Review: TANGIBLE SPIRITS by Becki Willis {giveaway}

 BNR Tangible Spirits JPG
Genre: Paranormal / Thriller / Suspense 
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Date of Publication: May 13, 2017
Number of Pages: 316
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Reporter Gera Stapleton has a difficult choice to make: write the story of a lifetime or save the legacy of a town and a man she has come to love. Assigned to a piece in Jerome, Arizona about a once-friendly ghost gone on a crime spree, Gera stumbles upon an amazing tale of greed, deception, and family honor and murder. When the killer targets her as the next victim, an unlikely savior comes to her rescue. Smart dialogue, plenty of action, and a touch of the supernatural make this a must-read novel.
“Becki Willis blends bits of history with bits of fancy and weaves a tantalizing tale you won’t soon forget.”
2018 Best Paranormal Fiction
by The Association of Texas Authors 
2018 RONE Award Finalist for Paranormal Long
Crowned Heart Recipient from InD’Tale Magazine




A fine blend of mystery, suspense and romance with a touch of the unknown.
Journalist Gera Stapleton becomes part of her story as she visits the infamous town of Jerome, Arizona to investigate its paranormal legacy.  Fluff story turns big time as she rolls into town on the heels of a murder.  What she uncovers is greed, power and a sick sense of family honor, but there is more to Jerome than just crooks.  Gera goes from skeptic to believer over the course of her stay all the while falling in love with her host and the history of this wonderful town.
TANGIBLE SPIRITS lives up to it’s awards!  Like a perfect recipe, it blends a bit of mystery and suspense, fabulous descriptive scenery, a pinch of history, vivid characters and a dash of romance.  The result is an excellent storytelling experience.
I was immediately drawn in by Gera’s voice as she arrived in Jerome and dove into her work.  The story kept its pace and the plot soon thickened.  I did guess the ending but that never stopped me from enjoying a really good read, which this was.  As a die-hard romance lover, I was THRILLED to see Gera get a happy ending, as a good cozy should be. I highly recommend this fun but suspenseful story, even if you aren’t a “ghost” person.  There’s plenty more to the story to keep you reading!
To the delight of readers around the world, Becki Willis writes memorable characters in believable situations. Best known for Forgotten Boxes and  The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, Becki has won numerous awards, but says her biggest achievement is her family and her loyal reader base.



1st Prize: Signed Copy of Tangible Spirits + $20 Amazon Gift Card 

2nd Prize: Signed Copy of Tangible Spirits

JUNE 27-July 6, 2018

(U.S. Only) 
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Featured Title: TANGIBLE SPIRITS by Becki Willis

  BNR Tangible Spirits Blitz 2





Genre: Paranormal / Thriller / Suspense 

Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing

Date of Publication: May 13, 2017

Number of Pages: 316

Reporter Gera Stapleton has a difficult choice to make: write the story of a lifetime or save the legacy of a town—and a man—she has come to love. Assigned to a piece in Jerome, Arizona about a once-friendly ghost gone on a crime spree, Gera stumbles upon an amazing tale of greed, deception, and family honor—and murder. When the killer targets her as the next victim, an unlikely savior comes to her rescue. Smart dialogue, plenty of action, and a touch of the supernatural make this a must-read novel.





2018 Best Paranormal Fiction

by The Association of Texas Authors 

2018 RONE Award Nominee for Paranormal Long

Crowned Heart Recipient from InD’Tale Magazine




Each year InD’tale Magazine honors the very best books in the Indie and Small publishing industry by awarding the prestigious RONE award (Reward of Novel Excellence). To achieve this award, a book must go through the most comprehensive process in the industry today, with three distinct areas of focus— highly rated and reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges. No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.

 The first round of voting (happening May 7-13, 2018 for TANGIBLE SPIRITS) allows the reading public to choose their favorites. Books with the most votes proceed as finalists.

The books chosen as finalists will then be read by a group of industry professionals and will be judged based on a specific list of requirements. Those scores will then be tallied by a professional company unrelated to InD’tale or its employees to determine the winner of the coveted RONE award.




Please register now at and cast your vote for TANGIBLE SPIRITS by Becki Willis. *Please Note* To maintain honesty and fairness in the voting process, only registered InD’Tale website subscribers can vote. Registering is completely FREE and does not require any commitments whatsoever.


To the delight of readers around the world, Becki Willis writes memorable characters in believable situations. Best known for Forgotten Boxes and The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, Becki has won numerous awards, but says her biggest achievement is her family and her loyal reader base.






JUNE 27-JULY 6, 2018

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Interview: Alexia Gordon, author of DEATH IN D MINOR {giveaway}

BNR Death in D Minor JPG


  Genre: Paranormal Mystery / African American Sleuth
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236
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Gethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law’s come to visit. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with an investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the woman’s help clearing him. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

Gethsemane Brown is everything an amateur sleuth should be: smart, sassy, talented, and witty even when her back is against the wall. In her latest adventure, she’s surrounded by a delightful cast, some of whom readers will remember from Gordon’s award-winning debut and all of whom they won’t forget. Gordon writes characters we want resurrected.
n  Cate Holahan, author of The Widower’s
Wife and Lies She Told
Erstwhile ghost conjurer and gifted concert violinist Gethsemane Brown returns in this thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Murder in G Major. Facing eviction from the historic seaside cottage she calls home, Gethsemane must clear her brother-in-law’s name – as well as her own – when a priceless artifact goes missing and the wealthy dowager to whom it belonged is “helped” over a high balcony railing.  With the help of a spectral sea captain she accidentally summoned, Gethsemane tries to unravel the mystery as the murderer places her squarely in the crosshairs.
n  Daniel J. Hale, Agatha Award-winning author




Is there one subject you’d never write about as an author?

There’s no subject that I’d never write about. I wouldn’t write anything that I wouldn’t want to read but I don’t consider any subject taboo. However, there is one subject difficult for me to write about: medicine. As a practicing physician, I struggle to detach myself from what I do enough to write about it without going on a rant. I’ve become less emotional about medicine now that I’ve given up the clinical world for the administrative, so maybe it’s time to try again.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

Either “Hey, hey, hey, goodbye” or “Consider me gone.” Or one of those flowery eighteenth/nineteenth century epitaphs that seem to go on for a page-and-a-half and tell your entire life story.

Is there any persons you credit for being your inspiration for reading and/or writing?

My parents. Some of my earliest memories are of Mom reading in the car on the way home after picking me up from daycare (Dad drove. He did not read while he drove.), of the stacks of library books she brought home on a regular basis, and of her sitting with a cup of tea and a book while Sunday dinner roasted in the oven. She reads all the time. Dad would schlep me to whatever obscure writer’s conference or seminar I signed up for, even after I got my driver’s license. (I hated driving into DC; Dad chauffeured me without complaint.) My parents let me have a library card as soon as I reached the library’s minimum age, they gave me books as gifts, and their bookshelves are crammed fuller than mine.

The late Nancy Willard, award-winning children’s book writer. I had the privilege of taking her writing classes when I was a Vassar undergrad. She was one of the first people not related to me to take my writing seriously and make me think I could do this “for real.”

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

There are about a gazillion places I want to visit. One is Portugal. It seems romantic and mysterious.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Crime and Punishment. People treat it as this iconic work of literary fiction but it’s actually a pretty good crime novel. I want to write a literary crime novel.

What do you like to read in your free time?

Mysteries, of course. Also science fiction and creative nonfiction about science and disasters.

Do you have mantra for writing and/or life?

Writing: Stop making excuses and do it.

Life: Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. (Yeah, I’m a bit of a cynic.)

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, releases July 11, 2017.
Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers, and featured on Femmes Fatales.            


GRAND PRIZESigned Copy of Death in D Minor + Whisky Field Guide, Sea Salt & Bay Rum soy candle, Notepad, $20 Starbucks Gift Card

2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Death in D Minor, Ceramic Skull Coffee Mug, $20 Amazon Gift Card

October 25-November 3, 2017
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Interview with SD Grimm, YA Author of SUMMONER

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? I’m a geek to the core. I have fandoms. I have made a few costumes that I’ve worn to conferences. I have always loved Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. I still believe that unicorns could possibly exist. Fantasy and Science Fiction are my jam. I watch, read, write, and breathe these genres.

How long have you been writing? I started writing in grade school—a story about a lost sock that was actually an adventure story about a sock looking for his family. Since then, I really loved writing. But I started writing with the goal of getting published eight years ago.

What kind(s) of writing do you do? I write mostly fiction. I have written some articles, but by love and focus in writing is young adult fantasy and sci-fi. Mostly novels, because then I get to spend more time with my characters. But I have done a number of short stories and even flash fiction pieces.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?  To be honest, it was digging into my own emotional experiences that coincided with some of my characters’ experiences to get some raw, honest scenes. Yeah, the whole thing about writers pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into their work, it’s real. J

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? The characters. I LOVE Allie and Cody. I love their story. It was so much fun to write.

Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book?  If so, discuss them. Yeah. Cody, my main hero, is someone with a disability. It doesn’t define him, but it’s part of who he is. I got to talk to and learn from some amazing people while researching Cody’s specific disability, and one thing I took away from their openness and honesty that I wanted to make sure came through was that there’s no reason why he can’t. Yeah. Some things are harder. Some things are different. But a hero with a disability? Why not?

Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?  What impact have they had on your writing? Maggie Stiefvater for one. I love her characters. There’s something lyrical in the way she writes. The feels. OMGsh the feels. Reading her stuff made me want to create amazing characters and emotions people could remember after closing the books. As a kid the Chronicles of Narnia by C.C. Lewis made me want to be a writer. I loved the imagination. The way he could whisk me into another world and open my eyes to things I’d never imagined existed. I wanted to be able to draw readers in like a partially opened wardrobe beckons adventurers.

What do you like to read in your free time? YA and adult fantasy and sci-fi. And I also love a good mystery as well as some horror and thrillers. I read more than one book at a time so I can pick and choose depending on my mood. I also read non-fiction if it has to do with personality psychology or animal behavior.

What projects are you working on at the present? Oooh. So many. I have two books coming out in the beginning of 2018 (book two in my Children of the Blood Moon YA fantasy series and the first book in a new YA urban fantasy trilogy). I just started plotting the start to a new magical realism series with some Greek mythology elements. I am putting finishing touches on my YA sci-fi. And I have a fairy tale retelling I’m delving into edits for. So a lot. lol

Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)? If it’s strange to write out things on paper to involve one creative area of my brain, make lists of scenes and characters, etc., to involve another, and then put those lists and notes into two other programs (aside from the physical notebook) so that I can organize it different ways, then yes. I do.

What book do you wish you could have written? The Scorpio Races. I love mythological beasts and connections to animals.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters? I’d pick Anna Sophia Robb for Allie and Zach Roerig for Cody.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? Reading people’s minds and emotional states.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? So many! I want to go to Greece and Rome and the UK and Egypt.

If you were an animal in a zoo, what would you be? The red panda. Little, hides from view, cuddly-looking, but actually has really sharp teeth.

If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose? Irish or Scottish. Probably because I write out and think words like dinna and couldna but am always afraid of how they’ll sound if I were to actually say them.




S.D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast.She is represented by Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency, her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog, and you can learn more about her upcoming novels at

Author Links: Website |  Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon | Entangled Publishing



When Allie’s best friend dares their group to play a game in a cemetery—something she calls “witching”—Allie never expects what it might mean for her. When she plays, she doesn’t just find bodies, she summons their souls. But one soul wants more than Allie is willing to give.

And the boy next door could be the key to saving her.

Cody Burkhart. Straight from Montana, cowboy hat wearing, and smoking hot, he’s just the thing to help Allie become “normal” again after the death of her mother. And as her newly appointed Guardian, he’s also just the thing to help Allie ward off the vengeful spirit who’s after her soul. Except Cody has his own demons to slay that keep him closed off. But as the full moon approaches, so does their only chance to break the curse, and Cody will have to make the biggest sacrifice of all.


Guest Post: Five Tips for Taming Your Muse by Kat Colmer


Five Tips for Taming Your Muse

One question frequently asked of authors is “Where do you get your inspiration?” For me, that spark of “what if?” can come at any time and from anywhere: an overheard conversation in a café, a news headline, an image on a billboard, a line in a book. Getting inspiration is the easy part. The hard part is kicking your muse into gear to do something with that initial kernel of inspiration, and if your muse is anything like mine, you’re tearing your—and possibly her—hair out almost every day to get her to cooperate.

My muse is called Mildred. Don’t let the mild mannered name fool you; she is an obstinate, fickle, and self-serving creature who, more often than not, deserts me at the drop of a hat. So I’ve come up with five strategies to keep her in line.

  • Exercise

Our characters might be rushing around in their story worlds, fighting monsters, slaying demons, or just running for a cab, but a writer’s job involves a lot of bums on seats. Well, at least your own bum on your own seat. Our work is very sedentary and Mildred is one of those twitchy, flighty, can’t sit still kind of muses. Taking her for a walk, jog, or a gym session, is a good way to help her regain focus. Even a twenty-minute stroll around the block can be enough to help her sit still and focus on the story.

  • Music

Once you’ve got your muse in her chair, a good way to channel her thoughts into a creative direction is to play her some music. Choosing something that reflects the mood of the scene you’re writing is best, otherwise you might end up with a too soppy fight scene or too aggressive dialogue during what was meant to be a romantic exchange. I listened to Two Steps From Hell—a movie trailer music production duo—while writing my debut YA paranormal romance, as it gave me a nice mix between epic, fast paced pieces and reflective, romantic tracks. Check out their music here:

  • Reading

This is a crucial point. To keep your muse at the top of her game, she needs to see what other muses are helping their authors create. An innately proud animal, this will have her sitting up straight and pointing to the keyboard, urging you to put words on the page, so that she can show off the awesome stories she’s helped create.

  • Time with other muses

Just like it’s crucial to read other writing that inspires, it’s also good to get together with other like-minded authors. This way your muses can hang out together at the bar and bounce ideas off one another while sipping away at something bubbly. Mildred would never admit it, but she has my critique partners’ muses to thank for many of the ideas she claims as her own.

  • Chocolate

Chocolate is an excellent muse incentive! Mildred will happily help me dig myself out of a plot hole or provide an idea for a story twist if I dangle the prospect of some chocolate in front of her. Note: it’s a good idea to combine point five with point one, for obvious reasons.

If none of the above work and your muse still refuses to cooperate, tie the little blighter to a chair and force her to inspire words onto the page. After all, she lives in your head—so no one will hear her furious complaining but you!





Love curses don’t exist. At least that’s what Jonas, master of the meaningless hookup, tells himself when a letter warns him he’s an Eros Guardian cursed to endure a test of true love or forever be alone. His levelheaded longtime friend Cora figures it’s a revenge prank by an ex. The way Jonas stamps each girlfriend with a weeklong use-by date, it serves him right.

But when an impulsive kiss between the two friends reveals potential for more, Cora becomes the target of the Groth Maar: demons sent to wipe out the Eros Guardian line. And suddenly the curse becomes dangerously real.

Breaking the curse means Jonas’s biggest challenge yet. Failure guarantees Cora’s death. But success may cost him his own life…and the loss of his carefully guarded heart to the one girl far too sensible to fall for him.

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Kat Colmer is a Sydney-based Young and New Adult author who writes coming-of-age stories with humor and heart. The recipient of several writing awards, she has won the Romance Writers of Australia First Kiss contest, as well as the Romance Writers of America On the Far Side contest for her debut Young Adult Paranormal Romance.

Kat has a Master of Education in Teacher Librarianship and loves working with teens and young adults. When not writing, teaching, or reading the latest in YA fiction, Kat spends time with her husband and two children.

Website | Instagram |  Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Entangled Publishing

Guest Post by Katie McElhenney

The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer

Three of my favorite activities are running, reading, and writing. Besides being alliterative, those activities have another thing in common—they’re all solitary endeavors. And while exercising and spending time with a book can be great solo ventures, the same isn’t necessarily true for writing. Unless you’re writing professionally, most of the time you need to be creative about when you fit in your keyboard time; before work, after dinner, in those few precious moments when a child is napping. These times are chosen precisely because they allow for solitude and quiet. Yet, I’m going to make the case for adding community to your writing routine and here’s why:


I love walking into places bustling with activity. There is something about the energy that thrives in those environments that is contagious. This is why so many writers flock to coffee shops and shared workspaces. It’s true that those places aren’t for everyone and can get pricey after a while, so it helps to explore other options. Libraries are a great place to work, as are larger bookstores (and you’re surrounded on all sides by inspiration!).


Back in school there was no question you were going to turn in that big term paper that was worth 50% of your grade. You had a hard deadline and you didn’t give yourself a choice in meeting it. When you’re writing for yourself it’s easy to get off track with your progress because you don’t have any accountability for your work. Having a community of writers who know your goals and (kindly) remind you of them will help keep you focused and motivated.


No one wants to complete a three-hundred-page novel then get the note that your main character needs more of an arc starting back at page twenty-five. This is the kind of thing that happens if you aren’t getting feedback as you go along. Getting other sets of eyes on your work will lead you to a much cleaner first draft. Also, I’ve found that there is value in both getting and giving feedback. If you are reading another’s work critically, you tend to look at your own in that way too. It’s a great way to hone your craft.

 Embracing the social side!

Writing is tough. There are days when the words just seem to fly out of your fingertips, and days when you want to toss your laptop out a window. Having a network of writer friends to commiserate with is essential. Whether this a group that meets weekly at a coffee shop or a forum you check in with online when you need it, having people who understand what you’re doing and have been there themselves helps you rejoice in the victories and power through the bumps in the road.

I know that this isn’t practical for everyone. Life is busy and there are many demands on your time. However, even if you can carve out a little time each week to connect with other writers, you’d be amazed at the benefits you’ll see. Check out sites like Meetup or the bulletin boards at your local library and coffee shops to find groups of writers in your area. Your book will thank you for it!

About the Author


About Katie McElhenney

Katie McElhenney was born in Philadelphia into a big family of curious kids and patient adults. A voracious reader and unapologetic daydreamer, she knew she wanted to become a writer someday. With the support of an amazing family, great friends, and some truly spectacular teachers she has written short stories, poems, and novels. A solar-powered human, she now lives in Los Angeles and uses the great weather for year-round trips to the beach and long runs (where the best inspiration happens).

Find out more about her at

About the Book


The Things They’ve Taken

All Lo Campbell wants is to be a normal teenager—to go to one high school, live in one place, and have one real friend. Instead, she travels the country with her mother, chasing the unknown, the “what else” that’s out there…

Until one day, the “what else” chases back.

Determined to rescue her mom from whatever supernatural being took her, Lo will need more help than a badly dressed demon obsessed with country music. She’s going to need a Tracker—and lucky for her, she finds one. Shaw is strong, good-looking, possibly available, and utterly infuriating. Sure, he may have secrets, and his help costs more than a brand-new car, but she’ll have to deal with him if she wants to find her mother—and get her home alive.


Guest Post by Merrie Destefano – author of LOST GIRLS


How Writing is Like Combing Your Hair, Sort Of

There are many stages in the writing process. There’s the glittery, I’ve just fallen in love and all of this is SO wonderful stage. This is where words fly off your fingertips, ideas come when you’re trying to fall asleep, and most of your friends get a glazed look on their faces when you ramble on about random plot elements. This is the part of writing that can get you addicted. It’s wild, it’s like caffeine and adrenaline mixed into a yummy cocktail and can I have another one of those, please?

Fortunately, this stage doesn’t last very long. You’d think it would be perfect, if only you could capture this feeling and keep it in a bottle, like lightning bugs. The thing is, not everything that comes out on your computer screen during this stage really makes sense. Some of it is a little bit disjointed and crazy.

It will have to go through another stage first before it sparkles. This next stage is a little bit painful. It’s where you need to look at your work like a reader, instead of a head-over-heels-in-love-with-my-own-creation writer.

For a long time, I’ve thought of this second stage almost like combing your hair. If you’ve ever had long hair, you know that mornings aren’t fun. You wake up with a snarled, tangled mess of hair. It can hurt to straighten out that hot mess. The comb acts like it hates you, snagging on knots that you can’t even see. If you go too fast, there’s a big OUCH waiting for you.

So, at this point, I try to look at my work from a different angle. If I’ve been working on a computer, I print out the pages. I even lay out the document in a graphics program (QuarkXPress), so it will look more like a book. Another trick you can try is to email your story in a Word document to your Kindle. Every time you read your book in different format, it will force you to see it in a new way.

Things I look for include: sentences that sound too much alike, bad rhythm, too much information, not enough information, scenes that seem to have more than one central focus, places where I get bored, characters that aren’t responding correctly, dialogue that feels off, and long scenes where there’s no dialogue.

This is a process that I repeat throughout the writing of my book. I mark the snags and tangles, go back and do my best to fix them, print out the corrected pages and read through them again. Every time, it feels like I’m combing my hair. With each pass, the comb goes through a little bit easier, my hair starts to look a tiny bit better, and I think, hey, this is working!

Because I do this throughout the process of writing, by the time I’m completely done with my ‘first’ draft, it usually doesn’t take a lot of editing. I can almost always finish my final round of edits within a couple of weeks.

Of course, then there is the next round of edits that I get from my agent and my editor. Those usually require a jackhammer, a couple gallons of Coke Zero, and a series of frantic emails and phone calls to my writer pals where I ask them why I ever thought I could write. It can even turn into an existential crisis at that point. But I try to take a few deep breaths and let some time pass. Because I know that if I can make it through this last stage, there will be this thing called A Real Book.

The Real Book stage? That’s the absolute best part. It’s the reason I got started in this business in the first place. It’s pure magic, it’s starlight and fairy wings and feet that can’t touch the ground.

In fact, it’s so amazing, it makes you want to start all over again and write another book.



Merrie Destefano low res .jpg

Born in the Midwest, magazine editor Merrie Destefano currently lives in Southern California with her husband, two German shepherds, a Siamese cat, and the occasional wandering possum. Her favorite hobbies are reading speculative fiction and watching old Star Trek episodes, and her incurable addiction is writing. She loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies, and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time.

Connect with Merrie online:

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The only rule is: there are no rules.

“Merrie Destefano weaves magic.” —Rachel A. Marks, author of Darkness Brutal

Yesterday, Rachel went to sleep listening to Taylor Swift, curled up in her grammy’s quilt, worrying about geometry. Today, she woke up in a ditch, bloodied, bruised, and missing a year of her life.

She doesn’t recognize the person she’s become: She’s popular. She wears nothing but black.

Black to cover the blood.

And she can fight.

Tell no one.

She’s not the only girl to go missing within the last year…but she’s the only girl to come back. She desperately wants to unravel what happened to her, to try and recover the rest of the Lost Girls.

But the more she discovers, the more her memories return. And as much as her new life scares her, it calls to her. Seductively. The good girl gone bad: sex, drugs, and raves, and something darker…something she still craves. The rush of the fight, the thrill of the win—something she can’t resist, that might still get her killed…


Guest Post by author Jami Gray

Exploring the Top 10 Writerly Terms

In a world where words are strung together into intriguing tales of heart-pounding adventure, soul-enlightening love, or instinct screaming mysteries, there exists a creative breed with a language all their own. Behold the writer, the one who tames the sentences into entrancing stories the captivate readers everywhere!

*end Movie Phone Voice*

My writing career started well after my reading career was in full swing, so imagine my surprise when I discovered an entire new language existed to discuss my fantastical musings. The most interesting thing about this new dialect was the fact there were specific terms for story parts that, as a reader, I instinctually understood, but didn’t know carried an actual name.

Now, some of these are no-brainers, things we picked up from our English courses, but hopefully I can offer some help for the next time you corner your favorite author and lure them into a conversation with a luscious cup of joe.

  1. Word count, or WC – When writers gather and discuss the progress of their current project, the term “word count” enters the fray. Readers measure a story by pages. Claims of “I flew through those first two hundred pages!” bring on competing urges of writers to grin widely or flinch. The first urge is easily understood—the story has well and truly caught the reader into our wily web. To understand the second urge of wincing in pain, you must understand that those 200 pages consisted of roughly 50,000 words. 50,000 words that might have taken the author close to a month or more to craft. This translates to anywhere from 1500-2000 words per day, depending on the writer’s personal goal. To convert to pages, that’s 6 to 8 pages a day.  For a reader to zip through our carefully crafted word art with such enthusiasm bring us both creative joy and creative pain.  Although I think most writers would agree with me, we can live with the pain, so long as you read the last 200 pages too.
  2. Novella vs. Short Story – In the writing world word counts gather into their own clichés, and when those word counts are reduced you find the Novella and Short Story groups. Attend any reader or writer conference and you’ll hear statements like, “The Grand-Pooh Bah of publishing houses says they are looking for 85K Romantic Suspense,” or “They want my Urban Fantasy, but said I needed to knock of 15K from my 120K count.” While there are no etched in stone rules about word counts in conjunction with genres, there are some unspoken rules most writers learn over time. First, a novel consists of a word count higher than 40K. As your word count slims down, you move from Novel to Novellas, whose words gather at a trim 18K-40K. Short Stories are the long-legged gazelles of fiction and take on a mind blowing range of 500 to 18K. Those closer to the 500 mark call themselves Flash Fiction. Again, these numbers fluctuate depending on who’s in the conversation, but I’m here to give you a rough starting point for your conversational safety.
  3. HEA – Happily Ever After. This acronym was introduced to me at my first writers’ conference. Up until that point, I stuck to my solitary confinement of libraries and fluorescent-lit rooms as I crafted my first Novel without the benefit of a critique group. During the conference there was much discussion around story crafting, and one of the many acronyms flying about was HEA. You would think this would be obvious, but my worlds are populated by fantastical beings, treachery, and reluctant heroes/heroines. The conference I attended was heavy into the hearts and flowers of romance. I actually had to ask for the definition. You see, writers understand we craft stories as escape vehicles for our readers. At the end of the escape run, we want our readers to disembark happy and content that all is right in the world they are leaving behind, hence ensuring your stories have an HEA.
  4. Plot vs. Sub-plot – Every good story connects with readers on multiple levels, and to achieve this a writer must use subtle crafting tools. Most readers get that each story contains a plot—a story-telling plan that gets the main character from point A to point C in such a way that the same character is forever changed when they land at the extraction point C. Yet, writers understand that in order for their characters to make such a drastic transition, they must undergo more trials and tribulations than meets the eye, hence the use of sub-plots. These are the story lines that wrap their talons into your imagination and linger long after you’ve finished the book. These subtle underlying stories determine why the character reacts the way they do, why they make the decisions they do that may or may not lead to further angst and self-realization. Sub-plots had a depth to your characters until you are sure you past the battle-worn hero on your way to coffee this morning.
  5. Story Arc – This is a close relative of Plot, but not so close as to warrant a personal loan without interest.  This term is the blueprint of every story ever told. It is a generalization of story elements that must exist to guarantee your reader won’t give up half way through your masterpiece in frustration of not getting their escapism fix. At its most primal level, the Story Arc consists of an inciting incident, an obstacle that must be defeated, the midpoint, which leads into the climax that slides into the dénouement. No matter your Plot, it must work in tandem with your Story Arc or disaster is sure to follow.
  6. Head hopping – This is the bane of existence for both writers and readers. Writers must decide which character tells the story, this is choosing a POV (Point of View). Once a writer makes that POV choice, they must share the story from that character’s eyes and emotional investment. Unfortunately, we sometimes get caught up in things and shift from one character’s POV to another because what’s happening on the page is better served from another character’s POV. This results in Head hopping, and if done incorrectly a reader will suffer from whiplash as they are torn from one character’s POV to another without warning.
  7. MC or Protag – This may seem straight forward, but this particular bugger goes by many names-Main Character (MC), Hero (H), Heroine (He), Protagonist (Protag), Lead Character (Lead). Whatever name they go by, they are the one character every writer is hoping their readers will personally connect to. This is the character who must still be standing in the end. They are the one we invest our time with because without them, major parts of the story fall apart. In some stories, you may find there is more than one on the board. Regardless, they are the foil to the darker side of the writer’s imagination, which leads us to…
  8. The Big Bad or Antag – This is the character who stands opposite of your MC, they are the Meanest of the Mean, the Villain, the Big Bad, the Antagonist. They will be the bane of your MC’s existence, the one manipulating your MC’s emotions and for while, readers will believe that they will win. They are the nightmare the MC must rise above, something they don’t get until…
  9. The Black Moment – That point in the story where your MC feels all is lost and there is no reason to continue fighting forward. They can’t see the light, only the darkness crafted by the wily Big Bad. In each story they pen writers bleed for this moment. Consider it our form of personal therapy, but I can guarantee there is nothing pretty or poetic about this point in our stories. It’s brutal, it leaves us drained and wondering why we put ourselves through it. Only when the HEA arrives do we admit the agony was worth it.
  10. Synopsis – Say this word near any writer and they will react like the Wicked Witch of the East, hands over our ears as we screech, “Noooo! I’m melting!” A synopsis is a writer’s version of torture requested by the harsh taskmasters known as editors and publishing houses. A synopsis is paring your beautifully crafted story into 1-2 pages (500-1500 WC) while maintaining a creative, unique voice and capturing all the major players and pivotal points of your story. Basically a writer is asked to tell their 90K story in 1000 words. Do you see the inherent challenge here? We took 90K to tell the story right, and you want it in 1000? *pulling up big girl panties with a deep breath* Right then, I’ll get right on that.

And there you have it, the Top 10 Writerly Terms. Feel free to use at will during your next writer run-in.

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Jami Gray

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

Her latest release is TOUCHED BY FATE, the second of her PSY-IV Teams.



Touched by FateTOUCHED BY FATE, PSY-IV Teams #2

Trusting him with her secrets is dangerous.

As a specialized consultant for the Department of Defense, Risia Lacoste understands the bargaining chip of a well-kept secret. When her current assignment threatens to unearth her deeply buried skeletons, she’s forced into a high-stakes game of lies and loyalty where even her ability to foresee the future can’t predict the winner.

Trusting him with her heart could be fatal.

Darkness lies under the skin of every man, and PSY-IV Team operative and touch empath, Tag Gunderson, has the demons to prove it. Scarred by betrayal and disillusionment, he’s not Risia’s top pick for a partner in the game, but he’s all she’s got.

As the game draws them deeper into a pit of intrigue and their list of enemies grow, will Risia trust Tag with more than her secrets or will his demons destroy them both?  


Touched by Fate: Bk 2 of PSY-IV Teams Buy Links:


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