Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Interview with Dana King, OFF THE BOOKS

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?

Off the Books is my sixth novel to feature Chicago-based private detective Nick Forte; he also appears in two of my Penns River police procedurals. In Off the Books Forte is hired by a wealthy businessman whose wife witnessed a fender-bender in a small Illinois town while visiting their grandchildren. Nothing special there except that the driver who rear-ended the car in front of her was obviously drunk and came out of the car brandishing a weapon; the client wants to know why the local police aren’t doing anything about it. Forte quickly finds his client has not been straight with him and there’s a lot more wrong in Lundy, Illinois than sloppy police work. 


What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?

I’m in my late 60s and decided after eight or nine years with a publisher I wanted more freedom and control over what would be left of my career. By self-publishing I can set my own release schedule and marketing plan (such as it is) without worrying if I’m doing right by my publishing partner.


If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?

This is a good story. The seventh novel in my Penns River series, White Out, was ready to go out  for blurbs before we had a cover. The Beloved Spouse™, who is a wizard with Photoshop, dummied up a placeholder in black and white that was supposed to be only for the ARCs, but we liked it so much we kept it for the general release. “Branding” is a big deal these days and it occurred to us we could use the simple, stark covers as a kind of logo for my books. The Nick Forte novels now all look like what you see here and the Penns River books will be re-covered over the next year so they’ll all look like White Out. My two standalones will be similar but different enough so folks will know they are not part of either series.


What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?

I was a professional musician until I was about 35, so the problem for me with having music around when I write is my mind tends to focus too much on the music and not enough on the writing, so I now write in silence. Or at least without music; background noise doesn’t bother me much.


My process varies from draft to draft as I refine the work. The first draft is two or three sessions of 500 words each; the goal is to get the story on the hard drive. Parts may even look like a screenplay, as dialog tends to come easier to me than action, so I sometimes put a slug in place to remind myself what has to go there and will tidy it up on the second draft.


The second draft is a true re-write, where I type everything out again., Substantial changes, additions, and deletions can be made. Authors are taught to “kill your darlings” when editing. I have found it’s easier to leave them along the side of the road and just not type them in again.


The next draft is the hard core editing. I like to think the book is essentially done when this is finished.


Last I have a three-step process:

Day 1: Read a chapter or two. Just read them. Nothing else.

Day 2: Edit what I read on Day 1. Read the next chapter or two.

Day 3: Have Word read back to me what I edited yesterday to make sure it’s right. Edit what I read on Day 1. Read the next chapter or two.

Then repeat until I’m done.


I think of each draft like this:

Draft 1: Producing  the raw materials.

Draft 2: Refining the iron ore from the bauxite.

Draft 3: Turning it into steel.

Draft 4: Tempering the steel.


This process is a little different every time, but after sixteen books it’s now pretty well set.


Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?

Outline, though usually little more than a sentence or fragment to remind me what needs to happen in each scene. How it happens is a game time decision, and those decisions sometimes force me to revise the rest of the outline.


I tried to write a couple of books without an outline and ended up throwing away 25,000 and 35,000 words. I’m one of those writers who needs to know the story before I do it justice, almost as if I’m reporting on things that have actually happened. 


Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?

Yes. Chris Rhatigan has been my primary editor for years and he never fails to improve the books.


A word of advice about editors: Make sure you have one who shares your vision for the book and isn’t going to remake it into something they think will be better. Maybe they will; then again, maybe they won’t. In the end, it’s your name on the cover, and you’re paying the freight, so make sure you get someone you’re comfortable working with. That doesn’t mean you’ll always agree. You want an editor’s suggestions, not your mother’s.


Is your book(s) in Kindle Unlimited or is it wide? What percentage of royalties does page reads represent if in KU?

All the Nick Fortes are now Kindle Unlimited, mainly because I lack the energy and discipline to regularly keep up with multiple markets. I honestly do not know what percentage comes from KU page reads, as the book only came out a couple of weeks ago.


What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?

Make sure you’ve written the best book you can before you start worrying about formatting or marketing. You only get one chance to make a first impression with readers, so you want them to see the best you got. Marketing might sell this book, but it’s not going to generate repeat business.


Also, be meticulous about the formatting, by which I mean how the book looks on the page, to include pagination, typos, margins, paragraph indentations, and all the other things we take for granted when buying a professionally-published book. Get a proof and compare it to a book on your shelf. It doesn’t have to be as polished, but you also don’t want anything to scream, “I don’t know what I’m doing!” The key is to present yourself as a professional.


Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?

Dogs, no question. Cats are assholes.

Chocolate. I love French vanilla ice cream, but with chocolate syrup.

Tea. I’ve had two cups of coffee in my life. The first was such a bitter disappointment I knew I wasn’t going to like the second before I even tasted it. This post is already longer than I planned, so if anyone wants to know about that first cup, ask me in the comments section.

Talk. Interactions are too slow and clumsy in texts. I’m also a lousy typist.

Day. There are few things I enjoy more than being outside on a beautiful day. I’, also more productive during the daylight hours. To me, nights are for winding down to prepare for the next day.


What’s next for you?

Lunch. After that I’ll move things along in Phase 4 of my first Western, which I hope to have finished by the time this interview appears in print. After that I plan to move right into the next Nick Forte novel; the outline is already 95% finished.






Nick Forte has lost his detective agency and makes ends meet doing background checks and other paperwork. He pays for everything else through jobs he takes for cash and without any written contract. What starts out as a simple investigation into a traffic accident exposes Forte to people who have truly lost everything and have no viable hope of reclaiming their lives. That doesn’t sit well with Forte, leading him and his friend Goose Satterwhite to take action that ends more violently than anyone expected.


“The return of Chicago private detective Nick Forte, the tough protagonist of two Shamus Award nominated novels, is well worth the wait. Nick’s latest escapade Off The Books—the first in nearly six years—will surely earn additional praise for the acclaimed series.”

-J.L .Abramo, Shamus Award-winning author of Chasing Charlie Chan.


"Nick Forte reminds me of Robert B. Parker's Spenser: a PI with a finely tuned sense of justice who doesn't take anyone's s***. Any fan of hardboiled detective fiction is in for a helluva ride."

--Chris Rhatigan, former publisher of All Due Respect Books





AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Off the Books is Dana King’s sixth Nick Forte private investigator novel. Two of the earlier books (A Small Sacrifice and The Man in the Window) received Shamus Award nominations from the Private Eye Writers of America. Dana also writes the Penns River series of police procedurals set in a small Western Pennsylvania town, as well as one standalone novel, Wild Bill, which is not a Western. His short fiction appears in numerous anthologies and web sites. He is a frequent panelist at conferences and reads at Noirs at Bars from New York to North Carolina. 





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Wednesday, April 10, 2024

#Excerpt: IN THE SHADOW OF THE TRUTH by Maci Aurora

In the Shadow of the Truth
Maci Aurora
(Fareview Fairytale, #3.5)
Publication date: April 9th 2024
Genres: Adult, Fantasy, Romance

The secrets Scarlett Fareview has hidden from her family are finally out in the open, but not without consequences. Alienating everyone she loves, she must face the hurt and betrayal she wrought with her duplicity. And the cost is high. In this series of novellas, the Fareveiws deal with the aftermath of Scarlett’s deception. Scarlett must face Tomas and her children, Brinna must determine if she and Luc can forge a future, and Auri and Nix face the next obstacle to their forever. Along with many other familiar characters, these stories bridge the gap between the end of In the Shadow of a Dream and the final book in the Fareview saga, In the Shadow of an Obsession.

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From In the Shadow of a Vow Novella

When Tomas returned from the barn that afternoon, the sound of his boots on the floor captured her attention as she stood at the kitchen counter he’d made for her. His form in the doorway—wide and encompassing—was at first a buoying relief then a crushing disappointment.

She’d failed him.

He stalled, assessing, his eyes dragging along the countertop where she stood amidst a haphazard wreck of herbs—her supplies for making tinctures and medicines she took on calls and sold at the market.

“Did you mean to leave all your tools in the garden?” he asked. There wasn’t any accusation in his tone, only curiosity. “And the laundry undone in the wash basin?”

When she didn’t answer—because she couldn’t seem to align the words with meaning—he asked, “What’s going on here?”

Scarlett looked down at the mess she’d made, opened her mouth to tell him what she was doing, but her mind went blank. She couldn’t remember what she’d been doing. She didn’t know what she was doing anymore. The longer she looked at the greens, the pestle and mortar, the boiling pot, the less sense any of the disarray made.

“It’s chaos, Scar,” he said quietly next to her. “Unlike you.”

She looked up from the mess to his face, to his kind eyes shaped with concern.

Scar. She’d always loved the way he shortened her name, the only one who ever did.

Then without warning, she burst into tears, pressing the towel in her hands against her face as her grief, pain, worry, regret, disappointment wrenched out of her with horrific gasp. She’d ruined everything.

Tomas gathered her into his arms with soothing sounds. “Hush,” he whispered, his wide, heavy hand on the back of her head.

“I’m so sorry,” she sobbed, grasping hold of his shirt, her face pressed into the strength of his chest.

He held her.

“They’re gone,” she sobbed. “I failed.”

His arms squeezed her a touch tighter, and when his face pressed into the place between her neck and shoulder, Scarlett wrapped her arms around his neck, drawing up onto her toes, needing to be closer to his comfort.

“I failed too,” he whispered, his lips against her skin. “We both have.”

She shook her head. “Not you, Tomas.” She drew back to look at him.

Raising his head, his eyes connected with hers, the sadness a deep, evergreen forest swirling inside them where he was lost. And it was her fault. She knew this. Had pushed him to go against his nature by keeping her secrets, securing the spells.

Unsure about anything but the tumult of emotions she couldn’t seem to harness, Scarlett reached for comfort she knew he provided, a comfort she could reciprocate.

She kissed him, her hands framing his face, his beard soft against her palms.

He froze, tension tightening his shoulders.

And she thought he might pull away, but suddenly he was kissing her back, capitulating, needing, seeking. His tongue sought entrance, and she granted it. It was hungry, two souls on the periphery of starvation, finding one another in the darkness.

Author Bio:

Romance author.

Lover of stories.

Maci Aurora has been writing stories since she was a child. When she was eleven, she fell in love with reading Sunfire Historical Romances about girls who made a difference in their lives and still fell in love. In high school, a friend introduced her to Lavyrle Spencer and Judith McNaught, and from there, her writing journey was cemented in telling stories about love. Having already published many novels (all of which are threaded with romance as upper YA and New Adult titles) under the pen name, CL Walters, Maci Aurora wanted to write stories that offered the same attention to story and characters but with additional steam.

Maci writes in Hawaiʻi where she lives with her husband, their children, and their fur-babies.

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Tuesday, April 9, 2024

#Review: HERE COMES MY EARL by Anna Bradley


3 of 5 stars

"Here Comes My Earl" is the story of Euphemia, the last unmarried Templeton sister. I thought the beginning of the book was great when she and James, Lord Fairmont, were doing nothing but butting heads, but I had expected more of the "enemies to lovers" trope with these two interacting much more. One of the things that was very confusing was that there were too many "F" names. Harriet's suitor, whom James wanted her to marry, was also an "F" name, and it was hard to keep track of who was who.


The side plot of Harriet and Gilly hardly had any conflict at all. They met, developed feelings for each other and then James approved the match. That was disappointing, to say the least. I also would have liked more scenes with just James and Euphemia like the chess match and the dancing lessons, and without those extra interactions, the book seemed a bit rushed.


I enjoy Miss Bradley's books, but this one was a bit of a miss for me.

Friday, April 5, 2024

#Excerpt: CROWN OF WINGS AND THORNS by Mary Ting

Crown of Wings and Thorns
Mary Ting
Publication date: April 4th 2024
Genres: Fantasy, New Adult, Romance

A fight for a throne that will rewrite history

The demon King Asmodeus has taken over the mortal world. The Order of Angel warriors have a mission to take him down, but many have died or joined the enemy. When Evangeline’s team is ensnared in a web of deception, she has no choice but to form an alliance with King Victus, a vampire ruler with a reputation for killing angels. Can the two set aside the past and take down Asmodeus? Or will they turn on each other first?

Michael is a half-breed angel who wants no part of the nonhuman world. However, his immense power makes him a target. King Asmodeus wants him to join his army, and so does Order of Angels, but Michael dreams of settling down, not going to war. He may not have a choice. When his family’s lives are at stake, he’ll have to pick a side or lose everything.

Goodreads / Amazon

There is also an APP GAME on Dorian-release April 4th!


I’d heard tales that vampires had an uncanny ability to beguile their prey. Their attractive faces and bewitching scent, partnered with their commanding voices entranced victims, making them do whatever was asked of them.

He must be using the same supernatural powers to captivate me. Despite his effort, I prevailed and pushed the horrendous thought to the far recesses of my mind.

“Never in peace.” He growled, his hot breath fanned the shell of my ear. “You are my enemy.”

“Fine. You want to die here, right now?” I gritted the words through my teeth as I slowly released my feathers, my chest rising and falling just as fast as his.

He made the mistake of pulling back just enough for his eyes to lock with mine. I pushed off with the strength of my feathers, taking him with me. His back thumped the opposite wall and I trapped him with my body and wings.

Victus’s eyes grew wide, stunned. With an ear-piercing snarl, his feet tangled with mine to launch us into a wild spin, and then he pushed me against the wall with such force that all of the air was knocked from my lungs with an oomph.

“I loathe your kind,” he hissed, baring his teeth.

“And I despise everything about you.” I clenched my jaw.

“My hatred for you is greater.” The tendrils under his eyes throbbed.

We were thrown into a battle of push and shove, taking turns on who would be on top of our chaotic tumbling until we eventually stopped at the opposite end of the room, panting.

With my back to the wall, he took a fistful of my hair and yanked my head to the side, exposing my neck. His hot breath and his sharp fangs grazed down my skin.

I shuddered and every vein in my body seared. I wasn’t sure if it was from fear or from the heated tussle and our bodies colliding.

“If you believe I’m your enemy, then bite me.” I took a chance by saying the latter. Since he found me revolting, he would likely release me.

He gripped my hair tighter and snarled

Author Bio:

Born in Seoul, Korea, author Mary Ting is an international bestselling, multi-gold award winning author. Her books span a wide range of genres, and her storytelling talents have earned a devoted legion of fans, as well as garnered critical praise. She is a diverse voice who writes diverse characters, often dealing with a catastrophic world.

Becoming an author happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother and inspired by a dream she had in high school. After realizing she wanted to become a full-time author, Mary retired from teaching. She also had the privilege of touring with the Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children’s chapter book: No Bullies Allowed.

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Friday, March 29, 2024


An Accident Waiting to Dragon
Abigail Owen
(Brimstone Inc., #3)
Publication date: March 26th 2024
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

It’s not the heat…it’s the pixie dust.

The day her brother died, Gwendolyn Moonsoar fled from her veil of pixies. Grief drove her away, but a broken heart made her stay gone for good. Lucky for Gwen, Brimstone Inc. was there to break her fall. Now, as a special courier transporting the most valuable and dangerous items of the supernatural world, Gwen is good at her job. Damn good. After all, disappearing is her specialty.

Dragon shifter Asher Kato will always be haunted by his best friend Goran’s death. Although a promise he made gave him no choice, Asher will never forgive himself for the role he played…or the fallout it caused with Goran’s younger sister, Gwen. Burying himself in his role as second-in-command of the blue dragons is his only escape. Unfortunately, the peace they fought so hard for isn’t meant for a warrior like him. So, when a courier transporting a rare basilisk egg goes missing, Asher volunteers to track her down.

Except Asher’s mission ends up stranding him on a deserted island with the only woman he’s ever wanted….a pixie who would rather vanish forever than spend a single second with him.

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Sweaty from their trek and the feelings that refused to fade, Gwen was damn tempted to dive right in, but before she could, Asher stripped off his shoes and socks, his hands going to the fly of his jeans.

“What are you doing?” she asked.

He didn’t face her, but she could hear the rare teasing smile in his voice. “Bathing.”

He was going to bathe. Right now? In front of her?

Sure. No big deal. She was a fully grown adult. Most supernatural creatures didn’t have hang-ups about nudity the way humans did. She could handle this. He’d go first, then she’d take a turn. They could draw their drinking water upstream when they were done.

Asher dropped his pants, leaving him in nothing but black boxer-briefs, which showed off the muscles of his thighs as he waded into the water. Then he turned to face her, a playful glint in his eyes she hadn’t seen in a long time. Sure enough, next came the shirt.


There went the small amount of control she’d wrangled for herself over the course of their trek. Gone in an instant.

With an eye roll, she walked to a flat rock at the edge of the water. A second later, a splash told her he was fully submerged now. By the time she’d taken off her sock and shoes, and rolled up her pants to dangle her legs, she figured it was safe for her to look.

A horrible idea, it turned out.

A flash of movement under the surface caught her eye a second before Asher came up out of the water, facing her, lifting his hands to slick back his dark hair, his muscles rippling with the movement.

Now that was just freaking unfair.

It was like nature was trying to highlight all the hotness she’d been missing all this time. Hotness that had just been inside of her.

Oh. My. Gods.

Heat flared in her cheeks yet again.

Which was when Asher opened his eyes and caught her staring. His gaze locked in on her, and for once she couldn’t make out what he was thinking.

But she couldn’t look away, her chest growing tighter by the second.

Was he—

Asher swam toward her. “Why aren’t you coming in?”

She nearly shook her head. No, it couldn’t be.

Her oh-so-serious dragon wasn’t trying to…tease her, play with her?

Was he?

He’s not your dragon, Gwendolyn Moonsoar. He’s not your anything, she tried to remind herself. But that thought was feeling more and more flimsy by the second…considering the way he was looking at her.

She shrugged, trying to play it cool while her face was probably still flaming red. Maybe he’d put that down to their trek? “I’ll wait until you’re done.”

A frown flitted across his features, far more familiar and comfortable than his teasing, but then he swam forward until he could stand in front of her. “You don’t have to wait. There’s plenty of room.”

Gwen opened her mouth to wave him off with something vague only to get a little lost in the deep navy of his eyes. “I…don’t think that would be a good idea,” she found herself saying.

His jaw tightened visibly. “I would never—”

Without thinking, she pressed a single finger against his lips and they both sort of froze at the contact. Gwen swallowed and pulled away slowly.

“I know,” she whispered. “You’re not the one I don’t trust.”

Asher’s brows drew together, stopped, then crept back up as her meaning sank in that she was the problem here. Her and all her discombobulated feelings.

That glint from a moment ago reignited in his eyes, only up close it was even more potent, more dangerous. “Do you need rescuing?” he asked, his voice dropping lower.

Oh my gods.

The memory of their first kiss, the first time he’d said those words to her, swirled and blended with this one, and excited butterflies hit her insides full force. But she couldn’t.

They couldn’t. Could they?

What she wanted to say was, “From you?” like she had back then. Instead, she just shook her head and went to stand up, to put distance between them.

Only Asher grabbed her hand, his hold gentle as she stilled.

“I’ve missed you, Gwen,” he said softly. “I want you to know that.”

A lump of emotion and longing formed inside her throat.

Was he trying to make this a thousand times harder for her? More confusing? More need-inducing?

When she didn’t say anything but she also didn’t leave, he slowly moved closer, right up against her rock, so that he was standing between her dangling legs. He paused there. “I really want to kiss you, and not just in a dream, but I won’t if you say no, or if you need rescuing for real.”

This close, right in her space where she could feel the natural warmth of a dragon shifter radiating from his skin, feel his breath against her cheek…gods, he was temptation.

Gwen forced her gaze away, dropping it to her lap. It didn’t help. She still wanted to kiss him. “I—”

She shifted her gaze to the left and paused, then peered closer at his side.

What the—?

Then she choked.

Asher jerked to follow her gaze, searching the water around him for some threat maybe. “What’s wrong?”

She stared at him with her mouth ajar for enough time that he stopped searching for danger to bracket her face with his hands, his expression growing harder with concern. “Gwen—”

Author Bio:

Award-winning author, Abigail Owen, writes NA/YA romantasy and paranormal romance. She loves plots that move hot and fast, feisty heroines with sass, heroes with heart, a dash of snark, and oodles of HEAs!

Abbie has a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing) from Texas A&M University (gig’em Ags!), and an MBA from California State University-Sacramento. Prior to becoming a published author, she spent 15+ years using the other side of her brain in various tech- and business-related roles.

Other titles include: wife, mother, Star Wars geek, ex-competitive skydiver, AuDHD, spreadsheet lover, Jeopardy fanatic, organizational guru, true classic movie buff, linguaphile, wishful world traveler, and chocoholic.

Abigail currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her own swoon-worthy hero, their (mostly) angelic teenagers, and two adorable fur babies.

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Thursday, March 28, 2024

#Review: THE DUCHESS by Sophie Jordan


3 of 5 stars

Valencia, the Dowager Duchess of Dedham, has spent most of her adult life waiting--waiting to see if her husband was in a good mood that day, waiting for the slap that usually came if he was displeased, waiting, waiting, waiting. All that ended with the death of the duke. Valencia could finally take a breath and not have to look over her shoulder every minute of the day. All that changed, however, when the new Duke of Dedham, Rhain, and his six unmarried sisters invaded the ducal townhouse. Valencia's days of waiting are over, but now she's been banished to the dower house in Yorkshire until an offer from the duke keeps her in London. 

Rhain did not want to be duke. He preferred his life in Wales, but he would not deny his sisters' chances for a good match, so they all went to London. Seeing Valencia in the ducal townhouse sends him into a tailspin. There's something about her that calls to him, but he refuses to act on it. He proposes a deal--Valencia help launch his sisters into Society and he'll give her enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her life. Can these two come to a mutual understanding, or will the tension between them spill over into something more?

This was a slow-burn romance, and I usually like them, but this one took way too long. There were too many flashbacks to her time with the previous duke and not enough time devoted to her and Rhain. Most of the book is taken up with Rhain's sisters and not so much interaction between H and h. There is a twist in the story at the last 10% that seemed a little far-fetched. I thought the villain was someone else, and that would have made much more sense to me.  I do enjoy Ms. Jordan's writing and will probably read the next book in the series. 

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy, and all opinions are my own.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

#Excerpt: A STRANGE AFFINITY by Rebecca Rook

A Strange Affinity
Rebecca Rook
Publication date: March 26th 2024
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

A Strange Affinity is a hypnotizing cross between the television show Deadwood and Tamora Pierce’s renowned Tortall Universe. This young adult fantasy novel, set in an alternate nineteenth century American Wild West, will appeal to fans of Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman, Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto, and Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey.

In the Wild West, magic is real.

When two strangers arrive in her small town, Gloriana Rue learns that she has the magical ability, or Affinity, to manipulate metal. She also learns that her mother was a renowned magical scholar but had abandoned the world of Affinities. Glory is desperate to know why her mother hid her past, and so agrees to attend an academy for magicians in the hopes of finding answers.

Glory is soon immersed in magic and mystery when she stumbles upon a disturbing discovery: A killer is hunting magicians throughout the American West – and he’s getting closer. Only by seeking out her mother’s secrets can she stop him and save her newfound family.

Goodreads / Amazon


Glory adored her new magician’s studio.

The space was outfitted as a smith’s shop, furnished with a long workbench, a wall hung with gently worn but serviceable tools, and a small, portable blacksmith’s forge. She was awkward with many of the tools at first but grew better and more proficient by the day. Glory worked long into the evenings, well past the end of her classes. She came to love the feeling of being surrounded by scraps of different metals: gold, silver, copper, and iron. It felt like being surrounded by friends, or family. It was hard for Glory to describe but she felt that each metal had a different personality.

Glory thrived under Jacinda’s tutelage. She went on to master a series of ever-challenging tasks she had set before her: Molding new shapes, melding metals together, and extracting the elements. Soon each new task seemed easier than the last.

In a recent conversation, Jacinda had warned Glory these new skills were among the easiest for a magician. True transformation of physical properties was much harder, and in some cases, impossible without several years of further study.

“Lead to gold?” Glory had asked, skepticism and humor in her voice. She remembered reading such silly tales among her father’s library.

Jacinda had chuckled. “Not quite. You’re bound by the chemical properties of the source material. But with study and practice, who knows what’s possible? The magical properties of metal are vastly understudied and largely composed of myths and legends about alchemy. And because there are so few metal magicians, we still don’t know what they — you — are capable of.”

Author Bio:

Rebecca Rook designs tabletop games, manages a little free library dedicated to sequential art and comics, and lives in the Pacific Northwest with two wonderful dogs. She writes young adult fiction in the fantasy, thriller, and horror genres.

A 2021-2022 Hugo House Fellow in
Seattle, WA, she also attended the 2021 Tin House YA Fiction Workshop in
Portland, OR. Rebecca was selected as one of the 100 invited writers to participate in the Write Team Mentorship Program’s curated Pitch-a-Thon event before being chosen as a Mentee for the 2021 Program. Prior to this, she completed the wonderful Yearlong Workshop for Young Adult and Middle Grade Fiction at Hugo House.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2024

#Review: DAMNED IF I DUKE by Anna Bradley


4 of 5 stars

I love a good enemies-to-lovers story, and Ms. Bradley delivers with this book. I really enjoyed the banter between Prue and Jasper. She was wild and exasperating, and he was arrogant—a match made in heaven. Can these two overcome their animosity and get what they both want?

Ms. Bradley weaves a good story of what love can do to a person, from denying one's feelings to resisting the one person who can make your life better. When they are forced to marry, it's the last thing either of them wants, but as more time goes by, their feelings for each other change. Before they could acknowledge their feelings, in marches a vindictive ex-mistress to try and break them apart. And she nearly succeeds when Prue retreats to the country. Can Jasper convince her that his love is true or has he lost his spirited wife forever?

I voluntarily read the advanced reader copy, and all opinions are my own.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Interview with Aileen Erin, INVOCATION

Aileen Erin
(Days of Iron and Clay, #1)
Publication date: March 19th 2024
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

From USA Today Bestselling Author Aileen Erin comes an all-new action-packed, romance-filled paranormal series.

There are three things I know without question.

One: demons are real.

Two: humans make awful mistakes that get them in demonic trouble more often than you’d think.

And three: I’m the only one who can help them.

I straddle the line between the mortal and spiritual realms every day. People might think they’re two different places, but they’re not. They lay on top of each other. It’s messy, and that’s why so many people need my help. Since I was little, I’ve been called all kinds of names—unusual, abnormal, even insane. Which is fitting, since they keep throwing me in to mental facilities. I’ve been in and out of them my entire life.

But no matter what people say, no matter what I’m risking, I will always help those in need.

Because there’s an endless war carrying on all around us, every minute of every day. One that can’t be seen by mortal eyes. But I can see it, the spiritual battle for mortal souls, and I’m working hard to make sure my father is on the losing side. He — Astaroth, Satan’s general— is why I can do this. He’s why I’m not normal. I can’t have friends, a life, or a boyfriend. I won’t be selfish enough to drag someone into this fight. But I’m not lonely. Not exactly. I have my mom. She’s my rock, my best friend, my partner. She helps me do what needs to be done, and she’s never afraid when it feels like I’m always afraid.

Because I hear my father whispering my name each night, his taunts echoing through the spiritual realm. He’s hunting me, and I know the day will come when I must face him again.

Every portal I open could be the one that finally pulls me back to Hell, and I wonder if I will brave enough, strong enough, good enough to fight him.

My name is Samantha Catherine Lopez, and I am Nephilim. This is my story.

**Fans of the Alpha Girls series will love this new series set in the same world, with a few familiar faces, but you DO NOT have to have read a single word of the Alpha Girls series to enjoy Samantha’s story.

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 Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?

INVOCATION is the first in a spin-off of my USA Today bestselling Alpha Girls series. Samantha Lopez—first seen in Being Alpha, and then again in Alpha Erased—is the focus of the series. She’s a girl who can see and interact with the spiritual realm. She’s known to be the resident demonologist for the local wolf pack, her found family from Alpha Girls. INVOCATION is spooky and action-packed, with a slow-burn romance.  You can also catch an early Samantha story in the short story anthology, Two More Days, put together by Colleen Hoover.

Do you have a favorite character?

Usually, my favorite character is the one that I’m writing. I really do love Samantha. But I think my favorite character that I’ve written is Amihanna from the Aunare Chronicles. 

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?

No. I had too many friends burned by the process. So, after graduating with my MFA, I decided to go the indie route!

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?

I decided to go indie when I graduated with my MFA. I saw a huge opportunity for growth in 2012-2013, and I liked the idea of having more control over my career. I liked being able to decide when I wanted to publish something and what I wanted to publish. I also loved the idea of picking my own covers and handling everything myself. I’d had too many traditionally published friends with horror stories. Traditional was a bit of a last resort for me. 

I decided to form my own small publishing company with another author. Together, we made a business plan + a marketing plan. With that, we were able to land a distribution deal, and that has made all the difference in my indie career.  

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?

I like to listen to music, but nothing with too many lyrics. Mostly, electronic, ambient, or modern classical. I like a quiet, comfy spot, noise-cancelling headphones, and Scrivener. I usually write for 4-5 hours/day. I would write more, but I’m a mom who also has to go pick up a kiddo from school!

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?

YES!!! I have a developmental editor, who helps me as I’m writing. Think big picture: plot points, description, character arcs, etc. And I have a copyeditor. Think small picture: typos, grammar, etc.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?

Since I’m with a big distributor, I’m able to have my books at ALL retailers! You can get it online pretty much anywhere books are sold. I also sell directly through my website at

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?

It’s always a careful balance! I find marketing pulls from the same well as writing, so I have to schedule it out on a certain day. Or set aside a little bit of time for it every day, depending on where I am in my launch schedule. Otherwise, it’ll take everything from my writing.

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?

Reading! I read about 3-4 books/wk. I used to have a bigger habit, but with the kiddo, time just flies by. 

What’s next for you?

I’m writing the currently unnamed second book in the Days of Iron and Clay series which will hopefully come out this winter. I’m also writing the first book in an all new Romantasy series, set for some time in 2025. 

Author Bio:

Aileen Erin is half-Irish, half-Mexican, and 100% nerd–from Star Wars (prequels don’t count) to Star Trek (TNG FTW), she reads Quenya and some Sindarin, and has a severe fascination with the supernatural. Aileen has a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of Texas at Austin, and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. She lives with her husband in Los Angeles, and spends her days doing her favorite things: reading books, creating worlds, and kicking ass.

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