Friday, August 28, 2015

Marie Lavender stops by Penny's Tales

Fighting the Naysayers

What is a dream? Is it what you woke from this morning? Or maybe it was interrupted by your alarm clock, blaring away. No, it’s not that kind of dream.

I’m talking about that crumb of inspiration in your head, the one that nags at you while you’re going on about your day. It’s that goal just out of reach. Unless you’ve already attained it. Then, by all means, I must applaud you for it’s a rare, yet beautiful thing to see. But, it’s never too late to find another dream…

Some people haven’t found that dream, or, if they have, they let it get away from them for a time. It sits there, festering in the corners of the mind, taunting them. I will say it again because I wholeheartedly believe it’s the truth. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, not just in my life but with others who have lived it.

It’s never too late to pursue your dreams. No matter what that dream is, there is no reason you can’t start pursuing it today.

Take writers, for example. The urge to write eats away at us every day. Heart pounding, eyes straining, the page awaits. The muse is there, taunting us with the crumb of a dream. Some will ignore it, let it fester inside them like a madness threatening to consume them. Wise writers won’t and can’t ignore the call. The words will inevitably find their way on the page, the pen scrawling wildly in an attempt to cease the chaos within. The story must be told.

There are two types of writers. One is a hobbyist. These writers enjoy constructing their stories or essays, and they keep a treasure trove of finished and unfinished works lying around somewhere. Most of us start out this way. Some are content to stay in that wonderful writing cocoon where nothing can hurt them. It is a pleasant place to be, and I greatly admire hobbyists because they’ve found something that they enjoy. And without passion, what is living?

Then there is the published writer, or at least what a lot of us aspire to be. This writer works day and night on the craft, learning everything he can so that he can finally see his name in print one day. Or in the modern age, ebooks and other electronic mediums work just as well. Some writers seek fame while others pursue less lofty goals. They write because they can’t stop, and putting their work out in the world just seems like a natural next step. It’s only later on that the published writer learns there is a lot more to this career than sitting pretty and seeing your name in print. It is a lot of work, and not for the faint of heart. But for those who seek the dream of being published, they’ll find it was well worth the wait and the effort involved.

But why do we bother? Why do we pursue these things called dreams? Is it because they eat away at us, and if we don’t tend to them, we’ll be sorry? Sure, that’s part of it. I’d like to think it’s about purpose. Haven’t you ever wondered if you were part of something bigger, that you were meant for more?

Well, who hasn’t? And I’m not speaking of spiritual beliefs. We’re all free to pursue whatever religion moves us.

No, this is different; it’s a personal purpose, a reason “you” exist. You were meant to do great things. I believe we all can change the world, even in our own little ways, in our own lives.
We all evolve. We grow from infancy to adulthood all the way until we no longer exist. But, our dreams will go on, inspiring others in their lives.

Dreams can change. You can have many dreams in your life. We’ve all had them. When you were a kid, what did you want to be? An astronaut? A fireman? A princess? What was that fun dream you had? Before all the responsibilities of life came crashing down on you, you once had carefree dreams. Do you remember that? Take a minute and think of the way you felt.

You were excited, right? The world was full of wonder and possibilities. There wasn’t anything you couldn’t do. And maybe your parents encouraged you. Did you dream of things you know now aren’t possible? Maybe you wanted to be a fairy or even a popsicle. That’s the lovely thing about a dream. It’s precious and should be unmarred by reality.

But, that’s not the way of the world, is it? Obligations come and suddenly our responsibilities tend to overshadow our dreams. Common sense tells us we can’t be those things. Or can we?
Isn’t there a dream – however small – isn’t there something you’ve always wanted to do? Write, paint, learn something new? Well, why not pursue it?

That’s easier said than done, Marie.”

Maybe you’re right. But, no matter what your dream is, if you can imagine it, it’s probably manageable. Obviously we can’t be fairies or princesses, but there’s no harm in getting into the mindset of thinking creatively now and then. Keeping your mind open can go a long way towards attaining your goals.
I bet you’ve had lots of dreams in your life. So let’s say one or more is possible. Why not do everything you can to achieve your dream? 
It’s silly to dream. I’m too old to start.”

It’s never too late to start dreaming, to put an effort into doing what makes you happy. If you want something, you have to go out and get it. I know writers who got a late start in writing, and they still got published. And they have no regrets. Just as it’s never too late to go to college or take a class in something that interests you, your dreams are more manageable than you believe. 
Even if that’s true, I don’t have the time.”

Don’t make excuses. Excuses will kill your dreams faster than anything. We all make excuses to avoid doing things we don’t want to do. If putting in the work to pursue your dream seems too daunting, then you obviously don’t want it bad enough. We’re all busy. We don’t have time. We have a million obligations. We have families, jobs, everything dragging us away. I get it. But, take five to ten minutes every day and dedicate it to figuring out how you will pursue your goal. Planning is half the battle. You may need more time than that, but a few minutes are a good start.
Do everything you can to build the tools necessary to reach your goals. Want to write? Write! But also learn the craft of writing. Research it. There are lots of self-help articles out there. Want to get into woodworking? Take a class. Learn your craft well.

What if I fail?”

Failure happens. So you fail. That’s okay. Just get up and keep trying. I guarantee that you’ll regret when you didn’t try more than when you did. How many attempts did it take for Edison to invent the lightbulb? A LOT. But he kept trying. And look how amazing that turned out to be. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid NOT to try. 
And then there are the naysayers. We all know them. We hear them every day. They often use words like “can’t” or they question you at every turn. “Why are you pursuing this crazy dream? What is the point?” Their lack of faith in your dream can kill a dream too. These naysayers can be people we are close to – family, friends, people we think should understand us. Strangers can discourage us too. A naysayer will say you “can’t” accomplish your goal. He or she will try to destroy your dreams with harsh doses of reality. They will try to teach you that what you’re doing is a bad idea. Naysayers will do everything they can to try to make you give up. Why? Because it’s convenient for them, in one way or another, if you fail.

Don’t listen to naysayers. Do everything you can to protect your dream. Cradle it. A dream is a precious thing. It’s like an infant. It has to be held a certain way, and he or she trusts you to protect them from then on. Preserve your dreams. Hold them close with an iron fist.

Naysayers are often people who never pursued their own dreams. Bitterness set in, and whether they realize it or not, they use a coping strategy of belittling your dreams to make themselves feel better about their own unrealized dreams. 
I have met and known these kinds of people for a long time. They often lament what could have been, but never pursue those beautiful dreams they had. Even if you tell them it’s never too late, they are too scared or too bitter to believe you. Don’t let their fear and bitterness destroy what you can have. Hold onto your dreams tight and when you’re ready, fly on the freedom of that journey. Go down the path less traveled.

Be brave. Courage is a big part of pursuing your dreams. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to take risks that you might never have imagined. Do everything you can to reach your goal – well, as long as it’s not illegal. LOL.

Dream. Live and fly. Do you want to be a pilot? Do it. A writer? Then write. Start today. At least try. Take those small steps towards that goal.

Be brave. Do things you didn’t think were possible before. Climb those steps…take that stage with the crowd staring at you. Even as you think you’ll fall or fail, just do it.

Take a chance. Fly on the precious wings of your dreams. Don’t be the embittered individual who discourages another from his ambitions down the road. Respect your dreams and respect the dreams of others. That’s quite a legacy to leave behind, isn’t it?

Be courageous, take a risk and pursue a dream that’s been floating around in your mind for some time. I know you won’t regret it.

Because trying is better than nothing. What is that Tennyson quote? “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” It’s the same with a dream. Hell, wouldn’t you rather live a full life, filled with the pursuit of your dreams, no matter how crazy people think they are, than to live an empty, bitter one? I know I would.

Remember: it’s never too late to find your dream and pursue it.
I’ll sign off now. Here’s to a multitude of beautiful dreams pursued and no regrets. And to those who may still be listening to me prattle on…live and fly, friends!

Author Bio
Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 20 other books. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.

A list of her books and pen names are as follows:

Marie Lavender:
Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature

"Lovers Like Us" (from the book anthology, Poets & Writers in Action); A Little Magick;  

Second Chance Heart (coming soon) 

Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

Wednesday, August 26, 2015



            I have wanted to be a writer since I was 15 years old. Why?
            Well, financial reward, for one thing. But even if I never gained a penny I would still write. For several years after beating my head against a brick wall, I chose not to write. But the desire—need—to write did not disappear. It simply smoldered without release. So I returned to writing. After several more years I started becoming published. By now I have had well over five dozen short stories, novellas, and one novel published.
            I suspect that telling stories is as basic to mankind’s nature as is art, music and dance (I love music but am tone deaf, and have absolutely no rhythm).
            When I look at the photographs of the painted caves of Spain and France, I wonder what motivated prehistoric men and/or women to paint such images. I wonder if these painters also told stories around campfires. How did the early storytellers make clear the meaning of gods, demons, monsters, and heroes? Who were their heroes and what adventures did they have? More, where did this spark of oral storytelling come from?
            For example, when was the story or poem of the Sumerian god-king Gilgamesh, first told?
            For Gilgamesh to make the leap from campfire stories to the written word, writing itself being a miraculous feat, to become “a poem of unparalleled antiquity, the first great heroic narrative of world literature”, to quote The Norton Anthology of Western Literature (W.W. Norton & Company, 2006) is an awesome, earthshaking achievement. Not only is Gilgamesh a literary achievement, but it also offers a glimpse of a world and a people newly emerged from prehistory.
            That world and people are gone now, remembered only in the written word as inscribed on clay tablets.
            No less important is Homer’s The Iliad and The Odyssey. Both are from the Greek (Achaean) “age of heroes.” The Iliad tells of two kingdoms that went to war over Helen, the woman whose face launched a thousand ships. The Odyssey tells of one of the Achaean heroes, a crafty king named Odysseus who thought of building a wooden horse filled with warriors as a means of gaining entry to Troy. After Troy burned it took him 10 years to return home.
            The oral tradition of these two poems certainly predates their being written on papyrus and/or parchment.
            I always wonder, what was the spark that led to oral storytelling around campfires? What was the spark from which descended Gilgamesh, The Iliad, and The Odyssey? What other prehistoric heroes, gods, and goddesses have we not heard of? Yes, from prehistoric stories told in a coarse, early proto-language to the Sumerian and Greek written poems, mankind has traveled far. For that we owe a great debt to those early storytellers and their imagination.
            After reflecting on this heritage, I still cannot say why I want to tell stories
            So, what compels you to tell stories?

“The Ferryman.” Ed. Mel Jacob. Melange Books.
ISBN: 978-1-61235-414-9

BLURB: Sometimes even a servant of the gods may become curious and intrigued by other possibilities beyond their assigned role, which threatens to upset everything. Charon the Ferryman witnessed an act of love when a little girl offered him a song bird to pay for her grandfather’s shade to be ferried across the Styx. And the shade of a barbarian woman taught him that there was more than the underworld…

EXCERPT: Strong sunlight faded to a pale shadow of itself as if drained of life to create deep shadows along the sloping floor and the uneven walls of the long cavern entrance. Long, narrow stalactites hung from the cavern roof and stalagmites of various heights and thicknesses angled upward from the floor, resembling the scattered, uneven teeth of a monstrous dragon’s mouth. Flowstone along the widening cavern walls had once oozed onto the cavern floor to form rolling stone waves that became a wide, sandy beach to disappear into the shadows.
            The cavern roof arched upward, lost to sight save for the pale tips of hanging stalactites. The scattered stalagmites marched into the rippling surface of dark waters. A thick gray mist coated the water that splashed onto the beach. The mist swirled into strange formations caused by a moaning, chilly wind that swept out of the darkness and up the long tunnel.
            From deep within the darkness of the gigantic cavern came the ghostly notes of pipes and the echoing steady rhythmic beat of a drum. Torches along the beach burst into flickering life as their flames danced to the ghostly rhythm of the pipes.
            The torchlight revealed pale shades, the spirits, of weeping men, women, and children, who shuffled through the sand along the edge of the waters of the River Styx. The river was one of the dark rivers of Hades, the underworld of the dead. The sunlight filtering into the cavern rippled with the shadows of weeping shades descending the length of the cavern entrance. A gilded figure with torch held high lit the way before them.
            The music grew louder. A dark shape, lighter than the darkness, appeared in the distance. The gathering shades milled at the water’s edge and waited as the bow of a boat fitted with a bronze beak sliced through the misty waters. A large red eye rimmed in black decorated each side of the polished wood bow. On both sides of the bow square wooden boxes dangled bronze anchors. Behind that lay a narrow platform from a tall, narrow, wooden walkway rose into the chill air. An angled black bow sail and a large black square sail behind it strained with the moaning wind…


Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class; he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.
            He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.
            In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently studying in a double major in Art and Creative Writing at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
            After over 14 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
            Hampton can be found at:

Barnes and Noble

Dark Opus Press

Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy Publishing

Melange Books

MuseItUp Publishing

Ravenous Romance Author Page UK Author Page

Goodreads Author Page

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Madeleine McLaughlin talks about writing for children

Writing For Children

Writing children's books is not kid's play. For one thing, you have to remember to keep your words simple and age appropriate. I once read a fellow writer's MS and found the word 'apparently' in it. That is a definite no, no.

When you sit down to write your book you have to know exactly what age will be your readership. The younger the child, the easier you need to be. I will say that the easiest for a writer is to use words that convey their ideas.

You can't really do that with kids books because the child must be able to understand. And unless your book is about teaching new words, forget about teaching new words. The young 'uns just want to enjoy.
Cat, has, bad, good are all great words for a child. You have to go back to when you were a child and try to think like that again.

For one thing, all those words are black and white. Like a kid thinks. Good. They know what good is (one hopes). Bad. They know is the main character is throwing water on someone it's bad. If you want to go into motive, you can say he's mad.

Another thing you must remember is to only have one idea. The story must be about one thing. There can be no sub-plots and sometimes that can be hard for the writer to do. Kids get distracted easily and you are in charge of directing their attention on your storybook.

Of course, good illustrations help a great deal. So if you wish to be a children's picture book writer, you need to get a good publisher who has access to great illustrators. It's harder than it looks to make great drawings.

The hard thing is, do you wish to teach the child, or entertain? Most publishers now-a-days want to entertain but in my opinion there is still a place for a bit of entertaining 'moral'.

My own first picture book will be available September 5, 2015. Fox tots is the publisher and I'm greatly excited about it. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Valerie (Falconer) Rainey and her wonderful story, Sunny's Grand Adventure

Sunny’s Grand Adventure is available exclusively through my site at 

It is a printed story/colouring book limited to 1000 copies. 

Follow the links on Val’s Books for Kids.

About Sunny:
Sunny is a brave little daisy with a special dream. She wants to fly!

Having a dream is the easy part. How to make it come true is the part that takes a whole lot of work and even more courage. We know what we want but how do we get there?

Well, when you have some very special friends who are willing to help it’s a whole lot easier.
Sunny teaches children of all ages that it is important to have a dream and to be brave enough to share it with others.

She encourages children to draw and improve their reading skills as they read along with mom and dad at bed time. There is lots of room to add to the drawings or add your own in the white spaces. Hey go ahead…it’s your book.

Sunny is a fun bedtime book for mom and dads to read with their children.

A bit about Valerie
I have been asked many times why I write. I have to. It’s that simple. My mom wrote some really cool poetry and verses as a teenager and her mom wrote a lot as well so I can hardly escape the inevitable.
I also like to read so I figure that if I write I’ll always have something to read.
As for my reading I like fun who done its. Two of my favourite authors are Lillian Jackson Braun who wrote the totally delightful Cat Who series and Edith Partiger’s Brother Cadfael a twelfth century Welsh Benedictine Monk.
Through all of my adventures and misadventures I have always had my writing to help give me a sense of sanity.
Whether it’s helping a student improve their reading skills through the PAL program (Partnership Approach to Learning), hosting writing workshops or creating verses and poems I love it all when it comes to writing.
In February 2010 I married my husband Brian who definitely appreciates the fact that I can’t stand to be late for anything! We still live in Lethbridge with no dogs or cats…just us.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Editors Save Writers by Jami Gray

Jami Gray

Why Editors Save Writers

I love my editors. That's right, I am proud to announce I have more than one, more like five to six if you combine both sets from Black Opal and MuseIt Up. If you're not familiar with what happens to your favorite book after your author types "#END#", here's a quick run down.

The poor baby begins a weight loss program. The first round will beat that baby down until it's bawling in corner. The second round will coax it out, wipe its nose, then proceed to show it the way with some very straightforward talk. After some pouting, the story will straighten up, and face down the last round--where the final, professional polish will be applied--hair combed, pants pressed, shoes polished. Because of this, some writers have a love/hate relationship with their editors, they just love to hate them even as they lovveee the final product.

In preparation for putting SHADOW’S EDGE up for free for the summer, my editor asked me to go back over it and ensure there were no specks of dust on my shiny baby. She’s my editor, I didn’t refuse.

Know what I found? The difference between the fourth book of the series, SHADOW'S CURSE and the first, SHADOW'S EDGE is...well...tremendous. As in, if I was doing the first book now with what I've learned, it might be a very different novel, but I digress.

In 2011, I got my first round of edits back on SHADOW'S EDGE. I spent at least a week solid going over every point raised, making notes on style (don't make this passive, show don't tell), and pondering each question my editor poised. This turned into long discussions via track changes through all three rounds of edits, until I finally I let the little bugger go, free to walk on its own. It's very difficult as a new author to release your clutching hold and see your story as a new reader, because you've breathed, cried, screamed at it for so long. Move ahead six months to SHADOW'S SOUL, this time the track change discussions we're down to "got it" , "yep, I can see that", or "What about this?".

Then came SHADOW'S MOON and part of the reason I love my editors. Every bit of feedback I got from editors on the first two books pushed me to look at my craft critically and asked myself, what can I do to strengthen my writing? Challenge myself as a writer? Create something really cool for my readers?

I decided I wanted to change character perspective for my third book since Gavin and Raine needed some breathing room. Plus, well, I was challenged to write a romance. (Challenge me will you?) Not only did I want Shadow's Moon to focus on the evolving relationship between Xander and Warrick, but I decided to mix it up even more, I did two points of views instead of my normal one. It wasn't easy, but it did teach me quite a bit about what I still had to learn and practice.

Then, mid 2013 when I handed off SHADOW'S MOON and the proposal for SHADOW'S CURSE to Black Opal's caring hands, I decided to pause before starting SHADOW’S CURSE. I'd been living in the Kyn universe for a long time, much longer than the publication dates on the books. Other characters and worlds were pestering me for their spotlight. Plus, since I write from limited third person point of view, and at one time wrote SHADOW’S EDGE completely from Raine's POV (oh yes, much therapy was needed after that), I decided to brave the wild new frontier of first person point of view.

Not as a New Adult story where first person seems prevalent, but in an adult Paranormal Suspense story, one where I could explore my love of military suspense and paranormal abilities. But here was my challenge—I didn't want every damn sentence to star with "I" . Come on, if all you hear is "I, I, I..." you may wanted to gouge out said "I's" eyes. It wasn't easy, it was difficult, enough so I almost gave up, but finally, FINALLY, I finished HUNTED BY THE PAST and it became part of the MuseItUp family. It also created a new series, the PSY-IV Teams.

Then while working through the toughest Kyn book yet, SHADOW'S CURSE and the fiendishly difficult Natasha, I got hit with the edits for SHADOW'S MOON and HUNTED in one fell swoop. Anxious, I opened up the track changes, leery I may soon find myself curled up in a bloody pile in front of my computer. Instead I got something better. Both editors left me notes, really heart warming ones, on how much my writing had deepened and how much they were touched by the story. And this hardhearted wench of words, got a little bleary. There were still discussions and muttered comments (not in Track Changes because I didn't want a hit put out on me), but I'm still loving my editors, because they are still providing me insight on things I can do better, ways to consider things differently, and how to ultimately become a more successful writer.

So when the conversation arises among my partners in writing plots about what makes a successful writer, my first answer is: EDITORS.

Whether your Indie or Traditional or any mixture of writer, an editor can only help you. Not only can they give you an unbiased opinion on your work (Like my question prior to writing TOUCHED BY FATE of "So I'm going to change the POV on Book 2 of PSY-IV, you're okay with that right?), they will keep your story straight, catch when you add an extra arm, leave a character standing at the side of the road, or another one decides to not only change hair color but their height (w/o shoes), they will be the first one to push you off that cliff of what ifs when you can't get your feet to move. Because if you want to be a successful writer, you need to continue to grow your craft and your skill set. Otherwise--same story, get the picture.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn… 

THE KYN KRONICLES (Urban Fantasy series w/Black Opal Books)

WRAPPED IN SHADOWS, Kyn Kronicles .5
(Things That Go Bump For The Holidays Anthology)

The magic of the holidays can be hell…

Celebrations abound during the holidays, but this Christmas an engagement celebration goes horrifically wrong.  What appears to be a simple murder/suicide hides a vicious surprise. The type of gift Raine and Gavin, elite member of the Kyn, didn’t want humans to unwrap, because revealing the monsters in the shadows isn’t the way to spread holiday cheer.

SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

SHADOW’S SOUL, Kyn Kronicles #2
Some nightmares are born of love…

A simple assignment turns into a nightmare when Raine McCord follows Cheveyo to the Southwest on a consulting gig. When the most feared beings of the Kyn kidnaps Cheveyo and leaves Raine for dead, her ability to heal her mind and spirit hinges on the one man who can touch her soul, Gavin Durand.

Unraveling the Southwest Kyn’s web of secrets and hidden vendettas will either bring them together or tear them apart forever.

SHADOW’S MOON, Kyn Kronicles #3
Even wild hearts can be broken…
Tracker, Xander Cade, confronts an enraged Shifter in a crowded human nightclub, fraying the thin secrecy shielding the supernatural community from public scrutiny. Danger stalks the pack and she must protect her alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis, even if he doesn’t want it.
If they don’t find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond they risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
SHADOW’S CURSE, Kyn Kronicles #4
Death and chaos can devastate even the best-laid plans…

After tragedy strikes the Northwest Kyn, leaving the houses in chaos and the Wraiths hungry for blood, the fallout threatens Natasha Bertoi’s carefully laid plans. When the Council sends Darius Abazi, the one man guaranteed to skew the odds, she faces her toughest opponent yet.

As death stalks the Northwest Kyn, can Natasha trust Darius, a man well versed in subterfuge, to uncover the truth before treachery destroys them all?

Coming Fall 2015:

A collection of Kyn shorts, including WRAPPED IN SHADOWS

Friday, August 7, 2015

Marie Lavender stops by Penny's Tales

The Other World: Suspension of Disbelief by Marie Lavender

In college, I would often hear a certain phrase floating around in my writing classes. My Creative Writing professors talked about suspension of disbelief. This device was a way to ensure that the reader accepted what happened in a story without question. No matter how bizarre things were, it would seem completely natural to the reader because a story was told well. What they didn’t talk about was suspension of disbelief for the writer. 
In my thirty and some years, as I’ve spent twenty-five of them in the practice of writing, nothing except literature, movies and my own twisted imagination prepared me for the worlds I would encounter on the page. As authors, we do, in a sense, create another world for readers. Fiction is an escape from reality, and if it’s done well, you can become absorbed in the tale unfolding before you.

In a way, it is the same for a writer. And for writers of science fiction or fantasy, even the paranormal genre, a different set of skills is required. I have written many stories and books that required me to suspend my own disbelief. The key in the end was to start to see each tale as another world. “I’m entering a place where the laws of physics may not necessary apply, and there are no limits…” This was a hard concept to grasp at first. Even with general fiction, there are still some rules. When I’m writing both contemporary and historical romance, I have to pay attention to the facts about that time and place. An accountant wouldn’t be throwing a ball of fire, unless you were aiming for a different genre entirely. Although consistent inconsistencies in a character are more than welcome. With these “magical” genres, a writer has to honor the kind of fiction that has gone before, yet still make it their own entirely. 
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that writers have to wear different hats. That is true because writing and marketing are such diverse animals. But, a multi-genre author has to wear a different hat for every story. Each one has its own set of rules. In the course of a day, I can go from historical romance to paranormal romance to children’s fiction, then to romantic fantasy. It gets confusing. Though I still float around when I have nothing else to do, I have taught myself to try to focus on one project at a time. The muse often has other plans, however.

So, when I am immersed in writing a scene, I have to prepare myself just before going in. Often I write on the fly, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to do some mental preparation. Like the pilot going through his checklist before firing up the engine on his plane, in the back of my mind I’m aware that the project I am working on has its own set of rules. Whether the tale is historical, modern, or it’s about witches, ghosts, aliens, demons, even vampires, I know that I have to prepare. In the case of fantasy or paranormal, all bets are off. Suddenly, I have to train my brain not to think of facts, but to let my imagination run wild. I must allow myself to see the story as a new world. In the case of urban fantasy, it’s a world within our world. So, research is still required, but there’s room for creative license. It’s also a challenge to include the necessary facts about a story if it’s part of a series. A writer must juggle a little, decide how to introduce new readers to a sequel in a series, and yet continue the plot without alienating longtime fans of the series. 
Fiction is a world most of us enjoy immensely. The reader gets the opportunity to explore a world he or she didn’t know before, while the writer gets a different kind of seat in the auditorium. As writers, we are in control, and yet we are not. It is a common misconception that we are like puppeteers, amused at the way we can stage a story and move our characters around. There is but a small grain of truth to that assumption. In reality, the characters rule us. The plot takes hold, driving us through days with very little sleep until the story is told and told well. By the end of the experience, it has been somewhat of an addiction, a drug we cannot refuse. 
And still, that suspension of disbelief is necessary for us as writers to maintain. Even we are human beings, and we can get too grounded in reality with life dragging us away from the page.
Though I love writing any kind of story, it is nothing compared to when I can release the reins on my imagination. Spinning tales always requires some imagination, but the stories which are a little out of the ordinary take a bit more. In those fantasy worlds, I can become a witch, a vampire tasting blood for the first time, a spirit trying to come to terms with her new reality, a woman fighting her worst nightmare. I can take on different personas, wear many hats, so to speak, and I adore the experience. It’s just as exciting to me as it is for readers! 
Once I have suspended my disbelief, the story all but spills onto the page, begging to be finished. I relish the journey. My characters come alive and the story possesses me until the project has reached its completion. I can’t even describe the wonder I feel with this kind of freedom.

And still the stories come, the characters demanding their say. Whether they are fantastical creatures or regular human beings, at the core they’re all the same. Wondrously flawed and wanting to live their lives blissfully, at peace. Of course, something always prevents that from happening. That’s a story for you, though. It often throws curveballs when you least expect it.

I must honor the characters, tell their stories, and let these worlds unfold on the page without limits. The result? Something even I am amazed by because I certainly didn’t plan for it to happen. LOL. Nonetheless, it keeps me believing in magic and the unexplained. I would have the process no other way, though. And I can’t think of a better career for myself than this constant plunge into the unknown. It’s so compelling that I just can’t wait until the muse dares to honor me with the experience again.
Below, I am including information about some of my books that contain other worlds – paranormal and fantasy alike. Enjoy!

The Magick Series
Magick & Moonlight (Book 1, Genre: Romantic Fantasy)
Messing with free will is always a bad idea…

Ethan Hamilton moves to a lazy little town in Oregon, hoping to escape his demons. But, instead he discovers a woman dancing nude in the moonlight. This woman who claims she is a witch dazzles him with her sensual presence. He thinks she’s crazy, but what if she’s not?

Jessie Anderson has been taught that her kind hides who they really are. And she has a problem on her hands. Someone knows her secret and she has to do all she can to protect herself. What other choice does she have? Jessie casts a love spell on a good man, a man with whom she can’t fight her attraction. The spell doesn’t work quite as planned – she ends up falling for Ethan.

To top it off, Ethan’s treatment of her, his “love”, is so addictive. Deep down, she knows the spell will wear off, and yet his feelings seem genuine. It’s just a spell…right?
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A Little Magick (Book 2, Genre: Children’s Fantasy)
Little Rosie goes to stay with her uncle. There she meets some new friends…and some enemies. She doesn’t know that her emotions will trigger something unusual. So far from home, suddenly Rosie has become a full witch like her mother. For a time, it is great fun to use her powers the way she wants, but can Rosie figure out how to use these newfound powers for good or will she be lost to the dark side forever?
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The Blood at First Sight Series
Second Nature (Book 1, Genre: Paranormal Romance/Urban Fantasy)
She never expected it…

Desiree Edwards has a problem. She’s been attacked, kidnapped and forced to get along with a vampire of all things. It’s something right out of the story books she reads, or her worst nightmare. But, sometimes he’s not the monster he appears to be. He seems so humanlike that she can’t help it when her emotions betray her, when her body betrays her. To make matters worse, she finds out more about herself than she ever wanted to know.

She was unlike any other…

Alec has a problem. The animal in him wants Desiree. But, so does the man. The more he learns about her, the harder it is to deny what he wants. But, he’s a freak, and she’s just a human. The two species don’t mix that way. Then an old enemy surfaces and Alec is forced to make a choice. His life or hers.

Can Alec’s soul be saved by this unique human? Or will it be far too late?
Purchase Links:

Standalone Books
A Misplaced Life (Genre: Paranormal Mystery/Thriller)
Death is only the beginning. That is what Alexa Hamilton realizes when she discovers herself beyond the land of the living. She must enlist the help of her best friend and a handsome, but stubborn detective to try to put the missing pieces of her life back together. Alexa faces the biggest challenge of her life when she has to choose between seeking revenge upon her killer or the hereafter. Or perhaps she can have both? Only time will tell.
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Terror in the Night (Genre: Paranormal Romance/Thriller)
There was no reflection. Just a dark face and a pair of red eyes that glistened. "What do you want?” she whispered. There was no answer. He only smiled. All of a sudden, a powerful force slammed her back against the door.
Claire Retin has been dealing with the same nightmare for years. Little does she know that she is not the only one. When she meets a kindred spirit, she realizes there's more to this nightmare than she previously thought. With the aid of a new lover, she seeks to combat this foe while the past threatens to overcome her.
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Author Bio:
Bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 20 other books. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader's Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 50 Authors on Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 21 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. Her current series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series.
A list of her books and pen names are as follows:Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return; Magick & Moonlight; Upon Your Honor; Second Nature; "Lovers Like Us" (from the book anthology, Poets & Writers in Action); A Little Magick
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom; Leather and Lace
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

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