Interview with Christi J. Whitney

Today on the blog, I’m interviewing Christi J. Whitney a YA author with a successful series on the market. I’ll post links so you can all go follow her after the interview. I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have. 

Justine: Hello, and welcome back to my blog! The last time you appeared on my site, it was in the form of an author spotlight, two years ago, and your last book release had been Book 2 of your Romany Outcasts series. Since then, Book 3 was released. Tell us more about that book. 

Christi: Yes, it has been a couple of years! Well, the third book in the trilogy is titled MIDNIGHT. It finishes out the story arc of Sebastian Grey and Josephine Romany, and it continues immediately after SHADOW.  Although I had originally envisioned The Romany Outcasts Series to be four books, my publisher wanted a trilogy, so I did a lot of editing and rethinking the storyline to bring everything to a satisfactory close in MIDNIGHT. I had the least amount of time to write this book, as I was under a deadline, so it was certainly a challenge, but I am pleased with how it turned out. MIDNIGHT differs from the other two books, in that a good majority of the novel is told from Josephine’s point of view, so we are able to get a more in-depth look into her life and emotions than I was able to present in GREY and SHADOW.

Justine: How did it feel to bring that era to a close?

Christi: Although my plan for four books had to change when I sold my book series to HarperCollins, I still have the outline for book four, and I do have plans to write it in the future. I don’t know what that will look like as of yet. It might be something I self-publish; but I love these characters so much, and I really want the chance to do a little more with them.

Justine: On my blog, we’ve been talking a lot about writing what you know. You don’t have to get super personal with this, but are there any aspects of your story which came from personal experience?  

Christi: Oh, there were definitely several aspects of my story that came from personal experience. At the time I began writing GREY (the first book in the series) I was teaching and directing theatre full time at a local high school. I modeled many of my characters directly from students that were in my program. In fact, my students were the ones who encouraged me to turn this story idea I had into a full novel, and a few of them even volunteered to read my chapters and give feedback as I wrote them. The Gypsy Ink Tattoo Parlor and the guys that worked there were also modeled after things and people I knew in real life. And finally, I gleamed the idea of the Romani characters from some of my own family history.

Justine: What are you currently working on? 

Christi: I have a completed novel called BLEEDER that I am currently shopping around. BLEEDER is also YA, but with a bit more urban fantasy and science fiction bent to it. The story takes place in a small coastal town in Georgia and deals with different dimensions, strange creatures, and a girl with unusual gifts. As to what I’m writing at the moment…I’m about half-way through a first draft of an untitled novel that I would categorize as light science fiction. The characters are fun, and I’m have a blast writing the dialogue in this novel.

Justine: Oh, BLEEDER sounds interesting. And I can’t wait until you’re ready to share more about that light sci-fi. On a different note, I see you like to Cosplay! A fellow geek like me. 🙂 Please, please, PLEASE share your favorite cosplay with us. Pictures or it didn’t happen. 😉 

Christi and friend as Sven and Kristoff from Frozen

Christi: I’m so pleased you asked me this! Yes, I definitely like to cosplay, and I am a huge geek. If it’s fantasy or science-fiction related, I probably love it (unless I am simply not familiar with it). And I do enjoy cosplaying characters that I really adore. I think my very first cosplay (years ago) was Jack Sparrow. Since then, I’ve done everything from dwarves from the Hobbit, Frozen, Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, X-Men, and How to Train Your Dragon.

Christi as Nightcrawler from X-Men

My most recent favorite cosplay, however, has to be Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series. The Professor has been an unexpected, but wonderful experience for me.

Christi as Professor Snape from Harry Potter

About a year ago, I made a profile on  the Musical.ly app as a way to try and connect with readers. But I decided to sort of give it variety by posting a mixture of book/writing things with some cosplay. Not long after, Musical.ly became TikTok, and I began getting a lot of traffic for my Professor Snape cosplay. Fast forward a few months later, and it’s become a crazy thing! I’ve connected with so many readers and have been able to talk so much about writing and books…but it’s really all because of my cosplay. So I owe the professor quite a bit of love. I have a few cosplay pictures here, but if you’d like to see more of Snape, you are welcome to check out my TikTok page (christij.whitney)

Justine: Those are SO COOL. You just made the geek in me very happy. So, you clearly have a flare for the dramatic, between teaching theatre and cosplaying. What led you on the path to becoming a writer? 

Christi: My path to becoming a writer began, as many paths do, when I was a child. The first true fantasy book I ever remember reading was The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. It opened up a door to me that I didn’t know existed. I would write little short stories and create characters in fantasy worlds similar to Narnia. By the time I was in middle school. I was writing quite a lot, but I had no confidence, and I refused to show anything I’d written to anyone. It all stayed carefully hidden in journals and folders. In high school, I was bitten by the theatre bug, and I went to college to become a theatre teacher. I spent many years doing that, but the stage became my way of creating stories, so my writing took a back seat. Then, one Christmas break, several years into teaching, I began having these ideas for a story pop into my head. I shared them with some of my students, and they convinced me to write it down. So I put on my dusty writing cap and began. It was a big learning process, especially because I was learning towards young adult fiction. I had to learn how to pace my writing and how to balance description and dialogue. Despite having an English degree, I felt like a complete writing novice. But I attended classes, joined SCBWI, found a critique group…and I got better at my craft.

Justine: I love it. What inspires you?

Christi: Gosh, everything! I get a lot of inspiration from film and television shows, and also from books. Theatre is inspiring because I love the process of creating characters and fleshing them out. Teaching novels to students does the same thing. I could discuss plot, characters, and motivation all day. As I said, I’m a huge geek, so I look to all kinds of fantasy lore to spark something fresh in my brain.

Justine: If you could pick the brain of any writer, which would you choose?

Christi: I have so many writers I adore, and they come from different places and times. I’d certainly love to pick the brains of some of the giants — Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien. But I also wouldn’t mind sitting down with some of the great YA authors currently out there, like Cassandra Clare and definitely J.K. Rowling…I’d also love picking the brain of Jack Thorne and John Tiffany (who helped Rowling writing the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child).

Justine: If your geeky self could choose any imaginary world to live in, where would you go and why? 

Christi:  It is so difficult for me to chose the fantasy world I’d best like to live in. I suppose it depends on what type of character I was able to be in those worlds. I will always adore Narnia, but I would want to be some magical creature there. I would love to travel with the Doctor in the universe of Doctor Who (even if that’s more science fiction), but if I had to only choose one…maybe the Wizarding World…I’d love to be a Hogwarts professor like Snape or McGonagall. 

Justine: And now it’s time for our rapid fire Q&A segment!

Q: Favorite writing instrument? 
A: Computer

Q: Plotter or Pantser? 
A: Both

Q: Chocolate, Vanilla, or other?
A: Toffee

Q: Sweet or savory? 
A: Savory

Q: Favorite book? 
A: The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis

Q: Dream vacation?
A: The U.K.

Q: Dogs or Cats?
A: Dog

Thank you so much for joining us, Christi! If you want to follow Christi on the web, you can check her out at the following links:

Website: http://christijwhitney.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/christijwhitney/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChristiWhitney
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/christijwhitney/


Scribbler!

I’ve been itching to try the Scribbler subscription box for writers since it was first released. But alas, there’s the issue of budget that never allowed me to sign up. May I take a moment to say “Yay Christmas Bonuses!” Because I get to share my very first Scribbler box with you!

So I intended to take pictures if each item, and my Logan knew it. Hence, we get pictures like this.

The first thing I spotted when I opened my Scribbler box was a near magnetized dry erase board. I used it immediately to write a love letter.

The author of the month this month was YA fantasy author Evelyn Skye, who had a short story in the Sucker Literary anthology I was promoting around here a few years ago. The book that accompanies this box is Circle of Shadows. It is her third book, an epic fantasy. The book includes a signed bookplate.

Not only is the book included, but there is also a separate pamphlet that offers an inside look at the editing process. She shows us a scene from Circle of Shadows that was cut in edits, and walks us through everything that has changed since, including a whole storyline that was cut.

Evelyn also wrote up a great collection of tips and tricks for writing fantasy—mainly focusing on building magic systems and how it figures into and impacts world building.

This sticker gives me life.

An invitation to an exclusive chat with Kristin Rens, Executive Editor at Balzer + Bray, was also included, but, as is always my luck, it lands on the day and (believe it or not) exact time of a seriously important doctor’s appointment, so I won’t be able to attend. 😦

There was a great little notebook with a sturdy cover, built for the kind of writer that writes on the go. You can work on the writing prompt they sent in that adorable little notebook.

And lastly, this warm scribbler beanie, perfect for the snowy weather I’ve been trudging through–as modeled by Logan.

So, what did I think of my first Scribbler box? I loved it! Just having a bunch of cute things that relate to my life as a writer, while also relating to my life loving YA novels is just perfect. I do wish the writing chat was something I could attend—for instance, not in the middle of a normal workday—but other than that, every single piece included is going to get a lot of use from me.

I can’t afford to do this every month, but I think there are more of these in my future.

To sign up for a Scribbler box, go here!

Author Spotlight: Raven Williams

Today, I’m interviewing my friend Raven Williams, who writes amazing Fantasy novels. The last book of her popular Realm Jumper Chronicles series is out today! Her work can also be found in A Horde of Dragons, an anthology with five other authors, and a true story called My Brother’s Keeper. She has hosted numerous interviews and marketed other authors, and is instrumental in the administration of Virtual FantasyCon every year. Get to know Raven and her books and find your way to a new series. All seven books, officially no more waiting!

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Q – Welcome Raven. Wow, seven books. How long did it take you to go from start to finish in this series?

A – I started writing the first book, Elven-Jumper in March 2014.  That one took the longest to write and released in February of 2015.  After that, the words continually flowed, and now, two years later around Elven-Jumper’s anniversary date, I’m releasing the last novel, Elven Blood Oath.

Q – Can you tell us a little bit about the series?

A –  When I started Elven-Jumper, the premise was what happened to Elven souls when the Elves died on Earth or other realms.  The first book delves into this the most.  I had originally planned for each book to focus on one character having memories of an Elven life, but during the second book, the characters had another story in mind and hijacked the series.  In Elf-Witch (book 2) they revealed a prophecy and the beginning rumors of a possible war.  From then on, each book features a mated pair and further steps closer to war, culminating with the final battle in Elven Blood Oath (book 7.)

Q – Which book is your favorite?

A— I love them all, but I think my absolute favorite is Elven Dreams (book 4).  The mated couple in that book just manifested more fully than the others.  One thing about the Elder species, they are a reserved bunch and don’t always show emotions like we humans do, so getting them to express themselves even a little was like pulling eye teeth.  However, in Elven Dreams, they were quite expressive and I love how the story evolved.

Q –  I really liked the Archangel Michael, and was it Tabris who was his leader?

A –  Yes, Lady Tabris was originally the leader of the Angels of Light.  Of course, things changed as the stories progressed and she stepped down, naming another to replace her.  In the future, there will either be a novelette or novella expanding on why Tabris stepped down.

Q – Okay, I told you my favorite character. Which is yours?

A – I think Damien (one of the Guardians) is my favorite.  Mainly because he appears to be on the side of Dark, but then we learn more about him and that he’s not as he appears.  His journey is something I can really relate to and I think he’s the one that has come the furthest of all the characters.

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Q – What was your biggest challenge when writing The Realm Jumper Chronicles?

A – Reigning in the characters.  I would plot something, and then they’d run roughshod over me and I’d end up having to not only replot the book I was working on, but subsequent books as well.

Q – You have some companion stories for the series. Tell us a little bit about those.

A –  Right now, I have two companion novellas published, Mixed Blood and Dragons of Pandryl.  The latter one is part of a multi-author anthology, A Horde of DragonsMixed Blood delves into the history of two secondary characters, Solana of the Elves and Izlal of the Guardians and takes place in the distant past.  Dragons of Pandryl tells the stories of the Ancient Dragons and their evolution to the Dragon-Shifters they are today.  I also have two short stories that are part of a Dark Fantasy Tale & Legends Collection, Haunted by Darkness.  Those two are Fall into Darkness, which tells the origins of the demon, Vaduxach, and Rise of the Dark Witch, which tells the origins of Cassie, the Dark Witch aligned with the demon.

Q – I’m crazy about worldbuilding and cultures. Do you have a favorite culture or creature?

A –  I really love the Elven culture.  So many things that the Elves revealed to me resonate with me and I can totally relate to.

Q – Now that you’ve finished The Realm Jumper Chronicles, what can we expect to see from you in the months ahead?

A – I’m working on a new dark paranormal series, Witch Hunter’s Society.  I’ve already released two short stories, Witch Hunter’s Rise and Witch Hunter Ordained, which are part of Haunted by Darkness.  I’m currently working on the first novel, Witch Hunter’s Prey and have plotted two more novels in the trilogy.  I’m also working on the second novelette in my Raven’s Twisted Classics series, The Beast & the Sleeping Prince.  It’s a mashup of Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty, but with a twist.  For those who’ve not heard of this series, the first novelette, Down the Rabbit Hole, released this past October.

Q – I heard there’s a taste of your next series at the end of book seven; Elven Blood Oath. Is that true?

A –  Yes.  The main protagonists of Witch Hunter’s Society make an appearance in Elven Blood Oath.  Of course, for those who’ve read the series, they also know that Daciana made a very brief appearance in Elven Dreams.

Q – When can we expect the first book?

A –  I’m hoping to release Witch Hunter’s Prey late Spring or early Summer.

Q – Where can readers follow you, or learn more about you?

A – Website: http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wix.com/booksandmore

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RavenWilliamsAuthorArtist

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RavenWilliams53

Google+:  https://plus.google.com/b/100047095810006000685/

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/ravenwilliamsfantasyauthor/

Tumblr: http://ravenwilliamsfantasyauthor.tumblr.com/

Sign-up for Raven’s Newsletter here: http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wixsite.com/booksandmore/newsletter-sign-up

Q – Do you sell signed books?

A – I do.  There’s an order form on my website:  http://ravenwilliamsauthor.wix.com/booksandmore

Q – Where can we purchase Realm Jumper Chronicles; Elven Blood Oath, or other books from the Realm Jumper series?

A –  All the books are available in paperback and ebook on Amazon and in ebook on most ebook platforms.  For those who love hard covers, I have those available on lulu.com.

Here is the universal link to order Realm Jumper Chronicles; Elven Blood Oath at your favorite book seller. https://www.books2read.com/ElvenBloodOath

Q – Thank you for joining us today. We’ll be looking forward to seeing what you’re up to in the future. Best of luck on your new series.

A –  Thank you.  It’s been a pleasure.


Okay, that’s all for today! If you found Raven’s books interesting, please follow her on social media, and pick up your copy today. As for me, I’ll be back with my next post very soon.

Thanks for reading!

Author Spotlight: Andrea L. Staum

Today, I would like to introduce you to fellow Fantasy author, Andrea L. Staum. Andrea is here to tell us about the “Dragonchild Lore” series, and about herself. Enjoy!


Blood of the Sire, Book 1 of the “Dragonchild Lore” series: bots.jpg

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Goodreads

When Zabond’s raiders come to the shores of Kalahtaya, Kitra, the village outcast, is sent to find allies by the village’s Elemental Guardians. Forced to travel with the man she accuses of stealing her daughter and a granddaughter she has never known, Kitra soon uncovers the villages long forgotten past, as well as, learns how misguided her own memories have become.

The first book of lore reveals the birth of the Dragonchild and her tie to the Guardians of Kalahtaya.

Daughters of Kalahtaya, Book 2 of the “Dragonchild Lore” series:

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Goodreads

Zabond’s raiders continue to move inland away from Kalahtaya. As the Dragonchild stands in defiance against him, her sisters find their own roles aren’t as simple as they had once been.

Follow as the second book of lore follows Kitra’s granddaughters as they realize their potential in war torn Nivena.

 


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Author Bio:
Andrea L. Staum is author of the Dragonchild Lore series and The Attic’s Secret Novella. She is also a contributor to a wide variety of anthologies in numerous genres. She is a trained motorcycle mechanic, an amateur house renovator, and a record keeper for the characters in her mind. She resides in South Central Wisconsin with her husband and two ‘unique’ cats.

 

Twitter     Facebook     Website


Mini-Interview with Andrea L. Staum

Q. What drew you to writing?

A. I’ve always been writing. My first big venture in writing a book was in middle school. I was a huge reader and loved my English and Literature classes, so it seemed natural.

Q. Tell us one thing you learned, during research or about craft, while writing your latest book.

A. The project that I’m currently working on I’m trying something new with. I’m usually a pantser when I write. I go for it and don’t worry about what is actually being written until the editing stage. This time I’m working on a more structured method. I have a full cast character biography document, a key scenes list that I’m expanding into a detailed outline, and I went through my stock photos to see if I could find images that I identify as the characters. It is a much longer writing process, but it is giving me a new appreciation to those who use this method regularly. It shows me where the glaring plot holes might pop up LONG before the chapter is on the page and gives me time to work them out. Part of the reason for doing this is I’m working on a thriller/mystery and a different type of structure needs to be in place for it to play out than my fantasy stories. I can’t say I’ll use this detailed of a method in the future, but I may hybrid it to suit my pantser nature.

Q. How do you de-stress?

A. There’s such a thing? Aside from writing and reading, I’ve taken to sewing. My grandma taught me how to embroider so I recently made her a peacock lap blanket. I also used a sewing machine for the first time and made a TARDIS cosplay dress that actually turned out. I think the problem is my de-stressors give me more stress. I don’t do easy things. The costume was a six piece one that included a corset, darts, pleats, linings….things a rookie probably shouldn’t go headfirst into, but I can’t go halfway. To relax though, a nice warm bath can definitely help or hot chocolate. Hot chocolate can solve most everything.

Q. What inspires you?

A. I don’t have a specific inspiration. The characters and plots come from what or who’s around me. Random things can make clever stories. Learning about different things can lead to stories. I never expected to write a fairy tale about brownies putting together a motorcycle, but there was an anthology call for fairy stories and I used my knowledge as a mechanic to pull something together. A phrase can spin into something later down the road and I may not realize it when I hear it.

Q. What kind of books to you enjoy reading?

A. I’ve just been introduced to Squirrel Girl comic books and they are fantastic! I don’t really have a genre that I stick to when it comes to reading. I grew up on fantasy and sci-fi. Anne McCaffrey was my ultimate author hero and I think that’s where a lot of my love for fantasy and sci-fi came from. She also had strong female characters and I never realized how important that was while I was reading. I think a big part of what I look for in stories is flawed characters. It makes things so much more believable. I like clever writing.


I hope you had fun meeting Andrea L. Staum! Stay tuned for more posts from me and Author Spotlights in the weeks to come!

Author Spotlight: Christi J. Whitney

Today, I would like to introduce you to a fellow YA Fantasy author, Christi J. Whitney. Christy is in the middle of writing her series, “The Romany Outcasts”. The first book, Grey, came out at the end of the year, and the latest installment, Shadow, will released on June 2nd. In the blog post below, you will learn about both of Christi’s books, get to know a bit about Christi, and read a mini-interview I conducted with her. Enjoy!


Released: Grey, Book 1 of “The Romany Outcasts”:

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Goodreads
YA urban fantasy
Available with: HarperCollins, HarperCollinsUK, Amazon, AmazonUK, Barnes and Noble, iBooks

Sebastian Grey always thought he was a fairly normal teenager – good friends, decent grades, and a pretty sweet job in his foster brother’s tattoo shop.

But when Romany gypsies arrive in town, Sebastian discovers his world is not what it seems. There is an age-old feud between his family and the gypsies – and this isn’t the only secret his brother has been keeping from him. His life is not his own. The girl he’s been dreaming about has just turned up at school, and he feels compelled to protect her at all costs.

Even if that means life might never be normal again.


Excerpt: 

‘Sebastian, are you still there?’

I transferred my phone to my other hand as I buckled the seatbelt. ‘Yeah, I’m here.’

‘Weren’t you listening to me?’ Katie asked.

I paused, trying to remember what we’d been talking about. The two hours since lunch had been a blur, and my brain was mush. ‘Um . . . ’

Katie sighed on the other end. ‘The project Ms Lucian talked about in class today,’ she continued impatiently. ‘When are we going to work on it?’

‘I’m sorry,’ I replied, starting the engine. ‘The pounding in my head’s making it difficult to think.’

‘Another headache?’

‘You know me and sunny days,’ I said dismissively. I stepped on the gas and coaxed my old van onto the road. ‘But about the project. I don’t know if I can do it this week. Can I get back to you?’

‘Yeah, just don’t wait too long. I know we’ve got almost a month to work on it, so Ms Lucian’s not going to cut us any slack, and the rest of our group is totally avoiding me about the whole thing.’

Katie hated procrastinating on anything related to schoolwork. This was probably killing her. ‘Look, don’t worry about it. I’ll talk to the guys, and we’ll come up with a day to work on it. I promise, we won’t let you down.’

‘Thanks, Sebastian,’ she replied, sounding relieved. ‘You’re not nearly as much of an idiot as the rest of your species.’

I chuckled. ‘I think you mean gender.’

She giggled. ‘No, I don’t.’

‘Talk to you later, Katie.’

‘Bye.’

I tossed the phone on the passenger seat and rubbed my temples. By the time I made it through town and steered my van into the parking lot of the Gypsy Ink, my headache had traveled, setting up residence between my shoulder blades. The last thing I felt like doing was homework.

I shuffled through the waiting room, giving a brief wave to Kris, who was busy behind the counter. I’d grab a quick snack and then lay out flat on the floor of the apartment for a while. Just until the aching eased. I paused in the hallway just outside the door of Hugo’s workspace. I didn’t have to say anything. My brother knew I was there.

‘Hey, Sebastian.’ He glanced up from his sketchbook. ‘What’s up?’

‘Do you have any sports cream?’ I leaned against the wall and squinted as a sharp pain lanced through my shoulders. ‘My back’s killing me.’

Hugo’s brows settled low over his dark eyes. ‘In the drawer beside my bed.’

‘Okay, thanks.’

I continued down the hallway, followed by the weight of my brother’s stare. He probably thought I was trying to get out of work, which wasn’t a bad idea. I chucked my bag on the bed and rummaged through Hugo’s nightstand until I located the tube of medicine. I worked the cream into my back, but it felt as if someone was digging long fingers between my shoulder blades, attempting to separate muscle from bone.

I gave up with the cream and stumbled to the bathroom on a quest for aspirin. Just as I reached for the medicine cabinet, another shock of pain doubled me over. I gripped the edge of the counter and straightened. My gaze flicked to the mirror. For a moment, I almost didn’t recognize the face staring back. I was crazy pale, even for me, and my skin made the hazel color of my eyes look dull. But then I noticed something else. Another chunk of gray was poking through my disheveled hair.


Coming Soon: Shadow, Book 2 of “The Romany Outcasts”

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Digital release date: June 2, 2016

The second volume in this incredible YA trilogy.

When stone hearts break they shatter.

Sebastian Grey used to be a normal teenager. Now he’s a creature whose sole purpose is to be a guardian for secretive gypsy clans.

When the Romany gypsies need his help, Sebastian is given a second chance to protect Josephine Romany – the girl he loves. But this is no easy task when some of them think he’s as bad as the shadow creatures attacking their camp.

Yet to keep Josephine safe, Sebastian might have to embrace his darker side. Even if that means choosing between his humanity and becoming the monster everyone believes him to be.

Available for Pre-Order:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

 


Excerpt: 

‘My apologies if Caliban hurt you,’ said the man. ‘It’s what he’s trained to do.’

The men lowered their hoods. It was Phillipe and Stephan – two of Quentin’s Marksmen. They watched me with disgusted expressions as I forced myself to stand. My muscles felt like iron cords.

‘You’ve trained him to attack innocent people?’ I snarled, brushing myself off.

‘Of course not,’ Phillipe sneered. ‘He’s trained to attack your kind.’

My kind.

I really hated that phrase.

I examined my arm. The sleeve of my jacket was ripped, but there wasn’t a mark on my gray skin. My eyes widened. Not even a scratch. But it still hurt like crazy, and I rubbed my arm gingerly.

‘It’s fortunate we weren’t out with the rest of the dogs,’ said Stephan with a cold smile. ‘Caliban here is relatively mild-tempered.’

As if on cue, the dog’s muzzle flashed with sharp teeth.

‘Nicolas asked me to come,’ I said evenly.

Stephan tilted his chin. ‘Yes, we know.’

I was about to get an escort, I realized.

‘Come with us,’ Phillipe ordered.

Stephan slid his bow from his shoulder and fitted an arrow to the string. ‘Caliban and I will follow behind. Just as a precaution, of course – in case you start getting any ideas in that ugly gray head of yours.’

Quentin Marks’ welcoming committee was not something I’d anticipated. I gathered my bags, and Phillipe led our unpleasant little party across the Sutallee Bridge. I unconsciously slowed as we passed over the abandoned mine shaft where Josephine and I had taken refuge so long ago. There was a sharp poke in the middle of my back, right between my pent wings.

‘Move it,’ Stephan said, jabbing me again. ‘We’re already late for lunch.’

I fought the insanely strong desire to whirl around and shove the arrow down his throat. Instead, I bit my lip, tasting blood, and picked up my pace. We reached the iron fence that surrounded the Fairgrounds. Phillipe pulled out a ring of keys and opened the I’d assumed everything would look as it had the last time I’d been within the walls of the Circe de Romany. But there were no tents or pavilions. No rides or decorations, either. Only trailers – along with several RVs, trucks, and buses – arranged in a tight circle, right in the middle of the property.

Their configuration created a large open space in the center of the caravan. Tarps were arranged over tables and chairs. A fire pit had been built, and laundry hung from clotheslines spread between trailers. People bustled around the clearing, preparing for the approaching storm. Another peal of thunder echoed overhead. The clouds had thickened, and the sky looked ready to split apart at any moment.

‘Hurry it up,’ said Stephan with another jab to my back. ‘I don’t intend to get wet.’

Lightning flashed. Women scurried to get the clothes off the lines while men anchored the tarps more securely in the ground. Phillipe led me to a small trailer and flung open the door.

‘Get inside.’

The howling wind was motivation enough – even without Stephan’s sharp arrow in my back – and I scampered up the steps. My nose instantly wrinkled at the unpleasant smell. Phillipe caught my look.

‘The dog trailer,’ he said.

‘Just be glad they’re out on patrol,’ said Stephan with a malicious laugh. ‘They’re quite territorial.’

The Marksmen backed me into the stinky enclosure, weapons drawn.

‘We’ll come for you when Nicolas returns,’ said Phillipe. ‘Until then, welcome home.’

With that, he slammed the door, locking me inside.


Bio:

 ChristiJWhitney_Head Shot
Christi J. Whitney is a former high school theatre director with a love for the dramatic. She lives just outside Atlanta with her husband and two sons. When not spending time with them or taking a ridiculous number of trips to Disney World, she can be found directing plays, making costumes for sci-fi/fantasy conventions, geeking out over Doctor Who, and watching superhero movies.

Website      Twitter    Facebook      Goodreads     Instagram


Mini-Interview with Christy J. Whitney:

Q: What drew you to writing?

A: I’ve always loved making up stories in my head, and I used to write quite a bit when I was younger. When I became a high school theatre director, I set writing aside, but I always kept stories in the back of my head. I shared one with some of my students one day, and it rekindled my passion for writing. Being an author and being a theatre director are very similar – both careers have allowed me to create stories and bring them to life, either on the stage or on the page.

Q: Tell us one thing you learned, during research or about craft, while writing your latest book.

A: I learned so much about the Roma culture while doing research for The Romany Outcasts Series, but I also learned how to write for YA. I began as a pretty wordy author in my early days – bogged down with way too much detail. Writing young adult fiction has taught me how to streamline and move the plot and characters along.

Q: What’s next on your To Be Read list?

A: I have way too many books in my TBR pile, but at the top would be An Ember in the Ashes, Mistborn: The Final Empire, Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy, and Thorn Jack.

Q: What inspires you?

A: I was definitely inspired by my former students while writing the first two books of this trilogy. But I love sitting down to read or watch good fantasy and science fiction stories. It always recharges me.

Q: What makes a story interesting to you?

A: Stories with unusual, but believable characters always interest me. I’m a sucker for underdog heroes and endearing, slightly awkward sidekicks. I adore transformation tales and stories of self-discovery. At the end of the day, if I can relate to the characters, then I’m going to keep turning the pages.


 I hope you had fun meeting Christi J. Whitney! Stay tuned for more posts from me and Author Spotlights in the weeks to come!

Author Spotlight: Kristin D. Van Risseghem

Today’s Author Spotlight belongs to a good friend of mine, the lovely and talented Kristin D. Van Risseghem. The second book in her Enlighten series, The Passage, a Dance, & a Little White Dress, will be released on April 13, 2016. I originally spotlighted book 1, The Guardian, A Sword, and Stilettos here. Continue on to learn more about Book 2, and about Kristin herself.

Synopsis:

It’s been a week since 17-year old Zoe Jabril found out her best friend is a Guardian Angel, her boyfriend is a Nephilim, and a fellow classmate is a Fairy. What makes Zoe so special? She’s destined to unify Enlightens to battle evil—that is, if Demons don’t kill her first.​

With ‘Project: Enlightens Unite’ underway, Zoe learns the history of the area wolf pack and realizes she’s in a race against time to get her newly discovered talents under control. Despite struggling to fight a mysterious attraction to her new neighbor, rescue her boyfriend from Demons, and travel into Fairyland to convince the Summer King to join the fight, Zoe must still attend high school classes so her nosy parents don’t suspect anything is out of the ordinary before Demons can mount another attack.

Zoe will need all the help she can get, from the most unlikely of sources, if she’s to save her boyfriend’s life and prevent the Devil from escaping Hell on her eighteenth birthday.

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Chapter 1 Excerpt:

ZOE

Last night, a friend of mine rose from the dead—and I was the one who brought her back. So I guess . . . I’m an angel. Or, at least most of my friends think I am.

Even wrapped tightly in the arms of my favorite oversized PINK hoodie, I shivered. It was chilly for mid-April while sitting on my front porch with the sun just coming over the horizon, but that wasn’t where the tremor had come from.

I glanced up, startled by the high-pitched squealing of truck brakes that rang above the music playing from my iPod. The truck turned into the cul-de-sac and careened straight into the next door neighbors’ driveway. What made it really strange was the house had been empty since last October. I could still see the top of the “For Sale” sign on the manicured front lawn. I pulled out my cell phone to text my boyfriend, Shay.

Me: Good morning!

As I waited for a response, a gray uniformed driver open his door and climbed down. He walked to the back of the truck; then multiple doors slammed.

“This furniture goes into the living room on the main level,” a man said.

I didn’t particularly want to be a nosy neighbor, but I couldn’t help myself. I eased higher on the top step, hoping to get a look at the man who seemed to be in charge. His back was to me, so all I could tell was he had short blond hair. He glanced down at something then looked back up, turned, and pointed toward a number of other, smaller trucks in the cul-de-sac parking. More uniformed men jumped out of the smaller trucks and gathered around their boss, waiting for instructions. I had no interest in watching a bunch of people move boxes, so I just stayed on the step and waited for my best friend, Kieran, and Shay.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Website | Amazon | Nook | Smashwords

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Author Bio:

 Kristin D. Van Risseghem grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River with her parents and older sister. And after receiving a double Bachelor of Science degree from Winona State University in Paralegal and Corrections, she worked as a Paralegal for various law firms around the Twin Cities for 14 years. Then she left the legal field and is now a Senior Buyer for a technology company.

Currently, Kristin lives in Minnesota with her husband and two Calico cats. She also loves attending book clubs, going shopping, and hanging out with friends. She has come to realize that she absolutely has an addiction to purses and shoes. They are her weakness and probably has way too many of both.

In the summer months, Kristin can usually be found lounging on her boat, drinking an ice cold something. Being an avid reader of YA and Women’s Literature stories, she still finds time to read a ton of books in-between writing. And in the winter months, her main goal is to stay warm from the Minnesota cold!

Kristin’s books are published by Kasian Publishing.

Website​|​Twitter​​|​Facebook

Enter Kristin’s Giveaway:

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Author Spotlight: Ismael Manzano

It’s funny. I do these author spotlights every now and then, and while the writers involved are often my friends, I have never done something like this for a person I know better than I know myself, about a book I read in its nascent stages, a story I’d heard about for years in various possible incarnations before it became what it is today. But here I am. My author spotlight today is for my husband, Ismael Manzano, and his novel, Soulless.

Now, below you will find a whole lot of press release type information, and I want you to read it and enjoy it, because it’s good stuff. But before I even get to that, I want to tell you the truth about this book.

I love this book. And not just because it’s my husband’s book. The story is imaginative, and I connected with the characters immediately, particularly the main character, Charlotte. Learning about this world through her eyes has been an exhilarating experience.

But more importantly, I love the writing, the way he weaves words together and takes you on a ride with them. I speak a lot about writing on this blog, but I rarely point out this fact – I am only a writer because I was inspired by Ismael. He not only told me I could, but he challenged me, and he showed me what dedication to the craft looked like, and without him I’d probably still be auditioning for acting jobs with my own stories dancing in my head. I got very lucky. I got to marry my favorite author. And I’m so very pleased to help create some of the fanfare surrounding this book.

So, without further ado, here’s a little about Ismael, and a little about Soulless.


Available Today!

Soulless
by Ismael Manzano

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Synopsis:

The devil’s not the only one buying souls; both sides need bodies to fight their war, and both have something to offer in return. Nearly anything is possible, if you are the type of soul they’re looking for. Charlotte Furio learns this the hard way, when a spirited and mysterious woman named Trisha follows her home one night and gives her ailing father a simple choice: a healthy body for his immortal soul.

His decision introduces Charlotte to the world of soul brokering, and Charlotte is not only drawn to it, but finds she has a knack for it. Having lived the last decade of her life with only one purpose—to care for her increasingly disabled father—Charlotte sees this as her chance to give direction and meaning to her own life, and the lives of other people. To help them as Trisha had helped her father.

This mission is quickly derailed when Charlotte is framed for the murder of one of the brokers’ leaders. Where she once had only one purpose, now Charlotte has two: get her father’s soul back and find a way to prove her innocence before it’s too late.

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Excerpt:

I walked around the car so I could jump into the passenger’s seat, waited for the crowd to thin and calmly—barely holding onto my senses—asked for the knapsack. It weighed nothing, but when I opened it, I found a parchment resting peacefully and eagerly inside of it. The full moon was out, and the sky was cloudless and unobtrusive, so when the pale, silvery light touched the papyrus, it was not reflected but enhanced. Trisha started the engine, and put the convertible’s top up to block the moonlight, then adjusted her mirror. Her face glowed nearly as bright as the papyrus.

The windows were tinted so I felt safe removing the parchment completely from the bag. The second my hand touched it, I felt a rush of something inexplicable, like a jolt of pleasurable lightning traipsing through my nerves and extending outward to the world at large. At first, I thought Trisha had pulled out a taser gun and had shocked me, but nothing hurt. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to enjoy the strangeness of the sensation. Shivers passed through me randomly, tingles that lit my skin. Without knowing how, I knew those shivers were my body’s reaction to people passing alongside the car. It was as if I was connected to the air through which they moved. I heard the wind pushing through the desiccated leaves still clinging to their branches, and it sounded like water rushing around a brook. The smells of the city, even through the confinement of the car, assailed my nostrils as if someone had bottled it up and threw it—concentrated—into my lap.

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon | Smashwords | Nook | Kobo

Author Bio:

Ismael_Head shotIsmael Manzano was born and raised in New York City, and has lived his entire life in the Bronx, first with his parents, and then with his lovely and talented wife, Justine, and now with their kinetic maelstrom of a child, Logan.

Ismael is an avid reader of fantasy books, and knew at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. He worked his entire life to hone his craft to achieve the goal of removing the prefix, ‘aspiring,’ from his title, and referring to himself as a writer.

He has written many reviews and social commentaries for the web magazine, G-pop.net. Recently, Ismael has found success publishing his short stories, Playing in Shadows, at This Dark Matter and Cold, published in July 2015, at Grey Matter. In 2015, Fantasy Works Publishing signed his Urban Fantasy series, Soul Broker.

Ismael loves watching historical documentaries and listening to audio lectures about Medieval England, Ancient Rome, and Egypt. He considers himself an amateur historian, and has never met a BBC historical drama he didn’t like. One of his favorite things to do is to watch shows like the Tudors and movies like Elizabeth, and try to pick out the discrepancies between fact and fiction. He also hopes to one day solve a Rubix Cube puzzle, but that dream, sadly, seems to be the greatest fantasy of them all.

Website: IsmaelManzano.com

Twitter: @IsmaelManzano76

Facebook: Ismael Manzano – Author