Friday, November 23, 2012

Brand new and shiny

I admit, I've been away for a long time. Two months, look at that. Kinda like my current heroine who's been tossed into oblivion by a love-hurt mage. She just popped back into the real world, in a bar and in her most embarrassing pajamas no less. Did I mention she was half-drunk as well?

But enough about Natalie. Back to me.

Yes, I've been gone a while. And, in celebration of my return, I've pimped up the blog. Notice how shiny and pretty it is now.  By all means, don't be shy. Have a poke around. Make some suggestions, marvel at my two beautiful mock-up covers you may find in the 'Other projects' tab. Did I mention make some suggestions? No? Well, you're free to do so.

Explore the links around. You may find something pretty. And in case you have nothing better to do, spread the word out about my new pad. Let people know.

In other news... oh, wait, I don't have other news. At least not yet. Just have fun for now.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Always & Forever with Chantel Rhondeau

Hi everyone and welcome to another day of madness. Only that this time, I am not alone in my endeavors. The lovely Chantel Rhondeau is here with me to talk a little about her book and the process of writing it. (And do be honest, I'm giving her some blog space to fill up too, since I'm being so lazy about it).

Stef: Hi Chantel, and welcome to the loony bin Across the border!

Chantel:  So happy to be here, Steph. Thanks for inviting me over.  

S: Great to have you. And as long as you don't go through that door, everything should work out well. So, let us know, Chantel, how do you churn out a literary masterpiece?

C: I actually write best in the midst of complete and utter chaos. Since I’m a mom, I don’t like to lose any time with my kids if I can help it. I write on my laptop, sitting in the living room in my comfortable recliner (usually with a cat vying for space with the laptop). The TV’s blaring, the kids frequently interrupt me for this or that (I hate when they want help with a math question—I suck at math!), and I generally write in short stops and starts. Well, except for the peaceful weekend mornings when everyone in the house is asleep except me. 

Before I ever get to the stage of using my laptop, I like to plan out my characters completely.  That’s all the real plotting I do. I sit down with a regular notebook and my purple gel pen. I start with a secret someone wants to hide, and that is where I get my plot from. Secrets are always great motivation for characters to do the wrong thing and make mistakes. I think it is also important to have a good understanding of the characters beliefs and values. I do this for both my heroes and my villains. I finally round off by writing down how old everyone is, their names, and their physical descriptions. (Even for characters with a small role to play, I always write down their ages and physical descriptions— it’s so easy to forget someone’s eye color!). Once that is done, I start writing and let the characters tell me where to go.  I can’t over plan the story, or I get bored and want to move on to something else. I just let my Muse go where her fancy takes her, and I enjoy the show.

Of course, blogging, Facebook, and Twitter are a part of my daily routine, and I take time out to do critiques for other authors through the Critique Circle web site, correspond with new friends, and also sneak in some reading time. For me, continuing to read helps open up my Muse and get her creativity flowing. Either that, or I bore her to death with housework if she clams up and quits talking. Folding a load of laundry always does the trick J. My Muse and I would both rather write than fold laundry.

If I didn’t have a day job, I might actually get a little sleep once in a while!

S: Wow, that does sound hectic. Thanks for sharing your process with the world. Us writers know it's the secret ingredient to our work. (sugar, spice and a ton of murder - that's how it went, right?).
Now, just to make things confusing for everyone, let me throw some random questions your way.

So, how does your process influence the plot and characters?

C:  It’s fun to allow my Muse to take off and do whatever she wants to. Some of my best plot points were things I never imagined would happen.

S:  Do you pre-plan, or do the plot and characters take over?

C:  Beyond a glimmer of an idea about what will happen, I let the characters tell me what to do.

S: Ugh, me too. We all know how dangerous that can become (cough *150k novel *cough).  What was your favorite thing about writing Always & Forever?

C:  Well, first drafts are always great fun and I love them, but the best thing about A&F was connecting with other authors throughout the process of writing and getting their critiques and help along the way. I’ve made a lot of great friends on the road to publication.

S: Yay for writer friends!  What was the scariest thing about it?

C:  Spending so much time in the mind of a seriously abused woman, putting myself in her shoes for every scene. It was actually quite horrible, but I knew I had to tell this story, and I had to be deep in Lilly’s character to do it justice. Though, it probably didn’t help my blood pressure anyway :) Also, letting a stranger read my work for the first time, that took a lot of courage—and at heart, I’m a really big wuss!

S: You're not a wuss. It can be a hard confidence knock back if a lot of people come at you with knifes and shred your masterpiece apart. *shudders* Happened to me, too. Fortunately, I was wise enough to see they were right, and also to have some supportive people there. 
So, I pretty much know this, since I’ve read the book, but what do you as the author believe makes the story stand out and stick with readers?

C:  I’m a pretty positive person, despite the darker parts of this book. I hope what stands out is that your past (or present) circumstances don’t define your future. Lilly and Zach have both had hard lives, but are able to reinvent themselves. Ultimately, I want readers to close my book with a sense of hope lifting them up.

S: I'd say you've got that one nailed. Do your characters tend to borrow some of your traits?

C:  Haha – well, there’s a little of me scattered within each of my characters. Lilly is a bookworm, I love to read. However, it goes to the deeper traits too. Insecurity, kindness to others, inability to trust easily, all sorts of things.

S:  How would you describe the experience of being a now published author?

C:  There’s a LOT more work to be done on the marketing front, which does take away from writing time, but it is very exciting!

S: I know what you mean. I wish I could be a first-draft writing machine and let others handle the rest. But, alas... one can only dream.  Did you have fun?

C:  Writing is one of the greatest joys I have ever discovered. I might be a little obsessed with it, but yes, it’s tons of fun!

So, there you have it folks. Don’t miss out on this brand new, fresh out of the oven story of love and trust.

A huge thank you to Chantel for letting herself be subjected to my questioning. Just so you all know, I've twisted most of her words around and put everything out of context. This is by no means a true interview. Or maybe it is... you'll never know! Mwahahahaha!

Now for some nifty info!

Buy the book on Amazon, B&N and add it to your TBR pile on Goodreads.

Also, follow Chantel on Twitter and Facebook, or visit her site.

Always & Forever

A suspected murderess flees her former life in search of tranquility, but ghosts she left behind refuse to die, threatening to destroy her happiness.

Lilly Price is desperate to escape public scrutiny once released from her incarceration. She moves to a lakeside community in hopes of remaining anonymous while rebuilding her tattered life.

Widowed Zach Woodbridge is in no hurry to find a new bride. He longs for a peaceful summer, writing at his lakeside cottage. Things change after an introduction to his grandmother’s new assistant, Lilly.

When Lilly’s secrets are revealed, can their fragile relationship weather the storm?  And when a man from the past returns to reclaim Lilly, using any force necessary, can she and Zach protect the people they love?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, mild language, sizzling love scenes.

Follow Chantel on her blog tour! Next stop is on Melinda Dozier's blog.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Shouldn't you be reading?

Why? Because there are good books out there.

Just take a look.


To survive, they must embrace what they most despise . . . in themselves and each other.

Mitch Turner is everything women want most in a man—charismatic, successful, drop-dead gorgeous. Except he’s not a man—he’s a monster.

The only way Mitch can protect others from his monstrous side is to stop them from getting too close…that and a 7x7 foot cage. Isolated by his genetic curse, he spends his life hurting people emotionally, driving them away before Hyde can harm them physically. But, after a night of the best sex Mitch has ever had, he realizes that might be impossible. Except the woman he was with claims she doesn’t remember any of it.

Eden Colfax is everything men want most, men other than Mitch, that is. She’s kind, honest to a fault and sickeningly sweet. To rid herself of the monsters that haunted her broken childhood, Eden doesn’t lie, doesn’t curse, and definitely never wakes up naked in strangers’ beds…until the day she does.

Then the flashbacks start—places she’s never been, people she’s never met, blood she’s never spilled. She discovers she’s split into two parts—the woman she thought she knew and another who is capable of anything. And the only person with any answers is the one man she never wants to see again.

What neither of them know is that someone is watching them both, manipulating them, determined to see just how evil the two of them really are. And when the truth begins to seep through the cracks, leaving them nowhere to turn but each other, they will be forced into a partnership neither had expected.

Because in life, who you trust is as important as who you are. And when you can’t even trust yourself, sometimes the only person you can rely on is the last person on Earth you should be falling for.

*** This novel is intended for adults only, as it includes lots of cursing, descriptive sex, biting sarcasm, and themes similar to those in Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, from which this story was inspired.

AWESOME BOOK. My review here.



It could be worse for Sylva Lark. She could be dead. A coma was nothing to that. Or her family moving across country for the treatment, leaving her with a big blue mark on her back.
She can handle it.
Except the mark glows and tingles, especially whenever transition helper Atticus Plot (Attic) is close by. She suspects he’s hiding something, and when she stumbles across a torn body bearing the same spiral marking as her own, that suspicion is confirmed.
After a few shaves with death, the truth finally comes out and the battles begin.
But not all her fights are external; her biggest one is the decision she has to make between doing the right thing for the world and giving up her beloved family for good.

One of my favorite YA novels/series out there (yes, including Harry Potter here). My review here.



An abused woman runs from her past, but she can't hide forever...

A suspected murderess flees her former life in search of tranquility, but ghosts she left behind refuse to die, threatening to destroy her happiness.

Lilly Price is desperate to escape public scrutiny once released from her incarceration. She moves to a lakeside community in hopes of remaining anonymous while rebuilding her tattered life.

Widowed Zach Woodbridge is in no hurry to find a new bride. He longs for a peaceful summer, writing at his lakeside cottage. Things change after an introduction to his grandmother’s new assistant, Lilly.

When Lilly’s secrets are revealed, can their fragile relationship weather the storm? And when a man from the past returns to reclaim Lilly, using any force necessary, can she and Zach protect the people they love?

CONTENT WARNING: Violence, mild language, sizzling love scenes.

A sweet romance about people learning to trust again. My review here.



Nineteen-year-old Emily is new to pairs skating, but she and her partner Chris have a big dream–to be the first American team to win Olympic gold. Their young coach Sergei, who left Russia after a mysterious end to his skating career, believes they can break through and make history.

Emily and Chris are on track to be top contenders at the 2002 Winter Games. But when forbidden feelings spark between Emily and Sergei, broken trust and an unexpected enemy threaten to derail Emily's dreams of gold.

Haven't written a review for this one yet, but I gave it 4.5 stars and loved it. I like sports stories - the pressure involved. The romance is sweet and it was something else from what I normally read.



While eluding a killer, a young woman fears recognition from the man she wronged and falls in love with him.

Twenty-five-year-old Jennifer Cruz Jones is a software build engineer with a new job, a new car, and a new apartment. Athletic and trim, she worked her way through college and 24 Hour Fitness. But she cannot hide from her past when the brother of her ex-fiancé is killed in a hit-and-run.

Startup founder Dave Jewell thought he needed one more cash infusion to launch his social shopping network. But when Jennifer finds blood on the frontend of his car, he is forced to protect her from a gang of ruthless thugs intent on blackmailing her for the software that drives his company’s success.

Jennifer falls in love with Dave while fearing he'd recognize her from the past. Her vulnerability triggers Dave’s protective instincts, and he believes she can heal the hole in his heart.

Together Jennifer and Dave must thwart a killer and avoid the police who suspect both of them, while keeping his startup from folding. A hostage is taken. Dave discovers damaging information about Jennifer and must race against time to deliver the ransom while Jennifer avoids becoming the next piece of roadkill.

I haven't written a review for this one either, but it gets a 4 star rating for me and it's an awful lot of fun to follow the characters around.


So, do yourselves a favor and grab an awesome book today!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop


Yup, that's me - The Next Big Thing. And I think I'm a day late. Oopsy. Anyway, moving past that.

Here's the deal: Mysti Parker has tagged me in the Next Big Thing Blog Hop. Thank you, Mysti! You always know just what to do and say. Okay, that sounded weird. Anyway...

This blog hop is like a game of virtual tag. I get to answer ten questions about my Work In Progress and tag 5 other authors for next week. So beware.
In the meantime, let's have some fun with the questions about my WIP.

1. What is the working title of your book?

Isn't it obvious from the cover? Okay, since it's not actually my cover (would be pretty awesome if it was), I'll say it again. My WIP is titled Saving Grace and I don't think I'll change the name (so it's actually a permanent title). It fits too well with it's triple meaning.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Honestly... I don't remember. I know there was a spark that made me want to write about Angels and Demons, but I can't remember exactly what it was.
What I did want to write was a story in which everyone might wonder which guy they should root for. I think I might have succeeded for the first 10 chapters or so.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Urban Fantasy.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Nate - I mean Nathaniel, sorry


Ah, crap. Can I use pictures? Yes? Well, here they go - approximately.
The girls are pretty much keepers, because they just fit. I haven't found a suitable Blackwing yet - there's a shortage of awesome brunettes on this planet.
What I gather is that, if all the books I know turn into movies, Thor will never be out of work :p

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

An Angel must come to terms with her nature in order to save the humans from themselves. (Eh, could've been better, but I never did one sentence synopsis - unless it's a really long, two page sentence)

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I'm not sure yet, since I haven't even finished editing it. I will send it out, but if I don't find a suitable home for it, I might just self-publish. Who knows?

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

One month. Yup, churned out this 96 k words monster last November for NaNoWriMo. Now it's at about 108k words, after 1/3 edits. It will be huge by the end of this.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Don't laugh, but I don't really read books in my genre. You heard me right. The most I read is YA, so... I wouldn't know what this is like.

9. Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I guess that after I was done with the vampire trend, I had to stupidly start writing about Angels before realizing that it's their turn to choke the market. Hopefully, by the time I'm done with this, the buzz would subside. And I think the FAIL I considered the Fallen series and Hush, Hush to be sort of motivated me.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Angel bitch fight! Lol, not kidding. Spark and Grace don't like each other at all.

Well, that was fun. Now I need to tag people, you say? Darn it. I have no idea who's been tagged already and who hasn't, but I'll give it a try.

Lauren Stewart - Ha, take that!
Chantel Rhondeau
Jennifer Comeaux
J Andrew Jansen

There, you're all IT!

This was fun.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My to-do list

Okay, I have a lot to do. Better put it on paper:

1. Edit Saving Grace. Hard to do - I'm all over the map with this one, not sure what direction I want to go. The character of Grace has taken a turn, and I'm not sure if I'm screwing up character development or not. Damn you, head strong heroine!

2. Do some critting - okay, haven't done that in ages. Better get to it soon.

3. Study. Nuff said.

4. Fix legal issues regarding taxes - who doesn't love that?

5. Prepare surprise interview with surprise author (I think this should have stayed a surprise)

6. Stalk people and force my book on them (find this the hardest to do, actually)

7. Beta read 2 stories. Unless I want my friends to skin me alive.

8. Find interview hosts - yup, as much as I like hosting, I should be doing it the other way around too.

9. Stop obsessively checking book stats.

10. Wait patiently for the paperback copies to arrive in the mail (Damn you postal service! Why won't you work faster? They're books, not chemical bombs!)

11. Work - yeah, I have to do that too, but for some reason I have to keep reminding myself to start.

12. Buy two books I'm dying to read.

13. Think up clever marketing strategy (I can hear the crickets in my head already. Wow, there's a lot of space in there. And an echo--echo--echo--)

14. More legal issues regarding school papers.

15. Leave on honeymoon. (YAY!)

16. Um... write something maybe?

17. Steal underpants.

18. .......

19. Profit.

20. Make a million dollars.

21. Get a cat.

22. Buy groceries at store.

23. Take over the world. (Make every Tuesday Free Ice Cream Day)

24. Practice a larger attention span.

25. Work - yeah, I have to do that too, but for some reason I have to keep reminding myself to start.

26. Have my memory checked.

27. Profit.

That should about wrap it up. Now I'd better get working on stealing underpants at the grocery store while forcing my book in an interview at the post office.

See you next time.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

How to write an instant bestseller in 10 easy steps

I've been holding back, I admit. In reality, I could produce a bestseller and make a ton of money off it. Because I know the golden formula. Ignore everything you've read in how-to books on writing. Their only purpose was to confuse you, make you unsuccessful so that THEY could get all the glory.

But I'm on to them. I have researched and found the simple yet perfect elements of creating the next bestseller. And now, out of the goodness of my heart, I will present them to you. So that you too may bask in the golden rays of fame and fortune.

Step 1. POV

A. First person. Really bad, whiny, bitch first person. Or, better yet, completely hallow first person. Like this: Hi, I'm an empty shell of a hot girl who thinks she's plain. Won't you please fill me up with your own hopes and dreams? So that you can pretend that I'm you. This way, screw character creation and traits that could be unappealing. If you don't like me, you don't like yourself. So take that! I can't fail!

B. Third person. I'm pretty much an observer. You can get into my head from time to time so I can shower you with my stupid/whiny thoughts. I'm not you, but I could be. And you wish you were me. You could hate me, but you want to follow me around and see what happens.

Step 2. Protagonist

Since the vast majority of readers are women (or so some study says), the protag HAS to be female. The preferred ages are between 17-25. She HAS to be a virgin who has never been attracted to any other male in her life.
She usually comes from a broken family - divorce, death, that kind of thing. Her parents have the parenting skills of young goats, therefore our heroine can do what she wants, when she wants to.
She loves books - possibly old books (classics) and listens to music on an ipod. Occasionally, she uses google to research strangeness, but doesn't seem to use a computer for anything else.
She has hobbies, but is never seen doing them. She's pretty klutzy, but doesn't trip more than once or twice. Spends too much time inside her own head and can develop suicidal tendencies.

Step 3. The love interest

He must be an ADONIS with sculpted/sculptured everything. He's soooo handsome that the Protagonist instantly drools.
He MUST be a jerk. Complete asshole. Control-freak. Stalker. Totally unreasonable. He's bitter and sarcastic and snappy. He gets scary when he's angry.
He has something special: he shines in the sunlight, he's filthy rich, he has super powers, he's a supernatural being... and others along those lines.
He pretends not to like the Protag at first. Then he like totally opens up to her and she sees his warm, fuzzy, unicorn-filled interior which makes him SOOO sensitive. Then she totally gets to change his bad ways. And he LETS her and is happy to be molded.

Step 4. The plot

Listen carefully, because this is really important. There must be NO plot. At least not one that makes sense. Or is very important to the story. Or makes sense. The core of the story is: insecurity, angst, bitching and moaning, long stares, sex, lovey-dovey moments and stupid reasons to fight.

Step 5. The villain

Must be stereotypical, with lame/easy to understand/unimportant motives/motives so complicated that you decide you don't actually care that much. He will pose no real threat to the heroes. He will only succeed because the protag, her hero or both of them are reeeeeaaaaaally stupid. If he exists, he usually dies/is easily defeated.

Step 6. Side characters

They must be really annoying and silly to make the MCs look good. One of the MCs doesn't have friends. The other has one or two. Insert big families, and there you go.
Side characters are made to enable, cheer on or create trouble for the MCs. If they're interesting or have backstories, they must be immediately assassinated and be made to look bad.

Step 7. The triangle.

There must be a love triangle in the story. The love triangle should give the reader no doubt as to whom the heroine will end up with. It will always be pretty obvious that it's Mr. Douchebag. The triangle will be used to cause fights and jealousy between the MCs, even if it's obvious to everyone that they don't stand a chance.

Step 8. The craft of writing

The writing must be simple most times with horribly long/twisted words that no one actually uses being tossed in from time to time to show how intelligent the characters are. The phrasing must be basic, monotonous. The dialogue clipped and preferably untagged. Every point should be made a number of times both through dialogue and narration, to make sure the reader gets the message/ doesn't forget that vital piece of information.
Butterflies must flutter in stomachs and the stomach and throat must constrict and twist and turn. Eye rolling and lip biting are a favorite. So is frowning. The eyes must blaze a multitude of emotions and colors as often as possible.
Don't forget to mention how god-like the hero looks every other page, just in case your readers forget that very important detail.

Step 9. The execution.

Make sure the book is part of a series. Write the following books in the same manner. Don't put in any character evolution that makes sense. There must be no recurring plot points. Try ending with a cliffhanger. If you don't have one from lack of plot, insert one in an epilogue. Try to make the books longer with each volume.

Step 10. Cover art
Make it very artistic - put an object on a black/grey background. Write the title in either lower case or maybe shouty capitals. Another good idea is using goth girls on the cover. Whatever you decide to use, all the covers MUST be dark and creepy. The writing should stand out. Make them hardcovers.

After you complete this masterpiece, a big publisher will buy it from you. If you're lucky, it will be transformed into a major motion picture with talentless actors and huge budgets. You will be rich in no time.
People will either love it or hate it, there will be fervent discussions regarding your work and people will be begging you to write more. Hence, you'll spit up a novella and gain even more cash.

Now that you know, good luck. I will be waving down at you from the height of my helicopter.

All of the above is a pamphlet and must be treated as such. It has surfaced from reading 'golden' literature in the last year.

Can anyone recognize the source material for this post? (Clue: I'm taking about 5 book series, out of which one isn't actually crap)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

News and such

Just so I don't keep you waiting, I'll let you know who the winner of the copy of Hunters is. Since Lisa already robbed me of a copy on Mysti's blog, Lindsey gets the prize here! So congrats, Lindsey, you'll be able to test all 13 reasons for yourself. (My people will contact your people)

In other news, my book has finally HIT amazon! So, yes, there is a kindle version available somewhere in the universe, ready for you to pick it up and devour it. I'm very excited about that, and I encourage everyone to look at it (sooo shiny), like it, tag it, and maybe take a sample home and see if it's something you'd enjoy reading.

Also, fellow blogger and author Christina McKnight has most graciously featured Hunters on her blog. I can't thank her enough.

If you're up for it, one more PDF copy of Hunters is available on Mysti's blog, so hurry up before it's gone ;)

I'll keep everyone posted :D

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Thirteen reasons

Guess what?

Yes, it so happens that Hunters is now available for purchase! Indeed, if you desire to buy the masterpiece, you may now do so in print, PDF and Html (for now). Kindle and every other outlet coming soon.

Before you take me too seriously, take heed that the above is a spoof and should be treated as such. Except the book being available, which is real. And just to prove it, here's a link where you can buy it.

What am I doing now? The already famous happy dance (which is pretty weird to do in public, since most people have no idea what's going on).

To celebrate this extraordinary event, I shall give you 13 reasons to read this book:

1. I know that you read the word vampire in the blurb and probably want to run screaming. DON'T. How about a book in which vampires are back to being the original bad guys, bent on raining havoc? They don't love humans (except as food) and fight, fight, fight. And plot.

2. Tired of a human heroine and supernatural hero? You'll see none of that here. For once, the guy and gal are equals. Which makes for other troubles to get the romance rolling.

3. Don't like damsels? Neither does Rachel, though she admits it's nice to have someone look after her from time to time.

4. It's not the beginning of an endless series. You can read it, enjoy it, and not worry about future sequels.

5. It's short. Yes, that's a reason to read a book too. It's 217 pages in print. Great for the beach or a stormy night.

6. There is witty banter to be witnessed. With two head-strong MCs who don't take crap from anybody, there's bound to be.

7. There is emotion. Or so I've been told.

8. A new world of paranormal beings awaits. Though you might meet some familiar creatures in the world of Hunters, not all of them are what you may know/think.

9. You might laugh. If I don't draw a smile/chuckle/snort out of you, I'm doing it wrong.

10. The villain is not just your stereotypical bad vampire. Watch as Vlad's legend comes together and brings forth the man he really is (well, man is a relative term). Bad guys can be fair too, right?

11. Going against the grain? It's here. When the entire world wants your head for doing what you believe is right, would you keep doing it?

12. Stuffy protocol, an old system and mass-manipulation. Yup. Watch what happens when the good guys are not really as good as they should be.

13. And finally, I wrote it, and I'm brilliant. you might grow to like Rachel and Daniel and want to see how their journey ends.

Have I convinced you to pick up a copy? No? How about to win a copy? In even more celebration, I'm giving away a PDF copy of Hunters to one lucky commenter. Just leave a comment with your e-mail address, mention that you want it and tell me which of the 13 reasons makes you want to read it most. The winner will be drawn this weekend.

Now, as to the people who won a copy of the book from me during the RAOK week, let me know if you'd like your copy now, in PDF format or wait for the kindle version.

In other news, if you don't win here, tomorrow, Mysti Parker of Unwritten is hosting the 200 000 hits giveaway. I've most generously (please don't take me seriously) donated 3 PDF copies of Hunters for the event, so you may hop on there and grab a copy.

If you'd like to support and up-and-coming/going author, the facebook link is on the right and the goodreads link here. Everyone is welcome to the party.

Okay, I'm done with the shameless plugging. O:)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Book, bookedy, book, book, book OR The completely bunched up post

Hi everybody!

Ignore the title. I wish I could say that I'm high on caffeine, but I don't drink coffee, so there goes my excuse.
I have some stuff to announce. As in LOTS of stuff. And I must shamelessly plug as well.
But, before all that I want to give out a big THANK YOU to all the people who have followed me and who read this blog. I'm sorry I couldn't get my butt in gear and shower you all with free books, but, there's always a next time.

I've been pretty MIA because I've been busy with editing and revising. And now it's time for the shameless plugging.

That's right. Hunters is almost ready to fly into the hyperspace of published material. I have a cover, a blurb and a release date. So, happy people, mark the date in your calendars: July 29th!

Needless to say I'm excited like... I don't know like what. I've just never been so excited (well, for a reason like this, at least).
So, yes ladies and gentlemen, I'm THIS close to being a published author.

Just to show off, here's my awesome cover.

Now, in celebration of this great event, I've set up the facebook fan page (which most of you know and can be seen on the right) and the goodreads page for the book. (here you also have the blurb) I still have to work on my author page and hope to find the time to do it very soon.

I've already started to ask reviewers to have a look at it and... I'm sort of out of promoting ideas right about now. I'm still trying not to choke with excitement.

All of you who won a book on my giveaway - I haven't forgotten. As soon as I get the copy, you will be receiving it. Just let me know if you'd like a kindle version or a PDF. Depending on the format, it might take more or less time.

On July 29th, I'll be putting up a celebratory post. At the end of it, there will be a prize to be had, so if you want the chance to win this book, stop on by and give a comment.

And there you have it! I've shamelessly plugged my stuff. You're all invited to share my joy and have a serving of virtual cookies :)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An Interview with Mysti Parker... take 2

Hi people in blog land.

As promised to many people, I'm here with a new fabulous interview with fabulous writer Mysti Parker. Her new book, Serenya's Song is out and about on a beautiful pair of legs. So I thought I'd torture Mysti a little.

Stef: Hi Mysti, and welcome back. You may retake your usual seat :D Have some hor'derves

Mysti: Nom, nom, nom. Thanks!

S: So... how does it feel to already have a second book out?

M: Pretty darn good, Stef. Pretty darn good. Though it felt like it took forever on my end!

S: Do you think you'll ever be less nervous while releasing novels?

M: No. Maybe more confident in my writing ability as I go along, but I think I’ll always be antsy about how they’re received by my fans.

S: What is your favorite thing about Serenya's Song?

M: I think my very favorite thing is that I took a little idea (broken-hearted Jayden moves to Summerwind and meets his true love) and turned it into a dark, complex plot. I surprised myself with how much I let my imagination run wild.

S: You did, indeed (pun intended) as I've noticed in my review of Serenya's story. Were there any particular parts you had trouble with in the story? Like being unable to make up your mind abut putting something in or taking it out?

M: I think you know that answer firsthand. I went through what felt like 287 drafts to get the plot on the right track. I had the most trouble with Sebastian. It was hard to nail down exactly the type of villain he needed to be and how he fit into the climax.

S: Do you still discover things about Tellenmere, or do you have it all planned out and you're drip-feeding the reader information about the world?

M: Tallenmere is still very much a fantasy world to be discovered. Sure, I have most of the world’s basic layout planned, but the topography in terms of not just land, but mythology, history, architecture, and technology keeps growing as I flesh out the series.

S: I know that you're now writing book 3 in the series and that you've had it planned for a while. Is there going to be a book 4? And if yes, what character might carry over?

M: There will be a Book Four. I’m not certain when it will actually be written, though I’ve got a few scenes and a basic plot in files and in my head. It’s going to tentatively be called No Place Like Home. Just for you, dear Stefanie, I will fill you in on who will star in it.

Do you possibly remember Mirabelle Hearton from A Ranger’s Tale? In that book, she’s one of the healers in the Temple. Here’s a little scene from Chapter 39 where she’s trying to nurse Galadin back to health:

A sensation of my skin knitting back together stilled me for a moment. More hands on my ribs—fingers hot as pokers. No one seemed bothered by my screaming. Liquid poured into my mouth and strangled me.

I sputtered and cursed. “Get away from me, damn it! I want my wife!”

A woman with dark hair and darker eyes gripped my face and made me look at her. Her mouth didn’t move, but I heard her clear as day. “Stop your cursing. I am Mirabelle, and you are in the Temple of Omri. We are helping you, and Lady Caliphany is near. Rest now, regain your strength.”

My body relaxed. I nodded and closed my eyes.

Mirabelle will also appear later in Hearts in Exile (Book Three) and will become one of Loralee’s closest friends. Unlike my other heroines up to this point in the series, Mirabelle is a completely normal human being, except for a few „gifts” she was born with. Can you guess what one of them is from that little excerpt?

S: I can easily guess. I wouldn't have remembered Mirabelle just from ART, but if she's a big part of book 3, we're all surely going to remember. Back to Serenya and Jayden. What was your inspiration for writing them?

M: Guilt, pure and simple. I felt so bad for Jayden at the end of A Ranger’s Tale, that I had to give him another shot at love. And Serenya had to be his perfect match, though she’s got a few *ahem* issues. Of course, I had to be Miss Evil Writer again and put him through hell for her. I’m glad he’s not here in the flesh standing next to me—he’d probably beat the snot out of me or at least give me a good tongue-lashing!

S: Speaking of Jayden beating you to a pulp, you're probably going to laugh, but is Jayden ever going to have a kid of his own? So far, he's raising other people's children.

M: Oh, yes, I totally LOL’d at that one! I just had a recent reviewer who asked the same thing. I’m not sure yet, actually, although I’m already forming plans for his stepchildren.

S: So I guess this means we'll see Jayden again. *rubs hands* Do you plan on writing novels outside the Tallenmere universe?

M: Yes, I’d love to branch out and do something different. I’ve even started a historical romance set in 1866 Lebanon, TN. Until I have more time for research, that one’s on the back burner.

S: I know what you mean. Somewhere inside my head I've planned to write a book in most genres. I keep kidding myself that someday I'll have the time. Maybe when I'm old and retired. For now, I seem to be stuck on paranormal and UF. Just seems to get the creative juices flowing best. I've always meant to ask this – how's life as a writer? I mean I know you're a stay-at-home mom, but now you're going to book fairs and stuff,'re a writer :D

M: Book fairs and signings, I’ve discovered, are really hit-and-miss in terms of sales. But, they’re very similar to any enthusiast who sets up at an event. You get to meet all kinds of interesting people who love what you love, and you can talk to them about it without their eyes glazing over. My sales aren’t great yet, but I’m really happy to have these experiences of meeting other writers and readers. I’ve even met some really famous people.

So far this year, I’ve met Heather Graham, Lori Foster, Sean Astin, and John Rhys-Davies. I saw Corey Feldman up close. I think the most fun was meeting some lovely authors I’d only spoken with online, like Ruth J. Hartman and Nell Duvall. Such great ladies! And now that I’ve been to a few fairs, I see some of the same writers again and again. We’re fast becoming event-buddies!

S: If you come to Romania, give me a shotout. I'd love to meet with you! I know you have theme songs for all your books (and I love music). What are they and why?

M: You can see the entire playlists (via YouTube vids) for A Ranger’s Tale and Serenya’s Song on my blog. Click this link:

My theme song for A Ranger’s Tale is ‚Chasing Cars’ by Snow Patrol because I thought it fit Caliphany and Galadin’s love story so well. Not that there are any cars on Tallenmere, but the lyrics simply fit their coming together so well. At the moment when they finally admit their love for one another, especially. I played it over and over as their love blossomed into the beauty that it was. These lines from the song give me goosebumps: If I lay here, if I just lay here, would you lie with me and just forget the world...all that I am, all that I ever was, is here in your perfect eyes. They’re all I can see.

The theme song for Serenya’s Song is much darker, but fits that story perfectly too (in my mind at least). It’s ‚Bring Me to Life’ by Evanescense. Partly, because I drew Serenya’s look and sound from the fabulous Amy Lee (lead singer), but mostly because the lyrics portray the perilous journey that she and Jayden take in order to survive the trials they must face.

These lines gave me the inspiration to make the rescue a two-way street:

All this time, I can't believe I couldn't see
Kept in the dark but you were there in front of me
I've been sleeping a thousand years it seems
Got to open my eyes to everything

Without thought, without voice, without a soul
Don't let me die here
There must be something more
Bring me to life.

Yes, Serenya needs Jayden to intervene in a powerful way, but he also needs to be saved from his broken heart and guilty past.

S: I'm curious about Hearts in Exile – leave that one in the comments :D (Since I already have a song in mind for it) Now, who was your favorite character in SS?

M: It’s hard to pick because I love them all, but I think Lilly is my gal. She’s such a spunky halfling who isn’t afraid to keep Jayden and everyone else around her in line. Plus, she adds a lot of humor to an otherwise dark book.

S: I hoped you'd say that, because, to me, in SS, Lilly really stood out. Which book did you enjoy writing more? SS or ART?

M: I really can’t say. They were both challening in different ways. It took longer to work out the plot in SS, but I felt more comfortable with my writing skills than with ART. Mostly, I’m just thrilled I got them finished!

S: And now for a bonus question: If you could have a wish come true right this instant, what would it be? Give me the first answer that's on your mind. It doesn't have to be world peace.

Quite honestly, I’d like all our bills to be paid off *POOF*, just like that. It would take a bit of stress off the mind, being a poor writer and all.

S: Good one. I'd like sleep right about now. But hard luck there. Now, before I ask you for a short excerpt from your novel (which has to be your favorite), I want you to describe the following characters to me using just one word:

Jayden: jaded

Serenya: tragic

Lilly: spunky

Sebastian: misunderstood

Caliphany: impulsive

Galadin: daring

Cevil Delmarr: shady

S: Now, give us some yummy story ;)

I’m rather partial to this scene. Jayden is hunting for one of the creatures who’s been wreaking havoc around Summerwind. Unfortunately, he fears Serenya is involved, which may force him to make a very difficult choice. Read on to see what I mean:

From Chapter 28


Rain pattered sharp notes in the sparse leaves above, falling to flatter beats at it reached the duff below. Wind fluted through the branches, the pitch changing tone as it passed along thick ebonwood boughs and narrower limbs of maple and oak. Minutes passed, or hours, perhaps a lifetime. Was it gone? Or was it ready to pounce? How would it feel to be torn apart and devoured alive?

The memory of my father’s advice calmed me. If they know you’re afraid, you won’t survive. Show no fear, son. Show no fear.

Breathing silently through my mouth, I scanned the dark surroundings. Rain sheeting along the trees and ground reflected a miniscule amount of moonlight edging its way in from breaks in the clouds.

I strained my eyes and ears for any sign of my hunter. Unbidden memories came as I tried to concentrate on my surroundings. I thought of Caliphany, how innocent we had both been eighty years ago, riding into the forest. Reclining on a blanket, I recited poetry, my head in her lap, while she braided small sections of my hair.

I remembered my father’s face, the disappointment in his eyes when Caliphany’s father dismissed me from his employ because of our relationship. His voice in my head chilled me even deeper than the rain. Your mother and I work tirelessly to give you the best of everything, and this is how you repay us?

And there was Serenya—the night I met her, that haunting voice as she sang, how it had warmed me to the core, filling holes in my heart I never knew were there. What would I do if I was forced to live without her?

I bit down on my tongue to stay alert and to lock the memories away. What was that? A flutter to my right. Circling through the trees. A soft thud of something landing. Deliberate steps squished through the muddy leaves. It was tiptoeing—each wet, noisy step driving my heart into near-frenzy. Only one of them, I was sure. I wondered if the other was hunting Zeph, and which one it could be. What if he had to make the choice I could not? He was one of my best scouts. I had to trust him to handle the situation.

Still in concealment, every muscle in my body tensed. Swiveling my torso in the saddle, I silently readied my bow and an arrow. My senses tuned outward, gauging the distance. I imagined the creature closing in, drool stringing down its jaw from the scent of elf and horse flesh.

It smells me—of course it does. Come on, just a little farther.

I drew back the string. My fingers buzzed, wanting to fire, but I willed them to remain steady.

Wait for it.

The creature inched forward. It knew exactly where I was, so there was no use hiding anymore. I couldn’t tell whether it was Serenya or not, but I dropped concealment and decided to try reason first.

Still holding my bow as steadily as possible, I spoke in a low, soothing voice. “Serenya, if that is you, listen to me. I know you don’t want to hurt me. If you’ll just come with me now, I’ll do all I can to help you. It doesn’t have to be this way.”

A raspy chuckle was the only reply. Hollow breaths met my ears between beats of raindrops on my hood. My eyes strained to see something, anything, until finally, a dark outline appeared against the shine of the rain-soaked ground. A whiff of sulfur burned my nostrils, triggering me to release the bowstring. But the creature flew upward and out of sight at the last second. The arrow missed its mark.

S: Thanks for being here Mysti. And I look forward to having you again!

M: Anytime, my friend, anytime!!

It might be sooner than she thinks *insert evil laugh here*. Now, for all you Mysti lovers, here are some handy links:

Mysti's awesome blog called Unwritten

You can also find her via Facebook:

And Twitter: @Mysti Parker

Goodreads, too: 

And you can buy the awesome books:
Goodread  (lots of reviews here)

Oh, yeah, before I forget, Happy 4th of July to everyone across the pond.

And another thing. I'm actually giving stuff away! TWICE! First, since this is part of Mysti's Blog Tour, there is a PDF of Kindle copy of Serenya's song to be won. Just fallow and leave a comment and you get the DOUBLE chance to win. Either on my blog OR as part of the tour as a whole when, if I'm not mistaken, you could win a copy of BOTH ART and SS.

And one last thing. I'm fast approaching the 5000 hits mark. And, since Mysti is here, I decided to take a leaf out of her book and host a giveaway. BUT for that I need books. So, whoever feels like donating a little something, let me know.

Peace out!