Friday, June 23, 2017

REVIEW: DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy

Channeling our alter egos:

From the desk of ~


And the two soon find themselves ogling DIVINITY by Paula Kennedy, book #2 in the Angels of the Night series, a Paranormal, YA.

Allison Webber was accepted in the secret society of Free Masons because her special powers fed male vampires, who have an alliance with the Masons. Female vampires, though, unlike their male counterparts, have a blood lust they can’t control. They are vicious killers, who show no mercy or heart.

Darcy Wallace, Allison’s hot, sexy vampire boyfriend, is in the clutches of a female vampire, who can control herself, but she is just as brutal as the other female vampires in her coven.  Along with Robert, Darcy’s triplet and a guardian, Thomas MacGregor, she sets out for NYC to find Darcy, irrespective of the cost or bending Mason rules.

Only, Darcy, doesn’t remember Allison, and she doesn’t recognize the boy she had fallen in love with. More so, his dislike of Allison turns dark when he discovers she had killed his brother, another triplet, Thane. Darcy can’t forgive her despite her valid reasons. He doesn’t realize the extent of his peril, but Ally knows she must risk all to save him.

Meanwhile, Robert seems to truly care for Allison, but there is something shadowy and hidden about him. It doesn’t help that he is ruled by Jonas, another twisted character that lurks in a sinister realm but is essential in helping the cause to keep the vampires hidden from the world.

At the same time, the female vamps are on the move and Allison, along with her father and others, must stop their killing spree. A plan, fraught with uncertainty and possibly lethal, is set in motion and she is forced to accept the help of someone she fully distrusts. Will she be betrayed again? Will Darcy ever remember their love? Will the oldest female vampire destroy them all? So many dangers, so little time.

“Wow!” declares Wrye, “I enjoyed the first book in this series, but DIVINITY takes the plot to a new level. Allison has matured and doesn’t hesitate to make the tough decisions. The story starts out like a derailed locomotive about to go over a cliff. You find yourself holding your breathe with each passing paragraph. The danger feels real, you are there, you are in the midst of it, you experience the fear and danger. This story has the intricacies and pace that would hold the readership of any age group. You won’t want to put it down, and you will continually cheer on the heroine. Though, I normally wouldn’t seek out a vampire novel, I am hooked on this series, and on Paula Kennedy’s writing style. It is crisp, clean and racy. Just like the lines of a racer, and that’s just what you find yourself doing, racing through the pages because you can’t get enough.”

Tattle adds, “Paula Kennedy has created characters that have the pulse of our young generation yet appeal to those of us way past our prime and everyone in between. I enjoyed following Allison on her adventure, and applauding the young heroine’s courage and decisiveness. Allison has grown up since book one, and though I adored her then, I respect her even more now. And there it is, she is real to me. Usually, you put a book down and remember the characters as characters, but Ally is someone you see as real. Even the vampires, male and female, have you believing they might just be lurking in the corners of your room! I’m ready to go hang some garlic! That shows the expanse of Kennedy’s talent. She manages to do the same with the world she created for this series. It is believable, not the same ole same ole but fresh and sharp.  Her style has texture without being cluttered. I am truly a fan, and can’t wait to see more!”


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Struggling With a Space Opera

I recently decided to try writing something new. I needed a change from dragons and distressed damsels, or sarcastic detectives facing thirsty vampires and wayward housewives. I’d written one near-future thriller and tossed off a What-If spec fiction; it was time to venture deep into outer space. Or maybe not.

As usual I started with a scrap of a plot and plunged right on ahead. In this case I knew what the opening chapter would look like, and the final dramatic scene. All I needed was the tender middle. I also knew there would be a brother and a sister in main roles. I assumed the lead player would be the brother; boy was I wrong!

His sister took over, and along with her three rowdy girlfriends, ran rampant through the plot.

Then my Beta reader charged in with her usual glee and scribbled comments all over the early pages. One remark that stood out was the fact that the four women were all alike. She couldn’t tell them apart.

Okay, so back to the beginning, how do you differentiate a gang of four? I tried differing fashion sense, favorite sayings or curses, hairstyles, even skin colors. I even gave them different tattoos, although these are not always noticeable.

The list of reader complaints was long; too long to mention here. Needless to say that although I have finished spinning the basic tale, I am now reworking the story to polish the obvious problems.

I usually write quickly. I’ll start the day by reading and editing what I wrote the day before, and then charge ahead full speed. In this argumentative manuscript, I keep going back, adding scenes, inserting comments, sprinkling in incidents. It doesn’t help that I’m developing a large argumentative cast with speaking parts.

And don’t get me started in the aliens! They have refused to co-operate and are acting very…alien.

This may take more time than I planned for me to sort out.

I’m beginning to suspect that I will be happy to feel a dragon’s breath on the back of my neck once more. And anyway, those damsels are usually more distressing than distressed.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (Book 1, 2, of 3)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Author/Publisher Etiquette

This past year I edited several books for authors and reviewed many more for a publisher.

While I hope I helped those authors with my comments and edits, I know for a fact, I learned a great deal about writing from them.

For anyone contemplating submitting work to a publisher or agent, there are many things to consider, and this information can be found on the internet.

The subject I find rarely addressed is the etiquette of dealing with an agent, publisher, or even your initial reader.

When a book is rejected out of hand, it does no good to write a letter back and argue about how you know better than the editor, or how good your book is. The agent or publisher is the one taking a financial risk with your work. If he or she does not like it, that is the end of it. Often the acquisitions editor will include a reason for rejection. There is no point disagreeing. You submitted your work to be evaluated and if it did not meet the standard or criteria for that publisher, there is no point in begging or arguing. Why? Because such behavior immediately sends up a red flag and that publisher will hesitate to look at anything else you send in the future, despite the fact it might actually be better than your original submission. The most you should do is thank them for taking the time to read your submission, and especially for what they intended as helpful advice.

It should go without saying, if they suggest that with certain revisions, they would be happy to look at it again, then make sure you respond if the suggestions make sense to you.

Once you are accepted, you will find each publisher has their own way of working. Follow their rules. They will be the ones paying you when all is said and done. The publisher is not your private printer, there to be at your beck and call. If you are unhappy about anything along the way, by all means say so, but keep in mind, the publisher has other authors, and time is precious. 

What else did I learn? Every writer needs a critique partner or group to help ensure continuity in their story. Every writer needs a proofreader before submitting a manuscript. Whether you are writing fiction or a memoir, you must develop a hook for the reader, and settings and characters that draw the reader into your story. There should always be a conflict or obstacle for your protagonist to overcome.

And finally, synopses are not teasers for the back of your book. When an editor wants to see a synopsis, he wants to know that you have developed your story through to the end, and he wants to see the ending. Do not end your synopsis with, “And then the biggest surprise came that changed her life.”

Veronica Helen Hart is an author, editor, and acquisitions editor for a traditional small press. She also recently started her own small publishing company: Uppity Woman Press. You can find her works at

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Amazing Plot Generator

I keep coming across this ad on my Facebook feed:

And okay, it’s only $7. It “makes it easy to create compelling stories and perfect plots.” Awesome!
But there’s a problem underlying this ad. And the problem is, if you need a plot generator, I think you’re in the wrong line of work.

I’ve said this before—I’ve got more ideas for stories than I know what to do with. While it’s true they may not all be “plotted out” from beginning to end, that’s not the way I work anyway. I take an initial idea, get that down on paper as an inciting incident or scene, and let my characters go from there.

To me, the Amazing Novel Plot Generator is that annoying guy who’s always coming over to you and saying “I’ve got this great idea for a story—I just need someone to write it down for me.” Because the great idea for a story is the bloody easy part, mate. It’s the writing it down, and making it readable, and figuring out what happens next, and editing the damned thing, and polishing it, and then cutting out all the extraneous crap, and filling in all the plot-holes, and ensuring the continuity of the story… That’s the hard part. That’s the part called WRITING.

Ok, rant completed. You may go now.

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler with a fondness for flannel shirts. He thus is resigned to never appearing on a book cover. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley region of NY, where he's certain the sounds attributed to Captain Hudson's crew bowling are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith is fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife who not only puts up with his writing but generally encourages it. When it doesn't get the way of their cut-throat Scrabble games, that is.

Keith is the author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight (Champagne Books). His newest work,Desperate Knight, which contains 50% more dragon, and no shirtless heroes, will be released in Summer 2017.  

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Writing for Kindle Worlds

Blog for May 30, 2017
Writing for Kindle Worlds
Well, let me share this with y’all. Been quite a ride this past few weeks learning about the process of writing a book for Kindle Worlds. Whether you receive an invite or just decided to write a story for the series of your choosing, you will need to conforms to the rules laid out for that particular series. In my case, The Omega Team series by the incomparable Desire Holt was the one I was happily and honored to receive an invitation to write for: OmegaTeam by Desiree Holt
You will next need to create your own or order a professional cover from an artist of your choosing. I was lucky enough to have Kelly Ann Martin agree to come onboard!
Then, your manuscript needs to be professionally edited. My book needed to be totally ready for a December release 2017, so for me I required six months to write and edit it to have it ready in plenty of time to keep the stress monkey off my back!
So, the good news is I’ve finished the prequel, RACING PERIL, for Kindle Worlds and am now involved in writing a full series, The Tetrad Group of stories for Totally Bound (first book: RACING the TIDE) that will tie the who idea together!
If anyone has questions, just ask! I learned a lot and found the experience quite exhilarating!
Here’s Kelly’s cover:

Wishing everyone a wonderful day!
Hugs, January Bain
Storyteller for Totally Bound Publishing

Friday, May 26, 2017

REVIEW: DIVIDE AND CONQUER (Champions of Elonia, #1) by Carmen Fox

Sharing from our alter egos:


Wrye Balderdash entered the office dressed in tails and popping open his top hat as he took a spin, balancing on a silver-tipped can. “A trampoline is perfect for what season, m’literary snoop?”

Tattle snatched up her parasol and bounced to her feet. “Spring-time!  And I know a blooming oak tree that told spring… what a re-leaf.”

“Corny to the core, madam.”

She batted her lashes. “And proud of it.”

“Ready for a spring time stroll?” He crooked an elbow for her to grab.

“Not til later, first our Love of Literature Leap Review.”

“Ah, then our attire must be more sophisticated than ole time.”

Upon changing into matching suits with Fedoras, the two leaped into a new review.

DIVIDE AND CONQUER (Champions of Elonia, #1) by Carmen Fox, an urban fantasy.

This story hooks you on the first page, no foreplay, just direct, intense action with the Shades attacking Nieve, warrior and Royal Champion. Nieve had one last mission before the King would finally release her. And the Shades weren’t going to make it easy. They used their magic, which forced Nieve to use her own. Despite not enough sun to refuel, she did what she had to do. Getting Lea back to the Elonian world and persuading her she was part of prophesy was paramount.

Lea, an intelligent scientist, intended to shine in her chosen field but wasn’t expecting to be snatched from her routine life and tossed into a world of magic or into the arms of a man who appreciated her quirky bent. Though knowing life held more than being a translator, Lea wasn’t convinced she was the chosen one. Having to battle Shades, who had their own plans for Lea, and learning to become a warrior under Nieve’s tutelage, wasn’t in Lea’s quiver of hopes and dreams. Neither was the friendship that soon bonded the two women.

Nieve does her duty, and despite emotional attachment being alien to her nature, she identifies the benefits of having Lea’s as a friend. At the same time, however, she meets a kindred warrior soul who makes her question her allegiances. 

The gods had created a divide between earth and the Elonian world. Those with powers of light and air wanted to preserve the divide and Lea was pivotal to that success. Those with powers of dark and earth planned to have the divide fall. But despite prophesy, the past could be rewritten and the future had yet to unfold and memories were slowly erased with each moment that passed. Lea and Nieve were pawns in a dangerous and possibly lethal game, where all might be losers.

“This action stuffed urban fantasy refuses to release you from page one til the last page.” Wyre had the look of one who had been up the entire night. “Each character has its own unique style and definition while the worlds’ backdrops are edgy and crisp. Carmen Fox created a unique universe and  a storyline that keeps directing the reader one way only to snap you back and force you in a different direction. Every snag is remarkably placed with every foothold disintegrating. It leaves you dangling and desperate for what comes next. This author displays a forward thinking literary style that hasn’t been experienced before. This is a must-read!”

“Having read other books in this genre, I was prepared for a shadowy reflection of stories I previously read. Instead, I was smacked upside the head with Fox’s new, unique voice.” Tattle tapped the back of her head for emphasis. “The magic and action scenes have their own defining qualities that unfold so vividly it is as if you are watching a movie rather than reading words. The dialogue indentifies each character’s individualism while the sprinkling of humor is much appreciated in this otherwise intense tale. The dual heroines with their own POVs gives the story extra dimension as they tackle secrets, romance, and betrayals. This brilliant debut novel will make an urban fantasy fan out of anyone. Don’t pass it up.”

Hope you enjoyed.

Happy Spring!

Dona Penza Rutabaga Tattle, Esq. and Associate Wrye Balderdash
of Blather City, Wannachat

Created and written by:  Angelica Hart and Zi

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a free ebook (choose erotic or romantic thriller) and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Random Thoughts on the Direction of Our Industry

I was at a convention the last weekend and sat on a few of the discussion panels. The last one I was on was called “What’s New in SF/F.” It was the best attended panel I was on all weekend and we had a lively discussion centering on the direction of the industry and some of the problems facing authors.

First, here are some dull statistics comparing new USA books produced from the major and mid-range publishers comparing the years 2008 to 2016. These are adult and young adult numbers combined. In 2008 there were 249 SF novels published compared with 425 in 2016. In 2008 there were 429 Fantasy novels compared with 737 in 2016. In the Horror market, there were 175 novels published in 2008 and 171 in 2016. Paranormal Romance novels went from 328 in 2008 to 107 in 2016.

This tells me that the SF and Fantasy markets are still strong and Horror is fairly flat. Paranormal Romance is finally tapering off. British numbers are similar. What this doesn’t tell us is what is happening with the smaller book publishers.

Other trends: Print book sales have increased over the last three years. Have ebooks flattened? Most large publishers now have ebook divisons. What was interesting is our audience members complaining that the ebook prices from the majors are too close to the cost of their print books. Many buy ebooks based on convenience and not on cost.

On the SF side, space opera seems hot. It was interesting to note the effect of politics and TV shows on book sales. 1984 is back in print, Margaret Attwood’s “The Handmaiden’s Tale” is climbing the book charts again (new TV series), as is “The Expanse” series of six novels in part due to the popular TV series of the same name.

People will read something different if it is unique even if they normally avoid the genre field. If readers love your characters they will love your story.

Books are getting bigger. The next Stephen King has 720 pages. It used to be that SF books in general were shorter than Fantasy. Not sure if that is still the case. Is this length trend due to people getting used to watching longer TV series?

One thing that caused interest was author’s labor and remuneration. Our panel consisted of two authors plus an author who was also an editor. We pointed out the amount of time (years!) involved between the creative juices beginning to flow and the book finally making an appearance. We discussed the merits of giving away a free book. After explaining I received the same percentage of royalty on a $.99 book as I do on a $15.00 book I had an audience member who was a free ebook proponent stop by at my table after the session and buy a paper book.

It is interesting for authors to set aside their rough drafts and get out into the world and discuss reading and the industry with the people who buy our books. As a result of attending this convention I had an organizer of another program stop by and invite us to show up there. She thought our display was classy. I may have to check my inventory and pick up some more copies of my books.

Now back to writing and editing and other fun stuff.


The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas
Toltec Dawn (Book 1, 2, of 3)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Reboot

Composed for Mother's Day last year, I thought I'd share this again. This year, adoptive and foster moms joined my small world.


The problem with generic holidays like "Mother's Day" is their tendency to obliterate the vast diversity of real life. Cards and advertisers want this day to be about chocolate, jewelry, and brunch. And there are lots of moms who adore that stuff.
But if we dig beneath the glossy surface, we find a reality far more beautiful than any advertisement could portray. In my own small world right now, I find these kinds of moms:
Moms who choose to nurture dogs, cats, and other critters with the same deep love as for all family. Moms whose kids are well-launched away from home, and navigate their new role as distant adviser with grace. Moms whose adult kids cannot seem to launch. Step-moms who invest their hearts in kids who don't always know how to be grateful. Step-moms who are discovering there is nothing more delicious than playing with the kids in their new families. Moms of young children who haven't slept in years. Moms of grown children who haven't slept in years. Problematic moms who seem to push their kids away with one hand while pulling them close with the other. Moms who struggle with their own addictions, mental illness, physical illness, pain. Grieving moms whose kids are no longer on this planet. Battling moms whose kids are going through cancer. Moms who leave their families for military service. Moms who love their kids and their work with equal passion. Moms who are doing all this on their own, without partners. Moms who are doing this all with amazing partners. Generous, loving moms whose kids don't always know how to be grateful. Generous, loving moms whose kids know precisely how lucky they are, and make sure to show it.
These are just a few of the moms I know. Add in the aunts, grandmothers, older sisters, and women friends who take on mothering roles and multiply all of the above by a power of ten. Or maybe one hundred.
No one size fits all. And, there's nothing wrong with a holiday that invites us to pause and consider all the joyful, troublesome, tragic, confusing, heartfelt, loving dimensions of motherhood. Let's do that.
Over brunch. With chocolate.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This is a Public Service Announcement…

One of the most difficult things for an author—especially an “indie” or “small press” author—to do is actually connect with people who might want to purchase and read his/her book.

Of course there are all manner of people and groups out there who offer to promote your work. Generally for a fee. And that’s fine. Whether they actually work or not, I couldn’t say—that’s for someone else to weigh in on (comments on this are welcomed below…) But my focus today is on a couple of things you, as an author, can do that won’t cost you anything but a bit of time.

The first is one is Indie Author Day, an annual event inaugurated in 2016 which is focused on a day of celebration and inspiration dedicated to indie authors. In 2016 over 250 libraries across 45 states participated in this event (held, oddly enough, on Columbus Day weekend). Even with the holiday weekend (and the advent of Hurricane Matthew in the southern states, Indie Author Day reports that 3000+ authors, readers, fans & community members attended events.

Planning for Indie Author Day 2017 is already well underway, with the official event scheduled for October 14th (the weekend after the Columbus Day holiday). There are already a significant number of libraries signed up to participate (you can find the list here). I just convinced my local library to sign up, and I’ll be working with the adult services librarian and our local author community to set up programs for the event. I would urge you to contact your library and encourage them to host an event. It’s a great way to connect writers with readers right in their own community.

The second is Hometown Reads, a community dedicated to serving local authors across the country, by helping them connect with readers in their hometown through what they call the Read Local movement. Their site is the first of its kind to organize authors by local community, a design that is intended to facilitate both networking for authors and exposure/connection to more readers. Hometown Reads is eager to add new locations and authors to their listings as they showcase books and help readers discover books written by local authors.

Both Indie Author Day and Hometown Reads are relatively painless ways to increase your exposure and ultimately your fan base (and people who will not only buy your next book, but encourage their friends, relatives, and co-workers to buy it as well). That personal connection is worth its weight in wombats.

All right, I’m done. You may go now…

Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler with a fondness for flannel shirts. He thus is resigned to never appearing on a book cover. He lives in the upper Hudson Valley region of NY, where he's certain the sounds attributed to Captain Hudson's crew bowling are really just the dragons grumbling. Keith is fortunate to have a wonderful and loving wife who not only puts up with his writing but generally encourages it. When it doesn't get the way of their cut-throat Scrabble games, that is.

Keith is the author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight (Champagne Books). His newest work,Desperate Knight, which contains 50% more dragon, and no shirtless heroes, will be released in Summer 2017.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Musings on Marketing...

A writer writes obviously, but when did it happen that the writer had to be such a big promotor of their own work? Does word of mouth work anymore? Or are there just too many books out there for any specific writer to be found? Should one spend an equal amount of time on marketing as writing? I just don’t know the answers to these questions, much as I wish I did! I love to write, but when am I supposed to find the time to market??? If you have any ideas about this subject, please comment! I'm begging you!!!

So, please excuse my rant today and let me share my book with you! It’s the beginning of a series that I am so proud to be a part of. The series is titled: The Brass Ringer Sorority, and it follows the capers of a group of 8 post-university women helping each other reach for the Brass Ring.

The first in the series, Winning Casey, is being published by Totally Bound this summer. To say I am honored and thrilled is an understatement!

I would like to thank, Rebecca Baker Fairfax, a brilliant editor, for all her help on this project. Couldn't have done it without you!

Wishing everyone a wonderful day!

Hugs, January Bain