harry Potter series and novels set in the world of faerie and vampires and angelkind. Book after book featured g new creatures and permutations; all fascinating.

Finally it all got too much, and I had to start writing my own story. When I began  the Hunting Eve series, all I knew at first was that she was half-mortal and half-fae. Well, as it turned out, she was a lot more than that: she went on to discover that she had an Earthstar grandfather. (Shades of Dr. Who.) I knew that Eve and her mortal father originally returned to Mortal Earth because – as the child mentioned in a prophecy – baby Eve was in danger.

Okay: that was a start. Then I had to come up with a hero, and a whole new world for her to live in (a sort-of-secure pocket of the Otherworld) and a place for her to stay. I had to find her a sidekick or a friend; I had to create a family; I had to give her a job.

That’s how Eve Prentice ended up working part-time in a mixed-species funeral home in Elm Crossing, with a kitsune (a shape-shifting fox) as her best friend. When she wasn’t working miracles on the Dearly Departed, she was busy learning skills that would help her survive.

I suspect that most writers of paranormal fiction get thoroughly caught up with the people and the worlds they create, and I’m no exception. I continue to be surprised (and intrigued) by the twists and turns of Eve’s story, and I can see at least 2 more books after Book 4 (my work in progress).

Here’s an excerpt from my novella First Crossing, Book 1 in the Hunting Eve series. This shows her arrival at t the funeral home run by her aunts and her first meeting with Ken (the kitsune who usually takes female form).

***
“They’re here, aren’t they?” Eve felt so scared she could barely stand up.

“Yes.” He placed one warm hand on her cheek. “Ready?”

“What about you?” she cried, panicked.

“As soon as you’ve gone, I’ll lock on to another dimension that is well known to them. They’ll realize immediately we’ve both gone, but they’ll follow the last heat signature – which will be me.”

“But –"

“Where I’m going, there’s a Stargate. I can travel through time and space; they can’t.”

The walls of the garage shook and rattled, and the iron on the roof started to lift.

“It’s time. Lock on! Go!”

Eve instinctively reached within to coordinates of the bright, hard path to the next pocket of time and space. The air around her drew tight, and there was the now-familiar sensation of being at one with magic and nature as she spiraled away. It happened so quickly; one moment she was looking into Hunter’s eyes; the next she was gone.

This time the nausea won.

She was dumped on her knees onto a manicured lawn that swept up to the broad marble steps of a two-storey white building. In the middle of the broad sweep of green was an elegant fishpond leaping with koi, graced by a marble statue spilling a sparkling stream of water from a tilted urn.

Eve barely saw any of it before she was heaving up her lunch. This was far, far worse than the previous occasions. Every bone in her body ached. Her head swam.

And oh, she was so, so sick.

Eve gripped the stone wall at the edge of the pond, felt the world tilt, then laid her head on her arms and closed her eyes. She wanted to die. If this was what crossing worlds did to you, she’d had enough. Enough.

After a time, the world stopped revolving around her and the violent shivering eased. The sun was blessedly warm on her back.

“Uh – excuse me.” The voice behind her was as warm as honey.

No. She couldn’t cope with anyone else. She just wanted ibuprofen and a dark room.

“Excuse me?”

Acutely aware of what she must look like, with her damp white capris streaked with dirt and her hair a salt-encrusted tangle, Eve pushed herself upright and turned, wiping her mouth with a sleeve of the grimy jacket. She looked up, and silently groaned. The woman who stood staring down at her was immaculate: from the auburn hair that fell to her shoulders in a glossy, straight sheet to her peep-toed black high heels. She was dressed in a black suit, with the severity relieved by a cream blouse in some filmy fabric.

Eve got to her feet, staggering a little. “I’m sorry,” she said inadequately, gesturing towards the fishpond. “I – uh – I was sick.”

“Yes,” said the woman. “I saw. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Are you here for Mrs. Turton?” She gestured behind her.

Eve looked, squinting against the thudding pain in her head, and saw a stream of people making their way along a path and up the wide steps. Some were sneaking glances at Eve while trying not to be too obvious about it. Others appeared to be too wrapped up in their own misery to care what she was doing. “The service is about to start, but perhaps you would like me to escort you to a private room until you are feeling better?”

A service? Eve twisted around to take a closer look at where she was, and saw the elegant bronze letters above the front doors of the building. CrossOver Funeral Home.

She was at a funeral home?

“I’m not sure I’m in the right place,” she said slowly. “I’m… supposed to meet my aunts.” She frowned and stared at the trim emerald lawn, trying to remember what Hunter had said. Then her mind cleared, and his words echoed in her mind. Their names are Helena and Sophie. You will arrive at their door, and they will be expecting you.

Eve raised her head and surveyed the double doors under the gleaming bronze letters. Surely this couldn’t be the place? She looked at the woman. “My aunts,” she said again. “Helena and Sophie?”

The woman’s mouth opened slightly. “Helena and Sophie are your aunts?” Her face wore a comical expression of disbelief. She surveyed Eve again, taking in every detail of her disheveled appearance, and for a second Eve thought she saw her lips twitch. Then the woman’s face smoothed into polite neutrality. She cleared her throat. “If you’d like to follow me, I’ll take you to them.”

 Eve miserably trailed after her, around the side of the imposing white building and into an underground garage. The woman exuded sensuality, even clad in somber black. She looked, Eve thought, far too warm and vibrant for a place like this. Although what did she know? She’d only been in a funeral home maybe twice in her entire life. And never with the mother of all migraines to add to the experience.

They went through a glass door, up a spiral staircase and through yet another set of glass doors. Just past an office where another perfectly groomed girl sat tapping at a computer keyboard, Eve’s escort stopped and knocked on a door. If the gleam in her black eyes and the quirk to her lips was anything to go by, the woman seemed to be trying – not very successfully – to suppress her amusement. She wondered if The Aunts would also find it funny.

“Come in,” called a musical voice.

The woman opened the door and waved Eve inside. “Sophie,” she said in a voice that tried and failed to sound neutral. “This young lady says she is your niece. I found her out at the koi pond. She – uh – isn’t well.”

Eve looked at the tall blond woman directing a charming smile her way and thought, viper.

“Thank you, Ken. I think you had better return to the service now; they’ll be short-handed.” There was nothing in her aunt’s face to indicate this was a reprimand, but everyone in the room knew it was.
The woman nodded graciously and left.

Eve looked after her as the door closed and blinked. “Ken?”

“He’s a shapeshifter,” said Aunt Sophie. “A kitsune; he can assume any shape he wishes, but he mostly prefers to adopt the form of a woman. It can be handy at times in this business.” She took her time looking Eve up and down, her face remaining pleasant. “We were told you were coming.”

 And I’m about as welcome as the plague, Eve thought.

***
From First Crossing (Hunting Eve Book 1) a novella of 20,000 words available from Amazon Kindle.

If you would like to read more about Eve and her world, I have one copy of the Hunting Eve Collection to give away (This comprises Books 1-3: First Crossing, Double Cross, and Crossbreed. Total length about 60,000 words.)

The winner will be drawn Monday 28th January 2013 at 5 pm EDT.


You can find me on my blog, Twitter, Facebook and Amazon



Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Good News Day!

Welcome to this week's good news...



SALES

Eleanor Maine made her first paperback sale for Hunters of the Nile. It's an erotic tale of romance set mostly in ancient Egypt.

When Callista wakes up naked after being abducted one evening from Inskip’s Stables, she discovers she is the subject of a modern day, but very secret hunt club. Running for her life, she tries to evade her pursuers by hiding in a cave, but she slips and falls into a strange mist, losing consciousness on the way down. When she returns to consciousness, it is to bright midday sun, barren desert and a hunt of a very different kind. Captured by an Egyptian noble, Callista must adapt to a new land, and a different era. Torn from all she knew, she must also learn if she has to face the future alone.



SHORT STORIES

C.M.Simpson released three short stories last week - The Buried Blade January 17th, 2013. It's a short tale of dark fantasy, and is the first short story included in An Anthology of Blades.

When the grass in one of her uncle's fields starts to die, Amanda tries to work out why, but her uncle only sees stones, where she sees fragments of pottery. In a war as old as time, will Amanda convince her uncle of the truth, and remain unscathed, or will she fall under the control of an old and subtle power?

Old Magic released on January 19th, 2013. It's a short piece of post-apocalyptic survival fiction, and will be appear in An Anthology of Bloodlines.

After disaster and disease wipe out the world as we know it, powers carried by right of ancestry act as a sixth sense for trouble in a ruined city. Can she be the only one to have survived?

The Runaway is a short story in An Anthology of Gods and Older Magic. It's also available as a stand-alone short story at Smashwords, and will soon be available at Kobo, Kindle, iTunes, and Nook.

With fire and otherworldly invaders closing in, a commander takes the time to tell the story of his capture and return to continue the fight. What are the secrets of his past?




BOOK COVERS & RELEASE DATES

A slight adjustment to the cover of Galactic Flame, Bk#3 in Mel Teshco's  sci-fi romance series. The publisher has added the series name to the title (Alien Hunger). No official release date yet.
Eden isn’t meant to be the alien prince’s intended lifemate, it’s her sister who is the one promised to him. But when Genesis comes to Earth and mistakenly believes Eden is his mate, she knows it’s the perfect opportunity to play the role her sister never wanted.
But Genesis’ alien province is barren, red and isolated. It’s only when Eden steps into the magnificent alien’s arms and is taught unimaginable carnal pleasures that she begins to wonder if she hasn’t filched the most priceless prize of all.


Nicole Murphy, writing as Elizabeth Dunk, has her debut contemporary romance, Arranged to Love, coming out February 1 with Escape Publishing.

All her life, Madhuri Singh has been sure she’ll make an arranged marriage with an Indian man. But when the opportunity arrives at the same time a past lover returns to her life, Maddie finds herself torn between her culture and her desire.
All his life, Jack Faulkner has been obsessed with being the one his father chooses to take over the reins of Faulkner Publications. When it seems it’s finally within his grasp, he finds himself face to face with the one woman who can make him forget everything.
What will win out – the dreams they’ve always held for their futures, or the passion that even after seven years apart cannot be contained. Will they remain blinded to the truth – that they will only be happy if they can be together? 

 
Imogene Nix's Blame The Wine goes to pre-order on April 15 and general release May 27, 2013 with Total-E-Bound.

Cara is stuck.  A job going nowhere and a hankering for the sexy gorgeous boss who doesn’t even know she exists.  Fate, in the guise of a temp position arrives… Where will it lead?
Dillon is a geek.  No other word could possibly describe him.  He may be sexy and super brainy, but he’s totally clueless with women and especially the sexy plus size Cara.  But when his PA takes emergency leave before her wedding, the luscious Cara is the best applicant for the position.  It’s an opportunity he can’t pass up.
What will happen when two clueless, wannabe lovers get a little divine intervention?




OTHER




Congratulations to Imogene Nix who was a nominee in the  Senior Cultural Australian of the Year section for a Gayndah region of the North Burnett Regional Council Area Australia Day Award. While she didn't take out the honour, she was recognised for her commitment to the writing community, pay it forward attitude and for being willing to mentor new authors.






Monday, January 21, 2013

Magic Thursday Winner

The winner of a digital copy of Courting Trouble is

Sandy!

Congratulations :)


***
Sandy, look out for an email from Jen asking which format you'd prefer.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Overview



COMING UP THIS WEEK


Mon 21 Jan - Winner of Jenny's giveaway announced

Tues 22 - GOOD NEWS DAY compiled by Kylie Griffin

Thur 24 - MAGIC THURSDAY - to be confirmed

Fri 25 - WHAT WE ARE READING compiled by Shona Husk

Sat 26 - Australia Day post



DARKSIDER TREKKING


Other blogs our DarkSiders have visited (or are mentioned) this week

S.E. Gilchrist - Adventures in Authorland
Love an Apocalypse (Kylie Scott)

Anna Hackett - Savvy Authors

Mel Teshco - Love an Apocalypse (Kylie Scott)

Eleni Konstantine - Lizzie T. Leaf

Jenny Schwartz - Down Under Divas

Nicole Murphy - Rowena Cory Daniells

Paula Roe - Love an Apocalypse (Kylie Scott)



Blog Hops
Annie Seaton - The Girly Blog Hop


Other group blogs with DarkSiders as members

Hot Down Under

Romance Writers of the Apocalypse

Hotter than Hades

Historical Hearts

Anna Hackett has joined Contact: Infinite Futures - blog by sci-fi Carina Press authors



Amazon Author Pages

Maree Anderson

Angela Castle

Astrid Cooper

Rowena Cory Daniells

CT Green

Kylie Griffin

Shona Husk

Imogene Nix

Paula Roe

Lilliana Rose

Jenny Schwartz

Nicola E. Sheridan

Mel Teshco



Have a great week!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Magic Thursday: Courting Trouble

Great-granddad. Front & centre.
I've always known history got things wrong. For instance, when my great-grandfather arrived in Western Australia in 1895 he didn't immediately strike it rich on the Goldfields. Instead, he spent his life working on the railways. I wonder what he'd have thought of my steampunk version of Western Australia in 1895.

Courting Trouble is about a threat to the British Empire, but it's also about the changing role of women and my hero's burning question: How do you woo a suffragette?

Below is a snippet from Courting Trouble. A digital copy is also up for grabs. Just leave a comment on this post and you'll go in the draw.

So, do you know what your great-grandparents were doing in 1895?

***

“Esme Smith, I could spank you.” Jed loomed over the rickety round table where she sat trying to concentrate on the socialist speaker, whose thin voice was losing badly to the competition of a hurdy-gurdy and the pub patrons’ drunken sallies.

She glanced up, startled, guilty, and then angry at that stab of guilt. Her heartbeat accelerated. She pressed her gloved hands to the table, then snatched them away. The tabletop was sticky with spilled beer even after the landlord had given it a desultory swipe with a dirty rag. Her sherry glass rocked perilously.

“I told you not to come here,” Jed continued.

“That’s right. You told me.” She scowled up at him. How dare he stand there like some gunslinger from his native California, daring her to challenge him? Well, she intended to do more than challenge him. She’d set up her Women’s Advancement League because she believed heart and soul that women should be mistress of their own lives. No man, no matter how charming, intelligent and downright devilishly good-looking, was changing her mind.

“Hello, handsome.” One of the pub’s working girls sashayed up to Jed and stroked a none-too-clean hand down his lapel. “Looking for company?”

“No.” He caught her hand and put it firmly away from him, then turned a look of blistering contempt on Esme.

She flushed. While she sympathized with the women forced by dire circumstances into prostituting themselves, she hadn’t been aware that such women worked at the Rootail Pub. Their presence had made her question whether Jed, just slightly, had possessed a valid point when he’d declared the pub completely unacceptable. She might be a suffragette, but she was respectable.

The working girl shrugged and her neckline slid impossibly lower. “If you change your mind…”

He ignored her. “We’re leaving.” It was an order.

“You can.” Esme lifted her sherry glass but was careful not to actually sip any of the disgustingly sweet wine. “I’m staying.” She replaced the glass carefully on the table.

A muscle in his square jaw twitched.

She smiled up at him, enjoying his frustration. His dictatorial attitude made defying him irresistibly satisfying. He could hardly haul her out of here without causing a scene—and Mr. Respectable wouldn’t want to do that. “Jed, if you could move a fraction to the side…I can’t see the speaker.”


Swan River Colony, Australia, 1895

All suffragette Esme Smith wants is respect. Her beau, American inventor Jed Reeve, may be more enlightened than most men, but lately his need to protect her is at odds with her need for independence. Esme begins to wonder if a modern woman can share her life with a man without losing some of herself.

With his courtship of Esme stalled, the last thing Jed needs is the pressure of saving the Prince of Wales. But when blueprints for a sonic destroyer fall into his hands, he uncovers an anarchist plot that could have deadly consequences.

While investigating the threats, Jed is determined to keep Esme out of harm's way, despite her protests. But when the terrorists capture Jed and demand a priceless emerald in exchange for his life, it's Esme who must draw on all her strength to save the day.

34,000 words


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Bite Of...Fisherpriest

This morning it is a pleasure to introduce C. M. Simpson with a snippet of her story Fisherpriest.



Can you, in less than five words describe your story?
Dark fantasy, shapeshifters, dragons, elves

What inspired you to write it? 
Fisherpriest came out of a scene in another story, Shadow Trap, where the heroes of that tale cross paths with the heroes of this one. I wanted to explore a bit of Linna’s past, and see where she went after they all fled the temple in Faerclay. It’s a tale of fantasy and adventure, with a touch of romance, but it’s also a tale with some very dark elements that were difficult to write.

And here's the snippet!
This excerpt is taken from an encounter with a group racially puritanical White Mountain tribeselves, who object to the protection Linna and Tarquin have received from the elven nation with whom they need to make a treaty. Linna has gone swimming with the women and surfaced to find the White Mountains on the riverbank.

I half-turned until I could see where Tarquin stood, without losing my own view of the Silver Mountain tribesman. My prince carried a fully-drawn forester’s bow in his hands, and he was not alone. Half a dozen of Alandor’s people stood by him, their bows also fully drawn.

It looked, judging from the ill-concealed smirk on Remahl’s face, and the edge of a smile Alandor wore, that the insult of Tarquin speaking directly to the tribeselves had been planned in advance.

Alandor stepped forward before Golden Eyes could reply.

“You threaten my scouts and a guest of my camp. That is most undiplomatic. Your chief shall hear of it.”

There was a stirring at the rear of the assembled Silver Mountains. They parted to reveal another of their number.

“His chief already knows,” the chieftain said, quietly releasing the pull on his bow.

Alandor reddened, the smile falling away as anger took its place.

“You would condone this?” he snapped. “You violate the treaty!”

“The treaty remains unbroken; your people are intact as are your guests.” The chieftain spat the last word, snarling it, turning it into a curse, the name of a disease he hated to speak.

“Nevertheless, you threatened them.”

“The threat came from a warrior whose lack of wisdom will be redressed.”

Golden Eyes stiffened, the mask of scorn frozen on his face. Another of his number, this one I thought of as Straw Hair because of his light-colored mane, laid a covert hand on his knee and the pale blue of his eyes conveyed such sympathy that I wondered what form of redress could be so bad.

Remahl’s words from the evening before rose unbidden to my mind ‘You are wiser to choose the thargramorg and beg them for the mercy of captivity in their hands.’

Golden Eyes query rose above my thoughts.

“My lord,” he began, addressing his chief, “I was not aware that it was wrong to taunt the keepers of filthy beasts.”

“Only when we wish to treat with them,” his chieftain answered, and I felt Katya’s fingers break skin at the softly spoken savagery in his voice.

Golden Eyes bowed his head and the chieftain returned his attention to Alandor.

“There will be concessions demanded in the treaty talks to repay our insult,” he said.

“The queen’s representative will arrive within the hour,” Alandor told him. “Your people will be ready to receive her. And you are not the only ones who will be seeking concessions for this insult.”

“As you say,” the chieftain replied, then he barked an order that sounded like a spitting growl and the tribeselves melted back into the scrub and rocks that lined the river’s edge.

When they had gone, a pair of Alandor’s scouts crossed the river on a footbridge of branches. Tarquin eased his bow to half tension until they returned.

“Clear?” Alandor asked.

The scouts nodded. “All is clear, my lord. They returned to camp.”

“We will be one short at the fire tonight,” the other added. “The Silver Mountains are not kind to those who cause them embarrassment.”

Alandor nodded. Katya released her grip on my shoulder and led the way to the bank.

“We had almost finished bathing, my lord,” she said. “We did not mean to be so long.”

“Your apology is unnecessary, Lady Katya,” Alandor replied. “Your duties were discharged honorably and with greater courage than I should have asked. Remahl will see to their safety now.”

The bushes rustled and shook, and another of Alandor’s scouts appeared. He carried two small packs.

“I have what you asked, my lord,” he said.

“Leave them here,” Alandor ordered, then turned to Katya. “My lady, we are deploying in Rondel Nine. I will need your people as soon as they are dressed. Kyroneth has rations by the central fire. Gather them before you go.”

The scouts were moving now. I followed them out of the water, separating my hair into three thick strands and braiding it as I reached the bank.

Tarquin had eased the pull on the bow, until only the tension of being strung was left. He made to hand it back to Alandor, but the elf captain shook his head.

“Keep it,” he said, “in memory of Al A’Harimmal. Use it with honor.”

We were alone, except for Remahl.

Alandor turned to him as I brushed the front of my tunic smooth and reached for my boots.

“All speed, my cousin,” he said, “and may you find rest in safety.”

“I will guide them with swiftness and lay my trust in the queen,” Remahl replied. “More than that I cannot ask.”

“Lay your trust in the gods, Remahl,” Alandor admonished, “for I fear the queen will not be able to stay their hand in this matter. If the thargramorg are rising we must make an alliance with the Silver Mountains, no matter how high we think the price.”

“The gods it shall be,” Remahl replied, “and may happiness rest between the houses Grevonel and Serinow.”

Alandor blushed. “I have not asked the lady, Remahl. How can I know if your wishes are not premature?”

Remahl smiled then.

“Trust me, my lord cousin. My wishes are never premature. I will send a gift, even if I cannot attend.”

Tarquin handed me a pack as I stood from lacing my boots. My club followed, and our fingers touched as I took the smooth wood from his hand. The contact made me smile and I lost the thread of conversation that passed between Remahl and Alandor as Tarquin pulled me close.

“I am so glad you’re safe,” he murmured, his breath warm in my hair. “I don’t know what I would have done.”

I hugged him in return, not daring to look into his face and see the shadow of a feared pain in his eyes.
Thanks so much for sharing this with us C. M. Simpson!
If you're wondering where you can find out more about C.M. Simpson check out her links below.
C.M. Simpson Publishing Blog: http://www.cmsimpsonpublishing.blogspot.com/
Buy links!

CreateSpaceLargePrint: https://www.createspace.com/4026664