An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Colin is not having the best time lately, being a runaway shifter with a less than stellar reputation, hiding beneath a car in the pouring rain hoping to evade the angry warlock looking for him.

David’s had a long day; being the local white witch and healer is a worthwhile occupation, but it’s rarely an easy one. When he spies a stray kitten under his car, he figures he’ll be able to rescue at least one living thing that night…

I enjoyed this story.  It was so great to see Colin find a safe place after what he had gone through.  David is just an all-around good guy and brings warmth to Colin.

I felt for Colin and how he had been trapped the last few months but also how he has felt the need to seek attention.  David had always admired Colin from afar and once he finds out who his kitten is offers protection.  I loved how safe David made Colin feel and how he gives Colin to chance to actually be himself.

The cover art by Natasha Snow is adorable and I love the picture of Colin when David found him.

Sales Links: Less Than Three Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 13,000 words

Published: December 20, 2017 by Less Than Three Press

ISBN: 9781684311293

Edition Language: English

Series: Kitten & Witch #1

Amy Lane on Courting a Demon and her new release Familiar Demon (Guest Post and Excerpt)

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Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Reese Dante

Buy Links:   Amazon |   Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Amy Lane here today on tour for her latest release Familiar Demon.  Welcome, Amy.

Courting a Demon By Amy Lane

So, what’s it like to court a demon?

Well, in the case of Edward and Mullins, there’s quite a bit of preparation.

First, Mullins must be ready to get out of hell—it turns out that hell is mostly run by bozos and that the REAL devils are humans without restraint and without conscience who are given the power to hurt. With a judicious use of magic—and some self-realization on his part—Mullins is free to go.

Except, well, about that magic…

Turns out that the spell to release a demon from hell was cooked up a long time ago. All sorts of things—horns of ibexes, dodos eggs, dinosaur bones, three strands of hair from an elven king—are sort of hard to acquire.

And let’s talk about being ready to get out of hell. Lots of us live in hells of our own making. It’s comfy here. We know where the fridge is. The whips for self-flagellation are handy. We know who to blame when the world goes wonky. Why would we want to leave?

So talking Mullins out of staying in hell—and putting together the spell that will get him out when he’s ready—are two of the focal points of the book, and neither of them are easy. So how do you start a planetary scavenger hunt in a minivan and stop a demon for blaming himself for simple human failings?

Well, like so very much else in romance, it all starts with a kiss…

Familiar Demon—Exclusive Excerpt:

“Nice,” Edward said with a sigh. “This was one of few items I didn’t have in the minivan when it blew up.”

“Wait a moment!” Mullins protested. “You… you had most of the ingredients in the minivan before it blew up?”

“Yes. Yes, I did. And then we all went on a mission without Harry and they spotted us and were completely on our tail with guns and Emma pulled us out of the minivan with that boomerang thing she does in her sleep, and the minivan was sailing through the air like an unmanned cruise missile. Are you happy?”

“But… but you were doing this before? Without my knowledge? Edward—why?”

“Because I wanted it all done before we told you!” Edward exclaimed. “I wanted to offer it—and I know it’s silly and simplistic and sad—but I wanted to offer it, like a courting gift, and say, ‘Mullins, I’ve loved you forever. Will you leave hell for me?’ And then everything I’d collected went kaboom and….” Edward’s shoulders slumped. “Harry and Suriel were separated. And I know we told you about it afterward, but… but I thought I was going to lose my brother, Mullins. And I was terrified. So I gave up the search until Suriel was released from heaven, and now—”

“Now you’re ready to search again.” Mullins bowed his head. “Edward, you have nothing to be ashamed about. You should have asked me first—”

“So you could say no?” Edward demanded.

Mullins shook his head, eyes focused on Edward’s loopy scrawl. “I wouldn’t have said no,” he whispered. “Not to you.”

And Edward had to grin, his heart warming in his chest. “And that is the best thing I’ve heard all day. But about that last thing—”

“I’ll search for it,” Mullins told him soberly. “But sometime—not now—I think I’m going to have to tell you the story about how one young cotsman became a demon.”

“I’m waiting to hear it,” Edward whispered. “Mullins, you’re growing thin. Let me kiss you, and you can wear my love under your skin, to protect you until it’s time again.”

Growing thin was the expression Francis had coined for the transparency Mullins formed around the edges before Mullins asked for the words that would banish him back to hell.

“Kiss—”

Edward ignored him, turned his head, and cupped his jaw. His fingers slid through the façade of the beast like a photo projection on the wall, and he could feel the faint bristle of day-old beard abrade his palm. “I can see you, this close, Mullins. I know who I’m kissing. You are a very beautiful man.”

He found Mullins’s mouth unerringly, and Mullins’s gasp of surprise told Edward the touch was alien, and not unpleasant.

Edward breathed softly and found the seam of Mullins’s lips with the tip of his tongue, and Mullins’s breathy little moan sent wildfire ripping through Edward’s blood.

He slid his fingers along the back of Mullins’s round, human skull and plundered.

So many years of depending on this steady, practical demon. So many years wanting to escape the strictures of courtesy and magic that bound them.

And now Edward was tasting him, and he tasted rich, sweet, exotic—Turkish coffee and cinnamon.

Mullins groaned and lifted his hand to Edward’s temple—

And sliced his skin with the sharp edge of his hoof.

Edward gasped and Mullins jerked back, turning away and shrinking inward.

“Let me go,” he murmured, like the last hour of them working together, partnering as though they had a future, had never happened.

“Never.”

Edward reached for his chin and found it—still human under his fingers. He gave a little pull and Mullins reluctantly turned toward him. Edward couldn’t see him anymore, but he could feel him under his fingers. “That kiss is my vow to you, Mullins. I fell in love bit by bit, you understand? For the last fifty years, it’s been you, just you, in my heart, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been there from the very first. You and me, we have things to do together. This isn’t the end. I may let you return to your cell, to gain strength, to think about the challenges we have together, but trust me, I’ll be summoning you again. And if you don’t come, I’ll know you’ve been taken, and thanks to you, I’ve got a plan—”

“What’s the—”

“Enough. Enough of the plan.” Edward smiled and tapped his forehead, calling up his brother’s mantra when things got really hairy. “It’s all up here,” he said.

Mullins didn’t smile back. “You’re right,” he said quietly. “I do have a soul. But if you get hurt before we can make this come true, you’ll break my heart.”

Edward nodded, suddenly sober. “Understood. I’ll say the words to let you go, and I swear I’ll call you back again.” A drop of blood dripped over Edward’s forehead from the cut Mullins had left, and before Edward knew how to react Mullins leaned forward and lapped.

The buzz of magic that passed through the room left them both breathless.

“What the—”

“I’m sorry!” Mullins muttered. “I’m sorry, I don’t know why I did that—”

Edward’s cockiest grin took him by surprise. “I do. You locked that promise in blood, you clever boy. I’m sworn to it for real now—written right in the annals of hell, isn’t that how the blood oath goes?”

Mullins shut his eyes. “It was unconscionable—”

“It was heroic!” Edward crowed. “And I owe you the same sort of heart. I’ll get you out of there, beloved. Just hang on, understand?”

To his relief Mullins nodded, and Edward reached out and touched his face tenderly. “Get thee gone, demon,” he said, voice choking on the old words. “Return only when summoned, harm none in this house, harm none at my hearth. Get thee gone.”

And Mullins disappeared, fading into the air, leaving only the heat of his body and his hope behind.

Blurb: 
 

For over a century, Edward Youngblood has been the logical one in a family of temperamental magical beings. But reason has not made him immune to passion, and Edward’s passion for Mullins, the family’s demon instructor, has only grown.

Mullins was lured into hell through desperation—and a fatal mistake. He’s done his best to hang onto his soul in the twisted realm of the underworld, and serving the Youngblood family when summoned has been his only joy. Edward concocts a plan to spring Mullins by collecting a series of items to perform an ancient ritual—an idea that terrifies Mullins. He can’t bear the thought of losing Edward and his brothers to a dangerous quest.

But every item in their collection is an adventure in brotherhood and magic, and as Mullins watches from the sidelines, he becomes more and more hopeful that they will succeed. When the time comes for Mullins to join the mission, can he find enough faith and hope to redeem himself and allow himself happiness in the arms of a man who would literally go to hell and back—and beyond—to have Mullins by his side?

About the Author

Amy Lane lives in a crumbling crapmansion with a couple of growing children, a passel of furbabies, and a bemused spouse. She’s been nominated for a RITA, has won honorable mention for an Indiefab, and has a couple of Rainbow Awards to her name. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action-adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Forever In The Sun (co authored with RJ Scott) or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

A MelanieM Review: Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Mitsu has been Shiro’s personal servant and best friend since they were both six years old, and he’s been in love with him for nearly that long. While Shiro takes lovers of both sexes, the gulf between their social classes is so vast that Mitsu has never spoken his feelings aloud.

When Shiro meets the beautiful Lady Keiko, he’s instantly infatuated. His affection soon turns to obsession, and Mitsu resigns himself to a life of unrequited love.

But as Mitsu looks deeper into Keiko and her motives, he realizes that Shiro is in grave danger. He will need all his courage– and some help from a master of the occult– to save the life of the man he loves.

Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll is a short but exquisite Japanese historical romance.  The story carries its historical accuracy and the authenticity of its era throughout the tale with the lightness of a Sakura petal, a tribute to it’s author’s ability to fold facts and cultural elements gently into her story. The focus here is on Mitsu, his feelings for his master, Shiro, and the current drama/mystery playing out between Lady Keiko, Shiro, and the brokenhearted Mitsu who carries a deep love for Shiro.

It unfolds naturally and then the pace picks up as does your heartbeat, racing as the revelations come one after another.  Even as the world building expands, the author never misses, either with the narrative or with the details.  She keeps the reader hooked to the action and the drama unfolding , hoping that Mitsu;s bravery and love will prevail.

I would love to see more in this universe, more with this couple.  It’s just amazing in every way.  I highly recommend this story.  It’s quite the gem!

Cover art is beautiful and works within the culture and times.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 91 pages
Published February 12th 2019
ASINB07N12QDLH

Charlie Cochrane on Her Fav Reads and her new release Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane (author guest post, tour and giveaway)

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Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Riptide Publishing
Cover Art: L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Charlie Cochrane back again talking about the latest releases in her Lindenshaw Mysteries, Old Sins.  Welcome, Charlie.

 

🐾

 

 

What Charlie likes to read

Do you have a favourite book? I have many, in all sorts of genres. “The Charioteer” if we’re talking gay fiction, “Death at the President’s Lodging” if it’s mysteries, “Three Men in a Boat” for humour; the list goes on and on through different genre, fictional and non-fiction. Some of these books are a bit of a guilty pleasure, not least because I can see their flaws.

I’m a huge fan of classic age mystery writers; Dorothy, Agatha, Michael, Ngaio and the rest, but they have their feet of clay. Sayers could sometimes overcomplicate plots to the point of obscurity (which reader could really have worked out the sequence of events in Five Red Herrings?) and seems increasingly in love with her detective, Lord Peter Wimsey.  All of these authors shared a falling of their powers in later life – the last few Appleby mysteries are a pale shadow of the early ones – and, of course, all were products of their time, so modern readers might fund things which jar, such as anti-semitic references or the treatment of gay characters in a derogatory way.

Some of these authors reused plot ideas and devices. The classic story of the murderer assuming someone else’s identity, sometimes to benefit from inheritance, occurs again and again with Christie (as do other tried and tested story arcs). Marsh also showed an economy of plot, using the same method of murder both in a short story and again in a full novel. Her “Death and the Dancing Footman” falls into the category of “familiar plot” – the twist is the sort that an avid reader of the genre would soon spot –  but that doesn’t make it any less of a delightful comfort read. A sort of literary equivalent of mulled wine in front of a roaring fire.

The book has several of the staple elements of the archetypal classic age mystery: a country house, a house party cut off by snow, family rivalries, a sealed room death, an outsider who acts as ‘chorus’ and a witty, urbane and aristocratic sleuth, Roderick Alleyn. How I love “Handsome Alleyn” – I wonder if Ngaio loved him, too, like Sayers loved Wimsey. He seems just a bit too perfect at times.

That’s why I’m determined to show that neither of my male leads in the Lindenshaw series are anything less than human. They get angry, they make mistakes, they argue with each other, they make up, they talk about work, they refuse to talk about work…just like any of us. I’m also determined not to fall in love with either of them, although how can I resist falling head over heels for their dog Campbell?

A detective, his boyfriend and their dog. That’s the Lindenshaw mysteries in a nutshell. Old Sins is the fourth instalment in the series, and not only does Robin have a murder to investigate, he and Adam have got the “little” matter of their nuptials to start planning. And, of course, Campbell the Newfoundland gets his cold wet nose into things, as usual.

 

About Old Sins

Past sins have present consequences.

Detective Chief Inspector Robin Bright and his partner, deputy headteacher Adam Matthews, have just consigned their summer holiday to the photo album. It’s time to get back to the daily grind, and the biggest problem they’re expecting to face: their wedding plans. Then fate strikes—literally—with a bang.

Someone letting loose shots on the common, a murder designed to look like a suicide, and the return of a teacher who made Robin’s childhood hell all conspire to turn this into one of his trickiest cases yet.

Especially when somebody might be targeting their Newfoundland, Campbell. Robin is used to his and Adam’s lives being in danger, but this takes the—dog—biscuit.

Available now from Riptide Publishing.

 

About the Lindenshaw Mysteries

Adam Matthews’s life changed when Inspector Robin Bright walked into his classroom to investigate a murder.

Now it seems like all the television series are right: the leafy villages of England do indeed conceal a hotbed of crime, murder, and intrigue. Lindenshaw is proving the point.

Detective work might be Robin’s job, but Adam somehow keeps getting involved—even though being a teacher is hardly the best training for solving crimes. Then again, Campbell, Adam’s irrepressible Newfoundland dog, seems to have a nose for figuring things out, so how hard can it be?

Check out the Lindenshaw Mysteries.

 

About Charlie Cochrane

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Endeavour and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Old Sins one lucky person will win a swag bag from Charlie! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on February 16, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

New Book Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Quest (The Realm of the Vampire Council #2) by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Vampire’s Quest

Series: The Realm of the Vampire Council, Book Two

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84600

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, 19th century American South, vampires, angels, established couples

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

The Vampire’s Quest brings back the beloved gay vampires, Xavier and Thomas, in the anticipated sequel to The Vampire’s Angel.

In 1822, the Archangel St. Michel orders Xavier to go on a quest to America, a quest that violates the Vampire Council’s laws to the point of a possible death sentence. Worse, Xavier must abandon his lover, Thomas. Xavier runs to his aging sister and pleads for Catherine’s help as Thomas races after them. With Thomas and the Vampire Council vying for Xavier’s soul, Xavier and Catherine struggle to obey the former priest’s divine calling before their inevitable capture.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Quest
Damian Serbu © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: St. Michel’s First Visit
8 March 1822

London, England

St. Michel stood before Xavier in all his glory, with his sword in one hand and a stern look peering through the golden light flooding from behind. “Listen, Child of God, and obey. Go to Mont St. Michel. Go to the monastery and cathedral built to my legacy and to God’s glory. There I shall issue further instructions.” As St. Michel parted, his sword lashed across Xavier’s forehead.

Xavier cried out in his sleep, waking with blood dripping from his brow. The confines of his coffin never felt so claustrophobic.

He reached up to discover the gash from St. Michel’s sword already starting to heal. Why did that surprise him? Vampires healed almost instantly. But how could he imagine their magical healing powers could undo the wrath of an angel rained down in a dream?

The lid to the trunk-cum-coffin lifted and candlelight flooded Xavier’s face.

“What’s wrong?” Only when he heard Thomas’s alarmed voice and looked into his piercing dark brown eyes did Xavier realize his lover had already awakened for the night and no longer lay next to him.

“Nothing,” Xavier whispered.

“Nothing?” Thomas almost shouted. “You were screaming. And you bled. There’s an injury here.” Thomas reached down and touched Xavier’s forehead where St. Michel wounded him.

“It’s healed now.”

Thomas lifted Xavier out of the trunk and moved him to the nearby bed. He held Xavier in his strong arms and rocked back and forth. “What’s going on, abbé?” Thomas used his affectionate nickname for Xavier, from his human days as a priest. “Tell me.”

“You have to believe me. I know you don’t have the same faith, but this is real.”

“Talk to me.” Thomas clutched Xavier harder.

“We have to go to Mont St. Michel in France. Immediately. Tonight. St. Michel, the archangel himself, commanded it.”

Thomas frowned. “We arrived here to visit Anthony.”

“Anthony will understand.” Xavier trusted their closest friend, and the oldest vampire they knew, would accept their explanation for a hasty retreat.

“It was just a dream. Aren’t you overreacting?”

Xavier stifled his rising panic. He pointed to his coffin. “The blood. You saw it for yourself, on my forehead. He cut me as a warning. Please, you have to believe me. We have to go.” Xavier hated the desperation in his voice. It made him sound unhinged, almost as unstable as the time he disappeared during the French Revolution while human, lost in his drunkenness because he fled from Thomas’s love.

“Then we’ll go.” Thomas petted Xavier on the head, then leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Do you think me mad?”

Thomas chuckled but squeezed Xavier in his arms. “Always. I never know if your visions are a flight of fancy or real. But they’re a part of you. Have I denied you anything since I converted you to a vampire? No. And I never will. So we’ll go.”

Thomas’s skepticism almost convinced Xavier to question what happened, until Xavier stood and saw the blood stain on the silk lining where he slept.

Moments later, Xavier and Thomas said goodbye to Anthony, who as expected, made no protest at their sudden departure. They crossed the English Channel by swimming at vampiric speed and approached Mont St. Michel.

The mere sight of the majestic place awed Xavier. On the northern tip of France sat a small island upon which stood a mystical cathedral, rising out of the clouds and reaching up to the heavens.

Built from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries, legend had it St. Michel visited St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, three times in a dream, commanding him to build a tribute to the saint atop the island rock. Enraged, the bishop had not heeded his call; on the third visit, St. Michel hammered the imprint of an anvil into the bishop’s head, so when he woke he would believe the saint visited his sleep. Impressed by St. Michel’s message, the bishop commenced the project, which took several centuries and various manifestations to complete.

The soaring cathedral built atop the island stretched into the night sky as the two vampires slowed their pace. Xavier and Thomas walked through the fields of grazing sheep toward the water, where they again would need to swim because of the high tide engulfing the island. The small city beneath the castle still acted as a medieval village, with gates and stone walls surrounding it for protection. The one road on the island wound up the steep hill, toward the abbey and monks’ quarters. Above the village, overlooking all of France, the church stood as a legacy to medieval architecture and its grand monuments to God and St. Michel.

St. Michel called Xavier to the shrine, the grandest of all memorials to him. Thomas and Xavier woke an innkeeper and rented an entire floor of his establishment for privacy. They then explored the small island’s shops, closed for the night, and last, the grand monastery perched atop. They took a few needed items from sleeping merchants, including an enormous traveling chest they could convert into their temporary coffin, but left behind twice the value of the objects they took.

Xavier and Thomas concealed themselves in their rooms inside the trunk. Xavier braced himself, as the sun rose, for another visit from St. Michel, but woke the next night well rested. With no further divine instructions, the vampires made love and decided to further explore the island.

Inside the cathedral, overlooking the channel, Xavier again talked to Thomas about why they came to Mont St. Michel.

“Did you ever think you’re worried about something else?” Thomas pulled Xavier into his arms. Xavier loved the feel of Thomas’s long, black hair against his cheek. “Maybe these visions mean something else. Archangels don’t really visit people.”

Xavier looked into Thomas’s brown eyes and ran his fingers through his hair. “You saw the blood.”

“There are a thousand explanations for that. Why go to ghosts and spirits?”

“Because he came to me.” Xavier put his head on Thomas’s chest, afraid Thomas thought him insane. Insanity would have been easier to confront than the actual visit from an archangel.

“And so we’re here. What now?” Thomas asked.

“We wait.” Xavier shrugged and pulled away. “We can tour this magnificent place.” Xavier twirled and motioned to the tapestries and view around them. “Here, come back to the courtyard. The view is magical.” He reached for Thomas’s hand and pulled him outside.

As they admired the water and saw the lambs sleeping on the mainland of France, Thomas came up behind Xavier and wrapped his arms around his waist. Soon, Thomas’s tongue lapped at Xavier’s ear and his hands wandered across his body. Xavier tensed with sexual passion, leaning into his lover, forgetting about the archangel for a moment.

“Someone will see,” Xavier said half-heartedly, at the same time reaching his head back to lock lips with Thomas. “Should we go to our rooms?”

“I can’t wait. It’s the middle of the night. No one is awake.”

They made passionate love to one another, right in the churchyard.

“Blasphemy,” Xavier said to his lover as they redressed. “In front of a church. I already have an angry archangel after me.” Xavier wondered how much he really meant. Did he think God would disapprove? Xavier felt sure God would dwell more on the power of their love for one another.

But what of St. Michel? Xavier doubted he had the same forgiveness as God. His legacy of violence against those whom he enlisted on his missions told a different story. Then again, Xavier felt certain last night St. Michel would come to him at once, either in their quarters or while Xavier slept through the day. Nothing. No vision. No sign.

“Leave the archangel to me. Nothing will harm you.” Thomas smiled at Xavier as they walked down the steep steps toward their inn. “You need to relax.”

“I am. I know I worry a lot. But not this time. He came to me. He really did.”

“Then we’ll wait. For as long as you need and as long as he doesn’t prohibit sex.”

“He might not want it in front of the sanctuary again.” Xavier grinned. Thomas’s penchant for blasphemy amused the former priest, despite certain irrational qualms about it. Thomas laughed and pulled Xavier close to him. They spent the remainder of the night in their quarters, with Xavier writing to his aging sister, Catherine, in Paris and Thomas organizing financial affairs.

Before the sun appeared, Xavier retired to their makeshift coffin. Exhausted, he soon fell asleep, before Thomas joined him.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s Angel and The Vampire’s Protégé with NineStar Press. Coming later this year from NineStar: The Vampire’s Quest and Santa Is a Vampire.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I would love to have rated this story higher, but it was so complex, so detailed, and included flashbacks that encompassed hundreds of years and was interwoven with the first story, I got lost and found and lost again. It may have been me, but it wasn’t as fast-paced, interesting, and engrossing as book one and definitely did not hold my attention.

Hundreds of years ago, Mullins was lured into Hell in an effort to protect his sister from witch hunters who would have seen the little girl’s visions of “the nice red man” as nothing more than witchcraft. In Hell, he made friends with Leonard Youngblood, who we met in the previous book. Leonard was pulled from Hell by the woman he loves, when at that time, she also distributed her magic among three young boys who then became cat familiars. The first story was of Harry, one of the boys who fell in love with the angel, Suriel. They managed to eventually get Suriel mortal. Now, in a similar effort, they are trying to get their friend and protector, Mullins, from his eternal life in Hell. To do that, they embark on a quest to find items on a list that will form a strong spell able to break him out. The journey is fraught with danger, not only from encounters along the way, but also danger from Mullins’s boss in Hell. Because Mullins hasn’t been following the rules for demons in Hell and it’s starting to be noticed. 

Many times, over the course of the last eight years of reading Amy Lane’s work, I’ve paused to wonder how anyone’s mind can possibly create such diverse stories. The world of the Goddess, the Johnnies, Talker, the Fish series, and more cement my love for her work. The fact her stories are so well-written and make me feel a part of the action, and I have no worries about stumbling over inconsistencies or misspelled words is a complete bonus. This particular story is a prime example of her creative imagination, but I faltered in following it. Possibly that’s due to some of my own life complexities right now, so I hate to leave a poor review. I can only say that Mullins was a very sympathetic character and Edward the perfect mate for him. The brothers, especially Bel and Francis were supportive, at times funny, and at other times extremely sympathetic. I suspect the story for Bel and Francis will be quite different, extremely interesting, and not too far in the distant future. I’m looking forward to that one, for sure.

The cover for this story, by Reese Dante, is bright, colorful and the perfect image of Mullins in human form.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Expected publication: February 12th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07KQ65WXG
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFamiliar Love #2

New Release Blitz for Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Foreign to You

Author: Jeremy Martin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83900

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Young adult, fantasy, shifters, hunter, stag, forest, reincarnation

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Synopsis

The harmony between humans and fianna, a species of shapeshifting deer, begins to wither as racial tensions and deeply rooted resentment turns violent.

Ruthless hunter Finn Hail and prophesied liberator Adelaide may be heroes to their own species, but they are enemies to each other. With war on the horizon, the reluctant pair must team up to find the most elusive of prey: the god of the Forest.

As enemies press in from all sides, true intentions begin to show. For Finn to save the boy he cares for most, he might need to aim his gun at the very god he seeks. And Adelaide, with her festering hatred for mankind, will have to determine if peace holds true salvation for her people.

Excerpt

Foreign to You
Jeremy Martin © 2019
All Rights Reserved

It is strange to sit in the Forest with a rifle, bullets, and the intention to kill. The Forest is meant to be a place of harmony, where the order of things is meticulous, spontaneous, and beautiful.

I am a blemish in an otherwise blissful system.

My only justification for upsetting said balance is that I am here, with a gun, to silence another disturbance.

“To the right,” Jay whispers, his words turning into clouds similar to a furnace expelling smoke. His voice is so soft the branches seem to lean downward greedily, as if the leaves could catch each of his words like raindrops. With the meek backdrop of the Forest, Jay’s features are highlighted and prominent. His sturdy jaw, light stubble, and bright eyes were all a combination of classic handsome.

I, on the other hand, am classically average. Brown hair, dull eyes, and a nose that’s a little too big.

After waiting in the same spot an unholy amount of time, my body had sunk deeper in Pa’s musky leather jacket while my muscles and thoughts had stiffened from neglect. The slightest stirring from Jay startles me out of my daydreaming and from my cocoon of warmth. Unlike me in the present moment, Jay’s attention and energy are crisp and alert while his entire body leans forward in anticipation.

“Do you see him?” Jay murmurs with thinly veiled anxiety. He scrambles for his rifle with shaky fingers, brings the scope up to gaze through. I blame the cold, or my own fleeting concentration, but I cannot see what he does. The only abnormalities I see in the surrounding Forest are the slabs of meat Jay strung up on the branches like decorations to attract the ferals.

With a huff of frustration, he angles my line of sight with his rough fingers, squishing my cheeks, and gripping my head. Within an instant of the contact of his skin on mine, my mind sharpens.

Allowing my gaze to soften so I can absorb more of my surroundings, I finally see the tiniest of movements. A flash of white that doesn’t belong to the never-ending bark. A drifting smudge in the sea of stillness. Yet, the Forest is so dense the leaves tend to bunch together like armor, protecting its inhabitants from invaders. Between one blink and the next, the Forest returns to its previous state. Not a twig out of place. Nothing exposed.

“Found ya,” Jay says, his voice trembling. I study his nervous movements. Gloved fingers twitching individually. Teeth tugging at his bottom lip. Chest barely rising and falling as he forgets to breathe. For he has the skills of a great hunter, but not the heart for it. Jay was the boy who once found a rabbit with a broken leg and attempted to nurse it back to health. He was the same boy that cried for four days after his father snapped the creature’s neck to put it out of its misery.

I’m not good at vocalizing emotions, making them into pretty little words, which is a genetic trait from Pa. All I can tell Jay is, “Stay calm,” and that doesn’t sound like near enough. I wish I could tell him that we should head back to town, that he deserved much more than loud rifles and dirt.

But I don’t say those things.

I move past him, my boots squishing in the mixture of mud and snow. Each step is heavier than it needs to be, and my impatience starts to hum within my ears with each squish, squish. As I stalk, I strain to find the distortion of the brown that slipped away.

“It was probably a raccoon,” I tell Jay, despite knowing we are meant to be silent. Loud hunters gain no prizes. “I bet you got caught—”

A snort comes from my right, and as I turn, I find a beast stationed between two oak trees.

Its massive frame looms before me with red-rimmed eyes, thick and building black veins, patchy fur, and teeth bared. My eyes soak up every inch of the deer, my heart hammering in time with his exhales. From this distance, the beast is nearly magnificent, practically the size of a horse. His nostrils flare as he paws at the ground, catching all wayward smells while each muscle twitches and throbs. Unlike his cousins, this stag does not flee at the sight of a human. Instead, he lowers his brow defiantly, his antlers posed daggers.

It is an unholy combination of god and devil.

A loud crack fires off behind me, and before I can even blink, the bark of the nearest oak shatters into a thousand shards.

With fear leading it, the stag rears back onto his hind legs and lashes out with hooves strong enough to break bones. I attempt to leap backward, but my boots do not leave the mud willingly. As I fall onto the ground, my rifle skids across the Forest floor. I scramble for the dagger stored at my hip, but my gloves make the hilt as slick as a trout. As the stag brings down the weight of its body with an aggravated snort, I roll to my side so that the hooves bury themselves into muck, not flesh. I manage to free my knife and drag it across the beast’s torso before I make a dash for safety.

The buck, alarmed by the sudden pain, moves his eyes frantically, rolling them around his skull and exposing the whites. Its scream, a noise rivaling that of a horn being blown, attacks me even from a distance.

Another gunshot fires off too close, missing once more. As mud rains down from the misfire, the stag flees, taking blood and the stench of rot with it deep into the lush green.

Crawling out from the bush I dove into, I can hear Jay abandoning his usual stealth to reach me. His right boot slips in the slush as he nears me, causing him to crash down beside me. “Shit, Finn. Are you okay?” His hand creeps near my knee before stopping inches from it. “I thought—”

“What even was that?” I snap, pointing at the crude hole in the ground. Instantly, Jay’s cheeks flare red, his face hardening defensively. “You were aiming for it, right?” Jay is deadly silent. I work my jaw, hoping to alleviate the ringing still echoing in my eardrums.

Jay curls his fingers into fists. “Next time would you rather I let you go? You seemed to be handling it well,” he bites back with sarcasm.

At the lodge, Jay will find any reason not to pick up a gun. Instead, he studies the plants, tinkers with complex traps, and vanishes like a frightened barn cat at the sound of a rifle exploding. I shouldn’t be surprised he’s an awful shot, considering his lack of practice.

“Well, I’m alive,” I tell him, wanting more than anything to be on the move again, and to distance myself from the anger that quickly rose to the top. “But maybe leave the guns to me?”

After a quick smile, Jay squares his shoulders and flexes his hands as the facade of a hunter starts to settle back over him. As the best parts of him get stuffed away. “I’ll find him again,” he promises, and I have no doubt that he will. It’s often teased that Jay has a nose more acute than a hound. He carries a rifle for formalities, but his talents lie within his knowledge of the land. Animal droppings, tracks, and broken twigs are all parts of Jay’s trade. It’s what makes him valuable to a band of killers. “We are losing daylight,” he points out. “And we’re approaching Falling Rock.”

Are we that far out? I think, dazed. With Jay, time isn’t something I usually keep up on. When we were young, I would battle fatigue for one more hour with him.

I scratch at my neckline where sweat starts to bead. “Well, I left you a blood trail, so my portion of help is exhausted.” I let the edges of my lips rise, and Jay accepts it with a nod. This is how comrades treat one another.

Right?

Jay rises, body hunched close to the ground as he follows the red through the bushes.

Once upon a time, back when it became evident a gun only felt natural in one of our grips, Jay tried teaching me the art of tracking, taking great pride in his skill. But at that age, when I was young and full of pride, I pretended it didn’t interest me. Eventually, after I’d declined his guiding hand enough many times, Jay stopped trying to explain his methods to me.

Today, Jay is further removed, his words shorter than usual. The same tension sparking between us with the simplest of blunders, or the slightest of nods, because this is the first time Jay is tracking a feral.

The first time I have been tasked with killing a feral.

This feral is a rarity. The majority of the ferals stay in the Forest, killing what crosses their paths. Yet, this particular beast had entered human territory, killing a farmer and his wife before peeling back into the trees. It makes our mission important. It is more than just killing.

It is justice.

After a rough mile of trekking over minor cliffs and rocky outposts, Jay brings me to a halt with a snap of his wrist. As he shrinks down, I mimic him. Pointing at the snow, he shows me a large divot in the otherwise perfect layer of white. I don’t need to be a tracker to know the buck must have slipped on ice, crashing into the remaining snow and splashing against the fluff like a sponge full of red paint.

I pop two bullets into my rifle, check the safety, and snap the chambers shut. Slinging the gun onto my back, I notice that Jay’s eyes barely leave the blood, lost in the color. Doubt is starting to build upon his shoulders, gnawing at his edges.

“Are you ready?” I ask. He doesn’t know it, but the same uneasiness lines my stomach.

“We’ve come this far,” he tells me. He takes a bold step forward, and I can do nothing but follow. Despite the ground dropping away into a steep slope, it is clear the feral struggled up the side of the mountain.

Jay begins climbing first, taking fistfuls of roots and rocks, to propel himself along. As we move, the blood remains consistent on our right. Before long, Jay crawls over the top of the outpost, disappearing for a moment before reappearing to hoist me up. Once we are on even ground, I want to thank him, crack a joke, or anything, but my words are swallowed up as I look over Jay’s shoulder and across the plateau.

I follow red snow until I find the once four-legged stag wobbling on two legs, erect for a breath before plummeting onto his knees. There is blood all over his body, tainting his skin like a rampant infection. Even from here, I can see his muscles quivering and shaking, his body burning off the gentle flakes that land on his shoulders.

His frail human shoulders.

Every part of him seems at war as he spasms and writhes. Despite the fur drifting off his body in decaying clumps, his antlers still hang from his brow, holding steady in the air with crimson stains along the tines.

I snap my rifle in front of me.

When the stag turns to me, he tries to raise his hands. Hands that should be human but are jagged and blackened. A droplet of blood creeps from his eye and down his cheek and drips onto his bare leg.

It is clear he is suffering, caught between two bodies.

I hear him mumbling, but I can’t make out the individual words. Despite my head screaming, don’t get any closer, you idiot, I find my boots propelling me forward. As I near the fiend, his voice breaks like a young boy in puberty. “Begin again,” he raves. “Begin again, begin again—” he lets out a tangle of screams, his claws tearing into his cheeks. “Pain, pain, rebirth.”

“Finn,” Jay says, grabbing my shoulder with his giant hands, startling me from my daze. “It might not be too late. We might be able to help him.”

“He is sick,” I say. I stare at a point behind the beast, letting my words flood me with false confidence. “He is just an animal.” It is Pa logic. Town logic.

“Wait, Finn,” Jay pleads. None of the other hunters would hesitate to kill the feral, I want to tell him. Not after the feral’s hands were stained with blood. Blood from Norsewood.

“He’s changing—”

“It’s too late for that,” I tell him sternly. “He has already done enough damage.”

Jay looks away, squinting into the distance. “Something doesn’t feel right.”

Killing never feels right, I want to tell him. But in the seconds I take my eyes off him, the feral lunges at me, fangs angled at my throat.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Jeremy Martin, born and raised in Lancaster County Pennsylvania, considers himself to be a part-time writer and a full-time mess. If he isn’t nose-deep in a book, he’s obsessively playing video games, re-watching The Office for the umpteenth time, or lost in nature. Foreign to You is his debut novel.

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More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh! Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Author and Artist: Garrett Leigh

More On Book Covers And Cover Artists

 This Week the Fabulous Garrett Leigh!

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh

When I am looking at book covers, I can spot a Garrett Leigh cover just at a glance.  It has a certain style, a tone, a composition that states that yes, this cover was created by Garrett Leigh, and no other.

When sending out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words questions, Garrett Leigh not only snapped immediately to mind because of the instant recognition factor in her covers but because Leigh is also an author as well.  Leigh is in a unique position in that a Garrett Leigh novel can have (although not always) a Garrett Leigh cover, one perfectly tuned to the story and characters within.

I can think of only a few other author/artists off the top of my head in a similar position.  Meredith Russell, LC Chase are among them.

So we are lucky to have Garrett Leigh here today answering our questions about books, cover artists, the future of covers, and much more.  Check it all out below.  Also the link to Garrett Leigh’s design website, Black Jazz Design.  Don’t miss out on the gallery there and all the many book covers.  Such a delight!

From Garrett Leigh:

Cover Book and Cover Artist Questions:

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

The time frame varies from job to job. For example, I’ve worked on a series cover today, book 6, that took me half an hour, as we already knew which model we were using, and exactly how the cover would look. Over the weekend, I did a job for a publisher that required three markedly different drafts, before one was chosen to work on further.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock)

I’m a photographic artist, so most of images come from stock sites, or my husband’s collection (he is a pro photographer/videographer). Stock sites are invaluable, though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again, it depends on the job. Some authors have a clear idea of what they want, and the book is already written, and some have no clue and want their art before they start writing the book. When working with publishers, you also have to consider house style.

As far as the story itself is concerned, the most important aspect is the tone. I wouldn’t want to make a super gritty thriller cover for a cute holiday romance.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

Entirely by accident. I wanted something specific for a book of my own, so I made it myself and went from there.

  • What mediums do you use?  

Photoshop, Illustrator, Daz, Wacom.

  • Do you have a favorite cover you have done?

That’s like asking me to choose between my children, but I do have a few I don’t like. And no, I’m not saying which ones, haha.

  • Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

Loads. We’re super lucky in the romance genre in that there are dozens of stellar artists to choose from. And I’m good friends with a few too—Kellie Dennis, Jay Aheer, Meredith Russell.

  • Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

Not that I can remember, but I mainly read Enid Blyton, so…

  • What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

When a job “clicks” and the author is over the moon. It makes the trickier jobs worthwhile.

  • If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

Where the hell did you put the spare laptop you bought for camping last year?

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

The cover is equally, if not more, important as the blurb. I choose my books with my eyes first, and if a book has a crappy cover, I’ll scroll on by unless it’s been specifically recommended to me.

  • How has the eBook format changed that, if any?

eBooks have been around as long as I’ve been a professional artist, so I honestly couldn’t say.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse ,generic covers ,etc.)

Chalkboard cursive fonts are still in, with warm happy colours. But the moody black and white hero is a long time favourite in the romance genre.

  • How do you feel about them?

Naked torsos? I’ve produced many covers with torsos, and read many books with them on the cover. I think they’re awesome if they suit the book.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

I bought a cheap laptop last year so I could write on a camping trip. If anyone has any ideas as to where I might have put it, that would be amazing.

About the Author/Artist:

Bonus Material available for all books on Garrett’s Patreon account. Includes short stories from Misfits, Slide, Strays, What Remains, Dream, and much more. Sign up here: https://www.patreon.com/garrettleigh

Facebook Fan Group, Garrett’s Den… https://www.facebook.com/groups/garre

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer, cover artist, and book designer. Her debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards, and was again a finalist in 2017 with Rented Heart.

In 2017, she won the EPIC award in contemporary romance with her military novel, Between Ghosts, and the contemporary romance category in the Bisexual Book Awards with her novel What Remains.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

Contact Garrett Leigh at:

Website
Twitter

 

 

 

 

More to come next week with author/artist Meredith Russell .  Meanwhile keep checking out our reviews and our covers below.  What do you think of them?  Do they grab your attention?  I love quite a few this week.  Have a great week.  Happy reading to all!  And Happy Valentine’s Day!

This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

 

 

Sunday, February 10:

  • More On Book Covers And Cover Artists ~ This Week Garrett Leigh!
  • Our Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A Lucy Review Full Bodied (Uncorked #2) by Shea Balik

Monday, February 11:

  • Release Blitz NOBLE HOPS by Layla Reyne
  • Release Blitz – Outlaw Girls – Miss Merikan
  • PROMO Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin
  • An Alisa Review: How Not to Blend  (Lovestrong #1) by Susan Hawke
  • A Lucy Review: Snowed In: Jonah and Cooper by Kris T. Bethke
  • A MelanieM Review: In Case You Missed It (#lovehim #3) by S.M. James
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Battle of Will by Sasha L. Miller

Tuesday, February 12:

  • TOUR Kicking up My Heels by Liam Livings
  • Release Blitz – In Case You Missed It by S. M. James
  • Andrew Grey on Rebound
  • An Alisa Review: Stepbrother’s Secret (Men of Meadowfall #6) by Anna Wineheart
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Rebound by Andrew Grey
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Familiar Demon (Familiar Love #2) by Amy Lane

Wednesday, February 13:

  • Release Blitz – Damaged by Tricia Owens
  • PROMO The Vampire’s Quest by Damian Serbu
  • Blog Tour – Darkness Dawns by Zakarrie Clarke
  • An Alisa Review: Square One by Dale Chase
  • A Stella Release Day Review: How to Be a Movie Star (How to Be #2) by TJ Klune
  • A Jeri Review: Damaged by Tricia Owens

Thursday, February 14: Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️

  • Release Blitz for Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn
  • An Ashlez Audio Review: Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem #1) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)
  • An Alisa Review: Hidden Hearts (Bad Valentine #3) by Clare London
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Blood Echo by L.E. Royal
  • A MelanieM Review Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane

Friday, February 15:

  • Tour and Giveaway:Old Sins (Lindenshaw Mysteries #4) by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • A MelanieM Review: Peony Lanterns by Patricia Correll
  • A Lucy Review Blush (Uncorked #3) by Shea Balik
  • A Lila Review: Faeted Box Set By Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review :Royal Guardian (Rise of the Symbionts #1) by Jo Tannah

Saturday, February 16:

  • A MelanieM Review: Little (Trenton Security #2) by J.M. Dabney
  • Release Blitz – Nell Iris – Snowed In: Nen and Anani

 

Series Review Tour for NASU and ENRAI (Blood Sealed Book 1 and 2) by Jet Lupin (excerpts)

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SERIES REVIEW TOUR

BOOK 1

Book Title: Nasu (Blood Sealed Book 1)

Author: Jet Lupin

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: M/M Paranormal Romance

Length: 83 000 words/ 156 pages

Release Date: November 25, 2017

Add on Goodreads

This story can technically be read alone, though there are unsolved things that are further explored in the next book

Blurb

Go to work. Come home. Repeat. Phil’s life is boring and he loves every second of it. No excitement, no boyfriends breaking up with him over cereal in his underwear. When everything’s predictable, nothing bad happens. But nothing good does, either.

One night, when his best friend forces him to step outside of his comfort zone, he meets Shige who’s too enigmatic to really be interested in him. He’s trouble, but Phil can’t help ignoring his own advice.

Decades have gone by while Shige’s kept himself locked away. He’s tired of the world, of humans and vampires. He was happy collecting dust until one day he wasn’t. On a whim, he ventures out and meets Phil, setting them on a path that’ll change them both.

Whatever this is between them, it won’t come easy. Plagued by distrust and danger from within and without, but if they survive, it just might be worth it

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

From Chapter 1

Phil Torres sat in Mercer General’s basement level breakroom for the first time that shift. With a sports drink in one hand and a protein bar in the other, he worked to cram both things into his mouth. He couldn’t remember what he’d eaten last or when. Even so, he had no appetite. Other nurses came and went through the breakroom offering looks of sympathy and pity. He was on the ass end of a 16-hour shift no sane person would envy.

It had been a trial of will. He’d seen some terrible things in the three years he’d been a fully licensed nurse but during this one shift, he’d beheld some of the worst things he’d ever seen, things that would haunt his dreams and hang on during his waking hours. A savage gunshot wound, a leg so badly broken the bone slashed through the skin, a pair of asthma attacks that left the patients blue in the face, gasping, and a stomach bug so virulent, puke covered the floors of two of their closet sized exam rooms. The cleaning staff was going to love this evening’s cleaning detail, but it was just another night at Mercer General.

“What’re you still doing here?” Yolanda came into the breakroom, looking every bit as tired as Phil felt. Her sneakers, damp from the storm she’d weathered out on the floor squelched with every step as she made her way to the lockers. “Didn’t your vacation start an hour ago?”

Phil took a swallow of sports drink to help keep his meager meal down. “Jackie was running late, so I filled in for her, then Shelly needed help tapping a vein… I got trapped.”

Yolanda rolled her eyes as she shut the door to her locker. “More like you let yourself get­ trapped.”

She was right, of course.

During his time here, the older nurse had taken him under her wing, brought him into the fold. They’d become as close as cousins. It helped Phil feel at home out here on the West Coast where he had no family and few friends, but as a side effect, lying to her was now next to impossible.

Yolanda perched on the plastic chair next him. She bumped him with her shoulder. “I’ll never understand why you always drag your feet when it comes time to get out of here. You’ve got an OK place—by yourself—in a decent neighborhood. You know how many people would kill for that set up­? What’s the issue?”

Yolanda couldn’t understand it. She had a home waiting for her. A husband and kids who kept her busy. She might not admit it but they filled her life with joy. All Phil had waiting in at home was a dog bent on systematically destroying anything he could get his mouth on.

“I like keeping busy,” he said. “It’s not a crime.”

“Neither is taking time off once in a while.” Yolanda quickly wiped her sneakers down with a paper towel and threw it into the trash. “Since you got here, you’ve never taken more than three days off at a time. You need this break. You’re gonna burn out if you don’t take it easy.”

There was truth to Yolanda’s words, but to hear her tell it, Phil was a workaholic, little more than a care dispensing robot. He knew how to relax. He just didn’t enjoy it.

Work kept him too busy to worry about the lacking areas of his life. He liked helping people and Mercer’s shortage of staff guaranteed any offers to come in on his days off were never turned down. Without work, as rough as it could be on a good day, he’d be left alone. He didn’t know what to do with alone.

“Why can’t it be a week? Or two! I’d gladly do that much!”

Yolanda clucked her tongue in disgust. “I wish they’d let your ungrateful ass give me the two months since you so obviously don’t want it. I don’t see how you let it rack up.”

“Same,” Phil said. “Same.”

Yolanda stood, ready to go back out onto the floor, but she stopped in the doorway. She rested a small hand on Phil’s shoulder. “Your body remembers how to relax, even if you don’t. But you’ve got to get out of here first.”

Read more herehttps://jetlupin.me/nasu-excerpt/

BOOK 2

Book Title: Enrai (Blood Sealed Book 2)

Author: Jet Lupin

Publisher:  Self-Published

Genre/s: M/M Paranormal Romance

Length:  54 000 words/ 111 pages

Release Date: February 8, 2019

Add on Goodreads

Is it a standalone story? No

Blurb

Phil has a problem.

It’s not his job or the fact that his maybe boyfriend, Shige, is a vampire. He’s a sensitive– an ability he’s had since he was small that lets him peek into people’s minds— and it’s gotten out of control. He can’t turn it on and off like he used to. He needs help, and he has to fly to the other side of the world to get it. The catch? Shige’s the only one who can take him there, but things with him haven’t been great. Their relationship is in tatters, and he doesn’t know how to fix it or if it’s even up to him. This is so not what he needs right now.

But Phil’s not the only one with issues. Shige’s got a territory to maintain and a mystery to solve all while worrying about Phil. He takes all this in stride, but when things take a turn for the worst, can he get them both home in one piece?

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Excerpt

From Chapter 1

PHIL

“Earth to Phil!”

Phil blinked at the sudden snap inches from his nose. He shook himself as the world rushed up to meet him. He’d been adrift in a sea of consciousness surrounding them. There were 30 other people in this restaurant, and at any given time, Phil heard the thoughts of the closest 15 or so, everything from the mundane to the raunchy. None of it was his business, but his instinct was to latch onto every granule of information as he noticed it. Giving in was very easy and very satisfying.

Sorry. I’m here.” But he hadn’t been. Thoughts continued to float in and out of his mind, not all of them his own. Today was particularly bad. It kept getting harder to focus on the things he needed to live his life.

Before, he needed to concentrate to hear other people’s minds, like eavesdropping. Now it was like everyone spontaneously broke into fits of reciting their inner monologues. There was no way to tell when it would start, but nine times out of ten, it was when he needed all his mental faculties.

He’d taken more breaks at work than what his job owed him, just to get away from the noise. People had started to notice. He’d been lucky enough not to hurt anyone yet, but it was only a matter of time.

“You sure?” Jerome said with no small amount of skepticism threading through his words. “You’re a little spacey.”

“I got distracted by a work thing, but I heard every word.”

Jerome cut his eyes at him. “What’s the last thing I said?” He smirked.

“You asked how things are with Shige.”

Jerome sucked his teeth. “Lucky guess.”

The question from his brain reached Phil before Jerome put it into words. It got mixed in the deluge of their fellow diners’ minds, but he remembered because it concerned him directly and hadn’t been about the food. He focused on Jerome, and the feedback lowered to a dull hum, blending with the audible background noise of the restaurant.

“So you got an answer for me? Hurry up, while it’s just us.”

“We’re good. Why would I go on this trip with him if we weren’t getting along?”

The short answer was what Phil told him; things between him and Shige were fine. The truth, as always, was more complex. He didn’t know what they were or where they stood.

Read more here https://jetlupin.me/enrai-excerpt/

About the Author

Stories longing to have words put to them were in Jet’s heart from an early age. Jet enjoys exploring the connections and similarities between people whether they be shifters, vampires, or aliens, rendering the unknowable very knowable indeed.

Jet’s days are spent toiling away at a keyboard, slumped over a pen and paper hunting for those words, or playing around on twitter with a partner, and two rambunctious cats for company in the temperamental North Eastern US.

Author Links

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