Writing, Blogging, Formatting, Homemaking, and Crafting!

Phew!

Remember when I said exciting things are coming? They’re here! Some of you may be familiar with my book formatting logo:

EK Formatting

Well, I’m expanding the EK brand to all manner of ventures. Instead of spreading it all out, I’m going to start by consolidating it onto a single blog. I also plan on blogging more frequently. In order to help you know what each post is about, they’ll have a lovely logo like that at the top! A general post, much like this one, will be tagged with this:

blogging

So, what else can you expect to see from me? First up is the newest:

homemaking

The Homemaking tag is one I’m particularly excited about, without it the rest of these ventures wouldn’t be possible. You see, I’m staying home with my son! Expect posts with the homemaking tag to involve stay at home mom sort of things. Cleaning, decorating, child-raising. It will probably be the most infrequent of my tags, but I thought I’d include it while I was going logo design happy.

I regret, that I’m not 100% sure how long this stay-at-home gig will last. Life outside of DC is expensive, especially with a new mouth to feed. My hope is that I’ll be able to earn enough from my formatting, writing, and crafting to make staying home continue to be possible.

Which, leads me to more tags!

writing

This might be the one that you’re most excited about, assuming you follow my blog because you’re a fan of my writing. Well, I’ve got a lot in store. Now that I’m staying home, I hope to be quite prolific in the coming months! What’s on the list you may ask?

Wrought-Iron Roses will be releasing December 8. I do apologize for the postponement. Writing with a newborn turned out to be quite a bit harder than I expected! I’m still settling into a routine, but I’ve gotten over the hump.

If you missed the Curse Collectors book trailer, do check it out! I’m pretty pleased with it! Special thanks to the wonderful voice actress Emily Wood for providing the creeptastic voice.

Wee! What did you think?

More than Magic fans will be excited to know that I’m working on a new story for the paperback release of Danio’s Prelude. Never fear though, I’m not going to force people to buy a paperback just to get a short story. There will be ways to get a digital copy as well. The Soul Choice paperback should be out in November. I am sorry to say I still don’t have set plans for a sequel to Soul Choice, but yes, I did emphasize the word set. The characters are always nagging at me and I’m sure that a plot will come to me one of these days. There is, however, a More than Magic universe short story coming up in an anthology this spring!

Observant readers who follow me on Facebook may have noticed that I’m secretly, not-so-secretly gathering followers to a pen-name. I’m working on a couple of new series that I’d prefer my YA readers not accidentally buy, if you get my drift. Those will be out starting in 2016. If you haven’t caught my alter ego yet, but are interested in those series, I’m happy to let you in on the secret.

Last, something I’m super excited about. The original version of Semester Aboard was published one chapter at a time online. I miss doing that. I miss the instant chapter-by-chapter feedback and reader reactions, as well as the pressure to keep writing because people are waiting. So, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be posting a serial on my blog! Currently, I’m planning to do a chapter a week. The question now is, what will I write? I have plans for two series that I think would both translate well to serial form. I’d love to get your feedback on which one you’d like me to start with. Don’t worry, if it works out I’ll do both. They’re both YA series, one is a high fantasy with elves and unicorns. The other is a sort of urban/high fantasy hybrid featuring shifters. Drop by this link to vote and please leave a comment here with your preference as well!

I’m also finally going to start a monthly newsletter! Go ahead and sign up! Subscribers will get sales, freebies, sneak peeks, and more!

That wraps up my busy world of writing. I’ve got one more logo to show you! I’m also really pumped about this one. I’ve always wanted to open my own Etsy store, I’m a big crafter. I just never knew what to sell. I used to sell crocheted goods on a forum long, long ago. But those take ages and are tough to ship. I had a vision for art that I wanted to hang in the nursery, but couldn’t find what I was picturing. I’ve been on a painting kick recently, so I made them myself. After some great feedback from friends, I decided to sell them!

Without further ado:crafting

And behold, my own Etsy Store!

In addition to selling, I’ll also be posting here and there with crafting updates, patterns, and ideas. I’m brainstorming More than Magic and Curse Collectors themed paintings as well. If you can think of anything along those lines that you’d be happy to hang on your wall, please let me know!

And that brings you up to speed! Thanks for taking the time to read it all! Do please let me know which serial you’d like to see first and if you have a painting idea for me!

Until next time…

Carved in Cherry Chapter One

Get ready!

 New Adult Paranormal Romance
Ready for an exclusive sneak peek of Chapter One?
Please remember, this is unedited and the formatting will be affected by blogger.
Chapter One 
“It’s a magical, invisible antique shop,” Jo said. “Obviously.”
Rachel laughed at her sister, before pulling out her cell phone. She brought up the directions and frowned at the screen. “It says that it’s off Gristmill Road. Right?” She held the phone out for Jo to double-check.
“Gristmill Road.” Jo gestured to a nearby street sign. “We’re on it. And we’ve walked up and down it a dozen times.”
“Well, Aunt Lydia’s antique shop has to be somewhere.” Rachel shoved the phone back in her pocket and started walking.
Jo fell back into step with her. “What is ‘grist’ anyway?”
“Just an old-timey word for grain. Stuff like wheat, rye, bar-“
“Okay, okay! History nerd.”
“Shouldn’t you know that, writing geek?” As she spoke, Rachel turned and shot a silly look at her sister. The action loosened her scarf, just as a cold gust of wind blew against her back. Several drops of icy water dripped down her back. She gasped in surprise and turned to find the source.
“You okay, Rach?”
Rachel reached back and brushed at the nape of her neck. “Yeah.” She looked up and spotted a rusty, iron sign, swinging from the side of the building. A few drops of water slid from the icicles clinging to the sign.
Antiques
“Hey! I think this is it!” Rachel stepped back for a better look at the old building. The first story was made out of old, worn brick and the second was wood. Rachel tried to picture what it must have looked like when it was new. When had that been; two-hundred? Three hundred years ago? Most of Old Town had been built in the early eighteenth century. Rachel could see a pair of paned windows. She squinted up at them, wondering if the glass was handmade.
Jo’s voice broke into her thoughts, “Where’s the door?”
That was a good question. Rachel looked back and forth along the building. Nothing but brick.
“Well, it must be somewhere.”
They walked along the cobblestone sidewalk toward the edge of the building. There was a space – hardly large enough to call an alley – between the antique shop and the building next door. Rachel and Jo didn’t have enough room to walk side by side. Halfway down the alley was a door, covered in peeling green paint. A little plaque by the door read: Lydia’s Curiosities.
“Guess this is it,” Rachel said.
The windows were so dusty Rachel could hardly see the word Closed on the sign behind them. She tried the knob anyway and wasn’t surprised when it was locked. She pulled off a mitten with her teeth and started rummaging in her purse for the key. ”Where is that key…”
Buscar la clave,” Jo said. “Or wait, is it llave?” She had recently taken an interest in her Mexican heritage and started learning Spanish.
“Beats me. It’s yournative language. Which reminds me, has it started coming back yet?”
Jo had been fluent, or at least as fluent as a two-year-old could be, when she was adopted. She picked up English rapidly and hadn’t spoken a word of Spanish since. She had been hoping her past fluency would help her in class, but so far she was on the same level as the other students.
“Not yet. Oh my God, did I tell you my professor said my accent is terrible?”
“Tell her to kiss your culo. Ah-ha!” Rachel triumphantly fished the key out of her purse and worked it into the lock.
Jo pulled out her phone. “I should text Angie and let her know how to find the place.” She looked back out toward the street. “We’re across from the Haber…”
“Haberdasher. And you’re supposed to be an English Major.”
“I know the word, I was texting,” Jo said. “And it’s a haberdashery. A haberdasher is the person who…haber…dashes.”
The door clicked open, just as she finished texting, and the two peered into the dimly lit shop.
“Do you remember Aunt Lydia at all?” Jo asked, as they nervously walked in. She vaguely remembered their recently deceased aunt visiting when she was younger. Rachel, three years her senior, probably had better memories.
“Sort of.” Rachel remembered a quiet, older woman. A little strange, maybe even whimsical. Like the sort of woman who had twenty cats and knit tea cozies. She couldn’t remember many details about Lydia herself. Unmarried, no children, as far as she knew. In fact, Rachel hadn’t even known about the antique shop, until Lydia’s lawyer arrived to tell her and her sisters, that they were the proud new owners.
Rachel moved further into the shop and looked around eagerly. She was almost disappointed as she took in just how small it was. The building had looked so much bigger from outside; the shop must have shared the space with other stores.  A solitary, dirty, bare light bulb hung from the ceiling, casting just enough light for Rachel to see around the entire room. There were bookcases, lined up to form aisles, and shelves along the walls. There were a couple of large cabinets and a handful of bigger pieces of furniture. Everything else was neatly stacked up on the shelves. Rachel had been hoping for more.
“Having a histor-gasm?” Jo quipped from behind her.
Rachel snorted and punched her sister. “There could be some cool stuff here,” she said, hoping she was right. “And you’re the fiction writer. Something here could inspire the Next Great American Novel.”
They both giggled. Jo pulled the door closed behind her. Without the light from the street, the shop seemed even darker. The two slowly walked through the store. A shelf full of old books caught Jo’s eye and she drifted over toward it as she went. Rachel started to follow her, but spotted an old cash register sitting on the counter. She wondered whether or not their aunt had been using it to ring up customers and decided to investigate it. The counter was high enough that Rachel had to stand up on her toes to lean over to look behind it. It looked like the cash register was still in use. There was also a yellowed ledger. Rachel picked it up and skimmed over the most recent transactions.
Jo was almost to the bookshelf when she spotted a door labeled Private. She took one last glance at the books and headed over. In spite of the fact she technically owned the shop, she felt just a little rebellious opening the door. She paused, confused, when she realized there was no knob. Instead, there was just a simple keyhole, framed by a slightly decorative piece of metal, carved into the door.
“Hey, Rach,” she called. “You see any keys behind that counter?” Jo poked at the keyhole. “Any hugekeys,” she added. Based on the hole, the key that went to the door must have been enormous. She gave the door a push, just in case it was unlocked, but it didn’t budge. She poked her finger into the keyhole and pulled, just in case, before giving up and turning her attention to one of the nearby shelves. It was full of wicker baskets, which were almost overflowing with odds and ends. There was a basket of coins, one filled with little glass animals, and one of keys. Jo pulled off her mittens and stuffed them into her coat pocket, before leaning over the basket. She stirred the keys around with one hand. “Never mind, I just found an overabundance of them,” she muttered.
Out of the corner of her eye she saw Rachel had joined her and was examining the door.
“I already tried,” Jo said, as Rachel started to push on the door. “It’s loc-“
The door easily swung partway open, revealing a dark room beyond. Rachel raised an amused eyebrow at Jo.
“You mean unlocked?” she snickered.
“Well, I loosened it for you.”
 The door was old and worn. Rachel ran a hand over the smooth wood and traced around one of the large iron hinges.
“I think these are handmade,” she murmured. The door was very, very old. Probably as old as the building. Rachel took a step back and frowned at it. It looked more like a door to the outside, than an interior door. She leaned back and looked at the wall, wondering if the shop had been added on at some point.
“Are you going to go in or keep fondling the door?” Jo asked.
For an answer, Rachel pushed the door further open and led the way in. Jo followed.
“Jeez. I think we found the Room of Requirement.”
“No kidding,” Rachel chuckled.
The room dwarfed the first room and it was absolutely packed full of antiques. Everything was covered by a thick layer of dust. There was so much stuff crammed into the room that neither girl could see the walls. The only space to walk was a narrow aisle between stacks of junk. Even smaller paths broke off and wove through the antiques and out of sight.
Rachel’s laugh turned into a sneeze. “It looks like she died years ago, not days. I don’t think anyone has been here in ages.”
“Not entirely true.”
Jo pointed to the floor. A path, mostly clear of dust, wound away from the door and deeper into the room. Several sets of footprints split off from it and led in different directions. Someone walked around in here, but not often. She spotted a bunch of paw prints too; probably from a cat or small dog.
“Storage?” she asked.
“Must be.”
Rachel looked around for a light switch. The dim light from the main room wasn’t nearly enough. Nowshe was excited. Even though she and her sisters were planning to just sort everything and clean the shop, Rachel was hoping she’d find something cool to keep. The massive storage room had exponentially increased her chances of finding something neat.
Something moved. Rachel gasped and moved closer to her sister. She squinted into the darkness, heart pounding.
“When do you think Angie will-”
“Shh!” Rachel clamped a hand over Jo’s mouth. “Someone’s here!”
“What?”
“Over there!” Rachel pointed and pulled her sister closer to the door.
Jo freed her arm from Rachel’s grasp. “Are you kidding? You better not be trying to scare me.”
“I’m serious!” Rachel’s eyes frantically scanned the area where she had seen movement. “Hello? Is somebody there?” she called.
“Should we call the police?”
A low, menacing voice filled the air, “What are you doing here?”
The girls stared in horror as a figure stepped out from behind a bookshelf. He was tall and hooded, and his face was hidden by shadows. He took a step toward them and raised a sword.
“How did you find this place?” he demanded. “Who sent you?”

Under a Vampire Moon by Lynsay Sands

Amidst all of my crazy wedding planning, I finally found the time to curl up with my ARC of the latest Argeneau novel and write up a review of it!  Please excuse the odd formatting, I (because I’m lazy) cross-post to another site that is a lot stricter on review format. 

Under a Vampire Moon

Just in time for the warm weather, Lynsay Sands brings us the next long-awaited Argeneau novel set in sunny St. Lucia.  It’s just about the worst place for a bunch of vampires, but Sands is more than talented enough to get the Argeneau-Notte clan there.  The only problem with Under Vampire Moon is that it’s too short!  Readers will have a hard time setting it down and will be left wishing for more.  Once again, Sands has crafted a fantastic tale. It’s tasteful and steamy, with just the right mix of laughs and drama thrown in!  There’s significantly less violence than readers familiar with the series may expect, but this book is just as compelling as it’s predecessors!

Marguerite and Julius are on their long-overdue honeymoon in St. Lucia.  It’s the ultimate honeymooner spot, even if you’re soaking up the night life instead of the sun.  But Marguerite’s mind is always on her children.  When she meets Carolyn, Marguerite knows that she’s found a life-mate for her son Christian.  Lucky for Marguerite, the resort is in need of a new band and Christian and his cousins happen be members of a talented one.  And after a few hundred years, they should be!  Marguerite sends for them right away. 

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Carolyn is a middle-aged woman going through a divorce.  Her marriage, to put it lightly, wasn’t a good one. She’s an emotional wreck and can’t believe her friends thought that a trip to honeymoon central would be a good way to cheer her up.  Then she meets Christian.  He’s handsome, he’s kind, he’s everything a woman could want and he makes her feel great.  Too bad he’s half her age.  And gay. 

Christian knows that his mother has found his life-mate the moment she invites him to crash her honeymoon.  She’s found life-mates for his other siblings and his turn is long overdue.  He can’t wait to finally meet her.  A life-mate is the one person that a vampire is meant to be with. Christian won’t be able to read her mind and will love her, eternally, body and soul.  But it isn’t long before he realizes that Carolyn has been too hurt before to open up to another man.  If she develops feelings for him, she’ll scare herself away.  Christian is at a loss for what to do.  When his cousin tells Carolyn that Christian is gay and needs her to pretend to be his girlfriend, he’s furious.  That is, until he realizes it’s the only way to get close to Carolyn.

Out of the Closet and into the Sun

Now, Christian has his hands full trying to convince the love of his life that he’s a gay man pretending to be straight, and all the while pretending to be human! Meanwhile, Carolyn is struggling with the feelings she’s developing for him.  And the spicy dreams she keeps having aren’t helping!  Throw in a tour boat captain with his eye on Carolyn and some close calls with low blood sugar and you’ve got quite the story!

Even if Christian can get Carolyn to fall for him, will she stay with him after finding out he’s straight and, more importantly, after finding out that he’s a vampire? Or will Carolyn’s broken heart and shattered self-confidence drive her away from her life-mate?

Another Must-Read for Vampire Romance Fans

If you love vampire romance, you’ll love Under a Vampire Moon!  As always, Sands is able to bring brand new readers up to speed, without any boring repetition for old fans. While this book still had its good twists, it lacked some of the usual foreshadowing and a couple surprises seemed a bit too sudden and hard to accept. Nevertheless, it still had all of the fun, the romance, and the compelling story of the other Argeneau novels.

Due out on April 24, 2012 and published by Avon, Under a Vampire Moon, ISBN-10: 0061894648, should be on every paranormal romance fans to-read list!

An Interview with Kerrelyn Sparks

Kerrelyn Sparks, the author of the popular paranormal romance series, Love at Stake, shared a few minutes of her time to answer some of my questions back in April.  I posted it on a site where I freelance, but I’m not sure how many people who are actually interested in paranormal romance have gotten a chance to read it!  It doesn’t seem to get much traffic (in fact it’s been viewed less than 100 times in six months!) so I thought I’d post it here.

If you haven’t read any of her books, be sure to!  I was lucky enough to get an ARC of her newest novel, Sexiest Vampire Alive, and it’s awesome!  I’ll probably put a review of that up here soon as well.

Enjoy!

Elizabeth: Your first paranormal romance book came out in 2005. What inspired you to write paranormal romance?

Kerrelyn: I actually grew up reading a lot of historical romance, so once I started writing, that was the subgenre I tried first. In 2002, my first book, a historical romance, was released (For Love or Country). Soon after that, paranormal romances became popular, and I was instantly intrigued. I realized that my favorite historicals had always contained strong paranormal elements (like Green Darkness by Anya Seton, the Merlin series by Mary Stewart, or Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux). Paranormal romance would allow my imagination to run wild, so I thought it would be great fun to write. And I was right–it is fun! My first paranormal romance, How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire, released in 2005, and it’s been a thrill ride ever since!

Q: You’ve got quite a few books under your belt. Vampire Mine is coming out soon and Sexiest Vampire Alive will be out in September. Not only that, but you consistently make the USA Today bestseller list. How does it feel to be a successful author?

It’s a dream come true. I wake up in the morning and think, ‘How did I get so lucky?’ And when I get e-mails and letters from readers who say I made them smile even when they’re currently enduring pain or hardship, then I feel truly blessed and grateful. I try to remember that warm and fuzzy feeling when deadlines are coming too fast, the words are coming too slow, and I’m asking myself, ‘Whatever possessed you to think you could write a book?’

Q: Was writing something you always wanted to do?

Yes, but as you can see above, I have a problem with self-doubt. Even though I had the desire to write a book, I didn’t believe I could do it. Fear caused me to procrastinate for years. Even now, I have moments in each book where I fear I can’t pull it off. Fortunately, there’s a horrendous thing even scarier than self-doubt. It’s called a deadline, and it forces me to push through and keep going. And when the words do flow and the book seems to magically come together, it’s the greatest feeling ever!

Q: I frequently see authors tell aspiring authors to read, read, read! What books have influenced you most?

I agree with that. I never took a writing class. My classroom was my mind soaking up thousands of books over the course of my life. All that reading helps you develop good instincts. Every reader knows when a book is working, when it keeps them so intrigued they don’t realize five hours have gone by. My early favorite authors were Anya Seton and Mary Stewart. Then later, I fell for Kathleen Woodiwiss, Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick), Julie Garwood, LaVyrle Spencer, and Jude Deveraux. Their books influenced me the most.

Q; Where and when do you get most of your writing done?

Wherever and whenever I can. I’ve had to write in cars, planes, hotel rooms, waiting rooms, and gymnasiums. This is probably true for most writers. In an ideal world, I would always write at home in my office, everyone would leave me alone for hours, and dinner would magically appear.

Q: Now that we’ve got e-books and e-readers, it seems like the book world is changing. Have these changes impacted you or your writing style at all?

The writing is the same, but the business side of being an author is changing. It’s an exciting time! I’m watching it closely, but for the time being, I’m delighted to stay traditionally published with HarperCollins.

Q: I often see authors being asked for advice for new writers, so I’m going to turn that around. What do you consider the best advice you were given when you were starting out?

To act like I already was what I wanted to be. In other words, since I wanted to be published, I dressed and behaved like a professional writer from the beginning.

Q: Which of your books are you most proud of?

The one that just released, Vampire Mine!

Q: My last question, I’ll admit, is mainly for my own curiosity. I love that some of your vampires are Scottish, complete with accents and kilts! What inspired their heritage?

My Scottish ancestors arrived in America in the late 1600s, so you wouldn’t think I could have a strong tie to Scotland. But whenever I’m in Scotland, it feels like I’ve come home. The good Vamps in my books are usually warriors who were transformed as they lay dying on battlefields, and unfortunately, history is full of brave Scotsmen dying in battle. I also wanted my vampire heroes to have a strong sense of honor and a good sense of humor, and the Scotsmen seemed perfect for that. And the kilt—who can resist a guy in a kilt? Writing the accent comes naturally to me, but I have to admit I talk like a Texan!

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