New Release · Release Blitz

Big Chicas Don’t Cry by Annette Chavez Macias – New Release

 

Big Chicas Don’t Cry by Annette Chavez Macias is now available!

~Synopsis~

Four cousins navigate love, loss, and the meaning of family over the course of one memorable year in this heartfelt family drama.

Cousins Mari, Erica, Selena, and Gracie are inseparable. They aren’t just family but best friends—sharing secrets, traditions, and a fierce love for their abuelita. But their idyllic childhood ends when Mari’s parents divorce, forcing her to move away. With Mari gone, the girls’ tight-knit bond unravels.

Fifteen years later, Mari’s got the big house and handsome husband, but her life is in shambles. Erica’s boyfriend just dumped her, and her new boss hates her. Selena can’t seem to find her place in the world—not Mexican enough for her family, not white enough for her colleagues. And Gracie is a Catholic school teacher with an all-consuming crush, but she can’t trust herself when it comes to romance.

As rocky as the cousins’ lives have become, nothing can prepare them for the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. When tragedy reunites them, will they remember their abuelita’s lessons about family and forgiveness—or are fifteen years of separation too much to overcome?


Author Spotlight · Coming Soon · Interview with an Author · New Release · Pre-Order

Interview with an Author featuring Angelina J. Steffort

The Literary Vixen presents…

Welcoming back, Angelina J. Steffort! Her upcoming release, The Quarter Mage is set to release August 31st 2022.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Honestly, I rarely run into writer’s block. Usually my characters are quite chatty throughout the writing process. My life is determined by family life, so I have natural breaks during writing that allow me to come up with the next plot point or the next book idea. I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by a team of wonderful creatives to bounce ideas off if needed. That helps in some of the cases when I reach a fork in the road and need to decide which way to go with a story.

What inspired you to write The Quarter Mage?

The idea for The Quarter Mage has been brewing for over 3 years. I commissioned the covers for the entire series in 2020, the map in 2021, and have been anxiously waiting to fill the world with life.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?

I sincerely believe that there is no one right answer to this question. While craft is important, craft is nothing without the ability to create intriguing worlds and settings. Adorable characters are nothing without proper plot and clean prose. From a writing perspective, I can only say what I find most enjoyable, and that highly depends on the day and the mood. Sometimes I will obsess about grammar and sentence structures, on other days I will question every plot point and story line, and there will be days where I simply hang out with my characters and let them chat. So what is important depends on the phase in the process of creating a book. 

From a reader’s perspective, the characters are what hooks me first.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

In my books, usually the book title, then a premise. Once I have those, the characters spring to life on their own.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

In a lot of cases, I don’t have the characters ready when I write the first sentence. They simply awaken word by word. The same is true for the plot. As a pantser I write into the dark and follow where the characters lead. The Quarter Mage was the first book I had thoroughly plotted before starting. But it pantsed me from the first line—and the outcome is so much better than the intended version. I guess, I learned my lesson.

How do you come up with the titles to your books?

The book titles are usually what comes first, long before I ever think up a character or a potential plot. Usually, they just pop up in my head while I’m trying to focus on finishing a book. I have a list of over forty titles that are waiting to be written.

Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?

Over the past six years I’ve written twenty-three books in five different series, and I still can’t tell you what terrifies me more, a first in a series, the sequels, or finishing up the last in a series. Each has its perks and its daunting properties. The Quarter Mage as a first in a series was difficult for me, since it pantsed me from line one. Now I’m dreading what The Hour Mage and the other two in the series have in store for me.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

There’s so much I’m learning on a daily basis. What surprised me was that this is something I can see myself doing when I’m 92.

Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.

The best heroes or heroines are unexpected ones.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?

Know your genre and what readers love. Don’t worry about a perfect first draft. You can do revisions later, and that’s why authors work with experienced editors. If you want to write a book—really write one and not just dream about it—sit down and write. It’s not going to write itself.

 

Thank you Angelina J. Steffort for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her upcoming release, The Quarter Mage today!

~Synopsis~

Perfect for fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas and The Cruel Prince by Holly Black.

WHEN DESTINY FAILS YOU, WHO WILL YOU BECOME?

A forgotten princess. A cruel realm. A Mage who might be her salvation.

Sanja is a princess on the run. And when she flees her father’s court to escape an arranged marriage to a tyrant, the one thing she doesn’t expect, is to be killed for her throne.

But magic that shouldn’t exist in her kingdom saves her, and Sanja is thrust into the daunting fairylands where, as a human, she’s prey…

Fighting to survive, Sanja signs herself into the service of the most powerful Mages in the fairylands, determined to master the magic to save her kingdom—and finds herself stuck with a brooding Mage with a knack for keeping secrets.

As Sanja’s feelings for Tristan turn from dread to attraction, she learns that she isn’t the only thing the fairies are after. And Sanja must risk her life and her heart, or she will lose both him and her kingdom forever.

Dive into Angelina J. Steffort’s latest heart-wrenching upper YA fantasy romance and find out what makes the world of The Quarter Mage so special.

“Chocolate fanatic, milk-foam enthusiast and huge friend of the southern sting-ray. Writing is an unexpected career-path for me.”

Angelina J. Steffort is an Austrian novelist, best known for her Wings series, a young adult paranormal romance series about the impossible love between a girl and an angel. The bestselling Wings series has been ranked among calibers such as the Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer, The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare, and Lauren Kate’s Fallen, and has been top listed among angel books for teens by bloggers and readers. Her young adult epic fantasy series Shattered Kingdom is already being compared to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series by readers and fans. Angelina has multiple educational backgrounds including engineering, business, music, and acting, and lives in Vienna, Austria with her husband and her son.

Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author featuring Evelyn Shine

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Evelyn Shine! Her newest release, Dancing with the Moon: Vargree Shifters Book One released on March 23rd 2022.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m an author of fantasy romance writing under the pen name Evelyn Shine and I work as a private chef. When I’m not writing or cooking, I keep company with my three crazy Australian cattle dogs and my indulgent husband.

How long have you been writing?

I started writing in fall 2019 after three months of insomnia. It began with fanfic to entertain my brain, then moved on to original works in winter 2020. A year later I had a dozen 80k word first drafts written, and at the urging of my bestie, I picked a few to polish up for publication. The other drafts are waiting patiently for rewrites.

Do you have a writing quirk or ritual?

My brain never stops. The plotlines to at least six new books are always percolating away. My ideas kick me awake around 4am every day. I make my cup of tea and curl up on the couch with my laptop to write for a few hours–or all day–depending on my schedule. On nice days, I sit outside in my hammock with my dogs to write. I’m very focused, but my thoughts are so loud when I’m working that I need absolute silence to write.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

Everywhere really. I’ve lived a really full life, so some of it is from experience. A great cover or a piece of art will spin an entire story in my head. An old Rumi poem I saw on Tumblr inspired Dancing With the Moon. The entire story downloaded into my brain and I started writing. That poem is at the beginning of the book.

Do you have a favorite character that you have written? If so, who? And what makes them so special?

I’m attached to all my characters so it’s hard to pick just one. I love really strong but flawed FMCs. Kiara is the star of Dancing with the Moon and was so fun to write. She struggles with her addiction to the venom in a vampire’s bite but still tries to hold her life together and be independent. I’m a big fan of the heroine rescuing herself, so women fighting to come out on top will always have a place in my heart.

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

I love the highs and lows of writing a new story. It unfolds like a movie in my head and I try to type fast enough to keep up. My housekeeping and other mundane tasks wait until I hit the editing phase because everything else just gets forgotten. My wonderful husband is accustomed to this intensity, and usually makes sure I remember to do things like eat. He claims coffee is not a meal. He’s wrong, but I still love him.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Genre related covers have been my kryptonite and I’ve found the process frustrating. I’ve been reading for decades and have literally never picked a book for its cover. Usually when picking out a book, I’d open it to a random page and start reading. If I liked the writing style, I bought it. I had a rocky start with my first covers, but after swapping them, the series has done better.

When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?

The overall story is already in my head, so each book takes the reader a step closer to the conclusion and reveals a little more of the overall plot. I never actually get “writer’s block” but if I get hung up on something I will go to the beginning of the story and start editing. Usually something will trigger a thought and I can move on again.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with me?

I just finished a “romancing the fairy tale villain” novella for an anthology that was super fun to write. I have a sensual retelling of the goddess Inanna that I’m working on for an anthology next spring.

My current big pet project is an epic fantasy why choose series. I’m 140k words into what will be a 4 or 5 books. The main character Skadi shows up in book 2 and 3 of my Dawnchild Series as the Queen of the Vargree wolf shifters. She appears again as a side character in book 1 and 2 of my Vargree series. She’s this fabulous archetypal badass queen with five mates. How could I not give her the rags to riches origin story she deserves? Currently, I plan to write the complete series then release a book every three months. With all the time it takes for beta reading, editing, and covers, I’m probably looking at a summer 2023 release for book 1.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Lift each other up and be kind. Everyone is made of stories and will tell theirs in their own way and time.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

I still don’t sleep much and I probably drink more coffee than I should. It’s an endless loop.

My worlds are rich and all the characters intertwine, so there are cameos and Easter eggs in every book for stories I have yet to publish. I love leaving little presents that someone can come back later to read and discover.

 

Thank you Evelyn Shine for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release,  Dancing with the Moon today!


~Synopsis~

A singular moment could change centuries of hatred.

I can’t stop thinking about her. Kiara saved my life by giving me her blood. It tasted like every fond memory I’ve ever had. And now, no matter how much I’ve tried to stay away, I’m drawn even closer. As if all I’ve ever needed is her.

But she’s a Vargree. The wolf-shifters and my kind have been at war for centuries and my hands are stained with the blood of her people.

I should let her go. Especially now that she’s found a prospective mate with her pack. But seeing her with him only makes me strive to win her over, to show her that singular moment wasn’t enough for me.

Can my love for her end the wars between our kind?

Dancing with the Moon is an epic fantasy romance about family ties, forbidden love, and the secrets that could shatter them. It’s a spin-off novel from the Dawnchild series, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Evelyn Shine is the author of fantasy romance books for anyone that enjoys steamy myths and fantastical species mixed with their adventure filled love. No matter what stories she’s writing—vampires or shifters—they all share a common thread of love, heart, and action. When she isn’t writing, Evelyn enjoys playing with her three crazy Australian cattle dogs, riding her Vespa through the countryside, or spending time with her indulgent spouse.

Website: www.evelynshine.com
Insta: @evelynshineauthor
TikTok: @evelynshine_author
FB fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/419458819756653
Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author featuring Danielle M. Orsino

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Danielle M. Orsino! Her newest release, Kingdom Come (Birth of the Fae Book 4) release on May 30th 2022.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Danielle M. Orsino, I am a competitive martial artist and Nurse. However, I have left that all behind to write the Birth of the Fae series. I have two rescue pups Carlos which anyone who has read the Birth of the Fae series, may know him as “Los” the dragon.  Penelope my other little dog the readers will meet later in the series as “Lady Penelope” a member of the Aubane Faction.

What inspired you to start writing?

I am not a “Classically trained writer” the entire process was a huge learning experience. Overall writing the book was joyful. It came from an organic place, inspired by a patient who had been undergoing long IV treatments for a chronic illness and needed a distraction. I told him a story, that tale was the spark for the Birth of the Fae series. It was born from those sessions with him.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I go with the flow, I handwrite the books and begin the real editing work when I sit at the computer to type it out that is the first real edit. When I handwrite it is just to get it out of my head, I build the skeleton first, the first edit on the computer places the organs and I go from there.

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

Not sure I really deal with it, I tend to carry it with me this way as I write the next one I hold those feelings and work them out on paper.  I also make a playlist which mimics the emotional crescendo of the book that I listen to over and over as I write. The emotions are always flowing through me so I can call them back up.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

My characters are living inside of me at all times and they have their opinions about EVERYTHING!

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

The Characters, they will pop into my head with a voice and they are ready to go. I am there just to put their voice to paper that is my job, wherever it goes is anyone’s guess- and it makes it the journey a lot more fun. 

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

I do research based upon the character or creature, for example my dragons took months of research and illustration before they were ready to become the creatures ready for the Veil. I consulted with engineers, physics professors and veterinarians. I knew I wanted realistic dragons but I built them from the inside out, physiology and anatomy first, once I had that I did a deeper dive into their society, religion and built their world. However, first the dragons had to be real to me.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

“Queen of the Damned” by Anne Rice- first edition paperback one of my absolute favorites and “Wonder Woman- The Hiketia” by Greg Rucka.

Do you have any new series planned?

I am finishing up book 6 of Birth of the Fae which will be the last book in this Volume, we will then move onto Volume two which begins a new chapter for the Fae- Birth of a Succubus, Volume two.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Find a great editor, and write for yourself, write the books you want to read, it will come from an authentic place.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

My books are just that- books, a form of escapism. I am honored every time someone reaches out and says they picked up my book. I think the art of storytelling is the oldest form of entertainment and I love that I get to be a part of that tradition. My books are high fantasy twisted with some dark humor, political intrigue and great fight scenes. They also aren’t long books. I did that on purpose, I don’t think reading should be chore. Sometime fantasy can be overwhelming with all the worldbuilding, magical systems and stuff, readers can run from it. Yes, there is worldbuilding, especially in book one but mine are not 400-page books they are gateway books into the fantasy genre if you haven’t read fantasy before. If you like it then you can read my books back-to-back for that binge feel. I also put two books out a year. So, no waiting years for my endings (George we are all looking at you… )

Thank you Danielle M. Orsino for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Kingdom Come today!

~Synopsis~

All is peaceful in the Veil, which is usually when everything falls apart…

Queen Aurora of the Court of Light and King Jarvok of the Court of Dark have fallen in love despite all odds. A relationship of political convenience has turned into something real and tangible for the two monarchs. After centuries of conflict and mistrust, the two Courts are about to unite as one: the Court of the Fae. But not every Fae is happy about the impending union.

Queen Aurora’s most trusted advisors have never lost touch with their old Angelic ways. These bishops still believe that Virtues and Power Angels were never meant to mix. According to them, Queen Aurora is no longer suitable to rule. As they mount a complex coup d’état to grasp the throne, a new threat to the monarchy makes their move.

Will the entire foundation of peace crumble with one last act of betrayal? Or will the bond between Court of Light and Dark prevail in the face of danger?

Danielle M. Orsino is a fantasy novelist whose lifelong vision to create whimsical realms that her readers can escape to. Her compelling word-weaving pays homage to a multitude of personal muses, from Chris Claremont and George Pérez (both famous comic book writers), to Anne Rice and Wonder Woman. 

The creative spark of storytelling has been with Danielle ever since she was a child, but martial arts and her nursing career took center stage into adulthood. Then, on a day like any other, it was reignited during the most unexpected of moments: while treating one of her patients. Seeing that they longed for a distraction during their arduous treatments, the floodgates of inspiration soon burst forth. So, Danielle took it upon herself to tell them a story; a fantastical narrative that would leave the confines of that IV room’s walls and land upon a page. Before she knew it, what started as an imaginative tale to pass the time, turned into book, followed by an entire series: The Birth of Fae. This awe-inspiring series includes Locked out of Heaven (Book One), Thine Eyes of Mercy (Book Two), and From The Ashes (Book Three), all of which are published by 4 Horsemen Publications, Inc. And with an unwavering passion for cosplay and comics, it was a unanimous decision to place her on the cover of each book in all her Fae cosplay glory. The Birth of Fae also features Los, an affable chameleon dragon inspired by her fun-loving Yorkie named Carlos.  

When writing wasn’t at the forefront of her mind, Danielle was a successful Martial Artist. Some of her achievements include “1999 World Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee”, “Female Martial Artist of the Year”, “WKA World Champion Silver Medalist 2008”, and numerous more. She has also garnered hundreds of martial art tournament wins, various other national and world titles, and features on big-name channels like TLC and CBS. She even had the rare opportunity to perform for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and collaborate alongside Vincent Lyn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From there, she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and she is now a Licensed Practical Nurse who focuses on Lyme disease research.

This “New Queen of the Fae’s” unmatched world-building and masterful Fae-origin retellings have led to an ever-growing queendom of “Fae-natics”. 

To begin embarking upon a quest in an epic world unlike any other, visit Danielle M. Orsino’s official website at http://www.BirthOfTheFae.com. You can also connect with her on Instagram (@BirthOfTheFae_Novel) and Twitter (@BirthOfTheFae).

New Release · Review

Wicked Crown (The Wicked Book 1) by Luna Joya – My Review


Title: Wicked Crown (The Wicked Book 1)

Author: Luna Joya

Release Date: July 5th 2022

Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy


She’s not who-or what-she appears to be. Neither is he.

Supermodel Vori would be happy to stay in the human world, blissfully ignoring her true nature. But no. The blood vow she once made requires her to return to the Goblin Court. And since going alone would mean consenting to an arranged marriage, she needs a fake husband. Someone no one would miss if there was an unfortunate…accident. Vori knows the perfect villain for the job.

Witch Perry used to be a hotshot lawyer. But that was before he made all the wrong choices, wound up in league with a demon, and was left to rot in prison. Now, he has a second chance. He can finally earn his redemption. Too bad his last hope is the woman he ghosted two years ago.

It’s not long before Vori and Perry realize they aren’t as different as they thought-and that the line between enemies and lovers can be razor thin. But if they want their happily ever after, they’ll first have to stop a supernatural killer and survive a royal smackdown. Should be easy for a goblin princess and her dashing antihero, right?

If only.

Wicked Crown is a fierce alluring read that will leave you wanting more!

Ever since I was introduced to Vori, I wanted to know more about her. She intrigued me from that first intro and I was thrilled she got her very own book! Can we take a moment to admire that fire cover?

Right away, I was pulled into the book. This story was everything I wanted. Action, intrigue, steam, and most of all, Vori’s story. I was already invested because I’m a huge fan and follower of The Legacy Series. Vori is much more that what she portrays herself to be.

I can’t recommend this book enough! If you love paranormal romance with steam and action, this book is for you. Skip adding this to your TBR and one click it today! I give this 5 stars.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author featuring Kris Calvin

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Kris Calvin! Her latest release, Under a Broken Sky: A Novel release on July 12th 2022.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

When I was little, I didn’t feel safe in my own home. Sadly, I’m far from the only child who has endured those circumstances. But my particular response to having a frightening reality was to also fear what my imagination might hold—I didn’t play make-believe, and I didn’t originally have much interest in “telling stories”. Fortunately, I discovered the local public library, where the librarians and staff were unfailingly kind and the children facing peril in my books had happy endings. 

For my career, I worked in an analytical and unimaginative, but fulfilling policy job advocating for children’s well-being in the state legislature. In the process, I wrote a lot of dry policy memos and letters. It wasn’t until I was in my 50s that I felt “safe” enough to  explore my creative side and write fiction.

What time of the day do you usually write?

5am to 9am.

How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?

Before I start writing, none–I don’t make outlines. But as I write, I pause frequently to envision everything. I need to be able to see a scene in my mind to transform the scene into words, so every sound, color, and texture matters.

Which of your books were the most enjoyable to write?

I am always most enamored with what I am currently working on. What’s already written and out there has to be “forgotten” for my new ideas to feel fresh. Right now that means a dual timeline story with two strong women protagonists set 100 years apart.

What gave you that final push to press publish on your first book?

When I shared my first manuscript for my first book, a “whodunnit” mystery called One Murder More, with a developmental editor, to my horror she pronounced it “terrible”. She said from my years working in policy I wrote clearly, but that what I’d produced was dull and dry. My characters only “saw” things; they didn’t touch or hear or smell. I spent a year in workshops and read countless books on writing fiction, gaining what I could from those who had already done it. I contracted with a hybrid publisher, they set a deadline, and I was ready. For my second book, the first in the Emma & Alibi series, I did 17 drafts before I submitted it to a traditional publisher, who gave me a 2-book contract. For that one, I was “ready” when I was done!

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?

I know a lot of authors don’t read their Goodreads and Amazon reviews. I read each one. I don’t expect a book of mine to be a good fit for everyone, so it doesn’t bother me when that happens (unless the reader is flat out mean and calls me names, which has only happened once). I learn from what people like best and what they struggled with and do my best to use that to improve my writing. The most common positive comment is that people like Emma, my 32-yr-old ethics investigator, and Alibi my homicide cop. They also seem to like the dynamic between Emma and her best friend, Kate, and Kate’s teen son. 

Negatives have included a few people saying I describe clothing too much (which as a result I dialed down in my later books 🙂 and that the names are “weird”. (I didn’t change that. I like weird names.)

Favorite book when you were a kid?

Black Stallion.

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

I love this question! I used to play this game with my kids and their friends. 

For me? 

(1) Responsible. Ugh, I was once on a 3rd date with a man who I thought was about to tell me how fabulous I was and instead he said, “If I could sum you up in one word, it would be ‘responsible’.” No 4th date for him! 

(2) Kind. Not always and not perfectly, but one plus side of having lived in fear is I have no interest in making anyone feel anything other than respected and safe.

(3) Creative! This is a new one, late-in-life, but being creative is now a big part of who I am.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Write every day, and don’t share what you’ve written until you are very far along.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

I write thrillers where no harm comes to children. They may be in danger, and we may worry for them, but every child you come to know in my books will be safe.

Thank you Kris Calvin for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Under a Broken Sky today!

~Synopsis~

In this Sacramento-set thriller perfect for fans of Meg Gardiner, Emma Lawson uncovers greed and deception for a living, but this time is different. If only she knew this killer can hear her.

He can see her.

One year into her prized role as the youngest ethics investigator in California’s history, Emma suspects corruption in the state’s billion dollar expansion to train travel. That unwittingly puts her on a killer’s trail – a killer who will do anything to reach his illicit million dollar payday, including personally eliminating Emma Lawson as a threat.

Detective Alibi Morning Sun sees connections where no one else does. For him, a drowning at a lake, a fire in a storage facility and a murder by the river carry a thread soaked in blood.

As Emma follows the money and Alibi traces bullets and bodies, the killer counts down to his grand finale. With each mounting danger, it quickly becomes apparent that the corruption Emma has been digging for is real— and it’s deadly.

Three days. Two days. Now only one…

Kris Calvin’s latest novel, UNDER A BROKEN SKY (July 12, 2021; Crooked Lane Books) is the second in her Emma & Alibi mystery-thriller series. Kris served for more than 20 years as the CEO of the American Academy of Pediatrics in California, and was honored for her leadership in advocacy for children by the California Legislature. You can visit Kris online at kriscalvin.com.

kriscalvin.com

Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author featuring S.C. Grayson

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is S.C. Grayson! Her debut, Spears and Shadows (Defenders of the Light Book 1) released June 16th 2022.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

 Hi! I’m S.C. Grayson, and I’m a fantasy romance author. My first book, Spears and Shadows, released on June 16th. I was born and raised in Chicago (and I show my love for my hometown in my books), but I now live in Pittsburgh with my husband and our two adorable cats. When I’m not writing, I’m a registered nurse and a breast cancer researcher.

Congrats on your debut release! How was that experience for you?

It’s been great! My debut has been out for about a month now, and I’m still waiting for the day it will really sink in that I’m a published author now. It still doesn’t feel real. I don’t even know what to do with my personal copy of Spears and Shadows. It’s sitting laying sideways across other books on my shelf, haphazardly shoved in there because I’m out of room. I should make a place of honor for it I suppose, but I just haven’t gotten there.

How long have you been writing?

Fiction? This book is my first foray into fiction, and I started writing it back in 2018. After I finished drafting it, the story sat on my computer untouched for almost a whole year, since I didn’t know if I was going to publish it. At first, I started writing it just for myself, so when I realized I wanted to share it with the world, it took me a while to figure out how I wanted to do that.

In terms of writing in general though, I’ve been at that for quite a while! I’m currently a nurse researcher working towards my PhD, so I’ve written a good number of scientific publications regarding my research of breast cancer genetics. I even wrote a chapter in a genetics textbook that is being published in September! It feels extra special to publish fiction and nonfiction in the same year.

Describe a typical writing day.

I’m not sure I have a “typical” day, considering I don’t really have a writing routine. I tend to write huge chunks at a time, followed by a period of days with no (fiction) writing when I get busy with science. When I am dedicating a day to my writing though, I walk to my favorite local coffee shop and camp out with an iced americano and one of their homemade rice krispie treats. I think I wrote at least 75% of Spears and Shadows while sitting in that coffee shop!

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?

This is one of the questions I get asked the most and still is one of the hardest for me to answer. I’m not always sure where my ideas come from when they pop into my head. I do know that what makes me sit down and write is the need to make the kind of stories I would like to read. I started by first book because I had been reading a lot for a period, and I still felt like I was looking for a specific story that I wasn’t able to find. I decided that I owned a laptop, so I might as well fix the problem by creating it myself!

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

First and foremost, I want my readers to be entertained. Especially in this day and age, I feel like we could all use a little escapism. If I offer readers a chance to spend an afternoon engrossed in another world, then I will have done my job.

What is the significance of the title?

To be transparent, the title wasn’t settled on until well after I had signed a publishing contract, much closer to publication. For me, the spear was really important as it symbolizes the start of the adventure. The weapon is what draws Nora, the main character, into the whole new world she discovers. The Shadow is the evil in the story, and while it is a dark and mysterious force, it isn’t the traditional characterization of evil. The concept of an evil that is born from the good, just like light casts a shadow, is a central tenant of the story. So, Spears and Shadows refers to two of the most important aspects of the story. Plus, who doesn’t like a little alliteration?

If you had to describe yourself in three words, what would they be?

Enthusiastic, unconventional, compassionate.

What was the highlight of writing this book?

Sharing my book with my sister and my husband for the first time was incredible. They are the first people to read everything I write. My sister and I have been reading fantasy and discussing it since I could read, so being able to talk with her about a story I wrote was really special. This book really wouldn’t exist without my husband’s support, so handing him the first copy and having him open it to see the dedication to him in the front was a teary moment for me.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with me?

Yes! I have the first book in another series scheduled to release in January. It is called Beauty and the Blade and is a reimagining of Beauty and the Beast taking place in a dystopian version of Victorian London that is being overrun by magical street gangs. Spears and Shadows is also getting not one, but two sequels! So all the reviewers who have been saying they want to know more about the side characters, your time is coming.

What advice would you give to other authors?

Write the story you want to tell. You can figure the rest out later.

What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

I write because I love telling stories! I have a job outside of writing that I wouldn’t leave even if I sold a million copies. So for me, this is about sharing books and connecting with people through the characters I create. With that in mind, I don’t think I’ll ever be tired of hearing from readers. I genuinely love to connect with all of you!

 

Thank you S.C. Grayson for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her latest release, Spears and Shadows today!

~Synopsis~

Nora struggled with work-life balance even before an immortal sorcerer showed up and turned her career-and her love life, upside down.

Historian Nora Zvezda is gunning for a promotion at The Chicago Field Museum. The discovery of two ancient Greek weapons unlike any she’s seen before might be her big break-but the artifacts are more than they seem.

Trying to uncover their secrets, Nora enlists the help of professor of ancient languages, Dr. Adam Scott, an undeniably handsome man of intrigue. Nora has been too busy to worry about romance, but Adam seems to be overflowing with charm-and secrets, the biggest being his rank among the Eteria, a secret society of powerful sorcerers who’ve been in hiding since the days of the Greek empire.

When Nora’s work with the ancient and mystical weapons draws the attention of the Shadow, a powerful force that feeds off fear and negative emotions, she finds herself thrust in the middle of a perilous, age-old war between good and evil.

To protect herself, she must join the Eteria in their fight, all while struggling not to sacrifice the life she’s worked so hard for. Complicating things further is her undeniable desire for Adam and the feeling that he may be hiding more than his status as an immortal sorcerer.

S.C. Grayson has been reading fantasy novels since she was a little girl stealing books from her older sister’s shelves, and that has developed into a love of writing and storytelling. Her writing is currently focused on fantasy and paranormal romance. When she is not sitting in a local coffee shop writing and consuming an iced americano, Grayson is a nurse working towards a PhD in nursing with a focus on breast cancer genetics. She lives in Pittsburgh with her loving husband and their two cats, who enjoy contributing to her work by walking across her keyboard at inopportune moments (the cats, not the husband).

Website/newsletter sign up: https://www.scgrayson.com/
Spears and Shadows on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B1CJF65W
Author Spotlight · Interview with an Author · New Release

Interview with an Author featuring Leila James

The Literary Vixen presents…

Joining us today is Leila James! Her newest book, Sweet Punk (Shadow River Elite Book 3) released on June 2nd 2022.

What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always loved to read and three years ago I’d arrived at a place in my life where I was looking for a creative outlet. It started as a bit of a hobby, but I quickly became invested in what I was doing. One book turned into a five book series. That was where I started—I was writing under another name in small-town steamy contemporary back then.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I have a very hard time writing without cover images. The images tell me a lot about the characters and the story. For that reason, I always try to have my covers first. I plaster the images everywhere—a couple of places in my office, my phone lock and home screens, my iPad, my computer …

How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?

I let it overtake me. It’s the only way through it. So, that means sometimes I cry a lot. And then there are those times when I’m stuck in a scene for days. Lemme tell ya, it’s rough to be stuck in a sexy scene for that long.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

Under Leila James, fourteen. Under my other pen name, twenty-two (Amanda Bailey – you can tell them if you want) Asking me to choose a favorite is like asking me to choose a favorite child. No can do. I like them all for different reasons and connect with each character in a different way. 😉

What books or authors have most influenced your own writing?

In the beginning? Nora Roberts. Colleen Hoover.  Now? Anything Ashley Jade or Angel Lawson or Samantha Rue or Rachel Leigh or Becca Steele or Caitlyn Dare. 🙂

Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say? 

Sometimes! I get an occasional email and try to respond to those personally. My ARC and Street teams are probably my biggest fans. They talk to me all the time. I also have a great reader group on Facebook.

What book is currently on your bedside table?

No physical book, but my iPhone Kindle App is currently on Filthy Rich Boys by C.M. Stunich.

Do you have any new series planned?

Yes, but only my editor, alpha reader, and critique partners know anything about it yet. It’s due out in October. Look for a series reveal in mid-August.

If your book was to be made into a movie, who are the celebrities that would star in it?

Honestly, I haven’t thought about it for even a second. I’m not one for Pinterest boards or anything like that. Once the cover model is in my head, that’s it. Maybe I’ve never thought about it like that because I tend to be very practical and right now, one of my books being made into a movie seems like a farfetched fantasy.

What advice would you give to other authors?

There are many different ways to write and to publish a book. Study what others do, but do it your own way. Stop. Evaluate what’s working … and what’s not. 

 What is the one thing you want people to know about you and your books?

All I’ve ever wanted is for people to read and enjoy them. I hope through my books, I help those who need it find an escape.

 

Thank you Leila James for chatting with me! I will include her information down below. Check out her newest release, Sweet Punk today!

~Synopsis~

The sweet punk across the hall has my undivided attention.

He’s inked perfection.
Totally unattainable.
He’s hiding something behind his quiet demeanor.
But I’ve got trouble of my own. The dangerous kind.
He wants all of me, but he doesn’t know my whole story.
And I will walk through fire to keep him.

WARNING: Shadow River Elite is a New Adult/College series of standalones filled with drama, angst, and bad boys. If you’re not into romances where hate turns into love, and tortured souls find their match, this might not be the series for you. This series is recommended for mature readers due to graphic language, dark elements, and sexual content.

Leila James has one goal: keeping you up past your bedtime turning the pages of her books. She writes emotional, angsty, and swoon-worthy new adult romances with lots of unique characters and plot twists.

Leila’s family will tell you she’s as big a reader as she is a writer. And … she’s completely obsessed with both. She resides in Virginia with her husband and two children.

Website: https://www.leilajames.biz

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/author.leilajames

Facebook Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/leilaslovesandbullybadboys

Instagram: @author_leilajames

TikTok: @author_leilajames

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Leila-James/e/B08P2LJVRV

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20933618.Leila_James

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/leila-james

New Release · Review

Bad Girls Drink Blood (Blood Fae Druid Book 1) by S.L. Choi – My Review


Title: Bad Girls Drink Blood (Blood Fae Druid Book 1)

Author: S.L. Choi

Release Date: May 17th 2022

Genre: Paranormal Suspense, Fantasy

Part sun fae, part blood fae, all abomination.

After a life spent dodging slurs, threats, and assassination attempts, Lane Callaghan gave her past the one finger salute and ditched her former fae home for good.

The detective agency she and her sisters run on the edge of Las Vegas continues to limp along, with Lane doing more debt collecting and intimidating than investigating, but anything to pay the bills. Between working for low-lifes to bring down even lower-lifes, eating cheesy poofs by the bucket, and flirting with the criminally attractive bartender where she conducts business, life is good.

That ends when a routine job goes sideways leaving Lane with a sack full of stolen sun shards—the source of sun fae power. Without the shards, the sun fae face giving up their magic completely, or risk death if they use their power.

As far as Lane’s concerned, good riddance, considering they would rather see her dead—except her father and adopted sister are sun fae. Lane must choose to return home to save the fae bastards that almost killed her…or let them burn.

“With tantalizing hints of a wolfy blood tryst, a heavy dose of sisterly love, and plot twists to make the ride a surprise, S.L. Choi’s, Bad Girls Drink Blood is too much fun. If you like the Hollows, you will love this.” — Kim Harrison, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Hollows series

Bad Girls Drink Blood has the heroine we didn’t know we needed and may not deserve! Lane is one tough cookie. She doesn’t back down from a fight and she always gets the job done. 

What an entertaining ride this book was! You get a front seat into the adventures and shenanigans that Lane seems to find herself in. Her humor is on point, which had me laughing. Action and humor. A great combo! Teddy is dreamy! New book boyfriend? I think so! The banter between the characters was great. It made this a fun read. Oh there were plenty of moments that got you right in your feels too. That ending left me longing for the next book. I needs it!! 

A fantastic debut for S.L. Choi! The book is well written and the world building is impressive. This witty, action packed paranormal goodness will have you on one crazy ride. A ride that you won’t want to get off any time soon! I give this 5 stars. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*

New Release · Review

The Shadow’s Heir (The Cursed Queens Book 2) by E.E. Hornburg – My Review


Title: The Shadow’s Heir (The Cursed Queens Book 2)

Author: E.E. Hornburg

Release Date: May 17th 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings

Myra has spent years hiding—in servitude of the now imprisoned Queen Amelia, and from a lineage she never wanted.

Now that she is freed from Amelia’s clutches, Myra is ready for a new start, but the echoes of the past, and the truth of who she is—a direct descendant of Stula, the goddess of death—will only disrupt the peace she wants to find in the kingdom of Oxare.

The kingdom is beautiful, as is the handsome prince Alvis and though his offer to join him at the Golden Palace is tempting, Myra is determined to make her own way.

But when a life on her own becomes too difficult, Myra is forced to accept Alvis’ offer and lands in the thick of a plot to free Queen Amelia. To keep the entire realm and her people safe, Myra and Alvis must find out who among the Golden Palace court is the betrayer before Amelia escapes.

But with each passing day Myra feels her connection to Alvis growing stronger, and her past continues to haunt her. Can they protect the kingdom and each other, before Amelia takes her revenge and Alvis finds out the truth?

Fans of Sarah J Maas, Hannah Whitten, and Emma Hamm will love this magical Cinderella retelling and follow up to The Night’s Chosen!

Fantastic world building! Mystery and deception. People are more than what they seem.

I could not put this book down! I was totally captivated right from the start. I knew that Myra and Alvis’ story was going to be truly special and I was not disappointed! The characters added color and flavor to the story. Unique in their own way. Loved how witty most of them were. The playful banter put a smile on my face. Can we befriend fictional characters? That’s truly how I felt with some of them. With the magical word weaving from Miss Hornburg, I was able to easily imagine the sounds and sights of another world. I loved the connection between Alvis and Myra. A slow burn kind of dance. That ending has me wanting more! I need book three ASAP!

This is a series I highly recommend and has fast become a favorite of mine. Enjoy retellings with a twist? These books are for you. Take a chance. You won’t be disappointed! I give this 5 stars. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion*