Friday, December 7, 2018

Guest Post ~ Ciara Ballintyne ~ Tangled Lights and Silent Nights



Meet Alloran – the fantasy equivalent of a mad scientist, whose stock in trade is magic, not science.

I conceived of Alloran after reading The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills. The main character in that book has a friend, Monk Markham, who is a brilliant wizard constantly dabbling in things he shouldn’t—and getting away with it.

And I thought—but what if he didn’t? What if his hubris had consequences?

Poor Alloran has been plagued with mishaps, and in The Seven Circles of Hell he stumbles from disaster to disaster, in each book trying to put right what he made wrong in the last. Maybe he should just stop. Maybe it’s time to call it quits.

But he has itchy fingers, and he can’t put a puzzle down once he’s picked it up—and what’s a poor wizard to do when his best friend is on the loose, trying to destroy him, and, incidentally, the world?
Events all started a long time ago in a galaxy… I mean, just a long time ago. Alloran is more than a hundred years old, and when we meet him in Confronting the Demon, he’s abandoned his research and has committed himself to a life of carousing. Because if you don’t behave seriously, people can’t expect you to solve serious problems, right?

It seems like a sensible decision—if you are addicted to something bad, the general wisdom is to give it up. But Alloran gets sucked back in when he’s framed for summoning demons and winds up on the run while someone is murdering his friends.

So that’s how he got back into magic. But why did he quit in the first place?

Alloran was the man who discovered how to open gates into hell—which is why everyone thinks he summoned the one in Confronting the Demon. His research was burned and demon summoning banned, so who else could it be?

That first ill-fated foray into the hells, what was to be Alloran’s crowning glory, turned into a disaster that made him the man we meet in Confronting the Demon.

When I was asked to write a Christmas story for Tangled Lights and Silent Nights, my first thought was ‘how do you write a Christmas story in the epic fantasy genre?’ Then when I gave it some more thought, I realised I had a story that needed telling, that some readers had been asking for—the story of that first imp he summoned from hell, that started events in motion.


"Another Bloody Festival" is that story—how it all went terribly wrong for Alloran—set against the backdrop of the winter solstice—because is there a better time of year for a demon to be loose in the halls?



Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead.

She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.

Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her two daughters and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Links:
Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne

OTHER BOOKS BY CIARA BALLINTYNE

The Seven Circles of Hell
Confronting the Demon
Stalking the Demon
Becoming the Demon
Being the Demon (coming soon)

The Sundered Oath
In the Company of the Dead
On the Edge of Death
To Make the Dead Weep

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Guest Post ~ Brenda Vicars ~ Tangled Lights and Silent Nights


Can you tell when it’s love and not just a passing crush?

Polarity, the main character in my novel Polarity in Motion, is only 16, and she’s in love with Ethan. He’s the character who helps her figure out how her nude picture showed up on the Internet—a photo that she has no memory of posing for.

Sometimes when teenagers say they’re in love, we think it’s just a crush or hormones.  But Polarity says, nope, it’s not a passing teen thing. She’s in love. 

When I want to get a deeper understanding of a character, I use a writers’ technique of interviewing the character. “Dear Polarity,” I wrote. “Why do you think you’re in love with Ethan?  Possibly you’re just grateful to him. After all, he helped you put your life back together after the nude picture fiasco. Or maybe you just have a crush on him—he is so hot!”

Polarity’s answer surprised me and warmed my heart. She not only explained why she loves him, but she went beyond the question I had posed, and described “the moment I knew I would love Ethan forever.” Her answer became the short story by the same title in Tangled Lights and Silent Nights. And the segment is also in the next Polarity book, Polarity in Love, which will be released in 2019.

What was the moment she knew she’d love him forever?  It happens during Christmas season in south Texas and involves a rattlesnake and a ten-year-old girl’s tears. In an incident that both horrifies and amazes Polarity, she sees deeper dimensions of Ethan.

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Monday, October 8, 2018

#NewRelease from Anne Conley, in the Playing With Fire series, Spin the Bottle


Blurb:
Zane has his sights set on the odd little woman with her funny rules. When their first kiss doesn’t end well, he can't understand why she won't give him a second chance. Now he’s seriously determined to make her see they can be explosive together.


Lettie has always believed a kiss will determine how the relationship will go. Her disastrous lip-lock with Zane is a strong indication she's not moving forward with him. He won't take no for an answer, though, and does the sweetest things to change her mind, including opening his home to over fifty animals while she cleans up the smoke damage at the local shelter.

Sparks fly as Lettie does her level best to extinguish their attraction to one another.  At the same time, Zane is doing all he can to fan those sparks into flames.



Spin the Bottle, Playing with Fire #3, is HERE!!!  Grab your copy now at the following links...

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2MEWQCo


Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2BmRSFF

Nook-http://bit.ly/2Mj7EGZ

iTunes-https://apple.co/2vDxPh5

Kobo -http://bit.ly/2vLrMa6



Excerpt:
Lettie had a theory about men. So far, the theory had served her well. All she had to do was kiss Zane, and however he kissed was what sort of boyfriend he would be. She had ignored Thomas’s lackluster kiss. The carelessness of it should have been a warning for her because that’s exactly what sort of boyfriend he’d been.

The theory had developed in high school. It was a good theory, but she’d had to test it out and actually date the guys she’d kissed to carry the experiment through. Thomas had been a careless kisser, as well as a careless lover, and had certainly been careless with her financial well-being. She wasn’t even going to think about her emotional stuff during their relationship.

Before Thomas had been Cedric. He’d been a sloppy kisser. And a sloppy man. She’d never had sex with him but could only assume he was an equally sloppy lover.


Before Cedric was Ian. Ian’s kisses had been prim and proper, his hands never straying far. 
As they’d done in all things.

The list didn’t go on forever because it was exhausting, and she was Lettie and hadn’t tested it as extensively as a more outgoing woman would have. Since Thomas, she’d vowed to let the kiss do the telling, so how Zane kissed would be how he would be. And she wouldn’t do the dating thing to figure it out this time. She would save herself the trouble.

If she ended up with his damn chewing gum in her mouth, she was done. There was no way.

After Zane’s shoot was finished, he went to a meeting in some back room and was gone for most of the day. By the time they were finished, Lettie was packing up the dogs and cats to go put them back for the day.

“Sorry. You got the paperwork for Otis?” He jogged back to where she was, making it look effortless. It made her a little sick. If she’d jogged through this building, her face would be red, her hair would be flying out of her bun, and she’d have sweat stains in her pits. As it was, Zane just looked gorgeous.

“Yeah.” Lettie dug around in her backpack and came out with a clipboard and an attached pen before looking away. “Fill out the top three pages, and then the bottom two are yours to keep. I’ve got his shot record in my truck. We can get that after I get these guys taken care of.” Which was now. She gathered the remaining dogs’ leashes, having already put the cats and half the puppies in the truck.

It was awkward, walking five dogs at once, but she’d almost made it when Zane met her outside. He took three leashes from her, relieving her burden.

“Can I ask you out again? I really want to take you to dinner.” The heat from earlier was gone from his face, replaced with an earnestness. It was hard to say no.

She sighed. “One thing first.” It was now or never. Raising herself on her tiptoes, she leaned forward, resting one hand with the leashes wrapped around her wrist on his shoulder. His eyes lit up and he lowered his head but stayed still, clearly wanting her to broach the distance.

Strike one. He was making her do the work. It was pretty obvious she was coming in for a kiss, so the least he could do was meet her halfway.

She gently caressed his lips with hers, his cinnamon gum overwhelming her with spicy sweetness. That sort of undid his strike of making her make this move. Hygiene was super important, and Zane seemed to take care of himself. He certainly tasted good.

Lettie went to back up to end the kiss, but Zane’s hand went to the back of her head, holding her in place.

Strike one. Again. Since the first strike was erased with the nice breath, this was the first strike. Right?

Now she didn’t have control over the kiss anymore. So yeah. Strike one. Definitely.

His soft lips molded perfectly to hers as he moved his mouth across hers. That was nice. It might undo the first strike again. He angled her head so he could slant his mouth over hers, and his tongue pressed against her lips.

Pushy. Strike two.

But her body didn’t seem to agree. Her breasts were doing that tingly thing again, and Lettie realized she was pressing against him. Or were the leashes wrapping around them, pressing them together?

He licked the seam of her lips, and Lettie gasped. Taking advantage, Zane swept his tongue in effortlessly. That would be another strike, except Lettie couldn’t think anymore. His cinnamon flavor was spicy and sweet and completely overwhelming. She’d lost count of which strikes had been overridden and which ones stuck, and what were the strikes for anyway?

His tongue was doing unspeakable things to her mouth, and Lettie realized she was clutching his hair as if it were a lifeline. They were tangled in leashes as the dogs danced around them, but neither of them seemed to care. His mouth closed around her bottom lip and suckled, nipping it softly with his sharp teeth.

This was a nice kiss. Better than nice. Her insides were completely exploding, and she was tempted to wrap her legs around him and grind until she got off. She was surprised. Nobody had ever made her lose it like this.

She pressed against him, a gurgle of approval sounding in the back of her throat at the impressive length against her hip. Lettie couldn’t help herself. She squirmed, his answering groan making her skin erupt in gooseflesh.

And then, as if they were reenacting the scene from 101 Dalmatians, the dogs tightened the leashes at the same time someone yelled, “This isn’t the goddamn Love Boat, Romeo!”

Zane’s head snapped back, and they both lost their balance, crashing to the ground in a tangle of arms, legs, dogs, and leashes. Their heads banged together, and Zane crushed Lettie underneath his massive body.

“Jesus! Sorry!”

That was three strikes in one move.
~*~*~*
Like that?  Follow me everywhere (or wherever you'd like) for more! And if you haven't gotten the rest of the series, links are here:

Truth or Dare 


Amazon https://amzn.to/2ONuraA
Amazon UK https://amzn.to/2ONv7wE
Kobo: http://bit.ly/2MpIPJp

iTunes:  https://apple.co/2MTjbsy

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/2wdiraN

 

 

Hide and Seek

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2L3JhXW 

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2Pm6BUz

Nook-http://bit.ly/2ODCKWt

iTunes-https://apple.co/2OBsFJA

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2MKkrOu


Spin the Bottle

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2MEWQCo

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2BmRSFF

Nook-http://bit.ly/2Mj7EGZ

iTunes-https://apple.co/2vDxPh5

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2vLrMa6


Hot Lava-Releasing November 6

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2L2Y5X9

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2ONcRU8

Nook-http://bit.ly/2OA0B98

iTunes-https://apple.co/2Mmhqai

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2B7ZXOE





Website/newsletter/blog: www.anneconley.com
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6907845.Anne_Conley
Follow on Instagram: anne.conley   https://www.instagram.com/anne.conley/ 

Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she
gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Villains, and why we should love them.

Bad guys come up a lot in romance novels.  If you're writing Romantic Suspense or something else that requires a bad guy, without a villain, it's pretty pointless, yes?  What makes a good villain?  The fact the villain can be good, or at least has some good in him.

Villains are bad to the bone, right?  But there has to be something inside them that's not bad.  Something real, tangible, for the reader to hold on to, some hope of his redemption.  There is the conflict with a great bad guy.

When we read a newspaper article about some senseless act of violence, our natural reaction is to ask, "Why?" isn't it?

Google is full of lovable villains: The Joker, Hans Gruber, Keyser Soze, both of the Terminators (those confused looks are just precious, aren't they?)

Look at Lord Voldemort.  A quintessential bad guy, but we love him.  Why?  There's something there to like.  His background and the reason he is evil, the fact he's a half-blood, even though one of his main goals is to have a pure race of wizards.  And let's not forget he's played by Ralph Feinnes.  He is a fleshed out character in and of his own right, in JK Rowling's fascinatingly backwards way of telling his story.

Another villain we love to hate is Freddie Krueger.  Okay, not everybody loves him, but die-hard horror fans usually have a soft spot for this burned, witty, misunderstood slasher.  Born to a victim of rape (his mother, a nurse in a lunatic asylum having survived overnight in a room filled with maniacs, who brutalized her for hours), bullied as a child, he tried to have a normal life with a wife and child of his own. But ended up succumbing to his own illness and turned to torturing and killing children himself.  Now, most of this is told after the first movie, where he found his initial fame through his scarred visage and interesting implements of fear and torture, the knife fingers.  But he could have been a normal guy, right?  If it hadn't been for the bullying, the circumstances of his conception, or his mental illness.  By the way, if you haven't noticed, most of these slasher/horror bad guys have a backstory that comes out sometime in the second movie, so the viewer can hold on to something to make them like the bad guy.

Okay, that was far out there.  Let's do Dracula, instead.  He seduces his victims with his charm, he has the ability to live forever (who the hell would really want that, that in and of itself is pitiful), and his survival depends on the death of others.  Not that it makes him likeable per se, but it does give keep one from hating him totally. He's likeable in his charm and the circumstances which make him play into the victim profile as much as the villain.

So, what's all this about?  Great bad guys have a reason to be bad.  Not that they don't deserve the stake to the heart or whatever, but there's an arc to them, a resignation to their fate that comes about with their story.  Someone once said every bad guy is the hero of his own story.  So what's your bad guy's story?

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

New Release-Hide and Seek, Playing with Fire #2, plus a giveaway!

Hide and Seek, from the author of the Pierce Securities, has readers going ga-ga!




"This story makes you believe in love all over again."~~Goodreads reviewer: Sue


Joey was optimistic about his relationship with Simone, but she leaves him floundering in a sea of confusion when she suddenly dumps him. His mom is marrying a man younger than him, his station has him fundraising in a Santa suit, and there’s an arsonist loose in town. Then he sees her, the petite goddess who won't give him the time of day.

Vivian has all the reasons in the world to not get involved with Joey, the biggest of which is her four-year-old daughter, Carly. Joey's made her a lot of promises, but after the issues she had with her ex, she just knows Joey is too good to be true.

These two can't see what's right in front of them, but when the fuse is ignited, sometimes you just have to cling to someone and hope you survive. Hiding is not an option.
 



Excerpt

Joey was pretty sure he wasn’t the first hungover Santa ever, but even with a slight hangover, playing Santa Claus wasn’t sucking nearly as much as Joey had thought it would. He’d been pissing and moaning for nothing because, as it turned out, he was having fun.

None of the kids had peed on him, nobody had punched him in the gut to see if it was real, and they smelled way better than he’d thought they would. Especially the babies. Who knew babies smelled so good?

They cried a lot, but they didn’t stink. And who could blame them? He was a weird, jolly, bearded guy; the babies didn’t know he was supposed to bring them toys yet. As far as they knew, their mothers were just plopping them in his lap, standing back to take pictures, and laughing at how cute they were while they were freaking out. He would be mad too.

It was sort of sick, actually, but funny too.

He was wrestling with one particularly strong infant, making helpless shushing noises, when he got a whiff of the top of its head. Damn. Somebody should bottle that smell. It was certainly lowering his blood pressure. As he breathed in the scent of the baby as he held it against his chest, it quieted down, snuffling and rooting around in his giant, furry coat. The baby found its fingers, stuffing them into its mouth, and looked up at him. Joey thought for a second he had conquered it until its eyes squinted, it opened its mouth, and an ear-splitting wail pierced his ears.

He looked at the mom, who was gleefully taking pictures of her wailing baby, and finally said, “What does it want for Christmas?”

She wants one of those tummy time pallets.” The mom smiled at him and spoke loud enough for the benefit of the other children in line. “Thanks so much, Santa.” Bless her. She retrieved her daughter from his lap, making room for the next child.

“Ho, ho, ho, Meeeeerrry Christmas!” He had a thing going and was playing it up. “What’s your name?”

The little girl in question was climbing onto his lap as if she were scaling a very serious mountain. When she was settled, she looked up at him with earnest brown eyes. He couldn’t resist tugging on one of her ponytails, crazy with curls.

“Carly,” she said simply. No smiles, no giggling. This was a serious kid, so he pulled a serious face in response.

“Have you been good this year?”

She nodded solemnly. “I have a question, Santa. Do you make presents for grownups?” Her voice had lowered to a conspiratorial whisper, and Joey leaned his own head closer to her.

It was fun, and this wasn’t the first kid to tell him secrets. One little boy had fessed up that he’d been bad but his baby brother had been worse than him this year, so Joey was ready for more secrets like that. He sort of enjoyed the idea of being in on something with the kids. The “us against them” games were more fun than he’d realized.

“Sometimes. Has the grownup been naughty or nice?”

“Oh, she’s been really nice. But Mommy works so hard and is always so sad and stressed. Can you bring her something to make her better?”

“I might have something I can bring her,” he said, feigning thoughtfulness. “Who’s your mommy?”

“Vivian Clarke.”

The little girl could have punched Joey in the gut and he wouldn’t have felt it for the air rushing out of him. Could it be the same Vivian he’d wanted to kiss the hell out of yesterday?

“Is she here?” He couldn’t resist. He wanted to see her again, and if she were here, that would be perfect. Maybe she wouldn’t recognize him dressed as Santa. Maybe he could do a little kissing under the mistletoe. Okay, his imagination got away with him on that one, but as he followed the tiny finger pointing to a woman standing not too far away, watching intently with an eyebrow raised, he saw she was in fact the very same Vivian, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater.


And now so much made sense with her. She didn’t date because she had a kid. Wait, was she married? He hadn’t seen a ring yesterday, which was why he’d done the full-court press thing with her. But if she were married, that was a no-go. Well, with the wealth of information right here, he should take advantage.

Hide and Seek-Out Today!

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2L3JhXW 

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2Pm6BUz

Nook-http://bit.ly/2ODCKWt

iTunes-https://apple.co/2OBsFJA

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2MKkrOu


Spin the Bottle-Releasing October 9

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2MEWQCo

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2BmRSFF

Nook-http://bit.ly/2Mj7EGZ

iTunes-https://apple.co/2vDxPh5

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2vLrMa6


Hot Lava-Releasing November 6

Amazon-https://amzn.to/2L2Y5X9

Amazon UK-https://amzn.to/2ONcRU8

Nook-http://bit.ly/2OA0B98

iTunes-https://apple.co/2Mmhqai

Kobo-http://bit.ly/2B7ZXOE

Giveaway sponsored by LoveBooks running until September 13th for a $10 Amazon gift card.  Enter HERE!!!

About the author:

Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.

Currently, she has five romance series.  Playing with Fire explores the trials and tribulations of a small team of fire fighters in the fictional mountain town of Pamona Gulch. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, Jordan, Hollerman, and Simon. Her favorite series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human.

Follow her on the platform of your choosing!

Website/newsletter/blog: www.anneconley.com
Follow on Instagram: anne.conley   https://www.instagram.com/anne.conley/