The (Sometimes) Famous Side Character

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By Joshua Roots, author of SUMMONED CHAOS

I’ve always been a huge fan of Side Characters, the men and women of fiction who help the Hero/Heroine along the way. Playing a supporting role, they’re the ones who often get to say the things the Main Character can’t or won’t. Other times, they’re the ones who find an important clue that helps solidify the MC’s theory of whodunit.

The thing is, Side Characters sometimes get the short end of the stick since they are, on occasion, catalysts for motivation. Life is probably a little safer if you’re Hammer McThunder*, but what about Charlie Von Labcoat**, his fast-talking scientist buddy? The guy decides to work late in the lab only to be gunned down by international criminals bent on stealing the latest time-travel technology he’s been working on. Next thing he knows, he’s dying in McThunder’s arms. Sure, the MC gets to utter some awful catch phrase like, “It’s time to drop The Hammer” and then spends the next 200 pages hunting down bad guys, but that’s no solace to Charlie.

Poor, poor Charlie.

But not all Side Characters are under the Sword of Damocles. Sometimes they’re there to break up the tension. Add some spice to an otherwise dark situation. One of my absolute favorites has to be Zathras from Babylon 5. Stuck on a planet tending The Great Machine and with nothing but insects for conversation/food, the guy didn’t have a lot going for him. And yet, the few episodes where he appeared made a huge impression on me because he wasn’t 2-demnsional. The character had depth and humor, something that separates an outstanding Side Character from the ones that are Just Okay.

It didn’t hurt that he had some of the best lines in the series.

Side Characters can also serve as a point of reference for the reader by contrasting with the Main Character. Watson, no intellectual lightweight in his own right, is there so that we see the true extent of Holmes’ intellect. The fact that Watson is a deeply fleshed out person with motivations and desires, rather than simply being a story-prop, makes Holmes all the greater.

No matter what role the Side Character plays, the critical component for me is the connection. During the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy’s partner, David, is killed, I remember thinking, “That stinks. Oh, hey Shorty!***.” There was no development and, as such, no sense of loss.

But Obi Wan? Oh man. Talk about a huge disturbance in the Force when Vader turned him into an empty robe.

In the end, Side Characters can make or break a story/series for me. Doomed from the start, used as a humor-tool, or serving as a reference point, I’ll struggle through a book if the supporting cast is lack-luster. But give me me a handful of well-defined, strong characters that I can connect with and I’ll gladly stay up till 4AM to gobble down every iota of awesome.

So what about you? What are some of your favorite side-characters and why?

-Josh

Oh look, books!

 

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Author Bio:

Joshua Roots

Joshua Roots is a former Marine, car collector, and beekeeper. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, playing video games, and reading comic books. He is still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.

 

Connect with Josh: Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads

*You can almost smell the testosterone wafting from this fake name.
** Alas, poor Charlie. I knew him, Horatio! Also, another made up name.
*** Shorty!

Get in the Car! No Time to Explain! — R.L. Naquin

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Are we really on book four of the Monster Haven series already? We must be, because here I am, back for another visit. You look great! Are those new shoes?

Golem in My Glovebox is a little different from the previous three books in the series. This time, I took Zoey and her reaper boyfriend, Riley, on a cross-country road trip. I’m not gonna lie to you. The research for this book was way more fun than it needed to be. I kind of overdid it.

Call it procrastination. Call it self-indulgence. Myself, I like to believe I did it for my readers. I’ve always believed the more ridiculous the story and characters are, the more realistic I need to be in everything else.

Okay. No. It was totally self-indulgence.

I went to AAA for a map and hung it on my wall so I could draw all over it. I Googled the heck out of all the locations Zoey and Riley visited. By satellite, I examined the Cadillac Ranch in Texas where ten cars are buried nose down in the desert, tailfins to the sky, waiting for tourists to spray paint them. I watched YouTube videos of an abandoned theme park featuring dozens of cracked and peeling concrete dinosaurs towering above the cameraman. I spent hours finding new places to go on the Roadside America website.

And I convinced my husband to join me on a trip to see the exact center of the contiguous United States.

It was magnificent. No, that’s a lie. It was a strange little island of grass in the middle of nowhere. The only things to see were the plaque declaring the location’s authenticity, some picnic tables and barbecues under an overhang, and the tiniest chapel I’ve ever seen in my life.

Center Chapel - RL NAQUIN

Center Chapel: Tiny, adorable pews in a tiny, adorable shed.

I swear, I would have made the trip for the chapel alone. It wasn’t too much bigger than an outhouse, and it contained a podium and four one-person pews. As weird as my books can get, I cannot make this up. Take at look at the photo. I was standing outside when I took it.

 

Center of the U.S.: Perfect for an ice cream social or a secret hangout.

Center of the U.S.: Perfect for an ice cream social or a secret hangout.

 

The true center of the contiguous U.S. isn’t actually located on this little strip of tourist-friendly land. It’s off to the right in the middle of a farmer’s field. Of course, I use this fact in my books. This is where the mysterious government, the Board of Hidden Affairs, is located. And that’s why Zoey and Riley have to go there—and why I had to go, too.

For you. I went for you. Truth in storytelling is so important.

It doesn’t hurt that I also saw a public restroom built to look like a giant toilet, the Garden of Eden, and the World’s Biggest Ball of Twine along the way.

Seriously. I love road trips.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen on a road trip? Can I get directions?

Golem in My Glovebox is available now at Carina Press and wherever great ebooks are sold.

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In her role as Aegis, Zoey Donovan has rescued and cared for hundreds of monsters and mythical creatures. Now humans are the ones in need of her help. Someone with a personal vendetta against the Board of Hidden Affairs has kidnapped all the other Aegises in the country—including Zoey’s mother.

With the Hidden government in shambles and a string of deadly clues to follow, Zoey and her reaper boyfriend set out on a cross-country chase to stop the kidnapper from killing the captured Aegises. Along the way, they pick up a miniature golem who’s on a quest to find his humanity…and may be the key to solving the grisly clues.

If Zoey succeeds in defeating this new evil, she’ll finally be reunited with the mother she lost over twenty years ago. But if she fails, she’ll become the final victim.

About R.L. Naquin:

Rachel writes stories that drop average people into magical situations filled with heart and quirky humor.

She believes in pixie dust, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks and putting things off until the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas. Rachel has one husband, two grown kids and a crazy-catlady starter kit.

Come hang out with her: Facebook Twitter Website & Blog Newsletter

 

Helmut Saves the World — Notes from a First-Time Author

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CARINA_0314_9781426898020_HelmutSavesTheWorldThis being my first book release, and the first of anything I have written longer than a term paper, I thought I would talk about my experience as a new author. First off, I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m not a real writer. That’s what I told my editor Jeff after he reviewed my original draft. I got C’s in high school English. I can’t spell. I didn’t know what a dangling participle was (I only kind of do now). So how did I end up writing a novella in the first place?

I’ve always liked sci-fi, fantasy and comic books, and I had the general idea for a comic or novel that I hoped to get someone else to write. So I started by trying to create a world based on ancient history, and spent quite a bit of time on Wikipedia researching ancient civilizations and their religious beliefs. My background of Catholic school upbringing didn’t hurt either.

Once I had a rudimentary universe built, I was sort of stuck. I didn’t know what to do with it. I’ve read enough books to know that a good story requires likable characters, but the idea of creating characters was daunting. So I cheated. I just based the characters on my lifelong best friend and myself. Now it’s not an exact match, but there is quite a bit of realism in their personalities, and many of Helmut’s stories and memories are based on my friend’s life. I changed the names (somewhat) to protect the innocent and the guilty.

Now I had characters, I just had to make them do something that was worth reading about. For that I fell back on my love of detective novels, specifically the stories about Nero Wolfe, written so excellently many years ago by Rex Stout. The mystery was never too complicated, and really was only the backdrop to the wonderful personality quirks of the two main characters, Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe, and the way they played off each other throughout the story.

Up until that point all I had done was Internet research and daydreaming. That was fun. Actually starting to write words on paper was bear. My first thirty or so pages were written longhand in a spiral notebook. I purposefully wrote it more illegibly than my usual chicken scratch, just in case my wife came across it and decided to try and read it.

I didn’t have any expectations for publication when I started, but I wanted at least a little validation. I figured the real version of my main character was my best bet for that.  My goal was simply to make him laugh, so I sprinkled the pages with enough one-liners and references to our favorite cult movie to keep him interested. After I had finished typing the first two chapters onto my iPad, I went over to his house to let him read it. The ten minutes of waiting while he read—he reads soooo slow—were some of the most anxious moments in my life. It was worth it though. He laughed, many times, which gave me the confidence to push on through till the end.

There are multiple references to a cult movie from the 90′s throughout the book.  The first to name the movie in the comments or the Facebook site will have the honor of knowing that their taste in fine cinema is first class.  Here is an excerpt from the book.

My name is Helmut Haase and I’m one half of the Fog City Detective Agency—specifically, the half that pays all the bills. My partner, Shamus O’Sheehan, mostly drinks beer and naps. I keep him around because he’s my friend, but also because he’s a Druid. I’m just a detective, and there are plenty of those in Wudong, the Confederacy of Hesperia. There’s not another Druid for miles.

We had it pretty good until the day we met Alek Pallas. He hired us to track down a thieving employee, and even though something was off, his big fat check was too much to pass up. But the man we found wasn’t what we were led to believe, and neither was Alek.

I’m talking shape-shifters, fallen angels and a conspiracy involving the vicious Cretan Empire. At least we didn’t die. Hope that doesn’t ruin the story.

Why am I telling you all this? Someday I’d like some credit for saving the world. Maybe not the entire world, and maybe not alone, but I still deserve a medal. And perhaps a cash prize.

Helmut Saves the World is available from Carina Press.

About Matt Sheehan:  Moody and sarcastic at the best of times, the author should not be conversed with prior to his morning cup of Joe.  Excels at sitting with his feet up, drinking beer or coffee, depending on the time of day, and reading—but has yet find someone willing to pay for that service.  Has always been, and will always be, his mothers favorite child.   Dreams of someday moving to a deserted island that supports coffee trees and hop vines.

Connect with Matt on Facebook  or Twitter.

Big Bad Wolf?

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Close your eyes for a minute. No, wait, don’t, because you’re reading my blog post and one presumes you want to keep doing so.

Pretend to close your eyes for a moment while reading this blog post and whisper to yourself, “Werewolf hero.”

What kind of image does that conjure?

A hot, sexy bad boy in leather, riding a motorcycle when he can’t run free in the forest? A gruff and hyper-masculine pack alpha determined to keep his people safe and in line? A borderline vicious anti-hero trying to control his literal inner demon? Somebody big and strong and scary enough to make anybody weak at the knees?

What about a nerdy scientist more interested in the biology and magic of the shifting process than howling at the moon and finding a mate?

I know, right? But even in wolf world, it seems like it would take all kinds. You need your alphas and your brooders and your sexy bad boys. But why wouldn’t wolves be scientists and dreamers and artists and, heck, grocers and accountants and nice male nurses (like in the SyFy TV show Being Human)?

They can…in my shifter world.

Marcus Delgado is a werewolf and a scientist. He’s a sexy scientist, of course, at least according to witch-in-hiding Katie Zhang, whom he encounters in the beginning of WITCH INTERRUPTED, my second book with Carina. It’s a paranormal romance set in the same world as PACK AND COVEN, where the speculative elements include wolves (shapeshifting) and witches (magic).

In fact, Marcus, because of certain events in his past, is obsessively curious about why witches change permanently into werewolves when they—spoiler alert for PACK AND COVEN!—have sex with one. However, wolves can never change into witches or obtain the magical powers and longevity of witches. Marcus is determined to find out why, and he decides Katie is the perfect person to assist him…whether she wants to or not.

The intelligence, focus and dedication of a less traditional hero like Marcus made him a very appealing character to write about and hopefully one for readers to meet. So many of the characters who tend to linger with me aren’t necessarily the alphas and the swashbuckling heroes. The clever, background characters, the scientists, the tech gals, the ones without bulging muscles and multiple guns and overriding need to control whatever disaster is going on around them—I remember those characters, too. I love watching them blossom when the story centers on them instead of the obvious alphas.

They’re complicated, layered, and surprising. And they’re smart. I just adore smart!

TV examples include: Simon Tam from Firefly; both Willow and Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Daniel Jackson from Stargate SG-1; Monroe and Rosalie in Grimm; and Chuck Bartowski from Chuck and his predecessor, Jake from Jake 2.0.

There are countless examples of these types of characters in literature and cinema, usually relegated to sidekicks or secondary characters. As an author, I get to make them the protagonists and find out what really makes them tick.

Who are your favorite brainy badasses and nerdy but awesome characters in books and TV?

****

Purchase WITCH INTERRUPTED at Carina Press.

About Jody Wallace:

WEBSITE | MEANKITTY | TWITTER | FACEBOOK | GOODREADS | PINTEREST

The Many Faces of Tarot

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Karina Cooper's Tarot DecksDid you know that I like tarot? It’s true. I might have something of a problem.

The first deck I ever owned was the Arthurian deck, which you can see on the left side of the picture. I’ve had that deck for—wait, let me get the abacus out… okay, too long. Since I was a sophomore or junior, I think, in high school. I love tarot. I love the art, and the symbolism and the fantastic way it can help one work through questions one might have about life, the universe, and everything.

I had never, until now, successfully thought of a good enough reason to bring tarot into a book series. Sure, there’s all the usual methods—the fortune teller, the tarot as a method to figure out plot, and so on—but I really couldn’t settle on one.

Until Mr. Oliver Ashmore.

Tempered finally introduces Cherry St. Croix’s mysterious guardian, and I had so much fun with him. Cherry, fierce defender of reason and science over myth and magic, is suddenly placed face to face with a different kind of tool altogether: Tarot.

Tarot as Alchemical Tool

Wait, wait, I’m crazy, right? Well, a little bit. Here’s my overlap: in extreme short version, alchemy is the pursuit of perfection; perfection includes not just physical perfection (e.g., gold, immortality) but a perfection of the soul, too (e.g., Zen, or inner harmony, spiritual strength); Tarot is, in what’s commonly called the Fool’s Journey, about reaching the conclusion of a cycle beginning at the naive Fool and culminating in the completion of the World.

Ergo, alchemy utilizes tarot.

Want to know more? Mr. Ashmore has you covered. See how deftly he manipulates his addled ward into giving alchemy more of a chance than she has been willing until now. Watch as our intrepid heroine struggles for a eureka! moment that has, so far, eluded her.

Have you ever had your cards read? Are you a collector—of Tarot, that is, not of bounties (although far be it from me to judge)—or perhaps just idly interested? Or are you one of those who favor the deification of reason and science over that of the more esoteric arts?

Tempered: The St. Croix Chronicles

Tempered: the St. Croix ChroniclesForced out of London’s coal-blackened streets, Cherry St. Croix is faced with her most difficult undertaking yet: sobriety.

At long last, my guardian, the enigmatic Mr. Oliver Ashmore, has revealed himself—and his order is clear: I am to be dried out at once, regardless of my wishes.

I loathe the country estate I am imprisoned within. Footsteps follow me, voices call for me, and my sanity wavers. In my fevered dreams, I am haunted by those I failed, while waking proves no protection from the ghosts of my reckless past. The craving for laudanum plagues me. I require a distraction.

To unravel the alchemical mysteries of my mother’s family, I must rely on Ashmore’s tutelage. I am lured to the art and drawn by the secrets my guardian possesses. Yet the deeper I delve, the more I believe that something dreadful disturbs these haunted corridors. In my madness, I fear that what it wants most…is me.

Available now from Carina Press! Or you can read an excerpt here.

Want to find me on the web? I’ve got you covered:

The End?

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The Volatile Amazon is the final book in the four-book Alliance of the Amazons series.

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In many ways, I’m thrilled with its release. I strongly believe fans of the series will love the way Sarita’s story brings together all four books—from the Amazon sisters, to the goddesses, to the enemy they’ve hunted for so long.

On the other hand, I’m sad. To bid my Amazons adieu feels the same as saying goodbye to dear friends. Sarita, Gina, Megan, and Rebecca are just as “real” to me as any person I’ve known. I’ve lived and breathed their ups, their downs, their triumphs, and their tragedies.

So where do I go from here?

That’s a complicated question…

I have so many new stories swimming through my mind, I can now take the time to get to know all those characters the same way I became engrossed in the lives of my Amazons. There will be one big change for the time being—my focus is shifting.  photo rulesofthegames_zps1c51c4ab.jpg
Instead of writing urban fantasy—which I dearly love—I want to churn out a few more contemporary romances. It seems I have my greatest success in that genre. For example, my Carina Press contemporary romance, Rules of the Game, recently  photo holtimage_zpsf5820068.gif won the HOLT Medallion for best novel with strong romantic elements. It’s also a finalist for the Aspen Gold Readers’ Choice Award, the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award, and was a Golden Quill finalist. Rather hard to stay away from that kind of appreciation for my stories!

So if you’re looking to read more “Sandy James” books, keep your eye on releases in the contemporary romance arena. This might be “the end” of the Alliance of the Amazons, but there are plenty more stories full of tears, laughter, and love on the way!

***

The Volatile Amazon

Sarita Neeraj has never felt like a real Amazon. Compared to the obvious strengths of her sisters, her Water powers seem small as her stature. She’s determined to prove herself–unfortunately, all that gets her is captured by an enemy.

Ian serves a twisted goddess, preferring this to an empty afterlife. He’s taken Sarita hostage to coax the other Amazons from their safe haven. But in his ancient Scottish castle, the passion and love Ian finds for Sarita resurrect his honor, until he chafes at the dark will of his mistress. 

Sarita has finally found happiness–but before she can enjoy it, she’s “rescued” by her furious sisters. To save Ian from destruction at the hands of the Amazons, Sarita must risk wielding magick that could change her very nature. Only then can she prove the Water Amazon is the strongest of the four–and save them all from destruction.

Meet Earth, Fire, and Air in The Reluctant
Amazon, The Impetuous Amazon, and The Brazen Amazon.

 Find Sandy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

How Much Do You Hate Your Job?

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Okay – just admit it. We’ve all experienced one of THOSE days. You know what I’m talking about.

They usually occur on a Monday, when you walk into the office and realize that the nice, neat, meticulous plans you had for your workday have exploded into a storm of broken everythings. Maybe a co-worker has called in sick, and you have to figure out how to step in as support for the day. Or the computer systems, usually steady and reliable companions, have revolted in what is sure to be the precursor to a full-fledged SkyNet takeover.

Maybe just getting to work is more than you want to handle. Flat tire, screaming toddlers who prefer to be naked, or an alarm clock that is just annoying enough to hit snooze, but not enough to actually wake you up in time for a shower–all of these things can really make you hate your job.

The heroine of Never Deal with Dragons, Myrna Banks, completely understands how you feel. Because she has one of THOSE days every day. For example, here’s a brief look at a recent morning at Myrna’s place of employment:

It’s amazing how often my day starts with a three legged dragon and an enraged dairy farmer. I stood, clad in a set of knee-high muck boots and a brand new pencil skirt, and tried to restore some order to my first appointment of the day, an encounter involving a very hungry dragon and the dairy farmer whose cattle had been unfortunate enough to be within grabbing distance at meal time.

“It was j-j-just a l-little sn-sn-snack!! My doctor’s appointment took way l-longer than it was supposed to and I was h-h-hungry!” The floor literally shook with the dragon’s sobs. Isiwyth Armatoth, lovely purple dragon and niece of our nation’s dragon lord, balanced atop a thick wooden beam that served as the room’s sole dragon perch. Her birdlike claws contracted rhythmically with tension as she tried to explain herself through tear-induced hiccups. Mrs. Isiwyth Armatoth was a mess.

And so was my office. The cattle hadn’t all hit the floor when Isiwyth lost her lunch. Instead, their mangled remains had landed dead center of my sturdy wooden desk, and were currently dripping a mixture of saliva, blood and stomach acid onto the small space heater I used to warm my toes while riffling through paperwork. The noxious fumes were probably permeating the entire building at this point.

My coworkers loved me.

So to all of you out there who managed to survive the latest Monday, congratulations! And remember, life isn’t so bad. Those stacks of papers could have been a two ton dragon suffering from morning sickness.

Anyone have a story that COULD rival Myrna’s for the worst workday ever? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

———–

A native of Eastern Oklahoma, Lorenda lives with her husband and two sons in a house that feels far too small during the stay-inside winter months. Lorenda loves chocolate, hates snakes, and despite living two years in Bangalore next-door to a native preparer of Indian cuisine, cannot cook anything but ground beef. She is a recovering nail biter, and is currently celebrating five years bite-free.

Purchase Never Deal with Dragons – Carina Press , Amazon , Barnes & Noble or your preferred ebook vendor.

When she’s not dealing with her own Mondays, you can find her on Twitter on Facebook or on her website @ lorendac.com

You might be a Type A if

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You might be a Type A if…

 The Brazen Amazon released on May 6th. The hero—Zach Hanson—is a cross between Stephen Jobs and Ryan Gosling. Stephen Jobs in intellect and ambition. Ryan Gosling in looks. One of the traits I assigned to Zach hit close to home. I made him a Type A personality—a proclivity I share.

 What is a Type A personality? It’s the name given to a temperament that many people share which forces them to constantly strive to do more, to be more. I’d venture to guess that a very high percentage of successful people are Type A.

 Writers, in particular, seem to display many of the Type A traits. Just to test that theory, let me borrow from Jeff Foxworthy’s well-known “You might be a redneck if…” to show “You might be a Type A if…”

 If you walk and talk rapidly, you might be a Type A.

 If you constantly do more than one thing at a time…texting or watching TV while eating, for example…you might be a Type A. (Be honest, if there’s nothing to do while eating breakfast, do you read the back of the cereal box?)

 

 If you suffer from road rage, often yelling or making sarcastic comments about other people’s lack of  photo computer_zps6b20b921.jpgdriving skills, you might be a Type A.

 If you tend to finish things like exams before other people, you might be a Type A.

 If you show up to appointments or turn in projects on deadline early, you might be a Type A.

 If you get impatient when you have to wait, especially when that waiting is in a slow-moving line, you might be a Type A.

 If you “talk with your hands,” you might be a Type A.

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 And if you feel “lost” when you have nothing to do, you might be a Type A.

 Did any of those sound familiar? Hit a little too close for your comfort? Being a Type A isn’t a BAD thing. But we—and I say we because I exhibit every single trait I listed—should be aware that keeping such a high level of activity and stress can take a toll. The most important word that should be introduced into our vocabulary is “relax.”

 Why? Because repeated exposure to high stress isn’t good for a person—either physically or psychologically. A person can only push herself so long before her engine runs out of gas. So be kind to yourself if you’re a Type A. Learn to enjoy your success, and take some time to stop and smell the proverbial roses.

 In The Brazen Amazon, Zach Hanson is the prototype for this personality. He’s a technology whiz who is constantly looking forward to his next innovation, seldom taking the time to enjoy what he’s already achieved. When Gina Himmel—the Air Amazon—literally jumps into his life, Zach will discover that there is life beyond his techno world.

***

About the Author: Sandy lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years and is a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses and enjoy spending time at the two Indiana racetracks.

The Alliance of the Amazons urban fantasy series from Carina Press premiered with book 1, The Reluctant Amazon, which was named a USA Today Recommended Read. Book 2, The Impetuous Amazon, has been an All Romance Ebooks Bestseller. The Brazen Amazon, book 3, debuted May 6, 2013. The series concludes with The Volatile Amazon in September.

 

 ***

The Brazen Amazon Blurb: Zach Hanson is a tech wizard, capable of creating and improving gadgets—including remote nuclear warhead launchers. But he’s always known that he’s destined for something more, something greater, something…supernatural.

Powerful Air Amazon Gina Himmel is one of four sisters called to protect the world from those who would do it harm. Demigods in league with an Ancient have been taking over the bodies of leaders in the military and technological sectors, and Gina is sent to San Francisco to watch over Zach.

Under Gina’s protection, Zach is introduced to a world of ancient deities, rogue gods and the bold, brazen Amazons who keep humanity safe. Amidst the whirlwind of battle, Zach and Gina discover a love that could give them the power to save the world…or destroy it.

Drynn

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I still get nightmares.

Not so much lately, they seem to have mellowed out a bit and found better prey once I hit my thirties, but they’re still around.  Lurking.  Even though I don’t like them much, I can at least appreciate them; anything that can make my heart boom that fast and hard is pure platinum for a writer.  Payment required?  A mere childhood of dashing off the living room floor anytime a scary scene even thought about flashing across the television screen.  Even scary music would have me peeping through splayed fingers.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?  Booming hearts?  Sitting up in your bed when you get to that scene, a little smile tugging at the corners of your mouth, your mind thinking, Oh my God, this is awesome, please don’t die, two hours of sleep is plenty of time… That’s what I live for when I read a book.  Heart-booming.  Somebody once asked me to distill into one word exactly the emotion that I wanted to evoke in my readers when I began writing  DRYNN.  It was hard because there were so many feelings dancing around in my head that I wanted to share, but okay, one word.  I could do that.  Same way I had to have a one-line pitch at a moment’s notice. So, here it is, the one word…ready for it?

Badass.

That’s what I wanted to evoke.  I want somebody to go up to their friend, yank the Kindle out from said friend’s hand, clickity-clack in carinapress.com, command them to put in their password and get the book.  And when it’s done I want that ‘somebody’ to go buy said friend a cafe mocha and talk about it.  Pie-in-the-sky stuff, really.  I once heard the saying, “Shoot for the moon, maybe you’ll fall in the stars,” something like that?  I figured, why not shoot for the Andromeda Galaxy instead of the moon and land someplace on Neptune?  Might as well, right?

I believe I may have done just that.  Neptune City.

Speaking of one-lines, here’s DRYNN’s:  The heroes of two worlds reluctantly join forces to fight the Lord of the Underworld.  Ta-da.

So, genesis #1—harnessing the power of nightmares, pouring that emotion into a basin within my mindscape, modifying it as I see fit (exhilaration, passion, fear, all the things that boom hearts) and forging stories with high tension.

Genesis #2–inspiration.  Every writer has their muse, mine’s music.  Notice the first three letters by the way.  Interesting, huh?  When I hear a song, I see a scene instantly—two cars roaring down the highway, weaving and crashing; a small, anguish-filled shake of the head as tears spill; an electric ripple under the skin summoned by a brush of fingers—I just see it.  And I have to write about it.  I immediately start fleshing things out—who are the players?  Who’s getting chased?  Is it an affair or a first crush?  Is the creature from this world or some other?  And what would lightning wreathed in pale blue flames smell like?

Donald Maass (who’s counsel I hold in high regard) calls these scenes ‘uranium isotopes’.  When I say the movie, AMERICAN HISTORY X, what’s the first scene that comes to mind?  The curb scene, no question about it.  “Hello.  My name is Inigo Montoya…” do I need to finish?    Every great story has them, no matter what vehicle used to tell it–movie, novel, novella, play–pick your ambrosia.  The coolest thing, a thing I am most grateful for, humbled by, a blessing bequeathed,  is that I get these scenes and ideas every day; I actually conjured a whole book (yet to be written but in the noggin) by a single song.  I think of myself as a reservoir, a wellspring of feelings, concepts and bits of dialogue that just…bubble out of me.  Consider yourself invited to drink.

I’d like to share something with you.  While looking for a CD the other day (yes, I still have my black leather zipper-closed CD holders) I stumbled upon my sacred box.  I’ve had it since childhood.  Within it is contained every story I ever wrote as a kid, every paper I ever got an A in, and one of my greatest treasures…

Left hand side, 7th grade, 42 pages on 42 blank restaurant placemats, the first story I ever wrote.  On the right…DRYNN, my first published novel.

I’ve waited my whole life for this.

I hope you think DRYNN’s as badass as I do.

Steve Vera

Twitter: @stevewvera

Facebook: http://goo.gl/iSVY3

Webpage: http://goo.gl/U4Scl

Blog: http://www.vera-talk.blogspot.com/

Discovering Fire

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The beginnings of relationships are always tricky. You’re perpetually distracted by thoughts of your new partner, wondering what they’re doing, longing for their company, their companionship, their touch.

Little things feel like massive gulfs between you. Distance. Jobs or school. The strain of reinforcing the tense alliance between the living and unliving. Disagreements. Street ambushes. Jealousy. Vengeful vampires whose entire existence centers around the motto “this time it’s personal”.

Running in the Dark CoverAt least, these are the issues boiling around Sydney Kildare and Malcolm Kelly in Running in the Dark as they build their fledgling relationship. Conflict can drive a tentative couple apart. Or it can be the spark around which they flame, growing stronger and closer as they bond together against outside forces and start to understand how they might fit together.

Sydney has trust issues. Mal has a lot of secrets. She’s hot-blooded. He drinks blood. She moves at a hundred miles an hour. He’s metaphorically chained in place.

Hang on, readers. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

About the Author: Regan Summers lives in Anchorage, AK with her husband and alien-monkey hybrid of a child. She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy in which things heat up and blow up, sometimes at an alarming rate. Her Night Runner series, including Don’t Bite the Messenger and Running in the Dark, are available wherever e-books are sold.

 

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