Coming Soon: Best in Show

Best in Show is the second title I have releasing in July! This story is one of my favourite things I’ve written. It’s cute and funny and has a little mystery wrapped around a sweet love story. Or the beginning of a love story. I have more adventures planned for Julian and Mac! It’s also the first time I’ve written paranormal and I had a lot of fun with Mac both as a house cat and as the sweet human being he is in between times.

Alexandria Corza designed the cover for this book. I’m so thrilled with it. I wasn’t as sure of what I wanted for this story, but she took my ideas and came up with the perfect blend of fun and mystery!

Best in Show is available now for pre-order on the Dreamspinner website. You can also add it on Goodreads. Read on below for the cover copy and a brief excerpt!

Solitary mystery writer Julian Wilkes doesn’t want a pet, but his sister persuades him to visit Lingwood Animal Rescue, where he is immediately taken with a large ginger tabby cat. Before he can settle into the joys of cat ownership, however, he discovers something very unusual about his new companion.

Macavity Birch is cursed. By day he is a large tabby cat. At night he can be himself—a human male with ginger hair and oddly yellow eyes. He didn’t mean to end up in the animal rescue, but he never meant any harm when playing the prank that resulted in his curse, either. Happily, Julian adopts him. But while exploring his host’s home, he discovers the diary of a long-dead relative.

Unfortunately, not all of Mac’s ancestors are dead and buried. His great-great-great-grandmother is very much alive, and she’s a powerful witch who doesn’t take kindly to the sharing of family secrets. When Mac reveals himself to Julian in order to save him from bigger trouble, he achieves just the opposite, plunging Julian deeper into a magical mystery with him.

Coming July 27, 2016. Available now for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press!

(And elsewhere: Amazon | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | ARe)

Excerpt

No way was he adopting a female dog. Julian could too easily imagine the canine version of Alicia following him around his house, nosing him away from his desk chair or comfy chair, pantry, TV remote, Kindle, or Madeleine Lingwood’s diary. Anything that brought him joy. She’d stand by the door with a coiled leash dangling from her mouth, tilt her head, and make her eyes go all gooey. Guilt him into walking her through the neighborhood, or worse, to the park near the woods.

He didn’t want any sort of moth-eaten mongrel, either. The only thing worse than having his sister harangue him about his social life—or lack thereof—would be owning an ugly dog. Nope, he absolutely was not going to get suckered into adopting a three-legged, blind dog with no ears or tail. Nor would he be taking home any glossy showpiece of a thing. If he was going to do this—get a dog and walk it and try to meet people while out walking it—he needed one as unassuming as him. Brown-eyed, brown-haired, average height, a touch on the cuddly side, with a stubborn curve across his belly because he liked doughnuts (and danishes and muffins, but only the bite-sized kind) and the only sit-ups he ever did were getting out of bed in the morning.

There were no dogs on the other side of the window. He could hear them barking—a faint chorus of yaps and howls—but the cats lazing about on various towers and platforms, draped across carpeted tunnels and curled into the corners of litter trays, seemed unconcerned. They also appeared completely uninterested in the face at the window. Julian had never felt more invisible. Well, except to the cat staring at the window with wide, slightly panicked eyes.

Sitting at the top of the highest tower, the big ginger tabby wore an expression of quiet desperation. Its—his?—large amber eyes said: Get me out of here. A kitten clawed its way onto the platform beside the big cat. It clung precariously close to the edge for all of a second before the ginger tabby nudged it off with a distracted swipe of a rather large paw. The kitten tumbled from view. Julian thought to check that it didn’t lie broken on the floor, but he couldn’t shift his gaze from the ginger tabby. Forget the kitten, the large cat seemed to communicate. A darker patch of fur over one eye lifted slightly. Just take me home.

Julian touched a fingertip to the window. “I want that one.”

 

Coming Soon: Counting Fence Posts

I have two new titles releasing with Dreamspinner in July! The first is Counting Fence Posts, a contemporary romance featuring two guys who are forced off the road during a blizzard. Trapped together in a rental car, they begin to talk and soon discover that the undercurrent of tension between them isn’t really hostile. More, it stems from layers of misconception, and given the chance to talk… Well, first they quarrel. Then they talk some more. As the snow surrounding the car deepens, so does their conversation, and they figure out that the tension between them is really a mutual attraction.

Bree Archer designed the cover for this book and I love it! As always, she really captured the feeling of my story and my characters. She is such a joy to work with!

Counting Fence Posts is available now for pre-order on the Dreamspinner website. Read on below for the cover copy and a super brief excerpt, which is one of my favourite snippets of conversation. Oh, and that second title? Watch this space. I’ll be doing another post for Best in Show in a couple of days. The cover for that one is super cute!

CountingFencePostsORIG-final-01

There are over two hundred thousand fence posts between Syracuse and Boston. Henry Auttenberg likes numbers—it’s his job—but he isn’t going to count them all, even if the view outside the rental car is less confounding than the driver, his attractive but oh so obnoxious colleague, Marcus Winnamore. It’s Christmas Eve and Henry would much rather be home with his family. When the blizzard that grounded their flight forces them off the road, however, he’s stuck with Marc until the storm passes—or a plow digs them out.

As the temperature outside plummets, the atmosphere inside the car slowly heats up. Henry learns the true reason for Marc’s chilly distance—he’s not exactly straight…maybe…and he’s been fantasizing about Henry’s mouth, among other things. Confession laid out, Marc is all for sharing body heat…and more. Henry isn’t interested in being an experiment, but as the night and cold deepen, he could be convinced to balance certain risk against uncertain reward.

Coming July 23, 2016. Available now for pre-order at Dreamspinner Press!

Excerpt:

They’ve collected their luggage from the trunk so they can get into some warmer clothes while they wait out the storm. I love this snippet because it’s a great example of how their conversation goes for the first half of the story. The snappishness and frustration. Them trying to figure each other out.

“Are you going to get changed right there?” Marc was giving him an odd look.

“No, I’m just going to put this over top. Like layers.”

“You’re going to look ridiculous.”

Henry shrugged. “At this point, nothing we do is going to detract from the fact we’re stranded on the side of a country highway, where we ended up in defiance of a travel advisory. I don’t think me being stuffed into two or three layers of clothing is going to make a difference.”

“It’s Christmas Eve. Like anyone was going to stay put. And Boston is only—”

“Two hundred miles away. I know.” Henry kneaded the space between his brows before glancing sideways at Marc. “Are you always this stubborn?”

Marc’s jaw set, his chin lifting slightly, and a muscle flickered somewhere toward his ear. He looked mad, bad, and dangerous to know—and despite being half-numb, Henry’s cock twitched in interest. Dammit.

“You’re pretty stubborn yourself, Auttenberg. And I prefer determined.”

“I prefer Henry.”

Cover Reveal: Fire Up My Heart by Asta Idonea

Today I’m welcoming Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) to my blog for the cover reveal for her new science fiction romance novella, Fire Up My Heart.

FireUpMyHeart-Preview

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

What it’s all about:

London bartender Fane thinks he’s hit the jackpot when he finds a rare and expensive service Bot discarded in a dumpster, and he takes it home to get it working again. The Jo-E brings some much-needed companionship to Fane’s lonely life, but there’s something different about this Bot, as indicated by its odd behavior. Fane’s developing feelings toward Jo-E trouble him, and things go from bad to worse when a robotics engineer arrives on Fane’s doorstep, demanding the return of his property. Fane is forced to choose between a hefty reward and following his heart. Giving in to his forbidden desires might get him killed—or change his life forever.

Coming from Dreamspinner Press, 25 May 2016

Dreamspinner Press |ARe |Amazon US |Amazon UK

About the author:

Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J Markus) was born in England, but now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.

Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!

As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel; all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing.

Where to stalk her:

Blog |Facebook |Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | LinkedIn | Amazon Author US | Amazon Author UK

 

 

An Audience of One

Who do you write for? It’s a question I’ve pondered a lot over the past few weeks. It’s something every writer has to ask at least once. Most of us probably ask it every time we open up a file or pick up a pen. Every word we put down has been chosen for a reason. It carries more weight than its place in a sentence.

My first answer to this question was myself. I remember feeling quite virtuous as I said it, as if I were giving the only right answer. I’d skipped to the end of this particular lesson.

My second answer to this question was a more subdued echo of the first. As I read some of the not so nice reviews of my first published book, Less Than Perfect, I needed to remind myself of the fact the story had been for me. I also consoled myself with the fact that someone other than me had seen value in my words, my characters, my vision. Someone had chosen to help me rewrite it, doubling the length of my original submission, improving it, then covering and producing it.

But I hadn’t written it for them. Or had I? Maybe just to prove I could? I certainly hadn’t written it for anyone who might read it, not then.

What about my second published book, Chaos Station. Who did I write that for?

Hence the third time I had to answer this question. I wrote it for myself, damn it. And maybe for Jenn. Because the guys we nicknamed space boys had been kicking around both our heads for a while. If we didn’t let them out, give them voice, they were going to start leaving bruises. I guess that means we also wrote it, in part, for them—for our characters—and oh how that answer complicates such a simple question. Or, maybe the question isn’t as simple as I thought it was.

So who did I write Lonely Shore for? Well, we had a contract, so I had to write it for Carina Press. I also had to write it for the guys, because Chaos Station was only the first chapter of their story. I think we both also felt we might be writing for readers at that point. Surely they’d want to know more? Overwhelmingly they did. By the time we got to Skip Trace, our readers also had criticisms and suggestions in the form of reviews.

You can’t please everyone. Often you can’t please anyone. Does that mean you should change your story? Yes and no. Reader expectation is a thing and, unless you’re Stephen King, you have to take it into account. Also, with every book, particularly when you’re writing a series, you’re laying out the terms of an agreement. You’re fulfilling a contract to a certain point, with some clauses still under negotiation. As a writer, I have an idea of how I want every story to end. The points I want to hit along the way. But if a reader posts a review of book three pointing out something they’d like to see in book four—that is not a part of my current plan—do I listen?

Yes. But only if what they’d like to see makes sense. Because, well, I’m supposed to be writing these books for me. They’re my art, my form of expression. The message within (if any) is mine to share.

I wrote Out in the Blue for myself. Jared is me (in an alternate reality). Same with Paul from When Was the Last Time. These guys are expressions of self I use to explore ideas. Is it weird I chose to represent myself with a male character rather than female? No. Changing the gender of my main character helps me maintain distance, to write someone who is not me. Also, I’m fascinated by men. I love writing them. I almost always choose a male avatar when I’m gaming. I prefer to read books with male leads.

We’re not going to examine that in further detail.

So, what brought on this post? Well, it’s a number of things. It’s a reaction to some conflict in the romance writing community. It’s me questioning the validity of my work and the desire to continue writing love stories. It’s me wondering if I should submit the sequel to a book I currently have in edits now, or wait to see if anyone likes the first one.

It’s the answer to the question of should I be scanning the MSWL hashtag for project ideas that will sell, or should I be writing that post-apocalyptic Christmas love story that’s been kicking around in my head for way too long.

Seriously, who is going to read that?

I would—and that’s why the answer to my question “Who am I writing for?” always has to be me. Myself. Because for a lot of what we do, we’re only going to have an audience of one. So shouldn’t we strive to make them happy?

In a word, yes.

(This post was also inspired by a post by Dan Blank called Why We Create.)

A Pantheon of Superheroes

I’m not the first person to draw parallels between superheroes and the gods of classical myth. It’s a subject that’s been written about endlessly! But as happens when I try to educate myself, I want to apply what I’ve learned. Or at least talk about it.

For the past few weeks I’ve been listening to a series of lectures on Classical Mythology. I’ve always been interested in Greek myths. They’re an integral part of our culture; they’re the stories nearly everyone knows. Having finished this series of lectures, however, I have gained a sense of just how deep the appreciation and appropriation of classical mythology runs. While these myths didn’t necessarily invent the art of storytelling, the people who wrote them down, or paid homage to them when penning their own epics, used the ideas conveyed by these myths to shape the art of storytelling forever. That might have been to do with the fact once these myths were written down, the act of writing became an act of storytelling, and it had to make sense. Or it could simply be that these tales speak to a need in all of us to make sense of, well, everything.

Our stories of superheroes continue this tradition even if in a more fanciful sense.

On the weekend I watched Justice League: War. I got sucked in by the snarky banter between Batman and Green Lantern. They traded insults throughout the entire movie. It was awesome. I also really liked the interpretation of Batman in this instance. He’s my favourite superhero, so I’m always a little sensitive when it comes to how he is portrayed.

Anyway, at the end of the movie, Wonder Woman makes a comment along the lines how much she enjoyed being a part of the pantheon once again. Superman, the lovably clueless lug, says something like “Huh?” Diana then nods to the heroes lined up beside her, giving each one a Greek name.

This got me thinking.

(here we go…)

Here are her match-ups:

WonderWoman_Diana

Wonder Woman, Alex Ross. Diana the Huntress, Giampietrino.

First of all, for Diana to assume she was part of the pantheon means she must be one of these gods (or goddesses). Given her name is Diana the most obvious choice for her is Artemis, goddess of the hunt. I think it’s a good fit. Artemis (and her Roman counterpart, Diana) is the protector of young women and animals and mistress of the wilderness. This works well with Diana being a warrior princess of the fabled Amazons, which places her in the same category of myth! I could dig deeper, but then this post would get long and boring.

Batman_Hades

Batman, Jim Lee. Hades, Wrath of the Titans

Batman is Hades (according to Diana). I really like this comparison and not because Batman is dressed in black and Hades is overlord or the underworld. Let’s start with Batman’s superhero name. It’s a nod to the fear he has overcome. Hades name ends up becoming synonymous with the realm he rules over. I think there is a parallel there. Moving on, Hades is not an evil guy. He’s actually portrayed as quite altruistic and with a reasonable temperament. He is a god of balance and change. He’s also the keeper of human souls, from the moment they are born until they enter his realm. Batman’s search for balance, or the meaning of his existence, is a key component of his character. He’s also the most human of the superheroes—because he is human, unalterably, using only technology (and oodles of cash) to defeat his enemies.

GreenLantern_Apollo

Green Lantern, Ethan Van Sciver. Apollo, ArcosArt.

Diana called Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) Apollo. I don’t know much about Hal as a Green Lantern, so I had to do a little research for this one (woot)! Apollo is a really complex god who had a finger in a lot of pies. He’s depicted as a patron, leader, defender and oracle. Hal’s a cop and a superhero and, well, a lot of everything. As Parallax he’s one of the most powerful beings in the DC pantheon. Apollo is also extraordinarily powerful. I think the simplest parallel is in the way a Green Lantern uses his powers. He can shape them into anything, and his imagination is fueled by his willpower. This fits with Apollo’s ‘jack of all trades’ godding. (That’s a word. Really. Okay, maybe not.)

Flash_Hermes

Flash, CWTV. Hermes, Unknown.

The Flash is Hermes. This is an easy parallel as both of these guys have winged feet. They’re fast. They’re both supposedly cunning and witty, which Flash, Barry Allen, is in Justice League: War. The Barry Allen of the current TV series is charmingly naïve, but still makes a fair comparison with his other skills—being able to move between worlds and seeing himself as a protector.

Cyborg_Hephaestus

Cyborg, Lee Bermejo. Hephaestus, Riordan Wikia

Cyborg is Hephaestus. Before Googling Hephaestus, I assumed he’d be the burly sort—seeing as Cyborg is big. Hephaestus is the god of blacksmiths, metallurgy, fire and volcanoes, among other things. Greek gods rocked at multitasking. So the similarities are obvious. Blacksmith doesn’t necessarily mean weapon smith, but they are handy with tools. Cyborg pretty much is a tool. He thinks and it is. Also, he’s rather fond of blasting fire at things.

Shazam_Zeus

Shazam, DC Comics. Zeus, Injustice: Gods Among Us

Zeus as Shazam (Captain Marvel). Well, it’s obvious, isn’t it? They both wield lightning. This connection can be explored on a much deeper level, however. As portrayed in Justice League: War, Shazam is a geeky kid in his human form and a terrifically built dude in his superhero form. Zeus is, at the same time, both the youngest and oldest son of Cronus and Rhea. According to myth, fearing one of his children would grow up to kill him, Cronus swallowed each one as they were born. Rhea substituted a stone for the last, Zeus, and sent her son away to be raised elsewhere. As an adult, Zeus freed his siblings from Cronus (in some stories, they were disgorged, in others they were rescued from his slit belly) and they were ‘born’ again in reverse order, making Zeus the first born and therefore the oldest. I kinda like how this parallels with Shazam being a young kid, and then an adult superhero.

Diana doesn’t match Superman to a Greek god. She instead tells him he’s something else entirely. Which is interesting! In other match-ups, he’s inevitably paired with Zeus. I really like the above comparison, though. So who exactly is Superman? I guess that’s for you to decide. 🙂

(Featured image is from Justice League: War, DC Comics)

Review: Peripheral People (A Ylendrian Empire Novel)

Peripheral People (A Ylendrian Empire Novel)

The cover copy could have said nothing more than ‘psychic detectives in space’ and I’d have still picked up Peripheral People by Reesa Herberth and Michelle Moore. By the end of the first chapter, I applauded my decision. In the Ylendrian Empire, two teams of detectives work together to solve crime. The physical evidence is collected by the Inspectors and the psychic evidence is examined by a Reader/Ground team. It’s not a foolproof system. A case cannot be tried on psychic evidence alone but a Reader can help narrow down a profile and offer clues for location and motivation. The Ground is integral to this process as the psychic’s anchor. The Investigators take care of the more traditional aspect of the case: the legwork.

The story begins with a routine investigation and a trip to the morgue. Senior Investigator Corwin Menivie and his partner, Nika Santivan, have a theory regarding the untimely death of a young woman. Reader/Ground team Westley Tavera and Gavin Hale are asked to determine if the physical evidence matches the psychic trail left behind by the deceased. At the morgue, Westley inadvertently reads a different body first and is quickly consumed by the victim’s last terrible hours. Reading the body of the actual victim is comically restful after that and the pronouncement of accidental death is confirmed.

The more horrible death of the first body haunts West, however, and he puts in a request to investigate the case. The rest of the team isn’t exactly thrilled by this. Gavin, because he worries for his partner’s mental health and this case promises to be deeply tricky and sticky. Corwin, because he’s not a fan of Psy Agents, for many reasons. Nika, because everyone else is being contrary. One thing they can agree on is this case will not get the attention it should, because the victim is one of those peripheral people. Homeless and most certainly missed by no one.

Another body matching the profile of the first – abuse, torture and death – makes it an official case. While Reading the second body, West falls into a psychic trap left by the killer and the team realises that not only are they looking for one sick and twisted individual, he knows they’re on his trail and seems to be playing with them.

Following the killer is not simply a matter of investigation. Spliced in between engrossing chapters of police procedural is the story of four people learning to work together. Each brings a different strength to the team and each has definite weaknesses. Two of them are hiding secrets that could be detrimental to their performance as agents and investigators. These mysteries and their resolution are as enthralling as the case itself. When Nika and Gavin give in to the physical attraction between them, this only causes more problems for the two more irascible members of the team. West can hear his partner’s sexual escapades on the psychic channel. Corwin appears just as disturbed. They indulge in a little itch scratching of their own, but it’s clear Corwin is uncomfortable with intimacy.

Put four people in a closed environment, pump in some eau de sexual tension, add in some past indiscretions and a serial killer with an over-inflated ego, and tempers will more than fray. But when another member of the team proves they’re not invulnerable to the psychic traps left for Westley, all four must pull together to solve the case. Despite personality clashes and differing procedural preferences, they need to have one another’s backs or they’ll lose more than a wanted killer.

I really enjoyed Peripheral People. The authors don’t spend so much time world building you’re left too numb to read the story. I always appreciate that. But there is enough detail thrown in along the way that readers new to the Empire won’t be lost. There is a sense of scope and history to this world I found both interesting and grounding. The characters are the definite focus, though, even beyond the mystery. The case is fascinating and gruesome and West’s trips through psychic hell are very well written. But I might not have enjoyed that aspect as much if I hadn’t liked Westley as much. He’s a wonderfully engaging character. Annoying in some aspects, conceited regarding his fantastic abilities and often too flippant, but genuinely good-hearted. Characters without flaws aren’t that interesting, anyway. Putting him against the curmudgeonly Corwin was inspired. The two are like the proverbial chalk and cheese. Corwin, himself, is a fascinating character. I’d love more of his history. The story of his past is teased out in slow drips and it’s integral to the plot. Nika and Gavin are the secondary characters here, but they often don’t feel that way. They’re as important a part of the team and story as Corwin and Westley.

The mystery/thriller aspect is also handled well. I did figure out whodunit before the end of the book, but there is enough complication toward the end that I did doubt my conclusion. The final showdown is thrillingly long and twisty and demands to be read in one straight sitting. Then, for those who like all their loose ends tied off, there is a final chapter that does just that, leaving the reader with a nice sense of satisfaction.

Peripheral People is the fourth book in the Ylendrian Empire series. It is a fully stand alone novel, however, requiring no prior knowledge of the world.

Written for SFCrowsnest.

Here’s a lot at the entire cover image by artist Simoné. It’s just gorgeous:

SOUL OF SMOKE Cover Reveal!

The team at Carina Press really does produce awesome covers. I love this one! The book sounds great too and has been added to my never ending, always growing, To Be Read list. 😀

Caitlyn H. McFarland

This is it!

Are you guys ready to see the cover for Soul of Smoke?!

Here it is!

 

Soul of Smoke Final

Wooo! I LOVE IT! Thank you so much to the Carina Press team for this awesome design!

For good measure, here’s the back cover copy:

On a hike deep in the Rocky Mountains, Kai Monahan watches as a dozen dragons—actual freaking dragons—battle beneath a fat white moon. When one crashes nearly dead at her feet and transforms into a man, Kai does the only thing a decent person could: she grabs the nearest sword and saves his life.

As the dragon/man, Rhys, recovers from the attack, a chance brush of skin against skin binds him inextricably to Kai. Becoming heartsworn to a human—especially such a compelling one—is the last thing Rhys wants. But with an ancient enemy gathering to pit dragons against humanity and his strength nearly depleted, Kai has…

View original post 160 more words