Monday, August 31, 2015

Mini Reviews For Stories That Wowed Me

(Any excuse to use this picture of Dean Winchester!)

I've been reading a lot great books lately, and I want to share them all with you. But how to do that without a super long post? Mini reviews. Let's hope I can do these awesome tales justice with a few sentences.

"Dragon's Destiny" by Alex J. Cavanaugh
This short story is the sequel to Alex's latest fantastic space opera novel, Dragon of the Stars. I loved seeing what happened with Aden and the Kargrandes. The drama was in the emotions of the characters rather than big action sequences, and Alex pulled it off beautifully. You can get this tale free from Alex as a gift to his fans.

A kick-ass teaser novella for Alexia's upcoming urban fantasy novel. It's fast-paced, dark, hilarious, and full of action. It features a supernatural bounty hunter, Zyan Star who is now one of my new favorite UF heroines!
A marvelous short paranormal tale that grabbed me right from the beginning. The tension is tight throughout and everyone is a suspect. Such fun in that Jolie hates being a ghost and the detective working her murder case is the only one who can see her.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Friday Five for August 28, 2015

1. On Tuesday, I wrote END on my newest trilogy. Yay! Three wonderfully fun paranormal novelettes which I'll be submitting to my publisher. This was a spur of the moment project, and one I did in a month. I think I was a little excited about having full weekdays to myself!

2. And on Tuesday, I started planning my next series. The more I think about it, the bigger it's growing. My muse is still on the full-time writer high and is getting mighty ambitious. This project will be a serial paranormal romance in nine parts. Nine novellas. I thought I was crazy when I did the 13th Floor series and that was six parts. I will remember my lesson learned from that, though: have the books written before you start publishing them!

3. Next week I'll be co-hosting the IWSG for the first time. I'm a little nervous. But I can't wait to hear the big surprise they have for us!

4. I've been enjoying a taste of autumn this week. Most mornings I was snug in a sweatshirt, flannel pajama bottoms, and slippers. But the heat is coming back again. Blah. Did you see Untethered Realms' good-bye to summer post yet? We are not hot weather folks.

5. I have some BIG news for you. I'm not quite sure when I can announce it, but it's so exciting! I will be celebrating with ice cream this weekend.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - dream inspiration

(My author picture processed through the Google Deep Dream Generator.)

A lot of my inspiration for stories comes from dreams. And I don't mean the Google Deep Dream Generator there. Though, I hear a lot of people saying those pictures are causing nightmares. I just think it's fascinating.

I'm a vivid dreamer. I dream in full color and I know I'm dreaming. I can change my actions and wake up if I want. Yet I usually go with the flow and see what happens.

Lately I've been having more disturbing dreams than usual. Ones where I'm finding myself in dire circumstances and faced with immense decisions. Most of the time, these are supernatural situations.
My life has had big changes lately. My son started kindergarten and I'm getting a chance at being a full time writer. It's a lot of pressure. And it seems my subconscious agrees by giving me all these intense dreams.

Of course, as an author, my first thought is: how do I use this in my writing? Dreams help us see things differently. The everyday world can become mundane, but things become more wonderful, silly, and/or frightening in dreams. They can change our perspective and that might be just what your muse needs if stuck on a story or in need of an idea for a new one.

I don't keep a dream journal. I remember my dreams most of the time, but it's a good idea to scribble down even a few things you recall from your dreams as prompts or ideas for later.

Do you find inspiration in your dreams?

Monday, August 24, 2015

Mayhem in the Air will blow you away!

Another fantastic collection of short stories from the talented authors of Untethered Realms.
Coming this Halloween.

Isn't the cover gorgeous? Erin Dameron-Hill is a super graphic artist.
And wait until you read the stories. I'm honored to be included with these brilliant writers.

UR will be touring in November to promote this anthology. Join us for exclusive excerpts and a chance to win a $40 gift card!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday Five for August 21, 2015

1. I've had an awesome week of writing. I finished the second novelette in my newest series and I'm a few chapters in to the third and final. This trilogy came together in a flash and it's been so much fun to write. Two of my critique partners have read the first book and loved it. Yes!

2. I had one short story rejection this week and submitted two more elsewhere. I keep a record of my submissions in a little notebook, but I think maybe I should keep a spreadsheet on the computer. That poor notebook is looking a mess!

3. My Google searches this week have included what does it feel like to be possessed by a good spirit (for my current project) and the Inuit god of icebergs and glaciers named Nootaikok (for a future project). Sometimes it's dangerous to do searches on these things because they can be so fascinating that I end up reading more and more pages rather than writing.

4. With my son now in public school, I worry about all the germs and such he can pick up. Ours is also one of the states that have been warned to be on the look-out for mutated head lice. Mutant lice. My brain is coming up with all sorts of disturbing images! There's got to be a story in there somewhere.

5. The weather has cooled down and I'm getting excited at the approach of autumn. It'll be time to go to the apple orchard and then the pumpkin patch. I love those fall trips! This weekend, we'll hopefully get out for a walk in the woods. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - be okay with it

(This is the kind of picture you get when I can't find an appropriate quote online!)

Earlier this year, I started writing a new urban fantasy novel. It was a big idea, heavy and thick. But it was slow going. I felt like my mojo was stuck in the mud. I told myself it was because the story was challenging me and that's a good thing.

When summer break started, I had far less time to write. It was harder to find the writing groove. But I still believed I could finish the novel by the end of September. I was motivated. I knew where I was going with it.

Again, the words came slow. I wondered what was wrong with me. Because the story certainly was not at fault.

I decided to put it aside for a week or two. A little break was what I needed. That break grew into three weeks and then six.

Why wasn't I racing to write it? The idea is brilliant. Maybe I wasn't telling the story right. Perhaps I should start all over again. Am I not a good enough writer for this idea? Did I just crash and burn? Will I ever get my mojo back? Panic, fear, sorrow, freaking out, not enough chocolate in the world.

I started to write a new series of novelettes and they're flowing beautifully. So I guess I didn't lose my mojo.

But what about the novel? The idea is still like a shining star to me. I will go back to it. For now, I just need to be okay with putting it aside.

Maybe I will have to start over again and tell the tale differently. Not everything is going to come to me easily. It's part of the learning process. I need to be okay with that too.

And I need to be okay with being okay about it. It doesn't make me a failure. I haven't lost anything.

What are you working on being okay with?

Monday, August 17, 2015

What #RealmsFaire Can Do For You!

Anxious and insecure about marketing?

Mary Pax wants to help you get your name and books out in front of an audience. It's free, easy, and fun.

Get the following:

  1. You featured, including a nod to your books with links, on my blog prior to the 4th annual joust (November 9-13).
  2. You get a cool badge like the one I made for myself below.
  3. You will be featured for a whole week on this blog during the week of Nov. 9th.
  4. During the week of Nov. 9th a brief story/excerpt and you will be highlighted on one day.
  5. You'll be listed with a link to your site on the Realms Faire page on this website for one year.

If you win, you'll get the added benefits of:

  1. A free ad in the slider at the top of my blog for one year. You can see the 2014 champion featured currently.
  2. A championship badge and bragging rights.
  3. A custom printed Tumbler advertising you and your win (SEE Tumbler)

So what does becoming a knight and jousting entail? It's quite simple:

  1. Spots are limited reserve your slot today! Click HERE and check off 'joining 4th annual joust as a knight. Huzzah!' or email me /
  2. When you get an email from me, send me the name you'll joust under and 3-5 book covers. I'll send you the nifty badge and 3 magic words. The magic words are how you'll score points during the joust.
  3. Send me 2 excerpts, or 2 stories of your knightly feats, or one excerpt and one story of your feats.
  4. Send your friends and followers to this blog Nov. 9-13th and tell them to leave comments using your magic words. You're allowed to post exactly what they copy and paste. You're allowed to bribe. Prizes will be awarded to commenters daily on this site.
  5. Have a load of fun while getting in some marketing. You'll be having such a blast, you won't notice you're working.
mpaxbadge example 

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Beware the Vortex
Evil is afoot. Chronos has accidentally created a vortex while cleaning his hourglass, plunging a few unfortunate souls into Lucien’s Bar, gateway to the Underworld. Now they are trapped. Lucien wants to keep them but will give each hapless victim one chance to earn their freedom. His condition? Enter a contest of skills with an Immortal opponent of his/her choosing.

Do you think you can survive a swordfight with War? How about wend your way through a carnivorous garden to get to Gaia’s treehouse? Or weave a portion of the Great Tapestry of Life while avoiding Atropos’ giant pair of life-ending scissors? Perhaps you’re brave enough to challenge Death to a peanut-eating contest? Or whip up a batch of punch with Jezebel, the Master Poisoner? Do you have what it takes to win your way out of Lucien’s grasp?

Your mission: on the day you appear in the contest, you will post on your own blog, or gather together your Facebook and/or Twitter friends and provide a link to this blog, pleading (begging works too) with your loyal supporters to come to your aid at , and cheer you on to victory. Their comments will decide your fate. River will provide you with a few magic words to bolster the power of your minions. Plead well, for you will need their strength to endure. Others might seek to cast their votes with the Immortals.

Rewards? Yes! Besides winning your freedom (hopefully), each volunteer (that would be you) who is locked in the struggle will receive an Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. In addition, a few lucky commenters will be picked at random to receive a gift card at the end of the Faire. Four brave people have signed up so far. River needs one more to fill the week.

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Diane Wolfe is hosting the Unicorn Hunt!

You are charged with tracking down the unicorns!

Every day, a new blogger will host a photo. You will have to find the unicorns in the image, much like the famous “Where’s Waldo?” Leave a comment stating how many unicorns you find in that image. The most correct guesses wins.

Grand prize:
Ebooks: Hot Pink in the City by Medeia Sharif, 30 Seconds by Chrys Fey, One Good Catch by Heather M. Gardner, A Lizard’s Tail by Bish Denham, and The Circle of Friends Series by L. Diane Wolfe
Plus: a $20.00 Amazon or ITunes gift card

Five images - many unicorns - only one winner!

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House Waibel is hosting the Stockade Brigade. Warrants of arrest have been issued for select authors accusing them of witchery and wizardry. The pillory has been erected and the trial dates set.

Good people of Realmsdom, I call upon you to bear witness to these trials and offer your testimony for or against the author's crimes.

Points will be awarded for wordsmithing a comment in your best Olde English afore 8 of the clock in the Eastern time on the following scale:

5-Ye speak as one from the days of Queen Bess.
4-Ye could pass muster as a Ren Faire cast member
3-Ye could pass as a Ren Faire attendee
2-Ye wouldn't be foolin' yer mother
1-Ye stand out like the sun in a cloudless sky

An e-book will be given every day to the witness who scores the most points. Fear not, your daily score will be accumulated and the person with the highest score shall receive a special prize at the end of the week. So, brush off your Olde English and prepare to testify.

* * * * *

Hero's beware! Here at the House of Hero's Dilemma, a new cliff-hanging adventure will dangle new heroes above the depths of destiny or despair. In 100 words or less, a hero will face a danger in story form.

Each day, the people of Realsmdom will decide the fate of these heroes in three sentences or less. If fateful endings are giving answer in poetic form, an extra entry for prizes will be awarded.

Daily e-book prizes will be awarded via random name-pulling from the entries. Everyone is invited to participate.

People of Realmsom, you have the power of storytelling might to decide the fate of the would-be heroes. Will they die in glory or shame, live in victory or defeat? It is up to you.

And, after you have decided the fate of the Hero's Dilemma, try your hand at the other Realms Faire Events for more fun and prizes!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday Five for August 14, 2015

1. For those of you who missed Wednesday's post, this month is the one year anniversary of my newsletter, Geeks, Freaks, & EEKS! I'll be sending out my newsletter later today and subscribers will have a chance to win some swag including a unique Christine Rains dice. PLUS, if you subscribe, you get a free ebook. You can have your choice of The 13th Floor Complete Collection or Of Blood and Sorrow.

2. I'm getting lots of writing done with my son in school. I'm finished a novelette last week and I'm over halfway done with the second novelette in the trilogy. I hope I don't get so excited with all this writing that I burn myself out before the month is out!

3. Tomorrow is the monthly meeting of my local critique group. The flash piece I wrote this month for it was tons of fun. Funny how I keep going back to the monster under the bed, but this time, I put a horrific sci-fi twist to it.

4. I've been trying to think of an original wondrous item for Paizo's RPG Superstar contest. Every time I think of something, I look it up and it's been done! I don't get to play tabletop RPGs much any more. I'd love to game more, but it's difficult getting our friends together at one time. Maybe if I start thinking about an item now, I might have something for next year's contest!

5. The only thing on my schedule for the weekend is my critique group meeting. I do love not having anything to do. But then that sometimes leads to this conversation that can last for hours itself:
Me: "Let's go do something."
Hubby: "Okay. What do you want to do?"
Me: "I don't know. What do you want to do?"
Hubby: "I don't know. Not much is open."
Me: "Yeah, and it's raining. What can we do?"
Hubby: "I don't know. What do you feel like doing?"

Have a terrific weekend!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - examining newsletters

One of the most handy tools a writer can use is the newsletter. You can promote your new book, share a contest, and tease your readers with a new project. Newsletters are a special tool in our arsenal because they're all about the readers. Or, at least, they should be.

My newsletter - Geeks, Freaks, & EEKS! - is one year old this month. It was intimidating when I started. I use MailChimp, and it took a little while to get the hang of it. Now it's easy to piece together a bulletin when I've decided what I want to say.

I worried that no one except a few friends would sign up for it. I pointed readers to the little widget on the sidebar of my blog and website. All you have to do is put in your email address. So simple! I was right to worry. Very few people subscribed.

Why? How could I entice readers to sign up? I offered contests just for my subscribers and a couple more folks added their names to the list. When I toured earlier this year, I gave the most points on my raffles to those that signed up for my newsletter. It attracted another dozen readers.

Now that I've reached the anniversary of my newsletter, I'm re-examining what I want to do with it and how to draw new subscribers. I've done a bunch of research, and here is what I have planned:

1. I will be sending out my newsletter quarterly instead of every month. (And for special events like book releases.)
2. There will be something in each newsletter exclusively for subscribers that won't be released anywhere else until at least two days after the newsletter has been sent.
3. I'll be attracting new subscribers with a free book.

Oh yes. You read it right! New subscribers to my newsletter will receive their choice of either The 13th Floor Complete Collection or Of Blood and Sorrow. (Sorry I cannot give away my Dice & Debauchery books.)

I'll be sending out my anniversary newsletter this Friday (August 14th). One lucky subscriber will win some swag including one of my special Christine Rains dice. So if you do sign up, you'll not only get a free book, but you'll have a chance to win some more cool stuff!

It's all about the readers.

Do you have a newsletter? If you do, what tips can you share about how to attract subscribers?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Marketh your calendars for #RealmsFaire!

Hear ye, hear ye!
The most honored Lady Mary has bestowed upon the realms a grand festival. There will be games of daring and wit, daily giveaways, and serving maids to keep yer cups full of grog!

We are seeking brave champions, talented bards, and generous sponsors. Find out how ye can participate and/or help out by clicking here.

Here at House Geek, I am happy to be hosting a marvelous event called Drench-a-wench or Soak-a-bloke, depending on whether our dunkee is a lovely lady or handsome lord.

The rules of this event are simple.
1. Dunkees are chosen by the Untethered Realms council. None of the dunkees know they have been picked. The fun is in the surprise, after all!
2. I will announce a new dunkee each day of the Faire and include a link to their blog.
3. Participants will go to the dunkee's blog and soak them with blog love in the comments of their most recent post. Anyone can participate.
4. Everyone who participates is included in the daily giveaway. Oh yes, my fine friends! There will be a new giveaway every day.
5. Visit the other esteemed hosts of Realms Faire and have fun with their games. Enter to win even more prizes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Five for August 7, 2015

1. I had a pleasant surprise when I found a new review for my most recent Dice & Debauchery book from a reviewer I hadn't submitted to myself! It's not a five star review, but sometimes that doesn't matter when the reviewer says she wants to read more from you. Check it out on Exquisite Reviews.

2. With my son in school full time, I've had a productive week. My house is clean, the lawn is mowed, and all the laundry folded. Oh yes, I did some writing too. I finished the first draft of a novelette. Another one of those stories that suddenly came to me with a rush of vivid persistence. There are two more stories to go with it, and I have them already done in my head.

3. I'm going to be starting my regular blogging schedule again next week. Monday will be promo day: guest posts from other authors, cover reveals, and reviews. Wednesday: the first Wednesday of each month will be IWSG, and the remaining ones will be Wicked Wednesday. I talk about all aspects of being a writer, give tips, and ask questions. Fridays will continue to be my Friday Five. Just a quick update of what's going on in my life.

4. I received one short story rejection this week. I'm working on a flash piece today for my local critique group. That will complete my 2015 short story goal of writing six pieces this year. If I can, I want to keep pushing on and do one a month.

5. My little guy has been loving kindergarten. I watch him get on the bus in the mornings and get the warm fuzzies. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

IWSG for August 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

The awesome co-hosts for this month's IWSG: Nancy Gideon, Bob R Milne, Doreen McGettigan, Chrys Fey, Bish Denham, and Pat Garcia!

This week, my son started kindergarten. He's so excited. On the first day, he woke extra early and didn't even want to stop to give his poor mom a hug before he rushed into the classroom.

This week is also the week when I am now a full-time writer. I'm much more freaked out about that than I am my child starting school. Now I can't offer any excuses about lack of time or too much noise. There is no reason why I shouldn't be highly productive.

And that's scary. Maybe I'm setting my expectations for myself too high. But shouldn't I be setting them high? I don't know! And, oh no, won't everyone be expecting that much more of me now?

I need to breathe and slow down for a minute. If I make a schedule, I can stick with it. I hope.

Are you realistic in your expectations of yourself?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Untethered Realms news!

There is always exciting news coming from the awesome authors of Untethered Realms!

Angela Brown is having a sale for her fantastic book, Beacon. It's 99 cents for the Kindle!

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Misha Gerrick recently released the first two books in her phenomenal epic fantasy series, War of Six Crowns.

The Vanished Knight
The entity living inside Callan’s soul orphaned her at age eleven. By the time she’s sixteen, it’s ensured her being shunted from one foster family to another.
Her thirteenth foster assignment should be routine. Except... it's not. A psycho in medieval armor kidnaps her and she ends up in a magical world. There, she accidentally discovers a secret her parents had kept until the day they died.
Both actually came from this magical world, but left before Callan was born. To cover their tracks, they’d lied about everything. Even who they really were.
Driven to find out where she comes from, Callan’s trapped in a race for life and death. Walking away isn’t an option, but if she stays too long, the entity will find its next victim.
In this world where secrets are sacrosanct and grudges are remembered, finding the truth will be near impossible. Especially when Callan has her own homicidal little secret to deal with.
One with a taste for destroying her life.
 The Heir’s Choice
After discovering her parents had kept a whole world secret, Callan races to discover her past. Not easy to do with an increasingly agitated entity living in her soul.
Going to her long-lost elvish roots should answer all her questions. Instead, she ends up in the middle of a nightmare.
The elves are on the verge of an apocalyptic war. Their enemy, King Aurek of Icaimerith, will only be appeased if Callan marries his heir. It’s either her life getting messed up, or an entire country’s lives lost. Simple enough, right?
Because when the entity wants the elves blotted out of existence, saving them gets taken to a whole new level of complicated.
Goodreads AmazonBarnes & Noble Kobo

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T.F. Walsh's kick-ass paranormal romance, Cloaked in Fur is now  exclusively on Amazon!

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Huzzah! Only three more months until Realms Faire 2015.
Mary Pax has organized this grand event with lots of fun, games, and daily giveaways. It's a great opportunity for you to not only win prizes, but to giveaway your own wares. A fabulous way of promoting your work. Click on the link to find out how you can join and/or donate.

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Finally, I wanted to give a shout-out to some wonderful speculative fiction authors and their new collection.

Get ready for some rollicking space adventures the likes of which you've never seen!
Beyond: Space Opera is coming August 15th.
And it will be FREE!

The collection will feature:
"The Ungreat Escape" by Siobhan Gallagher 
"All Comms Down" by Anne E. Johnson 
"Remembrance Day" by Simon Kewin 
"The Lion's Den" by Devin Miller
"Captain Clone" by Deborah Walker
"Captain Quasar and the Kolarii Kidnappers" by Milo James Fowler.