A Bosom Release and Giveaway

It’s here! IT’S HERE! IT’S HEEEEEERE!

weekend-update

What, you ask? Why, only the release day of my bosom friend Emmie Mears’s debut novel, THE MASKED SONGBIRD!

Pretty exciting, right? My little bosom writer friend has grown up into a superhero, book-releasing author friend, and I couldn’t be more proud. For those of you who don’t know, Emmie and I “met” through our blogs almost three (or was it four?!) years ago. We quickly bonded over shared love of awesomeness like Buffy and gaming, and, you know, that crazy thing we do called writing. Before we knew it, we were talking almost every single day via G-chat or text and “introducing” each other to our families (read: felines) on Skype.

Since then, I had the great pleasure of flying out to stay with her for Capclave, where we met George R. R. Martin and got to have in-person shenanigans for the first (but definitely not the last) time. Our friendship has blossomed, and Emmie is one of the more important people in my life these days. (That title comes with a special t-shirt, you know…. okay, I lie. It doesn’t. But it should!)

To celebrate her release day, I thought we could have a little digital release party right here on my blog, where the adventure began. I’ll be giving away THREE copies of the book, and, believe it or not, it gets even cooler than that.

You see, Emmie’s book is part of an urban fantasy box set from Harlequin, and if you win the giveaway, you’ll receive THREE OTHER BOOKS as part of the deal. Pretty awesome, right? Check it out:

Reap & Redeem by Lisa Medley: A reaper who has given up on salvation, Kylen lives for nothing more than destroying demons. But when he accidently saves a dying woman, he rediscovers his mission—and his heart. Now all he has to do is fight off an invasion from Hell….

The Masked Songbird by Emmie Mears: As a mild-mannered accountant, Gwen Maule’s biggest worries were her crap job and her loser boyfriend. After sipping a fizzy drink that gives her superpowers, though, she has to figure out if she has what it takes to save Scotland’s capital from a crazed villain.

Protective Ink by Misty Simon: Lissa MacLaughlin’s inking skills go beyond beautiful drawing. Her tattoos give the wearer the ability to tap into their own special powers. But when a mysterious enemy appears, Lissa’s longtime friend and one-time crush Jackson Freeling will need some protective ink of his own.

Mine Tomorrow by Jackie Braun: Devin Abernathy has turned her love of the past into a thriving business. Of course she never imagined that one of her vintage finds could actually transport her back to 1945—and into the arms of the man of her dreams. Is the past where she’s meant to be?

Are you excited yet?! You totally should be! So what do you need to do to win?

1. Comment on this post, and tell me which book you’re excited to read and why! Or what superpower you’d like to have. Or what INK you’d like to get! Or where you’d go back in time. Or how you’d last in a demonic invasion! Really, tell me anything about your interest in one of these four books.

2. Make sure you post before midnight EST, when I’ll close commenting, do the drawing, and update this post with the winners.

3. There is no step 3! Just do step 1 in accordance with step 2, and if you win one of the three copies, I’ll contact you for your email address so I can have Amazon send you the books.

Finally, let’s all join in and congratulate Emmie, Lisa, Misty, and Jackie on the release of a fantastic collection. I know I can’t wait to dig in! Congrats, all!

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The Power of Partnership: Guest Post by Emmie Mears

Greetings, dear readers! Today we have a guest post from the awesome Emmie Mears, whose debut novel, The Masked Songbird, will be released from Harlequin on July 1. Check out what she has to say, and then be sure to run on over to Amazon and pre-order your digital copy today! 

The Masked Songbird_FC (2)The Power of Partnership

Many parts of life require partnership. We all know the saying about how no one’s an island, yadda yadda, but when you’re in a creative profession, you can often feel like one. In my early days of writing, I wrote like an island. I didn’t seek out critique. I didn’t read craft books. I worked in an extreme version of “write what you know.”

It wasn’t until I started really reaching out to other writers that I was able to kick my writing into the next gear. My lovely host and bosom friend, Kristin, was one of those writers.

When I started querying my first novel, I had high hopes. I thought it was ready. I’d written two and a half books and had been over my first one about fifteen times in four years. I loved my characters and my story, and I was sure I was going to get an agent.

“If you’d brought this to me four years ago, I could have sold it in a hot second.”

Those were the words I heard from a powerhouse agent at my first writing conference in New York. I was shocked, but not crushed. I got a few requests from other agents that day, all of which petered into rejections. A couple months later, a bestselling author contacted me and said she liked my blog so much that she wanted to read my fiction. I sent her the first couple chapters of this book, and crossed my fingers. When she called me to talk about it, I heard the best words I think I’d heard to that point in my career:

“I don’t think this is submission ready.”

Deep down, I’d known that I hadn’t really been editing it; I’d been tinkering. I’d been on my writing island for so long that I’d been writing around in circles without realizing it.

I put that book aside to think. Two months later, I started another book. I finished it six weeks later. That was two years ago. By then, I had a team of fantastic betas and Kristin for a critique partner. In two months, I had it polished up and ready to query.

Kristin graciously agreed to host me today. I couldn’t think of a better place to start this blog tour, because that little book I scribbled out in six weeks was THE MASKED SONGBIRD, which is coming out two weeks from today from Harlequin.

Without partners, I don’t think I would be here right now. Without the feedback of people (some of it hard to hear), my debut wouldn’t yet be happening.

We really aren’t islands; even in creative professions, we need the community of peers who can offer insight and encouragement. While people can go it alone sometimes, having partners who are with you on the same path can help you get to your destination faster.

You can preorder THE MASKED SONGBIRD here (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JD7TWZK)! Released in a box set, you get four great paranormal and urban fantasy books for less than $4!

Follow Emmie on Twitter @EmmieMears or come join her on Facebook!

IMG_7239Emmie Mears was born in Austin, Texas, where the Lone Star state promptly spat her out at the tender age of three months. After a childhood spent mostly in Alaska, Oregon, and Montana, she became a proper vagabond and spent most of her time at university devising ways to leave the country.

Except for an ill-fated space opera she attempted at age nine, most of Emmie’s childhood was spent reading books instead of writing them. Growing up she yearned to see girls in books doing awesome things, and struggled to find stories in her beloved fantasy genre that showed female heroes saving people and hunting things. Mid-way through high school, she decided the best way to see those stories was to write them herself. She now scribbles her way through the fantasy genre, most loving to pen stories about flawed characters and gritty situations lightened with the occasional quirky humor.

Emmie now lives in her eighth US state, still yearning for a return to Scotland. She inhabits a cozy domicile outside DC with two felines who think they’re lions and tigers.

 

The Big-Balled Squirrel and the Fairy Princess

Last Saturday, this fairy princess woke up late. I’m never an early-riser, and I’m not at my best even at 11 a.m.

Especially when I pick up my phone and instantly receive a message like this one:

Emmie Mears: Drew just sent me a picture of a squirrel with big balls and said it was him as a princess. O___O LOL

Picture me looking at my phone kinda like this:

…whut?

I said nothing, just tried to process that combination of words with my sleep-brain. I did not succeed in making it make sense.

Emmie Mears: I told him that Princess Drew has illustrious appendages.

At this point, I had to speak up.

Kristin McFarland: What on earth… I’m still in bed. LOL

Emmie Mears: HAHAHAHA. Whoops. Good morning?

I was also so completely bemused that I said out loud to my husband…

“What on earth did you do to Emmie?”

He quickly came to his own defense, and appeared in the bedroom.

Spouse: Remember last night, you said I needed to learn to be a princess? Well, I sent her a picture of me as a princess!

It all came screaming back to me then. Part of why I slept so late was because I was up late, talking with Spouse and some Twitter-friends about how Drew doesn’t like his birthday and needs to learn to be a princess and celebrate like a man. (Those might have been my exact, nonsensical words.)

One of our friends—and between you and me, internet, I’m not even sure it was Emmie—demanded a picture of Drew as a fairy princess. I said I’d do my best to oblige, and promptly forgot about the whole thing when I went to bed.

But Drew remembered, and sent Emmie a picture.

Kristin: She says you sent her a picture of a squirrel with enormous testicles.

Spouse: What? No! I sent her a picture of a guy in a princess outfit!

At this point, I turned back to my phone.

Kristin McFarland: He is puzzled. I think perhaps you got the wrong picture.

Emmie Mears: LOL. Oh, it is an error. Apparently that’s their default error picture…….a big balled squirrel.

And then she sent me the picture. This is what I saw:

No, I can’t read the Russian caption. I don’t think I want to know. And no, Drew does not look like this guy.

Kristin McFarland: …I get a chubby guy in a pink fairy costume.

Emmie Mears: Awwww, why can’t I see it?

At this point, I lost my shit, as they say. I was laughing so hard I could barely type.

Kristin McFarland: I am laughing so hard. I want to see the big balled squirrel!

Emmie Mears: This is the pic I got.

Illustrious appendages, enormous testicles… This, friends, is a big-balled squirrel.

Emmie Mears: This morning is off to an awesome start.

Yes. Yes it was. Four days later, and I’m still giggling about it.

Welcome to my life, internet! Chubby fairy princesses and big-balled squirrels abound.

Why Write: Urban Fantasy with Emmie Mears

Said familiar face; Photograph by Colleen Barrett of Blue Tree Photography.

Said familiar face; Photograph by Colleen Barrett of Blue Tree Photography.

Hey readers! As promised, here is the very first Why Write interview! Because Emmie Mears is my critique partner, query-trenches comrade, and generally buddy, she gets to open this (hopefully) entertaining and enlightening series and set the bar for the rest of us. Plus she’s a fantastic writer and keeper of a fabulous blog, so you should listen to what she has to say.

Hello, Emmie, and welcome! You’re a familiar face around these parts, but go ahead and tell us a little about yourself and your work.

I was that kid who moved around all the time. No, we weren’t military. No, I can’t give any great reason for it, other than that we were excessively poor and usually searching for better economic climes. Because of all the moves, I was a child with a painstaking level of shyness, and I escaped into books more often than not. I fell in love with fantasy and horror first — R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike practically raised me to be this nuts. Sprinkle in a bunch of teen babysitters and L.J. Smith’s Night World series, and I can pretty much see my writing preferences forming in front of my eyes.

I first attempted writing sci-fi, then gave up because I really had no idea about space (I was 9). After that I tried epic fantasy, but found my own work so naive that I almost threw it into the woodstove. Finally, I settled into urban fantasy, and I’ve made a nest there. I love grit and darkness with a healthy addition of quirk and humor. I adore writing female characters who rise above their circumstances in some way and who are more concerned with saving the world than finding a boyfriend.

What made you decide to write urban fantasy?

I don’t remember hearing the name of the genre when I was growing up, but a lot of L.J. Smith’s books would probably fit into that genre (though an argument can also be posed for paranormal romance). I love both the ideas of worlds within our own and the supernatural among us, and I’m lazy, so this way the basic structure of our world remains intact (usually).

What types of stories does urban fantasy make possible?

I think that this genre has a very interesting ability to allow for human stories to be told through a supernatural lens. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a perfect example — many of the episodes use demons and apocalypses to personify the struggle of reaching adulthood and beyond. That’s not to say the same isn’t possible in other genres, but there’s a candor to urban fantasy that I like. It’s not afraid to get messy, and it gives me the freedom to explore all sorts of “what if” scenarios. What if you drank a serum that was supposed to cure your boss’s daughter of terminal cancer? What if that boss already had it in for you? What if she was involved in a political conspiracy against your country?

See? FUN.

What audience do you think urban fantasy attracts? How does that audience influence the types of stories you tell and characters you write?

I think urban fantasy readers (like most fantasy readers) want an escape. There tends to be a common element of “chosen-ness” within the fantasy genre as a whole. A protagonist is the only one who can fight XYZ Evil. I think growing up it attracted me because I (the painfully shy) desperately wanted to be chosen for something majestic and terrible and awesome. At the same time, these characters are often deeply flawed, which is something I think people relate to. Most humans don’t like themselves all the time.

I try to write urban fantasy with that in mind, because I don’t think I’m alone in that mindset. If people want an easy escape, they’ll read something less gritty. But urban fantasy readers want that darkness, that gray area. I try to let that breathe in my characters and like to give them problems that challenge what they’ve thought in the past and push them into territory that makes them uncomfortable — and that makes them have to face their flaws head-on.

How does urban fantasy affect the stakes for your characters and your audience?

As you know, *laughs* I tried to write a magical realism novel this winter. I’m so used to the stakes being primarily physical (if you don’t succeed, you and a bunch of other poor sods will DIE HORRIBLY!) that I struggled writing something where most of the stakes were emotional. In urban fantasy, the stakes tend to be very physical AND emotional, but the physical stakes usually drive the plot. When there are literally creatures that want to eat you, well. Stakes. You’ve got them. And you might become them. Or become steaks, anyway.

Why do you think people love to read urban fantasy? How do you think urban fantasy affects its audience?

I think there’s a certain amount of wish fulfillment involved. Urban fantasy protagonists tend to be badasses in larger-than-life conflicts. And who doesn’t want to be a badass hero from the safety of your living room?

I think urban fantasy as a genre can really allow readers to question themselves in a healthy way. I still remember the effect Buffy had on me when I first watched it, or how I felt about Anita Blake’s development and how it challenged how I thought about my own power and my sexuality, or how I could empathize with Rachel Morgan as she discovered things about herself that made her squirm. I’ve grown up in a lot of ways as a direct result of my imagination coming into contact with these characters and these stories. I think other people feel the same.

For funsies, what is your favorite genre to read?

Erm…urban fantasy. Well, any fantasy. Give me magic and creatures and gray areas, and I’m a happy Emmie.

Thanks so much for having me around today, Kristin! *waves to readers*

If you want to track Emmie down, you can reach her via the following links!
Blog: http://www.emmiemears.com
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/emmiemears
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/emmiemears

Student of history. Gamer. Language nerd. Displaced Celt.

Emmie spends at least an hour a day preparing for or thinking about the zombie apocalypse.

Future calamity notwithstanding, Emmie hunts stories in dark alleys and in stone circles and spends most nights listening for something that goes bump.

Emmie lives outside D.C. with her husband, a husky puppy who talks too much, and a tabby who thinks she’s a tiger.

She is currently mucking up the lives of demon-hunters and mythology professors for her current projects. Emmie is represented by Jessica Negrón of Talcott Notch Literary Services.

Wish: Costumed Curses Entries

The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest is ongoing, and, just to entice you, we’ll be featuring some of the entries as we approach the deadline. Remember, we have awesome prizes for our winners, including an Amazon gift card, goodie bag, and partial-manuscript critiques!

Click the image above to be taken to the main contest page, where you can remind yourself of the rules and post your own story in the comments. Also visit CurseMaster Emmie’s site for more stories!

Wish

by Chris Goodwin
474 words

I can still hear them. Oh, God.

I know they’re not there, there’s nobody there. Nobody is talking to me. Nobody is talking. Nobody.

Did I see something move? Every now and then, I fall for that one. I should have learned by now, but I– There it is again! Nothing.

I can hear them. Always.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

I live here, in the forest. Nobody comes around here. Nobody comes, except for them.

I’m getting off topic already, aren’t I?

I used to live with my wife–

Sorry.

I lived with my wife and daughter, until just recently. Margaret was her name. My father trapped and sold pelts, while my mother taught at the school. She taught me writing. My father traded with a man with a daughter, Margaret. She was shy. It was her father’s idea to write to each other.

The letters arrived. At first, they were very short. Maybe a page. After a time, though, she grew comfortable telling me things she’d tell nobody. I’m lying if I said I didn’t feel the same way.

Who’s there? Never-mind.

After years, I finally met her and we were in love. I assumed, at least.

Years passed, and we married. She moved to our little town.

There was a bad accident. My father didn’t make it. I took over. She didn’t like that, but she smiled anyway. And then we had our beautiful daughter.

And then I met him.

Checking my lines at the river, I looked up and there he was. Tall man, thin. Dark eyes. That smile.

Is someone at the door? No, it can’t be. No, no, I’ll check.

Ah… I knew better.

Him. Right. Sorry.

He told me things. Horrible things. “Your Margaret doesn’t love you. She doesn’t need you.”

I told him to shut up.

“The whole town thinks you’re a fool. But I can help. I can give you three wishes! Just ask!”

I asked why? He shrugged. I agreed to get him to leave. He left.

I went home early, spooked. Went home to my family.

She was there, with someone else.

“No!” I remember screaming.

We fought later. She said she was leaving with my daughter. That she didn’t need me.

And then I said it.

“I wish you needed me more than anyone ever!”

“Granted,” his voice whispered. Margaret fell, sick. She dropped our daughter to the floor. She bled, while Margaret turned white. It was–

I can’t describe it. Not thinking, I said out loud, “I didn’t want this! Make it stop! Make it stop for both of them!”

“Granted!” The voice spoke louder. His voice.

I buried them the next day, and moved away from the town. I drank. I got scared.

And I said “I wish I wasn’t alone anymore.”

And there it was. Loud. Yelling. Piercing.

“Granted.”

The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest HAS ARRIVED.

The time has come… for you to wow us with your fairy tale creepiness.

So what is a costumed curse, you ask? A poisoned apple, a cursed spinning wheel, a dress that forces you to dance until you’re sweating blood. A kiss that kills instead of saving, a smiling face that lures you to your death. An assassin’s blow that feels like a caress, a whispered word that deafens. A granted wish that turns to dust, a maestro’s work that rots the brain…

The choice is yours: hide the evil and make us bite. We want dark fairy tales, stories that make our hair stand up and keep us awake at night, wishes, dreams, and hopes gone wrong.

BUT our wish (that will be granted, lest we punish you) is that you follow the rules. And what are those, you ask? Well…

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT (THAT’S TODAY!) until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fairy tale fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: Post your entry in the COMMENTS TO THIS POST, and be sure to include the following information:

  • Your NAME
  • Your TWITTER HANDLE or EMAIL ADDRESS*
  • Your WORD COUNT

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore?

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these will have to be limited to US residents only because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: Me, of course, and Emmie Mears. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt.

Now, go! Be free! Write to make us shiver! And look forward to some featured stories, some curdled wishes to burn your mind.

Best of luck from,

Announcing The Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest!

 

Are you longing to celebrate the season? To put on fanciful makeup and scare the bejebus out of the people who know you? And do you ever wish you could scare more than just your neighbors and friends?

I heard those secret yearnings.

And because I heard those secret yearnings, I’ve teamed up with the fabulous Emmie Mears to bring you a creeptacular flash fiction extravaganza.

Costumed Curses Flash Fiction Contest

When: 15 October at 0900 EDT until 27 October at 2359

Genre: Fantasy and all sub-genres. Dark fantasy, urban fantasy, horror fantasy, epic fantasy, contemporary fantasy, fairy tale fantasy, dystopian fantasy, whatever. (No sci-fi this time, sorry!)

Theme: Curses masquerading as blessings, granted wishes, deepest desires, secret yearnings. Take a gift and twist it. Take a wish and make it rot. Grant a deep desire and watch it burn.

Length: 500 words.

How to Enter: There will be a post bearing eerie similarity to this one that goes up at 0900 sharp on 15 October. On that day, you may post your entry in the comments WITH THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION (this is where I find out who reads the submission guidelines):

  • Your NAME
  • Your TWITTER HANDLE or EMAIL ADDRESS*
  • Your WORD COUNT

If these things are not included, you will have to drink from the Cup of the Blind, which will erode your entry into nothingness. Meaning, you will be disqualified and will have to wear the Cone of Shame.

*No, we won’t use your email address for anything other than notifying winners, distributing prizes. No, we won’t give it to evil cyber stalkers. No, we are not evil cyber stalkers. Does anyone use the word “cyber” anymore?

Prizes: Super snazzy prizes will include an Amazon gift card, manuscript critiques, goody bags (when was the last time you got goodies in the POST?! Alas, these will have to be limited to US residents only because we’re broke), and mucho de bragging rights. And some sweet badges which will be revealed later. Muahahaha! Winners will be crowned as follows:

  • 1st Place — HERO
  • 2nd Place — WARRIOR
  • 3rd Place — MINION

Your Judges: C’est moi, of course, and Emmie Mears. We will be judging the posts on originality, use of the theme, quality of writing, and general badassery. R-rated stories are fine, but we’re not looking for erotica. Some sex is okay, but remember the theme and ask if it’s necessary. Don’t shoot for shock value. Wow us with your story and how you weave in the prompt.

What are you waiting for? Start writing! And feel free to talk it up on Twitter using the #CostumedCurses hashtag! See you Monday!

Love and kisses!

Yours,