Monday, February 27, 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

RPGs & Writing - guest post by Steven Arellano Rose Jr.

RPGs: Child’s Play We Writers Still Play
By Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Many of us speculative fiction writers have been playing RPGs (role playing games) since as far back as kindergarten. However, the RPGs we played at that early age weren’t necessarily card, board or video games. Many of them were live action RPGs (also known as LARPs). Like other RPGs, LARPs involve players assuming the roles of a game’s characters. Unlike other RPGs, they involve the players physically acting out the characters and their situations.

Many gaming groups go to parks and act out their favorite fantasy, sci fi or even horror characters (zombies have become popular for this type of gaming). This form of activity, LARP, contains structured plots and rules where players are rewarded points when meeting certain challenges. But, because these are role playing games, the plots are often not fixed but are continuously developing by the players and their characters’ actions and decisions. Well, perhaps minus the game point system, many of us have been playing RPGs of this sort since as early as age five.

Before we reached teenage-hood when we would get more freedoms, our world was that of books, TV, movies and video games. And so we mimicked the characters of those medias. It wasn’t enough to simply watch them on screen or even maneuver them on it by way of a gamepad. We wanted to participate in the adventures of our favorite characters of science fiction and fantasy because we got tired of the everyday world of school and home controlled by adults. So we played LARPs. This was common with all us kids. The only difference between us writers of speculative fiction and other grownups today is that we never stopped playing out these childhood fantasies. We never stopped playing RPGs.

All that said, my first experience with LARPs that I can remember was when I was around five or six back in the ‘70s. I, my brother and friends would engage in our active fantasies of super hero adventures, especially Batman which was one of our favorites. We did similar with Star Trek’s characters. Then when the first Star Wars movie came out we played our favorite characters from that, acting out our own stories and adventures. That was the great thing: unlike the comic books, TV shows and movies these characters came from, we didn’t have to stick to the storyline of a single episode or movie; we could develop our own stories, creating our own adventures and journeys into our imaginations.

As an adult, I play RPGs in the form of board, card, and video games. I don’t get as much time as I would like to play them and much less time for LARPs. Whenever I get a weekend void of any events or am just plain board with everyday routine, I’ll play electronic RPGs such as Facebook’s Vampire Wars, Spore, or Beast Quest, or deck-based ones such as Arkham Horror. Some people can never stop playing their childhood fantasies and so are die-hard players of these and live action games. But don’t get me wrong, I’m proudly far from immune from this Peter Pan syndrome of a type. That’s why I write science fiction and horror.

Fiction is, in many ways, RPG in writing. When I write science fiction or horror, I have to take up the role and so the mentality of not only my protagonists but also my antagonists and secondary or minor characters. In order to advance the story I need to know what my characters would do in given situations and when I make one character handle a situation differently than another would, doing so takes the story in a direction different than the one it started in.

So I’m a writer of fantastic fiction because I am one of those people who can’t stop playing RPGs of a sort. We writers and artists of speculative fiction are Lost Boys and Girls; we refuse to grow up.

Author Bio

Steven Arellano Rose Jr. is a freelance writer and artist. He published his first short fiction collection, The Fool’s Illusion, in 2013 and recently came out with a horror short story, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, on Kindle. Besides horror and dark fantasy, Steven writes science fiction, movie reviews and computer technology articles.
The following are Steven’s many other interests: treasure hunting for ‘60s and ‘70s pop cultural artifacts; jazz, rock and disco; video games; diet colas; history; mythology; Eastern meditation. You can catch him at his blog or tweet him at @Starosep2.

Links To Books

The Fool’s Illusion:

Circa Sixty Years Dead”:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Doubling the Reviews, Doubling the Awesome Reads!

These two books are from the Fated & Forbidden series. A group of authors wrote stories which all took place in the same universe and share one amazing hook!

Dark Burn by Decadent Kane

Blurb: The challenge wasn't meant to be easy. They were set up to fail from the beginning.

Priya's the last of her kind...
After death takes the only family Priya has ever known, she ventures out to find others like her, those who catch fire and fly. But shadow hunters prowl the night ready to kill firebirds like her, and one has found her trail. After a narrow escape she runs into the kind of man she shouldn't want...a man with silver eyes as if the very moon has been trapped inside his gaze.
His help won't be enough when Nicholas finds her.

Doulzen is a shade by birth, shadow hunter by rite...
When an extinct white firebird flies through the night sky, fire blazing behind the creature, he knows he has to have it. Pulling the shadows in, he notches his arrow and downs his prey, but when he arrives to catch it, he finds a female running from someone instead. He promised himself he wouldn't be her protector, he'd get her where she needed to go, but when Nicholas shows up and takes Priya from him, Doulzen finds the mark that tells him she is his fated mate. With darkness at his heels, he will stop at nothing to get her back as his very existence relies on it.

When Priya and Doulzen find out each other's secrets, it will take a lot more than fate to bring them back together.

My review: Priya believes she's the last of her kind. A race of beautiful shifters called firebirds. When her Gran dies, she plans to visit family she never met in another city, but a man who is stalking her chases her away too quickly, and she is injured by a hunter. Doulzen is that shadow hunter, but he has no idea the mystery behind the creature he hunts. When he comes across Priya instead of his prey, he vows to help her in exchange for firebird feathers, but he might find more than he bargained for when her stalker steals her away. In that moment, Doulzen discovers she is his intended mate, and he'll stop at nothing to get her back.

A compelling paranormal romance that hooked me from the beginning and wouldn't let go. My heart went out to Priya immediately at not only the loss of her grandmother, but not knowing the anything about what she is and her past. Sheltered as she is, she's a strong and admirable woman. Doulzen is a sinuous hunter who must deal with finding out everything he knows may be a lie. The tension between him and Priya is sizzling. Nicholas is a detestable villain and puts the heroes in what seems like an impossible situation. Fast action, great tension, and oh-my-god twists.

Fallen Ashes by T.F. Walsh

Blurb: As the last of her kind, Fallen awakes in a holding cell, but being locked up is the least of her problems.

She's been magically bound to a cocky Queen's Guardian named Saber. Because Fallen is the last dragon shifter in Tapestry, she's on everyone's hit list... especially his... but she doesn't have time to die by his hand. Fallen has to find her life mate in four weeks or else all of creation in her world will be destroyed.

Saber never asked to be brought to life. He certainly never wanted to be hexed and forced to transform into a mindless shadow assassin. Exiled from the Kingdom, he must rescue his stepfather from the Collector to prove his innocence. Otherwise he'll be hunted and killed. But his plans are temporarily put on hold when he's captured, imprisoned, and bound to a mysterious blond-haired vixen with a major fire addiction.

With time ticking away for Saber and Fallen, will the two be able to come together to defeat the Collector and save themselves, along with the rest of the world?

My review: Fallen is the last of her kind and trapped in a holding cell. Bound by some frustrating spell to a gorgeous Queen's Guardian named Saber, they escape and flee. Their captors hunt them relentlessly as they try to learn to work together. Fallen has no time for the chase. She must find her life mate within four weeks or her world will be extinguished. Saber doesn't believe in her dreams and is determined to prove himself innocent of being exiled by saving his stepfather from the same villain that captured him. They must hurry or all could be lost for both of them.

This is one of my favorite books from T.F. Walsh. It's a unique premise of two parallel worlds; one our modern day society and the other, a magical fantasy land filled with both darkness and beautiful wonders. Walsh's lush descriptions of places and the monsters really bring the story to life. I especially loved she included the Hoia Baciu Forest. It's a haunting and fascinating place in Romania.

Fallen is a heroine that kicks butt. She's immediately sympathetic, and I rooted for her from the first scene. Paired with Saber, she's fiery in so many ways! I do love the story behind Saber and what motivates him. The tension between the two of them is hot, and I loved seeing how they worked with the chaos of their emotions with the conflicts going on. Noah is a villain you'll love to hate, and you'll wonder often if he's more than a match for Fallen and Saber. Tons of action and mystery. I couldn't get enough of this story. I ate it up as fast as I could!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Aliens? Find out when you read Abducted Life by Patricia Josephine

Savannah Janowitz’s perfect life was destroyed the night she and her boyfriend vanished without a trace. When she reappears a year later––alone––she’s a shell of her former self. Robbed of her popularity and her boyfriend, she has no memory of what happened to her. Savannah struggles to move forward as strange, new abilities manifest.

Evan Sullivan never gave extra-terrestrials much thought until the night he and Savannah were abducted. While Savannah’s memory was wiped clean, he remembers every horrific detail. Constantly reminded of the experiments that made him less than human, Evan hides in the shadows and watches Savannah rebuild her life without him. But neither can let the other go.

When their paths cross, Savannah and Evan finally see a glimmer of their old lives return. As they face what happened to them, they soon discover they aren’t safe. There’s more to fear than what’s hiding in the stars.

Available for 99cents at Amazon.

About the Author

Patricia Josephine never set out to become a writer. In fact, she never considered it an option during high school and college. She was all about art. On a whim, she wrote down a story bouncing in her head. That was the start of it and she hasn't regretted a moment. She writes young adult under the name Patricia Lynne.

Patricia lives with her husband in Michigan, hopes one day to have what will resemble a small petting zoo, has a fondness for dying her hair the colors of the rainbow, and an obsession with Doctor Who.

You can find her lurking on Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Wattpad. Find the latest news at her website or sign up for her newsletter. A link to all her books can be found here.

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Don't forget to get yourself some books to cuddle up with this weekend!

And if one giveaway isn't thrilling enough, Vanessa Morgan is hosting a ten book giveaway from the authors of When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies With Killer Animals. My urban fantasy, Of Blood and Sorrow is included in the bundle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

All It Takes Release Day Blitz!

Happy Valentine's Day! I’m thrilled to announce Clare Dugmore’s dual-POV contemporary romance ALL IT TAKES is out now, exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and in paperback.

Title: All It Takes
Author: Clare Dugmore
Genre: Romance
All It Takes is one night to change the rest of their lives.

Graduating Uni, travelling Europe and buying her own place – these are on Megan Green’s to-do list.
At just twenty-two, becoming a mother isn’t.

Fast cars, expensive clothes and bedding a different women every night – this is how Kian Murphy spends his time when not in the MMA ring. Pre-natal scans and birthing classes are not on his agenda.

After a chance meeting and passionate encounter, Megan finds herself pregnant with Kian’s child. But with a womanizing reputation, and a temper that often leads him into trouble, Kian is hardly boyfriend material, let alone father material.

Now Megan and Kian must work out if they have All It Takes to turn their one-night-stand into a relationship that will connect them for a life-time.
All It Takes is a dual-POV new-adult, contemporary-romance about responsibility, love and discovering who you are in life.

Rafflecopter Giveaway: 

Monday, February 13, 2017

Find Your Valentine 99c Sale and Giveaway!

Find love in a book!
Check out 20 amazing books all on sale this weekend only.

The 13th Floor Complete Collection is on sale for the first time ever! Six novellas and one short story for only 99 cents. Get hooked!

Six supernatural tenants
living in a haunted building
on a floor that doesn't exist.

Purchase links: Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

Plus enter to win this awesome book bundle giveaway!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

RPGs & Writing - guest post by Renee Cheung

I am honoured to be guest blogging at Christine’s and to follow up on her post about RPGs and writing. She and I go back quite a bit, to the days when we used to write together on Play by Email RPGs. (If you want to find out more about what they are, read her post here) and in truth, she was one of the people that inspired me to improve on my writing at the time, and she continues today to inspire and encourage me to write.

Maybe I’ll start at the beginning. Writing was always a bit of a chore for me, until I stumble into Yahoo Groups and found people writing together, controlling characters and creating stories. I immediately fell in love with the idea and joined in with an unholy enthusiasm that concerned my parents (I was in high school at that time).  Although I was really, really bad in the beginning, (some of my posts were literally one sentence!) I got better with practice. And that practice carried me well forward today in writing, whether it’s writing stories or technical documentation for work.

I won’t bore you with details about the latter. Really, it’s quite boring. Unless you’re writing it while drunk on champagne jello. But then again, I would think quite a few boring things would be fun if you were drunk on champagne jello.
Anyhow, back to RPGs! As Christine mentioned in her past post, playing in these forums forced players to be character-focused and to be flexible in how events evolved because you never knew what other characters would do or say or react. It also gave everyone a chance to form some pretty strong friendships through the storytelling. (Exhibit A right here!)

I also wanted to touch a bit on the mechanics of writing that these RPGs have helped me develop. Because everything was through the written word and because other players depended on what each other wrote, I had to be very descriptive as a player. If my character walked into a new room, I had better describe that room well. Anything not mentioned was fair game for another player to build on and describe. And so, every post became an exercise in making me consider what to write and what to leave out, how to describe everything from the setting, to the mood and tone, to my character’s expressions and actions. On the other hand, I had to consider how to do it without overloading the posts with so much detail that it would not give other people’s characters room to breathe and act? (No one likes a control freak, especially when it comes to these RPGs.) Now when I write, I constantly ask myself the same questions. What do I want the reader to picture? What do I want to leave up to their imagination?

Christine also spoke a bit about experimenting different writing styles and characters and I wholeheartedly concur. Very often, many players including myself played more than one character. An easy trap to fall into was to have every character sound and act the same way. However, when you have them all interact in the same RPG, it becomes very obvious and I grew to learn the importance of developing distinct characters. This included everything from the way they react, their values and back stories, to their mannerisms and the way they talk. It is something I am still working on to master, but it is something that RPGs have brought to the forefront of my mind.

Another mechanic is in setting up conflict and this was especially important when I started my own RPG. Portals to World was meant to be an ultimate fanfiction crossover RPG and as the owner/moderator of the group, I was the one that set up the premise, the setting and the overarching conflicts that came in the characters’ ways. (For those that play Dungeons and Dragons, it’s the equivalent of the Dungeon Master who sets up the quests that players with their characters go on, usually via NPCs or non-player characters.) It became an exercise of how to set up situations and how to present them to the characters. Is it an in-your-face earthquake (or in my case, a random portal just opened up!) or is it a more subtle sinister creeping hint of a big bad coming that would span over multiple posts? Still, sometimes the conflict becomes a dud because it was just too easy, or sometimes it becomes a corner that gets hard to write out of and as the moderator, it was something I just had to roll with. Being the moderator of a RPG taught me to set up conflicts well and also taught me to be flexible when something doesn’t quite pan out the way I anticipated.

As I pick up writing back up again after a long hiatus, I fondly remember what I learned writing in those PBeM RPGs and I sincerely hope that there would be a chance to do it again some day. Perhaps not in that particular form, but to experiment with some sort of dynamic real-time storytelling. Have you played in any sort of storytelling games and if so, how have those affected your writing style? I’d love to hear more!

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Find out more about Renee on her website and blog.

Renee is one of the twelve amazing authors featured in this year's IWSG anthology, Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life. Her story, "Memoirs of a Forgotten Knight" is set in the Physical/Digital world. A fantastic read! The anthology will be out at the beginning of May.

Check out her fantastic new release, Tales From The Digital.

Somewhere along the way, humans found a way to anchor magic into technology, bringing about the commercialization of once-mystic energies. Little do they know that by doing so, they also created a conduit for the fae and other creatures to migrate into a whole new land...

Monday, February 6, 2017

Deep Current (Totem #6) release

Always read the fine print when making a bargain with a sea hag.

Lost to the clutches of her grief of losing her mentor, Saskia Dorn welcomes the opportunity to take down a warehouse of drug dealers. When their leader makes a break for it, Saskia and her ex-boyfriend, Sedge, chase the criminal shifter into the sea off the coast of northwestern Alaska. Not only do they lose their quarry, but a vicious sea hag snatches Sedge.

Saskia can’t take another loss and attempts to bargain for Sedge’s life and the salmon totem the witch has trapped in her cave. The sea hag wants only one thing: her long lost love. Who is dead. And living under the freaking ocean with the Salmon People. Find the Salmon People and return with the witch’s love before Sedge’s life is forfeit. Simple, right? Yet she can’t leave the Salmon People’s land without finding herself first.

Add it to read on Goodreads.

In celebration of today's release, Saskia's first book, Cloak of Snow (Totem #3) is FREE this week!

Plus, hop on over to Story Dam to get some tips on writing those steamy scenes. I offered up some advice on how to make the parts where you don't close the bedroom doors work.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

#IWSG for February 2017
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.

This month's awesome co-hosts are: Misha Gericke, LK Hill, Juneta Key, Christy, and Joylene Butler!

The IWSG question for this month: How has being a writer changed your experience as a reader?

I confess that sometimes my inner editor will interfere in my reading pleasure. Even if the story is entertaining, a badly written book will infuriate my inner editor. Whether it be technical issues or plot holes or bad characterization, I can't help the frustration.

If those issues are really bad, I will put down the book and not finish it. Five years ago, I would never do such a thing, but my reading time is as valuable as my writing time. I cannot afford to waste my time on a horrible book.

My insecurity this month: Feeling overwhelmed. I know if I just take it one step at a time, I'll be fine. But with the new year, I stepped back and looked at everything I have to do. Then I added more stuff on top of it. What was I thinking? I'm already behind on everything.

Wait, you say. You're a writer. You can make your own schedule.

Yes, I can. But I'm my own worst boss. I demand a lot from myself, and I do like the challenge. Yet at times like these, I can get overwhelmed, and I flail about and eat too many cookies.

How's the year going so far for you?