Thursday, November 26, 2015

Writing a Dark Hero

Author D.B. Reynolds
by D. B. Reynolds

I liked complicated men. They tend to be a lot more high maintenance, but they’re also a lot more intense, which means life with them is more passionate. And I like that. When it comes to writing my heroes, of course, I tend to go with what I like in real life, which means my vampires are dark and complicated, they’re heroic but also brutal and bloodthirsty.

Rajmund by D.B. Reynolds
But how to make my vampire heroes unapologetically vampire, and at the same time appealing to readers? First, I gave each of them the qualities of all great heroes. They’re loyal, courageous, smart and charming. And they’re devastatingly handsome, because this is romance fiction, after all. They’re also completely devoted to their lover and mate, unyielding in her defense, and viciously possessive when it comes to her affections. And, yes, they can be violent … but they’re not bullies. Their violence is in response to betrayal by someone they trusted, or in defense of their territories or the vampires they’re sworn to defend. And especially when someone dares to threaten the woman they love. Who doesn’t want a lover who will defend them to the death, a lover who will crawl over the bodies of his enemies to get to the woman he loves?

Of course, because they’re vampires, they have to drink blood. My vampires embrace what they are, and revel in the taste of blood fresh from the vein, but they don’t roam the streets, killing at random, they have clubs and parties where willing donors line up to donate blood from the vein, in exchange for the sexual high of having a vamp tap in. They’re adamantly territorial, but they deal with that by having a rigid political structure which deals with their more violent urges and generally maintains the peace. They’re unapologetically vampire, but they’re smart enough to take advantage of modern society instead of fighting against it. And when it comes to vampire affairs, they don’t give a damn what humans think.  

Sophia by D.B. Reynolds
In the final analysis, my vampire lords are the ultimate dark heroes. They’re powerful, rebellious and beautiful. And the love of a good woman brings out the best in them.

To read more about my vampires, please visit my website at where I post free short stories and the latest news all of my books.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Meet Author, Philanthropist & Libertarian Phil Harvey

Author Phil Harvey
Phil Harvey is an award-winning author, philanthropist and libertarian whose stories won a prize from Antietam Review and were nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His dark fiction and controversial ideas have broadened debate on violent entertainment, relationships and sexuality. 

Q: Your three new books are collections of short stories in which characters touch something important in themselves or in others.

Show Time by Phil Harvey
PH: The centerpiece of my fiction is always the individual. I like to put characters in demanding physical/psychological settings that force them to respond. Frankly this saves work and imagination because some responses are fore-ordained. Other ideas come from experience. Fly fishing. Sex. Upbringing. And so on. Some ideas even spring from other books. Really, the stories run the gambit. A few end in death, one in time travel, a few in redemption.

Show Time engages with seven people and their idiosyncrasies, lust, belligerence, and desire to survive. How they are attracted to each other, how they fight with each other, how they sometimes undermine and then strengthen each other. They boil, they confer, they fight, they make love—but overall, they must survive.
For all my characters, life goes on but is changed.

Q: Tell us about Show Time. The novel challenges seven reality show contestants with the possibility of starvation or freezing to death.

Wisdom of Fools by Phil Harvey
PH: My book explores the use of violence and death as entertainment. We already have real-world examples like the potential fatal violence that helps fuel the popularity of car racing. We like violence. It fascinates us. That’s why it leads the news every night. My idea is that policymakers someday will, perhaps without knowing it, encourage certain kinds of violence to keep people satisfied. Presidents like wars—even though they won’t admit it. Wars unify us. We always support the troops. So deliberate steps to encourage controlled violence are not so farfetched.

Q: What’s the takeaway for readers of your fiction?

PH: I would hope they have journeyed to a place they would not have seen without the novel or one of the stories…that they experienced it and enjoyed being there, became engrossed, and had the pleasure of a good read. I always welcome emails with serious and thoughtful questions. I invite readers of Show Time to think about the complexities of violence. Perhaps this is worth considering: “War unites us. Love divides us.”

Q: What’s next for you?
PH: My most promising novel is Just In Time, in which a Wall Street trader is deposited back in the Pleistocene era. The other, Indian Summer, follows a Peace Corps volunteer’s transformation fighting famine in India during the 1960s. I plan to write more short stories focused on the transformative powers of sex and alcohol.

Across the Water by Phil Harvey
As for myself, I will continue enjoying my married life, being a stepfather, and nurturing my very promising grandkids. And, of course, I’ll continue organizing projects that promote civil liberties through the DKT Liberty Project, work to end the War on Drugs, and debunk yahoos who ignore the reason and science behind immunization and the genetically modified crops that can relieve suffering worldwide.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Trio of Naughty Shorts

Author Rowanna Green
by Rowanna Green

Raise your hand if you have written a short story. Keep it up if it’s a tad on the naughty side. And now keep it raised if you have a folder (or drawer or even, for those who remember them, a floppy disk) full of short stories you wrote several years/decades ago. Anyone still with their hand up is most likely female, a certain age and most definitely a writer. *waves in recognition*

On the way to writing my first novel, I wrote dozens of the things – mostly naughty little fantasies. What can I tell you? With full time jobs and three kids under five, we were generally too tired to do much more than dream about all those nights we spent practising the art of baby-making. One thing the stories all had in common was a twist in the tale – usually quite dark and frequently involving the heroine being rescued by a knight in shining armour. Metaphorically speaking.

So when I did write that first full length story, I’d honed some of the skills and the resulting tale, Fox Among Wolves, has all the aforementioned elements.

A couple of adult books (and a couple of teen series) later, I unearthed some of those slightly longer shorts, edited out all the rookie mistakes (with the help of the lovely ladies from the World Wise Writers) and published an anthology called Triple Jeopardy.
Triple Jeopardy by Rowanna Green

One Amazon reviewer said, “Although each story is separate and has its own characters (and decade) there is a similar theme to all of them - relationships gone horribly wrong. I wish there were two more stories to bring it to this decade. It is definitely a theme that has teeth.”  So now I’m seriously thinking about writing a story, based on a true incident in the naughties (the delightful, post-Millenium decade). The working title is “An Englishwoman in New York” and I thoroughly intend to have some fun with all the cross-pond translations which seem to be plaguing me at the moment. This is getting to be a bit of a motif, so, just for fun, if you have a particular UK word that foxed you when you read/heard it being used differently to your understanding, write to me at Your name could be included as one of the characters in that new story which will be out next year.

So, just ahead of Thanksgiving, Triple Jeopardy is FREE on 19th-20th November.  Download your copy and see if you agree with the reviewers who said “A well-written, humorous and insightful work about contemporary life in the United Kingdom” and “Each story is a fun and engrossing read, but you will also walk away from the tales thinking about the important issues the author has raised.” Just be warned: It does get very naughty.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Monsters in the workplace

No, this isn’t a book about vampires or a Harry Potter version of ‘The Office’.

It’s about the monstrosities that happen in the place where you spend most of your life time. 
Of course, ‘Graveyards of the Banks’ is not about any old workplace.  It’s about ‘The Most Successful Bank in the Universe’, and American bank in the city of London, a place so secret that there is no name on its wall, and the staff entrance leads through a mediaeval graveyard.

Graveyards of the Banks by Nyla Nox
But the real monsters are inside, and they are just as alive as you and me.

Particularly me.

The story of ‘Monsters Arising’ has at its core the culture of extreme bullying inside this Bank, and what it does to the people who work there, all through the night, in the graphics center, illustrating the 

Bank’s vision.

Most of them are jobless humanities graduates like Nyla (my namesake in the book), whose dreams are already broken and who are afraid of losing this job, the only opportunity to pay off their debts and survive another week in the big city.

So they are both vulnerable to being intimidated and humiliated, and very reluctant to stand up and do anything about it.


It’s a fight between survival of the body and integrity of the soul.  But the body has to live or nothing lives.

This story is set in an office environment but it is as dramatic and emotional as any family drama. 

Everyone is fighting.  Everyone is desperate.  Everyone is out for themselves.

Yes, there are nice moments.

Graveyard of the Banks: Monsters Arising
Nyla tries to make it with love interest Peter, who managed to find a job in a Better Place but had to come back, a terrible defeat which undermines both his career prospects and his ability to connect.

But the nightly bullying is relentless. 

Anyone who has ever been in a situation like this knows exactly what I am talking about.

People are paralysed with terror, both rational and irrational.

Nobody speaks out.

There are no heroes.

But what if someone would, either by accident or because they can no longer endure the silence, blow the whistle on the bullies?

How would that happen?

And what fresh hell would that person fall into, not knowing what has happened to their complaint, not knowing if the bullies have found out and want to revenge themselves, and, again, being treated like the dirt underneath the management’s shoes?

If you want a scary but very suspenseful ride through a world that is still largely unknown and completely misrepresented in literature, open the pages of ‘Monsters Arising’ and start reading, if you dare.

Nyla loves to hear from fans. Check out her Website, Facebook or Twitter

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Why Write Vampires?

Author D.B. Reynolds
by D. B. Reynolds

Why vampires?  I get asked that question a lot – mostly by people who have no idea how wonderful vampires are.  Over the years I’ve read so, so many vampire books, and I’ve probably seen every vampire movie out there, some good, some … well not so good.

When I was in high school and into my twenties, I was totally into science fiction and fantasy books. And then I read Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire. Vampires were no longer these hunched over Victorian monsters with buck teeth and no hair who somehow seduced willowy young maidens in their beds. They were sexy and sultry, and irresistibly seductive, and they’d lived among us for hundreds of years.

Rice’s vampires hooked me and I never wanted to break free. I fell in love with Frank Langella’s 1979 Dracula—gorgeous and sophisticated, smooth and sexy. And I loved the evolution to Wesley Snipes’ warrior vamp, with muscles and fangs and a take no prisoners attitude.  Not to mention the third Blade movie, which was, um, not that good.  But it did feature a shirtless Ryan Reynolds, which is always a good thing.  That scene when the half-naked Reynolds is chained to the floor, flexing those gorgeous muscles … well, it still takes my breath away.

But the real evolution of vampires has been in books. I love what Charlaine Harris, Susan Sizemore, Kresley Cole, J. R.Ward and Lynn Viehl have done with the vampire genre.  And I especially love the urban fantasy that’s been spun lately, featuring vampires in a whole new light, like Adrian Phoenix’s fantastic Maker’s Song series with the delicious and oh so damaged Dante Baptiste, and Ilona Andrews’ very different take on vampires and the “People” who pilot them.

Deception: Vampires in America by D.B. Reynolds
And then there’s my own beautiful vampires. I gave them all the seductiveness and beauty I admire, but I still wanted them to be vampires.  Every author makes her own choices, but I’ve been dismayed by the trend toward vampires who are just sensitive guys who happen to drink blood.  I wanted my vampires to be combative and territorial and vicious.  Yes, I wanted them beautiful.  But I wanted them to be unapologetically vampire, not long-suffering martyrs searching for a tender-hearted woman to heal them.

So my vampires are gorgeous and seductive, but they’re also ruthless and possessive. Merciless to those who betray them. And when they love, they do it with a fierce passion. Threaten their mates, and there is no end to the pain they will inflict upon you before you die.  Not that my heroines need much protecting. They can generally kick butt right alongside their vampire lovers!

So, why do I write vampires?  Because I love them.  Because they’re the ultimate bad boys (and girls) and the possibilities are endless.

Vincent by D.B. Reynolds
If you’d like to explore my vampires further, you can visit my blog at where I have free stories and info on all of my books.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Killing your darlings: the art of editing

I’m not a professional editor. But as the first native English speaker in my family, I grew up editing everything my parents wrote. Letters, CV’s, technical articles, even recipes. Everything passed through my hands before going out into the world.
My dad was a particularly prolific writer. As a civil engineer, he produced technical reports, educational manuals, and press releases—all of which I edited. Every time one of his construction projects neared completion, I also edited his cover letters, resumes, and post-interview thank you notes. I got a lot of practice, since Dad changed jobs about as often as most people change oil filters.

This early experience proved a boon. I breezed through high school AP English. By college, I was writing papers like a pro. The summer of sophomore year, I did a stint as a teaching assistant in a writing program. My students nicknamed me “The Knife” for my ruthless use of the red pencil. I emulated Hemingway: no frills, just clean, streamlined text.

Several decades later, I started writing romance. I love creating imaginary worlds, new characters, happy endings. But my favorite part? The editing. That’s when I can really go to town.

Without A Net
Here are the top 6 things I’ve learned about editing over the years:
  1. Read, read, read. Nothing improves writing and editing skills as much as reading.
  2. Silence your inner critic while writing. Otherwise you may never reach the finish line. Once you have a “completed” manuscript, you can switch to edit mode.
  3. Don’t be afraid to kill your darlings. William Faulkner (and later Stephen King) said that a good writer must recognize and eliminate whatever bits of writing don’t contribute to the overall work. Even if those are the bits you love the most—AKA, your darlings. You can always cut and paste them into a separate file. I have an “outtakes” file for every book I write, full of my cutting room floor darlings. If you must, you can always insert these snippets elsewhere. Into letters, for example. Remember those?
  4. Time and distance lend perspective. This is particularly true in writing. When you finish a manuscript, put it away in a drawer. Save it on a zip drive. Let it sit for a while. A week, a month, a year. Take it out, blow off the metaphorical dust, and read it with fresh eyes.
  5. Get help from qualified people. Even good writers can use a professional editor. Don’t rely on your spouse or mom or best friend—unless they are professional editors. And even then, think twice. In medicine, we’re taught not to treat family. Too close a relationship can cloud judgement, sometimes with catastrophic results.
  6. Know when to stop. After multiple rounds of editing, when your editor is satisfied, your beta readers are happy, your deadline was yesterday, and you’re still waffling between “a” and “the”—put down the red pencil. You’re done.

Jill Blake loves chocolate, leisurely walks where she doesn’t break a sweat, and books with a guaranteed happy ending. A native of Philadelphia, Jill now lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. During the day, she works as a physician in a busy medical practice. At night, she pens steamy romances, which are available on Amazon.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Birth of a Cover

Author April White
by April White

Writers and readers are very visual people. Writers have to paint pictures with words for readers to see in their heads as they read, which is why most writers I know have inspiration boards.

When I first began plotting Marking Time, I built my inspiration board into a collage with which I covered my writer's notebook.

You can see where the color tones for the first book came from. As I got closer to finishing Marking Time, I started to think about its cover. This was the first image I found that really inspired me.

I could never find a photo credit to track down the artist for permission to use it, so we tried to replicate the look in a photo shoot. It didn't work.

I thought I would be marketing the book to young adults because, well, Saira is seventeen. So every cover idea I came up with was sent to my then eighteen-year-old niece for her thoughts. She's an inhaler of books, as all the women in my family are, and her usual criteria for buying a book is cover first, then page count. If the cover doesn't appeal, or it isn't long enough, she puts it back on the shelf.

These were my early attempts. My niece was always supportive, but she didn't really love any of them, thank goodness.

But through the progression, the cover of Marking Time was born. My niece approved.

I love my old covers. I love that they were relatively gender-neutral, and not age-specific. I love that they are striking and graphic, and showed readers the different artifacts of the Immortal Descendant families. For readers waiting for book four, here’s the Monger ring…

As I finished books two and three, I began to really pay attention to marketing. There was a pattern in the reviews, and a study of reader demographics confirmed that the vast majority of my readers are women between the ages of 25 and 55.

They say the most powerful person in the world is the one who stands on a street and waves traffic in the direction it's already going. The trick is just to figure out which direction that is.

I began to think about the idea of re-branding the series to appeal directly to the women who are its biggest readers, and then a brilliant friend of mine designed these stunning covers, using elements found in the stories. When I sent the new covers to my niece, now twenty-one years old. Her response:

"I would totally buy them."

These new covers represent something bigger than just re-branding the Immortal Descendants series to appeal to readers of historical mysteries, paranormal suspense, and time travel romance. They have inspired me to actively seek the audience for my books, and to attempt to wave the traffic of readers in the direction it already seems to be already going.

April White
Author of the Immortal Descendants series: 
For readers who like history and a little magic 
with their time travel adventures. 
April's Amazon Author page

Friday, November 6, 2015

Remembering Veterans by author Livia Quinn

Livia Quinn
by Livia Quinn

Now through the end of the month all profits from Her First Knight: Under-Cover Knights (The Beginning) will be donated to Veterans’ charities. Please find a way to thank a get in your life for their service in some meaningful way.

Veterans’ advocate Ridge Romano is up to his Special Forces tattoo in manure.

“Take ‘em off, Tucker. Tucker. Tucker…”

What had he been thinking? He considered himself a careful planner, the consummate decision maker. He’d worn many hats—inventor, Ranger, mentor, CEO. So how had he wound up on stage in nothing but his trousers and tie beside two cover models, with a hundred women screaming for him to take it off. That’s the question his friends and family would be asking tomorrow, if they found out. That, and “Who’s Tucker?” He’d just have to make sure no one found out about his little side trip. A whim and a folly could turn into his worst nightmare.

It had seemed like a recipe for harmless fun. Take one curious CEO on the way to his room who followed a gorgeous redhead onto the wrong floor. Add a hundred romance writers and readers attending a conference. Toss in some false assumptions, throw out a lifetime of good behavior and
Ridge was up to his Special Forces tattoo in manure.

He should own up right now and stop this farce, exit while he still had his drawers, but that guaranteed revealing his faux pas. He decided to play along, call as little attention to himself as possible—while stripping off his clothes—and then slip away unidentified when it was over.

Before something happened…

Buy Links
Her First Knight

Hard Days Knight, book 1

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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Like Halloween? Try the Pagan version (Samhain)

Author Jacky Gray
by Jacky Gray

I must confess to being a tad rushed trying to get this finished in time for the release date, but given that ceremonies on October 31st are featured three times during the book, the date was a no-brainer. Don’t know if it’s something to do with being born in October, but this time of year has always been very special for me.

It’s been quite a journey (and a huge learning curve) to get to this point.  While taking a well-earned year off from teaching math (or trying to!), I wrote five books about a bunch of characters who live in an alternate England (or more specifically Wessex), set in modern day but with a medieval twist. It’s taken five years to get to the point where the first five are all available – the sixth book has been written, but won’t be released until after the seventh is completed because the two are heavily entangled (think Game of Thrones entwined) and stuff may happen in the seventh which needs a little signposting (or tweaking) in the sixth book. All in all it’s been a heck of a journey, fraught with adventure as I’ve roamed the land meeting pagans, faeries, Vikings, pirates and honest-to-goodness knights in shining armour. *Knees go weak at the memory* Yep, it’s a hard life, but someone’s gotta do it.

Available on Kindle
The fifth book, Geraint,  sees a fourth protagonist, the son of a Renegate leader, failing miserably to live up to his father’s expectations and gruelling combat training. But with the help of some powerful magic (of the believe in yourself variety), he thwarts a vicious bully, Manfrid, to win the Herfest trial. His reward is a stay in Oxford, where he meets Siany, who brings joy and light into his life as she teaches him how to read, write and open his heart to love. Their special bond awakens powerful magic in both of them, until Manfrid’s ambush severs their connection. The universe has other ideas, bringing them together as he buries his faithful dog.

This special bond saves Siany’s family from a band of cut-throat highwaymen, and it proves useful to the people of Oxford when they are besieged by the same band. The real trouble comes when the leader decides to take his revenge.

I’m made up by the comments so far:

“Each of the Hengist books is an adventure, and I’ve fallen in love with every character.”

“I love books about guys who have a rough early life, but then turn it around and are so sweet and protective despite/because of what they've been through; Geraint fits this to a T.”

“If you love wild pigs, affectionate dogs, old crones and invisible children, you'll love Geraint.”

Released on 30th October, Geraint is available at only 99cents/99p until November 1st. Read more about it here.

Jacky Gray is proud to be a member of the World Wise Writers.