Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Urban Fantasy Blog Hop

In honor of Halloween and everything urban fantasy, I present this blog hop for your entertainment. Don't forget to enter to win the prizes at the end of the post, and then to hop over and check out all the other participants in the blog hop and see what they are giving away!

1.       What do you love about the urban fantasy genre (reading and writing)?
           I love everything about it - the kick-ass strong heroines, the sexy alpha-male heroes, the dark
           urban atmosphere and the fast-paced action. There's romance and a sense of danger and adventure. There are hot supernatural men and women who fight for what they believe in.
What's not to love?

2.       Who is the sexiest supernatural creature? Who’s the scariest?
          I think it really depends on the writing. A good writer can make just about any supernatural   
          creature sexy or scary. I have to say though, I love shifters and angels :) As far as scary - well  
          evil spirits aka The Grudge or Paranormal Activity. I'm not a big fan of horror like of that type.

3.       If you could make any supernatural creature, what would it look like and what powers   
         would it have?
          It would be a mix of a chamelion and a shifter (who could shift into any animal) and who could
         also turn invisible when needed. Hey, it would be cool to have a creature with all of those
4.       Do you have any Halloween rituals?
          While I'm not a big fan of Halloween horror movies, that are constantly been shown on TV for a month prior to Halloween, or haunted houses, there's something I find fascinating about this holiday.  I don't have any personal rituals, besides it being the only time for me to eat candy corn, but our karate school always builds a haunted house for the neighborhood kids. My husband comes up with these elaborate designs and plans, and students and parents help for a day and a half to build the haunted house out of large carton boxes attached to each other. The whole thing gets covered with black tarp so it's complete dark inside, and you have to crawl through the tunnels, which are twisting, and come out on the other hand. Inside, there are scary blinking lights, talking heads and even people dressed in costumes who jump out at those crawling through or try to grab their legs. I'm usually the gatekeeper, letting kids (and adults) crawl in one or two at a time. Many times, the kids crawl right back because it's too scary, and then rope their parents into crawling through with them. Everyone always has a lot of fun, and the Dojo Haunted House became something of a staple in the neighborhood.
5.       Walking at midnight in a forest on Halloween – crazy, scary or adventurous?
          Crazy me would say adventurous. What do you say?

6.       What is your worst fear?
          Hmmm...I think I would have to say dying in a airplane crash. Also, becoming blind. Yeah,
          morbid stuff.
7.       What is one of your character’s worst fear?
          The heroine of my WIP is scared of heights. Oh, and of trusting man too much - daddy

8.       What is your favorite Urban Fantasy novel?
           I love the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost
           and the Riley Jenson series by Keri Arthur (which, I believe, was the urban fantasy series I've

9.       Who is your favorite Urban Fantasy hero/heroine?
           I have a few that are fighting for that position: Jeaniene Frost's Cat, Ilona Andrews Kate, Keri
          Arthur's Riley Jenson and Rachel Vincent's Faythe Sanders.
10.     Which hero/heroine would you love to be on Halloween?
          I think it would be fun to be Kate Daniels, especially because she fights with a sword and I've
         always been fascinated with sword and katana prowess.

Now, scroll down and enter to win the prizes by filling out the Rafflecopter below (winners will be announced on November 1st) and then hop on over to the rest of the blogs to check out the answers by other writers and to enter all of the giveaways!!!

List of participating blogs:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, October 22, 2012

Contests & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of October 22nd

 Monday blue brought you down? Check out these giveaways to make your week better! :)

For a chance to win one of two Amazon Gift cards, check out the Guest Blog and Giveaway with Amber Skyze and Katalina Leon on Fangstatic Books!

Vanessa Kelly has a guest on her blog today - Katharine Ashe. There's also a Giveaway for a chance to win an e-copy of Captive Bride.

Lisa Bouchard is guest blogging at Laurens Crammed Bookshelf today and giving away The Shattered Door!

 Author Susie M. Hanley is talking about her new urban fantasy novel Muse and is giving away a paperback copy at The Window Seat.

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Guest post - Should You Let Others Read Your Writing?

Today, my guest blogger is Norma Jean Lutz and she's talking about a topic that all writers encounter in their career, especially early on - should you let others read your writing? Is it helpful or hurtful?

Should You Let Others Read Your Writing?

It All Depends

Letting other people read your creative writing – good idea or bad idea?

That question constantly plagues beginning novelists. It is, in truth, a sticky wicket. There are no easy, pat answers. My reply – when asked this question – is to say, “It all depends...”

In my many years as an instructor for a writing correspondence school, as a speaker and instructor at various writers’ conferences, and when I had my own critique service as part of my writing business, this question often came up.

Newbie novelists are much like fragile little flowers that have popped their heads up with the warmth of spring. All it takes is one sharp dip in the temperature and that bud is a goner. And one cold remark from the wrong source can do the same thing to you and your writing aspirations.

What State is Your Story In?

So do you lay your musings out for all to see and read?

Here’s why I answer “It all depends…”

It all depends on what state your story is in. In the idea stage? Barely started? Half finished? Rough draft? Polished?

One rule that I’ve set for myself and have stuck with this since the outset of my career – I never discuss a novel while it’s in the idea stage. I have two reasons for this.

1.   It’s still too weak and fragile to put into the head or hands of someone else. Their input could derail the project. (Now I know you’re thinking that perhaps their input could be valuable. True. But I’m not willing to take that chance!)

2.   I don’t want to expend the creative energy by talking out my ideas. I would much rather expend that energy into writing out the idea.

Who is Doing the Reading?

It all depends on who is reading your work. Does this reader have any knowledge of fiction structure and novel-writing techniques? Or is it a close friend or relative who would never want to hurt your feelings? Ask yourself – what are you looking for, upward strokes or constructive criticism? Be honest!

Your Inner Resolve

It all depends on your own inner resolve. If you are still weak and shaky in your own writing confidence, I would be very cautious about letting just anyone read your work. It could derail you forever. If you have a measure of confidence under your belt and know you can’t be swayed, then it’s not quite such a colossal risk.

It all depends on whether you can trust this reader to be honest with you.

The Best Advice

The best advice is:

·         Enter a legitimate writing contest and let the judge give feedback
·         Find a trustworthy critique service and allow that professional to give feedback
·         Join a writers’ group or club and let these trusted folk give feedback
·         Send the work out and get the thoughts and reactions from a real live editor

True story: During the fourteen years that I served as coordinator for the annual Professionalism in Writing School, there would inevitably be one or two attendees who chased after guest editors with a large stationary box in their hands. (We all knew there was a manuscript in that box! Hello.) They wanted someone to “look over their work” and give feedback. Of course no one had that kind of time at a busy writers’ conference.

The saddest part of the story is that we would see those same people return the next year with the same box and the same manuscript. It was pretty clear, they were never going to send the work out - they were just looking for upward strokes!

Don’t let that be said of you! If your deepest desire is to be a novelist, your path will ascend above that kind of nonsense.

Stop Spinning Your Wheels

The key is to study your craft and then write, and write, and keep on writing. Don’t spin your wheels running around trying to find someone outside yourself to slap some kind of instant blessing on your work.

Examine your motives and then use great caution and wisdom when letting others read your novel-in-progress.

Thank you, Norma, for giving us your thoughts on this important topic. 

Do you have your work read by others? If so, who and at what stages of writing?

Norma Jean Lutz

Oklahoman Norma Jean Lutz, is an author, speaker, writing instructor, and novel critique consultant. Author of more than 50 published books, she’s been in the writing/publishing industry for more than 30 years.

Free Workshop
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2-3 sentences from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"The blackness pulled at me, resisted me, making every step difficult and progress minuscule. As before, I pushed forward as hard as I could. This time it didn't take as long to get free of it."

p. 185 (Kindle edition)

Deadly Desire (Riley Jenson, Guardian, Book 7) by Keri Arthur

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween Urban Fantasy Blog Hop - Coming Soon!

Check back on Wednesday, October 24th for the start of the Halloween Urban Fantasy Blog Hop. Fun questions and lots of giveaways are coming your way, so don't miss it!

If you're a writer interested in participating in the blog hop, please contact me through Twitter, Facebook or email and I will send you the details.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Mahicans

Recently, I had a chance to catch one of my favorite movies on TV - The Last of the Mahicans. And while the movie took a lot of creative license with some of the historical facts (and as much as I love the movie, I do have to point out that it differs in a number of ways from the book by James Fenimore Cooper), it is beautifully done.

And that's what inspired today's Art & History Feature, along with my long-time fascination with the Native American culture.

The Mahicans

This Native American tribe, also knows as the Eastern Algonquian tribe, resided mostly in and around the Hudson River Valley and western New England, although in time, they have relocated to Massachusetts and later on, to Shawano County in Wisconsin

The tribe's name, Muh-he-con-neok, translates literally as the "people of the water that are never still."

Etow_oh_koam_th - One of the 4 "kings"
However, it is important to note that the Mahicans was not a single tribe but a confederacy that consisted of five parts - Mohican proper, Westenhuck, Wawayachtonoc, Mechkentowoon, and Wiekagjoc. The history of these people is intertwined forever with the Iroquois Mohawk Indians, with whom they warring much of the time. During the French and Indian War, as well as the American Revolution, the Mohawks fought on the side of the British, one the Iroquois fought on the side of the French.

In the 18th century, many of the Mohawks converted to Christianity through the missionaries that worked among them.

In the 1800th, many of them moved to Shawano County in Wisconsin, where the Government promised them land. There, they came together with the Lenape Indians and formed a federally recognized band called the Stockbridge-Munsee Community. Unfortunately, the original Mahican language was lost.

Today, they live on a 22,000-acre reservation, where they own a resort and a casino. The reservation is called the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians.

The Last of the Mahicans by James Fenimore Cooper - a classic

The Last of the Mohicans movie

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Guest Post - When Opportunity Doesn't Knock on Your Door, Open it Up

I'm most inspired by reading about other writers' experiences and the hope that the writer community always seems to carry in its midst.

Today, I'm happy to have Deanna Proach as the guest blogger. Her article below has been inspired by her own experiences and I find her advice to be an important one for any writer.

Deanna Proach has authored two novels: To be Maria (PULSEpub) and Day of Revenge (Inkwater Press). She's also an avid blogger herself. You can learn more about Deanna on her blog,

When Opportunity Doesn't Knock on Your Door, Open it Up
by Deanna Proach

Recently, while I was on Facebook, I saw a post on a friend's wall that said something like this: ‘When opportunity doesn't knock at your door, open it up.’ I can't remember the exact words of this quote, but the message deeply resonated with me, and it was incredibly inspiring.

When you're starting out as a writer--like myself--it's tough. Trying to get attention is like screaming into the wilderness: no one hears you. When it comes to writing, no one sees you. However just because no one see you, that doesn't mean no one cares about your book. Your lack of visibility is most likely because no one outside your circle of family and friends knows about your book.

That can change, but it's up to you to make that change. You cannot expect readers to find your book because they won't, and your book won't sell itself. You must make the effort to find your target audience. Writing for high profile magazines and blogs, and appearing on popular talk or radio shows is the number one way to get the word out about your book to millions of people. Fast. But if you don't have the right connections, experience or publicity, these opportunities may seem out of reach. Yet, it doesn't have to be. There is one way you can open up the door to opportunity for greater publicity: Blogging.

Establish a personal blog or website. It's the best way to create an online presence. When it comes to blogs--even personal blogs--content is king, and so are basic SEO skills. The best way to attract readers to your blog is to write content that people want to read. The types of articles that attract people the most are those that inspire, inform, educate and entertain. Make every blog article title descriptive and gripping, and write well. People respond much better to those who write well than those who don't.

If you're an author who loves to read and has a passion for books, start a book blog. There are numerous authors who need reviews and other forms of promotion, so you don't have to look far to find them. You can even become a host for blog tour companies. Most, if not all, blog tour companies have an ample following, so it would be an excellent opportunity for you to build a readership, get the word out about your own book while offering services to other emerging authors.

On the other hand, you might be the kind of author who has multiple interests. If that is the case, create a new blog that is based entirely on one of your many passions. For example, if you're an author of young adult fiction, but have a passion for photography, start a new blog that's centered on photography. This would give you an excellent opportunity to showcase your talent, as well as provide tips and advice to new and aspiring photographers. You can even write fiction pieces based on images.

Well written, engaging content and strong SEO skills are key to building a following, but to maximize your potential, you must promote, promote, promote. Submit your blog's feed to every social networking site you belong to, comment on other blogs and make the effort to connect with other writers.

This is laborious, time consuming work, but it will be well worth it in the end. In time, you will reach your goal and opportunities for massive publicity will come your way. So don't wait for opportunity to knock at your door. Open the door to opportunity.

Deanna, thank you for guest blogging with this great article today!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writer Wednesday - The Next Big Thing

Today is my turn to write the Next Big Thing post. I was kindly tagged by my wonderful writing partner Tina  Moss. This is the 16th week (!) of The Next Big Thing Blog hop, designed for writers to connect with readers and reveal a little bit about their current work in progress.
So here goes...

What is the working title of your book?
The Ariana Chronicles

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I love urban fantasy as well as spy thrillers and adventure, so the idea to combine all of those floated in one day. Still have to see how it works out.

What genre does your book fall under?
Urban Fantasy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The heroine is of the Eurasian descent - Asian and Eastern European actually. I've been looking for pictures but haven't necessarily thought about actors. Maybe Kristin Kreuk for the heroine.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Lara Croft meets Indiana Jones with a paranormal twist. (Again, we'll see how that works out). The book is evolving as I write.

Born a powerful supernatural Tracker, Ariana must learn to control her powers while searching for a father she thought abandoned her long ago, learning to trust a sexy shifter and become part of a team on a quest to collect supernatural artifacts that can be dangerous in the wrong hands.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It will be represented by the Literary Counsel agency. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still in the process of writing it. I started over a year ago. However, I'm also working on other projects.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I would say Ilona Andrew's Kate Daniels series but in more contemporary urban setting. I say this mostly because of how I see my heroine and the influence of mythological influences from many cultures intertwined in the story.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was always drawn to mythology all over the world. I'm also fascinated with the Japanese and Russian cultures (my background is Russian) and exploring their mythologies is very interesting. I also love strong heroines who need  to find themselves.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are a number of various supernatural creatures, as well as spies. And the hero and heroine get to travel different countries.

This was fun. Thank you for letting me talk a little bit about my work.

Next week (week 17), check out The Next Big Thing from:

Alexia Chamberlynn

Nicole Zoltack

Amber Kallyn

What are you working on right now?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Teaser Tuesday

Here are the rules:

1. Post 2 sentences from the current book you're reading. You can either

a) open the book and share 2 sentences from anywhere on that page or
b) share your favorite 2-3 sentences from the book (they have to be in a row)

2. List the page #


3. List the name of the book and the author

"By the time he returned, she'd started to breathe faster. He paused the second he got inside the doorway. "I smell fear, Red." She got off the bed and went to grab the towel. What she couldn't even allow herself to think was that she was going to him because he made her feel safe."

p. 60 (Kindle edition)

Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh

Share your teasers in the comments or give a link to your blog if you're running a Teaser Tuesday

Monday, October 8, 2012

Contests & Giveaways in the Writing World - Week of Oct. 8th

Whether you hate or love Mondays (and if you love Mondays, I really want to know your secret lol), here's a few contests and giveaways in the writing world to cheer you up or make your Monday even brighter! :)

Want a chance to win a Kindle Fire? Head on over to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers, which is part of the tour for Bottled Abyss by Benjamin Ethridge! Enter by October 26th.

Nomi's Paranormale Palace is hosting the Tour/Review/Excerpt/Giveaway of Bitten Shame by Olivia Hardin. 2 e-books are up for grabs.

Cora Carmack Books is doing a Losing It Giveaway, where you can win an advanced copy of Losing It. Only one day left, so hurry!

Mandy Roth is running a fun Halloween Celebration with LOTS of prizes that include books and...make-up! You can't go wrong with those. Check it out!

Head on over to Caridad Pineiro's blog where you will find a list of blogs participating in a tour & giveaway for Kissed by a Vampire.

Juliana Stone is hanging out at Novel Thoughts. Check out her post on Differences between the Genres and enter for a chance to win an e-copy of her novel Offside or an advanced reader copy of The Summer He Came Home. All you have to do is answer a fun question - who is your favorite hero (in any genre) and why.

Celebrate a 6 month Blogoversary with Finding Bliss in Books. 3 great giveaways with lots of books!

If you enjoy historical fiction, you can win one of ten signed ARCs of Passion Blue by Victoria Strauss on GoodReads.

*As always, please contact me for the inclusion of your contests/giveaways into the Monday Contests and Giveaways in the Writing World posts.

Have fun and good luck! 

Also, don't forget to become a follower of this blog to make sure you catch giveaways coming soon!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Art & History Feature - Katarina Sokolova

As you know, I love discovering new artists, and today I'd like to introduce you to Katarina Sokolova, who graciously permitted me to write about her and share with you her wonderful digital art.

First, a little bit about Katarina in her own words:

"Represented by LEMONADE Illustration Agency. For all the details please contact Justine Vincent

In April 2008 Norma Editorial of Barcelona, Spain has published a compilation of my Art Photos and Digital Art called INSOMNIA.
It is available for purchase in the bookstores of European Union and online.

I was born in Kiev, Ukraine.
Starting from the age of six, I attended classes at the batik and graphics departments of the Art Union of Painters of Ukraine. In 2002 I have graduated from the graphics department.
During the last nine years I have been enjoying working as a computer graphics artist.

Since 2003 my works are regularly included in the books of the best digital art in the world EXPOSÉ (1, 2, 3, 4 - author of the cover, 5, 6, 7), EXOTIQUE (1, 2, 3), PAINTER (BALLISTIC Publishing, Australia)
My photo artworks were repeatedly used for book covers by many publishing houses: HildenDesign, SUMA de letras, Santillana Ediciones Generales, S. L, Planeta Group, Norma Editorial etc. (Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Argentina, Canada)

I have also participated in group exhibitions of Ukrainian painters at gallery "Dim Mikoly" and other galleries in Kiev.
Some of my works are kept in private art collections in Switzerland, Australia, Canada and the United States."

You can find more digital art by Katarina, as well a whole section of amazing photographs by her at her website:

Did you enjoy this art? What artists would you like to see featured here in the future?
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