Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Of Mystics and Mayhem with Heidi Vanlandingham

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
Heidi Vanlandingham has a three book series called Of Mystics and Mayhem

When I looked inside the first one, In Mage We Trust I thought the premise was great (demons who are the police enforcers of the magical world and a college student from our Universe whose magic surfaces after an encounter with the chief demon,) And the writing very good. I read the sample. Check it out.
The third book in the series The Curse that Binds came out last week.

I asked Heidi for an interview.
Heidi, please tell us a little about yourself.
 I was born in Oklahoma, the oldest of four girls, and grew up in what I call the state’s armpit—Woodward. I still live in this fabulous state with my husband, whom I met at 13. We’ve raised two boys, the oldest in the autism spectrum, and the youngest working his way toward a doctorate. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t read and even have the children’s books with my scribbles crayoned in where I was “improving” the stories. I currently write in three different genres: historical western (sweet), World War II (with and without paranormal elements), and paranormal/fantasy romantic suspense.

I love "firsts"  so tell me about the moment when Soul Mate Publishing told you they wanted to publish your book
I did a Snoopy dance for a week!
 Who are some of your favorite authors in the paranormal genre?"
 Oh my, but there are many. If I had to name the top five, I would say Christine Feehan is my absolute favorite. I have all her books and will buy them for as long as she continues to write. Next would be Heather Graham. She was the first paranormal author I ever read. Third would be Sherrilyn Kenyon, whom I adore as an author and a person. Fourth is Lyndsay Sands, who is a total sweetheart, and fifth (but not the last by far) is Darynda Jones. I’ve never laughed as hard as I did through her Charley Davidson series.
What is my favorite pastime, other than writing?
 As far as hobbies go, I love painting Old World Santa and nutcracker figurines, make jewelry, sew just about anything, and baking. I don’t enjoy cooking meals: I love baking all the sweet stuff, and I blame my grandmother. She taught me how to make cinnamon rolls when I was around 8, and my mother had me baking breads and cookies at about the same time. Me too. My mother went to Le Cordon Bleu when I was five. But she didn't like to make sweets and my brother and I loved sweets as much as we hated Cordon Bleu recipes. So Alex and I both learned to make cookies and cakes.

What was your dream job as a child?
Not many people know this, but I’ve always dreamed of singing. Not as a teacher, which, unfortunately, was the only thing I probably could have done in the 1980s. We didn’t have any of the opportunities the kids have today: The Voice, YouTube, etc. My family all sings and practically every weekend we would go on a road trip to see grandparents and great-grandparents—singing the entire way. Some of our favorites were songs by Marty Robbins; Jimmie Rodgers; John Denver; Peter, Paul, and Mary; and the Kingston Trio. At the age of 3, my sister Kathleen knew all the words to “Take Me Home Country Roads” by John Denver. Love it!


Tell us about your latest release.
The Curse That Binds is the third book in my Of Mystics and Mayhem series. I love everything about these books. They have it all: a blending of mythologies, humor, action, battles, creatures, and great characters. I also love the covers—so pretty!
Blurb:
Released from the containment spell trapping her in a diary, Cassia Kallias finds her family embroiled in a war with the egotistical god who spelled her there, but Zeus still covets the power he senses deep within her.
As the demon king, Lucien struggles to contain the chaos spiraling out of control throughout Dark World, but when he accidentally hits the diary of judgments with his demon flame, he releases Cassia from her curse.
Reunited with the daughter she was forced to leave, Cassia must come to grips with all she has lost, accept her growing feelings for Lucien, and learn to control her new powers to defeat Zeus to save Dark World and those she loves.
Excerpt:
Present DayDemon Realm, Dark World
Lucien
We can’t let that twisted pipsqueak of a Greek god win this war.” Lucifer pivoted like the general he was and retraced his steps across the dark jewel-toned slate floor, his long blond hair flaring behind like a cape with each turn. The Overlord of Dark World was in a fine snit.
“Zeus is behind this, Lucien. I know he is. He’s always wanted my job and control of my domain. I’d let the idiot have it, but I don’t relish being tortured for another millennia by Big Britches upstairs. Besides, I know Zeus too well. His tyranny would destroy everything we’ve worked toward—what I’ve worked toward. After eons of waiting for even the tiniest hint of a positive response, I am so close,” he growled, jabbing a fist in the air in front of him. The ever-present darkness surrounding him rippled, swelling and distorting like a building tornado.
My boss’s face darkened to a lobster red. Not a good image for the lobster, much less the ex-archangel. I had learned long ago it was best to let Lucifer work out the frustration in his system. Interference could be deadly, and I had too much work left to do in this ridiculous war to die today.
I brought my attention back to Lucifer, surprised to discover him standing before the fireplace, staring into the undulating white flames. My eyes watered from the brilliant aura until everything went fuzzy. Blinking to clear my vision, I focused instead on Lucifer’s leather-covered back and fought the urge to smile. Red leather. No wonder early Christians believed a red-skinned devil hid in the shadows, biding his time for someone to do something wrong.
Lucifer had been the peoples’ advocate and God’s best soldier until a certain sniveling Greek God—Zeus, to be exact—manipulated events. Now my boss controlled Dark World, trying to prove his innocence and regain his position by God’s side, which meant he needed proof the little Greek shit had done the manipulating in the first place.
“Discover what he’s up to, Lucien. The Oracle’s predictions grow more dire with each passing day.” Lucifer’s fists flexed at his sides, the whitened knuckles a stark contrast from his tanned skin. “I don’t have to remind you everyone’s future is at stake. Find him and destroy him.”
With a single nod to my boss, I left the room. So much banked on Sabine and Willow’s spell. Not only did I need to rescue my brother, but we needed Gerard’s vast knowledge and magic to help them. Help us.
With a slow, steady pace, I thought about everything that had happened in the short time Johnna and Willow had appeared in Dark World. My world. I couldn’t help but worry what Zeus had in store for all of us. His plans were notoriously bad for everyone. I stopped in the doorway of my conference room and studied the people within. My amazing family.
My gaze landed first on Johnna and I felt my lips curving up. I couldn’t be prouder of my niece, how well she’d adjusted to this crazy world. I refocused on Willow, her wild honey-colored mane of hair hiding her face as she and Sabine worked on the spell. While Willow might not be related to me by blood, my heart was drawn to the young woman. It was no wonder Malachi had fallen for her. She was just as amazing as Johnna—perhaps more so, because of her tragic past. She was strong, whether she realized it yet or not.
Sabine straightened with a satisfied nod. “Done. And if I do say so myself, this is the best spell I have . . .” Her gaze dropped to Willow and smiled. “We have ever written.”
Willow returned her smile. “It’s the best for me because the last spell I wrote summoned a demon. Anything has to be better than that. Now what do we have to do?”
“Say the spell and, hopefully, rescue my brother.” A twinge of trepidation reared its ugly head, but I shoved it away. This wasn’t the time for doubt. The thought of losing the people I cared for the most, though . . . I refused to think about it, instead refocusing on the task at hand as everyone faced the huge window.
I moved the curtain to one side with a flick of my hand. The sight from behind the glass reminded me of a picture Sabine had showed me last year of a house decorated for the Mortal Realm’s Christmas celebration. Giant bottles had lined the porch, each stuffed with LED lights—at least that’s what Sabine had called them. They were almost as beautiful as what I now stared at.
“What are those?” Willow whispered.
“Souls,” Malachi replied.
Sabine positioned everyone in an orderly line in front of the window. I stared at their superimposed reflections, the glittering souls shining through their almost transparent bodies. A chill skittered over me as I held Niki’s yellow gaze.
Keep them safe, Enforcer. I used our mind link, trusting Niki to do just that. I had no doubt he would give his life to save the people in this room. I wanted to go with them, though, to be certain they all returned—including my brother. But while my two best enforcers were inside the Well, my place was here. Leaving my realm unprotected would mean losing it to Zeus.
Standing near the large table in the middle of the room, I watched as they all held hands. Willow laid her head on Malachi’s shoulder. “I know I said I’d follow you no matter where . . . But, we have to go in there? I would much rather abdicate and let Gaia take the throne. Lucien can have yours.”
I smiled, hearing Malachi’s exasperated sigh. “Gaia and Lucien have to revitalize the army and protect the Demon Realm, remember? He supplies the Summoned demons and as the earth goddess, she heals them. To answer your question, yes, kitten. We do have to go in there.” He kissed the top of her head, and I rubbed my suddenly aching chest. “Now quit stalling and say the spell.”
“Fine. Here goes nothing.” Willow chanted the spell in a low, singsong voice. “We go to the land of souls to find an innocent lost. All realms to be reclaimed and an evil deceit stopped.”
I blinked and held on to the table, willing them to reappear, safe and sound, but the souls got in the way, bouncing and crowding together as the orbs pressed against the glass.
I did something I hadn’t done since I was a very young demon.
I prayed.
Please keep my family safe . . .
Buy Links:
What’s your current WIP?
I’m currently in the process of plotting two stories. One is the first book in an historical western series about the Arizona rangers. The second book is the 3rd book in my Flight of the Night Witches series and is a WWII paranormal/fantasy alternative reality romance. The WWII books are the hardest stories I have ever written and take me double the time to write because of the alternative events I have to create then somehow get the characters back to what happened historically.
 I sympathize. I am working on a time travel about a real person fron the 1840's time travelling to 1940. The research is fun and geeting it completely believeable was a challenge.But so much fun.
And finally, where can we find you?
Website:  heidivanlandingham.com

Thank you for being here, Heidi. Happy reading to all of you and may you all find your comfort zone in thi crazy time.


Tuesday, May 19, 2020

I Got Nothing.Talk Amongst Yourselves

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
I've been writing . . 

Ella's been watching me write.


Until she got bored.
She has better things to do.
So do Walter and Eugene.
Jaycee Jarvis is running a Kindle Unlimited Fantasy Romance Promo

Some fascinating looking books in it.

Cindy Tomachiel is running a Kindle Unlimited Find Your Soul Mate  Promo
I have a book in this one.
Right now in this time of Quarantine I find solace and joy in rereading.
I am rereading Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jayne Ann Krentz, Robert Heinlein, Tamora Pierce, and Beverly Jenkins.
They make be happy. Go forth and be happy. See you next week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Self-Publishing is Not for Sissies

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments

 Meet my Guest Poster, Gwen Overland and her Millicent Winthrop novels. 
(Bad Guys Therapy Dogs and a mystery romp)
Gwen is giving away a signed copy of Just My Luck.
Rafflecopter at the end of the post.


By Gwen Overland (writing as Cunigunda Valentine)

Making the Decision: I first decided to self publish when at one of the go rounds at a national RWA conference it was suggested by a well-respected agent that I considered doing so. She thought I had a great idea and that the character sounded intriguing. However, she said it would be a hard sell to traditional New York publishers without having to dismantle the books and rewrite large portions (which she strongly suggested I not do). On the plane ride back home I made up my mind that self-publishing was the avenue I was going to take. Later that week I had lunch with a friend, who’d been self-publishing for the last five years and doing a great job of it. She was instrumental in helping me get started.

I had already published two nonfiction books describing what I did in my private psychological practice, and I had also published two romances for a small press. This particular rom-com/mystery series turned out to be a four-book journey in which the main character, Millicent Winthrop, with the help of her psychiatrist turned boyfriend and two therapy dogs chase down the bad guy until he is at last captured. I had a feeling from the onset that Millicent Winthrop could continue as a never-ending series, solving one case after another book by book, and that alone excited me greatly. I also went nuts for the crazy characters which inhabit Millicent’s world—her pugs Holmes and Watson, her boss Buckminster Smythe, her love interest Doctor Alfredo Martolini, and, of course, the villain Vasilov Bugàr and his henchman Luca “the nose” Nasato.

The Journey (Literally): I hate to fly, and so on long, trans-Atlantic flights I generally stay awake the entire time it takes to get from southern Oregon to somewhere in Europe. The first book I wrote of this series was actually Book 2, Make Mine the Italian. This I did over the period of a short three-week visit. The second book I wrote was likewise Book 3, To Die For. By the time I finished those two books, I had a terrific brainstorm as to how I wanted to end the series, yet I knew I’d somehow have to set it up in an additional book that preceded the other two. That’s when I wrote the introductory novella, Just My Luck (Book 1)
https://smile.amazon.com/Just-My-Luck-Millicent-Winthrop-ebook/dp/B07L3D5C62/
By the time I complete it, I was ready to write the last book of the series, At Last You (Book 4).

Why German?: Last June I was invited to participate as a featured author in the LoveLetter Convention in Berlin, Germany. Most Germans read easily in both English and German, so it was not too big of a stretch for me to present the first two books of the Millicent Winthrop series in English to a conference full of avid readers.
My son and his family live in Berlin, and he had been after me to have my books translated for some time. It was a wonderful case of Serendipity and Kismet that I was introduced to a well-respected translator during the first day of presentations, panels, and signings. We hit it off immediately and firmed up our contracted agreement in NYC at the RWA Conference that July. As a result, the first two books of the series are already out and on the German market, with the remaining two to be released later this year.

The Covers (What a Find!): I spent a great deal
of time looking at covers for the Millicent Winthrop series, none of which really turned me on. I knew I wanted something colorful, whimsical, and playful to encapsulate the tone of the series, but where to look? Finally, after digging through archive after archive of photographic choices, I decided to scout out which books already published had covers closest to what I wanted. When I finally found what I was looking for, I at last had a name which I could Google. Luckily for me, I found the watercolor artist of my choice on Etsy.com. After filling out several forms and having a myriad of email discussions, we both settled on what the covers should entail. My assistant and I then chose colors for the back of the books, the spines, and the borders around the cover pictures for each book. It was an expense that I am so glad now that I didn’t hasten to pay. Fortunately, I own the covers, and so it was easy for my cover artist to rewrite the front titles into German. Having these four books translated has allowed me to continue my relationship with my cover artist, which is important for I have additional Millicent Winthrop novels in store for the future. I am so proud of these four covers, for not only do they capture what I was after, but they’ve been wonderful tools for marketing. Look for Millicent Winthrop Takes Berlin early in 2021.

My Advice: Before turning to fiction, I’d already written two doctoral dissertations and a myriad of academic articles, so I felt secure enough with my craft at the time to forego an editor. After all, what more could they possible know than what I already did! WRONG!! My best advice to any self-published author is to get the best editor you can afford, who, by the way, is probably not your mother or big sister (unless that’s how they earn a credible living). It would’ve saved me a world of grief if I had done then what I absolutely do now. Take the best of what a good editor offers and listen hard to what he or she has to say. Then be willing to take an eraser to your text—no questions asked. Well, maybe just a few.
The Milllicent Winthrop Novels are available on Amazon.
Just My Luck (Book 1)
https://smile.amazon.com/Just-My-Luck-Millicent-Winthrop-ebook/dp/B07L3D5C62/
is 2.99 for Kindle and 6.21 for the paperback.
Make Mine the Italian.  https://smile.amazon.com/Make-Mine-Italian-Millicent-Winthrop-ebook/dp/B07N8N3F3Q/
is 3.99 for the Kindle and 5.94 for the paperback. There are two more books available now in the series.
About Gwen: Born and raised near the Puget Sound in Washington State, Gwen Overland and her family now live in Ashland, Oregon, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Prior to that Gwen lived in Los Angeles and had careers in directing, acting, and singing while performing at the piano. After years in academia, writing one research article followed by another, Gwen turned her talents toward writing fiction and found she happily could not stop. Love’s Harvest and Free My Heart, two novels from her Salmon Run Series, have been published by Soul Mate; she is currently working on the third Salmon Run novel, Waiting for You. Her self-published, romantic comedy/mystery series, The Millicent Winthrop Novels, is available in both English and German. In addition, Gwen also has two published non-fiction books on the work she does in conjunction with her business, Expressive Voice Dynamics: Soul of Voice and Soul of My Voice. When she’s not reading, writing, or playing with her two black pugs, Buster Keaton and Emmett Kelly, Gwen works in the theatre, teaches college students how to muster the courage to follow their dreams, or assists psychotherapy clients in discovering more joy and meaning in their lives.
Thank you for being here, Gwen.
Keep up with Gwen by following her on Twitter @gwenoverland; Gwen Overland Author on Facebook; @GwenOverland on Instagram, or at www.gwenoverland.com and www.cunigundavalentine.com.
Stay Safe. Avoid the News. Laught three times a Day. Enter the Rafflecopter. Happy Reading.




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

How Are You Doing?

Posted by Susan B James on 3:00:00 AM with No comments
It's week whatever - depending on when your state's quarantine started. How are you doing? Do you hate the idea of a "New Normal" as much as I do? I want the old normal back.
One of my favorite moments last week was when Jayne Ann Krentz mentioned Irish Magic on her Facebook Page. 
Jayne Ann Krentz
Need a break? Want something warm and lighthearted to read? Like your romance spiked with a little magic? Try Susan B. Jame's IRISH MAGIC. (Now available on Audible.)

Life imitates art. 💔  I wrote about a moment like that in Irish Magic when Kate's favorite author mentions Kate book on her blog. 

An email from her agent emitted a siren call. Congratulations, you made the top twenty bestsellers on Amazon. I don’t know how you got her to do it, but she gave you a great review.
Who? Kate clicked on the link Rhoda embedded and froze looking at her favorite author’s well-read Facebook page. Andrea Saint Claire had posted a link to Miss Minerva takes a Dare and told her readers to check it out.
Kate stared at the thumbnail of the Miss Minerva cover—a glimpse of red curls and a wisp of dress and a hand holding out a string of pearls. Andrea Saint Claire liked her book. Someone whose work she adored liked her novel.
Kate floated to the fridge and got out the Coke she’d bought. Flipping the top, she raised the can in the air. “Here’s to me. I can do this.”

If any of you want a free review copy here is the link. Review copy Audiobook Irish Magic

I am still in Michigan helping my son Jim with Ella.
Ella is eight and on the autism spectrum which in her case means mostly non verbal with many total meltdowns.She needs to be watched every waking moment and with the Kalamazoo Autism Center closed it's a hard job. I've been here since April 13th. I am proud of everything I have managed to get done and I forgive myself for not finishing the edit on Lord Byron's Daughter.

Did you know May was Mental Health Month among other things? If anyone has any to spare I will take some.
Here'a list of May Holidays from one of my favorite sites. https://www.brownielocks.com/may.html
 This week includes Star Wars Day, Cinco De Mayo and Mother's Day. I am betting you celebrate at least one of these. I celebrate all three. I love celebrations. Yesterday was the 4th. (Star Wars Use the 4th)
Jim filmed a 10 second video to celebrate an obscure character reference in Star Wars
I bought the ingredients for a Mexican Feast for Cinco De Mayo today. An there is an outside chance we may get to watch a movie.
Mother's Day I am leaving up to Jim.
All of us had moms.  I hope you celebrate all the wonderful memories you have of your mom this week. If you have bad meories, I hope you forgive them. I have both kinds of memories and I am happiest when I concentrate on the good ones. I hope my children do that for me

Mom and me. 1944
Mom Me and Alex 1949  Mom was divorced and came to Paris to leard to cook at Cordon Bleu

Jim and me 1979
I'd say this was 1984. I was exhausted. The seem happy.
I wish you all beautiful celebrations, big and small. The best celebration is that we are here right this moment and brething. The world holds infinite possibilities and one day this Quarantine will be a distant memory. I look forward to that.
What's your best memory this week?

Chris and me 1984