Posts Tagged With: NineStar Press

Honorary Blogger Sara Dobie Bauer: Revisiting the Past + Excerpt!

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Revisiting the Past

by Sara Dobie Bauer

My new novel, We Still Live, takes place in a small fictional Ohio town called Hambden. This is the home of Hambden University, a place shrouded in darkness following a tragic shooting the spring before our story begins. Yes, Hambden is fictional—but the setting of We Still Live (and subject matter) is very, very real.

There are those who say, “Write what you know.” Eh, I’m not a big fan of that old literary adage. Sometimes, though, sometimes, I completely understand writing what I know, especially when it comes to setting. 

I attended Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where I earned my creative writing degree and probably lost half my liver. (It’s a party school and annually hosts one of the biggest Halloween celebrations in the country.) When I considered the setting for We Still Live, Athens came immediately to mind, although I didn’t want to set the book literally in Athens because I don’t want the horror of a shooting to linger over any school—even if the shooting is fictional.

As I wrote, I time traveled. In my crazy brain, I went back to Athens for We Still Live. Granted, I pay my alma mater a drunken visit every two years or so. I know the place better than I know Cleveland, where I currently live. Still, I conjured memories of Athens, Ohio …

The way Ellis Hall (the arts building) smelled.

How my favorite tree (a white sycamore on College Green) changed with the seasons.

The scent of wet leaves and clove cigarettes as Halloween approached.

The frigid wind of winter.

The wicked spring rainstorms that made rivers run down Court Street.

The weeping angel statue in the cemetery up the hill.

Many of these references make their way into We Still Live because setting in a book is almost as important as character. In fact, the setting can be a character. I love when I successfully invoke a place—its sights, sounds, and smells—for my reader. Athens (Hambden) was easy to invoke due to my familiarity, and it was fun revisiting a favorite place from my past.

I’ve done this with other books, too. The Bite Somebody series is based in Longboat Key, Florida, where I’ve vacationed every spring for years. Destiny’s Dark Light is in Charleston, South Carolina, where I lived and lost and loved. Of course, I’ve imagined places, too. In the Escape Trilogy, for instance, I couldn’t literally travel back to New Orleans in the early 1800s—but I could research. I could also dream.

That’s why I’m not big on the “write what you know” thing. Writing is about imagination. Most of the time, it’s fun to not write what you know and see what new things you learn.

What setting from your past deserves to be immortalized? Or what new setting would you like to create? Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Isabelle Adler: Writing Fantasy Romance + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Writing Fantasy Romance

by Isabelle Adler

Hi, I’m Isabelle! I write LGBTQ romance in a variety of genres, including sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary. My newest release, The Wolf and the Sparrow, is what you may call a classic fantasy story, complete with its own unique world and magic system. Set in a pseudo-medieval world, it focuses on two heirs of noble families that enter an arranged marriage for political reasons and are initially less than impressed with each other. But as the plot progresses and the political situation around them threatens to escalate into a full-blown war, they team up, driven by the duty to protect their subjects. Together, they must face sea-raiders, hostile magic-wielders, and old enemies, but the hardest trial of all are the dark secrets from their past that might yet tear them apart.

Today I would like to talk about the inspiration and the challenges behind writing a fantasy romance novel. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by story of whimsy and imagination—from fairy tales to hard sci-fi and high fantasy. The Lord of the Rings was one of my favorite books growing up, and had had a huge influence on me, both as a person and as a writer. However, it wasn’t until much later that I discovered the combination of fantasy and the romance genre, and, specifically, queer romance in fantasy. These stories (such as Lynn Flewelling’s amazing Nightrunner series) had opened a world of new and exciting possibilities of representing characters that don’t often feature in mainstream fantasy and speculative fiction.

For me, the most challenging thing is definitely finding the right balance between interesting worldbuilding, an engaging plot, and a romance that would satisfy the reader looking for that exciting emotional rollercoaster that culminates in a sweet Happy-Ever-After. I tend to focus on the plot when I’m planning the story, but ultimately, it’s all about the characters and their journey. In a fantasy setting, the stakes can be quite high (in The Wolf and the Sparrow, the fates of entire realms hang in the balance), but the emotional obstacles the main characters have to overcome must feel just as important. The external conflict must intertwine with the transformation each character undergoes inside—and just as the case is with perils and adventures, the heroes have to look for each other for help and support. It’s not enough to rescue each other and save each other’s lives—it’s all about opening up to each other to let love take root and blossom amidst the adversity.

Hopefully, I’ve managed to hit just the right level of excitement and romance in The Wolf and the Sparrow and create characters that the readers could relate to. This book had been a labor of love, and I hope people will have as much fun reading the story as I had writing it! Continue reading

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A Broken Winter by Kale Night: Exclusive Deleted Scene & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Deleted Scene from A Broken Winter

by Kale Night

I’m sharing an exclusive deleted scene from A Broken Winter. There’s certain scenes that are painful to cut and this was one of them. It occurs right after a character is bitten by a snake. The snake’s powerful venom triggers a memory from a past life. I cut this in favour of the memory that appears in the novel, because the other scene ties things together a little better. But I wish I’d been able to include more of Kai and Nika together, but I’ll be making up for it in book two.

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“You shouldn’t eat that in bed. You’re going to make everything sticky,” scolded Kai.

“Everything’s already sticky.” Dark eyes regarded him with playful defiance. Nika sank his teeth into a pulpy yellow thornfruit and juice trickled down his chin. He laid languidly on the bed, blessedly naked. The man’s toned muscles formed exquisite lines in his bare skin—smooth, flawless taupe. Nika chewed slowly, squeezing more juice from the pulpy flesh, and trickled fragrant nectar over Kai’s bare chest.

“Aah … Nika …” The liquid tingled on contact. Kai’s fingers caught in the strands of Nika’s long, black hair, tugging gently as the younger male licked and sucked.

An urgent rapping at the door wrenched his mind into high-alert and he was on his feet, scrambling into an indigo colored tunic left discarded at the foot of the bed. “Kai’den! Kaaai!”

“I’m coming, I’m coming.”

“These aren’t the circumstances under which I wanted to hear you say that,” grumbled Nika, crawling beneath the covers.

Kai tugged the door open. Prince Anowki stood in the hall, panting heavily, pale and distraught. “You have to get Nika out of here. The plague is spreading. My father has ordered the execution of every slave, even the ones in the palace.”

Nika rolled out of bed, tugging a red skirt-like garment around his waist. “What about my parents?”

Anowki’s hazel eyes filled with tears. He shook his head and knelt on the cold stone floor, bowing his head, pressing his palms flat to the ground. “Nika. I couldn’t—” He choked back a sob. “I’m sorry.”

Nika walked over to the prince and yanked him to his feet, “Get up, you idiot. There’ll be plenty of time for us to cry about this later.” He tugged Anowki towards him and hugged him tightly. “It’s not your fault.”

Kai cinched a leather belt around his waist, cramming the attached coin purse full with as many valuable gems as it could carry, and retrieved a folded steel sword from his bedside, the handle wrapped in thick, ruddy sand shark hide, covered in tiny hard scales. He extinguished an olive oil lamp burning smokelessly in a corner of the room and closed the stone door.

They glided through dim tunnels, tongues dry and frozen in their mouths. The stale air was nauseatingly thick with the scent of fragrant oils, runewood and cloves. Closer and closer. Nearly there. A murky figure halted in the distance, appraising them from afar, then closed in.

Yvette. One of the palace guards. Like him, she was orphaned at an early age, her village burned to the ground by dragon fire. They’d both been recruited by the Balphagor—an elite group of dragon hunters. After hunting the beasts to the point of near extinction and working themselves out of a job, members of the Balphagor were recruited by the royal family, serving as their protectors.

“Evie …”

Her hand moved to her sword and hovered over the hilt. Her gaze shifted from him to Nika, staring hard. He’d once spent three weeks with her in a tiny scrubdeer tent after a 1,000-kilogram dragon rolled on her, cracking six of her ribs. They’d subsided primarily on lizards and scorpion cactus fruit. He still had tiny circular scars all over his fingertips from harvesting the succulent berries. Evie was quick with a blade. If she drew on him, he’d have no choice but to reciprocate. Her black eyes flickered in the torchlight, returning their focus to him. “I didn’t join the Crystal Guard to fight my brothers.” She punched his shoulder affectionately and stepped aside. “Good luck.”

Kai caught Evie’s hand as he walked past and squeezed it.

Prince Anowki bowed. “Thank you, Miss Evie.”

He proceeded down the narrow corridor. The Hall of Eidolon was brightly lit, with no discernable source of illumination. Colorful figures glowed in the eerie light, painted onto a thin layer of plaster covering limestone concrete walls. Var’het, the Goddess of rain, trampling an army of invading Stig warriors, spattering their blood across the sand, giving it the distinct ruddy hue which persisted to this day. The demon Lamashtu, cornered by Pious Parnicus following the abduction of his daughter, chewed the child’s fingers off, mocking her horrified father. Her flesh was jellyfish-like, translucent. Her hair a tangle of dark adders.

The High Priestess sat on her knees, lovingly scrubbing a statue of the Creator. The statue was neither male nor female, androgynous, a mixture of pigment and animal glue staining smooth skin a patchwork blend of blues, greens, and reds. The Priestess gazed at them, eyes like purple desert crocuses which sprouted in the rain.

Mother …

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Release Blitz: Snowdrop in a Storm by Ava Kelly + Excerpt& Giveaway!

Snowdrop in a Storm by Ava Kelly

Daniel Wu’s life is wonderful. He has an amazing family in his partner, Jeff, and their adopted daughter. The only thorn in his happiness is Abby’s biological father, Nick, who can’t seem to let go of the past. 

Ridden by guilt for trying to tear apart Jeff’s family a year prior, Nick Mariani struggles to find a place for himself in a future that seems bleak. With the backdrop of a holiday vacation, he embarks on a journey of redemption. An unexpected surprise is Leon, who flirts shamelessly from the moment they meet. Leon brings Nick hope, but the shadows of the past threaten to swallow all that newfound brightness.

Available at: Amazon

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Release Blitz: The Sun Still Rises by Laura Bailo + Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Sun Still Rises by Laura Bailo

Whenever his father asked Erik to accompany him to Pamplona for the San Fermín festival, he said no. Now his father is gone, and in a spur of the moment decision, Erik finds himself in another country to run with the bulls in his memory. Erik hasn’t booked a hotel, and he’s completely unprepared for a city bustling with people. No accommodations to be had, he’s resigned to sleeping in a park. Until help comes from an unlikely place.

David works in the tourism office, and Erik is surprised but grateful when he offers him his spare room, despite being a complete stranger. Faced with the choice of sleeping on the ground or the friendly offer of an extra bed, the decision is an easy one. The two of them get to know each other as David shows Erik what’s to love about Pamplona. For the first time in a long while, Erik feels something for another person, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is only temporary and he needs to go back home, does it?

Available at: Amazon

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Audio Review: Curses, Foiled Again by Sera Trevor

Reviewed by Susan65

Title: Curses, Foiled Again
Author: Sera Trevor
Narrator: Michael T Bradley
Series: Curses, Foiled Again #1
Heroes: Felix & John
Genre: M/M Paranormal
Length: 9 hours and 52 minutes
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: June 28, 2019
Available at: Amazon & Audible
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Felix is a vampire – a fierce creature of the night who strikes terror into the hearts of everyone unlucky enough to become his prey. Or at least, that’s what he thought was true, until he met John. John is completely unimpressed with Felix, much to his dismay. Felix becomes fixated on proving his ferocity to John – and when that doesn’t work, he strives to make any impression on him at all.

John is a witch, and as all witches know, vampires are notoriously stupid creatures who only have the power to hurt those who fear them. Besides, he’s under a curse much more frightening than any vampire. Felix’s desperate attempts to impress him annoy John at first, but gradually, they become sort of endearing. Because of his curse, John has pushed everyone in his life away. But Felix can’t be hurt, so there’s no harm in letting him hang around.

Felix is technically dead. John has nothing left to live for. But together, they might have a shot at life.

This dark and witty vampire romance for adults is complete at 100,000 words, with no cliffhanger. Despite some dark twists and turns, it ends with a solid HEA. Continue reading

Categories: 4 Star Ratings, Audio Review, LGBT, Published in 2019, Susan65's Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Release Blitz: Irises in the Snow by Isabelle Adler + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Irises in the Snow by Isabelle Adler

It’s Christmas, and Justin’s life is fraying at the edges. The family business he took over instead of going to art school is bleeding money, and his boyfriend of seven months cheated on him. Under these circumstances, family gatherings can be rough, but Justin believes he has everything under control. That is, until Elliot, his former best friend (and the first guy to ever break his heart) unexpectedly shows up at the holiday dinner party.

With both of them still nursing the wounds of the past, it might take a real Christmas miracle for Justin and Elliot to learn to appreciate the art of second chances.

Available at: Amazon

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Release Blitz: Sons of Rome by Karrie Roman + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Sons of Rome by Karrie Roman

9CE Germania

Battle weary and fearless Centurion Drusus Tuscus has only three more years in the Roman Legions and then he can return home to the mother and young brother he was forced to leave behind seventeen summers ago. Drusus has suffered much during his years in the Legions: defeats, fallen comrades and excruciating wounds, but this time the stakes are so much higher. As he prepares to lead his warriors from the safety of their winter base, across the Rhine into the wilds of Germania, he awaits the arrival of new recruits to bolster his century. With these men he will face the ferocious barbarian tribes, many still chafing under the yoke of Roman subjugation.

When his friend and Optio returns with the new men, two faces in the crowd change everything for Drusus. His brother, long lost to him and now a man, stands before him and he brings with him a friend, a man named Caius. A man who stirs the long dead fires of Drusus’s heart. Two men, neither of whom Drusus is willing to lose to a barbarian blade.

As the campaign begins, whispers of betrayal and rebellion stoke a fear in Drusus, especially as his arrogant commander refuses to take heed of the warnings. As catastrophe stalks their footsteps Drusus must balance his duty to Rome with his love for Caius. He will give everything he has to save his beloved brother, and Caius, the man who has stolen his heart.

Two lives that mean more to Drusus than his own.

Available at: Amazon

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Release Blitz: Never Knew Until You by L.E. Royal + Excerpt & Giveaway!

Never Knew Until You by L.E. Royal

After the dissolution of her fourteen-year marriage to her cheating ex-wife, forty-year-old college professor Parker Freeman finds herself adrift. Suddenly middle-aged with so much time wasted, she seeks solstice online where she stumbles upon The Pandora Agency—an organization claiming to help individuals find themselves through submission. Encouraged to be a little wild by her best friend, Parker speaks to the agency and sets up a meeting with a female dominant, Miss Diaz.

Greeted at the door of an impressive Miami townhouse by a young woman, Parker questions her decision as she waits for the girl’s mother. Stunned by the reveal that twenty-four-year old Kristina is in fact the Miss Diaz she has come to meet, she is dragged head first into a new world.

Despite Kristina’s commitment issues and Parker’s shattered confidence, the two enter into a tenuous agreement that sparks Parker’s rediscovery of herself. Both are surprised by their compatibility until they stumble across the line from arrangement into relationship, and Kristina calls their time together to an end. When an unexpected catastrophe throws them back together, old demons are finally brought into the light, and both women must decide if letting go of the past is worth the future they could have together.

Available at: Amazon

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Categories: Book Promo, Excerpts, Giveaways, LGBT, Published in 2019 | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Author Q&A: Thea McAlistair + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Please welcome Thea McAlistair to The Blogger Girls!

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

My first story that I remember was a fan fiction of a book about fairies at the age of 10 or so. It was a school assignment, but I don’t remember exactly what the assignment was.
My first non-school related piece was something like a YA take on Lord of the Rings around age 14. It didn’t get past a couple pages but I probably put almost as much planning into it as Tolkien himself would have. Sometimes I think I should go back to it, but I’m pretty sure I can’t get my mind wrapped around young YA.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

Definitely when I find the time. I work full time (45-50 hours a week), so sometimes I have to get creative. I have, however, found that if I have a clear goal or deadline, even one with no consequences like NaNoWriMo, I’m much more likely to sit down and actually work. No Good Men and its sequel Boiling Over are results of NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo, respectively

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first?  Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I start with characters or maybe a brilliant flash of a scene. I piece it out from there: who are these people? How did they end up in this situation? How will they get out of it? That can usually carry me to a couple thousand words and then I need to dip into the well of music or other fiction to bring back the spark. Sometimes it takes longer than I want.

Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?

It didn’t start as a particular desire. I consider No Good Men a mystery first, a romance second. But that’s sort of the thing, isn’t it? There isn’t a “reason” for the characters being LGBTQ any more than there’s a “reason” for real LGBTQ people to exist. It’s time we accepted that.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

I’m very well educated in history, so I know some basics. If I need a particular fact, Google is very much my friend. And I’m fortunate that there are still some films from the period I write in, so I can listen to the cadence and word choice of characters my characters were supposed to have related to if they were real people. 

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

The book title was hardest, by far. Trying to capture 65,000 words in just one to five? Insanity. I was very fortunate to work with Raevyn and Natasha at NineStar Press on my cover, and we came up with something really great pretty quickly. Character names have never been hard for me. Because I’m writing historic fiction, I can pull up baby name lists for the appropriate era and ta-da I have 100 names to choose from. 

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I say “historical mysteries.” If pressed further I’ll open that out to “LGBTQ noir-style historic mysteries set in the 1930s.” I get a lot of incredulous stares and polite nodding. Niche genres whooo!

What does your family think of your writing?

Don’t know, they haven’t read it yet haha!

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

Book 2, Boiling Over, is with NineStar going through the publishing process. I have a draft 0 of Book 3 going and I’ve got ideas for four or five more after that. I can’t let my boys go, it seems.

I dabble in fantasy from time to time, but I haven’t gotten very far with them. Not sure what the issue is, but it is an entirely different process than the mysteries. I guess it’s because with a historical book, you know that there are facts you can look up, and with a mystery, you always know where your endgame is. With a fantasy, literally all bets are off.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Make friends with other writers. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to give up only to have my writer friends buoy me back up. And their help is invaluable for working through issues with the story. Plus they are always open to commiserating with you.

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