Monday, 21 August 2017

Retro Reading - The Wish

We're going back to Nightmare Hall! I hope you're all ready.


Be careful what you wish for . . .

“Wishes granted, fortunes told,”promises the sign on the booth at the back of the campus pizza place. Inside the booth sits a mechanical fortune-teller called the Wizard. His cold glass eyes give Alexandria Edgar the creeps. Her friends at Salem U think she’s crazy—they’re busy making wishes for the Wizard to grant.

But soon, their wishes turn into their worst nightmares: Alex’s roommate, who wished to look less ordinary, is disfigured in an accident. Another girl who wished to shed a few pounds can’t stop losing weight. As her friends face the consequences of their wishes, Alex suspects that her fears about the Wizard are becoming a reality. And she has good reason to be afraid: The truth is even more diabolical than she could have imagined, threatening the group’s very lives.

I loved all the Nightmare Hall books, but I remember this one as being particularly creepy, probably because I'm weird about puppets and dolls and robots and basically anything that looks sort of human but isn't (including chimpanzees but I don't wanna talk about that). It's no spoiler to say that the big bad villain of The Wish is a mechanical wizard (it's right there in the blurb, after all), who is creepy in the extreme, not least because he's sentient and has magical powers.

The Wish is basically the Monkey's Paw of the Nightmare Hall series. Innocent teens, joking around with the old mechanical fortune-teller, make silly wishes that actually seriously reflect their inner desires. At the start of the book, Julie wishes her face was more interesting. Gabe wishes he didn't have to walk everywhere. Immediately, our group of intrepid college kids are involved in a terrible car accident, leaving Gabe with crushed legs and Julie's face ruined by breaking glass.

This is just the start, as despite the utterly inherent creepiness of the Wizard, and our sensible heroine Alex's innate understanding that something is fucked up here, the group keep going back to the damn thing and making more wishes. Kiki wants to lose weight, and is suddenly struck with a wasting illness that lands her in hospital. Kyle wants peace and quiet and ends up in a coma. Marty wants to get out of his class speech and loses his voice (I guess he got off lightly, really). You see how it works here.

Alex wants to stay the hell away from the Wizard, but her revulsion towards it and her suspicions that someone is actively harming her friends, lands her in danger. Then she witnesses an attempted murder that casts suspicion on several people close to her, plunging her even deeper into trouble.

What Point Horror books do a lot is mix a supernatural explanation with a mundane one. The Wish is no exception. The Wizard absolutely has powers and, for some reason, hates teenagers. But he's also a mechanical toy and can't get out and about to actively terrorise Alex, so of course there's a human accomplice. Hoh does a good job of throwing out red herrings - Julie's twin sister, Jenny, for example, suddenly gets a new lease of life after Julie is hospital-bound. She borrows Julie's clothes, dates a football star, and suddenly seems very unconcerned with her mutilated twin. Is she involved, or just selfish? Or both! Who knows? (Spoiler: she's just selfish and really wants to date a football player).

The reveal of the Wizard's real accomplice ends up being something of a bait-and-switch. We're guided, right up until the last second, to believe it's one character, and then it ends up being another. I don't particularly have a problem with that, as the actual reveal genuinely surprised me when I first read the book all those years ago. Revisiting it now, I found myself laughing at the villain's motivation for attempted murder and stalking, which basically boils down to "I wanna be good at sports."

Kyle and I have a running joke if you're Good At Sports in America, you can get away with anything. The Wish shows that being Good At Sports is worth doing anything, including trying to murder your friends. I don't know how much I believe that as motivation, but Hoh does a good job of showing how important being a big football star is to the boys in this book. They're all former high school football heroes, struggling to keep up with their peers on the bigger college stage, and their self-worth is all tied up in that. So in the context of the book and that framework, I guess you can buy that one particular guy might get desperate enough to team up with a mechanical wizard who really hates teenagers and do his dirty work for him in exchange for being Good At Sports.

Maybe.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Author Interview - Jen Katemi is Crossing the Line!

Happy Friday, folks! No flashback post today. Having ignored the whole blog thing for a week or so while I dealt with some personal stuff, I'm now playing fast and loose (not that there was every much structure here to begin with) and bringing you something different. Today we've got Jen Katemi here for an interview about her latest release, CROSSING THE LINE! Pull up a chair and make yourselves at home.


Tell us a little about your newest release.
Crossing the Line is my first release with Evernight Publishing, and the first under my new pen name, Jen Katemi. This ménage (MFM) romance about a married couple trying to inject some spice back into their lives is also an Evernight Editor’s Pick - a great way to start!

Here’s the blurb:

Love is always a risk…but some decisions in this dangerous game come with consequences.

Tam
I’d do anything to keep my wife Julia happy…until her proposal for a sexy ménage tryst threatens everything I thought I knew about us, and our relationship.

Julia
I adore my husband Tam, but in this dangerous high-stakes game am I risking too much for the future of our marriage?

Dominic
Tragedy took my wife and left me in a shattered mess. I’ve been running from commitment ever since, until Tam and Jules reach out. There’s no denying the chemistry that flares between us, but has our night of kinky threesome sex pushed us just that little bit too far?

Sex. Love. Marriage. A ménage gamble puts everything on the line.

Crossing the Line releases August 8th.

Sounds intriguing! Do you have a favourite genre?
My favourite genre to write is erotic romance. Sometimes contemporary, sometimes paranormal or fantasy romance, but always high heat, and always with either a happy-ever-after or a happy-for-now ending. Sex plus emotional angst is my comfort zone.

In terms of reading, I read across many different genres - erotic romance, contemporary, urban fantasy, suspense, thriller, young adult… pretty much everything except horror. I do like an element of romance though, in everything I read.

I love a good dose of angst in my reading, I have to confess. So, the important question - tea or coffee?
Definitely coffee, especially when I’m writing! Hot, black and sweet.

I can really only drink coffee if it's loaded with cream and syrup...which makes me think it's not the coffee I like... Moving on! What three ingredients do you consider an absolute necessity to writing a hot sex scene?
A physical connection between the characters – the sexual chemistry – is a must. But above and beyond that, an emotional connection adds something special and transforms a standard sex scene into one that is far more meaningful. Finally, I’d say an element of fun.

Apart from writing, what do you do in “real life”?
In “real life”, I’m a mum of two, step-mum of two, a wife and a slave to various cats. I work in admin at a university in my home town of Melbourne, Australia, and while I do enjoy my day job, writing is my passion. If I could afford it financially, I’d write full-time!

I hear you there! I'm also in admin at a university. Small world! :) What else are you working on right now? What’s up next from you?
As Jen Katemi, I’m hard at work on my next submission to Evernight - also a ménage romance. Fingers crossed it comes together nicely and the acquiring team at Evernight love it! I also have a billionaire romance (sexy, not erotic) titled Tempt, that will be out in a multi-author boxed set this month.

As Jennifer Lynne, I have a series of short erotic stories rolling out over the next three months, all of which push the envelope a little when it comes to kink. The Forbidden series includes stories centered on loving relationships that explore different aspects of kink. If you like bondage, spanking, voyeurism or ménage stories, with a healthy dose of romance, please check it out!

Find out more about my Jen Katemi books at: http://www.JenKatemi.com/ or my Jennifer Lynne titles at: http://www.Jennifer-Lynne.com/

Thank you so much for having me to visit, and for letting me share a little about my first Evernight release.

Thanks, Jen! Hopefully this gives everyone an idea of what to expect when they pick up CROSSING THE LINE...but in case you need more persuading to check out Jen's work, read on for a closer look...


Thursday, 17 August 2017

ON A DARK TIDE - Cover Reveal!

I have been waiting impatiently to show this one off to you. I was really keeping my fingers crossed for a cover that reflected the gloomy atmosphere and mystery of ON A DARK TIDE, and because Jay Aheer is a genius, she nailed it. I knew she would! But it's still tense waiting to actually see the artwork that's going to represent your story. But now the tension is all gone, because this is an actual perfect cover.

See for yourself!


Friday, 4 August 2017

Flashback Friday - The heat is on!

Happy Friday, one and all! We made it to the end of another week, and the weekend stretches out before us in all its glory, and you need something to read, right? Right! Say hello to Charity West. She's here today with a look back at her contemporary romance, RISING FROM THE ASHES. Get it while its hot!

I'll see myself out...

Rising-from-the-Ashes-evernightpublishing2017-eReader

Genres: Contemporary, Suspense, New Adult, Mainstream Romance
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Cover Artist: Jay Aheer
Heat Level: 2

Kaycee Witherspoon barely escaped her last relationship with her life. Now that she has a fresh start in a new town, she feels like she can finally breathe. But is she relaxing her guard too soon? When she finds her tires slashed and her apartment broken into, she has to wonder if her past isn’t quite so far behind her.

Zarek O’Donnell doesn’t know much about the new assistant at his fire station except that her mesmerizing curves and bewitching smile have him under her spell. Even though she laughs easily and seems to light up around him, he can tell that there’s something darker haunting her. His protective side rises to the surface whenever she’s near, and he knows he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.

When the lines of past and present begin to blur, there’s only one thing Kaycee knows. This time she might not escape. If she wants the new life she’s forged for herself, she’ll have to fight to keep it.

canstockphoto2472337

Excerpt:

“You have to be exhausted after working until this morning and then dealing with my apartment this afternoon.” I nibbled my bottom lip. “What if I made dinner? I haven’t eaten yet, and I’m sure you haven’t either.”

“I have a better idea. Why don’t we order some pizzas and watch TV for a while? We can sit on the couch and just relax for the rest of the night. Put on PJs and kick back.”

I arched a brow. “You own pajamas?”

“Well, I own pajama pants. Does that count?”

Holy Jesus, was he seriously going to run around without a shirt? Because I wasn’t sure my hormones could handle it. The hint of muscle I could see through his t-shirts was enough to make me drool. I didn’t think I could handle bare skin. Although, it would be a nice distraction from my problems, as long as I could keep my hands to myself. I wasn’t going to make any promises, though. A shirtless Zarek might be too much temptation.

He smirked, and I realized I was staring like an idiot.

“You just pictured me shirtless, didn’t you?” he asked with laughter flashing in his eyes.

My cheeks flushed. “No. Of course not.”

His grin widened a little, and he shook his head, clearly not believing me.

“If you tell me what you want on your pizza, I’ll place the order while you get comfortable.”

“I knew you were anxious to get me out of my clothes.”

My whole face felt like it was on fire. Before I could embarrass myself further, I bolted from the room and went to get a drink from the kitchen. I’d made a fresh pitcher of sweet tea last night and hadn’t touched it yet. By the time I’d poured myself a glass and returned to the living room, I could hear the shower going. I set my glass down and went to change into a tank and sleep shorts. They were old and comfortable, but they showed enough skin to be considered sexy. Do I want Zarek to see me as sexy?

I’d thought we would be roommates, co-workers, and nothing more. But the more I got to know Zarek, the harder it was to resist him. I’d felt that instant spark when we’d met at work on Monday, and I had to wonder what that spark would feel like if our lips touched. Would I feel the zing all the way to my toes? Just being near him was enough to make me tingle with awareness. I thought about him in the shower and wondered if he was as sexy dripping wet as I imagined him to be. I gave myself a mental slap, changed into my pajamas, and then returned to the living room. I couldn’t order the pizza yet since Zarek hadn’t told me what he wanted on his. I hadn’t paid close attention at work when the crew had ordered enough pizza to feed a small army.

I heard the shower shut off, and a few minute later, he wandered into the room.

My tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth, and I nearly choked on my own spit as he sank onto the sofa next to me. Holy hell, he was hot as fuck! His broad chest was well-muscled and his abs … I nearly fanned myself. As I whipped around to face the TV, before I got caught staring, I absently wiped at my chin to make sure I hadn’t been drooling.

Buy Links:

Evernight Publishing 
Amazon US
Amazon UK

Where to find Charity:

Charity's Amazon Page
Charity's Website
Find Charity on Facebook!
Follow Charity on Twitter
Sign-up for Charity's Newsletter

Charity West is a young adult/new adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.
By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

News! News! News!



I am thrilled to announce that IMPERIAL DEMONS has been accepted by Evernight! The contract is signed and we have a projected release date of October. So, if all goes well, you get Lola and Tristesse's big adventure before the end of the year! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!

I love this book and I love the future tales it will let me tell for these ladies. I can't wait to share it with you all! More details as I get them, as ever, but in the meantime, here's the (unofficial) blurb:

Magic can make you mad. Love can make you dangerous.

Tristesse is gone, taken between worlds to be the bride of a sadistic demon prince. And Lola will do anything to get her back. Crossing into Gehenna is only the start. Hunted by monsters and accompanied by allies she can’t trust, Lola must endure the horrors of the demon world, and embrace the darkness of demon magic. If it doesn’t consume her, it might just save both her and Tristesse.

But in Gehenna nothing is guaranteed. Nothing except pain.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

August Accountability

Well, it appears another month has gone by! July just seemed to go by impossibly fast, but looking back, a lot happened. I polished up and submitted Imperial Demons, edited LICH QUEEN and had it released, and just yesterday I completed the last round of edits for ON A DARK TIDE. Around that, I wrote and edited a 12k story and submitted it to an anthology, and got the first 4k of my new Amber Morgan project written.

So actually, yeah, that's probably why the month flew by.

So! What's the plan for August? Well, ON A DARK TIDE will be out on August 24th. I'm hoping to be able to share news about Imperial Demons with you soon. In the meantime, I'm going to be focusing on that Amber Morgan book and brainstorming Urban Wolf 6.

I've been thinking about this book a lot recently. You'll see from the Work In Progress thingy over there somewhere ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------->
that I have about 8k written of it, but I wrote that a few years ago now, and I'm not sure it's the story I want to tell next in this series anymore. I think some of the bare bones of the plot can remain, but the big juicy meaty bits need to change. So I need to figure that out before I start work on it again, but either way, Urban Wolf 6 is definitely next on the to-do list. WOLF STRAP was my first professionally published story, and even though it's been a while since I wrote a full-length Ayla and Shannon novel, their world and lives are still important to me. I always planned to give them five full-length novels at a bare minimum. At the moment we're on three short stories, two novels, and one spin-off in the shape of IN COLD BLOOD, so even though Urban Wolf 6 will technically be book six in the Urban Wolf World, it'll still only be Ayla and Shannon's third novel. There's a lot of their world left to explore.

Anyway! That's for the autumn. August is all about Amber. I will of course be checking in here with news about Imperial Demons and ON A DARK TIDE and probably other stuff as well, so stay tuned!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Flashback Friday - Blood Witch

Happy Friday, folks! With LICH QUEEN out in the wild, I thought I'd do something different for this week's flashback and take a look at one of my own books. And why not make it the book that started the Blood Canticles series, BLOOD WITCH? Why not indeed.



The early draft of BLOOD WITCH was a little different from the finished product, but the basics were the same - it started with a witch being questioned about a murder she didn't commit by two police officers who were sure she was guilty. But Lola was called Lilah, and Rowan was called Rosa, and neither of those police officers were Dawn.

Lilah became Lola because at the time I was seeing an absolute glut of urban fantasy and paranormal romance books where the heroines were called Lily or something similar, and I wanted to avoid having another Lily/Lilah/Lillian. Rosa became Rowan because, after I changed Lola's name, I didn't want two main characters whose names ended in that "ah" sound.

As for Dawn Hardy, she was originally destined to star in a book I never wrote, in a world where vampires had tried living as legal citizens and been forced back into the shadows when they just couldn't stop massacring people. Dawn was going to be a cop-turned-vampire hunter working for the government. I never got past the first few hundred words, and now I'm glad I didn't!


Lola Guntram is used to being an outcast. She's the only blood witch in Fort Rosser, mistrusted by other witches and happier working solo. But when her dark practices make her the prime suspect in a brutal murder investigation, she's forced to turn to others for help. Not that she has many allies—her ex-girlfriend thinks Lola is the killer, and the local coven leader thinks Lola will corrupt them all if she gets too close.

Help comes in an expected—and alluring—form. Tristesse is a demon on the run, beautiful, enigmatic, and suspiciously keen to assist Lola while she chases down the real killer. How can Lola refuse? With the police breathing down her neck, accusations flying, and inhuman monsters on the streets, Lola needs all the help she can get. The killer is angry, desperate, and determined. But so is Lola Guntram. And she doesn't care how dark or bloody the magic has to get—she's going to stop them.

Available now from Evernight/Amazon US/Amazon UK

Read on for an excerpt!