Wednesday, December 8, 2021

FIRE OF THE FROST Fantasy Holiday Romance Yumminess


This week at the SFF Seven we're doing a little winter holiday self-promo! Many of you know we had to push back the release of FIRE OF THE FROST, but it's coming soooooon! We are on target to release on December 22. So if you are someone who celebrates Christmas, this should hit your eReader just in time to relax and enjoy some holiday downtime. 

And if you don't celebrate Christmas, there's lots of midwinter, romantic holiday goodness for you, too! Only Amanda's story is literally Christmas. Everyone else's is a fantasy midwinter holiday. Mine includes a magical sleigh race and elemental festive lights. It's a story that takes place in the Bonds of Magic world, roughly after DARK WIZARD and semi-concurrent with BRIGHT FAMILIAR. It takes place at Convocation Academy and you just miiiiigght see some of the characters in GREY MAGIC

The delay means you have just that much longer to preorder the anthology for the special preorder price, before it goes up on release day.

    

Here's the official (still in progress) blurb:

A midwinter holiday fantasy romance anthology…

From Darynda Jones, a standalone novella set in a world where vampyres are hunted for sport. The only thing standing between them and total annihilation is Winter, a warrior bred to save them from extinction. Forbidden to fall in love, Winter cares only about her oaths… until she meets the devilish prince of the underworld.

Of Fate and Fire by Amanda Bouchet

The Kingmaker Chronicles meets modern-day New York City! Piers, an exiled warrior from Thalyria, finds himself in the Big Apple just before the holidays. The world and everything in it might be utterly foreign to him, but that won't stop Piers from helping to complete a vital mission for Athena and protect Sophie, a French teacher from Connecticut who's suddenly knee-deep in inexplicable phenomena, danger, and henchmen after an Olympian treasure that should never have ended up in her hands—or remained on Earth after the Greek gods abandoned it.

The King of Hel by Grace Draven

A novella-length expansion of a stand-alone short story in which a cursed mage-king from a frozen kingdom is obligated to marry a woman of high-ranking nobility but meets his soulmate in a lowly scribe.

Familiar Winter Magic by Jeffe Kennedy

It’s holiday time at Convocation Academy, but best friends Han and Iliana are finding it hard to celebrate. As a familiar, Iliana is facing her assignment to a life of servitude to a wizard, very soon. And Han… despite being tested by the oracle daily, he is still uncategorized. As Iliana and Han face being separated forever, they at last find the courage—or desperation—to break the rules and acknowledge their deeper feelings for each other. But it will take more than true love to save them from the laws of the Convocation…

    

 And here's a little snippet from my story, Familiar Winter Magic:

Once the races finished, Iliana let Han talk her into more dancing. With the excellent whiskey warming her blood, not to mention the heady glow of Han’s undivided attention, she could hardly resist. She loved him so much and he was right: this was their last Founding Festival together. Rather than try to hold him at arm’s length, in anticipation of their imminent parting, she decided to enjoy his company while she could.

Han at his most charming was impossible to refuse. Which would be a major problem when he manifested as a wizard, but she wouldn’t think about that tonight. Since it was a holiday, the thought-seekers gave everyone a break—and were celebrating themselves. The festival was a rare excuse for everyone to loosen up.

A little bit tipsy, the lights and dancing making her feel giddy, she danced with Han until she was so warm she had to shed her cloak. Among his many skills, Han was also an excellent dancer—far better than she, but he was so skilled that he made his partner look good—and they found themselves more than once in a circle of cheering spectators as he whirled her through the vigorous dances.

Then the music slowed, and she fanned herself, blowing out a breath, and headed off the dance floor. Han caught her hand. “Hey, where are you going?” Expertly he twirled her under his arm, then snugged her close, a hand on the small of her back as he led her through the dreamy rhythm.

Iliana braced one hand on Han’s chest, his heart thumping rapidly beneath her fingertips, his blue eyes lambent in the starry light. “We never dance the slow dances,” she breathed.

“A grievous lapse of judgment on my part,” he murmured, gaze traveling over her face. “You feel perfect in my arms, lovely Iliana. I want you here forever.”

She tore her gaze from his heartbreakingly beautiful face, focusing on his throat instead. That wasn’t much help, as his skin begged to be kissed and nibbled. “I don’t understand what’s changed between us, why you’re being so…”

“Seductive?” he suggested in a warm purr. “Devastatingly handsome and charming?”

Snorting, she made a face at him. “Aggressive. And annoyingly persistent.”


    

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Stay Warm This Winter, Take Home an Immortal Spy

 As the temperatures outside dip, curl up in a snuggly blanket with a steaming cuppa at hand and enjoy the completed Urban Fantasy series The Immortal Spy. From the Norse Under World to the alleys of Washington D.C., adventure alongside a cosmic gatekeeper as she recruits Fates, gods, dragons, and angels to defend the Mid World from foreign invaders. 

Buy The Series Now In eBook or Paperback from:



Sunday, December 5, 2021

The Witch Collector

Hi all! This week's topic at the SFF Seven is pretty simple. It's Winter Holiday Self Promo. What better than a story that takes place in an enchanted, frozen wood?

If you haven't heard, The Witch Collector, book one in the Witch Walker trilogy, released November 2nd. I'm so thrilled with the book's reception. Readers and bloggers have made this an exceptional debut experience. The Witch Collector even hit #1 in the UK in Fairy Tales and #2 in the US. I've been walking around pretty stunned since 11/2. 

So what's this book about? First off, it's a romantic fantasy with mid-level, open-door steam. There are witches, magick, curses, ancient gods, immortal rulers, forced proximity, enemies to lovers, and a villain you will love to hate.

Here's the blurb:

Every harvest moon, the Witch Collector rides into our valley and leads one of us to the home of the immortal Frost King, to remain forever.

Today is that day—Collecting Day.

But he will not come for me. I, Raina Bloodgood, have lived in this village for twenty-four years, and for twenty-four years he has passed me by.


His mistake.
Raina Bloodgood has one desire: kill the Frost King and the Witch Collector who stole her sister. On Collecting Day, she means to exact murderous revenge, but a more sinister threat sets fire to her world. Rising from the ashes is the Collector, Alexus Thibault, the man she vowed to slay and the only person who can help save her sister.

Thrust into an age-old story of ice, fire, and ancient gods, Raina must abandon vengeance and aid the Witch Collector in saving the Frost King or let their empire—and her sister—fall into enemy hands. But the lines between good and evil blur, and Raina has more to lose than she imagined. What is she to do when the Witch Collector is no longer the villain who stole her sister, but the hero who’s stealing her heart?

"If you like your fantasy with complex magic, an intriguing protagonist, a powerful romance, and a great cast of supporting characters, I highly recommend The Witch Collector. Charissa Weaks's high-stakes storytelling will leave you waiting eagerly for the next installment." — Juliet Marillier, award-winning author of the Warrior Bards series 
"A romantic, fraught and fantastic journey through war-torn lands and a deliciously malevolent enchanted forest. I loved the voiceless heroine who wields magical sign language and the tormented hero determined to keep her alive and save an empire. Welcome to a compelling new fantasy world and a truly epic tale!" — Jeffe Kennedy, award-winning author of The Forgotten Empires and Dark Wizard 

If this sounds like a book you might enjoy, you can add it on Goodreads or purchase online, anywhere books are sold. The Witch Collector is available in ebook, paperback, and a beautiful hardback with character art on the jacket flaps. (see below). Book two, City of Ruin, releases on August 9th, 2022.

If you'd like more info, you can find me on Instagram, and if interested in exclusive content and early review opportunities, you can join my Rebel Readers Facebook Group. I'd love to chat and get to know you!





All Photos Courtesy of Marcia Deans


Thanks for reading!!




Friday, December 3, 2021

The Best Medicine

Your heart pounds so hard it hurts. Your breath rasps. Your mouth is dry. Your blood in your ears roars. Your insides feel scorched by the constant rushes of adrenaline. You might complain about the weight on your chest. 

It's either a heart attack or it's stress. In the US with its pathological worship of busyness, it's probably stress. We've built a society that's really, really good at piling it on and one pathetically bad at releasing it. Science tells us all the time that chronic stress causes and exacerbates disease. It really is in our best interests to figure out how to turn down the dial on stress. 

The funny thing is: Stress evolved to be a lifesaver. Trust humans to turn it into a killer. 

Stress isn't supposed to be a bad thing. It's supposed to help, not harm. But to help, stress needs to be a cycle - a cycle that gets completed. At the dawn of humanity, a critter charged you. Stress dumped flight or fight or freeze chemicals into your body. If you were going to survive, you either ran or you fought. Either way, living meant physical exertion. Once you either defeated or outran the critter trying to turn you into a snack-pack, you returned to your tribe, told your story, and celebrated living another day. Defeating stress in the modern world means recreating those steps. Burnout by Emily and Amanda Nagoski lays out the means of doing just that. 

I'm not going to talk about exercise, because yeah, yeah, we all know. No, I want to focus on that last bit: Celebrating.

What happens when you recount some amazing feat to your friends? Wide eyes, appreciative, empathetic, maybe sympathetic noises from your listeners. Amazement, broad smiles, and laughter when your story concludes with triumph. Or at least with you not being made a chalk outline by some saber-toothed something. 

Laughter. You know. That stuff that's supposed to be the best medicine. Because laughter signals your system that stress is over. It's at an end and the alert system can relax. 

When the stress gets to be too much, I break out the cat toys and the catnip. There's nothing like a bunch of drunk cats butt wiggling and pouncing on string (and one another). Brown paper is also a good source of feline comedy.

If laughter feels too far away, affirm life in some fashion. Our ancestors made art. They drew on cave walls, or put up hand prints - something to say 'we're still here', 'we survived another day'. Watching the last of this season's monarch caterpillars change into butterflies does the job for me. Getting to release a brand new butterfly into the world dumps cold water on stress. It's pretty tough to stay keyed up and agitated when an endangered bit of technicolor beauty takes her first flight.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Reading Yoga

 

Alexia, wearing a 3/4 dark red sleeve shirt and black pants, in yoga Warrior Two pose while holding a book.
Reading Yoga

Destress: What’s one thing you do to keep (or reestablish) your equanimity when life is too much?


If there were one thing we could do to destress…well, we’d all be doing it and thriving! So that’s the thing, it takes more than one trick to keep the stress at bay.


Jeffe gave a great run down on how our bodies are hard wired to respond to threatening situations: alligators. The Mayo Clinic has a nice little post if you’re interested. 


For me, I ignored the alligators for far too long and ended up with a chronic disease. Now I have an arsenal of tools to handle stress. No, they’re not perfect because when you throw some bugs into the system I flare up and then the mental struggle gets real. But here’s my top three bring-it-down-a-level tricks:


Yoga

I’ve mentioned before that I had to relearn how to breathe, here, and doing yoga is my daily reminder to reset. I known I’ll get knocked off my pillow again and again, but I’ll keep getting back on.


Reading

According to my Goodreads I’ve read 127 books so far this year, and I know I’ve got two finished ones sitting on my desk that are awaiting reviewing. Why so high this year? Because I read to escape and when I’m lost in another world or the lives of characters I leave my own stress behind. 


Get Outside

I’m incredibly thankful for my husky pup, Ullr. He makes me get outside—especially when I don’t want to. Inevitably, being out in nature is what I needed. It clears my head.  


I haven’t invented anything new, though I did manage to combine all three for my image for the week. And really, what's better than slow, concentrated movements that improve your health while being swept away into a fantastical world?! Well...regular yoga is great too. 


If you are feeling the pressure I hope you give some of our week’s suggestions a try. Trust me, don’t ignore the alligators. 


Is one of my top three a go-to for you? 


Alexia's reading yoga book stack resting beside her gray and white Teema towel as she does yoga: Recoil, Polaris Rising, Fate of the Tala, Project Hail Mary, Den of Wolves, and Pie Academy

my reading yoga book stack—each one is highly recommended!


Wednesday, December 1, 2021

3 Tricks to Destress (and Non-Coincidental Release Date Changes)

 

This week at the SFF Seven we're talking destressing. We're asking, "What's one thing you do to keep (or reestablish) your equanimity when life is too much?"

That's always the question, isn't it?

It's especially pertinent for me today because I've been stressing about whether I can get GREY MAGIC, book #3 in Bonds of Magic, written in time for release. See, I've known for a while that I wouldn't make my original release date of December 20. Yes, the December 20 that's nineteen days from this post. I made a deliberate choice there when Agent Sarah asked me to write more on a book she really wanted to take on submission this fall. "I'll just postpone the release date," I thought to myself. Then, yesterday, I was deciding what I should push the date to, as Amazon requires that we change the date at least five days ahead. Yes, that still gives me two weeks, but I wanted to get a feel for that - and if it means I also have to push the release of THE STORM PRINCESS AND THE RAVEN KING. (Reader: I do. Apologies! These things have a cascade effect...) 

So, I was picking my ideal, least-amount-of-stress date when I realized: Amazon only allows us to push the date by 30 days. For those not wanting to do the math, that made the new release date January 19. At first I tried manipulating my schedule and wordcount goals, considering writing on weekends, which I normally take off to relax and refill the well, and then I realized that I would be incredibly stressed trying to do that. I ended up soliciting advice. My plan is to call Amazon and see if they'll grant me dispensation to push both release dates out to a comfortable distance. Apparently they sometimes will, and I stand a good chance as I haven't done this before. Wish me luck! And I'll report back. 

Fair warning: those dates I'll be requesting are mid-February and mid-April, just to give myself plenty of room since I don't want to have to try to change them again. 

Onward to the actual topic!

Stress isn't easy to combat, especially since it can be so insidious. Our neurological systems are built to constantly re-establish baselines, so we can be alerted to new dangers. This means we become inured to the presence of chronic stressors, in order to be aware of acute ones. In essence, we forget about the alligators in the watering hole that are always there, so we can be alert to the arrival of the tiger.

But only our conscious awareness "forgets" about the alligators. Our adrenal system is revved about those stinking alligators, punching up our nervous system every time we take a drink. For modern humans, our alligators are those constant concerns of our lives: money, health, family, deadlines, politics, etc. We think we're not stressed about these things all the time because we're used to it. Often it's only when the stress relents that we become aware of its absence - with sheer, blessed relief.

For me this means being proactive. I make an effort to combat stress even when I don't feel particularly stressed. What do I do?

1) Take deep breaths. I know this may feel like hackneyed advice, but really is the best. Studies have shown we hold our breath when reading emails or when social media notifications arrive. By reminding myself to consciously and conscientiously breathe deeply, I release and fend off stress.

2) Speaking of email and social media notifications, I silence as much as possible. All those pop-ups, pings, and badges? Turn them off! Very little needs our immediate attention. For email, I try to confine my engagement with it to once a day. Much like the paper mail. I treat it like it arrives once and I read and respond then. 

3) I try to be kind to myself, doing those things that others have mentioned here. Yoga is great, not only for the energy realignment and breathing (!), but also because it makes me step away from the phone and computer for an hour and be only in my body. Being outside works for this. Long walks. Reading in the sun. Unplugging and focusing on non-monetized creative tasks.

What do you all do to destress?


Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Sometimes You Can't Control Your Reaction to Chaos

 What do I do to maintain/reestablish my equanimity when chaos abounds? 

groans
violently rubs face

Dear readers, I'm a classic introvert who suffers greatly from general anxiety and panic attacks. It doesn't take much to destroy my equanimity. I'm a recluse by design. 

As a classic introvert, my first step toward sanity is to claim solitude. Introverts gain energy when they're alone and expend energy in groups. As such, I have to retreat from whatever social/familial demands are draining me. I know my limits and enforce my boundaries. I'm blessed with a family that totally gets it without taking offense. Acquaintances, on the other hand, consider me a haughty bitch or a total nutter. Eh, whatevs. 

Second step, hug a beastie. One of my coping aids for living with general anxiety is my dog. She's accustomed to random snuggle attacks. Aside from a grunt and "hooman, you're hot" groan, she endures until the episode passes. Puppy kisses are included in the services she provides. Dog hair is absolutely part of my regular attire.

In situations where panic is taking hold and I can't escape nor is my dog with me, then it's all about finding a safe place to park my butt, applying the cold compress I always carry with me to my wrists and nape, and practicing measured/controlled breathing. The cold compress helps assuage some of the physical symptoms, while focusing on my breathing and the sensation of cold derails the thought spiral causing the attacks. It's not 100% effective, but it's something.

While I'm easily thrown due to issues that seemingly should be under my control but totally aren't, I've learned that "powering through" often leads to a "mandatory system reset" that takes more time and effort from which to recover. Save the superhuman behavior for true emergencies. Be good to yourself every day. You deserve it. 


Monday, November 29, 2021

Managing stress

 This week's topic is one I'm very fond of, namely how to manage stress. 

Stress will do you in. It can cause writer's block, ulcers, temper tantrums, and, of course, the grumpies. None of which are recommended. 


So what do I do about it?


I read. One of my favorite pastimes.

Or I write. 

Or I pull out the Sculpey and work on a small bust of one of my characters or ideas.

The trick, near as I can figure it, is to do damned near anything to stop thinking so hard. 


Life will crush you down if it gets the chance. There are any number of obstacles between you and your daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and lifetime goals, and there always will be. what is the possible benefit of reward without challenge? Okay, let's be honest, we could all do without the challenges. But they exist just the same. the catch is not to let them crush you, and sometimes I fear we truly are our own worst enemies.


For me, the trick is to just breathe for a while Let it go and focus on one of my hobbies. I'm not all that complicated a soul, really, and I can do without the drama of real life. I'll gladly trade it for the drama of a good story, either told to me or written by me.





Sunday, November 28, 2021

A Little Stress Relief: Eight Tips

 

Happy Sunday! I hope you all had a great weekend with your family. This weeks's blog topic is Destress: What's One Thing You Do to Keep Or Re-establish Equanimity When Life Is Too Much? 

This is a timely post going into the new year, but I couldn't narrow it down to one thing. My go-to stress reliever since my kids were small has been a steaming hot bath. Most of the time, I just needed to de-frag and be ALONE, and we all know how hard that is with little ones. Twenty years ago, I had three, sometimes four, kiddos vying for my attention. Hot baths with the door locked saved me many times and still does, maybe because it became such a routine part of my life. Nowadays, I add some Epsom salts to my water and light a candle, and that winds me down like nothing else.

But! I have other stress relievers too. Sometimes a hot bath just isn't enough. When I need to reset my mind and return to that comfortable place I call stasis, I know that I need to either reconnect with nature or declutter/organize my house--or both. I live five minutes from every store you could imagine, and a few hundred thousand other people as well, so getting out in nature usually means I have to make a short drive. But I know when it's needed, and let me tell you, I find a trail, a stream, a park, or I go to our little spot of land on the top of a small mountain here in Tennessee and enjoy the fresh air and that lovely view.

Other times, I need to re-organize my home. Chaos in the home = chaos in me. It took me a long time to realize this, but once I did, and once I addressed it (which was hard with kids), man was it life changing. The act of cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing is a way that I re-set back to stasis. 

Other things I do? Exercise, walk, do a little yoga, or meditate. I recently bought the Asana Rebel app, and I'm enjoying integrating a short yoga practice into my morning routine. I also listen to music for stress relief, and of course, I read. Reading can be harder though, because concentration is a necessity, whereas listening to music requires nothing but plugging in. Music stops negative thinking for me and redirects my brain into creative mode. I get a lot of writing inspiration from music, so it's a cure-all if I need to stop thinking about whatever is stressing me, and I usually get my mind back on writing in the process.

Another big tip for stress relief is something I try to do to maintain equanimity, and that's hydration, electrolytes, and rest. I've read a few studies on the topic of stress and hydration/electrolyte imbalance, but my science degree days are long past. I can, however, vouch for the fact that I just feel better when I'm properly hydrated, drinking electrolytes, and getting proper rest. Good hydration alleviated the constant headaches I used to have along with the accompanying brain fog which created more stress because I couldn't focus.

Electrolytes, for me, are needed because I try to eat anti-inflammatory foods as much as possible, but that means a lot of water loss. I have to stay hydrated and keep the electrolytes going, or I feel awful. And rest? It's critical. I used to struggle to sleep past 4:30am, so 5-6 hours a night was my norm. It wasn't enough. When I'm hydrated and exercising, even if only a 20-minute walk once a day, I rest better, and then I feel much more on top of things the following day. Our brains need hydration and good sleep as much as the rest of our body, so if you feel off-kilter, maybe take a day to get some fluids and just sleep.

The important thing is to know what works for you and then to implement those activities when needed, whether it's an emergency stress reliever or a daily activity that helps keeps stress at bay. I'm all about being preventative versus reactive, but it's important to understand what tactics keep you in stasis and what tactics bring you back to stasis once balance has been compromised. 

I hope you have your own list of stress relievers, and if not, I hope this one gives you some ideas. Stress sucks, and it can quickly siphon the enjoyment from our lives. Here's hoping that you have the tools to fight the battle, and that you win.




Friday, November 26, 2021

Shifting Traditions

Our topic this week was favorite holiday recipes. I'd like to talk about Thanksgiving specifically, instead. I'll get you a recipe or three, I promise. But I spent a lot of time thinking about the holiday this year, because I was this many years old before I discovered that Indigenous peoples view the day as a national day of mourning. I was this many years old before I found out that the traditional 'pilgrims and natives sharing a feast around the same table' was a manufactured fable and that the true historical account is, naturally, much darker. I didn't call off the holiday. We still made once-a-year food. We enjoyed it as a family. But the fact that a broad swath of our Indigenous neighbors spend the day in mourning circled my brain all day.

I don't want Thanksgiving to be rife with guilt. I don't want to cancel the holiday. I want to create a United States that changes an Indigenous Day of Mourning into reason for Indigenous people to celebrate, too. That means working for justice for Indigenous people. It means creating a system and a culture that honors and values Indigenous voices and views. It means voting and it means learning to be an ally to Indigenous activists and voices.

Changing holidays is hard. Ask anyone who's proposed not making the green bean casserole this year. Or who suggested that we don't need mashed potatoes with gravy AND sweet potatoes. Yet, just because those were the dishes that were always on grandmas table, it doesn't mean those foods were on HER grandmother's table. Asking people to change their food is as hard as asking people to change their views. But it can be done. We can acknowledge the dark and horrific history of colonization in this country, sure. But that's not really the point. The point is shifting the power dynamic. Start as small as honoring standing treaties. How'd that be for a new tradition?

Maybe it sounds simple in my head because the fabric of the holidays has been shifting under foot for the past several years. It started over a decade ago when the traditional turkey and oyster dressing started landing me in the ER with a blinding (literally) migraine every single year. Lemme tell you how fast I got over 'tradition'. It shifted further when Mom and I moved to a vegan Whole Food Plant-based diet. It was both an ethical shift and a health shift. I don't need cholesterol meds any more. Did the turkey we made for the guys make me regret my newish diet? Briefly, yes it did. Not enough to sneak a bite, though. Instead, we had a sheet pan dinner from Vegan Richa that includes a lentil and mushroom loaf (very tasty), dressing made from a whole grain spiced buckwheat bread we make, onion gravy, sweet potatoes, and brussels sprouts with onions and mushrooms (her recipe calls for green beans rather than brussels sprouts, but I'm in the 'green beans are a waste of valuable plate real estate' camp. I'd far rather have roasted brussels sprouts. 

And because it's not a holiday without cookies, we found a recipe from My Quiet Kitchen for a Spiced Tahini Oatmeal cookie. I know. I know. Oatmeal cookies are made of cardboard and regret. Especially if there're raisins rather than chocolate chips. These aren't. I swear they aren't. They may never replace sugar cookies and frosting on your holiday table, but for us, they magically taste like a tradition we left behind when we discovered that Mom was so allergic to peanut butter it made her pass out - peanut butter cookies. It's not exact, but damn it's close.  And with a cup of tea? Let's just say there may have been a batch of them made on Wednesday morning that didn't see sun down. Low fat? No. So they aren't likely to make rotation in our  day-to-day diet.

So I'd like my tradition to make fancy food with a heaping helping of working for justice for our Indigenous hosts.

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Thankful

wood grain table with a circle of gourds and sourdough bread with the word Thankful in the center

 

We should be doing it every day,

and for once we're not talking about reading! We're talking about being thankful. 


We're thankful for readers, fellow writers, friends, family, fur balls, and so much more. May your day be filled with joy! 


Happy Thanksgiving, to our US readers!

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Black FaRoFriday Fantasy Romance Readathon!



Love romantic fantasy and fantasy romance? Because it's U.S. Thanksgiving - and Black Friday, the apparently now global celebration of our worldwide religion: consumerism - the FaRo gals are sponsoring a readathon!! Details here, with reading lists and templates for participating. As a bonus (and sacrifice to the deities of consumerism) all of these books are on deep sale!
My DARK WIZARD is on sale for only 0.99c! 

This is a great time to grab this first in the Bonds of Magic series as a standalone novella in the world, Familiar Winter Magic, will be out December 22 in the FIRE OF THE FROST anthology, and book 3, in the series, GREY MAGIC, now has a cover and will be out in January! 

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

New Urban Fantasy Release: THE HERALDED SPY by K.A. Krantz

I'm tickled pink--no, not by the wintry blustery winds--to share the series finale of the Immortal Spy Urban Fantasy series with you! The seventh book marks the end of the adventures of Bix and the Berserkers in what has been a fun series to write. While I'm sad to say farewell to some of my favorite characters, I have to admit to feeling pretty gosh darn good about completing the series. So, without further ado, here it is, the last book:

THE HERALDED SPY
The Immortal Spy, Book 7, Series Finale

The heralds presage the arrival of unmitigated power.

War escalates in the Mid Worlds as the champion and caretakers fight to save their home from the onslaught of invading anti-gods. While the armies clash on battlefields, Bix targets the enemy’s leadership to negotiate their retreat for now and evermore.

Parley is the key to salvation, but the opposition refuses to answer the invitation. With her teammates abducted, her consort imprisoned, and the defense system sabotaged, Bix will finally claim every iota of her primordial magics to bring the enemy to heel…or to break them on the thorns of her wrath.

The heralds warn of fools who force the hand of the High Executioner.

BUY IT NOW:

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Cold Weather Tea

This week’s post topic is to share a favorite Thanksgiving food or drink recipe. I decided to share a drink that I grew up with: Fruit Tea. It’s so good, and perfect for sipping on a cold night with a book in hand. 

I've been finding this fruit tea already made in my local Publix grocery store, which is amazing. My mom actually called it Russian Tea, and after she passed, we realized we didn't have her recipe. There was a Tang recipe that floated around many years ago (and still floats around) that's similar, but it isn't the way my mom made her tea. After some digging though, I found her version. This is my slightly modified recipe from AllRecipes.Com.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 family-sized tea bags (Black tea is best for this recipe--I like mine strong)

  • 1 quart boiling water

  • 1½ quarts water 
  • 6 whole cloves 
  • 2 - 4 cinnamon sticks (up to you)
  • 1 (12 ounce) can pineapple juice 
  • 1.5 cups white sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen orange juice concentrate 
  • 1 (6 ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate






Steep the tea bags in boiling water for 5 minutes, then remove. Next, combine 1 1/2 quarts water, cloves, and cinnamon together in a large pot and bring to a boil. Stir brewed tea, pineapple juice, sugar, orange juice concentrate, lemonade concentrate, and allspice into the boiling water to dissolve the sugar. This recipe is great served hot, but it's also yummy served cold. I refrigerate any leftovers (with the cinnamon sticks and cloves left in for added flavor) and drink in the mornings as well! Let me know if you give this recipe a try, and Happy Thanksgiving! ~ Charissa

Thursday, November 18, 2021

A Fantasy Book Rec: A Psalm of Storms and Silence!

 

Book cover of A Psalm of Storms and Silence with maroon and gold filigree background and two characters standing back to back: a man in black robes on the left and a woman in a red dress and chainmail shawl on the right.

This week’s topic is one of my favorites: Book Recommendations!!! 

As I’ve mentioned before, I love suggesting books and the book cover above is one that is waiting on my nightstand because book one was such a fantastic fantasy ride. And, the covers are absolutely gorgeous.


If you enjoy fantasy with strong characters and a dash of mythology and romance, you should check this series out!



A Psalm of Storms and Silence

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin #2


Karina lost everything after a violent coup left her without her kingdom or her throne. Now the most wanted person in Sonande, her only hope of reclaiming what is rightfully hers lies in a divine power hidden in the long-lost city of her ancestors.


Meanwhile, the resurrection of Karina’s sister has spiraled the world into chaos, with disaster after disaster threatening the hard-won peace Malik has found as Farid’s apprentice. When they discover that Karina herself is the key to restoring balance, Malik must use his magic to lure her back to their side. But how do you regain the trust of someone you once tried to kill?


As the fabric holding Sonande together begins to tear, Malik and Karina once again find themselves torn between their duties and their desires. And when the fate of everything hangs on a single, horrifying choice, they each must decide what they value most—a power that could transform the world, or a love that could transform their lives.


Bookshop | B&N | Goodreads


If you haven’t had the chance to check out book one, the blurb is:



A Song of Wraiths and Ruin


Book cover for A Song of Wraiths and Ruin with dark green and gold background and a beautiful young black woman in green staring forward.

For Malik, the Solstasia festival is a chance to escape his war-stricken home and start a new life with his sisters in the prosperous desert city of Ziran. But when a vengeful spirit abducts Malik’s younger sister, Nadia, as payment into the city, Malik strikes a fatal deal—kill Karina, Crown Princess of Ziran, for Nadia’s freedom.


But Karina has deadly aspirations of her own. Her mother, the Sultana, has been assassinated; her court threatens mutiny; and Solstasia looms like a knife over her neck. Grief-stricken, Karina decides to resurrect her mother through ancient magic . . . requiring the beating heart of a king. And she knows just how to obtain one: by offering her hand in marriage to the victor of the Solstasia competition.


When Malik rigs his way into the contest, they are set on a course to destroy each other. But as attraction flares between them and ancient evils stir, will they be able to see their tasks to the death?


The first in an fantasy duology inspired by West African folklore in which a grieving crown princess and a desperate refugee find themselves on a collision course to murder each other despite their growing attraction.


Bookshop | B&N | Goodreads



You can find Roseanne online here.


If you haven't checked out this series yet, I hope you do! Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Two Great Stories to Read


This week at the SFF Seven we're throwing out some promo to other creatives in our community. I'd like to give a shoutout to two people who've been a huge help and source of insight and calm guidance to me in the last week, P.H. Lee and Phoebe Barton

Lee, who prefers not to be gendered, is a writer of mostly fantasy and science fiction, and is a member of SFWA. Lee has a number of stories you can check out, but I recommend starting with Your Own Undoing. It's a haunting and compelling take on the wizard-familiar relationship, and explores a fall from power with gut-wrenching and unflinching empathy. Lee told me it's a metaphor for an abusive relationship, which I absolutely can see. So, fair warning on that content, but if you can take that, absolutely give it a read. 

Phoebe Barton is a queer trans science fiction writer who serves on the SFWA Board of Directors as a Director at Large. You can check out her storiesgames, and nonfiction. The one I'm recommending today is The Mathematics of Fairyland. This is a delightful and mind-bending mashup of fantasy and science fiction that explores how Martians handle faeries and how a princess can access Fairyland from a space station in order to rescue her princess. It's a heartbreaking and deftly woven glimpse into the madness of grief. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Promo: The Sword of Kaigen by ML Wang

Today, I'm thrilled to promote The Sword of Kaigen, a sweeping martial arts fantasy epic by ML Wang. The 2019 winner of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (aka #SPFBO), Kaigen is a welcome change from European-rooted fantasy with characters you'll love to hate and weep to love. With an elemental magic system living alongside technology, the story builds on the push and pull of a mother and son against the ugly truths of tradition. For those readers looking for moms in the co-starring role, Misaki is here to deliver. 


THE SWORD of KAIGEN
Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it.

On a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire's enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name 'The Sword of Kaigen.'

Born into Kusanagi's legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family's fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen's alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.

Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.

When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?

BUY IT NOW: Amazon

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Daughter of the Moon Goddess by Sue Lynn Tan

 

UK Edition/Waterstones
Hi all! I've been a bit MIA the last two weeks. The Witch Collector released on 11/2 and let me tell you, it was exhausting. Far more so than I expected. On top of that, my house/kitchen is mid-remodel and I attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo, so it's been fun in my world this first half of November ;)

This week's blog topic at the SFF Seven is to promote BIPOC creatives. I chose to promote a fellow debut author, the lovely Sue Lynn Tan. Can we just take a moment to be in awe of this book cover by Waterstones?? And the GREEN pages?? I had to have it the moment I saw it! The US version is just as beautiful, though. It's one of those books that I feel I need in both forms because it's just that stunning.


US Edition
Here's a little info about Sue Lynn and her beautiful debut romantic fantasy novel.

     Blurb:

      A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of Chang'e, the Chinese moon goddess, in which a young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm.

      Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the feared Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when Xingyin’s magic flares and her existence is discovered, she is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind. Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to learn alongside the emperor's son, mastering archery and magic, even as passion flames between her and the prince.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream—striking a dangerous bargain in which she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic—where love vies with honor, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

About Sue Lynn Tan:

Sue Lynn Tan writes fantasy novels inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. Born in Malaysia, she studied in London and France, before settling in Hong Kong with her family.

Her love for stories began with a gift from her father, her first compilation of fairytales from around the world. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books – spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds.

Her debut, Daughter of the Moon Goddess, will be published by Harper Voyager in January 2022, with a sequel to come. It is an enchanting fantasy of love and family, immortals and magic – inspired by the beloved Chinese legend of Chang’e flying to the moon upon taking the elixir of immortality.

When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the many hills, lakes, and temples around her home. She is also grateful to be within reach of bubble tea and spicy food, which she unfortunately cannot cook.

Find her on Instagram and Twitter @SuelynnTan, or on her website www.suelynntan.com. She is represented by Naomi Davis of Bookends Literary Agency.

Doesn't this sound so amazing?? Here's a link to Sue Lynn's website book page because there are so many awesome purchase options. You can also add the book on Goodreads here. Remember, it releases on January 11, 2022. I cannot wait to read this tale!