Friday, November 30, 2012

Last Day of November

The last day of November means the end of NaNoWriMo. I learned something new again during this NaNo and hope for those who participated did as well. Any rejoicing? Any regrets? No regrets? Share your thoughts on the 2012 NaNo Season.

 And lastly, a special congratulation to everyone who attempted and another congrats to those who won.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What does the New Adult category mean for Speculative Fiction?

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about a new genre fiction label—New Adult. In simple terms, it’s a grown-up Young Adult category. The characters are older, 18 to 30, the twentysomethings, and they take on more emotionally complicated issues as they act as adults for the first times.

The label was coined in 2009 when St. Martin’s Press held a contest looking for stories that could be marketed to both YA readers and adult readers. The contest described for new adult fiction as books “with protagonists who are slightly older than YA and can appeal to an adult audience.”

For a definition beyond those simple descriptions, founder Georgia McBride interviewed an editorial assistant who worked on the St. Martin’s writing contest. 

“…there is a gap in the current adult market–the literary fiction market–for fiction about twentysomethings. You never stop growing up, I think, but little in the market seems to address the coming-of-age that also happens in your 20s. This is the time of life when you are an actual, legal adult, but just because you’re able to vote (in the US, anyway) that doesn’t mean you know HOW to be one. This is the first time when you are building a life that is your OWN, away from your parents and the family that raised you. It’s a strange and scary place to be. Just as YA is fiction about discovering who you are as a person, I think NA is fiction about building your own life. (Very generalised, of course.) I hope that the creation of this category will allow the adult market to develop and expand in similar ways the children’s market did.”

With the establishment of this new genre label, I wonder what that might mean for speculative fiction. In terms of YA, the changes were huge, since the majority of that category involves some type of fantasy, usually urban fantasy or paranormal romance. Will that same trend continue into the New Adult category? Will that create a new audience for fantasy writers? Or do existing paranormal romances and urban fantasies already focus on main characters in their 20s, and the books will just get additional marketing labels slapped on them?

What are your thoughts about how the advent of New Adult will affect the speculative fiction market?

~ ~ ~
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, and Book Three, LOST VOLUMES. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Urban Fantasy Perspectives: Suzanne Johnson

I'm very excited to present today's interview with urban fantasy author, Suzanne Johnson. Check out the latest installment of her Sentinels of New Orleans series, River Road, and enter to win one of several fabulous tour prizes through the form at the end of the post.

Welcome Suzanne!

Thanks, Ella—it’s great to be here!

Tell us a little but about the heroine of your Sentinels of New Orleans series, Drusilla (DJ) Jaco.

DJ is a wizard who grew up in New Orleans. She knows she’s not the strongest wizard on the block—no one would ever describe her as kickass, but she can handle herself pretty well. She’s creative in her problem-solving, which often lands her in hot water with the wizards’ Elders, but her methods usually work. Her biggest weakness, but also her biggest strength, is that she leads with her heart rather than her head. It means she ends up in some bad situations, but she always does things for the right reasons. She’s funny and resourceful, stubborn and snarky. She’s been through a lot but came through it stronger. And did I mention she has elven blood on both sides of her family? It gives her some interesting skills.

DJ is a Green Congress wizard, while her mentor, Gerry, is a Red Congress wizard. Can you explain the difference between these two types of magic users?

In the Sentinels series, the wizards are organized into four Congresses, based on the type of magic they’re most skilled in. An org chart would show the Elders at the top, then the heads of the four congresses, then the members of the four congresses, and then the wizards whose skills aren’t strong enough for them to be congress-certified. Red Congress wizards like DJ’s mentor are good at physical magic, so they tend to be the fighters/soldiers. Green Congress wizards like DJ are good at ritual magic—potions, work done with summoning circles, etc. It’s effective magic, but takes a lot of prep time. They’re the geeks of the magic world. There’s also the Blue Congress (illusion magic) and Yellow Congress (mental magic), which we’ll see more of later in the series.

What are your favorite preternatural creatures to read or write about?

With River Road, I had great fun with the merpeople. They’re aquatic shapeshifters who are born, not made. And they’re Cajuns mainstreaming in the Louisiana fishing industry (sort of cannibalistic, right?). Currently, I’m doing final revisions on the third book and I’m really loving the Elves. I enjoy taking old mythologies and putting new spins on them. These are NOT Tolkien’s elves.

The historic undead in your novels are an interesting new twist on ghosts and zombies (not quite falling into either category). How did this idea come about?

When I was writing the first book in the series, Royal Street, I really was trying to pay homage to my beloved New Orleans, dealing with my own leftover issues from Hurricane Katrina. New Orleans has such a rich history that I wanted famous New Orleanians like the pirate Jean Lafitte and voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and jazz great Louis Armstrong to have roles in the book. I began looking for a way to bring them in as real characters and came up with the idea of the historical undead—famous humans given immortality through the magic of human memory. The more famous they are and the more people remember them or know who they are, the longer at a time they can spend time outside the otherworld, the Beyond, and in our world. They can eat, drink, and even have sex (or at least the pirate Lafitte claims this is so).

If you could summon any historical figure to hang out with for a day, who would it be?

He’d probably scare the crap out of me, but I’ve become totally fascinated with the French pirate Jean Lafitte, the last great pirate of the Gulf and Caribbean. He was a very powerful and complex man—smart, persuasive and charming, yet also ruthless and cunning. Calculating and arrogant, but also emotional and even sentimental. He ruled over a city of a thousand pirates, ruffians and their families in the wetlands south of New Orleans. I’d love to see what he was really like after reading so many biographies of him and trying to make him a three-dimensional character in my books.

I know that you've lived in New Orleans for quite some time, so it's no wonder you chose it as the setting for the Sentinels series. How important was it to you to stay true to the city's history, including the Katrina disaster, and is there anything you tweaked to suit the needs of your stories?

No tweaking—that was the rule I gave myself when I wrote Royal Street. I took some heat from reviewers for the slower pace of the book, but I was determined that if I wrote about Hurricane Katrina and what New Orleans was like immediately afterward I was not going to flinch away from it. I wasn’t going to make it better, or make it easy for my characters to live there, or change the facts to suit the story—even when everything had to grind to a halt three weeks after Katrina when Hurricane Rita pushed through and reflooded things.

Staying true to New Orleans was a promise I made to myself, and I was gratified that every New Orleanian who’s read the books comment on how they capture the post-K city so well. I moved the timeline for River Road to three years later so that my characters could come out of hurricane survival mode. It took that long for things to even begin feeling a little normal. So River Road moves faster, is funnier, and really sets the tone for the rest of the series. A chunk of the book is set in Plaquemines Parish southeast of New Orleans, so a portion of the proceeds from the book’s sale is being donated to the Greater New Orleans Foundation for their oil-spill relief fund. That area continues to suffer from the impact of the 2010 oil spill as well as from Hurricane Isaac earlier this year.

That is so wonderful and generous of you, Suzanne!

What is your favorite hometown food or drink?

New Orleans has amazing cuisine, and I don’t think I could pick one favorite! I love oysters. Baked, grilled, fried, cooked into stuffing…you name it. Crawfish bread. Jambalaya. Muffalettas. For dessert, it’s lemon or caramel doberge (or half-and-half) from Gambino’s—Google it. It’s to kill for.

You write both urban fantasy and paranormal romance (as Susannah Sandlin). How does your process differ between working with each of these genres?

The two genres are closely related from a reader’s standpoint but from a writing standpoint, they’re polar opposites. The urban fantasies are first-person from a single point of view, they focus on an external story that needs to be at least partially wrapped up by the end of each book, they have a lot more humor, and the relationships carry over from book to book. The paranormals are third-person from multiple points of view, they focus on a relationship that needs to be wrapped up by the end of each book (each book has a different hero/heroine), they are darker, and the external story needs to develop but carries over from book to book. So they are really very different types of genres to write. My writing process is the same, but my mind has to be in a completely different zone.

What types of stories or characters would you like to see more of in urban fantasy?

I’d like to see better use of settings in UF; a lot of them are set in real cities but you could pluck them up and stick them in a different city without changing the story, which seems like wasted opportunity to me. I’d really like to see more guys reading and writing urban fantasy. It bothers me that it’s seen increasingly as a “woman’s genre.” I think we’re moving away from kickass heroines who can do everything, and that’s a good thing for the genre.

You've got your fingers on the pulse of genre fiction in some pretty influential publishers. Do you have any advice for those interested in writing UF/paranormal novels, or any predictions about where the genre is heading?

It’s a really tough market right now. Really tough. The adult UF/paranormal field is crowded and because publishing is in such flux, the bigger publishers are taking fewer chances and aren’t always providing much in the way of marketing for their authors. Yet with a few exceptions, authors who jump right into self-publishing or sign with startup e-publishers are finding it hard to make themselves stand out in the marketplace and sales are really low. I sure don’t have any answers. Staying published is as hard as getting published.

Whatever route you seek to publication, I think the key to writing genre fiction is finding a fresh spin on what you love and not worrying about the market too much. Sci-fi romance and paranormal romantic suspense are rising stars right now, but by the time you write one, the market could shift and historical paranormals could be on the rise. YA paranormals have been the hot genre for the past few years, but now we’re seeing a shift toward contemporary YA. The success of Fifty Shades has everyone trying to churn out erotic romance, and that genre’s getting glutted. So I think you have to not try to second-guess the market. Take the genre you love and work to find a fresh spin on it. Then just write a good book and see where the market is once you have it ready to submit.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck with the series, I'm really enjoying it so far.

Thank you, and thanks for having me here, Ella!

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

Amazon Barnes & Noble

Book Depository Indiebound

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.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Music to break by...

Well, sorta.  I'm taking a break with it because it's part of my novel. I realized that if a Main Character is going around auditioning singers, I should probably listen to some singers.  I spent a significant portion of my school career singing.  Choirs mostly. So, it's about time I put singers in the writing. 

This is what I have been listening to.  More than thirteen renditions of it. It's not as bad as you might think.  I learned it when I was a music major in college and, after visiting my brother, Mark, decided to relearn it.  The song is a kind of badge for singers. I didn't know that until Mark, a professional singer (classical) told me.  And, in the course of this search, yeah, it's one of the audition pieces for a music school.

That said, I discovered, entirely by accident, something amazing.  It's a production of baroque vocal music featuring Cecelia Bartoli who does things with her voice that must have come from some kind of witchcraft.  Baroque music has a bounce to it that makes it danceable, for me at least.   I have just finished Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George, which I adore.  Fairytale retold with knitting!  Can't beat that for pure pleasure.  The novel takes us underground where we have to suffer with the princesses as they are forced to dance and puts the knitting needles in the hands of the hero. How's that for cool!

So what does that have to do with this music?  It was composed to show off the talents of castrati--boys who were castrated in order to preserve their voices.  I can imagine the princesses dancing to this music and the Castrato singing it feeling sympathetic toward them and their misery.

Warning: the video is long. It's beautifully shot, though, and the music can be turned up.  There's one image of the conductor's hands that I am going to use in my story.  So, any knitters out there?  Got a favorite knitting novel?  The music is good for taking a break from knitting, too!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Jacqueline Paige drops by the Speculative Salon!

I'm so excited to welcome paranormal romance author Jacqueline Paige to the Speculative Salon!

Welcome Jacqueline! Tell us about your latest book, including its genre. Does it cross over to other genres? If so, what are they?

JP: My latest book is Heart: Animal Trilogy. It’s a paranormal romance. It’s a shifter book so I guess that would be considered crossing into other genres.

How do you come up with ideas?

JP: Honestly, I’m not sure. It takes the strangest thing for stories to come to me. Heart started forming in my mind when I was on vacation at a nice quiet lake up North… why my brain started thinking about wolf shifters and a woman that ran from her home while I was canoeing across a beautiful lake, I have no idea! By the time we were ready to go home, I had a ton of pictures and half the story written inside my head!

Tell us a bit about your journey to publication.

JP: It wasn’t really a journey I planned. My first book was actually written as a joke, or at least it started out that way but a month later I had an entire story appear on the pages that came out of my brain. I was astonished, it was good. I kept writing and it turned into a series, but that’s as far as I went with it for almost three years. By the time I decided to submit something I had something like seven full books written!

Three years later and book fifteen is now published and there’s a lot more to come…

What are your favorite paranormal creatures or which paranormal creature do you find the sexiest?
JP: My favorite paranormal character would have to be witches, they just have the coolest skills! The sexiest is another story, definitely shifters … wolves are good, tigers are even better. There’s just something about the animal magnetism of a shifter. Rawr!

Where do you start when writing? Research, plotting, outline, or...?

JP: It’s different each time. Sometimes the plot comes to me first, so I have to hash it out a bit to see what characters will fit in. Other times the characters appear out of nowhere and then I have to figure out their story. Either way there is always a certain amount of research, but I never really go far in plotting or outlining because my characters tend to change it and do what they want.

What did you learn from writing your first book?

JP: I learned two very important things, first you should not have really long finger nails while typing like a crazed person to keep up with your own brain – it leaves indents in the keys after a few months. Second thing I learned was you can never edit enough – ever. It doesn’t matter how many times you go through the story, you will always find some error that escaped you the last ten times.

Are your stories driven by plot or character?

JP: It’s a mix ‘n match for me. One time my characters are racing to keep up with the plot and then the rest of the time it’s reversed.

How do you balance a life outside of writing with deadlines and writing muses?

JP: Some days I don’t. With kids I think you just get used to doing too much and you just keep going. I have learned one thing though, agreeing to six new releases in one year is exhausting! Editing, rewrites, proof reading and more editing, toss in a whole lot of promotion and it’s a whirl wind of chaos for twelve months.

As for keeping up with a muse that never sleeps, I’m really good at scribbling down thoughts in the dark so I can hopefully fall back to sleep afterward.

What do you hope readers take with them after reading your work?
JP: A little bit of happy. I write to entertain and give everyone a break from reality.

List two authors we would find you reading when taking a break from your own writing.
JP: JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon

Thanks so much for answering our questions. Best of Luck!

Thanks for having me!

Heart Book I in Animal Trilogy
By Jacqueline Paige
Three women without knowledge of their true heritage...
Three men that have waited for their mate all of their lives...
Hearts and tempers collide with wild passions and animal instincts
in the Animal Trilogy

Torn from her sheltered life, Rayne is alone and scared after she discovers her fiancé is not the man she thought he was. Unable to accept the corrupt world he belongs to, she flees to the furthest possible location she can reach on her own. Nothing could ever prepare her for the journey and what she finds out when she arrives.
Is she strong enough to survive on her own?
The epitome of the lone wolf, Devin stays in the wilderness and far away from people, avoiding the decision of whether to accept his title as leader and alpha of the pack. One alluring woman stirs up his resolve and passion when she disturbs his solitary world. The man inside is tempted in a way he can’t understand but his wolf knows he’s found his mate.
Can he have her without succumbing to the responsibilities waiting for him?
TBR November 1st at Eternal Press

If nothing else she was warmer now. How long would the rain last? Do I want to wait it out and then try to find a washroom – in the dark? Rayne shook her head before she could go any further with that thought. There was no way she was getting out of this car until it was light out, rain or no rain. How many hours until daylight? She debated very briefly whether she could squirm around and reach the purse to get her phone. Highly doubtful.Besides being cocooned in the puffy material, the phone was off for a reason and turning it on just to check the time wasn’t worth the risk of Aiden being able to trace the location. Truthfully she didn’t know if that was possible even though all the movies referenced it being so, but understanding what type of man Aiden was and what he was capable of, she wasn’t taking any chances.
Working one arm free from the bag, she shifted far enough forward to reach the ignition; he couldn’t track the cars clock. Turning the key, her heart sunk when she noted the time, there were too many hours left until dawn. She looked out the windshield and froze, her heart jumped into her throat. Afraid to so much as breathe, Rayne stared at the animal a few feet away from the headlight. Her brain first said dog, but that was no dog. That was a wolf; it had to be a wolf. Were wolves that big? It seemed bigger than in any pictures she’d seen.
She sat there looking at it, not sure if she should honk the horn or just sit and try not to get hysterical waiting for it to leave. The car may be metal, but the roof was something this animal could probably get through. As she continued to stare at it she couldn’t help thinking it was a beautiful creature. It’s grey and brown fur looked soft and thick, not that she’d ever be able to find out if it was. It was the way the haunting grey eyes watched her that made her decide not to honk the horn or scream as loud as she could, which had crossed her mind briefly. Rayne was fairly certain it was as surprised to see her as she was to see it. Didn’t wolves travel as group? A pack? She wanted to look around and see if there were more in the trees, but the logical part of her brain said she was better off not knowing. Never argue with the logical part.
She was sure she stopped breathing all together when it took a step closer to the car and then turned quickly back towards the trees. As she was reaching for the keys it stopped and looked back at her for the length of two heart beats before it bolted into the trees and disappeared.
Turning off the key, she sat in the dark leaning back against the seat while she tried to remind her body how to take air in. In this moment with her heart beating so loud she could hear it, or at least it felt that way, Rayne reached the decision that she was not getting out of the car until daylight, and even then was questionable. One more conclusion was also not turning the lights on again; her mental state was much better not knowing what else was outside of the car. She checked to make sure the door was locked, she did know a wolf wouldn’t just walk up and use the door handle, but she felt better knowing that she was locked in and more importantly other things were locked out.
Pulling her arm back into the sleeping bag, Rayne shuffled down as far as she could and closed her eyes. The sooner she slept, the closer daylight was to getting here. Over the noise of the water beating off the car, she thought she heard a howl.

About the Author:
Jacqueline Paige is a world class multi-tasker being a mother to five adventurous and unpredictable children, a cafe manager and having a colossal imagination that allows her to step outside of reality into a world of paranormal romance —with just a touch of suspense.
Jacqueline lives in Ontario, Canada and avoids the ever changing weather of the region she lives in by creating other worlds to fall into in her stories of all things paranormal.
Her first book was published in 2009 and since then has published ten. She is always writing and currently has more than a dozen stories in one stage or another of the writing process. You can check out her website for more information at:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Porchops and Steelyballs - The Rejection

Steelyballs was so exicited about the Salon being up to their wings in Fairy business this month, he wanted to join in on the fun.   But, as life would have it he hit a wall.

Will Steelyballs get over his setback?   

Till next time,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Knee Deep in Meaning

I apologize for not posting the last few weeks. I'm knee deep in NaNo and personal matters including the holiday planning. Life seems to be crashing in but I'm pushing forward for the dream. Below is a clip from Viktor E. Frankl who talked about searching for meaning. I hope it sparks deep feelings for everyone who wishes to find meaning in life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

FaerieCon—East and West

This is faerie week at the Speculative Salon. I’m fascinated by all types of magical lore. Admittedly, I’m much more knowledgeable about witches, wizards, and dragons, but am eager to learn more about faerie legends. Many books on my TBR list include fae worlds. Venturing into those lands, I feel a bit overwhelmed at the huge numbers of different types of sprites, changelings, brownies, kelpies, goblins, gnomes, elves, and pixies…not to mention habetrots, gwyillions, hobmen, henkies, and shellycoats.

I have a stack of references on faeries, along with most every other magical being, but seem to need more. In my internet search, I was pleased to discover two FaerieCons, East and West, that look fascinating.Several authors I want to explore are featured.

This year’s FaerieCon East just took place, November 9-11 in Baltimore. The sixth annual event provided the largest gathering of faerie artists and authors in the world. The FaerieCon universe includes fantasy, steampunk, goth, and metaphysics genres.

The author list included (some may have had travel issues due to hurricane Sandy):
Amal El-Mohtar
Annette Curtis Klause
Aprilynne Pike
Carolyn Turgeon
Christopher Penczak
DC Grace
Delia Sherman
Ellen Kushner
Julie Kagawa
Melissa Marr
Raven Grimassi
Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi
Terri Windling
Tiffany Trent


Although that Con has just passed, there is FaerieCon West happening February 22-24th in Seattle. The artist and author list:
Amy Brown
Charles de Lint
Julie Kagawa
Raven Grimassi
Sibelle Stone (Deborah Schneider)
Stephanie Taylor-Grimassi


I’m wondering if any of our readers have been to either of these Cons. If so, what were your experiences?

~ ~ ~
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, and Book Three, LOST VOLUMES. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Travels in Faerie: An Interview with Allison Pang

With the release of the third book in her Abby Sinclair urban fantasy series last month, Allison Pang has delivered another wonderfully fun and Faerie-centric story. I was able to snag some of her time and ask some burning questions about her books and craft. Follow the links at the end of the post to find her books on the web, and be sure to enter the drawing below to get your own copy of A Trace of Moonlight.

Welcome Allison!

What attracted you to the urban fantasy genre? 

Well, I actually started writing more of a Paranormal Romance, but when I sold Brush of Darkness, I was asked to turn it into more of a UF. In a lot of ways that’s been much better for me – UF can be a little more flexible as far as writing rules goes, and that’s always a good thing. J Plus, I do like the kick-ass chick trope.

A Trace of Moonlight begins fairly soon after the end of A Sliver of Shadow, and Abby has lost her memories from drinking the lethe water. What was it like to write in her perspective when she didn't even know who she was?

I wanted to be very careful with this – I wanted to make sure the sacrifice she made did have an impact on the story (which is why I ended Sliver where I did – anything else would have sorta lessened that impact.) On the other hand, I didn’t want to spend half the next book with an amnesiac as a protag – that would be extremely frustrating for readers who are familiar with the other books and the world.

I love that a large chunk of the new book takes place in Faerie and we get to see more of that world. How much was inspired by actual lore, and how much have you invented?

I build off of what I already knew lore-wise, but for the most part, I’m just making it up as I go. There are some familiar faerie tropes involved - i.e. the seelie/unseelie courts, for example, but they’re a bit different than some of the traditional concepts.

How has Abby's relationship and attitude toward the Fae changed since she's become more involved with their world?

Of course. She’s not as wary of it as she was, particularly because so much of her duties appear to be entwined with it…plus her family is heavily connected as well. Doesn’t mean she wants to live there, though.

Things are getting more complicated between Abby and her suitors Brystion and Talivar as well. Do you think most fans have a favorite by now, and can you give us any hints about what's in store for these lovebirds?

Yeah – I’ve seen some rumblings about Team Ion or Team Talivar, and that hadn’t really been my goal with the triangle. Yes, a choice is made by the end of ToM, though readers may need to read between the lines a bit, but it is there. I’m not particularly fond of writing triangles, so I really did my best to make sure both men were potentially good matches for her. Plus, even though her relationship with both guys is fairly important to the story overall, I didn’t want it to *become* the story. The current storyline crisis requires everyone to work together, regardless of what their emotional drama is.

What kinds of stories and characters do you enjoy reading and writing the most?

Anything fantasy based , really. I’m not overly fond of contemporary stories and I’m miserable at writing them. Everything else is fine!

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to write a novel series?

I think it really depends on the type of writer. Obviously, if you’re a hard-core plotter, it makes sense to have everything outlined out. I’m a panster so I don’t always know where I’m going or how I’m going to get there…although usually I *do* know how a story arc is going to end, so as long as I have that goal in mind, I just wander my way through until I get there.

I think the key to a series is making sure each book needs to be told. (Sometimes we see series that appear to drag, book after book – it’s hard to keep an audience that way).

Can you tell us what you're working on now, and if you have any plans for other series in the works? 
Sure! There’s a short story dealing with Melanie coming out in an upcoming anthology in August 2013, and I’ve got a 6 page comic book story coming out early next year in Womanthology: Space #5. I also have a free online graphic novel you can find at (The story is about a runaway princess and her cursed kitsune companion, but each chapter is loosely based on a contemporary fairy tale.) Otherwise I’m writing more of a straightforward fantasy (with a few steampunk elements) that I’m pretty excited about.

Sounds wonderful! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Thanks for having me!

A Trace of Moonlight
Book Three Abby  Sinclair series
Allison Pang

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date of Publication: October 30, 2012
ISBN: 1439198365
Number of pages: 400

Book Description:

Drinking from the waters of lethe and offering herself up as Faerie’s sacrificial Tithe …these just might be the least of Abby Sinclair’s problems. 

Abby’s pact with a demon—whether or not she remembers making it—is binding, so she’d better count herself lucky that (in the words of a daemon who knows better) there’s nearly always a loophole. But her friends’ reckless attempts to free her, well intentioned though they may be, set off a disastrous chain of events. In no time at all, Abby turns her incubus lover mortal and gets herself killed, cursed, and married to an elven prince whose mother wants her dead. She might have even been able to recover from all that had she not lost the Key to the CrossRoads to her mortal enemy, who promptly uses his restored power to wreak havoc on the OtherWorld and put its very existence in jeopardy.

Only one person can make things right again, but to find her, Abby must place her trust in allies of mixed loyalties, and conquer her nightmares once and for all.

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Author Bio:

A marine biologist in a former life, Allison Pang turned to a life of crime to finance her wild spending habits and need to collect Faberge eggs. A cat thief of notable repute, she spends her days sleeping and nights scaling walls and wooing dancing boys….Well, at least the marine biology part is true. But she was taloned by a hawk once.  She also loves Hello Kitty, sparkly shoes, and gorgeous violinists.

She spends her days in Northern Virginia working as a cube grunt and her nights waiting on her kids and cats, punctuated by the occasional husbandly serenade. Sometimes she even manages to write. Mostly she just makes it up as she goes.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Definitely not Tinker Bell

A quick post then back to figuring out how to get the Weaver's story woven in...

My introduction to something definitely not Disney-fied fairy was Charles De Lint's Hard Men, the Gentry.  In Forests of the Heart, they come out of the dark and go back into it, wreaking havoc, of course.  But they are cool.  Think Aragorn and definitely a lot less pretty, and nowhere near as noble.  Not thugs though.  That's the cool  part. They are just dark.  I can imagine a bunch of Jason Stathams (maybe taller, though).
In the Old Country, they called them the Gentry: ancient spirits of the land, magical, amoral, and dangerous. When the Irish emigrated to North America, some of the Gentry followed...only to find that the New World already had spirits of its own, the manitou.

Now generations have passed, and the Irish have made homes in the new land, but the Gentry still wander homeless on the city streets. Gathering in the shadows, they bide their time and dream of power. As their dreams grow harder, darker, fiercer, so do the Gentry themselves—appearing, to those with the sight to see them, as hard and dangerous men, invariably dressed in black.
My next introduction to fairy came a few years later.  But you'll have to wait until I get more wordcount done.  It is Nanowrimo month after all :-).  Meanwhile. if you are not writing, how many de Lint's have you read?  He seems to have written a lot of them.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Karen Azinger Guest Post: Advice to Indie Authors

We are very pleased to welcome our guest Karen Azinger back to the Salon. Karen is the author of The Silk & Steel Saga Books: The Steel Queen, The Flame Priest, The Skeleton King, and (to be published in Nov 2012) The Poison Priestess.

Advice to Indie Authors

Ten years ago I embarked on the dream of becoming a published author. In February of 2009, I landed a contract with a major international publisher offering a five figure deal for my epic fantasy saga. Sound the trumpets and send up the fireworks, I’d beaten the odds and won the lotto! I was over the moon with joy, but after three short months the dream devolved into a complete nightmare. After two torturous years, I reclaimed the full rights to my saga, escaped from the major publisher, and formed my own company. To date I’ve published the first three books of The Silk & Steel Saga, (The Steel Queen, The Flame Priest, The Skeleton King, and soon to be published, The Poison Priestess) as well as a collection of short stories entitled The Assassin’s Tear. My books are getting great reviews, I have awesome fans around the world, and I can honestly say I’m thrilled to be in control of my own destiny.

Having experienced both sides of the publishing business, I thought I’d pass on some hard-won tips to other indie authors.

First and foremost, you need to write the very best book you can. An essential element of good writing is getting feedback from critique groups, from alpha and beta readers, and from professional editors. The more ‘eyeballs’ you get on your work, the better. Search for alpha readers in your neighborhood, at parties, at coffee shops, at bookstores, or even on-line. I had fifteen alpha/beta readers for my first book and they gave me invaluable feedback. Some of them became my biggest fans.

Secondly, the sooner you start promoting your book, the better. Authors need to build an audience before their book is published. This might sound like putting the cart before the horse, but major publishers promote their authors for over a year in advance. If it’s important for the majors then it’s absolutely critical for indie publishers. For The Steel Queen, I started two years in advance with Facebook and then progressed to a website and other forms of social media. Be creative, be entertaining, and use the social network to spread the word.

A picture is still worth a thousand words…that’s why covers are crucial. Eye-catching artwork, even when reduced to a postage-stamp size, is the very best marketing tool an indie author has. A cover is your calling card on Amazon, on Facebook, on your website, so make sure it’s a great one. Covers should look professional and they should reflect your genre with a single glance. Commission your cover as soon as possible so you have it for advance marketing. Get the most out of your covers by branding their designs, so all your books are easily recognizable.

Word-of-mouth is still king when it comes to selling books, so encourage your readers to write and post reviews. The best gift a reader can give an author is a review, but indie publishers also need professional reviews. Search for book reviewers on-line and offer them a complimentary copy for an honest review. Unfortunately major publishers are also chasing reviews, so they flood established reviewers with their own books (my publisher was going to send 50 advance copies just to Amazon US reviewers!). Since most reviewers are swamped, indie publishers often need to discover new emerging reviewers. Once a review is posted, multiply its value by spreading links through the web.

Most likely ninety percent of your sales will be e-books, but spend the extra time and money to publish your books in a print format. Don’t miss out on the thrill of actually hold your book in your hands, and you’ll need paperback copies for many professional reviewers and for Goodreads giveaways.

And last, but not least, keep writing. The more good books you publish, the greater your chance of success. Write a saga or a series and publish new books at regular intervals. Keep writing good books and your audience will multiply. Best of luck to you!


Here is the blurb for The Poison Priestess, the fourth book in The Silk & Steel Saga, to be published in late Nov 2012:

While Kath and her companions chase the Mordant into the far north, the southern kingdoms erupt in Flames. The Lord Raven marches south, unleashing a holy war against Lanverness. Vastly outnumbered by a ruthless enemy, Queen Liandra spins desperate gambits in a dire struggle to save her kingdom.

New alliances and new awakenings hatch deeper levels of intrigue. The Oracle Priestess and the Lord Raven form a tenuous alliance, while deep in the Southern Mountains the Kiralynn monks stir, revealing more than prophecy.

Armies clash, battles rage, and cities fall, as lives, loves and crowns hang in the balance, but swords are not the only way to wage war. Treachery, deceit, assassins, and the power of seduction will face-off against steadfast courage, forgotten magic, and the power of truth. The Poison Priestess is the fourth book in this epic tale of Light versus Dark.

Karen L Azinger has always loved fantasy fiction, and always hoped that someday she could give back to the genre a little of the joy that reading has always given her. Ten years ago on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge she realized she had enough original ideas to finally write an epic fantasy. She started writing and never stopped. The Steel Queen is her first book, born from that hike in the gorge. Before writing, Karen spent over twenty years as an international business strategist, eventually becoming a vice-president for one of the world's largest natural resource companies. She's worked on developing the first gem-quality diamond mine in Canada 's arctic, on coal seam gas power projects in Australia , and on petroleum projects around the world. Having lived in Australia for eight years she considers it to be her second home. She's also lived in Canada and spent a lot of time in the Canadian arctic. She lives with her husband in Portland Oregon , in a house perched on the edge of the forest. The first four books of The Silk & Steel Saga have already been written and she is hard at work on the fifth and final book.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Fantastic Fantasy Trailers

As NaNoWriMo hits its grueling stride, one thing that always keeps my spirits up is thinking of all the great movies I'm going to go see after it's over. And there are some pretty amazing ones coming out this winter, including the new James Bond flick, Skyfall, the iresistably quirky vampire comedy, Vamps, and of course, the long-awaited first Hobbit installment. Here are a few of my favorite trailers for your viewing pleasure. I threw in the Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters preview for good measure, although I'm not sure when that one is coming out.

Keep rocking those words, WriMos!


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Making the Cover Art for Lost Volumes: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three

In earlier posts on the Speculative Salon, I’ve showed the progression of how I created Books One and Two, and now I’ll continue and reveal the steps I took in this new cover for Lost Volumes: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three.

My process began the same as before, with limited watercolors of the two figures. They are a tiger owl named Kenzo and a pseudodragon named Noba. Both are helpers to Sire Cullen Drake, the Imperial Wizard of the Alliance. After two books, these little guys received so much attention from readers, they deserved a cover spotlight. And they do play big roles in the adventures of this book.

Then I removed each image from the scanned paper and placed it on the background.

Next came hours of painting and shading. After I added font, I had fun playing with several light effects to produce the final cover. I’m pleased with the result, and it’s one of my favorite covers I’ve done.

Lost Volumes: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three by Marsha A. Moore
Genre: Fantasy romance
When Lyra McCauley learns residents of Dragonspeir’s Alliance are suffering with a deadly plague, she doesn’t heed the warnings of her fiancé, wizard Cullen Drake, to remain safe in her human world. After all, she’s the present Scribe—one of five strong women in her ancestry who possessed unique magic, each destined to protect the Alliance against the evil Black Dragon of the Dark Realm. With Cullen dependent upon Alliance power to maintain his immortality, the stakes are doubled for Lyra.

She leaves her college teaching and puts herself at risk for the community afflicted by black magic. To find a cure, she and Cullen travel into the vile, lawless underworld of Terza to strike a bargain with an expert. Their efforts further enrage the Black Dragon, vowing to decimate the Alliance and avenge the murder of his heir.

Lyra must secure the three lost volumes of the Book of Dragonspeir. Written by the three earliest Scribes, each book contains energy. Possession of the entire set will enable overthrow of the Dark Realm. Following clues into dangerous lands, Lyra and Cullen seek those volumes. His assistants, Kenzo the tiger owl and Noba the pseudodragon, prove invaluable aids. Only if they succeed, will the Alliance be safe and Lyra reach closer to the immortality she needs to live a life with Cullen.

Purchase at Amazon

Series Blurb: Enchanted Bookstore Legends
The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.

Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her. 

When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
~ ~ ~
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, and Book Three, LOST VOLUMES. She has also authored the Ciel's Legacy series, with fast action mermaid/pirate storylines: TEARS ON A TRANQUIL LAKE and TORTUGA TREASURE.  For a FREE ebook download, read her historic fantasy, LE CIRQUE DE MAGIE, available at Amazon and Smashwords.
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