Tuesday, July 26, 2011

10 Years With Kelley Armstong's Otherworld Series

Spell Bound by Kelley Armstrong released today and it marks TEN years for her Otherworld Series that started with Bitten.

I loved this continuation of Savannah's story that started in Waking the Witch. It includes the banter I enjoyed so much between Adam and Savannah as they work together plus it was cool to see older characters take part in the action. The blurb below is from the publisher:

Spell Bound is once again told from the point of view of young Savannah Levine as she continues to navigate the world of supernaturals. Savannah is in terrible danger, and for once she’s powerless to help herself. At the conclusion of Waking the Witch, Savannah swore that she would give up her powers if it would help a young girl. Little did she know that someone would take her up on that promise. And now, witch hunting assassins, necromancers, half-demons, and rogue witches all seem to be after her. The threat is not just for Savannah; every member of the Otherworld might be at risk. While most of her fellow supernaturals are circling the wagons at a gathering of the council in Miami, Savannah is caught on the road, isolated from those who can protect her and unable to use her vast spell casting talent, the thing she counts on most. In a story that will change the shape of the Otherworld forever, Spell Bound gathers Elena, Clay, Paige, Lucas, Jaime, Hope, and others, who soon learn that the greatest threat to supernaturals just may come from within.

Last week I read the first book in the series, Bitten, as well as an ARC of Spell Bound. It struck me as I was reading Bitten, what an amazing job she did of getting into the "skin" of a shifter, both emotionally and physically. It's no small acomplishment to do this without losing the reader with too much description or confuse them with a lack of details. She manages to find that balance that makes the story engaging, emotional and suspenseful.

If you haven't read The Otherworld Series it's a great time to start since next year it will wrap up with the third book in Savannah's point of view and the 13th book in the series. Fans of urban fantasy and paranormal romance will love Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld stories. They are timeless and will be read and appreciated for many years to come.

Women of the Otherworld Series
1. Bitten (2001)
2. Stolen (2002)
3. Dime Store Magic (2003)
4. Industrial Magic (2004)
5. Haunted (2005)
6. Broken (2006)
7. No Humans Involved (2007)
8. Personal Demon (2008)
9. Living with the Dead (2008)
10. Frost Bitten (2009)
11. Waking the Witch (2010)
12. Spellbound (2011)

Learn more about Kelley and her books on her website: http://www.kelleyarmstrong.com/books/

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Feast Winner & Summer Update!

The winner of our contest for the Feast Prize Package is:

#13 which was Renee Rearden! I'm emailing her and Merry right now. Thanks to everyone for commenting:)

Sorry for the delay in choosing a winner. Last week we were getting ready for my 18 year old son's graduation open house. I managed to get a virus, so that sucked, but the open house was cool. We used facebook and connected with one of his all time favorite teachers from elementary. Mr. Noel taught both of my sons in 1st Grade, then he made the change to 4th Grade, and taught them again. He was an amazing teacher, and made learning so cool for all of the kids. He's a principal at a charter school now, and I loved that he not only showed up for Chuck's open house, but he stayed and visited with all of us!

This summer has been a crazy roller coaster of emotions:)


Friday, July 8, 2011

Feast Giveaway & Interview

Feast: Harvest of Dreams
By Merrie Destefano
Paperback: 320 pages
Also available on Kindle
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Released: June 28, 2011

Summary: Madeline MacFaddin ("Mad Mac" to fans of her bestselling magical stories) spent blissful childhood summers in Ticonderoga Falls. And this is where she wants to be now that her adult life is falling apart. The dense surrounding forest holds many memories, some joyous, some tantalizingly only half-remembered. And she's always believed there was something living in these wooded hills.

But Maddie doesn't remember the dark parts—and knows nothing of the mountain legend that holds the area's terrified residents captive. She has no recollection of Ash, the strange and magnificent creature who once saved her life as a child, even though it is the destiny of his kind to prey upon humanity. And soon it will be the harvest . . . the time to feast.

Once again Maddie's dreams—and her soul—are in grave danger. But magic runs deep during harvest. Even a spinner of enchanted tales has wondrous powers of her own . . .

I'd love to see inside Merrie Destefano's head. I imagine it would be brimming with fairies, dark creatures, brave loyal dogs, beautiful flowers, luscious forests, and all of the characters from her books. Feast is dark, yet hopeful. It's about loss, but also about love and acceptance. There are moments of intense courage and moments of profound danger. Reader's will love the imagery, the characters and the author's beautiful style of writing.

Merrie and I became acquainted on Twitter before her first book, Afterlife, was published. She's such a kind and generous author who always takes time for her fans and other writers. I love her style of writing in both books, though it's rather different in each one. Merrie made time to answer a few questions for me, and I wanted to share them with you today.

Brenda: Did you create the world for Feast before you started writing the actual story, or did it develop as you went along?

Merrie: In almost all of my books, I figure out certain elements beforehand, but the bulk of the story is born during the writing. I don’t enjoy writing if I have already created a complicated, blow-by-blow outline. For me, the fun is in the journey. That said, I knew Ash’s story very well—both his back story and his world—but most of this was discovered while writing the first version of the book. I wrote 150 pages of this novel, threw it out and then started over. In that process, I learned a lot about who and what the Darklings were.

Brenda: Your writing is so descriptive and full of emotion...did this come naturally or did you develop it as you went along?

Merrie: Thank you! I honestly think that each book has its own unique voice, based on the characters, the story, and the setting. I wanted Feast to have a lyrical, fairy tale feel, so I tried to give a comparable voice to the book. In Afterlife, I was going for more of a gritty, noir, almost detective-thriller style, so the voice in that book was a bit different. During my final edits, I try to pay close attention to areas that might need more description. For instance, I may need to bulk up a scene if it doesn’t seem to fit the tone in the rest of the book.

Brenda: This book is much different than your first one, Afterlife, so I'm wondering which idea came first and how different was writing Feast?

Merrie: Wow, that’s a tough question. Afterlife must have come first, but it was originally a completely different book. The book progression went approximately like this:

1. White Burn (unsold novel, first version of Afterlife, set on Mars)
2. Once to Die (unsold novel, second version of Afterlife, set on earth)
3. Voices (unsold, unfinished, very scary novel)
4. First 10-20 pages of Feast written while writing Voices.
5. In the Beginning (another unsold novel)
6. Afterlife
7. Feast

Now, for the second part of your question: How different was writing Feast? Quite a bit different. Feast is set in the current day, in a setting near where I live, so I had very little research regarding setting and the world-building wasn’t nearly as complicated as it was in Afterlife.

Brenda: Once you rest up from promoting Feast, what's on schedule? Have you already started a new project, or is a sequel in the works for either of your books yet?

Merrie: As far as writing goes, I’m currently working on an e-book novella that would be a prequel to Feast. It’s titled Cursed and I hope to have it out soon. I also recently finished another book, but I’m still working on the edits. Right now I can’t say very much about it, except that I think it’s an incredible book and I can’t wait for it to get published. And I would love to do a sequel to Feast. I have so many story ideas about the characters involved and I just loved the setting.

Brenda, thank you so much for having me on your blog today! I really enjoyed all of your questions.

Merrie is giving away a special package to one of my commenters that includes a signed copy of FEAST, plus some cool swag of bookmarks and buttons. This is a picture of the prize:

To Enter: All you have to do is leave Merrie a comment or question. Be sure to leave your email in the comments (you can put it as such: email at email (DOT) COM if you wish.) I'll use the random number generator to pick a winner on Monday, July 11th. You'll have all weekend to comment.


Sunday, July 3, 2011

Guest Blog: The Story of Vampire Blood

Last week I contacted Kathryn Meyer Griffith after seeing her announcement that her book Vampire Blood was being reprinted by Damnation Books. It was originally published in 1991, but Kathryn revised the book and it has a spiffy new cover as well. I was fascinated by her 39 year career as a writer, and she offered to send me this guest blog with her story of Vampire Blood. I thought we'd all find it interesting and inspiring!

The Story of Vampire Blood
By Kathryn Meyer Griffith

In 1990 or so I’d just got done releasing my first three paperback novels with Leisure Books, a romantic historical (The Heart of the Rose 1985) and two romantic horror books (Evil Stalks the Night, 1984 and Blood Forge, 1989), and because I wasn’t making much money on them, was looking, as most so-called restless young authors were doing, to move up in the publishing industry.

So I wrote snail mail letters to three established authors of the day – Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Peter Straub – asking for a little advice and a little help. What do I do next? I want to be one of the big dogs running in the big races. I want to make the big bucks. Be famous like you. (Ha, ha. I was so naïve in those days!)

Well, Stephen King and Peter Straub never answered my letters but one rainy fall night I got a phone call from Gerda Koontz (Dean Koontz’s wife) and she said Dean had gotten my letter and wanted me to have a name of a brand new agent who I should call or write to and say I was recommended by him. If I thought it strange that Dean Koontz himself wasn’t actually talking to me I was told by Gerda that he was a shy man and had had a particularly hard couple of months because of family problems (I think it had something to do with his father in a nursing home or something, but can’t exactly recall now) and he’d asked her to call me. She often did that for him, as well as helping him with the business side of his writing career. He (through her…and I got the impression that he was actually nearby telling her what to say the whole time) said I had to have an agent (I didn’t have one) and then he gave me the name of an ambitious one, Lori Perkins, just starting out and his advice on what I should do to advance as a writer.

I do remember being incredibly touched that he, a famous busy novelist that I admired – I loved his Twilight Eyes – would take the time to talk to me, even through his wife. They were both so sweet and we talked for nearly an hour all about writing, books and everything.

I took their advice and contacted that agent and she agreed immediately to represent me on my fourth book, Vampire Blood, no doubt, because I said Dean Koontz had recommended her to me. Name dropper! But Vampire Blood was the reason I’d contacted those famous authors in the first place. I thought it was the best book I’d done so far and wanted it to go to (what I thought at the time) would be a better publisher than Leisure Books, which contracted and hog-tied their writers with a horrible ‘potboiler’ one-size-fits-all ten year contract with low advances and 4% royalties. Yes, I got a whole whopping 14 cents a book in those days, but, I must confess, they did print thousands of paperbacks each run and had a huge distribution area. I thought I could do a lot better. Anyway, Lori Perkins wanted me to send her the book and she did like it and eventually sold it, and then three others zip-zip-zip right after, to Zebra Books (now known more as Kensington Publishing) at 6% royalties and double the advances I was used to getting. They slapped a sexy blond vampire with a low dress on the cover and a hazy theater behind her. Lovely colors. I thought it was an eye-catching cover. I was so happy. I thought I’d made it! Again, so naïve.

Vampire Blood. A little story about a family of vicious killing vampires who settle in a small Florida town called Summer Haven and end up buying and fixing up an old theater palace to run, and pluck their victims from, and a divorced, down-on-her-luck ex-novelist and her hard luck father, who along with friends, help thwart them. Now to how and why I wrote it.

My husband and I lived in this small Illinois town, Cahokia, at the time and there was the neatest little hole-in-the-wall theater in a nearby shopping center we used to go to all the time…run by a family of a sweet man, Terry, and his wife, Ann, and sometimes their three children, two teenage boys and a girl named Irene. Such a friendly, but odd couple. The run-down theater was their whole world it seemed. The kids helped take in the tickets, pop the popcorn and sell the candy snacks.

Now the minute Terry and Ann found out, in one of our earliest conversations, that I was a published novelist they were my greatest fans. Terry went right out and bought all three of my books and they all read them. Terry always thought they’d make great movies. Next time my husband and I went to the little theater Terry and Ann greeted us like old friends, so delighted to see us, and refused to take a dime from us for anything. We got in free whenever we went from then on. Now in those days my husband, my son, James, and I were pretty broke. I worked as a graphic designer at a big brokerage firm in downtown St. Louis (across the Poplar Bridge from our Illinois town) but my husband was in between jobs. We lived on a shoestring. Hard times. So I always was so tickled that we could get into the local movies for free. We went a lot, too, as we loved movies, especially science fiction and horror films.

One night I was watching Terry and Ann and their joy in running that little theater, with the kids bustling around doing their jobs, and I got the idea for Vampire Blood. Just like that! Use them and the theater as a backdrop for a vampire novel. Hey, wouldn’t it be neat, I off-handedly mentioned to Terry one night, if I wrote a book about a family of vampires that was trying to pass as a real human family, the man and woman wanting so badly to fit in and lead a normal life for a while, renovating and then running a theater together…but the kids are wild and, as kids always do, make trouble for them in the town…killing people? Terry loved the idea and I asked him if it’d be all right to use him and his family as a template for the vampires. He was thrilled to be part of anything to do with my books and said yes. So…I wrote this book about them (sort of), the theater (making it much grander than it was, of course), a small town terrorized by cruel, powerful vampires who can change into wolves at will….and a saddened lonely woman, her brother, and her ex-husband (who she still loves and ultimately ends up with again after he saves her life) who finds herself again, but loses a lot, as well, fighting these vampires. Vampires she doesn’t believe in at first.

I was very happy with the book when it was done and dedicated it to Terry and Ann when it came out in 1991. Terry and Ann were thrilled, too. So Vampire Blood came out and did very well for me, second only to my Zebra 1993 Witches. As the years went by it went out of print and when, twenty years later, Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks – and I said a resounding yes!

So…here it is…Vampire Blood…twenty years later, alive again and better, I believe, than the original because my writing then was done on an electric typewriter, with gobs of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. And in those days, editors told an author what to change and then the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it. Who knew what those sneaky editors were slipping in inbetween and before the final book was in an author’s greedy little hands. Hey, and I was working full time, raising a son, living a life and caring for my big extended family in one way or another, too. Busy, exciting, loving, happy and sad times.

For this new version, Damnation Book’s cover artist Dawné Dominique made me an astonishingly intriguing cover of a lovely vampire (Irene the youngest vampire who turns out to be the most brutal and ancient in the end)…but, thank goodness, without the low sexy top. And my DB editor, April Duncan, helped me make it a better novel.

A lot has happened to me and my family in these twenty years, as well. Both my parents, and my beloved maternal grandmother, the storyteller of her generation, have since passed away. Many people we used to know have. Old boyfriends, old friends and relatives. I miss them all! I no longer have that agent; she went on to bigger advances and bigger writers. I lost my good job at the brokerage firm, bumped around in lesser jobs for years, always writing in my spare time, and now, at long last, write full time while my husband works way too hard in a machine shop to support us.

Rewriting the book brought back so many good memories…and tears over those no longer here. The theater closed sixteen years ago, the owner believing it’d served its purpose and used up its time. Terry and Ann, heartbroken, were never the same. They had other jobs, none they truly cared about. Ann is still with us, but Terry died a few years ago, I heard from someone. We lost contact once they stopped running the theater and we moved from Cahokia to a nicer town miles away.

But I’ll never forget those early days and the stories that came with them. Days of high hopes and far distance future dreams…some of which have come true and some which haven’t. I’ve never made the big bucks, never gotten truly famous, but now, at long last and to my great delight, all twelve of my older books, from Leisure, Zebra, and The Wild Rose Press are being rewritten and reissued from Damnation Books and Eternal Press between June 2010 and July 2012. Better than ever after I’d rewritten them. I have plans to write more books and short stories, too, when they’re done. Most importantly, I’m living a good life with a husband I adore and brothers and sisters I love. Writing the stories I was born to write and happy I am. I have my memories. All in all, I’m a lucky, lucky woman.

So, all you writers out there…never give up and never stop writing!

Thank you!

Kathryn Meyer Griffith has been writing for nearly forty years and has published 14 novels and 7 short stories since 1984 with Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press in the horror, romantic paranormal, suspense and murder mystery genres… and all 12 of her old books, see below, (and two new ones) are being brought out again between June 2010 and July 2012 from DAMNATION BOOKS (http://www.damnationbooks.com/ ) and ETERNAL PRESS ( http://www.eternalpress.biz/) again in print – and all in e-books for the first time ever! Learn more about her here: