COMING SOON: Supernatural Sleuth Case Files 2-5

I love how a simple experiment with a Vote Your Adventure story on my blog last year turned into a mini-series of short stories spinning off from Elemental Magic. And now Paige, Sean, and even Vlad will be back with four new adventures!

Supernatural Sleuth, Case Files #2-5

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Cover design by the very talented Shelley at Spittyfish Designs. Watch for Supernatural Sleuth 2-5 coming September 16!

AW-SSleuth-432x648AW-DS-750x1125Download the first case file for FREE on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords, and Goodreads. And for Paige and Sean’s first appearance in the Elemental Magic world, check out Dry Spell.

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NEW RELEASE: Unbridled Magic (Elemental Magic 4)

Well it’s about time, wouldn’t you say? I’ve been holding onto this book for too long. So without further ado, I give you the fourth book of the Elemental Magic series:

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Once again, Spittyfish Designs did a fantastic job on the cover!

Book Description:

Nita Young couldn’t be happier: she’s getting ready to marry her soul mate, Keenan Donovan, in the company of close friends and family. Everything is perfect…until a major earthquake crashes the party.

As the only elementals in the area, Nita and her friends are sent to investigate a local volcano as the cause. Instead, they find an archaeology team has unearthed an ancient artifact buried deep in the mountain. After Keenan touches the relic and gets jolted with magical energies, he starts developing some unsettling new powers.

Messing with alchemist magic is dangerous, especially when shadow hounds emerge from the volcano seeking the artifact and those who took it. Nita and her friends must battle the dangerous creatures while trying to figure out where the archaeology team stashed the relic. To make matters worse, Keenan’s new powers are growing unstable, and Nita has to find a way to reverse the artifact’s spell before its consuming magic tears Keenan apart.

Now available on Amazon and B&N!

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COVER REVEAL: Playing With Darkness By Susan Illene

Hey, two posts in one week! I’m so excited to be back blogging in time for this cover reveal. Playing With Darkness is the second companion novella to Susan Illene’s Sensor series. It takes place after the events of the third book, Darkness Divides, so you definitely want to pick that one up. I finished reading it earlier this week and it was a fabulous installment. I’m looking forward to this novella, mainly because—shape-shifting fae kitty! Who is awesomely featured on this spectacular cover…

Playing with Darkness medium cover

Aren’t those colors striking? I’d love a notebook of this cover. Watch for Playing With Darkness coming May 31st!

Description:

There’s no avoiding it.  Melena must keep her promise to return the fae device that opens the portal to Purgatory.  Except there’s one problem—Kerbasi.  How can she go when she has one of heaven’s minions practically attached to her hip?  One who will strike fear in the hearts of the fae the moment they realize who he is.

When her shape-shifter cat suddenly gets sick, she can’t delay the trip any longer.  Only the fae can help get Sable healthy again.  And if Kerbasi tries to cause any trouble while they are there, she’ll just have to find creative ways to keep him in line.

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photo of SusanAbout Susan Illene:

Instead of making the traditional post high school move and attending college, Susan joined the U.S. Army. She spent her eighteenth birthday in the gas chamber…an experience she is sure is best left for criminals. For eleven years she served first as a human resources specialist and later as an Arabic linguist (mostly in Airborne units). Though all her duty assignments were stateside, she did make two deployments to Iraq where her language skills were put to regular use.

After leaving the service in 2009, Susan returned to school at the University of Oklahoma to study history with a focus on the Middle East. She no longer finds many opportunities to test her fighting abilities in real life, unless her husband is demanding she cook him a real meal, but she’s found a new outlet in writing urban fantasy heroines who can.

*You can find a listing of all the books in her urban fantasy series either on her website or Amazon author page.

Connect with Susan online:

Website- Darkness Haunts

Book Cover Jail—The Importance of Branding

I have a very exciting cover reveal for you today. Not for a new release, but for an older book that needs a pick-me-up. But first, here’s what led to the cover change.

The concept of “branding” has always been elusive for me. Those of you who’ve stuck with me from the beginning have seen this blog undergo three major transformations in design alone. Then there have been my attempts to find blogging content suited to my brand. It’s hard.

Another area of branding I’ve been sorely inept at is image, particularly for my book covers. Until recently, I bounced around various cover artists (for multiple reasons). For my earlier books, I had no idea what I was doing in terms of branding; my only focus was I needed a cover. Recently I’ve started getting a better understanding on the importance of image recognition, especially in a series. The three main Dreamwalker novels have been done by the same graphic designer (I know you haven’t seen the last cover yet, muaha). Composition style and typeface give those books an immediate visual connection. (Yeah, the two novellas don’t match, but I said I’m still learning.)

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We do judge books by their cover. I’ve been guilty of this with even my own books. Though I know the story of Elemental Magic, the poor cover choice lowered my opinion of the book so much that the past few months I wanted to sweep it under the rug as if I never wrote it. Which is sad because new readers are discovering and enjoying the story (despite its lousy image). So what I decided to do was change the cover. And in the spirit of branding, I contacted the artist who did Earth Tones. I have to say, Fantasia Frog Designs has reignited my excitement for this book just with image alone! I’ll need to redo Dry Spell at some point, but one step at a time.

So here is the wickedly awesome new cover!

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Though in the case of these two books, typeface is not identical, each book has similar elements that connect them, such as the placement of the models and secondary creature images. Plus, it’s just plain gorgeous.

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Branding is more important than I’d ever realized before. That isn’t to say I have it down yet, but I’m learning, and that’s all I can do.

Pick up a copy of Elemental Magic at AmazonB&N, and Kobo.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss October

Wow, how the year is going by. It’s Fall! For this month’s fantasy feature, I’ve chosen one of my own characters, Nita Young, in honor of Earth Tones being a winner in the 2013 Best Indie Book Awards! I am incredibly honored and blessed by all your support.

ET cover with award Nita Young

Nita is an earth elemental. She lives in Yakutat, Alaska where she works as the town’s veterinarian. Her job is to take care of the animals and land, but she also enjoys helping human patients at the health clinic. She has two Husky dogs, Puck and Lakota, and enjoys pottery in her spare time. She could use her earth wielding to make sculptures, but prefers to use the wheel and tools. As she would say, “otherwise it’s just elemental magic, not art.”

While her powers are primarily used for stewardship, Nita’s got some kick-ass fight moves. Since she can wield any form of earth to her bidding, she can make vines coil and slither like snakes, and pull a wall of dirt into the air as a shield. And she can talk to earth animals. Who doesn’t want a pack of wolves running in as backup?

And Nita needs it too. In Earth Tones she’s faced with a mythological creature summoned up to attack residents of her town. Murder by mauling. Not only that, but throw in a newly-made werewolf and a deadly pathogen, and our heroine’s got her hands full.

Lastly, as a Finalist I got to write up my dream interview for Venture Galleries’s blog. And I chose to be interviewed by Iron Man. Check it out. I had a ball writing it, lol.

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Heroines of Fantasy: Miss September

This month we’re paying tribute to an ordinary woman playing in an extraordinary league: Agent Natasha Romanoff from The Avengers movie.

Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Photo credit: Marvel Studios

Also known as Black Widow, Natasha is an ex-Russian spy/assassin, now working as an agent for S.H.I.E.L.D. Unlike the superheroes on the Avengers team, Natasha doesn’t have any super powers. Just moxie, kick-ass fight moves, and guns. She goes head-to-head with Loki in a mind game and wins, not to mention she beats up her fair share of invading Chitauri aliens.

While she appears tough and aloof on the surface, Natasha has a softer, vulnerable side around Hawkeye. She tells Loki at one point that Hawkeye saved her from being killed and gave her a chance at redemption. Now she fights with the good guys, even if they are a motley team of superheroes.

Scarlett Johansson is scheduled to resume her role as Black Widow in the second Captain America movie (2014) and the second Avengers film (2015). I, for one, can’t wait!

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I also have exciting news: Earth Tones is a Finalist in the 2013 Best Indie Book Awards! I am so honored that the book made it into the Top 5 for Fantasy. From here the judges will take the month of September to determine the winner, but I feel like one already. Here’s to a great, kick-ass month! *clink*

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Cover Reveal: Darkness Taunts

It’s a celebration of cover reveals on the blog this week! Darkness Taunts is the sequel to Darkness Haunts, a kick-ass urban fantasy featuring a heroine who is in most ways, plain human. Except for the fact she’s a sensor, able to detect magic and neutralize it. Melena isn’t a damsel in distress, however. This ex-military chick knows enough moves to give you a good beating…or just shoot you. Anyway, on to the cover, which is GORGEOUS, and a sneak peek excerpt.

Darkness Taunts by Susan Illene

Book two of The Sensor Series

Cover Design: Phat Puppy Art w/typography by Bookish Brunette

Expected Release Date: June 30th, 2013

Add the book to your To-Read list on Goodreads.

 Darkness Taunts - final copy

BLURB:

Melena Sanders has managed to avoid all things inhuman for most of her life, but after coming to Fairbanks, Alaska to rescue her best friend from supernaturals she hasn’t been allowed to leave. That is, until her long-time nemesis comes to collect a favor she owes him. Lucas might be half angel, but he’s all bad as far as she’s concerned.

Paying him back might get her out of town for a while, but her new destination will be anything but enjoyable. Mel’s got to help the nephilim take care of a demon possession outbreak in Juneau. Although something like this hasn’t happened for thousands of years, Lucas is certain Melena’s rare abilities are the key to solving the problem.

With violence in the capital city growing, she’s going to have to figure out how to stop it fast before the trouble spreads to other places. Not only that, but working closely with Lucas is changing the dynamics of their hate-hate relationship—worrying her even more than the demons. Getting back to her captivity in Fairbanks never looked so good.

EXCERPT:

Lucas climbed into the passenger seat. Though his large frame took up a lot of space, he still looked comfortable, in control. There were no delays leaving the airport. The whole thing had been arranged for a quick and smooth pick-up. I wasn’t used to Lucas being so accommodating.

“Did you eat?” he asked.

“Yeah, Emily and I went out to a restaurant earlier.”

He glanced over at me. “You didn’t feel like poisoning her with your cooking before you left?”

I fiddled with his navigation system—might as well get the lay of the land. “That joke got old a long time ago.”

“I wasn’t joking,” he said. “Leave the GPS alone.”

I switched to scanning the radio stations. “Where are we going?”

He nudged my hand away from the controls and shut it off. “To my cabin. We made some progress during your absence. I want you rested and ready to help interrogate a demon first thing in the morning.”

A thrill went through me. My job in the military had been as an interrogator and I was damned good at it with my lie detecting abilities. Plus I’d gained a lot of experience during my combat tours. “You got one?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I’ve worked on him already, but he hasn’t revealed anything of value…yet.”

I shot him a disgruntled look. “You should have waited for me.”

“Time was of the essence, sensor. You’ll get your chance.”

“Then why not go talk to him tonight?” I asked.

“Demons are at their strongest during the hours of darkness. You’ll have better luck after dawn.”

“Fine.” I sat back and tried to admire the snow covered mountains. They would be easier to see during the day, but the moon lit them up enough for me to catch brief glimpses as we drove.

“Sensor,” Lucas broke the silence. “The next time I call…pick up the damned phone. Do not make me come in person to speak with you.”

“That’ll give me incentive,” I said. The pompous ass. He wouldn’t threaten me and get away with it. I let a couple of minutes go by.

“Do you know why I’m glad you never call me by my real name?” I asked.

We were stopped at a traffic light. I’d waited for that. He turned to look at me and raised a blond brow. “I suppose you’re going to tell me.”

I studied my fingernails. “Yesterday, when I heard you say Melena for the first time it gave me chills. It was like the devil himself had walked over my grave and spit on it. I’d rather you not say it again.”

The light turned to green. He jerked his attention back to the road. Lucas was a master at keeping his emotions in check, but he still gripped the wheel a little tighter than before.

 

 Pick up the first book in the series, Darkness Haunts, at Amazon, B&N, and Kobo.

photo of SusanABOUT SUSAN:

Instead of making the traditional post high school move and attending college, Susan joined the U.S. Army. She spent her eighteenth birthday in the gas chamber…an experience she is sure is best left for criminals. For eleven years she served first as a human resources specialist and later as an Arabic linguist (mostly in Airborne units). Though all her duty assignments were stateside, she did make two deployments to Iraq where her language skills were put to regular use.

After leaving the service in 2009, Susan returned to school to study history with a focus on the Middle East. She no longer finds many opportunities to test her fighting abilities in real life, unless her husband is demanding she cook him a real meal, but she’s found a new outlet in writing urban fantasy heroines who can.

CONNECT WITH SUSAN ONLINE:

Website- www.darknesshaunts.com

Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/SusanIllene1

Goodreads- http://www.goodreads.com/Susan_Illene

Twitter- https://twitter.com/@susan_illene

Heroines of Fantasy: Miss May

May is such a sweet sounding month, but I do not have a sweet heroine for you today. For this month’s Heroine of Fantasy feature, we’re heading back into the book world to meet Jeaniene Frost’s Cat of the Night Huntress series.

 Cat Crawfield

Due to her mother being raped by a vampire and getting pregnant, Cat is both half-human and half-vampire, which gives her the unique strength to combat these evil undead creatures. Every night she goes out hunting, hoping to find her father and kill him so maybe her mother can stop living in fear.

One night, she tries to lure and kill Bones, a vampiric bounty hunter that’s on to her. He imprisons her in a cave for days until he convinces her that the two of them would make a pretty good team. Of course, romance isn’t far off.

Cat is very young in the first book, so it’s no surprise that she can be immature. Throughout the series she does grow up some. She serves on a secret military team hunting vampires for a while, and delves deeper into the vampire world with Bones (I’m not going to go into detail and give anything away, but it’s a wild ride). Cat is stubborn, tough, and not afraid to take risks—she’s basically been using herself as vampire bait since she was sixteen.

She also has a hot temper, as does her lover, Bones, which makes for some very fiery spats—and fiery make-up sessions. Caution to those who may not like the racy so much: Frost is very graphic in her descriptions. But if you’re comfortable skipping over the sex scenes, the rest of the story is a lot of fun and very imaginative.

Cat is a badass girl we can all admire. Be it monstrous vampires, ghouls, or ghosts, she’ll take them all on. She is, after all, half dead herself.

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LOL Cat Contest

I think it’s time for another LOL Cat game, don’t you? Put on your thinking caps for this one because I’m going to be choosing the most clever or funniest caption to go with this picture. In addition, everyone who plays will be entered into a drawing to win an e-book! I’ll have a prize pack from which the winner may choose one book they’re interested in; see below for specific titles. Sound fun? Okay, show me what you got!

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I will be picking the winners Thursday night and posting the results Friday. If you are not interested in being entered for the contest, just say so in your comment. Valid email is required for entries. Dreamstealer-AngelaWallace-600x900

Prizes to choose from: (Please note, the last three titles linked below may only be awarded through Kindle)

Any of my books (including my next release!), which you can read about here.

The Fourth Channel The Fourth Channel by Jen Kirchner—a laugh-out-loud comic urban fantasy

Souled cover Souled by Diana Murdock—an intriguing YA paranormal

Darkness Haunts Darkness Haunts by Susan Illene—a slightly dark, kick-ass urban fantasy

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Inside the Life of a Talking Necromancer’s Knife

I have a very special guest on the blog today. He’s a necromancer’s best friend, and this guy has the honor of working with Kari Hunter, the “worst necromancer on the planet”. Please welcome Stubby!

Thanks for having me. I always knew that I would one day rise to greatness. Sure, I hoped it would be because I finally reached my dreams of stabbing a million butt cheeks, but this is almost as good.

Uh, before we get started, I just want to remind Stubby that this is a family-friendly blog, and there will be no murdering, stabbing, or poking of the guests while he’s here.

What? I’ve been tricked! If I had legs I’d march right out of here…

Luckily for our audience, you don’t have legs, so let’s get to it, shall we? I understand you don’t get to work with Kari much, her being anti-sacrifice and all. What do you do with your time?

I actually do get to work with Kari, even more now that Mouth, another knife of hers, is gone. Sadly, Kari wastes her time and squanders her potential as one of the most spectacular killers in history by researching magic on the plane of the dead. So whenever someone needs a pinky or toe stabbed to set off a blood power, I’m your knife. When my spectacular stabbing services aren’t needed, I like to kick back with my fellow knives and watch a little TV.

What’s your favorite TV show?

I don’t have a favorite, but I typically watch crime shows. Can’t get enough of them. I’m always on the edge of my seat, hoping that the heroic killer will get away. Sadly, they rarely do.

Uh, right… Can you give us any juicy secrets about Kari? You know, the kind I can sell to the tabloids for beaucoup bucks?

Yes! Now come close and listen to me very carefully. The truth is: Kari sucks. Come to think of it, that’s not really a secret…

I hope she reads this interview. I hear she has a very special form of punishment for when you misbehave… Oh, no comment now? How about if you could stab anyone in the world, who would it be?

I’m afraid to answer. It might give me another week in the underwear drawer. Don’t laugh! You don’t know what it’s like in there, choking on lace and satin and the scent of flowers. Horrible. Kim Jong Un.

*snickers* Do you think Kari and Mikelis make a cute couple?

Yes! I have high hopes that one day they will become a terrific killing duo!

Why are you looking at me like that? Isn’t that what you meant?

What about Kari and the actor Cody Springer?

I like that Cody guy. I hope he sticks around. I think if Kari were finally going to snap and kill someone, it would be him. And my services are always available, if you know what I mean.

Sadly, I do. Now be honest, do you wish Kari didn’t keep her identity a secret so she could take you on tour? Maybe you could even be in the band?

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of living a life on the road, in the spotlight, on the stage, with plenty of adoring groupies to stab backstage. I’d make a great percussion instrument, where I make rhythmic, soothing sounds of sawing people’s limbs off or that squelchy sound of stabbing someone repeatedly in the big toe. Kenny G, call me.

Perhaps that’s not the best idea after all. If you weren’t confined to a drawer or whoever’s holding you, what would be your dream for your life?

Besides stabbing a million butt cheeks? I’d love to be an actor and star in my own crime series as the most amazing murder weapon of all time!

Sounds thrilling. Thank you for taking time to chat with me today!

Want more of Stubby? Check out The Fourth Channel by Jen Kirchner.

For years, Kari Hunter’s fooled the world into thinking she’s just an everyday girl. Sure, she’s the lead singer of world-renowned band Vis Viva, but outside of that, she recycles religiously, is an avid supporter of the environment, and she’s a certifiable coffee addict. But Kari has a secret she keeps from her family, friends, and fans.

Kari Hunter is a necromancer.

The rarest and most powerful of all magic-born, necromancers are notorious for leaving a trail of sacrifices in their wake. But Kari isn’t interested in hurting anyone. She works hard at being as un-necromancer-like as possible: everyone she stabs gets a bandage and a lollipop, and whenever her sacrificial knives get too excited by the prospect of violence, she puts them in time-out… in her lingerie drawer.

But when an agent of voodoo master Ruairí O’Bryne catches Kari using her powers, her secret’s out. And if Ruairí finds out who Kari is, he’ll stop at nothing to make her his next sacrifice.

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