JS Harker on Winter, Characters, and her new release ‘Tit for Tat’ (author guest blog)

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Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker

Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press  |  Amazon  |   B&N  |   Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J.S. Harker today talking about the inspiration behind her character Flynn and her new novel Tit for Tate.  Welcome, J.S.

✒︎

Hi there, I’m JS Harker. I’m here to promote my new holiday release Tit For Tat. It’s my second book published in the Dreamspinner Beyond line and I can’t believe the year’s flown by. I’m excited to share the new story with you, especially anyone who, like me, would rather be reading in my room than braving holiday parties. I wanted to balance the holidays with the time of year as well.

Call me strange, I actually like winter. Give me snow, long nights, and cold winds and I’m pretty happy. One winter, in college, the Goo Goo Dolls were playing on campus. While my college spread out over several blocks, walking from place to place never took terribly long, so I encouraged my friends that we should walk instead of taking the shuttle out to the arena. Normally, not a problem. But that night? Full blown blizzard. I’m talking the see six feet ahead of you maybe kind of storm. And somehow, I stubbornly made my friends walk it. It’s not something I recommend because wow, it could have gone way wrong. We had a straight path to walk and we knew the campus really well. But it’s been a decade and I can still feel how bitter cold the wind was, the plodding slow pace we had to go at, and the sheer utter amount of snow that was everywhere. That was also the year I climbed the giant snow piles cleared off the parking lots.

Those experiences were part of the inspiration for Flynn, one of the leads from Tit For Tat. He’s a Winter fairy and comes from the part of the fairy kingdoms that resemble wide open plains covered in snow. As much as he loves his home, he also has this need to explore our world. He and Ariel from Little Mermaid would probably make good buddies—they both just have to know what’s out there. Flynn’s gone so far as to get a job in a mall, playing one of Santa’s elves. He gets to see a wide variety of humans there, but it’s Derek, who works at the toy store, that catches his interest.

While confidence and curiosity come naturally to Flynn, Derek is much more of an inside person. He’s insecure, but he still longs to have adventures. He just doesn’t think they’re possible until he meets Flynn. Writing an insecure, introverted character was a little harder for me. In part it was because Derek shares a lot of the same feelings I’ve had and I’m still new to intentionally opening up on the page, but also because he liked hiding away while I was drafting the story. But he’s in awe of Flynn, fascinated by him, and eventually in love with him.

When I was editing Tit For Tat (because of course the muses strike when you’re busy with a project, right?), I got inspired to write more stories set in the same universe. Every novel is a complete stand alone and focuses on a different season. I’m currently working on a summer story and a fall/Halloween adventure. I’m also working on another novel for Dreamspinner that would feature an FBI agent who investigates the paranormal and attracts the attention of an agent of a secret government organization.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll check out Tit For Tat, and that your new year is shiny and full of good fortune.

Blurb

Cold has never been so hot.

College sophomore Derek is busy working over his holiday break—but his shifts at the toy store are no hardship if they mean more opportunity to dream about the sexy new guy working as an elf in Santa’s Workshop. When his mother gifts him a bag of cookies, Derek regifts them to Flynn as an excuse to get to know him. Flynn has presents to offer as well, and soon they’re dating, with Derek finding out his comfort zone is bigger than he imagined.

But Flynn is hiding a secret—he’s really a winter fairy whose magic is bound to the season. He can’t stay in the mortal realm, and Derek doesn’t want to lose contact with his family. Can they find a way to hold on to each other when the snow and sugar plums melt away?

 

About Author J.S. Harker

JS Harker loves stories. She was one of those kids who always had a book in her hands and spent many hours adventuring with her siblings. These days she wanders into her imaginary worlds and conjures up tales of magic, passion, and happily-ever-afters. She currently lives in the part of the Midwest that makes Tatooine look interesting by comparison (not that she’s ever obsessively thought about becoming a Jedi or anything).    

Links:

Website: www.jsharker.com

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/JS-Harker-236521747017598/

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Cold has never been so hot.

College sophomore Derek is busy working over his holiday break—but his shifts at the toy store are no hardship if they mean more opportunity to dream about the sexy new guy working as an elf in Santa’s Workshop. When his mother gifts him a bag of cookies, Derek regifts them to Flynn as an excuse to get to know him. Flynn has presents to offer as well, and soon they’re dating, with Derek finding out his comfort zone is bigger than he imagined.

But Flynn is hiding a secret—he’s really a winter fairy whose magic is bound to the season. He can’t stay in the mortal realm, and Derek doesn’t want to lose contact with his family. Can they find a way to hold on to each other when the snow and sugar plums melt away?

Tit for Tat by J.S. Harker is one of those fantasy holiday stories that had a lot of potential but ended but as a sweet Christmas tale that never delivered on the promise of all the elements it held inside it.  There very quite a few things I liked about this story.  You have cute single Derek who is crushing on the elf working at Santa’s Workshop next to his Toy Store where he works at the Mall.  Only the elf isn’t human, he’s a Winter Fae, complete with snarky, ancient companion (who I really enjoyed, think a wicked Tinkerbell with a penchant for  gold spikes and stacks of pennies).

Flynn is an elf out of element…a innocent about the world he is visiting.  So he has questions about everything around him, another adorable aspect of the story.  As I said there is plenty to like.  Harker starts to put everything in place for the romance and cultural smashup.  But for me, something got lost.  I’m not a fan of instantlove which this turned into.  And  with the faery kingdom, different fae tied to the various seasons, there wasn’t the world building I hoped to see as a foundation for the other story threads the author ran here and there amidst the romance.

It all culminates in a HFN that is a nice touch that raises as many questions as it solves if you examine it too closely.

So for those just wanting a fantasy holiday story with a twist, Tit for Tat might be the thing for you.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.  I’m assuming that’s Derek and not Flynn, so it’s a good representation of the character.  Brrrrr.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 242 pages
Expected publication: December 18th 2018 by Dreamspinner Presss
ISBN139781644051078
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Soul Bond by JS Harker

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Stealing his heart.

As a thief and a warlock, Noah survives by using his wit and charm to prey on the privileged. His dangerous criminal boss wants an enchanted dagger belonging to a family of wealthy mages, including their pampered—but handsome—son, Ben. Failing to complete the job will be hazardous to Noah’s survival.

Noah bumps into Ben at a lavish party, and as soon as they meet, the connection’s undeniable, and it goes much further than ordinary attraction. Their bond reaches into their souls, entwining and changing their magic.

Which Noah thinks he can use to get to the dagger. After all, he isn’t sure this soul bond Ben seems so obsessed with is even real.

He also doesn’t count on being caught red-handed…. Or falling in love.

Soul Bonds by J.S. Harker is another first for me.  New story by a new author, something I have always enjoyed.  It was a easy tale to dive into, starting immediately with its great characters and intriguing plot.  Thieves and warlocks?  Fae and wizards?  A divided society and tight social strata?  All great elements and Harker combined them to wonderful effect here.

On one side is our thief, Noah. He’s on the job to steal a special dagger at the fancy ball when we first meet him.  He moving through the crowd and his plan, sharp, furtive, and totally appealing in every way.  I’m on his side from the get go, and its totally due to his engaging personality.  I’m totally drawn into his situation and Noah.

The introduction of Ben, that dash of sex, danger, and high society comes shortly after.  And starts ramping up the action and suspense. As well as adding in the element of the soul bond.

Harker has many layers to her story.  The divided society, the line between warlock and mage, the history which also includes that of the soul bond.  Its enough for a series in order to completely round out the world building.  It’s too much really for one book to carry here.

Ben’s side gets most of the history background.  The top families unification, their tight control via marriage and powers, governing etc.  On the wild, poor side which is Noah?  Not so much.  How the warlocks were left out in the cold so to speak and how their loose associations came to be is never addressed. Which is a shame becaise I found that side  highly interesting considering the part they play in the story…which is huge.

It’s as though there is this huge gap in the narrative where back histories for Noah’s friends and colleagues belong.  It’s noticeable because they make such an impact.

I did like how the soul bond link was instigated…those flashes of power.  Neat touches all and the uses found throughout the storyline.

The development of the romance between Noah and Ben worked, because  despite all Noah’s lies (constantly), Ben accepted that there was more going on under the surface and continued to press forward.  And Noah too struggled against his past, his poor judgement and present entanglements to have faith n Ben.  I really liked it.

I guess it was that ending that I wished has more substance.  It just sort of ended with no real conclusion as to what the parties would do next.  And I like a definitive solution with the villains and didn’t get that either.

I could really see this turned into a series very easily.  I hope the author returns to it after a while.  I’ll be right in line to pick up that release.

The cover art by Aaron Anderson is nice and I liked the visual of Noah.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 208 pages

Published: July 17, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-593-4

Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Beyond

An Alisa Release Day Review: Soul Bond by JS Harker

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Stealing his heart.

As a thief and a warlock, Noah survives by using his wit and charm to prey on the privileged. His dangerous criminal boss wants an enchanted dagger belonging to a family of wealthy mages, including their pampered—but handsome—son, Ben. Failing to complete the job will be hazardous to Noah’s survival.

Noah bumps into Ben at a lavish party, and as soon as they meet, the connection’s undeniable, and it goes much further than ordinary attraction. Their bond reaches into their souls, entwining and changing their magic.

Which Noah thinks he can use to get to the dagger. After all, he isn’t sure this soul bond Ben seems so obsessed with is even real.

He also doesn’t count on being caught red-handed…. Or falling in love.

I really liked this story.  Noah has had to survive on his own for a long time and that causes him to take a bit too big of a risk.  Ben has been looking for his soul bond forever and refuses to settle for anything less than true love.

Noah tries to deny the connection between himself and Ben but every time they are near each other it continues to grow stronger.  Ben jumps in with both feet determined that Noah has to feel the same as him even if he doesn’t say so.  I liked getting to know these characters through their telling of the story.

I really liked how the soul bond connection worked with these characters and how it drew them together.  When Noah didn’t know what to do Ben jumped in to help but it was Noah actually relying on his community that helped them the most.  I felt as though there was quite a bit of background I was missing for this story,  I don’t know how the warlocks and mages got to the point that they were at but the class system they had going on didn’t seem to be working all that well.  I think this story begins to set up a nice world for a series and it would be nice to see what the events of this book does to their lives.

The cover art by Aaron Anderson is nice and I liked the visual of Noah.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 208 pages

Published: July 17, 2018 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13: 978-1-64080-593-4

Edition Language: English

Series: Dreamspun Beyond

JS Harker on Romance, Writing, and her new release Soul Bond (author guest blog)

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Soul Bond by J.S. Harker
Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon  | Barnes and Noble  | 

Kobo  | iBooks   |   Google Play 

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have JS Harker here today talking about their new release Soul Bond, from Dreamspun Beyond series at Dreamspinner Press.  Welcome, JS.

♦︎

Hey there, I’m JS Harker. I’m on my first blog tour ever for my book Soul Bond and I’m thrilled it’s release day! Getting published has been a dream for a long time and I’m in a bit of shock I finally get to say those magic words. I thought I’d answer a few interview questions so you could get to know a little bit more about me.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

I started reading romances a few years ago. I will totally own up to being one of those people who didn’t see the awesomeness of the genre for a long time. I have a degree in English which only focused on Literature, and my college friends were snobs about what was “art” and therefore worthy of time and discussion. Romance wasn’t really encouraged. I came to the genre through fanfic after college. A majority of fanfic seems like it should be considered a Romance subgenre, and I realized I liked reading and writing about people falling in love. The last few years, I’ve needed a place where I can reliably find hope. Romances are great at that.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Both! Both are good. I like reading a series, which usually means the ending is more of a HFN. If it’s a long, standalone novel, then I need it to have an HEA if it’s a romance. Stories should have satisfactory endings and for romance that means happy relationships.

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Media as a whole definitely plays a part in my writing. My projects tend to start as a reaction. I’ll see a trope overused or a plot device that agitates me and I just have to toy with it. With Soul Bond, part of the inspiration was the love at first sight trope combined with the fated mate trope. Choice doesn’t always get to be as big of a factor as it should be in those stories, so for this world there’s actually a range of magical compatibility. I wanted to see something different, and thus got inspired.

As for my style, I have to admit Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer played a major influence on how I learned to tell a story. There are some major flaws in his storytelling, especially concerning the treatment of women, but with BtVS and Angel the monsters were monsters and the heroes were heroes. A few characters were in more of a gray area (Spike and Faith come to mind). It was one of the first shows I truly loved and remember having feelings for. As an adult, I can look at it and see what I liked, but see what I wish was done better too.

What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

Hidden intelligence. The way someone smiles and lights up when they get excited. The ability to empathize and listen, to understand. These main traits tend to get split between the protagonists of my stories. My plots tend to shy away from the miscommunication trope for that reason. In Soul Bond, Ben has most of these traits. But then I adore Noah because he lies to everyone in sight (and to himself). Mostly, people are most interesting when they’re being human and have a willingness to grow.

What’s next?

I have a few WIPs. I tend to bounce around until a character grabs me by the hand and leads me into their world. (Okay, in Noah’s case, he kept coming into my mind and crashing into a chair and going, “So let me tell you about my absolutely SHIT day.” He was pushy and demanding and I loved him for it. And as I’m finishing up this blog piece, another character is knocking at the door loudly.)

I am working with Dreamspinner on a holiday paranormal novel. A young man working holiday retail falls for one of the guys playing an elf at Santa’s workshop—who turns out to be an actual winter fey. It’s charming and sweet and if you’d asked me a few years ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to write it. I’m happy I challenged myself. The more I write and share my work, the more I see where I can grow and the more stories I want to try. Hopefully you’ll enjoy what I have to share!

Blurb:

Stealing his heart.

As a thief and a warlock, Noah survives by using his wit and charm to prey on the privileged. His dangerous criminal boss wants an enchanted dagger belonging to a family of wealthy mages, including their pampered—but handsome—son, Ben. Failing to complete the job will be hazardous to Noah’s survival.

Noah bumps into Ben at a lavish party, and as soon as they meet, the connection’s undeniable, and it goes much further than ordinary attraction. Their bond reaches into their souls, entwining and changing their magic.

Which Noah thinks he can use to get to the dagger. After all, he isn’t sure this soul bond Ben seems so obsessed with is even real.

He also doesn’t count on being caught red-handed…. Or falling in love.

About the Author

JS Harker loves stories. She was one of those kids who always had a book in her hands and spent many hours adventuring with her siblings. These days she wanders into her imaginary worlds and conjures up tales of magic, passion, and happily-ever-afters. She currently lives in the part of the Midwest that makes Tatooine look interesting by comparison (not that she’s ever obsessively thought about becoming a Jedi or anything).

Find me on social media:

www.jsharker.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/j_s_harker

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/js.harker.169