Release Day: Snowbound With The Pack

Snowbound WIth The Pack CoverIt’s release day for SNOWBOUND WITH THE PACK!

She’s a hero, haunted by her past.

Novie helped save the Alpha’s family from the Big Sky Pack’s enemies, but the cost tore her soul. Now, she’s haunted by the memories of her friends’ deaths. To hide the fact she’s losing her mind, she moves to the outskirts of the Pack’s territory, with only her music and ghosts for company.

Kyle is the Pack’s newest lieutenant, and it’s his job to check on remote wolf families. Intrigued by Novie, he tries to learn her secrets, but she keeps them under ice.

When Novie and Kyle are trapped together in a blizzard, her nightmares turn to reality.

Can she trust again, or is her heart frozen as the depth of a Montana winter?

Amazon | Goodreads

I’m doing a blog tour this week. There is a complete list of places I’ll visit if you want to read more! I’m also doing a giveaway of a $25 gift card to celebrate the release.

New Release: Heir To The Pack

I’m delighted to tell you about my new release, Heir To The Pack.

Heir To The Pack cover

Three years ago, Annie had a three-day fling in Cancun with a handsome stranger, Dash. Two years ago, she gave birth to his son. Now, Annie’s son is fading away with a mysterious illness, and she must seek help from his father, who doesn’t know he exists. But Dash has news for her: first, he’s a werewolf; second, he’s about to be crowned their king; and third, their son has been touched by an ancient curse.

This book was so much fun to write. It has werewolves, a secret baby, hot chemistry, and a mystery to solve.

 

The official release date is Tuesday September 29, 2015.

In the meantime, you can order it from Amazon or read the reviews on Goodreads.

What were Remote Viewers?

Talent To Burn features a cameo from a retired Remote Viewer. The mother of Cat (the heroine) was one too. So what are Remote Viewers?

Remote Viewing, sometimes called telesthesia, is the use of psychic abilities to view a location at a distance. It’s distinct from seeing the future, as remote viewing is supposed to show you what’s happening at a remote location right now.

As you can probably imagine, this particular ability would be incredibly useful for espionage, and in wartime. Various governments have funded research into remote viewing, especially during the Cold War. The term Remote Viewing was actually coined by parapsychologists at the Stanford Research Institute (a spinoff of Stanford University) in Menlo Park in the 1970s. They did a number of studies, and the more scientific of my readers will probably be surprised to discover some of these studies appeared in illustrious journals such as Nature and the Proceeedings of the IEEE.

Miller, the remote viewer in Talent To Burn, is supposed to have worked for the CIA. They sponsored much of this research, as did the US Air Force.

The big secret project into remote viewing was called Project Stargate, and was declassified in the 1990s. Reading about Stargate was one of the things that inspired me to write Talent To Burn in the first place.

Unfortunately, the project never achieved any real results, and the CIA terminated it after spending twenty million dollars. It was reported by Time magazine that even in 1995, Fort Meade in Maryland—on my doorstep—still had three psychics on staff trying to gather intelligence.

When sitting down to write Talent To Burn, I thought, what if those programs, instead of shutting down, were privatized, like many other defense programs? In the post-9/11 era, psychic intelligence would be even more valuable than in the Cold War. Hunting down terrorists hiding in caves must be hard to do via satellite photography, but imagine if you could just send someone’s mind there. Imagine further than you could attack those installations from a distance without ever needing to put a soldier at risk…that’s a pretty compelling military program right there. That’s the idea that spawned the Grey Institute, full of paramilitary and ex-military researchers, all single mindedly searching for Talents who could protect the USA from her enemies, no matter the cost.

If you’d like to learn more—or be further entertained by—the ideas behind the Stargate Project, you can watch the movie The Men Who Stare At Goats, or read Joseph Moneagle’s The Stargate Chronicles: Memoirs of a Psychic Spy: The Remarkable Life of U.S. Government Remote Viewer 001, a first hand account of what it was like to work as a Remote Viewer.

Welcome guest author JC Nelson!

Today I’m hosting the talented JC Nelson, to celebrate the release of the first book in his Grimm Agency series. This is such a cool idea for a series!

When it comes to crafting happily-ever-afters, the Agency is the best in the land of Kingdom. The Fairy Godfather Grimm can solve any problem—from eliminating imps to finding prince charming—as long as you can pay the price…

FACover

Working for Grimm isn’t Marissa Locks’s dream job. But when your parents trade you to a Fairy Godfather for a miracle, you don’t have many career options. To pay off her parents’ debt and earn her freedom, Marissa must do whatever Grimm asks, no matter what fairy-tale fiasco she’s called on to deal with.

Setting up a second-rate princess with a first-class prince is just another day at the office. But when the matchmaking goes wrong, Marissa and Grimm find themselves in a bigger magical muddle than ever before. Not only has the prince gone missing, but the Fae are gearing up to attack Kingdom, and a new Fairy Godmother is sniffing around Grimm’s turf, threatening Marissa with the one thing she can’t resist: her heart’s wishes.

Now Marissa will have to take on Fairies, Fae, dragons, and princesses to save the realm—or give up any hope of ever getting her happy ending…

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

A Texas transplant to the Pacific Northwest, JC Nelson lives with a family and a flock of chickens near rainy Seattle. You can find him at the following places on the internet.

JC is giving away a signed print copy and four electronic copies of Free Agent – enter below to win.
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Finally, JC was kind enough to share an excerpt with us. Read on for the beginning of Free Agent!


The New Year’s Eve countdown told me I had five minutes until the ball drop. That gave me six minutes until somebody got killed. I spotted the shoplifter in line at the theater and worked my way across the street, through the teeming crowd. She had no idea what she was wearing, which made her both stupid and dangerous. Stupid was dangerous enough by itself.

“Marissa, I might remind you of the time,” said a man’s voice. It came right out of the store window beside me, the dry voice with its not-quite-English accent. He watched me with critical eyes.

“I got it, Grimm.” I walked along the theater line, head down.

His image followed me, reflecting from the windows and even the brass banister knobs that held the velvet rope. “I’ll believe that when you actually do.”

Call it women’s intuition, or maybe the slippers she wore tipped her off, but the shoplifter turned and looked right at me. Our eyes met, and she knew why I was there, if not who I was. As the crowd surged forward, she ducked into the theater, disappearing into the throng.

“God Damsel-it.” I spat out the faint taste of soap. “Doesn’t count, not a real curse.”

“Watch your language, young lady. Only proper women live happily ever after. Now, go get those slippers back.” Grimm appeared in the ticket window, beckoning me on.

If I had enough Glitter to buy a happily ever after, I wouldn’t have spent all day chasing a thief. There were easier ways to make a living, and definitely safer ways.

I breathed in the warm lobby air, laced with enough butter, fat, and salt to make me gain a couple of pounds just from walking through.

The ticket man watched me as I approached, jiggling my leg. “I’ve got to go. Could you save my spot in line?”

He rolled his eyes, the apex of teenage angst, and motioned me past. I’d been to my fair share of balls and knew where I’d go if I had a pair of shoes that were killing my feet. I headed straight to the bathroom. Nobody in the prep area, but I listened. There, soft sobbing, and the click of high heels on ceramic.

“The slippers won’t come off like that.” I hoped I wasn’t talking to a Grandma, but the sobbing cut off.
Grimm coalesced into the mirrored wall, his white hair framing the bald spot on his head. He looked at me over horn-rimmed glasses that masked eyebrows like a yeti’s. “Marissa, two minutes.”

If I’d had something handy, I’d have thrown it at the mirror. In the name of not having a magical disaster, I decided to commit the cardinal sin of the ladies room. I tried the stall door. As my hand touched it, the door burst open, hitting me in the face. Pain made the world flash white. I put my hand to my nose and felt the blood as she dashed out of the restroom. Grimm told me the shoes were enchanted, but the fact that she could run in three-inch heels meant serious magic. Now I knew I had the right girl. In the lobby, the fire alarms wailed as I came out of the bathroom, and I caught a glimpse of her running out. I charged after her, through the fire exit and into the alley.

I wasn’t afraid of your average dark alley. I had standard Agency-issue spells in my coat and a nine millimeter in my purse for dealing with the less dangerous pests, but even I knew you have to be careful with an upset woman.

She pulled at her feet and limped down the alley. “I’m not giving them back.”

No way was she going to outrun me. Tennis shoes might not be the height of fashion, but I wore them for their practicality. I slipped a bag out of my pocket. “This will let me take them off. You can’t remove them because you stole them.”

She stumbled, then slumped against the wall, her feet out in front of her. Passing taillights made the glass slippers glisten, moving and shifting, like something alive. That made sense, since Grimm said they were. The glass filled with red, like she’d cut her toe. The bloodstain spread up the sides of the glass and she began to gurgle and cry.

I pulled out my pocket compact. “Grimm, I might have a problem.”

“Tell me you have them.”

“Just about.”

“Get out of there, Marissa. She’s not going to turn into a pumpkin.” His voice was firm and commanding. I’d never been the type to listen to firm or commanding. See, there was this thing about magic slippers. Use them with permission, and at midnight the whole deal expired. Steal them from a custom boutique on Fifth, and at midnight turning into a vegetable was the least of your worries.

She curled into a ball, kicking, growling, and making noises I’d never heard outside of the labor and delivery room. Running through the theater was out; heading back in there would introduce a whole load of teens to a different kind of monster than the movie ones. The loading bays down at the end of the alley didn’t look too promising, and now Princess PMS rose to her feet. The bloodred stains covered her from head to toe. Shadows covered her face, but where the orange wash of the street lights hit her she looked maroon.

“You want to let me help you?” I asked. The growling noise she made ruled out diplomacy. “Okay, we do it my way.”

She leaped at me. I’d mastered seven different forms of self-defense and I wore all four of the major protection charms, but one thing was constant: Whether my assailant was a drug addict or a bridge troll, pepper spray would leave them blind. So I ducked out of the way and gave her a dash of the scent I was sampling that day. It hit her like a brick, leaving her clawing at her eyes. I realized as she stumbled past that her nails were now at least three inches long and razor sharp.

She started sniffing the air, then like a dog, she ran straight into me, knocking me back to the Dumpster. Dumpsters hurt. I caught her arm before she could give me surprise plastic surgery and slammed her into the ground, pinning her underneath me.

That should have ended it, but she rolled over, throwing me to the side, and I barely stepped out of the way of those nails. She kicked at me and I caught her foot.

“Gotcha,” I said, rubbing the shoes with the bag. Grimm said the bag was made of genuine werewolf fur, but whatever it was, the effect was immediate. She thrashed and choked and kicked and I held on tight until she went limp. The slippers came off in my hand without a fight.

They glimmered under the streetlight, and for a moment I saw an image form in them: Me, walking down the street in them. No Agency bracelet on my wrist, a bag from shopping in my hand. I could be free, if only I put them on.

“Marissa,” said Grimm, speaking from the reflection in the shoes, “put them in the bag.”

I did, and the fantasy blew away like dry leaves down the sidewalk. My back hurt where I’d hit the Dumpster. My arm throbbed where she’d grabbed me, and my cheek had that hot feeling that said somewhere in her thrashing, she’d managed to nail me with a foot.

“I’m going home,” I said to my compact mirror. “What do you want me to do with her?”

“Leave her for the police. They’ll be there shortly. Evangeline needs your assistance on the Upper East Side, and there’s the matter of a troll.”

“I’m going home.” I knew full well he’d heard me the first time.

“I’ve got work for you, Marissa, and if you are ever to get your own ever after—”

“The only after I’m interested in right now is after a bottle of wine and after a long night’s sleep. I’ll see you when I’m ready for work.”

“Marissa, you need to ask yourself what you want more: A night’s sleep, or another job.”

I wiped a trace of blood off my lip, took a look at my bruises in the compact. Everything about me ached and the cold seeped out of the shadows into my bones. I put my hand on the bracelet and made my decision. “Tell Evangeline I’m on my way.” Nights like this made me wish I’d never gotten started in this business.

Blog tour roundup – and a giveaway!

A number of awesome book bloggers and fellow authors were kind enough to host me on their blogs this week to celebrate the release of Talent To Burn. Here’s a roundup of where you can find posts about the book:

Thanks to each of these wonderful bloggers for having me as their guest!

Also, a reminder that I am giving away a copy of Talent To Burn! The contest closes Tuesday June 10, so now is a great time to enter.

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What is Ragnarok, anyway? (And should I be worried?)

Various media sources are reporting that today, February 22, 2014, is supposed to be the date of Ragnarok, “the Viking end of the world”.

Ragnarok is actually a series of events, foretold in Norse mythology. Sometimes it’s referred to as “the death of all gods”, or “the twilight of the gods”, “the end of the age”, or more prosaically, “when the sons of Muspell move into battle”. So what is supposed to happen?

There are various versions of Norse mythology. The two main ones you will find references are the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda. They have different authors, and one is in verse, and the other prose.  They have some differences, but there are some significant commonalities, so let me lay out for you what the end of the world might involve, in Norse terms.

First, there will be a terrible winter, the Fimbulwinter. Some say this is so bad it will go for three years, with no summer in between. (If my personal experiences this winter are anything to go by, then, yep, Ragnarok is right on track.) Many great battles will occur during this winter, brothers will kill brothers, and so on.

Roosters crow, horns are blown, and the original hellhound Garmr will break free of Hel. Then there are earthquakes – although the reason for these is attributed to either Yggdrasil, the world tree writhing, or Jormungandr the world serpent, causing trouble.  The earthquakes loose the bonds of Fenrir the wolf, who eats the sun. Surtr the jotunn (giant) advances.

Somewhere in here the sons of Muspell, who are fire giants, come forth from Muspelheim, and start to do bad things.

The gods fight the troublemakers. It’s a montage of Norse gods meeting bad ends: Odin gets eaten by Fenrir. Thor kills Jormungandr then collapses, killed by the serpent’s poison. Freyr is killed by Surtr. Loki fights the Aesir Heimdallr and they kill each other.

People flee, the sky turns black, the earth is covered by water, the stars vanish.

Will everybody die? Here’s the good news: nope. Some clever humans go hide in a forest, and survive to repopulate the world. The sun had a daughter before she got eaten by Fenrir, and the world will be renewed and fertile in the light of the new sun.

So, will the world end this weekend? Probably not. The reason you keep reading about Ragnarok is that the organizers of the Jorvik Viking Festival in the UK have decided it is likely to coincide with their festival. In other words, it’s a PR stunt. I suspect the Jorvik Viking Festival is a lot of fun though, so if you happen to be in the area, go for it. (They have published a list of tips for surviving Ragnarok, which may also come in handy…just in case.)

As for me, I’ll go back to working on the book I am very close to finishing. It features a fallen Norse god who runs a paranormal detective agency in San Francisco, a hippie heiress who’s inherited a haunted mansion in Silicon Valley…and some children of Loki who are up to very bad things. Could bringing about Ragnarok be on their to-do list? Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Medieval Peasants R US

I live on a small horse farm. We have a hundred year old Amish built barn, which is put together with wooden pegs instead of nails. The house has walls that are more than a foot thick. There is a general sense of the quaint and rustic, which will come in handy if I ever choose to write a swords-and-horses fantasy.

This winter it’s become a little too realistic.

With the polar vortex in January, all our barn and field pipes froze, and we commenced carting water to our animals by hand twice a day. We made jokes about Medieval Peasant Industries, Inc. These were funny for the first week. Last week, we got more than two feet of snow…and the house pipes went out, too. We have extended our peasantry to carting water to our house, and boiling it on the stove when I want to wash my hair or do the dishes.

The other thing I learned this winter is that while our chickens are cute and friendly and I love their eggs, they are slightly less intelligent than a bag of blunted hammers. They free-range on the farm, but when it snows, they can’t find their way back to the coop. Looks different, I guess.

On the day of our first snow, the chickens got lost. I went to the coop at dusk and it was empty. A long search turned them up at the very top of the hill, roosting on a fence. Here commenced another form of rural exercise, which I call ChickenFit: catch a chicken, carry it down an icy snow-covered mountain to the coop, stuff it in, climb back to the top of the mountain. Perform sixteen  repetitions, or stop when you collapse of exhaustion. I wonder if I could charge people to participate in our organic all-natural exercise regime. We could make a fortune!

I have now decided any swords-and-horses fantasy novels I write will have to include magical never-fail plumbing. And chickens with homing navigation.

Baltimore Book Festival

This weekend I’ll once again be at the Maryland Romance Writers Stage at the Baltimore Book Festival! If you’re in the area and feel inclined to come by, I’d be delighted to see you.

2013 BBFfinalArtOn Saturday at 5pm my agent Lyndsay Hemphill is taking part in a panel called No Holds Barred with Agents and Editors. You can bring the first page of your manuscript and Lyndsay and the other panelists will offer feedback on it!

On Sunday at 1pm I am on a panel called The Part Time Writer, where we’ll discuss the challenges of writing around a full time job or family.

The Book Festival is free and great fun – take a look at the full schedule for the Maryland Romance Writers stage. We hope you’ll join us!

Welcome to the blog!

I finally set up this blog, which will be devoted to my writing pursuits. I plan on blogging about the following topics:

  • This writing life: what I’m working on, news, and craft tips.
  • Research: what I learn in the course of researching my books. Right now this is a combination of Norse mythology and how private detectives work.
  • Creature feature: I like reading up on different monsters and myths, because it gives me ideas. I’ll share what I learn.
  • Books I love: I’ll review or otherwise feature books I love from favorite authors, friends, critique partners, and chapter mates (there’s a lot of overlap in that list!).
  • Random: I’m pretty sure other topics will sneak in from time to time.

Thanks for joining me – take time to look around!