Japan: Serene and Chaotic

currently playing on my laptop: Soldier by Fleurie   

what I’m currently reading: First Year (Black Mage series) by Rachel E. Carter and Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova

In March I hopped on a plane to Japan. Quite a hike for this Nashville girl. Now I’ve traveled a good bit. Italy, France, Scotland, England, Germany, Austria. All over the US and parts of the Caribbean. But Asia was the first time I truly felt like a fish out of water. It was a breathtaking, amazing feeling.

Japanese culture fascinates me. The decor is sparse and lovely, and the culture values order above all, or at least it seems that way in most places. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and in Tokyo I saw evidence of the strong counter-culture, not just in pink pigtails on girls dressed up in Harajuku and Akihabara, but also in younger folks talking on the trains (most people stay completely quiet) and making jokes in solemn places. The bright distinction between serene and chaotic thrilled me.

When you tour a castle in Europe, you see tapestries, hulking thrones, curtained four-poster beds, and gilt chandeliers. Both Nijo Castle in Kyoto and Edo in Tokyo consist of lovely rooms filled only with tatami and painted screens. There is a true peace in the beautiful simplicity. The green scent of tatami helped me drift into imagining old rulers and their nobles discussing battle tactics, calligraphy, and poetry. It was great to see young and old sitting along a zen rock garden, talking philosophy. It was also great to watch two guys swing around a wooden column on a long-dead nobleman’s porch.

The astounding self control and order in lines going into castles, shrines, temples, and trains blew my mind. When there are 300 ish people waiting to get into a place in the US, the line would be anything but a line. It would be more like a jumble of people, jockeying for the best spot. In Japan when there is a huge group and the door to the historic site or busy train opens, all 300 waiting quickly assemble into a single-file line with no arguing, talking, or swearing at all. Bizarre! I loved it. I never felt threatened by anyone in Japan like I sometimes do in other cities like NYC and Rome. Now I love those cities too, but there are some less than polite citizens here and there and they take some getting used to. Japan is bursting with manners as well as beauty and a varied culture.

I realize this post is long and very unorganized—sorry! I’m simply vomiting out thoughts here. But I have to mention the gardens in Japan. I ADORE the gardens. At Nijo Castle, I watched five men with medieval style bamboo ladders carefully remove tiny clusters of pine needles from an ancient tree’s high limbs. The men were completely quiet and throughly thorough. Nothing they did was rushed. Everything was done to the best of their ability with zero slacking and ultimate focus on the job. And the gardens are proof of the Japanese talent of high quality craftsmanship and attention to detail. The mosses are perfectly even and untouched by weeds. The trees don’t even look real. There is no detritus. Everything is balanced visually and gives off an incredible sense of peace.

Okay I’m going to stop blabbering now. Have you been to Japan? What did you think?

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The First Chapter

currently playing on my laptop: Under the Water by Aurora

Curious about the book I released yesterday? It’s a book for people who love everything from Sabaa Tahir’s historical-ish settings and action, to the jokey, ensemble feel of the fabulously cheesy movie A Knight’s Tale with Heath Ledger.

I’m so excited it reached #1 on Hot New Releases in YA Ethnic Folklore! The book is called WATERS OF SALT AND SIN and here is the first chapter just for you! 🙂 

watersnewamk

Chapter One

A breath before sunrise, the sea was a half-lidded eye, pale blue and white beyond the town walls and lemon orchards. The sea and me, the only two awake this early. Or so it seemed when I climbed to the roof of the tavern. The streets were only dark mud and shuttered windows. I should’ve been out scouring too, looking for a fallen dumpling or a bit of orange-spiced chicken. But I couldn’t help myself. The glimmering saltwater winked at me and I gave it a lazy smile.

“Soon,” I whispered before heading back down.

I had to finish the rope I’d labored on all night, because though magic was good for a lot of things, unfortunately, twisting coconut fibers wasn’t one of them.

My hands used to bleed when I did this kind of work. Not now. Now my palms were like moving stones, pressing, rolling over the two sections and twining them around one another until they were long enough to tie off a sail.

My younger sister Avi snored lightly on our straw mat in the port tavern’s undercroft. I opened her hand. Someday—if I managed to keep her alive until someday—those angry blisters would disappear and she’d have rocks for hands too. I touched the area around the worst of them gently. Though she was fourteen, I rubbed her arm like Mother used to do when we were little. Soon enough, she’d be beside me on the sea, rushing to finish our day’s work before night fell and the salt wraiths came. But she didn’t love the risk, the delicious challenge, or the waters like I did.

“Kinneret?” Avi’s eyes opened, red and bleary.

“No. I’m Amir Mamluk,” I joked, pretending to be the steel-eyed woman who held the town in her ruthless grip, only a few steps below the kyros in power. “I am in disguise as your sister so I can enjoy the pleasures of low-caste life. What’s first? Prying barnacles off the hull or watching my hard-earned silver disappear into rich men’s pockets?” I clapped my hands like an idiot as Avi bent over laughing.

“You’re a madwoman, Sister.” She looked past me to the light. “You should’ve shaken me awake sooner. Did you get your sailing papers stamped?”

I waved her off. “I will. Tomorrow.”

“All right.” A black spot marred the edge of her grin. She’d lost a tooth last week. The empty place looked wrong next to the pretty yellow-brown hair she’d inherited from Father.

Avi leaned over to touch the shells she hid under her side of the mat. She didn’t know I knew about them, so I stood and turned away, giving her a moment. It was her own ritual and whatever gave her peace was fine with me.

Gathering the fibers I hadn’t used last night and the new rope, I forced a worthless tear back inside my eye and tried not to hear her little whispers.

“Mother. Father. The kitten. The cat. My broken bird.”

She’d found a shell for each of the ones she’d lost. A curving one with ridges, as dark brown as our mother’s skin had been. A spotted one for Father. He would’ve liked that. He’d loved the unusual.

As I tied on my sash, the tiny bells jingling, she drank from the bucket and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.

“Eat that bread there.” I jerked my chin at the stool that served as our table.

“What about you?”

“I ate with Oron late last night,” I lied. I was a great liar, but I didn’t rejoice in it. Lying was the skill of the desperate, something I intended to stop being as soon as possible.

“He actually ate?” Avi said around the nub of bread. “I thought he was on an all stolen wine diet.”

“He wishes. Said so right before he went down to the boat.” This time of year, depending on the crowd at the dock, my first mate sometimes slept onboard to protect our only real possession. Harvest brought a lot of strangers who wouldn’t worry about consequences.

Smiling, Avi shook her head and handed me the bag of salt I kept tied to my sash. I shook it, felt its soft bottom. There was enough for some Salt Magic if we ended up needing it today.

“What shipments do we have?” Avi asked.

“None. We’re scouting new port locations again.”

“Hope it goes better than last time. Is Calev going to predict our weather for the trip?” Avi grinned.

As a member of the native community of Old Farm—and the chairman’s son to boot—Calev was born high-caste, raised to oversee his people’s lemon orchards and barley fields, and basically treated like a kyros around town. The brat, I thought, a grin tugging at me.

But despite his powerful family and his position, he had the hardest time predicting weather, a child’s first lesson on a farm or at sea. He just couldn’t seem to gather the clues hidden in the thrush’s song, the clouds’ sudden curl, or the moisture in a breeze. Seriously, he was rubbish at it. His eyebrow twitched when it frustrated him and it was—

“You’re the prettiest when you smile like that, Kin.”

I shoved her gently. “Shut up, you. Come on. We need to go.”

My relationship with Calev was complicated. And dangerous now that we neared the age of adulthood. Avi really did need to shut up about it.

At least until I found some way to snake my way into a higher caste.

I unlocked the door and held it open for her, pretending there wasn’t a pile of both human and animal waste we had to step over. Soon, the middle-caste merchants would open their booths in these dirty streets to trade goods and gossip under the white-hot sun.

Ugh. There was that mouse’s prick, the sailmaker’s son.

He was still burned over the deal his father gave me when Calev came along to buy our new sail.

“Kinneret Raza the Magnificent, friend to high castes.” He pretended to whisper, but his words were plenty loud. “But only if you have eyes and a backside like that Old Farm boy Calev. For him, she pretends that bag of salt at her sash is for seasoning food. It’s a miracle he doesn’t see you for what you are. Witch.”

A ringing filled my ears. If the wrong people heard him, we’d wish our only problem was finding something to eat today. “The real miracle is that pest birds haven’t nested in your continuously open mouth, between your rotting teeth.”

His gaze lashed out at Avi. “Soon I won’t be the only one with an Outcast’s mouth, witches.”

I raged toward him and he lifted his leg to kick me off, but Avi jumped in the way. The tip of his sandal struck her leg and she winced.

“You better stop it,” Avi shouted. “Or you’ll be sorry.”

He laughed and went on as I bent to check Avi’s leg.

“It’s a scratch,” she said. “It’s nothing.”

“That little prick is going to be nothing if he ever touches you again. You should keep quiet when he is around.”

“Oh, like you do, Sister?” She raised both eyebrows.

I snorted. “Well, I’m Kinneret the Magnificent, remember?” The ridiculousness of the title burned like a brand.

Avi put a hand on my arm and pulled me to standing. “You are magnificent to me.”

I hugged her and felt her shoulder bones like driftwood under my arms. My temples throbbed. She was little more than a skeleton. A chill slithered down my back. How long could we live like this?

A woman who’d been Outcasted, sat at the bend in the road, begging. Bells hung from her knotted hair, the edges of her dung-crusted tunic and sash, from every fingernail. The metal seemed to weigh her down, making her back slump like someone years older, bones rising beneath her rags. As a high-caste man walked by, his five bells lightly ringing, she tucked her feet under her, hiding the scraps that used to be sandals in a series of rickety movements. The high-caste whipped around and pointed at the Outcast. In addition to never being allowed to enter their families’ homes—or anyone’s for that matter—they weren’t permitted to hold a job, wear more than rags, or cover their feet with shoes. At the man’s gesture, the woman closed her eyes and removed her sad excuse for sandals, shoving them into the gutter. The high-caste nodded and continued on, obviously pleased with himself.

I’d heard the town’s last amir caught her doing Salt Magic to win a boat race where the prize was a hefty bag of silver. But I wasn’t going to let that scare me off what my mother had taught me.

An image of her hands covering mine, salt glistening on our skin, blinked through my mind. I could be sly with the magic she’d given me. I could be clever with the way I used it. No one needed to know.

As we started toward the dock, a couple of high-caste women paraded by, their skirts clean and black and beautiful.

One sneered at Avi’s skirt. “Filthy scrappers. Look at the blood on her clothing.”
The other one frowned. “They were probably fighting like dogs.”

Idiots.

I never bought anything that wasn’t red just so no blood would show on me. But the high castes were wrong. It wasn’t fighting that normally brought the blood I hid. It was making rope, hauling sail, lifting, scrubbing, scraping. And I’d never let them see my blood.

As we continued on, Avi raised her chin like a proud woman twice her age. She should’ve had her woman’s bleed already. It was lack of food that scared it off. I knew what came next. Her hair would go. The rest of her teeth, her skin.

I knew Calev would gladly give us a loaf of bread or some lemons. But the questions I asked myself were always the same. What about tomorrow? And the day after that? I couldn’t beg off him.

No.

I wouldn’t let him bring us food every day like we were cripples. The thought turned my empty stomach and I kicked at the dirt. Mother and Father had made this life work. I could too. When the fevers had them, I’d promised I’d take care of Avi. Maybe I’d get another headland farmer to use us to ship surplus barley across the strait.

But that didn’t put figs in Avi’s mouth today.

“What are you doing?” Avi whispered as I walked up behind a woodcutter’s cart.
Manure and fresh timber masked the scent of what was almost certainly a bag of barley cakes near the left wheel—the woodcutter’s noon meal. I threw a tiny rock toward his horse’s back leg. The horse jerked and the cart lurched to the side, the woodcutter shouting at his animal as I snatched the bag faster than a falcon can grab a chicken.
I ate one before Avi could argue, hurrying around the cart and hiding the bag in the folds of my skirt. And though she frowned at me the entire walk to the dock, Avi ate her fill for once.
Fish liver oil was both the worst and best smell in the morning. Best because it meant I was near my boat. Worst because, well, it was fish liver oil.

The fisherman selling the stuff crossed his arms. “I won’t give it for free.”

“But you dump most of it anyway,” I argued. “It’s rancid.”

“You need it. So I want something for it.”

Of course he did. This was Jakobden, after all. A port town full to bursting with people who cared for silver and fame, and nothing as low as a generous spirit.

“Do we really need it?” Avi asked.

I whispered in her ear. “The stern stitching is begging for a coat.”

I felt the coins in my sash. Four coppers. It was all I’d saved toward a better boat, a better sail, a better anything. Then my gaze dropped onto the bag in Avi’s hand. There was one barley cake left. It would leave me without a noon meal, but the lack of oil could sink us under the wild waters of the Pass, the strait we sailed every day.

Avi saw my eyes and handed me the bag. I held a cake out to the man.

“Fresh this morning,” I said. “It’s more than you deserve.”

He frowned, then snatched the cake and pushed it into his sash for later. After he ladled some oil into our small, wooden bucket, we headed down the near deserted dock toward the red and purple boat our parents had left behind.

Sitting side by side on the dock’s uneven planks, we took turns dipping our brushes into the foul-smelling oil and painting it over the coconut fiber stitching that held the stern in place.

Seawater slapped the space between the boat and the dock as I called out, “Oron!” over the side.

No answer.

“Why do we love him again?” Avi asked, grinning.

“If he didn’t handle sails like the Fire, I wouldn’t…no…I’d still love him. The beast.”

I didn’t affectionately call him ‘the beast’ because he was both a pale-skinned northerner and an unusually small person, but because of his taste for drink, his sharp tongue, and his tendency to nap like an oversized cat.

Footsteps pounded down the boards, and I turned to see an official striding toward us, his tunic and sash billowing in the wind. Worry tied a neat knot around my heart. This might be about the rent and what I owed. It might be about any number of crimes. And the Fire knew, my word against a middle-caste’s would be mouse dung to silver pieces.

Avi dropped her brush into the water and her lips pinched together. “I told you we should’ve gone for the stamp and seal.”

I groaned as I helped her fish the brush from the water. These dock officials were the worst.

“Just Kinneret them,” Avi whispered. “Like you did to the woodcutter.”

“Hush,” I said, shaking my head.

“Sailing papers,” the official spat, looking down at me.

Standing, I gritted my teeth and pulled my out-of-date papers from my sash. “Everything is good here.” I held them to his face, then quickly folded them again.

He ripped them from me. “These are expired. You cannot sail again until you have an updated stamp. Report immediately to the town hall.” Spinning, he hurried back up the dock.

“Guess I’ll finish this up while you go,” Avi said. I didn’t like how she looked. The skin around her mouth was pale.

“I don’t want to leave you.”

“You have to. You know you do.”

“I’ll kick Oron awake first.”

She stood and wiped her hands on her skirt. “I’m fine. I’ll do it. Go.”

I had to smile. She sounded like Mother.

I rushed away, hoping she really was as strong as I thought she was, and praying my own stubborn will might be enough to keep us from the life of a dead-eyed beggar.

*If you’d like to get the book, here is the worldwide Amazon link. 

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Six New Fantasy Books You Need In Your Life

currently playing on my laptop: Don’t Take the Money by Bleachers

I promise on the grave of the best cat ever (Maximus Decimus Meridius, may he rest in peace) that a SUPER AWESOME JAPAN POST is coming soon.

But for now, I need to talk books because I released my first novel today and so did some of my author pals!!!

Here are our SIX books, the summaries, and a few fun Q and A doothingies so you get to know us!  Hope you enjoy!

BOOK ONE!

Waters of Salt and Sin, by Alisha Klapheke, (hey I’ve heard of her!) combines the epic setting of Game of Thrones with the humor and romance of Pirates of the Caribbean. 

watersnewamk

http://hyperurl.co/WatersofSaltandSin

Set in a lush, high-fantasy world inspired by ancient Mediterranean cultures, Waters of Salt and Sin is perfect for Sabaa Tahir fans. 

When seventeen-year-old salt witch Kinneret learns of a lost island of silver, she sets out to find it, raise her status, and finally have a chance to wed Calev, the high-caste friend she secretly loves. But when a madman enslaves her sister, Kinneret must make a deal with the local ruler: Find the island to secure the ruler’s place in history. In return, the woman’s fighting sailors will rescue Kinneret’s sister.

Using Salt Magic to navigate cursed waters, Kinneret and Calev struggle to hide their taboo, caste-breaking feelings, knowing if the ruler witnesses the attraction, she will cancel the agreement. But when Calev makes a terrible mistake, Kinneret must choose between the life of her only remaining family member and saving the boy she loves from a traitor’s death.

What inspired you to write this story?

Alisha: I had a dream about it! How cliche… haha

Do you plan to write more in this series?

Alisha: Yes! I already have a novella following this up for pre-order, a second full-length novel drafted, and two more in the works.

If your main character walked into a modern-day ice cream shop, what flavor would he/she order?

Alisha: Pistachio for sure because it’s rad (no, kids, I won’t stop using my stupid eighties words)

If your main character could pick one song to listen to for the rest of his/her days, what would he/she choose?

Alisha: Bad Girls by M.I.A. (not that she is necessarily BAD, she just doesn’t follow lame rules)

Do you have a quote from your book you’d like to share?

Alisha: “I was steel made in the fire, hard and strong, but quiet until the sharp edge was needed.”

*****BOOK TWO!*****

Split, by Alicia Rades, is a romance with psychics and alternate realities. Sounds fantastic. 

SPLIT-EBOOK-COVER

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show…

When your heart belongs to two men, your only choice is to split it.

Maddie Rose’s heart belongs to two men: Aaron, the football player who always makes her laugh, and Logan, the musician who makes her feel safe and comfortable. The boys are done competing for her attention. She must choose one by the end of the summer or end up alone.

To help her decide, Maddie’s friend drags her to a psychic, who promises she can end up with both boys. A single decision will split her heart in two. Now unknowingly living in two alternate realities, one where she chose Aaron and one where she chose Logan, Maddie’s still not sure she made the right choice. But should she change her mind, there’s a chance she’ll lose them both.

What inspired you to write this story?

Alicia: This story came from a simple question: “What’s one desire I had as a teen?” I thought if I could pinpoint something that teens dream about, I could connect with them in my fiction. That let me to think about times when I’d been torn between two guys, and the answer was simple: When your heart belongs to two men, your only choice is to split it. Then Split was born.

Do you plan to write more in this series?

Alicia: Nope. This one’s a standalone.  🙂

If your main character walked into a modern-day ice cream shop, what flavor would he/she order?

Alicia: She actually does this in the book, and she orders a chocolate chip cookie dough waffle cone!

If your main character could pick one song to listen to for the rest of his/her days, what would he/she choose?

Alicia: Maddie would choose the first song Logan sang to her–an original.

Do you have a quote from your book you’d like to share?

Alicia: ”Logan went left while Aaron headed right, and in that moment, my heart split in two.”

*****BOOK THREE!*****

E.M. Rinaldi’s Hiding Till Dawn is out this month too! With mystical kingdoms and revenge, it will be a serious page-turner. 

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https://www.goodreads.com/book/show…

Destiny is unrelenting. It will come for you, and when it does there is no escaping it; something Casey knows firsthand. On the run from the dean and his ever loyal Imperial Guardians; Casey, Cedric, and Falon must put their trust in the most unlikely of allies. Their search for help will lead them across the country, into enemy territories and mystical kingdoms alike.

With a prophecy over her head, it is ultimately up to Casey to bring her world back to order. But for that to happen, the corrupted officials who govern her world must be stopped. New friends and old will align to bring back the peace, by force if necessary. And first on their list? The dean.

Casey hasn’t forgotten the torment she suffered at his hand, and the nightmares are far from over. Can she eradicate this threat and help save her world? Or will she fall to the pressure of her fate?

What inspired you to write this one?

E.M.: This story came to me out of the blue one day- I literally just woke up and had these characters trying to claw their way out.

Will there be more books to go with this one?

E.M.: The book will be part of a trilogy (although it might extend to 4 books) called The Cross Chronicles. All the books will involve the same characters but my character Falon will have her own spin-off series after.

If your main character walked into an ice-cream shop, what flavor would he/she order?

E.M.: Chocolate. Casey will always order chocolate.

If your main character could pick one song to listen to for the rest of his/her days, what would he/she choose?

E.M.: Honestly not too sure of what song she would listen to, she loves all genres and never has a favorite for long before a new one takes its place.

Do you have a quote from your book you’d like to share?

E.M.: ”I would darken the rest of my soul if it meant never being captured again.”
*****BOOK FOUR!*****

Olivia Wildenstein’s Native American fantasy, Rose Petal Graves, is finally here too! 

RPG-FRONT-2

https://www.amazon.com/Rose-Petal-G…

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show…

ANCIENT SECRETS CANNOT REMAIN BURIED FOREVER.

Founded two centuries ago by a powerful tribe of Gottwa Indians, Rowan was a quiet town, so quiet that I fled after graduation. Staying away was the plan, but Mom died suddenly.

Dad said she suffered a stroke after she dug up one of the ancient graves in our backyard, which happens to be the town cemetery. Creepy, I know. Creepier still, there was no corpse inside the old coffin, only fresh rose petals.

As we made preparations for Mom’s burial, new people began arriving in Rowan, unnervingly handsome and odd people. I begged them to leave, but they stayed, because their enemies—my ancestors—were beginning to awaken.

What inspired this story?

Olivia: I’ve always had a fascination with the Native American way of life, their connection to nature, the importance of a tribe. I mixed in some modernized faerie folklore, and voila…Rose Petal Graves was born.

Will there be more books to go with Rose Petal Graves?

Olivia: This is the first of many in a series. Each book will pick up where the last one left off, and include the same characters, but their motivations and alliances will change, as will their world as Catori, my main character, will journey to Neverra–by choice or against her will (you will have to read on to find out).

If your character visited a modern-day ice-cream shop, what would he/she order?

Olivia: Cat (Catori) would get strawberry ice cream.

If your main character could pick one song to listen to for the rest of his/her days, what would he/she choose?

Olivia: She would listen to ARIZONA’s Ocean’s Away.

Do you have a quote from your book you’d like to share?

Olivia: He pumped his fist against his heart. “You have awoken me.” He pumped his fist again. “All of me.”

*****BOOK FIVE!*****

Kristin D. Van Risseghem’s Arrows and Angels came out March 31st and looks amazing. 

Arrows and Angels by Kristin D Van Risseghem

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01NC0CP8B

Kieran’s job of being a guardian angel is straightforward: observe and learn—and don’t intervene in their lives. But then he watches as his first charge dies at the hands of evil while he does nothing to help.

Overcome with grief and doubt, Kieran flees back to the safety of heaven. With guidance from his mentor, he learns all he can about the Battle of the Fallen and the creation of evil itself. With renewed determination, he vows he will save the Ordinaries in his care.

The rules of being a guardian angel have not changed, but Kieran has. Returning to earth, only Kieran knows how essential it is to find and protect one 17-year-old girl. The girl who can thwart the Devil’s escape from his prison and the start of Armageddon.

What inspired you to write this story?

Kristin: It started with another supporting character, Sidelle – she’s the Summer Fairy. Their paths cross in the main series and I wanted to share how they met earlier. Plus, I wanted to give the readers a better understanding of who Kieran is and how he became the bossy, guardian angel many readers grew to love.

Do you plan to write more in this series?

Kristin: Yes, I have one more book to write in the main series and then possibly some other spin off books about the supporting characters.

Will the next books involve the same characters or are they standalones in the same world?

Kristin: The next book is the last in the main series and yes, Kieran does appear in there, too.

If your main character walked into a modern-day ice cream shop, what flavor would he/she order?

Kristin: Rocky Road

If your main character could pick one song to listen to for the rest of his/her days, what would he/she choose?

Kristin: Drive By by Train

Do you have a quote from your book you’d like to share?

Kristin: “Zoe, you don’t ever have to worry about being alone.” I watched as big tears fell from her brown eyes. It pained my heart.
*****BOOK SIX!*****

The next book in the Shifter Prophecy series, Den of Wolves, by Megan Linski, is out now! Filled with vampire princesses and wolves, this one is going to be good. 

51AU27ZQVbL

https://www.amazon.com/Den-Wolves-S…

What if your worst enemy is your true love?

Exiled from her coven and torn from the arms of her lover, werewolf prince Lisar, vampire princess Lysandra Romanova-Dracula is lost in the woods of Romania, searching for the elusive location of the mysterious den of wolves. After being separated from Lisar, Lysandra made a pact; find him, and his pack, or die trying.

But she doesn’t find the wolves. The wolves find her. After Lisar pleads for her life, the Alpha makes Lysandra a fragile bargain. If she becomes one of them, she will be allowed to live with her beloved Lisar in peace. Fail to do so, and her execution is imminent.

When shifters are found murdered within pack boundaries, shredded to pieces by a monster hiding in the shadows, Lysandra becomes a prime suspect. Caught in a dangerous game where one misstep could become fatal, Lysandra has to prove her innocence, and solve the mystery of who has betrayed the pack without becoming a victim herself.

Will Lysandra peer through the darkness to see the traitor in plain sight? Or is her love story with Lisar due for a tragic end?

A retelling of the legend of Princess Anastasia, Den of Wolves combines action, adventure and romance into one thrilling read that speeds to an end you’ll never see coming. This heartbreaking paranormal young adult romance is sure to have readers falling for the next installment in bestselling author Megan Linski’s Shifter Prophecy series.

What inspired the story?

Megan:  The fans! They loved my paranormal romance Alora and wanted another shifter novel to devour, this time, one with vampires!

Is it part of a series?

Megan: Yes! Den of Wolves is book #2 in The Shifter Prophecy series. #1, Court of Vampires, was published by Kindle Press and is currently on sale.

What flavor of ice cream would your main character order?

Megan: Mint chocolate chip and butter pecan, with a candy-blood topping (hey, she is a vampire!)

What song would they listen to?

Megan: In The Name of Love by Bebe Rexha

SO THAT’S THE SHOW! I hope you enjoy these gorgeous fantasies!!! Have a great day!

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Day in the Life of a Hybrid Author

currently playing on my phone: Compass by Zella Day

I thought I’d share what I’m up to today as a hybrid author! It’s a wild, busy ride, let me tell you.

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Today I:

  1. Wrote a scene for the Sci Fi I’m going to sub with my agent sometime this year if all goes according to plan
  2. Sent Waters of Salt and Sin (my fantasy that comes out April 4th) swag (stickers and mini cards this time) to some of my Release Team
  3. Emailed the eARC (advanced reading copy) of my novella (follows the above mentioned fantasy) to a BETA reader (she’ll read through and give me thoughts and spot typos)
  4. Listened to my playlist for the fantasy

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5. Compiled some songs for the novella playlist because music is life

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6. Went for a run ’cause I want to be healthy enough to jump on the trampoline with my kids forever

7. Ignored the fact that the numbering is coming out weird on this post

8. Checked that I have enough clothing for my upcoming trip to Japan and thought a lot about Japanese pirates

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9. Read some more of Truthwitch by Susan Dennard 

10. Downloaded some podcasts to listen to on the plane (Hidden Brain, SFF Marketing Podcast, Essay)

11. Collapsed on the floor

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Fantasy Worlds I’m Loving

currently playing on my iPod: Nature Boy (acoustic) by Aurora

You know the feeling when a story grips you by the hair and yanks you into a world you can’t stop thinking about? That’s how I feel about some fantasy books I’ve picked up lately.

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Truthwitch by Susan Dennard (her Windwitch just came out too!!)

This world is ALIVE, people. ALIVE. The layered history and character backgrounds give the setting such depth. The author doesn’t overwhelm you with exact details at the start, but you get enough to be curious and to “feel the real” in every scene.

Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor

This collection of short stories came out a long while back but it’s worth a re-read before Laini Taylor’s next masterpiece, Strange the Dreamer, comes out later this month. Hatchling is probably my favorite in there. The atmosphere is unforgettable.

Across the Nightingale Floor by Lian Hearn 

Another oldie-but-goodie, this fantasy, inspired by events in Japanese history, holds moments that sucked me in whole. The combination of superstition and the personality of the place…I just love it. Take this snippet for instance:

“…we came to the city of Hagi, the castle town of the Otori. It was built on an island flanked by two rivers and the sea. From a spit of land to the town itself ran the longest stone bridge I had ever seen. It had four arches, through which the ebbing tide raced, and walls of perfectly fitted stone. I thought it must have been made by sorcery, and when the horses stepped onto it I couldn’t help closing my eyes. The roar of the river was like thunder in my ears, but beneath it I could hear something else—a kind of low keening that made me shiver.”

What books have drawn you in lately?Beautiful World

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Cover Reveal for my YA/Adult Fantasy!

currently playing on my iPod: Fire in my Bones by Fleurie

Hey all! So the first standalone novel in my Uncommon World series, Waters of Salt and Sin, comes out April 4th! Here is the cover!!! Merilliza Chan (responsible for Elise Kova‘s Air Awakens series) created the amazing art and my niece, Miranda Klapheke (recently graduated from design school), helped me with the typography. I love it! Do you?

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This book was born of my love for boats, pirates, Game of Thrones, folklore that bleeds into magical realism, Sabaa Tahir‘s An Ember in the Ashes, and Leigh Bardugo‘s books. I love ensemble casts and I hope this one makes you laugh and cry during their wild tale of adventure and survival.

I’m hoping to give readers a fun escape with a historical feel (even though it’s all totally a mash up and from my crazy brain). I won’t lie. I’m nervous about releasing a book into the world. After diving into Victoria Schwab‘s A Conjuring of Light and CJ Redwine‘s The Wish Granter, I wonder if I should even bother! So good. But I want to go for it and it’s been fun organizing everything for the release. Let me know what you think of the cover in the comments! 🙂

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What to Pack: Traveling Abroad

currently playing on my iPod: Life on Mars by Aurora

I’m a complete travelholic. My living room sports the couch I bought in college and I’m wearing a Victoria’s Secret Pink shirt from the nineties—all so I can afford to spread my wings and fly.

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Soon I’ll be off to Japan to ride the bullet train, eat bizarre seafood, soak in the art and landscape, find quiet in a shrine, and sneak around ninja castles. Sooooo excited!

To keep travel simple and headache-free, I only take a sling pack (aka tough purse) and a backpack. Why? you ask. Well, because once upon a time, lovelies, I traveled to Munich and the airline lost my luggage. I wore the same sweater for five days before they returned it. To get it back, I had to try to speak German, and sometimes French, to the nice woman at the airline. It was a hassle. And it was the last time I checked baggage.

I’ve never looked back. Now I just stroll right on off the plane and into the taxi. No worries. I walk casually down the cobblestone streets of Rome without having to haul a monstrosity of a suitcase. Those wheeled fellas totally disrupt the beauty of Venice. (I’ve heard they actually outlawed them, but that may be urban legend.) Steps to a hidden little hotel in the perfect place are no biggie. I feel light and happy and non-obnoxious. It’s wonderful.

What do I pack?

*a small bottle of Woolite to hand wash stuff in the sink

*clothes that can all be layered and worn together (mainly grays and blacks and purples)

*only the absolute necessities for skin care (you won’t die giving all that up for 8 days)

*PJs that are thin and easy to roll up

*one paperback book

*a deck of cards

*a small writing notebook and pen

*(for Japan) thin flip flops for going in and out of places without shoes

*only the necessary cards/IDs and not the entire bloated wallet

*a small brush (hotels will usually have everything else your hair needs–don’t be picky)

*my phone of course

And that’s it. Try it on your next adventure and you’ll feel free as the fabulous bird you are.

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