Still here, with some book updates and a new cover

Hello blog, it’s been a while. I wish I could say I’ve been quiet because I’ve been writing up a storm, but that’s not the case. I’ve been working up a storm through the day job and finally seeing a light at the end of a tunnel (fingers crossed). And I’ve been working hard to republish Thief of Hope. Yes, you read that right: republish. For various reasons, I have the rights back and am on my way to becoming an indie author. It’s a little scary but also very exciting. I’ve spent way too many hours looking at fonts and layouts and I’m enjoying this part of the process. I’m almost ready to get my first official proof and my goal is to have the book available by November 21. Stay tuned for updates!

One of the exciting things about republishing is that I have a new cover, created by the fabulous Taria Reed. I love it and I’ve been sitting on it for over a month. Time for the unveiling!

ThiefOfHope-webI hope you like the cover as much as I do! For everyone who has read the original Thief of Hope, thank you for your support! Please share the new version of the book with those who haven’t discovered it yet. And for those who have been patiently waiting for book 2, I am hoping to have it out in spring 2015 and will probably post a few teasers in the coming months.

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New release: What Gifts She Carried by Lindsey Loucks

Congrats to Lindsey Loucks on her newest release, What Gifts She Carried, (Grave Winer Book 2)!  She was kind enough to share an excerpt and answer some interview questions, so read on to find out more about Lindsey and her book.

1333x2000Blurb: Leigh Baxton just wants to pick up the pieces of her life—if you could call it that—but someone keeps resurrecting the dead. These new zombies have a knack for spilling Leigh’s precious blood, something she was warned about by a certain pair of undead sorceresses.

Desperate to find out why they’re here so Leigh can put the nightmares behind her, she must learn more about the gifts she carries. With Tram’s training sessions and clues from her mom’s past, Leigh begins to piece together what she’s capable of.

Too bad there isn’t a Cliff’s Notes version to saving the world.

The zombies have teamed up with followers of the darkest sorceress who ever lived, and they’ll play a wicked game until she’s freed from her prison inside the earth. When the battle to the death begins, Leigh must rely on friends, crushes, and even her enemies to win the war, but not the grave.

Excerpt:

Jo slammed the door behind me, which made me jump a little, then waved. They backed out and rode off, leaving me all alone. Well, almost all alone.

I watched them go for a second, but the shadow above lanced the top of my head like only an angry dad’s stare could.

The puddles in the cracked pavement rippled with the moon’s reflection, and I hopped over them on my way up the iron staircase. Time to face the music, or in this case really loud shouting. Every step upward vibrated doom, doom, doom. I gave it the middle finger for the friendly reminder and rounded the corner.

As soon as I reached the top step, the shadow unplugged the pen light from his mouth and shined it in my face. I turned my head away from the spots dotting my vision and took my final steps toward him. The green paint on the walls and doors had peeled and crumbled to the walkway like little piles of broken dragon scales. My boots crunched over them. Welcome to Krapper’s finest and friendliest Crumbly Motel.

“Why didn’t you call?” Dad asked in a low voice. He sounded as tired as I felt. And way pissed.

“I’m sorry.” I blocked the light with my hand and tried to look him in the face. “I lost track of time.”

“Were you really working on a school project?”

The truth was loony-bin crazy, and I’d already lied before. Might as well play it up. “Yes, I was. And we finished the pirate project. The pirates have sailed on to loot and pillage their hearts out. I’m really sorry I’m late, Dad.”

He stood, his book tucked under his elbow, the pen light still aimed at my eyes. “Do you have any idea—”

A loud thud came from inside the motel room. Both our heads whipped towards the door.

My heartbeat skipped. Too many bizarre things had happened. Too many weird sounds would haunt me forever, and this one didn’t feel right at all. I lunged for the doorknob, but it was locked.

“Darby?” I shouted and pounded on the door.

“Leigh, quiet down. I’ve got the key.” Dad pulled the card from his pocket and stuck it in the slot. When the light flashed green, I tore through the door. I had to wait for my eyes to adjust to the dim overhead light before I saw her. Directly across from us. Outside on the balcony. Leaning over the railing so far I could barely see her upper half.

Her purple mermaid nightgown fluttered around her legs. A sudden sharp breeze tossed the hair around her shoulders and unsteadied her grip on the rail for half a second. That half second shot me across the room.

Once I reached the balcony door, I grabbed her foot and pulled. “Darby, what are you—?” Something trickled from my nose. I brushed it away, and blood smeared my hand. A pinprick of dread punctured the small amount of hope I clung to. Hope that all the nightmares in my life could be done. That hope left me deflated when Darby turned around.

Blood seeped from her nose, too. Her hands were covered with it. Terror blazed bright behind her glasses. “You’re…you’re bleeding.”

“You are, too.” The hairs along my arms lifted. Both of us had nose bleeds and both of us were Trammeler sorceressi. One and Two had warned me not to waste my precious blood, but now it flowed down both our fronts for everyone to see. For what? I swallowed. So we could be hunted down? With the balcony and front doors still open, I felt very exposed. “What are you doing out here, Darby?”

Blood settled above the curve of her upper lip. “I—I thought I heard something.”

Dad, hovering in the doorway, raked his hands through his hair. “What on Earth is going on with you girls?” He took Darby by the shoulder and guided her to the bathroom. “Leigh, get the doors and then let’s get you both cleaned up.”

I reached for the handle while holding a sleeve up to my nose. As I slid the door closed, a small, bloody handprint smudged the streetlights behind it. Darby’s. She was bleeding more than me.

A slow but steady doom, doom, doom of footsteps echoed up the stairs outside the still open front door. Someone was coming. And with them came the stink of nasty meat floating in a sewer. Even with all the blood gushing a river out my nose, I could still smell it. Death. Coming closer.

What Gifts She Carried Links:

Amazon

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 The Grave Winner Links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

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Watch the book trailer on Youtube

Bio:

authorphoto2Lindsey R. Loucks works as a school librarian in rural Kansas. When she’s not discussing books with anyone who will listen, she’s dreaming up her own stories. Eventually her brain gives out, and she’ll play hide and seek with her cat, put herself in a chocolate induced coma, or watch scary movies alone in the dark to reenergize.

She’s been with her significant other for almost two decades.

Check out Lindsey’s website.

Follow Lindsey on Facebook.

Follow Lindsey on Twitter.

 Interview with Lindsey:

Q: Where were you born? Are you the kind of person who likes to move around a lot, or do you prefer to live in one place?

A: I was born in Nebraska City, Nebraska. Since then, I’ve lived in Montana and Kansas, and I still live in Kansas, though not the same town I grew up in. I like to stay in one place because I hate moving, but I do plan on getting out of Kansas eventually!

Q: What sparked your interest in writing? How long have you been writing?

A: When I was about eight, my parents bought me my very own desk for a birthday present, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever! I imagined all the great stories that could be written at that desk, so I penned my first “masterpiece” about a little girl who was having a very bad day. I’ve been hooked on writing ever since.

Q: What provided the inspiration for your latest novel, What Gifts She Carried?

A: It wasn’t so much as inspiration as perspiration! But these two songs looped on repeat while I wrote and provided sufficient creepy background music: 1. “Oh Death” by Jen Titus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6crMKpLx7r8 and 2. “Come, Little Children” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfI7gSO-Fgc

Q: What Gifts She Carried is a sequel to The Grave Winner. How did you approach writing book 2 in the series?

A: I knew I had to move the story forward from The Grave Winner, and I knew I wanted it to be somewhat darker and scarier. So I just imagined all the terrible things that could happen and put some of those things in the story.

Q: How would you describe your path toward publication?

A: I queried agents and small publishers and had a few bites at first, then just days apart, I suddenly had three offers from small publishers. I chose Crescent Moon Press based on the quality of their covers, their books, and author feedback.

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

A: Have you heard the old saying, “Write what you know?” My advice is to ignore that. Don’t limit your imagination to your own experiences.

 Q: Name a few authors who have inspired you and describe why.

A: Stephen King has inspired me because of his quirky mix of humor and horror,

Carrie Ryan for writing horror so lyrically, and Suzanne Collins for creating something so addicting and unputdownable as The Hunger Games.

Q: What are you currently writing?

A: Right now, I’m writing something I’ve never done before, which is a straight up contemporary story with zero zombies or ghosts. But there is bacon! It’s turning out to be an incredibly sexy novel, so I’ll probably publish it with a pen name!

Q: Coffee, tea, or hard liquor? (or all three?)

A: Coffee!

Q: What books are you currently reading or on your to-be-read list?

A: I’m reading an ARC of Come, the Dark by Rebecca Hamilton, and I’ll soon be reading Hell Hole by Hunter Shea.

Q: And now for the bonus fluff question: If you could be a character in your one of your favorite novels, which character would you be and why?

A: That’s the hardest question in the world! But if I had to pick just one, I’d choose Hermione Granger because she’s a badass who hangs out in the library for fun.

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Holding on

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright
–“Ghosts That We Knew,” Mumford and Sons

It has been a difficult week or so (or year, actually). Recently I found out that a friend from college was killed during a robbery attempt. It was a random and shocking act of violence and my heart goes out to his wife and children and family and friends. It’s not supposed to be this way. I can’t help but think about how fragile life is and how things can change in an instant. Combine that with the state of the world these days and it makes you not want to get up in the morning.

Since hiding under a rock isn’t really an option, I guess taking it day by day is the way to go. I have friends dealing with serious health issues and depression and I wish I could make it all better for them. But I can’t. Sometimes there’s nothing we can do except be here for them and live our own lives. Find joy in the little things. Hug your friends and family. Do the things you love. Make every day count. It sounds cliche, but it’s the only way I can think of to get through it.

If all else fails, go outside and blow bubbles with a six-year-old. It was a small part of our vacation this summer but definitely a moment to remember.

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New release: The Devil Made Me Do It by Shawna Romkey

The Devil made me do it preview 1

The Devil Made Me Do It

Book Two: Speak of the Devil series

By Shawna Romkey

Coming July 1 – Go to hell!

Blurb: Lily is working with the angels to stifle the last of the demon outbreaks and to figure out how to stop the Silence of God, so life can get back to boring normality. But all hell breaks loose when she’s stolen from school and brought face to face with the devil himself. Lily has to find her way back home to Luc, crack the prophecy that breaks the curse silencing God, and figure out how she and Luc can ever really be together; but Lucifer has other plans for her that don’t include her ever getting out of Hell in tact.

Book One, Speak of the Devil, is currently on sale for $2.99 for the Kindle.

Excerpt:

Why me? I asked this question a lot, when I died, when I lived, when I’d lost my friends, when I’d hooked up with angels, when I was chased by demons, so it seemed trivial to ask it now, but why me? Why couldn’t I have a regular non-angel boyfriend to make out with and not worry about ruining, well, everything for everybody everywhere?

Snap out of it, Lily, I told myself. You have an amazing ability and super-hot— too hot— angel boyfriend, a blessed life that someone upstairs seems to think is valuable and worthy of protection. Quit feeling sorry for yourself and girl up.

“Right, girl up. I can do this,” I said aloud. My body was under control finally and I felt like I could go back to class as long as we got a new scene to work on. But I’d hurt Luc. I had to talk to him. I had to fix it and make it right. He was suffering with this as much as I was and probably more so since he had to have that pious-angel behavior and all.

I stood to go, pushing the vanity chair back as I did so.

“Lily!” someone whispered.
“What?” I turned to see if Cassie was there.
“Lily, look!” It was difficult to tell if it was a male or female voice since it was a whisper.

The voice was coming from behind me. I looked back around – that’s when I saw the surface of the mirror tremble, as though it were liquid. It rippled from the center. “Lilith!” The whisper came from the mirror.

Too late I remembered something Luc and Belle had said about mirrors. The surface splashed out toward me, and though I reflexively turned away and pulled back, the watery mirror grabbed me with its newly formed reflective arms and pulled me inside.

SR (3)22Shawna Romkey, teacher by day, writer by night (or day or whenever anyone leaves her alone long enough to get some work done). Bestselling YA / NA paranormal author of Speak of the Devil. The second in the series, The Devil Made Me Do It, will release July 1.

Shawna is from Kansas City, Missouri, but resides in Nova Scotia in a house by the sea with her husband, two sons, and currently two dogs but that’s subject to change depending on the local homeless dog population.

For more info, check out her website at www.shawnaromkey.com.

Links:

Facebook  |  Twitter  | Pinterest  |  Goodreads

 

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Why I love my critique groups

As writers, we often work in isolation, but there comes a point where outside feedback is needed. Not just feedback from friends and family, but honest, constructive critique of our work. I’m fortunate to belong to two critique groups that have been meeting pretty regularly for more than 10 years now. Dare I say almost 15 years? It might be almost that long. We’ve had people come and go over the years, and one group lost a founding member and dear friend to cancer a few years ago. We’ve changed meeting locations and days. We’ve all gone through personal ups and downs. But we’ve all been committed to our writing and to helping and supporting each other. When we first started, we were all unpublished, aspiring authors. Now we have a number of published authors among us and I’m sure there will be more to come.

For me there’s nothing more motivating than knowing I have a critique group deadline coming up to push myself to finish the next chapter. I can’t pull late nights like I used to, though. And there’s nothing more exciting than getting feedback on your writing, especially when people like it. Believe me, my groups aren’t shy about being honest. If they don’t like something, they tell you. Criticism doesn’t bother me too much because usually I know if something is good or if it needs more work. I value the opinions of my critique partners. If most of the group says a chapters needs work, then it probably does. We’ve also known each other long enough that we can joke about things. It’s funny that whenever I think we’re going to have a short meeting, we end up staying just as long because we find plenty to talk about, maybe it’s books or writing in general or something completely off topic.

I should note that the two groups are quite different. One is mixed genre, but all novels, and we’ve had mysteries, literary fiction, historical fiction, military mysteries–and me with my fantasy. It’s a wide variety and I enjoy reading things I normally wouldn’t pick up. The other group is primarily SF/fantasy, although we didn’t intend it to be. It’s also good to have comments from people who read and love the genre. Just watch out for the time travel discussions because they will make your head spin.

Bottom line: I wouldn’t have finished my first book without them, and they’ve already helped immensely with book 2. I’m even thinking about some significant changes (sigh) based on some recent feedback.

So what’s your process for getting feedback? Do you have a critique group or a critique partner?

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