Sunday, February 17, 2019

Jeffe's Most Difficult Character - Not Who You Think?

So, if you missed it on Friday, we finally had the cover reveal for THE ORCHID THRONE

This is the first book in a new trilogy I'm doing with St. Martin's Press. Totally new world, totally new series. My editor there, Jennie Conway, called it:

the magical feminist fantasy romance I've always wanted 😍

Which is now my new favorite tag line ever. You can read more (and preorder!) here. It comes out September 24, 2019. 

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is: Your most difficult character to have written and why. 

This question stumped me. I even asked Assistant Carien what she thought, since she often listens to me whine about these things. She offered a few suggestions, that just didn't "sound" right to me. So, then I went and looked at my publication list.

Yes, I totally use my website to remind myself of my own books, what of it?

Looking over that list, a couple of books stood out. Ones that just didn't come out the way I envisioned when I started. Ones that I'd rewrite, if I could. 

And one heroine, in particular, that I just never felt I really got into her head. 


The book is a contemporary romance, so I haven't talked about it much here at the SFF Seven. But, people, I rewrote this book SO MANY TIMES. And though the heroine, Ava, was clear to me from the start - in fact, she was one of those characters who plagued me to write her story - I never felt I really got a handle on her. I don't know if I could say why. It could be because she was inspired by a real life person (or, rather, a blend of several) and therefore I couldn't find my way into her head in the same way.

It could be because Ava is simply a very complex person, with many layers and secrets, and she's become adept over time at keeping everyone out. Even me.

I could be I'd have to write more of her to really crack that nut. 


Saturday, February 16, 2019

Back List Moment in Ancient Egypt

I'm busily writing a new paranormal romance book set in ancient Egypt and it's a direct sequel to my award winning Lady of the Nile from 2017, so I decided to revisit her today for the week's topic of backlist love.

The blurb: Tuya, a high ranking lady-in-waiting at Pharaoh’s court, lives a life of luxury, pageantry and boredom. Khian, a brave and honorable officer from the provinces temporarily re-assigned to Thebes, catches her eye at a gold of valor ceremony. As the pair are thrown together by circumstances, she finds herself unaccountably attracted to this man so unlike the haughty nobles she’s used to. But a life with Khian would mean leaving the court and giving up all that she’s worked so hard to attain. As she goes about her duties, Tuya struggles with her heart’s desires.

When Tuya is lured into a dangerous part of Thebes by her disgraced half-brother and kidnapped by unknown enemies of Egypt, Khian becomes her only hope. Pharaoh assigns him to bring the lady home.

Aided by the gods, Khian races into the desert on the trail of the elusive kidnappers, hoping to find Tuya before it’s too late. Neither of them has any idea of the dark forces arrayed against them, nor the obstacles to be faced. An ancient evil from the long gone past wants to claim Tuya for its own purposes and won’t relinquish her easily.

Can Khian find her in time? Will he and his uncanny allies be able to prevent her death? And if the couple escapes and reaches safety, what of their fledgling romance?
Buy Links:
Amazon     iBooks     Kobo     B&N 
I shared this snippet from the book on Valentine's Day:

One of my favorite stock photos ever,
from DepositPhoto

Friday, February 15, 2019

Back List Delayed Love

Well this is going to be boring for anyone reading. Backlist? Yeeeeees. I have some books that qualify. And THINGS are happening, (at long last) but I am not at liberty to talk about any of those things yet. I can't even post my former covers because I no longer have the rights to those images. It's -- look. The only books still available are Isa's books. Nightmare Ink and Bound by Ink

Nightmare Ink
The minute I get the all clear, news will show up here. Guarantee. Until then, happy reading!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Backlist love for The Maradaine Constabulary Series

With A PARLIAMENT OF BODIEScoming out in just a few weeks, I think it's appropriate to look a bit at the backlist and what's led up to this book. Primarily, the first two books of the Maradaine Constabularyseries. Blending high fantasy, murder mystery and gritty urban magic, this series features Inspectors Satrine Rainey and Minox Welling, two detectives in the city constabulary who protect Maradaine from crime, both magical and mundane.

"A Murder of Mageswas another hit for me, a fantastic read from a new talent whose star continues to be on the rise."  - Bibliosanctum

Satrine Rainey: Former street rat. Ex-spy. Wife and mother who needs to make twenty crowns a week to support her daughters and infirm husband.  To earn that, she forges credentials and fakes her way into a posting as a constabulary Inspector.

Minox Welling: Brilliant Inspector. Uncircled Mage. Outcast of the stationhouse.  Partnered with Satrine because no one else will work with “the jinx".

Their first case together—the ritualized murder of a Circled mage—brings Satrine back to the streets she grew up on, and forces Minox to confront the politics of mage circles he’s avoided.  As more mages are found dead, Satrine must solve the crime before her secrets catch up with her, and before her partner ends up a target.

READ AN EXCERPTGoodreads Pagefor A MURDER OF MAGESAvailable at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

Maresca - An Import of Intrique
"Maresca offers something beyond the usual high fantasy fare, with a wealth of unique and well-rounded characters, a vivid setting, and complicatedly intertwined social issues that feel especially timely."  - Publishers Weekly

The neighborhood of the Little East is a collision of cultures, languages, and traditions, hidden away in the city of Maradaine. A set of streets to be avoided or ignored. When a foreign dignitary is murdered, solving the crime falls to the most unpopular inspectors in the Maradaine Constabulary: exposed fraud Satrine Rainey, and uncircled mage Minox Welling.

With a murder scene deliberately constructed to point blame toward the Little East, Rainey is forced to confront her former life, while Welling’s ignorance of his own power threatens to consume him. And these few city blocks threaten to erupt into citywide war unless the constabulary solves the case.

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBoundand more!

But it would be remiss to leave out novels in the other series that lead up to this one as well! The Imposters of Aventil features Satrine and Minox as they investigate the murder of a constable and the Thorn's involvement, and the events of that book echo into Parliament. Also, as the inspectors team up with Dayne Heldrin of the Tarian Order, it wouldn't hurt to check out The Way Of The Shieldas well. And there may be threads to Streets of Maradaine.

It wouldn't hurt to read them all. I mean, just to be safe.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Your ears can't handle this backlist

This week at SFF Seven, we're highlighting books from our backlist. When I read that topic I was like, "um, what is this backlist you speak of?" Because I have a grand total of two books out. Two.

Wanted and Wired and Perfect Gravity are both sexy cyberpunk romances--I mean, if you like that sort of thing, right--and for the last two years about all I've done is promote them. Constantly. On multiple social media platforms. Until your ears bled. (Sorry, ears.)

So in the interests of vulnerable ears everywhere, I won't bemoan the subject. These are the books. If you haven't given them a look-see and think you might be interested*, I'd love your eyeballs. Either way, your ears can get a break for once.

*(May contain more than one of the following: sex-positive, all-about-consent relationships |  found family | sarcastic, genetically altered cats | nerdy, idealistic supergeniuses | villains with fabulous hair | submarines | space-stations | supercars | sassy AI sidekicks | nanorobotic faeries | futuristic postapocalyptic tacos)

Amazon ebook link 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

She Did It All For Love...And Revenge: THE BURNED SPY

We're giving love to our backlists this week, so you, dear readers, can spend quality time with a new-to-you book-Valentine. After all, fantasies are our specialties. ~brow waggle~

Last year, THE BURNED SPY introduced Bix the Gatekeeper in the story that launched my Immortal Spy urban fantasy series. Book 5 drops early this summer, so you have plenty of time to get to know Bix and the Berserkers.

The Immortal Spy, Book 1

Gods. Always ready to screw you.

When Bix the Gatekeeper is summoned from exile a hundred and seventy years early by the goddess of the Norse Under World, the former Dark Ops agent knows there’s a catch. On the surface, the terms of the deal are simple. Someone attacked the pantheon’s ambassador to the Mid Worlds and left the ambassador in a coma. In exchange for early parole, Bix must identify the perpetrator and drag their soul to Hel.

It’d be a sweet contract, if not for the details. The ambassador is Bix’s ex-girlfriend, the lead suspect is the key witness from Bix’s trial, and the organization leading the official investigation is the same intelligence guild that disavowed Bix when a covert op went pear-shaped. Undeterred, Bix returns to her old stomping grounds where clues in the smoldering woods of Centralia, Pennsylvania, lead to the waterfront of Washington, DC, and Worlds beyond.

Once valued for her skills creating passageways as small as a capillary or as large as a continent, Bix’s success now depends on the relationships she was forced to abandon. As she squares off against friends who betrayed her and enemies keen to destroy her, Bix follows a trail of secrets, torture, and treason that leads to the very superpowers who banished her. With her freedom on the line and revenge within reach, this highly-trained operative will take on Fates, dragons, angels, and gods to get exactly what she wants.

Hel hath no fury like a burned spy.

The eBook is on sale this month for $2.99!

Buy It Now:
Amazon   |   Nook |   iBooks   |  Kobo

Monday, February 11, 2019

With a Little Love....,

This week's subject: A little love for the backlist, If I'm going with one title it'll be SEVEN FORGES, series because, frankly, that's kind 9f where my career went in a different direction. I've written horror, sci-fi fantasy, and some crime but for the fantasy chops, SEVEN FORGES is where it started. I went in blind and hoped I wouldn't suck.

A few of the reviews said nice things.

Here are a few blurbs:

Seven Forges is an excellent, enjoyable, and thoroughly entertaining fantasy debut into a new world of swords and sorcery, complete with romance, intrigue, and danger.”
– Attack of the Books

“Wow, that twist. In some ways I think I should have seen it coming, and I kind of did, but Seven Forges just lulled me into security and BAM! Craziness!”
– Anya, On Starships and Dragonwings
Seven Forges is a well written fantasy adventure with a very interesting premise and a big world to explore. ”
– Celticfrogreviews
“I thoroughly enjoyed Seven Forges although I was left speechless by the ending and left wondering for days whether there was to be another book in the series. There were so many threads of stories left open that I need to know what happens next.”
– The Bookish Outsider
“Moore does a fantastic job of building worlds and characters in Seven Forges as we hop on board the train that is about to meet its doom.”
– Troubled Scribe
“James A. Moore dedicates Seven Forges in part ‘to the memory of Fritz Leiber and Robert E. Howard for the inspiration.’ That dedication sets the bar high, and caused me a bit of readerly apprehension, because so many writers have imitated badly those two greats of the sword and sorcery tradition. Moore is far more than an imitator, though. He does some fresh, counterintuitive things with the genre conventions. More than once, he startled me into saying out loud, ‘I didn’t see that coming.’”
– Black Gate
“Hell, I couldn’t get enough.”
– Amanda J Spedding

The Blasted Lands is the example of how I want to see a sequel. Slowing the pace down somewhat, focusing on exposing the envisioned world more and more but without loosing momentum and the thread that carries the story. James A. Moore gave rise to many questions in Seven Forges and now starts answering them, he continues to develop his characters and mainly Merros and Andover’s stories were the most interesting for me, they showed so much of the world and the story, I have the same feeling of when I finished Seven Forges, it’s been a few days but the story is still racing through my mind and when I think about one scene, many follow-ups pop up. Few authors achieve to get me so addicted to their works. And well the ending. yes I am going to say it again WOW. There will be war and it wont be pretty.”
– The Book Plank
“Where Seven Forges teased a reader with the Sa’ba Taalor and their strange land, The Blasted Lands goes a long way toward fulfilling their promise, revealing much more about their culture and history as well as hinting at the origin of the waste lands themselves. And while the Sa’ba Taalor are still the stars of this show, Mr. Moore has also deftly turned the Fellein characters into more than cardboard scenery for his master race, as Drash Krohan, General Dulver and Andover Lashk shine in their own special ways. All in all, this novel was a great read, and this series is definitely one to watch for any true fantasy aficionado.”
– Bookwraiths
“From living mountains to the secret behind the veils of a nation, Moore pushes and pulls the story through questions and answers, keeping the reader on their toes. For me, The Blasted Lands is more immersive and thrilling than some of the fantasy masterpieces. Moore shapes a story which appeals to fans of all types, showing how fantasy can be a grand equalizer. The Blasted Lands does this and more, making it not just a sophomore book in a series but a genuinely good story.”
– Literary Escapism
“The end of the book had me on the edge of my seat, wanting more.  I will definitely be reading the next book in the Seven Forges series as soon as it comes out.”
 Avid Fantasy Reviews
“The race of the Sa’aba Taalor are the newest and freshest I’ve read in decades. Where many writers will have gods who are nebulous and unreachable, many of Moore’s gods respond immediately. I think I like his creatures the best – the Pra Moresh. Here Moore’s horror roots allow him to really shine. His descriptive prose and keen eye for the horrific proves that he’s a master architect of the gruesome and prognosticator of fear. I raced through the first two books and can not wait for the third. If you have yet to try these, then do so on my word. You’ll thank me for it”.
 Living Dangerously
The Blasted Lands follows up with action, betrayal, amazing magic, gods and rituals, and a final understanding of why the Sa’ba Taalor hide their faces from those outside the Blasted Lands (and damn impressive this is). War is coming. Not if, but when, and the people of Fellein… well, it ain’t looking good. As a second book, they can sometime fall flat, but Moore just amps it up, and I flew through.”
 Amanda J Spedding
The Blasted Lands builds on the high standards set by Seven Forges, with Moore continuing to develop his intriguing world and tell his story through some epic action set pieces.”
 Fantasy Book Review
“The novel works beautifully as a sequel. I found this an excellent book and I am anticipating the next instalment.”
 Sci-Fi Bookworm

“The Seven Forges series is epic fantasy the way it should be done, and City of Wonders is no exception. It’s character driven without sacrificing the action, intrigue, and wonder that’s at the heart of all good fantasy. That Moore throws in a dash of horror only makes his recipe better.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“City of Wonders is a deeply immersive book, one that will hook you from start to finish.”
– ZireV
“I just anointed City of Wonders as the novel that catapults Seven Forges into the upper echelon of sword and sorcery fantasy ever written.”
– BookWraiths
City of Wonders is a book that kept me reading long into the night, and has stayed with me days after I’ve finished. I’ve gone back and re-read the ending a few times just to make sure I caught everything, because that ending was so big with so much going on that I’m sure I’ve missed key hints and clues about what’s going to happen next. I have so much anticipation for the The Silent Army, I need to read it right now!”
– Fantasy Book Review
“Moore has created a brilliantly realised world here; his characters continue to get better with each book. It’s still exciting, it’s still fresh, and brilliantly vivid. Fantasy does not get much better than this.”
– Morpheus Tales
“Moore’s writing completely transports, his characters are fantastically fantastic, and the tension he weaves through it all is expertly done. Oh, and the twists? You’ll love those too. There are few authors I read where I wish I could write as well as them, but James A Moore is one them.”
– Amanda J Spedding
“The third installment of Moore’s Seven Forges series is as good as the first two.”
– Scary Monkeys and other Childhood Phobias

“James A. Moore keeps getting better. The cast of characters expands.  Moore juggles them with ease, giving each one some background so that they don’t all run together. And the battle scenes, whether it’s individual combat or armies clashing, are riveting.  Plus the intrigue keeps on getting more complex. This is one is highly recommended.”
– Adventures Fantastic
“The prose is sharp, the pace wonderfully timed with great action tempered with some wonderful lulls to allow you to get your breath back. Back this up with some great characters alongside a world that is delightfully designed all round makes this a series that continues to go from strength to strength. Finally, and this is the clincher for me, Moore gives the characters a depth with their dialogue that not only shows their devotions but also gives them a roundedness that allows you to become fully immersed. Cracking.”
– Falcata Times
“The Silent Army is a book that improves on every facet that made its predecessors great. This feels like a satisfying conclusion to the first arc of a much bigger story, because this book ends a bunch of plot threads that began right back at the start of the first book, but it leaves some big threads wide open begging for more. I need more stories set in this world. Please indulge me, Mr Moore.”
– Fantasy Book Review
“A strong instalment with no shortage of action.”
– The Speculative Herald
“I love this series, I will not lie about it. It has ALL the things that make a great fantasy read. Mr. Moore steadily ups his game with each new installment. I call this ‘dark’ fantasy, it does have epic leanings, great characters, great action and an awesome world, that pretty much wins me everytime. I won’t gush much more, but if you like the fantasies and you like sword swinging and heads flying through the air like so much dust in the wind, give James A. Moore all your money!”
– Shelf Inflicted
“With The Silent Army, Mr. Moore has given us Epic: a world spanning conflict, a struggle to decide the fate of an entire civilization.  And I for one loved every “epic” event which the author threw my way.  Scene after scene of it.  Every titanic clash, every awe-inspiring magical event, every god-like creature, every dramatic revelation, every horrid deed, all of them building into a sword and sorcery feast not to be missed.  The Sa’ba Taalor rising to the forefront of most epic race in sword and sorcery literature.”
– Bookwraiths
“The final installment of a great epic story has drawn to a close and it ended with a huge bang. From the very first page down to the last, James A. Moore does not pull the punches in delivering an action-filled story that’s full of savagery and pumps adrenaline page after page after page. Thank you James A. Moore for such a wonderful and magical journey.”
– Zirev
“On a Goodreads scale I give it five stars (if I could give it ten, I would. Or eleventy-million – either or.)”
– Amanda J Spedding
That's the sort of stuff that makes me happy!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Free and First - A Little Backlist Love

Our topic at the SFF Seven this week is A Little Love For Your Backlist: Promo/Blurb from one of your previously published books.

I thought I'd share LONEN'S WAR, which came out in 2016. It's the first book in my entirely self-published Fantasy Romance series, Sorcerous Moons. It's also a free read if you have Kindle Unlimited, or you can request a free copy while signing up for my newsletter.

 An Unquiet Heart

Alone in her tower, Princess Oria has spent too long studying her people’s barbarian enemies, the Destrye—and neglected the search for calm that will control her magic and release her to society. Her restlessness makes meditation hopeless and her fragility renders human companionship unbearable. Oria is near giving up. Then the Destrye attack, and her people’s lives depend on her handling of their prince… 

 A Fight Without Hope 

 When the cornered Destrye decided to strike back, Lonen never thought he’d live through the battle, let alone demand justice as a conqueror. And yet he must keep up his guard against the sorceress who speaks for the city. Oria’s people are devious, her claims of ignorance absurd. The frank honesty her eyes promise could be just one more layer of deception. 

A Savage Bargain 

 Fighting for time and trust, Oria and Lonen have one final sacrifice to choose… before an even greater threat consumes them all.

It's an apropos time to mention this book because I (finally) came out with the fifth book in the series, ORIA'S ENCHANTMENT, on January 23, 2019, and book 6, LONEN'S REIGN is available for preorder at Amazon and Smashwords, scheduled for release March 20, 2019! (I will get it up for preorder at more retailers as the date gets closer, possibly even on my own store on my new website!)

Also, speaking of backlists, you only have 4 days, 11 hours and 44 minutes (as I type this) to get the SFWA Fantasy Storybundle. 16 books by 12 authors, and you can get the bundle for as little as $5, and support charity, too.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Veronica Scott's Top 5 Author Influences

"You like cats so you might like this," my Dad said.

Our topic this week is to list our top five influences as a writer. I would have to say these authors influenced me to want to BE an author in different ways…

Andre Norton – I’ve written often about my love for her books. My father gave me my first Andre Norton when I was very young and it was Catseye. It was the first science fiction novel I ever read and it opened up the galaxy to me. I read every single book by her I could get my hands on and I was determined to write my own interstellar adventures, partly because in those pre-Amazon days it was hard to track down author backlists and I never had enough to read. Another early influence on me from her books was that I wanted romance mixed in with the adventure because there was virtually none in hers. (Talking about the earlier science fiction books, not Witch World or later stories where romance finally appeared as times changed.)

And I will admit I was frustrated by the real life stodgy US space program, which seemed very slow to me as young person. I wanted to be among the STARS, people, not sending a few men to the Moon. Science fiction satisfied my desire to leap ahead by centuries and get out there for the bigger adventures.
(As an adult, having worked at NASA/JPL and seen first-hand how the space program works, and all the cutting edge science and engineering required, not to mention the delicate political maneuvering, I understand why things take as long as they do…)

Over the years I’ve pared down and pared down on keeping all my paper books, but the Norton collection still occupies many multiple shelves in my current apartment and I reread certain novels by her on occasion.

Anne McCaffrey – specifically her Dragonriders of Pern series. As an author I longed to create a world as exciting and complex as Pern. I also had days of fervently wanting to live there rather than here, which made me want to stretch my own writing to someday create a world where readers would want to live, the way I’d felt about Pern. I never was as wild about some of her other series and that was a good, early lesson too – that not all readers will like all your books. I was always puzzled to find myself feeling meh about something she wrote, when I was so in love with Pern. And before you ask, no, I never begrudged the fact she was spending time writing something else other than Pern. Even at a young age I recognized that the author might need to move between worlds and series to stay creatively sharp.

My favorite book in the series
Nalini Singh – another creator of worlds I want to live in, most specifically with her Psy-Changeling series, although I love all her books. The other thing I aspired to after reading her was to tackle writing a long running series, with recurring characters and an overarching plot. I like to think I’m finally on the cusp of that with my award winning genetically engineered Badari Warriors (book #7 out soon!) but in no way am I saying I’m even remotely approaching Nalini’s level of expert storytelling. I know my limits!  Just saying I’m finally brave enough and have written enough books now to stretch my creative muscles, so that I feel I can spin a good tale and sustain the reader enjoyment over multiple, directly linked books in the same series.

And she’s a genuinely lovely person – I’ve met her a few times at conferences (talk about a THRILL) and I take her as a role model for how to interact with readers.

Eloise Jarvis McGraw – specifically her YA novel Mara, Daughter of the Nile. It was absolutely eye opening to me that one could write a novel set in ancient times and I loved the very minimal touches she added of the gods’ direct involvement. (I I’m talking way minimal – the goddess Nuit, of the night sky, observes some of the action toward the end of the book.) I have an abiding fascination with ancient civilizations and Egypt in particular, and as with Andre Norton and wanting more romance, when it comes to Ms. McGraw I wanted much more participation by the gods in the plot. My first published novel was Priestess of the Nile with the crocodile god Sobek as the hero and I’m currently working on my 8th ancient Egyptian paranormal romance now.

The first one I ever read
Julie Campbell Tatham – and who you may ask is she? The author of the first six Trixie Belden books. I LOVED Trixie Belden. But in this fifth item I want to credit all the series I devoured as a girl, from Cherry Ames RN to Nancy Drew to the old vintage series I inherited from my grandmother (my favorite single title being Maxie in the Jungle by Elsie B. Gardner). These series were fast but satisfying reads, they showed me girls could be the smart kickass heroine, get things done, solve the mystery or the crime or the problem while being a good friend and staunch ally, and sometimes there was a hint of romance. (When Jim gave Trixie his ID bracelet I got all swoony LOL.). 

I also read all the Tom Swift Jr and Rick Brant series and while I enjoyed them, I really preferred the series where the heroines drove the action. Most of my books, even the ones written entirely in the hero’s point of view, like Wreck of the Nebula Dream, also have a strong heroine. I probably also took in the swift pacing of these books as a desirable attribute. I don’t tend to write long novels full of worldbuilding lovingly described. Tolkien I am not!

There you have it….

And I guarantee you the heroines are kickass...

Friday, February 8, 2019

Who Influences My Writing. I Hope.

Thursday was neuter day for the boy cats. I've had 3 drunk kittens on my hands. It turns out that drunk kittens do not simply drink water. They stand IN the water dishes and start digging. This lead to an inch of water in the bathroom, a sodden kitchen counter, and three kittens dripping water from their bellies down. I'm have no idea what was in the pain meds the vet gave them, but I want some.

Oh. Right. I was supposed to tell you about the influences on my writing, not hallucinating kittens. None of these authors will be a surprise to anyone. I've mentioned them all before. As I look across the list, though, maybe this is my wishful thinking list. These are the people I'd like to have influencing my writing, because in each case, I love the turns of phrase. I adore the images these writers create. Certainly, I'm reading modern authors whose work with words makes me swoon, but it's probably early to claim they influence me as a writer just yet. So my no-surprise-to-anyone list of influencers:

1. Andre Norton
2. Charles de Lint
3. Robin McKinley
4. H.M. Hoover
5. Arthur C. Clarke

Andre Norton was my first book love - the one where I read a single story of hers and I was hooked and had to hunt down everything she'd ever written. I'm still looking for the westerns.

Charles de Lint writes words the way I imagine most people write music. I love the way his words go together. I can't figure out if it's painterly or musical or both. I just love his facility with the language.

Robin McKinley makes me love her worlds and her characters. It's no secret that Sunshine is one of my desert isle books.

H.M. Hoover - how do I explain this one. H.M. Hoover wrote kids books. These books are pretty damned dark. But to this day, despite my age, H.M. Hoover's writing makes me identify with a 10 year old heroine every single time.

Arthur C. Clarke - I love the themes in his work. Always have. The stories go together in a way that feels so effortless. Complex ideas and descriptions slid down so easily. I love getting to the end of one of his stories, my head whirling, and wonder how I got from page 1 to The End.

I guess the common theme is that these are people who write books that stay with me. In every case, the stories stuck with me not just for days, but for decades. These are the books that I kept in storage during the boat years, and then paid to haul across the continent when we moved. I can walk into my office right now and put my hands on books by each of these people. That's what I aspire to be. So yeah. This is my man-I-want-to-be-like-them list of authors who I hope influence my writing.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Who are your influences?

So, whenever that question pops up, I can't help but think of Jimmy Rabbit, trying vainly to hold auditions for the Hardest Working Soul Band in Dublin.
It's funny, because when I think about the books that influenced me, I'm kind of at a loss.  I mean, nothing that I read in my youth really matches what I write.  I cite Zilpha Keatly Snyder and David Eddings as influences, and it's true.  They both opened my idea of what fantasy could be, and more specifically what it didn't have to be.

That was important, because on some level I was always dissatisfied with the trappings of 'traditional' fantasy.  Even though Eddings fits in that category, it did it in a way that defied my earlier expectations.  Both Green-Sky and The Belgariad showed me that Fantasy didn't have to fit neatly into the genre boxes.

And of course, there's Watership Down, which is more myfantasy epic than any others. That book showed me a thousand different ways to make a different culture, different world, feel both comfortable and familiar while being alien and strange. It's just a gorgeous work.

Then there's the stuff outside of the genre boxes, which shaped how I looked at storytelling and world building. Something like, say, Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel was a huge influence on the way I looked at how societies grow and advance, and thus how world building works. 

I'm thrilled that nowadays there is such a wealth of fantasy nowadays that doesn't fit neatly into the boxes.  The stuff that's proliferating today is exactly the sort of thing I craved back in the day.  And I'm glad to be a part of that.  Because the stuff I'm writing is, to a large degree, the sort of thing I wanted to read back then.

Hopefully that will influence some writer of tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Inspired to write and permission to be

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember being alive, but I didn’t always embrace that ritualistic bleeding out of my brain and then sharing the resultant mess with others who evinced only middling interest. I didn’t always want to write, in other words, but reading the work of these five writers certainly gave me a shove at key points in my own journey:

When I was in grade school and receiving messages that people like me were less-than, Madeleine L’Engle made me want to put nerdy, socially awkward girls front and center in my stories.

Starting in sixth grade while the non-sense-making world around me became increasingly infuriating, J. R. R. Tolkien made me want to live in another world. And write about it.

In high school and college, when I was spitefully becoming myself, Haruki Murakami and Gabriel Garcia-Marquez made me want to experiment with structure and form and magic. Also to question the validity of all worlds, including the one we all accept as real.

Later, when I was less angry and ready to start living joyfully, Mary Balogh made me want to write romance.

Because, in the end and no matter who fights or what he fights or what world she’s fighting in, readers deserve the soul-satisfying win of a happy ending.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

KAK's 5 Authors Who Influenced My Writing

Buckle-up, Betty, it's time for...

KAK's 5 Authors Who Influence My Writing:

  1. Eleanor Hibbert aka Victoria Holt -- First author whose complete gothic romantic suspense works I devoured as a budding tweenager. She had at least eight pen names--one per genre. Had I grokked the concept of multiple pen names at that time, the base librarian would never have gotten rid of me. Holt sparked my love of mysteries. 
  2. Morgan Llywelyn -- author of Irish historical fiction and mythology, she got my attention with Lion of Ireland, lured me back with The Bard, and hooked me forever with Red Branch. When she moved way ahead in time to 1916: The Irish Rebellion and followed that up with 1921, 1949, 1972 my American education hadn't prepared me for the gut-wrenching history through which the fiction was threaded. If Llywelyn's written it, I own it, with the exception of her Young Readers books. She rules world-building and balances it expertly alongside character development.
  3. Sherrilyn Kenyon -- Comedy, action, romance, and the paranormal. When I decided I wanted to take writing seriously, she was the "it" author at the time, the darling, the rockstar. I read everything she'd published. It wasn't hard. These were easy, fast, fun reads centered around characters who stuck with you. That last part was the skill I was trying to develop as an author. Showalter, Cole, Sands, etc., are all part of the PNR Romance writers whose stories helped me dissect character-driven plots to get to the heart of the characters. 
  4. Nigel Tranter -- Scottish historical fiction author (among other things). Deep, deep conspiracy-laden whodunnit court intrigue wrapped around actual historical figures. I bought the Bruce trilogy/omnibus-doorstop to take on a road trip. By the time I'd finished the tome, there would never again be a billion dollar Hollywood movie that could conjure vivid settings like a Tranter novel. I'd been spoiled by a man who got into writing fiction because of his interest in the architecture of medieval castles. Tranter was very prolific. I wish I could say I had read all of his fiction, but his works require intense focus because they are so rich.  His books are like a seven-layer chocolate cake that you love, but can only eat one thin sliver at a time. I aspire to weave the kind of engaging complexities into my novels that he did. 
  5. Bernard Cornwell -- Historical fiction author of the best battle scenes ever. While Stonehenge is my favorite of his (yet probably the book with the fewest combat scenes), Sharpe's Eagle was where I cut my tweenage-teeth on boys in battle, the build-up, and the fallout of the actual shots-fired-conflict. That love hasn't waned. In case you're wondering, Sharpe is probably the only show/series in which Sean Bean actually lives to the end.
If you haven't read at least three books by each of these authors, do it. They're very different storytellers in voice, style, and content. Yes, my influences are all...white. Yes, that is a large part of the reason I'm making a conscious effort now to read more diversely. I'm eager to learn from a wider pool of influencers.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Top Five

This week's subject is my top five influences as a writer.


That's never gonna be easy, but I'll give it my best shot..

1) Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Okay, so yes, I know that's two people but the fact of the matter is they worked together a lot on Marvel comics and they had a very serious influence on me. I could add a dozen or so names of artists and writers in comics but we'll just put them all here under this one big as hell Umbrella, okay?

2) Rod Serling The man who created the Twilight Zone and The Night Gallery was decidedly a powerful influence on me. His sense of story and the ability to develop meaningful characters and conflicts in a limited amount of time was very profound for me.

3) The very first series of books that every drew me in and kept my attention was The Eternal Champion series by Michael Moorcock. The sense of awe, the often dark and depressing mire of human emotions, the vast series of worlds that Moorcock created and populated was massive. Corum Hawkmoon, Count Brass,  Elric, et al. The Lords of Order and Chaos, the multiverses traveled and the incarnations who crossed paths...The books had a very profound impact on me and to state otherwise would be a lie on my part.

4) Stephen King has had a massive impact. His tales of horror and his blending of genres were eyeopeners for me from the very first.

5 John Irving's mastery of the absurd and the surreal has always fascinated me. His characters are realistic and whimsical at the same time and that, folks is damned impressive.

There. That's five. I could do fifty more, but that's enough for one post.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Godparents: Jeffe's Top Five Influences as a Writer

We're heading into the last week of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) Fantasy Storybundle. The theme is "Kickass Heroines" and this is such a kickass collection. I was one of the first to download it, even though my own book is in it, and I've read a couple of others. So many fantastic books for an amazing price.

The Bundle was curated by Terry Mixon who says:

SFWA is over 50 years old and its membership consists of professional writers and publishing professionals from around the globe. It administers the Nebula Awards each year, and so very much more. It was a real pleasure reading the submissions from SFWA members this year and, as every year, we had a rough time narrowing the selection to just a few books. We think you'll be delighted as there is something for everyone in this great bundle.

 • The Arrows of the Heart by Jeffe Kennedy. What do you do when your boyfriend is an animal? Really. An animal.

 • The Twenty-Sided Sorceress, Books 1-3 by Annie Bellet. Gamer. Nerd. Sorceress. After twenty-five years fleeing from a powerful sorcerer, a mostly-human woman is finally safe – if she can resist using her magic. Or can she?

 • The Dragon Blood Collection, Books 1-3 by Lindsay Buroker. A dashing pilot, a comely sorceress, and a smart-mouthed soulsword all come together in a world intent on killing them.

 • Radiance by Grace Draven. A marriage between alien kingdoms – and two "spares" who find beauty in each other, and that heroism comes in many forms.

 • Ashwin by Kit Rocha. Can a genetically manipulated soldier be a hero? A healer finds a way to love a man without feelings—and fight for brightness in a dark world.

 • The Raven and the Reindeer by Ursula Vernon. An enthralling remix of a classic fairy tale, with a practical heroine who follows her heart to a very different ending.

There are more than those, too. Check out the deal here. 

Our topic this week at the SFF Seven is "The Godparents: Your top five influences as a writer."

At least the person who suggested this one is letting me have five?

This isn't the definitive list, but it does come pretty close to encapsulating my major influences. These are the authors I not only love, but who influenced the way I write.

Tanith Lee

Anne McCaffrey

Patricia McKillip

Robin McKinley

Anne Rice

I linked to the best pages I could find for each (avoiding Wikipedia if possible). Sadly Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey are both dead now. I have no idea why three of them are "Mc" names - except that perhaps I identify with the Celtic voice, and they would've all been shelved close together. This goes beyond discoverability, however, as I started reading Robin McKinley much later.

All of these women write vividly sensual fantasy with women who are the front and center heroes of their own journeys. (With Anne Rice, it depends on the book.) They all created worlds I wanted to live in, presented complex interpersonal relationships, and explored shades of morality in fascinating ways.

They have been wonderful Godmothers to me, one and all.

Saturday, February 2, 2019


Cover by Fiona Jayde
This week's actual topic is fanfic but as I've never read nor written any whatsoever, not much to say Muse is never tempted to write about other people's characters.

I DO have a new release to report though:


First published in the Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 anthology...which was a USA Today Best Seller and which also received two SFR Galaxy Awards last week! But it's no longer on sale so here's my story as a standalone.

I haven't revised the story or added any new content. My muse is really resistant to working on a story that's been 'finished' previously.

The blurb: Tassia Megg is a woman on the run after the death of her elderly guardian. She needs to get off the planet in a hurry when chance directs her to an open dance audition for the luxury cruise liner Nebula Zephyr’s resident troupe. One thing Tassia can do is dance.

Security Officer Liam Austin is suspicious of the newest performer to join the Comettes. She shows all the signs of being a woman on the run and seems to fit the Sectors-wide broadcast description of a missing thief, accused of stealing priceless artifacts. As he gets to know Tassia during the cruise, he starts to wonder if she’s something more – a long vanished princess in hiding from deadly political enemies of her family perhaps?

And what’s the story with the three eyed feline companion other crew members swear Tassia brought aboard the ship? Does the animal even exist?

As the ship approaches its next port of call, all the issues come to a boil and Liam must decide if he’ll step in to help Tassia or betray her. F’rrh the alien cat is the key to the mystery and Tassia’s fate.

A science fiction romance take on the Anastasia tale...

Amazon   Kobo     Nook    GooglePlay and Apple Books coming soon

Friday, February 1, 2019

FanFiction: Which Playground

Every writer started writing by being a reader. Sometimes as a voracious one. The mental stacks pile high, creaking under the weight of other people's characters, plots, worlds, languages, and adventures. A writer's lifetime of reading (and movies, TV, music, other art - wherever story can be found) becomes the fertile soil out of which her own stories sprout. My strong suspicion is that we're all of us writing fanfiction after a fashion - in this case, it's our stories that stand on the shoulders of giants. Though most of us have enough imagination to avoid cease and desist letters from publishers. 

Granted, I do have a few stories in my files from my early days as a writer that are unabashed fanfic. They are complete copywrite violations. But I think they taught me voice. I could switch from writing a story in Anne McCaffrey's Pern and make it come close to matching her tone, then I could write a Star Trek story that I thought did a fine job of matching the tone of those characters. From there, you can deduce which worlds I'd write in if I could. Star Trek. Anne McCaffrey's Dragon Rider series. Anything Andre Norton - except The Witch World series. That one's not my fav. I'd totally write within the worlds of some of the MMORPGs out there in the world. 

Since I'm not authorized to write officially in anyone else's playground, I simply acknowledge that I am paying homage to each of my literary heroes in what I write. I hope.