Friday, May 31, 2013

Summer Fantasy Reading: Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide

Summer is here, and one of my favorite hot weather pastimes is to relax in the hammock with a cold drink and a knitting project, or some easy fantasy fiction. A book that is particularly suiting these beginning hot days of the season is a lovely coffee table book, Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide.

The pen & ink and watercolor images are beautiful works of art. Viewing the delightful creatures is like taking  my imagination to a carnival, with each new visual ride topping the next. I tip my hat to the vivid imagination of Holly Black and illustrative talents of Tony DeTerlizzi. I haven't read the Spiderwick Chronicles, but the series is certainly on my list to learn what these amazing critters might do beyond my imagination!

This visual delight is arranged scrapbook style with handwritten annotations from Arthur Spiderwick around the sketches. It's great fun to find that some of those illustrations fold out from top or side. Courtesy of, here are two samples to tempt you.

Description of the book:
It all began with a strange, mysterious correspondence left for authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black at a small New England bookstore. Written by three siblings, the letter told of their great-great-uncle Arthur Spiderwick and an unfinished tome filled with eyewitness accounts of creatures otherwise thought to be the stuff of legend. In the #1 New York Times bestselling serial the Spiderwick Chronicles, readers were enthralled by the account of the those siblings, Jared, Simon, and Mallory Grace, as they battled dwarves, goblins, elves, and a diabolical ogre in their efforts to hold on to their uncle Spiderwick,s life work. Now, through the combined efforts of the Grace children and authors Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, Simon & Schuster is thrilled to present that work to you!

Beginning with a thoughtful and informative introduction, progressing through six exhaustive sections featuring thirty-one faerie species, and culminating with an addendum that includes observations supplied by Jared Grace, this long-awaited compendium to the worldwide Spiderwick phenomenon delivers enough information to satisfy even the most demanding faerie enthusiast. Not only will readers learn the habits and habitats of the fourteen fantastical creatures featured in the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling chapter books, but they will be delighted and astonished by an additional seventeen creatures. Also included are dozens of snippets from Arthur Spiderwick,s personal journal as well as cameos from a few series favorites.
~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE.. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Are You Enough?

Ever wonder if you are enough?  Do you doubt your spirit will carry you thorough the tough times? Do you need stuff, like new software, a new desk or some other bright shiny thing to succeed in your writing? 

I think sometimes we tend to look outside of ourselves for the strength to be what we want to be.  When the real strength and gifts lies within us. 

I watched a video of children living in conditions that I find deplorable and suffocating.  What could be worse than living in a slum built over a landfill?  What do you think these children are learning from the experience?  It might surprise you. 

I don't know about you, but I was blown away by these children, their situation, their reaction to it and how they allowed their creative gifts to soar in spite of what lay before them.   

I feel so much can be learned from what's happening in this small village.  What do you think? 

"There are a thousand excuses for every failure, but never a good reason."   Mark Twain

Till next time,


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I OWE IT ALL TO THE BROTHERS GRIMM ~guest post by Sylvia Shults

Today on The Speculative Salon, we'd like to welcome Sylvia Shults, telling us about how Grimm's Fairy Tales inspired her to write fantasy fiction. Be sure to check out her great new release.

                                                                      by Sylvia Shults

    My father tells me that I taught myself to read when I was two years old.

    I remember the first word I ever read (“EXIT”, and I think my mother had taken me to the hospital for a checkup), but I cannot remember not knowing how to read – nor would I want to! Reading is an addiction for me, plain and simple. I grew up devouring everything with pages I could get my sticky hands on. I read Dr. Seuss before he started rhyming. Bartholomew and the Oobleck is still one of my five hundred favorite books. I was happily enthralled with the Brothers Grimm. I read The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids with the sick fascination an imaginative child reserves for the very best gross-out stories. (Not familiar? Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Mama Goat tells the seven little kids not to let the wolf in while she’s away. How will we know it’s you? the kids ask. I have soft white paws and a soft voice, the mama replies. The wolf comes to the door, gets busted for having black scary paws and a rough voice. He goes away and covers his paws with flour and eats chalk to soften his voice. The kids let him in and, surprise! He eats six of them, then runs away. The mama goat comes home, and she & the lone survivor go in search of the wolf. They find him sleeping off his dinner. Mama Goat whips out her sewing kit, cuts the wolf’s stomach open with embroidery scissors, and lets the six kids out. Then they fill the sleeping wolf’s stomach with rocks, and Mama sews him back up. He wakes up and goes on his way. The rocks in his stomach make him thirsty, so he goes to the river for a drink, falls in, and weighted down by the rocks, drowns. I’m not even kidding. That’s the freakin’ story.)

    With a background like this, it didn’t surprise anyone (especially me) that when I grew up and started writing my own stories, they were horror tales. That was the easy part – sit down at the computer, open a vein, and start channeling Mess’rs Grimm. Fun times.

    But then, I started to get another itch. I felt like writing – gasp – romance. Now THAT was not so easy. Oh, I’d had boyfriends before. One of them even got himself bumped up to Husband. I had my Happily Ever After. But what did I really know about conflict? (Okay, apart from that one horribly vicious breakup in my twenties…) What did I know about creating the kind of conflict on the page that would keep readers turning those pages?

    They say that when you’re lost, it helps to go back to the beginning. So that’s what I did. I went back to all those wonderful stories for inspiration. I went back to those heroines who journeyed East o’ the Sun and West o’ the Moon to find their loves. I went back to those heroes who went on quests, promising to come back in a year and a day. I went back to all those wonderful stories and I read them for something other than horror. I let them teach me about love and fantasy and romance as well.

    I’m happy to say that I still write horror. I’m not the least bit too proud to go for the gross-out. But I also write romance, and it’s darn good stuff too, or so my fans tell me. Whenever I need inspiration for a story – how would a recently revived Egyptian prince behave, after being dead for three thousand years? What would it be like to be a werewolf? What would a Puritan ghost say to her great-great-umpty-great granddaughter? – I have half a lifetime of reading to back me up.

    And I still love a story where they live Happily Ever After.

    Sylvia Shults writes both horror and romance (and is the first to admit that there is a fine line between the two). Her romance novels include Price of Admission and The Taming of the Werewolf (both Dark Continents Publishing). Her most recent release, also from Dark Continents Publishing, is a humorous romance set in Salem, Mass., called Double Double Love & Trouble. Please visit her website,, or explore her Facebook fan pages, Darkheart for horror fiction, and Sparkleheart for romance. Purchase her new release, Double Double Love & Trouble at Amazon.


Monday, May 27, 2013

What's Your Playlist?

Pleasant Memorial Day to everyone! It's pretty surprising that this former army wife with a family history of military service has never actually hosted a Memorial Day gathering, but it's true. I've decided to end that streak this year with our first barbecue slash pool party in our new house, so I'm super excited for today.

One of my favorite aspects of party planning is creating the perfect music playlist for the occasion. I've worked on it all weekend, and it got me thinking about the growing popularity of playlists for books. Some authors are sharing the tunes that they listened to  while writing their stories, while fans have put together their own soundtracks inspired by the novels they love.

Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake series always makes me think of Concrete Blonde's Mexican Moon album. Cherie Priest's steampunk tales put me in the mood for alt-country; Drive-by Truckers or Lucero usually. I also use music to get me in the mood to write. The antics of my latest UF heroine were greatly influenced by Joan Jett and Gossip.

What's your playlist for writing or celebrating this weekend? Does your favorite book remind you of a particular song or musician?

Have a safe and fun holiday weekend everyone! A special Salon shout out to all servicemen and women and their families, past and present. Thank you all!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Fantasy and Monsters

How many fantasy novels have you read without any monsters and/or creatures?

Chances are you haven’t read one. The readers and writers expect them to be included. We love twists on familiar ones and crave new monsters and creatures. I love reading monsters and creatures from myths and legends. Researching online guides helps me create my own monsters and creatures for my fantasy novel.

Some of my favorites I found online are Flying Heads, Yowie, and Wyrm.

There are too many for one post to cover. Look over the different sites below and pick out your favorite monster or creature from the lists.

Did you found one you didn’t know about? One you did but different from you already knew? Post your finding with us!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What to read...

I didn't really know I was weird growing up.  I wanted to be either the witch or the prince in fairy tales.  I read The Hobbit when it arrived and I remember Franny Cohen showing me notes she'd written in runes.  I never got that far. I wanted to escape in barrels, too. I read adventure stories --The Three Musketeers, Robinson Crusoe, Robin Hood.  I don't know when I discovered Ursula Le Guin, but I immersed myself in her stories for a while.  That was when I knew what I was looking for, when I had discovered "what to read". 

The Lathe of Heaven was my confirmation that it was science fiction writers who would help me find the answers to what I was looking for.  I wanted to know more about magic and how to live in the world as a magician.  I had chosen that word to describe a collection of ideas and personal events that I had tried to define since I was a teen.  I had decided that if I had been born in another place or another time, I would have been put to work as some kind of seer.  I couldn't see anyting like that in the world we live in now.  I figured, and rightly, that those skills--the ones that would have been found probably in one or two people in a tribe--had been dispersed throughout the population.  Doctors, nurses, psychologists, ministers, sociologists... all of these and more would have been called shaman, healer, witch, seer.

So, what did I learn in The Lathe of Heaven that gave me a sense of anchoring in the modern world?  The main character, George Orr has "effective" dreams. His dreams change reality.  To keep this from happening, he self-medicates.  This was the first time I saw a glimmer of myself outside of my own head.  I didn't change reality, but my dreams were effective in other ways.

A critical piece of the novel was how Orr found help from inside his chaos.  The chaos came from his ability to remember both the pre- and post-dream worlds.  How do you learn to manage something this powerful and destructive?  With a little help from friends.  And where does one find such helpful friends?  It was the Beatles song itself that helped.  We call it an earworm now, that annoying and persistent presence of some snatch of song we pretend not to like.

From that little bit, I learned to pay attention to what I had learned as a kid was the "still, small voice".  Of course that was before boom boxes and iPods and such.  Heck, that was before rock and roll!

So, this rattling on is apropos what?   What do you read when you need to find your way along the edges of the world?  What do you read when you want to learn how to be different?  Who tells you stories that keep you company on dark soul nights? 

I was inspired to confess my own need for connection by a link to I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I Read?.   

So, what do you read to relieve your sense of being the weird one in the room? Where does your own queerness find companionship?


Monday, May 20, 2013

Review of Montana Mustangs

Today, I had the joy of reviewing The Nymph Series Book 2, "Montana Mustangs" by Danica Winters. Now I loved the first one "The Nymph's Labrinth" and the second one didn't disappoint. Miss Winters' books are a fast, entertaining whirlwind read and I am always sorry when it comes to an end.

Worldbuilding:  The worldbuilding in this book is as unique and captivating as Book One. I absolutely love the cursed fate of the nymphs. The myth and legendary that goes into the worldbuilding is wonderful and grabs the attention of readers. It is a world that I've not read in any other books on the market. It is truly unique.

Characters: The heroine Aura Montgarten is a wonderfully written loner as she avoids falling in love to avoid the tragic death curse. She is vibrant, entertaining and full of life. The hero Dane Burke is a strong long interest for her and her perfect match. He is a strong police officer that is tasked with a difficult job of finding the killer and keeping himself and Aura safe. The sparks start instantly as Aura and Dane are instantly attracted to each other. The characters are wonderfully written and enjoyed.

Pros & Cons: Normally when I start a series, the myths and the novelty tends to wear off part way through the second book, but I am very eager to read the next installment. While the mythology continues, more is presented and a deeper appreciation and understanding of the nymph culture is revealed. The hero and heroine are also different and cannot be confused or meshed with Book 1's characters. I really enjoyed Book 2.

Fresh Factor: This is Book 2 of the Nymph series, so the culture and mythology wasn't as "fresh" as the first one, only because I was aware of it. The characters are new and fresh though and it is a different read then Book 1.

Overall: I loved it! I am a big fan of Miss Winters writing! I would definitely recommend it. I would give it 4.5 stars on a scale of one to five. If you like paranormal romance laced with dark mythology and spice, then pick up "Montana Mustangs".

Book Description:

A Nymph. A woman with the ability to seduce at will, shift to protect, but cursed with the fate to have the man she falls in love with die a tragic death. As one of the ill-fated nymphs, Aura Montgarten has spent her lifetime drifting from one place to another hiding from love. Until she meets Dane.

When a body washes up on the shore of a rural Montana lake, police officer Dane Burke is faced with the task of finding the killer—even if it means he will be forced to put his life and heart at risk by working with a drifter. As the truth of Aura’s Mustang-shifting Nymph ways are revealed, Dane learns exactly the amount of danger he and Aura are in, but can’t force himself to leave a case unsolved when the truth is right outside of his grasp.

When the killer decides he needs to take another victim—Dane—Aura must choose between their forbidden love and her immortal life… Can there be life without love, or is death her only choice?

About Danica Winters

Danica Winters is a bestselling author who is known for writing award-winning books that grip readers with their ability to drive emotion through suspense and often a touch of magic. When she’s not working she can be found in the wilds of Montana working on her patience while she tries to understand the allure of various crafts (quilting, pottery and painting are not her thing). She always believe the cup is neither half full nor half empty, but it better be filled with wine.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Trend Toward Gray Fantasy Fiction

Gray fantasy has become a current trend, exemplified by George R.R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire/ Game of Thrones. This style of fantasy fiction draws great contrast to traditional black and white fantasies we have all known and loved, such as Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.

I recently read a great article about the current trend of gray fantasy, “Is Blackand White Fantasy Dead” by Codey Amprim, published in Mythic Scribes. The information seemed timely since I’m plotting a new standalone magical realism book. My current series, which I’ll complete this fall, is high fantasy with plenty of black and white characters. Shifting to the more literary fantasy subgenre of magical realism gives me more undefined space to explore, and I’m eager to work with that bigger canvas. But there are also more decisions to make that I previously didn’t need to consider. In my new plot, there is no character to assume the black role of the villain, only a negative energy that never takes a physical form. I’m wrestling with the characters, most developing as shades of gray. 

My previous works have all had foundations of more clear-cut black and white characters to define the story arcs. The struggle between good and evil gave readers something familiar to cling to when faced with the oddity of new worlds, magic, and frightening creatures. Readers knew that good would ultimately triumph, and the journeys became their reward.

However, including more and more gray characters into the equation lends mystery to the plot, making it less predictable. Gray characters seem more complex, more real and relatable. They can be more explosive and wild, keeping readers turning pages to figure out the characters’ motives. But without black and white characters, readers may have trouble deciding who to root for among a gray cast. They are left looking for one they can understand on a personal level. Unless there are clear plot objectives, gray characters can take the story in meandering zig-zags like a grand soap opera. Readers expect the satisfaction of resolution for their investment of time.

What blend of fantasy characters do you prefer? Mostly black and white? All three types: black, white, and gray? Plenty of mysterious gray characters?
~ ~ ~
Marsha A. Moore is a writer of fantasy romance. The magic of art and nature spark life into her writing. Read her ENCHANTED BOOKSTORE LEGENDS for adventurous epic fantasy romance: Book One, SEEKING A SCRIBE, Book Two, HERITAGE AVENGED, Book Three, LOST VOLUMES, and Book Four, STAUROLITE.. For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Urban Fantasy Review: River Road by Suzanne Johnson

River Road by Suzanne Johnson:  Adult Urban Fantasy, 2nd in a series

Royal Street was one of my favorite books of early 2012, so I was so thrilled when the second installment, River Road, appeared within a year. Three years have passed since the exciting events of the first title in the Sentinels of New Orleans series, and Drusilla "DJ" Jaco is still keen on proving herself to the wizard Elders. Her mystery solving skills and her magic are put to the test as she investigates some freaky water pollution that's causing illness among the local mer-people.

World: What's cool about book two is how much DJ's world has changed in the several years since Royal Street ended. The supernatural and the mundane have become far more integrated, which means more potential problems for the wizard community and for sentinels like DJ. Of course, it's also really fun to read about. I'm still impressed with how vividly Johnson brings to life the New Orleans area and community. If you're the type of person who thinks UF should highlight the city it takes place in, then you'll love this series.

Characters: Jean Lafitte. 'Nuff said. LOL, but seriously, I love that pirate. DJ is still a cool chick to hang with for 300+ pages, although I was somewhat annoyed that her blossoming romantic life took over a good portion of the story. I know it happens in everyone's life at one point or another, but three dates in one book is a little much (esp. for UF). One thing I like about DJ is her easy confidence in her wizarding skills, but for some reason the girl can't pick out an outfit to save her life. I suspect things with her suitors will only going to get more complicated as the series progresses, and I'm not sure I think that's a good thing.

Pros & Cons: I can't rave enough about Johnson's attention to details when it comes to setting, magic, and general world building. Plus, DJ has a strong voice that draws you in and keeps you in the action. My biggest disappointment has to be the lackluster performances of her support team, including her partner Alex and enforcer-in-training Jake. I liked both characters when they were introduced in Royal Street (and still do despite this mini rant), but neither seemed to contribute much of anything towards helping DJ solve the story problem this time around. I hope both men get the chance to redeem themselves in book three instead of wasting all their time fighting over the girl (even if it is entertaining ;)).

Fresh Factor: Johnson has a knack for taking supernatural creatures and bringing them to life in new and interesting ways. The mermen and nymphs stand out as great examples in this particular story, and I can't wait to see what she does next (I'm especially looking forward to learning more about the mysterious elves).

Overall: I have to say, I think I enjoyed Royal Street a bit more than River Road, but I'm definitely hooked on this series anyway and have to give it 4 out of 5 stars. DJ is transitioning from novice sentinel to running the show in her territory, and it's so great to see her grow as a character.

Check out the excerpt below, and follow the links to get all the deets for the Sentinels of New Orleans series. Cheers!

Short Excerpt River Road

The minute hand of the ornate grandfather clock crept like a gator stuck in swamp mud. I’d been watching it for half an hour, nursing a fizzy cocktail from my perch inside the Hotel Monteleone. The plaque on the enormous clock claimed it had been hand- carved of mahogany in 1909, about 130 years after the birth of the undead pirate waiting for me upstairs.
            They were both quite handsome, but the clock was a lot safer.
            The infamous Jean Lafitte had expected me at seven. He’d summoned me to his French Quarter hotel suite by courier like I was one of his early nineteenth-century wenches, and I hated to destroy his pirate-king delusions, but the historical undead don’t summon wizards. We summon them.
            I’d have blown him off if my boss on the Congress of Elders hadn’t ordered me to comply and my co-sentinel, Alex, hadn’t claimed a prior engagement.
            At seven thirty, I abandoned my drink, took a deep breath, and marched through the lobby toward the bank of elevators.
            On the long dead-man-walking stroll down the carpeted hallway, I imagined all the horrible requests Jean might make. He’d saved my life a few years ago, after Hurricane Katrina sent the city into freefall, and I hadn’t seen him since. I’d been desperate at the time. I might have promised him unfettered access to modern New Orleans in exchange for his assistance. I might have promised him a place to live. I might have promised him things I don’t even remember. In other words, I might be totally screwed.
            I reached the door of the Eudora Welty Suite and knocked, reflecting that Jean Lafitte probably had no idea who Eudora Welty was, and wouldn’t like her if he did. Ms. Welty had been a modern sort of woman who wouldn’t hop to attention when summoned by a scoundrel.
            He didn’t answer immediately. I’d made him wait, after all, and Jean lived in a tit- for- tat world. I paused a few breaths and knocked harder. Finally, he flung open the door, waving me inside to a suite plush with tapestries of peach and royal blue, thick carpet that swallowed the narrow heels of my pumps, and a plasma TV he couldn’t possibly know how to operate. What a waste.
            “You have many assets, Drusilla, but apparently a respect for time is not among them.” Deep, disapproving voice, French accent, broad shoulders encased in a red linen shirt, long dark hair pulled back into a tail, eyes such a cobalt blue they bordered on navy. And technically speaking, dead.
            He was as sexy as ever.
            “Sorry.” I slipped my hand in my skirt pocket, fingering the small pouch of magic-infused herbs I carried at all times. My mojo bag wouldn’t help with my own perverse attraction to the man, but it would keep my empathic abilities in check. If he still had a perverse attraction to me, I didn’t want to feel it.
            He eased his six-foot-two frame into a sturdy blue chair and slung one long leg over the arm as he gave me a thorough eyeraking, a ghost of a smile on his face.
            I perched on the edge of the adjacent sofa, easing back against a pair of plump throw pillows, and looked at him expectantly. I hoped what ever he wanted wouldn’t jeopardize my life, my job, or my meager bank account.
            “You are as lovely as ever, Jolie,” Jean said, trotting out his pet name for me that sounded deceptively intimate and brought back a lot of memories, most of them bad. “I will forgive your tardiness— perhaps you were late because you were selecting clothing that I would like.” His gaze lingered on my legs. “You chose beautifully.”
            I’d picked a conservative black skirt and simple white blouse with the aim of looking professional for a business meeting, part of my ongoing attempt to prove to the Elders I was a mature wizard worthy of a pay raise. But this was Jean Lafitte, so I should have worn coveralls. I’d forgotten what a letch he could be.
            “I have a date after our meeting,” I lied. He didn’t need to know said date involved a round carton with the words Blue Bell Ice Cream printed on front. “Why did you want to see me?”
            There, that hadn’t been so difficult—just a simple request. No drama. No threats. No double- entendre. Straight to business.
            “Does a man need a reason to see a beautiful woman? Especially one who is indebted to him, and who has made him many promises?” A slow smile spread across his face, drawing my eyes to his full lips and the ragged scar that trailed his jawline.
            I might be the empath in the room, but he knew very well that, in some undead kind of way, I thought he was hot.
            I felt my face warming to the shade of a trailer- trash bridesmaid’s dress, one whose color had a name like raging rouge. I’d had a similar reaction when I first met Jean in 2005, two days before a mean hurricane with a sissy name turned her malevolent eye toward the Gulf Coast. I blamed my whole predicament on Katrina, the bitch.
            Her winds had driven the waters of Lake Pontchartrain into the canals that crisscrossed the city, collapsing levees and filling the low, concave metro area like a gigantic soup bowl.
            But NBC Nightly News and Anderson Cooper had missed the biggest story of all: how, after the storm, a mob of old gods, historical undead, and other preternatural victims of the scientific age flooded New Orleans. As a wizard, I’d had a ringside seat. Now, three years later, the wizards had finally reached accords with the major preternatural ruling bodies, and the borders were down, as of two days ago. Jean hadn’t wasted any time.

Royal Street
Sentinels of New Orleans Book One
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Publisher: Tor Books
ISBN: 978-0765327796
ASIN: B006OM459U
Number of pages: 337
Word Count: approx. 94,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

As the junior wizard sentinel for New Orleans, Drusilla Jaco's job involves a lot more potion-mixing and pixie-retrieval than sniffing out supernatural bad guys like rogue vampires and lethal were-creatures. DJ's boss and mentor, Gerald St. Simon, is the wizard tasked with protecting the city from anyone or anything that might slip over from the preternatural beyond.

Then Hurricane Katrina hammers New Orleans' fragile levees, unleashing more than just dangerous flood waters. While winds howled and Lake Pontchartrain surged, the borders between the modern city and the Otherworld crumbled. Now the undead and the restless are roaming the Big Easy, and a serial killer with ties to voodoo is murdering soldiers sent to help the city recover.

To make it worse, Gerald St. Simon has gone missing, the wizards' Elders have assigned a grenade-toting assassin as DJ's new partner, and undead pirate Jean Lafitte wants to make her walk his plank. The search for Gerry and the killer turns personal when DJ learns the hard way that loyalty requires sacrifice, allies come from the unlikeliest places, and duty mixed with love creates one bitter roux.

River Road
Sentinels of New Orleans, Book 2
Suzanne Johnson

Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Publisher: Tor Books
ISBN: 978-0765327802
ASIN: B00842H5VI
Number of pages: 336
Word Count: approx. 92,000
Cover Artist: Cliff Nielsen

Book Description:

Hurricane Katrina is long gone, but the preternatural storm rages on in New Orleans. New species from the Beyond moved into Louisiana after the hurricane destroyed the borders between worlds, and it falls to wizard sentinel Drusilla Jaco and her partner, Alex Warin, to keep the preternaturals peaceful and the humans unaware. But a war is brewing between two clans of Cajun merpeople in Plaquemines Parish, and down in the swamp, DJ learns, there’s more stirring than angry mermen and the threat of a were-gator.

Wizards are dying, and something—or someone—from the Beyond is poisoning the waters of the mighty Mississippi, threatening the humans who live and work along the river. DJ and Alex must figure out what unearthly source is contaminating the water and who—or what—is killing the wizards. Is it a malcontented merman, the naughty nymph, or some other critter altogether? After all, DJ’s undead suitor, the pirate Jean Lafitte, knows his way around a body or two.

It’s anything but smooth sailing on the bayou as the Sentinels of New Orleans series continues.

About the Author:

Suzanne Johnson writes urban fantasy and paranormal romance from Auburn, Alabama, after a career in educational publishing that has spanned five states and six universities. She grew up halfway between the Bear Bryant Museum and Elvis' birthplace and lived in New Orleans for fifteen years, so she has a highly refined sense of the absurd and an ingrained love of SEC football and fried gator on a stick.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Trickster

Predictable? Rule abiding? Nope, only tricksters are allowed in this post. They are one of my favorite types of characters in fantasy for their nature of having a good time even at the expense of others.  TV Tropes words it better than me:

While you can’t love all tricksters, those who fight for the side of good earn a place in my heart. They work within their scope of power to make things happen. They seem ordinary but pull off great fleets or terror when they put their minds to the task before them. They sometimes are not along and there are two tricksters working together. Double trouble as they say.

Now to my top three tricksters in well-known high/epic fantasy novels are:
1. Fred and George Weasley from Harry Potter series.
2. Merry and Pippin from The Lord of the Rings.
3. Mat Cauthon from the Wheel of Time series. (My favorite trickster!)

Who are your top three tricksters? 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Greater Treasures starring Vern, DragonEye Private Eye

Welcome to the blog tour for Greater Treasures by Karina Fabian, part of the DragonEye series of novels and stories


Pages: 130
ISBN-13: 978-1484848296

ISBN-10: 1484848292

Categories: fantasy, fantasy mystery, paranormal, urban fantasy, noir

Welcome to the world of Vern. Dragon Eye. Greater Treasures is Karina Fabian's initial foray into self-publishing and is a stand-alone story out of her on-going Dragoneye, P:I Fantasy series.

Being a private detective in the border town of the Faerie and Mundane worlds isn’t easy, even for a dragon like Vern.  Still, finding the wayward brother of a teary damsel in distress shouldn’t have gotten so dangerous.  When his partner, Sister Grace, gets poisoned by a dart meant for him, Vern offers to find an artifact in exchange for a cure.  However, this is no ordinary trinket—with a little magic power, it could control all of mankind.  Can Vern find the artifact, and will he sacrifice the fate of two worlds for the life of his best friend?

WORLDBUILDING—As a story, rather than a novel, we get only a glimpse of the larger world that encopampasses the bridging between Faerie and Mundane. We don't get to see much of the actual landscape that hosts the denizens of Faerie. We get a bit of the local alleys and neighborhoods from the sky, as Vern flies over. The world we do see is the usual one of power pursuits, keeping us grounded. We also get a glimpse of the magic that Sister Grace and Vern have access to. A glimpse. A hint and whiff of challenges explored elsewhere.

CHARACTERS—We get to see more of Vern, the African Faerie Wyvern, than we do any other character. I like that since I don't know him as well as I might. This is my introduction to him and his world. We meet Sister Grace briefly and also meet the ubiquitous police representatives. This is, after all, a detective story. Vern is charismatic. Not at all what I was expecting. (I won't embarasss myself by saying exactly what I was expecitng. Just say I was delighted to be wrong.)

PROS and CONS—I'm all pros here. I was expecting something more cartoony. (OK so I said I wouldn't tell). Instead, I found someone who carries the weight of remorse, responsibility and the hopw of redemption on very large shoulders. His humor comes out of a history of loss and the challenge of caring. His care for Sister Grace, a siren turned nun, drives this story.

FRESH FACTOR—Faerie Catholic Chuch? Nun mage? Yup. And if you had told me that this is what I would encounter, I'd have jumped on the stories long ago. I love the idea of taking the Mystery that suffuses Catholicism and using it to drive the “magic” of another world. Yes, there are cliche's being weilded here, but Karina uses our expectations to turn the story on Vern's wit.

OVERALL—My first response was to know what other stories I might fall into. Fortunately, Karina provies a guide at the end of this brief volume. She gives us a brief history of Vern and the opening of the barriers between Faerie and the Mundane. She also provides a couple of excerpts from her previous publications. All in all, this is a delightful introduction to Vern and his world. If you want to start at the beginning, or if you want to get better acquainted with Vern and his world, visit him at his website

Given the day I was having, it came as no surprise that when I got home, I found the dogs sprawled in a drugged sleep and the sounds of things being overturned from within the warehouse. I decided not to bother with subtlety, but I did resist the urge to burst in with flames going full-blast. I had questions first.
Naturally, I walked straight in to find an automatic weapon—yep, a bona fide black-market AK-47—and I thought only Faerie lived their clichés—and six other weapons of various types pointed at me. I didn't stop, just closed the door with my tail while I strolled in slow and placid-like. My visitors had shaved heads, faces painted white with clown paint, and black t-shirts with swastikas in white circles.
"If you're the housekeeping service, you're fired."
"You stay right there, or we gonna fire you!" said one guy from the sidelines as he held his nunchucks at the ready.
What'd he think he would do—whack me on the nose? I turned to the one holding the assault rifle. "Scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one, weren't you?"
"He's right. You just stay still while we search the place."
"The place" was a ten-thousand square foot warehouse with offices on the upper floor. Boxes I still hadn't opened line the walls and made a maze in the second warehouse room. I settled myself on the floor and rested my head on my crossed arms. "Go ahead. I get half of anything you find."
They stared at me, unbelieving. I smiled back. Mr. Cooperation, that's me. Finally, Big Gun snarled for the others to get to work. As he turned his back on me, Nunchucks muttered, "I got your half. Don't think I don't." Guess he learned such witty repartee in Hitler Youth Summer Camp.
I watched and listened and waited. With eight teenage skinheads trashing my place, it was only a matter of time.
"I wouldn't go in there if I were you," I suggested as Nunchucks made a grab for the doorknob to Grace's workshop.
"You gonna stop me?" He turned the knob.
"Nope," I said as I closed my ears and my eyes. Even so, I saw the otherworldly light and heard the harmonious roar of Divine Vengeance followed by Mundane screams.
"The Heavenly Host on the other hand…"
I waited until the screams died down to whimpers before opening my eyes and rising.
Four of the skinheads were unconscious. Three may as well have been; they were curled up in the fetal position, whimpering. Nunchucks was actually crying for his mommy. Big Guns had collapsed to the floor as well, the gun thrown away from him. He was sitting and rocking and making high-pitched keening through the roof of his mouth.
I'd tell Grace to tone down her wards some, except that the effect is directly proportional to the evilness of the intent. Suddenly, I was feeling a little shaky about my earlier entrance.
Knights out of the armor now. I went around, collecting weapons in the office trash can and poking through pockets. I found the usual stuff—driver's licenses, credit cards, petty cash… One kid had a condom; wishful thinking on his part, I knew. Another had a report card. MLK High. Wonder if he was the one beating up Faerie kids? Honor roll grades, too. Of all the years I've battled evil, there were still some things I didn't understand.
As I was returning Big Guns' (aka Rick Matherston's) wallet back into his jacket pocket, he blinked and focused on me.
"What was that?"
"Angels, kid." Actually a kind of magical shadow of the real thing, but close enough.
"But I thought angels were—"
"There's a reason why their first words are usually 'Fear not!' whenever they meet a human."
His eyes returned to their unfocused stare. I almost felt sorry for him. Then I noticed the letters FARISLAR tattooed on his knuckles. Faerie slayer.
About Greater Treasures: Most people associate the DragonEye stories with high humor ranging from puns to slapstick, and in fact, the first stories and the novels have certainly been crazy fun. But the life of a cynical dragon PI isn’t all laughs, and Vern has had a few chilling stories to tell me. Some of these, I’ve sold to anthologies, but some are too long for that. Thus, I’ve decided to start publishing them on my own.
One thing I like to do for DragonEye stories is watch old noir films. Greater Treasures came to me while watching the Maltese Falcon. If you’ve never seen it, I recommend it. (Then, reread the story to see if you catch the in jokes.) I needed something with more “oomph” than a bird statue, and since Vern has some history with the Lance of Longinus, it made a good fit. I enjoyed looking up all the conspiracy theories about the use of the Lance by Hitler, which is where the neo-Nazi angle came in. To say more would be spoilers, so please, enjoy the story.
And if you do, be sure to check out Vern’s other tales at
E-book: Here’s your chance to win a free electronic copy of Greater Treasures. Leave a comment or question for Karina, Vern, or Sister Grace.
Grab bag: Vern gripes about the junk in his warehouse in Greater Treasures, but he and Grace have started going through boxes, and they’ve agreed to send something to one of my readers. Leave a comment or question for Karina, Vern, or Sister Grace.

About Karina Fabian--
Winner of the 2010 INDIE for best Fantasy (Magic, Mensa and Mayhem), Karina Fabian has imagination that takes quirky twists that keep her--and her fans--amused. Nuns working in space, a down-and-out Faerie dragon working off a geas from St. George, zombie exterminators—there’s always a surprise in Fabian’s worlds. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars, but mostly is concerned with supporting her husband, Rob Fabian as he makes the exciting leap from military officer to civilian executive, getting her kids through high school and college, and surviving daily circuit torture…er, circuit training. Read about her adventures at

Find Karina at:

Vern probably did some research here:
and here:
and telling more of his story here:

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