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Friday, April 28, 2017

The Story Behind the Story: The Dastardly Miss Lizzie by Viola Carr + giveaway

The Story Behind the Story
The Electric Empire is my first mystery series. I mean, sure, it's an edgy, dark, gender-flipped steampunk reworking of Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, in which Dr Eliza Jekyll – daughter of the infamous Henry – is a Victorian-era crime scene investigator, addicted to her father's magical potion, fighting to stay safe in a world where magic is a capital crime, and resisting the interferences of her sultry dark half, Lizzie Hyde. With a clockwork dog.

So there's a whole lot going on, besides murders. Lizzie gets her own point of view, and her own adventures in crime and love. There's magic and weird science and alchemy as well as a little romance. But the three books - The Diabolical Miss Hyde, The Devious Dr. Jekyll, and the new book, The Dastardly Miss Lizzie – are murder mysteries at heart.

Which means I need to invent killers! Nasty ones, preferably, difficult to understand and even more difficult to catch. Gruesome murders, ahoy! For an historical crime novel – even a fantasy one – it's tempting to go down one of two routes.

The first is… 'do Jack the Ripper!' Everyone knows and loves Jack, right? He's the iconic Victorian murderer, mysterious and bloodthirsty. The picture of evil. And the fact that he never got caught means the possibilities for fiction are endless.

But I didn't want to 'do Jack', as fascinating as he is. I've already extrapolated some characters from classic literature, and given them my own spin. I wanted to invent my own murderer, who kills for their own reasons. And let's face it: prostitutes as victims is kind of lazy and sexist. I wanted to freshen it up a little!

The second temptation is to bring in the modern approach. Meticulous psychopaths who taunt their pursuers with elaborate games. Get into the killer's head and do some profiling.

Thing is: in Victorian times, they didn't have modern psychology. The idea of a psychopath, or personality disorders, hadn't yet been formulated. So the 'profiling' that we see in today's crime fiction wasn't possible. Even Sherlock Holmes, who worked at the very end of the 19th century, didn't do this. Someone who committed brutal murders was a lunatic, and that was that.

Also, many experts of the day still believed in the 'criminal classes' – the idea that poor people were somehow inevitably pre-disposed to commit crimes – and that there was such a thing as the 'born criminal', physically as well as mentally deformed, who could never be rehabilitated. The idea that crime has social causes wasn't widely understood.

So if someone was committing a string of murders in London – like saucy Jack the Ripper – it was because they were a 'lunatic' or a 'criminal type', and probably a foreigner, too! The fact that Jack seemed to be an educated man – with surgical skills, no less – was utterly baffling. How could a 'gentleman' be a gruesome murderer? No effort was made to 'profile' or to understand motive in the way we know it today.

In that way, I confess I've given my quasi-historical sleuth a bit of a modern edge. Eliza doesn't believe in the 'born criminal'. She questions everything. And she works in a mad-house, so she does attempt to get into the killer's head in the modern fashion. We expect that these days when we read crime fiction. And because my books are mysteries, not thrillers, you don't get the killer's point of view. So having Eliza speculate about their motives makes the murder investigation more fun to read about!

Eliza also uses crime scene techniques that strictly weren't available in that time period. She knows about trace evidence and fingerprints, for example. But hey, it's steampunk! She has wacky gadgets and alchemical potions that make her a kind of scientific whizz-kid… but they also get her into trouble. Because in her world, 'weird science' can get you arrested. So her special knowledge is useful, but dangerous.

Anyway, it's all so much fun to write that I can't wait to get into the next book! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy my dark, wacky, twisted version of a quasi-modern historical steampunk fantasy mystery horror novel. With a sprinkling of classic literary characters and real-world people. And clockwork dogs.


The Dastardly Miss Lizzie (An Electric Empire Novel)
by Viola Carr
4/18/2017
ISBN: 9780062363121
HarperCollins Publishers
Dr. Eliza Jekyll must turn to her dark side, Miss Lizzie Hyde, to stop a madman who’s targeting London’s most important scientists and sorcerers, terrorizing the city with dark magic, in this third Electric Empire novel—a dazzlingly original steampunk fantasy set in the gritty world of alternate Victorian London, with echoes of H. G. Wells’s classic, The Time Machine.

Being two people in one body isn’t easy. Metropolitan Police crime scene physician Eliza Jekyll is trying to maintain a semblance of control, even as her rebellious second self, Lizzie, grows increasingly wild—threatening the respectable Eliza’s reputation and her marriage to Remy Lafayette, the Royal Society investigator and occasional lycanthrope. With England on the brink of war, Remy’s away in sorcery-riddled Paris on a secretive mission that grows ever more sinister. Has he been an enemy agent all along? Or is coping with her secret divided self finally driving Eliza mad?



Eliza needs her mind clear and sharp if she’s to catch an evil genius who is killing eminent scientists. The chase uncovers a murky world of forbidden books, secret laboratories, and a cabal of fanatical inventors whose work could change the world—or destroy it—and who may hold answers to Eliza’s mysterious past.

As sorcery-wielding terrorists attack London, Eliza discovers her own enemies are closing in, driving her to desperate measures—enlisting the aid of the wily, resourceful, mercurial Lizzie—to thwart the killer. But Lizzie’s got her own life now, and true to her nature, will resort to the devious and diabolical to keep it. Even if it means throwing Eliza to the wolves, and letting the world burn. . . .

About the Author:
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Viola Carr was born in Australia, but wandered into darkest London one foggy October evening and never found her way out. She now devours countless history books and dictates fantastical novels by gaslight, accompanied by classical music and the snoring of her slumbering cat. She likes steampunk, and thought it would be cool to investigate wacky crimes with crazy gadgets…just so long as her heroine was the creator of said wacky gadgets: a tinkerer, edgy, with a dash of mad scientist.

GIVEAWAY
Set of the Previous 2 Electric Empire books (US only)
· THE DIABOLICAL MISS HYDE 
· THE DEVIOUS Dr. JEKYLL
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Cover Reveal: Illegal Contact (The Barons) by Santino Hassell

by Santino Hassell
August 15, 2017
Penguin Group (USA) LLC
The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.

New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.

Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin's timeout is over…

About the Author:
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Santino Hassell was raised in Brooklyn by a strict Catholic family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school-cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Melody Steiner Guest Post: How to train your (changeling) dragon (Slither book tour) + giveaway

How to train your (changeling) dragon
by Melody Steiner 

I’ve become a bit of an expert in dragon changelings, so in honor of Slither’s release, I thought it might be helpful to create a set of instructions for anyone wishing to tame their own Wild Menaces.

Step #1: Do your research before engaging! Read up on changelings, their special abilities and food preferences. They have weaknesses—make a note of those.

Step #2: Lure your changeling dragon into a cave as a human. Make sure you have lots of spaces to hide in for when he loses his temper, changes, and tries to blast you with fire.

Step #3: Scramble up his neck and hang onto his mane. Most changelings can’t reach behind them.

Step #4: Hang on tight. The changeling might try to knock you off or slam you into things. Don’t let go.

Step #5: He may try to fly. If he does escape the caves and get loose, be prepared. Changelings are jerks and like to try sneaky methods of losing you like dropping quickly so you lose your grip.

Step #6: When he’s all tuckered out, he’ll probably land someplace like a beach or a cliff and take a nap.

Step #7: If you’re still there when he wakes up, he’ll assume you’re stuck with him for life and will then tolerate you for a while.

Step #8: You can ingratiate yourself to him by cooking for him. Dragons are pretty lazy. Especially changelings. He’ll get used to you doing all the cooking and just let you live.

Step #9: After several years, go on strike.

Step #10: Congratulations. If you complete steps 1-9, you’ll have successfully trained your dragon. Not only will he let you live, but he may actually be nice to you from time to time. Plus, free rides!

Slither
by Melody Steiner

April 24, 2017
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Dragon Moon Press
ISBN: 978-1-988256-59-7
eISBN: 978-1-988256-60-3
Number of pages: 310
Cover Artist: Gwen Gades
Her revenge is better served cold-blooded
Elanor of Onyx, enslaved by the dragons who scorched her kin and country, is determined to escape her island prison.

When the changeling dragon, Adom, demands that Elanor come with him to the mainland on a secret mission, she sees this the opportunity she’s been waiting for—a chance to exact her revenge. But when his actions take a surprising twist, Elanor begins to suspect that maybe things are not as they seem.

With a plot brewing against the mainland king, alliances are tested and Elanor discovers a secret that will forever change the way she views the slithering dragons—and herself.


Excerpt:
“Forgive me,” he says. “But when I say the word, you really should scream.”

That’s all the warning I need. If Adom wants me to scream, he wants the others to think he’s hurting me. He wants to send fear shuddering down their monstrous, twisted spines, to dry their mouths and shrivel the pits of their cavernous stomachs. He wants to show them that he is the king, the master of this mountain, the master of me.

Adom averts his gaze. “Scream.”

In the seconds it takes him to morph from human to dragon, his chest expanding, scales popping out of his skin like boils, I’m already at the door. I scream, just as he asks me to.

The full blast of flame doesn’t hit me, but it’s enough heat to sting my lower back. Good thing I tied my hair this morning—he misses singeing it off by a few inches. The monstrous roar he releases bursts a decanter on the table. The mirror cracks. But the fire inside me has nothing to do with Adom’s monster, and everything to do with my own.

Only mine burns for revenge.


About the Author:
Melody Steiner is a novelist, librarian, warrior woman, and a mother. She grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were staples of the imagination. Her earliest novels were written in elementary school and involved rocket ships to the moon, alien life, and gumdrop kingdoms at war with other invading candy nations. Over the years, she found herself drawn to fantasy stories that empower female characters and particularly women of color. Currently, she’s based near Columbus, Ohio, along with her husband and the wild things they call “children.”
Her recent work, Slither, is a traditional fantasy about a young woman who is enslaved by a herd of dragons.

Tour giveaway 
2 copies of Slither
5 dragon charms open to US Shipping

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Excerpt Spotlight: More Than Skin Deep (Shifter Shield #3) by Margo Bond Collins

by Margo Bond Collins
April 11, 2017
Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Paranormal Romance
Shifting's more than skin deep. And terror goes to the bone.

Having eliminated the shifter community's stalker and agreed to care for a pile of new baby lamias, child counselor and weresnake Lindi Parker believes she'll be able to settle into her newly domestic life with her mongoose-shifter boyfriend, Kade Nevala.

But she didn't count on being on duty at her new job as a Shifter Shield when a hyena-shifter shows up requesting asylum—along with his girlfriend. She's a Hunter from a hereditary clan of monster trackers, and a semi-mythical figure of dread among shifters. Worse, they have an entire werewolf pack after them, howling for their blood.

Now they’re after Lindi, too.


More Than Skin Deep Excerpt

Sample picture for scroll box

Shifter Shield Series

 
    series amazon link
Book 1 $2.99
Books 2, 3, 4 $.99



About the Author:
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Margo Bond Collins is a New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of paranormal romance, contemporary romance, urban fantasy, and paranormal mystery.


She lives in Texas with her daughter and several spoiled pets. Although she has a Ph.D. in eighteenth-century British literature and teaches college-level English courses online, writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about heroes, vampires, ghosts, werewolves, and the women who love (and sometimes fight) them. 

Character Post: The Rogue Who Got Away...Ghost Wolf (Wolves of Willow Bend Book 12) by Heather Long

The Rogue Who Got Away
Julian, Chief Enforcer of all North American packs

The hunt for Dallas Dalton has become a legend amongst the Enforcers. A tall tale exchanged over one too many drinks. How many Rogues managed to evade one Enforcer, much less all of them? She’d earned her place in the annals of our history, and I didn’t begrudge her the spot.

Not when I was part of the problem. Twenty-two some odd years ago, when I first issued the warrant to locate her, I restricted the Enforcers to only detaining her, if they could, without harm. Otherwise, they were merely to follow and observe as well as contact me immediately.

I received a handful of calls over the years alerting me to her presence. More than once, I was on the wrong side of the country to act with any alacrity. Give Dallas a minute, and she can turn it into a hundred mile head start. What most of the Enforcers didn’t know about Dallas was how exceptionally clever she was, and how patient.

Then again, how could they? None alive had met her—or they hadn’t, until a month ago when John Nelson and Hadley Sexton reported her visit to the house outside of Eugene. I knew every speck of the landscape and every inch of the house. I knew she’d been there over the years—never long enough for me to act on it—and I couldn’t afford to merely wait there for her to appear once more.

Sending John and Hadley to the house served two goals—the first, it got them off the grid. Foreign wolves hunting the packs and murdering my Enforcers had gone on too long. I would lose no others. They would have time to recover at the house, and if we were lucky—or unlucky, depending on how you look at it—they would see Dallas.

She showed up, and she gave us a very vital clue in determining how the Volchitsa communicated—a line we would never have discovered without her. Being forced to label her assistance as invaluable did not allow for the absolution of her crimes. Yet, no matter how I examine the data, I arrive at the same conclusion repeatedly.

I need to contact Dallas Dalton. I need to speak to her. She has avoided me for more than two decades, but her daughter is safely ensconced in Willow Bend. Chrystal is also a terrible liar, so I know she’s been in touch with her mother.

Now I must call her and request a meeting…but am I truly doing this for the packs and security or because I simply want to see her again?

Does it matter?

No matter how many times I ask myself the same question, I return to the beginning. Wolves are dying. We cannot wage war if we cannot find our enemy or at least identify why the enemy is after us in the first place.

Dallas could have those answers.

My feelings on the subject are irrelevant.

My pride is irrelevant.

What did it matter if I had to excise my own heart to save the packs? I’m the Chief Enforcer, my first oath must always be to them.

Always.



by Heather Long
April 25, 2017
338 pages
It's the book you've been waiting for! Don't miss the stunning conclusion to the Guardians of the Wolves!

Most Lone Wolves have a story—a pack they left behind, a love they lost, or worse, one they buried. Some leave their packs to roam because they crave freedom, and independence. Some leave because in their hearts, they can’t bear to stay. Some leave because they see no way to go back… 

Packs attacked. Humans forced to turn. Enforcers murdered. 

Julian has been juggling the conflict without a real target for months, they always seem to be just one step behind the Volchitsa and even the wolves they’ve captured can’t tell them enough. With the fate of the packs resting squarely on his shoulders, Julian, the Chief Enforcer, will swallow his pride to seek out the one wolf he knows can help them all, the one who seems to know all the players, who can think like them…if anyone can find the Volchitsa it’s the ghost he’s hunted for decades…

Series Reading Order:

Wolf at Law (Prequel)
Book 1: Wolf Bite
Book 2: Caged Wolf
Book 3: Wolf Claim
Book 3.5: Wolf Next Door
Book 4: Rogue Wolf
Book 5: Bayou Wolf
Book 6: Untamed Wolf
Book 6.5: Wolf with Benefits
Book 7: River Wolf
Book 7.5: Single, Wicked Wolf
Book 8: Desert Wolf
Book 9: Snow Wolf
Book 9.5: Wolf on Board
Book 10: Shadow Wolf
Book 11: Thunder Wolf
Book 12: Ghost Wolf 

About the Author:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.