Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Guest Blogger: Katie Stephens on Five Things That Influenced Her Writing

Guest Blogger Katie Stephens, whose book Alphabetical Disorder is coming out as part of the Love Least Expected set in February, tells us about five things (books, movies, experiences) that influenced her writing:

1. Series books: from Nancy Drew and Tom Swift to JD Robb’s In Death and Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, I enjoy on-going stories that use cross-over characters. I don’t want a snippet of life. I want to see a huge character arc over time. This is the concept I’ve incorporated into my circus anthology. I have twenty ‘chapters’ that I’m using as my character bank to expand into longer adventures.

2. Writer versus Author: I’ve kept every snippet of writing I’ve done since high school. It wasn’t until I joined the critique website Scribophile, where friends pushed and prodded and then encouraged me to submit my stories, that the writer’s bug really took a tremendous chunk out of my hide. And once bitten, authors are born.

3. Emotions: My first-ever-published story featured my kids in a half-truth, half-fantasy story of a possible future. When these grown children read the story and ended up with tears in their eyes, everything clicked in my mind. The best stories I have ever read usually evoke some sort of strong emotion in me—so my goal is to bring that feeling to other people.

4. Social networks: My fellow authors are taking me by the hand and teaching me about Facebook, Twitter and many other networks and blogs. I’m learning more every day and creating an entirely new group of friends and colleagues (a very good thing). I find it interesting that although my life has been spent in creative endeavors, the first part—as a musician—was a much lonelier existence. Because of the demands of the instruments, there were hours and hours of solitary practice. With writing, I’m either on my game or totally dry (the perfect time to turn to my writer friends for encouragement and advice). Sweet camaraderie!

5. Imagination: I can’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t make up stories in my head. I’m pretty sure it’s a prerequisite for being an author. Having the time now to write down these stories is a grand luxury. It boggles the mind how my younger colleagues can juggle a young family or school, a job and writing. They awe me.

Alphabetical Disorder 
by Katie Stephens

Everyone in Mason’s Circus understands and respects the powers of the resident gypsies—the Romani tribe—and most steer clear of any involvement. But when Susie gets caught in a web of prophecy and magic that brings danger to the troupe, her non-Rom interpretation turns out to be flawed. She pushes aside the man of her dreams to date alphabetically, in the hopes of saving her circus family.

Sam has had his eye on Susie since she joined the company. He’s puzzled by her actions, but not blind to the way she responds to him. A patient man by nature, he battles his need to claim her immediately or allow her game to continue. When disaster strikes, they join forces with their Romani friends to stop the curse before it destroys the circus.

About Katie Stephens:
If you discovered a sealed box with “Katie’s memories” scribbled on the side, you’d find a lifetime of partially completed stories, plays and musicals. A retired music teacher and curriculum writer, Katie Stephens has opened that box and switched her need to create from music to literature. She writes both non-fiction and fiction, where she happily experiments with all genres.

When her muse takes a break, Katie is a staff reader for freeze frame fiction and a grant writer for the Empire & Great Jones Creative Arts Foundation. Although her grown children are scattered east and west across the country, she lives solidly in mid-America with three kitties and a husband who keeps asking when she’s really going to retire.

Facebook  / Twitter @standardishue / Website / Email standardishue@gmail.com

~~Love Least Expected, coming February 3, 2015~~
Pre-Order today for only 99¢ at:
All Romance / Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Google Play

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Spotlight Post: Haunt My Heart

Haunt My Heart by Lisa Medley
Paranormal Romance: Ghost, Witchcraft, Hex and Sex. 
Words 68K (272 pages)
eISBN-13:  978-0-9908856-0-3
Kindle: http://amzn.to/1Bx3fzQ
Print: http://amzn.to/1Bwurio

A Civil War soldier dies to save his men. Can he find true love to live again?
  Sarah Knight has a job she’s good at, a quirky BFF, and a boyfriend who’s bad for her. When Sarah unearths a Civil War artifact on a ghost hunt at Chatham Manor, she brings home more than a souvenir.
   Lieutenant James “Tanner” Dawson fought for the Union, working as a supernatural liaison for his Major General in a secret Masonic offset called the Brothers of Peril. When he’s hexed by a witch, he learns the only way to save his men is to die himself. But death is not the end. Awakening 150 years later, he knows if he wants to be corporeal again, he has to find true love to break the hex—a task no easier in 21st century than it was in the 19th.

Excerpt from Haunt My Heart: It all starts when Sarah finds a ring on the grounds of Chatham Manor after a night of ghost-hunting. She takes home much more than a souvenir.
   Ellie opened the driver’s side door, and Sarah waited for her to crawl across the seat of the old Mustang and pop the passenger-side lock. The broken power locks were one of many deficiencies in the classic car. Sarah retrieved her betraying phone from her pocket and powered it up as Ellie shuffled about inside the car.
   As she checked her phone display, a glint of light on the ground to her right caught her eye. Aiming her screen at the ground like a flashlight, she bent low and searched for the source of the flash. Just as she began investigating, though, she heard the lock pop, and Ellie pushed the door open. The door hit Sarah in the head, knocking her to the cold, hard ground.
   “Sorry,” Ellie said, scrambling to catch the door before it slammed closed again.
   Sarah mumbled a few choice obscenities and rubbed her head. She reached down and ran her finger over something half-buried in the ground.
   “What is that?” Ellie was hanging out the car, her body stretched across the seats.
   “I don’t know.” Sarah turned the flashlight of her phone up to full beam and picked at the object in the frozen turf. “Do you have a pen or something?”
   Ellie scuffled around inside the dark, rolling landfill that was her car—the interior lights long burned out—and produced a screwdriver instead. “Will this work?”
   Sarah took the offered screwdriver and dug at the buried treasure. After breaking it free from its cold grave, she examined it by the light of her cell phone. “It’s a ring.”
   “Let me see.”
   Ellie scrambled back into the driver’s seat. Sarah joined her in the car, then shut the door against the cold.
   “Hold the light,” Sarah said, digging a Kleenex from her coat pocket to clear as much of the mud from the ring as possible.
   The ring remained caked with mud, which filled the engraved edges, but the stone cleaned off easily enough. The set, a square cut black onyx, glinted. The cold metal of the band warmed in her hand.
   “You know what that is, right?” Ellie asked.
   “A ring?” Sarah couldn’t keep the sarcasm from her voice, not after the night she’d had.
   “An artifact.”
   “No. Someone just lost a class ring. Like one of the sorority girls.”
   “Does that look like a woman’s ring? No. No is the answer. That is a man’s ring. An officer’s ring or something. That could be a real-life, true-blue Civil War artifact.”
   “I doubt it. And if it is, we’ll return it. This is a national park. There are rules.”
   “I say finders keepers. Let me see it better.”

Lisa Medley writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance about monsters in love, because monsters need love too. Look for Reap & Repent (Bk 1) and Reap & Redeem (Bk 2) of The Reaping Series, available now. A lover of beasties of all sorts, she has a farm full of them in her SW MO home including:  one child, one husband, two dogs, two cats, a dozen hens, thousands of Italian bees and a guinea pig. Not so in love with the guinea pig. She can do ten pushups IN A ROW and may or may not have a complete zombie apocalypse bug-out bag in her trunk at all times. Just. In. Case.

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