I know, I’ve been pretty MIA over the last few weeks – what can I say, I’ve been busy writing! These stories don’t write themselves, you know 😉 In the meantime, I wanted to introduce you to Beth Ann Masarik – a fellow author at Hydra Publications. She’s written a series of short stories introducing her novel, The World Among Us, and has agreed to join me today to introduce her latest short story, Hell Bound.

About Hell Bound

Hell Bound

After impressing her boss with her interview with werewolf, Leon Greene, Elise is Hell Bound to an interview with the Lord of the Underworld himself.  Mr. Murphy wants her to find the dirty scoop on Hades himself, and foil his plot to take over the world.  Will she survive the clutches of Hell?

Hell Bound is the second short story to be released in The World Among Us prequel series.

You can now purchase Hell Bound on smashwords.com, amazon.com, and barnesandnoble.com for only .99 cents!

Murderous Regrets was released last week and is the first short story in the series, and can also be purchased for .99 cents all sales channels.

For more information about The World Among Us, please visit the series website at www.theworldamongussaga.com

Beth is sponsoring a giveaway to celebrate the release of Hell Bound and the other World Among Us short stories. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Beth Ann Masarik

Beth Ann Masarik

Beth Ann Masarik

Beth Ann Masarik was born on Long Island, NY in the year 1984 with an over-active imagination. She used to love playing make-believe games, and now loves creating her own fantasy worlds. Masarik has been writing since she was 15 years old, and had her first newspaper article published in her high school newspaper in her sophomore year. She has taken several creative writing classes, and started writing her very first novel in college, and is currently searching for the right literary agent. Aside from writing novels, Masarik enjoys bowling, gaming, and role playing online. She enjoys reading fantasy novels written by Richelle Mead, L.J. Smith, and J.K. Rowling, and looks to them for role models.

Beth is recently married, and when she isn’t writing or role playing, she is found volunteering down at her church.

Masarik is also the founder of Literary Lunes Magazine/Literary Lunes Publications, a bi-monthly zine that is dedicated to promoting authors.  You can find out more about Literary Lunes by going to its website at www.literarylunespublications.com

You can find Beth at the following places:

Websites: www.bethannmasarik.com, www.theworldamongussaga.com and www.literarylunespublications.com

Twitter: @theworldamongus and @literarylunes

Facebook fanpages: https://www.facebook.com/bethannmasarikauthor

https://www.facebook.com/TheWorldAmongUs

and https://www.facebook.com/Literarylunespublications

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4667718.Beth_Ann_Masarik

 

Thanks for joining me, Beth! Can’t wait to check out Hell Bound!

Hydra Publications eBook giveawayHappy Friday!

I just had to share – because if MY reading list is never ending, yours should be too! Hydra Publications is hosting a huge New Year’s eBook giveaway with a ton of great fantasy, sci-fi, and alternative histories. And just between you and me, your odds of winning are pretty darn good right now! Fill in the Rafflecopter form below and good luck 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

R.S. Hunter

It’s the final day of the Hydra Publications blog hop! Today R.S. Hunter joins me. Today, I asked the fundamental question all fantasy and sci fi authors must answer: Series or standalone novel?

Want to know more about R.S. Hunter? Check out his website or look him up on Twitter.

Series vs Standalones

For the most part, I’m a series kind of guy. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Harry Potter, all the Dresden Files books, George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Hell, I even read about 30 of the Animorph books in elementary school before I gave up on them. But lately, I’ve wondered: where have all the standalones gone? Why is nobody writing them?

First let’s use a slightly specialized version of the definition of a series (as opposed to some other formats). For most readers, a series is a collection of books with an overarching storyline that needs to be read in chronological order. However, this is more of a spectrum rather than a cut and dry definition. Several series out there tend to be more episodic in nature, where the book’s plot wraps up at the end, but there are still lingering issues or series-wide threads that remain unresolved. And of course, you can have a purely episodic series (an oxymoron) where each installment is entirely self-contained; only the characters carry over between books.

In my opinion, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books tend to be a little more episodic. Harry will usually encounter some “Big Bad” that he will end up defeating by the end of the book. However, the series isn’t 100% episodic because there will still be plot elements that continue from one book to the next, i.e. his new gig as the Winter Knight.

On the other hand, Martin’s series is almost completely serialized. Yes there are smaller plot points that get wrapped up by the end of each volume, but the overall storyline continues in an unbroken arc throughout. I think that particular aspect of the series is what has helped it make the transition from books to television.

So where are the standalones in fantasy? Some definitely exist, but it all depends on the certain subgenre. You’d be hard pressed to find a standalone epic fantasy novel, as that particular format is almost tailor-made to be serialized.

Why then does it seem that all new big fantasy books end up being “Book One of Such and Such Series?” I think one of the biggest reasons is that it makes good business sense for the bigger publishers to focus on putting out series after series. They already only publish what they feel are highly salable manuscripts, so why not try to get as many readers hooked over a long period of time as possible? Having multiple books out in the same series can turn that series into a brand name. See Harry Potter, Twlight, or any of the hundreds of other examples out there.

So do all writers start writing with a series in mind? Some do, I’m sure. I can only speak from personal experience though. I outlined and wrote The Exile’s Violin purely as a standalone novel. Since it was my first one, I wasn’t comfortable with my abilities enough to try and create a multi-volume thing. Do I regret writing it as a standalone? Absolutely not!

Life’s funny sometimes. Even though I wrote the novel as a standalone, about six months after I finished it, I had an itch to continue writing stories with the characters Jacquie Renairre and Clay Baneport. I wasn’t ready to leave the world I’d created behind. That’s where Terraviathan was born. Both books are written in standalone fashion, but the second features the same main characters, and takes place after the first one. So even though I’d started out avoiding the specter of a series, somehow I’m now in the middle of one!

What about everyone else? Do you enjoy reading single novels or parts in a series? Why?

The Exile's Violin

On the fourth day of the Hydra blog hop, Rachel Hunter joins me. Rachel is the author or Empyreal Fate, available on Amazon.com and directly from Hydra Publications.

Hello Rachel, and thanks for joining me today! I understand that in addition to writing, you are also a full-time student studying psychology. How does your major influence your writing process? Do you find yourself psychoanalyzing your characters?

How now, Tricia? Tis a pleasure to join you today! You’ve a lovely site, and I’m thrilled to be here~

You are correct in that I am not only an author – but a full-time student as well. However, I have recently changed my major to focus on the Nursing side of things, though Psychology absolutely fascinates me and always will. (The brain is intriguing, is it not?) As to your question, I find that I do indeed psychoanalyze my characters, as I do with many of the figures I meet in “real life”. (Don’t worry, I spare judgement. I merely observe.) Characters have motivations and goals, as does anybody you meet on the street or in your work or school environment. They have personalities, desires, dreams, and – yes – their own lives. So in order to create believability in my stories, I must create believability in my characters: I must make them fully alive – to the reader and to myself. I must understand them. And to understand them, I must delve inside their mind and determine how they work: what drives them, compels them. Nobody will read a story in which the characters are two-dimensional, lead extraordinarily perfect lives, or do things so unbelievable as to go against their personality-type or do something that didn’t seem ‘quite right’. Well – there are exceptions to everything, I suppose; we all have our preferences. But to create a character, one must create a person: a true, living being. I notice little inconsistencies in action and thought, and unless they serve a purpose or ‘fit in’ with the character, my attention ebbs. Besides, psychoanalyzing is an adventure in and of itself! Who doesn’t like to gauge the psyche or create intricate patterns of hormonal webs? It’s a thing of beauty. It’s creation.

Your recent novel, Empyreal Fate, is at its core, a story of forbidden love. Most classic fantasy stories have some element of romance, but it’s rarely the central plot thread. Do you find that readers love the prominence of the romance in your book, or are they unsettled by it? 

So far, I’ve heard only positive comments about the romance aspect. In fact, with the romance genre having such a large following as it does, I find that most people are taken in by it and show further interest. Of course, I can’t read everyone’s mind, but it seems to be a positive element to Empyreal Fate that attracts readers (as well as the ‘epic fantasy’ component as well). However, I must warm you: an unsettling event does occur in the story. This I have heard mixed things about; some say it was cleverly done and moved the tale; others were indeed unsettled. It’s all a matter of preference. (Just an ‘FYI’ in case you decide to check it out.)

You’re a very young author. At a stage when many of us are still trying to figure out what we want to do when we grow up, you’re already building a successful career. Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Now this allows for all sorts of whimsical and awe-inspiring answers! I could be leaping atop the moon or hovering over Saturn; I could be dancing with the glorious fishes of the sea; I could have the glistening waters of an ocean all to myself, chanting a merry tune as I write on parchment with pens of rainbow ink…. Ah! This question invites the imagination, of which anything is possible. But if we are to return to Earth for but a moment, I would say that in five years, I will be a Registered Nurse and an author of at least another novel or two – or three. And in my book, it’s one of the more satisfying results. From there, who knows? I’m only getting my feet wet, after all. 😉

What is one thing you would love to accomplish before your 30th birthday?

Besides the obvious writing and educational goals, I hope to be able to travel abroad in the near future. Where, you may ask? Anywhere. Everywhere. The psychology of cultures is ours to observe.

I’ll keep this interview short, I know you have a lot going on! Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Well, for those of you who don’t know me, I am an author, poet, student, and jedi knight. I’ve survived the clutches of anorexia (written about in my short story, Perfect Nothing), and although I tend toward the perfectionistic side of things, I am oft times spontaneous and downright random. As an avid delver of the psyche, I often question the mysteries of this world, the meaning of life, the reason for being… I ponder why we are, why we wonder, and why we cease to be. I ask myself who I am. I look into my inner being and mesh with its many forms, for there are many.

Colors. Swirling colors and haphazard rays of thought. All revolve within a central orb that comprises our soul. This life source is what holds us; it makes us. It contains us and protects. It is a womb from which we may never part – no matter how hard we resist. This orb is within every one of us, though no two are akin. That is the beauty of it. Diversity separates us.

And I… what can I do? I can influence the world – me. I can move mountains, embrace fate, and inspire the earth. But who… who am I?

I am Rachel.

I. Am. Me.

Thanks again for joining me, Rachel

*tips hat* The pleasure is mine~

More about Empyreal Fate: Empyreal Fate

Empyreal Fate: Elves and men – on the brink of war. Love. Betrayal. Lies. Greed. An ancient evil. A dark past. Will true love conquer? Will Fate..?

Filled to the brim with forbidden love, an ancient evil, and a nation in disrepair, Empyreal Fate is a tale of riveting bravery and mortal corruption.

The land of Llathala lingers on the brink of war between men and elves, a dark history surrounding each race. Stirred by tensions of the land, a shadow of the past reemerges, taking precedence in reality and consuming the very soul of mans’ mortal weakness. Darrion, the son of a poor laborer, is ensnared in a hostile world, forced to choose between loyalty to his king or the counsel of the elves. Yet Fate has other plans in store, tying his course to Amarya, an elven royalblood of mysterious quality and unsurpassable beauty. But this forbidden connection incites betrayal from members of their own kin, marking them as traitors to the crown. In a land torn asunder, only Fate’s decree can allow such love to coexist with an ancient enmity.

Behold: A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate – Part One.

So I have one question for you… Do you believe in Fate? *Second question*…. Do you dare?

Amy McCorkle

Today I’m joined by Amy McCorkle, another great Hydra Publications author, who has agreed to share a sneak peek of her upcoming novel, Gladiator. She also writes as Kate Lynd. You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, and on Twitter as @Kate_Lynd.

From the back cover of Gladiator:

Ten years ago Tristan Shane had failed to pick sides and he paid with the ultimate price—his family.  Enslaved as a post-apocalyptic gladiator, he is now faced with a similar dilemma, serve the despot  Queen and murder her innocent sister, or face certain death himself. What will he choose?

Tristan Shane was a moderate before the nuclear and economic crisis which plunged the world into darkness. While his sister Aidia ran off to fight the rebel’s war he desperately tried to hang onto normalcy and lost his wife and children in the process. Spending the next ten years as the Crown’s favored and the mob’s favorite Gladiator, he never expects to meet the Queen’s sister, Alexandra, a Healer.

She claims to be the much whispered about Savior sent to heal the wounded Earth and oceans, the one who would bring about her cruel sister’s dethroning. But is she? Or is she just a fraud? But he quickly learns her erotic touch has the power to heal his heart and his to save her life. But as the passion heightens and the danger increases will they have forever or will he have to give up everything to save the planet?

Excerpt:

“What is it you want, Veronica?”

She leaned in close and whispered seductively, “Why, you know I only want you, Tristan.”

He snatched her up by her throat, pinned her against the wall and kissed her passionately, brutally, and without clemency. When he pulled away she was smiling with a darkness that made him angry. She was a power-hungry mongrel who played on her husband’s weaknesses and jealousies. Tristan hated her. And he hated himself for f***ing her. But this was his life. He let go of her and walked away.

“Is my poor Gladiator jealous? There’s really no need for that, is there? You know you’re my favorite.”

“What is it you really want, Veronica?”

She came up behind him and seductively began to ease off his armor. He was covered in sweat and blood and he felt her shiver against his body. And as always there was a twinge of nausea that would precede the raw animal aggression.

She turned him around. He looked at her. There was no doubt about it; she was beautiful. But she was poisonous—a rattlesnake with crystal green eyes and flaming red hair. Her father had promised peace and a return to normalcy and democracy in the wake of economic and nuclear disaster, and instead this was what had become of the world. And she was no doubt always enjoining her father to maintain her life in this fashion. He loathed her. He detested her. And every time he had sex with her his intense hatred for himself deepened a little bit more.

“My dear, sweet Gladiator, as much as I’d like to celebrate your victory with you tonight, my husband wishes me to share his bed. But fear not—I do have a consolation prize for you.”

His skin began to crawl. Veronica had a twisted way of looking at what constituted a consolation prize; it was usually just a groupie who wanted to watch what the queen did with the equivalent of rock stars of the former United States of America. And he usually did the dog and pony show. But sometimes Veronica required something to prove his loyalty to her. That would be more complicated.

“What is it this time?”

She smiled. His response had given her the mistaken impression that he cared.

“The rebels have been restless. And it seems there is a young woman we have in our prison whom they want terribly. Well, frankly, they are in two minds as to what to believe. It is rumored she is the mythical Healer. The one meant to find her soul mate, so together they will lead our Nation out of the so-called darkness into which it has plunged itself.”

“And what do you want me to do?”

“Oh Tristan, why are you being so defensive? I just want you to find out whether she really is the Healer, and report to me if she is.”

“And then, what?”

“And then you let me handle it,” Veronica said, sliding back into the evil skin that was her natural state. “The rebels have no idea what it takes to run a country.”

The image of his wife being raped and murdered flooded him and it was all he could do not to throttle the queen right then and there.

“So can I count on you to do this for me or do I need to find someone else who can?”

He was no one’s hero. But she had said young woman. And he couldn’t just allow his wife’s fate to be visited upon some other unsuspecting girl. “I’ll do what I can.”

Veronica ran her index finger down his cheek and whispered, “Good boy, Tristan,” she purred. “Guard! She’ll be delivered before the night is over. I don’t know when I’ll be able to return to you, but I expect that you’ll have had enough time to gain her trust by then.”

Tristan’s stomach churned. The Healer? In the beginning there had been whispers of it. But he had never believed in such a thing. It had been years since the crown had feared anything. And now this. He said nothing as the queen was escorted away. He was left to think about the young woman he might be forced to turn over in the end.

Gladiator is available on Amazon.com

Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me cover

We’re in Day Two of the Hydra Publications blog hop, and today I’m hosting Lyndi Alexander, author of Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me. Lyndi was kind enough to let me peek behind her curtain and discover one of the inspirations that kept her going as she wrote this story:

The Music Behind the Story

Twisted every way
What answer can I give?
Am I to risk my life
To win a chance to live….

(lyrics from Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber)

I often listen to music when I write, and one of the main pieces of music I listened to in the days when I wrote Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me was Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Phantom of the Opera. I’d just discovered the wonderful words and sweeping melodies a few years before, and it seemed apropos for a ‘damsel in distress’ kind of story.

Although, just like Christine in the musical, Sara Woods is stronger than she believes herself to be. She, like Christine, makes the choice to put herself out there to save others even though she may not survive. And like Christine, she finds her own sacrifice may have been wasted.

Sara comes to Ralston, Ohio, after a betrayal and divorce that have nearly broken her spirit. Working as a newspaper reporter, she investigates a string of young women’s deaths that seem, at first, to be totally unrelated. Her work unearths some long-time small town secrets that open the door to danger for Sara and several of her friends. She is in a unique position to stop what’s been happening, if she’s willing. And if she chooses her allies wisely. Unfortunately, not everything –or everyone—is what it seems.

What does become clear when evil conspires against everything she’s trying to protect, is that she had better be prepared to save herself, because she surely cannot count on anyone else.

More about Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me:

Running away isn’t necessarily the answer.

In her mad rush to escape a failed marriage, Sara Woods takes the first job available and lands in the middle of a mystery. Her first assignment as a news reporter for the Ralston Courier is the investigation of a string of deaths, all young women, all her age.

She becomes a patient at the Goldstone Clinic, a local mecca of healing, to deal with chronic pain from her past. But all is not as it seems at the Goldstone, its doctors and nurses are all the picture of perfect beauty and health. Patients at the clinic first seem to get better, then they deteriorate. Sara enlists the help of Dr. Rick Paulsen, who teaches her how to access her internal power, skills she never knew she had, revealing secrets from her past. Police officer Brendon Zale also takes an interest in Sara, but he acts like a stalker, watching her every move, and he won’t leave her alone.

As she digs deeper into the story, and more young women die without explanation, she tries to choose allies wisely, but not till the last confrontation does she discover the identity of her true enemy.

By then, it’s too late.

Sneak Peek:

Rick sat in the heavy tall-backed brown leather chair behind the desk. He studied me, and I studied him. Finally I asked, “How long have you worked here in the emergency room?”

           “Nearly five years,” he answered, an underlying amusement making me wonder how deeply he was reading my attraction to him. “Yes, I find emergency medicine extremely satisfying. Yes, I enjoy the adrenaline rush of trauma cases, but it’s hard not to take patient deaths personally. No, I wouldn’t prefer another specialty. Yes, there’s an increase in strange things during full moons.”

             I stopped writing about halfway through his speech, realizing he had anticipated my next questions. “You must have done one of these interviews before.”

            “Three, maybe. Or five. Since TV has inspired people to find out all about emergency room hotties and our raunchy sex lives in the drug and linen closets? Yes, definitely the flavor of the week.”

            In spite of my determination to be professionally distant, I laughed at his self-deprecating humor. Good for him. “I hadn’t even gotten to that yet.”

            “I can wait if you like.” He picked up a pen and fidgeted with it. “I’m sure your angle is different than the last fellow who was here. He was more interested in blood and guts.”

            There it was. My opening handed to me on a plate. “Actually, I have a blood and guts kind of question for you.” I leaned forward even more and looked him in the eye, calling it brown, green, hazel or any color but blue. “About Lily Kimball.”
He pulled back, his smile fading. “What about her?”

            I could see questions in his eyes. Was I here to accuse him? To crucify him in some way? I spoke up quickly to get past his fears. “I was at the scene this morning. I’ve been trying all day to find out something about her, anything, any reason why she would have been out there in the cold.”

            His fingers tightened on the pen he was holding until they were red. “Tell me what you saw.”

            “She was so thin,” I said. “Pale, except for damage from the frostbite. She wasn’t wearing any winter clothing, just a jersey and jeans. She didn’t look like she’d been hurt, stabbed, bruised in any way. Just…limp.”

            Rick hadn’t moved while I spoke. His gaze had become more intent, like a microscope focusing in on a specimen for examination. “Which way was she walking?”
I closed my eyes a moment, orienting myself to the road. “She was on the west side of Route 24. If I had to guess I’d say she was heading for the Declan Highway.”

            He paused, silent, contemplating.

            “Was she your patient?”
My pen hovered over the pad as his stricken silence continued. I wished I could read him as easily as he seemed to read me. I’d shared more, perhaps, than I should, but all that information would be public record on file at the police department. Whether they chose to do more with it than shelve it away depended on outside information. Like whether Rick Paulsen had contributed in any way to Lily’s solitary winter death march.

Lyndi, thank you for joining me today! You can find out more about Lyndi Alexander on her blog at http://lyndialexander.wordpress.com/. Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me is available at Amazon.com.

This week, I’m hosting several guest authors from Hydra Publications.

Today’s guest is Tony Acree, author of the upcoming novel The Hand of God, coming out in the Spring of 2013. Today, Tony agreed to share that all-important moment when he knew he would be a writer:

When I Knew I Wanted to Be a Writer

Tony Acree

Tony Acree

I can remember when it happened. The exact moment when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was sitting in Mrs. Ricket’s sixth grade class and just finished reading a collection of poems by Robert Frost. I showed the book to a friend of mine named Brad. A few minutes later, he gave me the book back, along with a poem he had written for a girl we both liked. Not to be out done by my rival, I remember thinking, “I can write one better than Brad can.”

And in short order I wrote my first creative words which were non-school related. The poem started:

The thing that makes me happy and gay
Is a walk through the woods at the dawn of the day
I can smell the flowers and set under a tree
And listen to the birds and watch the bees

Needless to say, Robert Frost was not in danger of having any major competition where poetry is concerned (and the girl was not impressed with either Brad or my poetry). Thankfully ignorance is bliss and I continued to write poetry throughout middle and high school. I even had friends pay me to write poetry for their girlfriend or boyfriend (evidently my poetry improved by leaps and bounds). By my junior year, my poetry appeared in our school and county newspapers.

Yet when I left school behind, it seems I left the poetry there as well. Everything I tried to write afterwards came out as prose. My first short story, Leaves of Departure, appeared in Kentucky Monthly Magazine.

My first novel, The Hand of God, will be released by Hydra Publications in the spring of 2013.

I have many people to thank for my career as a writer. But let me start by saying thank you to Robert and Brad, and the girl who became my first muse–even if she didn’t like my first effort at writing.

Tony, thanks for sharing that moment with us!

You can find out more about Tony Acree on his website at http://tonyacree.com/ or read his blog, Crasher’s Corner, at http://tonyacree.wordpress.com/. Tony’s first short story, Leaves of Departure, is available as a free download on Smashwords.