Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Gargoyles and Soul Thieves - An Interview Swap with Rebecca Chastain!

Hi, guys! A few weeks ago, I got an email from a fellow urban fantasy author asking if I wanted to do an interview swap. I love stuff like that, so I jumped on board right away. Rebecca and I have chatted quite a bit since then, and she's super cool and so are her books! Gargoyles and elemental magic are the feature of her latest series. Oh, and she's an Amazon bestseller, so that's rad. Are you ready? Rebecca's answers below, and my answers about the Zyan Star series over on her blog!


She looks badass, right?!

Me: Gargoyles and elementals together? Yes, please. What else can you tell me about your Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles series?

Rebecca: If you took the United States in the early 1900s, added in a population who can all wield varying levels of earth, water, air, fire, and wood elemental magic, and topped it off with multifarious mythical creatures, you’d have the world of the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles. Within this magic-saturated setting, I built my story around an ordinary woman, because I’ve always felt that no matter how fantastical the world, the best stories involve relatable characters making tough decisions.

Mika is a midlevel earth elemental who has worked a lot of late nights as a freelancer to hone her skills with delicate quartz projects. Her goal is to leave her dead-end quarry job and open her own artisan shop. Unfortunately, her carefully constructed five-year plan—and years of hard work—are jeopardized when a baby gargoyle bursts into her studio and begs for her help on a desperate mission.

As you can probably guess, she can’t say no to a baby gargoyle. Could you?

When you built the world for Magic of the Gargoyles, how did you start?

I start every story by opening up a fresh Word document and typing everything that comes to mind in a non-stop brainstorming session. A lot of…we’ll call it “fluff” comes out in these session, but there’s nothing like that moment when a spark of an idea ignites into an entire story. With Magic, it was baby gargoyles. The moment I pictured a housecat-sized gargoyle, I knew I had to write the story. After that, I researched quartz and mythical creatures, but mostly I focused on building a magical world that would be fun to romp around in for a few novels.

If you could manifest the magical traits of one of your characters, what would it be?

Mika’s elemental abilities, definitely. She can alter the structure of quartz with her magic, shaping it into incredible masterpieces. Plus, she’s the one that gets to help baby gargoyles…

Have you ever traveled (or have plans to) in the name of research, and where?

I don’t know if this counts, but my Madison Fox series is set in my hometown. In essence, every errand run around town could be construed as research.

What are your reading habits these days? Do you have rules about what you read while you’re writing?

I do have rules! While writing the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, I refused to read anything with gargoyles in it. In general, I try not to read anything in the genre I’m writing, and when I’m deep into a writing project, I often skip fiction entirely and focus on nonfiction. I have an idea for an alternate history fantasy that may or may not ever happen, so for the last two years, I’ve been reading tons about the world around 1492. I’m now a font of weird facts. For instance, did you know there were no earthworms in the United States before colonists started carting in soil from England? They’d been killed off in an earlier ice age, and those in warmer climates farther south had never burrowed back up this way. 

And here's a synopsis of Magic of the Gargoyles:

To help a baby gargoyle, Mika will risk everything.

Mika Stillwater is a midlevel earth elemental with ambitions of becoming a quartz artisan, and her hard work is starting to get noticed. But when a panicked baby gargoyle bursts into her studio, insisting Mika is the only person she’ll trust with her desperate mission, Mika’s carefully constructed five-year plan is shattered.

Swept into the gritty criminal underworld of Terra Haven, Mika jeopardizes everything she’s work so hard for as she attempts to save the baby gargoyle from the machinations of a monster—and to stay alive…

From the imaginative mind of international bestselling fantasy author Rebecca Chastain, Magic of the Gargoyles is a spellbinding adventure set in a world full of elemental magic and adorable gargoyles that is sure to enchant young adult and adult readers alike.

Want to pick up a copy? (sure you do - 99 cents!)

Amazon, US                Amazon, everywhere

Rebecca's official bio:

Rebecca Chastain is the internationally bestselling author of the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series and the Gargoyle Guardian Chronicles, among others works. She has found seven four-leaf clovers to date, won a purebred Arabian horse in a drawing, and once tamed a blackbird for a day. Writing stories designed to amuse and entertain has been her passion since she was eleven years old. She lives in Northern California with her wonderful husband and three bossy cats.



Hit her up on the Internet!


Hope you all enjoyed our swap! If you want to check out my answers to the questions, hop on over to Rebecca's blog. TTFN!


Wednesday, July 6, 2016

IWSG - The Nicest Thing That's Been Said About My Writing

Hi, writer friends! It's July! Fireworks, beach and popsicle time! One of my books came out yesterday! My birthday is next week! It's definitely one of my favorite months :)

For this month's IWSG post, there is now a question you can answer if you want, which is: What's the nicest thing anyone has ever said about your writing?



Well, two from recent book reviews spring to mind. The first is a review of Martinis with the Devil, and the person said:

"I just love the story line and the characters to pieces, to death, to the end of the world, whatever..... man I wish it never ended and just went on forever."

And then a very recent review of Whiskey and Angelfire, which came out yesterday (three snippets from one review):

"I am completely in love with this series. Earlier this year, I read both the prequel novella and the first book in a frenzy of insomnia and emotions and I've been dying a little ever since then because I needed to know what happened with these characters and this world...." and "This group is so great because it feels like you fell right in the middle of a family and you can't help but love them all and want to make sure they're happy." and "I'm seriously considering selling my soul to Lucifer so I can read the next book right now..."

So, that's all INCREDIBLY flattering and I'm SO happy people are loving the book. On the flip side of that though, you get bad reviews... so I guess that's my insecure thing for the month. Whenever you release a new book, you want everyone to love it, or at least most people. So, as these first few reviews start coming, there's a lot of nail biting going on for me :)

How about you? How's your month going?

Don't forget to visit the other IWSG posts, and of course our lovely host Alex Cavanaugh! (I nearly made a corny joke there about our lovely host Alex Trebek) (I'm probably not the first to go there).

TTFN!


Monday, July 4, 2016

Whiskey and Angelfire Book Birthday!!

It's here!

Zyan Star Book Two! Lovers of urban fantasy, your 4th just got a lot spicier :) 


"I'm seriously considering selling my soul to Lucifer so I can read the next book right now..." Top 100 Goodreads Reviewer Emily Seamir

**blushes furiously**

This is what Zyan's doing in the second book:

Can Zyan avert the war that's brewing before her past catches up to her, quite literally?

When one of the angelic warriors goes missing, Zyan and Eli head off to Dublin to join the search. As soon as they arrive, they're swept into rising tensions between the angelic forces and the other supernatural races. As more supernaturals go missing, Archangel Michael will stop at nothing to put the perpetrator behind bars, even if it means placing the city under martial law.

To add to the mess, Zyan's sister Anna is in Dublin, and where Anna is, Lucifer is only a step behind. Not to mention Alexander, Zyan's sworn enemy. Zyan has more than a sneaking suspicion they're at the heart of a spree of recent demon invasions. But something is odd about these demons, and if she doesn't figure it out before Lucifer reveals his ultimate plan, the price could be catastrophic.

As if things couldn't get worse, being back in Ireland where she was turned immortal has dredged up the worst from her past. Including her maker, Olga, who's none too pleased that Zyan's come back.

Plus, I'm trying something new for this book: leave a review and get a free download of the prequel novelette to the Zyan Star series! Just email me or leave a comment here (include your email if you don't have responses set up), and I'll send you a Book Funnel code to download it for free. 

Plus, you can vote on which Zyan backstory novelette I release later this year. Either Zyan in the 1920s, or when she met Riley and Quinn (or you can throw in another idea)!

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Smashwords
Kobo

I'm SOOOO excited to share Zyan's story with everyone, and I can't imagine a better day than a day of fireworks and fun. Happy 4th of July everyone!! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Colorado Vacation Pics

Just got back from Colorado yesterday! I went for one of my best friend's wedding, and to do some hiking. I managed to get some writing done, too, as I have a self imposed deadline of July 4th weekend for the first draft of Vengeance and Vermouth, the third Zyan Star book.

I thought I'd throw a few pics up here on the blog before I get back to writing :)


Union Station, Denver


Denver Botanical Gardens


Me at the wedding (the humor in this is that I'm a vegetarian)


Moose!!


Grand Lake, CO


My son at Rocky Mountain National Park


RMNP again


My son, me, one of my besties at the Tundra Trail in RMNP, over 12,000 feet


Any summer vacays or weddings coming up for you? Hope the summer is going awesome so far. TTFN!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

I'm Co-hosting IWSG! Plus, Cover Reveal for Whiskey and Angelfire!

Hi, friends! This month I'm helping co-host IWSG with creator Alex Cavanaugh. I'm pretty excited about it!! IWSG stands for Insecure Writers Support Group, and we support each other through the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to #writerslife. Go say hi to the other participants here!



My big focus/insecurity this month, as it was last month, and as it will be for probably the foreseeable future, is launching my Zyan Star urban fantasy series. I released a prequel novelette last August, and the first book this April. I've been very encouraged to see that with the release of the second one, I'm getting a lot more sales, and cross-over sales with the novelette. The next book, Whiskey and Angelfire, is releasing on July 4th, and I have a tentative date of Labor Day (9/5) for the third. Hopefully sales will continue to grow, and the ripple effect I'm already seeing will spread more! So that's my nail biter for the time being :)

Speaking of Whiskey and Angelfire, I am extremely stoked to reveal the cover!!




Drumroll......









What do you think?? I absolutely adore it.

So, what are your big plans/focuses/insecurities this month? Any books coming out soon? Whatever your writing focus at the moment, all of us are here for you!

TTFN, friends :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Zyan Star Series, Character Profile: Zyan!

At long last, we come to the last character profile in the series, Zyan herself!! I have so much love for Zyan. Martinis with the Devil, the first in the series, is the only book I've ever written where the character was the inspiration for the whole thing. Usually I have a cool plot idea, the great "what if?" question that pops into a writer's head. But Zyan came, rather insistently and incessantly, after I read the Twilight series years ago. She started pounding in my head, like "that whole finding your true love at 17 is great and all, but what happens if you're wrong about the person, and you end up totally screwed and immortal so you can think about how much of a dumb ass you are for all eternity?" Yeah, she's fairly sarcastic :)

I'd written another fantasy novel before Martinis, and had a hard time pinning the voice for that character, but not with Zy. She came in loud and clear, and the words just flowed. Plus, she's so fun, feeding my obsession for chicks with swords, martinis, and bad language. Okay, so here she is!



Name: Zyan Star
Supernatural powers: Anam Gatai (Irish soul thief): magic akin to a witch, immortal, can call to souls like a Siren, extra strength, regeneration
Appearance: Pale skin, darkish/burgundy hair, espresso eyes
Favorite drink: Siren's Kiss Martini (has cherries)
Weapon of choice: Katana, though uses magic when she has to

Zy is pretty much a total badass and never behaves herself :) I warn people, if you don't like magic, violence, sex, cussing and mouthy women with swords, you will most certainly NOT like these books. 

It's practically impossible for me to put in a fave Zyan excerpt, because I love so many of them... I'm going to be a tease and include one from the second book, Whiskey and Angelfire, which releases on July 4th. Also, I JUST got back the cover from my amazeballs cover artist, and I literally cried a little bit it's so perfect. My newsletter subscribers will get to see it before anyone else, so sign up if you haven't already. I'll also be giving away some ARCs. Okay, so here we go - Zy and the gang have just arrived in Dublin to search for a missing angel (NHTF stands for non-human task force and HR stands for Holy Representative):

The interior of the building was stark and militaristic, not in the slightest bit welcoming. Looked like the NHTF had definitely taken the lead in d├ęcor. It had none of the elegance of the lobby in HR headquarters back home. A single desk stood at the back of the room, behind which sat an angel in the usual pale gray tunic, and an NHTF officer in an olive uniform. To the right of them was a door, flanked by two more officers. Though it was only a couple hours until midnight, none of them seemed surprised to have visitors. Eli stopped in front of the desk and cast a quick salute. He’d changed when I went home, and now wore the same sort of tunic the other angel did instead of the jeans and t-shirt he seemed to prefer. It covered up all his nice muscly bits, which was a tad tragic.

“Commander Whitesong here to see Commander Juno.”

The nameless angel and NHTF officer nodded. The NHTF officer leaned to the side, casting a glance that slid off me like I was five-day-old roadkill. “And these are?”

Eli opened his mouth to speak, but I stepped around him. “Special Agent Zyan Star. Yes, THE Zyan Star. Appointed by the HR of Northwest America after saving his life and preventing Lucifer from taking over the realm of Earth.”

They looked me up and down, taking in my burgundy hair, leather jacket and jeans. Not to mention the big-ass katana strapped across my back. And the emerald green nail polish.

I hooked a finger over my shoulder toward Quinn and Riley. “And these two were instrumental in helping me and Eli - Commander Whitesong, that is - save the planet’s ass. We’re here to find the angel you guys lost.”

“I’ll call Commander Juno,” the angel said, scrambling over his words slightly.

Eli cast me a reproving look as we waited, but I just grinned in return. A couple minutes later the two NHTF officers guarding the door pulled it open and a tall angel emerged. Her hair was short and red, her eyes a startling purple, bright unlike Eli’s pale lavender ones.

“I’m Commander Juno,” she said. “Follow me."

We entered the depths of the building, passing through stark white hall after stark white hall. What was it with them and decorating like a mental hospital? We reached what was clearly a command center, a busy room with banks of screens and holographic programs running. Angels and NHTF officers stood together, monitoring video feeds, calling out commands into their comm devices, and repositioning various satellite feeds.

“After Officer Lightwing went missing, we tapped into our global surveillance network to see if we could pick him up via facial recognition scans,” Juno said, confirming my thoughts. “We also of course have the supernatural DNA scanners in all businesses to track the supernatural population. It picks up angels as well. Nothing matching his DNA signature so far. Wherever he’s been taken, it’s off the grid.”

Hopefully not off the grid as in dead, I thought grimly.

“His apartment was pristine, not a trace of a struggle or any suspicious DNA evidence,” she continued. “Of course, not that we really expected anyone to have taken him out from under our noses in this building. We’ve interviewed his contacts outside the angelic forces and no one has seen or heard anything pertaining to his whereabouts.” She sighed, her purple eyes troubled. “He simply clocked out of work two days ago, presumably left the building to run an errand, and vanished from there.”

“What makes you certain he was abducted?” I asked.

Juno looked over as if noticing me for the first time. Her face bore a look of confusion. “What else could explain his disappearance?”

I shrugged. “Maybe he didn’t want to work for the angelic forces anymore.”

The female angel went stiff as an oak. “Angels do not abandon their position, Ms. Star.” Her tone was arctic. “Unlike the other supernatural races, we are born and carry on our lives to fulfill a very specific purpose: to protect humanity. It is our duty, pure and simple, and not something we can simply walk out on.”

I let her insult of other supes slide right on by. “That’s all very noble, but I’ll repeat my question: do you have hard evidence that Ambriel was abducted?”

“I don’t need evidence.” Juno’s eyes bored into mine. “I’m not sure how the HR in Seattle handles things, but we follow a very strict code of conduct here in Dublin. We’re not accustomed to bringing in outside help on our missions, let alone someone of your… reputation. Not all of us are keen on your involvement in this, so I suggest you tread lightly if you wish to continue employment with the angelic forces.”

I smiled broadly. “Let me clarify something about my reputation, as you seem to be confused. I follow no code of conduct and I never tread lightly. That’s why the HR asked for my help, and later promoted me to special agent. I get shit done. And another thing - I am no one’s employee. I choose the cases I wish to work, and since so far your team here in Dublin has failed to find even the tiniest lead in Ambriel’s disappearance, Eli and I were called in to salvage the situation. I respect the HR, and I’m working this case as a personal favor to him. You can fire me if you wish, it makes no difference.”


So there's some Zyan for ya! Hope you enjoyed. Check out my newsletter for the droolworthy book cover. TTFN!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Zyan Star Series, Character Profile: Eli

We're nearing the end of my character profile series! Today we have Eli, Zyan's angelic partner. Without further ado:


Name: Elijah Whitesong
Supernatural powers: Angel
Appearance: Pale skin, straight blonde hair (a bit on the longish side), lavender eyes
Favorite drink: Dwarven beer
Weapon of choice: Blast of white light from his angel powers, though he also has a wicked staff he uses occasionally

Eli and Zy's chemistry is so fun to write. I mean, she's a soul thief, he's an angel? Talk about some tension. Eli is Zy's opposite: rule-abiding, a bit stuck-up, almost totally straight-laced... at least at first. He's also incredibly compassionate and good-hearted and can be a real badass in a battle. They play off each other so well.

Here's one of my favorite Eli excerpts from Martinis with the Devil (it took me a really long time to pick which one, without being too spoiler-y). This is close to the beginning of the book; Zy has just arrived at the hospital to check in on her friend Will after his bar burned down, and her and Eli saved him. It's trimmed a bit in the middle for brevity.

We found the ER nurse’s station. One quick lie and an ensorcelled nurse later, and we were standing outside the curtained-off temporary room where Will lay. He’d been plugged up to an oxygen machine.

Now what are you doing here?” Eli asked, arms crossed over his chest.

“What, have you switched from HR security to ER security?” I rolled my eyes. “Will is a good friend of mine. What were you doing at the bar?”

“I’d heard there’s a new Assembly member and that he’d stopped by earlier. I went by to check it out. So, do you know what happened tonight?”

“Yeah.” I cast a guilty glance over at Quinn and Riley, who stood against the wall. “I ran into my ex earlier, and we’re not exactly on the best of terms, so Will kicked him out of the club. My guess is, Alexander came back to exact revenge. He’s pretty prejudiced against some of the supes like the Cyclopses.” I paused. “Oh, and by the way, he’s the new Assembly member, and the one that’s been trying to knock off the HR.”

Eli’s eyes narrowed. “When exactly were you planning on telling me this?”

“Chill, okay? I didn’t realize when you were at Noir that it was him. But then at Will’s bar, it hit me. Since I want the lowlife immortal dead as much as you do, I hired some help and figured we’d take care of it for you.”

“Yeah, well clearly that plan’s working out fantastically,” he said, his tone razorblades and jagged glass.

Goddamn, was everyone trying to piss me off tonight? “You’re a total asshole. Has anyone ever told you that?” 

A groan rose up from behind the curtain. “Oooh, are we skipping right to the dirty talk? I dig it.”

“Will!” I shoved back the curtain and gave him a very careful hug. “Jesus Christ, you had me so worried!” Eli threw me a reproving look for dropping the J-Bomb. Like I freaking cared.

“Well, I had to get your attention somehow.” He grinned weakly.

“Please don’t say stuff like that.” My hazel eyes searched his face. I drew in a long breath. “It was Alexander wasn’t it? The guy from earlier?”

Will’s expression became somber, a look I’d never seen on him before. It made it a bit hard to breath. “Yeah, I’m pretty sure. I had run down to the wine cellar to get a case of Pinot Grigio when I heard someone follow me down. I turned and saw just a flash of black hair right as something hit me over the head.”

My eyes were directed very carefully at the chalk white sheets on the hospital gurney. I raised them up to Will’s, trying to keep my emotions at bay. “He’ll pay for what he’s done, Will. I’m not going to let him get away with this.”

“Don’t do anything foolish on my account,” Will said, squeezing my hand.

“She won’t,” Eli said, stepping up on the other side of Will’s bed. “Alexander is under official investigation by the HR’s security team, and he’ll be brought to justice through an official legal process.”

“Since when has hiring soul stealers been an official legal process of the HR?” I snapped.

Eli smiled tightly. “We didn’t hire you.”

“But you tried.” I flashed him my very best you’re so full of shit smile.   
          
Eli opened his mouth to speak, but someone cleared their throat very loudly behind us.

“Excuse me, I’m Dr. Harris and I need to check on this patient.” The woman looked down at the chart in her hands through rectangle glasses. “Uh, William Evers.”

Quinn and Riley popped their heads in to say goodbye to Will, and we all strode back down the hall. 

“I’m going to need you to accompany me to HR headquarters,” Eli said after less than ten paces. All business again.

“And why is that?” I raised my brows.

“Because, if you’re going to assist in bringing in a known assassin, you need to be officially briefed.” He didn’t look at me as he spoke, just sauntered fluidly down the hall.

“Oh, so now I am hired? Which is it? I’m starting to get whiplash.”

Quinn and Riley’s eyes darted back and forth between us, Quinn’s expression one of apprehension, while Riley looked like he was laid out with some popcorn watching a juicy soap opera.

“Well, the official decision is up to the HR. He said he wanted to meet you.” Eli glanced over at my face this time, to judge my expression I guess.

I attempted to keep my face neutral, though the fact that the HR wanted to meet me was pretty surprising. “Whatever. But this is going to be on my terms, or I’m out.”

I heard Eli grind his teeth together. “You’ll work within the law or you’ll be arrested.”

“I’d love to see you try.” I laughed, rolling my head back and putting some oomph into it, which served its intended purpose of making Eli even more agitated.

“I’m serious—” he began.

“Tell me something I don’t know.” I stopped walking and put a finger on his chest. It was as rock hard as it looked. Not that I cared. “You are way too serious. Like, the king of serious. Loosen up a bit, okay? I’ll go with you to meet the HR, and we’ll see what he has to say about all this.”


Hope you enjoyed it! Eli's character arc over the course of the book, and into the second and third books, is really fun to watch unfold. Hint, hint: announcement of the release date for the second book, Whiskey and Angelfire, and the cover reveal coming soon!

TTFN!