Meet Samantha Powell from DESIGNING SAMANTHA’S LOVE

[PJ Fiala]Guest post by PJ Fiala

My name is Samantha Powell. I’m in my mid-fifties and have three children—all boys. Joshua is married to Tammy, and they have given me my beautiful, sweet grandchildren—Abby and Dodge. My middle son, Gage, is not married, though he recently started dating, and my son, Jake, is married to Ali. My sons Josh and Jake and my daughter-in-law Ali, all served in the Army. Josh and Jake were both deployed and saw conflict. I’m happy to say they are all home now and doing well. Scary times for us as a family.

I manage a small law office in the Green Bay area and fill in as a paralegal when deemed necessary. The management position is a combination of many functions: HR, scheduling, changing systems and software, overseeing marketing, and so much more. I like the varied tasks built into each day and it’s never dull, which is good and bad. I enjoy my job, but it isn’t without its frustrations.

I was married to my husband, Tim, for close to thirty years. Our marriage, while not a bad marriage, was stressful and unfulfilling. Tim suffered from depression, and it completely consumed us. Each day was filled with the challenge of what Tim couldn’t or wouldn’t do that day. His mother was another story. She constantly meddled in our lives. Because Tim couldn’t break from her strong personality, he would often cave to her many whims. The boys and I were left out in the cold where his attention was concerned.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I was relieved when Tim died in a car accident. I’d thought of divorce many times over the years, but I was worried that, due to his frail mental state, he would do something drastic. If he harmed himself because I left the marriage, I knew I couldn’t live with that. Finally being free from that stress left me feeling giddy one minute and scared the next. I know that sounds foolish, but after nearly thirty years of constant manipulation and dealing with Tim’s constant mood swings, I’d lost my identity. Where had Samantha gone?

I spent the first few months following Tim’s death trying to figure that out. I’m not totally there yet, but I’m getting there. I had decided to sell my house and buy a condo where I wouldn’t be tied to the constant upkeep of owning a home, and I could have time for me. So I contacted my friend, Shelia, a seasoned realtor, and she came out and pounded the “For Sale” sign in my front yard. Instead of immediately searching for a new place, I thought it’d be better to wait until my home sold.

Then I met Grayson Kinkaide.

I was minding my own business at work one day, taking care of one of my favorite clients, Mrs. Koeppel, when he walked in the front door. When our eyes met, he smiled, and I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. Oh. My. God. Feeling like a teenager at my age was a whole new concept for me.

He asked me out that morning before he went into his appointment with one of our attorneys. I was giddy, excited, and scared out of my mind. I hadn’t been on a date in what…about thirty years? I knew nothing of the current dating protocol or proprieties. After all, it’s not like we were both still virgins. Honestly, I hadn’t felt sexual for the past decade or more. Part of me thought those days were over. The butterflies in my stomach immediately came to life, and I could feel my face heating up as I began to sweat. I know, right?

We went on that first date, and I was enthralled while I listened to him talk about his kids, his parents and siblings, and even his ex-wife. I’m sure it sounds corny, but I think I fell in love instantly. He was working on a big project and we had to wait a few days for another date. We emailed and texted each other in the interim, and just as I was feeling as though I could probably handle a relationship…BAM! There it was—he allowed himself to be manipulated by his ex. You know what they say, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Something compelled me to see where it could go though, so I cautiously dipped my toes into the waters of Grayson Kinkaide. There were more surprises to come, and it’s probably a good thing I didn’t have the ability to see the future, because I may have just cut and run. Gray continued to stay strong and he fought hard for us. I’m so happy he did.

Our families are blended—Grayson’s three kids and two grandchildren, Lily and Lincoln, and my three boys and two grandchildren get along well. We spend Sundays at Gray’s parents’ house and we spend Fridays at our house. Now I would say, “If it seems too good to be true, thank your lucky stars!”

Book Blurb

[Designing Samantha’s Love Cover]

Nothing terrifies Samantha Powell more than starting over, but after devoting three decades to a troubled man and an unhappy marriage, Sam finds the courage to seek her own happiness. She imagines a nice quiet life filled with friends, family, and a career that leaves no room for relationship drama. Unfortunately, no one told the alluring Grayson Kinkaide.

After escaping a bad marriage of his own, Grayson realizes his soul mate is still out there and his heart is set on Sam. Their instant attraction begins a steamy affair, but the women of Grayson’s past aren’t ready to let him go. Can Grayson convince Sam that she is the only one for him?

Designing Samantha’s Love is a steamy romance that contains sexual content.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
PJ Fiala is a wife of thirty years, a mother of four grown children and the grandmother of three lovely grandchildren. When not writing a new story, she can be found riding her motorcycle and exploring this fabulous country of ours. Her writing revolves around people anyone would love to spend time with. No self-absorbed billionaires for her. You can find PJ on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her website, www.pjfiala.com.

A Writer’s Life—Makin’ da Pizza

Photo Courtesy of Arthur Mouratidis via Creative Commons
[Hand-tossed Pizza]Almost a year ago I posted some musings on writers and the marketing side of the business. And, yes, this is a business. Speaking of which, I’ve been blessed to be able to make a living for many years, doing something that has nothing to do with writing fiction. This feeds my family and keeps my wife from panicking every time the price of groceries goes up. And though I’ve been writing in one way or another since I was fifteen, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to approach writing fiction in a much more professional way by taking advantage of indie publishing platforms like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and others. And the advent of these new alternatives to traditional publishing is both a blessing and a curse. I’ll get to that shortly.

Why We Write
It isn’t unusual to hear from writers who claim they do nothing but put pen to paper because the alternative is to go crazy. Stories are bursting out of them—stories that must be told. And to a large extent I agree with that. But, having had the benefit of writing and holding down a job at the same time, I can say in all candor that, at least from my own experience, writers write because the idea of actually working for a living is horrifying. I’m thinking of Charles Bukowski, who worked in a post office for a time. Don’t you think he would have rather been writing? I mean, at least Ernest Hemingway started out as a journalist. Look, all I’m saying is, if everyone had the choice of slaving away in a soul-killing office or holing up in a clean well-lighted place, which would they choose? Fine, salespeople would probably still prefer to sell because it’s in their blood. That and the fact that they are evil. Kidding! No, really, they’re evil.

Writing is a Blessing
Okay, enough about that. Writers write because blah blah blah. Now, if you are spending your time writing, good for you. You are probably a person with tons of imagination who likes creating stories and sharing them with the world at large. And, as a bonus, you’d like to get paid, right? Of course you would. Otherwise you’re Bukowski at the post office.

For me, sitting in my basement creating characters who often find themselves in dangerous situations is fun. Want to know what’s more fun? Hearing from readers who tell me they liked seeing characters in situations in which there’s a very good chance they might wind up dead. It’s a real high.

But for indie writers, it’s not just about creating the story.

Writing as a Curse
Unless you are a successful author with a publisher who is waiting with baited breath—and a fat advance—for your next book, there’s a lot of other work you have to do. It’s almost as if you are having a shared experience with the guy in the soul-sucking office job. Here are just a few things you need to worry about …

A Decent Cover. This thing has to look good. And guess what—you’re going to have to spend money on it. I’ve seen too many Kindle books with covers that look like they were designed by an eighth-grade dropout with a new set of Sharpies.

Proper Editing. I include copyediting and proofing in this category. How many books have you downloaded lately that read like an instruction manual that has been translated into English? I mean, seriously. I get that you have a good idea and want to give it life. But if you are a lousy speller or have problems with tenses, get an editor.

eBook Formatting. That’s right. You can’t just upload your Word document and hope for the best. Well, actually you can, but that’s not the point. You want to ensure that your darling will display correctly on virtually every device. Unless of course you decide to kill your darling because, you know, Faulkner said it … Never mind.

Marketing. This one’s my favorite because it never ends. Why can’t these things sell themselves? I’ll tell you why—because there are literally millions of titles available on Amazon. How in the world is anyone going to find your book in that roiling sea of bright covers and pretty prose?

Which Brings Me to Me
Part of marketing is figuring out things like book titles, descriptions and SEO, which contribute to the all-important goal of being discoverable. Me? I’m in the process of rebranding my horror-thriller trilogy, the first two books of which are published. The third is coming out later this year, and I arrived at a place where I realized that I needed to tie the three books together better—for brand recognition. This is no easy task. Other authors much more famous and successful than I have taken different approaches to their series. I had to consider what I have going with my books and capitalize on that.

Though I haven’t figured it all out yet, I do know that I’ve had some pretty good success with the title of the first book, Tell Me When I’m Dead. That title rocks, in my opinion. The second book is entitled Dead Is All You Get. Not as good as the first title, but I still think it packs a punch. I was going to hold a contest to come up with the title of the third book, but my wife put the kibosh on that idea in short order. “You’re the writer,” she said. “Do your job.”

My wife’s not a sentimental person, and she likes to speak her mind. But you know what? She’s right.

So what to expect. The third book is almost finished. (I’m not as slow as George R.R. Martin—I swear!) Then I will design a cover and do a cover reveal. At that time you’ll see the new title, as well as the new branding for the trilogy. Finally, the book will be edited, formatted and published.

There’s a lot to being an indie writer—doing things that have nothing to do with the words. But as I said at the beginning, writing is a business. Once you understand that, you’ll have the time of your life. It’s like making pizza—really good pizza.

Interview with J. Cafesin, Author of REVERB

[J. Cafesin]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guest J. Cafesin, author of Reverb.

Q. Welcome, J. In some ways, your novel seems to defy genre. What would you say makes it so unique?

A. Everything. Reverb is literary romantic suspense about a master musician, initially so obsessed with his own talent that he’s neglected to actualize love. In the tradition of literary fiction, the novel personifies—even amplifies—the foundations of narcissism, particularly rampant among artists, and men, in particular, who are more focused on their careers than their relationships. Reverb is “nothing like I’ve read before,” many reviewers have commented. Unlike classic romantic suspense, Reverb is “raw, brutal, graphic,” according to some reviews, but at its core it’s a love story about a man who learns to love someone other than himself.

Q. Wow! So in terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with?

A. I’d love readers to fully grasp James’ awakening—that love is not a concept or an abstraction, but an action we take to show someone that we care.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as Reverb?

A. I’m working on an outline for the sequel to Reverb now. Resonance is (hopefully) coming out Summer 2016, and will take place in real time, picking up over three years after the end of Reverb.

The Power Trip, the first in a trilogy, is about four Stanford students who create an app that helps students manipulate each other with predictive modeling. It’s in editing, and is due to come out late Summer 2015.

I’m also writing another fable for Fractured Fairytales of the Twilight Zone. Virtual Life will be added to the series in Fall 2015.

Q. That’s a busy schedule—and you’ve given us a lot to look forward to. Thank you, J.

Book Blurb

[Reverb Cover]

James Whren is brilliant, beautiful, rich, and taken—with himself, or more precisely, his genius for creating music. Desired by many, committing to no one but his muse, on the eve of his brother’s funeral, his father inadvertently turns his life into a living nightmare, and James is left abandoned in hell with no one real to save him.

His odyssey to freedom takes him beyond the looking glass, to the reflection of friends and lovers. Humbled and alone, James escapes to the Greek island of Corfu. But instead of finding solace there, loneliness almost consumes him.

Until Elisabeth, and her son, Cameron.

Reverb is a love story, a psychological thriller paced with romantic suspense. Told in a new, uniquely “clipped” style, Reverb reads fast. Immediate. Intense, like a sting of texts for today’s reader. Spun from The Magus, also about a man who learns to love someone other than himself, and way beyond 50 Shades of Gray, Reverb is told like Crime and Punishment—modern, clean, edgy verging on sharp. Like nothing you’ve read, guaranteed …

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
J. Cafesin is a novelist of taut, edgy, modern fiction, filled with complex, compelling characters so real they’ll linger long after the read. Her debut novel, Reverb, hit #1 in Kindle Store Contemporary Romance, and #4 overall in Amazon’s Best Sellers Rank during a recent BookBub promotion. Recent reviews: “Riveting; Compelling; An original and unique read.” Reverb was also #1 in Read Our Lips Book Reviews—2013 Year In Review.

You can find J. on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her blog, jcafesin.blogspot.com, as well as at her website, jcafesin.com.

Interview with Jennifer Loiske, Author of Demon’s Touch

[Jennifer Loiske]Today, I’m pleased to have as my guest Jennifer Loiske, author of Books One and Two of the “McLean Twins” series, Black Diamond and Demon’s Touch.

Q. Welcome, Jennifer. Young Adult is a very popular genre—one that even adults enjoy reading. So, tell us what’s unique about your stories?

A. My books are very, very realistic. They’re urban paranormal/paranormal romance stories, but there are so many facts hidden inside of them that even though the creatures are supernatural the story could very well be true. I believe in mixing reality with myths, and making my characters look like they could be anyone you know … the boy next door, your mum, your best friend … In fact, many of my adult readers have said that they couldn’t sleep in the dark for days after reading my stories and that the characters were creepy-realistic. My stories are also fun, a bit sassy, and the ones meant for YA or mature YA, quite sexy. I love cliffhangers, so one of my trademarks is the pacing of the chapters, and ending them in a way that makes it nearly impossible to put the book down before the reader reaches the last page.

Q. Sounds like you really know how to hold an audience. In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader will come away with in each book?

A. As said before, there are a lot of facts in my stories. Also, I can’t help but put some of my educational experiences in use whilst writing, so my goal is to challenge my readers. I have very clear values and I’m not ashamed to put them out for my readers to see. So, I’m happy if a reader finds out at least couple of the facts in the story and learns something new whilst enjoying my story. I’d like to think that I’m offering food for the brain as well as entertainment for the soul. Examiner.com described Black Diamond as “mind candy,” and for me it was the best compliment I could have hoped for.

Q. What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as Demon’s Touch?

A. I’m writing the final part of the “McLean Twins” series so, yes, it’s in the same vein. Hopefully, I will get it done before midsummer so my readers can enjoy it before Christmas. I’m also working on the second part of the “Blood Hunters” series, which is a follow-up to the “Immortal Blood” series. Usually, I have two or three works-in-progress going, so whenever I get bored with one I can easily switch to another. In that way I keep the writer’s block away and will never get bored!

Q. Excellent strategy! Thanks so much, Jennifer.

Book Blurb

[Demon's Touch Cover]

“Magic is all about words and believing. If you believe then anything is possible.”

Shannon McLean had come a long way since she lost her mother. A while ago she’d thought she was alone in the world, a plain Jane with no place to go. Now she knew better. Suddenly she was surrounded by relatives: a crazy talented twin brother, Ian, who literally held the keys to magic in his hands; a demonic father, Connor, who had paid a high price for a one-way ticket to hell; and a wannabe big brother, Simon, who was not only half demon but also a hit man of some sort; and herself … so not a plain Jane but a witch with ancient spells tingling on her fingertips.

Oh, and if that were not enough of a burden for a thirteen-year-old girl, her father had sent her to London on an impossible quest. Truth be told, she might have volunteered, but only because she naively believed that the world was beneath her feet and she was capable of performing a miracle as long as her brother stood beside her. She’d been so wrong.

No matter what she did, or who tried to help her, she kept failing time and time again, and time was not something she had. If she ever intended to save her father from becoming the next king of hell, she had to act fast. She had to find a way to do the impossible and save a demon. After all, every witch knows the hard truth: demons cannot be saved.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
Jennifer Loiske lives in Finland in Naantali, which is a small sunny town on the southwest coast. She is a Teen/YA paranormal fiction author, with four exciting series available worldwide: the “McLean Twins” series for teen readers, the “Immortal Blood” series for mature young adult readers, the “Blood Hunters” series—also for mature young adults, and a follow-up to the “Immortal Blood” series, and the “Shape Shifter” series for anyone ages sixteen and up.

Jennifer’s stories are full of creatures of the night—vampires, demons, witches and shape shifters … but even if they are mostly fiction you can find a hint of a truth in every story. Jennifer loves to research, so every time she gets an idea for a new story, she does a crazy Google session looking for places, old myths, names, folklores and magical items—anything that could spice up her story and make it more real for the reader. Jennifer is also part of Authors for Charity, an international author alliance, and team member in Epilepsy FI magazine. She is a pre-school teacher by profession.

You can find Jennifer on Twitter, on Facebook, at Goodreads, and at her blog, jenniferloiske.wordpress.com, as well as on her Amazon author page..

Linda S. Browning—Rediscovering the Writer’s Life

Guest post by Linda S. Browning

[Linda S. Browning]I started writing fiction again following retirement. I wrote constantly as a teen. When life interfered and required I get a job to pay my own bills, I worked in office management and later in geriatric social work. In 2012 I discovered a writing contest sponsored by MaryChris Bradley at Buddhapuss Ink, a publishing company in New Jersey. I wrote a comedic mystery that runs two widowed heroines, Leslie and Belinda, triumphantly ragged. The short story was entitled “No Wake” and won first place in Mystery Times Ten 2013. Published in the book of the same name, “No Wake” was well received, and I signed with the publisher to write at least three eBooks for the Leslie & Belinda Mystery series.

The first book in the series is entitled Daredevil and is available at Amazon. The short story, “No Wake,” is reprinted as the lead-in for Daredevil. When asked about the characters and the stories, I often tell people they are like Murder She Wrote meets Laverne & Shirley, a cozy nonsense mystery action series. The second eBook in the series will be out by mid-summer. In Shanghaied the two friends and Riff-Raff become embroiled in another mystery seemingly connected by coincidental events; mystery + adventure = a Leslie & Belinda Mystery.

Do the author a favor and write a review following the read on Amazon, Goodreads, or any other reviewing site you may prefer. I will be so very grateful.

Book Blurb

[Daredevil Cover]

Move over, Miss Marple; step aside, Jessica Fletcher—there’s a new gal on the case, well, two gals, that is. This pair of sassy, senior sleuths, Leslie and Belinda, are on the hunt for a missing girl; and it leads them on a crazy chase through a dark graveyard with Leslie’s eight-pound-dog, Riff-Raff, right in the middle of all the action. Buckle up and keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times; it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

When the granddaughter of a deceased church member goes missing, the two best friends are determined to solve the mystery and rescue the young woman. It seems no one, including the girl’s father, is all that concerned by her vanishing act, but this pair just know something’s amiss. Throw in one wandering bear, a flirtatious undertaker, a dustup with a TBI agent, an overweight corpse, and a trip to the Dollar Store for stakeout supplies and you have all the ingredients for one wild adventure. Sticky situations and comedic antics abound when these meddling senior citizens let their curiosity get the better of them.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
Linda S. Browning was born in 1952 to a stay-at-home mom and a civil servant father. For twenty years she worked for the State of Michigan. Relocating to Tennessee in 1989, her career continued in the Social Work profession. She resides in a retirement community in Middle Tennessee with her husband of forty years, a thirty (plus)-year-old Amazon parrot and an eighteen-year-old Finch. You can find Linda on Twitter, on Facebook and at her website, lindabrowning.net.

Rebecca Scarberry—Where I Get My Storylines

Guest post by Rebecca Scarberry

[Rebecca Scarberry]In 2011, before I self-published any of my books, I struggled with the editing of my first novel. An editor told me I needed to practice writing. Author Seumas Gallacher told me about two short story contests I could enter. He said it would provide me with some good writing practice. This sounded like a great idea. I immediately went out on my front porch with a pad of paper and a pencil.

I sat there wondering what sort of short stories people might find interesting. According to the contest rules, the stories could only be 1,500 words long. I knew I had my work cut out for me.

Suddenly, a red-winged blackbird landed on my porch bannister and stared at me for the longest time. His beady black eyes made me think about my older cousin Johnny’s birds. When I was five years old he used to raise carrier pigeons, and showed me how well they could deliver messages. I immediately started writing Messages from Henry, a mystery for young adults. Henry is a carrier pigeon, trying to save his owner from death by the hands of her kidnapper.

After I wrote Messages from Henry, I started writing Rag Doll, a crime drama for adults. Ever since I moved to Arkansas in 2007, I’ve been eager to search for gems/diamonds in the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Therefore, I decided to write a twisted little mystery about a murder in the diamond park. There are many twists in the story, and readers are warned not to rush through this book. They need to pay attention for the ending has a huge twist.

After entering both of the short stories in two different contests, I posted the stories on my blog. So many authors suggested I lengthen the stories and publish them. They gave me many examples as to how I should do this. Therefore, I lengthened both of them and sent them to many beta readers. I also went to a local library with printed copies of Messages from Henry and asked many young adults to read it and tell me if they liked it. They loved it and this gave me the encouragement I needed to continue editing the book.

It took Seumas Gallacher months to talk me into self-publishing Messages from Henry, and I’m so glad he did. Six months later, I self-published Rag Doll. Both of these very short books are free samples of my writing capabilities, and continue to receive rave reviews.

In June 2013, while my husband was driving down a busy city street, I looked out the passenger side window and saw a big red beach ball rolling along the curb next to our vehicle. The wind had blown the ball out of a large wire container, in front of the general store. It continued rolling next to our vehicle for a quarter of a mile. When Rick saw the ball he told me I should write a story about the ball. When we got home, I quickly jotted down an outline. Weeks later, while I was writing Jumper, I decided to write the sequel to Messages from Henry since the book was so popular. I wanted the novel to be set in England. I’ve never been there, so I asked several British authors if they’d like to collaborate. Three of them wanted to do this. I chose author Francis Potts. He’s the author of the novel entitled Flying Lessons and five other books. We published Where Love Takes You on December 15, 2013. The novel has received all five star reviews so far.

After self-publishing four volumes of Jumper (illustrated children’s series in eBook and print), I wrote the script for one episode of Jumper. I wrote the script because many parents told me their children love Jumper and want him on television in an animated cartoon. I’m currently in touch with the Public Broadcasting Service’s producer of children’s programming in Virginia.

By the way, I never published the first novel I wrote in 2007.

Book Blurb

[Messages from Henry Cover]

Messages from Henry is a highly original young adult novella about a very unlikely hero, a homing pigeon. Henry is trying to save his owner from death by the hands of her kidnapper. It’s a mystery thriller that will have you on the edge of your seat, rooting Henry on, and praying for Evelyn’s safe return.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

About the Author
Rebecca Scarberry was born and raised on the southern coast of California. She lives on a very secluded non-working farm in the Boston Mountains of Arkansas with her husband and four cats. She has devoted the last five years to her love of writing fiction.

She has published seven books in four different genres: mystery/suspense, romance, crime drama, and a series of children’s picture books. She has written the script for one episode of her Jumper series of children’s books. She will soon be sending the script to several television producers who’ve asked to read it. Writing for young children is her most current passion. You can find Rebecca on Twitter, at her publisher’s website, and at her Amazon author page.

Jessica Knauss—Turning Dreams Into Stories

[Jessica Knauss]Guest post by Jessica Knauss

I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. I have a little book of jagged pencil lines in which, at four or five, I imitated what I thought the printed page looked like because I was so frustrated with not having been taught to write yet. Nothing makes me happier than writing stories. I get inspiration from the most unexpected places, and maybe that’s what makes them so unpredictable and so hard to categorize.

I’ve discussed before the fruitfulness of staying in bed after the alarm to remember dreams and see if any scenes come out of them, but I’ve also made stories out of things I’ve overheard on the subway, that friends have told me, or that I’ve tasted at breakfast. I recently won a prize for a strangely dark story based on a photograph of a beach house. All these stories had to end up somewhere, and many have been published. I’ve now gathered all my published stories and the best of the ones that haven’t yet seen the light of day into Unpredictable Worlds.

Book Blurb

[Unpredictable Worlds Cover]

A teacher controls her students with an edible microchip. A reporter turns into a rhinoceros. A couple’s efforts to eat local go frighteningly awry. If you’re looking to be surprised, puzzled, or just plain entertained, pick up this omnibus. There’s something for everyone.

More than twenty years in the making, Unpredictable Worlds contains all of Jessica Knauss’s published and prize-winning short fiction as of March 2015 and a few of her best stories never before seen in print or eBook. Zany plots and outrageous characters will stretch your belief and tug at your heart.

WARNING: These stories contain exaggeration, elision, and disregard for “the real world.” Some even exhibit a tone of blatant optimism. However, they respect human speech patterns, admire good grammar, and hold proper punctuation in the highest regard.

“What She Lacked” Excerpt
Please enjoy an excerpt from “What She Lacked,” my favorite story that has never been published before.

After months of searching, I followed my instinct to Manhattan. I didn’t find my twin sister Dulcy so much by her presence as by the void she created in the commotion surrounding her. On my second morning there, she was standing in the middle of the sidewalk on Fifth Avenue, surrounded by a wave of powerwalking natives and gawk-walking tourists and endless shouts to “Get out of the *ing way!” or to “Shove over!”

The cops in Boston had been singularly unhelpful and told me they were going to close the case. “It’s policy, ma’am. If we have no leads on a case for a certain amount of time, we have to move on,” said the stern leader.

One earnest officer took me into confidence and whispered, “Pretty girls have been disappearing lately and we haven’t found any of them.”

“Am I at risk?” I had asked, figuring that if my identical twin had disappeared, I, too, would be the kidnapper’s type.

“No,” he said, too quickly. “You graduated from Harvard.”

Like most twentysomethings in Boston, I had more university degrees than life experience. But I’d had to complete the last one, in Library Science, in order to get any job at all in that market choked with able young college grads. “So?”

“Only pretty girls without degrees have been disappearing.”

So now he thought he was a profiler. It was like something from a formulaic TV show. But he was right in that, although my sister had applied to all the good drama schools in the country, nothing had worked out for her in the end. She was living with our parents because the money a person can earn from acting in commercials and student films is small and unstable. But over the years, she put a lot of speaking roles under her belt and was sure this, unlike all the other years when she’d said the same thing, was her breakthrough year. I chalked up the cops’ surrender to the fact that none of them were twins and accessed my twinly intuition—or just some solid logic—and reasoned that she must have gone to New York to increase her chances. Rather than waiting for her to call me with the news that she had been cast as Belle in Beauty and the Beast, I asked for some time off work at the library and headed out in hopes of seeing her name on the marquee myself.

I swam against the current of foot traffic and finally stood before my sister, who made no sign that she saw me. One of her eyelids was relaxed over her eye while the other flickered nervously over an orb that seemed to see nothing. A trickle of sweat appeared at her brow, but it was no wonder because it was the middle of June and she was wearing what she had been when she’d disappeared: a long wool coat complete with a Burberry scarf. The coat displayed rips and tears at every angle and swaths of caked mud across the back. Her hair, usually coiffed to perfection and shellacked to a hard sheen, floated wildly in the gusts from passing cars, trucks, and people, each with their distinct noises. Perhaps most disturbing of all, she was showing roots. My hand went to my own straight, uncolored blonde locks in the inexorable act of comparison I’d made my whole life. This was the first time I had ever come out ahead, so the panic inside me grew. The rude shouting hadn’t stopped, occasionally punctuated with, “Is she okay?” I tried to break through the din, grabbing her by the shoulders and saying, calmly and slowly, “Dulcy. Dulcy, are you in there?”

Both of her eyelids snapped open. “Christabel.” The name of our favorite literary heroine as children flowed from her lips as if she were casually conversing at a dinner party.

“No, it’s Fran. I’m your sister Fran.” […]

About the Author
Born and raised in Northern California, Jessica Knauss is a New Englander by design. She has worked as a librarian and a Spanish teacher and earned a PhD in Medieval Spanish Literature before entering the publishing world as an editor. She has published fiction, poetry, and nonfiction in numerous venues. Her acclaimed novella about a woman’s awakening through sleeping in trees, Tree/House, is also currently available, and her contemporary paranormal Awash in Talent is coming soon. Bagwyn Books will publish her medieval epic Seven Noble Knights in late 2016. Get updates on her writing at her blog: jessicaknauss.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Google+.

Unpredictable Worlds releases for Kindle on May 15 with a softcover edition available the same day. Unpredictable Worlds is already available for preorder for only 99 cents. Once it’s out there in the world, the price will go up, so save at least 66% now and have this strangely amazing book delivered to your device on release day.

Where to Buy
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon CA

“The Shepherd”—A Dark, Contemporary YA Funhouse

[The Shepherd Cover]

Find The Shepherd at Amazon

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The Blurb
Skate punks, kleptomaniacs, clairvoyant visions and reincarnation…

The Shepherd is unlike any other Young Adult novel you have ever read.
For me, Mike Evans, a skate punk living in a white-trash trailer park, high school blows.

My dad’s an out-of-work drunk. My ex-girlfriend avoids me like the plague. My best friend, Anita, won’t keep her hands off me…then there’s Moses Lake’s champion wrestler. The a-hole is waiting for an excuse to beat my face into the skate park concrete.

Worse, my visions of grisly death are back again, and if I tell anyone what I’ve seen I might actually cause these terrible events to happen.

I’m in way over my head, and Natasha? The girl I rescued from a hit-and-run? The girl who’s stalking me nightly and climbing through my window? There’s something seriously wrong with that girl.

“A young adult, paranormal, romantic, bizarre and addicting story, and I could not put it down.” – Stephanie, The Boyfriend Bookmark

The Shepherd is different, unique, feels real and fresh and does not follow the usual boring and repetitive ingredients that YA books tend to have.” – MissDevora, Lovers of Paranormal reviewer

“Travis has captured the look and feel of high school perfectly, teenage angst, cliques and first loves. I felt like a fly on the wall taking in all the drama of high school again.” – Jackie, Goodreads reviewer

Sharp, witty, dark and gritty, The Shepherd is a paranormal thriller for all ages. Get your copy of this thrilling urban fantasy – paranormal suspense novel from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Travis Luedke.

The Review ★★★★★
Travis Luedke is an interesting writer. You might know him from his “Nightlife Series,” which celebrates vampires. When I learned that he had written a YA novel called The Shepherd, I went into it thinking it might follow the path of many of the other YA titles out there today—modern and edgy, but perhaps a little tame. Boy, was I wrong!

What the author has done is to give the reader something dark and fun. Because the characters are teens, you won’t find only raw, seething emotion just under the surface, but lots of raging hormones that drive them to do things they should have thought better of. Add to that some cool skateboarding swagger and a bloody, paranormal twist, and what you get is a story that you cannot predict. The main character, Mike Evans, is troubled for sure. But those around him don’t make his life any easier. Oh, and wait until you meet Natasha. Yeah, just what Mike needs—a sucker punch straight out of Russia.

What I really enjoyed about this book is the author’s ability to capture the immediacy of the modern teen. His dialogue is sharp, and absolutely rings true. As I was reading the book, I could picture high school students speaking this way—not sounding like TV-based stereotypes. I’m guessing that teen readers will find a lot of realism in this story, and will probably recognize some of their peers in characters like Anita, Justin, Rachelle and Tommy.

If you enjoy stories that send you grinding down a rusty handrail, I recommend grabbing The Shepherd. You won’t be disappointed.

The Shadow Box
Explore The Dark Side of Urban Fantasy – Paranormal Suspense with THE SHADOW BOX from NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors.

***A limited offer at a steeply discounted price – only available until Feb. 2015

Ride the cutting edge of dark fantasy in this unique collection of fast-paced, gritty,  suspenseful thrillers. Filled with black magic, vampire trailer trash, werewolves, sorcerers, assassins, clairvoyants, zombie draggers, and old-school gothic horror, a sure bet for fans of paranormal suspense.

Buy Links
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
iBookStore
Kobo
Smashwords

DARKER THINGS by Rob Cornell
Fifteen years have passed since Craig Lockman worked for a shadowy agency fighting monsters most think exist only in nightmares. A mysterious teen girl arrives at his door with his fiercest enemy on her tail. Now he must protect the daughter he never knew from the dark world he thought he left behind.

MOTH by Sean Poindexter
Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to monsters. Supernatural or human, he’s faced all kinds. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child, he may have met his match.

THE SHEPHERD by Travis Luedke
After saving a mysterious girl from a hit and run, 16 yr. old Mike Evans soon finds his life spiraling out of control. Facing clairvoyant visions of grisly death, Mike struggles to avert disaster and make his way through the chaos.

COUNCIL OF PEACOCKS by M. Joseph Murphy
A band of misfit, half-demon teenagers join the ruthless, immortal Wisdom, to stop The Council of Peacocks. The Council, a secret society of sorcerers, has plotted for centuries, and now the time has come for Activation – a hostile takeover of Earth.

A DEATH DISPLACED by Andrew Butcher
When Nicolas Crystan unexpectedly sees the future, he acts fast to save Juliet Maystone from a fatal accident, unintentionally “displacing” her–giving her the power to see ghosts. Together, they must use their newfound abilities to unravel a mystery more connected to Nicolas than he ever imagined …

BOUND BY BLOOD by Shane KP O’Neill
Vlad Dracula: ruler, tyrant, warlord, and champion of the Catholic faith, is seized by Lucifer in his moment of death and becomes a monster, born of Darkness. Vlad is charged with destroying the institution of the Catholic Church, to help turn man against God so that Lucifer may finally return to Heaven and end all of mankind.

LUNA SANGUIS by Simon Okill
A mysterious woman awakes in an asylum in France, 1925, with amnesia. As her memory is restored she reveals her true vampiric nature and unleashes a bloody nightmare that might destroy all humanity.

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD by Steven Ramirez
When a contagion decimates the town of Tres Marias, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski, his wife, Holly, and a group of armed soldiers and civilians must find a way to survive.

THE LONG WAY DOWN by Craig Schaefer
The death of a porn star leads sorcerer Daniel Faust down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and madness. For the first time, black magic and bullets might not be enough to save him from the brink of damnation.

BLACKJACK by Kristopher Norris
When Vincent Black, a gun for hire, is told vampires are all too real, he thinks it’s a joke. But soon he learns that he is not the most dangerous brand of hunter out there…

“The Shadow Box”—Interview with Kristopher Norris

[The Shadow Box]Okay, so you already know you can preorder The Shadow Box: Paranormal Suspense and Dark Fantasy Thriller Novels now. That’s ten novels featuring vampires, zombies and other assorted monsters.

Check out this wonderful collection of dark novels from authors Travis Luedke, Rob Cornell, Andrew Butcher, Sean Poindexter, Shane KP O’Neill, M Joseph Murphy, Simon Okill, Craig Schaefer, Kristopher Norris—and Steven Ramirez.

Today, I am featuring an interview with Kristopher Norris, author of Blackjack. Take it away, Kris!

You are writing in a very popular genre. What’s unique about Blackjack?
That is an interesting questions. I’m not sure how to answer it in all honesty. Urban paranormal is a unique genre. The twists and turns, my love and close ties to the old noir style of mystery helps me avoid that cookie cutter feel.

Personally, I like that my protagonist, Vincent, is human – or rather mostly human. So often in vampire based books we miss out on the human male’s point of view. I’d like to think I bring a certain amount of our stubborn pigheaded nature to the literary world.

In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader comes away with?
My hope is the reader was able to dive into the world my characters created for them. Fans ask me, “What’s coming next?” … I don’t know! I know authors talk about the characters being real for them but that doesn’t quite cover it. It’s like watching a movie and I just write down what’s going on in the world of Vincent and his fanged friends. I hope I do them justice.

What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as BlackJack?Vincent’s second full length novel is done! Currently that manuscript is off with test readers then to final editing. I’m hoping to have a release date at the beginning of the year.

Outside of the ever present Vincent Black, I’ve begun a new series – Half-blood is the working title where a half demon, Conner, fights heaven and hell to save kidnapped children and his own soul.

Buy Links
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
iBookStore
Kobo
Smashwords

Product Description
Explore The Dark Side of Urban Fantasy – Paranormal Suspense with THE SHADOW BOX from NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors.

***A limited offer at a steeply discounted price – only available until Feb. 2015

Ride the cutting edge of dark fantasy in this unique collection of fast-paced, gritty,  suspenseful thrillers. Filled with black magic, vampire trailer trash, werewolves, sorcerers, assassins, clairvoyants, zombie draggers, and old-school gothic horror, a sure bet for fans of paranormal suspense.

DARKER THINGS by Rob Cornell
Fifteen years have passed since Craig Lockman worked for a shadowy agency fighting monsters most think exist only in nightmares. A mysterious teen girl arrives at his door with his fiercest enemy on her tail. Now he must protect the daughter he never knew from the dark world he thought he left behind.

MOTH by Sean Poindexter
Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to monsters. Supernatural or human, he’s faced all kinds. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child, he may have met his match.

THE SHEPHERD by Travis Luedke
After saving a mysterious girl from a hit and run, 16 yr. old Mike Evans soon finds his life spiraling out of control. Facing clairvoyant visions of grisly death, Mike struggles to avert disaster and make his way through the chaos.

COUNCIL OF PEACOCKS by M. Joseph Murphy
A band of misfit, half-demon teenagers join the ruthless, immortal Wisdom, to stop The Council of Peacocks. The Council, a secret society of sorcerers, has plotted for centuries, and now the time has come for Activation – a hostile takeover of Earth.

A DEATH DISPLACED by Andrew Butcher
When Nicolas Crystan unexpectedly sees the future, he acts fast to save Juliet Maystone from a fatal accident, unintentionally “displacing” her–giving her the power to see ghosts. Together, they must use their newfound abilities to unravel a mystery more connected to Nicolas than he ever imagined …

BOUND BY BLOOD by Shane KP O’Neill
Vlad Dracula: ruler, tyrant, warlord, and champion of the Catholic faith, is seized by Lucifer in his moment of death and becomes a monster, born of Darkness. Vlad is charged with destroying the institution of the Catholic Church, to help turn man against God so that Lucifer may finally return to Heaven and end all of mankind.

LUNA SANGUIS by Simon Okill
A mysterious woman awakes in an asylum in France, 1925, with amnesia. As her memory is restored she reveals her true vampiric nature and unleashes a bloody nightmare that might destroy all humanity.

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD by Steven Ramirez
When a contagion decimates the town of Tres Marias, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski, his wife, Holly, and a group of armed soldiers and civilians must find a way to survive.

THE LONG WAY DOWN by Craig Schaefer
The death of a porn star leads sorcerer Daniel Faust down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and madness. For the first time, black magic and bullets might not be enough to save him from the brink of damnation.

BLACKJACK by Kristopher Norris
When Vincent Black, a gun for hire, is told vampires are all too real, he thinks it’s a joke. But soon he learns that he is not the most dangerous brand of hunter out there…

“The Shadow Box”—Interview with Simon Okill

[The Shadow Box]Okay, so you already know you can preorder The Shadow Box: Paranormal Suspense and Dark Fantasy Thriller Novels now. That’s ten novels featuring vampires, zombies and other assorted monsters.

Check out this wonderful collection of dark novels from authors Travis Luedke, Rob Cornell, Andrew Butcher, Sean Poindexter, Shane KP O’Neill, M Joseph Murphy, Simon Okill, Craig Schaefer, Kristopher Norris—and Steven Ramirez.

Today, I am featuring an interview with Simon Okill, author of Luna Sanguis. You might know Simon from his deliciously entertaining “Phantom Bigfoot” series.

Take it away, Simon!

You are writing in a very popular genre. What’s unique about Luna Sanguis?
Luna Sanguis is very different from other vampire novels as it deals with the psychological make up of a vampire with amnesia, trapped in an asylum and hunted by bloodthirsty cult followers. It is very Gothic in a Poe way or Anne Rice and set during The Modernist era of Paris 1925, so you get to meet many of those famous avant garde set.

In terms of the theme, what are the one or two things you are hoping the reader comes away with?
I am hoping the reader will have second thoughts about vampires and may even come to believe they actually exist as my vampires are human all the way. The reader will also, hopefully, get a handle on what it is like to suffer with PTSD and appreciate what veterans go through every day of their lives.

What are you working on now, and is it in the same vein as Luna Sanguis?
SS-Steppenwolf is a paranormal history of the entire WWII seen through the eyes of two German brothers split apart by Nazism. It deals with the real Indiana Jones hired by Himmler to seek out artifacts to empower the Germanic Peoples and ultimately rule the world. A blend of fact and fiction so the reader will not be able to tell which is which.

Buy Links
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble
iBookStore
Kobo
Smashwords

Product Description
Explore The Dark Side of Urban Fantasy – Paranormal Suspense with THE SHADOW BOX from NY Times & USA Today bestselling authors.

***A limited offer at a steeply discounted price – only available until Feb. 2015

Ride the cutting edge of dark fantasy in this unique collection of fast-paced, gritty,  suspenseful thrillers. Filled with black magic, vampire trailer trash, werewolves, sorcerers, assassins, clairvoyants, zombie draggers, and old-school gothic horror, a sure bet for fans of paranormal suspense.

DARKER THINGS by Rob Cornell
Fifteen years have passed since Craig Lockman worked for a shadowy agency fighting monsters most think exist only in nightmares. A mysterious teen girl arrives at his door with his fiercest enemy on her tail. Now he must protect the daughter he never knew from the dark world he thought he left behind.

MOTH by Sean Poindexter
Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to monsters. Supernatural or human, he’s faced all kinds. But when he’s called upon to investigate a missing child, he may have met his match.

THE SHEPHERD by Travis Luedke
After saving a mysterious girl from a hit and run, 16 yr. old Mike Evans soon finds his life spiraling out of control. Facing clairvoyant visions of grisly death, Mike struggles to avert disaster and make his way through the chaos.

COUNCIL OF PEACOCKS by M. Joseph Murphy
A band of misfit, half-demon teenagers join the ruthless, immortal Wisdom, to stop The Council of Peacocks. The Council, a secret society of sorcerers, has plotted for centuries, and now the time has come for Activation – a hostile takeover of Earth.

A DEATH DISPLACED by Andrew Butcher
When Nicolas Crystan unexpectedly sees the future, he acts fast to save Juliet Maystone from a fatal accident, unintentionally “displacing” her–giving her the power to see ghosts. Together, they must use their newfound abilities to unravel a mystery more connected to Nicolas than he ever imagined …

BOUND BY BLOOD by Shane KP O’Neill
Vlad Dracula: ruler, tyrant, warlord, and champion of the Catholic faith, is seized by Lucifer in his moment of death and becomes a monster, born of Darkness. Vlad is charged with destroying the institution of the Catholic Church, to help turn man against God so that Lucifer may finally return to Heaven and end all of mankind.

LUNA SANGUIS by Simon Okill
A mysterious woman awakes in an asylum in France, 1925, with amnesia. As her memory is restored she reveals her true vampiric nature and unleashes a bloody nightmare that might destroy all humanity.

TELL ME WHEN I’M DEAD by Steven Ramirez
When a contagion decimates the town of Tres Marias, recovering alcoholic Dave Pulaski, his wife, Holly, and a group of armed soldiers and civilians must find a way to survive.

THE LONG WAY DOWN by Craig Schaefer
The death of a porn star leads sorcerer Daniel Faust down a rabbit hole of conspiracy and madness. For the first time, black magic and bullets might not be enough to save him from the brink of damnation.

BLACKJACK by Kristopher Norris
When Vincent Black, a gun for hire, is told vampires are all too real, he thinks it’s a joke. But soon he learns that he is not the most dangerous brand of hunter out there…