Honorary Blogger Post

Honorary Blogger Morgan Brice: Psychic Sleuthing + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Psychic Sleuthing

by Morgan Brice

I love pretty much anything supernatural or paranormal. That includes ghosts, psychics, mediums, monsters, magic…you get the picture.

I also really love mysteries. I’ve been hooked since I was a kid (Scooby-Doo remains, to this day, one of my favorite shows). I grew up reading mystery books, and I especially love paranormal mysteries, as well as crime dramas with a magical component.

And I’m also a big fan of books, movies and TV shows about monster hunters, including Supernatural, Van Helsing, Wynonna Earp, and the Harry Dresden books, to name a few.

On the non-romance side of my writing, as Gail Z. Martin, I write three urban fantasy series (Deadly Curiosities, the Night Vigil, and—co-written with Larry N. Martin—Spells, Salt and Steel) all of them in one way or another about hunting monsters, getting rid of cursed and haunted objects, fighting demons, and saving the world from supernatural threats.

So was it any surprise that when I started writing male/male romance it was going to be urban fantasy/paranormal? Let’s think about this: ghosts plus mystery plus crime plus sexy main characters? Hello!

In my Badlands series—which includes my Christmas novella, Lucky Town—Simon Kincaide is a psychic medium, so he gets glimpses of the future and can talk to ghosts. He teams up with skeptical cop Vic D’Amato to hunt down supernatural killers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Simon also has made connections with what he calls his ‘Skeleton Crew’—people with low-level, untrained psychic gifts who also live and work in Myrtle Beach. Often, their abilities have caused them trouble and heartache, because they didn’t have anyone to guide them, or they didn’t understand how to use their gifts. Simon tries to teach his Crew how to manage their abilities without causing further harm to others or themselves, and they become an intelligence network for him, letting Simon know what they hear when things get dicey.

My Witchbane series also has a a big mystery at the center of the plot. Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse, was killed by a dark warlock, part of a cycle of ritual killings that has gone on for a century. Seth vows to find the warlocks involved, and stop the murders. He never expects to fall in love with the warlocks’ next victim. Once he and Evan get together, the race is on to find the rest of the intended victims and warlocks and stop the murders once and for all—or die trying.

I try very hard to make my books solidly urban fantasy/paranormal mystery AND solidly male/male romance, which is for me, the best of both worlds. I want to give you a spooky, scary, sexy and suspenseful thrill ride, that ends with a happily ever after and the bad guys muttering, “And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren’t for those meddling men!”

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Honorary Blogger CJane Elliott: Day Off + Excerpt & Giveaway

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Day Off

by CJane Elliott

Hi, all! I’m CJane Elliott here to share about my new release, The Kinsey Scale. Thanks to The Blogger Girls for being the first stop on my blog tour. The Kinsey Scale is a cute college contemporary which features mixed-up boys who are hot for each other. Fun!

The Kinsey Scale starts when Eric and Will discover they have to share a dorm room. They are college seniors who are co-RAs (resident assistants who live in freshman dorms to help counsel the students). RAs usually get their own rooms but not this year because where’s the fun in that? Not only do Eric and Will seem like polar opposites but now they’re stuck with each other in a small dorm room all year. (Yes, authors are evil and love to torture their characters.)

I thought I’d have Will and Eric talk about what they enjoy doing on their days off. This conversation takes place when they’ve been roomies only a short time and the differences between them are obvious.

ERIC: One of the things I enjoy the most is sleeping in. I’m usually out dancing until late on Friday so the priority Saturday is spending as much time as possible in bed. [glances at Will] With or without someone in it with me.

WILL: Hmm.

ERIC: Go on, Will, tell them how you spend your weekends. I never know because you’re always over at Jessie’s. You all probably get up early and go play Frisbee or do something athletic, right? Or watch the football games on TV, huh? Soooo exciting.

WILL:  Something like that. But before that exciting stuff, I cook breakfast.

ERIC: You cook?

WILL: [stares Eric down] Yeah. Why? Is that so hard to believe?

ERIC: Oh, um, no. I’m just jealous because we’re stuck in this dorm room with no kitchen.

WILL: And you’re assuming I’d cook for you if we had one.

ERIC: [winsome smile] I bet you would.

WILL: Naw, I’d be out doing ‘something athletic’ way before you even wake up. We like hiking.

ERIC: Sounds… tiring.

WILL: Being out in nature rocks. You should try it sometime. So once you wake up, what else do you do on weekends? If anything.

ERIC: Hey! I’m very productive. I hang out with Jerry and Tyrone. Get a massage at the spa. Go shopping. And don’t forget play rehearsals once a new production starts up.

WILL: And these are all things you enjoy.

ERIC: Of course.

WILL: Okay, then.

I think I’ll stop them there while they’re trading glares! Never fear, they get to their happy ending… eventually.

Thanks for stopping in today. Enjoy The Kinsey Scale.

For the next stop on the Kinsey Scale blog tour, check out MM Good Book Reviews tomorrow, 11/11. I’ll have an exclusive excerpt which shows the boys having warmed up to each other. Too bad that means the sexual tension is beginning to heat up too!

Comment below with what you enjoy doing on your day off.

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Honorary Blogger Colette Davison: Second Chances + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Second Chances

by Colette Davison

Why I Left You is a second chance romance about two young men reconnecting after four years of being apart. They have painful memories to traverse in order to reach their happy ever after. They also have to rediscover who the other is. More than being a second chance romance, it’s about Jamie seizing his second chance at life and happiness after a failed suicide attempt.

The whole Why I… series is very much about second chances.

In Why I Need You, Noah has to decide if he wants to give Fin a second chance, after he discovers the early stages of their relationship was based on mistruths. For Fin, telling the truth becomes something he puts off, believing he’ll lose the man he’s falling in love with. Of course, keeping his truths to himself means that’s exactly what happens, but not for the reasons he was afraid of.

In Why I Trust You, Ryan isn’t sure he can explore a second chance at love, after escaping an abusive relationship. Martin has to help him see that trust is possible, despite the horrors of his past.

Why did I decide to write about second chances?

I think in life we all wish we had at least one do-over (or, more likely, several dozen). How many times have you wished you’d done or said something different? How many times have you regretted your actions? I’m amazing at running through things in my head, wondering what I could do differently, if only I had a second chance at that one moment in time where I screwed up.

Do-overs don’t exist; we can’t go back in time. That doesn’t mean we can’t make things right in other ways, or receive forgiveness from those with hurt. It doesn’t mean the people around us won’t give us a second chance.

Second chances should be seized when they are given to us. Make the most of them. They are things to be treasured. My characters in the Why I… series are not perfect. They make mistakes, some of which are colossal. However, the people who love them provide them with that precious second chance. It’s making the most of those opportunities that allow each couple to reach their happy endings.

The next time you’re presented with a second chance, make the most of it. Who knows, maybe it’ll lead you to your own happy ever after.

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Honorary Blogger T.A. Moore: Five Facts About James + Giveaway!

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Five Facts About James

by T.A. Moore

First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my stand-alone contemporary suspense Every Other Weekend. Every now and again an author (or at least THIS author) gets characters who drop fully formed and already opinionated into your brain. It happened with my Digging up Bones series, and again with Clayton and Kelly (and Baker, who was so much to write for that he has to get an honourable mention) in this book. Trust me, this was originally meant to be a much sillier book. There were hijinks planned, but Clayton almost immediately established he wasn’t into the ‘jinks.

Anyhow, I thought that since I loved these guys so much? You guys might like to learn a few important bits and pieces about them. Today? James, the soon-to-be-ex that Clayton is helping his client get rid off.

Five Facts about James

 

  1. James met his wife, Nadine, when she was a waitress in a local bar, one of the dozens of pretty blondes who’d were on the verge of aging out of the big break slot. She’d agreed to go out with his friend, so James set out to win over to…prove he could. He was charming and fun, silly sometimes, and it won her over. Once he did, he sent photos of her naked to his jilted friend. ‘Accident,’ he claimed. ‘Still, stop him sniffing around right?’
  2. He never wanted kids, but once she got pregnant he never pushed for an abortion. Talked to her for three days about what a disaster it would be for them to have a kid now, like for fucksake it would be an anchor around their neck, and left her an envelope of cash for ‘whatever she decided’. Once Nadine said he wanted the baby though, he let it go. Took the money back, though.
  3. Although James was never particularly interested in his son when Harry was a baby, there was a period when he was a toddler that James was really enamoured of him. It wore off as Harry got older and wasn’t exactly the son that James wanted.
  4. Sometimes he tells a lot of lies. He justifies this to himself, as much as he justifies anything, by the fact Nadine never asks about them. If she really wanted the truth, after all, she’d pry more.
  5. He doesn’t think he’s a bad guy.

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Honorary Bloggers K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn: Food Talk + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Food Talk

by K. Evan Coles & Brigham Vaughn

As we discussed topics for this this blog post, the conversation got derailed (as it often does) by talk of food. First K. Evan mentioned that she was making overnight oats. This segued into Brigham’s dinner plans of turkey burgers with curried mayo and garam masala roasted potato wedges. From there it went into a discussion about what Brigham should do with a bunch of milk that needed to be used up before it went bad. Homemade ricotta cheese and pumpkin rice pudding were discussed and recipes researched. We debated the merits of bubble tea, tapioca pudding, and Champorado, a Filipino rice porridge made with cocoa powder and coconut milk.

We have conversations like this often, both for IRL purposes and for character writing. In the end, we realized we might as well write a blog post about food, one of our mutual loves. After all, clearly our minds were on the topic, so why not focus on something that we clearly spend a lot of time talking about.

K. Evan calls herself a “super food fan” and Brigham is a self-described foodie. Both of us enjoy both cooking and baking as well as eating, and especially sharing the food we make with others. Our newsletter even has a section for recipe sharing. We wholeheartedly enjoy others doing the cooking, too, especially foods we’re not easily able to make ourselves. To us, food is just all sorts of fun.

We’ve had to research a different genre of recipes for “The Speakeasy” books, namely cocktails and mocktails. The characters in the books frequent an uptown speakeasy in Manhattan called Under, and the bar becomes a sanctuary of sorts for a growing circle of friends to connect and share their experiences. Under serves as both hang out and haven for the characters, and the drinks served there and throughout the plots are as varied as their personalities.

Some of our characters want something fabulous with four liquor and a fancy garnish, like the Lita Grey Cocktail. Others crave a more straightforward kind of drink, like the Cuba Libre or a great Scotch served neat. We also write characters who abstain from alcohol and some who drink sparingly to avoid medication interactions. For them we’ve become acquainted with lots of gorgeous mocktails and infused waters, many of which have migrated into our personal lives (neither of us finds writing while imbibing actual alcoholic cocktails to be particularly productive).

To be sure, our books contain references to food, too. Our characters cook with and for each other, and some do a little more teaching if they find their partner in crime is best known for burning water. The characters definitely dine, too, and enjoy sharing meals in groups. Some of the characters are even willing to set their differences with friends and family aside—at least for a little while—when it comes time to cozy up to the table for some good food and conversation.

Food is so often a universal language that brings people together and helps them connect. The connections in our books might occur over a boisterous dinner featuring a big group eating homemade Guinness beef stew, but they might also happen in a more intimate setting, like an impromptu picnic of cookies and beer for two on someone’s half made bed.

We can go a little overboard with the descriptions, which we suspect occurs if we’ve been writing while hungry. As our beta readers go through a book, they often make suggestions to trim a section that involves food or remove some of the details of a meal the characters are eating. We writers then typically debate the comments at length before we cut anything out. Because food.

We know there are readers out there who are much less interested in every last detail of the food and drinks the characters enjoy, so we want to keep it balanced. Setting the scene is important, but we also want the scenes to help develop the characters and move the plot forward. In the end, we want to tell a really great story, and we do our best to determine how many words we spend on everything in it.

Incidentally, we have plans for a book about a chef in the near future. Our tendencies to go cheerfully overboard with the food talk may come in handy then!

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Honorary Blogger Rhys Ford: Tattoo Symbolism + Giveaway!

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Tattoo Symbolism

by Rhys Ford

Well, I want to thank everyone for following the blog tour for 415 Ink: Savior! I’m going to use the same intro for every piece in case someone jumps in midway because that way everyone starts off on the same page. So if you’re joining midway, be sure to backtrack and catch the other posts because we’ll be exploring tattoos. Be sure to catch Savior, a second book in the 415 Ink series, on its release date of September 18!

This has been a crazy series to write and as much as I enjoyed it, it’s always a challenge to bring a fully fleshed character with very real problems to the page. I hope that when you read Savior you will fall in love with Mace and be with him on his journey as he in turn falls in love with Rob.

Since the tattoo shop, 415 Ink, is such a central heart of the series, I wanted to talk about tattoo symbolism very briefly because there’s a lot of opinions and cultural attachments to certain tattoos. What could be presented on this tour is just a small sampling of what people believe certain images mean and how they connect to the people who choose to wear them on their skin.

I’m going to say that tattoos are not for everyone but I do have a hard-core cultural association with them so I’m very fond of tattoos. I feel it is a very personal thing and should be taken seriously because you are going to wear it for the rest of your life. But, I also do believe even the tiniest flash tattoo means something to someone and everyone getting ink should be respected for their choices. Someone’s little flower on an ankle could mean their experiment into pushing themselves to fearlessness or capture memory of something they shared with someone. Not every tattoo needs to be huge or an artistic rendering of the Sistine Chapel. But they should have meaning.

I believe a tattoo should be a piece of yourself the inker draws out of your soul and embellishes on your skin. It should rise up from some part of you to realize its existence.

Much like love. And very much like falling in love.

So let’s talk about ink.

Traditional – Sailor Tattoos

Inspired by the ink they saw on the skin of the people they met on their travels around the Pacific, sailors began to mark their own bodies for luck and as badges of honor for milestones they’d passed in their journeys. The life of a sailor was dangerous, and the accomplishments they made had a great deal of meaning for them. Their tattoos were proof they’d sailed thousands of miles, crossed the equator, and survived storms and other dangers of the deep.

Norman Keith Collins aka Sailor Jerry had one of the first tattoo shops in the Western world, established many of the customary designs we see today’s flash art including: anchors, daggers, serpents, mermaids, and more. Collins has since passed away but his family and friends continue his Old School Traditional tattoo styles at Old Ironside, a tattoo shop that stands in the original spot of Sailor Jerry’s O’ahu shop.

Each had its own meaning. Some of the most common sailor tattoos are:

Anchor: An anchor placed anywhere on the body represented that a sailor had completed a voyage that crossed the Atlantic. It also was thought to bring steadiness.

Compass: A compass was so a sailor would always be able to find his way home.

Dice: A set of dice was often chosen by a sailor to show that he was a fearless risk taker. It was also chosen by sailors that enjoyed gambling.

Dragon: A dragon symbolized that a sailor had been to China.

Harpoon: A harpoon was a mark of having belonged to a fishing or whaling fleet.

Hula Girl: A symbol that signified that a sailor had been to Hawaii.

Lighthouse: A symbol of guiding light and protection against a ship crashing against the rocks. It was also known to represent home and shelter.

Mermaid/Siren: The call of the siren was a superstition. It was thought that the beautiful lure of a siren’s voice would misguide a ship, and cause it to wreck, or pull a sailor into the sea to find her where he would drown. Having a mermaid tattoo protected against the dangers of the sea.

Nautical Star: A nautical star was a popular emblem sailors would get to be sure they would be guided home safely.

Pig & Rooster: Both pigs and roosters were kept on board in crates that floated, so a pig on one foot and a rooster on the other was thought to protect a sailor from drowning.

Rope: A rope around the wrist meant that the sailor had served as a deckhand.

Rose & Dagger: Showing bravery and a willingness to fight, a dagger through a rose symbolized a fearlessness of conflict or confrontation.

Ship: A ship with full sails marked a sailor’s voyage around Cape Horn, which is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans meet.

Swallow: One of the most well-known of nautical tattoos, a swallow represented every 5000 miles a sailor voyaged. A swallow will always find their way home, and it was thought that the swallow would bring luck and mean that the sailor would return safely home.

Turtle: A hardback turtle was a symbol of passing the equator.

So there’s also giveaway! Enter to win a $20 USD gift certificate to an e-tailer of your choice which can include Dreamspinner, Amazon, Starbucks or any place I can send a gift certificate without having to sacrifice a chicken. Just follow the blog’s contest rules to enter!

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Honorary Blogger S.M. James: Why Do You Write Gay Characters? + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Why Do You Write Gay Characters?

by S.M. James

A question I’m asked a lot is: “Why do you write gay characters?”

My answer: “Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.”

Young adult books have always been my jam and when I began writing them around ten years ago, I was real unsettled by the lack of diversity in the books I was picking up to read.

I didn’t know what my issue was at first. The plots were great, the characters were engaging, but there was just something … missing.

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but the ‘We Need Diverse Books’ movement took hold and it was like this massive haze had been lifted. I started to actively seek out diverse books and consume them by the truck load. I couldn’t get enough. And with the reader demand, publishers stepped up. At one point I thought I’d read close to every diverse book I could find, now my TBR pile is overflowing.

It was at this point I really fell in love with LGBT+ literature. While it was a big part of my real life, I’d failed to see it represented well (or at all, in YA) and it was very clear the ‘bury your gays’ trope was alive and running rampant.

Why the hell couldn’t a non-hetero, non-cis person have a happily ever after? And why couldn’t they – GASP – be the main character?

I started to go beyond traditional publishing to buy up just about every happy-ending queer book I could find, no matter whether I planned to read it or not. And there were a lot more options than I thought.

Up until that point I’d only ever written in the fantasy genre, but as I read more and more contemporary, I was itching to try and write one. I still had far too many ideas to get to my agent but in between those projects, I quietly worked on bringing Archie and Landon to life.

It wasn’t until I was scrolling through Twitter one day, that I saw an announcement I remember making me stop. A book had sold—a GAY book had sold. Traditionally. For a lot. The author had sent out a random query to a well-known agent, who offered her representation the next day. A week later, the book went to auction, and Becky Albertalli’s career was launched. I picked up Simon vs on release day and fell in love.

It gave me hope that Archie and Landon could have the happily ever after I planned for them.

I finished That Feeling When late last year, assuming it would join the line of titles waiting on my agent to read. While I waited, I started work on a high fantasy with a FF romance.

TFW just … sat there.

And sat there.

That’s when I decided this one would be my indie debut. I had a heap more planned for the series, with characters I couldn’t wait to get out there, and indie authors had been leading the way in LGBT+ romance for years before the traditional publishing houses caught up. It just made sense.

I knew it would be expensive. I knew there’d be people who wouldn’t read it because it wasn’t from one of the Big 4. I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work.

And I was totally cool with all that.

Because everyone deserves to see themselves in a book.

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Honorary Blogger Michael Bailey: Character Voices + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Character Voices

by Michael Bailey

So, much to the chagrin of a lot of people, I am a total pantser.  In fact, I have a tendency to “know” one of my MC’s at the beginning and not the other.  This is primarily because they are usually the first ones to “talk” (yes, these characters talk.  Greg is a perfect example of that, and I’ll get to him in a moment.) I initially see different points of the story through that MC’s eyes, but not the whole thing.  Typically, it’s not until after that MC has met the other that I get a good idea who that person is.

Certain scenes will be in my head, but I have absolutely no idea how they are all connected.  I rely on the characters to lead me. Sometimes the way in which I envisioned a scene is ultimately not how it ends up written.  Part of that is because I originally saw the scene from one perspective and the other MC may have seen it differently.  

As I said, I don’t know all of the story when I sit down to write.  It usually starts with an idea, a concept, or a question.  With “Looking In,” I already knew who David was. I knew some but not all of his backstory.  I knew, in broad strokes, why he was the way he was.  

So I asked myself a question:  to a person like David, what would unconditional love look like?  And how would the other person need to show it?

There’s a scene in that book where David and Adam are in a fast food restaurant, eating dinner together.  David is wearing his customary long-sleeved shirt, which Adam has always found curious. At one point during the conversation, David’s arm shifts slightly, allowing the shirt sleeve to ride up ever slow slightly.  This is pivotal for one reason: this is the first time I actually had to debate with one of my characters. I typed that Adam saw the scars on David’s arm, then deleted it. I vividly remember Adam saying, “no, I see them, because those are so much more.  More than physical. It’s a metaphor.”

And then I got it.

To David, someone that would be able to give him that unconditional love was someone that would be able to see the scars, both inside and out, and love and accept him anyway.

Greg was a whole different scenario.  He took me completely by surprise. He was originally simply nothing more than a name on a page.  No character, nothing. I was on my way to work one morning when out of nowhere, he started talking.  Greg, it turns out, had a lot to say. He has an enormous amount of guilt he has to work through because he feels that he didn’t do enough to help his brother, Ben, when their father discovered the latter had been researching questioning one’s sexual identity.  A massive, physical confrontation followed, and Ben ran away from home in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. To a very large degree, he has “adopted” David as sort of a surrogate brother because of his inability to protect his real brother.

Owen’s story in “Looking Forward” is one I knew well.  In fact, I knew what his story was when he was introduced in the first book, much in the same way I know Greg’s and his brother’s.  Owen’s story was a bit trickier to tell, however. It didn’t fit what is considered a traditional romance, but I think his story, his voice, fits the overall narrative of what this series of books is about.  Yes, I’m being vague about his story, but for a reason. I think that too much information may spoil the story or mislead readers into believing one thing when the opposite is true. Suffice it to say that Owen’s voice was just as loud in my head, perhaps louder with this book, as any other character.

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Honorary Blogger Lynn Michaels: Inspiration + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Inspiration

by Lynn Michaels

Everyone asks what inspires an author for their stories, and that tends to be a complicated answer. Inspiration comes from so many places and changes from story to story. Time for Love was inspired by several things.

First, the main character, Jeremy, started talking to me after a trip to the beach. He came across as a relaxed, beach bum type of guy, but he grew to so much more. His background and philosophy developed through research.

His counterpart, Ollie, came first from the technology that build his app. That bit came from my own work with recruiting data scientists that work with machine learning and AI for the company I work for. The concept fascinated me, so I wanted him to be a developer. Of course, I needed a way for these two to get together, so the rest of the story unfolded from there.

Overall, most of my stories incorporate bits and pieces from my life and the world around me. If you read my work, you’ll see tidbits of me throughout in many different ways.

Thank you to The Blogger Girls for letting me stop today

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Honorary Blogger Jessamyn Kingley: Why the Decision to Release With a New Title and Cover? + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Why the Decision to Release With a New Title and Cover?

by Jessamyn Kingley

It all started with the cover. I first published Book 1 in 2015 and the second book, Sentinel’s Dagger, wasn’t released until 2017. I used the same cover artist, but she chose a different look and feel when she designed Book 2. I was in love with it and she has carried that theme through the next six books I published. It was automatic that when I re-released it I would have her design something that fit in with the entire D’Vaire series to make them cohesive. I also realized I had published eight stories centered around a home ruled by a dragon shifter and I hadn’t picked a cover that showed their majesty.

With the decision made to redo the look, I couldn’t help but consider the title. It was originally called Grand Redemption which I can honestly say never seemed like the perfect fit. I struggled with naming it and though I have with others none so intensely as Book 1. Grand was supposed to reflect Dra’Kaedan’s title and the word redemption referred to many of the different things going on in the story. However, none of that redemption was fully realized in the first book. There are story arcs that have carried over for some characters up to twelve stories while others are still waiting for it. Redemption is only beginning in the book. So, since I had the opportunity to consider other options I seized it. I wanted something that spoke of not only Dra’Kaedan and Brogan but the series as a whole. Dra’Kaedan’s Coven was the answer to that, I didn’t even have to consider other choices. I just wish I had thought of it the first time around. If I had, there’s no way I would have changed it!

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