Monday, September 1, 2014


Here it is!  The cover for SHADOW STUDY which will be on sale on February 24, 2015!  For those who are unaware, this is a new Study series book featuring Yelena and Valek, with chapters from both their POVs!

Two Chicks on Books Blog is hosting a give away of a signed early copy of SHADOW STUDY.  I get my author copies anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks before the pub date so if you win you'll get the book mid-January to early February.  Yes - it's open to ALL, including international :).

Click Here to enter the give away:


What do you think?  I LOVE the colors!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Wickedly Dangerous - Author Interview + Giveaway!

Today it's my pleasure to have author Deborah Blake as my guest today.  Her novel, WICKEDLY DANGEROUS will be released on September 2, 2014 and I can tell you that it's truly Wickedly Wonderful!  I had the pleasure of reading it a few months ago to provide a quote for her book.  This is the quote I provided: Baba Yaga is smart, confident, and pragmatic--all the qualities I love in one character! Be prepared to stay up well past your bedtime.

Below is a Q&A with Deborah, who is a wonderful lady as well as talented (that's important to me - I never promote authors who are mean or obnoxious).  She has also offered to give away one signed copy of WICKEDLY DANGEROUS to a random commenter on my blog.  The contest is open to international readers and please include an email so I can contact you!

Cover Copy: Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don’t make the mistake of crossing one of them…

Older than she looks and powerful beyond measure, Barbara Yager no longer has much in common with the mortal life she left behind long ago. Posing as an herbalist and researcher, she travels the country with her faithful (mostly) dragon-turned-dog in an enchanted Airstream, fulfilling her duties as a Baba Yaga and avoiding any possibility of human attachment.

But when she is summoned to find a missing child, Barbara suddenly finds herself caught up in a web of deceit and an unexpected attraction to the charming but frustrating Sheriff Liam McClellan.

Now, as Barbara fights both human enemies and Otherworld creatures to save the lives of three innocent children, she discovers that her most difficult battle may be with her own heart…

Take 10 with Deborah:

1.) Where did you get the idea for WICKEDLY DANGEROUS?

My agent Elaine Spencer and I were chatting one day about what I should write next. We both agreed that we liked my books that had witch protagonists and we both liked updated retold fairy tales. But that left me with this question: what fairy tales haven’t been overdone, and also involve a witch? I thought of Baba Yaga, who wasn’t as well known as Snow White or Beauty and the Beast, and when I did some research, much of what I found actually led to the story. The fracking that is part of the storyline came about because we’re having huge fights about it here where I live in upstate NY.

2.) The story is wickedly fun to read. How hard was it to integrate all those wonderful mythical characters, humor, and still have the main protagonists dealing with finding missing children?

It was a little bit of a balancing act to have the magical world and the humor, plus some grim reality—but that was part of what made it fun to write. I have always had some humor in my writer’s voice, and in this story, I think it helped to keep things from getting too grim. I actually enjoyed having the magical elements side-by-side with the regular mundane world. After all, you never know what’s out there, do you?

3.) What do you like most about Barbara Yager (a.k.a. Baba Yaga)?

(Laughs.) Honestly, I love her bad attitude. She’s kind of crabby sometimes, and doesn’t much like people, although she has a good heart underneath. And I like how she is surprised when love finally sneaks up on her. And, of course, her relationship with Chudo-Yudo, the dragon-disguised-as-a-giant-white-pitbull she lives with. That was a hoot to write.

4.) Which authors inspire you? Has that changed over time?

Oh boy. How long do you have? There are so many authors who inspire me, and some in particular who inspired this book. (Tanya Huff has a fabulous series about the Gale family that has magic hidden in plain sight, and I reread everything Patricia McKillip ever wrote because she has such an incredible way of painting fantastical pictures with words.) As I’ve probably mentioned before, when I read Poison Study, I was so impressed I was beside myself. [Awww, thanks :)] Other people who have had a big influence on my writing: Jennifer Crusie (her use of humor and quirky characters is the best ever), Mindy Klasky, Lisa Shearin, Jim C. Hines, Jim Butcher, Kim Harrison, Carol Berg—I could go on and on. Different authors have inspired me at different times (and you can see there is a wide range of writing styles and even genres here), but what they all have in common is the ability to tell a completely original story with compelling and likable characters, and tell it well.

5.) Did you have to do any special research for this book? What did you learn that you didn't know before?

I did. I knew the very basics of the Baba Yaga tales (my family is of Russian Jewish origin, and it is possible my grandfather introduced me to the character, although I also remember reading about her in fairy tale books, which I devoured by the dozens), but not much beyond that. And everything I learned worked so well with the story, it amazed me! To begin with, there were often references to the Baba’s sisters, so it made it easy to create a series with different Baba Yaga characters in each one. I discovered that she was associated with a dragon named Chudo-Yudo who guarded the Water of Life and Death, and three mysterious Riders, and that if you start delving into the Russian culture, there was abundant evidence of her as not just a witch but also a demi-goddess or goddess of the elements. She was said to guard the doorway between our world and the Otherworld. All very fun stuff to work into a story. Of course, I also did some more research on fracking, and found out it was even worse than I thought…

6.) How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?

I’ve been writing since I was a kid, really (I think I got serious in 6th grade) and always wanted to be a writer. But I was also timid and insecure, so when I sent out a batch of short stories in my teens and 20’s and got rejections, I just gave up for a long time. Fast forward to about 10 years ago, and I suddenly got an idea for a nonfiction book (on witchcraft, since I am a practicing witch/Wiccan). I sent off a proposal to Llewellyn Worldwide, they bought the book, and I wrote a bunch more for them. But once I’d finished that first book, I said to myself, “See—you CAN finish a whole book! No more excuses!” and began to work on my first novel. My third novel got me my agent, and we sent out three more before I finally sold this one. But here I am, with two novels and a prequel novella coming out this year. There is something to be said for being too stubborn to know when to give up. (My first novel got lots of great feedback from agents and 67 rejections. Clearly I’ve toughened up from when I was younger.)

7.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?

I try to write every day, although I probably realistically manage about 5-6 days a week. (For instance, tonight I’m writing this and a post for my own blog instead.) Since I have a day job, I usually write in the evenings, from about 6:30 or 7pm until around 10pm. On weekends I often do two stints if I am mid-book. I start with some plotting and character development before I ever begin the actual writing. I usually have a loose outline, although how in depth it is differs from book to book. It definitely goes faster when I have one. I often write a scene in my head before it makes it onto the page—either while I am supposedly napping/resting, or while I am taking a walk. When I sit down to write, I start by rereading and editing the previous day’s work. That serves two purposes: it makes the job of editing the finished manuscript much easier later on, and it also gets me back in the zone of the story, so that by the time I’m done with the 3-8 pages from the previous stint, the next bit of the story is usually ready to ooze out my fingers and onto the keyboard. [I do the same thing!] Because of this, my first draft is unusually tight and clean, which makes my editor happy.

8.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write? A favorite?

I have a great office in my dining room where I do all the business end of writing, and most of my emailing, and have my white boards and organize everything. But most of my actual writing is done in the living room, where I have a red recliner that is easier on my back and my arms than sitting upright at a desk (and where a cat can sit on the end, draped over my feet, instead of trying to squeeze between onto my lap in front of the laptop). I’m not one of those people who can write out in public at a coffee house—I need peace and quiet. I don’t even play music.

9.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?

I run an artists’ cooperative shop and make gemstone jewelry that I sell there. (I spent 25 years doing a lot of jewelry making, but the writing has gradually taken over most of the time I used to use for that.) I have a very large garden, and spend time out there, especially at this time of the year. It is good therapy after a long day of trying to herd artists. And I lead a group of witchy types called Blue Moon Circle, and we often meet a couple of times a month. There is also my Scrabble addiction, and the five cats. And I live in a 120 year old farmhouse that I’m always having to fix something on. I’m not sure if you can call that a hobby or not!

10.) What are you writing now? What's coming out next?

The next thing out is the second in the Baba Yaga series, WICKEDLY WONDERFUL, which is out in December. Right now I’m working on something that is a complete change of pace: a humorous contemporary romance, with nary a witch in sight. So far all my first readers are loving it, so that’s encouraging, and I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

Penguin Books:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Blog Hopping!

I've been invited to be a part of a blog hop and thought it sounded like fun.  I'd like to thank Aoife Marie Sheridan for inviting me to participate.  You can see her post here:

Next up is the answer to the following four questions:

1) What am I working on?

Answer: NIGHT STUDY - Book 5 of the Study series, which continues Yelena and Valek's adventures after SHADOW STUDY - Book 4 of the Study series, which is due out March 2015! Next up will be Book 6, which doesn't have a title or plot yet.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Answer: When I'm writing, I focus on the characters.  Plot, action, twists, deceptions all stem from what motivates my characters and how they interact with each other.  And from the overwhelming response from my readers, I think I create characters that they care about and wish to invite over for dinner. :)  I also blend fantasy/SF elements with a bit of romance and a touch of mystery/suspense, which generates an "unputdownable" read. ("Unputdownable" is a direct quote from a number of my readers who have emailed me at three a.m.)

3) Why do I write what I do?

Answer: As I said in answer #2 - I focus on my characters.  And I love putting my characters through the ringer and seeing how they react. I find that fantasy and science fiction lets me play a little more with my characters.  It gives me the freedom to invent truly unique elements and not be confined to reality.  When I was a meteorologist, I couldn't forecast my way out of a paper bag, but in my novels, I'm always 100 percent accurate!  Also I love horses and swords and the challenges they bring to my story worlds.

4) How does your writing process work?

Answer:  When I spark on an idea for a book, I write a rough sketch of story.  Usually I have a beginning and an ending and a main protagonist and that's it.  I have to write a snyopsis for my editor to approve, so I guess on what's going to happen in the middle.  However, once I do get approval, the finished story never matches my synopsis.  I like to discover the story as I write, which makes that first draft a long process with lots of anxiety!  I spend the first half worried I don't have enough story for a novel, and then spend the second half worried I have too much.  Somehow, I end up right where I should be around 100,000 words!  You would think I wouldn't worry so much after writing 13 novels, but nope - I still do it!

Once I have approval, then I pull out a brand new spiral notebook and pick out 24 girl's names one for each letter of the alphabet and do the same for boy's names.  I choose names that I like and have an interesting meaning that might be applicable to the story. For example, in STORM GLASS, I found names that meant power and had weather references.  Names like Kade, which means powerful, Raiden, which is the name of a thunder god, Indra means rain, Tal means dew, and for my glassmaker, Aydan, which means little fire.

Then I start writing the story and do research as needed.  I did need to know quite a bit about glass blowing for my Glass books, so I took a number of classes to learn how to work with molten glass.  I write at night from 10 pm to 3 or 4 am and I write at least 1000 words before going to sleep. Most nights I write an average of 1300.  It takes me about 6-7 months to write a first draft and 1 month for revisions.  Then I submit it to my editor, agent and beta readers and wait for comments! Then I revise again based on all their comments.

To keep the blog, I invited authors Deborah Blake and Jonathan Lister to participate. Deborah will be posting soon and Jonathan has his up!

Deborah Blake: Deborah is best known for her Pagan/Wiccan books, but also writes Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

Her blog:

Jonathan Lister: He's the author of the Demos City Series.

His blog: 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt!

July 16 to July 19, 2014

The Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt will run from TODAY until midnight on SUNDAY (19th July). To enter to win FORTY signed paperbacks by a wide range of authors PLUS $30 worth of Amazon Gift Cards, simply hop around ALL participating stops, collect all of the highlighted numbers, add them together, and then go enter the requested details along with your calculated answer in the ENTRY FORM. You can find more information on how the stop works here: All stops will direct you to the next place to hop across to. And don’t worry if you get lost, because the entire list of participating authors can be found HERE.

One of those signed paperbacks is a copy of my STORM GLASS!  And keep reading this post as I'm hosting a swag give away on my blog (see below) and you'll be able to win super rare swag from ME over on author Jonathan Lister's blog at:

MY TOP 5 SUMMER READS (so far): 
  • The Last Stormlord, by Glenda Larke - a wonderful epic fantasy.
  • The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak - a must read for ALL!
  • Fate's Edge, by Ilona Andrews - book 3 of one of my favorite fantasy series - I'd recommend them all.
  • Snapped, by Laura Griffin - a romantic suspense that's perfect for beach reading.
  • I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak - a lovely story - worth the time

I'm hosting the beautiful Terri Rochenski. Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with the fantasy genre. 

Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not potty training or kissing boo-boos, she can be found on her back patio in the boondocks of New Hampshire, book or pencil in hand.

Terri is giving away signed bookmarks from her books (see picture):
Please leave a comment telling me what you indulge in during your "me" moment in order to be entered to win the swag. Also please leave an email addy so I can contact you. For an added entry, like Terri and my Facebook pages: 



Victoria Michaels 


if you have all of your numbers and are ready to enter, then hop across to the Summer Reads Scavenger Hunt Entry Form.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Post - Creating a Pitch Perfect Character

Today, I'm thrilled to be hosting author Mindy Klasky!  She is launching her new Diamond Brides series this month and has written a wonderful post about how she turns a stock character into a complex and unique individual.  Since Mindy's one of my BFs, I had the pleasure of reading the first book in the series, PERFECT PITCH.  I'll admit, I'm not a fan of baseball - the game is too slow for me, but there was nothing slow about Mindy's story! After I finished this fun and entertaining read in a single day, I'd wished the Raleigh Rockets were a real team I could cheer for.  Plus I loved the humor (as I do in all Mindy's stories).

Mindy Klasky:

Romance.  It's a literary genre built on tropes, on familiar storylines told in unfamiliar ways.  You've probably heard the shorthand before:  Marriage of convenience.  Secret baby.  Virgin bride.  Single father.  May/December.  There are a couple dozen more, but you certainly get the idea.  

Each tried-and-true storyline relies on stock characters – the alpha male, the wounded warrior, the prostitute with the heart of gold, the shy virgin…

And if those snapshots were the only basis for romance novels, the genre would have burned itself out long ago.  But tropes are only the beginning of a romance novel.  Stock characters are only the bare outlines.

The real fun starts when the author colors between the lines.

When I started writing the Diamond Brides Series of short, hot, contemporary romance novels about the players on the (imaginary) Raleigh Rockets baseball team and the women who love them, I knew I was going to rely very heavily on tropes and stock characters.  With each book limited to about 150 pages, I didn't have time to build minutely detailed character stories, to provide volumes of background information, to sketch carefully shaded essays on psychology, sociology, and anthropology.

Instead, I selected traditional plots within the romance genre and peopled them with unique characters.

The trick was knowing just how to make my characters stand out as individuals, how to make them quirky enough that readers can remember them as specific, well-defined people, without giving in to the pressure to make them outright bizarre.  As an author, I needed to structure details, building them as carefully as a baker balancing rich cake between layers of frosting.

Take DJ Thomas, the hero of Perfect Pitch.  He's an athlete at the pinnacle of his career, experiencing the best season of his life.  But that's only the surface definition of the man.

He's a man attracted to a woman who seems to outclass him in wit, confidence, and public sympathy.  He's a single father who is often exasperated with the child he doesn't understand.  He's a son who is wounded by his own father's domineering need to win.  He's a teammate, struggling to do his best so that the other Rockets players have a chance of winning a championship.

But even those details weren't enough to define Perfect Pitch's hero; I needed to drill deeper.  As a man attracted to a woman (whom he's inadvertently insulted on national TV), DJ has to deliver the script prepared for him by the Rockets' publicity team.  But at the same time, he wants to communicate his own, personal apology.  Even as he desires a deeper relationship with the heroine, he worries about what that public status will do to his professional reputation, to his personal image, to his paternal obligations and his filial ones.  Late night phone conversations with the heroine after ball games played on the road become fraught with meaning, with traps for the romantically unprepared.

And the complexities spin out further, like ice crystals on a freezing window pane, as DJ factors in all his other roles.  Suddenly, my "Athlete Hero" isn't just a stereotype. The precise details add up to a specific love story about unique people.

Writing nine novels in the same ballpark (see what I did there?) has given me a chance to exercise my authorial muscles.  For each book, I need to look at my conventions, to analyze my stereotypes and to determine how I can make the characters and stories unique.  You can get more of an idea of my approach by reading a snippet here:

And you can buy Perfect Pitch at its value price of $0.99 here:

What are your favorite novels where stock characters are transformed into something specific?  What tricks did those authors use to delineate their unique stories?

Thanks for a wonderful post Mindy!  I know a book about an assassin who started as a stock character and then transformed into an artistic pack rat.  I can't recall the title or the author.... ;>

Friday, April 4, 2014

Q&A and Give Away with Duncan W.Alderson

Who, you might ask, is Duncan W. Alderson?  Well, I'll tell you!  Back when I started writing, I struggled to find information and guidance about the craft (back when there was no Internet or cell phones - a truly barbaric time ;). The universities in my area didn't offer creative writing classes to the community, and I couldn't find any local writing groups.  Then one day, I see an ad for the Rabbit's Hill Writer's Group offering writing classes.  I jumped on it and signed up right away.

Duncan was the owner and teacher at Rabbit Hill.  We had classes in a barn turned art studio turned writing room.  It was wonderful.  I met other writers, received feedback on my stories, learned the craft of writing, and made a few friends.  Not only did my writing improve, but I loved the class style so much, I use it for when I teach (shhh...don't tell Duncan ;).  I credit Duncan's classes as an instrumental part of my writing success.

I'm so excited that Duncan's debut novel, MAGNOLIA CITY has just been published.  It's a historical fiction set in Houston, Texas in the 1920s. Now, I realize most of my readers are more fantasy/science fiction readers, but this novel is just wonderful.  It's rich in details, but not overwhelming.  The characters are masterfully drawn and I was suck into this world about love and oil.

Below is an interview with Duncan, and he has offered to give away a signed copy of his book to a random commenter (ALL are welcome to enter)!  Please include your email addy with your comment so I can get in touch with you. Contest ends April 15 (tax day for those in the US).

Q&A with Duncan:

1.) What sparked the idea for this story?
I grew up seeing photographs of my mother as a flapper in 1920s Texas. The exotic woman in the pictures seemed so different from the practical housewife who was raising me, that I had to write a book to explain who that other woman was.

2.) Why historical fiction? Is there something special about this genre that draws you to write?

I wasn’t drawn to the genre particularly, just to this subject matter inspired by photos of my mother. I was trying to write about my own experiences in the 1960s, but this other voice kept interfering, so I finally went with it.
3.) The book is rich with setting details and authentic historical information.  How much research was involved?  Where did you find the information?  Was any one source more helpful then the others?
This was the biggest challenges of telling this story. I spent years researching the period in general, and my own hometown in particular. The Texas Room at the Houston Pubic Library has a collection rich in history, as do libraries in Galveston and San Antonio. Certain books were key in helping me understand early Houston history, such as Houston: The Unknown City by Marguerite Johnston.  One of the most useful sources for items used in everyday life was a copy I made of the 1927 Sears & Roebuck Catalogue, which I found at my local library.

4.) During your research, did you discover anything surprising and unique?  Perhaps something that you used in your story?

When I read Houston: The Unknown City by Marguerite Johnston, I discovered that the historic nickname of my hometown was The Magnolia City. This became the title of my novel.

5.) What do you find most interesting about Hetty Allen?

He desire to become a “modern” woman. This is a large part of what drives her as a character.

6.) What else do you enjoy doing besides writing? Interests? Hobbies?
Spending time in Manhattan going to operas, concerts, theatre and museums. My wife is an art dealer, so we do a lot gallery crawls in Chelsea and attend a lot of art openings.

7.)  How did you become a writer? Is this what you saw yourself growing up to be? Or did it take you by surprise?

I think I became a writer by default. I was a child actor, appearing as Tom Sawyer on both stage and television with the Houston Civic Theater. My dream was to become a movie star and change my name to Duncan Divine. Then my family moved from Houston to our lake cottage in the piney woods and my acting career was suddenly over. I took up writing stories instead and penned my first novel, Retama, in high school.

8.) Do you have a writing routine? Talk process for a moment, how do the words get on the page?
I’m a very lazy writer. I’m not at all like Joyce Carol Oates who writes eight hours a day, seven days a week. When I’m under deadline, I try to log in four or five hours a day, but otherwise find all kinds of excuses to avoid working. When I do write, I always pen my first drafts in long hand with a good fountain pen.  I love the feel of the nib scratching against the paper. I use Natalie Goldberg’s approach of free writing, so never experience a writer’s block. I just keep my hand moving and something always comes out.  Then I type that “shitty first draft” into my computer in 18 point Times Roman triple spaced.  That’s when the real work begins, as I revise the pages over and over, printing each draft out and marking it up with a red pen. After twelve or fifteen drafts, I usually end up with something that feels coherent, so reduce it down to 12 point Times Roman double spaced and print out the final draft, which then gets integrated into the work-in-progress. 

9.) Office? Closet? Corner of the living room? Do you have a set place to write?  A favorite?

I’m lucky to have a writing studio out in the barn in our backyard. I’ve gotten to where I can only work there, as that’s where all my files are, my comfortable desk and the Roget’s Thesaurus that I’ve been using for over forty years. It’s a quiet space away from the house where I can go to be alone with my muse.  Or take a nap. 

10.) What are you writing now?  What's coming out next?

I’m working on the sequel to Magnolia City, called The Tibetan Magic Show.  It was actually written first, but needs a lot of revision.  My editor wants it on his desk my Christmas, 2014.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Celebrating 7000+ Likes!

My author page on Facebook has reached over 7000 likes and I'm celebrating by giving away 7 prizes to random commenters on my post (you have to post on Facebook to enter - ALL are welcome and the link is below).

I wasn't quite sure what to think of Facebook when it first appeared.  I was a big MySpace user (remember that?) and didn't want to add to my digital work load. My friend, Alethea created an author page for me on Facebook and was answering questions and, when she couldn't answer, she'd email me and I'd tell her.  My niece Amy also helped out from time to time.  Now I answer all the questions/comments and I have a personal page (which I post mostly the same things on - I'll post more about my family and life on my personal page and all my book news on my author page). 

As Facebook became more popular, I discovered the number of emails I receive has gone down and it has saved me time.  Plus it's an ego boost to get hundreds of likes and comments when I post big news like about the new Study book - SHADOW STUDY.  Facebook makes it easy for me to post news - unlike my Blog which takes up more time.  I've been on Goodreads since 2008 and seen that site grow in popularity - it's a fun site that I enjoy.  I avoided twitter - I don't think I could keep up with it!

I wonder what will be the next big thing for social media.  I'm happy with Facebook and I know I'll be reluctant to change, but I will follow the crowd because connecting to my readers has always been important to me - that will NEVER change.