Guest post: ‘How I Became a Writer’ by Lauren K. McKellar

Today’s guest post is by the fabulous Lauren K. McKellar, who is one of my favourite contemporary authors. If you think that’s a big call, go read one of her books and see for yourself! — Cass

Like many authors, I love books. I was that kid who’d read in the car on long holiday trips – hell, I’d read at the bus stop when I was two minutes early on the trip to school! For as long as I can remember I’ve loved to read, read, read!

The same could be said for writing. I wrote my first novel at age ten, and I filled up three 520-page exercise books with my hand-written story about a group of teenagers who were bullying my protagonist – and then she found out they were witches!

Since then, I’ve definitely progressed. Obviously I type primarily on a keyboard now, because who has time for handwriting and then transcribing? I stopped writing fiction for approximately ten years, and then returned to it about three years ago. I did NaNoWriMo, and boy, did I learn so much. I learnt how no first draft, second draft, third draft, hell, often no fourth draft is ever going to be good enough – you need to work to be good at this craft.

I learnt all about beta reading, and things such as good story and character arc, and the importance of growth. I drafted a few stories, and one was even picked up by a publisher, which was fabulous, but I think my big light-bulb moment came after reading a lot of NA books – think Tamara Webber, Colleen Hoover, Abbi Glines … it was like I suddenly found direction. I wanted to make people feel things when I put pen to paper. And that’s when I wrote The Problem With Crazy.

It has certainly gotten easier as time has gone on, although I’ll admit, writing a series was a little tricky for me and I found it to be somewhat difficult, especially since Eleven Weeks takes place at the same time as The Problem With Crazy. There was a lot of fact checking going on!

Now, I wouldn’t go back for anything! While I took some time off writing last year (to get married and change jobs) this year I am back in action, and have written two books in the last three months. Here’s hoping to many more over the course of the next eleven!

The Problem With Crazy

Eleven Weeks

About the Crazy in Love series

The Crazy in Love series consists of three titles: The Problem With Crazy, Eleven Weeks and The Problem With Heartache.

The Problem With Crazy

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Eleven Weeks

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About Lauren


Lauren K. McKellar is an author and editor. Her debut novel, Finding Home, was released through Escape Publishing on October 1, 2013, and her second release, NA Contemporary Romance The Problem With Crazy, is self-published, and is available now. She loves books that evoke emotion, and hope hers make you feel.

Lauren lives by the beach in Australia with her husband and their two dogs. Most of the time, all three of them are well behaved.

Author Links


Why Alphas Aren’t First in My Book

I was going to write a blog post about alpha males and how they aren’t really for me, but then Nicole Evelina wrote one and I figured I’d just copy off her homework. Check her post out, you guys. I luff it. ❤

Spellbound Scribes

alpha maleFor generations, women have been taught that the ideal hero of a novel – regardless of genre, but especially in romance – is the alpha male. You know the type: tan, perfectly muscled, ruggedly handsome, can go all night, likely to appear oiled up/sweaty on the cover.*

I’d like to challenge that stereotype. Actually, I am in most of my books (King Arthur, and Lancelot to an extent, being exceptions because of their existing characteristics).

Why? Well for one, I am so not attracted to the alpha male – it’s part of the reason I don’t like romance novels. Physically, I’ve always gone for what I call the “heroin chic” look: skinny, may or may not have muscles, usually tall. (I think it comes from too many years of hanging out with musicians.) I like someone who won’t crush me under his weight or break me in a passionate embrace…

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Guest post: Sex and New Adult Romance in Fairy Tales, by Diane J. Reed

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Everything old is new again. You’ve often heard this cliché, but nothing brings it home better than the skyrocketing rise in popularity for a new genre publishers are calling “new adult romance”. What, exactly, is new adult romance? Literature that focuses on young people from about the ages of 18-24 who are encountering their first sexual relationships (with the accent being on relationships—not necessarily their first one-night stand or bump and grind in the back of a car).

Why all the shout? Because though you may not realise it, the reading ages of 18-24 used to be death in the publishing industry. Publishers and marketers have known for decades that their bread and butter came from readers who are ages 25-55—the largest demographic of book buyers around the world. But then something happened—welcome to the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. All of a sudden, younger people were reading in droves. And as if on cue, the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer appeared, single-handedly hooking teenagers on a book and film franchise that addressed all of their angst and need for a book boyfriend or girlfriend. Young adult fiction became a huge force in the publishing industry, but there was only one problem: these readers grew up. And they wanted to keep on reading . . .

Enter new adult romance!

diane j reedNow, you can’t swing a dead cat in a bookstore without seeing new adult romances plastered all over the shelves. Titles like Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire, Lick by Kylie Scott, and My Favorite Mistake by Chelsea M. Cameron address this unique age bracket that is testing out adulthood and what it means to have a possibly fulfilling relationship that includes sex. But let’s face it—our first sexual relationships often crash and burn because we’re just beginning to figure out who we are and what we want, and new adult romances address the relationship minefields that often plague us in our twenties.

It’s as though, in high school, we are given a script for how to lead our lives (stay in school, study hard, don’t do drugs or get pregnant), but in our late teens and early twenties, the script gets a lot hazier. Okay, maybe you want to graduate from college or try to get a good job, but what about relationships? You’re old enough to vote now, you probably don’t live with mummy and daddy anymore, and no one’s around to tell you “no” about much of anything. So you experiment with sex, boyfriends or girlfriends, and try to figure out what feels right to you in ways that no previous set of “rules” can quite apply. All by yourself, you figure out relationships are messy and hard to define.

And at this point, you’d really like books that reflect this sea of possibilities as well as their pitfalls. As Margo Lipshultz, senior editor at Harlequin, says of new adult books, “These characters do have more freedom [and] less parental supervision. They’re in charge of their own lives, but they’re figuring out how to navigate those lives for the first time, and they’re making mistakes along the way: trusting the wrong person, or falling for the guy that they know is bad for them”.

So along with this new-found maturity in our twenties come very high emotional stakes. You don’t necessarily have mummy and daddy’s shoulders to cry on about your choices anymore, and you probably want to test out relationships that your relatives might not approve of.

But wait a second—

I can think of a centuries-old literary genre that has been addressing this age bracket, and all the crazy, love-lorn machinations that accompany new adulthood, for about as long as mankind has been walking this earth. And it’s called fairy tales.

Yes, fairy tales! Think about it—how old do you think Snow White was when she was lying in that glass casket, about to be “awakened” by a dashing young man? Or Rapunzel when she was letting down her golden hair for that handsome prince? Though fairy tales rarely are specific about the age of their characters who’re about to blossom into sexuality, they’re generally taken to be of “marriageable age.” In times of old, that particularly angsty age bracket can range anywhere from 16-22 (depending on which scholar or version you listen to). This is a very similar demographic that the more recent new adult romances address. What’s more, there are several fascinating features that many popular fairy tales often have in common with new adult romances, and they are the following:

  1. The main characters are considered of “marriageable” age for their culture.
  2. The main characters set upon a journey away from home where they are no longer supervised by their parents or caregivers.
  3. The main characters encounter obstacles that there are no ready answers for—they must figure out the path forward for themselves.
  4. The main characters encounter male or female partners who often provide their first serious encounter with the opposite sex that might lead to a long-term relationship.
  5. The main characters (whether overtly or metaphorically) have an intimate encounter with the male or female that they fancy.

So let’s take a look at two of the most popular fairy tales of all time: Rapunzel and Snow White, to see how they are indicative of the same classic scenarios in the more recent new adult romance genre.


robin in the oodIn Rapunzel, we all know that this poor young woman was sequestered in a tower around the age of 12 (depending on the version) as she was just about to approach puberty, locked away by a nasty fairy, sorceress or godmother (again, depending on the version). But as Rapunzel blossoms into marriageable age some years later, along comes a dashing prince who ventures through the forest and finds her through the echoes of her beautiful song. It’s important to note that the prince has left the comfort of the castle and his parents’ supervision and taken the classic new adult journey (often through the wild woods, an interesting metaphor for the unknown) to find his possible mate. Thereafter, we hear the prince state his famous words, “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” Obviously, most psychoanalytical literary critics view his call as metaphorical for his desire for sexual intimacy. Interestingly, however, it is now Rapunzel’s choice whether to invite this young man into her private chamber. At first we are told she is “frightened”—yet she decides to do so anyway.

New adult romances are all about such angst-filled choices, particularly ones that are made without “permission” from other adults, and could have long-term consequences. Luckily, Rapunzel and the prince are said to have “lived in joy and pleasure for a long time” which results in her pregnancy with twins. How fascinating that there is no wedding involved in this story, and Rapunzel at one point says to the evil fairy/sorceress/godmother “Why is it that my clothes are all too tight?” Though Rapunzel may seem naïve, she’s encountered one of the real-world consequences of new adult sex: parenthood. Another consequence is the disapproval of elders, and the fairy/sorceress/godmother becomes so irate that she cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, banishes her to the wilderness, and informs the prince that he’ll never find her again.

But true love—often the biggest goal in new adult romances—wins out! Though the prince loses his sight and wanders in the forest for a dark period, Rapunzel eventually finds him in the wilderness and her tears of joy restore his sight as the lovers are reunited.

I absolutely adore this particular fairy tale because it clearly shows that both female and male characters have a long and arduous journey through the “wilderness” to ultimately find their most suitable long-term relationships. Just having sex with each other isn’t enough to secure happily-ever-after—there is a difficult path ahead towards adulthood that they must tread before they are settled with one another, a path that sometimes means bucking against the approval of their elders. Yet how wise fairy tales are for not offering a simple formula for happiness! Anyone who truly reads fairy tales knows how complex and full of puzzling twists they can be, but for new adults in particular, they offer something of a road map to the arduous minefield we all must navigate towards maturity.

Snow White

StonesofThieves.eBookSimilarly, Snow White contributes another glimpse into the complexities and angst-filled stakes that are often involved in truly becoming a “grown up” who makes his or her own relationship choices. As we know, Snow White has the stepmother from hell who envies her like crazy—and true to most new adult romances, there aren’t adults around who’ll be of much help on one’s journey and may even be a thwarting influence.

At a tender age (some versions say 7, but archaic versions hint that Snow White had reached puberty), the evil stepmother hires a huntsman to take Snow White out to the woods to kill her. Here we are at the woods again! That classic metaphor for no rules and no society—a place where you must figure out your way forward by yourself. Yet precisely at this wild place, Snow White inspires the pity (and some say sexual attraction) of this huntsman, who feels sorry for her and lies about her death to the evil stepmother.

What happens next is very intriguing—Snow White hides out and sets up “house” with a bunch of men, the iconic dwarves. More archaic versions say they were miners, later called “dwarves” to lessen the sexual tension, because such a job favors people of shorter stature. And many psychoanalytical critics see her living situation as a metaphor for Snow White “shacking up” with various boyfriends on her road to new adulthood in order to try on various female roles—for we know in the fairy tale that she “tested all the beds”. In return for her cooking, cleaning and washing, the dwarves promise Snow White that “you can stay with us, and you shall have everything you want.” Sounds like a classic live-in relationship to me, but I have to wonder if perhaps these men are assigned “dwarf” status in the fairy tale because they don’t quite measure up to the ultimate long-term partner Snow White is seeking.

Yet in due time, Snow White’s experimental lifestyle infuriates the evil stepmother once she finds out that the young woman is still alive. In famous fashion, the stepmother disguises herself as the old farmer’s wife and offers her a “poisoned apple” that kills her. It doesn’t take a psychological genius to see the parallels to the “fruit of knowledge” that Adam and Eve ate of, or that this apple is perhaps a metaphor for sexual activity that “kills” Snow White’s younger self. Could it be that during her time in the woods with the dwarves, Snow White experimented with sexual relationships that changed her from a child to a woman forever, yet left her wanting? And the stepmother merely reminded her of this with the apple—that she is no longer a young girl?

This is a huge theme in current new adult romances—that after experimenting and pursuing the “one,” many young women feel adrift and emotionally “comatose” due to the crash and burn nature of early sexual relationships. After all, Snow White is later placed in a “glass coffin,” not a heavy box made of wood with metal hinges—one that she could easily break out of if she has a single breath of life left in her. And even more peculiarly, her coffin is set on display in the forest for all to see. Metaphorically, it makes one wonder if Snow White is very much alive, but too emotionally drained by her previous relationships or experiences to allow herself to be a bold adult woman just yet. She’s in a holding pattern, emotionally and sexually, wearied by her former experiences and perhaps merely waiting for “the one” (that new adult romance characters so often long for) to awaken her into a happier adult relationship.

However, as if by magic (or perhaps Snow White’s intuitive wisdom to lay low and wait for what she truly wants), her Prince Charming does appear, and with a brave kiss “awakens” her to her happily ever after with him. Well, duh—“awakening” moments in fairy tales are often a more palatable way of describing intimate contact, particularly after ancient fairy tales were scrubbed of sexual details and innuendos by the Grimm Brothers in order to sell to broader audiences as nursery tales in 1857. (Their 1812 edition of fairy tales often left in the sexual connotations.) After such an “awakening”, this young woman, who’s already been through her wilderness experience and associated with several men, is said to have finally found her true love.

Again, what I love about Snow White, similar to Rapunzel, is how frequently these fairy tale characters at the brink of adulthood must wander through the wilderness to find their way to maturity. Even Prince Charming in Snow White has to venture into the forest and take chances, with some serious risks involved. After all, why, oh why, does he approach a creepy glass coffin and open it in order to kiss a total stranger? That’s crazy—but you often have to go through a lot of crazy as a new adult to find a rewarding relationship. Blind dates, online dating websites, trusting potential mates who turn out to have baggage, or are emotionally scary, or are downright stalkers—this phase of young adulthood if filled with emotional minefields and genuine risk. But as the classic saying goes, you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince—or princess. No guts, no glory! And in fairy tales as well as modern new adult romances, the stakes are always high. That’s because heartbreak, let alone pregnancy or the possible transmission of sexual diseases, has real-world consequences.

But if you never muster the courage to continue on your journey towards adulthood, you’ll forever remain emotionally locked in Rapunzel’s tall tower or Snow White’s glass coffin. The one thing that fairy tales and new adult romances have most in common is that true love requires bravery. And perhaps this is why we love these characters so much. They could take the easy way out and follow the rules or do what’s expected of them to lead a psychologically stale life. But instead they keep going through dark times to grab that chance at true love and genuine happiness. It doesn’t mean that their paths are always easy. But if they can survive their journeys through the wilderness (both sexually and by bucking society’s rules) their reward is a meaningful and fulfilling adult relationship.

And isn’t that what most of us really want? Though new adult romances shed a fresh light on the precarious nature of this necessary growth phase of entering adulthood, the desires and dreams of all of us to find true love and fulfillment in our adult lives is as old and as beautiful as fairy tales themselves.

About the Author

Diane J. Reed has a Ph.D. in English and a lifelong passion for books—both popular, forgotten & literary—as long as they touch her soul & make her want to tuck them under her pillow at night to remember them in her dreams. She writes novels that are infused with enchantment, where characters dare to break through boundaries and believe in true love. She also has a soft spot for artisans & outlaws of the heart, those who burn brightly to live each day as a gift—because it is! She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to visit Diane J. Reed’s website at or message her here to share the whispers of your spirit.



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About Stone of Thieves

The Stone of Thieves . . . for centuries its magnetic draw has twisted the hearts of ambitious men and women with the promise of power, passion, and intrigue until it fell into the hands of unlikely thieves Robin and her boyfriend Creek. But can they steal their destiny away from the curse that pursues this magnificent ruby heart?

As the stone begins to spread its sorcery, Robin races to find her long-lost mother in Italy in the hopes of discovering the truth about her unique gypsy heritage and the ruby heart that is rumored to steal souls. Yet when the desire for this stone by powerful members of her family threatens their very lives, Creek decides to take matters into his own hands to protect Robin, his greatest treasure of all . . .

Stone of Thieves is a sensual, stand-alone new adult novel and the sequel to Robin in the Hood in the Robbin’ Hearts Series. Due to mature themes, readership is advised for ages 17+.

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Guest vlog and giveaway for ‘Dream Boy’

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Writing With a Partner

  About Dream Boy

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Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

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PLUS a nifty Dream Boy T-shirt!

About the Authors

Mary Crockett likes turtles, licorice, and the Yankees. Madelyn Rosenberg likes cats, avocados, and the Red Sox. Luckily they both like the weirdness of dreams (and each other) enough to write novels together. The friendship has survived three moves, six kids and countless manuscript revisions. Madelyn lives just outside of Washington, D.C. Mary remains in the mountains near their hometowns in southwestern Virginia.

You can find them on Twitter @marylovesbooks and @madrosenberg or their blogs at and

Where to find Mary:  Website | Goodreads Twitter | Facebook 

Where to find Madelyn:  Website | Goodreads Twitter | Facebook



Guest post: Jerks, Jackasses, and Douchebags — Why Women Love Them, by Diantha Jones


A guest post by Diantha Jones

We may not want to marry them, but we sure love to read about them.

Talk about the good guys finishing last, the bad boy/asshole/jerkface has quickly become a staple of fiction books, especially in books geared towards females. I can’t quite pin down the sole reason why there is such a fangirl base for these dudes, but I have my theories. I’ll keep this quick.

Nice guys are seen as weak. And boring. Nothing is more of a turn-off than a weak guy who lets a woman run all over him. True, not all nice guys are weak. Hell, some of them are only nice until you piss them off real good, and then you see how bad boy they can get! But overall, in fiction at least, nice guys do finish last and are terribly boring to read about.

Bad boys have more fun. They’re more daring and audacious. And hey, girls just wanna have fun, right? Bad boys will do almost anything, say almost anything and for some reason, that is appealing.

Bad boys make women feel protected. Women want a guy that makes them feel secure, and when she’s with her so-called bad boy, she feels that way. No one is going to mess with her for fear of meeting their maker way ahead of schedule. And it’s all because of the sexy, tough, one-wrong-look-you’re-dead man standing at her side.

Those are just a few of my theories. I personally enjoy the sheer entertainment value jerks add to my reading experience. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t like the guys who verbally abuse (and definitely not physically abuse!) the women in their lives. But I have a fine appreciation for smart ass comments, snarky banter, and the occasional troubled soul (which most bad boys are, have you noticed?).

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Prophecy of the Most Beautiful (Oracle of Delphi #1)
by Diantha Jones

She has a destiny so great that even the gods fear her.

Constant hallucinations and the frequent conversations with the voices in her head, have earned eighteen-year-old Chloe Clever the not-so-coveted title of “Whack Job” in her home town of Adel, Georgia. Fed up with prescription meds and therapists, she wishes for a life where she is destined to be more than the butt of everyone’s jokes and mockery.

Be careful what you wish for has never rung more true.

After a vicious attack and learning that her favorite rockstar is an Olympian god, she is thrust into her new life as the Oracle of Delphi, the prophesier of the future. Setting out to fulfill the prophecy she has been given, Chloe learns of how great she is to become, all the while fighting mythical monsters and trying to outwit the ever-cunning Greek gods who harbor secrets of their own. While on a mission to discover the Most Beautiful, she strives to uncover the mysteries of the demigod Prince who has sworn to protect her with his life…and threatens to win her heart in the process.

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About Diantha

diantha jonesDiantha Jones was born the day thousands of turkeys sacrificed their lives to fill millions of American bellies on November 22 which also happened to be Thanksgiving Day (Her mother says she owes her a turkey). She is a Journalism graduate who wants to be a career novelist (of books, not Facebook posts). When not writing or working, she is reading on her Nook, being hypnotized by Netflix or on a mission to procure french fries.

The Oracle of Delphi fantasy series is her first series. She is also the author of Mythos: Stories from Olympus, a companion series, and there is another fantasy series in the works. She also writes (new) adult fantasy/paranormal romance under the name A. Star.

Author Links


Guest post: Worldbuilding, by Tessa Gratton

Today’s guest post is by Tessa Gratton, whose book The Strange Maid comes out next week. This one sounds amazing, you guys; I’ll include the blurb below her post so you can see what I mean!

Take it away, Tessa!

Here is my first secret of world building: everything grows out of world.

If world, character, and plot are a pyramid, world is the wide base, character the slender middle, and plot the tip top. Your world is the history, culture, family values, politics, laws, etc, and characters cannot exist without interacting with those things, because people may be born with certain inherent qualities, but we are also products of culture and family and community. What your character believes and how she dresses MUST be in response to the world around her in one way or another. And plot is dictated by what your character WANTS. What does she desire? How will she survive?

The Strange MaidWorld begets character, character begets plot.

That is the only ultimate truth of writing I believe in.

You CAN reverse-engineer the pyramid, if you are a plotter, but to readers, it must seem as though world à character à plot or they’ll begin questioning everything.

Sometimes as writers we think of characters first, or initially are inspired by a plot point, and so world building requires some backtracking. But with the United States of Asgard series, the process followed my pyramid method smoothly (which was a relief, since almost nothing else went smoothly!).

I thought of the world first, when I realized about 9 years ago that the political discourse of my country was engaged firmly in warrior culture – and at the time I was studying Viking and Anglo-Saxon warrior culture. What if I combined the two into a modern US founded by Vikings and their powerful, selfish gods?

I spent nearly four years playing with the idea of the world itself before I found my characters for the first book, THE LOST SUN. I read about history and politics, jotting down notes about how this fusion education system might work, how the branches of government would differ and how they’d be the same. I thought about each of the prominent gods and how they could be used as tools to reflect the themes of war and politics and religion that I wanted to write about. I made notes about the sort of teenagers might be most compelling as heroes: which is how I found my heroes Soren and Astrid. I wanted a teen berserker and a teen prophetess, both modernized versions of the most fascinating aspects of human–god interactions I found in the old Norse mythology.

My plot came from a fusion of world and character desires: 1) Baldur the Beautiful I knew was a god of hope and light, and the most poignant symbol of the fusion of old religion and modern celebrity culture. He is a dying god, literally dying in the fall and resurrecting in the spring, and all of it caught on television cameras. 2) Soren and Astrid both struggled with faith, even in a world where gods are obviously real, and they both needed a quest to find themselves and their destinies. What better quest than a road trip to find a dying god who didn’t rise?

So that’s what I mean by world begets character begets plot.

And of course with the second and third books, the pattern remained the same, though to a certain extent I had some plot ready and waiting because of happenings from the first book. But I knew that in book 2 I wanted to write about a teenaged Valkyrie, and her plot grew from that, and why she was a Valkyrie grew from the world. Valkyrie are connected to Odin Alfather and Freya the Witch, and so I needed to surround Signy with war, madness, poetry, and prophecy, the things those gods represent. I needed to delve into the Valkyrie’s Council and how they relate to Congress and the president and the media, and find those dark corners where politics and media culture connect to madness and poetry and prophecy. It was hard, and fascinating, and in the end worth-while because I think Signy is the most “New Asgardian” of any of the characters I’ve created for the series. There is no real-world correlation for her, I think, an idea that both excites and terrifies me.

As someone who loves world building and admires those writers who do it spectacularly, I hope I can in the future say that about all my characters, because that’s the point of world building: making a place so real, so layered and believable that it’s impossible for readers to divorce a character from their world.

About The Strange Maid

Fans of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Maggie Stiefvater will embrace the richly drawn, Norse-influenced alternate world of the United States of Asgard, where cell phones, rock bands, and evangelical preachers coexist with dragon slaying, rune casting, and sword training in schools. Where the president runs the country alongside a council of Valkyries, gods walk the red carpet with Hollywood starlets, and the U.S. military has a special battalion dedicated to eradicating Rocky Mountain trolls.

Signy Valborn was seven years old when she climbed the New World Tree and met Odin Alfather, who declared that if she could solve a single riddle, he would make her one of his Valkyrie. For ten years Signy has trained in the arts of war, politics, and leadership, never dreaming that a Greater Mountain Troll might hold the answer to the riddle, but that’s exactly what Ned the Spiritless promises her. A mysterious troll hunter who talks in riddles and ancient poetry, Ned is a hard man to trust. Unfortunately, Signy is running out of time. Accompanied by an outcast berserker named Soren Bearstar, she and Ned take off across the ice sheets of Canadia to hunt the mother of trolls and claim Signy’s destiny.

About Tessa

Tessa Gratton has wanted to be a paleontologist or a wizard since she was seven. Alas, she turned out too impatient to hunt dinosaurs, but is still searching for a someone to teach her magic. After traveling the world with her military family, she acquired a BA (and the important parts of an MA) in Gender Studies, then settled down in Kansas with her partner, her cats, and her mutant dog. She now spends her days staring at the sky and telling lots of stories about magic. Monthly free short stories with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff at The Merry Sisters of Fate:

Tessa Gratton

Guest post: C. J. Burright’s favourite quotes from ‘Wonderfully Wicked’

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Wonderfully Wicked
by CJ Burright

 A dreamcaster with the ability to channel creatures from her nightmares, headstrong and cynical Kalila Montgomery longs for a peaceful, picket-fence life…until the man literally of her dreams kidnaps her.

Survival quickly becomes her number one goal, yet a growing attraction to the man in her nightmares is impossible to ignore. While she fears he will kill her, other, more terrifying enemies surround her, and Kalila succumbs to his scheme to escape. She may be his one hope for freedom…

A deadly combination of power, cunning, and cold-hearted charm, Lydon v’al Endrian fears nothing. Feels nothing. Chained to a brotherhood of men with the supernatural ability to invade dreams, he hunts dreamcasters to be harvested for their dreams and killed. His target: Kalila Montgomery. But Kalila awakens an undeniable dark desire and a longing for a freedom long-lost.

To gain everything he craves, Lydon must seduce Kalila before his plot is discovered…a hopeless challenge which, if failed, will earn him a death-sentence. Caught up in a dangerous world of secrets and obsession, doubt and betrayal, Kalila and Lydon face the nightmare of their lives, where love will either deliver them—or destroy them both.

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C. J. Burright’s Favourite Quotes

“No man would last the night with me and you know I’m not into meaningless sex, so c’est la vie. I’ll adopt a herd of cats and live abnormally ever after, alone in a cave far, far away.” – Kalila Montgomery

I love this quote because it’s a reflection of who Kalila is. She’s in a rough situation and tries to make the best of it….with her future herd of cats.

“I’ll weave my soul and life with yours so when you realize your affection for me is an illusion your odd compassion for the doomed might compel you to keep me. Maybe you’ll come to enjoy my company enough to warrant my existence. I’ll use everything in my power, Lils. Everything.” – Lydon v’al Endrian

One of Lydon’s rare moments of utter honesty. He’s putting himself out there, no excuses.

“Embracing your monstrous nature is the key to survival. You might deny it, defy it, control it for a time, yet it’s there beneath the surface, waiting. Fighting is a waste of time. It always wins in the end.” – Lydon v’al Endrian

Lydon’s veiled confession to the darkness inside him, while trying to convince Kalila to embrace who she is.

“You have altered me and I don’t see how to get beyond it. I have fallen farther than I imagined possible. My weakness shames me. Yet, I don’t—I can’t—lament you, Lils.” – Lydon v’al Endrian

The V’alkara are taught to seek out their weaknesses and destroy them, so this is a pivotal confession for Lydon, not that it means Kalila can trust him.

“I can’t take it anymore. What drastic measures must I take to have a normal, boring life? I could be a librarian. No one wants to kill librarians.” – Kalila Montgomery

One of Kalila’s stressed out moments. I like her sense of humor.


Enter to win here!

About the Author

CJ blames her love for reading and all things Medieval on her father, who plied her often with fantasy novels ranging from Sir Lloyd Alexander to Piers Anthony.  Her love for romance, however, lies completely at the feet of her best friend Michelle, who dared to give her a romance novel for her birthday.  She smiled, politely said thank you, and tossed it in the corner, where it gathered dust.  In a moment of desperation, when only the revolting romance remained in her almost-always toppling stack of awaiting books, she sucked it up and read the romance.  Doomed.

She started writing fantasy and paranormal romance for the cathartic experience, decided she liked it, and after two overlong, horribly written novels joined RWA and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter.  Best classes and critique groups ever.  Double doomed.  Now, writing is a necessity, not just a hobby.

In her spare time, when she’s not writing or reading or actually working, CJ might be found in the dojang (4th Dan Black Belt, baby), rooting on the Mariners (who will some day win the World Series), working out (P90X, anyone?), gardening (a little dirt never hurt anyone), or playing Music of the Night on the piano (without mask or cape). She lives in Oregon with her fabulous husband and daughter. Not to mention her minions, a herd of cats.

WONDERFULLY WICKED is CJ’s Burright’s first novel.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


Cover reveal and giveaway: ‘Son of Set’ by Kelsey Ketch

Son of Set (Descendants of Isis #2)
by Kelsey Ketch

Release Date: 2 May 2014

“. . . the Sons would never just let him go—alive.”

Seth O’Keefe has broken the laws of his god. He never thought he would sacrifice his own future to protect a Daughter of Isis. But when the Sons of Set discovered Natti is the Secret Keeper, he had no choice. Now, Seth and Natti are on the run from his father, who wants nothing more than to see Seth dead. With no allies, Seth turns to the Daughters of Isis for help, hoping they would protect Natti. But when they meet the Daughters, he discovers a secret that puts both their lives in more danger. Low on options, Seth sees only one possibility for survival. He must help Natti solve an ancient puzzle and find the secret name of Ra.

Natara “Natti” Stone is having a hard time swallowing the truth. She can’t believe what she has learned in the past twenty-four hours: Seth is a Son of Set blessed with charm; she is a Daughter of Isis blessed with a sliver of Ma ‘at; the locket her grandmother gave her holds an ancient Egyptian secret linking to Osiris and Isis. That along with being tortured and brutalized by the Sons of Set, she can hardly hold herself together. Thank God for Seth’s touch! That warm, tingling sensation that drowns it all out. Yet her heart struggles to stay focused. She must quickly embrace her destiny before the secret name of Ra falls into the wrong hands.

*Note: Content for Upper YA*

Add Son of Set and Daughter of Isis (Descendants of Isis #1) on Goodreads.

Cover reveal giveaway

Two prize packs, each containing a silver ankh pendant with seven knot anklet, Son of Set e-reader bling, 3 bookmarks, 2 temporary tattoos, 2 character collectable cards, and 2 wristbands (INT).

Enter here!


(Cass: Wooooh!)

daughter of isis

Available at Amazon, B&N and Kobo

About the Author

Kelsey Ketch

During her high school years, Kelsey Ketch could always be found tucked away in a little corner of the hall or classroom, writing her fantasy worlds and creating illustrations and maps. Today is no different, except now she’s writing in the break room at her office building or at the tables of the Barnes and Noble Café in Cary, North Carolina. She is also an avid reader, a part-time book blogger at Ketch’s Book Nook, and lives with her two orange tabbies and awesome and humorous flat-mate.Daughter of Isis is her debut novel.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook

YA Bounk Tour Button

Where in the world is Cassandra Page?

(Ok, the title is a reference to Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, which you’re all no doubt too young to get. With your clothes. And your music. *shakes walking stick*)

Carmen Sandiego

Carmen Sandiego – straight from the 1980s. Woo!

The last week has been big with the crazy around my place. My son started preschool, and the same day we drove to Sydney so he could have his eyes tested at the eye hospital there. The results were a bit of a shock: it turns out he’s night blind.

Sort of explains why he’s afraid of the dark. 😦

He’s fine and it’s not degenerative, so it could be much, much worse. But it took me a day or two to adjust my thinking to the whole idea.

Also, my phone line and ADSL have been down. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this they are back, but I’m drafting this post using a 3G dongle I just bought. It feels as slow as dial up did back in the day, although without that charming screech when it connects. (Speaking of the stone age…)

Anyway, I have been kicking around the rest of the internet during my absence here. Spefically there are three places I’ve been lurking this past week — in case you missed me trying and mostly failing to share the links on my phone.

Today I posted the Aussie Owned and Read Valentine’s Day poll. (Yes, I know it’s a day early  — shush.) You may recall that I had a blog post up last month calling for nominations. Well, this is where the final battle will be fought. With heart-shaped pillows and arrows made of chocolate. Or something.

On Sunday I made a cameo at Laura Catherine’s blog, talking about the many wonders of scheduling everything from tweets to emails to blog posts (ahem).

And on Monday I was K. A. Last’s guest over at her blog. I talked about using the everyman, familiar cultures and familiar myths as a way of grounding your speculative fiction reader.

I’ll try to be more organised in future. I promise. xo

A day in the life of Lisa Swallow

from australia with love banner-3

Today’s guest post is part of the From Australia With Love blog tour, and is by urban fantasy and romance author, Lisa Swallow! Lisa sent me this post ages ago and due to internet woes and my general inability to find my way out of a wet paper bag, I have failed to post it till now. I’M SORRY AGAIN, LISA! (On the bright side, it’s a day in her life from several weeks ago–it’s practically like travelling in a TARDIS. Right? Right?)

There’s also a giveaway as part of the tour, which you can enter HERE!

Today is: Monday

I woke up at: Eight am

What I ate for breakfast: Yoghurt.

Most interesting thing I did today: Organised a cover for my new book!

Least interesting thing I did today: Grocery shopping

Soul TiesNo one knows…: I wrote part of Soul Ties without realising there was a bush fire nearby. I didn’t realise how close it was getting until I was told to evacuate. I thought I could smell burning!

My pets are: Tilly, the Weimaraner who never barks, and Twinkle, the cat who thinks she has a magic never-emptying food bowl, thanks to my daughter.

When I’m bored, I tend to: Wonder how I found time to get bored.

For lunch, I had: Tuna salad

My current mood is: Tired but happy

I worked on/for: Summer Sky (Blue Phoenix #1), my new contemporary romance.

My biggest pet peeve is: Lost apostrophes! I have opened a Home for Lost Apostrophes. I rescue them from apple’s and sometimes boy’s.

When I drive, people think: Why has that woman got a family of zombie stickers on her back windscreen?

I get easily distracted by: The internet. I have to disconnect from our wifi when I’m writing.

Dinner was: Vegetable curry and rice

My favourite movie so far this year: Catching Fire

In my spare time, I like to: Read!!

When I need to get into the writing mood, and I’m struggling to, I: Start cleaning. Funny how the need to write suddenly appears then…

I decided to be an author because: The voices wouldn’t stop 🙂

Lisa SwallowAbout Lisa:

Lisa is an author of new adult romance and writes both paranormal and contemporary, often with a side of snark.  In between running a business, looking after her family and writing, Lisa sometimes finds spare time to do other things. This often involves swapping her book worlds for gaming worlds. She even leaves the house occasionally. Lisa is originally from the UK but moved to Australia in 2001 and now lives in Perth in Western Australia with her husband, three children and dog.

Her latest release is Finding Evan, the sequel to new adult contemporary romance Because of Lucy. Fated Souls, the prequel to the urban fantasy series Soul Ties, is due for release soon. She is currently working on Summer Sky, a contemporary romance.

You can find her on Facebook, Twitter, her website or Goodreads.