Today’s Featured Author – Victoria Zak

Today I welcome Victoria Zak to my blog. Her novella, Scorched Hearts, is one of 13 stories in the Stroking the Flames anthology.  

Interview

What or who inspired you to start writing?

I started reading J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood and was hooked. I wanted to write my own stories. I wrote my first book in 2014 which was Highland Burn and it started my Guardians of Scotland series.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

Great question. I think there’s quite a bit of myself in my books. Sometimes intentional, sometimes not. At times ideas surface and I have no idea where it came from, but it was there inside waiting to come out. My characters set the tone for personality. (Yes, I hear voices.) lol There’s a lot of my humor in my books. I’ll be reading through my current WIP and just start busting out laughing.

What is the best and worst advice you ever received? (regarding writing or publishing)

Best advice I have ever received was when a good friend of mine, who happens to be an author, told me to write the damn book. So, I did. Two and half years and ten books later, I’m still writing those damn books. lol

What is the best thing about being a writer?

The best part of being a writer is I get to share my stories with wonderful readers. I truly enjoy it when I hear back from a reader telling me how much they liked my books. It keeps me motivated.

The worst? Hmmm, I must say I loathe edits. Lots of pounding my head against my desk.

What fuels you as an author to continue to write?

By far the readers. I have a lovely reader group and they keep me motivated and the characters in my head need their stories told. I get excited when one throws me a curveball.

How do you conceive your plot ideas?

I’ll come up with one or two plot ideas and then start asking a lot of “what if” questions. Then I just start throwing obstacles at the characters to keep them from achieving their goals. Sounds horrible, but so satisfying when they finally get their HEA at the end.

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I outline the main plot, then start writing. I have a good idea where I want the story to go before I start writing.

Please tell us about your current release.

My current release is a Paranormal Romance novella for the Stoking the Flames anthology, Scorched Hearts. My story takes place in a mountain town, Ember Brooke, basally it’s Mayberry for dragons. My hero Thane, a dragon shifter and hang gliding instructor, finally gets a mate. However, the she-dragon he’s mated to has no idea what’s it’s like to be a dragon.

Raised by humans, Bex a supernatural scientist, has found a way to suppress her dragon for the fear of the unknown. Overworked, Bex goes on vacation, the road leading her to Ember Brooke and straight into Thane’s arms. With her career and heart on the line, Thane desperately courts Bex hoping to convince her that he’s her mate.

OMGeee, this book was so much fun to write. It’s humorous, sexy, and a wee bit adventurous.

What inspired you to write this book?

These characters were from the first book I started to write and never finished. I had fallen in love with the Bex and Thane and finally had a chance to tell their story. I’m so happy I did.

How did you come up with the title?

Well, since it’s a dragon shifter book, I wanted the title to have a sexy, dragon feel to it, because this couple heats-up the pages.

What kind of research did you do for this book?

The hero is hang glider instructor so I had to research hang gliding.

Which of your characters is your favorite? 

Thane was my favorite. He’s a true hero. He fights for love. His buddies, Stone and Jensen are hilarious. I can’t wait to write their stories.

Can you tell us a little about the black moment in your book?

I can’t without giving too much away, but it’s a tear jerker.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

This book is a start in a new series, however it run parallel to my Scottish Historical Paranormal Romance series, Guardians of Scotland. These characters are descendants of past Dragonkine.

If you could be one of the characters from any of your books, who would it be and why?

I’d be Abigale Brue from Highland Burn. She’s the Princess of Scotland and married to the notorious, bloodthirsty dragon shifter James the black Douglas. She has the kindest heart and the most impressive inner strength.

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood world. These vampires are just incredible.

Is there a specific place in the house (or out of the house) that you like to write?

I write in my office most of the time.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Is coffee a snack?

Do you have an all time favorite book?

Besides J.R. Ward, I loved Suzan Tisdale’s Fredericks Queen. Amazing Scottish Historical story.

Tell us a random fact about you that we never would have guessed.

I’m a two-year breast cancer survivor. I was diagnosed in 2104 right after I published my first book. It hasn’t been an easy road to travel, however I’m grateful to have been able to beat it and continue to write.

Book Blurb

Surrender to the Desire…
Embrace your Destiny…
Soar with the Dragons…
Stoke the flames that 13 of your favorite NY Times, USA Today and International Bestselling authors have ignited with their ALL NEW, NEVER BEFORE PUBLISHED fiery tales of the scorching passion that erupts when a dragon is united with their soul-mate.

Soul Fire by Kelly Abell
Sometimes breaking a curse leads to an unforeseen destiny

Desired Revenge by Solease M. Barner
A throne lost.. Centuries of debt.. A new threat arises that not only jeopardizes her lost kingdom but also her heart. Sometimes vengeance isn’t vengeance once the heart is involved. Will Carmen have her Desired Revenge?

Devon by Kathi S. Barton
Kelly was finally taking the vacation she had been promising herself for years… and escaping her crazy family. But as fate would have it somethings are worse than insane relatives.

On Wings of Time by Linda Boulanger
One man with a dragon’s soul. One woman with the key to unlock his powers. With six hundred years separating them, Fate’s carefully woven web is about to be tested with a kiss and the flip of a coin.

Dragonslayer, Dragon Heart by Isobelle Cate

Heart of a Dragon by L.J. Garland
When an unimaginable evil rains down from the sky, fate demands action from the most unlikely place–a terminally ill woman. But even with a fierce warrior at her side, does a single dragon stand a chance at saving the world?

Promised to A Dragon by Darlene Kuncytes
When you’re promised in marriage to a dragon shifter like a piece of chattel… what will it be – fight or flight?

The Dragon’s Sacrifice by Andi Lawrencovna

Sadie’s Shadow by Julia Mills
Long forgotten secrets, ancient curses and a prophecy she’s been running from for over a century. Fate and Destiny battle for Sadie’s soul but only her Shadow knows the truth…

I Dream of Dragons by Tricia Owens
When a genie in a bottle seduces her inner dragon, a sorceress must decide if the attraction is real or if she is being tricked.

Fire and Ice by Kate Richards
The battle for Crossroads rests in the hands of an ice dragon who has yet to shift and isn’t sure she can. Is his fire enough to set her desire ablaze and free the dragon within?

Curse of the Dragon’s Eye by Kali Willows
When reality is just an ancient curse in disguise, an Egyptian Pharaoh fights for her soul & her flight of dragons

Scorched Hearts by Victoria Zak
One lost heart and another ready for love collides with burning desire. One of them is bound to get SCORCHED.

 

About the Author

Victoria Zak is an internationally bestselling indie published author. She writes Scottish Historical Paranormal Romance and Paranormal Romance. She’s well known for her well-executed stories and thrilling paranormal/highland romance series The Guardians of Scotland.

When she’s not writing in her dragon loving world filled with magic and steamy romance, Victoria lives in the sunshine state with her real-life heroes, her husband and two kids.

You can find out more about Victoria on her website or you can follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

You can purchase Stroking the Flames on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Itunes, and the Kobo Store.

 

New Release: The Perfect Present

Just in time for the holidays….check out this anthology of Christmas tales by some talented young writers.

The_Perfect_Present-3Operation: Santa is Real

Max and Mickey are twins who share everything! A love of sno cones, video games, and Christmas…especially Santa Claus. But Max no longer believes in Santa and Mickey is on a mission to convince her brother that Santa is real. But when her plan backfires, Mickey may find herself on Santa’s naughty list. And when all is said and done, the M and M twins will learn what really matters when it comes to celebrating the season.

Friending the Grinch

Jasmine can’t seem to find her Christmas spirit. A new girl named Jayla has stolen her joy, and some of her friends. Between her conniving and lying, Jayla is ruining Jasmine’s life. But Jasmine is the only one that can see Jayla for the Grinch that she is. Everyone else is fooled by her sob story of a tough life. Can Jasmine get her family and friends to see the truth? Or will Jayla help her discover a few things about herself?

The Littlest Elf

Kylie is small. The tiniest elf in Santa’s workshop and she can’t seem to do anything right. After nearly ruining Christmas, she finds herself wondering if she will ever be good enough to work for Santa. Following a world-wind adventure, she finds that she was closer to the answer than she thought. Join Kylie as she discovers the real meaning of Christmas!

About the Authors

Morgan Billingsley is a seventh grader, who loves writing, acting, swimming and volleyball. She enjoys helping out and making people laugh. Everyone who knows her, applauds her nurturing heart. Morgan can often be found assisting her mother, ReShonda Tate Billingsley at book signings. She is active in her school organizations and serves as secretary for her Teen group in Jack and Jill of America, Inc. Follow her on Instagram @c_momo_b

Ten year old, Jackie Lee is a lover of the letters and the arts. She has starred in three theatrical productions produced by Cherie Garland. She portrayed Crystal in “The Christmas Present,” Glenda The Good Witch in “The Wiz” and the Ballerina in “One Night With a King.” Jackie’s love of arts also extends to church. She participates in the praise dance ministry at her church. She utilizes her musical talents as a clarinet player in her local elementary school band. Jackie can often be found at various literary events assisting her mother and guest authors. She also enjoys journaling and making sketches in her notebooks. She resides in Virginia with her parents and siblings. You can follow her at @leewriterjackie on Twitter.

Ten year old, Gabrielle Simone attends Pulaski Academy College Preparatory School, where her teachers describe her as hardworking and passionate about learning. She is the student council representative for fifth grade, plays both basketball and soccer and has a personality bigger than life. The confident young writer is also the daughter of young adult author Celia Anderson. Having grown up tagging alongside her mom at book signings and lectures, it’s no surprise that she has become interested in the art. Gabrielle says that one day she would like to attend Stanford University in California, but that may change as she grows older. Currently she resides with her mother in Little Rock, Arkansas, enjoys playing dress up, singing and playing with her American Girl Dolls. She lists both her mother and maternal grandmother, whom she affectionately calls FeFe, as the people who have influenced her the most.

You can purchase The Perfect Gift on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the Kobo store.

Today’s Featured Author: Alex Hurst

Today I welcome author Alex Hurst to my blog. She is currently promoting the anthology, Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, which comes out December 1st.

Interview

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a fantasy and speculative fiction writer based in Kyoto, Japan. I was born in Louisiana, but my family made their way out to the west coast when I was in my teens. I’ve been writing ever since I learned to type, but have only considered it professionally for the last two years. In that time, I’ve taken on a role as an admin in one of Facebook’s largest writer communities, Fiction Writers Group, and also learned a lot more about the production side of books than I ever thought I would need! I keep a blog, where I chronicle my adventures in Japan, interview fantasy and sci-fi illustrators, and post occasional updates about current releases. You can find me at alex-hurst.com.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

I’d like to think that very little of my personal experiences are in my works. I like keeping my work separate, as I don’t want my experiential bias to limit the story. That being said, there are several archetypes that I find myself repeatedly drawn to in my work, and I have to actively check and make sure I’m not writing the same character or story over and over again.

Have you started your next project? If so, can you share a little bit about your next book?

Yes, my next project is a serialized, hero science fiction. While I’m trying to make the science believable, I wouldn’t call it a hard science fiction, as there is a fair amount of comic book flare in the narrative.

The story follows the trials of Alta Williams, a woman expulsed from the elite genetic class of a future Earth, after a chemical fire corrupts her DNA irreparably. In addition to the loss of genetic privilege, Alta also loses 98% of her natural skin, which is replaced with a synthetic version bio-engineered by nanoTech, a company with a monopoly on nano technology. This skin, the first of its kind, allows her to meet an abandoned computer program known as the Digital Nano-Accelerator, or D.N.A.

N.A. enlists Alta to help uncover illegal genetic trials and government cover-ups, while giving her the extraordinary power to alter her skin’s genetic code at will. The series is called “D.N.A.” for this reason. I plan to serialize it in about a dozen novellas, the first of which is being released on December 1st, in Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains.

Please tell us about your current release.

Writers’ Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains is the third installment of an anthology project put on by Fiction Writers Group. The group currently is home to 6,000 members, and since last year, has published (or has had a hand in publishing) six full-size anthologies and two drabble collections.

The book itself is themed around the idea of heroes & villains, and what differentiates one from another. Authors were allowed to write in any genre, as long as this subject was the centerpiece of their work. Because of this open-ended submission process, we’ve got a bunch of amazing stories from over seven genres, with characters across the entire spectrum. To name a few, Heroes & Villains has werewolves, tooth fairies, Egyptian gods, an evil pool cleaner, ancient Greek beauties, loyal dogs, and a variety of compelling superheroes and their arch nemeses.

Heroes and Villains has twenty-four riveting stories from authors all around the world, and I am honored to be listed among them. I also did all of the design for the book, and highly recommend the paperback edition—there are a lot of beautiful little touches that couldn’t transfer to the ebook version.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Alta is actually one of my favorite characters in recent memory. I really enjoy her ability to act as she needs to, even when she is feeling scared or confused. She’s become a wonderful foil to discuss identity issues: not just what defines a hero, but also what defines a human, a woman, and courage. She has a lot to say, and she’s not afraid to say those things on the page, which defers a great deal from my usually reserved and collected protagonists.

I actually do dislike a few of my characters, though as far as I can remember, none of them are in published works yet. If I did have to choose from those available, I would have to say that Decebal from “The Bell Tower” would have to be one of my more annoying characters. My feelings on him come more from a development standpoint than any real dislike of the actual character, though. In the original version of the story, he was a young tax accountant for a variety of supernatural families, but in the final version, he was a clock maintenance man, and about sixty-seven years old. He has had to be one of my most illusive characters to pin down so far.

If this book is part of a series, what is the next book? Any details you can share?

Writers’ Anarchy is an annual anthology series, where the theme consistently changes. The next volume will release in October 2015, and is all about horror.

As far as Alta William’s future, as I mentioned, I do plan on serializing more of her adventures. Something that I want to really focus in on with her narrative is the price of immense power (not in the cliché ‘corruption of power’ way, but rather, the corruption of her actual human-ness, the more she comes to rely on D.N.A.’s abilities to fight the foes she is up against.) I will be releasing her novella as a solo in January or early February, which will include original artwork and some amazing comic-style covers from artist Dali Kosta.

What was the most difficult thing/scene to write in this story?

The prose! I am prone to writing in an emotive and descriptive way, but the nature of D.N.A.’s story required I keep the text sharp and focused. I felt completely out of my element writing that way, but it was a really good exercise to see all of the different ways you can play with tension, simply by using different techniques to get those moments on the page. Second to that, the dialogue, while hard, was a blast to write. I really tried to use as few dialogue attributes as possible, and that necessitated very clear personalities in the way each character spoke. According to those that have gotten the ‘first look’, I seem to have pulled it off (somehow!)

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

Oh, no. I would say the only bits that remained exactly how I imagined them would be the opening scenes, and one of the more emotionally charged portions in the first half. Otherwise, quite a bit changed. Partly because of a word count limit, and partly because beta readers kindly pointed out some logical flaws in the flow of the story, the narrative changed a great deal from its earlier drafts. I think it’s much stronger than its original incarnation, while maintaining the energy of its source.

One of the specific bits that changed from the original draft that changed, which I can share here, is how Alta goes about rescuing the patients at nanoTech. A reader mentioned that there was no way the mission would risk the objective by dawdling at nanoTech headquarters, in order to get the necessary medicines. Specifically, they said “Why couldn’t it have been made at any other lab in the country, if they have the ‘recipe’?” and I realized that they were right. I ended up having to cut almost 1,000 words of action from the story, but at least it makes more logical sense, which is one of things I definitely wanted. Nothing pulls a reader out of a story faster than losing their suspension of disbelief!

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

A tough question, as there’s so many places that would be cool (but also terrifying) to live in. I think I would want to live in Jim C. Hines’s Libriomancer series, but only if I could be a libriomancer. The magic system is just a really cool idea, and I could use it to use the magic from other literary worlds I’ve enjoyed in my lifetime (Zelazny’s trump cards, Aladdin’s magic carpet, or Hermoine’s time turner, how cool!) The other reason I think Libriomancer would be my choice is that I think it would actually be pretty bad to live in a lot of those worlds, considering how many wars go on (and how many side characters die), and besides, in Hines’s world, you also get to keep all the benefits of our modern world.

Book Blurb

WAIII_ebook_cover-199x300We all wear masks.

Fiction Writers Group strikes again with Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains, an action-packed anthology of truly epic proportions. What makes a hero? What makes a villain? Can good and evil really be separated so easily?

Travel from the distant past of epic poems to the high-tech futures of tomorrow as our contributors consider these questions, as well as external influences that mold and shape us into the heroes, or villains, that we become.

Writers Anarchy III: Heroes & Villains isn’t all about the latex, though the collection boasts stories like “The Rise and Fall of Red Brick and Humble Pie”, “The Truth About Tony”, “Hero Hazha”, “Birth of a Villain”, “Let Sirius into Fire Melt”, “The Matchmaker”, and “D.N.A.” for those seeking all things super.

Fall in with kidnappers, werewolves, ancient warriors, Egyptian gods, tooth fairies, and thieves. Animals and humans alike grace the pages of this wildly diverse anthology that blurs the line between right and wrong.

Which mask fits you?

About the Author

Photo on 7-15-14 at 5#3Alex Hurst writes primarily character-driven fantasy, in such sub-genres as urban, Gothic, uncanny, and regional fantasy. Sometimes, she dapples in science fiction, horror, and LGBT literature.

She was raised in the wilds of the south. Lightning storms and hurricanes created the playpens of her youth, and in the summers, she used to spend all of her time dodging horseflies in a golden river, catching fish and snakes with her bare hands, swinging from vines, and falling out of magnolia trees.

In the dawn of her adolescence, her family took her on a journey across the United States, from the white sands of Pensacola, FL, to the razor’s edge of the Hell’s Backbone in Utah. They finally landed in Marin, CA, where lotus eaters tried to make city folk out of them (but miserably failed.) She currently lives in Kyoto, Japan, working as a writer and dream-smith.

She also freelances as an editor for the Writers’ Anarchy anthology series, designs book interiors at Country Mouse Design, and admins on the Fiction Writers community on Facebook, assisting emerging writers.

You can learn more about Alex on her blog.

Writers’ Anarchy III:Heroes & Villains comes out on December 1. You can pre-order it on Amazon.

 

Today’s Featured Author: Larissa Hinton

Today I am pleased to have Larissa Hinton, author of Everblossom and Angel Diaries, on my blog.

Interview

About the Author

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Here is my author bio…

The young adult fantasy and paranormal romance author, Larissa Hinton, grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and Chesapeake, Virginia. She now lives in northern Virginia, but she always looks forward to going back to the sweet smell of the salty ocean.

Larissa has always loved writing since the age of 12 and hasn’t stopped since. After many years of writing whimsical tales of romance and fantasy, she is now proud to be a self-published author. When she’s not writing, she’s teaching English at a local middle school.

When seen out of the classroom, Larissa is shopping for the next great Wii game, searching for undiscovered treasure (a.k.a. sparkly jewelry) and plucking some fresh fruits (or vegetables, dependent on the year) out of her small garden.

Larissa Hinton is currently author of Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology and Angel Diaries: Volume One (YA paranormal romance). However, be on the lookout for Everblossom 2: A Second Anthology of Short Stories and Poems!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

After writing my first book, Timestoppers, I knew that I was a writer. That feeling of joy right after finishing that book just made me feel complete.

How much of yourself, your personality or your experiences, is in your books?

In short: A lot! My sarcasm is very apparent in my books and I do that on purpose. Some of the characters have some of my weird quirks and talents (like being able to pick up foreign languages quite easily).

Do you outline your books or just start writing?

I use to just start writing it, but I have learned the hard way (especially with Angel Diaries) that was quite possibly the worst thing for me to do. I would add all kinds of extra dialogue that was hilarious but it would slow down the plot.

Now that I write with outlines my writing is much tighter and more focused than ever before.

Her Latest Book

Please tell us about your current release.

My most recent release is Angel Diaries: Volume One, a young adult romance novel. Here’s the blurb:

He was forbidden. Uncontrollable. Never to be seen, mentioned, or otherwise talked about. Until the nightmares began. Searing the screams, carnage and death into her skull. Forever.

Before this, Lindsey had a normal life. Somewhat. She had a boyfriend who was acting strange, an ex-boyfriend who has been too flirtatious and a best friend who turned psychic.

Once upon a time, the hardest decision Lindsey had to make was who she would take to the upcoming Winter Dance: her boyfriend, Philip, or her ex, Luke. Now, she’s not even human. She’s an Angel.

This book is recommended for 16 years or older due to adult scenes and situations.

What inspired you to write this book?

To be honest, it came out of a slight frustration of writing the same type of story. I loved writing happily ever after stories with dreamy hereos and strong female leads (and of course with a heavy dose of sarcasm in a fantasy world). The problem was I didn’t know what direction to go in. I loved the fantasy world and romance, but there wasn’t a book like that. Then I read Twilight and everything changed. I decided to write my first young adult paranormal romance and ever since, my writing hasn’t been the same.

Which of your characters is your favorite? Do you dislike any of them?

Funny enough, my favorite character is Jia (she’s the side kick to Lindsey, the main character in Angel Diaries). I even wrote a full length screenplay about her in her adulthood. Additionally, I wrote a few short stories about her and included one of them in Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology. What I love about her is her tough, weird, quirky, witty exterior and her soft, feminine, vulnerable shell that cracks through in the most unusual of circumstances.

I use to detest Phillip, Lindsey’s boyfriend in Angel Diaries. A lot of my readers knew I didn’t like him. Yet, in order to get the plot to work out, I had to learn to love him. Or at least, find out what Lindsey loved about him. And the more I delved into his character, the more I found out why I disliked him so much but loved him all at the same time.

Did the story turn out the way you planned from the beginning? If not, what change happened that you didn’t expect?

I didn’t realize how interwoven the theme of love is in the novel. I thought the main theme would be about responsibility and honesty. However, after I wrote the ending and fixed relationships in the novel, it just seemed as a natural byproduct of the novel.

Just for Fun

If you could jump in to any book, and live in that world, which would it be?

I would love to jump into Cassandra Clare’s world of Infernal Devices series with Tessa. Will and Jem. I love the steampunkery aspect of it. Really, any book with steampunk elements I would just love to be in. (As far as television series wise, I would love to join Artie, Claudia, and Myka in Warehouse 13.)

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

I use to chew on cashews while writing. I love nuts, especially chewing on them while trying to figure out plot points. Unfortunately though, they have a lot of salt and they actually cause my teeth to stain for some odd reason. Therefore, I have laid off all nuts while writing instead I chug water.

Book Description: Everbloom

everblossomAn anthology that will quench your thirst for more than the ordinary.

Everblossom is a journey through poems and short stories that may seem ordinary on the surface but dig a little deeper and the world not only shifts. It changes.

From the author who brought you Iwishacana/Acanawishi, she now brings you a dash of everything from dark fantasy to the paranormal to even romance. So prepare yourself to delve into the three stages of the flower from bud to blossom then back to seed, you’ll go through them all with a whole new perspective on what it all truly means.

Book Description: Angel Diaries

angelofficialHe was forbidden. Uncontrollable. Never to be seen, mentioned, or otherwise talked about. Until the nightmares began. Searing the screams, carnage and death into her skull. Forever.

Before this, Lindsey had a normal life. Somewhat. She had a boyfriend who was acting strange, an ex-boyfriend who has been too flirtatious and a best friend who turned psychic.

Once upon a time, the hardest decision Lindsey had to make was who she would take to the upcoming Winter Dance: her boyfriend, Philip, or her ex, Luke. Now, she’s not even human. She’s an Angel.

This book is recommended for 16 years or older due to adult scenes and situations.

 

Larissa’s author bio is listed at the beginning of the interview or you can find out more about her on her blog.

Everbloom is available on Amazon.

Angel Diaries: Volume One is available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.